What has become of the nation’s most recognized short-tracks was a vision of Anthony Venditti, and that vision quickly became a reality when the first gates opened in May of 1946. World War II was in the rear-view mirror, the economy was turning around and D. Anthony was ready to showcase his dream, taking the family Seekonk Poultry Farm land and designing the asphalt oval track.
Seekonk Speedway was planned, engineered and promoted by D. Anthony. The first race took place on Memorial Day, a Thursday in late May. The track was originally built as a quarter-mile oval, with seven-foot banking in the corners and 60-foot wide turns. There might not have been a ton of grandstands, but it quickly grew into something fans from across New England would come to love. More than 12,000 people were on the property on opening day. The original design of the track was built for Open Wheel Midgets, and in the first race, it was Oscar Ridlon rolling his midget around into Victory Lane.
Along with Anthony, his wife, Irene Venditti, was one of the pioneers of Seekonk Speedway. It was with her help that her husband was able to create the track that has become a fan and family favorite for many. Anthony was the youngest promoter in all of the country in the debut year, and had a family that was behind him from day one. He would pass in the early 1990s, while Irene would operate the facility until her passing years later. Now, the track is still family operated, with Francis Venditti and grandson David Alburn running the operations.
It wasn’t long before the “Fastest Track in the East” became the “Action Track of the East” — a name that still stands today. The first year of competition lasted through mid-October, with names like Joe Sostilio, Bill Randall and Bob Blair winning. However, it was Eddie Casterline who dominated the opening year, winning what is believed to be a third of the races (10) in year one. The track didn’t record an official champion, but it was clear Casterline was the top contender.
The second year was marked by the loss of three competitive racers, including Casterline, who lost his life just one day after a crash at the age of 32. Casterline won the New England Midget Championship in 1946, and was one of the earliest speed demons in track history. Victories in year two were spread across multiple drivers, including names like Chet Gibbons, Sostilio, Frank Simonetti and Lloyd Christopher.
It was in 1948 that the first Stock Racing was introduced at Seekonk Speedway, with the Bombers, Jalopies, and the Cut Downs, that quickly became an instant success. That first racing club was named “Interstate Racing Association”. The fans hung on to the edge of their seat enjoying this new sport.
It was 1949 when the first cement walls went up and the banking was extended. A drivers strike started that year, and racing didn’t begin until June, when Bill Randall opened the season in Victory Lane. There might not have been as many races in ’48, but by ’49, a full year of racing took place, with names like Nick Fornoro, Ralph “Hop” Harrington and Dave Humphrey victorious for the majority of the season. By then, a Stock division that had been introduced to competition, but the Midgets were still supreme. Seekonk was built especially for that machine. Harrington seemed to be the dominant car heading for the start of a new decade and Humphrey wasn’t going to be far behind.
A decade that marked the first champion in the history of Seekonk Speedway, the first three-time consecutive champion, the first Modified competition and the continued growth of the Action Track of the East. In ‘50, Mickey Gill officially earned the first track championship, winning countless races throughout the year in the Stock division. In the same year, Ralph Moody would earn the first checkered in the Modified division.
Looking back from the previous decade, names like Harrington and Humphrey continued their own winning success in this one.
After Gill, Humphrey would earn the next two championships in ’51-’52, becoming the first repeat champion in track history, while Harrington would earn two of his own at the end of the decade, scoring top honors in ’57 and ’58. He would win four straight races at one point, and nearly 40 years later, Harrington would earn honors into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Humphrey would add another of his own in ’59, marking his third and final at Seekonk. He would move to the NEMA Midgets, where he would continue to win races, and would take his final Seekonk checkered in ’86.
In this decade, D. Anthony would decide to fill the track with water over 12-feet high, opening for hydroplane boat races on select occasions, drawing fans and bringing a new style of competition to the New England region. Sammy Packard won the New England Speedboat Championship that year. It wasn’t long before it was clear that Anthony was going to do whatever it took to bring flocks of fans to the track, and it was working.
