Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1948, John Bernardi was the feature winning Midget driver at Seekonk.
Seventy years ago in 1953, Joe McNulty was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner and Fred Luchesi was the Saturday night winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lou Tetreault and Tommy Van Epps were the non-Ford winners. Van Epps showed a lot of raw talent but unfortunately would never be able to show it as he lost his life in an auto wreck the following winter. George Smaldone was the winner at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1958, rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night. On Saturday night at the shoreline oval Red Foote made it two in a row in the Modifieds. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. Old Bridge fell victim to rain.
Sixty years ago in 1963 at the Utica-Rome Speedway Rene Charland picked up his fourth victory of the year at the Vernon, New York oval. Cam Gagliardi finished second with Ken Meahl, third. Everybody’s friend George Pendergast was the 50 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ernie Rankin was the Bomber winner. Racing on the dirt at Stafford fell victim to rain. Bobby Sprague was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Hop Harrington took the top spot at Norwood.
John Gouvei won at Fort Dix. Steady Eddie Flemke, leading the famed Eastern Bandits, arrived late at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey after a weekend swing through the south. Flemke was allowed to start the Modified feature in the scratch position and still ended up taking the win over John Gouveia and Bob Rossell. Runt Harris was the winner at South Boston.
Fifty five years ago in 1968, Kenny Shoemaker went two for two as he won on the asphalt at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on Friday night and on the dirt at Fonda on Saturday night. Bernie Miller finished second at Albany and was followed by Richie Evans, Lou Lazzaro and Dave Lape. At Fonda, Ray Sitterly finished second with Dave Lape, third. In Friday night action at Stafford Mr. Leo Cleary put the Joe Brady 41 in victory lane. Bill Slater finished second with Bugsy Stevens, Tommy Borget and Ralph “Hop” Harrington rounding out the top five. Saturday night at Norwood saw Roland LaPierre Sr. take the win. The action at the Waterford Speedbowl saw Don Collins take the Modified feature win and Winston Barrows earn a victory in the Late Model Daredevils. Ronnie Bouchard continued to make a name for himself as he won his second main event of the season at Seekonk. At Thompson on Sunday, Steady Eddie Flemke in the Bob Judkins 2x took the win and in Sunday night action at Utica-Rome Dave Kotary took the win over Bill Henry, Ken Shoemaker, Dave Gaul and Dick Clark.
Fifty years ago in 1973,twin features were run at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. Richie Evans won the opener and was followed by Bob Santos, Jerry Cook and Lou Lazzaro. Bugsy Stevens won the nightcap with Denis Giroux and Cook following. At Stafford on Saturday night, Eddie Flemke took the win with Ronnie Bouchard, second and Stevens, third. George Savory was the Late Model winner at Seekonk. Special events at Islip and at Tioga fell victim to rain. Dick Watson ruled the roost at the Waterford Speedbowl in the Modifieds. Big Mike Daignault was the Grand American Late Model winner. Lee Raceway ran a double point event on Sunday. The Bugman took the victory with Dan MacNamara, second and Ernie Gahan, third. Utica-Rome closed out the weekend with twin events, which were won by Richie Evans, and Jerry Cook.
On a sad note, rising star Gary Colturi lost his life in a motorcycle accident.
Forty five years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine went three for three on the weekend including his seventh in a row at Stafford. Bodine, in the Big Red No.1, also won events at Riverside Park and at Utica-Rome. At Waterford, Moose Hewitt beat out Dick Dunn and Mike Beebe for the win and at Seekonk, George Summers was the best of the best with Bugsy Stevens second and Corky Cookman, third. Westboro saw John Falconi over Joe Howard. Islip ran a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier, which was won by Greg Sacks. Charlie Jarzombek finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Jarzombek also played second fiddle at Riverhead where he finished second to Wayne Anderson. At Thompson on Sunday, Ronnie Bouchard won out over Bugsy Stevens and Ray Miller.
Forty years ago in 1983, the week started on Tuesday at Stafford where a 50 lapper was run with Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Jamie Tomaino, Kenny Bouchard and Bob Polverari. New Egypt ran on Wednesday where Bob Park took the checker over John Blewett jr. and Tony Siscone. Back at Stafford on Friday, Kenny Bouchard won out over Bobby Eve, Corky Coachman and George Summers. Bo Gunning was the SK modified winner. Saturday at Waterford, John Hoffman took the win over Larry Lanphear and Ted Christopher. At Seekonk, Richie Evans made a surprise visit and took all the marbles. Vinnie Annarummo finished second followed by Bugsy Stevens and George Murray. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Terry Labonte was the pole sitter. Cale Yarborough took the win. Down on Long Island, George Brunnhoelzl won at Islip with Fred Harbach, second. At Riverhead, Alan Harbach was the winner with Don Howe, second.
