Taking A Look At North East Auto Racing History

Wednesday May 9, 2012
 

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Volume 4, Number 19                                                                                     New Column Every Wednesday


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Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
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Tearoffs
MAY 4

 SIZZLER REFLECTIONS 1972/2012

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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

This week we present another “very-varied” selection of images from the archives. Most importantly, we want to send New England racing veteran Lee Allard get-well wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery from his recent hospital stay. Don’t forget, The Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) celebrates its 60th anniversary at the Waterford Speedbowl this Saturday night with the Marvin Rifchin Trophy Race on-tap. Many of the clubs most notable drivers of the past are expected to be present for the affair, so it’s an event that those interested in the history of New England midget racing want to attend! As a BONUS at the bottom of the page is a short video of what is believed to be the the only footage of an interview with the late Ed Flemke, Sr. A SPECIAL thanks to Ken Meisenhelder of KGM Video for providing the footage and our Webmaster Tom Ormsby who put it together.  Till’ next-week, 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.

More Mid-Week Racing Memories…..      

A huge northern New England star during the coupe-era (especially on the late Oscar Ridlon’s old URDC circuit), captured here in his memorable “¼” coupe is our friend Lee Allard. A top-notch racer as well as a master craftsman in the art of car construction, after hanging-up his helmet he went on to field cutting-edge Modifieds for some of the best drivers in the business including most-notably, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Geoff Bodine. Lee recently spent some time in the hospital & is currently recuperating at home. We wish him a speedy recovery! (Photo courtesy Tom Ormsby).   

Seen here when he was wheeling the John McCarthy NEMA Midget is Dave Humphrey. His list of accomplishments a long-one, the “Quiet Man” from Massachusetts was one of the premier players in the New England circle game for decades. Before becoming a New England midget racing legend, Dave did some time in the coupes. His name should be familiar to fans of Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl, as he was crowned that track’s first-ever modified champion in 1951. NEMA celebrates its 60th anniversary this Saturday evening at the Speedbowl with the Marvin Rifchin Trophy Race. Many of the clubs former stars are expected to be present, and it’s a not-to-be-missed event for those interested in the history of New England Midget racing. For more information, visit www.nemaracing.com (Photo Courtesy Pete Zanardi).

We’re unsure of the location of where John Grady snapped this image, but we certainly know the identity of the driver. The late Jerry Humiston was one of the premier-players during the early days of the sport, and especially within Harvey Tattersall’s United Racing Club. Three-times a Riverside Park track champion (1954, 59, and 61), he raced at the storied Agawam oval during what many deem it’s most-competitive era. One of the most-popular and accomplished drivers of his time, he was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame earlier this year. (Grady Photo).               

Captured here during the late-60s at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl behind the controls of the Broad Street Chevron #65 is the late Charlie Webster. He was one of the guys that literally helped put the shoreline oval on the map. Amassing a career total of seventy-three feature victories in both Non-Ford and Modified competition, he was a champion in both classes (3 Non-Ford titles, and 1 Modified crown). Charlie shocked the local racing community with his decision to retire at the dawn of the 1970s while still very-much in his prime. (Shany Photo).          

Here’s a nice one from the 1966 season at New York State’s Shangri-La Speedway. Especially noted for his accomplishments in the Empire State region, seen here celebrating one of his many feature victories is the late Don Diffendorf. Very-well traveled, “Diff” also excelled on dirt and the big Modified shows of the era such as those events held at Langhorne & Trenton. As an aside, it was a shot of his positively wild-looking and well-known #S/360 coach that graced the promotional poster for the first-ever Spring Sizzler at Stafford ran on April 16, 1972. (Grady Photo).     

Here’s a great shot of the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener captured in-front of a packed Speedbowl grandstand on opening day of 1973. He burst upon the shoreline oval scene of the early-60s, quickly becoming one of biggest stars of the then immensely-popular Bomber division where he became a champion. Christened "Wild Bill”, his driving style was reminiscent of another shoreline oval luminary, the unflappable "Dirty Dick" Beauregard. 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. On a personal-level, this guy was a huge factor in me becoming hooked on the sport at an early age; he was simply a ball to watch! (Shany Photo).       

