RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Fourth Week Of July

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946. Dick Shuebruk was the midget winner at Seekonk.

Seventy years ago in 1951 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl got their Wednesday and Saturday night events in the record book. Johnny Schmitz won on Wednesday and Dave Humphrey on Saturday. Claiming Car winners were Bob Foster and Dom DeLaura. Don Collins left his haunt in Waterford and won the main event at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1956, Melvin “Red” Foote, who lived in Meridan CT at the time was the Wednesday night Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. In later years Foote would relocate to the Richmond, VA area and would remain an active competitor through the 1960’s. Squeeky Rogers was the non-Ford winner. Rain prevailed on Saturday night at the shoreline oval. Rain washed out the racing at Old Bridge in New Jersey. Henri “Red” Barbeau was the Sportsman winner at Seekonk.

Sixty years ago in 1961 Ernie Gahan and Gene Bergin were the winners at the Norwood Arena. Old Bridge, NJ was the Sunday night stop for many including the Eastern Bandits that were led by Eddie Flemke. Promoter Bob Streeter posted $3140 for a 100 lap event. Wild Bill Slater in the Connecticut Valley Rocket V-8 led a New England sweep of the top five as he beat out Flemke by less than a wheel. Ernie Gahan finished third and was followed by Gene Bergin and Elton Hill. Rain washed out the Wednesday night Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl shortly after qualifying had been completed which set the stage for double features on Saturday night. Ted Stack won the held over Modified feature while Newt Palm was the winner of the regular event. Non-Ford winners were Bill Staubley and Dave Hill. Don Hall iced the Class A win at Seekonk. Eddie Flemke, on his way home from a southern swing, stopped at the Old Bridge Speedway where he took the Sunday night win.

Fifty five years ago in 1966 Jerry Cook was the Thursday night winner at Catamount. Twin 54 lap features were run at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Pete Hamilton took the first one over Don MacTavish, Rene Charland, Leo Cleary and Lou Lazzaro. Bill Wimble took the nightcap, as Hamilton had to settle for second. Elton Hill, Phil Spiak and Hank Stevens rounded out the top five. Ernie Gahan was the Friday night winner at Stafford while Billy Schulz took the win at Norwood on Saturday night. Rene Charland took the top spot on the dirt at Fonda on Saturday night. Pete Corey finished second with Guy Chartrand, third. Dick Dunn was the 30 lap Modified feature winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Gordon Page was the Bomber winner and Howard “Jiggs” Beetham who in later years would become a championship Modified car owner with Bob Potter as his driver, was the Daredevil winner. Deke Astle made it two in a row in Class A action at Seekonk. Steady Eddie Flemke was the Sunday night winner at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Bill Wimble, Kenny Shoemaker and Frank Mathalia.

Fifty years ago in 1971, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway presented a 100 lapper on Friday night. Lou Lazzaro was the top gun as he was first under the checker. Eddie Flemke, in the Art Barry No.09 finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Maynard Forette and Rene Charland. At the Fulton Raceway Open Competition Modifieds and Supermodifieds were on tap. Jim Shampine won the Modified 30 lapper over Dick Clark, Guy Chartrand, Dave Nichols and Ronnie Wallace. Ken Andrews was the Supermodified winner with Nolan Swift, second. In NESMRA action at the Thompson Speedway on Friday night Big Don MacClaren took the main event over Dynamite Ollie Silva and Jim Landry. George Allum took his 14th Late Model win. Stafford ran a 30 lap Pocono qualifier on Saturday night. Leo Cleary, in the Garbarino No.4, took the win and the guaranteed spot for the upcoming August event. Rene Charland, in the Bob Johnson No.17, finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Daring Dick Caso. Dick Dunn put the Al Gaudreau No.3 in victory lane at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Angie Cerese finished second with Ronnie Wycoff, third. Ron Cote was the Sportsman Sedan winner. Georgie Summers made it two in a row at Seekonk. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, popular Bernie Miller took the win over Ray Sitterly, Bugsy Stevens and Dave Lape.

Forty five years ago in 1976, the Yankee All Star league was at Waterford on Wednesday night. Sixty four cars were on hand for the 100 lapper that saw Bugsy Stevens, in the Bob Judkins 2x take the win over Ronnie Bouchard, Fred DeSarro and Ed Flemke. Dynamite Ollie Silva won twin features at Monadnock on Friday night. Riverhead, on Friday and Islip, on Saturday, each ran 150 lap events. At Riverhead, Charlie Jarzombek was untouchable as he won, going away, over Fred Harbach, Jerry Cook and Gary Winters. At Islip, New York City policeman George Wagner took the top spot over Jerry Cook and Jim Tyler. Steady Eddie Flemke, who had become a modified legend in his own time, put the Bill Thornton-Manchester Sand and Gravel No.10 in victory lane at Stafford on Saturday night. Fred DeSarro finished second and was followed by Geoff Bodine. Other Saturday night action saw George Allum the Modified winner at Waterford and George Murray in victory lane at Seekonk. Westboro rained out. Geoff Bodine came back from a disqualification the previous week to record win N0.6 at Thompson on Sunday night. For the second week in a row, Bodine’s engine was protested by runner-up Fred DeSarro. Bodine countered with a protest of DeSarro’s engine. Both engines were torn down and both were declared legal by the Thompson tech inspection staff. Leo Cleary finished third.