Thirty five years ago, in 1988, Stafford rained out on Friday but it stayed clear up north as Monadnock got in its program with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win. Jerry Marquis took the Saturday night win at Riverside Park. Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggerio followed. At Waterford, John Jensen took the win. Dickie Doo Ceravolo finished second with Ricky Young and Bert Marvin following. Tony Hirschman got his sixth at Tioga and at Thompson, Tom Tagg took the win. Mike Christopher finished second. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Geoff Bodine took the win but the racing world was stunned when Bobby Allison was critically injured. Allison eventually recovered but his racing career was over. It was only the beginning of tragedy for the Allison family as both Davey and Clifford would lose their lives in future years.
Thirty years ago, in 1993, Ted and Mike Christopher finished one-two at Stafford on Friday night. The Busch Grandnational North division was also at Stafford. Mike McLaughlin took the win with Jamie Aube, second. Saturday night at Waterford, John Jensen took the checker but was disqualified after a tech inspection revealed an illegal crankshaft. Jerry Pearl, who finished second, was awarded the win. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Eddie Brunnhoelzl, at Riverhead. John Sneade won at Thompson on Sunday. Mike and Ted Christopher finished second and third but were disqualified because of illegal cylinder heads. Kerry Malone was moved from fourth to second.
Twenty five years ago, in 1998, rain washed out the entire program that had been scheduled at Stafford. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour visited the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night. Mike Ewanitsko was the fastest qualifier and after starting sixth took the lead from Mike Stefanik on lap 56 and went on to score the win. Stefanik finished second and was followed by Jan Leaty, Ed Flemke Jr. and Charlie Pasteryak.
Rain washed out action at Riverside Park and at Thompson on Sunday; Ted Christopher took the win over Frankie Cardile.
The big news of the week was the announcement that NEXTEL, a provider of wireless communications in the United States, would become the title sponsor of what was called the Winston Cup division of NASCAR. NEXTEL was expected spend between $70 – 90 million a year over the next ten years. Once rumors broke early in the week, NEXTEL stock took off. Starting the week at 14.90, NEXTEL closed out the week at 17.78. RJ Reynolds/Winston finished out the year as the sponsor of NASCAR’s elite division. During the 2002 season, RJR Winston got $160 million worth of media exposure. RJ Reynolds has been involved with NASCAR racing for 33 years.
In a somewhat related matter, NASCAR’s versions of Ken and Barbie, (Brooke and Jeff Gordon) have reached a divorce settlement that gives Brooke Gordon at least $15 million. She had waived alimony and would get the proceeds from the sale of two pieces of real estate including the couple’s ocean front home in Highland Beach, Florida.
Round Two of Thursday night Thunder at Thompson beat the weather on Thursday night. Jeff Malave went from pole to pole to win his second Sunoco-SK Modified feature of the year at the 5/8-mile oval. Bert Marvin finished second with Eric Berndt, third. Heavy drama unfolded on a lap three re-start. With Malave leading and Bob Drown running second, heavy hitters Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning were in hot pursuit. As Christopher was about to make a move, Drown moved up to protect his spot. Christopher momentarily lifted and was hit accidentally by Gunning. Christopher and Gunning spun at high speed on to the infield grass and struck a concrete barrier protecting a light pole. The impact saw Christopher’s car go up in the air and come down on its roof. With his fuel pump sheared off and gas leaking out Christopher became trapped and could not unbuckle himself to exit the car. Gunning was able to exit his car and went to Christopher’s aid and pulling him out of the car, as flames were about to erupt into an inferno. In the past there had been a lot of bad history between the two. Although not what you would consider friends, Gunning put his feelings aside and went to the aide of a fellow competitor. Had it not been for Gunning’s quick actions, the former NASCAR Weekly Racing Champion could have suffered serious burns or even worse. Chuck Docherty was the Pro Stock winner and Woody Pitkat repeated in the Late Models. Norm Ashline was the Limited Sportsman winner and Eric Bourgeois was the Mini Stock winner. Speedway owner and promoter Don Hoenig is up and about after a bad accident the previous week. Hoenig was T-Boned in the driver’s side door while on his way to secure Fireworks permits for the track.
The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday. Rain forced postponement. NASCAR and the Seekonk management were working on a new date. For the fifth week in a row rain-washed out racing at the Waterford Speedbowl. During the 1978 season, when Dick Williams operated the track it rained seven Saturdays in a row. Williams finally ran an event on Wednesday, just to get a race in. Waterford is not alone, Seekonk in Massachusetts lost four out of six events, Stafford lost three out of 10 and Riverhead, on Long Island, lost five out of nine.
Todd Szegedy was leading John Blewett III by 45 points in the chase for the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series championship. Chuck Hossfeld sat in third. Rounding out the top five were Jerry Marquis and Ted Christopher.
