– FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH, 1978 –
DIS, DAT AND DE UTTER THING
Are you wondering why we missed the September 8th edition of this noozpaper? Well, we drove a better part of the night from up Canada way to make it back for the 200 at Stafford on Labor Day and when we got home after the race, I just couldn’t keep the ol’ eyeballs open long enough to pen a column. We finally got NERF’ers Corner written the next day and sent it out, but it arrived at NESS Headquarters too late for print. I won’t blame the U.S. Postal Service for not getting’ it there on time. It was the fault of the Number One NERF, me!
The 1978 200 at Stafford may be labeled as the Big Fix of the Century by many and that’s just what I did, but after having a talk with head starter Frank Sgambato about the yellow flag that conveniently fell with race leader Geoff Bodine badly in need of fuel, Sgambato stated, “I don’t know how long that nerf bar was laying in the first turn. One of the cars went high ending it into what I thought was a dangerous spot on the track.” he added, “You can’t worry about what the fans are going to think. My first concern is the safety of all the drivers on the track.”
Mr. Sgambato has never shown partiality toward any driver and if you were to ask anyone of them about him, you would get nothing but praise about the man many feel is the best flagman on the entire East Coast. Don’t get me wrong, Sgambato makes mistakes, but again I think every one of us has made one or two on our own jobs. Right!
Rumor Has it that a real New England Modified and Late Model Sportsman Champion could be crowned in 1979. The individual behind the venture told me that things are still in the planning stages. He has hopes of awarding both trophies and monies in both divisions. Points would begin with the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway and concludes with the Thompson 300 at the same track. Only races run within the six states in New England would count towards the title. Gee! Just think, no more mythical champions. Great idea, huh!
Remember Stan “The Man” Musial of St. Louis Cardinal’s fame? Well, now there’s another Stan “The Man”, and his last name is Gregor. He is the 1978 Riverside Park Speedway Track Champion. Gregor was the most consistent runner this season collecting one feature win and many second place finishes. The thing that’s really impressive about this young man is the fact he is always humble in victory or defeat, has nothing but praise for his fellow competitors and his car owner. He’s not a bragger like one Park driver who was stating three weeks before the season ended that he had the title all wrapped up. One must remember that the game is not over until the final out and a track championship isn’t won until the final checkered flag falls. Congratulation Stan, on a super year by a super guy and a pat on the back for owner Billy Simons and crew for the outstanding job they did on the big white #9 Pinto.
Congratulations are also in store for the Czarnecki Brothers, who wrapped up another top five finish with their #20 Vega driven by three time Riverside Park Speedway Champion Bob Polverari. He was trying for his fourth straight, but fell short by an eyelash or should we say eight points. The remarkable thing about the Czarnecki Brothers, Joe and Paul, is that they have never finished out of the top ten since they built their first Modified back in 1962, add to that fact they’ve never finished below third in the last nine years, have three track titles to their name and have won the Riverside 500 Team Race a record six times. The sad thing is, they won’t be returning in ’79 as the high cost of racing has taken yet another quality Modified from an already too short of a field of cars at the Park.
Richie Evans’ lead has been cut to just 99 over the Cookie Monster in the chase for the NASCAR National Modified Point Championship. The Rapid Roman has 3,709 points to defending champion, Jerry Cook’s 3,610. Bob Pressley leads Butch Lindley by 76 points in the Late Model Sportsman version of the National Championship. Pressely has 5,765 points to Lindley’s 5,689. The NASCAR Grand National Points Race shows Cale Yarborough pulling away from the rest of the field in his quest for a third straight title. He has a 298 point lead over his nearest competitor as he leads Benny Parsons, 3,532 to 3,244. Dave Marcis is third with 3,197 followed by Darrell Waltrip – 3,083 and Bobby Allison – 3,001. Yarborough is the leading money winner with $337,030 followed by Waltrip with $244,605.
