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"EYE ON RIVERHEAD" by Bob Finan
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Hard to imagine but it's true, this is the final regular season Eye for 2012. It seemed only fitting after all the weather struggles this year that the final program of the year would find damp and drizzly conditions greeting Barbara & Jim Cromarty and their Enduro teams when the pit gates swung open. But as time moved on the weather got a tad better just enough to get the show in and put the wraps on the year. We're all hoping for some further cooperation from "Mother Nature" in 2013!
Bob Engelfried #63 found himself a first time winner in the 50-lap Grand Enduro when he was declared the winner of the race after Greg Zaleski #18 refused a post race tear down after seemingly winning his third race of the year. More on that later. Engelfried over the last two seasons has really come into his own and a win is a win no matter how you get there and it was nice to see the driver of the Clear Beer Draft Chevy with a big smile in victory lane. Of course the good news for any driver who wins the final race of the year is they get to savor the victory for 7 months during the off season.
As for Greg Zaleski who was among four drivers in the top six who did not want their engines torn down for various reasons it had to be a hard pill to swallow. Many race teams who run short track around the country will argue that the prize money earned will not match the cost of a post race inspection, or that there is no time to get the engine together for the next race. I spoke with our own Walter Bonczyk after the race and he assured me the cost would not have been excessive and that there was no next race for the class and indeed that is one of the reasons Bonczyk and his tech staff waited until the final night. I did not get a chance to speak with Zaleski after the races as he had already left the track but I'm sure he had his reasons as well.
Phil LaManna (4th), David Antos (5th) and Erick Zegel (6th) also declined to tear their engines down and like Zaleski were also disqualified.
While brother-in-law Engelfried was celebrating his first career win, James Charrier #36 for the second time in three years was enjoying his Grand Enduro championship. Many, myself included thought that when the driver of the JC Performance entry drew the pole for the race that he'd win going away. However Charrier had his left rear tire going down slowly and one could see as the race hit the halfway mark his car was laboring through the turns, he eventually fell out of the race. The 2012 record books will show that despite the misfortune this week James scored five wins and another championship and his teammate captured his first career win. Not a bad season I'd say!
Steve Mastro #45 was runner-up on the track in his New York Auto Giant Chevy; he too passed the post race inspection without incident.
What a final two weeks to the year that Glenn Simonin #11 enjoyed. Last week he was 5th in the Miller Lite night 50 and on Saturday he was third when the post race dust settled, I'm sure Glenn didn't want to see the season end as he hit his stride. Simonin bought the former Frank Dumicich Monte Carlo that was all painted and lettered like the Junior Johnson Sprint Cup cars and as the year went on Glenn and his team seemed to get a handle on the machine.
"Short Round" Chris Lescenski #46 had a career best 4th place tally in his Set-ups by J-Rod Chevy. The car was damaged in the Labor Day weekend event but Chris and his crew worked hard to get it back and were rewarded with the top five finish. No, folks, I don't know how Chris got his nickname!
Michael Retus #51 had a good outing as well as he completed the top five in his Family Auto Parts Chevy, which by the way is for sale. If Mike doesn't sell the car by December 1st then he'll have it at the Long Island Automotive Swap Shop that I'll be hosting at Riverhead Raceway.
Spoke to Ray Fitzgerald about his #16 Oakfield Leasing Chevy that was damaged heavily a few races back. Ray, one of the all-time leading winners of Riverhead Enduros, admitted the car was not as bad as he first thought and that he'll repair it in the off-season for 2013. Ray took the Jess Martines 8-Cylinder Enduro machine for a ride in the second race for that class and was 4th! As I always say racers race.
Greg Harris can get used to this race winning thing! Greg took home his second win of 2012 when he bested the 4/6-Cylinder Truck Enduro in a 50-lap contest. Greg did a masterful job working the lapped traffic to not only take the lead in his SGS Stone Works Chevy but then get away from his competitors en route to the win.
Robin Vollmoeller #2, with his runner-up finish in his Spit's Speed Shop S-10 to his son-in-law Harris, sewed-up the 2012 title as this tested tough veteran just keeps rolling on! It was some fun watching Robin race with some of the young drivers in the field like Dale Owen and Mariah Lawrence as he made his way towards the front in his championship clinching ride.
Speaking of "Kid Cool" Dale Owen he was a stellar 3rd in his Pitbull Motors entry which for this second generation driver was a great way to the season that saw him very much come into his own. Watch for a career first win for this driver in 2013. By the way proud papa "Daddy Cool" Andy Owen was 6th making it a great race for the Owen family.
Don Nelson Jr. #38 had a frustrating race as he was good enough to win in his Repo Joe mount, but didn't. What slowed Don was every time he went to lap a slower truck they'd get in his way and slow his progress; he wound up 4th but was better than that finish showed.
Greg DiCanio #83 didn't run all the races in 2012 but he ended his year on a high note none the less with a 5th place finish in his Dura Seal Asphalt machine.