At the Stafford Speedway on Friday night; Bo Gunning passed Jeff Baral on lap 43 of the scheduled 50 lap SK-Modified feature and went on to secure his first win of the season. Gunning was the defending modified track champion. Ron Silk, Kerry Malone and Frank Ruocco rounded out the top five. Ted Christopher, still very sore from his accident at Thompson, brought out a back-up car and finished 11th. Woody Pitkat was the late model winner. The Busch North Series was the main attraction at Stafford on Friday night Tom Carey took the win over Martin Truex and Kelly Moore. Carey made the pass for the lead and the eventual win on lap 137 of the 150-lap event. In Winston Cup action at Sonoma, California, Boris Said took the pole and it was Robbie Gordon took the win.
Twenty years ago in 2003, Brad Leighton took the lead on lap 43 in the BGNN 150 at Stafford when Dave Dion spun in oil and went on to take the win, his fourth of the year. Jeff Taylor finished second with Dion, third. Stafford’s SK Modified event rained out.
Waterford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Eric Berndt taking the win over Jeff Pearl and Tucker Reynolds. Riverhead went to Frank Vigliaro Jr.
In 100 degree heat, Bert Marvin went pole to pole at Thompson. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Tom Fox, third. At Riverside, Rob Summers won a 125 lapper over Ted Riggott and Bob Polverari. In Busch Grandnational action at Milwaukee, Casey Atwood hit Jeff Green on the final lap and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Glenn Allen. In Winston Cup action under the lights at Daytona, Dale Jarrett took the lead on lap 146 of the 160 lap distance and took the win over Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Burton.
Fifteen years ago in 2008, the Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program went off as planned under sunny and warm skies. The Late Models took center stage with Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA, taking a dominant win in the 50 lap extra-distance race for the division. It was a career night for some of the younger generation as teenagers Derek Ramstrom and Jay Sundeen scored their first career wins. Ramstrom of Worcester, MA, earned a dominating win in the Pro Stocks and Sundeen of Douglas, MA, was best in the Limited Sportsman division.
Keith Rocco of Wallingford scored a hard-fought victory in the Sunoco Modifieds and Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor rebounded with a TIS Modified victory. Scott Michalski of South Killingly took top honors in the Mini Stock main event.
There were 124 cars in the pit area including 23 Sunoco Modifieds. The Pro Stocks, once a strong division at Thompson, were dying a slow death as only 13 were on hand.
The Stafford Motor Speedway and Ted Christopher celebrated a major milestone as the multi-time track champion won the 35th Annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 which also happened to be Christopher’s 100th career win at the nutmeg state oval. Other feature winners included Michael Bennett and Dillon Moltz from the Late Model division, Alan Provost in the SK Light feature, Sean Foster in the Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn in the DARE Stock feature.
The 35th Annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 took the green with Doug Coby leading the first three laps before giving way to Todd Owen on lap-4. While Owen was pacing the field, Ted Christopher was quickly working his way through the field from his 7th place starting position. He took second place from Curt Brainard on lap-19 and closed in on Owen’s bumper by lap-30. Christopher hounded Owen’s back bumper, but couldn’t make a pass stick. The first caution of the race came out with 38-laps complete, which gave Christopher all the opportunity he needed as he took to the outside groove on the restart and passed Owen for the lead. The race took on another long green flag run with Christohper, Chris Jones, and Woody Pitkat making up the top-3 cars. The race ran green to lap-89 with the top-3 cars remaining the same. Pitkat got by Jones on the restart and he applied immediate pressure to Christopher in a battle for the race lead. Much like Christopher did earlier in the race to Owen, Pitkat was all over the back bumper of Christopher. Pitkat tried several times to make a run for the lead in the corners, but couldn’t make a pass stick and Christopher had just enough car to keep in front of Pitkat for a one car length victory, the 100th career feature win for Christopher at Stafford Motor Speedway. Pitkat finished second, with Tom Bolles, Keith Rocco, and Frank Ruocco rounding out the top-5.
In victory lane, it was announced that to commemorate Christopher’s 100 career victories at Stafford, Section A of the main grandstand would be named after Christopher, placing him with other modified greats that adorn each section of Stafford’s main grandstand. Christopher was also presented a commemorative plaque, recognizing his 100 career wins. From go-karts in church parking lots to Sprint Cup cars on Superspeedways, Christopher has done it all
The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.
Despite threatening skies the True Value Modified Series got their 100 lapper in the record books. Taking the win was hometown favorite Vinnie Annarummo of Swansee, MA. Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon, CT finished a strong second and was followed by Jon McKennedy, Les Hinkley and Dave Pinkham.
Congratulations were in order to Middletown CT native Joey Logano who, in only his third career start, won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Meijer 300 at the Kentucky Speedway. Logano became the youngest driver to win in NASCAR Nationwide Series history at 18 years and 21 days. Logano won the pole for the 300-miler, his second in as many weeks, and led 76 of the 200 laps, second only to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Busch led a race-high 85 laps.
