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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE
Wednesday, and here we are with another edition of “Racing Through Time.”
This week we again try to hit all the bases, covering a number of New
England auto racing personalities from the past.I will be at the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Induction
ceremony the Sunday, Hope to see you there! As-always, email reaches me firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: We have now put a comment box at the end of
the web site. Please feel free to leave your comments.
Another Wednesday, More Old Stuff…..!
From humble beginnings at Joe Tinty’s greatly-missed
Plainville Stadium in Connecticut, this guy became one of the best racers to
ever strap-into the cockpit of a modified. The much-celebrated Reggie
Ruggiero is seen here at Plainville in the 1970s behind the controls of the
00jr, a clone of the late Walt Kuryn's 00 coach. This Sunday Jan 29, “The
Reg” will take his place among the other racing greats of New England when
he’s inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.(Phil
Seen here during a Plainville Stadium victory lane
celebration is a couple of racers that were a huge
part of “Tinty’s Place” for many, many years.
On the right it’s Don Moon, one of the
track’s big stars, and a guy that traveled
extensively with success during the 1960s. That’s
Don Spazano on the left, long one of
Plainville’s most-winning drivers and one of our
sports true “Nice Guys.” Looks like the boys
were playing to a packed-house on this Saturday
night in the early-70s! (Phil Hoyt Photo,
Courtesy of Tom Ormsby).
Pictured here in the #1 owned by Spud Cray is our
old pal, Bob Mickulak. Our friend & Webmaster
Tom Ormsby who’d began his career in 1968 at
Plainville, purchased this car from Cray after
getting out of the Air Force in 1972 and campaigned
it as the #VO. Tom and the old coupe gained some
unfortunate notoriety one evening in 72’ when the
throttle-stuck while going down the back chute and
he vaulted the wall, ending-up in a heap in the
pits. He and his crew had the nearly-demolished car
back at the track within 2-weeks, changing the color
& renumbering-it 24.
(Phil Hoyt Photo).
And here we have the late Bobby Santos. Yet
another driver whose roots are traced back to the former
Norwood Arena in Massachusetts where he got his start in
the Hobby Division of the early-fifties, he went-on to
become a dominant force in the modified wars. Driving
for renowned car-owners such as Art Barry (as seen here
at Stafford), Billy Simons, and Joe Brady among others,
he was a threat to-win each time he donned the Nomex.
Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame
in 2001, Bobby passed-away in December of 2006. (John
This is a rare-one from our old friend John Grady….Captured
here on the rich clay of New York’s famed Fonda Speedway
with the Bob Judkins #2x during a break from his USAC Indy
Car endeavors is the late, great Jim Hurtubise. A
ten-time starter of the Indy 500, “Herk” was a
truly-versatile racer, successfully competing in a myriad of
different divisions during his long, storied career.
Regarded as a true underdog when he was racing at the
nation’s highest-rung of competition, he was a
crowd-favorite, especially when behind the controls of his
front-engine Mallard Roadsters. It was a time when the rest
of the Indy-set had long-abandoned the design in-favor of
the more technically advanced rear-engine cars. Sadly, Jim
passed-away from a heart-attack in 1989 at age-56. (John
The late Pete Corey (aka “The Crescent
Hillbilly”), was simply one of the best racers of
his generation. When he lost his left leg in a horrible
1959 crash at Fonda, New York his resultant comeback
elevated him from hero to legend. The fact that his car
had to be equipped with a hand brake after he lost his
leg seemed almost immaterial. Corey actually began his
career as a motorcycle racer switching to stockcars in
the late 1940s. He won sporadically in the early '50s
and then landed a ride with famed Schenectady, New York
car owner Bob Mott in 1955. It proved to be a
career-move that made him the hottest driver in New
York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Seen here at Fonda
with a Ford Falcon-bodied mount, he retired from the
sport in 1973. (John Grady Photo).
Captured here behind the controls of an
absolutely-classic coach following a feature victory is
our old friend, “FastFinch Fenton”
(known in mere-mortal terms as Lew Boyd). As the
proprietor of Coastal 181
www.coastal181.com Lew brings to us the best in
racing-related reading, video, and artwork. This guy has
been-around the sport for a long-time and as-seen here
saw success during his driving days in just about every
division in New England, dirt & asphalt. (John Grady Photo).
Seen here at Massachusetts’ much-missed Riverside Park
Speedway is another former racer I’m proud to count as a
friend, Ronnie Wyckoff. Starting his racing
career in Florida, he joined the Sportsman ranks at
Plainville Stadium after moving North in 1959. Success
in the modifieds quickly-followed with numerous
wins at an assortment of New England speedplants.
Included in those victories are multi-time triumphs in
UNITED’s “Riverside 500” events, once a benchmark of the
Northeastern racing season. In this scribes opinion,
historically-speaking this guy remains one of our
region’s most-underrated competitors.(Steve
One of the real chargers when Harvey Tattersall’s once
influential United Stock Car Racing Club ruled the New
England modified roost rather than NASCAR, Tommy
Sutcliffe enjoyed a long-reign at the front of the
pack. Twice a champion at Connecticut’s late West Haven
Speedway, he was a top competitor all over New England
for decades winning a boatload of features. This one
captures Tommy at the former Riverside Park in
Massachusetts during the 1960s, then the flagship
facility of UNITED.
(John Grady Photo).
Here’s a wonderful shot of New England Auto Racing Hall
of Fame member Billy Harman celebrating one of
his early victories at the “New London-Waterford”
Speedbowl as the driver of the potent “L&M” coupe.
Sharing the spotlight with Billy is fabled early
Speedbowl flagman Loren Card. Note the old “sand safety
strip” along the outer- parameter of the track.
Originally built-in as a safety feature (the theory
being that it would “slow-down” errant competitors
before impact), it remained until being paved-over
in the mid-60s. (Shany
Photo Courtesy of Tom Ormsby).
Captured here pitside at Riverside Park, Jerry
Humiston was one of the premier-players within
Harvey Tattersall’s United Racing Club. Three-times
a track champion (1954, 59, and 61), he raced at The
Park’ during what many consider the tracks
most-competitive era. One of the most-popular and
accomplished drivers of his time, Humiston’s
prominent place in the history of the much-missed
oval is rightly-deserved, and he’ll be inducted into
the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame this
Sunday, Jan 29. (Grady Photo).
What can be penned about this guy that’s not already
been written? A New England modified racing Icon,
Billy “Gramps” Greco means a lot of things to
many people, but here at “RTT” we’re most-proud to
say that he’s our friend. Billy is captured here at
Connecticut’s famed Stafford Springs Motor Speedway
getting ready climb-aboard the potent #14 coupe
owned by the brother team of Ray and the late Rich
Garuti. Greco and the Garuti brothers are all
members of the prestigious New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame. (Photo courtesy of JoJo Farone).