The middle of the decade was owned by George Smaldone. With a count of what it believed to be 13 wins in his time at Seekonk, Smaldone would become the track’s first three-time consecutive champion, winning titles in ’53, ’54 and ’55. He was a regular at the front of the field throughout his career.
Another driver to win a championship in this decade was Fred Luchesi. He wasn’t committed to only Seekonk, as a local competitor, and ’56 track champion, he spent much of his time traveling across New England. He was able to earn his first checkered flag in ’54, a championship two years later, and wins in just about every car where he sat behind the wheel. Also in ’56, Seekonk ran the first regularly scheduled Saturday night racing card — a night that morphed into the reality of weekly competition for years to come.
Marty Zingari, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy, started his Seekonk tenure in this decade in ’57, where he would earn wins driving for different car owners. George Summers, who is the unofficial all-time wins leader at Seekonk, with what is believed to be 100 wins, started winning at the end of the decade.
This decade also marked the beginning of winning times for Fred Astle Sr., Tex Barry Sr., Joe Rosenfield, Leo Cleary, Bobby Sprague and many other legends. Sprague, like Zingari, was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving until his honorable discharge in ’46. He would compete for owners like Dave Marfeo, Bill Ross, and even Zingari, winning 35 times, starting in ’54 and ending in the 1970s.
Billy Clarke, who had a career that spread across more than 65 years, started his career in the B & A division during this decade. Entry prices were down around $1.50 per person, which contributed to large crowds.
Start the decade with Joe Rosenfield, end it with Ron Bouchard, and stuff countless other legends in the middle. This also marked the decade with the largest assortment of divisions in history, with competitors competing in the Class A, B, Midgets, Bombers, Modifieds and more. That quickly sums up the 1960s at Seekonk Speedway.
Rosenfield, a 2020 Seekonk Wall of Fame member, started his winning tenure in the previous decade, but picked up most of his 25 career Seekonk wins in this one — becoming the track’s first four-time champion, with all of them coming in the “A” class. He wasn’t a stranger to the front of the field in the 60s, winning championships in the first three years in the top division. After that, he would return to glory in ’64. Veteran Billy Clarke, who would continue racing all the way into his 80th year, would earn a championship in ’63 in the Sportsman division, while the remainder of the decade opened the door for future veterans to rise to the top.
Former NASCAR Modified and Seekonk champion Bugsy Stevens (’65) and Derek Astle (’66) grabbed two, while it ended with the beginning of dominance of one driver who wasn’t only a Seekonk record-holder, but a NASCAR Cup Series winner. Ron Bouchard would score his first championships in ’68 and ’69, before heading into the next decade, where he would seal four straight. Joe Martin would earn his first and only Class A win in ’68, a 30 lap feature in late August.
Fred Astle Sr., who won a chunk of races in this decade, was one tough customer. The oldest of the Astle brothers, the Wesport, Massachusetts, native started winning back in the 50s, but wasn’t done. Over his career, he drove for Bill Ross and Frenchie Gendreau, among others, and spent many years behind the wheel of a car he built himself. He amassed 21 victories, but many of them in his decade.
In the second-tier division (now Late Models), Les Andrews and Dick Machado split two of the first three titles, but it was Manny “Pop” Silvia who took two of his own, kicking off his Wall of Fame career in style with countless wins and two titles. He picked up his first victory in ’62, on the way to the championship in the same year, before adding another in ’64. A decade later, he would dominate the Mini Stock class, winning a title in ’76, and his final race in ’78. Track favorites Ed “Flash” Flanagan, Sonny Mello, Bill Anderson and George Ponte also earned top honors.
Sliding in from the previous decade, Dave Humphrey and Hop Harrington would keep winning, while Bobby Sprague and Fred Luchesi would also keep earning checkered flags. George Summers, who would later be declared the all-time wins leader at Seekonk with 100 wins, dominated much of this decade, extending his number forward, with many of his wins coming in the A class.
