Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday May 28, 2012
 

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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

Yup, it’s Wednesday, and we all know what that means – MORE OLD STUFF! Seriously, it was fun this week (as usual), selecting what we’d feature in this installment of “RTT” – it’s a chore that we always look forward-to. I’d like to take a moment to again thank everyone that writes, and esp. those who have donated photos for all of us to enjoy over the last few years – it’s truly appreciated! Thanks to our Web Master Tom Ormsby for the next 10 weeks we will be running a series of interviews with New England Auto Racers Hall of Famers from the 2003 Waterford Speedbowl Nostalgia Weekend. At the bottom of the page is Part One with the 1970 Daytona 500 Champion Pete Hamilton. Each episode runs about 10 to 15 minutes. On with the show…. As-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com

NOTE: We have now put a comment box at the end of the web site. Please feel free to leave your comments.

A Lil’ Of This And A Lil’ Of That…..       

Opening this week’s edition of “RTT” is an early image of a driver that would go on to make some huge noise within the ranks of the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl’s full-bodied ranks. From these humble beginnings during the formative years of the old Daredevil division, Taftville, Connecticut’s “Big Mike” Daigneault (center), went on to convincingly score the 1973 Sportsman Sedan championship. Extremely talented and absolutely one of the most-popular racers of his era at the shoreline oval, he ranks 7th on the division’s all-time win list with a total of 27 career feature victories. It’s worth noting that while the Daredevil/ Sportsman Sedan classes were overwhelmingly populated by GM products, a few teams like Mike’s and also the Gada Family, got the job done convincingly with Ford machines. (Dugas Photo).

Just a really-nice Phil Hoyt color shot; Anthony “Jap” Membrino was a truly-exciting driver to watch. Seeing him fly-around Connecticut’s much-missed Plainville Stadium in this wild-looking Walt Kuryn-owned Coach creation was often in-itself worth the price of an admission ticket. Starting his career at the United-sanctioned West Haven Speedway, in later-years he went-on to become one of the region’s premier racers and was especially proficient at Joe Tinty’s tight little ¼-miler (he was tough at Riverside also!). Plainville always hosted some radical-looking cars, and this was one of-them! (Hoyt Photo).                   

Jerry Glaude was a Speedbowl Bomber class standout that found success in the Modifieds almost immediately. Seen here pitside during the “Coupe Era” at the shoreline oval when he was the chauffer of one of legendary Waterford car owner Freddy Beaber’s famed “checkerboard” specials, the popular Glaude recorded a combined total of nineteen feature victories before quietly retiring from the sport. (Dugas Photo).              

Now & then, we find an image in the files that’s really-interesting, but we know little-about. Part of the fun of doing this kind of stuff is the research involved (time consuming, but we love it). See here posing with his absolutely-sharp dirt coupe, is Jim Ogle who raced out of Pittsfield, MA. Starting his career in 1965, among his accomplishments was notching the 1969 Vermont State Sportsman Championship at Devils Bowl. In subsequent seasons he concentrated on New York’s Lebanon Valley Speedway (as seen-here), where he was a top Modified competitor. In 1997 he switched to the Mini Sprint division enjoying great success at Massachusetts’ former Whip City Speedway. Sadly, we lost Jim to Diabetes in 2011. (Grady Photo).            

Seen here pitside at the Speedbowl is journeyman Speedbowl modified racer, Don Kibbe (right). Proving to be an ample shoe, he recorded multiple victories running against the likes of Bowl stalwarts such as Don Collins, Dick Dunn, Bob Potter, Dick Watson, etc. during what many deem to be one of the most competitive periods in the track’s long history. The Kibbe family later switched their focus to Midget racing, carving-out a name for themselves within the ranks of the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA). (Dugas Photo).    

Gone, but not forgotten by an entire generation of fans & competitors. It would take more than this column allows in listing the accomplishments of this racer. Let’s just say that the late Doug Garrison was a coupe-era “Dirt Slinger” of the first-degree. A true Capitol District legend, he’s seen here at either Fonda, or Lebanon Valley, New York. So-dominate at The Valley’ for a period, Garrison became known as “Mr. Lebanon Valley” by the fans. Retiring in 1979, Doug passed-away in 1985 after a long-battle with cancer. (Grady Photo).                                        

Don Lajoie was simply “The Man” at Connecticut’s former Danbury Fair Racarena. Captured here during his prime, he was extremely popular with both fans and fellow competitors, Don remains one of the sport’s true “Nice Guys” to this day. I’d be remiss in not mentioning the accomplishments of Don’s son Randy, who found success competing in the upper-echelons of NASCAR. (Photographer Unknown).

And here’s a great shot of the exciting “Wild Bill” Scrivener during the latter stages of his career as the pilot of the “Racin’ Rambler” at Waterford. It’s Easter Sunday of 1974 (note the basket on the hood), and he’s just notched his final career feature victory and it was no-fluke. Completing the top-10 was defending track champion Dick Dunn, NEAR Hall of Famer “Gentleman Dick” Watson, Jerry Dostie, Art Moran, Joey Trudeau, Nels Wholstrom, Donnie Bunnell, Mark LaJeunesse, and Lou Herman. Ron “Boots” Cote won the accompanying Sportsman Sedan feature (his third-straight). The next week however, it was an outsider taking the laurels. The Great Ollie Silva displayed a history-making performance in winning the Hott Wheels 100 open-comp show, lapping the field several times and setting a new lap record of 16.48. (Photographer Unknown).   

