RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Sixty five years ago in 1955, Sid Dimaggio’s Speedbowl History noted that Speedbowl Race Director Rex Records resigned as president of the United Stock Car Racing Club and formed his own American Auto Racing Club, which would sanction the races at the Speedbowl.
United president Harvey Tattersall and his son Harvey Jr (who collectively owned 67% of United at the time) filed a $10,000 lawsuit against Records charging that he formed his AARC and negotiated contracts with drivers while still the President of United. Additionally, the Tattersalls filed a motion for a temporary injuction against Records to stop all AARC business until the suit was settled. However, Superior Court Judge John M. Comley dismissed the motion citing lack of evidence to the charges. The Tattersalls subsequently withdrew their claim for $10,000 in damages.
The Speedbowl season opened on Easter Sunday under the AARC banner. Don Collins in his famous No. 106 was the 25 lap Modified winner. Lou Tetreault was the non-Ford winner. The AARC struggled as the season went along. Many nights, Records allowed Non-Ford cars to run with the Modifieds in their feature since the car counts were below average. Then later in the season, Modifieds were briefly replaced by Late Models as the headlining division on Wednesdays nights
Sixty years ago in 1960, Plainville Stadium in Connecticut ran a 25 lap open competition event which was won by Steady Eddie Flemke who took the lead on lap 10 and never looked back. Tony “Jap” Membrino finished second.
Fifty five years ago in 1965 Ray Delisle was the 30 lap Modified winner at was then called the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Savage took the Bomber main.
Fifty years ago in 1970, the Stafford Speedway and the Thompson Speedway were running twin 25 lap features for the Modifieds. When the Norwood Arena decided to drop the Modifieds at the end of the 1969 season Stafford petitioned NASCAR to change their race dates from Friday to Saturday nights. NASCAR allowed Stafford to change their race night and in doing so opened up the floodgates at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway to the New Englanders who wanted to race on Friday nights. Taking the opening 25 lapper at Stafford was Carl Bugsy Stevens driving the mighty no. 3 of Len Boehler. Ralph “Hop” Harrington driving the famous Tant/Mitchell coupe that had been purchased by Richard Armstrong finished second. Fred DeSarro in the Joe Brady No. 41 finished third. Jerry Dostie and Roland LaPierre Sr rounded out the top five. Harrington won the nightcap with Stevens a close second. Billy Greco, Ted Stack and Ed Yerrington rounded out the top five. At Thompson on Sunday Stevens took the first 25 lapper and was followed by George “Moose” Hewitt, Yerrington, DeSarro and Leo Cleary who was in the Koszela Woodchopper. Hewitt took the nightcap and was followed by Yerrington, DeSarro, Stevens and Jerry Cook. The Fonda Speedway in New York was also running twin 25’s. Rene Charland won the first one and was followed by Dave Buanno, Jerry Cook, Ron Narducci and Irv Taylor. The second 25 lapper was won by Narducci with Taylor second. Wes Moody finished third with Charland, fourth. Also running this weekend was the Fulton Raceway where Lou Lazzaro beat out Richie Evans for the win and Langley Field in Virginia where Ray Hendrick won in the new Tant/Mitchell Camaro. After two consecutive rain outs the Waterford Speedbowl finally got to run their opener. Walt Dombrowski won the 30 lap Modified feature. Johnny DeLong was the Late Model Daredevil winner.
Forty five years ago in 1975, Jack Arute had a vision that if the Modifieds switched from 15 inch wide tires to narrow ones the cars would be slower and the car owners would be spending less. His heart was in the right place but his vision was mis-guided. In the season opening Spring Sizzler Richie Evans did him one better as used eight inch rubber that was used by NASCAR’s Winston Cup division. Evans won the Sizzler with Eddie Flemke Sr, second. Freddie Schulz, Ronnie Bouchard and Fred DeSarro rounded out the top five. Racing at Fulton was called because of rain.
Forty years ago in 1980, SJ Evonsion was the Saturday night winner at Riverside Park Doug Hevron, in the Mario Fiore No. 44 finished second with John Rosati, third. Richie Evans won the 80 lap Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Brian Ross in his home built No. 73 finished second. Hevron, who won the 50 lap non-qualifiers race came from a dead last starting position to finish third in the Sizzler. Jimmy Spencer was fourth with Reggie Ruggiero, fifth. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Bill Eliott took the win. Ron Bouchard qualified sixth and finished 13th while Geoff Bodine qualified 11th and finished seventh.
