A Bunch of Hicks and a Couple of Flatlanders

September-19-1979–  FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19TH, 1979  –

Well! Long time no see or maybe I should say long time no write as it’s been a couple months since I last penned a NERF’ers Corner.

I found it too tough to write this weekly column while doing the Public Relations and Promotional Director duties at Claremont Speedway. Add to this the announcing chores and the putting together of the speedway’s program, the “Checkered Review“, and you have a pretty full week’s work. Well, guess what? That’s not all I had to do every week. I also held down a full time job as a salesman for Wholesale Sundries Company in Springfield, Mass.

I’ll let you know that I’ve resigned my position with Claremont Speedway as of the last regular season racing date and have also left the Springfield, Mass firm moving into a full time position within auto racing. I won’t get into my new job as you can read that story elsewhere within the pages of SPEEDWAY SCENE.

Taken from the July 13, 1979 Speedway Scene.
Taken from the July 13, 1979 SPEEDWAY SCENE.

What I’ve encountered this past season only happens once in a lifetime and I wish that every person who reads this column could have been part of this experience.

I’ve met and become friends with the people of the North over the last nine months. They refer to us who live below the Northern Massachusetts border as “Flatlanders” and we have a tendency to call them “Hicks” or “Country Folk“, but no matter what you call them they have dedication, desire and above all an undying pride.

Track owner E.L. “Sonny” Fleury turned over the track to the owners and drivers to operate after the 1978 season had been completed. It was at this time that the Claremont Owners & Drivers Association was born. The organization is better known as C.O.D.A., a name that in 1979 has been on the lips of the northeastern racing fans more than any other racing group.

C.O.D.A. then took me aboard as their Public Relations and Promotional Director, plus Track Announcer.

Prior to the 1979 season, I told many people I was going to work at Claremont Speedway in hopes of rekindling interest in the New Hampshire speed plant. Well, the reply I got in most instances was of the negative type. Many stated an owner and driver run speedway wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, can’t work, never had worked in the past; in other words those “Hicks” up in Claremont were idiots to think they could do what nobody else had ever done before. Some people even went so far as to give me their condolences upon hearing of my going to Claremont.

Well! The season has been completed and all of it under the C.O.D.A. banner. 1979 is considered to be the most successful year in many. Eighteen racing dates were cut to sixteen with only two rainouts and the total fan turnout for the season was near the 40,000 mark including the pits making an average turnout per date somewhere around 2,500, a huge increase over the last year. Claremont seats an estimated 4,300 and on July 25th there was a standing room only crowd of better than 4,700 fans for a regular racing program and “Super Demo ’79-Shoot Out No. 3“.

Taken from the August 17th Speedway Scene.
Taken from the August 17th SPEEDWAY SCENE.

All in all, it was a great season at the little speedway located at the end of the Modified world to the north.

There’s a lot of people that should be thanked for volunteering their time in keeping Claremont running each and every week. The list is much too long to print in this column but there are some who definitely have to be given credit. The first would have to be Sonny Fleury who had the confidence to turn the track over to the owners and drivers. One man who stands tall among the others is Dave Kolenda who handled the secretarial duties for C.O.D.A. in 1979 plus the Head Flagman’s job. He did everything from figuring the weekly payoffs to writing letters to running the racing program each week. His average time spent on C.O.D.A. and Claremont Speedway related work each week was between fifty and sixty hours and all of it for no pay. One more person who has to be thanked is Nate Bly who did everything from pulling weeds to painting and cleaning the restrooms which he also did for nothing. Ninety-nine percent of the people who worked at Claremont in ’79 including the Technical Staff, Wreckers, Infield Crew, Scorers, Starters, Photographers, Ticket Sellers and Takers, Rule Committee and C.O.D.A. Officers received no pay. They should all be praised and thanked for their contribution to Claremont Speedway this year.

All of the businesses who sponsored races, special events, bought billboards, furnished pace cars or products should be thanked for giving their total support to C.O.D.A. and Claremont Speedway in 1979.

The fans who turned out to support the track this past year should be thanked, for without them none of this would have worked.

Yes, it has been a great year, a fun year. New friends have been made. There’s a totally different outlook on auto racing at Claremont now.

No one really knows what’ll happen in the future years at Claremont, but we all know it was a “Super ’79” up north.