Winning car owners in this decade included Marty Zingali, Louis Auclair, Tony Cortes, Deke Astle Sr., George Murray, Billy Clarke, Len Boehler, Rollie Lindblad, Dave Lind and others. NEMA Midgets would continue competing at Seekonk through this decade, keeping the Midget base that D. Anthony built alive and well, while USAC cars also rolled into the third-mile oval. Midget and Class A races extended to 100 laps at times.
This decade set Seekonk Speedway up for the future in a big way. The Pro Stocks took their first laps in competition, as a division that would bring the track through multiple decades of the future. It still stands as the top division today because of the strong base that D. Anthony built in this decade.
In the first sanctioned Pro Stock race, in August of ’78, Frank Carpenter would go to Victory Lane in a 50-lap feature. One year later, the Pro Stocks became a weekly division at Seekonk, opening the door for drivers to flood the track with new cars and prepare for battle in 30 lap feature races. In the first few events, names like Greg Bagnell, Len Ellis, Don Dionne and Bugsy Stevens were at the front of the field. All of them would be track success stories, long with names like Wayne Dion, George Murray and Jimmy Wilkins Jr. In ’78, Charlie Perry earned the title, while Dionne followed with one of his own in ’79.
As part of the B Class (now Late Models), multiple drivers started championship success before eventually becoming Pro Stock title holders. At the start of the decade, it was Dionne, Norm Holden, Joe Oliver and Vinny Annarummo earning top honors — while three of them eventually become Pro Stock champs. After that, Russ Webber and Hank Goff would win titles in ’75 and ’76, while the tradition continued at the end of the decade, with Wayne Dion and Joe Cerullo winning the title before moving to the Pro Stocks.
This decade continued a tradition of having some top names visit Victory Lane. Bobby Sprague, Ron Bouchard, George Summers, Billy Clarke, Fred Astle Sr., Pop Silvia, Wayne Darling and Fred DeSarro were just some of the winners — but there were many more who joined them at the top of the filed. This decade marked continued success for many veterans who had already made their presence known.
Just two years after the beginning of the Pro Stock division, it had become clear it was going to be a major success, with drivers taking their firm grasp on the class and not letting go, while car counts continued to rise. Seekonk’s second-tier division (now Late Models) would watch 10 different champions win in as many years, while the Street Stock division would take a few years off from crowning a champion, but return in the second half with multiple drivers earning top honors. The decade also crowned champions in the Charger, Modified, Mini Stock and SK Modified divisions at different times. It was just plain filled with winners and top names.
Pro Stock champions included George Murray, Don Dionne, Wayne Dion, Norm Holden, Leo Cleary, Joey Cerullo, Johnny Tripp and Bugsy Stevens. The list of feature winners was just as impressive. Names like Len Ellis, who would become a Seekonk Wall of Fame member, Jimmy Wilkins Jr., Dave Dion and Wall of Famer Vinny Annarummo were also victorious. Add Rick Martin, Joey Kourafas and Dick Houlihan and you’ve just added some of the top names in track history. And that’s not the end of the list. Pro Stock races spread from 30 to 100 laps, giving drivers the chance to showcase their talent over a wide range of lap counts in competitive fields.
Holden, who would win double-digit races in this decade, would become the first three-time champion of the Pro Stock class, with titles from ’83-’85. Cleary, who started winning in ’55, would continue his winning ways right through this decade, where he won his final championship. He won in just about everything he sat behind the wheel in, and drove for many of the top owners throughout his career, at his home track of Seekonk, and elsewhere.
The list of modified winners has some of the top talent in not only Seekonk, but NASCAR history. Bugsy Stevens, who would win countless NASCAR Modified races, was a Seekonk winner, while George Summers, the all-time Seekonk wins leader, George Murray, Ken Bouchard and Ed St. Angelo were right there with him. Champions in the Modifieds included Stevens and Bruce Taylor. In the Mini-Modified division, Bill Singerson, Marcel L’Etoile, Bob Fitzpatrick, Dick Houlihan, Richie Murray and Leo Cleary would be on top.