Logano took the lead from Busch on Lap 147, passing him on the outside of Turn 4. On Lap 164, Busch’s charge to reclaim the position ended after he lost control of his Toyota on the backstretch, spinning and slamming the outside retaining wall. Following Busch’s wreck, the race was Logano’s to lose. With the race running green flag to the finish thereafter, Logano crossed the finish line 2.259 seconds over second place Scott Wimmer. Race attendance was a track-record 73,195. It was the eighth straight sellout at the facility in which Speedway Motorsports Inc. agreed to purchase earlier this year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended his 76-race winless string Sunday, coasting to victory at Michigan International Speedway under a caution flag with little but fumes left in his gas tank. Kasey Kahne, coming off a victory the previous week in Pocono, finished second. Matt Kenseth finished third, followed by Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
Ten years ago in 2013, The Thompson Speedway was extremely busy and enjoyed it’s best Thursday night crowd. Double features highlighted NASCAR Whelen All American Series action in the Sunoco Modified and Lite Modified divisions. Keith Rocco and Kerry Malone each garnered a win in the Sunoco Modified division while Cam McDermott swept the Lite Modified. Other winners included Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman division, Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stocks, and Ben Lavangie in the Vintage Modified feature.
In the first Sunoco Modified feature, Rocco started fourth and took the lead from Kerry Malone after a lap 19 restart. As Rocco picked up his third win of the season Woody Pitkat moved into second and Malone faded to third. Ryan Preece and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. Among those in the 17 car Sunoco Modified field was Tommy Barrett who drove the Richie Gallup No. 50. Barrett never got the chance to show his stuff as the Gallup car developed valve train problems and failed to finish.
The second Sunoco Modified 25 lapper provided close competition and a surprise finish in the end. On the start, Rocco who took the green in 8th spot, was collected in a three car spin on the back chute on the first lap. Rocco’s car was double hooked off the speedway with severe front end damage. Tom Abele, Jr, who led the start also led the restart. By lap four, Ryan Preece had moved into the lead with Woody Pitkat in hot pursuit. Todd Ceravolo was also in the mix. A caution on lap 14 set the stage for the fireworks that were about to explode. Shortly after the restart, on lap 20, Preece and Pitkat, who were running side by side, came together in turn two. Preece, who was on the outside, fit the wall. Track officials felt that Pitkat did it intentionally and parked him for the night. Pitkat later said that it was his fault but it was not his intent to stuff Preece in the wall. Malone inherited the lead on the restart. Matt Gallo and Todd Ceravolo were on his bumper. As Malone was racing down the backstretch on the final lap a mass tangle ensued between Gallo and Paul Newcomb. Ceravolo, who had slipped to fourth, lifted to avoid the unfolding wreck. Dennis Perry, who had been running fifth made a brilliant move with some heads-up driving, came through the tangle and found himself in second place at the finish. Ceravolo recovered to finish third with Tom Abele, fourth. Joey Parker rounded out the top five.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ted Christopher won by inches over Doug Coby and Woody Pitkat. It was a bitter-sweet victory as Christopher had lost his dad after a courageous battle with cancer. It was also his 99th career SK Modified win at Stafford. Christopher, who admitted to blocking in the closing moments, took the lead on lap 35 of the 40 lap feature.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its first of three visits during the 2013 season to Stafford for the Inaugural VMRS 80. Tommy Barrett, Jr. took the checkered flag to become the very first repeat Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Stafford Motor Speedway. Barrett took the lead following a restart on lap 59.
Barrett led Steve Masse to the checkered flag to become the first two-time Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Stafford. Dave Etheridge finished third, with Eric Goodale and Richard Savary rounding out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were Dan Meservey, Jr., Eddy Spiers, Woody Pitkat, Norm Wrenn and Louie Mechalides.
There were 33 Modifieds on hand for the MRS event. The 10th anniversary MRS season continues this coming Friday night, June 28, at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH. with the running of the “Laticrete Port City 100.”
Other Friday night winners at Stafford were Adam Gray in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Jesse Hinze in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and 14-year old rookie Ryan Fearn in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series invaded the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Ryan Preece beat Doug Coby in a green-white-checkered finished to win the Mr. Rooter 161 at the shoreline oval. Preece followed Doug Coby for most of the race and Coby appeared to be in control until a final caution flag on lap-158 set up the thrilling finish. Coby chose the outside lane for the final restart with Preece lining up to his inside in second position.
Coby did not restart as smoothly as he had all race long and watched Preece drive by his inside. Coby tried to rally over the final lap, but could not get back alongside Preece through the final turns. Coby settled for second and was followed by Don Lia, Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos III.
The event, which drew 27 cars, saw Todd Szegedy take the pole position during qualifying after he toured the 1/3 mile oval in 13.833 seconds (97.593mph). Szegedy led from the start to lap 101 when Coby got him in heavy traffic. Nine cautions slowed the event. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk and Bryon Chew.
The weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature winners were: Waterford’s Rob Janovic Jr. (SK Modified), Keith Rocco (Late Model), Norm Root Jr. (Street Stock) and Bill Leonard (Mini Stock).
In the SK Modified feature, Janovic took the lead from Joe Gada after a restart on lap 24. Ed Puleo finished second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Gada faded to fourth. Craig Lutz rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco recovered after being involved in an early wreck with Shawn Monahan to finish 8th. Tyler Chadwick and Ted Christopher finished sixth and seventh.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Tim Brown shot to the front at the start of Saturday night’s first 25-lap Modified race and never looked back. Brown went on to his 68th career victory. In the second 25-lap Modified race, Michael Clifton was declared the winner after leader Joseph Brown was black-flagged by officials when his car was identified for leaking fluid and he refused to pit.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers Jr. became the first repeat winner in the NASCAR Modifieds at the eastern Long Island oval when he topped the Rapid Recovery Towing night 35-lap feature Saturday night. For Rogers, a six time winner in 2012 it was his 22nd career win which tied him for 13th on the all-time win list with Joe Krukowski and Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Martin Truex Jr. finally took the win at Sonoma Raceway, ending a 218-race winless streak with a victory in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Truex drove to victory in dominating fashion, leading a race-high 51 laps and cruising to an 8.133-second victory over five-time Sonoma winner Jeff Gordon.
A.J. Allmendinger sat on the pole and then muscled his way to victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Johnsonville Sausages 200 at Road America, surviving a chaos filled race to score his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. he was suspended by NASCAR for failing a random drug test in 2012, most believed his racing career was all but over.
Five years ago in 2018, , due to impending weather, NASCAR and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park officials postponed Wednesday evening’s Thompson 125 until Thursday, June 14. Somewhat threatening skies kept the crowd down on Thursday night but it didn’t hinder the determination of Justin Bonsignore who made it three out of five in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins for 2018. Bonsignore led a contingent of Long Island Gang members which included Dave Sapienza, 5th, Timmy Solomito, 6th, Craig Lutz, 7th, Eric Goodale, 11th and Shawn Solomito, 12th.
Bonsignore started fourth on the grid passed early leader Doug Coby between turns three and four on lap 8 before giving way to Coby who passed him on the front chute just prior to completing 24 laps. Coby set a torrid pace for 74 laps before the first caution of the night flew on lap 92 for a spin in turn 3 by Joe DeGracia. Coby along with Bonsignore, Ryan Preece, Rowan Pennink and Rob Summers to name a few. Quick work by Bonsignore’s crew got him out of the pits first which gave him a big break. When the green flag was displayed on lap 98 Bonsignore jumped out in from leading Coby, Timmy Solomito, Rowan Pennink and Preece. Solomito lost his third spot on lap 103 when he went high in turn 2, allowing Pennink and Preece to shoot by. One final caution flew on lap 107 when Walter Sutcliff Jr spun on the back chute. The field restarted on lap 112. Bonsignore continued to lead while Coby slipped and allowed Pennink to take over the runner-up spot. At the finish it was Bonsignore over Pennink, Coby, Preece, Sapienza, Timmy Solomito, Lutz, Summers, Matt Dowling and Matt Swanson.
Bonsignore holds a 19-point advantage in the championship standings over Chase Dowling, while Craig Lutz is third, 29 points back. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, this coming Saturday night on June 23. This event will be televised on a taped-delayed basis on Thurs, June 28 at 7:00pm on the NBC Sports Net.
In other action at Thompson on Thursday night, the Sunoco Modifieds began the action with a 30-lap feature that pitted two of the best against each other with Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco seeking glory in the third race of the season for the division. Preece had the advantage of starting up front and led the first ten laps before Rocco worked his way to the lead. Preece would not be denied however, putting his bumper to Rocco’s until the caution waved with ten laps remaining setting up a sprint to the finish between two of the most iconic names on the local racing circuit.
The final ten laps were more of the same with Rocco leading and Preece utilizing every trick in his arsenal to try and take the win. Preece made one final move on lap 29 but was unable to seal the deal as Rocco performed the hat trick winning all three Sunoco Modified events of the season so far at the Big-T. Preece settled for second and was followed by Todd Owen, Steve Masse and Troy Talman.
Wayne Burroughs beat out Eric Bourgeois for the Mini-Stock win, Dan Cugini was the NEMA Lite winner, Ryan Waterman staged a spirited battle with Shawn Monahan for the Limited Sportsman win and Mark Janison beat out Woody Pitkat for the Late Model win.
On a note of constructive criticism, the Thompson Motorsports Park is a great facility which provides great competition. While much has been spent on the sports car course the grandstand area has become somewhat run down as the grandstands are badly in need of a coat of fresh paint.