My apologies to Jim Whipple and Frank Minch, who should have got the Most Improved Driver and Rookie of the Year honors respectively at Riverside Park Speedway. Evidently my voicing an opinion in NERF’ers Corner a few weeks ago as to who I thought should be the recipients put the jinx on these two chauffeurs. Riverside officials are mad at me for lashing at them on the “Radical Racer” and maybe they think they can get back at me by not naming the two drivers in question. You can’t bother me guys only Whipple and Minch. Bruce D’Allessandro, named Most Improved, did a fine job this season, but not that much better than last year. Whipple, who didn’t make a feature in 1977, qualified for every one this year until engine problems beset him late in the season. Ed Kennedy, given Rookie of the Year honors, ran about half of the shows while Minch didn’t miss a week, showed improvement every week and didn’t get in the other drivers way. Dell and Kennedy are both super individuals and I’m happy for them, but fair’s fair. It’s another screwgie by Park officials.
Pit Pasta … Jim Whipple Sr. has put up for sale the No. 96 Racing Team’s two Vega bodied Modifieds driven by Jim Jr. at Riverside Park. One car carries a $2,800 price tag while the other is $2,000. Both are minus motor and transmissions. Give them a call and ask for Jim or… Jim… Rumor out of the No. 96 Racing Team camp is that they’ll debut a brand new Morrisino Chassis for 1979 possibly with AMC Pacer body on it. With those big windows the Pacers have, Whip Jr. must be planning to put on some weight… Earl Reynolds has his beautiful No. 71 Bobcat bodied Modified, chauffeured by Bobby Stefanik at Riverside Park on the selling block. $6,000 will take away the Richie Evans built Modified, that has captured six Park Features the llast two years, minus motor. If you’re interested call Earl after 5 pm… Quote of the season comes from Warren Bren, owner and driver of the No. 66 Vega that only saw action once this year. He stated recently, “Auto racing is a rich man’s game and a poor man’s fun!” How right you iz… Stopped in to see Stafford Street Stock driver Don Harris at his work last week. He had told me, after demolishing his No. 69 AMC at the tail end of the season, that he was going to find him a car that would get him up in this world. When I arrived at AAMCO Transmission, where Harris puts in his time, I found him sitting in a new car some seven feet in the air atop a hydraulic lift. Ah Don! I didn’t realize this is what you meant. Hogswageled again… The No. 10 Pinto bodied Modified, owned by Bill Pelly and driven by W.J. Grez is for sale. Pelly is asking $2,800 for this Lindblad Chassis Modified. Call Bill after 6 pm…. Geoff Bodine wrapped up win No. 50 in the Thompson 300 and his third tri-century victory in four starts at the Connecticut oval. He won in 1975, ’76 and now in ’78. It was great that he won his 5oth in New England and not down South or at Pocono. Congratulations Geoff… The Rosner buit Bob Beauchemin No. 26 Pinto bodied Modified that ran Riverside Park with Gary Davilli at the wheel is for sale. Beauchemin is asking $4,500 for the car minus engine. Call him… How about Thompson assistant starter Bob Gelinas sprinting toward the first turn to pick up some debris on the track and then all the way back to the starter’s stand without collapsing. With that much speed Bob could beat out the whole Patriots back field…
Dell Cushing, driver of the No. 18 Vega bodied Modified, and owner John Royka feel they were ripped off by not getting the win in the Non-Qualifiers race at the Thompson 300. Involved in an accident on the 25th lap, Cushing pitted for a tire and returned under yellow only to be marked 2 laps down by the track’s scorers. I feel they made a big mistake, and we all make mistakes, but this one cost this racing team at least $1,200… In the Non-Qualifiers race, Stan Gregor blew an engine, Pete Fiandaca ran out of gas as did Rusty Ball. All were leaders at the time of their departure from the event. Tough luck for some tough competitors. Till next week: “Keep on Trackin’.