Thirty five years ago in 1985, a banner field of 99 Modifieds was on hand for the Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Geoff Bodine, driving the Lee Allard No.99, cleaned house as he took the win over Bugsy Stevens and Charlie Jarzombek. Bobby Vee and John Rosati rounded out the top five. Among those who failed to finish was Richie Evans who broke an a-frame and placed last in the 30 car field. Leo Cleary, who had been driving for Len Boehler since Fred DeSarro had passed away, was given his walking papers as he was informed that he was replaced by Ron Bouchard. It was also announced that the Thompson Speedway had been granted a NASCAR sanction for all future events.
Thirty years ago in 1990, Jerry Marquis made it two in a row in Modified action at Riverside Park. Marquis drove the famous No. 2x of Bobby Judkins. Bob Polverari finished second with Kenny Bouchard, third. Dick Trayner and Tom Bolles rounded out the top five. During the running of the event Ricky Summers in the Bill Simons Excavator No. 9 set an altitude record as he rode over a wheel and sailed 25 feet into the air.
Twenty five years ago in 1995, Chris Kopec picked the pole and led from start to finish at Riverside Park on Saturday night. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Paul Corazzo, third. Tom Cravenho and Ted Riggot rounded out the top five. In NASCAR Grand National action at Hickory, NC Johnny Benson took the win after Chad Little was knocked out of the event by Kevin LePage.
Twenty years ago in 2000, it was Easter weekend. Scheduled events at Riverhead, Wall and Waterford were rained out. The only activity was the fact that Mike Liberty filed suit against Bob Bahre and Bill France Jr. Liberty believed that Bahre and France had lied to him and had mislead him when he purchased the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine.
Fifteen years ago in 2005, The Waterford Speedbowl began its 55th consecutive year of staging auto races. Despite the cool night a good crowd was on hand. Ron Yuhas Jr figured he had a tenth place car until Shawn Monahan triggered a massive wreck that eliminated nine of the front runners. Yuhas ended up with the victory with Chris Pasteryak ending up second. Jeff Pearl finished third. Allen Coates won the Late Model feature. Danny Field edged Richard Brooks to take the win in the Mini-Stocks and Len Beebe just nipped Jeff Paul for the Legends feature. Norman Root was the Sportsman winner.
The Whelen Modified Tour opener at the Thompson Speedway provided a surprise ending and almost a new winner. Zack Sylvester was well on his way to victory until a stalled car on lap 146 of the 150 lap Modified main event bunched the field. It ended up being a green- white checkered situation. Sylvester led the restart with Chuck Hossfelt and Ted Christopher in tow. Hossfeld got under Sylvester going into turn one and about the same time Ted Christopher dove underneath both of them to take the lead. On the final lap Sylvester got by Hossfeld and raced wheel to wheel to the finish line with Christopher It looked like Sylvester nipped him by six inches. NASCAR officials saw it differently and awarded the win to Christopher. Hossfeld ended up third with Mike Stefanik, fourth. Rick Fuller rounded out the top five. Ten caution periods kept the event to a bunch of short sprints. The longest green flag period was from lap 108 to lap 146.
Kenny Bouchard led the initial start but was quickly overhauled by Eddie Flemke. Flemke led until lap 8 when Donnie Lia passed him. Two laps later, Ted Christopher took the lead. The first caution came on lap 12 when Tony Ferrente and Chris Kopec spun in turn two, collecting Tom Cloce, Kenny Barry and Tom Bolles. Christopher continued to lead as the second caution waved on lap 21 for a six-car tangle in turn one. The third caution flew on lap 29 for a 13-car melee. Christopher and Hossfeld swapped the lead until lap55 when many of the leaders pitted after Howie Brode and Eric Beers tangled in turn four. Beers went head long into the fourth turn wall and suffered shoulder injuries. Despite the many front runners pitting for tires Christopher elected to stay out. Christopher finally pitted for tires on lap 105. Tony Hirschman, who took the lead on lap 76, paced the field until his tires wore out as Sylvester powered by on lap 134. Christopher made a determined charge and until the final caution when he was running third.
In Whelen Modified Tour Series news, the car counts and spectators continued to be great. There were 46 Modifieds on hand and there weren’t too many empty seats as a crowd estimate of 10,000 was announced. Had it not been for the LaJoie seat and the exceptional workmanship on the Boehler No.3 Eric Beers could have suffered serious injury when he made hard impact into the turn four wall. In other Ice Breaker action James Civali won the twin Sunoco Modified SK type events. Dennis Botticello won the Saturday night 20 lap Late Model event and Charles Bailey III won the Sunday event. Joe Lemay was the Pro Stock winner and Glen Boss, the Sportsman winner. Jeff Gordon made up three laps to win the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville.
