Taking A Look At Northeast Auto Racing History

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02/12/14: One More For The Books….. First on the slate this week is an early-60s image from what was then officially-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. One of the most successful drivers in the history of the Connecticut track was this guy, our late friend “Gentleman Dick” Watson. At the time he was driving the potent “Golden Scorpion” #711 owned by fellow Connecticut River Valley resident John Barnett, seen on the right. In the center is one of the early track owners, Jack Brouwer. During his pairing with Barnett (who emerged from a drag racing background), Watson wheeled the Chevy Corvette-powered coupe to several feature victories and top point finishes. Dick’s career included victories all over New England, and even a stint in Grand National racing (now known as the Nextel Cup). Fittingly, he was inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. MORE>>

02/05/14: More Mid-Week Meanderings Vintage-Style !!! Twice a Riverside Park champion (1963 & 1966), New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member “Dangerous Dan” Galullo was one of the brightest stars of the powerful United Stock Car Racing Club headed-up by the Tattersall family. 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. During his career 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. MORE>>

01/29/14: Racing Review: Freddie Beaber & The Checkerboard # 716…. Contained in a parcel of photos we received as a Christmas present last month, we really like this image. It captures Freddie Beaber helping his new driver Jerry Glaude adjust his shoulder harness in the mighty #716. Jerry had just taken over the ride from his cousin New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Bob Potter, who had moved to another team. This was shot by our friend longtime racing photographer Rene Dugas, who along with Potter was present that evening in Freddie’s shop. Great stuff… The decision to hire Jerry Glaude to wheel his coupe following Potter’s departure was indeed a successful endeavor for Freddie, as the team tasted success almost immediately. Seen here after grabbing a feature victory, the popular (but somewhat historically-overlooked) Glaude recorded a combined divisional career total of nineteen feature victories before quietly retiring from the sport. Note the absolutely-packed grandstand on this long-ago Sunday afternoon. MORE>>

01/22/14: Racing Past Another Wednesday….. Starting out this week, we have a nice 70s-era image from Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway. Seen here posing on the infield of the celebrated New England oval also known as “The Cement Palace” is longtime competitor Johnny Tripp. In a career spanning over three-decades, he snared over 30 feature victories and was crowned the Seekonk Pro Stock champion in 1988. Also a modified competitor in years-past, he successfully wheeled cars for some of the division’s most notable teams at a variety of the region’s speedways. Just a super Rene Dugas “profile shot” of our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Bob Potter when he was wheeling Freddie Beabers’s famed checkerboard #716 coupe. Here’s an exerpt from his HOF biography; “In Southern New England, mention the number 51 and the immediate response is Bob Potter. Starting at Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, Potter began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.  A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.” MORE>>

01/15/14: Another Wednesday In The Books….. Thanks to Racing Historian & longtime friend R.A. Silvia we begin this week with an absolutely-classic Shany Lorenzent image that harkens back to the early days of Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. It’s 1954 and the driver of this cutdown is the late Charlie Webster, one of the greatest drivers to have ever emerged from the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, another notable Nutmeg State oval. He was known primarily for his many accomplishments at the Speedbowl where he amassed a career-total of 73 feature victories in both Non-Ford and Modified competition, and was a champion in both classes (3 Non-Ford titles, and 1 Modified crown). He shocked the local racing community with his decision to retire at the dawn of the 1970s whiles still very-much in his prime. MORE>>

01/08/14: Once-Again In A Speedbowl State of Mind….. Starting this week’s edition of “RTT” we have a great early victory lane image of one of the Waterford Speedbowl’s most fondly-remembered combinations; Newt Palm & Stan Majewski’s L&M modified. He was twice a champion (1967 & 68), while wheeling the potent little Willys-bodied coupe. The late Walt Dombrowski also grabbed the title driving the L&M in 1970, cementing the car’s status as one of the more famous cars in ‘Bowl history. Note the “wide-whitewall” tire on the left-front. Speaking of Walt Dombrowski, here he is aboard the Gada Racing Team Mustang modified. Before graduating to the headlining division at the Speedbowl he had claimed the 1963 Bomber championship. The transition was a smooth-affair, with Walt scoring his first mod checkers in 1966. Having secured a seat in Stan Majewski’s potent L&M coupe for the 1970 campaign, he handily nailed-down the modified title that year. MORE>>

01/01/14: Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year !!!!! One of the photos sent to us over the Christmas holiday as noted in this weeks opening comments, this is an absolute beauty! Seated inside the #716 of famed Waterford Speedbowl car-owner Freddie Beaber is the late Jerry Glaude. On the right is our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Bob Potter. Judging by the additional photos that accompanied this one, we’re assuming the location is Freddie’s race shop during the late-60s, early-70s. Glaude, who left us at the all-to-young age of 61 back in 2004 raced widely in New England winning a number of feature events. He particularly good at Waterford. Potter took his place among the giants of the sport in 2007 when he was inducted into the HOF. For more on Bob’s extraordinary career visit the NEAR website at www.near1.org MORE>>

2013

12/25/13: To All, Have A Merry Christmas !!!!!!!!!! Seen here during an outing in the Freddy Doolittle coupe at Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway many fans don’t realize-it, but before switching to competition of the 4-wheeled variety the late George “Moose” Hewitt was a champion motorcycle racer. As a stock car competitor, he was particularly-successful at the Waterford Speedbowl where he claimed five modified championships between 1977 and 1984. Worth mention is the fact that the fiercely-independent Hewitt was one of the few shoreline oval competitors that during an era of “store-bought” cars later in his career, continued to craft machines of his own design at his shop in nearby Uncasville, CT. Here we have another classic image donated by our friend, New York State Racing Historian Roger Liller. We’ll once-again let him provide the commentary. States Roger about this one; “The Christmas season is upon us and as promised, I'm sending a very rare photo. MORE>>

12/18/13: Another Week In The Books….. As mentioned-above our friend New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Bob Potter is home and on the mend following a recent stay in the hospital. Seemingly ageless, his career reaches back to the days of the coupes when he was a fast-rising star at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl (as it was officially-known until 1975). An excerpt from his HOF biography; “In Southern New England, mention the number 51 and the immediate response is Bob Potter. Starting at Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, Potter began winning in 1963 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.  A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.” MORE>>

12/11/13: Racing Through A December Wednesday….. Here’s an absolute classic submitted by our good friend Warren Sentinvany. It’s 1960, and picking-up their hardware from Harvey Tattersall Jr. at Riverside Park Speedway’s 1960 United Stock Car Racing Club awards banquet are from left-to-right, Jerry Humiston, Gene Bergin, Dick Dixon, and that season’s modified champion, Buddy Krebs. All New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members, these drivers represent an astounding total of 96 modified feature victories and 7 championships at the much-missed Agawam, Massachusetts oval. Also a member of the HOF, Tattersall presided over United, the most-powerful sanctioning body in all of New England before NASCAR played any really significant role in the region. All of these men have passed-on, but not before leaving an indelible mark on the history of New England short track racing. MORE>>

12/04/13: More Memories As We Race Into December…. First-up this week, from our kindly Webmaster & pal Tom Ormsby comes this nice Phil Hoyt image of our friend Elliot Beveridge seated behind the controls of his classic 5-window coupe at Connecticut’s much-missed Plainville Stadium. Once one of the top competitors at the racy little ¼-miler, the popular Elliot has lately been facing some serious health issues. I’m sure that I speak for all of us in wishing him a speedy & complete recovery! Captured here at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in a radical full-bodied Chevy Corvair entry, Sal “Dee” Delucia remains one of the most fondly-remembered racers of his era. His relatively brief but spectacular career stalled by serious racing-related injuries, had longevity been in the cards, he would have undoubtedly accomplished even more. Dee won-over a legion of fans undoubtedly fueled by his no-nonsense drives to the front during what many railbirds consider the most-competitive period in New England modified racing history. MORE>>

11/27/13: Thanksgiving Offerings (In a Racy Sorta’ Way)… Presented here courtesy of none-other than New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the much-accomplished Dr. Dick Berggren is an incredible image of one of my personal childhood heroes, the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener. As the result of a recent email conversation, Dick was good-enough to search his extensive archive of negatives when I’d mentioned that for eons I’d been looking for a shot of Bill when he was wheeling the potent Bonville #4 Bomber at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1960s. Also seen in this timeless victory lane image is the late Jack Brouwer (grandfather of former ‘Bowl Late Model champion John Brouwer Jr.), who was among the early owners of the shoreline oval. Scrivener later successfully advanced to the headlining Modifieds, but not before he claimed a career-total of 21 Bomber feature events and clinched the divisional championship wheeling this ride in 1965. This is a beautiful photo! MORE>>

11/20/13: First on the slate this week, we present a wonderful image of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Bobby Santos Sr. From our friend John Bisci and used with his permission, this one finds Santos behind the controls of fellow Hall of Fame member Art Barry’s legendary #909 coupe. Profile shots like this are extremely difficult to find, and this one is absolutely-extraordinary! The late Moe Gherzi was one of New England’s first real racing heroes. Captured here in the 1950s at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl posing with a young fan (note the child’s “Money Bags Moe” Racing Team t-shirt), he was a pivotal figure in the success of stock car racing’s beginnings during the post-war era. From his New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame biography; “Nicknamed “Moneybags” for his knack in capturing some of the highest-paying events of the day, he bought to racing a degree of class during a time when the disheveled look of tattered t-shits and jeans were often the norm in the way of driver “uniforms.” MORE>>

11/13/13: We lost an accomplished New England racer last week when Walt Dombrowski passed-away on November 7th. Before graduating to the headlining division at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, he had claimed the 1963 Bomber championship at the shoreline oval. The transition to the speedier modifieds was a smooth-affair, with Walt scoring his first mod checkers in 1966. Having secured a seat in Stan Majewski’s potent L&M coupe for the 1970 campaign, he handily nailed-down the modified title that year. This nice color shot captures him when he was wheeling the late Norm Kies’ coupe at the ‘Bowl. Walt was selected by fans as one of the Speedbowl’s all-time “50 Favorite Drivers” in 2000; a testament to his enduring popularity even after he’d retired from the sport. MORE>>

11/06/13: Shown here with a coupe typical of the early-days of modified stock car racing is the well-traveled Francis “Frankie” Blum. A Unionville, CT. native and World War II veteran, he competed at a myriad of tracks in the New England & New York regions, and was widely-considered one of the better drivers of the post-war era. Like many racers of his generation, he also dabbled in the open-wheel wars and was known to pilot a midget on occasion. A United Stock Car Racing Club stalwart, he was proficient on dirt and asphalt, and recorded victories at Agawam, Massachusetts’ much-missed Riverside Park Speedway, once the crown jewel of United. Frankie passed-away in 2001 at age-79, but not before leaving a lasting legacy in the annals of our region’s racing history. MORE>>

10/30/13: It was sad news when word filtered-down that pioneering New England modified racer Charlie Centinaro had passed-away at age-80 on Tuesday, October 22nd. Before his career concluded he’d won widely in our region, and was particularly-good within the United Stock Car Racing Club (once the most-powerful & influential sanctioning body in New England). A United champion, this one captures him at Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway in the 1950s behind the wheel of "Jarb" Beaudoin’s ultra-potent #500, one of the most-heralded rides of the era. Our friend Warren Sentivany currently serves as Crew Chief on the Skip Matczak-owned USAC Dirt Midget chauffeured by Denny Zimmerman (talk about a talented duo, both Denny & Skip are celebrated New England Auto Racing Hall of Famers!). Warren was also a driver. We’ll let him explain this shot that he sent us recently. He says; “I just found this old Stafford picture from 1954. MORE>>

10/23/13: The late Ray Delisle was a major player within New England’s post-war racing boom, and became a prolific winner. Felled by serious injuries sustained in a horrendous crash at the Connecticut shoreline’s New London-Waterford Speedbowl when his coupe was hit from-behind and it’s old-style “jerry can” fuel tank erupted in-flames, he endured a long and supremely-painful recovery before returning to the sport. In 1964, his career reached its zenith when he waltzed-away with the Speedbowl Modified title wheeling the famed Simons Bros. #9. This image recently developed from an original Shany Lorenzent negative captures him at another Nutmeg State oval in 1967, the Stafford Springs Speedway. The car unfamiliar to us, we’re not sure of its owner. We just love these old UNITED shots, and this one’s a dandy! One of the real chargers when Harvey Tattersall’s once influential United Stock Car Racing Club ruled the New England modified roost rather than NASCAR, Tommy Sutcliffe enjoyed a long-reign at the front of the pack. MORE>>

10/16/13: Here’s a great “at-speed” shot of one of our good friends. Like so many of the drivers that became premier players within Plainville Stadium’s weekly action, popular Don Spazano actually traces his “racing-roots” back to the old rough n’ tumble novice class. This shot however, captures him in later years as one of the top modified pilots at Joe Tinty’s late (and much-missed), Connecticut oval. Riding-high on the all-time winners list and a former track champion, the popular Spazano also competed with success at a number of other tracks in the region including Riverside Park. You gotta’ love this neat-looking coach, a body-style that always seemed popular at Plainville. Also note that it was the pre-firesuit era. Just another night in the office for the late, great Ed Flemke Sr. When Phil Hoyt captured this great victory lane image, the long career of the man they called “Steady Eddie” was nearing it’s completion. However, he was still winning-big in this creation, the Manchester Sand & Gravel #10 Pinto. MORE>>

10/09/13: More Mid-Week Memories….Our friend Dave Alkas won at Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium for a very, very long time as evidenced by this really-early victory lane shot when he was still in the Novice Division. A New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, he so-dominated the proceedings at his home track after advancing to the Modifieds that trade-paper scribes began referring to him as “The King of Plainville Stadium.” Never an easy-place to conquer with its tight-turns and ultra-competitive fields, Alkas teamed with owner Roland Cyr to capture five championships and is the track’s all-time winner. Dave of-course is one of principles responsible for staging this weekend’s Plainville Stadium Reunion at Connecticut’s Berlin Fairgrounds. MORE>>

10/02/13: The First Of Our October 2013 Offerings…. The New England racing community lost one of its greatest & most-loved competitors when this driver passed-away this week after a lengthy illness. The driver is the great Rene “The Champ” Charland. His career spanned nearly 4-decades starting at Massachusetts’ Riverside Park in 1949 and ended at Fonda Speedway in 1984. Estimates put his victory total at over 700. He won an unprecedented 4 NASCAR National Sportsman championships (now Nationwide Series) from 1962 through 65. His quest for a fifth title ended as he was seriously injured in the famous fire crash Memorial Day weekend at Malta in 1966. He was forced to sit out the rest of the season but at that point he had already earned 5700 points, enough for a third place finish. A member of the famed “Eastern Bandits” he won multiple track championships at a variety of tracks in both New England, and the South. MORE>>

09/25/13: Yup, Another Serving Of “Modified Memories”  When a young Modified upstart by the name of Geoff Bodine from New York State teamed with well-heeled car owner the late Dick Armstrong and his “Nu-Style Jewelry” team in the late-70s as seen here, the New England racing hierarchy had little choice in taking notice. Once the “Big Red #1” machine started rolling, it got pretty brutal. The guy won & won and kept winning. Truthfully, Bodine was already a very-well accomplished racer by the time the deal was inked for him to maintain and drive Armstrong’s stable of high-end equipment. Bodine is a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, inducted in 2010. Captured here at Middletown, NY in we believe, 1978, the late Lou “Monks” Lazzaro raced an incredible six decades on dirt and asphalt on tracks from Canada to Daytona and scored 250-plus feature wins. He was supremely versatile and won with the same car on dirt and pavement with only minor changes. His Saturday night home track was Fonda Speedway, where he amassed 113-career feature wins over four different decades. MORE>>

09/18/13: Yet-Another Wednesday Goes Into The Books…..  We start this week with a shot of the late, great Kenny Shoemaker at the famed Langhorne, Pennsylvania oval. A member of the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame, there were few as talented as “The Shoe” on the tracks of the Northeast, especially Fonda, NY. If the number on this coupe seems familiar to you pavement enthusiasts, it-should. The car was owned & wrenched by New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Bob Judkins, the man who initiated NASCAR modified racing’s “Pinto Revolution” in 1971. Judkins was a multi-faceted builder, excelling on any surface he decided to tackle. For more on the career of Shoemaker, check-out “They called me the Shoe”, available at Lew Boyd’s www.coastal181.com. MORE>>

09/11/13: Rolling-Along On Another Wednesday…..  We ran a couple of these early Stafford Springs Motor Speedway photos last week & folks seemed to enjoy them, so here’s another. Seen here ready to do battle in one of the early creations of longtime car owner Norm Kies is Manchester, Connecticut’s Gene White. As a side note, it’s worth mentioning that White later hooked-up with the ownership duo of NEAR Hall of Famers Bob Vitari & Vic Bombaci to become the very-first driver of the storied #V-8 coupe before another Hall of Famer, the late “Wild-Bill” Slater began his long & ultra-successful reign with the team. The location is New Hampshire’s former Brookline Speedway, a ¼-mile oval that operated during the 1950s & 60s. The driver? It’s none-other than New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Eddie West celebrating an early-career victory. From his HOF biography; Edward E. West began racing in 1961, and competed at tracks up & down the East coast, from New Brunswick, Canada to West Palm Beach, Florida. MORE>>

09/04/13: Heavy-Hitters (Plus A Couple Of Mysteries….) This photo was recently donated to the “RTT” archives by the man himself, 1971 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the year, our friend Dennis Zimmerman. Captured here early in his career at the former Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts, he parlayed his experience in modified coupes like this into a successful career on the USAC Indy Car circuit. A self-professed “student” of the late, great, Ed Flemke Sr., he conquered storied eastern modified haunts such as Norwood, Riverside Park, Plainville, and Waterford before taking-on the ovals of the South, where his accomplishments netted a pair of NASCAR State Sportsman titles. After a stint in URC Sprint Car competition it was on to Indy Cars, then the absolute pinnacle of American motorsport. MORE>>

08/30/13: More Mid-Week Modified Meanderings…. Though his remains one of the most tragic tales in Northeastern racing lore, this driver’s unfortunate story continues to interest us. Call it a somewhat-morbid fascination with the sports dark-side, or a continuing quest in trying to discover just what made these early guys “tick.” I prefer the latter conclusion…. Seen here in the potent Gordon Ross #19 is the late Daniel Duncan Harris. Known at the track as “Rebel” Harris owing to his South Carolina roots, he was an experienced chauffer by the time of his untimely demise at the old Onteora Speedway in Olive Bridge, New Jersey on June 21, 1963. According to newspaper reports of the day, his coupe flipped end-over-end several times going into the first-turn on the first circuit of the 25-lap main event. Harris was ejected in mid-flight, succumbing to his injuries at nearby Kingston Hospital only 15 min. after arrival. While it’s perhaps no-more than a racing “urban legend”, there are those that to this-day blame Rebel’s death on of all-things, his reluctance to wear a racing harness. MORE>>

08/28/13: The Mid-Week Modified Memories Continue….If you’re at all familiar with New England modified racing, not much has to be said about this fellow. As a driver, the late Ed Yerrington was a big winner, and in later years as an official became one of the most-respected figures in the sport. He’s captured here following a 1970s feature victory at Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway where he would become part of management following the conclusion of his driving days. Captured here behind the controls of Bebe Zalinski’s potent M6 coupe is the late Buddy Krebs. Among the Northeast’s greatest modified racers-ever (especially at Massachusetts’ former Riverside Park Speedway as captured here), he was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2000. Krebs started racing in 1947, and before it was over, won an estimated two-hundred features while competing in Modifieds, Sportsman, and Grand Nationals. MORE>>

08/14/13: Another (Very) Varied Selection……Here’s a classic Shany image of a friend captured back in the 70s at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Honestly, I thought I had just about all of the shoreline oval shots of Jim Torok in his original #13 coupe, so seeing this one was a pleasant surprise. Jim was a consummate low-bucker who actually concluded his career at the much-missed Danbury Fair Racarena before that track’s untimely closure. A longtime member of the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), he still manages to put in some fast-laps every season with the club as the owner and driver of the restored Corky Cookman Pinto and Lou Funk Buick straight-8 powered Coupe. We’ve known this guy for a lot of years. Our good friend Steve Kennedy began his long career as a top-notch New England racing photographer as a kid shooting from the grandstands at Joe Tinty’s former Plainville Stadium in Connecticut; this is one of those images. The year is 1972, and our friend Dave Alkas is ready to go in the Roland Cyr-owned coach during the season’s opening event. MORE>>

08/07/13: Finally……..We’re Back On-Track !!!!!!!!!!!! Sadly, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Charles "Chick" Stockwell, 85, passed-away Monday, July 29th. Saying that he left an indelible mark on the history of New England modified racing would be an understatement. From his HOF Biography; Charles “Chick” Stockwell began racing in 1949, driving his own cars throughout the northeast. Although Chick considers the Danbury Arena to be “home”, he was a regular competitor at Waterford, Thompson, Plainville, West Haven, and Stafford. He raced at Lime Rock, Springfield, and Westboro. Venturing outside New England, he has driven at Albany-Saratoga, Orange County, JFK Stadium, and Lebanon Valley. Stockwell showed his versatility as a race driver by competing on both dirt and asphalt, often 3 to 4 times in the same week. He won the 1957 Rhinebeck Track Championship, racing on dirt. He took down the United Grand American Late Model Sportsman Circuit Crown in 1963 and 1964. He won the "Most Popular Driver" award at Danbury for six consecutive years. (1976-1981). MORE>>

07/31/13: Filling In For Dave ..... Well this week is going to be a little different. Dave's computer is in the shop and he doesn't have the luxury of having more that one. Last night I dug through my archives and pulled out some photos from Riverside Park and Plainville Stadium which I would call interchangeable tracks in that Riverside would always open early and those early races always had Plainville cars in the field. On the reverse end you would always find Riverside cars at Plainville in the fall as Riverside usually closed around Labor Day. Then there was rain. There were many times Plainville would be rained out and we rushed down I-84 and I-91 to get to "The Park" in time to race. Then there were times you'd see Riverside cars pulling into Plainville in time for the consi and you knew Riverside had rain. I believe I haven't run any of these photos for at least a decade. Some may have seen some before. MORE>>

07/24/13: Yet-More Mid-Week Meanderings….. This guy is simply-synonymous with Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl. A scan of the record books reveal Bob Potter to be one of the most-successful modified drivers to have ever emerged from the Bowl’ (and for that-matter, New England). Ranked 2nd on the track’s all-time Modified win list (a stat that includes 6 championships), this image captures Bob at the shoreline oval in the mid-70s when he was wheeling the Coventry Racing Enterprises coupe, a ride that bought him much-success at his home track. His stellar record at all-three of Connecticut’s active tracks gained him a spot in the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. Captured here with his familiar coupe at Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway, anyone that was around during what’s widely considered the “Golden Era” of New England Modified racing is sure to recognize this guy. The late Booker T. Jones joined the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. MORE>>

07/17/13: Our Usual Wednesday Trip Through The Past…. If you’re reading this column, you likely know the identity of this racer (if you don’t, shame on you!). Seen here early in his career, the late Richie Evans left his family's farm at age 16 to work at a local garage. After finding early success in drag racing, a friend suggested he try building a car to race at the nearby Utica-Rome (NY), Speedway. He ran his first oval-track car, a 1954 Ford Hobby Stock numbered PT-109 (after John F. Kennedy's torpedo boat in World War II), in 1962. He advanced to the modifieds in 1965, winning his first feature in the season's final night. In 1973, Evans became the NASCAR National Modified Champion. In 1978 he won a second title and did not relinquish his crown during the next seven years.  MORE>>

07/10/13: Another (Very) Varied Assortment…. Here’s that rarity we mentioned in this week’s opening comments and it’s a real gem! Captured here at Bridgeport, Connecticut’s former Candlelite Stadium with his 5-window coupe is a young Reggie Adkins who was crowned United Stock Car Racing Club track champion at the all-purpose sports stadium turned-raceway in 1951. Though the coupes were standard-fare at that point, Candlelite’s earliest years were all-about the midgets. Opening in 1947 hosting the then wildly-popular open-wheelers, the tiny 1/5-mile’s first two seasons were marred by a pair of fatalities claiming the lives of Alvin “Jeep” Colkitt in ‘47 and Mid Marozzi in ’48. MORE>>

07/03/13: Some From Steve K. (And A Few Other Gems)…. Growing-up a stones-throw from Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl, it wasn’t until I got my driver’s license in the mid-70s that I was able to branch-out a bit and visit some of the other short tracks in New England. Here’s one from the first “away” speedways that I ever attended. It was an unforgettable experience, and I headed-back to Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium again & again. It was simply modified racing at its finest grassroots level. Pictured here behind the controls of his uncle Eddie Mack's Pinto is Dave Germano. One of Plainville’s top modified shoes, at the time Dave was an Industrial Arts teacher at Southington High School. Now retired from the sport, he later became the Assistant Principle at Southington, Connecticut High School. Plainville Stadium was all-about local heroes; Dave was one of them. See that #4x Pinto in the background? That’s none-other than our Webmaster, Publisher, and Editor, Tom Ormsby who was also a long-time ‘Stadium modified competitor. MORE>>

06/26/13: More Mid-Week Modified Memories…. Captured here in the 1950s, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member the late Sparky Belmont (real name Michael Belmonte), was a Plainville track champion, as-well as a big star on Harvey Tattersall’s UNITED circuit. After a convincing victory in a 100-lap contest at Plainville in 1968, he collapsed during the post race celebration, and passed-away on the spot. “Sparky” had been a star on the post war Midget circuit before switching to stock cars. He was among the most-popular drivers of his generation with both fans, and his fellow competitors. Captured here following a victory at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Gene Bergin was among the first HOF inductees back in 1998. From his NEAR HOF biography. MORE>>

06/19/13: And It’s Wednesday Again (Enjoy The Ride!)…. Late model tinwork had really just become a part of the New England modified racing landscape when Lloyd Burnham captured this shot of our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Billy “Gramps” Greco at Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. This particular ride was the recipient of the “Best Appearing Car Award” at the big Martinsville, Va. modified event. It was a real beauty and a testament to the car building skills of the team. Billy will be hosting a New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame (NEAR), fundraiser later this summer on Sunday, August 11th at the Polish American Club, West Spring Street in West Haven, CT. from noon to 6 P.M. More details on the event are forthcoming. MORE>>

06/12/13: Presenting A Bit Of Everything This Week…. As one of the real heavy-hitters in the early days of Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, the late Charlie Webster had a large & very-loyal fan base. 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). Like fellow Bowl’ standout and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Don Collins, he retired from driving at the dawn of the 1970s, thus ending the career of one of the shoreline oval’s finest chauffeurs. This shot captures Charlie (kneeling), with the Simons #9 team shortly before hanging-up his helmet. On the left that’s car owner Billy Simons who like the aforementioned Collins, is a NEAR Hall of Famer. MORE>>

06/05/13: Celebrating New England’s Racing Past (Again)… Though he’s usually primarily associated with Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl, the truth-is New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Don Collins actually competed at a number of other venues in the region during his long, successful career. He’s captured here during the 1960s in one of his signature #106 coupes at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway. Collins was a multi-time champion at the Speedbowl, scoring the Modified crown in 1955, 57, 60, 63, and 1969. He took his place as a member of the prestigious Hall of Fame in 2005. The yearly UNITED events on the former oval located on the grounds of Massachusetts’ Eastern States Exposition Center once attracted racers from all over the Northeast. To witness a race at the “Big E” guaranteed a peek at the absolute “cream of the crop” in modified racing. MORE>>

05/29/13: It’s Wednesday Again….. Seen here celebrating a victory at Connecticut’s former (and greatly-missed), Danbury Fair Racarena is a young Daniel Duncan “Rebel” Harris. The year is 1954, and the car was owned by Don Hibeck of Georgetown, CT. Originally hailing from South Carolina, Harris was a big winner in the Northeast before meeting his untimely demise at the old Onteora Speedway in Olive Bridge, New Jersey on June 21, 1963. According to newspaper reports of the day, his car flipped end-over-end several times going into the first-turn on lap-1 of the 25-lap main event. He was ejected from his coupe in mid-flight, succumbing to his injuries at nearby Kingston Hospital only 15 min. after arrival. While it’s perhaps no-more than a racing “urban legend” there are those that to this-day blame Rebel’s death on his reluctance to wear a racing harness. MORE>>

05/22/13: Another Wednesday In The Books…. Here’s a nice early-50s-era image of a young Frank Belbusti in victory lane at Connecticut’s former West Haven Speedway. A United Stock Car Racing Club-sanctioned tight fifth-miler, the track was on the grounds of the old Savin Rock amusement park. Frank, who passed-away on May 7th at age-85, was a United circuit and West Haven Speedway champion during that track’s ultra-competitive heyday. Our sincere condolences are offered to the entire Belbusti family and Frank’s many friends on this somber occasion. He was one of the more popular & enduring figures during the early days at the Connecticut shoreline’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Captured here celebrating one of his many triumphs in the Robert "Slim" Ross #222 is the late Joe McNulty. Widely-recognized by racing historians as one of the region’s most underrated drivers, he was a top modified racer of the 1950s & 60s. “Joe Mac” recorded victories at a variety of the region’s speedplants, and was particularly-proficient at the ‘Bowl where he claimed a career-total of 16 modified division feature triumphs. MORE>>

05/15/13: Another Mid-Week Lap Around The Oval… It’s the 1970s at Joe Tinty’s former (& much-missed), Plainville Stadium in Connecticut and captured through the lens of our friend Phil Hoyt is the late Larry Crighton leading in his familiar #4 coupe. A journeyman modified competitor at the tough ¼-miler for a number of seasons, Larry passed-away on his 69th birthday at the Highlands Health Care Center in Cheshire, CT. on April 29th. Sadly, the attrition rate continues to rise for our “Saturday Night Heroes” of the past; keeping their memory alive is vitally-important for the future fans of our sport. Here’s a dandy of a 50s-era victory lane shot of the late Eddie Flemke Sr. when he was driving for the Garuti Brothers team (that’s Richie to Eddie’s left, and Ray can be seen peering over Harvey Tattersall Jr.). The former Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts is the locale. When Shany Lorenzent captured this image, it was the Tattersall family’s United Stock Car Racing Club that ruled the roost in New England modified racing rather-than NASCAR. MORE>>

05/08/13: Another Week In The Books….. Thanks to Carolyn Grey daughter of the late Bill Congdon, in our files we now have several wonderful shots of her father’s storied race team. This 50s-era image captures the late Jerry Wheeler posing with the potent #76 coupe outside of the team’s shop in Salem, CT.  just a few-miles up from the Waterford Speedbowl. The Congdon team experienced unparalleled success at the shoreline oval with Bill’s creations widely-acknowledged as some of the most potent machines of their time. Wheeler, who passed-away in Virginia last weekend was successful at a number of New England speedplants, and was considered among the top-tier racers of his generation. Research reveals that he also competed in several of the big events of the day, including those at Langhorne, PA. (once THE crown-jewel in all of modified racing). MORE>>

05/01/13: Yup, More Mid-Week Modified Memories…… Here’s a victory lane shot of our late and much-missed friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member “Wild Bill” Slater at Connecticut’s “New London Waterford” Speedbowl during his heyday as the chauffer of the potent Vitari-Bombaci (also Hall of Famers), coupe. Slater was simply one of the best racers to have ever emerged from New England with wide-reaching accomplishments within the sport. When he retired from driving, he stayed involved for many seasons as a respected official at both the Thompson & Stafford Speedways. For more on the history of this team, visit the NEAR website at www.near1.com and read their HOF biographies. Like Slater, this driver is also a member of the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Taking his place among the best in our region’s modified racing history Ron Narducci was inducted in 2000. MORE>>

04/24/13: Our Weekly Selection Of Short Track Stormers… Thanks to our pal JoJo Farone, we’re able to present this great portrait image of the late, great “Moneybags” Moe Gherzi. In addition to being a prolific winner during the early days, he helped bring a degree of class to a sport that was still experiencing growing-pains. When the standard driving-uniform of the day consisted of a t-shirt & blue jeans (often work-worn, adding to the illusion that racin’ folks weren’t the pillars of society they’re considered to be today), he often appeared in victory lane nattily-attired in a silk shirt and pressed, dress-style trousers. A big winner all over New England, after retiring from driving he held the post of Racing Director for many years at the late Plainville Stadium. MORE>>

04/17/13: Your Wednesday Dose Of Short Track Heroes…. Starting this week’s edition we stray a bit from our usual pavement endeavors with a shot that we find simply timeless. The late Lou “Monks” Lazzaro raced an incredible six decades on dirt and asphalt on tracks from Canada to Daytona and scored 250-plus feature wins. He was supremely versatile and won with the same car on dirt and pavement with only minor changes. His Saturday night home track was Fonda Speedway, where he amassed 113-career feature wins over four different decades and four track championships (1964, 1969, 1977, and 1978). Lou's final Fonda Speedway feature win came on May 15, 1999, less than a year before his untimely death. A lifetime guaranteed starter at Fonda, he was described many times as "The Embodiment of Fonda Speedway.” MORE>>

04/10/13: It’s Wednesday; Time For Speedbowl Memories…. We open this week’s edition with another great vintage Waterford shot courtesy of our friend New York State racing historian, Roger Liller. Culled from the collection of our mutual pal Bob Ellis, this one captures Jackie “The Flying Finn” Hill. Little is known about this racer, but the photo is obviously from the 1950s and the team was probably a local concern carrying sponsors from nearby New London, and also Hope Valley, RI which is right over the state line. You gotta’ love the exhaust header set-up on that potent six-banger! While recently reviewing the hardcopy & negative files we have by longtime Speedbowl photographer Shany Lorenzent, this image of one of the shoreline oval’s most fondly-remembered combinations caught our eye. Newt Palm & the L&M modified were twice crowned track champion (1967 & 68). MORE>>

04/03/13: More “With A Little Help From Our Friends…” From our good friend New York State Racing Historian Roger Liller comes this gem of an image featuring the late Chauncey "Jocko" Maggiacomo. We’ll let Roger fill us in on the details; “This is a rather rare shot of Jocko Maggiacomo at New York’s former Pine Bowl Speedway in the early 1950s after winning a feature. As the "shoebox" Ford he's driving is a '49 or '50 model, it might be a late model race.” One of the true pioneers of the sport, Maggiacomo was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2000. Here’s another great early photo courtesy of Mr. Liller. Once-again, we’ll let him supply the details; “This one captures the late Georgetown, Ct driver Billy Darrah at New York’s former Rhinebeck Speedway. Billy is perhaps better-known for his accomplishments at Connecticut’s late Danbury Racearena, but he experienced considerable success at Rhinebeck also, winning many features there in the early to mid-fifties.” MORE>>

