Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday December 26, 2012
 

 

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By Dave Dykes                                                                            CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE

Here’s hoping that all of our readers are enjoying a safe & happy holiday season, and that 2013 brings all of you a truly wonderful year. I’d like to express my appreciation to our Webmaster & friend Tom Ormsby for having helped to make “RTT” a reality back in 2009. As a matter-of-fact, this week we officially mark 4-years on the Internet; who would have thunk-it? Also, a big thanks goes-out to all of the readers, many of-which have written and sent photos over the years. Quite-simply, without you, there would be no-reason for our weekly journeys into the rich history New England auto racing! And with-that, it’s on to another week….. Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com

Racing into the New Year……

Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2011, “Dangerous Dan” Galullo was one of the brightest stars of the once powerful United Stock Car Racing Club headed-up by the Tattersall family. Twice a Riverside Park Modified titlist, 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 the Northeast. He also recorded feature wins at Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium, Waterford Speedbowl, and Cherry Park 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. He’s seen here following a feature victory in Jarb Beaudoin’s potent Hudson-powered #500. (Shany Photo Courtesy Tony Mordino Jr.).

Here’s another shot of the late Dan Galullo, and that’s Lou Carangelo on the right. The duo is celebrating a 1966 victory in one of the legendary 500-lap team races that Harvey Tattersall’s UNITED Racing Club used to stage at Massachusetts’ former (and very-much missed), Riverside Park Speedway. To win one of these much-anticipated extra-distance events was a huge accomplishment and a highlight of the United season. (Shany Photo).

The image captured at one of the former Plainville Stadium’s great 100-lap open-competition mid-week shows of the 1970s; this is the “Travelin' Man” himself, Peter Fiandaca. Doing “more-with-less” was a way of life during his Modified career, and geographically-speaking, few traveled-more than Fiandaca and his often 1-man show as he criss-crossed New England on a weekly-basis racing at every opportunity. A legendary “Little Guy” that excelled during an era when big-money had become a factor in the sport, “Petah” is a very-deserving member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. (Phil Hoyt Photo).

And here we have a nice color shot from Plainville of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Chick Stockwell during the latter stages of his long brilliant career. From his Hall of Fame Biography; Charles “Chick” Stockwell began racing in 1949, driving his own cars throughout the northeast. Although Chick considers the Danbury Arena to be “home”, he was a regular competitor at Waterford, Thompson, Plainville, West Haven, and Stafford. He raced at Lime Rock, Springfield, and Westboro. Venturing outside New England, he has driven at Albany-Saratoga, Orange County, JFK Stadium, and Lebanon Valley. Stockwell showed his versatility as a race driver by competing on both dirt and asphalt, often 3 to 4 times in the same week. He won the 1957 Rhinebeck Track Championship, racing on dirt. He took down the United Grand American Late Model Sportsman Circuit Crown in 1963 and 1964. He won the "Most Popular Driver" award at Danbury for six consecutive years. (1976-1981). The award was sponsored by the Racearena Revue magazine, and over 17,000 fans cast votes for Chick, who says that the Most Popular Driver awards meant even more to him than his many feature wins. Stockwell is in the record book as the all-time total race winner at the arena, with 51 feature wins, 51 semi features, 77 heats, 26 consi victories, and 2 “B” wins, for a total of 207 Danbury Arena victories, while winning nine championships.Chick retired from racing in 1981, when they closed down the Danbury Arena. Looking back, he remembers his career as a satisfying time. “It was fun back then”, Chick says. “Everything was right out of the junkyard, where nowadays everything is bought. We got a junk, gutted it out, and went after it.” (Phil Hoyt Photo).

The “Alkas Connection” at Plainville was a far-reaching affair and truly a “Brother Act” of the first-degree. As the undisputed “King Of Plainville” New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Dave Alkas wasn’t the only family member to claim the checkers. Pictured here at The Stadium in the early-70s is brother Fred Alkas who was also a very successful modified shoe winning many features. In addition to Dave & Fred, there were siblings Ed and George (both deceased), who were multi-time winners on the tricky ¼-miler. Though it now exists only in memory, Plainville Stadium remains a prime example of what New England short track racing is supposed to be all-about. (Phil Hoyt Photo)

Our good friend Ray Miller was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2002, and for good-reason. Growing-up around the sport, his father paired with Red Lataille to own the #1 Lataille/Miller Offy, running out of the Miller's garage in East Granby, CT. The team ran the ARDC circuit, often racing 7 night’s per-week in the 1940s and 50s. Ray started his career at Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium in 1965 before progressing to NASCAR haunts like Stafford and Thompson. A winning driver at the highest-echelon of New England Modified racing for many seasons, he retired in the 1980s. This action shot captures him behind the controls of his familiar Mike Greci-owned Vega during a 70s-era Plainville Stadium open-competition event. Ray is the dad of the late Jay Miller, an accomplished and very popular young SK Modified driver who left-us much too-soon. Recently, Ray has returned to driving enjoying great success on the USAC Dirt Midget trail. (Phil Hoyt Photo).  

