Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday February 18, 2009

Volume 1, Number 8                                                                                       New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

* Many-thanks to those that contacted me regarding the error last week in identifying the driver of the # 27 Gada Falcon-bodied Modified as Chris “Wally” Gada. Best-guess now is that it was in-fact, Speedbowl veteran Bob Duffy rather than Wally. Keep those messages coming!

A Couple of Dirt Track Legends and Some Speedbowl Greats….
This week it’s a mix-of-sorts, a combo of Speedbowl veterans along with a dash of those who plied their trade on the Northeastern dirt circuit. Enjoy!

Another of the Speedbowl’s steady competitors from the Connecticut River Valley region, Tucker Reynolds Sr. ran this neat little Coupe in early-70’s action. Note the use of a street-rated tire on the left front wheel and the homemade headers – both hallmarks of an era when builders truly did it on their own, rather than relying on the thickness of their wallet. Reynolds’ son Tucker Jr. made quite a splash a few years-ago, developing into a winning and extremely popular SK driver. (Dugas Photo).

The late Lou “Monks” Lazzaro was simply an Icon in the world of dirt track Modified racing, and his record on the pavement wasn’t too-shabby either. This shot captures him on the tarmac seated behind the controls of one of his dual-purpose mounts long before the days of specialization dictated the differences between a dirt and asphalt chassis. Think today’s drivers have it rough? Imagine what it was like wheeling a Coupe like this several nights a week, complete with an injected big-block, hockey-puck rubber, and no power steering! (Grady Photo).

Its spring of 1978 at the Speedbowl, and Jerry Scheidel is ready to take some hot-laps in his brandy-new Chevelle Street Stock. Started the year-before by UNITED’s Harvey Tattersall, the class was a runaway success, attracting full-fields of novice racers ready to give the roundy-round game a shot. Scheidel’s car is typical of what the division was all-about. Check-out the 78-series bias-ply rubber and the “racing seat” culled from a passenger car. As-is usually the case in racing, in no-time, the rules were opened-up, allowing expensive modifications defeating the “budget” idea of the division. As previously stated here, these cars eventually morphed-into today’s ACT-inspired Late Models at the Bowl’. (Kennedy Photo). 

Speedbowl Son and New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Bob Potter is caught here at the wheel of one of the Bonville Bros. Coupes in the early 70’s. There were actually two of these cars, both painted identically. One sported a big-block as pictured here, while the other was small-block propelled. Potter experienced much-success as Bonville’s hired gun. (Shany Photo). 

The late Pete Corey overcame a devastating racing injury early in his career which saw him lose most of his right leg. Not only did the pioneering racer return to the sport, he resumed winning as if nothing ever-happened. He’s pictured here with his friend and long-time sponsor, Jimmie Bosco of Commercial Tire. Like Lazzaro, Corey is one of the prominent figures in the history of Northeastern dirt racing history. (Grady Photo).


No feature on Pete Corey would be complete without showing him taking the checkers on the rich New York clay of his beloved Fonda Speedway. Seen here with starter Chet Haymes, it was just another routine victory during the early-stages of his spectacular career. Fonda by the way is still going-strong! (Grady Photo).

Like Potter, this guy is a New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member, and for good-reason. A true “Travelin’ Man”, Ron Narducci competed at over sixty-tracks during a career lasting over three-decades. His Speedbowl-connection dates back to 1958, a year in which he was crowned Sportsman Champion. NASCAR titles followed, as did success on the New York State dirt circuit. He retired from driving in 1982, but stayed active in the sport for several more years as an official with DIRT. (Grady Photo).

Popular “Flyin’ Brian” McCarthy thrilled Waterford fans for years with his exciting, “slideways” style of driving and was a big-winner in the days of the old Super Stock class. This mid-70’s image captures him during his tenure as a Bowl’ Grand American chauffer. (Dugas Photo).

Yet another of the Speedbowl’s legendary pilots, Glynn Shafer’s drives to the front were often alone, worth the price of an admission ticket. Starting his career in the days of the Coupes, Shafer’s style was that of the “Take No Prisoners” ilk, and there was many a Saturday night that he simply strong-armed an ill-handling racer to victory. This shot captures him in the Yuhas-owned Vega during a 1977 Thompson Speedway outing. Few were tougher than Shafer in his prime. (Kennedy Photo).

Local boy Bobby Lee ran this super-sized 1964 Ford Galaxy entry in the Bowl’ Street Stock division back in 1978. The car was a winner, and Lee always had the big Ford right in the thick of the action (Kennedy Photo).

Another Street Stocker, Dennis Kardos claims the distinction of having won the first-ever event for the new division held on May 7, 1977. The race went the 5-lap distance and included only two other-cars. By seasons-end it was an entirely different scenario, the class having blossomed into a full-field jammed with novice racers. (Kennedy Photo).

Popular Ed Moody was a champion is the Speedbowl’s Bomber division. This classic image captures the youthful racer pitside with his familiar #11 Coach, a body-style that was once a fixture on the short tracks of New England. (Shany Photo).

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