Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1947, Ted Tappet was the Midget division winner at Seekonk. At the all-new and ultra fast Lonsdale Arena Lloyd Christopher was the Midget division winner.
Seventy years ago in 1952 Dick Beauregard was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Johnny Sandberg was the Claiming Car winner. A 50 lap September Championship was held at the bowl on Saturday night with Mike Ward taking the win. Sandberg made it two in a row in Claiming Car action. At Seekonk, Jim Holt won the Stock Car division event.
Sixty-five years ago in 1957, Don Collins made it three in a row in Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Stack made it two in a row in the non-Fords. At Seekonk, Red Bolduc was the Sportsman division winner. Al DeAngelo was the winner at Old Bridge on Sunday.
Sixty years ago in 1962, Ernie Gahan made it three in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway followed by Don Rounds and George Janoski. Russ Betz was the Novice feature winner. At Plainville Stadium George Lombardo won the 100 lap feature followed by Hank Williams, Bob Vivari, Russ Faust and Danny Devoe. Adolph Pecka was the Novice winner. George Pendergast was the Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Joe Savard was the Bomber feature winner. Dan Stanton was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Nathan “Smokey” Boutwell was the winner at Norwood.
Fifty five years ago, in 1967, the NEMA Midgets were at Catamount with Dave Humphrey taking the win. Gene Bergin made it two in a row at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Jerry Wheeler and Rene Charland. The USAC Sprinters were also on hand for the Joe Csiki Memorial. Former Eastern Bandit Dennis Zimmerman, who would go on to become a Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis, won the event. Gene Bergin finished second with Earl Halaquist, third. Zimmerman and Bergin would also be inducted to the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Norwood Arena ran their annual Bay State 200, which was won by another Hall of Famer, Ralph “Hop” Harrington. George Murray was the Class A winner at Seekonk. The Albany Saratoga Speedway wrapped up their season with a 50 lapper, which was won by Dave Kotary. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Rene Charland, Bill Wimble and Eddie Flemke. Bill Wimble was named as the Modified Champion. George Pendergast was the Sportsman Champion. Charlie Webster was the winner at Waterford followed by Don Collins, Bill Scrivner, Fuzzy Baer and Newt Palm. At Plainville Stadium Dave Alkas won the 100 lap feature. Danny Gaudiosi was second and was crowned the 1967 track championship. Gaudiosi was followed by Lloyd Kimbill, Ken Latour and Harry Bliss.
Fifty years ago in 1972, the only modified action was in Connecticut and the state of New York. Islip ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night, which was won by Charlie Jarzombek. Ted Wesnoski finished second. Outsiders didn’t fare too well. Bugsy Stevens finished 10th and Jerry Cook finished 19th. At Plainville Stadium Bob Vivari captured the 100 lap feature followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Elton Hill, Jap Membrino and Jack Proulx. Lee Genest was the Novice winner. Waterford ran on Sunday with Daring Dick Caso taking the win.
Forty five years ago, in 1977, it was Thompson 300 weekend. Stafford was scheduled to run on Friday night but fell victim to rain. Saturday night at Seekonk wasn’t much better as it was very foggy at the cement palace. John Rosati took the win over Eddie St Angelo. The Thompson 300 was run under threatening skies. George Summers won the non-qualifiers 50 lapper and after starting dead last in the 50 car starting field, almost walked off with the top prize. Bugsy Stevens was leading when the field went to caution at around the 170-lap mark. Stevens gambled on having a re-start and felt he had the equipment to march to the front. Summers was also running around in the rain and in the lead when he pitted. Enter Eddie Flemke. Fresh off his 200 at Stafford win, Flemke played a waiting game and gambled that the red flag would indicate the end of the race. Needless to say, Flemke was right as the race was called official at 182 laps. A dripping wet Flemke had pulled off the two biggest wins in New England, The 200 at Stafford and the Thompson 300. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook and Geoff Bodine following. The only other track running was Plainville Stadium where Ronnie Wyckoff took the 100 lap feature followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Dave Alkas, Ronnie Rocco and Dave Germano. Carl Charette took the Pleasure car feature.
Forty years ago in 1982, the Race of Champions at Pocono was the big show for the Modifieds. Twenty three thousand fans and over 100 Modifieds were on hand for what was then, the most prestigious race to win. Greg Sacks and the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 had all but dominated just about every major event run during the season. The Race of Champions wasn’t any different. Starting fifth in the 45 car field, Sacks took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 13 and held the point thru lap 100 when he pitted for fuel and tires. Restarting in the rear, the Long Island hot shoe made a determined march to the front and re-took the lead from Spencer on lap 160. From there on it was a Sunday drive to the finish at 250 laps. Spencer blew his engine after being passed by Richie Evans on lap 221. Evans was no match for the highflying Sacks and had to settle for second. Ray Miller finished third with Greme Bolia, fourth. George Summers rounded out the top five, one lap down.
Brian Horn won the National Parts Peddler Street Stock championship. Jan Leaty finished second, Mike Scroger was third and Mike Lovetere was fourth. Also in the field was Rick Fuller who got in thru the consolation. Fuller came from 27th to the lead in six laps. Maynard Troyer was presented the Fred DeSarro award during pre-race activities. Shortly after accepting the award, Troyer announced that he was retiring from driving after the conclusion of the event.