We did it!!! A bunch of “Hicks” and a couple of “Flatlanders“.

NERF’ers Nibblets . . . . Don’t forget the “Thompson 300” this weekend. Super weekend, super cars, super show, super stars, Don’t miss it. . . . It’s also the weekend for the “New England 300” at Catamount Stadium. A NASCAR North Tour Championship event. . . . New Monadnock Raceway owner Bill Davis is as fine a gentleman as you’d want to meet, but he’s got a tough road to hoe in trying to undo what the former owner did. NASCAR sure hasn’t helped the facility and C.O.D.A. has voted to keep the sixty-mile radius rule for 1980 once again leaving Monadnock in a bad situation. . . . Dave Grantz has a good looking #79 Pinto-bodied Modified for sale. If you’re interested, get a hold of him by calling Westford, Mass. info. . . . Brian Ross has got to be the most humble gentleman in auto racing when it comes to victory or defeat. He’s really good for the sport as he always gives credit where credit is due. . . . Next Weekend is the “CAM-2 Race of Champions” at Pocono International Raceway. Take the beautiful ride through the Pocono Mountains to see the biggie at Pocono. . . . Don’t forget the “Fall Final” at Stafford on September 29th and 30th. Twin events including a 100-lap NASCAR National Championship Modified race and a 100-lap NASCAR North Tour Late Model feature – don’t miss it. . . . October 6th is a special benefit race at Claremont Speedway with all the proceeds going to the Easter Seals program in the area. . . . The “Italian Connection#44 Racing Team had their problems last Sunday. They blew a head gasket and lost a clutch in their hauler on the way to Monadnock and the NERF towed them in with the Fred Felton hauler and then the Reggie Ruggiero got caught up in the wrong place while leading and crashed. No more reverse victory laps Reg. . . . Claremont Late Model Champion Jim Boniface finished third at Monadnock on ten inch tires while winner Jerry Marquis and runner-up Allen Darrah were on 15’s. . . . Allen Whipple and Marty Radewick finished second and third to Ross at Monadnock. Both were in Claremont cars as Gary Caron finished fifth in his 292c.i. coupe. . . . Till next week – “NERF’ers do it at the Speedway!

Postscript
In 1980 Bob Echo received a phone call about this and teared up. It was an honor he remembered for the rest of his life. (Click photo to view article)
In 1980 Bob Echo received a phone call about this and teared up. It was an honor he remembered for the rest of his life. (Left click the photo to see enlarged version and read the article)

A few things.. 

For one.. The “Hicks” and “Flatlander” thing was a running joke. Before the 1979 season started my father had told Dave and the C.O.D.A. officers about some of the negative comments he’d gotten when he informed folks that he had taken on the position at Claremont Speedway. If I remember correctly, it was Dave Kolenda who answered jokingly, “We had the same reaction when we told everyone we’d hired a Flatlandah!”

Secondly.. My father, who was one heck of a salesman and always put 110% into everything he ever ventured into in life, took on his first speedway promotional position with a dedication his family and friends had never seen before.

For the 1979 Claremont Speedway season, he lived up to every aspect of the phrase, “working his ass off”. From promotional writing to press releases; seeking sponsors to meeting with those sponsors over and over to land the deal; writing advertising spots for radio to doing radio shows; putting together the weekly speedway program to laying out the speedway advertisements for the newspapers and racing publications; designing and ordering trophies to making phone calls to his friends in C.O.D.A.; picking up the trophies and the freshly printed “Checkered Review” on top of it all he worked full time job to put food on the table. He also designed the original C.O.D.A. logo. We made the 120 mile trip every weekend on Friday late afternoon and headed home Sunday afternoon. Where all of the aforementioned hit the proverbial “reset button” and started over each and every week. He never stopped looking for that extra sponsorship dollar right up until the last weekend of the season. The work he put in that year taught my brother and myself more about our father’s work ethic, drive and love for the sport than ever before.

The caption from the "Checkered Review" program the week following Claremont Speedway's 1980 season opener reads, "Big Bad Bob was the Grand Marshal for the opener." Sean Bodreau collection.
The caption from the “Checkered Review” program the week following Claremont Speedway’s 1980 season opener reads, “Big Bad Bob was the Grand Marshal for the opener.” Until yesterday none of his family had seen this photo before. Thank you to Sean Bodreau and his collection.

