RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: First Week Of June

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1947 it rained at Seekonk.

Seventy years ago in 1952 Charlie Brayton was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Don Collins won a 50 lapper on Saturday night. Lou Tetreault went two for two in the Claiming Cars as he won on both nights at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Red Bolduc won a 50 lapper at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1957 Don Collins was the winner of the 25 lap Sportsman feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Beuregard was the non-Ford winner. Hop Harrington was the guy to beat at Seekonk as he put the Sgambato No.9 in victory lane. Down on Long Island, the Islip Speedway ran a twin bill featuring Midgets and Modifieds. Johnny Coy, who would make a name for himself in the Midgets won both events.

Sixty years ago in 1962, Ron Narducci made it two in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Dick Beauregard was the 25 lap Modified winner. Lou Caso was the Bomber division winner. Bill Slater made it seven in a row at the Norwood Arena in Massachusetts. At Seekonk, Deke Astle won a 50 lap Class A event and Garvin Couper won a 50 lap cut down event. Joe Rosenfield was the Memorial Day winner. Down on Long Island Al DeAngelo took the top spot at the Islip Speedway. At Old Bridge Jim Hoffman took the win over Joe Kelly.

Fifty five years ago in 1967, Beaver Dragon took the win on Thursday night at Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vermont. Denis Giroux finished second. Eddie Flemke made it clear that he liked the new asphalt at Stafford as he made it two in a row. Fred Harbach finished second with Bobby Santos, third with Fred DeSarro and Joe Trudeau rounding out the top five. Rain put a damper on action at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. A little further west at the Spencer Speedway Jim Shampine took a Friday night win. At the Norwood Arena on Saturday night, Johnny Thompson put his Ford Cobra powered mount in victory lane. Keith Armbrust was the Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. George Summers recorded his first win of the season at Seekonk. The NEMA midgets gave Stafford a try on Sunday with Johnny Coy taking the win over Russ Klar, Jerry Wall and George Konklin. Fulton Raceway ran on Saturday and Sunday. Dutch Hoag won the Saturday event with Don Diffendorf winning on Sunday. Flemke made it two in a row at the Utica – Rome Speedway. Ernie Gahan finished second with Elton Hill, third. Bernie Miller and Dick Clark rounded out the top five.

Fifty years ago in 1972, ageless Maynard Forette was the Friday night winner at Malta over Bugsy Stevens, Denis Giroux and Rene Charland in the Bob Johnson No.17. Fred DeSarro, who was an early retiree at Malta on Friday night, took the top spot at Stafford on Saturday night. Eddie Flemke finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Bob Santos and Denis Giroux rounding out the top five. Charlie Jarzombek beat out Jim Hendrickson at Islip and at Fonda it was Harry Peek over Jack Johnson and Andy Romano. George Allum took the Modified win at Waterford. Sunday night at Utica-Rome saw Lou Lazzaro take the win over Richie Evans and at Seekonk storm clouds were looming as the Class A contingent went on strike and would head to what they thought were greener pastures at the Thompson Speedway. D.Anthony was not to be intimidated by a strike of his lead division drivers and scheduled a 100 lap open competition event on Sunday, George Summers did not support the strike and refused to be intimidated by the NASCAR hot dogs as he ruled his home territory. Fred DeSarro finished second with Jon Astle, third. Bob Healy was the Late Model Sportsman winner at Norwood.

Forty five years ago in 1977, rain washed Stafford out on Friday night. At Riverside Park on Saturday night Bob Stefanik beat out Reggie Ruggiero and Bob Polverari for the win. Monadnock ran a 100 lap NASCAR championship event on Sunday with surprise entry Maynard Troyer taking the win over Brett Bodine, Bob Polverari, Pete Fiandaca and John Rosati. In Sunday night small block modified action at Thompson, Fred DeSarro made it two in a row. Ron Bouchard finished second with Eddie Flemke, third.

Forty years ago in 1982, all of the racing for the whole weekend in New York and New England rained out. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Terry Labonte took the pole but it was Bobby Allison in victory lane. Ronnie Bouchard qualified 12th only to retire after 67 laps when his clutch went.

Thirty five years ago in 1987, Jerry Pearl took top honors in SK Modified action at Stafford on Friday night as he beat out Richie Gallup, Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher. Ron Shepherd was awarded the win after Dave Reszendes,who crossed the stripe first, was penalized and placed eighth for rough riding. Reggie Ruggiero won a 100 lapper at Riverside and at Riverhead it was Wayne Anderson over Fred Harbach. Bugsy Stevens was the Pro Stock winner at Seekonk. On Sunday, the Modifieds traveled to Beech Ridge where Jeff Fuller took the win over Reggie Ruggiero.