Ten years ago in 2010, The Waterford Speedbowl began its 60th season with renewed vigor with Blast Off 2010. When fans and competitors arrived for practice on Friday many improvements were noted including new concrete barrier walls along the front and back straight-aways and an all new coat of paint in the grandstand area. The shoreline oval was one of 10 tracks nationwide to receive funds through NASCAR’s Capital Improvement Grants program.
Speedbowl owner Terry Eames told the Norwich Bulletin that he was still working on a deal to get the Speedbowl on firmer financial footing, but that won’t affect the 2010 racing season. He also stated that any businessman whose company is in Chapter 11 can’t say they’re in great shape. But he felt confident that he and his creditors will agree on a plan in the next six to nine months, and that the plan will save the place forever. Boy, was he blowing smoke!
The biggest challenge had been fending off the creditors, something owner/promoter Terry Eames, who bought the track in early 2009, successfully did shortly after the 2009 season ended, when the group he heads filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Qualifying for all divisions was held in blustery, winter like weather. With somewhere between 230-250 cars on hand, Race Director Tom Fox said the actual count was 244, the north and south pit areas were jammed to capacity.
The Bob Valenti Modified Racing Series portion of Blast Off drew 35 cars. Among the early casualties was Rob Goodenough who lost his left front tire and hit the wall. Chris Jensen and Ed Dachenhausen withdrew because of engine problems. Dave Etheridge, Jon McKennedy and Rowan Pennick were the qualifying heat winners. Todd Annarummo was the consolation winner.
It was almost 4:30pm when the SK Modifieds ran their qualifying heats. With the sun on the way down, the temp dropped below 40deg. Keith Rocco, Ron Yuhas jr. and Jeffrey Paul were the SK Modified heat winners. Conspicuous by his absence was Ted Christopher.
Feature winners Saturday were Allen Coates (25-lap All-American Series Truck), Anthony Mocella (25-lap NEMA Lites), Norm Wrenn (25-lap Pro4 Modifieds), Max Zachem (25-lap Legends Car) and Chris Lomartire (15-lap Bandoleros).
Sunday dawned a cloudy-windy day which kept many fans home as the grandstand was a little over half full. Not bad considering. Keith Rocco started the track season off right as he led pole to pole in the SK Modified 60 lapper. Ron Yuhas jr dogged the leader in the early going but it was Todd Ceravolo who gave the winner the biggest pressure. Ceravolo, who started 11th, moved into the second spot on lap 13 and despite eight restarts Ceravolo could not muster the extra needed speed to out gun the leader. Jeff Pearl turned in a fine run as he finished third after starting near the rear. Yuhas faded to fourth while Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five.
The Bob Valente Auto Mall.com Modified Racing Series turned out to be quite competitive. Doug Coby was the eventual winner but the star of the show was Rowan Pennick who came from dead last to challenge for the lead. Pennick actually had Coby covered at one point but Coby ran him up on a couple of restarts and if he hadn’t backed out of it he would have certainly found himself in the wall. In the end it was all for naught as Pennick appeared to run out of gas on a restart with 10 laps remaining. Matt Hirschman, who came from a 17th starting spot, seized the opportunity and took over the runner up spot to the finish. Jon McKennedy, who led the early going finished third. Andy Seuss and Jacob Dore rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Les Hinkley, Eric Goodale, Steve Masse, Dave Etheridge and Pennick. Pre-race favorite Mike Stefanik had mechanical problems right from the start as he completed only two laps, finishing 26th.
Other Sunday winners at the Speedbowl on Sunday were Chris Leonard in the NEMA Midgets, Tim Jordan in the Late Models, Ed Puleo in the Street Stocks and Danny Field in the Mini Stocks.
Racing continues at the shoreline oval this Saturday night. A tip of the hat to Race Director Tom Fox for running a fast-efficient program.
At Thompson, Test and Tune sessions were on Saturday from 11:00am to 6:00pm. Among those on hand was Bobby Santos III in the Mystic Missile. According to those on hand the young gun looked extremely sharp in the storied car.
MadHouse star Burt Myers confirmed to Russ Dowd that he would be in competition at the upcoming IceBreaker Whelen Modified Tour Series event. Myers is one of the featured drivers in the History Channel reality series which depicts the trials and tribulations of Modified competitors at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.
