Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WAVERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1950, Hank Stevens made it two in a row in Modified action at Seekonk. Sixty five years ago racing at Seekonk fell victim to rain.
Sixty years ago in 1960 Tommy Fenley made it four in a row in Friday night competition on the dirt at Stafford Springs. Rain washed out the Wednesday and Saturday night racing programs at the Waterford Speedbowl. Seekonk also fell victim to the wet stuff. Rene Charland ventured to the Empire Raceway in Manends New York where he won a 30 lapper after passing Ed Flemke on lap 22. Johnny Roberts was the Modified winner at South Boston in Virginia.
Fifty five years ago in 1965 Bill Wimble made it three in a row at the Stafford Springs Speedway as the New Yorkers continued to dominate the competition at the Connecticut oval. Sal Dee, who had been shutout of the winner’s circle at the Waterford Speedbowl since winning on opening day, took the 30 lap Modified win at the shoreline oval. George Summers won the 30 lap Modified event at Seekonk. Eliot Goff was the B division winner. In United Modified action at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway Billy Greco won his second feature of the year. Elton Hill finished second with Ed Patnoad, third and Dick Dixon, fourth. Bob Bruno won at the Fonda Speedway and at the Utica – Rome Speedway Jerry Cook won an unprecedented three in a row as he raced to the top spot in a 150 lapper at the central New York oval.
Fifty years ago in 1970, the All Star League traveled to New Jersey for two mid week events. On Tuesday at Wall Stadium, local runner Don Stives took the win over Maynard Troyer. On the dirt at Flemington on Wednesday it was Dick Havens over Joe Kelly, Will Cage, Bob Rosell and Lou Lazzaro. Friday night at Malta, Lou Lazzaro again showed his versatility as he won with the same car he had driven on dirt during the week. Bernie Miller finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. In twin 25 action at Stafford on Saturday night, Jerry Dostie in the Bob Johnson No.17 won the first event over Billy Harman, Sal Dee and Moose Hewitt. Hewitt won the nightcap over Freddie Schulz, Dostie, Dee and Harman. Plattsburg ran an added points event but when the checkers fell it was local favorite Guy Chartrand in the Ed Cloce Hemi-Cuda taking the win. Lou Lazzaro finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro and Denis Giroux. Bob Potter won a 30 lap Modified feature at Waterford. Bill Sweet made it two in a row in Late Model Daredevil action. At Fonda it was Jerry Pennock Sr and in Sunday twin 25 action at Thompson it was Leo Cleary and Lou Austin taking the wins. Utica-Rome ran a 100 lapper on Sunday night and it was Eddie Flemke in the Richie Evans team car taking the win. DeSarro finished second with Robbie Kotary, third. Billy Clarke was the A division winner at Seekonk. Norm Holden was the B division winner. Down in the southland at the South Boston Speedway Jimmy Hensley won a NASCAR Late Model Sportsman championship event.
Forty five years ago in 1975, Flyin Brian Ross in the Mystic Missile made it two in a row at Stafford as he beat out Geoff Bodine to win the Ferrara 100. Kenny Bouchard finished third with Eddie Flemke and John Rosati rounding out the top five. Dick Dunn was the 35 lap Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Twin 50’s were run at Shangri-La with Richie Evans and George Kent taking top honors. On the Island, Fred Harbach beat out Wayne Anderson and Charlie Jarzombek to take the win at Islip and at Westhampton on Sunday, Jarzombek won out over Jerry Cook and Don Howe. At Seekonk, George Murray was the Modified winner with Al Mederous taling the Late Model win.In New York State, Maynard Troyer went two for two as he won at both Lancaster and at Fulton.
