Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday July 21, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 26                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

As reported in last-week’s column, our friend New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Gene Bergin is presently experiencing some serious health issues and could certainly use some cheering-up. His mailing address has now changed. He may now be reached at
Gene Bergin, c/o Elizabeth McLaughlin, P.O. Box 2334, Flagler Beach, FL 32136. This week’s “RTT” offerings are a real mixed-bag. Variety is after-all, the spice of life! As-always, enjoy…..Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com          

Another Trip In The “Wayback Machine”…    

Seen here in the 1970’s is New England Modified racing legend Leo “The Lion” Cleary and the Bob Garbarino “Mystic Missile” crew. Cleary and Garbarino were to say the least, major players during the formative years of the sport. Both New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members, Leo retired from driving in 1993 and Garbarino still fields car on the NASCAR Modified Tour with youthful sensation Bobby Santos III serving as his current chauffer. (Adaskaveg Photo).

Here’s another shot of the Garbarino Pinto, this time with Brian Ross as the driver. Ross, who began his career at New York State’s Albany-Saratoga Speedway during the 1960’s (an era in-which the track was an absolute hotbed of action, routinely attracting the best racers in the business), was long a top-driver on the New England Modified circuit recording many victories. He was also known as one of the most innovative car builders of his generation. (Grady Photo).   

Here we have a nice shot of Lou Carangelo at we believe, to be the late Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts. A UNITED standout for years, Lou was one of the most popular drivers of his era. In addition to being one of the top-runners at all of the UNITED tracks, he also nailed-down a championship at Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium in 1961. He recorded a total of 7 Riverside Park feature victories, the first in 1966, and his final in 1974. (Grady Photo).      

Many-time winner Ed Hoyle was the consummate “Bullring Specialist” confining most of his activities to the smaller tracks of New England (most-notably the Seekonk Speedway, though he was also a star driver at the late Norwood Arena). Captured here during the 1970’s, he’s behind the controls of a machine typical of those campaigned at the ARC-sanctioned “Cement Palace.” Note that it’s shod by what’s essentially a full-body. Seekonk always had unique-looking rides, and Hoyle’s Ford Maverick is no-exception. (Grady Photo).

One of the real pioneers of the New England Modified scene, Buddy Krebs was simply among the greatest racers to ever strap-in behind the wheel, especially at the late Riverside Park. Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2000, Krebs started racing in 1947, and before it was over, won an estimated two-hundred features while competing in Modifieds, Sportsman, and Grand Nationals. Among his accomplishments were six Riverside 500 victories – a record never broken. Known primarily for his feats during the Tattersall/United era, he won at virtually all the tracks that once dotted the New England landscape including the late Plainville and Candlelight Stadiums in Connecticut, and Millers Falls and Westboro Speedways in Massachusetts. A founding member of the New England Antique Racers, Buddy passed-away in January of 2006 at 74. (Grady Photo).  

The late Donald “Hank” Stevens drove them all during his long career, Modifieds, Midgets, Cut-Downs, it truly ran the gamut. Nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank” for his determined driving style, he was particularly successful at the Waterford Speedbowl. As proof of just how tough this guy was, he overcame a positively-devastating accident in the fifties in-which he received life threatening burns to return as a Speedbowl winner. This one captures him at one of those great mid-week open competition shows of the 1970’s held at Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium. (Hoyt Photo).    

As this Steve Kennedy action shot illustrates, Waterford Speedbowl Modified competitor Rod Tulba almost got it out of the ballpark on the evening of May 20, 1978. Tulba was wheeling his self-owned #26 Mustang, a former #271 that he’d purchased from the Gada team. Motoring-by on the inside is shoreline oval veteran Glynn Shafer, who at the time was serving as a team driver for 1988 Modified champion “Dicky Doo” Ceravolo. (Kennedy Photo).                 

The Buffington family fielded race cars for years going all the way back to the early 1950’s (among their drivers was the late Sparky Belmont). Seen here at the Waterford Speedbowl behind the controls of one of the team’s trademark #123 “Dark Horse Specials” during the mid-1970’s is George Buffington. In the early days of the sport, this was one of the most-recognized paint schemes in New England Modified racing. (Dugas Photo).   

Popular Joe Bubbico was a familiar sight on virtually all the New England tracks for decades. Plainville, Waterford, Stafford, Thompson, “Bubblegum Joe” made the scene at all of em’. This one captures him practicing for the Waterford Speedbowl opener on March 23, 1980. We’re not-sure of where Joe finished on that sunny Sunday afternoon, but we do know that it was Marty Radewick landing in the winners circle. (Kennedy Photo).  

Captured here at Waterford in 1978 with his familiar #134 is second-generation Modified racer Roland Lapierre Jr. Not a regular at the shoreline oval during previous seasons, the year was a fortuitous affair for the popular veteran chauffer. He notched 2-consectutive feature triumphs in September. Roland is the grandfather of Nick Teto, the young man behind the popular Yankee Racer website. (Kennedy Photo).

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

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