03/27/13: Zooming Down Memory Lane Speedbowl-Style !!! In 1973, Dick Dunn was simply “The Man” at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl. That season he scored 9 feature victories including the star studded open-competition Schaffer 100 on Wednesday evening July 7th as-seen here, and also notched the second of four consecutive track championships while driving for our good friends, Peg & Al “Buddha” Gaudreau (that’s Al 2nd from left). Unfortunately, Peg’s been feeling a bit under the weather as of late, and I’d like to take this time to personally tell her that all of her old pals in racing have been thinking of her. If you claim to be familiar with the history of the Speedbowl, you should know who this guy-is. Captured here is the late Dick Beauregard, in the potent Congdon #76 coupe. In a career that spanned only a decade, this racer managed to accomplish more than most drivers spending twice-as-much time behind the wheel. Starting in 1952, he went-on to score a combined-total of sixty-two victories in Modified & Non-Ford competition along with two track titles before hanging-up his helmet and relocating to the West Coast. MORE>>

03/20/13: Contributed by Carolyn Grey, daughter of legendary Waterford Speedbowl car owner the late Bill Congdon we have this extraordinary shot of her father’s first race car & driver at the shoreline oval. Its 1951 (the track’s first year of operation), and the guy behind the controls of the “Golden Goose” #76 is Windy Windbiggler. Bill Congdon went-on to become one of the most accomplished car owners in Speedbowl history notching both championships and many feature victories. His team also routinely competed upstate at Stafford Speedway, and at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway. His list of drivers read like a “who-who” of some of the top names in New England modified racing. New England Auto Racing Hall of Famers “Wild Bill” Slater and Dick Watson both experienced success in Congdon machines, as did Dick Beauregard, Dick Watson, Lou Tetreault, Jerry Wheeler, Ray Moran, and George Pendergast. MORE>>

03/13/13: Yet-More Mid-Week Meanderings! Last week’s photos of longtime Connecticut River Valley racer Joe Tiezzi submitted by our friend & former racer Bruce Riggio proved to be very popular with our readers, as we received several emails regarding those timeless images. Here’s another one from Bruce, and this time it captures Joe ready to go at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl in his Uncle Barney’s #230 during the 1960s. That’s Ted Stack in the potent Maffei-Kensel #53 coupe on the inside. From frequent contributor & friend New York State Racing Historian Roger Liller, comes this ancient Speedbowl shot captured by pioneering New England racing photographer Shany Lorenzent who served as that track’s official lensman from it’s opening in 1951 until the early-1970s. The image comes from the collection of Bob Ellis, who’s been super-accommodating in sharing some of his earliest images for all of us to enjoy. MORE>>

03/06/13: With (A Lot), Of Help From Our Friends…. Seem here at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl during the 1970s in his Chevelle-bodied Grand American entry is our friend Bruce Riggio who donated several photos for this week’s edition of “RTT.”  Hailing from the Connecticut River Valley section of the state, he actually started his racing career as a car owner rather than a driver. He has deep roots in the sport, his involvement dating all the way back to the days of the Stafford dirt (as we’ll see later). Note the sponsor on the car, “Zanardi Oil.” That’s the family of our close friend Pete Zanardi, and they’ve maintained a long & successful business presence in their hometown of Chester, CT for many decades. Bruce relocated to Florida in later years, enjoying a winning career on the short tracks of his new home state. MORE>>

02/27/13: Yet-Another Selection of Short Track Stormers… We open this week with another terrific submission from our friend, New York State Racing Historian Roger Liller. From the archives of Bob Ellis, this one captures the late Joe McNulty at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. One of the shoreline oval’s more enduring figures and a top New England modified racer of the 1950s & 60s, “Joe Mac” recorded victories at a variety of the region’s speedplants, but was particularly-proficient at the ‘Bowl where he claimed a career-total of 16 modified division feature triumphs. He was most-certainly a star at Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium, but was also one of the best in New England, period. Ronnie Wyckoff remains in this scribes opinion, one of the most overlooked and underrated drivers in our region’s modified racing history. In addition to his many triumphs close to home at Plainville, he’s a multi-time co-winner of the Riverside Park Speedway’s 500-lap contests. Always in-demand with the top car owners of his era the teams that the affable Wyckoff drove-for during his long-career reads like a “who’s-who” of the sport. MORE>>

02/20/13: Hey, We’re A Day-Early This Week!!! From our pal New York State Racing Historian Roger Liller comes this terrific 50s-era New London-Waterford Speedbowl shot. Culled from the archives of our mutual friend Bob Ellis, it captures New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members Don Collins (left), and Fred Luchesi (right), receiving trophies and a congratulations from a pretty young presenter. Both drivers were prolific winners and track champions during the formative years of the Connecticut oval. We admittedly don’t know much about this driver, but the image is a good illustration of just-how stock the coupes of the early days of the sport really were. Seen here is Rhode Island racer Charles "Chuck" Harvey from Rhode Island lined up and ready to go at the Speedbowl on October 12, 1952, the tracks sophomore year of operation. Over the years, entries from the neighboring state have been plentiful. MORE>>

02/13/13: Another (Very) Varied Selection! Our friend New York State racing historian Roger Liller his been gifting us with a ton of wonderful vintage images lately, and this one’s a classic! Seen here at Rhinebeck, NY. during the early days of his distinguished racing career is New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Chauncey "Jokko" Maggiacomo. We’ll let Roger add some information to this great photo: “This is Jokko at Rhinebeck with the Gordon Ross #19. Gordon owned a welding shop in Rhinebeck and he built some excellent race cars having such drivers as Rhinebeck native and former midget driver Bob Tator, Jokko, and, later Hudson, NY. native Doug Garrison. You probably have seen pictures of the #19 at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts as-well as other New England tracks.” MORE>>

02/06/13: More Mid-Week Modified Memories…. Seen here at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1950s behind the controls of his familiar #J2, the long career of the late Melvin “Red” Foote 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. MORE>>

01/30/13: Another Week, More Modified Memories…. It’s with great sadness that we report the passing of former Riverside Park modified competitor Charlie Jones who left us at age 71 on Wednesday, January 23rd while in the care of VA Boston Healthcare in West Roxbury, MA. Jones was a popular long-time competitor at the late Massachusetts oval, racing during the heyday of much-missed facility. He also ventured-out to several other tracks in the region during his career. Our pal veteran racing lensman John Grady captured Charlie in this one when he was the chauffer of the potent #18 coupe. Our sincere condolences are offered to Charlie’s family and many friends. For additional information visit our Webmaster Tom Ormsby’s Speedway Line Report at www.speedwaylinereport.com   MORE>>

01/23/13: Another Week Brings More Racing Memories….. From our friend, New York racing historian Roger Liller comes this great 1964 shot of Charlie Centinaro picking-up a feature victory at Pine Bowl Speedway which was once located at Snyder's Corners, New York just-east of the city of Troy. Centinaro was one of the most-winning racers of his era, also finding success at venues like Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway, Plainville Stadium, and Riverside Park in Massachusetts in naming just a few. An absolute-standout within the Tattersall families United Stock Car Racing Club, he also ran well in the former United events at the big track on the grounds of the Springfield Exposition Center in Massachusetts. This image comes from the collection of the late Ed Ryan, promoter of 14 different speedways during his career from the 1940s to the late-1970s. MORE>>

01/16/13: Yet-Another Selection Of Short Track Stormers… First on the slate this week we have a coupe-era 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. MORE>>

01/09/13: It’s Wednesday Again, And We All Know What That Means! First on the slate this week is a “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl victory lane shot of the immortal Melvin “Red” Foote courtesy of our Webmaster, Tom Ormsby. Behind the controls of his familiar #J2, Foote’s 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. MORE>>

01/02/13: More Weekly Wanderings…Modified-Style! Captured here behind the wheel of the “Big Red 1” in a 70s-era Stafford Motor Speedway shot is our friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member George Summers. As the most-winning driver in the history Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway, he visited victory lane there on over one-hundred occasions. Seekonk record-aside, Summers one of the top-drivers in all of New England, enjoying a career that lasted over three-decades. Fittingly, he won the last event he entered before retiring, taking–down the 1983 Thompson World Series Modified event driving for fellow Hall of Famer, legendary car owner Art Barry. Seen here flanking his familiar #27 Pinto at Stafford, anyone that was around during what’s widely considered the “Golden Era” of New England Modified racing is sure to recognize this guy. The late Booker T. Jones joined the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. MORE>>

2012

12/26/12: Racing into the New Year…… Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2011, “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 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 the Northeast. He also recorded feature wins at Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium, Waterford Speedbowl, and Cherry Park 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. MORE>>

12/19/12: More Plainville Memories….. Thanks Phil!!!! See here following one of his many Plainville victories is our friend Don Moon. Among the people that we have to thank for helping to stage the track’s annual reunions, Don was also very-successful at a host of other raceways during his traveling days in addition to his local triumphs at The Stadium. Known as a master craftsman in the realm of car builders, his rides were always super-fast and immaculate-looking. Last weekend Don and his wife Kathy hosted their annual Christmas party and as-usual, a great time was had by all! A pair of Plainville’s best speed down the front-chute….. On the inside is our pal Don Spazano, and up-high is none-other than Mr. Jap Membrino. Don relayed the details of this shot to me at the Moon’s recent Christmas party. MORE>>

12/12/12: Yup, More New England Short Track Heroes…. We really like this coupe-era image of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Tony Mordino Sr. from the former Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts where he was a winner during the track’s UNITED heyday (certainly not an easy feat!). The car is the famous “Jarbs 500” wrenched by celebrated New England car owner Jarb Beaudoin. Thanks to the Mordino family I was introduced to Jarb at Billy Greco’s recent NEAR Fundraising event, which was a pleasure. One can only imagine the amount of wins that both Mordino and Beaudoin recorded during their long, successful careers.And here’s another New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Dick Dixon celebrating a victory in another of Jarb Beaudoin’s many creations. Looking at the list of drivers that wheeled the mighty #500’s over the years is indeed, impressive. MORE>>

12/05/12: Yet-More From The R.A. Silvia Files…. Shots like this can be rare, but R.A. Silvia comes-through with the goods again! What you’re viewing is a nice overhead image of the former Kingston Fairgrounds dirt half-miler located in North Kingston, Rhode Island. The track didn’t have a really-long life in terms of auto racing, active only from the late-1940s to the early-50s. However, records reveal that some of the biggest names in the sport competed there during its short history. It was typical of the rudimentary dirt tracks of the era, complete with a covered grandstand. For whatever-reason, statistics on this raceway seem somewhat hard to find. One it’s earliest sanctioning bodies was an outfit called the “Speed Corporation of America.” The entire facility was leveled in 1958 to make-way for the construction of an Industrial Park. MORE>>

11/28/12: Another Week, Another Lap Around The Past….. We start this week’s edition of “RTT” with a nice early-career shot of our friend Billy Greco when he was wheeling one of the potent coupes owned by Fred "Sharkey” Gaudiosi. Greco remained one of the most-popular modified racers in New England for decades. He established himself in the sport early-on, taking track championships at West Haven in 1955, and again in ’56 and ’58. He won Saturday night championships at Riverside Park in 1965 and 67, and also notched several Tuesday night track championships at the Park. His combined feature win total at the Park is 68 including five 500 lap team races. His success was not limited to just driving for Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock Car club. Greco was a charter member of the All Star Racing League and had success on both dirt and asphalt. In the late-sixties he tried his hand with NASCAR. MORE>>

11/21/12: Taking A Peek At The Pines & Hudson…. Seen here in action during his prime (and looking a bit mischievous), this is none-other than the late Oscar “Cannonball” Ridlon. He was a hugely-influential figure within the realm of New England auto racing, and especially in the formation a class that would eventually become known as the Super Modifieds. A former big car & midget racer of epic proportions, he later became the owner & promoter of the former Pines Speedway in Groveland, Massachusetts, and also New Hampshire’s Hudson Speedway. At one time, his URDC circuit was one of the most successful of sanctioning bodies, producing talent that would become household names in our region. Guys like Hall of Famers Ollie Silva, Don MacLaren, Bentley Warren and Paul Richardson in naming just a few, all raced for Ridlon early in their careers. MORE>>

11/14/12: This Week; More From Plainville & Waterford…. Captured here following a coupe-era win at Plainville while aboard Bob Judkins potent #2x, few individuals meant more to New England modified racing than the late “Steady Eddie” Flemke. Starting during the emerging popularity of stock cars in the post-war era, it’s estimated that he won over 500 feature events during a career which spanned 3-decades. Along the way, he helped many young drivers get their starts, including Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton, and Indy 500 veteran Dennis Zimmerman. As an expert car builder, he designed the “Flemke Front End” a chassis component that remained the standard in modified car construction for years. Both Eddie and Judkins are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. MORE>>

11/07/12: Yet-More Wednesday Wanderings….. It’s the spring of 1949 and what you’re viewing is the first-ever day of stock car racing at Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium. Originally known as “Tinty's Flying Ranch”, it opened in 1948 hosting motorcycle racing, horse shows, and various civic events. Seen here sporting the original dirt surface, because of the dust it was paved the next week in April of 1949. Sadly, it closed at the conclusion of the 1980 campaign, a season that saw the ¼-miler running a limited number of events. George Landry holds the distinction of being crowned Plainville’s first-ever track champion. Owner-promoter Joe Tinty will be inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame later this month. We’re unsure of the exact date, but we do know that this image was captured at Plainville Stadium during the early-1950s and it’s a rare-one. Additionally, we’re unclear on how many times the sprint cars visited Joe Tinty’s little racy little ¼-miler, but do know that the driver is Jimmy Little who hailed from Hartford, CT. MORE>>

10/31/12: More Mid-Week Meanderings….. Captured here behind the controls of the Suffield #5 on the former Riverside Park’s old 1/5-miler is 1951 track champion, Benny Germano. Once the flagship speedway of the all powerful Tattersall-governed United Stock Car Racing Club, Germano competed against the very-best in the business to garner his title. Names like Krebs, Tappett, Flemke, Maggiacamo, Dixon, & Humiston come-to-mind. It was indeed, a star-studded field each & every week. To win a United championship in 1951 meant accomplishing something truly-extraordinary. Before NASCAR’s infiltration of New England (which for all intents & purposes really began at Norwood Arena), UNITED was king in this region. Germano scored a career-total of 17 Riverside feature victories, the first in 1950, the final in 1959. Seen here during the 1960s during a coupe-era outing at Joe Tinty’s former Plainville Stadium is a young Frank Manafort. Associated primarily with that ultra-competitive Connecticut ¼-miler where he experienced great success garnering several championships, Manafort was a top New England modified competitor from the mid-60s to the early-70s. He retired from the sport to help run the family business, but in later years returned to compete in the Legends division where he continued winning. MORE>>

10/24/12: It’s Wednesday; More Old Stuff !!!! This shot is simply a classic slice of early New England modified racing and we’re very happy to be able to present it here. Posing at Plainville Stadium in the early 1950s when they were team drivers for fabled car owner Fred “Sharky” Gaudiosi is Billy Greco on the left and Moe “Moneybags” Gherzi on the right. All-three are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. There are a lot of victories represented in this photo! “Profile shots” are some of the hardest to find in the realm of vintage racing photos, and here we present a dandy. Smiling for the camera of longtime photographer Shany Lorenzent is the late Benny Derosier. This one’s from the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1950s and Benny was then driving the Hi-Way Motor Sales #230 Hudson of Barney Tiezzi. Benny was one of the top drivers during the early days at Waterford, and Barney’s son Joe also enjoyed a distinguished career in the modifieds. Our close friend NEAR Hall of Famer Pete Zanardi used to work on the #230 when he was a youngster.  MORE>>

10/17/12: Revisiting The Past At Plainville Stadium….. This is the man that bought auto racing to Plainville Connecticut. Race track owner & promoter, respected local businessman, and showman, the late Joe Tinty was all of these. Though running the weekly races at his much-missed Plainville Stadium in Connecticut (along with a bit of help from his Race Director Moe “Moneybags” Gherzi), no-doubt kept him busy, Joe always found a little time to entertain the crowd. This shot captures him with his beloved Palomino named “Sugarfoot” doing a bit of “horsing-around.” It could have been intermission on race-night, or it could have been one of the many circuses that he booked into the track over the years. Joe Tinty was truly a unique individual, and will join Gherzi as a member of the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 18. MORE>>

10/10/12: With a Little Help From Our Friends (Special Extended Version)…. It’s opening day of the 1949 season at Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium, and that’s New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Ted Tappet (real name Phil Walters) and another Hall of Famer Dick Eagan right behind in the #1, leading-up a jaunty group of pre-war iron ready to wage battle on Joe Tinty’s demanding little ¼-miler. As mentioned-above, the memories will be relived at this weekend’s Fourth Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion in Berlin, CT. As-always, it promises to be another can’t-miss affair for those interested in the history of New England auto racing. I know I’ll be there! MORE>>

10/03/12: With A Little Help From Our Friends (Speedbowl Style!)… You’re looking at where it all began for the track that was then officially-known as Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. If I had a nickel for every hour I’ve spent there during my lifetime, I’d be a considerably-richer man today! Bob Swift was the first-ever feature winner at the Speedbowl, defeating a stellar field on Sunday afternoon, April 15, 1951, the date in-which Shany Lorenzent captured this image of him. It should be noted that the racing surface was first made-up a curious mix of dirt & crushed bluestone. It was paved by May of that first season. While the name has been shortened to just “Waterford Speedbowl” the place is still jumping every weekend presenting some of the best short track racing in all of New England. MORE>>

09/26/12: Another Very-Varied Selection….. Here’s a nice portrait image, and one that’s reasonably difficult to find. Pictured is Ray Brown, the 1950 Riverside Park UNITED champion. He was also the titlist that same year at Connecticut’s Plainville Stadium back in the days when one could race 7-days-a- week if desired. He was a resident of White Plains, NY and posted an impressive New England racing resume during the formative years of the sport. Brown was also an occasional competitor at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl located on the Connecticut shoreline. Quite-deservedly, Brown is slated for induction into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 18 at the Speedway Clubhouse located on the grounds of the Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut. Visit www.near1.com for more information. MORE>>

09/19/12: In A Modified State Of Mind……!!!!! Captured here during his early days in the stock cars, Sparky Belmont (real name Michael Belmonte), was a crowd-favorite during the much-heralded “Coupe Era.” He was a Plainville track champion, and a big star on Harvey Tattersall’s UNITED circuit. After a convincing victory in a 100-lap contest at Plainville in July of 1968, he collapsed during the post race celebration, and passed-away on the spot. “Sparky” had been a star on the post war Midget circuit before switching to stock cars. Quite-deservedly, he’s slated for induction into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on Sunday, November 18 at the Speedway Clubhouse located on the grounds of the Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Connecticut. Visit www.near1.com for more information. MORE>>

09/12/12: More Mid-Week Meanderings Modified-Style! Simply-stated, this guy was one of the best during his days as a top New England stock car jockey. Seen here behind the controls of an absolutely-classic coupe owned by the late Bucky Membrino is the late Tony Mordino. 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 West Haven are stuff of regional 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 raced to a top-10 finish after having started 50th in the field. MORE>>

09/05/12: This Week; A Plainville Stadium Primer…! Plainville Stadium always had its share of spiffy-looking rides, and this little gem of coupe is no exception. The driver is the late Bart Rocco, one of the real movers & shakers of the late Connecticut ¼-milers heyday. Bart was a long time journeyman driver at the Stadium in the 60's in first the Novice Division and then the Modifieds. For anyone believing that Plainville Stadium didn’t host the best-of-the-best in modified racers at different periods during its long history, here’s an absolutely-outstanding shot that clearly illustrates the caliber of driver that once landed in victory lane at “Tinty’s Place.” A member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the legendary Dick Dixon was a top modified competitor all over New England, and particularly within Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock Car Club of the 1950s and 1960s. He also competed in their Grand American class. One year, he won all-but two GA features run by United. He earned several victories on the old Big E racetrack in both the coupes and the late models. MORE>>

08/29/12: Another Mid-Week Trip Down Memory Lane……Here’s a great image of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy Harman culled from the files of our Webmaster & pal, Tom Ormsby. One night in the 1950s at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, Billy won a $10.00 bet in surprising everyone in attendance by racing in the tuxedo that he’d worn to the wedding of his sister-in-law earlier in the day! Things were certainly more carefree during the early days of the sport as this shot attests-to. As mentioned above, our old friend Billy is presently recuperating from some pretty serious health issues. Cards reach him at 3 South Cobblers Court, Niantic, Ct. 06357.  GET WELL SOON, BILLY!  To those of us interested in Northeastern racing history, this is a truly-classic image on just so-many levels. The driver is the great Rene Charland. His career spanned nearly 4-decades starting at Massachusetts’ Riverside Park in 1949 and ended at Fonda Speedway in 1984. Estimates put his victory total at over 700. He won an unprecedented 4 NASCAR National Sportsman championships from 1962 through 65. MORE>>

08/22/12: More Mid-Week Meanderings; Vintage-Style !!! Seen here during the early stages of his racing tenure, Don Flynn was always recognized for his nice-looking race cars, and this sharp 5-window coupe was no exception. We believe this car to be the King's Auto Body car which had the black #36 & 63 mostly associated with Danny Galullo. 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 just really-like this shot; these cars were truly-special to us “old-school” modified folk!  Reggie Ruggerio was a modified winner at Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium during the early-stages of his long career, but things really took-off when the injured Don Moon hired him to temporarily wheel his potent #9 Pinto creation in weekly action at “Tinty’s Place.” Still-later, he teamed with legendary car owner Mario Fiore and the victories continued in a big-way at a variety of New England raceplants. MORE>>

08/15/12: More Racin’ Images For A Wednesday….. From the archives of our Webmaster Tom Ormsby comes this great shot of the late Red O’Keefe during the twilight of his long racing career. We believe the location to be Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. O’Keefe, who passed-away at age-80 on August 9, was a standout New England modified competitor for many seasons claiming feature events at a number of the regions speedways. He was the 1965 West Haven Speedway track champion and nearly repeated in ’66 placing second to fellow United Stock Car Racing Club star, the late Johnny “King” Cambino. The winning margin for that’s years title race was a scant single-point. He enjoyed his best seasons at another CT. oval, the former West Haven Speedway competing in the Non-Ford division. MORE>>

08/08/12: Another Dose of Mid-Week Memories……. Captured here with his team (and a Beauty Queen complementing the proceedings), the grinning guy in the plaid shirt who’s just nailed another “New London Waterford” Speedbowl feature in the storied L&M coupe is our pal, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Billy Harman. From his HOF biography; “At age 21, Billy Harman began racing a modified 312 Ford at the Waterford Speedbowl. He won a feature in his first year, as well as taking down Rookie of the Year honors.  He continued at the Speedbowl for the next 7 years, recording many wins and holding four different track records, including the fastest 10 lap heat, 25 lap feature, 50 lap feature, and non-stop 100 lap feature. He dominated there, especially in 1965 and 1966, driving the famed L & M Coupe. Following 1966, Bill felt it was time to move on to more and bigger challenges. He went on to win races for many car owners, including Freddie Beaber in the 715 and 716, Tuck Hoffman and Kevin Coan in the 73, and Bob Judkins in the 2x. MORE>>

08/01/12: Yet-More From The “Shany File”…. The late, great Buddy Krebs (with trophy), is pictured here following a victory aboard the Jim Jorgensen coupe at the former Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Massachusetts. Our friend Walt Scadden recently penned a terrific book on Jorgensen (seen here second-from right), entitled “Swamp Yankee: The Racing Life of Jim Jorgensen.” One of the greatest racing careers in New England, from the late 1950s to 1969, Jorgensen and his crew crisscrossed the country, racing his innovative stock car, sprint, and Indy Car designs with standout drivers like Gene Bergin, Buddy Krebs, Bill Brown and Denny Zimmerman. Progressing from countless bullrings and county fair tracks to some of the most revered venues in the country such as Langhorne, Phoenix and Milwaukee, and on to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jorgensen made his name and left his mark. MORE>>

07/25/12: Yup, Another (Very) Varied Assortment…. Captured here at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford Speeedbowl of the early 1950s is New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Ralph “Hop” Harrington. Long one of the mainstays on the eastern Modified circuit, Hop began his career in 1948 at the Kingston Rhode Island Fairgrounds piloting a nearly-stock 1934 Ford Coupe. From those humble beginnings came an estimated 300 victories, along with championships at places like Norwood Arena, Lonsdale, Kingston, and Westboro in naming just a few. A master car-builder also, he was instrumental in the success of Geoff Bodine’s winning reign while piloting the modifieds of Dick Armstrong in the 1970s. Harrington retired from driving in 1969, but stayed busy in the sport as the builder of Armstrong’s “Nu-Style” Jewelry entries. MORE>>

07/18/12: Another Week In The Books, And We Bid Farewell To An Icon Of New England Modified Racing…. Of all the photos of the late “Wild Bill” Slater in the Racing Through Time archives (and there are many), this one remains a personal favorite. After quite-handily conquering the ovals of his native New England, Slater has just reached the zenith of his career in what could only be considered the era’s crown jewel of Modified racing. Gazing skyward flanked by the trophy queen and his car owners Bob Vitari & Vic Bombaci, driving the potent #V8 coupe Slater has just defeated a stellar field to take the 1965 Race of Champions at Pennsylvania’s storied Langhorne Speedway. He was among the first inductees into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, while Vitari & Bombaci took their places among our regions greatest in 2006. MORE>>

07/11/12: In A “Speedbowl State Of Mind……”. Folks, this is when it all started at the coastal Connecticut oval then officially known as the “New London-Waterford Speedbowl.” It’s Sunday April 15, 1951, and about to compete in tracks first-ever feature event is Stan Woods. Note the surface; it’s the original crushed bluestone, rather than the pavement that would be applied within a few weeks. Winning that initial feature event was Bob Swift, but Woods would rally the next week to score his singular Speedbowl victory. Guys like the aforementioned Bob Swift & Stan Woods would visit victory lane during the Speedbowl’s maiden year, but it was this guy, that took the championship. Dave Humphrey, a New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member and a driver long regarded as one of the best in the realm of Midget racing had not yet turned his full- attention to the open wheel wars in 1951. The quiet man from Seekonk, Massachusetts with the undeniably-smooth driving style notched seven feature victories on his way to the title. MORE>>

07/04/12: Happy 4th of July!!!!! (& More Old Stuff)…. Here was have a nice of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Bob Potter captured at the Waterford Speedbowl in March of 1980. From his HOF biography; “In Southern New England, mention the number 51 and the immediate response is Bob Potter. Starting at Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, Potter began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.  A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.” This guy truly ranks as one of the best New England modified racers of all-time. bject. On this one, Steve wrote the following; This is Lenny Orfice in 1973. He demolished the car shortly after I shot this when the accelerator-stuck and he hit the wall hard in the first-turn. He was taken to the hospital and as-far as I know, never raced again. MORE>>

06/27/12: Wednesday Means More Modified Memories….! Here’s a classic shot from the final years at Connecticut’s much-missed Plainville Stadium where thankfully, coaches never seemed to go out of style. We’ll let our friend & Webmaster Tom Ormsby fill us in on the driver, the late Skip Zeigler. “Skip started racing at Plainville, CT. in the late 1950s and was a regular until the track closed. His trademark was the red & white coach-bodied #126. The last three seasons he ran the “Flying 0” coach owned by his brother Gene. He also raced at Riverside Park, Stafford, Thompson, Lebanon Valley, and a few other tracks in upstate New York.” This shot captures Skip ready-to-roll at the Stadium in 1979. And here we have a great color image of one of the real heavy-hitters at what was then-known as Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. The late Bill Scrivener burst upon scene in the early-60s, quickly becoming one of biggest stars of the then immensely-popular Bomber division. Christened "Wild Bill", his driving style was somewhat reminiscent of another shoreline oval luminary, the unflappable "Dirty Dick" Beauregard. MORE>>

06/20/12: Another Week, Another Very-Varied Selection…. Known more for his many successes within the full-bodied support divisions, seen here following his singular “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl Modified feature win on Saturday evening, August 14, 1971 is “Uncle Don” Steiner. Though the image is black & white, the car was painted a shiny gold, a hallmark of all of Don’s cars. The crossover to late model-style bodies from the traditional Coupes & Coaches produced some really memorable Modifieds at the shoreline oval; Don’s Corvair was one of them. Scott Haag also wrote-in to inform us of the deal with this shot (we’d thought it was Lee Hardy in the #88). Scott writes “The image #88 on its side is Lou Toro. That crash happened in between turns 3 & 4 when Toro did several endos in the middle of the turn. The accident you originally referenced with Lee Hardy happened on the back strech when he tangled with the 56 of Charlie Savage and a coupe number 77 with the name Stark on the roof. That wreck happened on the last day of the 1970 season.” Our old pal Mark LaJeunesse adds that it was probably Red O’Keefe in the #69. MORE>>

06/13/12: Seen here at the controls of the potent GY Offy Midget in 1967 at the former Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts is New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Dennis Zimmerman. Parlaying his New England short track experience into a successful career on the USAC Indy Car circuit, he was a self-professed “student” of the late, great, Ed Flemke Sr. He conquered storied eastern Modified haunts such as Norwood, Riverside Park, Plainville, and Waterford before taking-on the ovals of the South, where his accomplishments netted a pair of NASCAR State Sportsman titles. After a stint in URC Sprint Car competition it was on to Indy Cars, then the absolute pinnacle of American motorsport. His best finish in the Indianapolis 500 was 8th, a feat earning him honors as Rookie of the Year in 1971. MORE>>

06/06/12: Pacing The Past Yet Again….. Captured here at Connecticut’s Thompson Motor Speedway pitted next to his dad during the 1970s is Ed Flemke Jr. With a father like NEAR Hall of Famer the late, great “Steady Eddie”, this youngster had some mighty-big shoes to fill, and thus-far, he’s done a darned good job of carrying-on the family racing heritage. Much like his late father, Ed Jr. is viewed by many as a steady-shoe, utilizing experience to his advantage when required. Also not unlike his father, he’s a master car-builder. Here’s another shot from 70s-era action at the “Big T.” This time it’s New England Supermodified star and NEAR Hall of Fame Member Eddie West behind the wheel of a Vega-bodied Modified. From his HOF biography; Edward E. West began racing in 1961, and competed at tracks up & down the East coast, from New Brunswick, Canada to West Palm Beach, Florida. MORE>>

05/28/12: 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. MORE>>

05/23/12: Yet More “Wednesday Wanderings”…. Here’s a victory lane shot of the guy responsible for providing some of this weeks images from back when he was a Novice Class winner at that much-missed Connecticut ¼-miler known as Plainville Stadium. Looking very-much the part of a teenager (which he was), our pal JoJo Farone was fast right-out-of-the-box in this hulking pre-war sedan owned by his sister Helen pictured here. Member of a Connecticut racing family that also included the late Butch “Seymour the Clown” Farone and standout Stadium competitor Beetle Farone, JoJo progressed from these humble beginnings to wheeling Modifieds in the New England region. Billy Greco was one of the most-respected drivers of his era and for good-reason. In addition to being a huge winner, he was also one of the nicest people in our sport, and remains-so today. You’d be hard-pressed to meet a driver that had a better relationship with his fans. MORE>>

05/16/12: Wednesday Means More Modified Memories…. This shot captures Bobby Rich at Connecticut’s former West Haven Speedway. Rich was one a top-competitor at the track fondly recalled by locals as “The Rock” (a nod to the adjacent Savin Rock amusement park). It was an oddly-shaped 1/5-mile oval set within the confines of a baseball stadium and one of a number of raceways sanctioned by the once-powerful United Stock Car Racing Club led by the Tattersall family. Like so many other New England speedways that flourished during the years following World War II, West Haven succumbed to rising property values and the urban renewal movement of the 1960s. MORE>>

05/09/12: 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! 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. MORE>>

05/02/12: Pacing The Past (Again)….Speedbowl-Style! Seen here celebrating a Modified feature victory during his pre-“Buddha’s Bullet” days (a reference to the famed mount owned by Peg & Al Gaudreau that he’d race to Speedbowl Stardom in later seasons), is a young Dick Dunn. Bringing to the table a wealth of experience by the time of his pairing with the Gaudreau’s, he went on a rampage in 1972 annexing four-straight Modified titles. Like so-many of his contemporaries, Dunn was a graduate of the Bomber division having first-visited victory lane in that popular support class during the 1959 campaign. By the time of his retirement, he’d scored a total of 40 Waterford Modified victories. Note the old-school Firestone racing shirt Dick’s wearing – a prized racing collectable today! Here’s a wonderful 60s-era shot of the best-ever at the Speedbowl. Newt “Mr. Lightning” Palm was a multi-time titlist and certainly one of the most-popular drivers to have ever competed at the shoreline oval. MORE>>

04/25/12: It’s Wednesday Again (More Old Stuff…!) Captured in the pit area of Connecticut’s famed Stafford Springs Motor Speedway during the early 1970s is our old friend and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Bob Potter. The Taftville, CT. native started his career at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl in 1962 behind the controls of a Bomber class entry. Never officially retired, Potter went-on to win multiple Modified championships at Waterford (where alone, he claimed close to 100 career victories), Thompson, and Stafford. His name synonymous with the Waterford Speedbowl, the late Fred “Fuzzy” Baer remained one of the most beloved figures of the shoreline oval many-years after his retirement from the sport. Known as a skilled & steady chauffer, “Fuzz” was another of those guys that you seldom saw in any trackside-trouble. Though his long career yielded feature victories seemingly low in-number (four), at-least one of them was a major-event. On August 20, 1966, Baer topped a field of Waterford’s best in snagging a 75-lap Championship race. This shot from July of 1980 captures him when he was driving for the team of fellow Speedbowl veteran, Mark LaJeunesse. MORE>>

