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2010 Archives

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>>

11/24/10: 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>>

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