St. Angelo garnered over 25 wins in his Seekonk career, spreading between the Late Models, Modifieds, SK Modifieds and Pro Stocks. Possibly his best season was ’83, when he picked up eight victories, winning the SK Modified championship in the only year they competed at Seekonk. He would become a Wall of Fame member himself decades later, going in with friend Annarummo in ’19.
In the second-tier class, names like Ron Kingsborough, Deke Astle Jr., Paul Round, Dave Sylvia and Kevin Nabb were just some of the drivers who earned the top honors. Roots extended deep down into the Street Stock division, where track favorite Ray Souliere would earn his first title in ‘80, while Rick Hanatow, Bill Wilcox and Roland Wheeler would join as champions. In the Charger class, Souliere would score another, joined by Dave Silvia, Dennis Dupuis and Johnny Gomes Jr., who added their own name to the list.
Houlihan, who earned his first of three track titles in this decade (’85), wouldn’t win another championship for 17 years. Souliere, who started his title success in ’80, would go forward with more than 16 years of success towards the front of the field, ending with another title in the late 90s. Some of the top car owners in Seekonk history also ran through this decade. Ken Casper and Fred Astle Jr., who were owner/driver’s, were joined by Art Barry, Joe Brady, Rollie Lindblad, Bob Garbarino and Len Boehler as owners to win races. It’s quite the impressive list, and it doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Early in the decade, four races for the NASCAR North Tour were won by Steve Poulin, Mike Rowe, Roger Laperle and Bobby Draggon. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour visited in ‘87, for their inaugural stop as part of their third official season, with veteran Reggie Ruggerio grasping control into Victory Lane in the Coors 200. He would beat Jimmy Spencer, Bugsy Stevens and Bruce Taylor across the line, scoring one of 44 career tour wins. The field included the late Mike Stefanik and Wade Cole, veteran Jamie Tomaino and former champion and late Tom Baldwin.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East would visit twice in the same year, with one outsider and track regular earning glory. Chuck Taylor would be victorious in May, while Rick Martin beat 24 other competitors to defend the home turf in September. This would be just the beginning of local competitors defending turf against outsiders of countless divisions for years to come. Martin would beat New England racing veteran Dale Shaw to the line in a race that included the likes of Cleary, Kelly Moore, Holden and Kourafas, along with others.
Although he didn’t start in his decade, veteran technical inspection Jim “Smiley” Waterman worked to make sure cars were following the rules, and also served as the head tech inspector for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in ’85. He worked with D. Anthony closely to create and implement a package that was strict, but affordable.
If you haven’t figured it out, this decade was filled with top names from across New England. D. Anthony Venditti’s plan was working, the group of competitors was growing, and the stands were packed on a weekly basis. By this time, Saturday night racing was a reality, and the track’s weekly divisions were spearheaded by the Pro Stocks, who were in their first full decade of creating success stories. Many of those success stories ended with drivers earning their way into the Wall of Fame years later.
A new division became a reality, Pro Stock drivers solidified their resume with championships, a veteran found success in multiple divisions and weekly series racing was the spearhead of this successful decade. But, it began with one of the largest losses in the history of the Seekonk Speedway.
D. Anthony Venditti, “The Godfather of New England Auto Racing,” who had a vision and watched it become a reality with the creation of the third-mile, lost his life in ‘91. The death shook the racing community, but in the hands of his wife Irene, the track would continue to flourish through the decade and into the future — all in his honor. By the end, D. Anthony would make his way into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame class of ’99, going down as one of the best track promoters to ever live. He was the youngest promoter around in the track’s first year.