04/18/12: (Yet-More) Modified Memories…! If you’re at all familiar with New England Modified racing, not much has to be said about this fellow. As a driver, the late Ed Yerrington was a big winner, and in later years as an official became one of the most-respected figures in the sport. He’s captured here ready-to-roll at Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. Yerrington drove for several different teams during his career; we’re not sure who owned this little coupe. Captured here at Stafford in the early 1970s, the late Ernie Gahan’s 28-year racing career started during the post-war stock car racing boom of 1948 at New Hampshire’s Dover Speedway. By the time he’d hung-up his helmet, he’d amassed over 300 career victories. Perhaps his greatest achievement in the sport was being the first New Englander to win a NASCAR National Modified championship in 1966. He was equally successful on both dirt and asphalt. He won a record 21 features on the old dirt at Stafford Speedway in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He had eleven starts in Grand National (now Sprint Cup), series competition, recording two top-ten finishes, one of which was in the 1962 Daytona 500. MORE>>

04/11/12: Another Wednesday In The Books….. We’re unsure of the location in which this image was captured, but we really like it. Simply one of the greatest to ever sit behind the controls of a race car, the late “Dynamite” Ollie Silva was both a huge winner, and one of the most-admired competitors in all of short track racing. Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, Silva recorded over five-hundred feature victories over the course of a career that started in 1949 at the long-shuttered Dracut, MA. Speedway and concluded in 1980. He was victorious in Modifieds, Supers, Sprint Cars, and Cut-Downs. Etched into the record books of the Waterford Speedbowl is an absolutely-dominating Modified win in the 1974 Hot Wheels 100 in which Silva lapped the entire field not once, but twice! To this-day, the locals still talk about it. MORE>>

04/04/12: In A New York State Of Mind….  Here’s a great shot from New York’s Lancaster Speedway. The year is 1969 and the driver is Ted Renshaw. Scoring multiple successes on the ovals of the New York State region as-well as Canada (most-notably Cayuga Speedway), Renshaw was always-known for campaigning ultra-sanitary creations like this Coach-bodied entry. Seen here at Lancaster Speedway in 1969 is eastern hotshot Cam Gagliardi. Long a presence in the Modified wars of his region, he was a big winner at places like Lancaster, Albany-Saratoga, and Merritville in naming just a few. Cam actually got his start in the sport at the old Buffalo Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York which operated from 1933 to 1959. Many of the area’s greatest drivers emerged from the Civic Stadium including Gagliardi, Billy Rafter, Chuck Boos, and Bill Torrisi – all were champions. MORE>>

03/28/12: More “Wednesday Wanderings”….. Seen here celebrating an early victory at Connecticut’s former West Haven Speedway with a crew member and his young son Frank, is our good friend New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy Greco. One of the absolute-best of the Tattersall family’s United Stock Car Club, Greco was extremely-popular, enjoying a tremendous relationship with the fans having always been very friendly & approachable; something that continues today. Son Frank, who was an integral part of his father’s career, got a late start as a driver not climbing behind the wheel until he was in his 50s. The local racing world was stunned & saddened to hear that Frank perished in a traffic accident in 2002 while returning home from a Winston Cup event at New Hampshire International Speedway. Like his dad, Frank was a very-popular competitor. MORE>>

03/21/12: Yet-Another (Very) Varied Selection….! It’s the 1970s, and the guy behind the wheel of this Ford Pinto modified at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl was customarily seen capturing checkered flags in the track’s full-bodied divisions. Bob Gada Sr. was a champion in the Sportsman Sedan class, notching a boatload of feature victories during his long career. His family team also fielded modifieds, with most-notably Joey Trudeau at the controls. For a great video interview piece with Bob (and a number of other notable Speedbowl personalities), visit Tom DiMaggio’s “Sid’s Vault” site at www.sids-vault.com Bob’s sons David & Dennis account for a stellar 9 modified titles at the shoreline oval. MORE>>

03/14/12: Scrapbooks From The 70s (Thanks Walter)….. On the left is multi-time Waterford modified champion Dick Dunn, and on the right is a young Walter Jablonski who’s just won the annual Speedbowl model car contest with an exact-replica of the “Buddha’s Bullet” coupe that Dick had masterfully chauffeured to so many Waterford victories in the 1970s. With the exception of the “Bonus Shot” all of this week’s photos are from the scrapbooks that Walter had carefully assembled as a youngster (and huge fan of Mr. Dunn). This shot actually appeared in the Friday, June 21 1974 edition of the Groton News, making the junior high school student quite the local celebrity for his winning effort. Today, a number of Walter’s models are carefully-preserved in a showcase at Spectrum Powder Coating in Griswold, CT. which is owned by his longtime friend Paul Romano. It was Paul who made all of this week’s photos available for use in “Racing Through Time.” MORE>>

03/07/12: A Little Of This, & A Little Of That…. 1975 ushered-in a season of change at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl. Gone from the scene was the Independent Racing League replaced by the United Stock Racing Club when Harvey Tattersall Jr. purchased the facility from its longtime ownership team. With that, a number of United regulars began competing at the shoreline oval weekly. Bobby Bard Jr. was one of Harvey’s Riverside Park drivers to make the Speedbowl his Saturday night destination that year. Seen here is his #2 Gremlin after a tangle with longtime Waterford regular, our pal Jim Torok. A violent chain-reaction pileup on the front-chute, it also involved Ormie O’Hara in his #24 though he’s not seen in this shot. Torok, who’s now heavily involved with the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), nearly cleared the roof of Bard’s mount; it was a nasty wreck! MORE>>

02/29/12: Pacing The Past (Weekly)….. Norwich, Connecticut native the late Dick Beauregard was one of the absolute-best during the formative years at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Scoring a total of 65 feature victories and a pair of track championships in 1952 & 1963, it leaves one to wonder just how much-more success lay ahead had he not bowed out of the sport following his final track crown. The young fan on the left in this shot is none-other than the guy who provided this week’s images for all of us to enjoy, Mark LaJeunesse, who also went-on to become a shoreline oval success. Captured here at the Speedbowl, with an impish grin and a practical joke waiting for anyone who happed to be in spitting-distance, the late George Pendergast was one of the really good-things about the formative years of our sport. Not to be portrayed as simply a “Character” he truly-was a skilled and accomplished racer. In the 1960s, a win at the famed Norwood Arena in Massachusetts meant that you had really arrived. As relayed in “Hot Cars, Cool Drivers” by Lew Boyd www.coastal181.com the wild revelry in the Pendergast pit area following his first-ever triumph at that fabled speedplant somehow resulted in ole’ George breaking his arm. MORE>>

02/22/12: Pacing The Past (Weekly)….. The late Tommy Van Epps was a standout racer and definitely a fan-favorite in early action at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. A Non-Ford division champion rated 5th on that division’s all-time win list with 21 feature triumphs, this image captures him seated behind the controls of a Modified during the track’s “Cut-Down” era. The Cut-Downs would no longer be a part of the action at Waterford after Jack Griffin lost his life in a grinding crash on Saturday evening August 12, 1954. A switch-back to the considerably-safer “full coupes” was instituted by track management in short-order. If you claim to be familiar with the history of the Waterford Speedbowl, you should know who this guy-is. Captured here is the late “Dirty Dick” Beauregard, in the potent Congdon #76 coupe. In a career that spanned only a decade, this racer managed to accomplish more than most drivers spending twice-as-much time behind the wheel. MORE>>

02/15/12: Mixing-It-Up A Bit Again…. 1974 was a landmark year at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl for New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, the late Ollie Silva. On Sunday, May 5th of that season, he visited the shoreline oval to compete in the Independent Racing League’s “Hott Wheels 100”, an open-competition race paying a handsome purse. When the checkers fell that afternoon, he’d bested an all-star field finishing 2-laps ahead of his nearest competition. It’s an event still talked-about by the folks that were present. This one captures him pitside at the Speedbowl later during the same season. To a certain degree, the late George Pendergast gets short-changed when it comes to discussing the racing feats of his generation’s drivers. he was in-fact, a noteworthy winner grabbing checkers all-over New England during the much-heralded “Coupe Era.” Perhaps overshadowing his accomplishments was a fun-loving persona. MORE>>

02/08/12: Opening in 1947, the former Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts could be a daunting joint for racers. Featuring ultra-high banks, it was a blisteringly-fast venue that demanded the ultimate from its competitors. The Falconi family expertly guided it throughout most of its history showcasing everything from midgets to stock cars. John Falconi Sr. also helped field cars for legends like Joe Ross, Billy Tibbert and Fred Borden and later Reino Tulonen and Joe Cast at Thompson, Westboro, West Peabody, Medford, Norwood, and Hudson among others. In addition to his Westboro endeavors, he also promoted at Brookline and Thompson Speedways in the early-1960s, with Thompson’s World Series of Auto Racing was but one of his many innovations. John was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. Sadly, Westboro closed in 1985, but not before hosting some of the most-notable drivers in New England auto racing history. MORE>>

02/01/12: Another Week In The Books, More Old Stuff…! Simply a nice early-1970s shot captured at Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium through the lens of our pal, veteran racing photographer Steve Kennedy. In the #59 Pinto is a young Reggie Ruggiero, who just last weekend, became a member of the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. You don’t have to look a whole-lot to find his list of accomplishments, he’s simply one of the greatest modified racers New England ever produced, and Plainville is the place where it all started for him. In the neat coupe on the inside is Warren “Elmer” Lee, a guy who called “Tinty’s Place” home every Saturday night for many seasons. We continually get requests for images of this car, and this is a nice one. Seen here seated behind the controls of the classic Bunnell Bros. coupe at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl is Eddie Bunnell. Before advancing to the modifieds as seen-here, Ed had been a Bomber division champion. The entire Bunnell family including his younger brother Donnie & cousin John remained a vital part of the shoreline oval scene for many seasons. MORE>>

01/25/12: From humble beginnings at Joe Tinty’s greatly-missed Plainville Stadium in Connecticut, this guy became one of the best racers to ever strap-into the cockpit of a modified. The much-celebrated Reggie Ruggiero is seen here at Plainville in the 1970s behind the controls of the 00jr, a clone of the late Walt Kuryn's 00 coach. This Sunday Jan 29, “The Reg” will take his place among the other racing greats of New England when he’s inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Seen here during a Plainville Stadium victory lane celebration is a couple of racers that were a huge part of “Tinty’s Place” for many, many years. On the right it’s Don Moon, one of the track’s big stars, and a guy that traveled extensively with success during the 1960s. That’s Don Spazano on the left, long one of Plainville’s most-winning drivers and one of our sports true “Nice Guys.” Looks like the boys were playing to a packed-house on this Saturday night in the early-70s! MORE>>

01/18/12: Thinking Of Our Friend “Wild Bill” Slater…..  Rare, rare, & rare! Shots like this are absolutely-priceless to those of us who spend our time tracking the history of New England short track racing. This one (thanks Mr. Silvia), remains particularly-special to this scribe as the image captures a friend at the height of his career. What you’re looking at is the one & only time that “Wild Bill” Slater piloted the legendary Vitari-Bombaci #V8 on the Stafford, Connecticut dirt, and he won! Bill had parted-ways with the Kozella team the week-before being replaced with another Hall of Fame member, the late Ernie Gahan (ironically, it was Ernie that he beat to the checkers on this night). Slater relayed to Pete Zanardi that it took $20.00 in quarters at a Stafford car wash to remove all the dirt from the normally impeccably-prepared #V8 so that the team would look presentable for the Saturday night jaunt to Norwood Arena ,another place that the team absolutely-dominated. Owners Bob Vitari & Vic Bombaci are also members of the Hall of Fame. MORE>>

01/11/12: More… Vintage Views! It’s with great sadness that we report the passing of Westfield, North Carolina modified racing veteran Roger Hill last week following a brief illness. A fixture on the NASCAR Modified Tour since the 1980s, he stepped out from behind the wheel to become a car owner in 1996. A well-liked and respected member of the racing community, his “Hillbilly Racing Team” had employed some of the brightest talent on the circuit over the years. This photo from what we believe to be Martinsville captures Roger at the controls of his Capri-bodied creation during his driving days. Here’s a nice pitside shot of the late Marvin Chase. Known by Connecticut fans as primarily a Waterford 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. MORE>>

01/04/12: Celebrating Exactly Three Years Of “Racing Through Time” Online… Captured here behind the controls of a midget at Tiverton, Rhode Island’s former Ponta Delgada Motor Speedway is one Howard L. Bumpus. Known as “Bumpy Bumpus” in the racing world, the native of Brockton, Massachusetts was one of New England’s best. From a newspaper clipping of the era; “He is without a peer in big car racing in New England and is much sought-after for competition for the large tracks in the eastern United States.” It was in-fact, his foray into big car racing that would result in the end of his life. While running second in a big car qualifying heat at Flemington, New Jersey on Sunday, June 16 1946, he collided with leader Frank Bailey. His car began a violent series of flips, and the unfortunate Bumpy was ejected from the cockpit suffering a broken neck. Later that day, the great Ted Horn claimed the feature victory. MORE>>

2011

12/28/11: Another Year In The Books…. Captured here in 1974, it’s with great sadness that we report the recent passing of multi-time Waterford Speedbowl champion, Bill Sweet Sr. Fondly-remembered as the “Norwalk Nightrider” to a legion of veteran Waterford Speedbowl fans, Bill copped the Daredevil division title for 2 consecutive seasons in 1967 & 68. Along the way, he scored a total of 40 feature victories in Daredevil, Sportsman Sedan and Grand American competition, the first in 1966, the final in 1975. He ranks first on the list of all-time Daredevil feature winners, with 31 trips to victory lane. Sweet was one of the real movers & shakers in the early days of the Daredevil division, a class of full-bodied race cars that was started in 1965 at the shoreline oval to replace a fading Bomber division. Bill’s grandson Brent currently pilots an SK Modified at the Speedbowl, his late grandfather having been one of his most-dedicated fans. Sincere condolences are sent-out to the entire Sweet family and all of Bill’s many friends on this somber occasion. MORE>>

12/21/11: Happy Holidays To All! (And A Few Extra Shots This Week….) At Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, George Allum was an absolute terror in this flawless coupe during the early-70s, and was a serious contender to break the stranglehold that Dick Dunn seemingly had on the era’s track championships. In addition to taking several weekly features, he also defeated a stellar field of outsiders to take the checkers in the Hott Wheels 100 on Sunday afternoon April, 22, 1973 as seen-here. Another of the many racers that hailed from nearby Norwich (once a veritable “Gasoline Alley” for successful Bowl’ teams), Allum is the brother-in-law of former Waterford Modified competitor Mark LaJeunesse, yet another resident of the “Rose City” that enjoyed great shoreline oval success. MORE>>

12/14/11: Yet-Another Weekly “Blast From The Past”  It’s another Saturday night at Plainville, and it’s another win for car owner Joe Palmieri and his driver, John Bergenty. Joe, who passed-away in December 6th, is seen on the right in this shot; it’s an image that played-out many times during his decades-long association with our sport. Like any good modified team, Joe had a great crew helping to turn the wrenches, and they’re certainly a happy-bunch in this image! The Joe Palmieri #VO team was certainly a successful operation at Plainville, but they also did well at many other tracks in New England such as Waterford, Riverside Park, and as-seen here, the expansive high-banks of Thompson Speedway. Veteran modified shoe Ronnie VanNesse was behind the controls of Joe’s piece when this nice shot was captured in the 1970s at the “Big T.” Just a timeless shot of a great-looking coupe! Seen here at Connecticut’s late (and much-missed) Plainville Stadium is veteran modified racer Freddie Colassa, who was one of the best at the demanding little ¼-miler.   MORE>>

12/07/11: By Popular Demand; Yet-MORE Speedbowl Memories…. 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, the late “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, he retired in 1962 as a champion. This one captures him in one of his more-recognizable rides, the Congdon’s Garage #76. Dick passed-way in September of this year at age-85. Next is a shot of the immortal Melvin “Red” Foote. Seen here at the Speedbowl of the early-50s 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. MORE>>

11/30/11: By Request; More Speedbowl Memories…. Here’s one that’s sure to please longtime shoreline oval fans, and it’s a real favorite of yours-truly (I’ve been trying to get a copy of this print for eons). It’s 1972, and the young guy on the left is our close friend Mark LaJeunesse who at the time was just embarking on a Speedbowl career that would bring many triumphs for 30-plus seasons. On the right is the late, great Dick Beauregard, truly one of the pioneering stars at Waterford. With track championships in 1952 & ’62 along with 65 feature victories, Beauregard is easily one of the best to have ever competed at the Speedbowl. There’s a definitive connection between these two drivers; Mark’s father Al who for years was a tremendous force on his son’s race team, was with Beauregard from the start of his career. Sadly, we lost Dick just this year when he passed-away on September 7. Special thanks to Larry Pont for this gem of an image. MORE>>

11/23/11: Sharing A Few More Modified Memories The Day Before Thanksgiving….. Starting-off this week’s edition of “Racing Through Time” we have a vintage shot sent-in by reader Bill Flood of Tampa, Florida. Bill writes “This is Ken Dayton who raced at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. This picture was taken in 1963 when Seekonk ran flatheads. Ken raced in the 1950s with his friends from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Guys like Hop Harrington and Andy Anderson. He also raced at Norwood Arena and the Kingston Fairgrounds. He retired when Seekonk went modified.” Special thanks to Mr. Flood for sharing his memories of the driver of this sharp little coupe! Captured here during the 1960s at the former Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts is the late, great Ed Flemke Sr. Starting during the emerging popularity of stock cars in the post-war era, it’s estimated that he won over 500 feature events during a career which spanned 3-decades. Along the way, he helped many young drivers get their starts, including Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton, and Indy 500 veteran Dennis Zimmerman (also HOF members). MORE>>

11/16/11: Yup, More Wednesday Wanderings….. Here we have a nice shot from the 1970s of our good friend, Waterford Speedbowl modified veteran Mark LaJeunesse seated behind the controls of the coupe that started his decades-long career. His accomplishments at the shoreline oval include snaring the United Stock Car Racing Club’s 1975 Sportsman-Modified Championship, and scoring a stunning victory in the 2000 Budweiser Modified Nationals. Always a crowd-favorite, he was long-considered one of the “guys to watch” on any given Saturday night. This one’s from the daunting high-banks of Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway of the 1950s. That’s the late Sparky Belmont in the Central Garage #37 coupe dicing-it-out with Frankie Blum in the Norm Kies #21 and Andy Anderson in the #86. As relayed here many times, following a convincing victory in a 100-lap contest at Plainville Stadium in 1968, he collapsed during the post race celebration, and passed-away on the spot. “Sparky” had been a star on the post war Midget circuit before switching to stock cars. MORE>>

11/09/11: Waterford, Plainville, Stafford, (And One From Riverside) ... Pictured here at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl during the early days of the Daredevil class (and immensely-popular support division started in the 1960s), is one Roger Charbonneau. Among the more accomplished racers in a class that seemed to be made-up of a sea of “Tri-Five” Chevy’s & Fords, Roger scored a career total of 8 feature victories within full-bodied at the track affectionately-known as the “shoreline oval.” Here’s another great photo taken through the lens of our pal & former Plainville Stadium Official Track Photographer, Phil Hoyt. Seen here behind the controls of an-absolutely neat coupe is Bob Vivari, track champion and big-winner at Joe Tinty’s much-missed Nutmeg State ¼-miler for many seasons. Bob remained one of the best at Plainville right-up until its untimely closure at the dawn of the 1980s. MORE>>

11/02/11: More Wednesday Wanderings….. Seen here early following a cut down victory early in his career is Fitchburg, Massachusetts’ Reino Tulonen. He competed in big cars, midgets, sprint cars, jalopies, coupes, modifieds and super modifieds. In 1951 he drove the Custom Auto Body Henry J in 4 NASCAR Grand National (now know as the Sprint Cup Series) events. His many accomplishments include winning the 1951 New England Championship and the 1951 Seekonk Cutdown championship. Known as "The Flying Finn", he built, owned, drove, and worked on his own cars. Later in his career, he was successful making the transition to supermodifieds and NASCAR modifieds, winning the 1964 Westboro, MA. title. Fittingly, Reino was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2005. MORE>>

10/26/11: More Wednesday Wanderings….. Captured here in the early 1970s at the Speedbowl is our much-missed friend, the late Dick Watson, who passed away 7 years ago this week on Oct. 24th 2004. Known as “Gentleman Dick” Watson as well as “The Silver Fox”, he was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. Dick began and ended his career at Waterford. From that first race in 1953 until his retirement in 1976, he competed at tracks across New England including; Waterford, West Haven, Plainville Stadium, Lonsdale, Seekonk, Langhorne (dirt & paved), Norwood Arena, Thompson Speedway, & Stafford Motor Speedway. His first victory came at Plainville Stadium. Among his most notable rides was the Bob Garbarino #V-4“Mystic Missile” and the Freddie Beaber #716 as seen-here. In 1966 he moved to the NASCAR Modified circuit, winning the Thompson World Series. He scored top-ten point finishes at Thompson in 1966 and '67, and at Stafford in '67 and '68 competing against some of the very best drivers of the era. Dick also competed in several Grand National (now known as Sprint Cup) events. MORE>>

10/19/11: Remembering Oscar “Cannonball” Ridlon’s URDC Circuit…. Meet the late Oscar Ridlon, once a very-influential figure within the realm of New England auto racing, and especially in the formation a class that would eventually become known as the Super Modifieds. A former big car & midget racer of epic proportions, he later became the owner & promoter of the former Pines Speedway in Groveland, Massachusetts, and also New Hampshire’s Hudson Speedway. At one time, his URDC circuit was one of the most successful of sanctioning bodies, producing talent that would become household names in our region. Guys like Hall of Famers Ollie Silva, Don MacLaren, Bentley Warren and Paul Richardson in naming just a few, all raced for Ridlon early in their careers. Also at the helm of Maine’s Arundel Speedway for a time, Ridlon was the personification of an old-time promoter, ruling his tracks with an often-controversial “Iron-Fist” mentality. Some of the stories told by the drivers that raced for him are truly the stuff of our region’s racing folklore.  MORE>>

10/12/11: Regarding Midgets & Modifieds…. Here’s a wonderful shot of the late Al Keller, one of the post-war era’s greatest open-wheel stars. In 1949, he also began competing occasionally in NASCAR’s Strictly Stock (later Grand National) division. From 1949-54 he ran in 29 races, winning twice. In 1954, Keller turned his complete attention to the AAA & USAC Championship Car Series. He raced Champ Cars, Sprints, and Midgets over the next several seasons, and also competed in the Indianapolis 500 scoring a best finish of fifth in 1961. Sadly, later that year he perished in a fiery crash at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. The attrition-rate was often of staggering proportions during the early days of open cockpit racing. Known as “The Flying School Master” as a nod to his daytime gig, Connecticut’s Johnny Carpenter was actually one of the better-traveled midget racing stars of his generation. In addition to winning many races close to his Nutmeg State headquarters at places like Cherry Park and Candlelight Stadium (both in Connecticut), he also tasted success in New York State. MORE>>

10/05/11: In-Honor Of This Weekend’s Reunion, We Present More Plainville Stadium Memories!!! Here’s a really-early shot of one of Plainville Stadium’s most-colorful track champions, and according to the guys he raced-against, One Tough Competitor! Long-before NASCAR’s late Dale Earnhardt St. picked-up his ”Intimidator” nickname, the gutsy AnthonyJap” Membrino was rattling the cages of his fellow competitors all over New England. Not-only did this guy put on a show; he also won races, and a whole-lot of them! Jap is scheduled to be present at Saturday’s Third Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion at the Berlin Fair Grounds. Be-sure to stop-by and say hello! The much-accomplished Don Moon is one of the former Plainville Stadium competitors that we have to thank for helping to stage the track’s annual reunion. Don won a ton of races at Plainville, and was also very-successful at a number of other New England raceways during his traveling days. Known as a master craftsman in the realm of car builders, his rides were always super-fast and immaculate-looking. This shot captures him behind the controls of his familiar #9 coach with starter Billy Dunn's assistant the late Richard Biggie following one of his many Plainville feature victories. MORE>>

09/28/11: Celebrating (More) Plainville Stadium History…. Here’s a great shot from Mr. Ormsby’s archives and we’ll let him provide the commentary; Pictured is Bobby Nield and the late Eddie Hamel-owned #25. Bobby Knox was the longtime driver of the car, Nield only drove a short time and I don't know much about him except he never raced again after this. The car was distinguished by a small blue light on the roof. Eddie unfortunately was one of the five people hit with shrapnel when my #VO coupe went through the fence. This is a rare photo. I'm pretty sure this is the only shot that captures long-time Track Physician the late Dr. Edmund "Ned" Ziegler (seen in dark coat between the ambulance attendants in the white coats). Plainville was the only track in New England I'm aware-of that employed a Physician at the track and had onsite a fully-equipped first aid trailer. Dr. Ziegler was a former Medical Director for the City of New Britain and for many years was the Head of Emergency Services at Middlesex Memorial Hospital in Middletown before he retired. MORE>>

09/21/11: More Oldies (With An Emphasis On Plainville!)… We really like this early-70s shot of one of Plainville Stadium’s true “low-buck operators.”  I’d gander to say that our Webmaster and former Stadium’ competitor Tom Ormsby probably raced more than a few laps against the man known-as “Bubblegum Joe” Bubbico. Once a familiar sight all-over the ovals of New England, he eventually moved west and continued his racing career at San Bernardino’s Orange Show Speedway in Southern California becoming a top-competitor in the Late Model class. Still later, he became the Reverend Joe Bubbico, serving the parishioners of “On Track with Jesus” - an independent non-denominational Christian outreach program. Seen here behind the controls of the Joe Palmeri-owned #VO Coupe at Plainville Stadium during the early-1970s is Ron VanNesse. A big winner at that popular Connecticut ¼-miler, he also occasionally ventured-out to other area speedways such as Riverside, Thompson, and Stafford. MORE>>

09/14/11: It’s Wednesday, So You Know What That Means; (More Old Stuff, Of-Course!)… Sadly, it was learned last week that Waterford Speedbowl Icon Dick Beauregard passed-away recently. A Taftville, CT. native and a resident of California since the 1960s, he was one of the drivers that helped lay the groundwork for the traditions-rich racing heritage of the coastal Connecticut oval that continues today. In a relatively-short Speedbowl career of only a decade he notched a pair of Modified titles along with over-40 feature victories. In the Non-Ford class, he annexed the checkers on 20 occasions. Both controversial and immensely-popular at the same-time, he retired in 1962 as a champion. This Shany Lorenzent captures him during the twilight of his career. Here’s another great Waterford image from the 1960s donated by our old pal & frequent “RTT” contributor, Rusty Sage. Flanking the absolutely classic-looking coach of the Bunnell family race team is “Jiggs” Beetham. A top Speedbowl chauffer for a multitude of seasons, Jiggs would later hang-up his helmet and team with New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Bob Potter to form one of the region’s most successful Modified teams. The Bunnell family always fielded top-notch equipment, and this ride was no exception. MORE>>

09/07/11: Catching-Up After Hurricane Irene (A Hard Act To Follow….)  Here’s a nice shot of the late Raymond “Hully” Bunn who passed-away at age 91 on August 25. Inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2001, here’s an excerpt from his HOF biography; Raymond “Hully” Bunn of Bristol, CT, built his first racecar, a ’37 Ford Coupe, in 1949. Beginning at the Plainville Stadium, he soon was competing all over New England. While he drove his own equipment in the early part of his career, he later drove for many owners, including Johnny Ross, John Melnick, and Steve Danish. He began to compete outside New England, traveling to Tampa, Florida and Bainbridge, Ohio, as well as down the East coast into Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where he continued to be a frequent winner. “Those were fun days”, says Hully. “You could build a car for $1000, and most features paid at least $300 or $400 to win. Langhorne paid $1000, so you could really make a living at it back then.” In 1951, driving the #X coupe, Bunn beat out over 100 cars to win the Inaugural Race of Champions, a 100 mile race at Langhorne, PA. MORE>>

08/24/11: Traveling Back To The 1980s Modified-Style !!!! Here was have a nice shot from the Thompson Motor Speedway captured in 1980 of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Bob Potter. From his HOF biography; “In Southern New England, mention the number 51 and the immediate response is Bob Potter. Starting at Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, Potter began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford.  A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.” This guy truly ranks as one of the best New England modified racers of all-time. By the time Dick “Dickie Doo” Ceravolo was captured here pitside at the Stafford Motor Speedway in 1981, he’d already established himself as a Waterford Speedbowl winner having taken his first checker in 1971 at the shoreline oval as a top shoe in the full-fendered Daredevil class. MORE>>

08/17/11: Vintage Views; A Continuation… As stated-above, our old pal, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Val LeSieur was recently hospitalized. Launching Speedway Scene in 1971, his weekly paper became a “must-read” for anyone even remotely involved in the sport of auto racing in New England. It focused on the sport's people and issues in addition to reporting race results. Full of feisty columns, it was soon required reading across the region. Fans used it to follow their favorite racers, and to help determine their own weekly racing schedules. Promoters alternately loved and loathed its candid commentary. Racers valued the boost it gave their careers. Based on his many contributions to the sport, LeSieur was inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame this year. MORE>>

08/10/11: Yet-Another (Very) Varied Assortment….. One from Thompson; “Daring Dick” Caso may have never won any popularity contests with track officials, but he had more than his fair-share of fans among the grandstand patrons. A nickname well-earned, his driving 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 an admission 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 70s, he’d often take-off to run the dirt tracks of PA with this Corvair or it’s stable-mate, a Coupe-bodied creation. Nicknames were big during Caso’s tenure, as he was also christened “The Cromwell Comet” by the late, great John Small, one of the grandest announcers in Waterford Speedbowl history. MORE>>

08/03/11: Pacing The Past (Weekly)….. It’s with a heavy-heart that we present some sad news as relayed by our Webmaster, Tom Ormsby. It was learned last week that former modified racer Skip Zeigler passed-away last Saturday due to complications while undergoing cancer treatments. States Tom who competed against Skip at Plainville Stadium; “Skip started racing at Plainville, CT. in the late 1950s and was a regular until the track closed. His trademark was the red & white coach-bodied #126. The last three seasons he ran the “Flying 0” coach owned by his brother Gene. He also raced at Riverside Park, Stafford, Thompson, Lebanon Valley, and a few other tracks in upstate New York.” He was the 1966 Plainville Stadium track champion. This shot captures Skip at Plainville during the early stages of his long career. Our condolences go out to his family and many friends on their loss. MORE>>

07/21/11: And The Beat Goes On; More “Old Stuff” From Waterford… One-third of a brother-act that also included siblings Bob “Allie” Gada and the late Larry “Insta” Gada, Chris “Wally” Gada wheeled this Mustang Mach 1-bodied Modified in ‘Bowl action. Famous for their loyalty to products of a FORD-nature, the team fielded winning entries for years at a track that was overwhelmingly populated by entries propelled by “The General” during their generation. It was no-fluke, as the Gada’s won big. They fielded this car simultaneously with their winning (Bob being a multi-time track champ), full-bodied entries. Following Larry, veteran Joey Trudeau got-behind the controls, going-on to grab the 1971 Modified championship. MORE>>

07/20/11: Connecticut’s Much-Missed Danbury Racearena; The Early Years…. Here’s a shot of a real Danbury hero that I DO happen to know a bit-about. When you think of Charles “Chick” Stockwell, your mind immediately conjures-up images of overwhelming success as the all-time winner on the ultra-competitive surface of the late SNYRA-sanctioned Danbury Fair Racearena in Connecticut. Nine championships, 207 victories, and a stint as “Most Popular Driver” for six-years (1976-1981), are bound to sew-up his association with what was once considered one of the most-successful short track operations in America. Sadly, we lost Danbury at the conclusion of the 1981 season so a Mall could be constructed on the property. Like we needed another mall in Connecticut, right? Here’s a nice pitside shot of Lou Funk Jr. from 1962. Along with his dad Lou Sr., they were a formidable duo at Danbury winning a boatload of features. Lou Jr. experienced great success at the Racereana in later years wheeling a Chrysler Kit Car modified.  MORE>>

07/13/11: YET-MORE “Waterford Wanderings”…. This guy’s name remains synonymous with the Waterford Speedbowl, and we never tire of featuring him on this site. Nobody has more wins in the Modified division at that track than New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Don Collins. Though he also competed at other venues, Collins spent much of his career at the Speedbowl where he scored more than 100 features in both Modified and Non-Ford competition along with five Modified championships. The first title came in 1955, the final in 1969. This shot is from 1968, and captures the ‘Bowl legend behind the controls of the potent Simons Brothers #9. Another coupe-era shot from what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl captures Bob Tetreault on a Saturday evening in 1970. Typical of the times, Bob’s racer sported a nifty vintage body, stock frame, and probably 99% of the components used in its construction where products of good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity, rather than a fat-wallet. Sadly, Modified racing has become prohibitively-expensive for many would-be competitors and has also forced many veteran teams out of the sport. It remains a truly-disturbing trend. MORE>>

07/06/11: Another-Dose Of Modified Memories…. Here we present a nice candid shot captured at the Waterford Speedbowl by our longtime friend & veteran New England racing photographer, Steve Kennedy. Seen here with a smile for the camera is local shoe, John Bunnell. Starting in the old sportsman sedan class before progressing to modifieds like the sharp Vega creation seen here (a body-man by profession, John routinely campaigned very-attractive rides), he was a part of the action within the shoreline oval’s premier division for nearly 3-decades. We believe this shot to be from the 1981 season. One of the real joys of doing this site has been making many new friends since we first went online a few years-ago. One of those friends is Rusty Sage, who along with others has contributed a number of classic images for all to enjoy. Here’s another from Rusty’s archives and it’s a beauty! Captured in a classic Shany “portrait shot” is a 17 year-old Donnie Bunnell (cousin of the aforementioned John Bunnell) during the start of his long, storied Waterford Speedbowl career. From this youthful start in 1967, Donnie became one of the absolute-best at the shoreline oval recording a career-total of 33 feature victories in Daredevil, Modified, and SK Modified competition. MORE>>

06/29/11: More Wednesday Wanderings….. Seen here in 1963 capturing one of his many feature victories at Connecticut’s former Danbury Fair Racearena is popular Jimmy Smith. One of the Southern New York Racing Associations (SNYRA) best-ever, he recorded 5 track championships, the first in 1965, his final in 1973. He was a founding member of the SNYRA and ranks 5th on Danbury’s all-time winners list. Sadly, Jimmy passed-way on Sunday, June 12 at the age of 72. Our condolences go out to his family and many friends. Here’s a real oldie from the annals of Connecticut auto racing history. Seated behind the controls of a unique-looking specimen from the region’s cut down period of the 1950s is one Whitey Brainard. The location is the small paved oval that resided in the infield section of the larger half-mile dirt oval of Stafford Speedway (paved to its present configuration in 1967). Note that Brainard’s car is powered by a Buick straight-8, which must have made it a handful! MORE>>