Denny Hamlin passed Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and leader Jeff Gordon following the final restart to get his third career Sprint Cup victory at the Martinsville Speedway. The race was run on Monday due to the fact that heavy rain pelted the state of Virginia on Sunday. Kevin Harvick was the Truck Series race at Martinsville.
Five years ago in 2015, The Thompson Motorsports Park had a practice scheduled for Friday but rain and fog prevailed. On Saturday morning the New England finally kicked in with sunny skies and temps in the 60s. Thirty five Whelen Modified Tour cars were on hand for qualifying. During an early practice session Rowan Pennink had the throttle stick wide open as he roared down the backstretch of the 5/8 mile oval. Pennink’s car went head on into the concrete wall and burst into flames when the fuel pump was severed from the engine. Pennink escaped unhurt but his car was all but destroyed form the impact and resulting fire.
Defending Tour Champion Doug Coby captured the pole position as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.679 seconds (120.456 mph). Second fastest was Bobby Santos III who was a blink of the eye short with a 18.735 second run. Corey LaJoie, Ted Christopher and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top five. Slowest in the field was sophomore contender Melissa Fifield who was almost 14 mph slower than the pole sitter. She was way out of her league and needed to take a step back, sorry to say. During the running of the Ice Breaker she was lapped on lap 8, the first of numerous times. finally after completing 100 laps at an extremely slow speed she parked the car in the infield after complaining of a slipping clutch and cramps in her feet.
In other Saturday action at Thompson, Moose Douton opened up the 2015 Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with a win in the Limited Sportsman feature after patience paid off big dividends for the Waterford, Conn. driver. Douton didn’t know he won until after the race was completed. Other winners in NASCAR Whelen All American Series action were Tyler Hines in the Sunoco Modified Lite division and Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stock division. Roger Turbush won in the New England Truck Series, Scott Bigelow in the NEMA Light’s, and Scott Quinn in the Vintage Outlaw’s.
The Sunoco (SK) Modifieds had a strong field of 23 cars to run three qualifying heats. Winners were Kerry Malone, Woody Pitkat and Ted Christopher.
A picture perfect day coupled with an almost packed grandstand provided the back drop for Doug Coby who appeared to be out for a Sunday drive as he clearly dominated the 150 lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series 150 lapper. Coby, in his Phil Moran prepared mount, took the early lead and proved from the start he was going to be the man to beat. A few early race cautions stopped him from pulling out to a commanding lead, but after a lap 36 restart, that’s exactly what he did. A red flag on lap 14 when Danny Watts hit the wall provided a slight interuption. Once racing resumed, Coby was back out to a ten car length lead over Bobby Santos and Ted Christopher.
A round of pit stops under caution on lap 75 provided a little drama as Ron Silk inherited the lead but not for long as Coby was able to jump six spots to place himself inside of the top five by lap 84 when the caution flew for Troy Talman. Coby reclaimed the lead on lap 100 when he went by Silk in turn three. Ryan Preece and Silk took tires under caution on lap 104 in hopes to give themselves a shot at Coby up front but to no avail. Timmy Solomito moved into the second spot on a restart at lap 118 putting him side-by-side with Coby for a restart at lap 122. Coby jumped right back out to the front with Santos taking over the second spot.
Coby pulled away to a huge lead before caution was out again at lap 135. Coby handled the restart as well as he had any other, but this time it was Pitkat who took over the second spot. On the final lap, a five car tangle in turn four resulted in Coby taking the checkers under caution.
Following Coby and Woody Pitkat at the finish was Santos. Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Timmy Solomito, Eric Goodale, Donny Lia, Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy.
Ten cautions for 54 laps kept Coby’s average speed at 67.514mph. Eighteen of the original 35 starters finished on the lead lap.
In other Sunday action, Ryan Preece won in the Sunoco Modified Series, Marc Curtis in the Late Model division, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman, and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks. Other winners included Dillon Moltz in the Granite State Pro Stock Series and Scott Quinn in the Vintage Outlaws.
Taking over an hour to complete the 75 lap distance, Ryan Preece used a late-race pass to slingshot past Keith Rocco on lap 69 and drive on to the victory in the Sunoco Modified 75 lap race. It was a battle right down to the wire in a race that was plagued by 12 caution periods. Preece and Rocco swapped the lead numerous times but in the end it appeared that Rocco lost some power in his engine. Woody Pitkat finished third and was followed by Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour series visited the Langley VA Speedway last Saturday. After a John Smith spin in Turn 2 on Lap 45, Burt Myers was forced to the pits to change a cut right rear tire. He thought the early setback ended any chance for a decent finish. He was mistaken.
