Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday August 4, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 28                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

This week we’ve got a truly-varied selection of shots for you faithful readers. Dirt Coupes, Pavement Pounders, and even a Street Stock thrown-in for good measure. Gotta’ send-out a special thanks to webmaster, pal, & former Modified racer Tom Ormsby, as without him, there’d be no “Racing Through Time” hitting the cyberwaves each week. As always, ENJOY! Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com

Yup, More Old Stuff (Again)…..    

Here’s a nice shot of the late “Steady Eddie” Flemke following an early-1970’s victory at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway. Owner Bob Judkins (left), had one of the first Pinto Modifieds in New England, and this is arguably the car that started Modified racing’s “Pinto Revolution.” Flemke was among the first inductees into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame back in 1998, while Judkins was inducted in 2003. Both of these guys contributed a tremendous amount to the sport. (Mercury Photo)

Here’s another image of the famous Judkins #2X. This time it’s Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl and the guy behind the controls is none-other than Reggie Ruggiero, absolutely one of the best drivers to ever strap-in behind the controls of a Modified stock car. Judkins always had nothing but the most talented chauffeurs wheeling his creations. (Kennedy Photo).   

Bobby Bard was a fixture on the New England Modified circuit for eons. This one sees him ready to go at Joe Tinty’s late Plainville Stadium in Connecticut. The owner of this sharp Pinto was Mario Fiore, yet-another guy that’s been really important to our sport. Mario always had top-notch equipment, and like Judkins, employed the very-best drivers (such as the guy mentioned-above). Young racing shutterbug Steve Kennedy captured this shot at what was likely, one of Plainville’s great mid-week open comp. shows in 1974. (Kennedy Photo).        

“Here’s Dirt In Your Eye…..” Seen here is the legendary Pete Corey taking yet-another coupe-era victory on the rich clay of New York State’s famed Fonda Speedway. Popular legend dictates that it was fellow competitor, the great Kenny Shoemaker that dubbed him the “Crescent Hillbilly” after an on-track altercation left “The Shoe” stammering for the proper choice of words. Legend also has it that Pete Corey actually rather-enjoyed the moniker that was a nod to his geographic origins in the capital district of New York State. In actuality, Corey and Shoemaker may have waged many battles on the track, but there was a vast degree of respect shared between the two legendary racers. Handing Pete the checkered flag is popular longtime Fonda starter, Chet Haymes. (Grady Photo).

As a legendary and extremely popular “Coupe Era” dirt track chauffer, Ed Ortiz won races and championships at nearly track in which he competed. Also proficient on the paved ovals of his period, he was a constant threat at the big Modified events such as those held at Langhorne and Trenton. After being away from the sport for a number of years, he returned in 1998 to run in the Pro Stock class at Ransomville, New York. In typical fashion, he was able to claim a feature win. A Foar Score Hall Of Fame inductee, this shot captures him early in his career during the late-1950’s with a car that he’s often identified-with, the B & M Speed Shop #0 Coupe. (Grady Photo).

Another great John Grady image; Though we’re not sure of the location, seen here celebrating one of many career victories is New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Ron Narducci. During his long racing career, he competed at an estimated 60 race tracks, starting in New York State while he served in the Air Force. Stationed in New York, he took down 17 feature wins and won 2 track championships at Waterloo, NY. Upon returning to Connecticut, he won the Sportsman Championship at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in 1958. From 1959-66, he ran with NASCAR, winning multiple championships. 1960 saw him finish 2nd in sportsman points at Norwood, and he finished 3rd in Modified points at Menands, NY. During this time, he won many features, including 6 in 1963 with Sharkey Gaudiosi’s #44. With the paving of Stafford in 1967, he again started running the NY State circuit. He won 5 features at Fonda, his home track that year, including a 100 lap Championship race. In 1967, he joined the All-Star League, becoming a 6 time victor on the Winning Track Team, representing Fonda, Albany-Saratoga, and Catamount Stadium. The final years of his career were spent in the Fingerlakes of NY, where he finished 4th in Modified points at Weedsport in 1975. From that point until his retirement in 1982, Ron ran on the DIRT circuit. (Grady Photo).     

Seen here following one of the many victories of his career is New York State area Modified driver Brian Ross. Voted NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver” in 1984, Ross was a fan-favorite for years. There’s kind of a funny story behind this shot. On the back, our friend celebrated racing photographer John Grady wrote the following; “Here’s Brian Ross in his own car. It was handling lousy one night, and he got his pal Eddie Flemke Sr. to drive-it. Flemke came-in and told him to junk-it, or sell it to an enemy!” This however, was obviously a night when the #70 was handling quite-nicely… (Grady Photo).                  

Twice a Riverside Park champion (1963 & 1966), “Dangerous Dan” Galullo was one of the brightest stars of the once powerful United Stock Car Racing Club headed-up by the Tattersall family. Also included in his accomplishments is the 1962 United Stock Car Racing Club Grand Championship, a feat he recorded by winning at the many UNITED-sanctioned tracks that once dotted Northeast. During his career he also recorded feature wins at Plainville Stadium, Waterford Speedbowl, and Cherry Park in Avon, Connecticut among others. He competed in at-least one documented NASCAR Grand National event (now know as the Sprint Cup Series) at New Jersey’s Old Bridge Stadium in 1956. Following a serious heart-attack, Galullo retired from driving while still in his prime. He passed-away in 1974, but not before witnessing the racing accomplishments of his sons, Richie and Danny Jr. (Grady Photo).    

Quite honestly, we don’t know much about the career of this driver, Bill Gurney, other than the fact that he was a top-tier 60’s-era competitor at the late Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts, recording one Modified feature victory on May 14, 1966. If anyone has any background on Bill’s career, do feel-free to shoot me an email. Another really-great John Grady image, we couldn’t resist running this shot. Now that’s a pretty coupe, isn’t it? (Grady Photo)  

Lastly, we have a shot of 1977 Waterford Speedbowl Street Stock champion, Bob Faiella. The shoreline oval’s Street Stocks were started in 1977 to bolster a sagging car-count in the Grand Americans, then their only support class. A slam-bang show with plenty of competitors, they were a huge hit. This Steve Kennedy shot captures Faiella behind the wheel of the Bob Wallis Chevelle on opening day in 1979. Hard-to-believe, but this is the class that the sophisticated Waterford Late Models of today evolved-from. (Kennedy Photo).

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

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