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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
LEW BOYD DECEMBER 10 COASTAL CLAUS
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By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE
good friend & customary traveling partner NEAR Hall of Famer Pete Zanardi
and I made our way to Don & Kathy Moon’s annual Christmas party last
weekend, we couldn’t help but glimpse over at the former site of
Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium, for decades that city’s home to Saturday
night stock car racing. Joe Tinty’s jaunty little bullring and its cast of
colorful characters were the stuff of local legend to a generation of fans
from that area. Shuttered by what urban development planners like to call
“progress” at the dawn of the 1980s, things ain’t quite been the
same-since for Plainville racin’ folk and that’s a shame. However, thanks
to our pal Phil Hoyt who served as The Stadium’s official track
photographer for a number of years, we’re able to relive some of the great
memories and that’s a wonderful thing! As-always, enjoy! Email reaches me
More Plainville Memories….. Thanks Phil!!!!
following one of his many Plainville victories is our friend Don
Moon. Among the people that we have to thank for helping to stage
the track’s annual reunions, Don was also very-successful at a host of
other raceways during his traveling days in addition to his local
triumphs at The Stadium. Known as a master craftsman in the realm of
car builders, his rides were always super-fast and immaculate-looking.
Last weekend Don and his wife Kathy hosted their annual Christmas
party and as-usual, a great time was had by all! (Phil Hoyt Photo).
A pair of Plainville’s best speed down the
front-chute….. On the inside is our pal Don
Spazano, and up-high is none-other than Mr.
Jap Membrino. Don relayed the details of this
shot to me at the Moon’s recent Christmas party.
Says Don; “It was an open-competition event and
this was a heat race. Jap and I ran lap-after-lap
just like this, him up high, and me on the inside.
We used to race close like this all the time at
Plainville and had a blast - it was just a fun place
to run!” (Phil Hoyt Photo).
During the early 1970s when Phil Hoyt captured this
action shot of Bob Vivari in the Sperry 6X
Chevy II bodied-mount and New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame member Dave Alkas in the Roland
Cyr-owned #54 coach, this duo was at the top of
their game at Plainville. One can only-imagine how
many checkers were captured by these two champions
during the track’s heyday! Just a great image
typical of the close racing that thrilled crowds at
The Stadium every Saturday night… (Phil HoytPhoto).
If you were lucky enough to be around the sport when this
guy was in his prime, you witnessed one of the best. Our
friend and Webmaster Tom Ormsby of
www.speedwaylinereport.com once stated that he was
“Colorful, Controversial, and Popular” all at the
same-time. The truth-is, Anthony“Jap” Membrino
helped sell a lot of tickets during a stellar career that
lasted over 3-decades. While he experienced incredible
success at Plainville Stadium as captured here, Jap also
won-big at many other New England venues. On the left is the
late Joe Tinty, the owner of Plainville who just this year
was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
(Phil Hoyt Photo).
Coaches seemed to remain in-style at Plainville longer
than at any other Connecticut track, and the
classic-looking #100 of Bill Brown was a truly a
beauty! This former North End Auto Parts #54 is A
typical late-60s, early-1970s creation, his ride is a
good representation of the machines that called
“Tinty’s Place” home every Saturday night during
those years. We really like this shot. (Phil Hoyt
The guy behind the wheel of this neat modified coupe
actually got his Plainville start within the confines of
that wild n’ wooly support class known as the Novice
Division. This is Dennis “The Greek” Chavaris. It
was an era when track announcers routinely bestowed
catchy nicknames upon competitors often with a nod to
ethnic lineage. Spending over five decades in the sport
“The Greek” was a multi-time modified feature
winner at The Stadium, later enjoying a stint in the SK
Modifieds. (Phil Hoyt Photo).
No installment of “RTT” on Plainville Stadium would be
complete without a victory lane image of this driver,
our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer
An absolute powerhouse at late Connecticut facility,
teamed with car owner Roland Cyr he notched 5 track
championships in a 10-year period. Competing regularly
against Plainville alumni like Reggie Ruggiero, Don
Moon, Stan Greger, and Ronnie Rocco, he routinely bested
the field, notching eleven feature wins in one
season-alone. He also won regularly during those great
mid-week 100-lap open competition shows, beating
visitors like Ed Flemke, Sr., Ron and Ken Bouchard, Bob
Stefanik, and the late Dick Watson. That’s longtime
Stadium flagman Billy Dunn offering-up congratulations.