Waterford had a Saturday night event scheduled but threw in the towel because of rain. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Darrell Waltrip took the 500 mile win over Kyle Petty. In the preliminary Busch North event, Randy Lajoie qualified a Bob Johnson car on the outside pole and led over half the race before blowing a tire and hitting the wall.
Thirty five years ago in 1987, the Race of Champions was still going strong at Pocono. Now a NASCAR sanctioned event, one hundred eight Modifieds were on hand. George Brunnhoelzl took the win over Doug Hevron, George Kent, Wayne Edwards and Roger Treichler. Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett JR. on lap 185 of the 250 lap event. Carl Erickson won the 40 lap National Parts Peddler Street Stock Championship.
In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.
Twenty five Years ago, in 1997, the re-born Race of Champions was run at Oswego. With the exception of Tony Hirschman, Jan Leaty, Tim Arre and Ted Christopher, the event drew mostly local drivers from Lancaster and Tioga. Hirschman, driving a Leaty team car, won the 200 lap event. Leaty finished second and was followed by Arre. At one time, the ROC was ‘THE” modified event but since falling on hard times a few years previous when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to ignore the event. Saturday night action at Waterford rained out. At Dover Downs, Buckshot Jones spun while leading with 14 laps to go and handed the Grand National victory to Joe Bessey. Randy LaJoie finished second. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Kyle Petty had the field covered until he was forced to pit for fuel with 20 laps to go. Mark Martin took the win with Dale Earnhardt coming home in second spot.
Twenty years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Loudon for what had to be one of the best events ever. Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino, went non-stop and used a brilliant three wide pass to take the lead and the eventual win. For Hossfeld and Garbarino, 2002 almost didn’t happen. Garbarino was contemplating retiring from racing and Hossfeld was looking for a competitive ride on the western New York circuit. Less than a week before the season began the pair hooked up. Hossfeld ended up racing at tracks he never saw before but adapted with the precision of the professional that he is. Although not considered a rookie, Hossfeld had less time on Tour Series tracks than Todd Szegedy has. NASCAR determined because of the fact that Hossfeld was a competitor in the Craftsman Truck Series. Hossfeld’s win was no cakewalk. Ted Christopher and Ed Flemke JR were the class of the field but late race problems for both kept them out of victory lane. Flemke was the top lap leader but a slowly deflating tire was his undoing with less than ten laps to go. Christopher tried one of his famous bottom shots but got bit, as his worn tires weren’t up to the task. Mike Stefanik, who came all the way from a 27th starting spot, finished second. In comparison to Christopher and Flemke, Stefanik’s run was a cautious one and in the end, it paid off. John Blewett III finished a strong third and Christopher recovered from his daring move to finish fourth. Rounding out the top five was Tony Hirschman. Despite his nearly flat tire, Flemke toughed it out to finish fifteenth. Geoff Bodine, who qualified on the outside pole, never mustered the necessary steam to run up front and finished 24th, the last car on the lead lap.
The series point standings showed Eddie Flemke still leading by a slim margin of five points over Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik, who had all but conceded a repeat title until his Thompson 300 win, sat third, seventeen points behind Flemke. By virtue of his Loudon win, Chuck Hossfeld had moved to within 48 points of the leader. Fifth thru tenth were Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Nevin George, John Blewett III and Jamie Tomaino. David Berghman had hoped to break into the top ten after qualifying sixth fastest but a broken transmission sidelined him after 86 laps which placed him 30th at the finish.
The regular weekly racing in Southern New England saw Twin events run at Thompson on Thursday. The first event, left over from August 22, was looking to be Matty Adante’s first win until the last lap when he made contact with Stu McCarthy. McCarthy took the checker but was put to the tail of the lead lap as officials felt that he deliberately put Adante around. Eric Berndt, who has had a somewhat hard luck season, was awarded the win. Ron Yuhas JR was moved up to second spot followed by Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher, who recovered from an early spin with Bo Gunning. Bert Marvin scored his sixth win of the season as he captured the nightcap. Ted Christopher now has enough points to secure the 2002 Sunoco-SK Modified track championship.
Stafford wrapped up its Friday night racing as Doug Coby took his third SK-Modified feature of the year at the Nutmeg oval. Bo Gunning finished second and wrapped up the 2002 SK-Modified Track Championship’
At Waterford, on Saturday night, Rob Janovic got his third win of the year in the Modifieds but the big story was the fact that Allen Coates, by virtue of his late model win, clinched the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series by Dodge Short Track Regional title as well as the track late model championship. The modified championship at the shoreline oval was still up in the air as Dennis Gada, who finished fifth held a slim 34 point lead over Ed Reed JR, who finished second, behind Janovic.
Fifteen years ago in 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for their second of two visits for 2007. Forty NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the 100-mile event that carried a $164,095 purse. Former series champion Todd Szegedy took the Busch pole as he toured the semi-banked oval in 29.725 seconds to the tune of 128.135 MPH. Second fastest and taking the outside pole position was Ron Yuhas JR. Yuhas’ speed was 128.018 MPH. Series point leader Don Lia was third with Tony Hirschman, fourth. Rounding out the top five was JJ Yeley who drove a car that was assembled at Dale Earnhardt Inc in North Carolina and painted up to resemble the Modified driven by the late Tom Baldwin.