His family life took a back seat in 1979, but we didn’t mind. It was his rookie venture into speedway promotion and making it a successful one was extremely important to him. It was the happiest we’d ever seen him to that point and that made us all just as happy for him.

When each weekend came, culminating a week-full of hard labor, he wanted his family with him. I can say, and most anyone who was around him in those days will testify, unlike many in his roll who could sometimes be shaking bags of nerves on race day, he was the most relaxed every race night. Although most of his friends and peers at Claremont in 1979 may have never realized it, I believe he was relaxed because those he worked with on the race weekends and he befriended helped him be that way.

Robert Echo enjoyed giving awards out, but never felt comfortable receiving awards or praise. When CODA named him Grand Marshall for a night he couldn't help giving out an award to his good friend, Dave Kolenda.
Robert Echo enjoyed giving awards out, but never felt comfortable receiving awards or praise. When CODA named him Grand Marshall for a night he couldn’t help giving out an award to his good friend, Dave Kolenda.

Dave Kolenda, Ronnie Bodge, the Bodreau family, the Stevens clan, the Bibens gang,  the Albro family, the Labrie family, the Ayer family, the Bly family, the Jarvis family, the Batchelder family, the Girard family, the Caron family, the Whipple family, “he Boniface Gang and the list goes on and on. So many people who he may only have heard of prior to that season or spoken to briefly were now considered friends. By the end of the ’79 season ALL THOSE FRIENDS were the very reason it was such a tough decision to leave when Val offered him the position with Speedway Scene.

When he settled on what he wanted to do he let everyone know and was so relieved to see that the new friends he had made north within the 9 months greeted him with well wishes, praise and many thanks. It was the boost from that praise and those well wishes by his beloved “Hicks” that made one “Flatlander” even more confident heading into yet another new venture at the offices in Northeaston, Mass..

Lastly, Lake Chargoggagoggmanchaoggagoggchaubunaguhgamaugg was where our family camped on Thompson 300 weekend. I remember my brother and I spent all weekend trying to pronounce the name correctly without busting into laughter. We never could and simply settled on what they said the meaning of the name was, “You fish on your side, I’ll fish on my side and nobody fishes in the middle.”

We showed up to the campground on Thursday. Our neighbors at the campgrounds? None other than Punky Caron and family. When we started to get the camper up a hellacious storm with strong winds rolled in and in all the mayhem Punky came to the rescue, running over and jumping into action to helping us set up. Like I mentioned in a previous story, Punky may have been viewed as a hardass behind the wheel, but he was a true blue guy outside of the car, at least that’s how he always was around us.

That was the 300 that Geoff Bodine showed up with the Modified he and Chassis Dynamics had just built for Claremont Speedway competitor, Allen Whipple. A Mustang bodied Modified entry that to no one’s surprise, like every Modified Geoff had raced before, wound up in victory lane that Sunday.

– Jared

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When the Shoe Fits, OUCH!

CRAZY FEATURE AT RIVERSIDE PARK SPEEDWAY ENDS WITH RUGGIERO VICTORY

– FRIDAY, JUNE 23RD, 1978 –

Hey NERF’ers! I was going to junk the subject we’ve been on the past few weeks, but I couldn’t do that now after viewing the final lap finish of the Riverside Park Speedway 50 lapper this past Saturday night.

What’s the old saying..? “When the shoe fits, wear it!” Well, in the case of what happened at Riverside the line would go like this. “When the shoe fits, Ouch!”

With the white flag ready to fly for the final lap, the Czarnecki Bros. Vega, driven by defending three-time Park champion Bob Polverari, belched up a motor between turn three and four, sending cars every which way out of the third turn in the fluids dumped on the track. Former three-time champion Bob Stefanik rode the wall sideways almost ending upside down in the Earl Reynold’s Bobcat. Former track champ S.J. Evonsion in the Connally-Hosmer Chevette and Charlie Glazier in the Eddie Oles Vega also exited via the same accident as did 1976 Rookie of the Year, Marty Radewick in the Fred Felton Monza.

The accident brought out John Tallini’s caution flag setting the stage for the final two-lap charge to the checkers.

