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Blast Off! History

PHOTO: The Valenti Modified Racing Series during outside introductions for a recent Blast Off 100 event

Blast_Off_promo-2The Blast Off event started in 1975 when Harvey Tattersall Jr bought the Speedbowl.  It was promoted as the race that would kick-off the racing season in the northeast.    After a one week postponement due to rain, the inaugural 100 lap event was held on Sunday April 26, 1975 and won by Ed Flemke.  In 1978, Dick Williams took over operations at the Speedbowl and the season-opening event was rebranded as the "Spring 100" and included time trials.  Stan Gregor took the pole with a 16.290 fast time.  Ron Bouchard would go on to win the event for the 2nd year in a row.  It was only time in the pre-SK Modified era that time trials were held for the season opener.  The Blast Off event name returned for the 1979 season.

In 1981, the event was revamped from a 100 lapper to a lap count that would match the calendar year.  From 1979-1984, Rick Donnelly and Dick Ceravolo combined to win 5 of the 6 Blast Off events, including the 1983 race when Rick Donnelly was disqualified from his win for refusing post-race tech and Ceravolo was awarded the victory (his 2nd straight).

In 1985, Stafford Motor Speedway owner Jack Arute leased the Speedbowl from Tattersall and implemented his upstart SK Modified division as the new headlining division, including the Blast Off event.  24 year old Rick Fuller won the inaugural SK Modified version of Blast Off.  1991 was the only time in the SK Modified era that time trials were held for the Blast Off event.  Jimmy Broderick set fast time with an even 15.000 lap.  The SK Modified format remained unchanged until the event was discontinued & replaced by the Modified Nationals as the season opener for the 1997 season.

Blast Off! Winners List

DATE LAPS MODIFIED LAPS SK MODIFIED NOTES
1975 100 Ed Flemke      
1976 100 Bugsy Stevens      
1977 100 Ron Bouchard      
1978 100 Ron Bouchard     event called the 'Spring 100'
1979 100 Rick Donnelly     Donnelly also won Modified Championship
1980 100 Marty Radewick      
1981 81 Rick Donnelly     lap count revised to reflect calendar year
1982 82 Dick Ceravolo      
1983 83 Dick Ceravolo     awarded victory after Rick Donnelly refused post-race tech
1984 84 Rick Donnelly      
1985     85 Rick Fuller changed to an SK Modified event; Fuller also won SK Modfiied Championship
1986     86 Bob Potter Potter also won SK Modified Championship
1987     87 Rick Donnelly  
1988     88 Richie Gallup  
1989     89 Ronnie Rocco win protested by runner-up Ted Christopher, but track awarded Rocco the win
1990     90 Ted Christopher  
1991     91 Dennis Gada  
1992     92 Dave Gada  
1993     93 Ted Christopher  
1994     94 Ted Christopher  
1995     95 John Anderson final 80 laps completed 3 months later on July 22nd (rain)
1996     96 Todd Ceravolo last event before being replaced by Modified Nationals as opener

2010 Blast Off Revival

Logo-LARGE-Blastoff_Weekend-2011-FULL14 years later, with the Speedbowl celebrating it's 60th consecutive season of operation, the new Board of Directors announced they were bringing back the Blast Off event as the annual season opener.  The Modified Nationals were moved to Finale Weekend (then to Labor Day the following year).  This new incarnation of Blast Off would be co-headlined by two events:  a 100 lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event and an SK Modified event whose distance would match the number of Speedbowl seasons and increase each year. There was a different VMRS 100 winner each year while Keith Rocco has dominated the SK portion, including a sweep of both events (and the Late Model event for a record-tying 3 wins in 1 day) in 2014.  When Bruce Bemer bought the Speedbowl in 2015, with Shawn Monahan as the GM, they kept the Blast Off promotional name for the season-opening event, but it no longer featured an extra-distance event for the SK Modifieds or a VMRS race.

DATE LAPS MODIFIED LAPS SK MODIFIED NOTES
2010 100 Doug Coby 60 Keith Rocco Rocco also won SK Modified Championship
2011 100 Chris Pasteryak 61 Keith Rocco Rocco also won SK Modified Championship
2012 100 Jon McKennedy 62 Keith Rocco  
2013 100 Steve Masse 63 Keith Rocco Rocco also won SK Modified Championship
2014 100 Keith Rocco 64 Keith Rocco Rocco also won SK Modified Championship

Misc Blast Off Notes

  • Dennis & Dave Gada are the only brothers with Blast Off SK Modified wins
  • Rick Donnelly & Keith Rocco are the only drivers to win Modified and SK Modified Blast Off events
  • Ronnie & Keith Rocco and Dick & Todd Ceravolo are the two father-son duo on the Blast Off winners list.
  • Marty Radewick's 1980 Blast Off victory was his only career win at Waterford

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