As usual the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds got shuffled to the back of the bus as their event was rescheduled for late Saturday as well as being shortened 25 laps from the original 100. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy took the win in a somewhat clouded situation. NASCAR has some issues with Szegedy’s engine and has sent it to NASCAR’s R&D center in Concord, NC. In the meantime, the finish was pending. .Ronnie Silk finished second with series point leader Donny Lia, third. Bobby Santos III and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali, Tony Hirschman, Andy Seuss, Mike Stefanik and Bob Grigas III.
The event, which was originally scheduled to go off in the early afternoon didn’t get the green flag until 5:30pm. After a couple of early wrecks that thinned the field a bit the balance of the event was classic Loudon with numerous lead swapping and bump drafting the norm. During the final laps the top four were litterly under a blanket. It was announced that 31,000 fans were on hand to witness the event. Fifteen of the original 39 starters finished on the lead lap. The event, which took just under 45 minutes to run, produced four caution periods for 32 laps. Among those who failed to finish were Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke who had major power plant malfunctions. Outside pole sitter Ron Yuhas Jr along with Matt Hirschman, Richard Savory, Kenny Bouchard and Reggie Ruggiero were eliminated in a wreck after James Civali dumped Yuhas out of second spot. There were actually 8 lead changes between two drivers, Szegedy and Silk. Szegedy took the lead for the final time on lap 68.
In NASCAR Busch East action at Loudon on Friday Joey Logano took the win in the 125-lap feature and unofficially clinched the championship at New Hampshire. Mark McFarland saw his excellent run go up in smoke after contact with Sean Caisse which landed McFarland in the wall. Matt Kobyluck, who had made it up to 6th after an early spin, got collected in an accident that also involved Kelly Moore and Scott Lynch. Kobyluck alluded to the fact that Moore intentionally wrecked him. Following Logano and Caisse were Rogelio Lopez, Peyton Sellers, Jamie Hayes, Jerry Marquis, Brad Leighton, Ryan Moore, James Buescher, and Eddie McDonald.
In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won the Sunoco Modified main event. Mike O’Sullivan padded his point lead with a Pro Stock feature victory while Keith DeSanctis by virtue of his Limited Sportsman victory, moved into the point lead in the division. Tommy O’Sullivan added to the celebration by winning in the Late Model division. Unofficially O’Sullivan teammate Tim Sullivan bested the TIS Modified field helping his championship hopes. Scott Michalski earned his first win of the 2007 season in the Mini Stocks.
Malone saw it all en route to his third Sunoco Modified win of the season. He nearly spun, took the lead, and his car was suspected of leaking fluid. But in the end, Malone was dry all the way to the checkered flag. For the second week in a row the points were shaken up atop the Sunoco Modified point standings. With his runner-up finish, Keith Rocco took over the points lead by 14 points over a tie for second between Tommy Cravenho and Woody Pitkat. After a pair of attempts at a start, pole sitter Steve Masse showed the way through lap two before relinquishing the top spot to Woody Pitkat. The first caution flew almost immediately for a spin by Eric Goodale. Back under green, it was a three-car breakaway at the head of the pack with Pitkat holding the top spot over Malone and Rocco.
The Stafford Motor Speedway continued their Friday night Fall Series which would lead up to the season ending Fall Final . Chris Matthews secured the 2007 SK Light championship in grand style by winning the SK Light feature for his fifth feature win of the 2007 season. Frank Ruocco took the SK Modified feature win for his third feature win of the season, Michael Bennett was a first time winner in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno was a first-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood was a first-time winner in the DARE Stock feature.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night a 20 plus year friendship between Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada became strained to say the least. From the mid point of the SK Modified feature to the finish Gada and Janovic ran wheel to wheel when they were not nose to tail. Gada worked harder than he has ever had to do as Janovic’s driving pattern resembled that of a windshield wiper. Gada, who is gunning for a record seven SK Modified championships, never gave up as finally took the lead with four laps remaining. The Speedbowl wraps up their season this coming weekend with the Town Fair Tire finale. Janovic will go into the event with a 14-point lead over Gada. Todd Ceravolo, Mike Finkeldey and. Matt Gallo rounded out the top five.
Tim Jordan, the 2006 Late Model champion won his first race since May and fifth overall, holding off Bruce Thomas Jr., who clinched the division title last week. Jordan has not run a full schedule at Waterford this year, racing instead a few times in Seekonk and Oxford on the ACT tour. Phil Evans won his sixth Mini Stock feature of the year, making him the all-time winningest active driver in the division. Jack Aquilina won the Sportsman feature while Dwayne Dorr wrapped up his second straight title with his seventh-place finish.
In Nextel Cup action at Loudon, Clint Boyer raced to the first victory of his Cup career by embarrassing the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he started from the pole and led 222 of 300 laps while beating Jeff Gordon to the finish line by more than 6 seconds.