The Stafford Motor Speedway has been the scene of many emotional wins, last Friday night will be one to be remembered. It was a night of milestones for the two premier divisions as Michael Christopher, Jr. scored his first career SK Modified® win by outdueling Ryan Preece in his Uncle Ted’s car. The second milestone was Tom Fearn setting a Stafford Speedway track record for consecutive Late Model wins by winning his fifth consecutive race of the 2018 season. Other feature wins were scored by Andrew Molleur in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost in the Limited Late Model feature, and Trace Beyer in the Street Stock division.
Christopher and Ryan Preece went wheel to wheel on a late restart with Preece falling into line behind Christopher coming to the white flag. Preeece made one las run coming to the checkered flag but Christopher held him off to score his first career SK Modified® victory. Keith Rocco finished third with Todd Owen and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Todd Owen outran Rob Janovic to win the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Dylan Izzo was third. Jonathan Puleo made it three for three in SK Lite competition. Charles Canfield was the Mini-Stock winner and Jon Porter was the Sportsman winner. The American-Canadian Tour was on hand for a 150 lapper. Scott Payea took the win. Local winner Ryan Morgan finished a solid seventh.
Across the big pond on Long Island, Ryan Preece went back to basics in the set-up of his Eddie & Connie Partridge Tour Type Modified Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway and did it ever pay off as he won the 2nd annual Islip 300 worth $7,000 to the winning team. For Preece a two-time winner on the Xfinity Series of NASCAR it was his 16th career win at the historic quarter mile oval.
Preece would pit for his change tires just after the 200-lap mark of the race moving John Fortin Sr. to the race lead on lap 215. However, armed with three new tires Preece’s car was again on rails and he wasted little time taking back the race lead from Fortin on lap 222. However, during a long green flag run after taking back the lead Ryan’s car seemed to level off allowing not only Fortin to pressure the leader but also John Beatty Jr. who with 40-laps remaining got by Fortin and set sail for Preece. Beatty was able to stay right in the tire tracks of Preece and on occasion tried to cross the leader over off the corners but Ryan was able to inch away each time.
John Beatty Jr. was the runner-up in the MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy sending praise the race winners way, “hats off to Ryan and his team, they had a great car. So did we, his was just that much better”. John Fortin Sr. was third. Kyle Soper crossed the line fourth while Dave Brigati completed the top five.
It has been announced that the Riverhead Raceway will host a mid-week racing program. On Wednesday July 11th Riverhead host a NASCAR Whelen All American Series program for the NASCAR Modifieds, Eagle Auto Mall Crate Modifieds, Super Pro Trucks, INEX Legend Race Cars, 8-Cylinder Enduro and a School Bus Figure Eight race. These features will be regular distance and carry championship track and WAAS points! General admission for fans will be $20.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jonathan Brown won the first 50-lap Modified race Saturday night, and Lee Jeffreys picked a win in the second 50-lapper Saturday night. In the first race, Randy Butner started on the pole, but points leader Burt Myers had passed Butner on the start. Myers led until the 38th lap, but on the restart after a caution, Brown rolled past Myers with 10 laps to go.Another caution brought out he restart cone, and Brown started inside. Myers went to the outside in hopes of passing Brown with eight laps left. Brown held off Myers for the next three laps, but another caution happened with five laps left. Brown won the race and picked up his fourth win of the season. Myers was second, Jason Myers, Burt’s brother, was third and John Smith was fourth.
In the second 50-lap Modified race, Darin Redmon started on the pole, but Jeffreys took control on the 20th lap. Jeffreys was able to hold off Myers and picked up his second win in as many weeks, and his 21st overall in his career.
In NASCAR Xfinity Series racing, Justin Allgaier scored his second victory of the year at Newton, Iowa.
On a sad note, Arthur “AJ” James Vogel, age 58, died unexpectedly at UMass Memorial on June 12, 2018 from complications arising from a heart attack. Born in Hartford on January 28, 1960 and raised in Fabyan, AJ studied Engineering at Thames Valley State University before dedicating 23 proud years of service to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles. Restless in retirement, he rejoined the work force as the town of Killingly’s transportation supervisor for seven years. His final years were his happiest, as he passionately pursued his dream of officiating for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He wore many hats and loved each one.
Last year, 2022, The on again-off again status of the Monaco Ford Tri-Track series at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was confirmed last week as it was announced in a statement from the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series: Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series ownership has worked with the New London-Waterford Speedbowl management over the past few days to confirm August 6th as the fifth date of our 2022 season. Absent from the schedule since 2016, the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series is not only looking forward to getting back to the Shoreline oval in 2022 but has an eye on building a long-term relationship and is hopeful to make the Waterford date an annual, marquee event.
Dick Williams posted the following message on Friday afternoon: “The Racing Guys are no longer involved with any events at the New London/ Waterford Speedbowl. We have a lot of friends and racers at the ‘bowl that we have supported these past years but due to the events the past few days, we’ve had enough of the B.S. and backstabbing”.
