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Volume 4, Number 26 New Column Every Wednesday
COLUMNS & FEATURES
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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
JUNE 28 BEEF
By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE
Wednesday! That means the work-week is on the run, and it’s time to
offer-up another varied selection of photographic treasures courtesy of
the “RTT” archives and our readers and friends. Extra-special thanks go
out to longtime racing shutterbugs Steve Kennedy & John Grady for
providing some of this week’s visual highlights. As-always, we can’t
forget to send kudos to our Webmaster & old friend Tom Ormsby for
dutifully getting the sight posted to the cyberwaves each & every
Wednesday & also providing great extras like our ongoing video series.
to visit the Plainville Historical Center at 29 Pierce Street in
Plainville, CT. to view their 2012 Summer Display event featuring the
history of Plainville Stadium. The exhibit runs for the next month, call
860.747.6577 for more info. and hours.
Also on the agenda for the Plainville Stadium Racers group is an
appearance at the July 1 Wings & Wheels show at Plainville’s Robertson
Have a great week! Email reaches me at
NOTE: We have now put a comment box at the end of
the web site. Please feel free to leave your comments.
Wednesday Means More Modified Memories….!
Here’s a classic shot from the final years at Connecticut’s
much-missed Plainville Stadium where thankfully, coaches never seemed
to go out of style. We’ll let our friend & Webmaster Tom Ormsby fill
us in on the driver, the late Skip
“Skip started racing at Plainville, CT. in the late 1950s and was a
regular until the track closed. His trademark was the red & white
coach-bodied #126. The last three seasons he ran the “Flying 0” coach
owned by his brother Gene. He also raced at Riverside Park, Stafford,
Thompson, Lebanon Valley, and a fewother tracks in upstate New
This shot captures Skip ready-to-roll at the Stadium in 1979.
(Steve Kennedy Photo).
And here we have a great color image of one of the
real heavy-hitters at what was then-known as
Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. The
late Bill Scrivener burst upon
scene in the
early-60s, quickly becoming one of biggest stars of
the then immensely-popular Bomber
division. Christened "Wild Bill", his driving style
was somewhat reminiscent of another shoreline oval
luminary, the unflappable "Dirty Dick" Beauregard.
While he was successful "right out of box"
so-to- speak, his best season was 1965, the year he
was crowned Bomber champion. Later advancing to the
headlining Modifieds, he continued to frequent
victory lane on a regular basis with his final
feature triumph coming on
Easter Sunday, 1974. (John Grady Photo).
We admit to having few-facts on this driver, Jack
Geary except that he was a Danbury Racarena
regular, but we sure do like his classic little
coupe. It’s September of 1973 at Plainville, and the
event was one of Joe Tinty’s great extra-distance
shows, a 150-lapper. Our friend Steve Kennedy took
this shot when he was just a kid that harbored a
fascination with Plainville and its colorful cast of
short track heroes. Years-later he’s still at-it,
having built a reputation is one of our regions
premier racing photographers. The multi-talented
Kennedy is an artist by-trade, and adding to his
endeavors is also an author. Look for his
much-anticipated book “Northeastern
Modified Stock Car Racing” to be published soon.
Steve has been among the many photographers
instrumental in the success of this site, willingly
sharing his work for all of us to enjoy.
(Steve Kennedy Photo).
If New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, the late
Ernie Gahan looks a little tired in this shot,
there’s a good reason. One of the real travelers
of his generation, few put-in more road miles than
“Ernie from Cow-Hampshire” with many of those miles
coming in just the company of his race car & tools. His
28-year racing career started in 1948 at New Hampshire’s
Dover Speedway, and by the time he ran his final event
at Thompson in 1975, he’d amassed over 300 career
victories. Perhaps his greatest achievement was being
the first New Englander to win a NASCAR National
Modified championship in 1966. He was equally successful
on both dirt and asphalt. He won a record 21 features on
the old dirt at Stafford Speedway in the late 50’s and
early 60’s. Gahan had eleven starts in Grand National
(now Sprint Cup) competition, and had two top ten
finishes, one of which was in the 1962 Daytona 500. He
also had competed at the old Daytona Beach course. In
1963 he was one of those credited with saving the life
of Marvin Panch by pulling him out of a burning race car
at Daytona. For his courage he won the Shuman Award and
the Carnegie Medal for Bravery. (John Grady Photo).
was one of the real movers & shakers on Harvey Tattersall’s
United Stock Car Racing Club circuit. Starting his stellar
career at Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway, he later became
a top-shoe at the much-missed Riverside Park Speedway in
Agawam, Mass as seen here. First scoring in 1969, “Mr.
