Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday March 24, 2010

Volume 2, Number 9                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE


This week we send condolences to the family of pioneering stock car racer & New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Richard “Moon” Burgess who passed-away on Wednesday, March 17. Moon was a founding member of the New England Antique Racers and a friend to many. As for this week’s column, we’ll present a few shots from the Waterford Speedbowl, which opens for its 60th-consectutive season on March 27 & 28. Also on the docket are a couple of shots of drivers that should be easily recognizable to our regular viewers…. Enjoy!   Email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com

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. (Photographer Unknown).    

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. Now retired and residing in sunny Florida, those of us involved in the vintage segment of the sport owe at lot to Ormsby for his internet-based efforts in helping to keep New England auto racing memories alive. He also serves as the Webmaster for the NEAR site, www.near1.com (Hoyt Photo Courtesy Steve Kennedy).      

Though it’s not a Waterford Speedbowl shot, this guy is simply-synonymous with the track affectionately-known by Connecticut natives as “The Shoreline Oval.” A scan of the record books reveal Bob Potter to be one of the most-successful Modified drivers to have ever emerged from the Bowl’ (and for that-matter, New England). Ranked 2nd on the track’s all-time Modified win list (a stat that includes 6 championships), this image captures Bob at Thompson when he was wheeling the Coventry Racing Enterprises coupe, a ride that bought him much-success at his home track. His stellar record at all-three of Connecticut’s active tracks gained him a spot in the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. (Dugas Photo).    

During his days as the chauffer of the Bud Moore/Wrangler #15 they referred to NASCAR Cup’ racing’s late, great Dale Earnhardt as “One Tough Customer.” I’d bet that this guy would have given ole’ Dale a run-for-his-money as one of the toughest guys to ever strap-in behind the controls of a race car. Glynn Shafer could be rough on both equipment, and competitors. However, he won a ton of races at the Speedbowl, and was a thoroughly-exciting guy to watch! This shot captures Glynn at one of the pre-season “car-shows” back in the 1970’s that were always a part of ushering-in the new season. (Dugas Photo).

We have a lot of shots of this Waterford Coupe-era driver on file, but it was just recently that we learned a bit about him. Waterford Modified veteran and close friend Mark LaJeunesse put the puzzle-together for us. He says; “Dave Roselund was a pal of the late George “Moose” Hewitt, having owned the #111 Bomber that Moose started his career-in. Dave himself later drove this Modified, which was associated with the Hewitt stable of cars. The number is a throw-back from his early days with Moose and the Bomber. At that time, Dave weighed 111-pounds, and that’s how they came-up with the number.” Thanks for the information, Mark! (Dugas Photo).  

Here’s another driver & car closely-associated with multi-time Speedbowl track champion, the late George “Moose” Hewitt. The late Keith Armbrust drove for a number of seasons, recording a singular Modified victory on Sept. 19, 1966 beating Walt Dombrowski & Newt Palm to the checkers. Keith was part of the “Hewitt Group” early-on, along with guys like the Craig Kirchoff (who later owned cars campaigned by both Moose, and Gordon Page), and of-course, George Brennan who was there all of the championship years. (Dugas Photo).  

And here we have another early paddock image captured at what was then known as the “New London-Waterford Speedbowl.” The late Johnny Savage campaigned this neat-looking little Coupe to many fine-finishes during a career that started in the mid-1960’s. He was closely-associated with the team of Speedbowl Icon, the late Fred “Fuzzy” Baer and his father “Pops.” Sadly, Johnny passed-away a few years-ago at a relatively-young age. (Dugas Photo)        

Though he became an SK Modified champion at Stafford Springs Motor Speedway during the later years of his career, Charlie “Chuggy” Savage was just another young Speedbowl “Coupe Jockey” when he was captured pit-side in the lens of longtime racing photographer Rene Dugas. Always considered one of Waterford’s top-drivers, “Chuggy” had an admirable run at the shoreline oval, scoring a feature victory in 1982. (Dugas Photo). .      

And here’s Preston, Connecticut’s Art Moran Sr. seated behind the controls of the Curt Chase-owned mount. Moran was a steady-competitor at Waterford for many seasons, recording a number of feature victories. As a side-note, he was one of the first racers in Waterford history to successfully employ power-steering, a feature of the memorable #66 Coach that he campaigned during the 1970’s. Art’s family remains a presence at the Speedbowl today, with both his children and grandchildren having become winners. (Dugas Photo).

Here’s something a little-different. Seen here at the wheel of his Chevelle (affectionately nicknamed” The Beast”), in the 1970’s is Grand American division standout, Gary Hartson. Though known primarily as a “Modified Track” during its sixty-year history, the Speedbowl has always hosted great support-division action. The Grand American’s came-to-be when Harvey Tattersall arrived on the scene in 1975. They had been previously-known as “Sportsmen Sedans” (and before-that, “Daredevils”). The division was started in 1965 to bolster the flagging car-count in the old Bomber class, eventually replacing them as the tracks “fender-class.” Hartson was a feature winner in 1976 when this shot was captured. (Dugas Photo).

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

 
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