Blast Off! History

Keith Rocco (88), Ted Christopher (13), Diego Monahan (78) and Paul Kusheba (72) battle it out during the 2015 Blast Off! event.

EVENT HISTORY

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The 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 being postponement a week due to rain, the inaugural 100 lap event was held on Sunday April 26, 1975 and was 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 when Tattersall returned as track promoter.

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.

MODIFIED WINNERS LIST

DATELAPSMODIFIEDLAPSSK MODIFIEDNOTES
1975100Ed Flemke n/a 
1976100Bugsy Stevens n/a 
1977100Ron Bouchard n/a 
1978100Ron Bouchard n/aevent called the ‘Spring 100’
1979100Rick Donnelly n/aDonnelly also won Modified Championship
1980100Marty Radewick n/a 
198181Rick Donnelly n/alap count revised to reflect calendar year
198282Dick Ceravolo n/a 
198383Dick Ceravolo n/aawarded victory after Rick Donnelly refused post-race tech inspection
198484Rick Donnelly n/a 
1985 n/a85Rick Fullerchanged to an SK Modified event; Fuller also won SK Modfiied Championship
1986 n/a86Bob PotterPotter also won SK Modified Championship
1987 n/a87Rick Donnelly 
1988 n/a88Richie Gallup 
1989 n/a89Ronnie Roccowin protested unsuccessfully by runner-up Ted Christopher
1990 n/a90Ted Christopher 
1991 n/a91Dennis Gada 
1992 n/a92Dave Gada 
1993 n/a93Ted Christopher 
1994 n/a94Ted Christopher 
1995 n/a95John Andersonfinal 80 laps completed 3 months later on July 22nd (rain)
1996 n/a96Todd Ceravololast event before being replaced by Modified Nationals as opener

2010 BLAST OFF REVIVAL

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14 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. 

In 2015, when former Speedbowl Champion Shawn Monahan took over as GM/promoter of the track, he discontinued the 2-day opening weekend and started the season with a regular Saturday night event.  There was no companion VMRS event either, but it was still promoted as ‘Blast Off’.  This lasted for 2 seasons.  The VMRS returned to the Blast Off event with a 100 lapper in 2017 when former Legend Car Champion George Whitney took over as track operator.

DATELAPSMODIFIEDLAPSSK MODIFIEDNOTES
2010100Doug Coby60Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2011100Chris Pasteryak61Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2012100Jon McKennedy62Keith Rocco 
2013100Steve Masse63Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2014100Keith Rocco64Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2015 n/a35Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2016 n/a35Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2017100Anthony Nocella35Keith RoccoRocco also won SK Modified Championship
2018100Rowan Pennink80Kyle JamesJames also won SK Modified Championship

MISC STATS

  • 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
  • There’s been no repeat winner in the history of the VMRS Blast Off events

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