May 6, 2016

050516 - Vukovich


Well, it’s been a while since my last column. Yes, I decided to take a break, especially with last year’s racing coming to an end. I’m not really sure how it will be – size wise. I do know this – I really do miss the racing up north!

Before I get started on this week’s column, how about a photo of the late Bill Vukovich, Sr. in the J.C. Agajanian dirt Indy car? I’ve had quite a few “favorite” race drivers over my lifetime (I started going to the races in 1946, when I was 9 years old, and I’m now pushing 79 years of age – hitting that number this coming September 22nd.) “Vukie” was one of them. Sadly, he was on top of my drivers list back in 1955 when he had his fatal accident at Indy.

The racing season, up north, has started for 2016. So far, OCFS seems to be having some pretty good car counts. I’m not sure about fan attendance, though, although it appears to be better over the last couple of seasons. I guess time will tell as that goes. I suppose it was the cost, but there was, as far as I know, no new clay put down. Heck, I’m not even sure if the track was dug up over the winter.

This coming weeks racing program is being held in the memory of the late Ralph Corwin. The Modified feature will again pay $5,000.00 to the winner – an increase of $2,500.00 over the “normal” winners take. The remaining $2,500.00 goes to the other competing classes. I’m not sure if the extra prize monies will bring in new talent, or not. After all, some drivers just are not up to leaving their “home” track and the points they might get while at their home track. I guess time, along with track conditions will give us an idea over these next few weeks? Don’t forget – OCFS has been one of the hardest tracks to come from the rear of the field to an upfront finishing position. That’s one of the main problems at OC – most all cars are within a second of each other – regardless of who’s driving.

OCFS isn’t alone as far as how 2016 might be. I’ve read where a few tracks have suffered from low fan counts and also low car counts. Mostly though, things, so far, have looked pretty good. It seems that the Sportsman classes are doing a tad better than last year. Modifieds – depends on what track one might talk about, but most seem to be pretty well off, too. Of course that’s good news.

Looking at the schedule for OCFS, I see there will be no racing on May 28th – when we celebrate Memorial Day. Just wondering, how long has OC not raced on the Memorial Day weekend, anyway? Also – some tracks are now having a wingless 305 sprint car class. I see that Accord now has one – granted not too many cars so far. New Egypt seems to have a healthy car count for that class, last I’ve seen. OC and Lebanon Valley have yet to join the “club”, however. OC has some CRSA winged 305’s and the Valley looks like they’ll only have one sprint car race, and it isn’t with the WoO, either – but with the All Star Sprinters on Sunday, August 26th.

Further into the racing season, I’m somewhat puzzled about the schedule for Glenn Donnelly’s new track, as far as a big week of racing in October (Like Syracuse had) showing only one date in early October for the Modifieds. Nothing seen yet as far as any races for the Sportsman and 358 Modified classes. I know I won’t be able to attend, what with me now living in Florida, but what if they don’t have the Sportsman and 358’s racing there? And they usually had a pretty good amount of Street Stocks at Syracuse, too.

Here are the websites for some of those tracks and organizations up north, if you’re interested:
Lebanon Valley:!home/mainPage
Five Mile Point:
CRSA 305 Sprint Cars:
Bethel Speedway:

A little non racing stuff:
Last week, my two sons, Tom, Jr. and Eric, rented a multi bedroom house, with a pool, for a week, up near Orlando. It was basically so both of them, along with their families, could see me, since they haven’t done so in quite a while. Tom Jr. had his wife, Penny, and their daughter Marissa with them. Eric had his wife, Catherine, with him. From down here in Florida, there was my grandson, John Rizzo, my daughter Sarah along with her husband, Jeff and daughter Krissy. My granddaughter, Tessie, could only make it on Sunday, due to having things to do that were associated with her work. Her son, my great grandson, Naji, went up with us – meaning my daughters Sandy & Judy, along with this old man. My sister, Cathy and her daughter Laureen, along with Laureen’s boy friend Bill, and his two children, we also able to make it, but only for Sunday. My two daughters, Sandy & Judy, along with my grandson John (who was our chauffer) and Naji, stayed until Tuesday afternoon. I was also there until Tuesday. Yes, we all had a great time, and it was such a pleasure seeing my family, again! Somehow, I think I’ll have to venture back up north to visit both Eric & Tom, Jr. Hopefully, somehow, I’ll be able to take in a race or two at Accord and/or OCFS while I’m up there.

Some results from this past weekend on former OVRP racers:

Albany/Saratoga last Friday, April 29th:

Modifieds: LJ Lombardo was 10th, Alex Bell was 21st and Bobby Hackel IV was 22nd.

Sportsman: Cody Bleau was 16th and Hunter Bates was 28th.

Thunder Mountain from April 30th:

Anthony Perrego won the modified feature. Danny Creeden finished 3rd.

OCFS results from last Saturday:

MODIFIEDS: LJ Lombardo was 6th, Billy V was 7th, Brendan Finley (pretty sure he ran at OVRP) was 9th, Matt Janiak 11th, Tom Hindley 21st and Mike Ruggiero was 24th.