Forty years ago in 1980, Richie Evans was on a tear and had it not been for Geoff Bodine, the popular champion would have gone five for five on the weekend. Evans’ weekend started at New Egypt on Wednesday where he won a 150 lap event over Wayne Anderson and John Blewett Jr. At Holland, NY on Thursday he won a Race of Champions qualifier over George Kent and Jerry Cook. From there it was off to Stafford where won again. Bob Polverari, John Rosati and Mike Stefanik followed. At Riverside Park on Saturday night he made it four in a row at the tight 1/4-mile oval. From Riverside it was off to Oswego. Geoff Bodine who had won at Shangri-La on Saturday night was the spoiler as he beat out Evans. Doug Hewitt finished second with Greg Sacks, fourth. Other weekend winners were George Savory at Westboro, John Rosati at Thompson, Jim Hendrickson at Wall and rain at Waterford, Riverhead and Lancaster.
Thirty five years ago in 1985, Holland ran twin 50’s on Thursday night with Richie Evans and Jeff Fuller sharing the spotlight. Kenny Bouchard took the top spot at Stafford and at Waterford, veterans Jerry Pearl and Dickie Doo Ceravolo finished one-two. At Oswego on Sunday, George Brunnhoelzl was the top gun over Evans and Brian Ross. Other weekend winners were Jerry Cranmer at New Egypt and Wall, Tony Jankowiac at Spencer, Don Pratt at Shangri-La, Dan Avery at Riverside and Wayne Dion at Thompson.
Thirty years ago in 1990, the Modified Tour traveled to Riverhead on Wednesday where Reggie Ruggiero broke the strong hold of the locals as he won the event. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Tom Baldwin and Bob Park. Stafford was closed because of a monster truck event. At Monadnock, Dunk Rudolph took the win over Dwight Jarvis and Jerry Marquis. Stan Gregger beat out Jerry Marquis at Riverside. Eddie Brunnhoelzl won the Charlie Jarzombek memorial at Riverhead and Jan Leaty won a 75 lapper at Shangri-La.
Twenty five years ago in 1995 rain washed out Stafford, Waterford, Riverside and the Mod Tour-Busch North double header at Thompson. Riverhead got a break and ran the 76 lap Charlie Jarzombek Memorial, which was won by Don Howe. Bill Park finished second with Lenny Fischer, third. In Winston Cup action, the Brickyard 400 started four hours late because of rain. Dale Earnhardt took the win. Jason Keller won the Busch Grandnational event at Indianapolis Raceway Park after Johnny Benson spun in oil.
Twenty years ago in 2000 Stafford Speedway ran twin 40’s on Friday night. Ted Christopher went two for two as he all but cleaned house. Lloyd Agor was the runner-up in the first event and Jeff Malave was the runner-up in the nightcap. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Riverhead for a 200 lapper on Saturday night. Mike Ewanitsko took the lead from Frank Vigliarolo on lap 20 and never looked back. Rick Fuller finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Chuck Steuer and John Blewett III. At Waterford, Ron Yuhas Jr. scored his third win over Dennis Gada and Tucker Reynolds Jr. In Winston Cup action, Bob Labonte took the lead with 15 laps to go and went on to victory in the Brickyard 400.Ron Hornaday was the Busch Grandnational winner at Indianapolis Raceway Park. On a sad note, New York State dirt track driving legend Pete Corey passed away at the age of 70.
Fifteen years ago in 2005 Denise Barry Dion passed away suddenly on Wednesday, August 3. Denise was the sister and spotter of Modified driver Ken Barry (21), daughter to car owner Art and Deborah Barry and wife to Wayne Dion, Pro Stock driver. Denise, 45, was swimming when she began experiencing sudden abdominal pain and was then rushed to the hospital, put on life support, and by early evening, had passed away.
George “Mad Dog” Bessette, a frequent winner at the Thompson Speedway broke his back in a last lap accident at Oxford Plains Speedway while trying to qualify for the recent Oxford 250. He was out of a qualifying position when the driver behind pushed him into the wall. He was not paralyzed but was in a lot of pain. Bessette was diagnosed with having broken his first vertebrae.
