COLUMNS & FEATURES
Click On Link
Semi-Monthly Racing Commentary with
SEPTEMBER 5 ALVAH AND DIEGO
NEW BOOK FROM
By Dave Dykes CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE
coming-up quickly, it’s the Fourth
Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion which takes place on Saturday, October
13th from 10am – 3pm at the Berlin Fair Grounds located at 430
Beckley Road, East Berlin, CT.The event is
presented by the Nutmeg Kart Club in conjunction with the Berlin Lions
Club World of Wheels.
Simply-stated, it’s the perfect opportunity to mingle, and perhaps get an
autograph from the personalities that made Joe Tinty’s much-missed
Connecticut oval so-special. Many former Stadium competitors including Don
Moon, Dave & Fred Alkas, the colorful Tony “Jap” Membrino, Richie Galullo,
Danny Galullo, Jr. 1963 Champion George Hotchkiss, two time Champion
George Lombardo, Don Spazano, Jo-Jo Farone, Bill Harman, and a host of
others are expected to attend. Previous versions of the affair have been
wildly-successful; it’s become one of the regions most-anticipated racing
reunions of the year! Extra-special thanks go out to our Webmaster & pal
Tom Ormsby for again digging-deep into his archives for some of this
week’s historical images, and also to our longtime friend & frequent “RTT”
contributor James Scott Haag for the use of some of extraordinary shots.
As always, have a great week! Email reaches me at
NOTE: We have now put a comment box at the end of
the web site. Please feel free to leave your comments.
More Mid-Week Meanderings Modified-Style!
Simply-stated, this guy was one of the best during his days as a top
New England stock car jockey. Seen here behind the controls of an
absolutely-classic coupe owned by the late Bucky Membrino is the late
Tony Mordino. A leading member of the legendary “Waterbury
Gang” that also included guys like the late Danny Galullo, the
battles he waged with established UNITED stars such as Billy Greco and
Johnny “King” Cambino at West Haven are stuff of regional racing
legend. He later conquered Plainville and Riverside Park; certainly
two of the toughest bullrings in the Northeast. Tony retired following
the 1975 Thompson 300, an event in which raced to a top-10 finish
after having started 50th in the field. Big thanks
go out to Tony Jr. for providing this special shot of his dad for all
of us to enjoy! (Shany Photo Courtesy Tony Mordino Jr.).
Courtesy of our friend & frequent contributor James
Scott Haag comes this terrific shot of the late
Pete Brockett Sr. captured at Joe Tinty’s
much-missed Plainville Stadium in
Connecticut. Recording many early career successes
at the West Haven Speedway and spending over
three-decades behind the controls of a modified, his
later efforts were centered on the “New
London-Waterford” Speedbowl where he also became
a winner. His ride known as “Brockett’s Rocket” Pete
was always a crowd-favorite, especially at
Waterford. (Hoyt Photo, Haag Collection).
Captured here at the former Riverside Park Speedway
in Agawam, Massachusetts, Charlie Centenaro
was a big winner within the Tattersall family’s
United Stock Car Racing Club. In the days before
NASCAR entered the New England scene, United was the
most powerful & influential sanctioning body in the
region, holding-court at a large number of
speedways. With the passing of time, many modern-day
fans are unaware of that. Charlie was also very
successful at Connecticut’s West Haven Speedway,
another immensely-popular facility ruled by United.
We really like this shot. If you look at records from
the early days of the sport, you’ll find this guy’s name
just about everywhere, dirt and asphalt. From the
legendary “big circle” at Langhorne, Pennsylvania
to the local bullrings of New England, Frankie Blum
excelled at all of them. Truly one of the Northeast’s
pioneering racers, Blum experienced victories while
driving for some of the best teams of his era.
Historically-speaking he remains somewhat-underrated.
The late Ted Stack was absolutely one of the real
heavy-hitters of his generation. Though he scored heavily at
several other New England raceways, it was probably the
“New London-Waterford” Speedbowl that garnered him the
most success. A multi-time champion (1961 in the Modifieds,
and 1957 & 60 in the Non Fords), Stack accumulated a
combined total of 71 feature victories at the shoreline
oval. This early-1960s shot captures him ready to go at the
shoreline oval in the company of Johnny Thompson in the
#122, and that’s Russ Foote (brother of the legendary Red
Foote), in the #8x. (Shany Photo).