He added, “Our race at Claremont on August 12th will be our last race and the Racing Guys will no longer exist. Thanks to all of the sponsors for their support and all of the racers for their participation. It’s time to end it.”. signed D.W.
In the never- ending soap opera at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl internet racing news site RaceDayCt reported that Mike Marfeo, the general manager of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, since just prior to the 2020 season, resigned from the position on Saturday. Marfeo announced during the driver’s meeting prior to Saturday’s features at Waterford that he was leaving the track due to conflicts created over the scheduling of a Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series event at the track on Aug. 6. Marfeo’s departure comes four days after the Speedbowl management confirmed the track would host the Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series for an Aug. 6 event.
Marfeo explained to those attending the driver’s meeting Saturday that he was responsible for the announcement on June 10 that the track would be hosting a Racing Guys promoted Tour Type Modified event. He also explained that he was not the person that cancelled that event, saying there was only one person above him at the track who could do that, seemingly referring to track owner Bruce Bemer. He told those at the meeting that he doesn’t have the tools to succeed at the track and could not remain any longer as the general manager. Marfeo was applauded after the announcement and was hugged by some competitors.
The Speedbowl is a great track for an event like that with the only problem is that the Speedbowl management doesn’t advertise or promote any of their events except to post them on their billboard on Route 85 or post them on Facebook. With fuel prices being as they are and the economy all but in the toilet racing promoters need to get the word out to the casual fans who only attend once in a while.
Auto racing in New England got an early start last week as the Thompson Speedway opened it’s doors for the Nutmeg State 75 presented by Twisted Tea open competition event. For the second time in as many starts at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the 2022 Outlaw Open Modified Series season, Mike Christopher Jr. was in Victory Lane Wednesday at the Connecticut oval. Christopher rocketed to the lead with 58 laps complete in and held off multiple challengers on multiple restarts to win the $5,000 prize.
Christopher continued a dominating stretch for Tommy Baldwin Racing, where the team has been to Victory Lane in three straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, and now both Outlaw Open Modified Series events at Thompson. Christopher held off two of the top names in Modified racing at Thompson in the last decade, Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece, to capture the win. He also won $10,000 at the Icebreaker 125 at Thompson in April.
Christopher passed early race leader Preece for the top spot on lap 36 and led until the caution on lap 49, when multiple of the lead challengers pitted. Christopher was the first of the drivers with new Hoosier racing rubber to get to the front and he was able to take full advantage, driving by Matt Swanson to the lead with 17 laps to go. Several late cautions slowed the race, which allowed Rocco and Preece to pass onto the podium. Matt Swanson finished fourth, while Chris Pasteryak followed in fifth. Ronnie Williams was sixth, followed by Matt Galko, Woody Pitkat, Colbey Fournier and Spencer Davis. Worth noting was the fact that Jacob Perry made his open competition debut and finished a respectable 15th. Perry was headed for a top ten before making a rookie mistake which resulted in a scrape with the wall.
In other Wednesday night action at Thompson, the Sunoco (SK type) Modified feature went to Stephen Kopcik, as the Connecticut native also made it two-for-two to on the Thompson season. Kopcik, Todd Owen and Keith Rocco thrilled fans in a three-car battle for the lead during the middle of the race, but it was Kopcik gapping out his challengers over the final stretch of the 30-lap event. Owen would finish second, with nine-time track champion Rocco in third. Troy Talman and Danny Cates finished the top-five. Derek Gluchacki made it two-for-two in the Thompson Late Models, It looked like Steven Chapman was going to make it a second straight in the SK Light Modifieds, but Nathan Pytko wasn’t going to be denied. Pytko rolled to the top spot right from the drop of the green and had to hold off Chapman for the entire 25-lap distance and Dave Trudeau was a winner in the Mini Stocks.
Jason Chicolas went to Thompson’s Limited Sportsman Victory Lane after finishing third on the track but becoming the first driver to pass post-race inspection. Original winner Ryan Waterman, second-place Scott Sundeen and fourth-place Zach Robinson all fell victim to post-race inspection.
For an event of this magnitude with fairly high purse payouts the car count was extremely low. The Limited Sportsman field was ample with 20 cars. The open competion outlaw modifield totaled only 18 and the Sunoco Modifieds (SK) were a mere 11. The Late Models also totaled only 11 and the Mini Stocks numbered 10 while the SK Lights drew 13. Thompson Speedway will return to action on Wednesday, July 13 for the Midsummer 75 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, SK Light Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will also be part of the racing action,
The threat of thunder showers and the price of fuel had its effect on the crowd at Stafford on Friday night as the grandstand appeared to be a little on the lean side. On the other hand the pit area was jammed with 99 cars including 27 SK Modifieds, 25 SK Lights plus Street Stocks, 22 and 25 late models. Rich Hammann was the winner of the extra distance Limited Late Model feature event for his third win of the season. There were two consecutive race winners tonight with Adam Gray nailing down his third consecutive Late Model win and Alexander Pearl took down his second consecutive SK Light victory. Cory DiMatteo held off a determined charge from Bryan Narducci to score his first SK Modified® win of the season and Nickolas Hovey reigned in the Street Stock feature for his first win of the season.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Dan Wesson took the early lead from pole position with Keith Rocco quickly moving into second. Ronnie Williams moved up to third with Marcello Rufrano and Anthony Bello side by side for fourth place. Rocco took the lead from Wesson on lap-4 but he lost the lead to Williams on lap-5. Rufrano was up to third with Wesson fourth and Bryan Narducci up to fifth when the caution flew with 5 laps complete for Noah Korner, who hit the wall in the middle of turns 1+2.