Forty years ago in 1981, Richie Evans scored his 28th of the season and the 301st of his career at Stafford on Friday night. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Kenny Bouchard, third. Marty Radwick won a Race of Champions qualifier at Monadnock and George Kent beat out Greg Sacks for the win at Spencer. Glynn Shafer won a ROC qualifier at Waterford on Saturday night over Dale Holdredge. George Kent made it two for the weekend as he bested Richie Evans and Greg Sacks at Shangri-La. Marty Radwick copied Kent as he carried his win over to Riverside on Saturday. In other Saturday night action, Joe Howard won at Westboro, Don Howe at Islip, Jamie Tomaino at Wall, and Roger Treichler recorded his seventh of the season at Lancaster. Danbury ran twin Modified features with Billy Layda and Rit Patchen taking the wins. In Busch Grandnational action at South Boston, Geoff Bodine slugged it out to win over Tommy Ellis and Bob Pressley. Once the dust had settled, Bodine headed north to Oswego where he won a 75 lap modified event over Richie Evans, George Kent and Jerry Cook .In Winston Cup action, Ronnie Bouchard in the Jack Beebe Race Hill Farms entry scored an upset victory at Talladega as he passed Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte in a five car draft coming off the fourth turn. Bouchard, a rookie, started 10th and won by a mere two feet in a photo finish. It was one of New England’s brightest racing moments!

Thirty five years ago in 1986, Jeff Fuller was the Friday night winner at Stafford. George Brunnhoelzl Jr. finished second and was followed by Mike Stefanik and Jamie Tomaino. Rain washed out Waterford and Riverside. At Seekonk, Gomer Taylor took the win over Pete Swartz and Ray Lee. Scott Spaulding was the Charger winner. Jim Spencer went two for two as he scored at Spencer and at Shangri-La. Sunday action at Thompson rained out.

Thirty years ago in 1991, the Modified tour invaded Riverside Park on Wednesday for a 150 lapper. Reggie Ruggiero in the Ed Cloce No.69 dodged the bullet as he won the caution filled event. Richie Gallup finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Stafford rained out on Friday .The skies cleared on Saturday as Reggie Ruggiero made it two for the week at Riverside. Mike Gada and Ricky Young finished one-two at Waterford and John Brouwer Jr won his first ever late model event, also at Waterford. At Riverhead, Brian miller beat out Fred Vordermeir for top honors.

Twenty five years ago in 1996, Waterford ran on Thursday night in front of an almost empty grandstand. Track management did not get the word out that they were racing and nobody came. Tucker Reynolds Jr. took the win over Mike Gada and Bob Potter. Ted Christopher scored his 39th career win at Stafford on Friday night. Steve Park, Jim Broderick, Bo Gunning and Curt Brainard followed. Andy Santarre won the Busch North Series event Jim Broderick passed Ted Christopher with seven to go at Waterford on Saturday. Christopher hung on to finish second with Mark LaJunesse, following. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Holland, NY. Speedway for a 150 lap event. Jerry Marquis, in the Art Barry No.21 took the win over Mike Stefanik, Steve Park and Ed Flemke Jr. Marquis, who took the lead from Flemke, led the final 90 laps. Tom Jensen won at Riverside and Tom McCann won at Riverhead. Oswego hosted the New York State Championship series on Sunday. Mike Stefanik took the 100 lap win over Mike Ewanitsko and George Kent. Jeff Gordon took the win in the rain shortened Winston Cup Talledega 500.The event, which started 3-1/2 hours late, saw a horrendous accident as Dale Earnhardt Sr. hit the wall and before landing on his roof was hit hard by Derike Cope and Robert Pressley. Earnhardt, known for his toughness, walked to the ambulance under his own power, even after suffering a broken left collarbone and broken sternum. Greg Sacks was the winner of the Saturday Busch Grandnational event.

