Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday October 6, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 37                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday

Saturday October 9th



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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

With the second-annual Plainville Stadium Reunion slated to take place this Saturday, October 9, it seems only fitting that we feature the much-missed Connecticut ¼-miler in this edition of “Racing Through Time.” The show takes-place from 10am – 4pm at the Berlin Fair Grounds located at 430 Beckley Road, East Berlin, Ct. Like last years inaugural event, it’s being presented by the Nutmeg Kart Club in conjunction with the Berlin Lions Club World of Wheels. Once-again, a great deal of work has been put into this historical celebration of the late Joe Tinty’s fondly-recalled little speedplant. For patrons of this website, it’s simply a “cant-miss” affair! See you all there! Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com  

Yet More Plainville Stadium Memories!!!!       

Bob Vivari was long one of the absolute-best at Plainville Stadium. This one captures him very-early in his career, and in-fact, this coupe was his first race car. Popular with both fans and his fellow competitors, Vivari raced right-up into the Pinto-era and was a consistent visitor to victory lane and former Modified Champion. (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).       

Here’s a guy that went-far in his racing career from humble beginnings in this nifty little Plainville Stadium coupe. Our pal Ray Miller was one of the greatest Modified drivers that New England ever produced, and his many accomplishments in the sport netted him a spot in the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame (class of 2002). This shot is from 1965 and like the above image of Vivari, its Ray’s first car. After spending his freshman year at Plainville he went on the road and the rest is history. Now retired from driving but still very-much involved in the sport, he presently owns a Quad-4 Midget team that competes weekly at Whip City Speedway in Massachusetts. Ray’s late son Jay was a popular winning SK Modified racer. Mr. Miller has confirmed he’ll be attending this weekend’s Plainville Reunion. Be sure to stop-by and say hello! (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).    

For whatever reason, coaches always seemed somewhat-more popular at Plainville than at other area tracks (not a bad-thing to my estimation). Seen here behind the controls of one of those typical 60s-era machines is one JoJo Farone. Like many of the other drivers featured this week, JoJo was one of the top shoes at The Stadium for many seasons. Plans call for him to be attending this weekends Reunion along with a bunch of the guys he competed against during the glory days of the fast ¼-miler. (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).           

Here’s another shot from the early days of one of Plainville Stadium’s top drivers. Don Moon progressed from the Novice Division to become one of the tracks most successful alumni. Well-traveled and a winner at other New England raceways including the tough Danbury Fair Racearena, Don is one of the guys responsible for helping to present this years Reunion. A master car-builder, one of his trademarks was always great-looking (and fast), machinery! Today, he’s very-involved with the vintage racing scene, campaigning a likeness of his potent #9 Pinto on the NEAR trail. (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).  

Like so-many of the drivers that became premier players within Plainville Stadiums headlining Modified class, popular Don Spazano traces his “racing-roots” to the Novice Division. Riding high on the tracks all-time winners list, the popular Spazano also competed with success at a number of other tracks in the region including Riverside Park. This was his first-ever race car and it was a big-winner! Look for Don at this weekend’s Reunion and be sure to stop-by and say hello! (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).

It seems that just-about every driver of historical significance in New England Modified racing once competed at Plainville Stadium. Seen here celebrating one of his many victories at “Tinty’s Place” is the late, great Danny Galullo. In addition to his Plainville triumphs, he was a two-time Riverside Park titlist, recording 20 feature victories. Adding to his stellar record is the 1962 United Stock Car Racing Club Grand Championship, a title earned by conducting a season-long point chasing blitzkrieg tour of the many Tattersall-sanctioned tracks in the New England region. Danny was simply one of the best! (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).         

This guy was clearly one of the best to have-ever emerged from Plainville Stadium. Simply-stated, the career accomplishments of Elton Hill are impressive. As a racing prodigy of the late, great Ed Flemke Sr., he traveled extensively during the 1960’s, picking-up feature victories at places like Riverside Park as well as Utica-Rome in New York State (once a hotbed of NASCAR Modified competition). This great Phil Hoyt image captures “Elty” when he was regularly piloting the John Farone-owned coupe at Plainville in the early 1970s. (Hoyt Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).                 

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. Another guy that experienced tremendous success at Plainville Stadium, Jap also won-big at many other New England venues. This shot captures him when he was the chauffer of the potent “Silver 6” GMC-powered coupe at Plainville. Together, they were a potent combo! (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).                   

Here’s a great shot of the late Tony Mordino in the #52. Another of the best that New England had to offer, Tony enjoyed a long, storied career that included many triumphs at places like Riverside Park, Eastern States, Waterford, West Haven, and of-course, Plainville as seen here. It’s a LONG trail of victories! The fellow in the entry behind Tony in this shot is Russ Faust, son of Frank Faust, the man responsible for capturing so many of the very-early Plainville images often seen on this website. (Faust Photo, Courtesy Tom Ormsby).      

Lastly, here’s Lou Carangelo celebrating another Plainville win during the 1961 campaign, a season in-which he’d claim the championship. As one of the most-recognized racers of his era, he had a massive fan-following. Another of the drivers that made a name for himself during the days in-which NASCAR was a minor consideration in our region, Lou was among those perched firmly atop the heap within the realm of the Tattersall-led United Stock Car Racing Club. In addition to Plainville, he was also a top-star at Riverside and West Haven (AKA Savin Rock). The latter was an oddly-shaped 1/5-mile oval set within the confines of a baseball stadium; “The Rock” was one of a number of UNITED sanctioned tracks that flourished during the post-war era. Like Plainville, West Haven is now a memory, succumbing to the urban renewal movement of the 1960s. (Faust Photo Courtesy Tom Ormsby).     

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

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