RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit; First Week Of February

RPW Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Fifty five years ago in 1965 Goodyear introduced their new Lifeguard Inner Tire for cars in competition at the Daytona International Speedway.

The inner tire was designed to eliminate the loss of control when the outer tire loses air because of a puncture or from being worn out. Among those who were missing at Daytona was Richard Petty who decided to try Drag Racing because the Chrysler Corp pulled out of racing because NASCAR would not allow the Hemi engine to compete.

Fifty years ago in 1970, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens was crowned the 1969 NASCAR National Modified Champion for the third time.

Forty five years ago in 1975, the Modifieds were not part of the New Smyrna World Series. They were, however, a part of Speedweeks as they were scheduled to race on the road course of the Daytona Speedway.

Forty years ago in 1980, Geoff Bodine led a full field of 39 entries to win the opening night event at New Smyrna. Maynard Troyer was a pre race favorite but blew his Hutter big block power plant. Gary Balough finished second and was followed by Richie Evans, Doug Hewitt, Merv Treichler and Jerry Cook. Nite no.2 saw Evans take the top spot with Bodice, second. George Kent finished third and was followed by Leo Cleary and Brett Bodine. At Daytona on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt led a multi car draft that overhauled Darrell Waltrip on the last lap of the Busch Clash. Evans made it two in a row at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Bodine and Balough wrecked as George Kent went on to finish second. Junior Handley finished third.

Thirty five years ago in 1985, opening night at New Smyrna had to be cancelled because of a brown out. Saturday at Daytona, Bill Elliott blistered the 2-1/2 mile oval as he took the 500 pole with a speed of 205.114mph. Terry Labonte started 11th in the 12 car Busch Clash and beat Darrell Waltrip by less than a second. All was well at New Smyrna on Saturday night as Jim Spencer took the win over Doug Hewitt. On Sunday night at New Smyrna, Reggie Ruggerio was not to be denied as he out ran Charlie Jarzombek to the win. Tomaino finished third and was followed by Hewitt, Spencer, Evans and Dick Trickle.

Thirty years ago in 1990, Reggie Ruggiero, in the Mario Fiore No.44 was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Tony Jankowiac finished second with Jamie Tomaino, third. Night No.2 at New Smyrna rained out. At the Daytona Speedway on Saturday, Ken Schrader took the Daytona 500 pole and also was the winner of the Busch Clash. Dale Earnhardt took the outside pole for the 500 and Greg Sacks finished second in the clash. Sunday night at New Smyrna, Tom Baldwin had it all together as he romped to victory Tomaino finished second with Jankowiac finished third.

Twenty five years ago in 1995, Tiger Tom Baldwin was the opening night winner at New Smyrna. Jamie Tomaino finished second and was followed by Mike Ewanitsko, Bruce Dell and Tom Cravenho. Baldwin made it two in a row as he won again on Saturday night. Steve Park finished second and was followed by Ewanitsko, Bob Park and Eric Beers. At Daytona on Sunday, 51 Winston Cup Cars attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500 pole. Dale Jarrett took the top spot with a speed of 193.494 mph. Dale Earnhardt was the outside pole sitter. Brett Bodine and car owner Junior Johnson was barred from qualifying after NASCAR discovered an illegal intake manifold. In addition, Johnson was fined $45,000.It was also announced that Randy Lajoie and Bill Davis were fined $35,000 when it was discovered they had a hydraulic device that raised and lowered rear deck of their car. Dale Earnhardt won the Busch Clash. At New Smyrna on Sunday night, Ted Christopher broke Baldwin’s streak. Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Jamie Tomaino, Tim Connolly and Wayne Anderson.

Twenty years ago in 2000, thirty-six Modifieds showed up for opening night at New Smyrna. Ted Christopher started eighth and despite getting drilled by Jim Willis on the start, took the opening night win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak and Jim Willis. Night number two saw Beers take the win over Pasteryak, Christopher and Tomaino. Sunday at Daytona saw the team cars of Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd take the front row starting spots for the Daytona 500.Jarrett also won the Bud Shootout consi and the Bud Shootout. Christopher took the lead from Pasteryak on lap 7 of the 25-lap feature and went on to score his second series win at New Smyrna on Sunday night Pasteryak finished second with Tomaino, third. It was also made public that Don Hoenig filed an eviction notice against Butch Davis and Brian LaForte in attempt to regain control of the Thompson Speedway.

Fifteen years ago in 2005, Speedweeks in Florida shifted into high gear. The 39th Annual New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Speedway Racing got the green on Friday night, for nine consecutive nights on the high banked ½ mile asphalt track. Tour type and SK-type Modifieds from the Northeast were in competition along with Super Late Models, Late Models, Florida Modifieds, Mini-Stocks and Strictly Stocks.