Captured here in the lens of our good friend & longtime Plainville Stadium official track photographer Phil Hoyt in a coach-bodied entry unfamiliar to us is our pal, Dave Alkas. An absolute powerhouse at late Connecticut facility, teaming with Roland Cyr and the potent #54, he notched 5 track championships in a 10-year period. Competing regularly against Plainville alumni like Reggie Ruggiero, Stan Greger, and Ronnie Rocco, he routinely bested the field, notching eleven feature wins in one season-alone. He won regularly during those great Plainville mid-week 100-lap open competition shows, beating visitors like Ed Flemke, Sr., Ron and Ken Bouchard, Bob Stefanik, and the late Dick Watson. The most successful Modified driver in Plainville Stadium history, Dave was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2008. (Phil Hoyt Photo). 

Just a great “Coupe Era” shot courtesy of our pal, renowned racing shutterbug John Grady. The late Johnny “King” Cambino earned his nickname as one of the premier drivers at rough & tumble Connecticut ovals like the late West Haven Speedway, Plainville Stadium, and Cherry Park in Avon. In later years, he followed United to Riverside (as captured here), continuing his reign as one of the club’s top-competitors. Only part of the story, “The King” came out of retirement while in his 60s to become a winning driver in the Waterford Speedbowl’s Street Stock class of the 1990’s. (John Grady Photo).

Courtesy of another of our much-accomplished racing photographer friends, here’s a nice late-70s Steve Kennedy image of multi-time Plainville Stadium track champion Ronnie Rocco. Starting in the Novice class, Ronnie was a quick-study when it was time to trade-in his fenders for the open-wheel wars. A big success at “Tinty’s Place” before the Connecticut speedplant’s unfortunate closure at the dawn of the 1980s, he later became a successful and popular racer within the ranks of the SK Modified division. Ronnie, of-course, is the dad of currently-successful SK Modified drivers Keith & Jeff Rocco. If you look to the right of this photo is my friend and webmaster Tom Ormsby's 4x Pinto. (Steve Kennedy Photo).

It’s 1957 at Connecticut’s former West Haven Speedway, and “Lil’ Dan” Gaudiosi has just become that season’s track champion. A stalwart of the once all-powerful United Stock Car Racing Club headed-up by the Tattersall family he was always considered one of the racers to beat no-matter where he competed. Perhaps Dan’s greatest success came while wheeling the potent pink & white #44 creations wrenched by his brother Fred “Sharkey” Gaudiosi who was inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2006. (Shany Photo).

BONUS SHOT: Once-again an image from the archives of the former United Stock Car Racing Club, this one captures legendary New England modified shoe the late “Big Ed” Patnode, and his accomplishments in the sport loom as large as his legendary stature. At Riverside Park he was truly one of United’s brightest stars, recording twenty-seven feature victories and a pair of championships at the late oval, which was the flagship venue of the powerful Tattersall/United promotional dynasty. In this shot, he’s seated in a Chevy Camaro entry at one of the big United Late Model shows staged on the fast 5/8-mile oval that was once located on the grounds on the “Big E” in Massachusetts. (C & F Photo).

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

COMMENTS
Dave Dykes said:

Thanks for the nice comments, Bruce & Dan. Tom and I will continue to do the site as-long as you'll have us!

Mario Fiore said:

The Ed Patnode 4x Camero shot from the Big E is a C&F Photo (Mario pic)

Dave Dykes said:

Thanks, Mario - we'll get that changed.... great shot!

R.A. Silvia said:

It was a good year for us, through your weekly efforts. Just need more Rhode Island stuff!!! R.A. in R.I.

mike a. said:

keep those great shots coming. happy new year.

Rit McGowan said:

The picture of Dave Alkas in the 74 was one of the cars owned by Roger Larson that Dave drove. The yellow helmet you see Dave wearing in other pictures came from when Dave drove that car. If I remember correctly Dave left that ride to drive for Roland Cyr. So far this is the only picture I have seen with Dave Alkas in a Roger Larson car. Thanks for the memory and keep up the good work.

Don Macrino said:

Dave, I look forward to Wednesdays so that I can visit your site and the great New England racing history. Thanks and have a healthy and happy new year.

Dave Dykes said:

Thanks, Rit for the information on Dave in the #74. I had meant to ask him about this car when we were all at Don Moon's Xmas party, but forgot. Those of us that miss Plainville owe Phil Hoyt a debt of gratitude for keeping the memories alive with all of his great photos!

steve k said:

Hi Rit-
I have a shot of Dave Alkas in a #74 coupe - a Larson car? Perhaps the same ride that Jap and Tony Mordino drove? Not sure if there was a connection with Elton Hill & the 74x...

Tom Ormsby (mod) said:

I think it is the same #74 that Ron Van Nesse drove, but it was red. I don't think that Tony or Jap drove it. I'm pretty much sure Daryl MacCullen (sic) who owned the 74x had nothing to do with the car.

 
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