Williams led lap-6 on the restart but Rufrano worked his way to the inside of Williams and he took the lead from Williams on lap-7. Narducci was up to third and he pulled alongside Williams for second on lap-9 while Rocco and Cory DiMatteo were side by side for fourth place behind Williams and Narducci. DiMatteo took fourth on lap-10 while Narducci was finally able to get by Williams for second. DiMatteo went around Williams on lap-14 to move into third and now Stephen Kopcik was right behind Williams for fifth. Michael Gervais hit the turn 2 wall and Dan Wesson spun in turn 2 to bring the caution flag out with 14 laps complete.
Rufrano took the lead back under green while DiMatteo moved into second. DiMatteo got to the inside of Rufrano on lap-15 and he had the lead by a nose at the line. DiMatteo got clear of Rufrano on lap-16 and now Narducci was side by side with Rufrano for second with Williams in fourth and Kopcik and Rocco side by side for fifth with Todd Owen just behind them in seventh place.
At the halfway point of the race, the order was DiMatteo, Narducci, Rufrano, Williams, Kopcik, Owen, Rocco, Tyler Hines, Michael Christopher, Jr., and Andrew Molleur. Williams made a move to the inside of Rufrano on lap-24 in the fight for third and they ran two laps side by side before Williams got clear into third. Narducci was applying heavy pressure to DiMatteo for the lead but DiMatteo was able to fend off his challenges for the time being.
With 5 laps to go, DiMatteo was still in front with Narducci right behind him in second. Williams was third followed by Rufrano and Kopcik. DiMatteo held Narducci off to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2022 season. Williams finished third with Rufrano and Kopcik rounding out the top-5.
Narducci was disqualified after it was discovered his transmission was illegal.
In the SK Light 20 lapper Alexander Pearl started tenth and took the lead on lap 10 with Tyler Barry in tow. The two, both third generation racers, finished one-two at the checker with George Bessette, third.
The Friday night racing series at Stafford continues this week with Midstate Site Development Street Stock Firecracker 30 + FIREWORKS. It was also announced that the Camping World SRX event scheduled for Saturday night, July 2 has been sold out.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Winchester, NH for the Dual at the Dog on Saturday night. (Monadnock Speedway is nicknamed MadDog). Ronnie Williams #50 was the fastest of the NASCAR WMT drivers who had attempted to qualify for the Duel at the Dog at Monadnock Speedway. Rain came before qualifying was over, so the balance of the show was postponed until Sunday afternoon. Since qualifying was 6 cars from being complete, the starting lineup was determined by final practice times with Justin Bonsignore getting the pole position with Matt Kimball on the outside.
Bonsignore ended up taking the win after the lapped car of JD Fortin blocked leader Matt Hirschman with two to go thus costing him the win. Hirschman had taken the lead from Ron Silk with 44 laps to go in the 200 lap contest. In victory lane Bonsignore admitted he was lucky to have been in the right place at the right time. With two laps to go Hirschman was leading when he came upon the lapped car of JD Fortin. Fortin disregarded the move over- passing flag and remained in the racing groove, blocking the leader. Bonsignore went low and stood on the gas and was able to take the lead and eventual win. Hirschman recovered to finish second with Ron Silk, third. Sam Rameau and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Eric Goodale, Jake Johnson, Austin Beers, Tommy Catalano and Jacob Perry rouned out the top-10.
One of the big stories of the day was solid performance turned in by Jacob Perry who drove the Jack Bateman no. 47 to a solid tenth place finish after starting scratch in the 26-car starting field. He showed he could run with the big dogs at MadDog.
The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island for a 200 lapper this coming Saturday night, June 25
At the New London Waterford Speedbowl, The SK Modifieds® went green to checkered, and the 2020 Champion of Tim Jordan was able to find his way back to victory lane for the first time this season. Ray Christian racked up a win in the Late Model feature, Bill Sylvia posted his second Mini Stock win in the last three weeks, Tyler Champan overcame a three-wide battle with less than four laps to go to win the Truck feature and Brody Monahan whirlwinded by Isaiah in the INEX Legends feature.
With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.
The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:
Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.
Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181).