Reggie Ruggiero on the back stretch during practice at Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass (1978). Mario Fiore photo.
Reggie Ruggiero on the back stretch during practice at Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass (1978). Mario Fiore photo.

Reggie Ruggiero in the Fiore-Nardi Chevette was in the lead followed by Richie Evans in the Gene DeWitt Pinto and guess who was in third? It was none other than our controversial buddy, Geoff Bodine, in the Dick Armstrong Nu-Style Jewelry Pinto.

The restart saw Ruggiero, Evans and Bodine head into turns one and two and on the back stretch the “Bellingham Bullet” got by the “Rapid Roman“. Bodine then moved in on Ruggiero’s bumper to bring about another controversial finish in the life of Geoff Bodine. Going into the third turn Bodine rode to the outside trying to overtake Ruggiero and all of a sudden sparks flew leaving Bodine sitting backwards between turns three and four. Evans and Jerry Cook, in the Hollebrand Trucking Pinto, rode past Bodine for second and third while Bodine straightened it out for fourth spot.

Geoff Bodine and Reggie Ruggiero motor down the front stretch to start the 1978 Riverside 500 at the Park. The packed grandstands at Riverside Park Speedway back then was the place to be on Saturday nights. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore's collection.
Bodine and Ruggiero motor across the start-finish line at the 1978 Riverside 500. Back then the packed stands at Riverside Park Speedway was the place to be on Saturday nights. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore’s collection.

The controversy arises again. Was Bodine rough riding? Did Ruggiero stuff him in the wall trying to stop him?

I always sit near the fourth turn at the Park because that’s where the action seems to be.

Ruggiero was running the groove all night and going into the fourth turn he definitely rode high with Bodine on the outside. Whether by accident or on purpose Ruggiero was in the lead at the time and until he gets a passing flag the track is his. Bodine has stated on a couple of occasions, since all the incidents have happened over the past few weeks, that the man in the lead has the track right-of-way.

Reggie Ruggiero chases Richie Evans at Riverside Park Speedway in a 1978 feature event. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore's collection.
Reggie Ruggiero chases Richie Evans at Riverside Park Speedway in a 1978 feature event. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore’s collection.

Once again asking different drivers and people you get umpteen different views. Ruggiero fans have their opinions, Bodine fans have theirs and all the other fans have a couple hundred more. So who knows? The best answer came from the humorous Evans who was trailing the accident. After being asked what happened, he replied, “I didn’t see anything. Remember I’m the guy who didn’t see Eddie Flemke sitting in the middle of the track at Stafford last night.”

Geoff Bodine puts down some practice laps in his Dick Armstrong Nu Style Pinto bodied Modified at Riverside Park Speedway (1978). Mario Fiore photo.
Geoff Bodine puts down some practice laps in his Dick Armstrong Nu Style Pinto bodied Modified at Riverside Park Speedway (1978). Mario Fiore photo.

If the man in the lead has the track right-of-way then why was Bodine so upset after the incident? Why did he turn around after the start-finish line and shake a finger at Ruggiero? Seems as though the shoe was on the other foot at Riverside and someone didn’t like the way it fit.

One of the head NASCAR officials stated, “I’ve never seen Bodine bumping like he did tonight. This kind of action is uncalled for and something is going to have to be done about it.”

He was referring to Bodine riding over Evonsion early in the race, belting Radewick, causing him and Polverari to spin and twice bumping rookie Jim Tourville in the Susies’ Auto Parts Coupe.

Oh well! The controversy continues and I suppose all the Bodine supporters will write in tellin’ us how good Bodine is and how rotten I am and just think, I didn’t even mention those you know, T-shirts..

Reggie Ruggiero in Mario Fiore's sharp New England Uniform Chevette bodied Modified had plenty to smile about back in the late '70's. Enough hardware on the roof to test the roll cage. Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore.
Reggie Ruggiero in Mario Fiore’s sharp New England Uniform Chevette bodied Modified had plenty to smile about back in the late ’70’s. Here they have enough hardware on the roof to stress test the roll cage of the Evans built chassis . Photo courtesy of Mario Fiore.

