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Three racing legends to be honored in memorial race

Riverhead Raceway hosts an I Love America night

Riverhead Raceway hosts an I Love America night with stock car and NASCAR sanctioned races. (Aug. 20, 2011) Credit: Handout

The careers of three drivers who each enjoyed success at Riverhead Raceway before losing their lives to the sport will be honored Saturday in the 77-lap Baldwin, Evans, Jarzombek Memorial modifieds event.

Charlie Jarzombek, who was a Baiting Hollow native, began his racing career in 1962 and compiled a record 63 wins at Riverhead. A member of the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame, Jarzombek won 187 feature events during a 25-year career. He passed away in 1987 when his car hit a retaining wall at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Jarzombek earned the nickname, "Charging Charlie" for his hard-charging and aggressive driving style. He would charge from deep in the field to a victory many times, according to friends and those who saw him race.

Jarzombek was a five-time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR modified champion, which ties him with Wayne Anderson and Don Howe for the most all-time at the track.

East Patchogue's Tom Baldwin won 11 times at Riverhead and spent 20 seasons (1985-2004) on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He passed away after an accident at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 2004.

Richie Evans hailed from upstate Rome and experienced much success on Long Island tracks. He won 17 races at Islip Speedway and two at Freeport Speedway. The last win of his career came at Riverhead in August 1985, two months before a fatal practice lap crash at Martinsville Speedway.

"All three of them always put on a good show for the fans for 200 laps," said Ed Partridge, a close friend of Jarzombek who with his wife, Connie, owns a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour team. Partridge uses a red, white and blue No. 1 on his cars as a tribute to Jarzombek, who was known for the symbol.

"I was on the team with him and so that number is pretty special," Partridge said.

Like many others, Partridge will be at the track for the event. "It's a very special race because it's to honor all three of those guys," he said, "and all three were champions here in Long Island."

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