Myers piloted his No. 1 Remington SCT/Citrusafe/Speedway Auto Auction Ford into first place on Lap 88 of the Pepsi 150 at Langley Speedway and never relinquished the lead, capturing his second consecutive win at the southern Virginia oval and first victory of the 2015 season. The win gives Myers, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, a total of 16 career wins on the Tour.
Kyle Ebersole, driving the No. 5 Ebersole Excavating Ford, elected to stay on track as the leaders pitted during cautions at various points during the race, waiting until Lap 140 to get his new tire. He returned to the track in fifth position with seven laps remaining in the race, then worked his way to second with two to go, but was unable to catch Myers and finished in the runner up spot.
George Brunnhoelzl III started from the pole and led the first third of the race, until pitting after the third caution. He ran in the top five throughout the race but had to settle for a third place finish. Defending Southern Modified Tour champion Andy Seuss finished fourth, and Frank Fleming kept his streak of top-10 finishes at Langley Speedway intact with a fifth place result. Jason Myers, J.R. Bertuccio, Jeremy Gerstner, Gary Putnam, and Bobby Measmer Jr. rounded out the top 10.
There were 15 cars on hand for the event. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour begins its spring break and will return to action on July 4 at Caraway Speedway.
While the New London-Waterford Speedbowl has received a new lease on life, hopefully for many years, another historic speedway, the one-mile New York State Fairgrounds Speedway in Syracuse, NY may meet its demise after the running the Super Dirt Week event this coming fall. The one mile speedway, known as the Moody Mile, has been in existence for 109 years.
Area Auto Racing reported that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo made the opening round of the demise when he allocated $50 million for capitol projects at the fairgrounds. The money promised to Onondaga County executive Joanie Mahoney is earmarked for a project which she says will turn the fairgrounds into a modern facility that can be profitable year round. Her vision and that of Fair director Troy Waffner is to tear down the 16,000 seat grandstand and remove the one mile speedway. In its place would be an Ice Plex for Hockey leagues, an Equestrian Center for horse shows, an RV Park along with useable grass and tree areas.
On a sad note, former Speedway Scene owner and editor Val LeSeur sent word that his best friend and son, Bob passed away at the age of 53 after suffering a heart attack in South Carolina. During the Speedway Scene years Bob served a vital role as he covered the NASCAR Cup and supporting events with his camera and his pen. Bob was pre-deceased by his Mom, Anne.
After having won several honors at the North Carolina Masters swimming championships a week ago, Bob was working towards competing in the Nationals. After his shift at the Y, he was doing laps when he suffered a heart attack.
In NASCAR Sprint cup racing at the Texas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson had to out-duel Kevin Harvick and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. over the final 15 laps to score his second win of the season and the 72nd of his career. Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS moved from seventh to first over the final 25 laps, using aggressive passes exiting turns to gain a lead he never relinquished. In 2012 Erik Jones made headlines by out-driving Kyle Busch to capture the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. On Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, Jones did something even more impressive by outrunning former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to capture his first NASCAR XFINITY Series triumph.
Last year, 2019 The hills of northeastern Connecticut came alive with the sounds of racing engines at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway as IceBreaker 2019 got the green on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.
Feature events included the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (150), Sunoco Modifieds (30), Late Model (25), Lite Modifieds (20), Limited Sportsman (20), Mini Stock (15), Pro All Stars Series (75), NEMA Lites (20), 375 Sportsman Challenge (35), Exit Realty Pro Truck Challenge (20), Valenti Modified Racing Series (50).
Twenty nine Whelen Modifieds were on hand for the IceBreaker 150. Cars qualified via the group qualifying method. Doug Coby secured the pole position after he recorded a time of 18.855sec. Second through fifth included Justin Bonsignore, Kyle Bonsignore, Tommy Catalano, Patrick Emerling.
Justin Bonsignore made it five in a row at Thompson as he got an unexpected gift from Doug Coby. Coby, who started on the pole, led the first 99 laps and appeared to be on cruise control. Pitting under caution for three tires Coby ran over an air hose and was penalized to the rear when the green was displayed on lap 110. Bonsignore, who also changed three tires, exited the pit behind Coby and assumed the lead on the restart. Coby made a valiant charge but just ran out of time as he finished fifth when the checker waved on lap 154. Ron Silk finished second and was followed by Eric Goodale, Patrick Emerling, and Coby. Sixth thru tenth were Burt Myers, Matt Swanson, Woody Pitkat, Chris Pasteryak and Jimmy Blewett.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track as part of the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 28. FansChoice.TV will live stream the entire NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule.