See here piloting a positively classic-looking Billy Myers owned coupe our pal Ray Miller was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2002, and for good-reason. Growing-up around racecars, his father paired with Red Lataille to own the #1 Lataille/Miller Offy, running out of the Miller's garage in East Granby, CT. The team ran the ARDC circuit, often racing 7 nights per-week in the 1940’s and 50’s. Ray started his career at Plainville Stadium in 1965 before progressing to NASCAR haunts like Stafford and Thompson. A winning driver at the highest-echelon of New England Modified racing for many seasons, he retired in the 1980s. Or did he? Actually, Ray is presently back behind the wheel, racing (quite-successfully I might add), on the USAC Dirt Midget Association trail. Dennis Zimmerman, yet-another Hall of Fame member is also running with the Dirt Midgets this year. (Grady Photo).           

Here’s one for regular “RTT” reader and frequent photo contributor, our friend Ed Grab. Seen here at the Waterford Speedbowl in 1973 is Gene Naumec. Ed had written to me looking for shots of this car, and that it was his father who’d built the ultra-sharp AMC Gremlin-bodied mount for Gene. Dad had been involved with the sport for quite-a-while by the time this image was captured, having owned the memorable “Flyin 5” Corvair driven to success by Jerry Glaude at Waterford in 1969 & 70. (Shany Photo).                         

And here we have a late-career shot of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Mario “Fats” Caruso. An excerpt from his HOF biography; Mario “Fats” Caruso began racing in 1949, with his brothers Tony and Funzie, and close friends Al Mattress and Vince Abdella. The team’s first car was a Class B Ford sedan. After cutting his racing teeth with this car, Frank White offered Caruso a ride in his Circle 2, a cut down, which he drove to many feature wins, and eventually the NEARA championship. Fats had made a name for himself locally, at tracks like Seekonk, Thompson, Westboro, and Norwood. When he got the ride in the #69 coupe, sponsored by Worcester Sand and Gravel, his career really started to take-off. He began competing at tracks like Old Bridge and Trenton in New Jersey, Utica-Rome and Oswego in New York and Dover and Hudson in New Hampshire. Caruso was a consistent top five finisher, and a regular threat to win wherever he competed. (Grady Photo).            

The youngster you see seated behind the controls of a seemingly-massive mid-50s Ford Sportsman Sedan entry at the Speedbowl is Norwich, CT. native Brian McCarthy. One of the real movers & shakers within the shoreline oval’s support divisions, from this modest start “Flyin’ Brian” really came into his own, going on to claim the 1986 Super Stock title along with a bushel of feature victories. During his prime, there were few drivers as exciting to watch in a full-bodied car at Waterford. He was named one of the Speedbowl’s “50 Favorite Drivers” in 2000. (Shany Photo).             

BONUS SHOT: Don Flynn was always recognized for his immaculate race cars, and this brutish fuel-injected Mustang-bodied creation was no exception. Enjoying a long New England racing career that stretched from the coupe-era right-up to the days of more-contemporary “modern” machinery, he was a consistent competitor and a feature winner. We really like this shot as it clearly illustrates a period in asphalt Modified racing when builders were starting to utilize Detroit’s various “Pony Cars” that had become so popular on the street. (Grady Photo).    

 

 SpeedwayLineReport.com
An Interview With Ed Flemke Sr.

 

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

THIS WEEKS COMMENTS
(2 days ago) Lary Pincince said:

another great week!! shot of Fats C at Stafford, I grew up next to the Smoke stack and Water tower in the backround, loved to hang out at the Speedway!!

(5 days ago) don skene said:

good work dave in the backround of the Don Flynn pic is the 58 owned by my grand father Don Jordan and driven by Mike Terrio looks like stafford

(5 days ago) nels wohlstrom jr. said:

ANOTHER GREAT WEEK DAVE! THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!

(6 days ago) Timothy w. Grainger said:

Keep up the great work u do with your web sites.I remember some

Dave Dykes said:

Cal, as a young race fan, I just thought Bill Scrivener was so-cool in that Rambler - one my all-time favorite Speedbowl rides!

(6 days ago) Dave Dykes said:

Guys, extra-special thanks to our Webmaster Tom and Ken Meisenhelder for providing the interview footage with "Steady Eddie." This is truly a special piece!

(6 days ago) cal in clinton said:

i meant 1973

(6 days ago) cal in clinton said:

take a close look at the frame on the 27 i think it was ahead of its time for 1873

 
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