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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
LEW BOYD JANUARY 29 THE CALL OF
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By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE
can all see, our latest offering arrives 24-hours early as our friend &
Webmaster the honorable Mr. Ormsby is making his way to Daytona to
hang-out with all of our racing friends (as-expected, I’m jealous).
Special thanks go out to our contributors to this week’s installment of
“RTT” including Carolyn Grey, Roger Liller, and Bob Ellis. It’s through
the dedication of these individuals that we’re able to feature some
truly-rare images! And as-always, it’s our Daytona-bound pal that gets
this thing posted to the cyberwaves every week without fail. Lastly,
get-well wishes are sent to our good friendPeg Gaudreauwho’s been feeling under-the-weather as of late.
Along with her husband Al, the duo campaigned the famous “Buddha’s Bullet”
modified that the great Dick Dunn raced to super-success for many seasons.As-always, email reaches me at
Hey, We’re A Day-Early This Week!!!
pal New York State Racing Historian Roger Liller comes this terrific
50s-era New London-Waterford Speedbowl shot. Culled from the archives
of our mutual friend Bob Ellis, it captures New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame members Don Collins (left), and Fred Luchesi
(right), receiving trophies and a congratulations from a pretty young
presenter. Both drivers were prolific winners and track champions
during the formative years of the Connecticut oval. (Shany Photo
from Bob Ellis via Roger Liller).
We admittedly don’t know much about this driver, but
the image is a good illustration of just-how stock
the coupes of the early days of the sport really
were. Seen here is Rhode Island racer Charles
"Chuck" Harvey from Rhode Island lined up and
ready to go at the Speedbowl on October 12, 1952,
the tracks sophomore year of operation. Over the
years, entries from the neighboring state have been
plentiful. (Shany Photo from Bob Ellis via Roger
And here’s another Speedbowl image from the Ellis
archives. Says Roger about this shot; “This one
clearly shows the huge difference between the
cutdowns and the full sized coupes. Charles
“Chuck” Harvey is in the #190, Carl
Holmes is in the #9 and we don't know who's
driving the spun out #63.” He states further
that “Both Bob Ellis and Joe Saleem have been a
great help to me with photos and historical info.
These are the kind of guys that make you love to be
in the racing community.” I must say that I
agree whole-heatedly with that statement. Those that
openly share their images and other data from the
early days of the sport are the true champions in
(Shany Photo from Bob Ellis via Roger Liller).
Last in this week’s images from the Ellis collection is this
1952 Speedbowl shot of Ron Kennedy in his #130 coupe.
Captured in the infield of the shoreline oval, the
background really captures just-how rural the area was when
the Speedbowl opened just a year-earlier. If you
look-closely, you can make-out the old “sand safety strip”
that used to circle the outer-parameter of the track, and
that it was decades-before then-promoter Dick Williams
installed the Armco barrier (by that-time, the original
railroad-tie wall had taken quite a pummeling). Also notice
the vintage ride in the background; then a daily driver, now
it would be a valued classic! (Shany Photo from Bob Ellis
via Roger Liller).
Simply a classic image and we’re forever grateful to
Carolyn Grey for taking the time to scan the personal
scrapbooks of her late father, car owner Bill
Congdon’s complete career in racing. The team,
hailing from Salem, Connecticut were among the true
heavy-hitters of New England during the early days of
the sport. As relayed here previously, the list of
drivers that Bill enlisted to steer his
meticulously-crafted machines (in this case a cut-down),
reads like a “who’s-who” of the very best racers
of the time. Seen here at what was then-known as
Connecticut’s “Stafford Springs Speedway” is the late
Ray Delisle, a racer that this scribe considers to
be one of the most historically-overlooked drivers of
his era. It’s Sunday afternoon, March 28, 1954, and he’s
about to compete in a CORA-sanctioned event on the
storied old fairgrounds raceway. (Shany Photo
courtesy Carolyn Grey).