Opening night at New Smyrna greeted fans and competitors with chilly conditions with temperatures in the mid 40s. Thirty three Modifieds, including seventeen SK types were on hand. Separate features, 25 laps for the Modifieds and 15 laps for the SKs. Pole sitter Tim Arre jumped out to an early lead as he led the first nine laps. The field had just completed three laps when Long Islander Glenn Tyler spun out. On the restart, Ted Christopher who had started 8th, spun out and pitted for a chassis adjustment. Christopher rejoined the field without losing a lap. Don Lia, who started seventh, took the lead from Arre on lap 10. Shortly after that Charlie Pasteryak hit the wall. Lia withstood five restarts before running out of gas on the 19th lap. Adding insult to injury Lia suffered a flat tire during a pit stop for fuel. Christopher inherited the lead and went on to record the win. Eric Beers finished second and was followed by Arre, Kevin Goodale and JR. Swansbrough. Chris Jones won the SK Modified feature over Mike Holdredge. Christopher also finished third in the Super Late Model feature.

Night No.2 at New Smyrna saw 22 Modifieds and 13 SKs on hand. Charlie Pasteryak got patched up and made the field for the Modified feature but others who got banged up on opening night weren’t as fortunate. Chuck Hossfeld started third and took the win after passing pole sitter Curtis Truex Jr. Truex faded in the late going and ended up finishing in 7th spot. Eric Beers recorded another runner-up finish with Ted Christopher, third. Kevin Goodale and Charlie Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Don Lia, who had high hopes of dominating the series continued to have problems as he was the victim of a spin-out and ended up in 12th spot. Mike Holdredge took the SK Modified win. Friday night’s winner Chris Jones finished 10th. In the Super Late models, Ted Christopher recorded a fifth.

Jimmie Johnson won the Busch Shootout at the Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night by 0.199 seconds, averaging 181.399 miles an hour. The victory was worth $212,945, Ryan Newman, who finished second, picked up $112,445. Jeff Gordon was third in a Chevrolet followed by Tony Stewart’s Chevrolet and Greg Biffle’s Ford Taurus. Defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt Bush was sixth in a Chevrolet with fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh. Earnhardt had ignition and handling problems. A crowd estimated at 85,000 watched the race in chilly conditions at Daytona. There were five lead changes among six drivers. Greg Biffle led the most laps in the race, one time for 44 laps. Johnson led the final 16.

Ten years ago in 2010, , the official start of the 2010 Modified Racing season was supposed to have begun on Friday. Severe thunderstorms and threats of a tornado forced the speedway management to pull the plug on opening night activities. Before the rains came Modified and SK track steward Richard Brooks and his staff had over 30 cars go through tech inspection.

The Florida skies cleared on Saturday, the wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Opening night at New Smyrna drew 19 tour type Modifieds and 11 sk type Modifieds. Eric Goodale was the fastest tour type Modified qualifier. Second fastest was Matt Hirschman. Rowan Pennink qualified third. Rounding out the top five was Chuck Hossfeld and Ted Christopher.

The tour type Modifieds were first up with their 25-lap feature. During hot laps Jim Zackarias spun out on the front stretch and hit the wall. Due to the redraw for the start John Jensen started on the pole with Ted Christopher on the outside. At the drop of the green Christopher jumped out in front and led the entire 25 lap distance in an event that went non-stop. Jensen finished second and was followed by Pennink, Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Hirschman, Eric Goodale, Rob Fuller, JR Bertuccio and Kevin Goodale.

The SK type Modifieds went 20 laps. Nicole Morgillo, who started second, took the lead at the start. By lap 4, Keith Rocco, who had started 5th, took the lead with Ron Silk, second. Two laps later, Silk passed Rocco for the lead. Almost immediately, Silk was tapped by Rocco, causing the two to spin and in the process collected Morgillo, Jeffrey Gallup and Jimmy Zacharias. Silk and Zacharias were able to drive away while Rocco and Gallup had their cars towed off. David Cranmer took the lead on the restart. Silk restarted in the rear and embarked on a determined run to the front. Silk had worked his way up to third spot when he hit Zacharias who in turn hit the outside wall in the turn two area. As a result, Silk was put to the rear for rough riding. With six laps to go Cranmer led the single file restart. Cranmer led the final four laps to take the win. Silk made a move to pass Cranmer for the lead on the last lap as the cars came into turn four but backed off and settled for second. Dave Salzarulo finished third followed by Chris Jensen and Rob Schultz.

