Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday August 25, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 31                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

Another week passes & that can only mean it’s time to dust-off some more gems from the deep recesses of the “RTT” archives. Short-but-sweet this week, as-always, ENJOY!…..Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com  

It’s Wednesday - Time For More “Old Stuff….”       

Known as “The Old Master” New Jersey native and dirt track specialist Frankie Schneider began his career in 1947 by winning $70 for driving his street car to a seventh place at Flemington Speedway. Schneider is believed to have won at least 750 races in the next thirty years. He routinely raced eight times per week (in several classes), and reportedly scored at least 100 wins in 1958-alone. He won the Langhorne National Open, the country's most noted event for Sportsman and Modified racers in 1954 and again in 1962. Among the many accolades and awards bestowed upon Schneider was being voted “Driver of the Century” by Area Auto Racing News. Until a few seasons-ago, he occasionally campaigned a Modified at Middletown New York’s Orange County Speedway. (Grady Photo).

This ancient image captures a young Paul Richardson early in his career at what we believe (thanks to friend Bruce Cohen), to be Oscar Ridlon’s Pines Speedway which was located in Groveland, Massachusetts (it closed in 1971). Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009, it all started for Richardson at The Pines in 1965. The next year, he bought Al Riley’s “Little Princess” cutdown, and won the Hudson (NH), points championship. Moving to the Super Modifieds during the formative years of NESMRA, he became a superstar in the division, and is 5th on the all-time winners list. He was also a winning Modified driver. Nicknamed “Ricochet” for his thrilling driving style, Richardson completed his career driving in the BUSCH East division. (Photographer Unknown).      

Wayne “Mr. Mysterious” Smith claimed most of his Waterford Speedbowl success in the support-division classes, his full-fender endeavors being of the championship variety. As this shot illustrates, “Mt. Mysterious” also turned some laps in the Modified wars at the Connecticut 1/3-miler affectionately known as the “Shoreline Oval.”  This little coupe was one of his earliest efforts in Waterford’s premier division (Dugas Photo).         

Few drivers of the much-heralded “Coupe Era” were more traveled than New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Billy Harman. Growing-up in the shoreline community of New London, Ct. it was only natural for the speed-crazed young kid to get-involved with the happenings at a track located just outside his hometown. After many successes in his backyard, Harman took to the road, maintaining a hectic schedule that rewarded him accolades at venues from coast-to-coast. This 1960’s pitside shot captures Billy with car owner Dick Brooks at the track where it all began for him, the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. (Dugas Photo).  

It’s August of 1978 at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl, and this one captures Chris Banta and crew celebrating in victory lane following a mid-week Street Stock event. Banta had competed in the class since its introduction in 1977, and remained one of the division’s top drivers for a number of seasons. The Street Stocks eventually developed into Waterford’s Late Models. (Kennedy Photo).

Seen here during the earliest days of his career as a Novice division pilot at the late Connecticut ¼-miler known as Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium is Jo Jo Farone. Member of a Connecticut racing family that also included the late Butch “Seymour the Clown” Farone and standout Stadium competitor Beetle Farone, Jo Jo progressed from these humble beginnings to wheeling Modifieds in the New England region. Plainville’s support divisions always had high car-counts and were ultra-competitive. This guy was one of the top racers in the class. (Faust Photo).    

Winner, mentor, and innovator, few individuals meant more to New England Modified racing than the late “Steady Eddie” Flemke. Starting his career during the emerging popularity of stock cars in the post-war era, it’s estimated that he won over 500 feature events during a career which spanned 3-decades. Along the way, he helped many young drivers get their starts, including Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton. As an expert car builder, he designed the “Flemke Front End” a chassis component that remained the standard in Modified construction for years. This shot captures Eddie and the Bob Judkins crew after a Plainville Stadium open competition victory. Both Flemke and Judkins are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. (Hoyt Photo).             

In the “RTT” archives are a number of early photos that are unfortunately, filed under the “Unknown” category. This is one of those shots. We can tell that the location is definitely what was then known as Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, and that it’s the 1950s. If anyone can identify the chauffer of this spiffy-looking little #71 coupe, please feel-free to contact us! (Shany Photo).

Hailing from Zephyrhills, Florida, Emil Lloyd “Buzzie” Reutimann started his racing career at age-13. An absolute terror on the short tracks of the Southern-tier region, he was a familiar site on the Modified tracks of the Northeast for many seasons, especially for the big-money shows of the “coupe era.” A multi-faceted competitor, he also ran with NASCAR, making his first start with that organization on November 11, 1962 on his home state turf of Tampa’s Golden Gate Speedway. He traditionally ran the #00 as seen-here, and his son David also carried the number to the Sprint Cup Series. For his long-time contributions to the sport, Reutimann was inducted into the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Eastern Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame in 2006. (Grady Photo)    

Captured here in a dramatic Steve Kennedy action-shot at the Waterford Speedbowl in July of 1977 is Jerry Wall piloting his famous (and hugely-successful), “Yellow Jacket” NEMA Midget. Quite revolutionary for it’s time, the car was a huge departure from the more conventional “uprights” that had long been the standard of Midget racing in the Northeast. Wall was a longtime star on the NEMA circuit, recording 14 feature victories during his career. (Kennedy Photo)

That's it for this week. Email me at:

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