2012 Archives

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.org 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.org 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>>

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