Thirty years ago in 1992, Stafford had an off night. At Riverside on Saturday night, Reggie Ruggiero took the 50 lap win over Chris Kopec and Dan Avery. Chris Jones got his first ever SK-Modified win at Waterford. Bert Marvin finished second with Harry Rice, third. Riverhead hosted a double header with Tom Baldwin and Bob Park recording wins. The Featherlite Modified Tour series was at Thompson on Sunday. Jeff Fuller, who had set fast time, drew the pole and led the first 91 laps of the 150 lap contest. After pitting for tires on lap 91, he powered his way back to the front and took the lead for good from Tom Baldwin on lap 114.Baldwin hung on to finish second and was followed by Steve Park, Jan Leaty and Rick Fuller. Mike Christopher was the SK Modified winner over Bo Gunning, Tom Tagg and Ted Christopher. On a sad note, it was announced that Bill France Sr, who had founded NASCAR, had passed away.

Twenty five years ago in 1997, the Busch North Series visited Stafford for a 150 lap event. Jerry Marquis took the win over Tom Bolles and Andy Santarre. In SK Modified action, Bob Potter recorded his 22nd career win over Steve Chowanski and Jim Broderick. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Flemington where Mike Stefanik made it five in a row. Stefanik took the lead from Tim Connolly on lap 118 of the 150 lap contest. Eight cautions for 42 laps kept the average speed down to 81.977 mph. Jan Leaty, Connolly, Tom Cravenho and Lee Sherwood rounded out the top five. Todd Ceravolo recorded his third win of the season at Waterford. Ceravolo took the lead from Mark LaJunesse on lap 20 of the 35 lap feature. Lajunesse finished second and was followed by Dennis Gada, Mike Gada and Jeff Pearl. Bill Park went pole to pole to beat out John Fortin for the win at Riverhead and at Riverside, Ted Riggot held of Rob Summers for the win. AJ Foyt and Arre Lyandike came close to slugging it out as Billy Boat won an IRL event in Texas and in Winston Cup action at Pocono, Jeff Gordon took the win over Jeff Burton.

Twenty years ago in 2002, Thompson started the weekend off with their Thursday night Thunder Series. Bert Marvin won the Sunoco SK Modified feature by twenty car lengths over Ted Christopher. Bo Gunning finished third with Chuck Docherty, fourth. Stafford suffered their third rainout of the season on Friday. A short field of 22 Modifieds was on hand at Waterford on Saturday night. Tom Fox took the win over Dennis Gada, Eddie Reed Jr and Rob Janovic. For some strange reason the pit area concession stand never opened At Riverhead, Joe Hartmann took the win over Dan Jivenelli and Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. Tim Arre was victorious at Wall Township over Curtis Truex and Chip Graves. Richie Evans Jr. had been a regular competitor at Wall up until this time but was not allowed to compete as officials learned that his drivers license had been revoked by the state of North Carolina because of a DUI charge. Kenny Tremont got his 100th win at Lebanon Valley. In Winston Cup action at Michigan it looked like Dave Blaney was headed for his first win until he was forced to pit for fuel with nine laps to go. Matt Kenseth inherited the lead and went on to take the win over Dale Jarrett. Brett Bodine was the Busch Racing Series at Kentucky.

Fifteen years ago in 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continued to regroup before returning to action on Thursday, June 21. Among the biggest news items to come out of the tour ranks was that Chuck Hossfeld had been released from his driving duties of the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 owned by Roger and Sandra Hill of Westfield, NC. Hossfeld had been the teams driver since the beginning of the 2006 season. Team owner Roger Hill said that a new driver would be in place in time for the upcoming Thompson event. Car owner Gary Teto was spearheading an effort to get NASCAR to revamp their race format for upcoming “Flash Events” at the Twin State Speedway in New Hampshire and at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. NASCAR came up with the “Flash” format to make events more affordable for speedways and competitors. The format was tried at the Whelen Tour event at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey. The result was thousands of dollars worth of damage to the series’ cars. Teto proposed that NASCAR use Don Hoenig’s suggestion of running a single consolation to fill out the fields after the top 20 has qualified by time.

Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway continued to be a top draw of both competitors and fans as 142 cars and a real good crowd were on hand. Kerry Malone, who has designs on the NASCAR Weekly Title made a statement with his strong win in the Sunoco Modified division. Larry Barnett continued to be the benchmark in the Limited Sportsman division with his win in the 50-lap main event. In full-fendered action Rick Gentes scored the Late Model victory while Mike O’Sullivan came home victorious in the Pro Stock division. Roger Larson, Jr. was tops in the TIS Modifieds while Brad Caddick scored the Mini Stock victory win. Craftsman Tools sponsored the night’s activities.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Frank Ruocco won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Scott Foster, Jr. 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Gallo, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand the Limited Late Model feature, and Norm Sears the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. In the words of many of those on hand the SK Modified feature was more of a rolling demolition derby rather than a race. NASCAR’s Busch East Series made a stop at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday. Former Busch North series regular Eddie MacDonald made his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series start of the season and came away with his first victory since 2005. MacDonald led the final 81 laps. His win also earned him a secured starting spot in the postseason Toyota All-Star Challenge. Defending Busch East champion Mike Olsen passed Matt Kobyluck with three laps to go take second, while Marc Davis and Bryon Chew were fourth and fifth respectively.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the weatherman ruled as heavy rain pounded the shoreline oval throughout the day.

Carl Edwards raced to his fourth NASCAR Busch Series victory of the season Saturday night, beating Clint Bowyer in the Federated Auto Parts 300 for the Nextel Cup driver’s third straight win at Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn. Gordon held off Ryan Newman to win the rain-shortened Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and give Hendrick Motorsports its 10th win in the past 12 Nextel Cup races. The race was red flagged after 106 laps of the scheduled 200-lap, 500-mile race. With darkness falling, the cars went back to pit road and never came back after a final attempt to dry the track.

Ten years ago in 2012, Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway was literally Thunder and Lightning as a pop-up storm drenched the speedway late in the afternoon. Once the storm passed it was a beautiful night for racing. The track played host to a first time winner in the Thompson Lite Modifieds, Troy Talman and a crowd pleasing door-to-door battle in the Mini-Stock division which saw Mike Veins winning out over Chad Baxter and Scott Sundeen took the win in the Limited Sportsman. Ryan Preece held off Keith Rocco for the Sunoco Modified win while Mike Scorzelli took the checkers in the Late Models. John Lowinski was the Thompson Modified winner.

Preece took the lead at lap 10 and never looked back despite Rocco’s bumper in his rear view mirror. Kerry Malone took over the lead at the drop of the green flag with Ted Christopher closing in on his bumper. Preece made it a three-way battle when he dove to the bottom of Christopher for second. Christopher shut the door on his challenges, and made his own bid on Malone out front at lap two. Christopher took the lead with Preece in tow relegating Malone to the third position. Preece was all over Christopher as Keith Rocco made his way into contention. On lap seven, Rocco dropped to the bottom and drove by Malone for the third position with Todd Ceravolo following. As the race approached lap 10, Preece got up alongside Christopher in a tight battle that lasted until turn four when Christopher went high. Preece was able to drive to the lead with Rocco taking over second and Christopher recovering for third. Rocco closed in to Preece’s bumper and dove low in turn four of lap 23 in a challenge for the lead. Preece wasn’t about to give it up that easy, however, and closed the door on his challenge. Rocco kept the pressure on and tapped Preece’s bumper through the turns – constantly reminding Preece he was there. Preece was not intimidated, however, and held the lead until the checkers dropped. Christopher ended up third and was followed by Ceravolo, Malone and John Catania. Dennis Perry recorded another fine run as he brought his Butch Perry Mount home in seventh.

More showers ruled the racing world on Friday as the SK Modified 100 ended up being postponed to Friday, June 29. Regular Friday night racing at Stafford saw Harry Wheeler get awarded the SK Light feature win after Bob Charland was placed to the rear for spinning out leader Joey Ferrigno. With six laps remaining the clouds opened up and that was that!

At the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl beat out Rob Janovic Jr. by less than a car length to win the SK Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. It was the first time in three weeks the Whelen All-American Series was back in action following two straight weeks of rainouts.

Pearl took the lead from Diego Monahan on 1ap 14 of the SK Modified feature. He held off Janovic and Keith Rocco over two restarts before holding off Janovic at the finish. Rocco wound up third. Tyler Chadwick and Kyle James rounded out the top five.

Other feature winners were Waterford’s Dillon Moltz in the Late Model race (his third of the year), Salem’s Corey Hutchings in the Street Stocks (his second of the year) and Lisbon’s Ken Cassidy Jr., who won his eighth Mini Stock feature of 2012.

Lou Cicconi won the 50-lap International Supermodified Association feature, a race that was reschedule after being washed out on May 26.

