Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday May 18, 2011

 Volume 3, Number 19                                                                                     New Column Every Wednesday


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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with

MAY 18:

MOWA sprinters
at 34 Raceway
(Dennis Krieger Photo)

Previous Tearoffs


By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

It’s officially springtime in New England, and that means the racing season is in full-swing. With that-said, here’s a few more vintage images from the “RTT” archives for all to enjoy during this third week in May. Lest we forget, a big Happy Birthday! goes out to our friend, former Plainville Stadium photographer Phil Hoyt who recently celebrated his special day. To all, have a great week! As-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com      

More May Modified Memories…..               

“Daring Dick” Caso may have never won any popularity contests with track officials at Waterford, but he had more than his fair-share of fans among the Speedbowl’s grandstand patrons. A nickname well-earned, his driving style was of the “no-holds-barred” variety and when in his prime, a Caso-drive to the front was itself worth the price of a Saturday night ticket. In terms of finance, he was a low-bucker that got the ultimate out of equipment that was often less than that of his competitors. Nicknames were big during Caso’s tenure, as he was also christened “The Cromwell Comet” by the late, great John Small, one of the grandest announcers in Speedbowl history. The moniker was of course, a nod to his hometown. (Dugas Photo Courtesy Rust Sage).

Like every short track, the Waterford Speedbowl has had its share of real “stand on the gas” competitors over the years, and this guy was one of them. Captured here at the shoreline oval during the early-1970s, Glynn Shafer won a ton of races during his long career which started in the Bomber class and concluded in the Modifieds. As exciting a wheelman as ever witnessed at the Speedbowl, he ALWAYS coaxed the most out of his equipment. (Shany Photo).                              

No, it’s not a modified, but we really like this victory lane shot of Jerry Lilliquist and his winning Late Model entry. Jerry of-course was also a multi-time victor in the Modifieds at the Waterford Speedbowl. We believe this shot to be from the late 1970s or early 80s, and we’re not entirely-sure of the venue. By this time, the division’s time-honored “Tri-Five” Chevy & Ford sheetmetal had given was to later-stuff like this Nova-bodied entry. Lilliquist was a real terror in this ride. (Photographer Unknown).      

Here we have a nice Plainville Stadium shot of Johnny Lane in a Chevy Corvair-bodied entry (one of the alternatives to the more commonly-seen coupes & coaches of the early days). Starting his career in the Novice class at West Haven Speedway, Lane went on to become a top contender in the modifieds at many notable New England speedplants including Danbury, and of course, Plainville. (Hoyt Photo).                  

By the time renowned New England racing photographer Shany Lorenzet captured this coupe-era image of Dick Dunn in his lens, Mr. Dunn had already proven himself to be a skillful Waterford chauffer with several feature victories on his resume. However, it was a pairing with car owners Al and Peg Gaudreau a few seasons-later that would cement his status as one of the best-ever in the history of the Speedbowl. We’re talking-about pure “Icon-Level” notoriety in what was 1970s Waterford action. (Shany Photo).                     

Here’s a nice color pitside shot of one of the Speedbowl’s more consistent competitors of the late 1960s & early 70s. Don Phaneuf campaigned this little “square-roof” entry during the waning-years of the “coupe era” at the Connecticut 1/3-miler. Though he never notched a feature victory, he did score several qualifying heats and a number of top main event finishes. (Dugas Photo).                

By the time he’d secured a seat in the Gada Team’s Modified for the 1972 season, Joey Trudeau was a seasoned-veteran, having scored many feature victories as-well as the 1971 Modified Championship aboard “Big Smitty’s” #11 coupe. More triumphs followed after this Shany Lorenzet image was captured, his pairing with the Gada clan a long & advantageous affair. Note that this little number is all FORD in what had-become a sea of General Motors products at the shoreline oval. The Gada’s campaigned all “Blue-Oval” equipment during the early days. (Shany Photo).     

Those of you that know me already realize that I have a real affinity for anything related to that fondly-remembered Connecticut ¼-miler, the late, great Plainville Stadium. Seen here ready-to-go at “Tinty’s Place” during the 1970s is veteran racer “Lil Dan” Gaudioso who was a winner on the New England modified trail for decades. Just another great shot captured through the lens of our friend, Phil Hoyt. (Hoyt Photo).                 

If you’re at all familiar with New England modified racing, not much has to be said about this fellow. As a driver, the late Ed Yerrington was a big winner, and in later years as an official became one of the most-respected figures in the sport. He’s captured here ready-to-roll at the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway of the early 1970s. (Dugas Photo).                  

Last this week, we have a unique shot from Connecticut’s much-missed Danbury Fair Racearena thanks to our Webmaster, Tom Ormsby. He says about this dramatic image; The #4 is my friend Don Moon at Danbury. A car cleaned-off his rollcage, roof & all. He was very-lucky in this one. The only thing that saved him is that he was only wearing a lap belt and was able to duck-down when he saw it coming. Otherwise, it could have taken his head-off.”  Moon successfully campaigned at Danbury for a number of seasons, becoming a feature winner at what many consider to have been one of the most competitive racing venues in New England. (Photo Courtesy Tom Ormsby).  

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

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