The tour type Modifieds and the SK types had Sunday night off.

Eric Beers had finally solidified his driving plans for 2010 as Dave and Laura DeLange of Lockport NY and John “Grandpa” Blewett, Howell NJ were going split the 2010 season as car owners with Beers as the pilot of their NASCAR Modifieds. Beers would drive the Blewett owned Modified for the two events at New Hampshire, the three at Thompson and the one race at Riverhead. He would be in the DeLange Modified at Stafford (4 times), Martinsville, Lime Rock, Monadnock, and Bristol.

In a somewhat related matter, Jimmy Blewett would be competing during the 2010 season in the famed Dick Barney prepared #14 on the NASCAR Tour.

One of the hot topics of conversation in the pit area at New Smyrna was a recent 36 page complaint by Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General of the State of New York that alleged that Suffolk (Long Island) Productions, a for- profit entity that ran telemarketing and fundraising campaigns for a host of charities was allegedly engaged in a scheme to defraud by mis-representing who it is and where the money donated would go. According to the complaint over $3million was collected from 2006 to 2008.

The report mentioned Deborah Cromarty-Hallahan as the principal defendant. Cromarty-Hallahan assumed control of the Riverhead Raceway from her parents, Barbara and Jim Cromarty, two years previous. Also listed as a defendant was Riverhead Public Relations Chief Bob Finan.

Bob Finan addressed the story about the NY State Attorney General’s investigation of Suffolk Productions. While this company was founded by Jim Cromarty many years ago, it was now owned and run by Deborah Cromarty-Hallahan, and was a separate entity from anything to do with Riverhead Raceway. Bob went on to say this whole thing was just political posturing by someone who is running for governor and it is being litigated down at the time and it should have no effect on the operations of Riverhead Raceway in 2010 or in years to come.

In Daytona 500 qualifying, Mark Martin won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway with a lap of 191.188mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the outside pole. Kevin Harvick won the Budweiser Shootout. Veteran ARCA Racing Series driver Bobby Gerhart earned a historic sixth Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 Daytona race victory on Saturday evening, using patience and fuel strategy in ARCA’s wreck-filled season opener to notch his seventh-career restrictor plate victory while Danica Patrick finished sixth in her stock car debut.

Five years ago in 2015, The Florida flat lands came alive with the sound of racing engines as Daytona and New Smyrna come alive for the official start of the 2015 racing season.

Both Daytona and New Smyrna held practice sessions last Thursday. Daytona held practice for ARCA cars which totaled 46. Bobby Gerhart, an ARCA regular was the fastest with a 47.633 run on the 2-1/2 mile oval. 25 58 John Lowinski-Loh was 25th with a 48.085 sec run and Tommy Barrett Jr. was 30th with a 48.441sec run. At New Smyrna approximately a dozen tour type Modifieds were on hand. Among the fastest were Ryan Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio amd Kevin Goodale.

The Daytona Int. Speedway held qualifying for the ARCA cars last Friday, Taking the pole for Saturday’s ARCA 200 was Mark Thompson who turned a 48.042 on the 2-1/2 mile oval. Second fastest was Cody Coughlin followed by Tom Hessert, Brett Hudson and Martinsville Speedway promoter Clay Campbell. John Lowinski-Loh, who races at the Thompson Speedway, qualified 23rd and Tommy Barrett Jr., who competes on the Whelen Modified Tour Series, was 35th. Barrett was not quick enough to make the starting grid.

Opening night at New Smyrna saw only 14 cars start the Modified tour type feature as temperatures dipped into the low 40’s. Ryan Preece ran away with it but was disqualified after a post race weigh-in. Justin Bonsignore was moved up to the winners spot. J.R. Bertuccio finished second with Jimmy Zacharias, third. Rounding out the top five were Kevin Goodale and Dalton Baldwin.

Because of the cold night the grandstands were all but empty. Track officials dragged their feet in expediting the program as it took way too long to clean up wrecks and restart events.

Spencer Davis, who drives for the Hill family, had a rocky start after a rear end issue sidelined him prior to the green flag. He lost five laps swapping spots with the driver of the Hillbilly Racing backup car and completed what turned out to be his best finish of the night after disqualifications in the Super and Pro Late Model features.

Grant Enfinger won the ARCA 200 on Saturday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway. John Lowinski-Loh was not as fortunate as he was an early drop-out with a blown engine. He was credited with a 33rd finishing position. Matt Kenseth won Saturday night’s exhibition Sprint Unlimited, which was a crash-filled kickoff to the NASCAR season for the second consecutive year. Only 12 of the 25 cars in the field were running at the end of the race, which was stopped twice by red flags for multi-car accidents. There were only eight cars running at the end of the 2014 race.