Nine time NASCAR Connecticut State Champion and seven time Thompson Speedway Sunoco (SK type) champion Keith Rocco successfully embarked on another run for the track championship as he won a spirited 30lap battle with Todd Owen. Owen had all he could handle with Woody Patkat breathing down his neck. Track announcer pretty much summed it up when he dropped one of his famous Buckler-isms, “Owen was caught between a Rocco and a hard place”. In the end Pitkat finished third with Mike Christopher, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Glenn Reen.
In victory lane Rocco stated that his mount was a brand new Troyer chassis. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 261 wins which include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 61 at Thompson and 50 at Stafford Speedway.
Other Sunday winners were PASS Late Models: DJ Shaw, Limited Sportsman: Ryan Waterman, Mini Stocks: Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 2. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 3. Dave Trudeau, Jr. (Mansfield, CT); 4. Scott Mihalski and Late Models: Tom Carey, III.
The day was relatively warm, the over-all racing was great and the grandstands were full!
The first official day of racing brought five feature events and a great crowd to the track on Saturday, April 4 with competitive racing and close finishes that kept fans on the edge of their seats the entire afternoon. Several racing series and divisions kicked off their respective seasons as drivers sought to claim victory in one of the most prestigious racing weekends in New England.
The main event of the afternoon was the 50-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature kicking off their sixteenth season in style with a battle of two young stars of the sport surviving caution after caution chasing their first wins. While early on it looked like Chase Dowling was securely in control of the race Ronnie Williams quickly worked his way up the field and by halfway was battling Dowling for the lead. The rest of the event was filled with side by side racing and lead exchanges between the two young guns as they endured numerous cautions that saw each driver gain an advantage restart after restart. It all came down to a three-lap shootout after the final caution of the race where Dowling got the jump and outraced Williams to score his first Valenti Modified Victory as well as his first win at Thompson in any division. Max Zachem started on the pole but it was Dowling taking the lead at the start. Zachem continued to fade and ended up 14th at the checker. Glen Griswold hit hard in turn one on lap 6. He was taken to a local hospital for observation.
The Exit Realty Pro Truck Challenge kicked off the afternoon with the first points race of the 2019 season at Thompson and concluded with its own exciting finish. Gerard Giordano, Jr. ran a dominant race starting on the pole and leading 34 laps of the 35-lap feature surviving several cautions to try and capture the Pro Truck season opener. However, it’s not over until it’s over as they say. That was the case for Jacob Perry who raced behind Giordano in second for the entire race until he picked his moment and relinquished the lead on a bump-and-run move on the final lap.
The night concluded with the kick off of Thompson Speedway’s divisional racing season with a new entry in the track’s lineup, the SK Light Modifieds®. This division has grown in popularity at Thompson over the last few years leading it to become an official addition to Thompson’s lineup in 2019. Coming into the event Bryan Narducci had a perfect record winning all four SK Light Modified® races run at Thompson since 2017. He continued that success with a dominating effort winning the division’s first event of 2019 at Thompson and is now five for five. Teddy Hodgdon finished second with Narducci’s cousin Alexander Pearl, third. As an interesting note Narducci and Whelen Modified Tour competitor Melissa Fifield share the same number, 01. During pre-race practice Narducci was clearly the fastest of the two as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 19.874 seconds. Fifields best time was 20.304 seconds!
Other Saturday winners at Thompson were John Zych in the NEMA Lites and Alby Ovitt beat out Shawn Monahan in the Exit Realty 375 Sportsman division.
Next up On Sunday May 19. at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park the track divisions take center stage, specifically the Limited Sportsman with the division’s long-distance race to accompany the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Mini Stocks and SK Light Modifieds®. The pre-Memorial Day event will also salute active military members and veterans who can enjoy the races for free with a military ID. It all takes place
In some great news, FansChoice.TV will air ALL 10 NASCAR events at Thompson in 2019.This includes all of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour & more! Many are hoping Stafford and Waterford will follow their lead.
Word comes from the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH that all new grandstands have arrived and will be erected this week. Fresh pavement for drainage and a hospitality area to be completed just off of turn 4 as well.
In NASCAR Monster Cup action at Bristol, Kyle Busch’s win on Sunday marked his third of the season in eight Cup Series races, as well as the 54th of his career, tying him with Lee Petty for 10th on the all-time win list. Ryan Preece finished 25th, four laps down.