And this was the result of the Congdon team’s efforts on
that spring Sunday at Stafford in 1954; Mr. Ray
Delisle waltzed-away with another feature victory
adding to his already impressive resume. That’s Ray on
the left, and car-owner Bill Congdon on the
right. In addition to Congdon stable, Delisle drove for
a number of other top teams during his career. One
little-known fact is that he was also quite-proficient
on the dirt, having won at New York’s Lebanon Valley
Speedway for Hall of Fame car owner Billy Simons during
what was arguably that tracks most-competitive era. At a
more local-level, he remains one of the best-ever in the
history of Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl where he
recorded a career total of 22 modified feature victories
and scored the 1964 modified track championship. (Shany
Photo courtesy Carolyn Grey).
Another classic image from the career of her father
famed Connecticut car-owner Bill Congdon, when
Carolyn Grey presented us with this image, it bought
back a lot of fond memories. As a result of my
decades-long friendship with veteran modified racer Mark
LaJeunesse and his family I was able to meet the late
Dick Beauregard a number of years-ago. He was an
engaging guy to talk-with; I only wish that I’d been
smart-enough to conduct an in-depth interview, as I’m
sure he had some great stories to tell on the early days
at Waterford. Captured here following a feature victory
in the potent Congdon coupe, during a relatively-short
Speedbowl career of only a decade he notched a pair of
modified titles along with over-40 feature victories. In
the Non-Ford class, he annexed the checkers on 20
occasions. Both controversial and immensely-popular at
the same-time, he retired in 1962 as a champion. (Shany
Photo courtesy Carolyn Grey).
Here’s a nice shot from Massachusetts’ much-missed
Riverside Park Speedway. New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame member the late Dick Dixon was a top
Modified competitor in Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock
Car Club in the 1950s and 1960s, also competing in their
Grand American class. One year, he won all-but two GA
features run by United. He earned several wins on the
old Big E racetrack in both the coupes and the late
models. Dixon raced in several Grand National (Sprint
Cup) events, including races at Charlotte, Lime Rock,
Daytona, and Islip Speedways. Sadly, Dick lost his life
in 1967 while competing at Thompson Speedway in a car
normally driven by fellow New England Auto Racing Hall
of Fame member Billy Harman. (GradyPhoto).
Seen here wheeling a Ford sedan during a UNITED Late
Model event during the 1950s at the Waterford Speedbowl
is New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late
“Moneybags Moe” Gherzi.
One of New England modified racing’s first legitimate
“Super Stars” he found his niche in the
management-side of the sport after hanging-up his
helmet. He went from driving to organizing in later
years, accepting a post working for Joe Tinty as Race
Director at the late Plainville Stadium, a position he
held for many seasons. Usually nattily-attired on
race-night, he was one of the true Showmen of his era.
He was a supremely-successful racer at virtually every
venue in New England during his career, (Shany Photo).
We really like this shot….Seen here behind the
controls of the “Dark Horse Special” coupe at the
“New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1950s is
Sparky Belmont (real name Michael Belmonte). He
was a Plainville track champion, and a big star on
Harvey Tattersall’s UNITED circuit. After a
convincing victory in a 100-lap contest at
Plainville in July of 1968, he collapsed during the
post race celebration, and passed-away on the spot.
“Sparky” had been a star on the post war midget
circuit before switching to stock cars. An
accomplished and much-admired competitor during the
early days of the sport, Sparky was inducted into
the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2012.
(Shany Photo courtesy Roger Liller).
BONUS SHOT #1:
As we all know, this sport has a dark-side and this
is one of the most unfortunate chapters in what is
the book of New England modified racing. Certainly
considered one of Long Island’s premier modified
chauffeurs, this one captures the late Les Ley(real name Harry Dominick), when he was
Anthony “Beebe” Salenski’s potent coupe on the old
1/5-miler at the former Riverside Park Speedway.
Sadly, it was in this car that he’d perish in a
brutal crash before a packed-house during the 1964
season at the popular Massachusetts oval. (Shany
BONUS SHOT #2:
And here’s one more from our friend Carolyn Grey…..
Like all short tracks, the Waterford Speedbowl can
boast of having hosted some pretty-hairy action in
the way of crashes over the years, Among the drivers
caught up in this melee during the 1950s was New
England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Don Collins
who at the time was wheeling his “Little Jewel”
#106, and we also see fellow Hall of Famer the late
“Wild Bill” Slater who was behind the controls of
one of Bill Congdon’s potent #76 creations.
(Shany Photo courtesy Carolyn Grey).