A couple Polverari fans are looking for the address of the “Maynard Troyer Fan Club“. I wonder if they are jumping ship or do they hope to be a part of the Troyer clan when he invades New England in hopes of halting the “Bodine Express” at Stafford Motor Speedway in a couple of weeks. Anyone who has the address, drop us a line as there must be more fans out there who would like to be part of following the shiny #6 from New York.

The “Bugsy Stevens Fan Club” has their new look T-shirts now on sale at Stafford and Seekonk Speedway. If you’re a Bugsy Stevens fan, make sure you get your new T-shirt and support the Bugman. If you haven’t got your Bugsy Stevens Fan Club membership then send a $3.00 check or money order to: Bugsy Stevens Fan Club, (address withheld), Providence, R.I. 02914. For your $3 you will receive an autographed photo of the Bugman, a membership card, a newsletter and a bumper sticker. The Fan Club always has plenty of pictures of Bugs in the different cars he wheels and will also take special request photos for fans. Now that’s a real fan club.

Send in your fan club news, announcements or photos to NERF’ers Corner, c/o Robert Echo, (address withheld).

NASCAR North Series Nears 400 Grand With Big Molson Bucks

–  FRIDAY, MARCH 14th, 1980 – PAGE 9  –

Nascar-North

Tom “Mr. NASCAR North” Curley has been working feverishly since the close of the 1979 season in hopes of increasing the monetary rewards for the already prosperous NASCAR North Tour.

Curley’s relentless pursuit for hunting down big dollar sponsors for his very popular year-old Late Model Sportsman series has again paid off with the signing of a lucrative multi-year agreement with Molson Breweries of Canada, Ltd.

Last year’s twenty-seven race tour paid out in excess of $270,000 including $40,000 point fund, but with increased monies from Molson, this season’s total series dollars has already topped the $370,000 mark for the twenty-six events scheduled so far. A point fund of $65,000 is included in the total money posted to date.

Beaver-DragonThe 1980 point fund will be paid over a newly created three-leg program much like the one operated within the Grand National ranks. The first two-legs, ending in June and August respectively, will each pay a total of $10,000 in point fund monies while the final leg will pay the remaining $45,000 for the overall point standings with the champion picking up a cool ten grand.

The final schedule is expected to reach at least thirty events which would put the posted awards over $400,000 with the point fund over $70,000. Several companies, other than Molson, have already pumped many dollars into the series including Champion Spark Plug, McCreary Tires, the STP Corp and Bell Helmets. Some thirty-eight companies have been contacted by Curley in hopes of increasing the rewards for the Tour including the likes of Hurst, Castrol and Hawaiian Tropics.

Curley has got STP of Canada back into racing, after a seven-year absence, to take over the Canadian Challenge Series sponsored by Molson last season. The $3,000 put up by STP will go to the top Canadian finishers on the Tour.

With Molson being the big dollar sponsor of the series for the next few years, the NASCAR North Tour will now become known as the NASCAR North Molson Circuit.

McCreary will once again furnish the official tire for the series and the North Tour’s success with a tire rule in ’79 has caused both Hickory [NC] Speedway and Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, VA to adopt a track tire rule.

NASCAR North competitors will be happy about one thing disclosed by Curley, in a recent discussion with the Ol’ Nerf, that being a twenty percent purse increase over last year which will definitely benefit the guys finishing from fifth on back.

Beaver Dragon along with his brother Bobby were two of the toughest competitors on Tom Curley's NASCAR North Tour. Howie Hodge photo.
Beaver Dragon along with his brother Bobby were two of the toughest competitors on Tom Curley’s NASCAR North Tour. Howie Hodge photo from 1979.

With the purse increase comes word that several cars are either being built of purchased for the upcoming season including a new Emanuel Zervakis machine for last year’s NASCAR North Tour Champion, Beaver Dragon, which was originally destined for Darrell Waltrip. 1977 Nascar North Rookie of the Year, Mike Barry will also pilot a new Zervakis car while popular Pete Silva has purchased a complete Banjo Mathews set up including car, motors and hauler. Top runner Robbie Crouch is building two cars for himself which will feature some new Late Model innovations.

Jean Paul Cabana will once again return to the Late Model wars in the car which was driven last year by Tom Rosati. Sophomore driver Tim Dykeman has purchased last year’s Wood Brothers short track Grand National machine driven by Neil Bonnet while Phil Gerbode has obtained the car campaigned by Butch Lindley in ’79.