Here’s a nice one from Connecticut’s much-missed
Plainville Stadium courtesy of our pal & Webmaster, Tom
Ormsby. The young dude you see seated behind the wheel
of this nifty period-perfect coupe from the early 1970s
is Elliott Beverige. Once one of the top drivers
at Joe Tinty’s racy little ¼-miler, Elliot now serves as
crew chief on his old friend Frank Manafort’s (also a
graduate of the Stadium wars), NEMA midget team. Just a
coupe of weeks-ago they scored a stunning NEMA Lites
victory at Waterford with hotshot modified shoe Keith
Rocco behind the wheel – his first time driving a
Photo, Ormsby Collection).
Speaking of Keith Rocco, here’s a nice shot of his dad,
multi-time Plainville Stadium track champion Ronnie
Starting in the Novice class, Ronnie was a quick-study
when it was time to trade-in his fenders for the
open-wheel wars. A big success at “Tinty’s Place”
before its unfortunate closure at the dawn of the 1980s,
he later became a successful and popular racer within
the ranks of the SK Modified division. (Hoyt Photo,
We admittedly don’t know a lot about this driver, but we
do know that it’s Plainville, and his name is Ernie
Olsen. In consulting with our Webmaster Mr. Ormsby,
he tells us the following about the shot; “This #99
driven by Ernie Olson was built & owned by the late
Sandy Rocco, Ron's father & Keith's grandfather.” It
seems that the Rocco family has quite a long history at
the late Connecticut ¼-miler. Neat-looking coupe
for-sure! (Faust Photo, Ormsby Collection).
Captured here at Riverside Park Speedway is 1951 track
champion, BennyGermano. Once the flagship
speedway of the all powerful Tattersall-governed United
Stock Car Racing Club, Germano competed against the
very-best in the business to garner his title. Names
like Krebs, Tappett, Flemke, Maggiacamo, Dixon, &
Humiston come-to-mind. It was indeed, a star-studded
field each & every week. To win a United championship in
1951 meant accomplishing something truly-extraordinary.
Germano scored a career-total of 17 Riverside feature
victories, the first in 1950, the final in 1959. (Shany
Just a nice image from the days before things got
so-damned expensive & complicated in our sport. Back in
the early-70s when cars like this neat little pre-war
coupe were campaigned by weekend warriors like Bobby
Knox at places like Plainville (where Phil Hoyt
captured this image), you could actually afford to race
AND pay your mortgage! Salvage yards supplied the
raw material, and the builder’s ingenuity provided the
rest. Knox was a consistently-fine racer who called The
Stadium home for a number of seasons before moving on to
the dirt at Lebanon Valley Speedway. (Hoyt Photo,
This one captures veteran Merle “Spud” Cray
behind the wheel of his 5-window coupe at Plainville.
Sometimes a driver and occasionally assuming the role of
car owner, among the other racers to wheel this machine
was our friend, longtime Stadium chauffer Bobby Mickulak.
Our Webmaster Tom Ormsby recalls this ride very-well
also. He says, “Spud was the first car owner I ever
drove-for. I later bought the car for $700.00 which
became my #VO.” Imagine-that, less than
thousand-dollars for a race-ready modified….! (Hoyt
Photo, Ormsby Collection).
I know this might be a long shot, but I would love to
see a photo of the Late Paul Veracka in his modified.
Paul raced at Norwood in the 50's.
(6 days ago) Dave Dykes said:
Thanks for the kind-words, folks. "RTT" is put-together
a few days before it's posted and we didn't know it at
the time, but it should be mentioned that Tony Mordino
is among the racers slated for induction into the HOF
(6 days ago) mike a. said:
congrats to thr mordino family.
great pix of rocco and brocketts rocket. i liked that
car when i first saw it at wet haven speedway.
(6 days ago) Linda Watson said:
Great column again this week. Boy this sure tests the
memory bank and brings such fun times back to the
present!! Thanks Tom & David.........