06/22/11: A Trip Through “The Silvia Files”… Captured here in the 1950s with their driver the late “Moneybags Moe” Gherzi, are the Garuti brothers, Richie & Ray. From their New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame biography; Rich and Ray Garuti are truly New England auto racing pioneers, building their first stock car for Plainville Stadium early in the 1950s. They continued to build winning cars for over two decades, scoring on both the United Stock Club and NASCAR circuits.  The numbers 14 and 28 will forever be associated with the New Britain, CT natives. They began with the Midgets, first maintaining somebody else's car before acquiring their own. Johnny DeLeo remembers some impressive runs in the #14  V60-powered Kurtis.  Modifieds, however, is where they made their mark. George Lombardo, Moe Gherzi, Ed Flemke, Jocco Maggiacomo and Smokey Boutwell were the principal drivers. The cars out of Ray's Garage in the Kensington section of Berlin, CT had dominating seasons with Lombardo at Plainville Stadium and  with Gherzi at the Waterford Speedbowl before moving  on to Riverside Park, United's flagship for over two decades. MORE>>

06/15/11: Yet-Another Batch Of “Old Stuff”…. We start this week’s edition of Racing Through Time on a sad-note, as it was learned last week that former New England modified racer Billy Knight passed-away on Sunday, June 5. He was 56. Starting his career at Plainville Stadium, he also raced frequently at Riverside Park and Stafford. Our Webmaster Tom Ormsby who raced against Billy at Plainville had this to say: Billy started at Plainville, but spent most of his career at Riverside. I always knew him to be a really nice person. He raced at Stafford for a time and was a big fan-favorite at Riverside Park. Knight was always known for really sharp-looking equipment and this shot of him in his Vega at Stafford is no exception. Our sincere condolences are offered to his family & many friends. Here’s a great shot of the late Ed Yerrington at Waterford circa 1967. After a distinguished career as a racer, Yerrington successfully made a transition to the management segment of the sport working a several New England raceways. Note the body on this little number; it’s a Studebaker Lark. MORE>>

06/08/11: Every Picture Tells A (Speedbowl) Story…  Hailing from the Connecticut River Valley region, Mike Beebe enjoyed a long and successful career in the modified division at Waterford, notching a career total of 8 feature victories in the ‘Bowls premier division. He recorded his first in 1971, his final in 1979. When this shot was captured in the late-60s, Beebe was just starting-out in the Daredevil division, a once-popular support class that routinely drew a record number of entries each week. Originally conceived as a replacement for the struggling Bomber class, it was often that both A & B main events were run for the wildly-popular full-bodied Daredevils. After a period of inactivity, Beebe in later years returned to the sport wheeling a Legends car along with his son Mike Jr. Though they remained essentially the same animal with the exception of a few performance-enhancing rule revisions, the Daredevils underwent a name-change becoming known as “Sportsman Sedans” for the 1971 season. While weekly fields would never again reach the expansive numbers of the formative years of the division, competition was still of the fierce-variety. MORE>>

06/01/11: Yup, It’s Wednesday And You Know What That Means; More Old Stuff Starting this week’s column we have a nice shot of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member George Summers during his days as a Cut-Down chauffer at Norwood Arena. Silenced forever in 1972, the fondly-remembered Massachusetts ¼-miler was a hotbed of racing action featuring the biggest names in the sport for decades. This weekend on Sunday June 5, the memories will be rekindled at the 7th Annual Norwood Arena Reunion to be held at Bezema Motors on US Rt. 1 in Norwood, Mass., the Auto Mile. For more information visit our friends at the Norwood Arena Speedway Historical website www.norwoodarena.com I know I’ll be there Sunday! Its Memorial Day 1949, and things are about to get underway at Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium in Connecticut. That’s Ted Tappett on the pole, followed by Tommy Coates, Dick Eagan, Ray Nester, Ray Brown, and Ernie Gessell. Sadly, Plainville closed at the dawn of the 1980s, but not before gaining its reputation as one of the most competitive ¼-milers in New England. In looking at the archives, it seems that just-about all of the best drivers of modified racing competed at Plainville during its long history. In-particular, the mid-week open competition shows routinely drew the biggest names in the sport. MORE>>

05/25/11: Another Week, Another Peek At The Past…. This one from Connecticut’s late Plainville Stadium comes from the files of our pal, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Val LeSieur. No-doubt having appeared in Val’s fondly-recalled Speedway Scene weekly, the caption on the back reads; A jam-up on the back chute sent Stan Greger flipping end-over-end in one of the most spectacular accidents-ever at Plainville Stadium during the 1974 season. Although the car was demolished, Greger received only minor injuries. The Stadium will open the 1975 season on Saturday night, April 19th. Portrait images of drivers are kinda’ rare, so we just had to run this one, The guy you see here is Dick Dunn, absolutely one of the best racers to have ever turned a lap at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl. Wheeling a modified owned by our friends Peg & Al “Buddha” Gaudreau and adding to an already impressive resume, during the four-straight seasons that he was crowned champ (1972-75) Dunn recorded an impressive 18-feature victories including a number of extra-distance shows. MORE>>

05/18/11: More May Modified Memories…..  “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 Speedbowl’s grandstand patrons. A nickname well-earned, his driving 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. Nicknames were big during Caso’s tenure, as he was also christened “The Cromwell Comet” by the late, great John Small, one of the grandest announcers in Speedbowl history. The moniker was of course, a nod to his hometown. MORE>>

05/11/11: Yet More Wednesday Wanderings…. Seen here during the 1960s during an outing at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway is Frank Manafort. Associated primarily with the late Plainville Stadium (another Nutmeg State oval where he experienced great success garnering several championships), Manafort was a top New England modified competitor in the mid 60's to the early 70's retiring to help run the family business  In later years, he came back to compete in the Legends division where he continued winning. 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. He was extremely popular with both fans & his fellow competitors. Teaming with legendary car owner Mario Fiore later in his career, he raced to much-success at Massachusetts’ former Riverside Park Speedway. Courtesy of his friend & one-time car owner Mario, we’re able to present this shot of Gary at Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts during the 1965 season. MORE>>

05/04/11: Wednesday Means More Modified Memories…. Starting this week on sad note, word was received that Rochester, N.Y. Modified driver Dick Emerson passed away Yesterday. Dick raced into the mid-1970s at Lancaster (NY) Speedway and Spencer Speedway (Williamson, N.Y.) and also at Oswego, N.Y.  Pictured here in about 1970 is Dick Emerson, a weekly competitor at Lancaster Speedway. It was a Falcon-bodied Modified, and I was used to seeing mostly Coupes at the tracks I frequented with my family. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Emerson or his career, but I sure liked the looks of his Modified! As a 3-time NASCAR National Sportsman Champion, a member of the famed “Eastern Bandits”, and an inductee of both the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame and the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame, little has to be said about this driver that hasn’t already been written. Known as “The Champ”, Rene Charland won over 250 features and countless track titles races during a career that spanned 4-decades. He’s seen here with just one of the coupes “The Champ” guided to victory lane. MORE>>

04/27/11: Wednesday Means More Modified Memories…. Courtesy of my friend and former boss at Speedway Scene, Val LeSieur, we have a nice candid “garage shot” of Roland Cyr working on the potent Vega-bodied modified that he and driver Dave Alkas campaigned to so-many triumphs at Connecticut’s much-missed Plainville Stadium. A multi-time track champion, Alkas was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2008, and of-course Val took his place among the greats just this year. Written on the back of this shot is the following; “Roland Cyr of Burlington works on the new Vega-bodied modified that will be driven this season by Dave Alkas at the Plainville Stadium. Cyr and Alkas have teamed-up as a winning combination at the stadium for many years. The car features a modified independent front suspension developed by Cyr.” MORE>>

04/20/11: More April “Old-Daze” Action…. Here’s a great early shot from Connecticut’s “Stafford Springs Speedway” of the 1950s courtesy of our old pal, Mal Phillips. The driver is John Coon, and his coupe is typical of the machines that lapped the storied nutmeg state oval at the time. The Arute family purchased the track from Mal Barlow at the dawn of the 1970s rechristening it “Stafford Motor Speedway” and transforming it into the showplace it remains today for the NASCAR modified division. We ran a piece on this driver a few months-ago, and have subsequently received a ton of requests for more images of the popular “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl star. Seen here at the shoreline oval during the early days of his career is Johnny Sandberg. Claiming the 1952 Non-Ford championship, he scored a career-total of 19 feature victories at Waterford in both Non-Ford and Modified competition. His final Bowl’ triumph came during the 1961 campaign. MORE>>

04/13/11: Another Installment Of “The Way We Were”… Here’s a nice shot from the personal scrapbook of our pal, New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy Harman. The year is 1959, and it’s Billy’s Rookie year as a New England modified stock car racer. From his Hall of Fame biography; “At age 21, Billy Harman began racing a modified 312 Ford at the Waterford Speedbowl. He won a feature in his first year, as well as taking down Rookie of the Year honors.  He continued at the Speedbowl for the next 7 years, recording many wins and holding four different track records, including the fastest 10 lap heat, 25 lap feature, 50 lap feature, and non-stop 100 lap feature. He dominated there, especially in 1965 and 1966, driving the famed L & M Coupe. Following 1966, Bill felt it was time to move on to more and bigger challenges. MORE>>

04/06/11: With A Little (More) Help From Our Friends… Flanked by a State Trooper on the right, and “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl Vice President Anthony Albino on the left, this drivers name remains synonymous with the shoreline oval and we never tire of featuring him on this site. Nobody has more wins in the Modified division there than New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Don Collins. Though he also competed at other venues, Collins spent much of his career at the Speedbowl where he scored more than 100 features in both Modified and Non-Ford competition along with five Modified championships. The first title came in 1955, the final in 1969. While he drove for a varied list of top teams, he’s probably best recalled for his accomplishments while behind the wheel of his self-owned “Little Jewel” #106. Special thanks go to longtime ‘Bowl track photographer & friend Rene Dugas for the loan of this classic 50s-era image. MORE>>

03/30/11: With A Little Help From Our Friends (Again)….. From November 4, 1978, we open this week’s edition of “RTT” with a shot of the late, great Richie Evans at Connecticut’s Thompson International Speedway. A native of Rome, NY., Evans left his family's farm at age 16 to work at a local garage. After finding early success in drag racing, a friend suggested he try building a car to race at the nearby Utica-Rome Speedway. He ran his first oval-track car, a 1954 Ford Hobby Stock numbered PT-109 (after John F. Kennedy's torpedo boat in World War II), in 1962. He advanced to the Modifieds in 1965, winning his first feature in the season's final night. In 1973, he became the NASCAR National Modified Champion. In 1978 he won a second title and did not relinquish his crown during the next seven years. Evans took over four hundred feature race wins at racetracks from Quebec to Florida before he was fatally injured at age-44 in a practice crash at Martinsville in late 1985.  MORE>>

03/23/11: Continuing Our Trek Down Memory Lane….. Here’s a rare one. Pat Doherty owned winning modifieds in New England for years, employing the services of some of the regions best racers. In this shot, it’s New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member the late Fred Desarro behind the controls of one of his coupes in November of 1972. What makes this shot particularly-rare is the surface of the track; Pat ran the car on dirt AND asphalt during an era in which purpose-built cars had not yet become prevalent. Lakeville was a wild n’ woolly ½-mile dirt oval that opened in the 1920s as Camp Joe Hooker Speedway (it had previously been utilized as an Army horse training camp named after General Hooker). Also known as “Golden Spur” it closed in 1975, and sadly, Desarro lost his life resulting from a grinding Thompson crash during the 1978 season. MORE>>

03/16/11: Another Week, Another Very-Varied Selection…. Seen here in the 1960s behind the controls of a full-bodied “Tri-Five” Chevy celebrating victory at the former Westboro Speedway during the early days of his career is “Fast Finch Fenton” (known in mere-mortal terms as Lew Boyd). As the proprietor of Coastal 181 www.coastal181.com Lew brings to us the best in racing-related reading, video, and artwork. This guy has been-around the sport for a long-time, and saw success during his driving days in just about every division in New England, dirt & asphalt. You gotta’ love this neat Chevy and it’s period-perfect “Batman” inspired paint-scheme! “Dynamite” Ollie Silva - what else has to be said? For a generation of New England racing fans, watching this man compete in either a Super or a Modified was in-itself, worth the cost of an admission ticket. Shown here following an early victory, he claimed over 500 feature triumphs during his career. To Connecticut race-goers, one victory stands-alone in illustrating a typical show of “Silva Dominance” when the man was in his prime. MORE>>

03/09/11: More “With A Little Help From Our Friends…” Born on December 16, 1916 in the Bronx, New York, the late Tony Bonadies was one of the East Coast’s all-time midget racing greats. Extremely popular, his career spanned almost three decades during which he competed in more than a thousand races. Although he never captured an ARDC Midget Championship, he was ranked among the top six in seven out of his last eight seasons in the series' final classification table, and was twice the runner-up. A 3-time Indy 500 entrant, he was running in an ARDC midget show at Williams Grove, PA. on July, 5 1964 when his right-rear axle snapped; the car got airborne and violently barrel-rolled several times. Sadly, he was thrown to the ground and died instantly. This shot captures Bonadies celebrating yet-another victory during the height of his illustrious career. MORE>>

03/02/11: Remembering Gene Bergin Along With More From The Archives…. Simply-stated, we lost a HUGE talent and a good friend when New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Gene Bergin passed-away last weekend following a lengthy illness. Be it modifieds, sprint cars, or midgets on dirt or asphalt, he always found his way to the front of the pack. Upon hearing of his pal’s passing, fellow Hall of Famer Pete Zanardi stated that “Gene Bergin was the most naturally-gifted & versatile race driver that I’ve ever seen. He could win in anything.”  He’s captured here during the 1960s flanking the Beebe Zalinski M6, a car that he guided to the first-ever Stafford Motor Speedway asphalt championship in 1967. Again, what has to be written about this guy? If you’re at-all familiar with New England racing history, than you should already know a little about the career of the late Gene Bergin. A member of the first class inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, he started his career in 1949 at the Stafford Motor Speedway, remaining one of our regions top-drivers for over three-decades. MORE>>

02/23/11: And The (Vintage) Beat Goes On….. Captured here in the pit area of Connecticut’s high-banked Thompson Speedway is one of my favorite rides of all-time, the Rambler-bodied modified of the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener. It’s 1973, and he was making an infrequent visit to the “Big T.” With its body crafted by the late Owen Bowen, the little Dodge-powered AMC really stood-out in the field. It was in this car that “Wild Bill” scored his final career victory which took place at his home track, the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl on Easter Sunday of 1974. We have a ton of “unidentified” shots like this one in the files, and have found that publishing them here can sometimes solve the mystery. The locale is Connecticut’s former Plainville Stadium, and the machine you see here was typical of the machines that frequented the ultra-competitive ¼-miler during the late 60s & early 70s. MORE>>

02/09/11: Another Helping Of Modified Memories….. Captured here on the high-banks of Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway is our pal, Coastal 181’s Lew Boyd. The year is 1976, and he had this to say about his ride on that day; “This was “The Stang” we were running mostly at Fonda. We had rebuilt the car completely over the winter, changed it from #181 to No Cents, and put in a 482 big block. It was pretty fast, but we were definitely behind the curve. Manufactured cars (Tobias, Schwinning, Weld, etc) had come on the scene big time, and we ate some dust!” Boyd’s racing partner Bruce Cohen added that “We were having some steering/heating problems with the car and so it was off to the Big T for some trouble shooting.” When’s the last time you saw a dirt-car at Thompson? MORE>>

02/02/11: Another Slice Of The Past…. This was a sight often witnessed by fans of New England Super Modified racing in the days that NESMRA reigned-supreme at New Hampshire’s Star Speedway. That’s the legendary “Big Daddy” Don MacLaren on the inside, and the equally-celebrated Ollie Silva on the high-side. Both Don & Ollie are gone now, “Big Daddy” having passed just recently, and Ollie in 2004. The intense duals waged between these two Hall of Famers remains the stuff of legend. Here’s another one from Star Speedway. Captured here in a dramatic action-shot is Jerry Wall piloting his famous (and hugely-successful), “Yellow Jacket” NEMA Midget. Quite revolutionary for it’s time, the car was a huge departure from the more conventional “uprights” that had long been the standard of Midget racing in the Northeast. Wall was a longtime star on the NEMA circuit, recording 14 feature victories during his career. MORE>>

01/26/11: It’s Wednesday – Time For More Old Stuff !!! Starting this week’s edition of “RTT” we have an image of one of the Waterford Speedbowl’s most fondly-remembered combinations; Newt Palm & the L&M Modified. He was twice a champion (1967 & 68), while wheeling the potent little Willys-bodied coupe. Walt Dombrowski also grabbed the title driving the L&M in 1970, cementing the car’s status as one of the more famous cars in ‘Bowl history. We admittedly don’t know a whole-lot about this driver and his neat square-roof coupe, but we do know that the car was a real looker! Seen here at the Waterford Speedbowl pitted next to the team of Mike Beebe during the early 1970s is Dick Chapman. Classic coupes like this one remained standard fare at the shoreline oval when this shot was recorded, but teams were starting to look toward late model sheetmetal as evidenced by Beebe’s Ford Mustang-shod mount. MORE>>

01/19/11: Yet-Another Selection Of Short Track Stormers… Here’s a special one sent-in from one of our readers, Rick Burdick. Seen here at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the early 1970s is driver Ricky Taylor, a standout competitor in the old Sportsman Sedan division. The little guy with him is the late Bobby Burdick. Sadly, Bobby perished in motorcycle accident in 1977, just a few years after this shot was captured. Taylor & the Burdick brothers are cousins. The great Sal Dee remains one of the most fondly-remembered racers of his era. With his relatively brief but spectacular career stalled by serious racing-related injuries, had longevity been in the cards he would have undoubtedly accomplished even-more. With roots tracing-back to the Waterford Speedbowl, Dee won-over a legion of fans undoubtedly fueled by his no-nonsense drives to the front during what many railbirds consider the most-competitive period in New England modified racing history. This image captures his famous “Flying 70” mount in the Thompson pits. MORE>>

01/12/11: More Wednesday Wanderings (Vintage-Style)….. We open the latest edition of “Racing Through Time” with a 60s-era Modified division shot of Johnny Sandberg, one of the best-ever at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Claiming the 1952 Non-Ford championship, he scored a career-total of 19 feature victories at Waterford in both Non-Ford and Modified competition. Sandberg’s final shoreline oval triumph came during the 1961 campaign. And here we have another image from the Speedbowl, this time it’s Bill Staubley during the 1964 campaign. It was a particularly-good season for the talented chauffer, as he’d racked-up an impressive 8 Bomber class feature victories by seasons-end. Staubley later advanced to the headlining Modified division where he remained a steady competitor for many seasons. MORE>>

01/04/11: Yet Another Scan Of The Archives….. In 1977 Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl introduced a new support class due in-part to boost a sagging car-count in the old Grand American division. By the next season the class had flourished, and it seemed like everyone was getting into the act. See here is Dave Dykes during the spring of 1978. His well-used Plymouth Belvedere (a 4-door, no-less), had been purchased from established competitor Paul Jutila. With a firesuit borrowed from family friend & former Daredevil racer Gary Welsh, and a helmet purchased from the local Two-Guys department store (remember them?), he was on his way. Lou Austin was one of the premier players during New England Modified racing’s much-heralded “Coupe Era.” Seen here in the 1960s behind the controls of his familiar #73 at the much-missed Norwood Arena in Massachusetts, it should also be noted that Lou was quite the multi-talented competitor. In addition to his accomplishments in the Modifieds, he also occasionally campaigned within the ranks of the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA), enjoying considerable success. MORE>>

2010

12/29/10: Ushering-In The New Year…. Speedbowl Style! Opening this week’s edition of “Racing Through Time” is a late 1970s trackside shot of Nels Wohlstrom, a top-flight Modified driver at the Waterford Speedbowl and other New England area tracks for many seasons. A popular shoreline oval chauffer and graduate of the Sportsman Sedan class, Wohlstrom notched a bevy of fine finishes while behind the controls of this slick Chevy Monza-bodied creation. Captured here on opening day of 1970 with his 1934 Chevy coupe, “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 Speedbowl’s grandstand patrons. A nickname well-earned, his driving 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. Nicknames were big during Caso’s tenure, as he was also christened “The Cromwell Comet” by the late, great John Small, one of the grandest announcers in Speedbowl history. The moniker was of course, a nod to Dick’s hometown. MORE>>

12/22/10: Wishing A Merry Christmas To All !!!!!! Here’s another rare image from our friend Rusty Sage. We’ll let him give the details; “This Waterford Speedbowl Daredevil class entry belonged to Eddie Bunnell and he raced it for a few weeks in 1965 while simultaneously running in the Bomber division. The class started-in I believe, September of 1965. The shot was captured then at the Bunnell shop. Because of Eddie's commitment to the Bombers, Roger Bonville drove it for the remainder of the season.” Bunnell of course, went on to convincingly score the last-ever Bomber championship in 1966. 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. He was extremely popular with both fans & his fellow competitors. Teaming with legendary car owner Mario Fiore later in his career, he raced to much-success at Massachusetts’ former Riverside Park Speedway. Courtesy of his friend & one-time car owner Mario, we’re able to present this shot of Gary behind the controls of his first-ever race car at Riverside in 1962. MORE>>

12/15/10: Rainy Day Reflections….. “I’m telling you Cohen, Grover Cleveland was a better president than Chester A. Arthur ever-was!” You have to wonder if these two longtime friends were debating their political views (something that still occurs today), or discussing the days racing schedule on the oil-soaked dirt surface of Massachusetts’ former Lakeville Speedway. That’s our pal, writer-extraordinaire & NEAR Hall of Famer Pete Zanardi (right), and none other than that expert on all things involving racing in New England, the honorable Mr. Bruce B. Cohen on the left. Thankfully, some things never change! 2011 NEAR Hall of Fame inductee Val Lesieur donated this little gem of an image. The late Rick “Sleepy” Knapp was at Waterford for what seemed like forever. Always sporting his signature “Sweet 16” on the flanks of his racers, he was a particularly successful competitor in the full-bodied ranks. Known by fellow drivers as “A guy you could race with” he got the job done with equipment that was often less well-funded than that of his competitors. MORE>>

12/08/10: It’s Wednesday; Time For More “Old Stuff”…. This shot captures Irwin Fox following a victory at Connecticut’s late West Haven Speedway. Fox was one of the top competitors at the track fondly recalled by locals as “The Rock” (a nod to the adjacent Savin Rock amusement park). It was an oddly-shaped 1/5-mile oval set within the confines of a baseball stadium and one of a number of raceways sanctioned by the once-powerful United Racing Club led by the Tattersall family. Like so many other New England speedways that flourished during the years following World War II, West Haven succumbed to rising property values and the urban renewal movement of the 1960s. Like Fox, Ralph “Zippy” Zullo called West Haven Speedway home for a number of seasons. His #88 entry is typical of the machinery campaigned at “The Rock” which featured Non Ford & Novice division fare as the regular weekly attraction for most of it’s existence. Following the untimely closure of the track, Zullo campaigned at a number of other tracks in the region including Plainville Stadium and the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. MORE>>

12/01/10: Our Usual Helping Of Racing History (New England-Style)…. Here’s one of the New England region’s longest-running performers. The career of Dale Holdridge (left) lasted over 3-decades. Known as a gentleman on & off the track, he was a driver that you seldom ever saw involved in any controversy; just a good, steady shoe that fellow competitors enjoyed racing with. As evidenced by this sharp and somewhat-radical coupe, he was also a skilled and innovative car builder. The place is the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, and it’s the spring of 1971. Holdridge was recently presented the “Dedication to Racing Award” by the Modified Racing Series where he presently oversees his son Mike’s career. Captured here very-early in his career during the 1950’s, Joey “Pops” Trudeau was a fan-favorite at the Speedbowl for decades, and his winning reputation kept him in-demand with all of the shoreline oval’s top teams. After coming-close to notching the championship on several occasions, he finally scored in 1971 wheeling a Mustang-bodied creation for the Gada team. MORE>>

11/28/10: Another Installment Of “With A Little Help From Our Friends”…. The Bunnell family of Montville, CT. were long a staple of the competition at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Bunnell was the 1966 Bomber class champion, and brother Donnie later became one of the shoreline oval’s most popular winning Modified drivers. On opening day in 1968 when Rene Dugas capture this image, the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener (himself a former Bomber champion), was the driver of the team’s immaculate coach-bodied Modified entry. The Bunnell’s always had great-looking equipment! As mentioned-above, Ed Bunnell was the 1966 Bomber champion at Wateford. Shown outside the teams shop, here’s a nice shot of the Coupe that Ed guided to 9 feature victories on-route to the title. This is kind of a rare one, as color Speedbowl Bomber shots from this era remain pretty difficult to come-by. Special thanks to Rusty Sage for providing us with this candid image! MORE>>

11/17/10: 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. MORE>>

11/10/10: Another (Very) Varied Selection…. Color racing images from the early 1950s are rather-rare; simply-stated, they’re VERY difficult to find. Thanks to our pal JoJo Farone (himself once a racer of note), we have this little gem. Pictured here with famed New England car owners Rich & Ray Garuti is the late, great “Moneybags Moe” Gherzi. Already an established star when this shot was captured, he was one of the most-prolific winners during the sports infancy. Often nattily-attired on race night, Moe bought a degree of class to the sport when greasy t-shirts seemed the norm. He earned his nickname via a penchant for claiming some of the biggest purses of the era. After vacating the driver’s seat, he served a long residency as Race Director at the late Plainville Stadium. The Garuti’s will be inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame on January 30th. MORE>>

11/03/10: Yet-More Images From The Mal Phillips Collection… NEAR Hall of Famer Joe Csiki won his first feature on the 1/5-mile at Riverside Park Speedway in Massachusetts (as seen here), on May 4, 1957, Before that first win he was turning heads as a talented driver, being named the 1956 United Stock Car Club Most Promising Driver, and the 1958 NEMA Rookie of the Year. He was the 1961 NEMA Non-Offy Owner Champion, and the ’62 NEMA Non-Offy Driver Champion. He followed up as the 1963 and ’65 NEMA Driver Champion.  In 1964, he was named United Racing Club Rookie of the Year, and he was the ARDC Driving Champion in 1966. Csiki listed two ARDC 100 lap races, one at Old Bridge and one at Wall Stadium, along with a 50 lapper at Trenton in 1966, as three of his bigger wins. Sadly, his life ended tragically from injuries sustained at Bedford, PA Fairgrounds in August of 1967. Special thanks to Tom Ormsby for providing data on Csiki’s early career. MORE>>

10/27/10: Seekonk, Waterford, Stafford Dirt, NEMA, etc…. Captured here in 1978 is the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA), team of the Kibbe family. Popular Joey Coy (center) was the driver that year. The Kibbe name remains a familiar one within NEMA today with Carl (right), still turning-wrenches on winning entries. Aficionados of Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl may recall the now-retired Don Kibbe as being a winning Modified driver at the shoreline oval. Seen here celebrating a victory at Seekonk, Massachusetts in 1970 (AKA the Cement Palace), is a young Ronnie Bouchard, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer and winner of the 1981 Talladega 500 in his rookie-year in the NASCAR big-leagues. Nicknamed “The Kid from Fitchburg”, he started his career at the old Brookline New Hampshire Speedway as a fourteen year-old. From there, it was onto success at all of the top Modified haunts, places like The Konk’, Stafford, Thompson, Waterford, etc. Bouchard concluded his storybook auto racing career in the late-80s, returning to his native New England where he today runs an ultra-successful chain of auto dealerships. MORE>>

10/20/10: Yet Another Trip Down Memory Lane…. The track is Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1950s, and the driver is New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, George Lombardo. A winner all over New England during what would be today considered a relatively-brief career, he recorded a number of Modified feature victories at the shoreline oval, and was particularly-tough at the late Plainville Stadium where he was twice a track champion. To the delight of his many friends & fans, George was present at that tracks recent reunion. He was known as “Gentleman Dick” Watson and in later years, simply as the “Silver Fox”. The late Dick Watson was one of the most-respected drivers of his era. A fellow competitor that raced against Watson during his heyday once stated that “He was a driver that you could run with lap-after-lap. You simply never had to worry about him doing something that would get the both of you in-trouble.” This image captures Watson during the 1965 season in the Bob Garbarino-owned “Mystic Missile” at Waterford. That year, the team captured the Connecticut Modified Championship before moving-on to success within the NASCAR circuit. Watson was inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall Of Fame in 2003. MORE>>

10/13/10: Making Time Stand Still (Again)….. I really like this shot. If you’re a regular visitor to this website, than you probably already know who this driver-is. It was indeed a sad day in New England when Rhode Island’s popular Fred DeSarro passed-away from injuries suffered in a crash during warm-ups at Connecticut’s Thompson Motor Speedway in the fall of 1978. Long a fixture on the modified circuit, Fred became a multi-time champion at the regions toughest venues, garnering the national championship in 1970. At a time when big-dollars were funneling into the sport, he was teamed with the late Lenny Boehler personifying a low-buck image with their shabby-looking but ultra-fast entries. DeSarro was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, Boehler in 2004. Here’s another great Phil Hoyt action shot from Connecticut’s late Plainville Stadium. The gentleman you see here is Buddy Rouleau. Following this neat coupe, he campaigned a sleek Vega-bodied creation that was considered quite-radical for the time. In addition to his Stadium endeavors, he also occasionally ran at Waterford and Thompson. MORE>>

10/06/10: 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. 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! MORE>>

09/29/10: 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. 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. MORE>>

09/22/10: A Danbury Champion Passes, And More Vintage Views… Sadly, it was learned that multi-time Danbury Fair Racearena champion Kenny Webb passed-away last week. Kenny ranked 3rd on the all-time SNYRA winners list at Danbury. He was a fan-favorite for years, and remained very popular with fellow competitors during his long career at the ultra-competitive Racearena. This shot captures him following a victory during the tracks flathead era. Sincere condolences go out to the Webb family and all of Kenny’s many friends on their loss. We really like this Phil Hoyt shot of a guy that’s absolutely a pivotal figure in the history of one of New England’s most-missed short tracks. If there was ever a “King of Plainville Stadium” Dave Alkas held that title. A many-time champion, and the Connecticut ¼-milers all-time Modified winner, this one captures him in the 1970’s in his longtime ride, the Roland Cyr Vega. Dave, along with fellow Stadium great Don Moon, and Gary Beinkowski are the prime movers behind the 2nd Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion slated to take place in a few weeks on Oct. 9. Fittingly, Mr. Alkas was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2008. MORE>>

09/15/10: With A Little Help From Our Friends Part II…. Opened in 1947 and shuttered at the conclusion of the 1985 season, Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts remained a frequent stop on the Midget schedule for decades. A super-fast high-banked ¼-miler, it was a perfect venue for the division. This 1972 shot captures longtime NEMA star Ronnie Evans going-over as Don Keller approaches. If that wooden guardrail looks scary, you’re correct. It viciously bit more than one competitor over the years. Captured here in a pitside image, Bill Bergenty was one of the earliest of the top chauffeurs at Joe Tinty’s late Plainville Stadium in Connecticut. Known as “Wild Bill” to his fans, he shared the track with some of the best Modified drivers to have ever emerged from New England. Often-overlooked historically, the fact remains that just about all of the best racers in this region lapped the tight little ¼-miler during it’s over 3-decade existence. MORE>>

09/08/10: Images From The Tom Ormsby Collection…. This 1970s paddock area shot from Connecticut’s Stafford Springs Motor Speedway captures Roland “Pappy” Lapierre during the autumn of his long, storied career. As one of the true pioneers of New England Modified racing, he ran (and won), at just about every one of the many small ovals that once dotted our region’s landscape. In later years, Pappy watched his son Roland Jr. become one of New England’s top Modified racers. His great-grandson Nick Teto also displayed a keen interest in the sport, creating YankeeRacer.com which today is one of the internet’s premier racing news sites. When today’s fans hear the name Berndt announced over the PA at the Modified haunts of New England, it’s in reference to popular young Modified chauffer, Eric Berndt. Showing that the old adage “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” often rings-true in our sport, this image captures Eric’s dad Tim at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway back when he was a youthful Modified chauffer himself in the 1970s. The Berndt family’s involvement in racing has been a decades-long (and very successful), affair. MORE>>

09/01/10: With A Little Help From Our Friends – Thanks Mr. Roode! We open this week’s edition of “RTT” with a real classic. Known as “Gentleman Dick” Watson as well as “The Silver Fox”, the late Watson was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. Dick began and ended his career at Waterford. From that first race in 1953 until his retirement in 1976, he competed at tracks across New England including; West Haven, Plainville Stadium, Lonsdale, Seekonk, Langhorne (dirt & paved), Norwood Arena, Thompson Speedway, & Stafford Motor Speedway. His first victory came at Plainville Stadium. Among his most notable rides were the Bob Garbarino #V-4“Mystic Missile” and the Congdon #76. In 1966 he moved to the NASCAR Modified circuit, winning the Thompson World Series. MORE>>

08/25/10: It’s Wednesday - Time For More “Old Stuff… Known as “The Old Master” New Jersey native and dirt track specialist Frankie Schneider began his career in 1947 by winning $70 for driving his street car to a seventh place at Flemington Speedway. Schneider is believed to have won at least 750 races in the next thirty years. He routinely raced eight times per week (in several classes), and reportedly scored at least 100 wins in 1958-alone. He won the Langhorne National Open, the country's most noted event for Sportsman and Modified racers in 1954 and again in 1962. Among the many accolades and awards bestowed upon Schneider was being voted “Driver of the Century” by Area Auto Racing News. Until a few seasons-ago, he occasionally campaigned a Modified at Middletown New York’s Orange County Speedway. This ancient image captures a young Paul Richardson early in his career at what we believe (thanks to friend Bruce Cohen), to be Oscar Ridlon’s Pines Speedway which was located in Groveland, Massachusetts (it closed in 1971). Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2009, it all started for Richardson at The Pines in 1965. The next year, he bought Al Riley’s “Little Princess” cutdown, and won the Hudson (NH), points championship. MORE>>

