COLUMNS & FEATURES
Click On Link
Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
LEW BOYD AUGUST 16 A RACER AT HEART
NEW BOOK FROM
By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE
this week with sending Get-Well wishes to our pal, New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame member Billy Harman
who’s recently been stricken with some pretty tough health issues. Long a
close family friend of this scribe, and one of the best-ever to strap-in
behind the controls of a Modified, cards of cheer reach Billy at 3 South
Cobblers Court, Niantic, Ct. 06357. In other news, it was learned from
friend & frequent RTT contributor Mal Phillips that former car owner
recently passed-away. Among his drivers were the late “Wild Bill” Slater
who ran Lou’s #33 at Stafford, and also Don Seger who wheeled his #42A at
the Waterford Speedbowl. Our sincerest condolences are offered to Lou’s
family and many friends. Also we have another video from our Webmaster and
friend Tom Ormsby. In other news, there are two big events on the
horizon that are can’t-miss affairs for those of us in the vintage racing
community. On Saturday, September 15, NEAR Hall of Famer Ron Bouchard
hosts his annual NEAR
Barbeque & Show
at his Nissan dealership at 490 Old Union Turnpike in Lancaster,
Massachusetts. Things get underway at 10:00, and as-usual it’s expected
that many Hall of Famers will be present as-well as the mobile New England
Auto Racing Hall of Fame exhibit. Then, on Saturday October 13, the Nutmeg
Kart Club in conjunction with the Berlin Lions Club World of Wheels
presents the Fourth
Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion.
The event takes-place from 10am – 3pm at the Berlin Fair Grounds located
430 Beckley Road, East Berlin, CT. Until next-time, have a great week!
As-always, email reaches me at
NOTE: We have now put a comment box at the end of
the web site. Please feel free to leave your comments.
Another Mid-Week Trip Down Memory Lane……
great image of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy
Harman culled from the files of our Webmaster & pal, Tom Ormsby.
One night in the 1950s at what was then-known as the “New
London-Waterford” Speedbowl, Billy won a $10.00 bet in surprising
everyone in attendance by racing in the tuxedo that he’d worn to the
wedding of his sister-in-law earlier in the day! Things were certainly
more carefree during the early days of the sport as this shot
attests-to. As mentioned above, our old friend Billy is presently
recuperating from some pretty serious health issues. Cards reach him
at 3 South Cobblers Court, Niantic, Ct. 06357. GET WELL SOON,
BILLY! (Shany Photo, Ormsby Collection).
To those of us interested in Northeastern racing
history, this is a truly-classic image on just
so-many levels. The driver is the great Rene
Charland. His career spanned nearly 4-decades
starting at Massachusetts’ Riverside Park in 1949
and ended at Fonda Speedway in 1984. Estimates put
his victory total at over 700. He won an
unprecedented 4 NASCAR National Sportsman
championships from 1962 through 65. His quest for a
fifth title ended as he was seriously injured in the
famous fire crash Memorial Day weekend at Malta in
1966. He was forced to sit out the rest of the
season but at that point he had already earned 5700
points, enough for a third place finish. A member of
the famed “Eastern Bandits” he won multiple track
championships at a variety of tracks in both New
England, and the South. In addition he won 4
Canadian National championships. He had a pair Grand
National (now Sprint Cup) starts. In an event at
Long Island New York’s Islip Speedway, he finished
third behind David Pearson and Richard Petty. Known
as “The Champ”, Charland was among the first racers
inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame in 1998. (John Grady Photo).
We ran a shot of this driver just a few weeks-ago,
but really like this image also. Here’s another
early shot of Springdale, CT. native, the late
Dick Eagan. Starting in midgets during the bust
post-war years, he also experienced great success
within the emerging popularity of stock cars. He was
second in United Stock Car Club points (then the
premier sanctioning body in New England), in 1949
but it was on the dirt racing midgets where he
really shined. He was a dominant at Stafford Springs
in the early 1950s and then took to the road scoring
victories from the Carolinas to Canada. His record
also includes 6 NASCAR Grand National starts.
Injuries sustained in a crash at Vernon, NY ended
his career. A resident of Florida in later years,
Eagan passed away at age 88 in May of 2007 only
months following his induction into the New England
Auto Racing Hall of Fame. (Shany Photo).
Here we have a nice shot of Lou Carangelo one of
the best-ever, particularly within the Tattersall
family’s United Stock Car Racing Club which was at
one-time much bigger than NASCAR in New England.
A modified racing standout for years, Lou was one of the
most popular drivers of his era. In addition to being
one of the top-runners at all of the UNITED tracks, he
also nailed-down a championship at Connecticut’s
Plainville Stadium in 1961. He recorded a total of 7
Riverside Park feature victories, the first in 1966, and
his final in 1974. (Grady Photo).
Here’s a nice one of Troy, New York racer, Phil Spiak.
Well-traveled and long a mainstay on the Northeastern
modified trail, Spiak recorded multiple feature victories in
the division during what many people consider to have been
the “Golden Era” of the modifieds. He also
successfully competed in the former Grand National East
series. (Grady Photo).