In ’92, the D.A.V. Fall Classic would begin, honoring his legacy. It would continue for years to come, as the future looks bright for the race that has morphed over the years into a New England favorite. In the inaugural D.A.V. Pro Stock race, Rick Martin would win the 50-lap feature. Rick Hanatow Jr. scored the Sportsman checkered, while Jeff Waterman was victorious in the Street Stocks. Stacey Holewiak and Kevin Casper split Formula 4 races.
Seekonk Wall of Fame member Vinny Annarummo dominated the Pro Stock division, winning three of the first four crowns, but Rick Martin wasn’t far behind in this decade. The two would battle throughout, joined by names like Fred Astle Jr., Len Ellis and Bobby Tripp. Astle would win the first of his six track titles during the span, while Martin would enter the decade with none and leave with his first four. With 15 years under their belt by the middle of the decade, the Pro Stocks were one of the top divisions in all of New England, with some of the largest car counts and best competitors. It was clear that D. Anthony Venditti’s historic vision was working. In 1998, Rick Martin and Chad Chace would be victorious in open-competition Pro Stock mains.
On top of the many other divisions at Seekonk, this decade was one owned by Rick Hanatow. He would earn his final three track titles, with three consecutive to open the decade, all in the Sportsman class (now Late Models). He had won titles previous in the Street Stock class. Outside of him, Late Model title-holders included Bob Pelland Jr., Mike Hassell, Bobby LeClerc, Scott Estrella, Bryan Souza and James Lawrence. Lawrence would win another title in the future, while the others saw their championship glory begin and end in this decade.
A street stock division that already had a strong base continued to grow, with drivers ending the decade by winning two titles in dominant fashion. Early, it was Jim Proulx winning the first two, while current Street Stock all-time wins leader Scott Serydynski would hoist his own in ’92. As part of the historic Boehler family, Mike would win in 1993, while Matt Dewey (’94) would earn his own before eventually deciding to take a step up the ladder, where he ended up in the Pro Stocks years later. The end of the decade was dominated by two names: Rusty Bryant and Bob Bettencourt Jr. Between the two, they won countless feature races over the last four years and all four titles. Outside of them, Stacey Moulton would win a variety of races near the end of the decade. In 1997, Ernie LaRose would win two Street Stock races in the same night.
The beginning of the Sport Truck division was in 1995, and in the final five years of the decade, three champions would rise to the top. Turk Gunbay would win the first-ever crown, while veteran Ray Souliere would win two straight, followed by Billy Flint with two of his own. The Sport Truck division was intended to be another cost-effective class that would give drivers the opportunity to make a step up and head in the direction of the Sportsman and Pro Stocks. They may have the same type of look that the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series machines have, but they are far more underpowered and stock-based. A new truck chassis will be introduced in 2020. Just a year after the division started, it was roaring with excitement, truck count was growing, and it would prove to be a winning move by management to head into the future. It would become a staple of the NASCAR Saturday program at Seekonk for years to come.
This decade also spotlighted the winged warriors of NEMA, who competed with races won by the likes of veteran Nokie Fornoro, Jeff Horn, Greg and Russ Stoehr and Mike Seymour. Outside of NEMA, a select few touring divisions would head to Massachusetts, but it was mostly weekly competition with the Pro Stocks, Late Models, Street Stocks, Formula 4 and Trucks that populated the decade.
The cross into a new century marked a decade that saw top Pro Stock talents rise, while veteran drivers fought for Late Model titles in some of the most competitive races the class has ever seen. Seekonk’s Youth Racing Association launched, with upcoming stars beginning their tenure as competitors, some of them who would go on to be Saturday night winners. Two brothers would put their grasp on the Sport Truck division, winning back-to-back titles, and one of the most prestigious races in the history of New England motorsports would begin with a familiar face in Victory Lane.