Ten years ago in 2012, The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Twenty three Modifieds, eighteen tour regulars were on hand for qualifying. Ryan Preece was the top qualifier, started on the pole and went on to win his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event of the season. Preece, who has been a regular weekly competitor at the eastern Long Island track led 168 laps before he survived a green-white-checkered finish to earn the victory. A caution on Lap 196 set up Preece in a battle with Jimmy Blewett on the final restart and pushed the race to 203 laps on the quarter-mile. Blewett was penalized to the tail end of the lead lap for jumping the restart and finished 12th. NASCAR officials stated that Blewett passed Preece before the start-finish line.Justin Bonsignore finished second. Todd Szegedy was third, followed by Riverhead regular Howie Brode and Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top ten was Tom Rogers Jr., Eric Goodale, Donny Lia, Ron Silk and Eric Berndt.The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to Long Island to run the Riverhead 200, a race that was rained-out on the original date July 28th. It was the 51st WMT race at Barbara & Jim Cromarty’s quarter mile oval and arguably the most competitive one of those 51 races with Ryan Preece surviving a green, white checker to collect his second WMT victory of the season. Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett Jr. actually took the checkered flag first getting the jump on Preece on the final restart but NASCAR WMT Officials ruled Jimmy got to the line first and dropped him to last of the lead lap cars, 12th. Preece got off to a fast start winning the Coors Light Pole Award with a lap of 11.902 giving him the pole for the 200-lap event. The race was supposed to be 175-laps but when the 25-lap Qualifying race was not needed Barbara & Jim Cromarty along with Chad Little, WMT Race Director got together and those 25-laps were added to the feature event. When the field took the green flag it was Preece, a two time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series winner at Riverhead in 2012, bolted out front with Eric Goodale, who qualified second putting the heat on Ryan right from the start. For the first 112 laps of the event Preece and Goodale would race hard for the lead with Ryan leading the first 77 circuits before Eric made an inside pass to come to the front on lap 78. Undaunted about losing the lead Preece instead of being the hunted became the hunter and once again the duel between him and Goodale for the lead was intense. The duo rubbed their nerf bars on more than one occasion before Ryan Preece moved back out front on lap 112, while Goodale not only dropped to second but soon thereafter he faded a bit further as the handle went away on his car.Meanwhile Todd Szegedy who was sitting third having the best seat in the house for the Preece/Goodale tussle moved to second on lap 113. Justin Bonsignore, defending race winner of the Riverhead 200 started to make his way towards the front coming to third just past halfway, while Jimmy Blewett was another driver on the march as he approached the top five as well. Bonsignore would come to second on lap 158 passing Szegedy with Todd returning the favor on lap 176. This was the point of the race where things really started heating up with Bonsignore and Blewett appearing to have the best cars of the top four and both wheelmen were hungry for a win.The added 25-laps would prove to be, aside from the Preece/Goodale battle for the lead, the most intense and entertaining laps of the event. Jimmy Blewett was taking no prisoners as he worked his way past Bonsignore and then Szegedy on lap 188 for second, once he got to second it was time to go after race leader and go after him he did.
A late race caution for a minor spin would set-up the green, white and checker finish and when the green light came on Blewett got the better of Preece as the crowd went wild for the former Riverhead raceway regular. As quickly as Jimmy came to the lead the call came over the NASCAR frequency to post the #76 for beating the leader to the scoring loop making Preece the race leader, with Justin Bonsignore now second even though Blewett was out in front of them. After the final laps were run and being declared he was the race winner, Preece noted he knew when Blewett beat him to the line NASCAR would address the issue, “they preach to us at every meeting the leader has to be the first to the line so I knew NASCAR would handle it”. Ryan added “I’m so happy for Eric Sandersen and this Diversified Metal group. It’s an honor to drive their car, along with Bill Park’s machine here at Riverhead. We had a good points night tonight with Doug Coby dropping out of the race so we closed in on his points lead, I hate it for Doug but we’ll take it”. Ryan also took a moment to dedicate the race to his Grandfather, famed former car owner Bob Judkins, “my grandfather had a heart attack yesterday, he’s going to be fine but this win is for him”.With Jim Schaefer aka Long Island Mod Maniac and his bonus money program the victory will exceed $11,000 for Preece and his team. The bonus money included $1,000, plus $3,300 in a “gambler’s buy in”. Each WMT received $300 from Schaefer and his bonus program and were asked if they wanted to put that towards the buy in, Ryan was one of eleven teams that chose to do so. Preece also won the Tri-Track Modified Championship that was held on three quarter mile tracks which, aside from Riverhead, included the WMT event at Monadnock Speedway in May and an open competition race at All-Star Speedway. The Tri-Track series was the brainchild of not only Schaefer but also Area Auto racing News writer Kevin Rice. The remainder of Ryan’s winnings came in the form of lap money.Goodale led a career-high 35 laps. It was just the third race in his career that he ran out front. Among those who had problems and failed to finish was current point leader Doug Coby who was forced to drop out with engine problems. Coby finished 22nd after completing only 60 laps of the eventual 203 laps run.Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway switched to Sunday. In Sunoco (SK) Modified competition Woody Pitkat won the battle but it was Ryan Preece winning the war as he wrapped up the 2012 Sunoco Modified Track Championship. It was Pitkat’s fourth win of the year at the Big T. Preece finished second and was followed by Keith Rocco, Kerry Malone, Dennis Perry and Todd Ceravolo. On lap 27, Pitkat motored by Preece in turn one. Ceravolo began to work over Preece when the caution flew for a spin by Harry Wheeler. The green-white-checker restart gave Preece a shot to grab back the lead and the win.
