Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday January 1, 2014


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

This year, Christmas came with a surprise gift from an unknown source. Appearing in my mailbox was an envelope with no return address. As you’d imagine, I was more than a bit curious as-to its contents. Inside, along with a simple unsigned note wishing me a Merry Christmas was a disc. I was ecstatic to find that it contained many vintage racing photos, mostly Shany Lorenzent images from the Waterford Speedbowl. Try as I may, I’ve yet to identify this “Anonymous Gifter” but I’m assuming that they’re among the folks that regularly view our little weekly trip into the past. Several shots from that unexpected bit of holiday cheer appear this week & they’re extraordinary. I’d like to take a moment to offer that person a sincere THANK YOU for their gesture of kindness - please realize it’s greatly appreciated! One additional thing we’d like to mention is that our friends at the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) are presently offering a DVD tracking the clubs history from the “cageless era” to the contemporary machines of today. Containing 322 images, it’s simply a must-have for the New England open-wheel enthusiast. Cost is $25 each with all proceeds going directly to NEMA to help carry-on the rich traditions these early pioneers built. Payment can be made through PayPal to rewindles@sbcglobal.net or by sending a check or money order (payable to NEMA), as well as your name and address to Bill Van Slyke, 23 Horsestable Cir., Shelton, Ct. 06484.  This effort is fully-endorsed by “RTT” – it’s a great deal, folks! Have a Happy New Year! As-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@yahoo.com

Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year !!!!!

One of the photos sent to us over the Christmas holiday as noted in this weeks opening comments, this is an absolute beauty! Seated inside the #716 of famed Waterford Speedbowl car-owner Freddie Beaber is the late Jerry Glaude. On the right is our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Bob Potter. Judging by the additional photos that accompanied this one, we’re assuming the location is Freddie’s race shop during the late-60s, early-70s. Glaude, who left us at the all-to-young age of 61 back in 2004 raced widely in New England winning a number of feature events. He particularly good at Waterford. Potter took his place among the giants of the sport in 2007 when he was inducted into the HOF. For more on Bob’s extraordinary career visit the NEAR website at www.near1.org  (Photographer Unknown).

When our friend and Plainville Stadium super-fan the late Kevin Lackey tragically passed-away unexpectedly in November he was the owner of this car, the Farone Family #43 - certainly one of the most celebrated rides in Plainville’s history. When Kevin’s family decided to sell the car to aid in the cost of his final expenses, it didn’t take long for it to get scooped-up by what can only be considered the right party. After 2-decades, it’s back in the hands of the Farone family & being readied to hit the vintage racing trail again. The much-accomplished Elton Hill is the man behind the wheel in this timeless Phil Hoyt victory lane shot at Joe Tinty’s much-missed Connecticut ¼-miler. Flanking him are flagman Billy Dunn and his assistant, Richard Biggie. As an aside, legend has it that during a vintage event, this was the last-ever race car to cross the finish line at Riverside Park during that track’s final night of racing before it’s untimely closure at the conclusion of the 1999 season. (Phil Hoyt Photo).

Here’s one that dates back to the really-early days of Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. When we initiated our “unidentified” photo series a few months-ago, the guy in the #100 coach was one of the first personalities featured. New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Skip Matczak was quick to contact us, readily identifying the driver. Turns-out it’s Warren Sentivany, who currently serves as Crew Chief on Skip’s USAC Dirt Midget team. Warren, who’s since became a friend & contributor to this site, is captured here following a bit of misfortune during the 1951 campaign. (Shany Lorenzet Photo)

As a coupe-era regular at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl, Stan Wildermuth may have never been a prolific feature winner, but he won the respect of his peers as a predictable, consistent chauffer; a guy you could race wheel-to-wheel-with, no problem. A back-marker by no-means, he was always in the thick of the battle, recording a number of up-front performances during his career. Stan’s reputation as a capable racer was an enduring affair, as during the former “Heroes of the Bowl” events (a race where former drivers climbed into Street Stocks during Waterford’s annual Nostalgia Weekend), he was always in-demand with present-day teams. That looks to be our close friend Mark LaJeunesse to Stan’s outside in this one. (Shany Lorenzet Photo).

Our Webmaster & friend Tom Ormsby used to compete against this fellow at Plainville Stadium back when the former Connecticut ¼-miler was serving-up some of the best modified racing in New England. Meet Claude Roy. Claude climbed into the Modifieds during the twilight of Plainville Stadium's existence in 1979. Though never a winner in the division, he graduated from the Late Model Pleasure car or Sportsman division where he garnered 8 wins between 1973 and 1978. He's pictured here behind the wheel wheel of this little modified number 99 at “Tinty’s Place.” Who doesn’t love a sharp coupe like this, right? (Phil Hoyt Photo).