Hector LeClair, last year’s Tour runner up, has had his 1979 car completely reworked by Howe Chassis in hopes of an all out assault on the series crown in ’80.

So, even before the second year of operation, the Curley run Tour has become the highest paying single division stock car series in the Northeast and Southern Canada.

Curley is in the same class as the National Dirt Racing Association’s Robert Smawley, Ted Johnson of the World of Outlaws and D.I.R.T. of Central New York’s Glenn Donnelly.

There are some people in the Northeast who dislike the way Curley and NASCAR North operates, but there are also individuals I’ve talked to who do not like Smawley, or Donnelly as I’m sure there are people who don’t especially care for Johnson. A couple of years ago I didn’t like Geoff Bodine, but you can’t shoot down the fact that he was successful nor can you knock the success of Curley, Smawley, Johnson or Donnelly because after all, success is the name of the game, isn’t it?

NERF’ers Nibblets *** I Wonder Where the Yellow Went?” was the heading over this column a couple of weeks ago with the ensuing story relating to the finishing of races under the yellow flag by NASCAR. Well I’m sure this writer’s blasting of that practice had nothing to do with it, but USAC has just announced that all of their sanctioned Stock Car events will now finish under the green starting with this past weekend’s “Texas 250” at the Texas World Speedway in College Station. The new rule is aimed at giving the race fan a guaranteed green flag finish. All USAC Stock Car races will finish under green flag conditions, with races on speedways of at least 1.5 miles in length requiring at least the final two laps completed under green and races on shorter tracks requiring at least the final three laps under green. This will end the disappointing single-file yellow flag finishes which in the past have often ruined fantastic races. Hats off to USAC for their move in alleviating this problem and now if NASCAR would only get off its duff and follow suit…..

Polverari-New-CarStopped over to see the new Bob Polverari Chevette bodied No. 711 Modified and it is one beautiful lookin’ machine which will definitely put it in the runnin’ for best appearing Modified at Martinsville [VA] Speedway this weekend. The car carries Polverari’s usual white paint job and Dave Bendtson of Springfield, Mass. has done some fantastic pin striping and lettering work on the machine while almost everything that isn’t painted or lettered has been chromed by West Springfield’s Jim Steup. If the new 711 runs as good as it looks, then competitors of the three-time Riverside Park Speedway champion had better watch out…..

Bob Polverari's 1980 Chevette bodied Modified was a new Chassis Dynamics built Mod and was most definitely a looker. Pictured here at Stafford Motor Speedway. Peter Montano photo.
Bob Polverari’s 1980 Chevette bodied Modified was a new Chassis Dynamics built Mod and was most definitely a looker. Pictured here at Stafford Motor Speedway. Peter Montano photo.

While on the subject of Polverari, I forgot to mention his early January deer hunting trip. Word has it that this was a very successful one a he was spotted several times in the West Springfield area, in his Cadillac Eldorado, with Donner or Blitzen or was it Rudolph strung across the hood of the car. Seems as though this is the first time the deer hunter, or is that dear hunter, has returned with anything other than nothing at all. I understand he’s so happy about his success that next year he’s goin’ huntin’ for John Darveau’s dancing elephants. How about it Dear Hunter?…..

New England Mini Modified Association president Dan Meservey told Ol’ Nerf recently that as many as forty cars are expected for Thompson Speedway’s ICEBREAKER ’80 on March 29th and 30th including the cars of 1979 Pocono champion Randy Snyder of Bryan, OH; Florida Speed Week’s champ Bob Flagg of Toledo, Ohio; Livonia, Michigan’s Dick Meyers, Bob Hackle of Albany, NY and Joe Santiago from Brentwood, L.I. plus the usual line-up of NEMMA stars such as Meservey, Darrell Smith, Rick Hussex, Randy Slack, Jim Marceline, Pete Schluter and Billy Smith. Don’t miss this great turnout of Mini-Mods…..

Auto racing recently suffered another sad day as former Grand National star Lee Roy Yarbrough, a fourteen-time winner on the tour, was committed to a mental institution in Florida after a Jacksonville judge found him incompetent to stand trial for the murder of his mother last month. The 43-year-old ex-driver had his best year in G.N. racing in 1969 when he won seven super-speedway events including the Daytona 500…..