After his stint a Plainville Billy Dunn was the flagman
at Riverside Park for over 20 years until its closing.
Dunn is retired in Florida living near our webmaster and
friend Tom Ormsby and still a flagman at Florida's
Bronson Speedway. (Phil Hoyt Photo).
“Lil Dan” Gaudiosi
– the name was magic for what seemed like eons within
the realm of New England modified racing. A mainstay of
the old Tattersall/United dynasty (West Haven being
particularly fortuitous for him), he started winning
during the post-war stock car boom, and kept-on
collecting checkers after many of his contemporaries had
hung-up their helmets. Closely-aligned with the famous
pink & white racers of his brother “Sharkey” Gaudiosi,
he’s captured here ready-to-roll at Plainville in the
1970s. (Phil Hoyt Photo).
Here’s a neat shot that may be somewhat of
a mystery….. Upon my first look, I thought this was
Nicky Porto, the usual pilot of this absolutely
“Plainvillesque” coupe. On a second glance, buddy &
Webmaster Tom Ormsby and I aren’t so-sure. Can any
readers out-there confirm the identity of the driver? At
any-rate, the car is illustrative of the memorable and
absolutely-original creations that contributed to making
Plainville such a unique place! (Phil Hoyt Photo).
It wasn’t all Coupes & Coaches at the Plainville of
the 1970s…. Just like at other tracks in New
England, the “Pinto Revolution” had an impact at
“Tinty’s Place” and here’s a fine example of the
modern tinwork that would quickly become the norm in
modified racing all-over the region. Seen here
taking a breather during a break in the action is
Warren “Elmer” Lee, a popular journeyman racer
that called The Stadium home for many seasons. A
scan of the tracks archival records show that Lee
was a top-runner, always in the thick-of-the-action.
(Phil Hoyt Photo)
Here’s another cool one…. It says Frank Moulton
on the roof who was a fixture in New England
modified racing for many seasons, and was
particularly well-known for driving the Walt Cole
#33 at Riverside Park Speedway. Our webmaster Tom
Ormsby believes chauffeuring this car, Smitty's
“Silver 6” coupe is the late Ron Infeld. The
car was unique in the fact that it relied on power
provided by a thundering GMC 6-clyinder powerplant,
rather than an overhead V8 which by the time this
image was captured at Plainville in the 70s, was the
norm. (Phil Hoyt Photo).
The driver behind the wheel of the 69 is Nicky's
brother, John Porto Jr.
As for Smitty's 'Silver 6", engines were built by Joe
Fontana before he relocated to CA.
Dave Dykes said:
Rich, Thanks so-much for the information. Tom and I
looked & looked at that shot, and just couldn't convince
ourselves it was Nicky. It's such a cool image, I had to
run-it this week (Thanks Phil!). Also, thanks for the
data on the GMC-6. Lastly, congratulations on your new
position as a NEAR Advisor; I know you'll do a great job
for the club!
Steve K said:
I agree with Rich; that's John Porto. He also drove the
#13 at Pville in earlier days. But if memory serves me
right, Nicky drove this 69x for a little while though,
after his coach was destroyed early in the 1972
mike mordino said:
The picture with jap and his family and also earl
pellitier far right jap drove and won in his car im good
friends with earl jr
MIKE A. said:
THAT IS JOHNNY PORTO IN THE 69. GREAT PIX OF PLAINVILLE
, THATS WHERE I WAS EVERY SAT. NITE IN THE 70'S.
Bob Paine said:
How msny cars did Sharkey run at a time? Ted Stack drove
at Waterford, Lil Dan at other tracks - same or
different cars? And there was a 4 that I think was a
Non-Ford at the Speedbowl.
Dave Dykes said:
Hi Bob, That's a good question! Sharkey was at-it for a
long time at many tracks. I have shots of Dan behind the
wheel of a #4 Non-Ford at West Haven also...
Rich Belmont said:
Sharkey also ran big-block modifieds at the N. Y. (and
Stafford) dirt tracks around the same time. He was one