With the green flag flying, Ceravolo got a run to make it three-wide for the lead. In turn two, Pitkat backed out; leaving Preece to battle with Ceravolo. Entering three, they were three-wide again. Coming out of four, Pitkat came out of the three-wide for the lead. The next lap, Ceravolo slid through the turn taking Preece to the wall. Ceravolo lost the handle on his #16 to bring out the caution. On the second attempt to finish the race, Pitkat was able to hold the top spot but now with Rocco in second. The caution flew for two separate incidents one on the backstretch that found Dylan Kopec hard into the outside wall coming off turn two. The third time was a charm for Pitkat, who got the advantage on the third attempt at a green-white-checker restart. Rocco made contact with Preece allowing Rocco to run under for the second spot. Pitkat was driving away after a bump-and-run by Preece in attempt to take back second. The two went wheel-to-wheel with Rocco just edging out Preece at the stripe for second behind winner Woody Pitkat. In other racing at Thompson, Larry Gelinas of Buxton, ME, was opportunistic in his Super Late Model feature event win and Cam McDermott took the win in the Sunoco Lite Modifieds. After tasting a first-career victory a week previous, Damon Tinio added to his tally with his second straight Late Model win. Jesse Gleason took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division and a top-five finish in the Limited Sportsman division netted Scott Sundeen not only the divisional champions but also a (unofficially) NASCAR National championship. Jay Sundeen capped off a strong night for his racing family with a victory in the TIS Modifieds. The brothers Baxter were on the top of their game on Sunday at Thompson Speedway. The duo went one-two with Joe winning the feature event. By virtue of his runner-up spot, Chad earned the Mini Stock title. The “Outlaw” Antique racers were also on tap with twin feature events.At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action and Valenti Modified Racing Series action were featured. The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its second and final visit of the 2012 season to Stafford for the 2nd Annual Lincoln Tech 80. VMRS points leader Jon McKennedy helped extend his lead in the championship chase by taking the checkered flag for his first ever victory at Stafford Motor Speedway. Taking wins in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action was Todd Owen in the SK Modified® feature, Woody Pitkat in the Late Model feature, Zach Aszklar in the SK Light feature, Cory Casagrande in the Ltd. Late Model feature, and Austin Bessette in the DARE Stock feature. In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco was among those not in competition. Rocco was suspended for the remainder of the season for his part in a confrontation with former car owner Mike Pane. Rocco and Pane traded remarks and allegedly got physical after the running of the SK Modified feature on Sept 8. Rocco said that he was defending himself after Pane initiated a physical confrontation but Speedbowl Race Director Scott Tapley chose not to believe him. Short track racing is a contact sport and emotions run high. Keith Rocco was covering his spot in the closing laps which is something any driver would do. Is he a saint?, no way. Does he deserve to be tossed for the rest of the year? No way! Todd Ceravolo, substituting for reigning track champion Keith Rocco, captured the completion of the Budweiser Modified Nationals SK-150 on Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl. Reluctantly, the Speedbowl awarded the victory to Rocco who actually started the car on Sept 1.
Starting in the rear of the field, Ceravolo spun on lap 55 and managed to claw his way back into the top ten by lap 85 and eventually eased his way into the third spot behind race leader Justin Gaydosh and Rob Janovic. With nine laps to go Janovic made an outside move to pass for the lead when Gaydosh rode him up into the wall between turns one and two. Janovic’s car was trashed and Gaydosh was sent to the rear and was ultimately disqualified from the event. Ceravolo assumed the lead at that point and went on to take the win for Rocco. Woody Pitkat, pinch hitting for Rowan Pennink, finished second. Pennink was in competition at Riverhead. Tyler Chadwick, Jeff Pearl and Joe Perry rounded out the top five. For his efforts Ceravolo’s first place payoff was $5,000. Dillon Moltz won the second of two 35-lap Late Model features after finishing second to Anthony Flannery in the first race while Walt Hovey captured the Street Stock event, Jeff Cembruch won the Mini Stock feature and Joey Ternullo won the Legend Cars feature.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. re-established himself as the man to beat for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by winning Saturday’s Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Stenhouse struggled most of the day, but the driver of the No. 6 Ford made a late-race charge through the field. Following a restart on lap 171, Stenhouse quickly drove to second and began to chase down leader Kyle Busch. With 20 laps left Stenhouse caught and quickly dispatched Busch at the 1.5-mile oval. From there he simply pulled away from Busch to a 2.402-second victory.Brad Keselowski fired the first shot of the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, winning Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps and finished second.