08/18/10: Reader Contributions, Midget Racing Greats, And Even A Little Clowning-Around….. Seen here at New York’s Lancaster Speedway in 1971 is Eastern hotshot Cam Gagliardi. Long a presence in the Modified wars of his region, he was a big winner at places like Lancaster, Albany-Saratoga, and Merritville in naming just a few. Cam actually got his start in the sport at the old Buffalo Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York which operated from 1933 to 1959. Many of the area’s greatest drivers emerged from the Civic Stadium including Gagliardi, Billy Rafter, Chuck Boos, and Bill Torrisi – all were champions. The late Ray Delisle enjoyed a long and successful run in racing, but it was not without a few rough-spots along the way. Felled by serious injuries sustained in a Waterford Speedbowl crash when his Coupe was hit from-behind and the old-style “jerry can” fuel tank erupting in-flames, he endured a long, painful recovery before returning to the game. In 1964, his career reached its zenith when he waltzed-away with the Speedbowl Modified title wheeling the famed Simons Bros. #9. This image captures Ray and the Simons car during a visit to the dirt of Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York. MORE>>

08/11/10: More Hall Of Famers, Etc…… Getting his start at Plainville Stadium in 1965, our friend Ray Miller went on to become one of the greatest of New England Modified racers. Inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2002, this early shot captures him at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Here’s an excerpt from his Hall of Fame biography; “Ray Miller grew up around racecars. His father teamed with Red Lataille to own the #1 Lataille/Miller Offy, which ran out of the Miller's garage in East Granby, CT. Ray's dad ran the ARDC circuit, often racing 7 nights per week, and finished 2nd to Nick Fonoro, Sr. in 1950. Ray's dad raced in the 1940's and '50's. Ray competed from the 1960's into the '80's, and his late son Jay was also a winning Modified racer. Ray graduated from the University of Bridgeport in 1965, and ran his first race that spring, running a Modified at the Plainville Stadium. Over the next decade, he drove for owners Bill Myers and Guy Sweatland. MORE>>

08/04/10: Yup, More Old Stuff (Again)….. Here’s a nice shot of the late “Steady Eddie” Flemke following an early-1970’s victory at Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway. Owner Bob Judkins (left), had one of the first Pinto Modifieds in New England, and this is arguably the car that started Modified racing’s “Pinto Revolution.” Flemke was among the first inductees into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame back in 1998, while Judkins was inducted in 2003. Both of these guys contributed a tremendous amount to the sport. Here’s another image of the famous Judkins #2X. This time it’s Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl and the guy behind the controls is none-other than Reggie Ruggiero, absolutely one of the best drivers to ever strap-in behind the controls of a Modified stock car. Judkins always had nothing but the most talented chauffeurs wheeling his creations. MORE>>

07/28/10: Yet More Archival Offerings…. Known early-on as “The Kid from Fitchburg”, the guy seen here went from wheeling cars like this Camaro at the Massachusetts 1/3-miler known as Seekonk Speedway to winning the NASCAR Winston Cup Talladega 500 during his rookie season in 1981. Ronnie Bouchard began his career at age-14 at the old Brookline Speedway in New Hampshire. Before going Cup’ racing in 1981, he’d scored over 200 victories in the Modifieds, becoming one of the dominate drivers during what many consider to be the most-competitive era of the division. Bouchard was among the first drivers inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998. Like so-many of the racers from his generation, the late Maynard Forrette saw no boundaries in the difference between running on dirt or asphalt. A big winner on both, he’s probably most fondly remembered for his stunning dirt-slingin’ drives on the daunting Syracuse Mile where during the later stages of his career, he often bested competitor’s half-his-age. A master mechanic and innovative car builder, Forrette also ran Northern Speed Supply, a haven for racers seeking to get the most out of their equipment. MORE>>

07/21/10: Another Trip In The “Wayback Machine”… Seen here in the 1970’s is New England Modified racing legend Leo “The Lion” Cleary and the Bob Garbarino “Mystic Missile” crew. Cleary and Garbarino were to say the least, major players during the formative years of the sport. Both New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members, Leo retired from driving in 1993 and Garbarino still fields car on the NASCAR Modified Tour with youthful sensation Bobby Santos III serving as his current chauffer. Here’s another shot of the Garbarino Pinto, this time with Brian Ross as the driver. Ross, who began his career at New York State’s Albany-Saratoga Speedway during the 1960’s (an era in-which the track was an absolute hotbed of action, routinely attracting the best racers in the business), was long a top-driver on the New England Modified circuit recording many victories. He was also known as one of the most innovative car builders of his generation. MORE>>

07/14/10: Another Week, Another Page From the Past…. New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Gene Bergin is captured here during the 1960s in the pits of Massachusetts’ much-missed Riverside Park Speedway. He was among the first HOF inductees back in 1998. From his NEAR HOF biography; Gene Bergin began and ended his career at the Stafford Motor Speedway. He qualified in the first race he entered but was disqualified when it was learned he was only 17 years old in 1949.He returned when he was of age to start a 29 year career competing and winning at all the southern New England race tracks. He was always a hard charger either on dirt or asphalt. He won the 1962 Riverside Park championship and the 1967 Stafford Motor Speedway championship in 67, the first year it was paved. One of his most significant wins was the 1971 Stafford 200. He started on the pole and led every lap to win in Bob Judkins 2X, the first ever NASCAR-legal Pinto-bodied modified. MORE>>

07/07/10: Waterford Wanderings….. In a recent conversation with Bruce Cohen of the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), we speculated that the guy who fielded this #21 was perhaps one of the most underrated car owners in New England Modified Racing history. Norm Kies had some of the best drivers in the region wheeling his machines for decades, Hall of Famers like Dennis Zimmerman, George Lombardo, Dick Watson, Bob Potter, etc. It’s indeed an impressive list. In this early 1970s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl shot, it’s Jerry Lilliquist at the controls, one of the shoreline oval’s premier stars. As a bit of trivia, the correct spelling of this racers first-name was actually “Jari” rather than “Jerry.” It was something that car owners and media of the day never seemed to get correct! MORE>>

06/30/10: More Memories & Mysteries…. Admittedly, we don’t know much about this driver, a gentleman by the name of Bernie Deveau. We do know however, that it’s a 1960’s-era image at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, and he’s obviously just grabbed a victory. It could be a Bomber entry from the latter-days of the division, or it could be a Modified – again, we’re not sure. If any readers happen to have some information on this car & driver, please feel-free to contact me. Yet-another shot from the “unknown files.” It’s again the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, and judging from the “I Like Ike” bumper stickers plastered on the side of this Coupe, it’s the 1950’s. Probably a support-division entry judging by the 6-banger power, we’ve got tons of these types of shots in the “RTT” archives. Every competitor deserves recognition no-matter what the level of accomplishment in the sport, and we’d really like to find-out who these racers are. MORE>>

06/23/10: Another Helping Of Racin’ Memories…. Seen here at Stafford Springs during the early-days of his career behind the controls of a positively scary-looking “Cut-Down” is our pal New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, “Wild Bill” Slater. Bill recently relayed to us the story about winning with this Coupe on the old 1/5-miler that previously occupied the infield area of Stafford. Lou Young was the car owner. Notoriously light-weight & dangerous, it took nerves-of-steel to wheel one of these things. The Waterford Speedbowl was one of the first New England tracks to outlaw the “Cut-Downs” when popular Jack Griffin lost his life in one on the evening of August 12, 1954. And here’s another one of “Wild Bill” Slater, this-time at Waterford in 1956 - a year in-which he was crowned track champion with this “Baldy” Simons-owned Coupe. Though he stuck-around the Speedbowl long-enough to claim another title (in the potent Vitari-Bombaci #V-8), his career really took-off upon leaving the local scene. Success was found at Massachusetts’ storied Norwood Arena as-well as Connecticut’s Stafford and Thompson Speedways. He won the 400 mile race at Trenton, New Jersey four times, and is a 2-time winner of the Utica-Rome 400 in New York. His biggest career victory came at the Langhorne Penn. Race of Champions. He drove in The Daytona Permatex 300 four times from 1963 to 66. Bill drove his last race at Stafford in 1969 and then became involved in the promotional side of racing at Stafford and later Thompson. MORE>>

06/16/10: Another Week, More Vintage Views….. The “old days” at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl were no-different than what goes on currently at the track fondly referred-to by locals as the “Shoreline Oval.” Quite-frankly, the place has always been a rough n’ tumble affair. This ancient Shany Lorenzent image captures a gaggle of early chauffeurs piled-up on the “sand safety strip” that previously circled the track surface. Note the railroad-tie walls also. The sand was removed in the 1960’s, and the wall was backed-up an Armco barrier in the late-1980’s. Another coupe-era shot from what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl captures Bob Tatro & crew pitside at the Rt. 85 oval. Typical of the times, Bob’s racer sported a nifty vintage body, stock frame, and probably 99% of the components used in its construction where products of good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity, rather than a fat-wallet. Sadly, Modified racing has become prohibitively-expensive for many would-be competitors and has also forced many veteran teams out of the sport. It remains a truly-disturbing trend. MORE>>

06/09/10: Hall Of Famers, Midgets, And Other Assorted Subject Matter…. Captured here at the former Candlelight Stadium in Bridgeport, CT. during the height of his brilliant career is Raymond “Hully” Bunn, a native of New Britain, Connecticut. First climbing behind the wheel at the late Plainville Stadium in 1949, within two-years he had become one of the premier short-trackers in the country. In 1951, he emerged victorious in the first-ever Race of Champions at the storied Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania topping a field of over one-hundred top-notch Modified-Sportsman competitors. Friend & fellow competitor the late Dick Eagan drove relief for him during a segment of the event, a testament to just how grueling the early Langhorne shows were. A frequent winner from coast-to-coast, Bunn retired in 1965 following a serious crash at Lebanon Valley. Both Bunn and Eagan are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. MORE>>

06/02/10: Early Indy & More Short Track Stormers…. This week we start with something different. By now, the world knows that it was Dario Franchitti winning this year’s edition of that great Memorial Day weekend classic, the Indianapolis 500. However, at the conclusion of the first-ever staging of the event on May 30, 1911, it was Ray Harroun taking the checkers. Wheeling a Marmon Wasp engineered by Harry Goetz, his average speed was a blistering 74.602 mph. Ralph Mulford driving a Lozier was second, and in a Fiat, it was young upstart David Bruce Brown notching third. Worth mentioning is the fact that Harroun was the only driver in the race without a riding mechanic and his Marmon also featured the world’s first rear-view mirror. The mirror was enough to satisfy officials that he had a reasonable field of vision without the aid of a mechanic, but in reality it vibrated so-much that it was virtually useless. MORE>>

05/26/10: Mordino Has A “Smashing Night” At The Park’ Along With More From The Archives…. This classic shot comes to you from our Webmaster, the honorable Mr. Tom Ormsby. We’ll let him tell the story; “This is the infamous Riverside Park incident involving the late, great Tony Mordino,” states Ormsby. “For whatever reason (I don’t remember), the starter threw him out, and he parked his car on the front straight. Harvey Tattersall then ordered the payloader to haul him off. Tony started the car and kept ramming the front of the payloader in the process absolutely destroying its radiator. Harvey banned-him until he paid for the damage, which I was told, cost around $800 to repair.” Mordino was one of the toughest, most-determined competitors of his generation and his talent resulted in an untold number of checkers during his long, storied career. Truth-be-told, promoter Tattersall needed Mordino, as his name sold a ton of tickets at Riverside. Remember, this was an era before the sport was whitewashed for the masses by the “proper etiquette” of the NASCAR Cup Series. Guys like Mordino made Saturday nights truly-exciting, “Heroes & Villains” were all part of the game! MORE>>

05/19/10: Another Week, Another Visit To The Archives… Back in the “old daze”, teams got really-creative when it came to getting to the races. Seen here is the operation of Danbury Fair Racearena car owner, John Spada with his driver Kenny Webb leaning on the car. If you look close in the passenger seat is another outstanding driver, John's brother Gino Spada. Note that the tow-rig is a hearse! Sadly, the Racearena closed at the conclusion of the 1981 season after having been one of the most-successful tracks in New England since 1952. And here we have the Studebaker Hawk-bodied “Flyin’ 5” of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Nathan “Smokey” Boutwell (not-sure of the venue). This guy had a long & distinguished career in a myriad of classes, everything from Midgets, Sprints & Modifieds, to the NASCAR Grand National Series (now known as Sprint Cup). He won championships all-over New England and was a Canadian/American champion as well as annexing the 1960 Empire State title. During one of his best seasons, in 1956 he took an astounding 56 wins. Three-years later he was inducted into the Oilzum Hall of Fame, one of the most prestigious honors of the era.  MORE>>

05/12/10: Westboro, Riverside, Waterford, Plainville, Etc…. Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts was an ultra-competitive paved ¼-miler that opened in 1947 and sadly, closed its gates forever at the conclusion of the 1985 season. From Midgets to Coupes, and just about everything in-between, Westboro hosted them-all during its long history. This shot from the 1960s captures Joe Cast (46), Big Joe Rosenfeld (44), Deke Astle (2), and, Fred Borden (10), partaking in some typical action under the lights. With its steep (and sometimes treacherous), high banks, the track provided New England fans with some of the fastest speeds in the region during the “Coupe Era.” Originally constructed with an eye on the bustling post-war Midget racing boom, Westboro Speedway could seat eight-thousand fans, and during its heyday the place was routinely-packed. The first-ever event for the facility was in-fact, a Bay State Midget Racing Association show won by Joe Sostilio in his Leader Card Special. However, when the Coupes displaced the Midgets as the main weekly-draw in New England, the fans just kept-coming for action like this. For a more detailed look at the orgins of Westboro, grab a copy of “Hot Cars, Cool Drivers” penned by our pal Lew Boyd and available at www.coastal181.com MORE>>

05/05/10: (Yet-More) Modified Memories…. Captured here in the lens of celebrated racing photographer the late Fred Smith is Dave Kotary. A standout racer in the Northeast for many seasons, Kotary got his start in the Modifieds wheeling coupe-bodied creations like the one seen here. Among his many accomplishments was nailing a track championship at New York’s Brewerton Speedway in 1963, a season in-which he won 17 out of 20 events ran. At the time, he was only 20 years-old. Many more triumphs followed at Empire State haunts such as Utica-Rome, Malta, and Shangri-La. The late Kenny Shoemaker was one of the best in the sport, period. To list the number of victories and top car-owners that he drove for during his heyday would simply take more space than this weekly column allows. “The Shoe” is justifiably an inductee of several stock car racing Hall of Fames. Kenny passed-away in 2001 leaving-behind a huge legion of fans and fellow competitors that recall him as one of the most exciting drivers to have-ever graced a Northeastern speedway, dirt or pavement. MORE>>

04/28/10: Yet More Stuff From The “Old Daze”…. The car is the potent Allyn Tool & Auto Machine Sprint Car, and the guy seated behind the wheel is New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Gene Bergin. Though he’s often recalled for his extraordinary career in the Modifieds, the Enfield, CT. native was actually a much-more versatile racer. In addition to his Sprint Car endeavors, he was successful in the NEMA Midgets with wins at Thompson in Aug. 1969 and Aug. 1973 at Lakeville Speedway (aka Golden Spur), in Massachusetts. His NASCAR Grand National (now know as Sprint Cup), career included starts at Darlington and Langhorne in 1956. It was Bergin who helped start the Modified division’s landmark “Pinto Revolution” in 1971 when he wheeled the #2x Pinto of fellow Hall of Famer Bob Judkins to a stunning victory in the 1971 Stafford 200. MORE>>

04/21/10: Another Week, Another Dose Of Memories…. Here we have an at-speed shot of the late, legendary Pete Corey. The venue is Pennsylvania’s former Langhorne Speedway, once the site of the “Race of Champions” the nation’s premier event for the Modifieds. Corey was in the twilight of a brilliant career by the time this 1970 image was captured. He’d won the event in 1955 when the famous track still sported a dirt surface. We’ve lately been getting a lot of mail from our friends “Up-North” requesting that we do a little-something on some drivers from their neck of the woods. Seen here with a young fan during the much-heralded “flathead era” is New Hampshire’s Bill George. A former 106 Midway Raceway track champion, he was also a frequent winner at other regional haunts such as Claremont & Legion Bowl. MORE>>

04/14/10: Turn The Page (More From The Archives)…… Seen here at one of Stafford Spring Motor Speedway’s early Spring Sizzler events is Paul Radford, certainly one of the Southland’s finest Modified shoes. A native of Ferrum, Virginia, he was a familiar site at major New England Modified events of the 1960’s & 70’s. Radford made one NASCAR Grand National start (known today as the Sprint Cup Series), wheeling Junie Donlavey’s Ford Torino at Martinsville, VA. in 1974. He retired in 1988 at age-56 following a stint in the NASCAR Busch Series. This one captures popular coupe-era star George Rettew celebrating victory at one of the great UNITED events that were once conducted yearly at the big track on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts. As stated here many-times, in the days before NASCAR gained a foothold in New England, the Tattersall family’s United Stock Car Racing Club was THE premier sanctioning body in the Northeast. MORE>>

04/06/10: Plainville, Stafford, Thompson, etc…. Here we have a nice color action-shot of Plainville Stadium’s Pud Noble. There was a time at the Stadium’ when it was populated by scads of drivers like the colorful Pud – the place was really rockin’ when this image was captured by Phil Hoyt. It’s only been in recent years that people have realized just how-important Joe Tinty’s little Connecticut ¼-miler really-was. As I’ve stated previously, it was the first track I ever attended after I got my drivers license and was able to stray from my home base of the Waterford Speedbowl. I loved the place along with its colorful drivers and competition that was second-to-none! If there was ever a “King of Plainville Stadium” this guy was the man. See here is Dave Alkas, multi-time champion, and the Stadium’s all-time Modified winner. We ran a shot of this car a few weeks-ago, and our friend and celebrated auto racing writer Bones Bourcier stated that it bought-back a lot of memories (he just-about grew-up at Plainville before moving-on to the national scene). Dave is also one of the guys responsible for the wonderful “Plainville Stadium Reunion” that was staged last-summer – it was a great affair. Fittingly, Mr. Alkas was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2008. MORE>>

03/31/10: Yet Another Dose Of Speedbowl History…. Last week we ran a shot of the late Johnny Savage Jr., a past competitor at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Thanks to regular “Racing Through Time” contributor and friend Mal Phillips, now we can see where it all started for the Savage family. Captured here during a trackside ceremony (not-sure of the occasion), is John Savage Sr. A winner in the Non-Ford division (an early support class), he was an extremely popular racer at the Speedbowl of the 1950’s. And here’s another shot of John Savage Sr., this time lined-up for a Non-Ford feature at the Speedbowl. This is a significant shot not-only because it captures one of Waterford’s true pioneers, but also because of the car. This was one of the first rides campaigned by famed car owner/builder and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Art Barry of Preston, CT. For over fifty-years, Barry creations have been landing in victory lane with drivers like Bob Potter, Leo Cleary, George Summers, Bobby Santos, Ed Flemke, Sr., and Reggie Ruggiero aboard – it’s a long list. That’s 1953 Non-Ford champion Darwin “Bud” Matter and his #99 in the background. MORE>>

03/24/10: Down Memory Lane (For Another Week)…. Seen here in the office of the potent Joe Fontana-owned “Flying Eagle” #1 coupe is the late Richard “Moon” Burgess. Simply a terror while wheeling this GMC-powered creation all-over New England during the 1950’s, he accumulated an astounding number of victories during what was really a relatively-brief time span – proof of just how-good this team was. Moon was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. One of the founders of the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), the popular stock car racing pioneer passed-away just earlier this month. He’ll be missed by many. So you say you like this website and look-forward to it appearing every Wednesday? If-so, thank this guy, for without his help, “Racing Through Time” would have never appeared in cyberspace. Meet Mr. Tom Ormsby creator of both www.speedwaylinereport.com and www.vintagemodifieds.com as-well as the Webmaster of this site. This “Pure-Plainville” shot captures a young Tommy behind the controls of one of his earliest rides at Joe Tinty’s much-missed little Connecticut ¼-miler. MORE>>

03/17/10: Time Travel – “MODIFIED STYLE”  Seen here in 1966 celebrating a victory at Owego, New York’s Shangri-La Speedway is the late Bobby Merz. That’s an early-60’s Rambler American body mounted on the rather-radical chassis. Fans of Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl may recall “Wild Bill” Scrivener once piloting a #27 American-bodied mount designed by Owen Bowen, though it was more cut-down. Merz and his little AMC experienced a number of triumphs on the ovals of New York State, once a hot-bed of activity for the asphalt Modified-set. And here’s a shot of another AMC-shod creation, this time chauffeured by the legendary Elton Hildreth and captured at Pennsylvania’s late Reading Fairgrounds Speedway. A New Jersey native, Hildreth’s status as one of his regions top dirt racers was a lengthy affair. He of course, also added numerous pavement successes to his portfolio.  MORE>>

03/10/10: Waterford, Plainville, Rhythm Inn, Etc…. We open this week’s installment with a shot of a guy that accomplished just a thing-or-two in the realm of New England Modified racing. Captured here during the notorious “Cut-Down” era at the Connecticut shoreline’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl is our pal “Wild Bill” Slater. The car is one of the Congdon Bros. entries out of Salem, a small burg just up the road from the Bowl’. The team experienced unparalleled success at the track during the early days, enlisting the talents of only the most proficient of Waterford chauffeurs. Slater, a charter member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame later went-on to national success as the pilot of the famed Vitari-Bombaci V-8. Read more about Bill’s accomplishments at www.near1.com MORE>>

03/03/10: Another (Very) Varied Assortment! New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member the late Joe Sostilio is seen here about to push-off in the Frank Curtis Offy at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway in May of 1958. Starting his career during the pre-war era, by 1935, he’d notched the New England Dirt Track Championship for “Big Cars” (precursors of today’s Sprint Cars).  Also an exceptional Midget racer, following World War II he became one of the Bay State Midget Association’s star drivers. The early 1950’s found him running the AAA Big Car circuit. Paired with Indy 500 winner Johnnie Parsons, the duo became one of the most-feared teams of their era. Winning the 1953 Eastern Sprint Car Championship, throughout his years with AAA he was considered a standout driver along with fellow topnotch competitors such as Joie Chitwood, Lee Wallard, Bill Holland, and Tony Bettenhausen. It’s estimated that Sostilio scored over 300 career victories in Midgets and Big Cars, as well as many Stock Car triumphs. MORE>>

02/24/10: More Waterford Wanderings (And One From Plainville)…. Deservedly-so, much has been written about the driver known as the “Crafty Redhead”, New England Hall of Famer Melvin “Red” Foote. Often lost in the mix is the memory of his brother Russ Foote, who was an accomplished racer in his own-right. In this rather tattered vintage image, Russ is captured pit-side at the Waterford Speedbowl of the 1950’s. Russ claimed one Waterford Modified victory in 1959 during a career that was substantially-shorter than that of his more-celebrated sibling. Russ retired after sailing out of the ballpark in dramatic fashion during the shoreline oval’s 1963 season, while his brother’s last event came at Langley Field, Virginia in 1980. MORE>>

02/17/10: Pavement Pounders & Denizens of Dirt…. Captured here piloting a Studebaker Lark-bodied creation following a victory at the former Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts on May 17, 1968 is the late Don Dionne. He was particularly successful up the road at the Seekonk Speedway where he was a long time fan favorite capturing over thirty-wins during a career spanning nearly 3-decades. He won his first show at the “Cement Palace” on September 23, 1967 in the B division. His final feature victory came on July 15, 1989, wheeling John Tyler's Sound Marine Special. His first championship came in 1970 in the B division. In 1979 he became the very-first Seekonk Pro Stock Champion, driving for the Manfredo Brothers, and repeated the feat in 1981. Sadly, we lost Don at age-70 on Tuesday, January 5. MORE>>

01/27/10: Pavement Pounders & Denizens of Dirt…. Seen here in August of 1978 at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl is Street Stock competitor Bob Seller. Among the earliest of drivers to sign-up when the late Harvey Tattersall Jr. introduced the division in late-1977, Seller was a top competitor in this Mopar entry for a number of seasons. In recent years, the family has focused on their involvement with the New England Antique Racers (NEAR) where Bob serves as Vice President and campaigns a vintage Pinto Modified. Get-well wishes go-out to Bob who’s lately been a bit under-the-weather. Captured in the lens of John Grady following a coupe-era victory at Vernon, New York’s Utica-Rome Speedway is a youthful Gary Reddick. One of the top-drivers of his time, Reddick was not-unlike many of his contemporaries, equally talented on both dirt and pavement. Utica-Rome was once a hotbed of action for the best of the asphalt-set, with guys like Evans, Cook, Bodine, Charland, Troyer, etc. competing on a weekly basis. Originally opened in 1961 as a 1/3-mile paved oval, it was revamped to its present 5/8-mile dirt configuration in 1979. Remaining one of the most-successful dirt venues in the Northeast, Utica-Rome’s 49th season opener goes-green on April 18. MORE>>

01/20/10: Pavement Pounders & Denizens of Dirt…. New England Modified racing has produced many heated rivalries over the years, but it’s also resulted in a lot of lasting friendships. The late George Pendergast and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy Harman (middle) were buddies for-sure, and on this night when George scored a victory, he was there to help his pal celebrate the occasion. Pendergast is fondly-recalled as being one of the sports true “characters”, but as this shot shows, he was no slouch behind the wheel either! Harman, who’s recuperating from recent shoulder-surgery, is expected to be at this year’s Hall of Fame inductions later this month on Jan 31. Go to www.near1.com for more details on the event. Seen here during the 1950s behind the controls of a Plymouth coupe, the late Ray Delisle was one of the earliest of stars at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. After recovering from serious injuries sustained in a fiery crash, he returned in 1964 to claim the Modified championship piloting the potent Simons Excavating #9. His last Waterford checker scored in 1965, he notched a career-total of 24 victories in both Modified and Non-Ford competition. In 2000 Delisle was voted one of the shoreline oval’s “50 Favorite Drivers” as part of the track’s 50th Anniversary celebration. MORE>>

01/13/10: More “Mod Squad” Memories (Minus Pete, Link & Julie)… Seen here at Waterford in the 1970’s is New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer and pal of your author, Bob Potter. Responsible for hundreds of victories and scads of championships at Waterford, Thompson and Stafford, few drivers from this region had more of an impact on the sport for as long as this guy did. A local kid with humble beginnings in the Speedbowl’s Bombers, he emerged to become one of the real movers & shakers in the Modified class, doing-so for close to 4-decades. The car is the potent Art Barry-wrenched Capri, and the duo was virtually unbeatable during their pairing at the shoreline oval. Barry by-the-way is also a member of the Hall of Fame. They were a true “dream team.” And the Hall of Famers continue; This is Leo Cleary, aptly nicknamed “The Lion” owing to his fearless style behind the wheel of “ground-pounders” like this wild little Mustang-bodied creation. It was more than one chauffer that became uneasy when they had a mirror-full of Cleary – he was one tough competitor. Leo competed at the Medford Bowl, Lonsdale, Norwood, Catamount, and Westboro. Among active tracks, he raced at Thompson, Seekonk, Stafford, Martinsville, Oswego and Waterford, along with several others. MORE>>

01/06/10: Reliving The Past On A Snowy New England Weekend… Opening this week’s edition of “Racing Through Time” is a 1974 pit-side shot of Nels Wohlstrom, a top-flight Modified driver at what was then known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. He was a close-associate of fellow racer and multi-time winner Mike Beebe, this car having originated at that teams shop in the Connecticut River Valley area. A popular Bowl’ chauffer and graduate of the Sportsman Sedan class, Wohlstrom notched a bevy of fine finishes while behind the controls of this wild-looking little number at Waterford and Thompson. Not everyone utilized pre-war tin as a style palette during those halcyon days of the much-heralded “Coupe Era”. Seen here in a Chevy II-bodied mount is Montville, CT. speedster Donnie Bunnell. A Speedbowl Superstar throughout the 1970’s (the era in-which this image was captured), the popular Bunnell was known as a steady and sportsman-like chauffer. Perhaps his biggest moment in the sun was a stunning victory in the 1976 UNITED-sanctioned “Bicentennial 200”, then the longest-ever event staged at the shoreline oval. Note the “Psychedelic” numbers – a sign of the times! MORE>>

2009

12/30/09: Speedbowl Memories (Plus One From Stafford)… We open this week with a shot of a pioneering figure in the history of what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, John “Cannonball” Baker. This hulking “Coach” entry was but-one in a succession of #314 creations that Baker campaigned at Waterford from the 1950’s until his final drive in 1974. In later years, he was one-half of a family team that also included his son, aptly-nicknamed “Musketball.” Though his career was reasonably-brief by conventional standards, this guy had a huge-impact on the early history of the Speedbowl. Twice a Modified titlist (1952 & 62), Dick Beauregard’s flamboyant driving-style won-over a legion of fans, along with a few detractors. A true “stand-on-the-gas” competitor, his retirement in 1962 after only a decade yielded 62 victories in both Modified & Non Ford competition. This shot captures him shortly before he hung-up his helmet, quite-fittingly retiring as a champion. The driver to the right with the big-grin is none-other than New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer and pal of yours-truly, “Little Bill” Harman. MORE>>

12/23/09: More Faces From The Past (And Happy Holidays To All!)…. This week we start with another vintage Midget image from the late Cherry Park Speedway in Avon, CT. Indiana native and World War II veteran Ted Klooz was a standout driver during the division’s busy post-war period and like many of the racers of his era, traveled extensively. We believe this image captured during the 1947 campaign to be from an ARDC show. Sadly, the 24 year-old Klooz lost his life in a grinding crash later that season at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway during a Consolidation Midget Racing Association event. The late Pete Corey (aka “The Crescent Hillbilly”), was simply one of the best racers of his generation. When he lost his left leg in a horrible 1959 crash at Fonda, his comeback elevated him from hero to legend. The fact that his car had to be equipped with a hand brake after he lost his leg seemed almost immaterial. Corey actually began his career as a motorcycle racer switching to stockcars in the late 1940s. He won sporadically in the early '50s and then landed a ride with famed Schenectady, New York car owner Bob Mott in 1955. It proved to be a career-move that made him the hottest driver in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Seen here with an injected Mustang modified sponsored by longtime supporter Jimmy Bosco of Commercial Tire, Corey retired in 1973. MORE>>

12/16/09: Faces From The Past (Continued)….. We open this week’s column with an action-shot from the former Cherry Park Speedway located in Avon, Connecticut. A truly-picturesque facility (complete with an old-time covered grandstand), Cherry Park opened in 1882 as a horse track and in 1933 began presenting auto racing on the original half-mile dirt circuit. Closed for the war-years, it reopened in 1946 as a fifth-mile, being paved shortly thereafter. A hotbed of action for the Midgets, it also hosted the then-new stock cars. It lay dormant from 1954 to 1959 when it was razed for development. Seen here are early Midget racing standouts Dee Toran, George Rich, Bert Brooks, and Len Duncan. Here’s a dramatic 70’s-era Seekonk action-shot of a pair of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members. That’s George Summers in the #31 leading Ronnie Bouchard in the #35. Seekonk remains one of the most historically-significant ovals on the East Coast, having first opened its gates on May 30, 1946. The tradition continues today, as the Vendetti family readies for another season of competition in 2010 at the Massachusetts oval affectionately-known as the “Cement Palace.” MORE>>

12/09/09: Yet Another Helping Of “Old Stuff”… Here’s another pick from our webmaster Tom Ormsby’s vast archive of images. The date is April 10, 1966, and the location is the late Riverside Park fifth-miler in Agawam, Massachusetts. Seen in this paddock-area shot are three of most famous names in New England Modified racing history. From left-to-right are Rene “The Champ” Charland, Jerry Humiston, and Dick Dixon. This trio of talent was responsible for scads of victories and championships in what many consider to be the true “golden era” of racing in the Northeast. A Stafford picture from Mr. Ormsby’s collection, this one captures veteran the late Freddie Colossa. A unique ride in that it was campaigned during a time when coupes and coaches remained standard-fare at New England’s Modified racing haunts, the full-bodied Chevy II tin was “different” to say the least. Historically-astute readers will recognize the name of the car’s owner; it was none-other than one “Moneybags” Moe Gherzi, a star-performer in the early days of our sport, and also the long-time Race Director at Plainville Stadium. MORE>>

12/02/09: A National Champion Passes, And More Memories From The Past... The Northeastern racing community lost a real treasure when the great Ernie Gahan passed-away at age-82 on Thanksgiving evening. Gahan’s 28-year racing career started during the post-war stock car racing boom of 1948 at New Hampshire’s Dover Speedway. By the time he’d hung-up his helmet in the 1970’s, he’d amassed over 300 career victories. Perhaps his greatest achievement in the sport was being the first New Englander to win a NASCAR National Modified championship in 1966. He was equally successful on both dirt and asphalt. He won a record 21 features on the old dirt at Stafford Speedway in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He had eleven starts in Grand National (now Sprint Cup), series competition, recording two top-ten finishes, one of which was in the 1962 Daytona 500. In 1963 Gahan was credited with saving the life of Marvin Panch by pulling him out of a burning race car at Daytona. MORE>>

11/25/09: More Memorable Moments From The Past….. Few early Modified teams were more professional than that of “Wild Bill” Slater and his Bob Vitari & Vic Bombaci-owned #V-8. During an era in which the sport was still more than a little “rough-around-the edges”, these guys really shined. Their equipment was never-less than immaculate, and the driver and crew were always neatly-attired. This shot captures an early version of the #V-8 at a UNITED-sanctioned Eastern States event in Springfield, Massachusetts during the 1959 season. Slater, Vitari, and Bombaci are all members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Another great shot of the legendary “Wild Bill” Slater-driven #V-8 team. Like mentioned-above, these guys simply epitomized professionalism during the early days of Modified racing in New England. As seen here, even the team’s hauler was a spiffy-looking unit. You have to wonder just how-many victories these two coupes were responsible-for, as Slater was definitely in his prime when this image was captured. MORE>>