Jeff Malave padded his Sunoco Modified point lead at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night. Malave received a gift when the top three, Kerry Malone, Bo Gunning and Richard Savory tangled with eight laps to go. Bert Marvin ended up second with Todd Ceravolo, third. Ricky Shawn and Kenny Bouchard rounded out the top five. Second generation driver Fred Astle, driving the Rollie Linblad No. 48 went pole to pole to win the Pro Stock feature. Other Thursday night winners were Glenn Boss who took his fifth win of the year in the Limited Sportsman, Dennis Botticello in the Late Models, Randy Jurcik in the Mini Stocks and Chad Gaudiosi in the Thompson Modifieds.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night. Donnie Lia emerged as the next leader of the Long Island gang as he continued to turn in impressive finishes. At Riverhead he started on the pole and paced himself behind early leader John Fortin who led the first 39 laps. A faulty transmission ended Fortin’s night. Lia was waiting in the wings and took command of the situation and never looked back as he led the balance of the 200-lap event to record the win. Tony Hirschman came from 8th spot to finish second with Jerry Marqius, third. Rounding out the top five were Chuck Hossfeld and Eric Beers. Chris Kopec elected to step aside from his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ride because of medical problems. Mike Stefanik moved from the Brady Bunch No.00 to the vacated No. 16. John Blewett III had taken over the Brady car.
Eric Berndt ended a long dry spell at Stafford on Friday night as every lap of the 40 lap SK Modified feature. Jeff Baral finished second with Lloyd Agor, third. Donnie Lia and Mike Holdredge rounded out the top five. Tom Butler was the Late Model winner. The Waterford Speedbowl saw Dennis Charette lead every lap of the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Ron Yuhas Jr. finished second with Rob Janovic, third. Dennis Botticello was the Late Model winner with Tim Fogg taking top honors in the Sportsman. Bill Leonard was the Mini Stock winner.
Tony Stewart won the Nextel Cup Brickyard 400 and Martin Truex JR won the Busch Series event at Indianapolis.
Ten years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors were back in action after a week off as they traveled to the high banked, quarter mile, Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday, July 17. A somewhat light race purse of $53,631 was up for grabs.
Ted Christopher celebrated the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s return to the high banks with his 36th career victory. The win moved Christopher, the 2008 Tour champion, into sole possession of third place on the career win list. It’s Christopher’s second win of the season, allowing him to move past Tony Hirschman. The Plainville, Conn., driver now trails only Mike Stefanik (70 wins) and Reggie Ruggiero (44).
Erick Rudolph, who won his first career 21 Means 21 pole award presented by Coors Light earlier in the day, led the first 95 laps before Christopher moved to the front. The two battled each other for the lead until Christopher moved out front for the final time on Lap 152. He held off Rudolph on a green-white-checkered finish. The scheduled 175-lap race was extended to 179 laps by a late caution. Christopher led twice for 41 laps, while Rudolph led twice for 138 laps.
Ron Silk followed Rudolph in third, with Eric Berndt fourth and points leader Bobby Santos fifth. George Brunnhoelzl III, James Civali, Glen Reen, Justin Bonsignore and Eric Beers completed the top 10.
Christopher started fourth and despite a torrid pace at times averaged only 42.937mph due to the eight cautions that slowed the pace for 65 laps. Seventeen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap.
Jim Schaeffer, a Riverhead, Long Island elementary school teacher, did it again as he and a collective group of fellow race fans and sponsors added an additional $10,500 in prize money to the July 31st Riverhead 200, a Flash Tour race at Barbara & Jim Cromarty’s Riverhead Raceway. The winner of the 175-lap feature event of the program would now pocket a total of $5,000. Schaffer indicated that all 28 drivers and owners that qualify for the Riverhead 200 would earn $300 that he and his fellow sponsors would present in the pit area prior to the race. Additionally the winner of the race would earn an extra $2,100 from Schaeffer and his sponsors after already receiving the $300 to qualify. The posted awards for the race for the winner was at $2,600 and with the $2,400 in bonus money the winning team arrives at a $5,000 payday.