Twenty years ago in 1991 Thursday night racing at Thompson, rained out. Friday night at Stafford belonged to Eric Berndt as he beat out Ed Spiers for the win. Ted Christopher, looking to run for the track championship, retired with a burned piston, finished a distant 28th. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Holland, N.Y. Eddie Flemke Jr. lost a clutch in warm-ups and missed the drivers meeting. Flemke did make it out for time trials and even after taking the pole, had to start in the rear because he missed the meeting. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise as he was able to avoid wrecks and spins that brought out eight cautions. Flemke avoided the trouble and took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 138 and never looked back. Christopher finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak, Jerry Marquis and Tony Hirschman. At Waterford, Dennis Gada made it three in a row and his seventh overall as he passed Jeff Pearl with two to go. Don Fowler finished third with Jay Miller and Mark LaJunesse rounding out the top five. At Riverhead, Chris Young beat out John Fortin and Bill Park. Reggie Ruggerio turned 50 and at Lebanon Valley, Ken Tremont scored his 95th win at the New York dirt oval. The win was also the 200th career win overall. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bobby Labonte passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps to take the win. Jeff Purvis substituted for Mike Skinner at Gateway International and ran away with the Busch Grandnational event held there.

Fifteen years ago in 2006 the week was a busy one for competitors and fans in the southern New England region. The weekend started off on Wednesday when the True Value Modified Racing Series paid a visit to the Seekonk Speedway. The event, Modified Madness, carried a purse of $31,000 and was sponsored by Viveiros Insurance. Forty-two competitors from nine states attempted to qualify for the 26-car event at the 1/3-mile Bay State oval, which drew the largest crowd of the season at the track, which has been in continuous operation since 1946.

Defending True Value Modified Racing Series champion Kirk Alexander started on the pole after winning his qualifying heat and led the first 30 laps while former NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion Ted Christopher gradually worked his way to second from his sixth place starting spot. Christopher pulled alongside Alexander and the pair raced wheel to wheel for several laps before the second of six cautions waved for a minor incident involving Jack Bateman on lap 34. Christopher, driving the Joe Brady No.00 took the lead on the restart and proceeded to pace the next 49 circuits with Alexander never less than a car length away. Andy Seuss passed Louie Mechalides for third three laps before the halfway mark, with Ed Brunnhoelzl III in fifth, ahead of Bobby Grigas, Rob Summers, Les Hinckley, and local favorites Vinnie Annarummo and Dick Houlihan. On lap 51, Hinckley got loose in turn three, resulting in a multi-car pileup that saw John Blewett III hitting the outside concrete nose-first. After a Brunnhoelzl spin triggered a lap 77 restart, Alexander hounded Christopher, looking for a way back around the leader. As the duo entered turn three on lap 83, Alexander put the bumper to the leader which resulted in Christopher spinning into the infield grass to bring out the final caution. The True Value Modified Racing Series officials chose not to penalize Alexander for the contact. Mechalides and Seuss ran a spirited battle for second during the final sprint to the checkers, but no one would catch Alexander, who claimed the $10,000 win. “I know,” the victor acknowledged, as many of the spectators voiced their displeasure at the outcome. “We were racing very hard out there. I got into him. I didn’t mean to, and I backed off and tried to let him save it, but he went around. I don’t like to win a race that way.” Mechalides earned $3,500 for his stellar runner-up effort while Seuss was equally pleased with his third place finish, worth $2,500. Chuck Hossfeld came from 26th to finish fourth, ahead of former Seekonk competitor Bobby Grigas, Cement Palace regular Vinnie Annarummo, and John McKennedy. Chris Pasteryak, Ryan Preece, and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top ten. Christopher ended up 13th. Defending race winner Donnie Lia was involved in a heat race crash and ended up among the 16 non-qualifiers.

At the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night, Joe Lemay scored his career first victory as the Sunoco Modifieds went pole to pole. Lemay ran to the victory nearly a half straightaway ahead of second place finisher Tom Cravenho Bert Marvin turned his early season bad luck around as he finished third. Woody Pitkat and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Pitkat took over the point lead with his finish. In the Pro Stocks Jeff Zuidema dodged a bullet in the Pro Stock main event to take down his third win of the season. After destroying his car the week before, Zuidema’s crew pulled out a potent back-up car, enabling Zuidema to score the victory. Rick Gentes made it two straight in the Late Models. Leo Oliviera of Raynham, MA became the third different winner in three weeks in the TIS Modified division and Shelly Perry scored her third Mini Stock victory of the season.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Holland Int. Speedway on Saturday night. There were 30 cars on hand which wasn’t bad considering the distance competitors had to travel. Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Tony Hirschman ended a long dry spell as he scored his first victory of the season in the Paul Graff Trucking 100. Hirschman, driving the Kamco Supply Chevrolet, passed Todd Szegedy on lap 34 and led the rest of the race holding off challenges from Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik Hirschman started the race in the sixth position. He was in the Top-3 by lap 15, and was second by lap 24. He raced wheel to wheel with Szegedy for a couple laps before pulling ahead for good. It was the 35th career win for Hirschman and his second at Holland. He now trails Stefanik by 21 points in the race fore the series championship. Christopher held off a late race challenge by Mike Stefanik and finished second. Stefanik, who led the first 10 laps before giving way to Szegedy, was third in the Diversified Metals Chevrolet. Eddie Flemke, winner of the series last race at Holland, finished fourth in the Red Line Oil/Ron Bouchard Chevrolet. Jerry Marquis rounded out the Top-5 in the Reynolds Auto Wrecking Dodge. The race distance was increased to 117 laps as 27 laps of caution were run but only 10 counted toward the scheduled race distance of 100 laps. Second generation driver Matt Hirschman set fast time in qualifying to record his first Bud Pole Award. Jimmy Blewett was the Featherlite Most Improved Driver. Marquis collected the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award. Danny Sammons was the Rookie of the Race.