In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina twin 25’s were the main attraction of the night. Dean Ward and Brent Elliott went pole to pole in their respective events and recorded wins.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, it had been a long time since an “outsider” won a weekly Modified event at the east end oval. Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher changed all that as the finished one-two there on Saturday night. Preece, who has been a regular there this year started on the pole and led every lap. Preece drove a car formerly driven by Bill Park. Christopher has also been a regular at Riverhead driving a car owned by Wayne Anderson.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series visited the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. The event drew 29 cars. Louie Mechalides took the lead on the first lap and went on to lead the entire 100 lap distance. Mechalides’ only serious challenge came on lap 10 from Les Hinkley who ran side by side with the eventual winner for a short time. Hinkley eventually fade to fourth as Jon McKennedy moved into second. McKennedy had nothing for Mechalides and had to be content with the runner-up spot at the finish. Tommy Barrett finished third with Hinkley fourth and Rowan Pennink, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Joey Jarvis, Chris Pasteryak, Mike Holdredge, Norm Wrenn and Rob Goodenough. Todd Szegedy finished eleventh.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Joey Logano overtook Mark Martin with four laps left and drove away to earn his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Pocono Raceway. Tony Stewart chased the lead pair home in third. Jimmie Johnson, who received two pit road speeding penalties earlier in the day, rallied to finish fourth ahead of Denny Hamlin in fifth.

Five years ago in 2017, The New London Day reported that the New London-Waterford Speedbowl will open for the 2017 racing season despite criminal charges against its owner, according to a statement posted on the track’s website.

On Monday afternoon, June 5, they issued another statement announcing a deal that would allow George Whitney, described as a former racer, to lease the Route 85 track for the 2017 season, which was scheduled to begin in May.

According to the statement, Whitney will operate the track as Whitney Farm Racing, a limited liability company incorporated in late May and registered to an address in Westbrook, CT.

Whitney revealed that the first event will be on Saturday night, June 24. Highlighting the opening night event will be the Valenti Modified Racing Series.

The Stafford Motor Speedway featured Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night. Stafford’s SK Lights took center stage with a 40-lap feature that paid over $14,000 in total posted awards while the SK Modifieds® ran an extra 10-laps in feature distance for an extra $4,000 in their purse. Taking down the biggest win of the night was Brett Gonyaw, who took the checkered flag and a pay check of over $2,700 in the 40-lap SK Light feature. Ronnie Williams took the checkered flag in the extra distance SK Modified® feature, Michael Wray won the Late Model feature, Duane Provost took down his second consecutive Limited Late Model feature win, and Johnny Walker won the DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Light feature event, Bob Charland was all over Gonyaw in the closing moments for the lead but Gonyaw was able to fend off his challenges and he took the checkered flag for the first win of his career at Stafford. Griswold finished third with Jay Goff and Rick Williams rounding out the top-5.

In the 50 lapper for the SKs, Ron Williams made a power move entering turn 3 on lap-24 to overtake Glen Reen and move into the race lead. ToddOwen, Matt Galko, Rowan Penninnk, and Ted Christopher made up the top-6. Owen got out of shape on lap-26, which allowed Galko to make a pass and take over third and Pennink was now side by side with Owen in a fight for fourth. The caution came back out with 28 laps complete as Tony Membrino and D.J. Burnham came together in turn 3.

Williams took the lead on the restart with Galko moving up to second and Owen moving up to third as Reen fell back to fourth in the order. Pennink was fifth with Ryan Preece now up to sixth and Keith Rocco was seventh. Reen went high and lost two spots on lap-34 as Pennink and Preece were both able to move around him. Christopher then got by Reen on lap-35 to drop him back to seventh in the running order as Williams continued to lead Galko and Owen.

With 10 laps to go, Williams held the lead with Galko, Owen, Pennink, and Christopher all giving chase. Christopher was working the outside lane against Pennink but was unable to put a pass together. Williams held Galko off to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2017 season. Owen finished third with Pennink and Christopher rounding out the top-5.

In weekly action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Defending NASCAR Modified champion Shawn Solomito driving the Wayne Anderson entry executed a textbook pass to score his second straight NASCAR Modified victory in the Mullet Madness 50. The victory was the 17th of Solomito’s impressive career.

The NEW Exit Realty Modified Touring Series rolled into Seekonk Speedway for its first race at the famed 1/3 mile oval on Saturday night, June 10. Tommy Barrett, Jr started on the outside pole and took the lead early on from polesitter Todd Annarummo. Barrett, Jr. survived multiple restarts and pulled out to a three second lead on the last run to take the win at the Massachusetts oval. Woody Pitkat finished second and was followed by Jon Kennedy, Rowan Pennink and Eric Goodale. Sixth thru tenth were Les Hinckley, Kirk Alexander, Todd Annarummo, Keith Rocco and Dylan Kopec. There were 24 cars on hand.