The Thompson International Speedway presented a 50 lap special for the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds as part of their Thursday night Thunder program. Ted Christopher was up for the task as he beat out Woody Pitkat to record his sixth win of the season at the northeastern Connecticut oval. A good field of 20 cars were on hand for the event. The drama of the night started before the green flag was displayed as NASCAR National point title contender Keith Rocco called it a night after developing transmission problems.
Pitkat settled for second. Ryan Preece, Tim Sullivan, and Ron Silk completed the top five. Among the casualties were Rowan Pennink who finished 15th and Danny Cates who finished 16th.
Larry Gelinas made it two in a row in Super Late Model action while John Materas recorded his first of the season in Late Model action. Other winners were Chris “Moose” Douton in the Limited Sportsman, Shane Michalski in the TIS Modifieds and Scott Jussaume in the Mini Stocks.
Rain was a deciding factor at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Ryan Posocco scored his third victory of the 2010 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature and Tommy Barrett, Jr. won his second consecutive and fourth overall race of the 2010 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature. Rain halted the remainder of the program and as more than half of the event was completed, there will be no rain checks.
The Modified Racing Series went up country to the state of Maine as they visited the Oxford Plains Speedway for the Maine-Ly Action Sports 100 on Saturday. With temperatures in the 90’s drivers sliced and diced and changed the lead several times during the event. Andy Seuss was able to use a lap 85 restart to his advantage as he took the lead that led to the eventual win over Louie Mechalides. There were 73 green laps of racing before the first caution flag flew. Joe Doucette had ignition problems that stopped his car on the backstretch bringing to an end his night of racing.
The Waterford Speedbowl was also the scene of some hot action as Tyler Chadwick checkered his first SK Modified ® feature of the year, scoring a popular win in the 35-lap main event. Ed Puleo was back in Victory Lane for the Street Stocks, his fourth win of the season and second straight. Ken Cassidy Jr. returned to the winner’s circle in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stocks, and Keith Rocco scored his first ever A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck division win in impressive fashion. Glen Thomas Jr. dominated the X-Car ‘Dash for Cash’ race.
Todd Ceravolo wound up second, however his season of misfortune continued when, after taking the checkered flag, sparks flew with a lapped car literally going up and over Ceravolo’s runner-up finishing machine off turn two on the cool down lap. Jeff Paul finished third to extend his consistent season. Rob Janovic Jr. and defending champion Ron Yuhas Jr. rounded out the top five.
The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina fell victim to rain.
Ted Christopher was expected to return to Bowman Gray on August 7 for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour makes a stop at the historic quarter mile. Many southern fans refer to Christopher as the “Medicine Man” after he retaliated against Junior Miller who had instigated a recent confrontation. Miller takes pride in wrecking anyone in his way. TC gave him a lesson and some of his own medicine back after he attempted to take the northern invader out.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island rain washed out the 77 Lap Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek Memorial NASCAR Modified event a week ago. For some reason the rescheduled event was in direct conflict with the Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was held the same evening at the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire. In the Baldwin, Evans, Jarzombek Memorial 77, the No. 7NY visited Riverhead Raceway victory lane once again, courtesy of Howie Brode, who renumbered his car in honor of Baldwin.
Carl Edwards prevailed in a wild final lap at the Gateway Int. Speedway, nudging Brad Keselowski out of control on the final straightaway to take the Nationwide Dodge Dealers 250 on Saturday night. Ten cars were collected in the wreck. Keselowski was on the inside and had appeared to take the lead before Edwards’ car drifted into him. Keselowski spun into the wall and was struck head-on by Shelby Howard as he slid back to toward the infield. Edwards said Keselowski wouldn’t have been in position to win if he hadn’t bumped Edwards earlier on the final lap. Keselowski finally rolled across the line in 14th.
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series enjoyed a weekend off.
