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Volume 4, Number 12 New Column Every Wednesday
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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
LEW BOYD MARCH 18 THE KID WHO
By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE
again from the cyber-speedway my friends! This week our selection of
subjects runs the gamut of both dirt & asphalt oval personalities. Short
on introduction this time-around, let’s instead get directly to the latest
edition of our weekly “racing rewind.” As-always, 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.
Yet-Another (Very) Varied Selection….!
1970s, and the guy behind the wheel of this Ford Pinto modified at
Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl was customarily seen capturing
checkered flags in the track’s full-bodied divisions. Bob Gada Sr.
was a champion in the Sportsman Sedan class, notching a boatload of
feature victories during his long career. His family team also fielded
modifieds, with most-notably Joey Trudeau at the controls. For a great
video interview piece with Bob (and a number of other notable
Speedbowl personalities), visit Tom DiMaggio’s “Sid’s Vault” site at
www.sids-vault.com Bob’s sons David & Dennis account for a stellar
9 modified titles at the shoreline oval. (Dugas Photo).
Classic Driver, Classic Coach….
Meet Prentice “Corky” Cookman. He began his
career as a member of the SNYRA at Connecticut’s
former Danbury Fair Racerena. He eventually
branched-out, becoming one of the first regulars on
the NASCAR Modified Tour. A career highlight while
running the Tour was a stunning win in the 1982
edition of the Manchester Oil Heat 100 at the
Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. Sadly, the popular
Cookman perished in a wreck at the Thompson Speedway
in 1987. (Grady Photo).
Gone but not forgotten. It would take more than the
space allowed here to list the accomplishments of
this racer. Let’s just say that the late Doug
Garrison was a coupe-era “Dirt Slinger”
of the first-degree. He’s captured here through the
lens of our old pal John Grady at Lebanon Valley,
New York, a track where he was champion. It’s the
1960s, and the car is the Gordon Ross-owned Chevy, a
mount that bought him much-success. So-dominate at
this track for a period, Garrison became known as
“Mr. Lebanon Valley” by the fans. Retiring in
1979, Doug passed-away in 1985 after fighting a
long-battle with cancer. (Grady Photo).
If you were lucky enough to be around the sport when
this guy was in his prime, you witnessed one of the
best. Our friend and Webmaster Tom Ormsby of
www.speedwaylinereport.com once stated that he was
“Colorful, Controversial, and Popular” all at the
same time. The truth-is, Anthony“Jap”
Membrino helped sell a lot of tickets during a
stellar career that lasted over 3-decades. While he
experienced incredible success at Plainville Stadium Jap
also won-big at many other New England venues. He’s
captured here at the late & much-missed Riverside Park
Speedway when he was the chauffer of the potent North
End Auto Parts coupe. (Grady Photo).
Once in a while, we run-across a shot in our archives that’s
just so-unique we have to present it here. Captured at the
controls of the Angie Cerease-owned Vega modified sometime
in the 1970s is 2012 New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame
inductee, Joey “Kid” Kourafas who did the
vast-majority of his winning wheeling full-bodied race cars.
From his HOF bio; “Tabbed “The Kid” after winning the
prestigious Oxford 250 as a youngster at age 21, Bay State
product Joey Kourafas went on to an outstanding career.
Coming out of Norwood Arena, he became a NASCAR North
stalwart with championships at Airborne and Thunder Road
Speedways. The 1974 NASCAR Late Model Sportsman North
championship and the 1987 Busch Grand National title and
some 50 victories up and down the Atlantic Coast top his
list of accomplishments.” (Grady Photo).
Captured here with his daughter celebrating a feature
win when he was wheeling the potent Freddy Doolittle #23
coupe is the late George “Moose”Hewitt. A
5-time Modified champion at the Waterford Speedbowl, he
scored a career-total of twenty-three feature victories
in the Modifieds, SK Modifieds, and Bomber divisions at
the shoreline oval. In addition to those triumphs, he
also won at the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway on
multiple occasions, including a stunning victory in the
1975 Winston 100. Sadly, the popular Uncasville, CT.
chauffer passed-away in February of 1997 while still
very-much in his prime as a driver. Often-overlooked is
the fact that before coming to auto racing, Moose was a
champion Motorcycle racer. (Grady Photo).
Courtesy of our friend John Divis, last week we were
able to present a shot of this racer during the early
days of his Waterford career as a Bomber division
winner. Here he is a couple of seasons-later following a
triumph in the Speedbowl’s headlining Modifieds. The
ultra-popular Newt Palm was twice a champion
(1967 & 68) in the class during what was no-doubt one of
the track’s most competitive eras. His career cut-short
by injuries sustained at Seekonk Speedway in
Massachusetts, you can only wonder just how-much further
he could have gone in the sport. He was that-good…..
A frequent visitor to Connecticut’s “New
London-Waterford” Speedbowl open shows of the early
1970s (as seen here), this guy would set the Connecticut
racing community on its ear a couple of seasons after
this shot was captured. On Sunday afternoon May 5, 1974
New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member the late,
great Ollie Silva won the open-competition “Hott
Wheels 100” at the shoreline oval. Taking the victory in
convincing-style, Silva thrilled the crowd by lapping
the field multiple times and setting a new 1-lap
record of 16.48. The people that were present on that
chilly, overcast afternoon (your author included), still
talk about Silva’s absolutely over-the-top performance.
Though this shot captures him on the early pavement of
New York’s Utica-Rome Speedway, Robby Kotary’s
greatest accomplishments occurred on dirt. As one of the
earliest stars of Fonda Speedway, another of that states
famed ovals, hesuccessfully competed weekly
against the absolute best-in-the-business. Fonda
routinely drew Modified fields in upwards of forty cars,
and included in that equation were top dirt-slingers
like Pete Corey, Bill Wimble, Kenny Shoemaker, and Lou
“Monks” Lazzaro in naming just a few. It truly was an
All-Star cast each & every week. We really like this
John Grady image – it’s a Studebaker! (Grady Photo).
Here’s one of New England Modified racing’s longest
campaigners and a 2012 New England Racing Hall of Fame
inductee, the late Roland “Pappy” LaPierre.
Captured here in the Lenny Plasse-owned mount, he was
still running a hectic schedule after many of his
contemporaries had called it a day. It was only
following a serious crash in this car at Stafford in the
1970’s 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. Pappy’s son Roland Jr, also
enjoyed a long & successful tenure in the Modifieds, and
his great-grandson Nick Teto is the guy behind the
successful Yankee Racer website (Grady Photo).
Here’s just a wonderful image from the early days of
Connecticut’s former West Haven Speedway courtesy of
this drivers son. Seen here is Tony Mordino,
simply one of the best-of-the-best. A leading member
of the legendary “Waterbury Gang” that also
included guys like the late Danny Galullo, the
battles he waged with established UNITED stars such
as Billy Greco and Johnny “King” Cambino at West
Haven are stuff of New England racing legend. He
later conquered Plainville and Riverside Park;
certainly two of the toughest bullrings in the
Northeast. Tony retired following the 1975 Thompson
300, an event in which raced to a top-10 finish
after having started 50th in the
field. Big thanks go out to Tony Jr. for providing
this special shot of his dad for all of us to enjoy!
(Photo Courtesy Tony Mordino Jr.).