I don't often root for a driver during the races but I'll admit I was pulling for Mariah Lawrence #01 to have a good finish Saturday evening as she ran in the top five all race long. Mariah, the younger sister of Donald "Woot" Lawrence is one of those backbone competitors who support Enduro racing faithfully at Riverhead; she was on her way to a good night. However another truck spun and Mariah got caught-up with him in her Wild Rose Ranch racer and the good night went sour in a hurry. But you can bet when the trucks run their first race of 2013 Mariah will be in the field ready, willing and able to try again!
Jim Wichert, driver of the #4 Unique Golf truck, wants to say a big thank you to Rich Giordano of G-Force Collision in Lindenhurst for getting his racer straightened out after a Labor Day race tangle. G-Force also straightened the frame on the #54 Grand entry of Brian McCormack. "Richie G-Force" as he is known has helped out many a race team, both in the Enduro ranks as well as the NASCAR classes here at the track and Wichert wanted to thank him publicly.
Third generation driver Kyle Curtis made a rare start in his #05, the truck developed a bad push which he had to fight off all race long.
There are those who say Anthony Pizzo might just take his Enduro racing too seriously, but don't tell the veteran driver that being focused and serious won't get you results as he won the first of two 8-Cylinder Enduro races in a 75-lap contest. Pizzo took the lead for good on lap 27 from Dominic Ranieri #9, who had taken the top spot from Pizzo on lap 11. Anthony, who was none too happy about how his Labor Day weekend ended in an 8-Cylinder race, took no prisoners once he got back to the lead in his United Exhaust Shops Caprice and drove to a convincing win. By the way just a half-hour later Pizzo hit the back stretch wall hard in his 4/6-Cylinder car in a grinding head-on collision, he was okay and indeed raced the 2nd 8-Cylinder race where he was 3rd in the A. Voight Towing Chevy.
With a runner-up finish in the 75-lapper Dominic Ranieri became the 2012 8-Cylinder Enduro champion in his Westhampton Auto Salvage Chevy #9. Dominic wanted to dedicate the championship to Robin Schewire of Westhampton Auto Salvage who wasn't able to be at the track much this year, but Dom told us he'd be back next year which is great news. In the nightcap Ranieri scored another runner-up finish in his Spare Parts Racing car.
Jess Martines #2 was third in the first 8-Cylinder race before he turned his sponsor wanted Chevy over to Ray Fitzgerald for the second race.
Dege Russell #20 was 4th in the first race before going out and winning the nightcap in his Kelly Russell Realty Chevy. Russell and Pizzo went hard at each other early in the second race before Dege took the win.
Rob "The Racer" McCormick brought his #34 home for a 5th place finish. The car is the former Joe Warren Sr. racer.
Good to see veteran driver Stephen Vonatski was okay after his #12 was hit hard at the entrance of turn three. A red flag was waved for a fire in turn four and when the race went back to green Vonatski's car wouldn't move and was hit hard. Stephen exited the car in a hurry through the passenger window which was facing the infield and, folks I don't blame him one bit!
"Wolfie" Mark Wolf made a triumphant return to Enduro racing in the Brandon Hubbard machine in the second eight cylinder. Mark was a solid 5th. However, in the opening eight cylinder race Brandon had a top five run going before the car started missing really badly which dropped him out of that race.
Wanting to prove a point from his Labor Day weekend DQ. Steve "The Pitbull" Trimboli once again dominated the 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro wining not only the race but the 2012 title as well. Steve was disqualified for an unapproved rear suspension part/adjustment after the race earlier in the month, Trimboli pleaded that early race contact knocked the right rear wheel out of whack, while his competitors stated they saw the car go onto the track that way. A typical he said, she said scenario. Well Trimboli wanted this one bad and he got it in his Pitbull Motors Mercedes Benz but afterwards he announced the win and championship would be his last in this class. Steve had dabbled with Grand Enduro racing this year and that is where his focus will lie in 2013.
The 2012 campaign was indeed a quiet one for veteran driver Bob Haeger but he finished the year on a high note with a runner-up finish in the Haeger Home Improvement #12.
Joe Warren Jr. #18 completed his breakout year with a third place finish and along the way proved he can race just as fast and as much as he can talk!
2012 Figure Eight champion Mike Mujsce was 4th in the Mike's Auto Service of Quogue #17.
The Sign Design #15 of George Davis completed the top five.
Tough break for early race leader Mitchell Pattern #2 as he threw the right front wheel off his MoJo entry, he had led the first seven laps before giving way to eventual winner Trimboli.
All of us at Riverhead Raceway want to wish Grand Enduro as well 4/6-Cylinder Car Enduro driver Greg Berkowitz the very best of luck. Greg will be relocating to North Carolina soon and hopes to perhaps do some racing at the famed Hickory Motor Speedway.
As we always state at this point of the final race season Eye, we will try and keep it moving along during the off-season but please send us news and notes along the way on your team and your 2013 plans and sponsors. More than likely we'll take next week off and be back in a week or so.
Until next time - BF
2012 Eye On Riverhead Archive
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