Five years ago in 2015, Race fans, competitors and speedway officials endured 95 plus degree temperatures, oppressive humidity and a full moon as the Thompson Motorsports Park returned to oval track racing on Wednesday night, July 29 with the Sunoco Modified 20/20 Sprint which started with two 20-lap point races, with the second being inverted based upon finishing position in the first race. The final race was a 10-lap sprint, and the best combined finish determined the overall winner. The night also featured the return of the track’s annual Whelen Night.
Eric Berndt coupled a second in the first 20 lap event with wins in the second 20 lap event and a win in the final 10 lap sprint to score the overall win. Berndt, who was driving the Ceravolo family team car for the first time, turned in a precise performance. Coming from the rear of the 14 car starting field Berndt finished on the bumper of Ryan Preece who finished second. Woody Pitkat finished third with Adam Norton, fourth. Rookie Ryan Morgan continues to impress as he finished fifth. Preese had high hopes for a winning night but his car lost power after only four laps in the second segment. Berndt took the lead from Woody Pitkat on lap 16 with Keith Rocco in tow. Rocco finished second with Pitkat third and Kerry Malone, fourth. Ryan Morgan recorded his second fifth place finish of the night. Morgan was headed for another top five when a skipping motor negated him to a ninth place finish in the final 10 lap segment. Berndt started on the pole and led the entire ten lap distance. Rocco, in the Ceravolo team car, finished second with Pitkat, Preece and Cam McDermott rounding out the top five.
The combined over-all finish saw Berndt the winner, Woody Pitkat, second, Keith Rocco, third, Ryan Preece, fourth and Kerry Malone, fifth. Sixth through tenth overall included Ryan Morgan, Cam McDermott, Adam Norton, Jason Sundeen and Andrew Charron.
In other action at Thompson, the Late Models, which ran caution free for a 25-lap feature, was dominated by Mark Curtis who started on the front row. The race featured bumping and banging by several drivers as they worked their way to the front, however Curtis never blinked in his quest for his second Thompson victory of the season. Curtis was later disqualified after Tech inspection, giving Jeff Rocco the win for the night, followed by Keith Rocco as well as Rick Gentes and Brian Tagg. The Xtramart Limited Sportsman Series, was full of action as the 20-lap feature saw an intense battle for the lead through much of the race. The biggest battle of the race saw eventual winner Jesse Gleason and runner-up Larry Barnett side by side or nose to tail for much of the race and a battle for second in the first five laps became a battle for the lead after early leader Joshua Wood lost control coming out of turn four. Gleason inherited the lead with Barnett close behind. Eric Bourgeois was the Mini-Stock winner and Scott Quinn was the Vintage Modified winner. The entire program was completed by 8:15pm.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the heat wasn’t quite as bad as it was at Thompson on Wednesday. Taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins on the night were Ronnie Williams in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno in the SK Light feature, Andrew Hayes in the Limited Late Model feature, Phil Evans in the DARE Stock feature, and Devin O’Connell in the Legend Cars feature.
Williams picked up his second consecutive and fourth overall SK Modified win of the 2015 season. In the closing moments, Rowan Pennink nearly got his nose under Williams in turn 1 on lap-36 but was able to maintain the lead. Williams held Pennink off to the checkered flag. Ryan Preece finished third, with Mike Christopher, Jr. fourth and Berndt rounding out the top-5. Sixteen cars went to post for the 40 lap feature.
Keith Rocco keeps rolling along at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco recorded a win in the Late Model division at the shoreline oval bringing his track win total to 115 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 203 wins which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford. Rocco wasn’t as fortunate in the SK Modifieds as he was involved in a wreck just shy of the half way mark and finished the event in 14th spot.
Diego Monahan jumped into the lead early on in the SK Modified feature and never looked back until taking the checker. Tyler Chadwick finished second with Craig Lutz, third. Ted Christopher and Wendell Dailey rounded out the top five. Other Saturday night winners at the Connecticut shoreline oval were Corey Barry in the SK Lites, Noah Korner in the Legends,Ken Cassidy in the Mini Stocks and Alan Coates in the Limited Sportsman.