Ryan Preece got redemption from his opening night disqualification as he won the Tour type Modified 35 lapper on Saturday night. Chuck Hossfeld finished a close second with JR Bertuccio, third. Justin Bonsignore and Jim Zacharias rounded out the top five. Attendance was sparse as temps dipped to the low 40’s.

In Daytona 500 qualifying on Sunday, Jeff Gordon, in what he says was his final attempt at the Daytona 500, got just enough of a draw from the line of cars ahead of him to post a lap of 201.293 mph (44.711 seconds), good enough to top all twelve cars who advanced to the third and final round of Coors Light Pole Qualifying and giving the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion his second career pole (1999) for NASCAR’s most prestigious event. Johnson, who was at the tail of the drafting train in the final moments of qualifying, came up three one-hundredths of a second shy of his third career 500 pole (201.135; 44.746), but sits on the front row of the Great American Race for the fourth time in his career and gives car owner Rick Hendrick his fourth career “sweep” of the front row for the 500.

The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and the NASCAR K&N Series took center stage at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Eddie MacDonald led wire-to-wire to claim Sunday night’s American-Canadian Tour 100 which went green to checker without a caution. Following MacDonald at the finish were Patrick Laperle, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Travis Stearns and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. The Rocco brothers, Jeff and Keith, finished 18th and 19th. Keith had a motor problem earlier in the day and was forced to borrowed one for Sunday night. A back-up motor arrived on Monday. Austin Hill, 20, took the lead after winning the 21 Means 21 Pole Award and never looked back on the field from there, besting a 26-car field and leading wire-to-wire to win the Hart to Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150.

Details of the settlement of the sale of the Waterford Speedbowl have been released. The New London Day reported that the title to the Waterford Speedbowl has been officially transferred to Bruce Bemer, owner of Bemer Petroleum in Glastonbury, CT following a creditor’s withdrawal of an appeal, according to a lawyer involved in the foreclosure lawsuit. Attorney Michael S. Bonnano said that his client, Speedbowl creditor Edward DeMuzzio, withdrew an appeal of the sale on Wednesday, Feb4.

Bemer won ownership of the Route 85 track on Oct. 18 with a bid of $1.75 million at an auction. Speedbowl fan Rocco Arbitell and business partner Peter Borrelli filed for foreclosure against the racetrack’s then owner, Terry Eames, in 2008. DeMuzzio later alleged that collusion had led to a winning bid that was artificially low, as the track is valued at about $3 million. He previously submitted documents to the court stating that the low bid led to him being “wiped out” as a creditor.

Title was transferred from Eames to Bemer on Thursday, Feb 5 said Bonnano. A motion for a supplemental judgment outlining how much each creditor will receive from sale proceeds still requires approval by a New London Superior Court judge, according to Bonnano.

The motion states that creditors Arbitell and Borrelli are to receive $1.22 million from proceeds of the sale. DeMuzzio is slated to receive $35,000 from the sale, and Shawn Monahan, who has also lent money to the track, is to receive about $13,000, according to the motion. Another $473,000 is to be divided among creditors First H&M Corp., Theodore Park Jr., and Shawn Parker, the motion states. DeMuzzio’s firm CCi Inc., also listed as a creditor, is not slated to receive money from the court proceeds, according to the motion. Bonnano said parties in the settlement have agreed not to share further details of the settlement.

Big News came from the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. Could a Whelen Modified Tour Series event be in their future? The Venditti family made their 70th season even more historic.

As confirmed by NBC 10 in Providence, RI, the Seekonk Speedway will return to the NASCAR Home Tracks program as a NASCAR-sanctioned short track for the 2015 season.

“NASCAR and Seekonk Speedway officials have confirmed that Seekonk Speedway will be returning to the NASCAR family in 2015,” said NBC 10 news lead sportscaster Frank Carpano. ”Seekonk Speedway has signed as a NASCAR member track this coming season and will feature the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.” An official announcement of the partnership between the track and NASCAR is expected in the near future. The Speedway was most recently part of the Home Tracks back in the 2005 season.

Last year, 2019, The annual World Series of Auto Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway in Florida got the green flag last Friday. Anthony Sergi went in to the 53rd Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing without a win in 41 previous starts. That winless streak ended Friday night when he capitalized on late-race contact between leaders Derek Griffith and Carson Kvapil to score the Super Late Model win on night one at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). The tour type modifieds would not run their first event until Monday.