Fred Astle Jr., Len Ellis, Dick Houlihan, Vinny Annarummo and David Darling — five drivers that will go down as some of the best in Seekonk’s Pro Stock division history. All five earned titles in this decade, with Annarummo earning his final two career titles, tallying five and six, while Darling began his dominance. Houlihan would put two to his credit, while Ellis would earn his final. Astle ended the decade with three straight in dominating fashion. Celebrating their 30th year as a division, one of the more hotly contested championship battles occurred in ’08, when Astle held off Tom Scully Jr. by a mere few points.
At the end of the ’03 season, Seekonk would transition the Division II class from the Sportsman name over to the Late Models. The beginning of the decade was all about James Lawrence, who earned two straight in ’00 and ’01, but after that, it was time for some young talent to clash with rising veterans. Kenny Spencer would spotlight himself in 2002, winning the crown before eventually moving to Pro Stocks in the middle of the decade, while Gerry DeGaspere Jr.’s dominant tenure began in ’03 with his first track title. Over the next seven years, DeGaspere would win three more — but the battles in ’04 and ’05 — two that he ended up trailing in the end — were some of the best. In 2004, a spited fight between DeGaspere and Glenn Lawton ended with Lawton holding the trophy, while Mike Brightman blasted the front in ’05, scoring his first and only Seekonk title. DeGaspere would spend ’06-’08 at the top, battling with Kyle Casper in ’08, in a race that went right down to the final laps. In ’09, Ryan Vanasse would storm to the front, scoring countless wins that year, and bolstering his resume with his first track title.
The Street Stock division, taking center stage on most nights with three-wide racing becoming a reality, would see seven different champions during the decade, with just Al Clements IV and Sparky Arsenault repeating. Clements would win two straight titles in ’05-’06, while Arsenault would push to the front of the field, winning two of his own in ’07-’08, after already celebrating in ’02. Additional names at the front included Bobby Rose, Dick Cavallaro, Dave Ratcliffe, Elmer Wing III and Mike Mitchell — all earning their own track titles. In 2008, Seekonk would debut the Street Stock 30/30 — an event with 30 cars involved in 30 laps of competition, where Scott Bruneau would take the win.
The Sport Trucks celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2005, with this decade centering around the Casper brothers, Brian Clarke and Mike Cavallaro. The four drivers would combine to win eight of the titles in the stretch, with Lee Hayes (’04) and Jody Tripp (’09) the only two others to join them. Clarke would win the first two, while Kyle and Kevin Casper would hoist the Casper name to the top in the two years following. The division continued to grow, with Trucks debuting and some veterans marking their territory with victories. In the final year, Tripp would go tooth-and-nail with veteran Rick Martin, coming out on top. Both Casper brothers would go on to be Pro Stock winners.
Seekonk’s Fast Friday program launched during this decade, with go-karts racing in the back pit area, before a second night of weekly racing was officially introduced. Seekonk’s Youth Racing Association would begin, with the MiniCup division taking center stage. Early, it was names like Jason Heroux, Brit Andersen, Matt Hudon, Chris Robinson and Zach Tucan taking control. Tucan and Heroux would go on and compete in the Sport Trucks years later, while Hudon would become victorious in the Pro Stocks. By the end of the decade, it was Jake Spillers, Dylan Estrella and David Hutchins Jr. taking a full grasp of the class, winning races and championships. Estrella would become a Late Model champion and Pro Stock winner years later, while Spillers would take his talents south. The SYRA class would evolve into one of the country’s best divisions to find rising talent.
After years of competition, the Formula 4 division would wrap their Seekonk tenure with four years of competition to start the decade. Mike Brodeur, Lance Cambra, Jason Arsenault and Rob Murphy would earn titles. The Pure Stock division took the green flag, with Randy Arruda, Bill Chouinard and Scott Cestodio etching their names into history as some of the first to win top honors.
Seekonk would run under the NASCAR sanction from 2000-2005, before dropping back to just a weekly series track and finishing out the decade. The NASCAR Busch North Series visited six times early in the decade — with five different winners. Dave Dion, Kelly Moore, Dale Shaw, Matt Kobyluck and Andy Santerre would be victorious in events that had more than 20 cars come to Massachusetts for 150-lappers.
NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour competed in the first five years, with Jerry Marquis, Chris Kopec, Ed Flemke Jr., Chuck Hossfeld and Eric Beers winning 150-lap races, all from the top six starting positions.
In 2005, Open Wheel Wednesday took its first green, with some of the top drivers from the Modified ranks coming to Seekonk chasing a $10,000 prize. In the events first year, Modified veteran Donny Lia would edge the late Ted Christopher for victory. Kirk Alexander would score checkered in year two, while track favorite Vinny Annaurmmo would sit behind the wheel and drive to victory a year later. Matt Hirschman and Chris Pasteryak would also visit Victory Lane. Open Wheel Wednesday would also include the Boston Louie Seymour Memorial Classic for the NEMA Midgets, an event that would run during that race all the way through 2019.
The decade would begin with Ted Christopher wheeling an SK Modified into Victory Lane at the D.A.V. Fall Classic, and end with the late Mike Stefanik scoring his only career Seekonk win in the D.A.V. Fall Classic for the True Value Modified Racing Series. Two modified veterans that would lose their lives, both in air accidents, a decade later.
DARLING DOMINATES: 2010s (2010-2019)
This decade was one dominated by David Darling. It was also the decade that watched some of Seekonk’s Youth Racing Association drivers roll through the ranks of Fast Friday, up into the NASCAR Saturday night program, and become successful in some of the most competitive fields in all of New England. In the middle, the track’s First Lady, Irene Venditti, would lose her battle, and hand the track over to son Francis and grandson David Alburn, as she passed in 2014.
Darling won five of his record seven track championships during the stretch, starting with two in ’12 and ’13, before taking a few years off the podium. He returned to glory winning three straight titles from 2017-2019, capturing victory in more than half of the races in the Pro Stocks. His tenacity on the track coupled with the addition of Jeff Belyea to his race team as setup master proved to be nearly unbeatable. Although Belyea worked with Darling en route to his success, it wasn’t lost that Ronnie Pond was the other master behind the Darling operation, there for all of the championships in the Pro Stock class as the crew chief and mechanic.
Outside of Darling, Fred Astle Jr. added his fifth and sixth titles to begin the decade, while Kenny Spencer finally broke into championship glory in 2014, driving with a unique body style. Angelo Belsito took the track by surprise and dominated 2015, becoming a champion in his sophomore season, while Tom Scully Jr. finally broke through after years of trying to earn his own Pro Stock crown, which goes down as one of the more emotional moments from the decade. He would lose his car owner, his mother, just two years later.
Darling wasn’t the only driver to add to his resume in the 2010s — as Gerry DeGaspere Jr., the driver who sits tied with Darling with the most titles in track history entering 2020 (seven), was right on his tail. After storming through the end of the previous decade, DeGaspere dominated the early stages of this one — only defeated by Ryan Vanasse for the title in 2010 after a spirited battle with Kyle Casper. DeGaspere would earn titles from ’11-’13, capturing three straight for the second time in eight years. Bobby Pelland III would elevate himself to title glory in ’14 with a dominating campaign, while Dylan Estrella spearheaded the completion of Seekonk’s youth goals by capturing two Late Model titles in ’15 & ’16. Ryan Lineham, rising star Ryan Kuhn and Tom “The Bomb” Adams would also win titles to finish the decade.
Building on their impressive base, the Seekonk Street Stocks and Sport Trucks would continue to gain momentum, with the Street Stocks re-branding to the Sportsman mid-decade. Names like Axon, Lineham, Lallier, Bruneau, Lovelace and Fanning would score title glory. Lallier and Bruneau would earn the top honors three times, showing their dominant grasp. In the Sport Trucks, it was the decade of Cavallaro — as Mike took his recognized No. 80 to the head table and Victory Lane often. Cavallaro would win three titles and a variety of races, while John Pavia (2013) and Rob Murphy (2014) each cemented their legacy with dominant title efforts. At the end of the decade, three rising racing stars bolstered their own resumé — as Mike Duarte, Josh Hedges and Richie Murray all earned crowns. Murray comes from the storied racing family and opened his NASCAR tenure with a title in his Rookie season.