The NASCAR Modifieds returned to action after a week off at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Vinny Biondolillo took the win over Ron Silk and TomRogers Jr.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC competitors were afforded two nights of racing at the historic oval. On Friday night twin 50’s were on tap. Jason Myers held off his brother Burt for the win and collected his fifth checkered flag of the year. He also won his 23rd race at Bowman Gray, breaking his grandfather Billy Myers’ record for 19th place, all-time at Bowman Gray. Jason Myers drew 16 after the race for the Madhouse Scramble, which meant they inverted the field starting with Jason Myers at 16. Danny Bohn defeated Chris Fleming for the second 50 lap win.
New Jersey racer Danny Bohn capped off a successfull weekend at the famed quarter-mile track by defending his NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified 199 title Saturday night after holding off pole-sitter Ryan Preece. Bohn gained the lead from George Brunnhoelzl III for the final time on Lap 155 and held on through three restarts. Polesitter Ryan Preece rallied from a flat tire early in the event to cross the finish line second while Jeremy Gerstner grabbed his first career podium in third place. Burt Myers, Bobby Measmer Jr., Andy Seuss, Joe Ryan Osborne, Kyle Ebersole, JR Bertuccio and Jason Myers rounded out the top 10. There were 21 cars on hand.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series ventured to the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine last Saturday for twin 50’s. Nocella started the first 50-lap feature 4th in a 24-car lineup and raced around the front of the field showing a strong car that landed in victory lane. Jon McKennedy settled for second, followed by Mike Holdridge, Todd Szegedy and Woody Pitkat.
The second 50-lap race was hotly contested at the front of the field from the drop of the green flag. Once in front, Richard Savary set a torrid pace until a late race caution created a restart with Pitkat now in second place from his 16th starting position. Pitkat, on the restart, made a daring cross-over move exiting the second turn to take the lead but contact with Savary thwarted that effort with both drivers forced from the front of the field and Todd Patnode, inherited the lead and took the win. Dennis Perry finished a strong second with Norm Wrenn, Todd Annarummo and Chris Pasteryak rounding out the top five.
The final point standings between the two races showed Nocella coming out on top of the final tabulations. Todd Szegedy was second overall with McKennedy, third. Chris Pasteryak, Mike Holdridge, Norm Wrenn, Todd Patnode, Russ Hersey and Dennis Perry rounded out the top ten overall.
Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, stretched his fuel enough to inherit the lead on the final lap of Sunday’s Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway. Busch, who’d gained the lead after Joey Logano ran dry with three laps left, came up half a lap shy of four straight wins. He wound up 21st. In NASCAR Xfinity Series Racing at Iowa Speedway Ryan Blaney put on a dominating performance, surviving two green-white-checkered restarts to score his first XFINITY Series victory of the year and the third of his career.Blaney had the dominant car all night, taking the lead at the start from polesitter Daniel Suarez and leading unchallenged throughout most of the race.
Last year, 2019, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series the weekend off as teams prepare to head for the Stafford Motor Speedway this week. After nine events in the record book, Doug Coby leads Ron Silk in the point standings by 28 points. Justin Bonsignore sits in third spot, some 38 points back. Craig Lutz sits fourth, some 75 points out of the lead. Eric Goodale rounds out the top five, 78 points out. Sixth thru tenth are Chris Pasteryak, Woody Pitkat, Patrick Emerling, Timmy Solomito and Matt Swanson.
For the first time, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race at Iowa Speedway in 2020. The 36th season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will feature a mix of historic short tracks on the eastern seaboard before visiting central Iowa. This marks the first time in history that the unified Whelen Modified Tour will journey this far west. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be in action during NASCAR Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 weekend at Iowa Speedway July 31-August 1.