There were four cautions for 27 laps. Sixth through tenth were Szegedy, Sammons, Dick Houlihan, Jimmy Blewett and James Civali. The next race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at Riverhead, N.Y.this coming Saturday on August 5.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the weather as violent thunderstorms hammered most of Connecticut on Friday night.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl led from start to finish and survived a number of restarts as he romped to victory in the 35-lap SK-Modified feature Saturday. It was his second victory of the season and the 21st career win for Pearl. Chris Pasteryak finished second with point leader Dennis Gada edging Rob Janovic for fourth. Point leader Tim Jordan won his fourth Late Model feature of the season. Other winners included Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Ken Cassidy in the 20-lap Mini Stock event. Mark Bakaj won the INEX 50-lap Legends National Qualifier.

The Nextel Cup stars were off. In Busch Series racing, Carl Edwards overtook Denny Hamlin with nine laps left Saturday and held on to win the Busch Silver Celebration 250 at Gateway International Speedway in Madison, Ill. In other action Howie Brode won the Tom Baldwin 77 at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

Ten years ago in 2011, The Whelen Modified Tour enjoyed the weekend, the hottest of the year, off. The big news of the week was that NASCAR did the right thing when they stripped Ryan Newman of his win at Loudon after his car was declared blatantly illegal after a thorough tech inspection at the NASCAR R & D Center in North Carolina. NASCAR announced on Wednesday (July 20), that Ryan Newman and the Kevin “Bono” Manion No. 7 team were disqualified and stripped of their victory and fast-time award from the July 16 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Todd Szegedy was awarded New Hampshire’s $15,000 plus race winner.

Newman’s car was found to have an air leak in the area around the intake manifold. Since the Modifieds run with a restrictor plate at New Hampshire it was an item specifically checked in detail by officials as that could produce additional horsepower. Newman’s car was taken to the NASCAR Tech Center in Concord, N.C., where it was determined that it did not conform to NASCAR rules. The intake manifold ports did not completely seal to the cylinder head ports. The use of metal, shim-type intake manifold gaskets, which are not permitted, were used.

Mike LaRochelle, crew chief of car No. 7, has been suspended from all NASCAR regional touring series events until Dec. 31, 2011. Kevin Manion has been suspended from all NASCAR regional touring series events until Dec. 31, 2011.

Ronnie Silk was running second on the last lap of the July 16 New Hampshire Modified race when he made an all-out attempt to pass Newman. But Silk slid high, allowing Szegedy to pass.

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Keith Rocco continued his domination of the Sunoco Modified division with his fourth win of the season at Thompson International Speedway. Rocco’s season totals shows 17 wins in 31 starts at Thompson, Stafford and at Waterford. With 11 Sunoco Modifieds going to post, Rocco started fifth. Ryan Preece took the lead on the start from Danny Cates. By lap 3, Rocco moved into the second spot and the show was on. Both competitors raced side by side and swapped the lead until lap 19 when Rocco took the lead for good. Preece finished a strong second but had nothing for Rocco in the late stages. Cates finished third and was followed by Rick Fuller, Woody Pitkat and Todd Ceravolo.

John Falconi won hands down in the Late Models. He dedicated his win to the late Steve May. Shawn Monahan came from a tenth starting spot to record his fifth Limited Sportsman feature win of the season. Jay Sundeen scored his second victory of the 2011 season in the TIS Modifieds. With his eighth victory on Thursday night Danny Field hopes to begin a new win streak in the Mini Stock division.

In the special Tour type Modified 40 lapper that drew 15 cars Ryan Preece started on the outside pole and at the drop of the green jumped out ahead of pole sitter Keith Rocco and never looked back as he dominated the entire event, taking the checker over Mike Stefanik, Todd Szegedy, Rocco, Richard Savory and Steven Reed. Finishing a distant ninth was Gary Putnam who was driving a Modified that was being worked on by Kevin Manion, the crew chief of the disqualified car that Ryan Newman drove at Loudon.