Five years ago in 2017, , In what was supposed to be another great weekend of racing, news of the passing of Ted Christopher, 59, in a plane crash while enroute to Riverhead Raceway on Long Island caused just about everyone in the racing world in the Northeast to go into a state of shock. Connecticut TV station FOX 61 reported a small plane carrying two men crashed into a field in Guilford, CT around 3 P.M. on Saturday afternoon. Known to many as “TC” the veteran racer excelled at just about every racing division in which he ran. Christopher, with 374 career wins is the Stafford Motor Speedway all-time winningest driver with 131 feature wins, 109 of them in the SK Modifieds. He is also the winningest driver in NAPA Spring Sizzler® history with 6 wins. He also accumulated nine SK Modified championships at the Arute family owned track. In addition to his SK accomplishments at Stafford, the man known simply as “TC” also picked up four track championships and 99 victories at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) and one SK Modified championship at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl where he recorded 47 victories over all.
In addition to his many SK Modified wins Christopher recorded one NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship and 48 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories between the northern and southern tours. He also scored 10 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victories in 92 starts. Christopher was named one of the top 25 drivers in NASCAR’s weekly series in 2006, when the series celebrated its 25th anniversary. In 2008, Stafford named a section of its grandstand in his honor.
Christopher left behind his wife, Quinn, and his twin brother, Mike. While he was both loved and despised by his fellow competitors and fans, the one thing you can’t say is that he wasn’t a racer. He was one of a kind . Colorful, controversial, a winner and a champion.
In his honor the Arute family that owns and operates the Stafford Motor Speedway will retire his number 13 from weekly modified competition at Stafford. “Since Ted’s first win in 1986 to his last win on September 8, just 2 weeks ago, he has been a fixture at Stafford,” explained Stafford GM Mark Arute. “We will miss TC but we will never forget him, we will retire his number from weekly Modified racing at Stafford Speedway this Friday. The number 13 is and always will be Ted’s number.”
Danny Watts Racing announced Woody Pitkat as their choice for the weekend on through a statement on Facebook on Monday, Sept 18.
In Friday night racing action at the Stafford Motor Speedway taking feature wins were Matt Galko, who outlasted Chase Dowling, Ryan Preece, and Ted Christopher in thrilling side by side duel that went on for 20 laps to win the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett took down his fourth win of the season in the Late Model feature, Brett Gonyaw scored his second win in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost won his third race of the season in the Ltd. Late Model feature, and Nicole Chambrello scored her first DARE Stock feature win in nearly two years to the day.
With 28 laps complete in the SK Modified event, Galko and Dowling were side by side for the lead but it was now single file behind the two leaders with Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, and Glen Reen making up the top-5 with Tom Bolles still hanging strong in sixth.
With 5 laps to go, Galko and Dowling were still side by side for the race lead with Preece, Christopher, and Reen lined up behind them. As they completed lap-36 it was now two by two as Galko and Dowling were out front with Preece and Christopher and lined up behind them.
As they took the white flag, it was a 5-car train for the lead. Galko was able to get a good run coming out of turn 4 to beat Dowling and Preece to the line by a car length. Dowling took second by inches over Preece with Christopher beating Reen to the line by inches for fourth place.
Unknown at the time, it was Christopher’s last race as he would perish the following day in a plane crash.
The New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night was subdued to say the least when competitors and fans learned of the untimely passing of Ted Christopher. The nights events were put on hold and a very special tribute was held for the late great driver. Christopher’s SK Modified was paraded around The Speedbowl by car owner Doug DiPisa as fellow drivers, officials, safety workers and teams lined up the front stretch to honor Christopher. It was a very touching moment not only for the fans but everybody who was in attendance.
Once racing resumed it was the SK Lites taking to the shoreline oval for their 25-lap feature. It was Colchester, CT’s Brian Narducci taking his second win in a row in only four starts at the shoreline oval. In victory lane, a very emotional Narducci dedicated the win in honor of Christopher.
In the 30-lap Limited Sportsman feature it was Al Stone III taking down his 50th win. Stone dedicated his win to the memory of the fallen champ. In the third race in the Connecticut Championship for the Pro-4 Modifieds, it was Brett Meservey taking down the win. The 35-lap Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series was all Andy Lindeman.
Bruce Thomas Jr made his 2017 return to the Late Models and looked poised to take down the 30-lap event. Thomas jumped out to the lead on lap-2 and was running away with the race. Thomas’s luck soon changed as on the final restart of the race, Keith Rocco would now battle Thomas for the lead. As the green waved the yellow would appear as Thomas had a tire go down sending him pit side and handing over the lead to Rocco . Rocco completed the last couple of laps as the fog was starting to roll onto the track as the checkered flew. In victory lane Rocco referred that he was a man of few words as one could tell. Rocco and his brother Jeff were former pit crew members of Christopher’s race team. Ryan Morgan finished second.
As the 35-lap SK Modified feature was lining up the fog continued to get thicker and continued to roll in at a quick pace. The race was halted on lap-23 as Matt Galko spun into the infield which not only brought out the caution but the red / checkered came out as the fog continued to roll in, causing visibility issues. Owen who was the leader at the time and was given the win with Kyle James and Keith Rocco finishing second and third. Rounding out the top-5 was Rob Janovic Jr and Tyler Chadwick, Jacob Perry finished sixth.
Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was on tap. With heavy hearts after the news of the passing of Ted Christopher the scheduled show went on despite the dark cloud that hung over the speedway. Timmy Solomito kept his Riverhead Raceway roll going in qualifying for the Miller Lite 200. Solomito piloted his No. 16 Starrett Racing Ford to a fast lap of 12.017 seconds around the Long Island quarter-mile for his sixth career Coors Light Pole Award. It marked his third at Riverhead, his home track. Rookie Kyle Soper was second fastest. There were 23 cars on hand.