It’s great for the division but it will be tough on competitors. Most teams and drivers hold down full time jobs and it will be tough on them. The speedway is located in Newton, Iowa which is half way across the country. MapQuest says it is 1176 miles from Hartford, Ct and estimates that it will be a 21-1/2 hour drive.
The big news of the week was that the owners of the Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey announced plans to close the 69-year-old racetrack at the end of the 2020 season. The speedway was patterned after the now defunct Lonsdale Sports Arena in Rhode Island.
The Speedway on Route 34 announced on Wednesday, July 24, that the property would make way for 348 townhouses and apartments to be built by Pulte Homes. Seventy of the new homes would be made available to low/moderate-income residents.
Wall Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand, however, told a New Jersey radio station, that the property is not zoned for residential use and the township has no plans to change that. “There’s also some nuances with that property because the front half of it cannot be used for residential as it is in the safety zone of the nearby Monmouth Jet Center,” Bertrand said.
Speedway’s owners said its location is one of the “least obtrusive sites” for the mandated 1,250 affordable housing homes be built in Wall. The stretch of Route 34 between the Wall Circle and Route 195 is mostly industrial with office buildings, the Jet Center and a sand pit.
Current track manager Diane Krause sent this message to Jeff Gravatt of Motorsport Marketing with the note she expects to receive her contract for 2020 from the track owners any day now. “As the manager of Wall Stadium Speedway, it has been a pleasure to maintain the racing at this historic facility. I am not sure what the future will bring, but my family and I will host stock car racing as long as we can. Ten years ago my husband, Cliff Krause, had a vision of supporting the racing community and reopened the race track. We have met so many fans and became absorbed in the stories of years gone by. Seasoned drivers share their experiences as if it all happened yesterday. Their dedication goes far.”
Speaking of racetracks, word has it that a crew had been working on the plumbing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. According General Manager Mike Serluca, permits have been applied for to finish the grandstand project. “We have been given the green light from the town of Waterford to finish up the race track project”, he said. The track could very well remain closed for the current year but hopefully all work will be completed, and the track will be re-born in 2020. “We hope to schedule a practice very soon”, he added.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night taking down feature wins were Todd Owen in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Wray in the Late Model feature, Wesley Prucker in the SK Light feature, Gary Patnode in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar in the Street Stock feature. The Wild Thing Karts Tiger B exhibition race was won by Parker Davis with Dylan Houghton winning the Tiger A exhibition race. The winners of the kids big wheel races were Levi Fox and Blake Greaves.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature, Owen took the lead from Joey Cipriano as they completed lap-14. Owen survived numerous restarts to take the win. Ron Williams finished second with Glen Reen, Cory DiMatteo, and Dan Wesson rounding out the top-5.
In the SK Lite 20 lapper, Jonathan Puleo got a good run in the final moments of the event through turns 1+2 and going into turn 3 made a bonsai move to the inside of then leader Mikey Flynn. The two cars touched wheels and headed into the turn 3 wall, giving the lead and the race win to Prucker. Mark Bakaj finished second with Alexander Pearl, Bryan Narducci, and Chris Matthews rounding out the top-5.
On the east end of Long Island, Dave Brigati of Calverton who won his first race of 2019 Saturday when he captured the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 at Riverhead Raceway. The win was the 11th of Brigati’s career and in another twist of irony ties him with the late “Tiger” Tom Baldwin on the all time win list. Just an hour or so before his NASCAR Modified triumph Dave also won the 25-lap Crate Modified race. Kyle Soper was second in the Eastport Feeds Chevy. John Beatty Jr. was third in his MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy while Timmy Solomito and John Fortin Sr. completed the top five.
The SBM 125 VIII Tri-Track event at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire came down to a nail biter as the outcome was decided in an exciting 11-lap shootout where Ron Silk emerged victorious in a wheel to wheel contest. Silk held off a hard-charging Ronnie Williams to score his first Tri-Track Open Modified Series win of the 2019 season. It is also Silk’s first-ever SBM victory. Silk started the feature in 21st after having to qualify thru the consolation and climbed up well inside the top ten before coming to the pits for a fresh tire under yellow at Lap 47. He restarted at the back of the field but inherited the lead when the rest of the field came to the pits on Lap 71 for tires.
