Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday March 18, 2009

Volume 1, Number 11                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

This week’s “Racing through Time” opens on a somber note, the local racing family suffering a pair of unfortunate losses. Last week, our webmaster Tom Ormsby lost his dad, Tom Sr. The elder Ormsby was a popular public figure in the City of New Britain, CT. retiring as Police Chief after nearly four-decades of service. In recent-years he’d resided in Florida, also the home of Tom Jr. Mr. Ormsby was 88-years old. Condolences reach the family at Tom Ormsby, 433 So. Easy Street, Lecanto, FLA. 34461. We also bid farewell to New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer Stanley “Stub” Fadden, who went to his final rest last week at age 75. Long a regional racing legend, Fadden was one of the true pioneers of the sport in the “North Country”, starting his legendary career in 1960.
 Email goes to foreveryoung@yahoo.com

The Late “Stub” Fadden at Catamount Along With More Bowl’ Memories….

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

Following in the footsteps of his dad, the pioneering and popular “Pappy”, Roland Lapierre Jr. was a mainstay on the New England Modified circuit for years. Always sporting the familiar #134 on the flanks of his machines, Junior was known as a winning chauffer, taking more than his share of checkers in one of the most competitive eras in the sport. This shot captures him during a visit to the Waterford Speedbowl in 1979. The track had just returned to Tattersall-led UNITED sanction, after having spent the prior season under the umbrella of Dick Williams and his Coastal Racing group. (Kennedy Photo).   

In a division populated by mostly General Motors products, cars like this stood-out in 70’s-era Speedbowl support-class action. Along with fellow Ford aficionados the Gada clan, Keith Eves took an unconventional route in fielding one of Henry’s creations. Having started his Grand American career a couple of seasons earlier in a Mercury Cougar, he later progressed to this Ford Torino. The car was a winner, and Eves was a popular chauffer in the shoreline oval’s “full-fender” brigade. Within a few years, the once-affordable class had disappeared, escalating costs contributing to its demise. (Dugas Photo).   

Hailing from Montville, a mere stones-throw from the Bowl’, Donnie Bunnell gained notoriety wheeling his family’s familiar #318. It was a number made famous at the Speedbowl by his brother Ed, a 60’s-era Bomber champion. Smooth-as-silk behind the wheel, and well-respected by his peers, Donnie was one of those racers that was seldom-involved in on-track trouble. His style echoed that of the Collins/ Potter/ Dunn standard. Here he’s seen behind the wheel of the Pat’s Auto Center “Blue Knight” Vega, one of the more potent rides of the 70’s at Waterford. To the disappointment of his many fans (this scribe among them), Donnie retired during the early-90’s while still in his prime. (Kennedy Photo).

The late “Wild Bill” Scrivener was a popular Bowl’ chauffer for his entire stint at the wheel. One of his patented drives-to-the-front was often in itself, worth the price of a ticket. A Bomber champion and Modified standout, he won his last feature on Easter Sunday of 1974 while behind the controls of the “Racin’ Rambler” featured here a few weeks-ago. After running an abbreviated season in 75’ driving an ex-Jerry Dostie Coupe, he returned in the spring with this Pinto. A short-lived affair, “Wild Bill” soon retired from the game, thus closing the books on one of the most colorful careers-ever at Waterford. (Dugas Photo).

If you’re at all familiar with racing in these-parts, not much has to be said about the formidable duo captured in this rather-rare mid-60’s Speedbowl shot. 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. On the left is a youthful Bob Johnson, who after leaving the local scene went-on to NASCAR Modified fame with Ronnie Bouchard. In 1981, Johnson “crew-chiefed” Bouchard to a stunning upset victory in the Talladega 500. (Dugas Photo).

Over the years, neighboring Rhode Island has provided the Speedbowl with a myriad of competitors eager to taste the spoils of victory late in Connecticut. Hailing from the Bradford area of the “The Ocean State”, the team of “Mac” MacDougal were Waterford fixtures for years, starting their residency during the much-heralded “Coupe Era”. Note the cartoon-characters on their self-built entry. It was indeed, a more light-hearted (and some say better), time in racing. (Dugas Photo).

Popular Ronnie Rocco started in the novice division at the late Plainville Stadium, becoming an almost-immediate success. His endeavors in the Modifieds made the youngster a household-name among area racing fans. Before the demise of the Stadium, he’d occasionally visit Waterford in this little Coupe as pictured here in 1978. Upon making the Bowl’ home in later seasons, he became a huge fan-favorite, routinely defeating the big-dogs with his rather-modest equipment. Continuing the family tradition, his son Keith is currently a standout Modified competitor. (Kennedy Photo 

In 1977, UNITED’s Harvey Tattersall started a new class at Waterford, dubbing them “Street Stocks”. Engineered to address both the issues of the ever-rising cost of racing (sound familiar?), and also to give beginners a place to start, the division was an immediate hit. Seen here in 1978, is Paul Jutila, whose ride was typical of what was being built at the time. A 68’ Dodge Coronet with a simple roll cage, Volkswagen fuel tank securely mounted to the trunk floor and a heavy-duty Ford truck hub on the right front was all you needed to mix-it-up with other Dick Dunn Wannabes. Jutila and his partner built this rig for under $400.00 – cheap even in 70’s dollars. About mid-season, he sold it to some kid by the name of Dave Dykes and made all his money back. Dykes by the way, wasn’t much of a racer, but had a lot of fun! (Kennedy Photo).

Lastly, here’s a shot of the late Marvin Chase from 1972. Known by local fans as primarily a 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 the late racer. Fondly remembered, “Marv” had many friends at the shoreline oval, including this scribe. (Dugas Photo).

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