Preece had legendary car owner and engine builder Bobby Judkins in his pit area helping out. Judkins, who is Preece’s grandfather, brought his famous 2x Modified to New England to compete in the Modified Racing Series events. Judkins has hundreds of victories to his credit with drivers Eddie Flemke Sr, Jerry Marquis and Gene Bergin behind the wheel.

Rounding out the night was the PASS Super-Late Models that went the 100 lap distance. Johnny Clark of Hallowell, ME, took down the victory in the Pro All Star Series Super Late Model 100-lapper son. There was plenty of drama in the PASS National Championship event beginning with an incident in turn one of the opening lap. Top guns Jay Fogleman, Scott Chubbuck, Cassias Clark, Alan Tardiff, Preston Peltier and others were involved. The drama continued on lap 25 when Derek Ramstrom got alongside Mike Rowe in turn three in a battle for the lead. Ramstrom lost the handle on his #35 collecting Rowe in the process. Both cars retired from the event with damage.

Lou Modestino advised that Doug Coby really had the other 23 Tour Type Modified drivers covered at Seekonk Speedway’s 7th Annual Open Wheel Wednesday 100 lap race. Taking the lead early on and holding off Matt Hirshman, Coby took the $10 grand first place money back to the Nutmeg State. The event has been a fan favorite since the inception of the race. Getting the leftovers were; Todd Annarummo, Mike Stefanik and Chris Pasteryak who placed third through fifth.

Surviving three restart challenges, Randy Cabral (Bertrand 47) won the Northeastern Midget Association’s 25-lap feature at Seekonk Speedway’s Open Wheel Wednesday. It was the first win of the season for Cabral, the fourth winner in the last four NEMA races.

The Stafford Motor Speedway took the brunt of the heat on Friday as temperatures were just shy of the 100 degree mark at race time. Stafford ran its biggest weekly race of the season, the 8th Annual CARQUEST SK 150. Keith Rocco took the checkered flag and the $3,500 winner’s check for his third consecutive and sixth overall victory of the 2011 season, Dillon Moltz picked up his third win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his fourth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Carla Botticello picked up her first win of 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood scored his third win of 2011 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Rocco’s win gave him 18 wins in 32 starts for the season, overall. Following Rocco at the finish was Woody Pitkat, Ryan Preece, Eric Berndt and Frank Ruocco. Among the missing was Ted Christopher who was in SuperModified competition at the Oswego Speedway in upstate New York where he finished seventh.

Rocco now had 29 career victories at Stafford, moving him past Mike Christopher for third place on the all-time win list in the division at the track. Ted Christopher is the all-time leader with 94 victories and Bo Gunning is second with 47 wins.

Among the missing in New England was Ted Christopher who took his show on the road to upstate New York. At the Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburg, NY Christopher moved the three-race old SuperModified of Clyde Booth steadily forward from his 12th starting spot, ran down early leader and former track record holder Robbie Summers on lap 21 of the 50-lap $3,200-to-win feature and then drove off into the night. He led Summers and Mark Sammut to the stripe by more than a straightaway with Chris deRitis and Tim Jedrzejek rounding out the top five.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco did what few have done as he made it three for three on the weekend, the second time this year that he has scored a home run! Rocco joined an elite group in early July, consisting of Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine who had similar weekend success during their racing careers. At the shoreline oval, the second generation racer now has four SK Modified features in a row.

Vin Esposito took down the checkered flag in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, his second on the year. In Street Stock action, Michael Caprio Jr. wired the race in dominating fashion to claim his first career win in the division, while Ken Cassidy Jr. rounded out the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series winners by taking his fifth win in the Mini Stocks this year. In the Legends Cars it was David Garbo Jr. taking his third consecutive win, and in the visiting New England Truck Series Corey Coates nailed down an extra-distance win.

Following Rocco in the SK Modified feature was Rob Janovic who beat out Kyle James for second, with Tom Abele and Tyler Chadwick completing the top-five.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine last weekend. Joe Doucette won his first ever VMRS race which drew only 18 cars. Chris Pasteryak finished second with Max Zachem, third. Rowan Pennink and Norm Wrenn rounded out the top five.

Before a huge “Oxford 250” weekend crowd, pole-sitter and present point leader Pasteryak jumped into the lead at the drop of the green flag and appeared to be in cruise mode when a lap 62 caution flag brought the race leader back to the rest of the field. Up to that point, Les Hinckley and Dwight Jarvis staged a torrid second place battle until Doucette came into the picture and second place on lap 73. Doucette chased after Pasteryak, reeled him in, and made several attempts to pass the leader but the 2008 series champion was equal to the challenge. On lap 97, Doucette, with the huge crowd cheering on each pass attempt, finally was able to squeeze by Pasteryak, to go on and win his first ever VMRS race.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC hosted a 100 lap NASCAR Modified event. Burt Myers started seventh in the random draw and had to slowly make his way toward the front. Jonathan Brown started first and led the first 84 laps, then Myers took the lead and held it the rest of the way. Dean Ward finished third and Burt’s brother, Jason, was fourth.