11/18/09: Lakeville, West Haven, and More….. The late Tony Mordino is seen here following another memorable victory. It’s thanks to the diligence of people like RTT Webmaster Tom Ormsby that images like this gem still exist. He was one of the first guys to bring the history of New England’s glorious racing past to the masses via the internet. This photo remains one of his favorites, and I’ll let him explain the reason for all the extra smiles in this ancient West Haven Speedway shot. “The #78 which was owned by Bucky Membrino and driven by Tony Mordino lost a wheel on the last lap of a feature. Jap Membrino pushed the car over the finish line with the wheel off and Tony won the race.  If I recall the story right, UNITED’s Harvey Tattersall then made a rule that a car had to finish the race under its own power!” Along with the crew is (L-R), Jap, Bucky, and Tony. MORE>>

11/11/09: Hall of Famers & More….. During its sixties-era heyday, the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl routinely played-host to capacity crowds and some of the best racing in New England. This victory lane shot captures the late Marvin Chase along with New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Bob Potter (check-out Bob’s fancy “driving boots” and celebratory cigar). Potter of-course, became a multi-time champion with close-to 100 victories at the shoreline oval in addition to many Stafford and Thompson accomplishments. Chase enjoyed a long career as one of the area’s top drivers. The Speedbowl will reportedly open again in 2010, celebrating its fifty-ninth consecutive-season of operation. Seen here during the early days of his career is Paul Richardson, who like the aforementioned Bob Potter is a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. It all started in 1965 at Oscar Ridlon’s Pines Speedway in New Hampshire. The next year, he bought Al Riley’s “Little Princess” cutdown, and won the Hudson (NH), points championship. Moving to the Super Modifieds during the early years of NESMRA, he became a superstar in the division, and is 5th on the all-time winners list. He was also a winning Modified driver. Nicknamed “Ricochet” for his thrilling driving style, he completed his career driving in the BUSCH East division. MORE>>

11/04/09: Confessions Of A “Racing Packrat” (Or Stuff I Forgot I Had….) We start this week’s column with an early-career shot of a guy that was both a top competitor at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl and also a trendsetter in defining the “look” of Modified stock cars in the years following the “Coupe Era”. Seen here in an early “M” Coupe is Seabury Tripler. Along with talented fabricator the late Owen Bowen, “Trip” introduced New England’s first-ever Pinto-bodied Modified at Waterford on opening day of 1971. The event scantly pre-dated NEAR Hall of Famer Bob Judkins’ debut of his Pinto, which became the first NASCAR-legal mount sporting the then-new Ford subcompact tinwork. aptured here on the old Riverside Park fifth-mile in Agawam, Massachusetts is Ronnie Wycoff. Starting his racing career in Florida, he joined the Sportsman ranks at Plainville Stadium after moving North in 1959. Success in the Modifieds quickly-followed, with wins at an assortment of New England speedplants. Included in those victories are multi-time triumphs in UNITED’s “Riverside 500” events, once a benchmark of the Northeastern racing season. MORE>>

10/27/09: Another Weekly Peek Into The Past…. Seen here at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1960’s is a young Tommy Mactino. A rather infrequent visitor to the shoreline oval, Tommy was a star at the UNITED-sanctioned West Haven Speedway. Also referred to as “The Rock” owing to it’s close proximity to the old Savin Rock Amusement Park, it was a paved 1/5 mile oval located on the waterfront in West Haven, Connecticut. The track was somewhat unusually shaped, built around a baseball diamond named Donovan Field (after "Wild Bill" Donovan, a manager of the NY Yankees). Many of New England’s finest Modified drivers called West Haven home at one time. Billy Greco, Johnny Cambino, Danny Gaudiosi, Sal Dee, and Danny Galullo are just a few. A victim of urban renewal, the track closed in 1967. MORE>>

10/21/09: Yet More Modifieds – 1970’s Style! We start this week’s installment with a photo of the fellow that’s not-only responsible for bringing you my weekly “Racing Through Time” endeavors, but also the site that’s become perhaps the most-popular spot on the Internet for keeping-abreast of the latest New England racing news. Seen here during his days as a young Modified driver is “Tommy” Ormsby, the guy behind www.speedwaylinereport.com and of course, the historically-rich www.vintagemodifieds.com Tom ran weekly at The Stadium’ for years, and was a well-liked and respected member of the “Plainville Gang”. Fortunately for-us, he took-up computers after leaving racing, his first endeavor being the Vintage Modifieds site which he started a number of years-ago. Now residing in Florida, Tom also stays active with the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), serving as the clubs webmaster www.near1.com  Busy guy, that Mr. Ormsby! MORE>>

10/14/09: Yet Another Dose of Racin’ Remembrances…. This New London-Waterford” Speedbowl shot has been languishing in the files for what seems like eons. A gift from my friend the late Dan Pardi, I’ve been hesitant to run-it as I have no-clue as to the identity of this 1950’s-era Bomber pilot. Purely because it’s a kinda’ neat-looking car (a Hudson perhaps?), I decided to publish-it. Check-out the skinny whitewall on the left-front and the turn-signal located on the top of the trunk (evidence of it being flat-towed to the track?). The driver’s rudimentary safety-equipment includes a Cromwell helmet (the drivers often referred to these leather-sided Brit-inspired gems as Brain Buckets”), and a short-sleeved shirt. If any readers know this racers identity, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  MORE>>

10/07/09: Turning Back The Clock On Plainville Stadium Part II Captured here during June of 1977 is journeyman Stadium’ competitor, Larry Babbit. This car was wheeled by Bill Harris (note the “Bill or Larry” on the roof, no-doubt a nod the duo’s racing partnership), at the Waterford Speedbowl to many a fine-finish during the earlier-years of the era. When Harris was at the shoreline oval, the neat little Coupe wore a gleaming-white coat of paint and carried the #17. And here we have one Jimmy "Doc" Robinson ready to take the green in 1973. Typical of the rides of the time, Robinson’s pre-war Coupe sported a stock production frame, and components that were the result of the builder’s ingenuity and a lot of long-evenings in the garage. Not a lot of “store-bought” stuff on this car, and it certainly was a more-affordable sport for the “average-guy” back-then. Also note the mufflers – Plainville was among the first tracks in the region to mandate the sound-suppressing devices. MORE>>

09/30/09: Mods, Midgets, Supers, Grand Americans, etc. Captured here celebrating an early-70’s Seekonk victory with Sandy of the infamous “Wally Salleba Girl Watchers Club” is 1970 NASCAR National Modified Champion, the late Fred DeSarro. In one of the most publicized “driver-switches” in New England Modified racing history. DeSarro left the Sonny Koszella “Woodchopper Special” team in 1971 to join forces with the late Len Boehler. Bugs Stevens, who’d nailed three NASCAR National Championships with Boehler, went-with Kozella. DeSarro remained a premier New England Modified racer until passing-away in November of 1978 from injuries sustained at the Thompson Speedway. DeSarro, Boehler, Stevens, and Kozella are all members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. MORE>>

09/23/09: Turning Back The Clock On Plainville Stadium... Captured here in the 1970’s at the former Danbury Fair Racerena is the popular Gino Spada. Starting his racing career at Plainville during the late-sixties, he later concentrated on the tough SNYRA-sanctioned Danbury becoming a multi-time winner and a consistent front-runner. Also venturing-out to the various NASCAR haunts of the day such as Stafford & Thompson, Spada was always a threat to triumph wherever he competed. As the longtime proprietor of Red Barn Radiator in Berlin, CT. he supplied a legion of competitors with the best in racing-radiators. In later-years, he became involved with the Northeastern Midget Racing Association (NEMA), owning the car chauffeured by his son Tommy (a real family-affair, his daughter Cassandra served as the team’s crew-chief). Sadly, Gino passed-away just last-weekend following a battle with cancer. “RTT” offers the Spada family sincere condolences on their loss. MORE>>

09/16/09: “Like A Box of Chocolates, You Never Know What You’re Going To Get…….” Seen here in the sixties at the late Plainville Stadium during his reign as a New England Modified standout, Dennis Zimmerman parlayed his Coupe experience into a successful career on the USAC Indy Car circuit. A self-professed “student” of the late, great, Ed Flemke Sr., he conquered storied eastern Modified haunts such as Norwood, Riverside Park, Plainville, and Waterford before taking-on the ovals of the South, where his accomplishments netted a pair of NASCAR State Sportsman titles. After a stint in URC Sprint Car competition it was on to Indy Cars, then the absolute pinnacle of American motorsport. Zimmerman continued his success in the Indy Cars, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in 1971 & 1972. His best finish in the May extravaganza was eighth, a feat earning him honors as the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. This image captures him at Pocono’s Schaefer 500 on July 3, 1971 with the Fiore Racing Enterprises Offy. Starting 17th, he finished 24th after a clutch-failure felled the team after only eighty-eight circuits (the late Mark Donahue won). A 2001 inductee of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Zimmerman departed the sport in 1974 following an event at Long Island’s Islip Speedway where ironically, he was wheeling a car owned by his “teacher” and fellow NEAR Hall of Famer, the late Ed Flemke Sr. Emerging from retirement just this season, Dennis has recently been competing in the Sprint class at Whip City Speedway in Westfield, MA. MORE>>

09/09/09: A Racing Flashback - Speedbowl-Style! As one of the real heavy-hitters in the early days of the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, the late Charlie Webster had a large & very-loyal fan base. Amassing a career total of seventy-three feature victories in both Non-Ford and Modified competition, Webster was a champion in both classes (3 Non-Ford titles, and 1 Modified crown). Like fellow Bowl’ standout and New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Don Collins, Charlie retired from driving at the dawn of the seventies, thus ending the career of one of Waterford’s finest chauffeurs. This shot captures him in a Non-Ford division entry during the early-fifties. Charlie’s son Eric went-on to a winning career in racing, and now serves on the staff at the Speedbowl. Like Webster, the late Ray Delisle was there from the start, and was winning early in his Waterford career. Felled by serious injuries sustained in a Speedbowl crash when his Coupe was hit from-behind, his old-style “jerry can” fuel tank erupting in-flames, Delisle endured a long, painful recovery before returning to the game. In 1964, his career reached its zenith when he waltzed-away with the Modified title wheeling the famed Simons Bros. #9. MORE>>

09/02/09: Yet Another Weekly Slice Of Racing History….. A personal glimpse into the past; Back in the days when popular Speedbowl coupe-era star Joe Coullard housed his racer on the corner of Clark Lane and Fog Plain Road in Waterford, the little guy you see behind the wheel used to beg his parents to stop for a visit whenever they were in the area. Joe being the dutiful host, would let the youngster get behind the wheel and dream of the day when he’d be just like his pal Joe, going-around in circles on the track that was then known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. A few years down-the-road, little Gary Welch got his chance…. And here’s Gary Welch all grown-up and about to take his early Daredevil entry out for a spin on the 1/3-mile tarmac of the Bowl’. The car had formally been wheeled by his cousin Paul Jutila, and was owned by Bob Hayes who worked with Welch at East Lyme Chevron. Typical of the times, it was almost completely-stock save for a few rudimentary safety appointments. Somewhat novel by Waterford-standards, it was a Ford product amidst a field that was overwhelmingly populated by General Motors entries (save for the ultra-successful Gada team). The firesuit he’s wearing is one of the old single-layer Drag-All numbers that were so-popular then. Years-later your author was gifted with the suit by Welch (a long-time family friend), and used it in his brief & unspectacular Street Stock career in the late-70’s. Ironically, our car was a former Paul Jutila mount. MORE>>

08/26/09:
Plainville Pioneers & Waterford Warriors….
Captured here in the lens of famed New England racing photographer Shany Lorenzent is former Speedbowl Modified racer, Dick “Dickie Doo” Ceravolo. By the time he posed for this shot in 1972, he’d already established himself as a Waterford winner having taken his first checker in 1971 as a top shoe in the full-fendered Daredevil class. This coupe (his first Modified), was a former # V4 “Mystic Missile” entry originally campaigned by famed car owner Bob Garbarino who still runs cars on today’s NASCAR Modified Tour. The little 1935 Chevy coupe served the popular racer well, providing a springboard to success in the shoreline oval’s premier division. In 1988, the career of “Dickie Doo” reached its zenith, as he and longtime racing associate Dana Gerry waltzed-off with the championship. A surprise to everyone, Ceravolo then announced his retirement, going-on to oversee the career of his son Todd. Like-father, like-son, Todd became a Waterford Modified champion in 1997. MORE>>

08/19/09: More Racing Personalities From The Past….. By the time this Waterford Speedbowl paddock image was captured in August of 1978, Rod Tulba was already an experienced-hand at the “circle-game”. Years-before as a youngster, he’d entered competition in the Daredevil class as a close associate of the Gada team. This Vega was part of a multi-car team fronted by Paul Giguere (seated on tire), who also fielded entries in the Street Stock class. Tulba went-on to become a winning Modified shoe, recording a pair of victories at the shoreline oval in 1981. What has to be written about this guy? If you’re at-all familiar with New England racing history, than you should already know a little about the career of Gene Bergin. A member of the first class inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, Bergin excelled in everything from Modifieds, to Midgets and Sprint Cars. Starting his career in 1949 at the Stafford Motor Speedway, he remained one of our regions top-drivers for over three-decades. This shot captures him following a win at the Waterford Speedbowl on July 9, 1977 where for a brief-time that season, he was a weekly regular in the “Smittys” #11 Pinto. MORE>>

08/12/09: More Lakeville Dirt, And Fowler Takes A Flyer… They appeared on the scene at the Waterford Speedbowl during the early years of what was known as the “Daredevils”, a class developed in the sixties to replace a floundering Bomber division. The three gentleman you see here are (left to right), Larry "Insta” Gada, Chris “Wally” Gada, and Bob “Allie” Gada, and yes, this is the brother-act responsible for starting what became no-less than a racing dynasty at the shoreline oval. There’s now a second and third generation of the family winning at the Bowl’. In looking back at the history of the Daredevils, you’d be hard-pressed to find three more popular chauffeurs than these guys, and during the real heyday of “fendered” racing at the Bowl’ they were all winners. One thing setting the Gada boys apart from the rest of the field was their penchant for running FORD products within a field that was overwhelmingly populated by machines of the General Motors-variety. Novel nicknames-aside, rest assured that Mrs. Gada’s boys were true “stand-on-the-gas” racers with the trophies and championships to prove-it. Also captured in this shot is car owner and future Speedbowl Street Stock champion, Ed Reed Sr. MORE>>

08/05/09: New England Dirt Trackin’, Hall of Famers, etc.. Captured here during the height of his brilliant racing career is one Raymond “Hully” Bunn, a native of New Britain, Connecticut. First climbing behind the wheel at the late Plainville Stadium in 1949, within two-years he had become one of the premier short- trackers in the country. In 1951, he emerged victorious in the first-ever Race of Champions at the storied Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania topping a field of over one-hundred top-notch Modified-Sportsman competitors. A frequent winner from coast-to-coast, he retired in 1965 following a serious crash at Lebanon Valley. Bunn was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. Massachusetts’ glorious Lakeville Speedway! Seriously, the old girl would have never aced a beauty contest or rated highly in a poll of the nation’s premier dirt-tracks, but more than one New England racer will tell you that the place was just tons of fun! Originally opening in the late 1920’s, the facility underwent a number of name-changes during its long history – Middleborough Fairgrounds, Camp Joe Hooker Raceway, Golden Spur Speedway, and lastly, Lakeville Speedway. A half-miler located near the Middleboro/Bridgewater area with a tricky oil-soaked dirt surface, it was a career-springboard for some pretty-notable racers, and also served as a Sunday playground for many of our regions top-pavement shoes. MORE>>

07/29/09: Mixing-It-Up MODIFIED Style!  Pictured here in the fifties at New York State’s Empire Raceway (AKA Menands Speedway), is the late, great Dick Dixon with his signature 8-ball Coupe. Dixon was one of New England’s brightest racing stars particularly within the once-mighty United Stock Car Racing Club. A standout Modified competitor, he was also extremely successful within the ranks of United’s Grand American Late Model division, where one season he captured thirteen of fifteen scheduled events. While still very-much in his prime, he perished in a grinding Thompson Speedway crash during the 1967 season. Dixon was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2004. As for Empire Raceway, it was a ¼-mile paved affair located near Troy, which closed at the conclusion of the 1961 season to make-way for development of a shopping plaza. MORE>>

07/22/09: More Weekend Warriors (New England-Style)… Rhode Islander Fred DeSarro was one of the truly-gifted racers of his era. Seen here following a victory in the Sonny Koszella “Woodchopper Special” he was a top New England Modified shoe for what seemed like eons. The racing media had a field day with the much-publicized “driver-switch” in 1971 when the great Bugs Stevens took the wheel of Koszella’s car, and Fred climbed aboard Bugs’ vacated Lenny Boehler “Ole’ Blue”. Truth-be-told, there were no hard-feelings. Fred and Bugs were great friends and remained-so until Fred’s death following a tragic 1978 Thompson Speedway crash. Both are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, as are Boehler and Koszella. Few drivers of the much-heralded “Coupe Era” were more traveled than New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Billy Harman. Growing-up in the shoreline community of New London, Ct. it was only natural for the speed-crazed young kid to get-involved with the happenings at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. After many successes in his backyard, Harmon took to the road, maintaining a hectic schedule that rewarded him accolades at venues from coast-to-coast. In later-years, “Little Bill” centered his efforts closer-to-home again, experiencing several triumphs at local tracks in this car, the “Coventry Racing Enterprises” entry. MORE>>

07/08/09: Vintage Thoughts On A Holiday Weekend…. Captured here at Stafford in an absolutely classic-looking coupe during the early days of his career is Ed Flemke Jr. With a father like NEAR Hall of Famer the late, great “Steady Eddie”, this youngster had some mighty-big shoes to fill, and thus-far, he’s done a darned good job of carrying-on the family racing heritage. A veteran of the NASCAR Modified Tour, Flemke Jr. won the title in 2002 after years of coming close. Much like his late father, Ed Jr. is viewed by many as a steady-shoe, utilizing experience to his advantage when required While following what looked to be a wreck-in-the-making, Flemke wisely used his head (and saved his equipment), in averting disaster when the leaders tangled on the last-lap at this years New England 100 at New Hampshire, finishing a fine-second to Donnie Lia. Few did more-with-less than Ernie Gahan did during his twenty-eight year career as one of the nation’s top Modified drivers. Virtually a one-man show for a good part of his career, the winner of the 1966 NASCAR National Modified Championship started racing in the 1940’s at New Hampshire’s old Dover Speedway. Well-before the days of the much-heralded “Eastern Bandits” he won over three-hundred features on a well-traveled road that stretched from his home state of Maine, to the coast of Florida. A multi-time NASCAR Grand National (now the Nextel Series), starter, his resume also includes two top-10 finishes, one in the Daytona 500. MORE>>

07/01/09: Varied Assortment Part III…..  Pictured here is the late Russ McLean, the 1969 Sportsman-Modified champion at the much-missed UNITED-sanctioned Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass. Fondly-recalled as a very popular racer amongst both fans and competitors. His lone feature victory occurred on the evening of April 17, 1971 in the car seen here. Utilizing a dose of tongue-in-cheek humor during what was perhaps a less politically-correct era, note that McLean’s sanitary little Coupe was christened “The Other Woman”. Few drivers got-around more than my old friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, “Wild Bill” Slater.  In addition to being a master at the most notable of Modified haunts, he also excelled on the high-banks of the NASCAR super-speedways. He’s seen here taking a break for a cold drink during one of his yearly Daytona sojourns. Note the absence of a fire suit and the rudimentary safety appointments on Bill’s Chevrolet. The cars were truly closer to stock back-then, and were more than a handful to navigate at the speeds these guys were eclipsing. MORE>>

06/24/09: Waterford Vets Worthy of Mention, Dirt Track Stormers, & Racing from “Across the Pond”…. Pictured here celebrating his first-ever victory at the 1/3-miler known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl on September 7, 1974 is a young Mark LaJeunesse. It was future champion Jerry Pearl that he’d out-dueled to the checkers in one of the seasons more hotly-contested features. Starting his career as a kid in the Quarter Midgets, LaJeunesse jumped right-into the Modifieds upon returning from armed forces service in Vietnam during the early-seventies. Though his first ride was an updated ex-Freddie Doolittle creation, subsequent machines were all self-designed and exquisitely hand-crafted at the team’s modest shop in Norwich, CT. Chief-wrench on the family team was father Al (kneeling, third-from-left), who’d been working on race cars for decades, most notably the ride of family relative and famed Waterford shoe, “Dirty Dick” Beaureguard. LaJeunesse called Waterford home for three-decades, scoring the United Stock Car Racing Club’s 1975 Sportsman-Modified title, and nearly twenty feature victories including the 2000 Budweiser Modified Nationals. Another son of the “Rose City” won that night too, as “Big Mike” Daigneault annexed the Sportsman Sedan main event. LaJeunesse and Daigneault are but two of a large group of great drivers from nearby Norwich that called the Speedbowl home for many years. MORE>>

06/17/09: This Week, It’s “A Little Bit Of Everything…..” This guy is a Hall of Fame member of the following; The New York Stock Car Association, Fonda Speedway, Dirt Motorsports, Eastern Press Association, and of course, was a 2002 inductee of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of Daytona's Living Legends of Auto Racing – no minor accolade. Pictured here during a coupe-era outing in his signature # 33, the career of the much-celebrated Bill Wimble began during the early-fifties in New York State. The winner of the 1960 NASCAR National Sportsman Championship, like many of his contemporaries he maintained a super-hectic schedule. During 1967-alone, Wimble competed every weekend at three New York tracks, Utica-Rome, Albany-Saratoga, and Fonda. Amazingly-enough, he was crowned track champion at all of them! Also a force to be reckoned-with in Connecticut, Wimble was particularly-successful on the former dirt-surface of the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. MORE>>

06/10/09: Hudsons, Non-Fords, and a Speedbowl Legend… We begin this week’s column with an ancient image of a car manufactured by a company that was once a major-player in the world of stock car racing both locally, and in the big leagues. The late Hudson Motor Company produced some of the most popular automobiles in America, and was particularly successful in the early days of NASCAR with their “Fabulous Hudson Hornet”. This shot captures one of Hudson’s products closer to home at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the fifties. The driver is the great Benny Derosier and the car was owned by Chester, Connecticut’s Barney Tiezzi. Barney’s son Joe later carried-on the family tradition becoming one of our region’s top drivers. Note the license plate & light on the roof-post, an indication that the car may have been flat-towed. Back-then, trailers were considered a luxury for some teams. The late “Moneybags” Moe Gherzi was one of the guys defined our sport during its infancy. Already an established star when this shot was captured in the lens of Shany Lorenzent, he was one of the most-prolific winners in early “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl action. MORE>>

06/03/09: Cut-Downs, Daredevils, and “Dirty Dick”….. We open this week’s edition of RTT with a classic “cut-down” era Speedbowl image of Sparky Belmont. As one of the premier racers of his time, Belmont (real name Michael Belmonti), was a winner and huge crowd-draw at New England venues such as Riverside Park, Waterford, West Haven, and the track where he experienced his greatest degree of success, Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium. Starting his career during the post-war Midget racing boom, he soon found his niche in the stock cars. It was after winning a 100-lap contest at Plainville in 1969 that Sparky suffered a fatal heart-attack, thus ending the life and career of one of our region’s most colorful early competitors. Think today’s Ted Christopher is aggressive? This guy would make him look like a choirboy! Dick Beaureguard (AKA “Dirty Dick”), was one of the real heavies in early competition at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Seen here behind the controls of one of the premier rides of the day, the Condgon #76, he was known as a “no-holds-barred” driver, the kind of guy that struck-fear into the minds of even the most seasoned of his fellow racers. MORE>>

05/27/09: And Yet More Images From The Past….. The late Harvey Vallencourt was a pioneer on the New England Modified circuit that became an unfortunate statistic in a sport that can sometimes reveal a cruel side. Starting his career at the old West Haven Speedway, Harvey was known as a proficient chauffer enjoying many successes over the years. Sustaining severe head-injuries in a seemingly minor crash at Plainville Stadium in the mid-seventies, he was confined to a hospital bed for almost a decade before his passing from injuries received in the accident. The popular Vallencourt is seen here with starter Billy Dunn after a Plainville triumph decades-ago. Another driver that experienced early success at the old West Haven Speedway was this guy, the late Pete Brockett Sr. Spending over three-decades behind the controls of a Modified, his later efforts were centered-on the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl where he also became a winner. His ride known as “Brockett’s Rocket”, Pete was always a crowd-favorite at the joint known as the “shoreline oval”. MORE>>

05/20/09: More Tales From The “Good Old Days”... It’s Wednesday evening July 15, 1978 at Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium, and having a smoke while waiting for the night’s race card to unfold is second-generation driver Richie Galullo. The Stadium’s open-comp shows routinely drew stellar fields, and young Galullo was on the top of his game. The “cent sign” Vega one of the premier rides of the day. Nicky Porto’s career can be traced back to the heyday of the Tattersall racing dynasty known as UNITED – once the top sanctioning body in the Northeast. When Steve Kennedy shot this image, he was wheeling this ex-Tony Dadio Coupe at Plainville Stadium. Porto was one of the premier drivers of his era at the Stadium and was no-doubt a contender when captured on film here, June 29, 1977. Seen here at the Stadium is an interesting shot of a driver that unfortunately, is filed under the “Unknown” category. As Steve Kennedy notes, it looks suspiciously like a dirt car which would not have been uncommon in an era before such specialization in car construction. At Plainville, you never-knew who was going to pull into the pits for the open shows. This image was recorded in July of 1973, and if anyone knows the details, please feel-free to contact me! MORE>>

05/13/09: Yet Another Varied Assortment….. Few Modified drivers have had more of an impact on the local racing scene over the years than this fellow, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Bob Potter. Starting his career in the early-sixties at Waterford, the Taftville, Ct. native captured his first Modified checker in 1965 with an estimated 140 feature wins to follow along with multiple championships at Thompson, Stafford, and of-course, the Speedbowl. Never officially retired, Bob is seen here at the Bowl’ in June of 1979, a year in which he scored a convincing victory in the prestigious UNITED-sanctioned Waterford 200. Won by invader Marty Radewick and serving as the opening event for 1980, “Blast-Off” was a 100-lap Modified grind that drew a stellar field to the Speedbowl, and among those mixing it-up with the locals was the pride of Long Island, the late “Chargin’ Charlie” Jarzombek. Seen here in one of his familiar #1 machines, he was an infrequent visitor to the shoreline oval, but always ran well when he ventured-out to 1080 Hartford Road. Tragically, Charlie lost his life in a crash at Martinsville, VA. in the spring of 1987. He was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2004. MORE>>

05/06/09: With last week’s passing of New England Modified Great Billy Schulz, we loose yet another piece of the puzzle that represents the history of our sport. Schulz was one of the top-drivers at the much-missed Norwood Arena, and also excelled at many other regional venues including Seekonk Speedway, and Thompson Speedway. He was the founder and operator of Country Club Auto Body in Norton MA., running the business for 40 years until recently retiring. Billy is seen here celebrating a Norwood Arena win on July 5, 1969. Captured here in May of 1978 is Speedbowl Street Stock competitor Scott Porier. Driving for Jay Stuart (who later became a fine competitor in his own right), Porier scored three victories on his way to a second-place finish in the season standings, a scant 7-points behind titlist Ed Reed Sr. Started in 1977 by United’s Harvey Tattersall Jr., the Street Stocks were a wildly-popular division boasting full-fields and a slam-bang program. Not to be confused with today’s hybrid class, with the exception of safety features these things were truly-stock, boasting factory chassis and bias-ply 78-series passenger tires. MORE>>

04/29/09: Covering All The Bases….. Like so-many of the racers from his generation, the late Maynard Forrette saw no boundaries in the difference between running on dirt or asphalt. A big winner on both, he’s probably most fondly remembered for his stunning dirt-slingin’ drives on the daunting Syracuse Mile where during the later stages of his career, he often bested competitor’s half-his-age. A master mechanic and innovative car builder, Forrette also ran Northern Speed Supply, a haven for those racers seeking to get the most out of their equipment. This shot is believed to be from Utica-Rome. By the 1976 season when this shot was captured at Plainville Stadium, most New England Modified racers had bid-goodbye to the traditional stylings of the old coupes and coaches. At Joe Tinty’s ¼-miler however, they could still be captured in-action probably more than at any track in our region. That’s Fred Murtha in a neat little 3-window entry lining-up next to our friend, Larry Lafayette. According to our Webmaster Tom Ormsby who ran a lot of laps with Murtha, the car was a real-looker. MORE>>

04/22/09: Waterford, Riverside, Islip, Plainville, And More! The 1978 season at Waterford was one of the most successful campaigns in the tracks history, as Dick Williams of the Coastal Racing Association stepped-in to lease and promote the facility following a less-than-stellar multi-year run by Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock Car Racing Club. Pictured here in May of that year is veteran Modified campaigner Larry Lafayette. Starting his career in the early-60’s, the personable Lafayette was a fixture on the New England circuit for more than three-decades. He now resides in Port Charlotte, Florida. New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Dave Alkas so-dominated the proceedings at his home track during the 70’s, trade-paper scribes began referring to him as “The King of Plainville Stadium”. Never an easy-place to conquer with its tight-turns and ultra-competitive fields, Alkas teamed with owner Roland Cyr to capture five championships and is the track’s all-time winner. This shot captures during the waning-years of The Stadium in July of 1978. MORE>>

04/19/09: Another Varied Slice Of Racin’ History…. The year is 1972 and that’s our webmaster, a young “Tommy” Ormsby taking the low-road to avoid a spinning Danny Gaudiosi in one of the famed Sharkey coupes.  The venue of course, is the much-missed Plainville Stadium. Ormsby relates that the shot was captured shortly after a rebuild of his car, which was demolished following a trip through the wall and into the pits a few weeks-before. “We changed the color and number (it had formally been a blue # V-O), hoping that it would bring better luck. I’m pretty-sure this was an open-show, as I don’t recall any full-bodied cars like the Chevelle seen here running with us weekly, but it was 37 years ago.” stated Ormsby recently. In the background is the Plainville Drive-In screen and the Sunoco station on then Rt. 72 (now 372), and Crooked St. MORE>>

04/08/09: Spring Cleaning In The Archive Room…… Yeah, I know, we’ve ran shots of this car before (humor-me, it’s a personal favorite). It’s the early-seventies, and that’s Seabury Tripler flanking the Speedbowl’s infamous “Racin’ Rambler.” As reported here in an earlier column, Chuck Bowen, son of legendary fabricator Owen Bowen, is in the final stages of completing a replica of this car as a tribute to his late father. Owen worked his magic on the tinwork of an early-60s Rambler American to come-up with one of the most recognizable cars ever-ran at the shoreline oval. The list of legendary chauffeurs that wheeled Fred Beaber-owned checkerboard 716 creations is a lengthy affair. During one of the longest associations with Waterford of any car-owner in the track’s history, the victories came frequently. In this late-sixties image, Jerry Glaude had one of his rare off-nights, balling-up the front suspension on Freddie’s little coupe. MORE>>

04/01/09: More “Old Bowl” Plus a Snippet of Plainville Fenders…. As a close associate of the Gada clan, Rod Tulba began his Speedbowl career hustling Daredevil division entries around the shoreline oval. In later years he advanced to the Modifieds as captured in this image from August of 1978. Team members Paul Guigure (seated on right-front), and Steve Scovish (left), were also competitors in the Street Stock class. At the time, the track was owned by Harvey Tattersall Jr. of United fame, but had been leased to Dick Williams and his Coastal Racing League. Tulba returned to the track in later years as a winner in the “Heroes of The Bowl” events once held in conjunction with Nostalgia Weekend. MORE>>

03/25/09: Speedbowl Memories Sprinkled With A Few Hall Of Famers…. First on this week’s agenda is a shot of Billy “Gramps” Greco. A New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, he was an absolute master of the short oval, honing his skills at tight little joints like the late West Haven Speedway and the much-missed 1/5-miler at Riverside Park. A darling of the old Harvey Tattersall-led United circuit (once the most influential sanctioning group in New England), in later-years he also became a winner at the ultra-competitive Danbury Fair Racarena. He’s seen here at Riverside Park in his familiar # 43. Billy’s as popular today as he ever-was, and can really enlighten you on the history of the sport. If you get a chance to chat with him, please do! MORE>>

03/18/09: The Late “Stub” Fadden at Catamount Along With More Bowl’ Memories…. This photo from the collection of the late (and much-missed), Danny Pardi captures Stanley “Stub” Fadden during year-ten of what was one of the most brilliant careers in all of New England auto racing. A member of the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, among his accomplishments was championships at Thunder Road and Catamount Stadium in Vermont, and Mount Lauier, Quebec. “Stub” also scored a pair of “Milk Bowl” victories at Thunder Road. Though early record-keeping wasn’t what it is today, it’s estimated that he scored over 250-victories in a career that spanned three-decades. Here he’s seen in 1970 at “The Home of the Brave”, the late Catamount Stadium. As noted earlier, Fadden passed-away just last week at the age of 75. MORE>>

03/11/09: When Coupes Ruled In New England….: The shot is from the 1964 season. The driver is Wayne Wilkinson. The body was I think, a '35 Pontiac? The car was owned by Dave and Jesse Hill (Leo's brothers) and Deke Bromley. They ran about 3/4 of the season before it was destroyed after Lou Toro and Wayne had a shoving match that ended up with the #6 slamming hard into the pit gate bulkhead. Here’s a shot from 1965. This car was actually built right-after the crash with Toro, but was not completed until the start of the next season. That's Joe McNulty behind the wheel. Once-again, the owners were by Dave and Jesse Hill, along with Deke Bromley. At the conclusion of the season, Dave and Deke got out of the racing game but Jesse hung-around for a couple of more years with the car in the next picture. MORE>>

03/04/09: The “Racin’ Rambler” Makes A Return, And Other Vintage Topics: Chuck Bowen, son of celebrated Speedbowl car builder and driver the late Owen Bowen (see his profile in last week’s installment), contacted me recently to report that he’s in the process of replicating a car that was crafted by his father and driven to much Speedbowl success by the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener. Chuck had been searching for the “Racin’ Rambler” for quite some-time, and finally hit pay-dirt via placing an ad in the NEAR newsletter. The former owner had already started the project, so Chuck has a great canvas to work-with. It’s seen here in its present-state. His plans are to finish the car and campaign it with NEAR as a tribute to both his dad, and “Wild Bill” who scored his final Waterford career victory with the car on Easter Sunday of 1974. MORE>>

