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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
LEW BOYD DECEMBER 27 OLLIE SILVA - WINNING WITHOUT WORDS
NEW BOOK FROM
By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE
(our first new installment of 2013!), it’s another varied assortment of
some of our favorites from New England’s one & only “Mod Squad.” Special
thanks to contributors Roger Liller, R.A. Silva, JoJo Farone, and also our
Webmaster Tom Ormsby for adding to this week’s batch of great images.
Until next-time, have a great week! As-always email reaches me at
More Weekly Wanderings…Modified-Style!
here behind the wheel of the “Big Red 1” in a 70s-era Stafford
Motor Speedway shot is our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame member George Summers. As the most-winning driver in the
history Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway, he visited victory lane there
on over one-hundred occasions. Seekonk record-aside, Summers one of
the top-drivers in all of New England, enjoying a career
that lasted over three-decades. Fittingly, he won the last event he
entered before retiring, taking–down the 1983 Thompson World Series
Modified event driving for fellow Hall of Famer, legendary car owner
Art Barry. (Tom Ormsby Collection).
Seen here flanking his familiar #27 Pinto at
Stafford, anyone that was around during what’s
widely considered the “Golden Era” of New
England Modified racing is sure to recognize this
guy. The late Booker T. Jones joined the New
England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. Upon his
induction, award-winning racing journalist Bones
Bourcier commented that “He drove NASCAR
Modifieds around the Northeast for what seemed like
a hundred years, and yet when he passed at the age
of 74, it was not his racing you remembered. It was
his friendly smile, his big right hand shaking
yours. He was everybody’s buddy.” The
consummate low-buck operator, Jones made-due with
equipment that was often less than that of his
competitors. He remained a popular figure at New
England raceways long after his days behind the
wheel were over. (Tom Ormsby Collection).
Captured here during the early-days at the
Connecticut shoreline’s “New London-Waterford”
Speedbowl is our late friend, “Wild Bill” Slater.
The car is one of the Congdon Bros. entries out of
Salem, a small burg just up the road from the Bowl’.
The team experienced unparalleled success at the
track during the early days, enlisting the talents
of only the most proficient of Waterford chauffeurs.
Slater, a charter member of the New England Auto
Racing Hall of Fame later went-on to national
success as the pilot of the famed Vitari-Bombaci
V-8. Read more about Bill’s legendary
accomplishments in the sport at
Photo, Roger Liller Collection).
Our friend Roger Liller has lately been sending us a number
of early gems from the track formally-known as the “New
London-Waterford Speedbowl” (later shortened to simply
“Waterford Speedbowl”). Captured here at the venerable old
Connecticut third-miler during the 1950s is Darwin “Bud”
Matter. Notching an astounding total of 15 feature
victories on-route to the 1953 Non-Ford title, he scored an
impressive total of 26 main event triumphs during a
relatively-short career behind the wheel. (Shany Photo,
Roger Liller Collection).
Just another 70s-era Saturday night at Connecticut’s
much-missed Plainville Stadium….. Few were tougher at
Joe Tinty’s demanding little bullring than this guy,
Bob Vivari. Piloting Bruce Sperry’s #6X (that’s
Bruce on the left), he captured a boatload of feature
victories. He was also a multi-time modified track
champion, scoring the 1968 & 1972 titles. The young guy
on the right offering Bob a hearty congratulations?
That’s none-other than New England Auto Racing Hall of
(Phil Hoyt Photo).
We really like this Phil Hoyt shot of former Plainville
Stadium track champion GaryMembrino, but
then-again, we’re kinda’ partial to anything related to
that much-missed Connecticut bullring. This guy had a
lot to live-up to considering the feats of his legendary
Uncle Anthony “Jap” Membrino, who for decades was one of
the top Modified racers in New England. Gary did-so in
fine style, becoming for a time one of the best drivers
at Joe Tinty’s little palace of speed. (Phil Hoyt
The RTT archives are rather-incomplete as to the
career-accomplishments of this driver, Loren Trombley.
