Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday March 27, 2013
 

 

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Volume 5, Number 13                                                                                    New Column Every Wednesday



Updated 3-24-13

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With the season opener for Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl just around-the-corner, we thought we’d run some shots from the track that started a lifelong fascination with short track racing for this guy. Having grown-up around the shoreline oval, picking the photos from the files for this week’s edition of “RTT” was particularly-satisfying. In other news, word was received last week that pioneering track owner/promoter Charlie Elliot passed-away at age 96 at his home in Florida. The popular Elliot was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2000. Also, in a great loss to the Northeast Midget Association (NEMA), community it was learned that Ellie Seymour, matriarch of one of the country’s premier racing families, passed away Saturday at age 84. The widow of the legendary “Boston Louie” Seymour, “Miss Ellie” had an immeasurable influence on three generations of the Marlboro, MA based racing family. Our sincere condolences are offered to both the Elliot and Seymour families during this trying time. Thanks to our Webmaster Tom Ormsby for providing two videos this week which can be found at the bottom of the page.  As-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com

Zooming Down Memory Lane Speedbowl-Style !!!

In 1973, Dick Dunn was simply “The Man” at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl. That season he scored 9 feature victories including the star studded open-competition Schaffer 100 on Wednesday evening July 7th as-seen here, and also notched the second of four consecutive track championships while driving for our good friends, Peg & Al “Buddha” Gaudreau (that’s Al 2nd from left). Unfortunately, Peg’s been feeling a bit under the weather as of late, and I’d like to take this time to personally tell her that all of her old pals in racing have been thinking of her. (Shany Photo from Walter Jablonski collection).

If you claim to be familiar with the history of the Speedbowl, you should know who this guy-is. Captured here is the late 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. Starting in 1952, he went-on to score a combined-total of sixty-two victories in Modified & Non-Ford competition along with two track titles before hanging-up his helmet and relocating to the West Coast. Dick was named as one of the Speedbowl’s “All-Time 50-Favorite Drivers” when the track celebrated its half-century mark in 1991. (Shany Photo)

Few Waterford Speedbowl personalities were more popular with fans than the late Fred “Fuzzy” Baer. He’s seen here ready to roll in a 5-window coupe version of what was a long-line of signature #121 creations. Universally well-liked & respected for his entire career, it was more than one rookie driver that sought advice from “Fuzz” when they got started in the game. Though the record book reveals only four feature victories during a career that spanned nearly 4-decades, Baer was simply synonymous with the Speedbowl. To this day, when talk turns to past-action at the shoreline oval, it seems that everyone has at-least one fond memory of the much-missed Mr. Baer. (Shany Photo).

Like every short track, the Speedbowl has had its share of real “stand on the gas” competitors over the years, and this guy was one of them. Personally-speaking, he was one of my all-time favorites when I was a young fan. Captured here at the shoreline oval at the wheel of his familiar #6 (renumbered “16” on this occasion for some-reason), Glynn Shafer won a ton of races during his long career which started in the Bomber class and concluded in the modifieds. As exciting a wheelman as ever witnessed at the Speedbowl, he ALWAYS coaxed the most out of his equipment. (Shany Photo).

He was known as “Gentleman Dick” Watson and in subsequent years, simply as the “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 him during the 1970s at Waterford behind the controls of the Norm Kies-owned Chevy II-bodied mount, a ride that bought him much-success. A sorely-missed friend of mine and our Webmaster & pal Tom Ormbsy’s, Dick was inducted into the prestigious New England Auto Racing Hall Of Fame in 2003. (Shany Photo)

Another coupe-era shot from what was then officially-known as the “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl captures Bob Tetreault on a Sunday afternoon in the early-1970s. 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. (Shany Photo).

We admittedly don’t know a whole-lot about this driver and his neat little square-roof coupe, but we do know that the car was a real looker! Seen here ready-to-roll at the Speedbowl of the early 1970s is Dick Chapman. Classic coupes like this one remained standard fare at the shoreline oval when this shot was recorded, but teams were starting to look toward more-modern sheet metal. The mood accelerated with the advent of the well-documented “Pinto Revolution” that would sweep the world of New England modified racing and change the aesthetics of the division forever. (Shany Photo).

Our friend Wayne “Mr. Mysterious” Smith claimed most of his Speedbowl accolades in the support-division classes, his full-fender endeavors being of the championship variety. As this shot illustrates, “Mr. Mysterious” also successfully turned some laps in the modified wars at the Connecticut track affectionately known as the “Shoreline Oval.”  This little coupe was one of his earliest efforts in Waterford’s premier division. During a celebration of the track’s 50th Anniversary in 2000, the multi-time Daredevil & Late Model titlist was named one of the Speedbowl’s “50 Favorite Drivers.”(Shany Photo).

Starting his career with the Tattersall’s United Stock Car Club at the late West Haven Speedway as a youngster was this guy, the late Pete Brockett Sr. Spending over three-decades behind the controls of a modified, his later efforts were centered-on the Speedbowl where he also became a winner. His signature #007 referred-to as “Brockett’s Rocket,” Pete was always a crowd-favorite at the joint known as “The Bowl.” (Shany Photo).

Before graduating to the modifieds, Walt Dombrowski claimed the 1963 Speedbowl Bomber championship. The transition was a smooth-affair with Walt scoring his first checkers in Waterford’s headlining division in 1966. By the time Shany Lorenzent captured this trackside image in 1970, he’d secured a seat in this coupe, Stan Majewski’s potent & legendary L&M coupe. By seasons-end, the team had clamed the championship! (Shany Photo).

BONUS SHOT #1; John Bunnell is a member of one of the Speedbowl’s premier racing families (a cousin to Bomber champ Ed, and Modified standout Donnie Bunnell), and this shot captures him during the early years of his career. After a residency within the support division ranks as seen-here, he later became one of shoreline oval’s top modified pilots. A body-man by trade and now retired from racing, John presently has his own auto body business. (Shany Photo).

BONUS SHOT #2; It seems as long as there’s been a Speedbowl, there’s been a member of the Gada clan entering victory lane. Captured here following another feature triumph with his early-70s Daredevil entry is Bob Gada Sr. who still holds-court pitside every week making sure things in the latest version of the family racing effort run smoothly. Few can claim more track titles and victories at a single track than the Gada’s have at Waterford. They’re simply a nice family that makes you proud to be involved with the sport. (Shany Photo).  

BONUS SHOT #3; Seen here during his days as a competitor in Waterford’s Daredevil Division, Jerry Lilliquist went-on to enjoy a residency in the headlining modified division. As a support class, the Daredevils were one of the most popular in Speedbowl history. Full-fields and often A & B main events were often the case, and merely qualifying for the feature was an accomplishment. Lilliquist was a multi-time winner in the division. As a side-note, the correct spelling of this driver’s first name is actually “Jari” rather than “Jerry.” (Shany Photo).

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

As time permits I’ll be adding what I call “My Two Cents”. One time it may be a photo or two, the next may be an old poster or program the next may be a racing video. This week are two videos. One is old 8mm footage from Plainville Stadium which runs about 8 minutes and the other is about an hour of a video I posted on Sunday for the NEAR web site. It is the 1983 New England Antique Racers Banquet which honored promoter Harvey Tattersall. Speakers included Buddy Krebs, Ed Flemke, Sr. and former Riverside Park announcer Tom Galon.

1970 Plainville Stadium

 

 

1983 NEAR Dinner Banquet

 

 
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