The Modified race had six cautions, and Burt Myers, who had his fastest qualifying lap of the season at 13.200 seconds, took the lead after the fifth caution. He also added to his season points lead on Tim Brown, who was 18th Saturday.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Ron Silk won the 77 lap Baldwin-Evans-Jarzombek Memorial. The 77-lap modified race attracted 30 cars vying for 28 spots. Many non-regulars paid a visit as well as NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors, who used the event as a warm for next week’s Tour event. Among the Tour regulars was the most recent Tour winner Todd Szegedy, who by all accounts is not the biggest fan of Riverhead’s tight confines despite having won at another quarter-mile track (Monadnock Speedway in N.H.) earlier this year. Szegedy managed to turn in a strong performance finishing second behind another Tour driver, Ronnie Silk. Silk, winner of the May 27th Tour race at Stafford, put on a dominating performance after starting from the front row. Szegedy made a late run on Silk but was unable to complete the pass. Silk held on to win.

The 61st running of the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified 200 was held at the Oswego Speedway in Oswego, NY and honored the memory of Modified great Richie Evans. Evans a three time winner of the Race of Champions in 1973, 79 and 80 was also recently nominated in to the NASCAR Racing Hall of Fame. Tara and Richie, Jr. were Grand Marshals at the race. Saturday marked the 61st running of the 200 and also would have been Richie Evans 70th birthday.

Zane Zeiner held off Tony Hirschman in the closing moments to capture the 61st annual Race of Champions 200-lap modified special at the Lake Ontario shore speedway. Zeiner took the lead with 42 laps remaining and held on to grab the $10,000 top prize plus a good portion of the record $22,000 lap prize fund. Hirschman, who has won this event four times, had to settle for a close second at the checkers. Pole sitter Erick Rudolph finished third after an early spin with Lee Sherwood and Jimmy Zacharias completing the top five finishers.

Kyle Busch won the 38th Annual TD Bank 250 at the Oxford Plains Speedway.

In some sad news, Shirley J. (O’Rourke) Yerrington, 79, of 31 Trading Cove Circle, Norwich, beloved wife of the late Edwin F. Yerrington Sr., passed away. During Ed’s tenure as General Manager of the Stafford Motor Speedway Shirley oversaw the press box.

Carl Edwards dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday night at Nashville Superspeedway. The Sprint Cup series enjoyed the weekend off.

ESPN announced that Allen Bestwick would replace Marty Reid for all Sprint Cup races, practices and qualifying. Reid would be the play-by-play announcer for Nationwide Series telecasts and ESPN’s IndyCar coverage.

Five years ago in 2016, At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night a real nasty thunder storm blanketed the area forcing track officials to pull the plug on the night’s racing program.

While it rained cats and dogs in central Connecticut the skies remained clear in southern New Hampshire at the Lee USA Speedway on Friday night where the Valenti Modified Racing Series took center stage. Jon McKennedy, of East Chelmsford, MA, and Chris Pasteryak, of Jewett City, CT, shared top honors, each scoring a 50-lap win in the Valenti Modified Racing Series event at the New Hampshire oval.

In the first 50 lap segment, McKennedy started fourth in a field of 22-cars, took the lead from early race leader Mike Willis Jr, late in the race, and went on to win his fourth race of the year, and his 19th career victory, tying Les Hinckley for second in most series wins. McKennedy was followed by Todd Patnode, of Swanzey, NH, Richard Savary, of Canton, MA, Willis, of Grantham, NH, and Anthony Nocella, of Woburn, MA.

In the second 50-lap race, Pasteryak, took the lead on lap-19 and held off McKennedy in the late stages to nab his second win of the season and 12th career VMRS win. Anthony Nocella, Jeffrey Gallup, and Savary rounded out the top five

The ambient temperature was in the 90s and the track surface was over 130deg but it didn’t hinder competitors at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as they celebrated their annual Nostalgia Night with a former SK Modified division champion snapping a two-year plus winless streak in the SK Modified division. Rob Janovic Jr. drove away from the field in the closing stages to win the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature. Joey Gada was second and Todd Owen, third. It was the first victory for the 2007 division champion since Aug. 16, 2014. It marked Janovic’s 23rd career victory in the division since 2000.

In other events, Al Stone III won the Limited Sportsman feature, Ray Christian III won the Late Model feature, Wayne Burroughs Jr. won the Mini Stock feature and Dana DiMatteo won the Legends feature.