02/25/09: The Connecticut Valley Rocket Plus More Speedbowl Greats! “Wild Bill Slater” aka “The Connecticut Valley Rocket” was among the first drivers inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, and for good reason. Starting his career in the early-50’s, few can claim more accomplishments in the sport. Multiple championships, a much-coveted Langhorne victory, and a long reign as one of Modified racings most-respected officials are all part of the Slater legacy. This Stafford shot is believed to be from 1968, a period in which Bill had assumed the V-8 racing operation from his former car owners, the famed duo of Vitari & Bombacci. MORE>>

02/12/09: A Couple of Dirt Track Legends and Some Speedbowl Greats…. This week it’s a mix-of-sorts, a combo of Speedbowl veterans along with a dash of those who plied their trade on the Northeastern dirt circuit. Enjoy! Another of the Speedbowl’s steady competitors from the Connecticut River Valley region, Tucker Reynolds Sr. ran this neat little Coupe in early-70’s action. Note the use of a street-rated tire on the left front wheel and the homemade headers – both hallmarks of an era when builders truly did it on their own, rather than relying on the thickness of their wallet. Reynolds’ son Tucker Jr. made quite a splash a few years-ago, developing into a winning and extremely popular SK driver. MORE>>

02/11/09: With the Waterford Speedbowl facing an uncertain future, this week we present an assortment of vintage images from the Eastern Connecticut third-miler known as “The Action Track”. Opening in the spring of 1951 with advance-publicity billing it “New London Speedway”, financial issues have made it a tough-go for the historically-rich speed plant in recent years. Hopefully, the gates will again swing- open in the spring to present shoreline fans with their fifty-ninth consecutive season of racing at the Bowl’. Early in 1976 former Sportsman division chauffer Paul “Hawk” Fugener debuted this rather unorthodox-looking American Motors AMX-bodied Modified. His second-season in the Bowl’s headlining division, Fugener’s rookie entry was a much-more conventional Coupe. That machine eventually ended-up in the hands of another competitor to be campaigned at the Danbury Fair Racarena under the banner of the Southern New York Racing Association. “Hawk” ran an abbreviated sophomore year, soon fading from the scene entirely. MORE>>

02/04/09: Speedbowl Hot-Shoes Invade The Konk’: As the long-time staff photographer at Seekonk Motor Speedway, Johnny Mercury provided fans with timeless images from the track lovingly known as “The Cement Palace”. Captured here are some of his shots taken during one of the Konks’ great open shows of 1971. Of particular interest to historically-inclined Waterford Speedbowl fans is the amount of shoreline oval heavy-hitters that made the trek in hopes of grabbing some of D. Anthony Venditti’s generous purse. Seen here leading the pack in his trend-setting Pinto is the Speedbowl’s Seabury Tripler. This car arguably set the standard for the “modern-era” of Modifieds, pre-dating the Judkins #2X which is widely-acknowledged as the first-ever NASCAR-legal Pinto. MORE>>

01/28/09: Stacking Em’ Up At Danbury: It started like any other Saturday night at Connecticut’s storied Danbury Fair Racearena. A capacity crowd was present and a paddock area brimming with the flathead-powered Coupes & Coaches of the Southern New York Racing Association were ready to do-battle on the demanding third-mile oval. hroughout its acclaimed history, the Racearena was known for fierce competition amongst the members of its closed-club sanctioning body. The joint is also recalled for some bone-jarring crashes, and the evening of August 11, 1962 provided patrons with motorized mayhem of the extreme variety. Following a lap-5 restart, leader Bill Adams lost a wheel heading into the front-chute triggering a crash that claimed a staggering fourteen of his fellow competitors. MORE>>

01/21/09: When the New London-Waterford Speedbowl opened to the public in 1951, the racing surface consisted of a crushed bluestone concoction that was trucked-in from the Millstone Point area of town. Contrary to what’s been written, the track was never comprised of clay or dirt. In short-order, pavement took the place of the dusty original surface. This image captures what was known as the “Sand Safety Strip” that was in-place until the 1960’s. It was originally devised as a safety feature to help slow-down errant racers before decent into the infamous railroad-tie wall. Unfortunately, ever-increasing speeds over the years had just the opposite-effect. Once a competitor got a wheel into the “sand”, it almost always yielded disastrous results. MORE>>

01/14/09: When the late Bobby Santos joined-forces with Preston, CT. car owner Art Barry, it was pure Modified Magic. Captured here in one Barry’s famous “Stump Jumper” Coupes during the much-heralded big-block era, the formidable duo won from coast-to-coast. Some years-ago, Barry noted that his former driver was particularly successful at the divisions Northern haunts, once annexing 7 features-in-a-row at New Hampshire’s Claremont and Monadnock Speedways. This particular car had a long, successful life after leaving the Barry shops. It served as a winning platform for both the late Ed Yerrington Sr. and later Mark LaJeunesse, the latter earning his first of many Speedbowl triumphs with the little Coupe in September of 1974. Master car-builder Barry joins his friend and former chauffer as a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall Of Fame later this month on January 25th. See www.near1.com  for details on this year’s HOF inductions. MORE>>

01/07/09: Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway-West Haven Speedway (AKA ”Savin Rock” for its close proximity to amusement park of the same name), started life in 1935 as a 1/5-mile dirt oval. The track was constructed within the confines of Donovan Field, a baseball coliseum named in honor of “Wild Bill” Donovan, a popular early manager of the New York Yankees. The following season saw the track paved, continuing in that configuration until the gates closed during the war-years. During its formative era, West Haven was celebrated as a top venue for the wildly-popular Midgets, once the “Road to Indy” for any driver aspiring to advance to the big-leagues of racing. Open cockpit Maestros such as Bill Schindler, Johnny Thomson, Ted Tappet, and the Brothers Rice, George and Johnny, bought capacity crowds to the track located close to the warm sea breezes of the Connecticut shore. MORE>>

01/04/09: Eddie Bunnell garnered the 1966 Bomber championship at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford Speedbowl”. Active until the mid-1980’s he became a proficient Modified shoe, recording many fine finishes during his tenure in the Bowl’s headlining division. This rather rare image catches him at-speed in a car that’s probably unfamiliar to most Waterford fans (at least in this livery). Known for fielding their own cars, on this occasion in 1980 the Bunnell team utilized one of the # 110 coupes made famous a few years earlier by Bob Potter. The car is presently restored back to its original state and campaigned on the NEAR vintage circuit. MORE>>

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05/12/10: Westboro, Riverside, Waterford, Plainville, Etc…. Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts was an ultra-competitive paved ¼-miler that opened in 1947 and sadly, closed its gates forever at the conclusion of the 1985 season. From Midgets to Coupes, and just about everything in-between, Westboro hosted them-all during its long history. This shot from the 1960s captures Joe Cast (46), Big Joe Rosenfeld (44), Deke Astle (2), and, Fred Borden (10), partaking in some typical action under the lights. With its steep (and sometimes treacherous), high banks, the track provided New England fans with some of the fastest speeds in the region during the “Coupe Era.” Originally constructed with an eye on the bustling post-war Midget racing boom, Westboro Speedway could seat eight-thousand fans, and during its heyday the place was routinely-packed. The first-ever event for the facility was in-fact, a Bay State Midget Racing Association show won by Joe Sostilio in his Leader Card Special. However, when the Coupes displaced the Midgets as the main weekly-draw in New England, the fans just kept-coming for action like this. For a more detailed look at the orgins of Westboro, grab a copy of “Hot Cars, Cool Drivers” penned by our pal Lew Boyd and available at www.coastal181.com MORE>>

05/05/10: (Yet-More) Modified Memories…. Captured here in the lens of celebrated racing photographer the late Fred Smith is Dave Kotary. A standout racer in the Northeast for many seasons, Kotary got his start in the Modifieds wheeling coupe-bodied creations like the one seen here. Among his many accomplishments was nailing a track championship at New York’s Brewerton Speedway in 1963, a season in-which he won 17 out of 20 events ran. At the time, he was only 20 years-old. Many more triumphs followed at Empire State haunts such as Utica-Rome, Malta, and Shangri-La. The late Kenny Shoemaker was one of the best in the sport, period. To list the number of victories and top car-owners that he drove for during his heyday would simply take more space than this weekly column allows. “The Shoe” is justifiably an inductee of several stock car racing Hall of Fames. Kenny passed-away in 2001 leaving-behind a huge legion of fans and fellow competitors that recall him as one of the most exciting drivers to have-ever graced a Northeastern speedway, dirt or pavement. MORE>>

04/28/10: Yet More Stuff From The “Old Daze”…. The car is the potent Allyn Tool & Auto Machine Sprint Car, and the guy seated behind the wheel is New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Gene Bergin. Though he’s often recalled for his extraordinary career in the Modifieds, the Enfield, CT. native was actually a much-more versatile racer. In addition to his Sprint Car endeavors, he was successful in the NEMA Midgets with wins at Thompson in Aug. 1969 and Aug. 1973 at Lakeville Speedway (aka Golden Spur), in Massachusetts. His NASCAR Grand National (now know as Sprint Cup), career included starts at Darlington and Langhorne in 1956. It was Bergin who helped start the Modified division’s landmark “Pinto Revolution” in 1971 when he wheeled the #2x Pinto of fellow Hall of Famer Bob Judkins to a stunning victory in the 1971 Stafford 200. MORE>>

04/21/10: Another Week, Another Dose Of Memories…. Here we have an at-speed shot of the late, legendary Pete Corey. The venue is Pennsylvania’s former Langhorne Speedway, once the site of the “Race of Champions” the nation’s premier event for the Modifieds. Corey was in the twilight of a brilliant career by the time this 1970 image was captured. He’d won the event in 1955 when the famous track still sported a dirt surface. We’ve lately been getting a lot of mail from our friends “Up-North” requesting that we do a little-something on some drivers from their neck of the woods. Seen here with a young fan during the much-heralded “flathead era” is New Hampshire’s Bill George. A former 106 Midway Raceway track champion, he was also a frequent winner at other regional haunts such as Claremont & Legion Bowl. MORE>>

04/14/10: Turn The Page (More From The Archives)…… Seen here at one of Stafford Spring Motor Speedway’s early Spring Sizzler events is Paul Radford, certainly one of the Southland’s finest Modified shoes. A native of Ferrum, Virginia, he was a familiar site at major New England Modified events of the 1960’s & 70’s. Radford made one NASCAR Grand National start (known today as the Sprint Cup Series), wheeling Junie Donlavey’s Ford Torino at Martinsville, VA. in 1974. He retired in 1988 at age-56 following a stint in the NASCAR Busch Series. This one captures popular coupe-era star George Rettew celebrating victory at one of the great UNITED events that were once conducted yearly at the big track on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts. As stated here many-times, in the days before NASCAR gained a foothold in New England, the Tattersall family’s United Stock Car Racing Club was THE premier sanctioning body in the Northeast. MORE>>

04/06/10: Plainville, Stafford, Thompson, etc…. Here we have a nice color action-shot of Plainville Stadium’s Pud Noble. There was a time at the Stadium’ when it was populated by scads of drivers like the colorful Pud – the place was really rockin’ when this image was captured by Phil Hoyt. It’s only been in recent years that people have realized just how-important Joe Tinty’s little Connecticut ¼-miler really-was. As I’ve stated previously, it was the first track I ever attended after I got my drivers license and was able to stray from my home base of the Waterford Speedbowl. I loved the place along with its colorful drivers and competition that was second-to-none! If there was ever a “King of Plainville Stadium” this guy was the man. See here is Dave Alkas, multi-time champion, and the Stadium’s all-time Modified winner. We ran a shot of this car a few weeks-ago, and our friend and celebrated auto racing writer Bones Bourcier stated that it bought-back a lot of memories (he just-about grew-up at Plainville before moving-on to the national scene). Dave is also one of the guys responsible for the wonderful “Plainville Stadium Reunion” that was staged last-summer – it was a great affair. Fittingly, Mr. Alkas was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2008. MORE>>

03/31/10: Yet Another Dose Of Speedbowl History…. Last week we ran a shot of the late Johnny Savage Jr., a past competitor at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Thanks to regular “Racing Through Time” contributor and friend Mal Phillips, now we can see where it all started for the Savage family. Captured here during a trackside ceremony (not-sure of the occasion), is John Savage Sr. A winner in the Non-Ford division (an early support class), he was an extremely popular racer at the Speedbowl of the 1950’s. And here’s another shot of John Savage Sr., this time lined-up for a Non-Ford feature at the Speedbowl. This is a significant shot not-only because it captures one of Waterford’s true pioneers, but also because of the car. This was one of the first rides campaigned by famed car owner/builder and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, Art Barry of Preston, CT. For over fifty-years, Barry creations have been landing in victory lane with drivers like Bob Potter, Leo Cleary, George Summers, Bobby Santos, Ed Flemke, Sr., and Reggie Ruggiero aboard – it’s a long list. That’s 1953 Non-Ford champion Darwin “Bud” Matter and his #99 in the background. MORE>>

03/24/10: Down Memory Lane (For Another Week)…. Seen here in the office of the potent Joe Fontana-owned “Flying Eagle” #1 coupe is the late Richard “Moon” Burgess. Simply a terror while wheeling this GMC-powered creation all-over New England during the 1950’s, he accumulated an astounding number of victories during what was really a relatively-brief time span – proof of just how-good this team was. Moon was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2003. One of the founders of the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), the popular stock car racing pioneer passed-away just earlier this month. He’ll be missed by many. So you say you like this website and look-forward to it appearing every Wednesday? If-so, thank this guy, for without his help, “Racing Through Time” would have never appeared in cyberspace. Meet Mr. Tom Ormsby creator of both www.speedwaylinereport.com and www.vintagemodifieds.com as-well as the Webmaster of this site. This “Pure-Plainville” shot captures a young Tommy behind the controls of one of his earliest rides at Joe Tinty’s much-missed little Connecticut ¼-miler. MORE>>

03/17/10: Time Travel – “MODIFIED STYLE”  Seen here in 1966 celebrating a victory at Owego, New York’s Shangri-La Speedway is the late Bobby Merz. That’s an early-60’s Rambler American body mounted on the rather-radical chassis. Fans of Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl may recall “Wild Bill” Scrivener once piloting a #27 American-bodied mount designed by Owen Bowen, though it was more cut-down. Merz and his little AMC experienced a number of triumphs on the ovals of New York State, once a hot-bed of activity for the asphalt Modified-set. And here’s a shot of another AMC-shod creation, this time chauffeured by the legendary Elton Hildreth and captured at Pennsylvania’s late Reading Fairgrounds Speedway. A New Jersey native, Hildreth’s status as one of his regions top dirt racers was a lengthy affair. He of course, also added numerous pavement successes to his portfolio.  MORE>>

03/10/10: Waterford, Plainville, Rhythm Inn, Etc…. We open this week’s installment with a shot of a guy that accomplished just a thing-or-two in the realm of New England Modified racing. Captured here during the notorious “Cut-Down” era at the Connecticut shoreline’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl is our pal “Wild Bill” Slater. The car is one of the Congdon Bros. entries out of Salem, a small burg just up the road from the Bowl’. The team experienced unparalleled success at the track during the early days, enlisting the talents of only the most proficient of Waterford chauffeurs. Slater, a charter member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame later went-on to national success as the pilot of the famed Vitari-Bombaci V-8. Read more about Bill’s accomplishments at www.near1.com MORE>>

03/03/10: Another (Very) Varied Assortment! New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member the late Joe Sostilio is seen here about to push-off in the Frank Curtis Offy at Pennsylvania’s Williams Grove Speedway in May of 1958. Starting his career during the pre-war era, by 1935, he’d notched the New England Dirt Track Championship for “Big Cars” (precursors of today’s Sprint Cars).  Also an exceptional Midget racer, following World War II he became one of the Bay State Midget Association’s star drivers. The early 1950’s found him running the AAA Big Car circuit. Paired with Indy 500 winner Johnnie Parsons, the duo became one of the most-feared teams of their era. Winning the 1953 Eastern Sprint Car Championship, throughout his years with AAA he was considered a standout driver along with fellow topnotch competitors such as Joie Chitwood, Lee Wallard, Bill Holland, and Tony Bettenhausen. It’s estimated that Sostilio scored over 300 career victories in Midgets and Big Cars, as well as many Stock Car triumphs. MORE>>

02/24/10: More Waterford Wanderings (And One From Plainville)…. Deservedly-so, much has been written about the driver known as the “Crafty Redhead”, New England Hall of Famer Melvin “Red” Foote. Often lost in the mix is the memory of his brother Russ Foote, who was an accomplished racer in his own-right. In this rather tattered vintage image, Russ is captured pit-side at the Waterford Speedbowl of the 1950’s. Russ claimed one Waterford Modified victory in 1959 during a career that was substantially-shorter than that of his more-celebrated sibling. Russ retired after sailing out of the ballpark in dramatic fashion during the shoreline oval’s 1963 season, while his brother’s last event came at Langley Field, Virginia in 1980. MORE>>

02/17/10: Pavement Pounders & Denizens of Dirt…. Captured here piloting a Studebaker Lark-bodied creation following a victory at the former Westboro Speedway in Massachusetts on May 17, 1968 is the late Don Dionne. He was particularly successful up the road at the Seekonk Speedway where he was a long time fan favorite capturing over thirty-wins during a career spanning nearly 3-decades. He won his first show at the “Cement Palace” on September 23, 1967 in the B division. His final feature victory came on July 15, 1989, wheeling John Tyler's Sound Marine Special. His first championship came in 1970 in the B division. In 1979 he became the very-first Seekonk Pro Stock Champion, driving for the Manfredo Brothers, and repeated the feat in 1981. Sadly, we lost Don at age-70 on Tuesday, January 5. MORE>>

01/27/10: Pavement Pounders & Denizens of Dirt…. Seen here in August of 1978 at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl is Street Stock competitor Bob Seller. Among the earliest of drivers to sign-up when the late Harvey Tattersall Jr. introduced the division in late-1977, Seller was a top competitor in this Mopar entry for a number of seasons. In recent years, the family has focused on their involvement with the New England Antique Racers (NEAR) where Bob serves as Vice President and campaigns a vintage Pinto Modified. Get-well wishes go-out to Bob who’s lately been a bit under-the-weather. Captured in the lens of John Grady following a coupe-era victory at Vernon, New York’s Utica-Rome Speedway is a youthful Gary Reddick. One of the top-drivers of his time, Reddick was not-unlike many of his contemporaries, equally talented on both dirt and pavement. Utica-Rome was once a hotbed of action for the best of the asphalt-set, with guys like Evans, Cook, Bodine, Charland, Troyer, etc. competing on a weekly basis. Originally opened in 1961 as a 1/3-mile paved oval, it was revamped to its present 5/8-mile dirt configuration in 1979. Remaining one of the most-successful dirt venues in the Northeast, Utica-Rome’s 49th season opener goes-green on April 18. MORE>>

01/20/10: Pavement Pounders & Denizens of Dirt…. New England Modified racing has produced many heated rivalries over the years, but it’s also resulted in a lot of lasting friendships. The late George Pendergast and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy Harman (middle) were buddies for-sure, and on this night when George scored a victory, he was there to help his pal celebrate the occasion. Pendergast is fondly-recalled as being one of the sports true “characters”, but as this shot shows, he was no slouch behind the wheel either! Harman, who’s recuperating from recent shoulder-surgery, is expected to be at this year’s Hall of Fame inductions later this month on Jan 31. Go to www.near1.com for more details on the event. Seen here during the 1950s behind the controls of a Plymouth coupe, the late Ray Delisle was one of the earliest of stars at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. After recovering from serious injuries sustained in a fiery crash, he returned in 1964 to claim the Modified championship piloting the potent Simons Excavating #9. His last Waterford checker scored in 1965, he notched a career-total of 24 victories in both Modified and Non-Ford competition. In 2000 Delisle was voted one of the shoreline oval’s “50 Favorite Drivers” as part of the track’s 50th Anniversary celebration. MORE>>

01/13/10: More “Mod Squad” Memories (Minus Pete, Link & Julie)… Seen here at Waterford in the 1970’s is New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer and pal of your author, Bob Potter. Responsible for hundreds of victories and scads of championships at Waterford, Thompson and Stafford, few drivers from this region had more of an impact on the sport for as long as this guy did. A local kid with humble beginnings in the Speedbowl’s Bombers, he emerged to become one of the real movers & shakers in the Modified class, doing-so for close to 4-decades. The car is the potent Art Barry-wrenched Capri, and the duo was virtually unbeatable during their pairing at the shoreline oval. Barry by-the-way is also a member of the Hall of Fame. They were a true “dream team.” And the Hall of Famers continue; This is Leo Cleary, aptly nicknamed “The Lion” owing to his fearless style behind the wheel of “ground-pounders” like this wild little Mustang-bodied creation. It was more than one chauffer that became uneasy when they had a mirror-full of Cleary – he was one tough competitor. Leo competed at the Medford Bowl, Lonsdale, Norwood, Catamount, and Westboro. Among active tracks, he raced at Thompson, Seekonk, Stafford, Martinsville, Oswego and Waterford, along with several others. MORE>>

01/06/10: Reliving The Past On A Snowy New England Weekend… Opening this week’s edition of “Racing Through Time” is a 1974 pit-side shot of Nels Wohlstrom, a top-flight Modified driver at what was then known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. He was a close-associate of fellow racer and multi-time winner Mike Beebe, this car having originated at that teams shop in the Connecticut River Valley area. A popular Bowl’ chauffer and graduate of the Sportsman Sedan class, Wohlstrom notched a bevy of fine finishes while behind the controls of this wild-looking little number at Waterford and Thompson. Not everyone utilized pre-war tin as a style palette during those halcyon days of the much-heralded “Coupe Era”. Seen here in a Chevy II-bodied mount is Montville, CT. speedster Donnie Bunnell. A Speedbowl Superstar throughout the 1970’s (the era in-which this image was captured), the popular Bunnell was known as a steady and sportsman-like chauffer. Perhaps his biggest moment in the sun was a stunning victory in the 1976 UNITED-sanctioned “Bicentennial 200”, then the longest-ever event staged at the shoreline oval. Note the “Psychedelic” numbers – a sign of the times! MORE>>

2009

12/30/09: Speedbowl Memories (Plus One From Stafford)… We open this week with a shot of a pioneering figure in the history of what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, John “Cannonball” Baker. This hulking “Coach” entry was but-one in a succession of #314 creations that Baker campaigned at Waterford from the 1950’s until his final drive in 1974. In later years, he was one-half of a family team that also included his son, aptly-nicknamed “Musketball.” Though his career was reasonably-brief by conventional standards, this guy had a huge-impact on the early history of the Speedbowl. Twice a Modified titlist (1952 & 62), Dick Beauregard’s flamboyant driving-style won-over a legion of fans, along with a few detractors. A true “stand-on-the-gas” competitor, his retirement in 1962 after only a decade yielded 62 victories in both Modified & Non Ford competition. This shot captures him shortly before he hung-up his helmet, quite-fittingly retiring as a champion. The driver to the right with the big-grin is none-other than New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer and pal of yours-truly, “Little Bill” Harman. MORE>>

12/23/09: More Faces From The Past (And Happy Holidays To All!)…. This week we start with another vintage Midget image from the late Cherry Park Speedway in Avon, CT. Indiana native and World War II veteran Ted Klooz was a standout driver during the division’s busy post-war period and like many of the racers of his era, traveled extensively. We believe this image captured during the 1947 campaign to be from an ARDC show. Sadly, the 24 year-old Klooz lost his life in a grinding crash later that season at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway during a Consolidation Midget Racing Association event. The late Pete Corey (aka “The Crescent Hillbilly”), was simply one of the best racers of his generation. When he lost his left leg in a horrible 1959 crash at Fonda, his comeback elevated him from hero to legend. The fact that his car had to be equipped with a hand brake after he lost his leg seemed almost immaterial. Corey actually began his career as a motorcycle racer switching to stockcars in the late 1940s. He won sporadically in the early '50s and then landed a ride with famed Schenectady, New York car owner Bob Mott in 1955. It proved to be a career-move that made him the hottest driver in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Seen here with an injected Mustang modified sponsored by longtime supporter Jimmy Bosco of Commercial Tire, Corey retired in 1973. MORE>>

12/16/09: Faces From The Past (Continued)….. We open this week’s column with an action-shot from the former Cherry Park Speedway located in Avon, Connecticut. A truly-picturesque facility (complete with an old-time covered grandstand), Cherry Park opened in 1882 as a horse track and in 1933 began presenting auto racing on the original half-mile dirt circuit. Closed for the war-years, it reopened in 1946 as a fifth-mile, being paved shortly thereafter. A hotbed of action for the Midgets, it also hosted the then-new stock cars. It lay dormant from 1954 to 1959 when it was razed for development. Seen here are early Midget racing standouts Dee Toran, George Rich, Bert Brooks, and Len Duncan. Here’s a dramatic 70’s-era Seekonk action-shot of a pair of New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame members. That’s George Summers in the #31 leading Ronnie Bouchard in the #35. Seekonk remains one of the most historically-significant ovals on the East Coast, having first opened its gates on May 30, 1946. The tradition continues today, as the Vendetti family readies for another season of competition in 2010 at the Massachusetts oval affectionately-known as the “Cement Palace.” MORE>>

12/09/09: Yet Another Helping Of “Old Stuff”… Here’s another pick from our webmaster Tom Ormsby’s vast archive of images. The date is April 10, 1966, and the location is the late Riverside Park fifth-miler in Agawam, Massachusetts. Seen in this paddock-area shot are three of most famous names in New England Modified racing history. From left-to-right are Rene “The Champ” Charland, Jerry Humiston, and Dick Dixon. This trio of talent was responsible for scads of victories and championships in what many consider to be the true “golden era” of racing in the Northeast. A Stafford picture from Mr. Ormsby’s collection, this one captures veteran the late Freddie Colossa. A unique ride in that it was campaigned during a time when coupes and coaches remained standard-fare at New England’s Modified racing haunts, the full-bodied Chevy II tin was “different” to say the least. Historically-astute readers will recognize the name of the car’s owner; it was none-other than one “Moneybags” Moe Gherzi, a star-performer in the early days of our sport, and also the long-time Race Director at Plainville Stadium. MORE>>

12/02/09: A National Champion Passes, And More Memories From The Past... The Northeastern racing community lost a real treasure when the great Ernie Gahan passed-away at age-82 on Thanksgiving evening. Gahan’s 28-year racing career started during the post-war stock car racing boom of 1948 at New Hampshire’s Dover Speedway. By the time he’d hung-up his helmet in the 1970’s, he’d amassed over 300 career victories. Perhaps his greatest achievement in the sport was being the first New Englander to win a NASCAR National Modified championship in 1966. He was equally successful on both dirt and asphalt. He won a record 21 features on the old dirt at Stafford Speedway in the late 50’s and early 60’s. He had eleven starts in Grand National (now Sprint Cup), series competition, recording two top-ten finishes, one of which was in the 1962 Daytona 500. In 1963 Gahan was credited with saving the life of Marvin Panch by pulling him out of a burning race car at Daytona. MORE>>

11/25/09: More Memorable Moments From The Past….. Few early Modified teams were more professional than that of “Wild Bill” Slater and his Bob Vitari & Vic Bombaci-owned #V-8. During an era in which the sport was still more than a little “rough-around-the edges”, these guys really shined. Their equipment was never-less than immaculate, and the driver and crew were always neatly-attired. This shot captures an early version of the #V-8 at a UNITED-sanctioned Eastern States event in Springfield, Massachusetts during the 1959 season. Slater, Vitari, and Bombaci are all members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. Another great shot of the legendary “Wild Bill” Slater-driven #V-8 team. Like mentioned-above, these guys simply epitomized professionalism during the early days of Modified racing in New England. As seen here, even the team’s hauler was a spiffy-looking unit. You have to wonder just how-many victories these two coupes were responsible-for, as Slater was definitely in his prime when this image was captured. MORE>>

11/18/09: Lakeville, West Haven, and More….. The late Tony Mordino is seen here following another memorable victory. It’s thanks to the diligence of people like RTT Webmaster Tom Ormsby that images like this gem still exist. He was one of the first guys to bring the history of New England’s glorious racing past to the masses via the internet. This photo remains one of his favorites, and I’ll let him explain the reason for all the extra smiles in this ancient West Haven Speedway shot. “The #78 which was owned by Bucky Membrino and driven by Tony Mordino lost a wheel on the last lap of a feature. Jap Membrino pushed the car over the finish line with the wheel off and Tony won the race.  If I recall the story right, UNITED’s Harvey Tattersall then made a rule that a car had to finish the race under its own power!” Along with the crew is (L-R), Jap, Bucky, and Tony. MORE>>

11/11/09: Hall of Famers & More….. During its sixties-era heyday, the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl routinely played-host to capacity crowds and some of the best racing in New England. This victory lane shot captures the late Marvin Chase along with New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Bob Potter (check-out Bob’s fancy “driving boots” and celebratory cigar). Potter of-course, became a multi-time champion with close-to 100 victories at the shoreline oval in addition to many Stafford and Thompson accomplishments. Chase enjoyed a long career as one of the area’s top drivers. The Speedbowl will reportedly open again in 2010, celebrating its fifty-ninth consecutive-season of operation. Seen here during the early days of his career is Paul Richardson, who like the aforementioned Bob Potter is a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. It all started in 1965 at Oscar Ridlon’s Pines Speedway in New Hampshire. The next year, he bought Al Riley’s “Little Princess” cutdown, and won the Hudson (NH), points championship. Moving to the Super Modifieds during the early years of NESMRA, he became a superstar in the division, and is 5th on the all-time winners list. He was also a winning Modified driver. Nicknamed “Ricochet” for his thrilling driving style, he completed his career driving in the BUSCH East division. MORE>>

11/04/09: Confessions Of A “Racing Packrat” (Or Stuff I Forgot I Had….) We start this week’s column with an early-career shot of a guy that was both a top competitor at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl and also a trendsetter in defining the “look” of Modified stock cars in the years following the “Coupe Era”. Seen here in an early “M” Coupe is Seabury Tripler. Along with talented fabricator the late Owen Bowen, “Trip” introduced New England’s first-ever Pinto-bodied Modified at Waterford on opening day of 1971. The event scantly pre-dated NEAR Hall of Famer Bob Judkins’ debut of his Pinto, which became the first NASCAR-legal mount sporting the then-new Ford subcompact tinwork. aptured here on the old Riverside Park fifth-mile in Agawam, Massachusetts is Ronnie Wycoff. Starting his racing career in Florida, he joined the Sportsman ranks at Plainville Stadium after moving North in 1959. Success in the Modifieds quickly-followed, with wins at an assortment of New England speedplants. Included in those victories are multi-time triumphs in UNITED’s “Riverside 500” events, once a benchmark of the Northeastern racing season. MORE>>

10/27/09: Another Weekly Peek Into The Past…. Seen here at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the 1960’s is a young Tommy Mactino. A rather infrequent visitor to the shoreline oval, Tommy was a star at the UNITED-sanctioned West Haven Speedway. Also referred to as “The Rock” owing to it’s close proximity to the old Savin Rock Amusement Park, it was a paved 1/5 mile oval located on the waterfront in West Haven, Connecticut. The track was somewhat unusually shaped, built around a baseball diamond named Donovan Field (after "Wild Bill" Donovan, a manager of the NY Yankees). Many of New England’s finest Modified drivers called West Haven home at one time. Billy Greco, Johnny Cambino, Danny Gaudiosi, Sal Dee, and Danny Galullo are just a few. A victim of urban renewal, the track closed in 1967. MORE>>

10/21/09: Yet More Modifieds – 1970’s Style! We start this week’s installment with a photo of the fellow that’s not-only responsible for bringing you my weekly “Racing Through Time” endeavors, but also the site that’s become perhaps the most-popular spot on the Internet for keeping-abreast of the latest New England racing news. Seen here during his days as a young Modified driver is “Tommy” Ormsby, the guy behind www.speedwaylinereport.com and of course, the historically-rich www.vintagemodifieds.com Tom ran weekly at The Stadium’ for years, and was a well-liked and respected member of the “Plainville Gang”. Fortunately for-us, he took-up computers after leaving racing, his first endeavor being the Vintage Modifieds site which he started a number of years-ago. Now residing in Florida, Tom also stays active with the New England Antique Racers (NEAR), serving as the clubs webmaster www.near1.com  Busy guy, that Mr. Ormsby! MORE>>

10/14/09: Yet Another Dose of Racin’ Remembrances…. This New London-Waterford” Speedbowl shot has been languishing in the files for what seems like eons. A gift from my friend the late Dan Pardi, I’ve been hesitant to run-it as I have no-clue as to the identity of this 1950’s-era Bomber pilot. Purely because it’s a kinda’ neat-looking car (a Hudson perhaps?), I decided to publish-it. Check-out the skinny whitewall on the left-front and the turn-signal located on the top of the trunk (evidence of it being flat-towed to the track?). The driver’s rudimentary safety-equipment includes a Cromwell helmet (the drivers often referred to these leather-sided Brit-inspired gems as Brain Buckets”), and a short-sleeved shirt. If any readers know this racers identity, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  MORE>>

10/07/09: Turning Back The Clock On Plainville Stadium Part II Captured here during June of 1977 is journeyman Stadium’ competitor, Larry Babbit. This car was wheeled by Bill Harris (note the “Bill or Larry” on the roof, no-doubt a nod the duo’s racing partnership), at the Waterford Speedbowl to many a fine-finish during the earlier-years of the era. When Harris was at the shoreline oval, the neat little Coupe wore a gleaming-white coat of paint and carried the #17. And here we have one Jimmy "Doc" Robinson ready to take the green in 1973. Typical of the rides of the time, Robinson’s pre-war Coupe sported a stock production frame, and components that were the result of the builder’s ingenuity and a lot of long-evenings in the garage. Not a lot of “store-bought” stuff on this car, and it certainly was a more-affordable sport for the “average-guy” back-then. Also note the mufflers – Plainville was among the first tracks in the region to mandate the sound-suppressing devices. MORE>>

09/30/09: Mods, Midgets, Supers, Grand Americans, etc. Captured here celebrating an early-70’s Seekonk victory with Sandy of the infamous “Wally Salleba Girl Watchers Club” is 1970 NASCAR National Modified Champion, the late Fred DeSarro. In one of the most publicized “driver-switches” in New England Modified racing history. DeSarro left the Sonny Koszella “Woodchopper Special” team in 1971 to join forces with the late Len Boehler. Bugs Stevens, who’d nailed three NASCAR National Championships with Boehler, went-with Kozella. DeSarro remained a premier New England Modified racer until passing-away in November of 1978 from injuries sustained at the Thompson Speedway. DeSarro, Boehler, Stevens, and Kozella are all members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. MORE>>

