Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday November 17, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 43                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE


For this installment of “RTT” we offer our usual parcel of “vintage views” along with some (hopefully), entertaining commentary. Special thanks go out to all of you that have taken the time to send emails, and especially those of you that have shared your photo collections for publication. One of the great benefits of this site has been making a number of new friends. It’s sincerely appreciated! Have a great week, and as-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com  

Yet (Another) Trip Through Time…      

Slated for induction into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in January, “Dangerous Dan” Galullo was one of the brightest stars of the once powerful United Stock Car Racing Club headed-up by the Tattersall family. Twice a Riverside Park (as pictured here), Modified titlist, also included in his accomplishments is the 1962 United Stock Car Racing Club Grand Championship, a feat he recorded by winning at the many UNITED-sanctioned tracks that once dotted Northeast. He also recorded feature wins at Plainville Stadium, Waterford Speedbowl, and Cherry Park in Avon, Connecticut among others. He competed in at-least one documented NASCAR Grand National event (now know as the Sprint Cup Series) at New Jersey’s Old Bridge Stadium in 1956. Following a serious heart-attack, Galullo retired from driving while still in his prime. He passed-away in 1974, but not before witnessing the racing accomplishments of his sons, Richie and Danny Jr. (Shany Photo, Ormsby Collection).       

Speaking of the racing Galullo family, here’s Richie Galullo when he was a weekly Modified competitor at that much-missed Connecticut oval known as Plainville Stadium. A “chip off the old block”, Richie inherited a lot of skill from his late father, and experienced many fine runs while behind the controls of this Pinto-bodied entry. Brother Danny Jr. was also an accomplished racer. (Hoyt Photo, Ormsby Collection).

Yet-another second-generation racer is pictured here, also at Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium. Following his father “Lil’ Dan” into the driver’s seat, Dan Gaudiosi Jr. campaigned this Pinto sporting his family’s signature #44 on its flanks during the 1970s. The Gaudiosi name is legendary in New England racing circles, with famous car builder Fred “Sharkey” Gaudioso a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. (Hoyt Photo, Ormsby Collection)          

Gary Colturi was on the fast-track to success when news of his tragic death in a motorcycle accident both stunned and saddened the New England racing community in 1973. Teamed with legendary car owner Mario Fiore, Colturi drove this Pinto (dubbed “The Screaming Yellow Zonker”), to much-success during his short but stellar career. Reggie Ruggerio landed the ride with Fiore after Gary’s passing, and the rest is history. (Photographer Unknown).   

Nicky Porto remains one of the best to have ever-competed at Plainville Stadium. Another driver that spent the formative years of his career competing at West Haven Speedway where he snared multiple victories, his reign at Plainville was nothing-less than spectacular. Leaving the local scene for a brief period in the mid-70’s, he headed to Riverside Park during what was arguably one of that track's most-competitive eras becoming an almost instant feature winner (May 17, 1975 to be-exact). He later returned-home to “Tinty’s Place” picking-up where he’d left-off as a winner. This 70s-era action shot captures Nicky during one of those great 100-lap mid-week open shows that always drew capacity-crowds to the Stadium’. (Hoyt Photo)       

Seen here in a Freddy Doolittle-owned coupe at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, this guy is a New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, and for good-reason. A true “Travelin’ Man,” Ron Narducci competed at over sixty-tracks during a career lasting over three-decades. His “Speedbowl Connection” dates back to 1958, a year in which he was crowned Sportsman Champion. NASCAR titles followed, as did success on the New York State dirt circuit. He retired from driving in 1982, but stayed active in the sport for several more years as an official with DIRT. (Shany Photo, Roode Collection).             

Seen here during the early stages of his career following a Bomber class victory, “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 shoreline oval’s grandstand patrons. A nickname well-earned, his 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. A big-winner in the early 70’s, when not at the Bowl’ he’d often take-off to run the dirt tracks of PA. Nicknames were big during Caso’s tenure, as he was also christened “The Cromwell Comet” by the late, great John Small, one of the greatest announcers in Speedbowl history. The moniker was of course, a nod to Dick’s hometown.  (Shany Photo, Roode Collection).       

And here we have a great 1951 portrait image of a driver whose name became synonymous with the “New London Waterford” Speedbowl, the much-accomplished Don Collins. Arguably the greatest driver to have ever emerged from the shoreline oval he set the standard from his debut in the early-fifties, until his retirement at the dawn of the seventies. He was the first driver to amass over one-hundred victories (including both Modified & Non-Ford competition), the first to garner five championships, and perhaps more importantly, he was among the first to set an example in true-sportsmanship and class. Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2005, his career actually began at the Thompson Speedway in 1948 when he’d built a car for another would-be racer. When the guy didn’t show-up, a young Collins took the wheel, and we all know the rest of the story. His career was actually a relatively brief-affair by today’s standards. It’s anyone’s guess how many more checkers waited had he not called-it-quits in 1970 while still very-much in his prime. (White Photo).

If you were lucky enough to be around the sport when this guy was in his prime, you witnessed one of the best. Tom Ormsby of www.vintagemodifieds.com once stated that he was “Colorful, Controversial, and Popular” all at the same time. The truth-is, Anthony “Jap” Membrino helped to sell a lot of tickets during a stellar career that lasted over 3-decades. While he experienced incredible success at Plainville Stadium (as captured here in the 1970s), Jap also won-big at many other New England venues. (Hoyt Photo).             

Last this week, we have a nice “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl shot of our friend the late Marvin Chase during the early-stages of his career in the old Bomber class. Marvin’s career spanned 3-decades, and he was a winner in both the Modifieds and Bombers at Waterford. Though he’s often closely-associated with the shoreline oval, Chase also ran at many other tracks including the storied Norwood Arena in Massachusetts where he was a Modified division winner during perhaps that tracks most-competitive era. After retiring from driving, Marvin stayed active in the sport with the New England Antique Racers (NEAR). (Shany Photo).            

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

 
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