The 2019 schedule for Tour Type Modified racing took the green on Saturday night with a dominating run by Chuck Hossfield at the Bronson Speedway in Archer, Fla. Hossfeldt started on the pole of the 10-car feature and led every lap of the 50 lap tour type 50 lap feature. Matt Hirschman finished second with Jimmy Blewett, third. Blewett pressured Hossfeld in second for the first 35 laps of the event before Hirschman used a restart to take over the runner-up position with 15 laps remaining. A bid by Hirschman’s to overtake Hossfeld with two laps remaining was hindered by a lapped car slowing his momentum. Patrick Emerling was fourth and Andy Jankowiak rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Calvin Carroll, Jeff Goodale, Jeremy Gerstner, Jeff Gallup, Chris Risdale.

In other action in and around Daytona, Harrison Burton held off the field in a one-lap overtime shootout to win Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Burton’s first career start at Daytona. Racing at New Smyrna on Saturday night fell victim to rain.

An extremely sparse crowd was on hand on Sunday at the Daytona Int. Speedway for Daytona 500 qualifying and the annual Daytona Clash. Forty two cup cars ran against the clock for the inside and outside pole qualifying spots. William Byron rocketed to his first-ever pole at NASCAR’s top level, touring the 2.5-mile Daytona Int’l Speedway in 46.319 seconds (194.305 mph) to place the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on point for the Daytona 500. Byron’s teammate, Alex Bowman laid down the fastest lap in the first round at 46.408 seconds (193.932 mph), but couldn’t quite pick up enough speed to edge out Byron when it came down to crunch time.

Bowman still secured a front-row starting spot, however, qualifying second-quick with a time of 46.355 seconds (194.154 mph) in the No. 88

In the Daytona Clash event, Jimmie Johnson never led a green-flag lap during the annual non-points exhibition event that spotlights the previous season’s pole winners, but survived contact with Paul Menard and a 17-car crash late in the race to notch the victory at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. After two earlier red flags for rain, Johnson was running second to Menard when he got a push from Kurt Busch going down the backstretch. The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion ducked low in an effort to make the pass, but Menard moved down to block and the two made contact.

That tangle of sheet metal sent Menard spinning back into the pack at the entrance to turn three, while Johnson kept his No. 48 Ally Financial Chevrolet going straight and came back to the caution flag as the leader.

Moments later, the skies opened up and hard rain officially drew an end to the Clash, which was shortened to 59 laps due to the inclement weather.

Rain forced the postponement of Sunday night’s New Smyrna 175 at New Smyrna Speedway to Monday night. The race is scheduled to go green at 7 p.m., the first race of the night, to kick off another evening of the New Smyrna Speedway World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

After qualifying was canceled due to precipitation, track crews and Air Titans worked feverishly to dry the track. Showers persisted, and NASCAR was forced to move the 175-lap event to Monday.

NASCAR and NBC Sports Group announced the 2019 broadcast schedule Friday for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

NBCSN is where NASCAR fans can tune-in to watch their favorite regional drivers – from the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow to the local heroes who make these series their home. NBCSN will air a total of 37 regional events from 27 different venues, including the series openers and championship finales for all three series.

The season will kick off on NBCSN on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. ET with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East from Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener from the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will air on Tuesday, March 5 at 6 p.m., followed by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Thursday, March 21 at 6 p.m. ET.

The TV package also includes Whelen Modified Tour Series events at South Boston, VA, Wall Stadium in New Jersey, Seekonk in Mass, New Hampshire International, Thompson in Conn, Riverhead on Long Island and the Stafford Motorspeedway in Conn.

NASCAR announced last Monday that it will disqualify race-winning cars that break the rules this season, confronting its longtime culture of cheating with a stringent new penalty system.

On a sad note, Dr Robert Hubbard, the engineer behind the HANS device that has saved many lives in motorsport, passed away on Tuesday aged 75. Hubbard, who was a professor of materials science and mechanics at Michigan State University until his retirement in 2006, conceived the HANS device in collaboration with his brother-in-law and IMSA racer Jim Downing.

Although it took some time for their pioneering work to be accepted in racing, the HANS has subsequently become compulsory equipment in many categories. Hubbard was closely involved in road safety long before he developed the HANS.

He completed a PhD on the mechanical properties of skull bone while working at the University of Michigan Highway Safety Research Institute, and in the 1970s he worked for General Motors, researching injuries and developing crash test dummies.

The HANS was born when Downing and Hubbard realized that drivers were being killed in racing accidents because their heads were not being restrained, which led to basilar skull fractures.