A member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the late Donald “Hank” Stevens drove them all during his long career. Modifieds, Midgets and Cut-Downs; his exploits truly ran the gamut. Nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank” for his determined driving style, he was particularly successful at the Speedbowl as seen-here in the 1950s. As proof of just how-tough this guy was, he overcame a positively-devastating Speedbowl wreck in the 1950s in-which he received horrendous life-threatening burns to return as a winner. (Shany Lorenzet Photo)

Few drivers of the much-heralded “Coupe Era” were more traveled than our good friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Billy Harman. Growing-up in the shoreline community of New London, Ct. it was only natural for the speed-crazed young kid to get-involved with the happenings at a track located just outside his hometown. After many successes in his backyard, Harman took to the road, maintaining a hectic schedule that rewarded him accolades at venues from coast-to-coast. This 1960s shot captures him in celebration at the track where it all began for him, the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. (Shany Lorenzet Photo).   

Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium always featured great support divisions. Of particular-note was the Novice class, which gave many future modified stars their first exposure to the sport. Always brimming with entries (many of-which were big, lumbering coaches like this one), each time these essentially-stock (save for a few rudimentary safety feature), machines took to the track it set the stage for an exciting event! As seen-here, Jim Acker had his bases covered in the “looks department.” For a novice car, this was a pretty one!  During Jim's short career he won 2 features in the division, both in 1964. (Faust Photo).    

We’re admittedly not an expert on the Southern New York Racing Association or the former (& much-missed) Danbury Fair Racearena, but this photo of the late Jimmy Smith just caught our eye as we were going through material for this week’s column. This little 3-window machine is typical of the entries campaigned at Danbury during the latter-stages of the coupe-era. Take a look at how sharp-looking it is. I’ve been told that the SNYRA had an “appearance policy” that teams had to follow in keeping their machinery pleasing to the eyes of fans. A track that consistently set attendance records (as-well as offering the region’s largest purses), it was indeed a sad day when Danbury closed its doors forever in 1981, making way for another shopping mall. Just what we needed, right? (Mannion Photo).

OK, we’ve had this Waterford Speedbowl shot in the archives for a long-time, but it was kinda’ confusing to us. We (again) consulted our pal Mark LaJeunesse. He states the following; “Dave, this is Ed Gladue (left), with his brother Ted Gladue (right). They ran in the Bomber division very successfully and also had a short stint in their own modified at the end of their careers. Ted was also on Bill Congdon's crew. I believe they were from Taftville, CT. or nearby.” As for me, I could never figure-out why there was a Bomber entry painted in the same scheme as famed car modified owner Bill Congdon’s cars; Ted Gladue’s association with the team explains that. And, I always confused “Gladue” with “Glaude” (as in the late Jerry Glaude pictured in this week’s first entry). Looking at the record book, Ed Gladue was the 1964 Bomber champion scoring a career total of 16 features victories in the class. Also in this shot is one of the early track owners, Jack Brouwer(Shany Lorenzet Photo)

UNIDENTIFIED DRIVER #1: As-stated earlier this week, the late Plainville Stadium’s Novice class was a wildly-popular affair. In the files we have a number of shots of the drivers of this division without a hint of their identities. If you happen to know who the chauffer of this big coach-is, don’t hesitate to contact us at foreveryounginct@gmail.com In doing-so, you’ll be helping in the preservation of New England racing history! (Faust Photo).

UNIDENTIFIED DRIVER #2: This one represents a double-riddle, as not only do we not know the identity of the fellow flanking this 50s-era full coupe, we also don’t know the location! Any ideas? Again, don’t hesitate to drop us a line! (Shany Lorenzet Photo).

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


First off "Happy New Year"!  Dave and I had one of our many 1300 mile conversations yesterday. I think the #14 is Dick Egan, who won the 1st Race of Champions at Langhorne Speedway in relief of Hully Bunn in 1951. Not being completely sure of the identity we decided to run it as an Unidentified Driver hoping someone can verify the identity.

Second, January 4th marks the start of the 6th year Dave has been contributing to the Speedway Line Report web site with the "RacingThroughTime" column, and since 1998 Dave has contributed photos and information for vintagmodifieds.com. In the 5 years of "RacingThroughTime.com,  Dave and I have posted well over 3000 photos. THANKS DAVE! And a big thanks to all those who have contributed photos from their own collections over the years.

Dave and I have quite a few ideas and plans for 2014, so stay tuned!

Forth: Happy New Year! Again, thanks for reading and making all the hard work worth it!

Email: tom-ormsby@speedwalinereport.com

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