Following the Limited Sportsman feature Keith Rocco who finished third called out Ray Christian for his driving tactics in the closing stages. Rocco stated that he was intentionally run up by the winner causing him to lift before he crashed. Christian said it was a “Pay Back” from the qualifying heat. Needless to say, no action was taken by officials who felt, “Thats Racing”.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH for a Saturday night 200 lapper. The event was re-scheduled to Sunday because of thunder storms. Timmy Solomito served up his own brand of thunder as he led all 200 laps for a resounding victory. Rowan Pennink finished second with Jimmy Blewett, third. Eric Goodale and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five in the event that drew only 23 cars. Doug Coby, the last car on the lead lap, finished sixth. Max Zachem finished seventh and was followed by Woody Pitkat, Rob Summers and Donny Lia.

The first 153 laps ran Sunday without a caution. Solomito, with Coby on his back bumper, set a blistering pace in the No. 16 Diversified Metals Ford and lapped all but the top five before the first yellow flag flew.

Once again Melissa Fifield embarrassed herself with another performance that put the entire field at risk. Riding around at a slow pace she was lapped on lap 12 and again on lap 20. NASCAR had enough and told he to park it before she piled up the field or hurt someone. Her past history is that of a slow turtle on the race track. NASCAR should mandate a minimum speed or time for competitors as this has now gotten out of hand.

The Norwich (Ct) Bulletin reported that NASCAR has parked SK Light Modified driver Andrew Molleur while it waits for documents verifying his age. “The driver is not allowed to participate in a NASCAR-sanctioned event until the requested documentation is provided to the NASCAR office in Daytona,” NASCAR issued in a statement on Wednesday. July 20.

Andrew earned his first feature win in the division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on July 2. Three days later, NASCAR announced it was investigating whether Andrew was his advertised age of 15. Several past media reports, including one from The Bulletin, pointed to the driver being 13 at the time of his SK Light Modified win.

Drivers must be 14 years old to obtain a NASCAR learner’s permit to compete in a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series event in Division II or lower, which includes SK Light Modifieds.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island there were no ocean breezes to cool the crowd. It was a hot & sultry summer night. With the NASCAR Modifieds off for the evening the Eagle Auto Mall Modified Crate drivers took center stage for a 40-lap main event with Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills scoring his second win of 2016. Slepian the 2015 INEX Legend Race Car champion went wire to wire for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series triumph.

In Modified competition below the Mason-Dixon Burt Myers took the win at the Bowman Gray Stadium over Chris Fleming and Lee Jefferies.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, Kyle Busch’s Toyota was lights out fast and that is why the Joe Gibbs Racing driver left his competitors in the dark, winning his second-straight Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Busch swept both the NASCAR XFINITY Series Lilly Diabetes 250 on Saturday and the 23rd Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday for the second year in a row. But he was far more dominant this year as he won the pole position for both contests and led a race-high 149 laps out of the 170 laps (including overtime) in the Combat Wounded Coalition 400. That is the most laps led in the history of the race. He also became the first driver to sweep both poles and both races in the same weekend in NASCAR history.

The Indy Cup race had a noticeably a large amount of empty seats!

Last year, 2020, The Stafford Speedway continued their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action on Friday, July 24 with Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night. Stafford’s SK Lights took top billing with a 40-lap feature that paid over $10,000 in total posted awards. SK Light rookie driver Derek Debbis, who failed to qualify for the season opening event at Stafford back on June 26 was the big winner of the night, taking his first career victory in the biggest race of the season that was worth $2,358 in purse and contingency awards. Ronnie Williams broke the win streak held by Keith Rocco as he scored his first win of 2020 in the SK Modified® feature, Ryan Fearn took down the Late Model feature, Jeremy Lavoie won the Limited Late Model feature, and Jason Lafayette scored the Street Stock checkered flag.

In the SK Light 40 lapper, Debbis started from the front row and held off numerous challenges for the lead. Debbis led lap-33 to pick up a $333 bonus bonus that was put up by Doug Dunleavy from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair in memory of Wade Cole with Alexander Pearl and Mark Bakaj in tow. Debbis took the checkered flag to record his very first victory at Stafford. Pearl came home in second with Bakaj, third.

In the SK 40 lapper, Williams took the lead on a lap 21 restart with Mike Christopher Jr taking second. Todd Owen moved into third with Stephen Kopcik moving up to fourth with Keith Rocco was fifth.

Williams led lap-33 to collect a $433 bonus that was put up by Doug Dunleavy from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair in memory of Wade Cole. At the 40 lap mark, Williams led Owen and the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2020 season. Kopcik finished third with Christopher and Rocco rounding out the top-5. Rocco got stuck behind a fading Cory DiMatteo on the outside, lost a couple positions and had no time to recover.