Timmy Solomito powered by Doug Coby with four laps left to take the Miller Lite 200 checkered flag Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. Solomito, dominant for the first two-thirds of the event in the No. 16 Starrett Racing Ford, was outmaneuvered by Coby in lap traffic for the lead on Lap 155. The four-time tour titlists Coby was poised for his first career win at Riverhead, but Solomito recaptured the lead on the fronstretch on Lap 196 and drove to the checkers. It marked Solomito’s fourth win of the season and eighth of his career.
Coby held on for second with rookie Kyle Soper third, Ryan Preece fourth and Justin Bonsignore fifth. CJ Lehmann, Dillon Steuer, Kyle Ellwood, Eric Goodale and Rob Summer brought home the top 10.
Ten of the original 23 starters finished on the lead lap. The Riverhead event will be shown taped delayed this Wednesday, Sept 20 at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Net.
Martin Truex Jr. punched his ticket to the second round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a victory during Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Justin Allgaier used a daring three-wide move on a late-race restart to take the lead and held on to win Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Last year, 2021 Ryan Preece experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows at the Richmond Raceway on Friday night. On the high side, Preece dominated the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150, leading 98 of 156 laps and surviving multiple late-race restarts to win his third consecutive race over a three-month stretch and first at “The Action Track.”. On the low side, Preece’s car owner Eddie Partridge passed away having suffered a medical incident after leaving the track.
Championship contenders Justin Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling and Ron Silk had their problems and failed to finish. Bonsignore broke a drive shaft, Emerling had motor sailure and Silk crashed
Earning his best finish of the season in the runner-up spot was Jon McKennedy. Following back-to-back 16th-place finishes at Beech Ridge and Oswego, the Tommy Baldwin-led group gained a total of 18 positions on the evening after starting back in 20th.
Ronnie Williams, who started seventh, brought his No. 50 machine home third after leading three times for a total of 34 laps, the best finish of his career, with Cup Series veteran Ryan Newman and six-time series champion Doug Coby rounding out the top five finishers. Kyle Bonsignore, Austin Beers, Andy Jankowiak, Burt Myers and Woody Pitkat completed the top 10.
Both Bonsignore and Emerling were able to get back on track, but returned to the garage mere laps later, ending their nights early. They finished 24th and 25th, respectively.
With two races to go in the season, Bonsignore’s lead over Emerling in the standings is at 22 points. Up next for the Whelen Modified Tour is a trip to Riverhead Raceway on Sept. 18. Doug Coby earned both wins earlier this season, with Justin Bonsignore winning the four prior in a row
After winning the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 with his familiar #6 NASCAR Modified driven by Ryan Preece, Eddie Partridge 68, passed away suddenly. Eddie, wife Connie and Tom Gatz purchased Riverhead Raceway in late 2015 and have continued to run the facility under the NASCAR banner ever since. Defying the growing development, the track continued to thrive as one of the oldest and most storied tracks in the country. So many people in racing at all levels of racing are showing an outpouring of love and thanks for all the help and support Eddie had provided.
Eddie Partridge had a big impact on our sport and will be sorely missed on many levels. Racing was part of Eddies life for many decades from crew member to car owner to track owner and he made so many life long friends along the way.
At any NASCAR WMT race that NASCAR Cup driver Ryan Preece was entered he would be there cheering Ryan on. Ryan Preece posted on Social Media that he won his first race together in 2014 with Eddie and last race together at Richmond.
On most Saturday nights during race season Eddie would be at the back gate at Riverhead or on the pit ramp overseeing the racing, his presence on the NASCAR WMT and the track will be sorely missed.
Last Friday at Stafford, the Speedway hosted First Responder Friday with the TC 13 Shootout joining Stafford’s five weekly divisions in feature action. The SK Modified® division ran their regularly scheduled 40-lap feature as well as the 3rd Annual TC 13 Shootout, a 13 lap race contested between the top-13 finishers from the 40-lap feature that paid the winner an extra $1,313 from a purse of over $7,000. David Arute won the TC 13 Shoot Out while Stephen Kopcik remained the hottest driver at Stafford with his third consecutive SK Modified® victory in the 40-lap feature event. John Blake was a career first time winner in the Late Model feature, Derek Debbis scored his Stafford leading 6th win of the season in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn notched her fifth win of 2021 in the Limited Late Model feature, and Chris Meyer took down his fifth win of 2021 in the Street Stock feature.
Quinn Christopher awarded one driver from each division with a new Bell helmet through the Ted Christopher Safety Initiative and the five lucky winners were Tyler Hines in the SK Modified® division, John Blake in the Late Model division, Paul French in the SK Light feature, Mike Hopkins in the Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. in the Street Stock feature.