Centinaro” racked-up a total of 5-victories at The Park’,
his final visit to victory lane coming on the evening of
June 2, 1973. (John Grady Photo).
Captured here with the Lenny Plasse Coupe at
Connecticut’s high-banked Thompson Speedway in 1975 is
the late Roland “Pappy” LaPierre. Long one of New
England’s most- active competitors, he was still running
a hectic schedule after many of his contemporaries had
called it a day. It was only after a serious crash in
the Plasse Maverick-bodied mount at Stafford in the
1970s that he decided to retire. Pappy holds the dubious
distinction of capturing the last-ever checkered flag
for the modified division at Massachusetts’ storied
Norwood Arena. On Saturday evening Oct 4, 1969, the 54
year old veteran bested Ed Flemke Sr., Bugs Stevens, and
Fred DeSarro for the win. His son Roland Jr. also
enjoyed a long & successful tenure in the Modifieds.
Pappy was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall
of Fame earlier this year. (Steve Kennedy Photo).
To those of us interested in Northeastern racing
history, this is a truly-classic image on just so-many
levels. The driver is the great Rene Charland.
His career spanned nearly 4-decades starting at
Massachusetts’ Riverside Park in 1949 and ended at Fonda
Speedway in 1984. Estimates put his victory total at
over 700. He won an unprecedented 4 NASCAR National
Sportsman championships from 1962 through 65. His quest
for a fifth title ended as he was seriously injured in
the famous fire crash Memorial Day weekend at Malta in
1966. He was forced to sit out the rest of the season
but at that point he had already earned 5700 points,
enough for a third place finish. A member of the famed
“Eastern Bandits” he won multiple track championships at
a variety of tracks in both New England, and the South.
In addition he won 4 Canadian National championships. He
had a pair Grand National (now Sprint Cup) starts. In an
event at Long Island New York’s Islip Speedway, he
finished third behind David Pearson and Richard Petty.
Known as “The Champ”, Charland was among the first
racers inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame in 1998. (John Grady Photo).
Here’s a nice 70s-era shot; this time it’s Brian Ross.
Starting his career at New York State’s Albany-Saratoga
Speedway during the 1960s (an era in-which the track was
an absolute hotbed of action, routinely attracting the
best racers in the business), he 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. Often not
receiving the accolades he deserves, many involved in
tracking the history of Northeastern modified racing
deem this guy to be one of the most underrated drivers
of all-time; he was that-good.(John Grady
If you frequent this website, you should already know
who this guy-is, and if you don’t, shame on you! Here’s
our longtime friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of
Fame member, “Wild Bill” Slater during his heyday
as the chauffer of the potent Vitari-Bombaci (also Hall
of Famers), coupe. Slater was simply one of the best
racers to have ever emerged from New England, period.
When he retired from driving, he stayed involved with
the sport for many seasons as a respected official at
both the Thompson & Stafford Speedways. Note Bill’s
leather-sided “Cromwell” style helmet (often referred-to
as “brain buckets”), in this shot, evidence that John
Grady captured this image relatively-early during Bill’s
reign as “Mr. V8.” (John Grady Photo).
The “Alkas Connection” at Plainville was a
far-reaching affair and truly a “Brother Act” of the
first-degree. As the undisputed “King Of Plainville” New
England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Dave Alkas wasn’t the
only family member to claim the checkers. Pictured here
at The Stadium in July of 1973 is brother Fred Alkas
who was also a very successful modified shoe winning
many features. In addition to Dave & Fred, there were
siblings Ed and George (both deceased), who were
multi-time winners on the tricky ¼-miler. Though it now
exists only in memory, Plainville Stadium remains a
prime example of what New England short track racing is
supposed to be all-about. (Steve Kennedy Photo).
Lastly this week, we have a shot of the late, great
Ted Stack, absolutely one of the best of his
time. Though he scored heavily at several other New
England raceways, it was probably the “New
London-Waterford” Speedbowl (as seen here), that
garnered him the most success. A multi-time champion
(1961 in the Modifieds, and 1957 & 60 in the Non
Fords), Stack accumulated a combined total of 71
feature victories at the shoreline oval. Stack drove
for many of the best teams to have ever competed at
Waterford and his services were always in
high demand. (Shany Lorenzent Photo).
England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Nostalgia
An Interview with "The Lion" Leo Cleary.