On Fast Friday, car counts continued to rise, divisions entered the scene and one left after showcasing youth for over a decade. Names like Nick Lascuola, David Hutchins Jr., Branden Dion and Austin Blais started their racing career at the beginning of the decade in the MiniCup division, and all ended up driving on NASCAR Saturday. Blais picked up victories in the Sportsman and Late Model classes across the span. Seekonk honored their first-ever female champion when Shelby Donavan scored the MiniCup title in 2014, while female Ava Chouinard followed it up by winning one of her own in the final MiniCup season in 2017. As part of the 2017 season, the Bandolero division launched with sponsorship from local business Seekonk Grand Prix, and it took off — with car counts soaring by the end of the decade — and Seekonk hoisting some of its youngest winners ever. This closed the door on the MiniCup tenure at Seekonk.
The Sport 4 division, Seekonk’s true division where you can take a car off the street and covert it to a racing machine, took a major step in 2010, when Ken Silva took top honors. Before that, Taylor Therrien (now Pelletier), was the frontrunner. The dominator of the decade was Dave Westgate, who won two titles and countless races, but also shared top honors with names like Devin Miranda and Mike Belanger. AJ Manuel blasted onto the scene in ’18-’19, winning the first title, and tying with eventual first-time champ Mikey LeFort in ’19. The Pure Stock division watched just one driver repeat as champion when Andrew Kun scored back-to-back in ’15 & ’16, while all others earned their first head table experience. The year 2013 marked the beginning of the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars tenure, with Nick Lascuola earning the first two titles, and five others joining him. The cars picked up speed, and the divisions picked up momentum on Fast Friday. By the end of the decade, the pit area was busting at the seams.
Off the track, in a move that affected on-track action, Seekonk would integrate the NASCAR sanction back into the fold beginning in 2015 as part of the track’s 70th season and carry it through the remainder of the decade. “There’s a lot of history and this is an important effort to keep that history alive,” said Seekonk Speedway President Francis Venditti at the announcement. “We want to build our fanbase and our sponsor base. We have a great team here and we want to build on that and create a lasting and enduring relationship with NASCAR that is going to be notable.” As the only track in Massachusetts under the NASCAR sanction, the Pro Stock division also crowned a NASCAR State championship for the rest of the decade.
LINK: Seekonk Adds NASCAR Sanction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnm8rAu10XQ&feature=emb_title
Open Wheel Wednesday rolled on, starting with Todd Annaurmmo joining his father Vinny as the only father-son combination to win the race in 2010, while names like Hirschman and Coby cemented dominance at Seekonk with multiple checkered flags in the prestigious event.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned after 11 years away, competing in four straight years to end the decade, with six-time tour champion Coby sparking two wins, and Justin Bonsignore and Timmy Solomito joining him. This decade also marked the beginning of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series — one of Seekonk’s most historic set of events — where divisions on Fast Friday and NASCAR Saturday compete in a three-race series during the season where they crown a separate champion, with extra laps and extra crash on the line.
Seekonk’s Wall of Fame got off the ground running in 2013, with eight inductees in the first season, and it continued through the remainder of the decade, adding 16 more over the next six years. Seekonk’s Spectator Drag division went from a Thrill Show sensation to a NASCAR Saturday night reality, with select dates throughout the summer.
Possibly the biggest addition of this decade was the advanced pit area that extended out into the main parking lot, a major factor in Seekonk allowing teams to retain haulers in the pits during the night of action. Prior to this adjustment, race teams would have to unload equipment for the night and leave their haulers outside. However, before long, all of that was in the rear-view mirror, with the new pit area blueprinted and developed.