The late Keith Armbrust drove for a number of
seasons at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl (as
captured here), recording a singular Modified victory on
Sept. 19, 1966 beating Walt Dombrowski & Newt Palm to
the checkers. Keith was a close associate of multi-time
Speedbowl Modified champion the late George “Moose”
Hewitt early-on, along with guys like the Craig Kirchoff
(who later owned cars campaigned by both Moose, and
Gordon Page), and of-course, George Brennan who was
there all of the championship years. (Shany Photo).
Here’s another treasure from our Webmaster, Tom Ormsby.
He states; “I've had this photo in a scrapbook for
years, and always thought it was Charlie Glazier. I took
it out of the book to scan, and noticed that on the back
it’s written “Moe Gherzi, 1980.” Took a
closer-look to be sure, and it is Moe. Not sure if he
was just taking it around in practice, or was racing
that day at Stafford.” The late Gherzi of-course,
was one of the real pioneers of out sport, and was
inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame
in 2012. (Photo Courtesy Tom Ormsby).
It’s the season-ending awards banquet in 1968, and on
the left receiving the big hardware for winning the
first of his two modified championships at Connecticut’s
former Plainville Stadium is Bob Vivari. Always
one of the drivers to beat at the tough little nutmeg
state ¼-miler, Bob repeated in 1972. On the right is
promoter & owner of that much-missed track, the late Mr.
Joe Tinty. Special thanks to our friend Chuck
Grimes for contributing this great image! (Photo
Courtesy Chuck Grimes).
This is New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Leo
Cleary, aptly nicknamed “The Lion” owing to
his fearless style behind the wheel of “ground-pounders”
like early this Bob Garbarino “Mystic Missle” coupe. It
was more than one chauffer that became uneasy when they
had a mirror-full of Cleary – he was one tough
competitor. Leo competed at the Medford Bowl, Lonsdale,
Norwood, Catamount, and Westboro. Among active tracks,
he raced at Thompson, Seekonk, Stafford (as seen here),
Martinsville, Oswego and Waterford, along with several
others. In his 44 years behind the wheel, he took down
14 track championships, including the Norwood Arena,
Seekonk, and Thompson. The winning-ways continued until
he was 63 and finally retired in 1993. Like his former
driver & friend Leo, Bob Garbarino is also a member of
the Hall of Fame. (Shany Photo).
Captured here at Stafford in the Ray Stonkis #19A
(special thanks to our pal Bruce Cohen for identifying
Ray as the car owner), we have the late Bobby Santos,
fondly recalled as the “Frito Bandito” in New
England racing circles. Yet another driver that traces
his roots back to the Norwood Arena where he got his
start in the Hobby Division of the 1950s, he went-on to
become a dominant force in the modified wars. Driving
for renowned car-owners such as Stonkis, Art Barry, Bill
Simon, and Joe Brady among others, he was a threat to
win on any given night. Inducted into the New England
Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2001, Bobby passed-away in
December of 2006. However, the Santos racing legacy
continues through his grandchildren. Bobby III and Erica
are both active and successful drivers. As a sidenote,
check-out the grill & hood ornament on this little coupe
- it’s from a Mercedes-Benz1 (Shany Photo).
For all intent, “Rapid Rick” Donnelly’s Modified
career started at the late UNITED-sanctioned Riverside
Park Speedway in Agawam, Massachusetts. In 1975, he
followed Harvey Tattersall down to Connecticut’s
Waterford Speedbowl when the shoreline oval became
yet-another acquisition of the once-powerful UNITED
dynasty. That year he was awarded Rookie of the Year
honors, and by 1979, he was crowned track champion. His
title year was particularly spectacular – he won 10 of
the 14 events, a season that was plagued by an
unusually-high amount of rainouts. This shot captures
him away from his Waterford digs at a Plainville Stadium
mid-week open show on Wednesday evening, June 29, 1977.
This Weeks Comments
(3 days ago) Bob Georgiades said:
Tom, you probably thought the 32 car with Moe in it was
Glazier because Bob Stefanick drove a white monza bodied
44 for Mario Fiore at the park and Roger Rule must have
bought the car at the tail end of the season and put a
32 on it and Glazier drove it. Any pictures of that car?
(4 days ago) NELS said:
LEO THE LION!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GREAT GUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(4 days ago) Anonymous said:
Pretty sure Art Whitbeck raced the #30 and #3 orange
Vegas around 1977 thru '78. Germano raced this car at
Waterford a couple times after Plainville closed. Ronnie
Rocco joined him with the #13 Coupe!
(5 days ago) Dave Dykes said:
You're all-set, Denny....
(5 days ago) Denny Zimmerman said:
(5 days ago) Dave Dykes said:
Rich, it's def. Moe as confirmed by several sources. As
Tom states, we're 99% sure that it was just for some
practice laps; very unique photo to say the least!
Thanks for writing! - Dave.
(5 days ago) RICH FALLIS said:
BACK THEN I THINK THE TEAM WAS CALLED THE G-MEN AND
CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG THAT ART WHITBACK ENDED UP WITH
THAT CAR AT PLAINVILLE FOR THE LAST YEAR.
(5 days ago) Tom Ormsby (mod) said:
It's Dave's car, but it's Moe behind the wheel. I
believe he was just taking it out in practice. Moe &
Dave where good friends.
(5 days ago) RICH FALLIS said:
THE PICTURE OF THE 32 VEGA AT STAFFORD WAS DAVE GERMANO