Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday July 28, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 27                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

As the Sunday sun baked at almost the 90-degree mark here in Eastern Connecticut, it was a good day to enjoy the air conditioning and drag out some shots that I’ve been trying to get-to as of late. With that-said, enjoy this week’s offerings As-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com  

Yet More Archival Offerings….   

Known early-on as “The Kid from Fitchburg”, the guy seen here went from wheeling cars like this Camaro at the Massachusetts 1/3-miler known as Seekonk Speedway to winning the NASCAR Winston Cup Talladega 500 during his rookie season in 1981. Ronnie Bouchard began his career at age-14 at the old Brookline Speedway in New Hampshire. Before going Cup’ racing in 1981, he’d scored over 200 victories in the Modifieds, becoming one of the dominate drivers during what many consider to be the most-competitive era of the division. Bouchard was among the first drivers inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998. (Mercury Photo).

Like so-many of the racers from his generation, the late Maynard Forrette saw no boundaries in the difference between running on dirt or asphalt. A big winner on both, he’s probably most fondly remembered for his stunning dirt-slingin’ drives on the daunting Syracuse Mile where during the later stages of his career, he often bested competitor’s half-his-age. A master mechanic and innovative car builder, Forrette also ran Northern Speed Supply, a haven for racers seeking to get the most out of their equipment. This shot captures the New York State Stock Car Association Hall of Famer at what’s believed to be Utica-Rome Speedway during the track’s pavement era. (Grady Photo).   

Inducted into the Garden State Vintage Stock Car Club Hall of Fame in 2003, Bob Rossell was not unlike the aforementioned Maynard Forette in terms of sheer racing talent. Another multi-purpose driver (as were so-many of his contemporaries), Rossell excelled on dirt and pavement during an era in which “running the circuit” meant doing well on both if you wanted to be at the head of the payoff line at evening’s-end. (Grady Photo)     

This shot, taken by longtime New England auto racing photographer Steve Kennedy captures second-generation driver Danny Galullo Jr. waiting to hit the track for the consolation event during the 1975 Thompson 300. The grueling race routinely drew the best competitors from all over the East Coast, and simply qualifying was an impressive feat. (Kennedy Photo).

Another shot from Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway circa 1975, this one finds our friend Sonny O’ Sullivan poised for some action on the “Big T.” Long one of New England’s top Modified competitors, Sonny was in the thick of the action for many seasons. Ya’ gotta’ love the full beard he’s sporting, and check-out those high-tech driving shoes! Times have indeed, changed…. (Kennedy Photo).

Norwich, Connecticut’s George Allum went on from humble beginnings in the Waterford Speedbowl’s Daredevil class as seen here, to become one of the shoreline oval’s premier Modified racers of the 1970’s. In 1973-alone, he claimed 7 features, including a stunning victory in the early-season “Hott Wheels 100” an open-competition event that drew some of the best Modified chauffeurs in New England. This car is typical of what the wildly-popular “Daredevils” were all-about. The field comprised of mostly 1955-57 Chevys and Fords, it was a slam-bang show with an abundance of competitors. Often, there were so many teams present that there would be both A & B main events. (Dugas Photo).     

Seen here in the Gada Racing Team Pinto is 1971 Waterford Speedbowl track champion Joey Trudeau. After taking the title in the “Smitty’s” #11 Coupe, Trudeau joined forces with the Gada’s enjoying a long successful run with one of the Speedbowl’s first families of racing. As with all of the team’s early equipment, this one was FORD-powered all the way! It’s worth noting that 2010 finds the third-generation of Gada’s competing at the shoreline oval. (Dugas Photo).                 

Unfortunately, there remains in the “RTT” archives many images of drivers that we really don’t know much-about. This is one of those photos. Seen here during what we believe to be the late 1960’s is Waterford Speedbowl Modified competitor Charlie Jurcik and his team. If any of you “New London-Waterford Speedbowl Historians” out there have any info. on Charlie and this sharp little Coupe, please feel free to email us with the scoop! (Dugas Photo).   

Here’s 1993 Waterford Speedbowl Modified track champion Jerry Pearl way back in the spring of 1980. Long-before he appeared at Waterford as a regular back in the 1970’s, Pearl had been wheeling Modifieds all over New England. Plainville, Riverside, Stafford, Thompson, it ran the gamut. A super-consistent performer wherever he ran, he was particularly good at Waterford. Today, Jerry’s son Jeff carries on the family tradition and is himself a champion, taking the title Bowl’ Modified title in 1998. (Kennedy Photo)  

Lastly, here’s one of the New England region’s longest-running performers. Dale Holdridge’s career lasted over 3-decades. Known as a gentleman on & off the track, he was one of those drivers that you seldom ever saw involved in any controversy – just a good, steady shoe that fellow competitors enjoyed racing wheel-to-wheel with. As evidenced by this sharp and somewhat-radical Coupe, Mr. Holdridge was also a skilled and innovative car builder.  The place is the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, and the date is April 18, 1971. (Shany Photo).

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

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