Sportsman: Jimmy Johnson was 8th, Joe Conklin 11th, Anthony Falanga 14th, Zach Mead 19th, Johnny Illanovsky 21st. Joey Falanga was a DNQ.

Rookie Crate Sportsman: Cody Hunt was 7th. I’m not positive whether Tighe Sherlock ran

OVRP or not, but he was 20th.

Results from Lebanon Valley of former OVRP Dirt Oval racers:

Modifieds: Kolby Schroder was 4th, and Kyle Armstrong 9th.

Sportsman: John Virgilio was 4th.

RJ Wambold was a DNQ for the Street Stock feature at Mahoning Valley. Tiffay Wambold was 12th in the Hobby Stock feature.

At New Egypt, Molly Chambers was 8th in the sprint car feature, while Cale Ross was 5th in the Sportsman feature.

At the Virginia International Raceway, a road course, in the NASCAR K&N East Series race,

Tyler Dipple was in 2nd place when he lost his tranny. He ended up 19th.

At the Susquehanna Speedway, in PA, in the ARDC feature, Justin Grosz was 7th.

At Bethel, Kyle Redner was 2nd and Rich Coons 3rd in the Sportsman feature.
Danny Buccafusca was 2nd in the Wingless 600 Micro feature. Charlie Lawrence was 3rd in the All Star Slingshot feature at Hamlin.

Searching through the Internet, I came across this short video of some Grand Prix racing from back in the 50’s. If you watch it, check out how close the people are to the track, back then:

Also, I was watching the Infinity race from Talladega. My main complaint, and it seems to be damn near every week now with NASCAR is a yellow with about 10 laps to go. TV did show the reason for the yellow – a piece of metal on the track. Face it, Talladega is a huge track. Why did it take 5 laps to pick up the junk that was on the track? And of course there was a yellow with 3 to go due to a car getting out of shape. Another way to long yellow flag time waster. Ridiculous in my way of thinking. I have no idea whatsoever as to why it takes NASCAR so long to have a piece of metal picked up – especially on a track the size of Talladega. Guess short track fans have been kinda lucky the way the smaller tracks can get back to green flag racing, while NASCAR takes so long. Of course on the last lap there was blocking from the Leader (Logano) then caused another wreck, because he was blocking Sadler. Maybe NASCAR should get rid of the mirrors, huh? And they wonder why their (NASCAR’s) tracks are losing fans?

Some info on what’s happening at Indy in May:

Indy 500 Practice – Monday, May 16th:

Schedule of Events
10:00am – Gates Open
12:00pm – 02:00pm – Rookie Orientation Program
02:00pm – 06:00pm – Indy 500 Practice
06:00pm – Gates Close

Indy 500 Practice – Tuesday, May 17th:
Schedule of Events
10:00am – Gates Open
12:00pm – 06:00pm – Indy 500 Practice
06:00pm – Gates Close

Indy 500 Practice – Wednesday, May 18th:
Schedule of Events
10:00am – Gates Open
12:00pm – 06:00pm – Indy 500 Practice
06:00pm – Gates Close

Indy 500 Practice – Thursday, May 19th:
Schedule of Events
10:00am – Gates Open
12:00pm – 06:00pm – Indy 500 Practice
06:00pm – Gates Close

Fast Friday – Indy 500 Practice – Friday May 20th:
Schedule of Events
10:00am – Gates Open
12:00pm – 06:00pm – Indy 500 Practice
06:05pm – Fastest Lap of the Day Award – Panasonic Pagoda
06:15pm – Indy 500 Qualifying Draw – Pagoda Plaza Stage
06:00pm – Gates Close

Indy 500 Qualifications – Saturday, May 21st
Schedule of Events
07:00am – Gates Open
08:00am – 08:30am – Indy 500 Practice – Group 1
08:30am – 09:00am – Indy 500 Practice – Group 2
09:00am – 10:00am – Indy 500 Practice – Full Field
10:00am – 04:00pm – Lemonade Day at the Brickyard
11:00am – 05:50pm – Indy 500 Qualifying (1-9 Advance to Fast 9)
06:00pm – Gates Close

Armed Forces Pole Day – Sunday, May 22nd:
Schedule of Events
10:00am – Gates Open
10:30am – 11:15am – Enlistment Ceremony
12:00pm – 12:30pm – Indy 500 Practice – Positions 22-33
12:45pm – 01:15pm – Indy 500 Practice – Positions 10-21
01:30pm – 02:00pm – Indy 500 Practice – Fast 9
02:45pm – 04:45pm – Indy 500 Qualifying – Positions 10-33
05:00pm – 05:45pm – Indy 500 Fast 9 Qualifying – Positions 1-9
06:00pm – Gates Close

Indy 500 Practice – Monday, May 23rd:
Schedule of Events
12:00pm – Gates Open
12:30pm – 04:00pm – Indy 500 Practice
04:30pm – 07:00pm – Indy Lights Testing
07:00pm – Gates Close