Though Plainville remains among the most-difficult
tracks to document, with the aid of several old trade
papers we managed to determine that Loren was, in fact,
a multi-time feature winner during his reign at the
Stadium’ (an admirable-feat considering the level of
competition at Joe Tinty’s ¼-miler during the
mid-seventies). We believe this shot to be from the 1978
season, a year in-which Ronnie Rocco scored the track
championship. (Phil Hoyt
By the time Dick “Dickie Doo” Ceravolo posed for
this 1979 team shot while seated at the controls of his
Pinto modified, he’d already established himself as a
Waterford winner having taken his first checker in 1971
as a top shoe in the full-fendered Daredevil class. In
1988 his career reached its zenith, as he and longtime
racing associate Dana Gerry (left), waltzed-off with the
championship. A surprise to everyone, Ceravolo then
promptly announced his retirement, going-on to oversee
the racing career of his son Todd (seen here
second-from-right). Like-father, like-son, Todd became a
Speedbowl modified champion in 1997. (Steve Kennedy
We receive a lot of requests for photos, and images of
this driver are right near the top of the list. Perhaps
no driver in the history of the place is more synonymous
with the Waterford Speedbowl than the late Fred
“Fuzzy” Baer. There from the very-start in 1951,
“Fuzzy” along with his dad and crew-chief “Pops” started
in the days of those ramshackle coupes, completing his
career in a contemporary Vega creation in the 1980s
owned by his close friends, the LaJeunesse team. When in
good equipment, Fuzzy showed everyone that he could
still get it done during those later years. This shot
captures him during the early 1970s when he and his dad
were fielding a neat coach-bodied creation. This ride
served them well for many seasons. (Dugas Photo).
Captured at the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway
while aboard Bob Judkins potent #2x coupe, few
individuals meant more to New England modified
racing than the late “Steady Eddie” Flemke.
Starting during the emerging popularity of stock
cars in the post-war era, it’s estimated that he won
over 500 feature events during a career which
spanned 3-decades. Along the way, he helped many
young drivers get their starts, including Daytona
500 winner Pete Hamilton, and Indy 500 veteran
Dennis Zimmerman. As an expert car builder, he
designed the “Flemke Front End” a chassis
component that remained the standard in modified car
construction for years. Both Eddie and Judkins are
members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
(JoJo Farone Collection).
Seen here as the subject of a really-unique image
captured at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway, he was
simply one of the greatest to ever sit behind the
controls of a race car, and more than a bit
mysterious to the average fan; the guy simply had an
“aura” about-him. The late “Dynamite”
Ollie Silva was both a huge winner, and one of
the most-admired competitors in all of short track
racing. Inducted into the New England Auto Racing
Hall of Fame in 1998, Silva recorded over
five-hundred feature victories over the course of a
career that started in 1949 at the long-shuttered
Dracut, MA. Speedway and concluded in 1980. He was
victorious in Modifieds, Supers, Sprint Cars, and
Cut-Downs. Etched into the record books of
Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl is an
absolutely-dominating win in the 1974 Hot Wheels 100
in which Silva simply destroyed an all-star field of
the regions top modified stars. To this-day, the
locals still talk about it, this scribe included.
(R.A. Silvia Collection).
Keep these great Shany and Hoyt pix coming! Thanks for
Denny Z. said:
Fred in the 2x?
Tom Ormsby (mod) said:
Denny, My Boo Boo. That's what happens when I'm in a
hurry and don't proof read.
Dave Dykes said:
Believe me, if Tom didn't proof-read my ramblings there
would be many more boo-boo's...lol.
Rich Belmont said:
I believe Dan Gaudiosi was the 1968 Plainville champion.
Tom Ormsby (mod) said:
Danny was Champion in 1967, Bob Vivari in 1968.
Rich Belmont said:
Rich Oloff said:
These pix and site bring back so many happy memories.
Thanx to everyone whom make it possible for all of us to
[delete] steve k said:
Vivari was champ in the 1970s too - 1972, I think - the
year this photo was taken and Riverside was enlarged. He
racked up a bunch of wins,then sold the Nova to Cliff
Cyr and went with the 95 sedan, then a 6X coupe, not as
many wins with the coupe.
dan gaudiosi said:
still have that flag signed buy all the drivers that