The Dick Bennett - Owned Bernie's Liquor Shop 71


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Dick Bennett, at his shop with a later 71. He still had Bernie as sponsor then.

     The first time I ever got to visit the legendary Fonda Speedway was right around 1962. My uncle and I had gotten there really early, had watched every detail of the track preparation, and were getting a little sick of sitting there by the time warmups and practice laps were beginning. I had visions of Danish, Corey, Herbert, and Lazarro swimming in my head; and I had actually seen the likes of George Baumgardner and Dutch Reed performing in Vermont at the old Otter Creek Speedway earlier that year.
    The very first car to appear out on the track, however, was an unfamiliar red and white 1937 Ford coupe, being identified by announcer Mike Valchovic as "Leeeeeeee MILL -in - tunnn, from Palatine Bridge". Ever since I have a soft spot in my heart for that first Fonda car I ever saw. I have seen the owner's name spelled a number of different ways, but I will go with Bernie Maruska.
    Apparently, the main wrench [and perhaps the actual owner] of the car was Dick Bennett. I just recently [March 2011] found a number of photos from Gerry LaVallee, which I am gratefully placing here. CLICK HERE for those.


Ladabouche Collection Photo by Russ Bergh
Leeeee   MILL - ing- tunnn ! with that first car I ever saw on Fonda.


Gater Racing News Photo
Ken Shoemaker once briefly sat in Dick's 71's at Fonda [shown above] until Ed Pieniazek miraculouly appeared with
a repaired AC Caprara 37. The 37 had been literally broken in half the night before at Montgomery County in Rochester.


Schenectady Collection, Otto Graham
Ken Jones, with a very early version.

Schenectady Collection, Otto Graham
Ken Jones, with a very early version.

   THE EARLIER FORD


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Ken Jones, with a
1950's version

 
 
Courtesy of Jim King Collection
Ken Jones hangs an early
Bennett car on the fence
at Fonda.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Ken Jones exits the early
Bennett car on the fence
at Fonda.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A close look at the Fonda
wreck.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
He did really well !. I hear he practiced it often.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
The crew looks over the mess.

From Otto Grahams Site
An earlier version of the
71 with Irv Taylor.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
One of the earlier versions.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early team car photographed
and said to be with
Debbie.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early team car photographed
and said to be with
Debbie.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early '60's team car
at the shop.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
The crew in the Ken Jones era.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A rare Jim Luke
sighting in that car.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman, Bernie Maruske,  Dick Bennett, as the Fonda "Ford Champions".

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Bennett, Maruske,
Wayman, and crewman.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman wins.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Looking for a fire in
the team's 1960's car.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A wreck that may have
caused the fire.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A wreck that may have
caused the fire.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A fire inthe team's 1960's caris apparently out.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Bennett, Maruske,
Wayman, and crewman.

From Dan ody's  8MM
Old Speedways DVD's

The Bennett car before a
1950's Fonda practice.

From Dan ody's  8MM
Old Speedways DVD's

The Bennett car before a
1950's Langhorne race.
 
Courtesy of Rick Parry
Lou Lazzaro actually managed to wad up the Dick Bennett 71 at Fonda one night when his  car was down.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman and fans.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman and checkers.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington 1960's

John Grady Photo
Lee, around 1962.

John Grady Photo
My favorite shot
of Lee and car.

Source Unknown
Mr. Lee

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington wins
 
Frank Simek Photo [Obviously]
Lee Millington
with the
first Ford, at speed.
 
Frank Simek Photo [Obviously]
Can't pin this oneon Lazzarro or even Jones - this is all Millington.
     


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Dick Bennett and loyal crewman Bill Kollar [who also sometimes ran his own K71 car].


Courtesy of Doug Bennett
Dick Bennett and
friends. All but one was, or became a car owner. {Left - Tom Hammond, Bill King, Ken Jones, and Dick.

 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early '60's team car at Victoria Speedway. Gerry says either Ken Jones or Jim Luke is driving.

THE CHEVY AND LATER CARS


Steve Judd Photo
Lee and that later Chevy
version of Be
nnett's 71.
Bernie was still sponsoring then, at least for a while as evidenced by the photo at
far right.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Dick Bennett and the
second phase Chevy.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
The team's 1967 car, under
the 148 of Robbie Kotary.
another picture of the wreck is seen below.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington, 1967.
May be a color version of the shot at far left.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Robbie Kotary, with a Fonda flag.

Source Unknown
A different Kotary win.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Johnson wins a
race in that Chevy, although it was somewhat lowered from the version above.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Johnson, at speed.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Johnson, at speed
leads Jerry Cook. We see here Bernie is still supporting the team.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington missing
some of the roof. He was back  in the car after musical driver chairs.

 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Mr. Lee, in color with the three window coupe.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington
with the
first Chevy, apparently
as yet unused for the
season.

Courtesy of Rick Parry
The first Chevy, apparently
having been now used for the  season. This must be
at Bennett's.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lew Boyd
with the
three window coupe.
Bennett got very creative with one of his Chevy coupes. Following is  a series of shots of that car.   
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
1
.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
2
.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
3
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
4
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
5
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
6
.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
7
.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
8
.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
9
.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
with the team posing
.
 
  
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
proudly arrives at
Fonda. [Next to somebody's Pinto :) ]

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington with
the Dick Bennett Valiant
 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Farquhar with
the Valiant.
 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Farquhar with
the Valiant.
 

 


Gater Racing News Photo
Lee wads up one of Dick's 71's in a clash with the Ward Petit 148 of Robbie Kotary, a future 71 driver.


Courtesy of Lew Boyd
My buddy Lew Boyd, with the car in the 70's. The three window coupe reminds me of one such
car that made the rounds among Gloversville area owners in the 1960's.


Courtesy of Jo Towns via Otto Graham
Mr. Lee in a later coupe.

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