09/23/09: Turning Back The Clock On Plainville Stadium... Captured here in the 1970’s at the former Danbury Fair Racerena is the popular Gino Spada. Starting his racing career at Plainville during the late-sixties, he later concentrated on the tough SNYRA-sanctioned Danbury becoming a multi-time winner and a consistent front-runner. Also venturing-out to the various NASCAR haunts of the day such as Stafford & Thompson, Spada was always a threat to triumph wherever he competed. As the longtime proprietor of Red Barn Radiator in Berlin, CT. he supplied a legion of competitors with the best in racing-radiators. In later-years, he became involved with the Northeastern Midget Racing Association (NEMA), owning the car chauffeured by his son Tommy (a real family-affair, his daughter Cassandra served as the team’s crew-chief). Sadly, Gino passed-away just last-weekend following a battle with cancer. “RTT” offers the Spada family sincere condolences on their loss. MORE>>

09/16/09: “Like A Box of Chocolates, You Never Know What You’re Going To Get…….” Seen here in the sixties at the late Plainville Stadium during his reign as a New England Modified standout, Dennis Zimmerman parlayed his Coupe experience into a successful career on the USAC Indy Car circuit. A self-professed “student” of the late, great, Ed Flemke Sr., he conquered storied eastern Modified haunts such as Norwood, Riverside Park, Plainville, and Waterford before taking-on the ovals of the South, where his accomplishments netted a pair of NASCAR State Sportsman titles. After a stint in URC Sprint Car competition it was on to Indy Cars, then the absolute pinnacle of American motorsport. Zimmerman continued his success in the Indy Cars, qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 in 1971 & 1972. His best finish in the May extravaganza was eighth, a feat earning him honors as the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. This image captures him at Pocono’s Schaefer 500 on July 3, 1971 with the Fiore Racing Enterprises Offy. Starting 17th, he finished 24th after a clutch-failure felled the team after only eighty-eight circuits (the late Mark Donahue won). A 2001 inductee of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Zimmerman departed the sport in 1974 following an event at Long Island’s Islip Speedway where ironically, he was wheeling a car owned by his “teacher” and fellow NEAR Hall of Famer, the late Ed Flemke Sr. Emerging from retirement just this season, Dennis has recently been competing in the Sprint class at Whip City Speedway in Westfield, MA. MORE>>

09/09/09: A Racing Flashback - Speedbowl-Style! As one of the real heavy-hitters in the early days of the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl, the late Charlie Webster had a large & very-loyal fan base. Amassing a career total of seventy-three feature victories in both Non-Ford and Modified competition, Webster was a champion in both classes (3 Non-Ford titles, and 1 Modified crown). Like fellow Bowl’ standout and New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Don Collins, Charlie retired from driving at the dawn of the seventies, thus ending the career of one of Waterford’s finest chauffeurs. This shot captures him in a Non-Ford division entry during the early-fifties. Charlie’s son Eric went-on to a winning career in racing, and now serves on the staff at the Speedbowl. Like Webster, the late Ray Delisle was there from the start, and was winning early in his Waterford career. Felled by serious injuries sustained in a Speedbowl crash when his Coupe was hit from-behind, his old-style “jerry can” fuel tank erupting in-flames, Delisle endured a long, painful recovery before returning to the game. In 1964, his career reached its zenith when he waltzed-away with the Modified title wheeling the famed Simons Bros. #9. MORE>>

09/02/09: Yet Another Weekly Slice Of Racing History….. A personal glimpse into the past; Back in the days when popular Speedbowl coupe-era star Joe Coullard housed his racer on the corner of Clark Lane and Fog Plain Road in Waterford, the little guy you see behind the wheel used to beg his parents to stop for a visit whenever they were in the area. Joe being the dutiful host, would let the youngster get behind the wheel and dream of the day when he’d be just like his pal Joe, going-around in circles on the track that was then known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. A few years down-the-road, little Gary Welch got his chance…. And here’s Gary Welch all grown-up and about to take his early Daredevil entry out for a spin on the 1/3-mile tarmac of the Bowl’. The car had formally been wheeled by his cousin Paul Jutila, and was owned by Bob Hayes who worked with Welch at East Lyme Chevron. Typical of the times, it was almost completely-stock save for a few rudimentary safety appointments. Somewhat novel by Waterford-standards, it was a Ford product amidst a field that was overwhelmingly populated by General Motors entries (save for the ultra-successful Gada team). The firesuit he’s wearing is one of the old single-layer Drag-All numbers that were so-popular then. Years-later your author was gifted with the suit by Welch (a long-time family friend), and used it in his brief & unspectacular Street Stock career in the late-70’s. Ironically, our car was a former Paul Jutila mount. MORE>>

08/26/09:
Plainville Pioneers & Waterford Warriors….
Captured here in the lens of famed New England racing photographer Shany Lorenzent is former Speedbowl Modified racer, Dick “Dickie Doo” Ceravolo. By the time he posed for this shot in 1972, he’d already established himself as a Waterford winner having taken his first checker in 1971 as a top shoe in the full-fendered Daredevil class. This coupe (his first Modified), was a former # V4 “Mystic Missile” entry originally campaigned by famed car owner Bob Garbarino who still runs cars on today’s NASCAR Modified Tour. The little 1935 Chevy coupe served the popular racer well, providing a springboard to success in the shoreline oval’s premier division. In 1988, the career of “Dickie Doo” reached its zenith, as he and longtime racing associate Dana Gerry waltzed-off with the championship. A surprise to everyone, Ceravolo then announced his retirement, going-on to oversee the career of his son Todd. Like-father, like-son, Todd became a Waterford Modified champion in 1997. MORE>>

08/19/09: More Racing Personalities From The Past….. By the time this Waterford Speedbowl paddock image was captured in August of 1978, Rod Tulba was already an experienced-hand at the “circle-game”. Years-before as a youngster, he’d entered competition in the Daredevil class as a close associate of the Gada team. This Vega was part of a multi-car team fronted by Paul Giguere (seated on tire), who also fielded entries in the Street Stock class. Tulba went-on to become a winning Modified shoe, recording a pair of victories at the shoreline oval in 1981. What has to be written about this guy? If you’re at-all familiar with New England racing history, than you should already know a little about the career of Gene Bergin. A member of the first class inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, Bergin excelled in everything from Modifieds, to Midgets and Sprint Cars. Starting his career in 1949 at the Stafford Motor Speedway, he remained one of our regions top-drivers for over three-decades. This shot captures him following a win at the Waterford Speedbowl on July 9, 1977 where for a brief-time that season, he was a weekly regular in the “Smittys” #11 Pinto. MORE>>

08/12/09: More Lakeville Dirt, And Fowler Takes A Flyer… They appeared on the scene at the Waterford Speedbowl during the early years of what was known as the “Daredevils”, a class developed in the sixties to replace a floundering Bomber division. The three gentleman you see here are (left to right), Larry "Insta” Gada, Chris “Wally” Gada, and Bob “Allie” Gada, and yes, this is the brother-act responsible for starting what became no-less than a racing dynasty at the shoreline oval. There’s now a second and third generation of the family winning at the Bowl’. In looking back at the history of the Daredevils, you’d be hard-pressed to find three more popular chauffeurs than these guys, and during the real heyday of “fendered” racing at the Bowl’ they were all winners. One thing setting the Gada boys apart from the rest of the field was their penchant for running FORD products within a field that was overwhelmingly populated by machines of the General Motors-variety. Novel nicknames-aside, rest assured that Mrs. Gada’s boys were true “stand-on-the-gas” racers with the trophies and championships to prove-it. Also captured in this shot is car owner and future Speedbowl Street Stock champion, Ed Reed Sr. MORE>>

08/05/09: New England Dirt Trackin’, Hall of Famers, etc.. Captured here during the height of his brilliant racing career is one Raymond “Hully” Bunn, a native of New Britain, Connecticut. First climbing behind the wheel at the late Plainville Stadium in 1949, within two-years he had become one of the premier short- trackers in the country. In 1951, he emerged victorious in the first-ever Race of Champions at the storied Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania topping a field of over one-hundred top-notch Modified-Sportsman competitors. A frequent winner from coast-to-coast, he retired in 1965 following a serious crash at Lebanon Valley. Bunn was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. Massachusetts’ glorious Lakeville Speedway! Seriously, the old girl would have never aced a beauty contest or rated highly in a poll of the nation’s premier dirt-tracks, but more than one New England racer will tell you that the place was just tons of fun! Originally opening in the late 1920’s, the facility underwent a number of name-changes during its long history – Middleborough Fairgrounds, Camp Joe Hooker Raceway, Golden Spur Speedway, and lastly, Lakeville Speedway. A half-miler located near the Middleboro/Bridgewater area with a tricky oil-soaked dirt surface, it was a career-springboard for some pretty-notable racers, and also served as a Sunday playground for many of our regions top-pavement shoes. MORE>>

07/29/09: Mixing-It-Up MODIFIED Style!  Pictured here in the fifties at New York State’s Empire Raceway (AKA Menands Speedway), is the late, great Dick Dixon with his signature 8-ball Coupe. Dixon was one of New England’s brightest racing stars particularly within the once-mighty United Stock Car Racing Club. A standout Modified competitor, he was also extremely successful within the ranks of United’s Grand American Late Model division, where one season he captured thirteen of fifteen scheduled events. While still very-much in his prime, he perished in a grinding Thompson Speedway crash during the 1967 season. Dixon was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2004. As for Empire Raceway, it was a ¼-mile paved affair located near Troy, which closed at the conclusion of the 1961 season to make-way for development of a shopping plaza. MORE>>

07/22/09: More Weekend Warriors (New England-Style)… Rhode Islander Fred DeSarro was one of the truly-gifted racers of his era. Seen here following a victory in the Sonny Koszella “Woodchopper Special” he was a top New England Modified shoe for what seemed like eons. The racing media had a field day with the much-publicized “driver-switch” in 1971 when the great Bugs Stevens took the wheel of Koszella’s car, and Fred climbed aboard Bugs’ vacated Lenny Boehler “Ole’ Blue”. Truth-be-told, there were no hard-feelings. Fred and Bugs were great friends and remained-so until Fred’s death following a tragic 1978 Thompson Speedway crash. Both are members of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, as are Boehler and Koszella. Few drivers of the much-heralded “Coupe Era” were more traveled than New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Billy Harman. Growing-up in the shoreline community of New London, Ct. it was only natural for the speed-crazed young kid to get-involved with the happenings at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. After many successes in his backyard, Harmon took to the road, maintaining a hectic schedule that rewarded him accolades at venues from coast-to-coast. In later-years, “Little Bill” centered his efforts closer-to-home again, experiencing several triumphs at local tracks in this car, the “Coventry Racing Enterprises” entry. MORE>>

07/08/09: Vintage Thoughts On A Holiday Weekend…. Captured here at Stafford in an absolutely classic-looking coupe during the early days of his career is Ed Flemke Jr. With a father like NEAR Hall of Famer the late, great “Steady Eddie”, this youngster had some mighty-big shoes to fill, and thus-far, he’s done a darned good job of carrying-on the family racing heritage. A veteran of the NASCAR Modified Tour, Flemke Jr. won the title in 2002 after years of coming close. Much like his late father, Ed Jr. is viewed by many as a steady-shoe, utilizing experience to his advantage when required While following what looked to be a wreck-in-the-making, Flemke wisely used his head (and saved his equipment), in averting disaster when the leaders tangled on the last-lap at this years New England 100 at New Hampshire, finishing a fine-second to Donnie Lia. Few did more-with-less than Ernie Gahan did during his twenty-eight year career as one of the nation’s top Modified drivers. Virtually a one-man show for a good part of his career, the winner of the 1966 NASCAR National Modified Championship started racing in the 1940’s at New Hampshire’s old Dover Speedway. Well-before the days of the much-heralded “Eastern Bandits” he won over three-hundred features on a well-traveled road that stretched from his home state of Maine, to the coast of Florida. A multi-time NASCAR Grand National (now the Nextel Series), starter, his resume also includes two top-10 finishes, one in the Daytona 500. MORE>>

07/01/09: Varied Assortment Part III…..  Pictured here is the late Russ McLean, the 1969 Sportsman-Modified champion at the much-missed UNITED-sanctioned Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass. Fondly-recalled as a very popular racer amongst both fans and competitors. His lone feature victory occurred on the evening of April 17, 1971 in the car seen here. Utilizing a dose of tongue-in-cheek humor during what was perhaps a less politically-correct era, note that McLean’s sanitary little Coupe was christened “The Other Woman”. Few drivers got-around more than my old friend, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, “Wild Bill” Slater.  In addition to being a master at the most notable of Modified haunts, he also excelled on the high-banks of the NASCAR super-speedways. He’s seen here taking a break for a cold drink during one of his yearly Daytona sojourns. Note the absence of a fire suit and the rudimentary safety appointments on Bill’s Chevrolet. The cars were truly closer to stock back-then, and were more than a handful to navigate at the speeds these guys were eclipsing. MORE>>

06/24/09: Waterford Vets Worthy of Mention, Dirt Track Stormers, & Racing from “Across the Pond”…. Pictured here celebrating his first-ever victory at the 1/3-miler known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl on September 7, 1974 is a young Mark LaJeunesse. It was future champion Jerry Pearl that he’d out-dueled to the checkers in one of the seasons more hotly-contested features. Starting his career as a kid in the Quarter Midgets, LaJeunesse jumped right-into the Modifieds upon returning from armed forces service in Vietnam during the early-seventies. Though his first ride was an updated ex-Freddie Doolittle creation, subsequent machines were all self-designed and exquisitely hand-crafted at the team’s modest shop in Norwich, CT. Chief-wrench on the family team was father Al (kneeling, third-from-left), who’d been working on race cars for decades, most notably the ride of family relative and famed Waterford shoe, “Dirty Dick” Beaureguard. LaJeunesse called Waterford home for three-decades, scoring the United Stock Car Racing Club’s 1975 Sportsman-Modified title, and nearly twenty feature victories including the 2000 Budweiser Modified Nationals. Another son of the “Rose City” won that night too, as “Big Mike” Daigneault annexed the Sportsman Sedan main event. LaJeunesse and Daigneault are but two of a large group of great drivers from nearby Norwich that called the Speedbowl home for many years. MORE>>

06/17/09: This Week, It’s “A Little Bit Of Everything…..” This guy is a Hall of Fame member of the following; The New York Stock Car Association, Fonda Speedway, Dirt Motorsports, Eastern Press Association, and of course, was a 2002 inductee of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame. He’s also a member of Daytona's Living Legends of Auto Racing – no minor accolade. Pictured here during a coupe-era outing in his signature # 33, the career of the much-celebrated Bill Wimble began during the early-fifties in New York State. The winner of the 1960 NASCAR National Sportsman Championship, like many of his contemporaries he maintained a super-hectic schedule. During 1967-alone, Wimble competed every weekend at three New York tracks, Utica-Rome, Albany-Saratoga, and Fonda. Amazingly-enough, he was crowned track champion at all of them! Also a force to be reckoned-with in Connecticut, Wimble was particularly-successful on the former dirt-surface of the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. MORE>>

06/10/09: Hudsons, Non-Fords, and a Speedbowl Legend… We begin this week’s column with an ancient image of a car manufactured by a company that was once a major-player in the world of stock car racing both locally, and in the big leagues. The late Hudson Motor Company produced some of the most popular automobiles in America, and was particularly successful in the early days of NASCAR with their “Fabulous Hudson Hornet”. This shot captures one of Hudson’s products closer to home at the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl of the fifties. The driver is the great Benny Derosier and the car was owned by Chester, Connecticut’s Barney Tiezzi. Barney’s son Joe later carried-on the family tradition becoming one of our region’s top drivers. Note the license plate & light on the roof-post, an indication that the car may have been flat-towed. Back-then, trailers were considered a luxury for some teams. The late “Moneybags” Moe Gherzi was one of the guys defined our sport during its infancy. Already an established star when this shot was captured in the lens of Shany Lorenzent, he was one of the most-prolific winners in early “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl action. MORE>>

06/03/09: Cut-Downs, Daredevils, and “Dirty Dick”….. We open this week’s edition of RTT with a classic “cut-down” era Speedbowl image of Sparky Belmont. As one of the premier racers of his time, Belmont (real name Michael Belmonti), was a winner and huge crowd-draw at New England venues such as Riverside Park, Waterford, West Haven, and the track where he experienced his greatest degree of success, Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium. Starting his career during the post-war Midget racing boom, he soon found his niche in the stock cars. It was after winning a 100-lap contest at Plainville in 1969 that Sparky suffered a fatal heart-attack, thus ending the life and career of one of our region’s most colorful early competitors. Think today’s Ted Christopher is aggressive? This guy would make him look like a choirboy! Dick Beaureguard (AKA “Dirty Dick”), was one of the real heavies in early competition at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl. Seen here behind the controls of one of the premier rides of the day, the Condgon #76, he was known as a “no-holds-barred” driver, the kind of guy that struck-fear into the minds of even the most seasoned of his fellow racers. MORE>>

05/27/09: And Yet More Images From The Past….. The late Harvey Vallencourt was a pioneer on the New England Modified circuit that became an unfortunate statistic in a sport that can sometimes reveal a cruel side. Starting his career at the old West Haven Speedway, Harvey was known as a proficient chauffer enjoying many successes over the years. Sustaining severe head-injuries in a seemingly minor crash at Plainville Stadium in the mid-seventies, he was confined to a hospital bed for almost a decade before his passing from injuries received in the accident. The popular Vallencourt is seen here with starter Billy Dunn after a Plainville triumph decades-ago. Another driver that experienced early success at the old West Haven Speedway was this guy, the late Pete Brockett Sr. Spending over three-decades behind the controls of a Modified, his later efforts were centered-on the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl where he also became a winner. His ride known as “Brockett’s Rocket”, Pete was always a crowd-favorite at the joint known as the “shoreline oval”. MORE>>

05/20/09: More Tales From The “Good Old Days”... It’s Wednesday evening July 15, 1978 at Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium, and having a smoke while waiting for the night’s race card to unfold is second-generation driver Richie Galullo. The Stadium’s open-comp shows routinely drew stellar fields, and young Galullo was on the top of his game. The “cent sign” Vega one of the premier rides of the day. Nicky Porto’s career can be traced back to the heyday of the Tattersall racing dynasty known as UNITED – once the top sanctioning body in the Northeast. When Steve Kennedy shot this image, he was wheeling this ex-Tony Dadio Coupe at Plainville Stadium. Porto was one of the premier drivers of his era at the Stadium and was no-doubt a contender when captured on film here, June 29, 1977. Seen here at the Stadium is an interesting shot of a driver that unfortunately, is filed under the “Unknown” category. As Steve Kennedy notes, it looks suspiciously like a dirt car which would not have been uncommon in an era before such specialization in car construction. At Plainville, you never-knew who was going to pull into the pits for the open shows. This image was recorded in July of 1973, and if anyone knows the details, please feel-free to contact me! MORE>>

05/13/09: Yet Another Varied Assortment….. Few Modified drivers have had more of an impact on the local racing scene over the years than this fellow, New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Bob Potter. Starting his career in the early-sixties at Waterford, the Taftville, Ct. native captured his first Modified checker in 1965 with an estimated 140 feature wins to follow along with multiple championships at Thompson, Stafford, and of-course, the Speedbowl. Never officially retired, Bob is seen here at the Bowl’ in June of 1979, a year in which he scored a convincing victory in the prestigious UNITED-sanctioned Waterford 200. Won by invader Marty Radewick and serving as the opening event for 1980, “Blast-Off” was a 100-lap Modified grind that drew a stellar field to the Speedbowl, and among those mixing it-up with the locals was the pride of Long Island, the late “Chargin’ Charlie” Jarzombek. Seen here in one of his familiar #1 machines, he was an infrequent visitor to the shoreline oval, but always ran well when he ventured-out to 1080 Hartford Road. Tragically, Charlie lost his life in a crash at Martinsville, VA. in the spring of 1987. He was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2004. MORE>>

05/06/09: With last week’s passing of New England Modified Great Billy Schulz, we loose yet another piece of the puzzle that represents the history of our sport. Schulz was one of the top-drivers at the much-missed Norwood Arena, and also excelled at many other regional venues including Seekonk Speedway, and Thompson Speedway. He was the founder and operator of Country Club Auto Body in Norton MA., running the business for 40 years until recently retiring. Billy is seen here celebrating a Norwood Arena win on July 5, 1969. Captured here in May of 1978 is Speedbowl Street Stock competitor Scott Porier. Driving for Jay Stuart (who later became a fine competitor in his own right), Porier scored three victories on his way to a second-place finish in the season standings, a scant 7-points behind titlist Ed Reed Sr. Started in 1977 by United’s Harvey Tattersall Jr., the Street Stocks were a wildly-popular division boasting full-fields and a slam-bang program. Not to be confused with today’s hybrid class, with the exception of safety features these things were truly-stock, boasting factory chassis and bias-ply 78-series passenger tires. MORE>>

04/29/09: Covering All The Bases….. Like so-many of the racers from his generation, the late Maynard Forrette saw no boundaries in the difference between running on dirt or asphalt. A big winner on both, he’s probably most fondly remembered for his stunning dirt-slingin’ drives on the daunting Syracuse Mile where during the later stages of his career, he often bested competitor’s half-his-age. A master mechanic and innovative car builder, Forrette also ran Northern Speed Supply, a haven for those racers seeking to get the most out of their equipment. This shot is believed to be from Utica-Rome. By the 1976 season when this shot was captured at Plainville Stadium, most New England Modified racers had bid-goodbye to the traditional stylings of the old coupes and coaches. At Joe Tinty’s ¼-miler however, they could still be captured in-action probably more than at any track in our region. That’s Fred Murtha in a neat little 3-window entry lining-up next to our friend, Larry Lafayette. According to our Webmaster Tom Ormsby who ran a lot of laps with Murtha, the car was a real-looker. MORE>>

04/22/09: Waterford, Riverside, Islip, Plainville, And More! The 1978 season at Waterford was one of the most successful campaigns in the tracks history, as Dick Williams of the Coastal Racing Association stepped-in to lease and promote the facility following a less-than-stellar multi-year run by Harvey Tattersall’s United Stock Car Racing Club. Pictured here in May of that year is veteran Modified campaigner Larry Lafayette. Starting his career in the early-60’s, the personable Lafayette was a fixture on the New England circuit for more than three-decades. He now resides in Port Charlotte, Florida. New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Dave Alkas so-dominated the proceedings at his home track during the 70’s, trade-paper scribes began referring to him as “The King of Plainville Stadium”. Never an easy-place to conquer with its tight-turns and ultra-competitive fields, Alkas teamed with owner Roland Cyr to capture five championships and is the track’s all-time winner. This shot captures during the waning-years of The Stadium in July of 1978. MORE>>

04/19/09: Another Varied Slice Of Racin’ History…. The year is 1972 and that’s our webmaster, a young “Tommy” Ormsby taking the low-road to avoid a spinning Danny Gaudiosi in one of the famed Sharkey coupes.  The venue of course, is the much-missed Plainville Stadium. Ormsby relates that the shot was captured shortly after a rebuild of his car, which was demolished following a trip through the wall and into the pits a few weeks-before. “We changed the color and number (it had formally been a blue # V-O), hoping that it would bring better luck. I’m pretty-sure this was an open-show, as I don’t recall any full-bodied cars like the Chevelle seen here running with us weekly, but it was 37 years ago.” stated Ormsby recently. In the background is the Plainville Drive-In screen and the Sunoco station on then Rt. 72 (now 372), and Crooked St. MORE>>

04/08/09: Spring Cleaning In The Archive Room…… Yeah, I know, we’ve ran shots of this car before (humor-me, it’s a personal favorite). It’s the early-seventies, and that’s Seabury Tripler flanking the Speedbowl’s infamous “Racin’ Rambler.” As reported here in an earlier column, Chuck Bowen, son of legendary fabricator Owen Bowen, is in the final stages of completing a replica of this car as a tribute to his late father. Owen worked his magic on the tinwork of an early-60s Rambler American to come-up with one of the most recognizable cars ever-ran at the shoreline oval. The list of legendary chauffeurs that wheeled Fred Beaber-owned checkerboard 716 creations is a lengthy affair. During one of the longest associations with Waterford of any car-owner in the track’s history, the victories came frequently. In this late-sixties image, Jerry Glaude had one of his rare off-nights, balling-up the front suspension on Freddie’s little coupe. MORE>>

04/01/09: More “Old Bowl” Plus a Snippet of Plainville Fenders…. As a close associate of the Gada clan, Rod Tulba began his Speedbowl career hustling Daredevil division entries around the shoreline oval. In later years he advanced to the Modifieds as captured in this image from August of 1978. Team members Paul Guigure (seated on right-front), and Steve Scovish (left), were also competitors in the Street Stock class. At the time, the track was owned by Harvey Tattersall Jr. of United fame, but had been leased to Dick Williams and his Coastal Racing League. Tulba returned to the track in later years as a winner in the “Heroes of The Bowl” events once held in conjunction with Nostalgia Weekend. MORE>>

03/25/09: Speedbowl Memories Sprinkled With A Few Hall Of Famers…. First on this week’s agenda is a shot of Billy “Gramps” Greco. A New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, he was an absolute master of the short oval, honing his skills at tight little joints like the late West Haven Speedway and the much-missed 1/5-miler at Riverside Park. A darling of the old Harvey Tattersall-led United circuit (once the most influential sanctioning group in New England), in later-years he also became a winner at the ultra-competitive Danbury Fair Racarena. He’s seen here at Riverside Park in his familiar # 43. Billy’s as popular today as he ever-was, and can really enlighten you on the history of the sport. If you get a chance to chat with him, please do! MORE>>

03/18/09: The Late “Stub” Fadden at Catamount Along With More Bowl’ Memories…. This photo from the collection of the late (and much-missed), Danny Pardi captures Stanley “Stub” Fadden during year-ten of what was one of the most brilliant careers in all of New England auto racing. A member of the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, among his accomplishments was championships at Thunder Road and Catamount Stadium in Vermont, and Mount Lauier, Quebec. “Stub” also scored a pair of “Milk Bowl” victories at Thunder Road. Though early record-keeping wasn’t what it is today, it’s estimated that he scored over 250-victories in a career that spanned three-decades. Here he’s seen in 1970 at “The Home of the Brave”, the late Catamount Stadium. As noted earlier, Fadden passed-away just last week at the age of 75. MORE>>

03/11/09: When Coupes Ruled In New England….: The shot is from the 1964 season. The driver is Wayne Wilkinson. The body was I think, a '35 Pontiac? The car was owned by Dave and Jesse Hill (Leo's brothers) and Deke Bromley. They ran about 3/4 of the season before it was destroyed after Lou Toro and Wayne had a shoving match that ended up with the #6 slamming hard into the pit gate bulkhead. Here’s a shot from 1965. This car was actually built right-after the crash with Toro, but was not completed until the start of the next season. That's Joe McNulty behind the wheel. Once-again, the owners were by Dave and Jesse Hill, along with Deke Bromley. At the conclusion of the season, Dave and Deke got out of the racing game but Jesse hung-around for a couple of more years with the car in the next picture. MORE>>

03/04/09: The “Racin’ Rambler” Makes A Return, And Other Vintage Topics: Chuck Bowen, son of celebrated Speedbowl car builder and driver the late Owen Bowen (see his profile in last week’s installment), contacted me recently to report that he’s in the process of replicating a car that was crafted by his father and driven to much Speedbowl success by the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener. Chuck had been searching for the “Racin’ Rambler” for quite some-time, and finally hit pay-dirt via placing an ad in the NEAR newsletter. The former owner had already started the project, so Chuck has a great canvas to work-with. It’s seen here in its present-state. His plans are to finish the car and campaign it with NEAR as a tribute to both his dad, and “Wild Bill” who scored his final Waterford career victory with the car on Easter Sunday of 1974. MORE>>

02/25/09: The Connecticut Valley Rocket Plus More Speedbowl Greats! “Wild Bill Slater” aka “The Connecticut Valley Rocket” was among the first drivers inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1998, and for good reason. Starting his career in the early-50’s, few can claim more accomplishments in the sport. Multiple championships, a much-coveted Langhorne victory, and a long reign as one of Modified racings most-respected officials are all part of the Slater legacy. This Stafford shot is believed to be from 1968, a period in which Bill had assumed the V-8 racing operation from his former car owners, the famed duo of Vitari & Bombacci. MORE>>

02/12/09: A Couple of Dirt Track Legends and Some Speedbowl Greats…. This week it’s a mix-of-sorts, a combo of Speedbowl veterans along with a dash of those who plied their trade on the Northeastern dirt circuit. Enjoy! Another of the Speedbowl’s steady competitors from the Connecticut River Valley region, Tucker Reynolds Sr. ran this neat little Coupe in early-70’s action. Note the use of a street-rated tire on the left front wheel and the homemade headers – both hallmarks of an era when builders truly did it on their own, rather than relying on the thickness of their wallet. Reynolds’ son Tucker Jr. made quite a splash a few years-ago, developing into a winning and extremely popular SK driver. MORE>>

02/11/09: With the Waterford Speedbowl facing an uncertain future, this week we present an assortment of vintage images from the Eastern Connecticut third-miler known as “The Action Track”. Opening in the spring of 1951 with advance-publicity billing it “New London Speedway”, financial issues have made it a tough-go for the historically-rich speed plant in recent years. Hopefully, the gates will again swing- open in the spring to present shoreline fans with their fifty-ninth consecutive season of racing at the Bowl’. Early in 1976 former Sportsman division chauffer Paul “Hawk” Fugener debuted this rather unorthodox-looking American Motors AMX-bodied Modified. His second-season in the Bowl’s headlining division, Fugener’s rookie entry was a much-more conventional Coupe. That machine eventually ended-up in the hands of another competitor to be campaigned at the Danbury Fair Racarena under the banner of the Southern New York Racing Association. “Hawk” ran an abbreviated sophomore year, soon fading from the scene entirely. MORE>>

02/04/09: Speedbowl Hot-Shoes Invade The Konk’: As the long-time staff photographer at Seekonk Motor Speedway, Johnny Mercury provided fans with timeless images from the track lovingly known as “The Cement Palace”. Captured here are some of his shots taken during one of the Konks’ great open shows of 1971. Of particular interest to historically-inclined Waterford Speedbowl fans is the amount of shoreline oval heavy-hitters that made the trek in hopes of grabbing some of D. Anthony Venditti’s generous purse. Seen here leading the pack in his trend-setting Pinto is the Speedbowl’s Seabury Tripler. This car arguably set the standard for the “modern-era” of Modifieds, pre-dating the Judkins #2X which is widely-acknowledged as the first-ever NASCAR-legal Pinto. MORE>>

01/28/09: Stacking Em’ Up At Danbury: It started like any other Saturday night at Connecticut’s storied Danbury Fair Racearena. A capacity crowd was present and a paddock area brimming with the flathead-powered Coupes & Coaches of the Southern New York Racing Association were ready to do-battle on the demanding third-mile oval. hroughout its acclaimed history, the Racearena was known for fierce competition amongst the members of its closed-club sanctioning body. The joint is also recalled for some bone-jarring crashes, and the evening of August 11, 1962 provided patrons with motorized mayhem of the extreme variety. Following a lap-5 restart, leader Bill Adams lost a wheel heading into the front-chute triggering a crash that claimed a staggering fourteen of his fellow competitors. MORE>>

01/21/09: When the New London-Waterford Speedbowl opened to the public in 1951, the racing surface consisted of a crushed bluestone concoction that was trucked-in from the Millstone Point area of town. Contrary to what’s been written, the track was never comprised of clay or dirt. In short-order, pavement took the place of the dusty original surface. This image captures what was known as the “Sand Safety Strip” that was in-place until the 1960’s. It was originally devised as a safety feature to help slow-down errant racers before decent into the infamous railroad-tie wall. Unfortunately, ever-increasing speeds over the years had just the opposite-effect. Once a competitor got a wheel into the “sand”, it almost always yielded disastrous results. MORE>>

01/14/09: When the late Bobby Santos joined-forces with Preston, CT. car owner Art Barry, it was pure Modified Magic. Captured here in one Barry’s famous “Stump Jumper” Coupes during the much-heralded big-block era, the formidable duo won from coast-to-coast. Some years-ago, Barry noted that his former driver was particularly successful at the divisions Northern haunts, once annexing 7 features-in-a-row at New Hampshire’s Claremont and Monadnock Speedways. This particular car had a long, successful life after leaving the Barry shops. It served as a winning platform for both the late Ed Yerrington Sr. and later Mark LaJeunesse, the latter earning his first of many Speedbowl triumphs with the little Coupe in September of 1974. Master car-builder Barry joins his friend and former chauffer as a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall Of Fame later this month on January 25th. See www.near1.com  for details on this year’s HOF inductions. MORE>>

01/07/09: Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway-West Haven Speedway (AKA ”Savin Rock” for its close proximity to amusement park of the same name), started life in 1935 as a 1/5-mile dirt oval. The track was constructed within the confines of Donovan Field, a baseball coliseum named in honor of “Wild Bill” Donovan, a popular early manager of the New York Yankees. The following season saw the track paved, continuing in that configuration until the gates closed during the war-years. During its formative era, West Haven was celebrated as a top venue for the wildly-popular Midgets, once the “Road to Indy” for any driver aspiring to advance to the big-leagues of racing. Open cockpit Maestros such as Bill Schindler, Johnny Thomson, Ted Tappet, and the Brothers Rice, George and Johnny, bought capacity crowds to the track located close to the warm sea breezes of the Connecticut shore. MORE>>

01/04/09: Eddie Bunnell garnered the 1966 Bomber championship at what was then-known as the “New London-Waterford Speedbowl”. Active until the mid-1980’s he became a proficient Modified shoe, recording many fine finishes during his tenure in the Bowl’s headlining division. This rather rare image catches him at-speed in a car that’s probably unfamiliar to most Waterford fans (at least in this livery). Known for fielding their own cars, on this occasion in 1980 the Bunnell team utilized one of the # 110 coupes made famous a few years earlier by Bob Potter. The car is presently restored back to its original state and campaigned on the NEAR vintage circuit. MORE>>

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