Da Champ, Rene Charland is still lookin’ fer his Olympic hat which was stolen off his head at New Smyrna [FLA] Speedway during Speed Week’s while he was perched precariously upon the throne. Ya might say he got caught with his pants down. Tsk, tsk…..

Till next time, “Catch you later and don’t forget, Roast the Rat Night’ to benefit the NARAC Fund.

RIP Denis Taney, Thunder Road Lock Up and More

– FRIDAY, JUNE 27TH, 1980 –

It’s on a sad note that I have to tell you of the death of a dirt Modified driver at the Canandaigua [NY] Speedway last Saturday night. Denis Taney, driver of the 11T Modified died of either a heart attack at the wheel or a broken neck suffered when he hit a concrete retaining wall after colliding with another car.

It’s not really how Taney died that matters, it is the fact that we’ve lost one of our own and the Racing World is always saddened by such a loss. We at Speedway Scene would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends and fans of Phelps, NY’s Denis Taney.

*     *     *     *     *

Congratulations to Bill Alsup of Woodstock, VT, who recorded his best finish ever in Indy Champ Car competition with a fourth place in the ‘True Value Hardware 500′ at Pocono International Raceway last Sunday.

Winning the race was Bobby Unser with “Lone Star J.R.Johnny Rutherford and Tom Sneva finishing second and third respectively.

Alsup, driving the Alsup Racing Team owned, Polaroid Time Zero sponsored Penske/Cosworth PC-7 proved he can race in the big leagues as he bested such well knowns as Pancho Carter, Rick Mears, Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Danny Ongias and Al Unser.

Rounding out the top ten behind Alsup were Vern Schuppan, Carter, Sheldon Kinser, Howdy Holmes, Larry Cannon and Lee Kunzman.

It was a super weekend for Alsup and his crew and they should all get a pat on the back for a job well done by New England’s only Indy Car team.

*     *     *     *     *

The judicial system has once again shown its worth. They let rapists and drug pushers off with light sentences, killers get shorter terms, if any, and a speedway gets closed putting people out of work.

The Vermont Supreme Court ruled in favor of Tom Kalimaris, who all but destroyed the credibility of Thunder Road International Speedbowl along with the track itself, in halting action of the Barre, VT oval.

In June of 1980, the Vermont Supreme Court put the padlocks on Thunder Road. Thankfully it didn't last long. Howie Hodge Photo.
In June of 1980, the Vermont Supreme Court put the padlocks on Thunder Road. Thankfully it didn’t last long. Howie Hodge Photo.

The track was well on its way back under the guidence of Ken Squire, who had foreclosed on the property last year, NASCAR North director Tom Curley and the many officials, fans and friends who’d worked so hard and now it’s all been silenced by one swing of the gavel.

There’ll be no further racing at the ‘Widow Maker‘ until matters can be resolved.

Let’s hope the people in power come to their senses. Maybe if you’re an interested fan, you can drop them a line to let them know how you feel in no uncertain terms.

*     *     *     *     *

Harry Gant, driver of the Race Hill Farms Grand National cars, continues to ride in 8th place in the Winston Cup Point Standings entering the July 4th ‘Firecracker 400′ at Daytona International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt is the point leader by a scant 13 points over Richard Petty, 2,387 to 2,374. Rounding out the top ten are Cale Yarborough – 2,349, Darrell Waltrip – 2,244, Benny Parsons – 2,194, Bobby Allison – 2,164, rookie Jody Ridley – 2,058, Gant – 1,940, Terry Labonte – 1,918, and Richard Childress – 1,912.

*     *     *     *     *

The $55,625, including contingency money, posted by the Oxford Plains Speedway for the July 13th ‘Oxford 250‘ is the best short track payoff for the Late Model Sportsman in the country so far as I am aware.

Martinsville [VA] Speedway’sCardinal 500‘ is generally known as the best paying short track show for Late Models, but Oxford now rules the roost. This years ‘Oxford 250‘ offers better than $250 more per mile than the Late Model half of the ‘Cardinal 500‘ event.

The ‘Oxford 250‘ winner will pick up a check for $10,000 plus, which should draw the best in the U.S. when you consider it’s been tagged a NASCAR National Championship event.

Till next time; ‘See ya at the Dog Leg!