Silk then had to hold off Williams and Matt Hirschman, who both had fresher tires. Silk managed to lead for almost 30 laps but had his work cut out for him when the caution flew with just eleven laps to go. He got the jump on Williams on the restart, but Williams was on his bumper.
On the final lap, Williams dove down into Turn 3 and did a bump and run which drove Silk high and allowing Williams to cut underneath him. However, Silk was able to save the car and Williams’ own car broke loose on the bottom, allowing Silk to get the edge coming off the corner and beat Williams to the line.
Matt Swanson ran inside the top ten the entire evening and was in place to capitalize on any drama between the top two, but a clean fight for the lead meant that Swanson brought the Boehler Racing Ole Blu home in third. Polesitter Matt Hirschman had a somewhat off day, leading the first 71 laps of the race before fading back to fourth place. Andy Jankowiak rounded out the top five. Richard Savary, Cam McDermott, Brad Babb, Woody Pitkat, and Brian Robie completed the top ten.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium Lee Jeffreys won his first race of the year and Burt Myers continued his winning ways as they split the twin 25-lap Modified races Saturday night at Bowman Gray. Jeffreys defeated Brandon Ward for his first win since June 16 of last year. Randy Butner finished third with Jonathan Brown and Chris Fleming rounding out the top five. Myers finished eighth in the first race and Jeffreys drew 8 on the Madhouse Scramble, which gave Myers the pole for the second race after the field was inverted. He led from start to finish and defeated John Smith for his fourth win of the year. Chris Fleming finished third, James Civali was fourth and Butner was fifth. John Boy Brown and Jason Myers had major melt downs as they attempted to destroy each other’s cars.
The action was hot and heavy at the Thompson Motorsports Speedway last Sunday. Prior to the start of the event it was announced that all events in 2020 will be run on Sunday including the two NASCAR Whelen Modified Touring Series events that now run on Wednesdays.
All eyes were on Bryan Narducci who was gunning to make nine wins in a row but it was not to be. Narducci started sixth and took the lead in turn 2 on lap 4. Narducci survived numerous restarts and has heading to make it nine in a row when he was punted by Steve Chapman as he came off turn four heading for the checker. Chapman took the checker but was disqualified and stripped of the win after making contact with Narducci on pit road. Keith Caruso, a grandson of Mario Fats Caruso was awarded the win. Finishing second was John O’Sullivan. Narducci recovered from his bump and finished fourth. Caruso was later disqualified as he was found with an illegal carburetor and the win went to John O’Sullivan.
Woody Pitkat made a two-fer as he won the Late Model feature and the Sunoco (SK type) feature. In the Sunoco Modifieds, Pitkat held off Keith Rocco, Todd Owen,, Ron Williams and Michael Rutkoski. Mark Panaromi was the Mini Stock winner and Cory Fanning was the Limited Sportsman winner. Panaromi was later disqualified with the Mini Stock win going to Douglas Curry.
Chase Briscoe passed Christopher Bell with seven laps to go and won the NASCAR Xfinity race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night for his first victory of the year.
Denny Hamlin had enough fuel in the No. 11 Toyota to pull away off the final restart in an overtime finish Sunday for his fifth victory at Pocono Raceway.
Hamlin raced to his third victory of the season and 34th overall in NACAR Cup Series race, giving Joe Gibbs Racing its 11th win in 21 races this season.
Pocono held its final July race for the foreseeable future. The track has held two NASCAR Cup weekends since 1982, but will move to one race weekend in 2020.
On a sad note, Don Spezzano, a top contender at the now gone Plainville Stadium in Connecticut passed away after a long battle with cancer.. He was 80.