Taking A Look At New England Auto Racing History

Wednesday November 24, 2010

 Volume 2, Number 44                                                                                      New Column Every Wednesday


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By Dave Dykes                                                                              CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE


This week we again feature an assortment of shots from some of our friends. Special thanks go out to Rusty Sage, Mal Phillips, and our Webmaster Tom Ormsby for sharing images from their personal collections; it’s sincerely appreciated. Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish our readers and their families a happy & safe Thanksgiving! As-always, email reaches me at foreveryounginct@gmail.com   

Another Installment Of “With A Little Help From Our Friends”….       

The Bunnell family of Montville, CT. were long a staple of the competition at the Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Bunnell was the 1966 Bomber class champion, and brother Donnie later became one of the shoreline oval’s most popular winning Modified drivers. On opening day in 1968 when Rene Dugas capture this image, the late “Wild Bill” Scrivener (himself a former Bomber champion), was the driver of the team’s immaculate coach-bodied Modified entry. The Bunnell’s always had great-looking equipment! (Dugas Photo, Rusty Sage Collection).         

As mentioned-above, Ed Bunnell was the 1966 Bomber champion at Wateford. Shown outside the teams shop, here’s a nice shot of the Coupe that Ed guided to 9 feature victories on-route to the title. This is kind of a rare one, as color Speedbowl Bomber shots from this era remain pretty difficult to come-by. Special thanks to Rusty Sage for providing us with this candid image! (Rusty Sage Collection).  

A few weeks-ago, we ran a nice shot of the late Tony Mordino following one of his many early victories at the West Haven Speedway. Now, thanks to our Webmaster Tom Ormsby we’re able to “fast-forward” to the later-stages of his celebrated career. This one captures the ultra-talented Mr. Mordino during the 1970’s at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway. Ask anyone who raced against-him, and they’ll tell you that this guy was one of the toughest-ever on the tracks of New England. (Tom Ormsby Collection).          

Here’s a nice early color shot of Johnny “Johnnyboy” Georgidas. A longtime coupe-era star in New England, he was particularly-tough at the Tattersall/United haunts of the day. Johnny recorded many feature victories at tracks throughout the Northeast wheeling cars like this. (Tom Ormsby Collection).     

It’s Sunday afternoon May 5, 1974, and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member the late, great Ollie Silva has just won the open-competition “Hott Wheels 100” at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford Speedbowl.” Taking the victory in convincing-style, Silva thrilled the crowd by lapping the field several times and setting a new 1-lap record of 16.48.  The people that were present on that chilly, overcast afternoon (your author included), still talk about Silva’s absolutely over-the-top performance. (Shany Photo).

It’s 1952 at Connecticut’s “New London-Waterford” Speedbowl (the tracks sophomore year), and the smiling chauffer behind the controls of this Non-Ford entry is the late Harold “Curly” LeMay. By seasons-end, LeMay had even more reason to be happy as he found himself being crowned co-champion in the class, tied with the great Johnny Sandberg. Later, LeMay also became a winner in the Modified division at the speedplant affectionately known as the “shoreline oval.” (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).              

As illustrated here, safety concerns have come a long way in our sport. In the 1950s when Speedbowl great Ray Moran took a tumble at the shoreline oval not-only did his roll cage take a beating, but his fuel tank became dislodged. Note that the “tank” was actually a beer-keg! Ray of-course, survived this debacle going-on to be one of the best in the shoreline oval’s history. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).       

Here’s another shot that we really like, and thanks to our pal Mal Phillips, we were able to add it to the “RTT” archives. Sparky Belmont (real name Michael Belmonte), 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 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. We’re not sure where this image was recorded. If any readers know, please feel-free to drop us a line! (Photographer Unknown, Mal Phillips Collection).

Here’s an early-career shot of Johnny Thompson we believe to have been captured at Connecticut’s “New-London-Waterford” Speedbowl. A winner at several different New England raceways during his long career, Thompson was particularly-good at Norwood Arena in Massachusetts where he was a champion during that track’s most competitive era. (Shany Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).            

The well-traveled Jerry Dostie traces his racing-roots back to the much-heralded “Coupe Era” driving creations like this little number that was owned by New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, Art Barry. Dostie savored success at joints like Norwood (as seen-here), Waterford, Stafford, Thompson, and going further-North, the high-banks of New Hampshire’s Modnadnock Speedway. A master car-builder as well as an absolute whiz in developing some of our regions first reliable race-ready automatic transmissions, he’s often seen today enjoying his retirement on the golf courses of Florida competing against many old rivals from his days as a top New England Modified shoe. (Conley Photo, Mal Phillips Collection).              

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

 
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