Indy Lights Freedom 100 Practice & Qualifications – Thursday, May 26th:
Schedule of Events
08:00am – Gates Open
09:00am – 12:00pm – Indy Lights Freedom 100 Practice
12:15pm – 01:00pm – Pit Stop Practice – Pit Lane
01:15pm – 02:15pm – Indy Lights Freedom 100 Qualifying
02:30pm – 04:00pm – Vintage Car Laps
02:30pm – 05:00pm – Pit Stop Practice – Pit Lane
04:00pm – Gates Close

Miller Lite Carb Day – Friday, May 27th:
Schedule of Events
08:00am – Gates Open
08:00am – 09:00am – Vintage Car Laps
10:00am – 11:00am – Indy Lights Autograph Session
11:00am – 12:00pm – Final Indy 500 Practice
12:15pm – Indy Lights Freedom 100 Pre-Race
12:30pm – Indy Lights Freedom 100 – 40 Laps
01:30pm – 03:30pm – Tag Heuer Pit Stop Competition
03:30pm – Miller Lite Carb Day Concert feat. Journey
06:00pm – Gates Close

Legends Day, Honoring Champions of the 500, Presented by Firestone – Saturday, May 28th:

Schedule of Events
08:00am – Gates Open
09:00am – 10:00am – Full Field Autograph Session – Pagoda Plaza
09:00am – 10:00am – Vintage Car Laps
10:30am – Public Drivers Meeting – Tower Terrace
12:00pm – 01:30pm – IPL 500 Festival Parade – Downtown Indianapolis
03:30pm – Corey Cox Concert
04:00pm – Chris Janson Concert
05:00pm – Blake Shelton Concert
06:00pm – Gates Close

100th Running Of The Indy 500, Presented by Penngrade Motor Oil – Sunday, May 29th:
Schedule of Events
06:00am – Gates Open
08:00am – 09:15am – Parade of Bands
09:45am – 500 Festival Princess Lap
11:00am – Decade Car Laps
10:40am – Former Indy 500 Champion Laps
11:10am – Military Silverado Laps
11:33am – Driver Introductions
12:04pm – “Drivers Start Your Engines”
12:12pm – 100th Running of the Indy 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil – 200 Laps
06:00pm – Gates Close

May 1st – not a very good day as far as auto racing goes:

Mike Nazaruk was fatally injured at Langhorne, PA, back on May 1st, 1955, there was another well known driver that also was fatally injured on a May 1st. That was Ayrton Senna. He was fatally injured at Imola, due to head injuries. A video of that crash can be seen here: Both my brother, Raymond (Jim) and I thought a lot off Senna. He was a multi time world driving champion in F-1 racing.

I don’t have any film of the Nazaruk accident. In fact, I don’t there was any taken, since it occurred on the backstretch of that dangerous circular mile track. Nazaruk was one of my favorite drivers too, back in the day. I was fortunate to see him get started in midgets up in the Northeast. He then advanced to the sprint cars and also Indy cars, too. I’ve read that on the day he was fatally injured that he wasn’t quite “feeling up to par”, and he elected to go to Langhorne (to earn some bucks) rather than go to Indianapolis, where practice always started on May 1st – back in the day. I was one of the thousands that were at Langhorne on May 1, 1955.

A photo of his car after the accident:


A little sad news: Maybe you know him, maybe not, but race driver Eric Haubricht is having a rather difficult time right now. He posted this (in part) on Facebook, this past Sunday: ”

It’s sadly become apparent that I need to call Hospice and get a bed set up in my house…. BTW there will be more time to sit and socialize and get more comfortable visiting this old guy….. Snacks are not needed because I barely eat as it is!!!”

On Monday, His wife, Sara, posted these:

Hi everyone it’s Sara! My phone is not working right but just wanted to let u know Eric is in the hospital. He was having a hard time breathing so they took him for x-rays. Will update more when we know. Keep the prayers coming thank u 😕❤

And then she posted this:

Right now he just got into a room after being here all day not happy with anything that these people have done which is pretty much nothing till tomorrow I’m having him transferred to Denville where I know he’ll get the care that he needs.

Per a post on Facebook on Tuesday, from Sara: Eric Haubrich is in room S5015 in the Morristown (NJ) Medical Center. She says he’s doing better and is allowed to have visitors, if you might want to drop in and visit him.

Another one that’s having surgery (today, Monday 5/2) is Tommy Johnson. Now if it’s actually who I think he is, he’s a young racer that runs at Accord.

I am asking for everyone’s prayers for my amazing cousin, Tommy Johnson, and his family as he undergoes RPLND surgery today at Sloan Kettering in New York City. We are all thinking of you and praying that this closes the hardest chapter of your life. We love you Tommy, stay strong. I am so proud of you.

Just – how many race fans watched the Cup race from Talladega last Sunday? Some wreck fest, huh? Question is: What can actually be done to eliminate those huge multi-car wrecks? I found this while on the Internet this past Monday:

Something I wasn’t aware of – OVRP has a new owner per their ad in this weeks AARN.

Until next week!