Kopcik took the lead from Meservey on the lap 17 restart with Marcello Rufrano, Keith Rocco, and Todd Owen still making up the top-5. Michael Christopher, Jr. spun in turn 2 to bring the yellow back out with 19 laps complete. Back under green, Kopcik again took the lead with Doug Meservey staying right on his bump[er in second. The two leaders touched in turn 3 but both were able to continue without losing any positions. Rocco took third with Rufrano fourth and Owen still fifth. Owen took fourth place from Rufrano on lap-24 and Cory DiMatteo took fifth from Rufrano on lap-25. The caution came back out for a multicar crash in turn 3 involving Noah Korner, Christopher, Dylan Kopec, Vassar, and Bryan Narducci.
Kopcik took the lead back under green with Meservey holding second. Rocco was third with Owen fending off a challenge from DiMatteo to maintain fourth place. Just behind DiMatteo, Jon Puleo was up to sixth followed by Gervais, Rufrano, Troy Talman, and Arute. Kopcik led Meservey to the checkered flag to pick up his third consecutive win and fifth overall win of the 2021 season. Rocco came home third with Owen and DiMatteo rounding out the top-5.
In the 13-lap TC Shootout, Troy Talman and Marcello Rufrano both got out of shape in turn 1 with Rufrano collecting the cars of Keith Rocco, Michael Christopher, Jr., and Stephen Kopcik to bring the caution out before a lap could be completed. David Arute and Troy Talman went wheel to wheel for the lead on the restart, but Dan Wesson spun on the backstretch to bring the yellow back out before the first lap could be completed. The third start saw Arute power his way into the lead before the caution came back out with 1 lap complete for a spin in turn 2 by Michael Gervais, Jr. Arute took the lead on the restart while Owen was all over Talman for second place. Owen made the pass for second onlap-3 with DiMatteo in fourth and Keith Rocco in fifth. DiMatteo took third from Talman on lap-5 with a pass in turn 3 while Arute was still in command out front.
Rocco got around Talman to move into fourth place and he made a move to the inside of DiMatteo for third on lap-11. DiMatteo came right back to the inside of Rocco in turn 3 but the two cars touched with Rocco spinning to bring the caution out with 11 laps complete and set up a green white checkered finish. DiMatteo was sent to the rear of the field by Stafford officials for making contact with Rocco.
Arute cleared Owen for the lead as the two lead cars came to the white flag. Owen couldn’t make a move on the final lap as Arute took the checkered flag to win the TC 13 Shoot Out, his first SK Modified win, and the $1,313 bonus that comes with the win. Owen finished second with Talman, Gervais, and Tyler Hines rounding out the top-5.
At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Matt Buckler stated “There’s an old cliché that says if you don’t learn from history, you’re destined to repeat it.”.
Cory DiMatteo learned his history lesson on Aug. 28 in the SK Modified Fast Five at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. He selected the inside groove on a restart with seven laps to go and wound up finishing second to Andrew Molleur. Buckler added, “That was an experience he didn’t want to repeat — he came up with a different plan during Saturday’s 35-lap feature at the Speedbowl,. He re-started on the outside to protect his lead against Matt Swanson and Bill Anderson down the stretch to claim his second win of the year”.
While several drivers made late moves, DiMatteo struck early, romping past Anthony Flannery on lap 10. It was a good thing for him that he did. On lap 17, the drivers who were running second and third, Flannery and Todd Owen, appeared to make contact to trigger a multi-car altercation. Among the drivers who were caught up in the wreck was Andrew Molleur, who was running fourth, Tim Jordan and Mike Christopher.
DiMatteo, who was in the lead and was in front of the trouble, was not affected. Right place, right time. DiMatteo elected to start on the outside lane during two late restarts and his car had plenty of firepower to surge past Anderson and Swanson.
It was the second win of the season for one of the Bowl’s hottest drivers. DiMatteo has four straight podium finishes and has been in the Top 3 seven times in the last eight races.
Anderson and Todd Owen finished second and third respectively while Rob Janovic Jr., who was also involved in the lap 17 traffic jam, rallied to finish fourth. Twenty-two SK Modifieds took the green.
In other action at the shoreline oval, RJ Marcotte held off Paul Charette and Wayne Burroughs in SK Lite competition. Douglas Curry captured his fourth straight Street Stock victory, Tommy Silva wins fourth straight in the mini-stocks.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island a solemn crowd paid tribute to fallen track owner Eddie Partridge. John Baker was the winner of the 50 lap Modified feature. Tom Rogers Sr finished second. The Whelen Modified Tour Series will visit at the Riverhead Raceway this coming Saturday night.
In NASCAR Cup racing action, Martin Truex Jr. received a penalty on the opening lap of the race for crossing the start/finish line in front of pole-sitter Denny Hamlin at the green flag. But 400 laps later Truex led the field across the line again – this time as the race winner of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. Ryan Preece finished 25th.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame and NASCAR have announced that the Class of 2021 Induction Ceremony will take place in Charlotte on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The ceremony was originally scheduled for Feb. 5, 2021 but was postponed due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Red Farmer and Mike Stefanik make up the Hall of Fame’s 12th class with Ralph Seagraves being honored as the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
John Spence reports that the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine has been sold and will close following the 2021 season . Always enjoyed going to Beech Ridge with MRS . Top notch staff and owner Andy Cusack always made you feel welcomed .. I wish Andy the very best and thanks for the many years of great racing, an outstanding facility, and the support given MRS .