Among those missing was Matt Hirschman who dominated the Race of Champions Modified Series Lake Erie 75 at Lake Erie Speedway (PA) on Saturday Night, earning his first win of the 2017 season.

Hirschman picked up the win after leading the race flag-to-flag. The driver of the No. 60 Race of Champions Modified started from the outside of the front row after Scott Wylie had a part failure just prior to the start. Hirschman passed Daren Scherer using the outside groove on lap one, taking the lead and never looking back.

Down in the south land at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, Jason Myers won his first race of the year after winning the pole and leading each of the 25 laps of the first Modified race. Myers defeated Tim Brown, Myers’ brother Burt and Brandon Ward. It was Myers first win since July 30 of last year.

James Civali, who is from Connecticut but now lives in the Tar Heel State, won his first Bowman Gray race after defeating Ronnie Clifton. Civali took the lead on lap 16 after passing Junior Miller and led the rest of the way.

In NASCAR cup racing at the Pocono Raceway, Ryan Blaney, driving for owners with roots steeped in NASCAR history, blazed his way down the stretch past Kyle Busch, held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick, and won his first career NASCAR Cup race Sunday at the raceway.That’s career win No. 99 for the Wood Brothers and No. 1 for Blaney,

On a sad note, Mrs. Lorraine Bouchard passed away. She was the mom of Kenny and Ronnie Bouchard as well as the mom of Jo-Ann Bouchard Berggeron.

Last year, 2021, On Friday night at the Stafford Motor Speedway a big rain storm all but swamped the nutmeg oval. The speedway management wisely cancelled the event early in the day before fans and competitors left their homes and race shops.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made it’s return to the Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania after a fifteen year absence. Chances are they won’t be back for another 15 years as only 20 cars showed up coupled with less than 200 in the grandstand. Granted it was just plain cold, damp and windy. The speedway is a great facility, too bad the elements were bad!

Justin Bonsignore won the Mayhew Tools pole award in qualifying, his 16th of his career, second consecutive this season and third consecutive at Jennerstown. He led the field to the green with Doug Coby to his outside, and dominated the first half of the race. However, it was another Bonsignore, his cousin Kyle — who rolled to the top spot before a caution on lap 88 slowed the action. Justin was back in the lead shortly after the restart and in a close finish, Bonsignore held off Coby by a mere car length to win the fourth race of the Whelen Modified Tour season. Coby chased the back bumper of Bonsignore’s No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. machine around the .522-mile oval over the final 50 laps and closed to the bumper when they took the white flag. As the pair entered turns one and two on the final lap, Coby got a run, while Bonsignore slid sideways down the beginning of the backstretch. By the time they entered turn three, Coby was looking outside Bonsignore, but couldn’t quite draw even. Bonsignore edged Coby to the line for the win. Craig Lutz finished third with Woody Pitkat and Patrick Emerling rounding out the top five.

Sixth thru tenth included Jon McKennedy, Kyle Bonsignore, JR Fortin, Tommy Catalano and Dave Sapienza. Tyler Rypkema, who was in the top five in the latter stages got taken out on lap 94 when Ron Silk drifted up into him on the backstretch after a restart. The melee collected Eric Goodale who ended up 18th in the final tally. Among the missing was Matt Swanson and the Boehler Racing Ole Blu.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads for the Supermodified Capitol of the World, the Oswego Speedway, this Saturday night. The event will be shown live by NBC TrackPass.

Riverhead Raceway on Eastern Long Island fell victim to rain. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl also cancelled.

Written off as too old to race full-time, too old for a fourth Indianapolis 500 win, Helio Castroneves at long last joined that exclusive club in a popular victory for the old guys. Castroneves found himself in a closing duel with one of the young stars, 24-year-old Spaniard Alex Palou, but he passed Palou for good with two laps remaining and beat him by 0.4928 seconds for the victory.

Kyle Larson’s win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the eighth of his career and his second of the season, guaranteeing the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet a spot in the postseason Playoffs. By the time he crossed the finish line at the end of 400 laps, Larson held a 10.051-second lead over runner-up and teammate Chase Elliott. Ryan Preece finished 26th.

On a sad note, condolences to Jerry and Betty Dostie who lost their son Paul who fought a valiant battle with cancer.

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