Also on Friday night at Stafford safety equipment in memory of the late Ted Christopher was handed out to competitors. Prior to the beginning of the 2020 racing season, Quinn Christopher, wife of the late Stafford Speedway legend Ted Christopher, established the Ted Christopher Drive for Safety Initiative. The program’s aim was to increase safety awareness among Stafford drivers who had registered a number to race in 2020 at Stafford were eligible to sign up and receive a free nomex undershirt, helmet skirt, or carbonx head sock. Christopher distributed the safety items to the 96 drivers who signed up to take part in the program this past Friday night,

Matt Hirschman outscored 36 other Modified entries as he captured his fifth SBM Tri-Track Series win at the quarter mile Star Speedway in Epping New Hampshire on Saturday night. For his efforts he took home a $6,000 payoff. A predicted confrontation between Hirschman and Justin Bonsignore never materialized as Bonsignore was a no-show. But the ride to victory wasn’t one, especially at the end. Hirschman dominated the beginning, taking the lead on lap 25 and leading through lap 83, before a controlled caution slowed the race. While some elected to stay out, Hirschman pitted for a tire change. The charge started back to the front from ninth position. He would eventually pass Matt Swanson for the top spot on a restart at lap 112 and never look back.

Swanson, driving the legendary Ole Blu of the Boehler family, started 27th after earning a provisional into the race, played a different strategy than Hirschman did, and it almost paid off. Swanson elected not to pit as part of the controlled caution period on lap 83, and took over the lead when most others went down pit road. Swanson led the race from lap 83-112, before Hirschman took control when Swanson spun his tires on the restart. Andy Jankowiak, who used a similar strategy and stayed out, finished third. Jankowiak was involved in a wreck on lap 25 with veteran Dave Sapienza, but was able to rebound.

Ronnie Williams, hot off his victory at Stafford on Friday night, started third and finished fourth. Eric Goodale rounded out the top five. NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece was sixth in his return to Modified racing, while Anthony Nocella, Austin Kochenash, Cam McDermott and Ron Silk finished the top-10.

The purse for the event was over $40,000, a figure that didn’t change post-COVID pandemic. Due to COVID-19, and guidance from the state of New Hampshire, Star Speedway ran at 50% capacity for the event in the grandstands, and sold out. Tri Track and Star officials made sure that all social distancing and safe health practices were in place.

The Tri Track Open Modified Series returns to the track on Saturday, August 15, with the second stop of the season at Monadnock Speedway.

Just got my copy of The Soul of a Modified- Lenny Boehler’s Ole Blue. Lew Boyd has pulled out all the stops on this one. Once you pick it up you can’t put it down. For those of us who knew Lenny, Freddie, Ronnie, Leo and Bugsy this book will generate fond memories and make your eyes damp. Check it out and grab a copy at Coastal181.com or BRERacing.com. $29.95. Coastal181.com phone: 1-877-907-8181 toll free.

The NEAR Board Members and Hall of Fame Executive Committee Representatives met recently at the ProNyne Motorsports Museum. After much discussion and after holding off as long as possible, they gave in to common sense. The decision was unanimously made to cancel the 2020 NEAR Hall of Fame Banquet.

As hard as this decision was to make, it was the right one. The Covid 19 pandemic has not moved on. The facility for the event is still not open in Ct. A great number of the membership and honorees are in the highest risk group for infection. In the interest of being as safe as possible, they will regroup and try to have a stellar event in 2021!

On a sad note, Bob Bahre, a giant figure of racing in the Northeast best known as the founder of New Hampshire Motor Speedway, passed away. Along with his efforts to bring forth New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Bahre was a former owner at Oxford Plains Speedway alongside his brother Dick Bahre. Under Bahre’s leadership, the prestigious Oxford 250 originated as a 200-lap event in 1974 before expanding to its current 250-lap format.

While Bahre sold Oxford Plains Speedway in 1987, he would set his eyes on another lifelong dream. Bahre and his family purchased Bryar Motorsports Park, redeveloping the facility into New Hampshire International Speedway (now New Hampshire Motor Speedway). The track opened in 1990 and hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series event in 1993.

Before his days as a track owner, Bahre also owned a midget team in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was inducted into the New England Auto Racing (NEAR) Hall of Fame in 2009, as well as the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

July 15, 1972 Stafford ran their twice rained out Permatex 150 on Saturday night with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary and Bobby Santos who all finished on the lead lap. Bouchard started 12th after winning the second heat and took the lead on lap 72. Fred DeSarro finished fifth, one lap down. Rounding out the top ten were Ray Miller, Ernie Gahan, Jerry Cook, Gene Bergin and Ed Pieneziak.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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