Here’s a nice Waterford shot of the late Marvin Chase. Known by Connecticut fans as primarily a Speedbowl competitor, he also tasted success at the storied Norwood Arena in Massachusetts – an easy feat by no-means. After hanging-up his helmet, Marvin became involved with the New England Antique Racers, heavily contributing his time to the club. Every year, a NEAR member is presented the “Marvin Chase Contribution Award” in honor of this late racer. Our Webmaster Tom Ormsby adds that this shot is culled from the 1968 season and that the car was owned by Bob Wheeler and Mike Putnam. Fondly remembered, “Marv” had many friends at the shoreline oval, including this scribe. (Shany Photo).  

The Speedbowl racing career of Hebron, Connecticut’s Paul Mancarella was not a lengthy affair, but he managed to post a number of impressive feature event finishes while chauffeuring this former Dick Caso coupe. One highlight occurred in 1970, when on Saturday night August 17th he posted a strong 3rd place holding-off both Joey Trudeau, and New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer the late Dick Watson – fast company indeed! (Shany Photo).

BONUS SHOT: Seen here is the late 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 the old West Haven Speedway (as seen here), 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 he raced to a top-10 finish after having started 50th in the field. (Mordino Family Collection).    

New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame Nostalgia Weekend-Part 1.
Interview with 1970 Daytona 500 Champion Pete Hamilton
NOTE: If you Click on the small YouTube icon when the the video starts, for some reason it is better quality.

 

 

 

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

This Weeks Comments:

(4 days ago) Cal in clinton said:

can anybody some of the cars in the background of these shots ,I saw a couple I know

(4 days ago) Don Macrino said:

Another great week. Thanks. Do you think you could find something on Lauren Card, a great flagman who had style and didn't throw the caution every 5 seconds!

(4 days ago) Ed Duncan said:

That was great.

(5 days ago) Dave Dykes said:

Bill,
This was an added segment to compliment the "Nostalgia Weekend" festivities. Representing NEAR, our Webmaster Tom Ormsby was the brains behind this, and did a wonderful job (it took a TON of work). I was actually on hiatus from racing for a while at the time and did not put any of the work into the event. Truthfully, it was our friend & former NASCAR offical Tony Leckey that organized the first "Nostalgia"- type events at Waterford even earlier than 1996 when he used to present the "Heroes of The Bowl" shows every year. A long-time friend, it was Tony that got me involved with Waterford in an "official" capacity....

(5 days ago) Tom Ormsby (mod) said:

Bill
It was the 1st NEAR Hall of Famer's Nostalgia Weekend. The Hall of Famer's were supposed to put on a exhibition race in NEAR cars, but the race was cancelled because of the weather. NEAR Still put on the cookout,and had the autograph session. Since NEAR had already paid for the video crew, we decided to do these interviews so the money was not wasted.

(5 days ago) nels wohlstrom jr. said:

ANOTHER GREAT WEEK DAVE! GREAT SHOT OF JERRY GLAUDE! I USED TO LOVE THE "GREEN MACHINE"!!!!

(5 days ago) Bill said:

Hey Dave, It is nice to see this stuff each week but it is funny to see that someone says the first nostalgia weekend was in 03. Well I was there for the first which was some years earlier somewhere around 97 or 98 and you know this because you were working there at that time.

(5 days ago) Mike Ray said:

Great interview with Pete Hamilton! RTT is the best!Thanks Dave!

(5 days ago) Dave Dykes said:

Hi Ed, Funny you should mention that, lol. I own a restored '59 Rambler American that I do the car show/cruise night thing with. I'm a sucker for "Orphan" makes both in racing history and on the street...

(6 days ago) Ed P said:

Dave - I see you've got a thing for Ramblers and Hudsons this week - Scrivner, Mordino and Mancarella . those little '34 Terraplane coupes like the #12 above made nice looking race cars. One of the prettiest cars at the Park was Joe Wilcox's #12 and it was the last Hudson to ever beat a small block chevy for the win way up into the late 60's!

(May 28, 2012) Anonymous said:

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING ABOUT LABOR DAY 1964 DEMO DERBY

(May 26, 2012) Anonymous said:

Thanks, Don. I've very-blessed in having a great Webmaster and a number of readers & friends that contribute many timeless images for all of us to enjoy. As-long as I can find material, the site will continue every week!

(May 25, 2012) Don Macrino said:

I get great pleasure from your weekly photos and text. Thanks so much.

(May 24, 2012) Sonny O said:

In 1956 Eddie and Moe won the Riverside 500 team race in Garuti's#28 and#14 team cars Eddie also won the championship for the season that year.

(May 24, 2012) Pat D said:

Dave another nice job of finding cool and fresh photo' each week. Keep up the good work. I look forward each week to this column Thanks Pat D.

(May 23, 2012) Dave Dykes said:

Thanks, Nels. Our pal JoJo Farone really came-through with photos this week! Ed P.; not-sure on the "team car" question. Perhaps one of our Riverside experts can comment?

 (May 23, 2012) nels wohlstrom jr. said:

GREAT SHOT OF ART MORAN!

 (May 23, 2012) Ed P said:

anyone know if those were the Garuti team cars that won the 500 in 1956 with Flemke and Gherzi driving? Looks to be of that era.

 
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