Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday September 29, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 36                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday

Saturday October 9th



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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

I’m indeed, a lucky guy. A number of months-ago, I forged a friendship with Mal Phillips, a “RTT” reader and someone who was around racing during its infancy. Last week, Mal gifted me with a pair of disks containing tons of original images from the early days of our sport. A number of those shots are featured this week in addition to some Plainville Stadium images from our pal & former track photographer, Phil Hoyt. Speaking of The Stadium, don’t forget that Saturday, October 9 is the date for the Second Annual Plainville Reunion to be held at the Berlin Fair Grounds located at 430 Beckley Road in East Berlin, CT. It promises to be another great affair, and one that’s not to be missed! Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com  

Yet More Images From Our Pals…..      

So you say you like our little weekly foray into New England auto racings past? If-so, you owe a lot to this guy. Seen here circling the asphalt of Connecticut’s much-missed Plainville Stadium in the 1970s is Tom Ormsby, the Webmaster of this site. While I get to do the fun stuff like picking the photos and doing the writing, without his efforts in placing things in cyberspace every Wednesday morning there’d be no “Racing Through Time.” He’s also the guy behind two-other sites including his www.speedwaylinereport.com and www.vintagemodifieds.com . Adding still-more, he serves as the Webmaster of www.near1.org , home of the New England Antique Racers. Tom had a long career as one of Plainville’s top Modified shoes. (Phil Hoyt Photo).     

Captured during the 1960s, here’s a trio of guys that were a big part of Plainville Stadium for many, many years. On the left is the late Joe Tinty, owner & promoter of the late Connecticut ¼-miler. Next, it’s Don Moon, one of the track’s big stars, and a driver that traveled extensively with success during the 1960s. Lastly, that’s Don Spazano, long one of Plainville’s winning drivers, and one of our sports true “Nice Guys.” Both Moon and Spazano plan on being present at the Plainville Reunion on Oct 9. (Phil Hoyt Photo).        

During the early 1970s when Phil Hoyt captured this action shot of Don Moon in his #9 and Dave Alkas in the Roland Cyr-owned #54 coach, this duo was at the top of their game at Plainville. Today, Dave, Don, and Gary Bienkowski are working hard on putting-on this year’s 2nd Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion. One can only-imagine how many checkers were captured by Alkas and Moon during the track’s heyday! (Phil Hoyt Photo).              

And here we have a nice victory lane shot of Pud Noble at Plainville as sent to us by his nephew, Rob Dauphinais of Simsbury, CT. Pud was one of the top drivers at Plainville for many seasons, claiming several checkers during his career. Note that this image was captured before Nomex fire suits were the norm in our sport, and full-face helmets were still a part of the future. Safety has indeed, come a long-way in auto racing! Congratulating Pud is Starter Ted Abbott who would tragically loose his life when a car hit the starters stand at the Danbury Racearena. (Phil Hoyt Photo, Dauphinais Collection).  

Next is a shot of the immortal Melvin “Red” Foote. Seen here at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1950’s behind the controls of his familiar #J2, his long career was a colorful and well-traveled affair. A member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, here’s an excerpt from his NEAR biography; Melvin “Red” Foote ran his first race in 1948, at Kingston, RI. Carl Morrow and Ralph LeGendre co-owned Foote’s first car, a silver #1 coach. It wasn’t long before the “racing bug” bit Foote, and he was competing at Norwood on Thursdays and Saturdays, and Lonsdale on Sundays, with regular visits to Westboro when time allowed. He won championships at the Waterford Speedbowl in 1953, and again in 1958. He also took down a championship in Plainville in the 50’s, competing in the United Stock Car Racing Club. The 60’s found Foote racing with NASCAR, winning races from New England to the Carolinas to Daytona. It was during this period that he became one of the “Eastern Bandits”, along with fellow “bandits” Ed Flemke and Rene Charland. Red took down a championship in North Carolina in 1965. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).

Captured here at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1950s behind the controls of what we believe to be a Non-Ford entry, is Ed Priest. A winner in the popular early support class, Ed later switched to the Bomber division where he also scored a number of triumphs, the last coming during the 1960 campaign. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).        

It’s the summer of 1956, and that’s New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer “Wild Bill” Slater (left), celebrating another win at the Speedbowl with car owner Baldy Simons (middle). By years-end, the duo would claim the championship. Slater remains one of the most-accomplished racers to have ever hailed from New England, with numerous titles to his credit as-well as major victories at the Langhorne PA. Race of Champions (once the crown jewel of the Modifieds), and multi-time wins in the Trenton 400. If anyone happens to know the identity of the gentleman on the right in this shot, please let us know! (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).                

Seen here at the Speedbowl behind the controls of the potent Simons Bros. #9 “Excavator Special” in the 1950’s is the late, great Charlie Webster. Note that the car looks to be powered by a Chrysler Hemi. Webster was one of the absolute-best at Waterford, claiming multiple championships in both the Modified and Non Ford divisions. Billy Simons, who along with his brother Fred owned this coupe, was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2010. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).                  

He was one of the biggest names to have emerged from the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl during its early history, and no-doubt sold a lot of tickets during the shoreline oval’s formative years. Love-him, or hate-him, “Dirty Dick” Beauregard was a winner. During a relatively-short Speedbowl career of only a decade, he managed to notch a pair of Modified titles along with over-40 feature victories. Both controversial and immensely-popular at the same-time, Dick retired in 1962 as a champion. This one captures him in one of his more recognizable rides, the Black Panther #1. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).      

Last this week is a personal-favorite of yours-truly. This is one of the first car & driver combinations that I recall cheering-for as a young race fan at the Speedbowl. Seated behind the controls of Art Barry’s potent Coupe is Guilford, Connecticut’s Jerry Dostie. Going-on to be a big winner on the New England Modified circuit, Jerry was also one of the pioneers behind the design & use of automatic transmissions in Modified racing. Based on his accomplishments in the sport (and there are MANY), car-builder supreme Art Barry was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).   

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

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