Lebanon Valley Speedway
         

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Courtesy of Joe Grossetti
Early Valley program autographed by Link Pettit

PRE - RACE TRACK VIEWS


Photographer Unknown

Looking East on NY Route 20 from the present track location. This was in
 the early '50's or even late '40's - before track construction began.


Photographer Unknown

Looking West on NY Route 20 from the present track location. This was in
 the early '50's or even late '40's - before track construction began.


EARLY DAYS AT THE TRACK


Photographer Unknown                      Courtesy of Andy Boright

Early action on the high banks. Russ Blake offered names for most of the cars: # 2  Dave Norton, # 35 Nelson Grignon, # B5 Bud Haskell,
 #7 Don Antolick, # x 100 Ernie Martin,  # 77 John Flach , and # 33 Billy Webb. Wow, thanks Russ. You've been a lifesaver.



Courtesy of Chris Companion

This bucolic - looking group is said to be Dee Goodermotte and crew. Thanks to Joe Grossetti, the folks in the shot are:
Henry Tanner, Dee Goodermotte, Jack Sweeney, and Nelson Tanner.

     I haven't done a lot of research on the track that sprung up in New Lebanon, NY - just south of Bennington, Vermont. The location was one of the best imaginable places for a track, as it was close to Vermont, Massachusetts, and the important Capital District of New York. There was already a base for racing in that region, with tracks like Burden Lake, Pico Raceway, Hinsdale, West Brattleboro, Stateline, and others. It is not my purpose to write a detailed history of who started the track or much about the early years. There is information in books on American race tracks which will give you that data.

     Russ Blake, whom I believe is from Pittsfield, Massachusetts is about as loyal the Valley as anyone can be. He has only missed 10 events there since the track opened. Russ has given me some information on the history of the track facility. The track had a rocky beginning, back in 1953. It had very bad track conditions on opening day and was closed entirely on week 2 for repairs. It ran along for a few years and they decided it needed major renovations. So, in 1956, it didn't open at all. Then, they added those high banks and a new surface. In 1957, they tried running Friday nights - to attract cars from Fonda or Stateline, but it didn't work well.

    Russ points out that the 1959 season was completely dominated by Howie Westervelt and the first edition of Cliff Wright's #24, a number [and team] that would go on in the mid 1960's to also dominate modified racing in the Fonda/Malta region. Westervelt won 17 of 21 possible races that year, with Stretch Van Steenberg [38] and Doug Garrison [Riiska's Yellow X] sharing the others. The Valley had tended to have years in which somebody dominates, but it fortunately had a more competitive year in 1960. Otherwise, I wonder if fan interest would have continued.


Ray Williams Photo Courtesy of Russ Blake

Westervelt leads Van Steenberg in what became a typical scene in 1959. This is the same team as field Westervelt's
83's at Fonda, and later cars for Ken Shoemaker and Donny Wayman.

    They began to realize their strong point would be local cars. The track had tried some mid-week shows, for the locals, but soon was forced to go to Saturday nights for the ultimate showdown with Fonda. It worked, and the rest is history. They started developing a strong local base, along with cars from as far away as Stafford Springs and Middletown. I recall the Valley management putting on a demo race at the Rutland Fair in 1960, and it seemed like a very strong, cohesive group. By the later '60's, Fonda was ticking off a lot of people and a migration from there to the Valley brought teams like Pete Corey, Bill Wimble, Jerry Townley [Pop Wilcox car], Jack Farquhar [Vince Barbuto car], and Chuck Kress - to name a few.


Courtesy of Joe Grossetti
Link Pettit, in a familiar Victory Lane location.

    The track tinkered with various schemes over the years, including late model bodies on what were basically sportsman cars. This was the era of Link Pettit and that bunch from Great Barrington, MA. Their #200 was a big winner during that time period. Even Pete Corey had to put aside his coupes and build a '55 Chevy to run there when he became furious with Fonda [as only Pete could get] and decided to run the Valley. Many Valley regulars, who had endured roughness from Corey in earlier days, were not happy to see him and often sent his beautiful cars home to Crescent all wadded up.


Gater Racing News Photo
Corey's car after a night at the Valley

    The Valley had had a few guys like Howie Westervelt and car owner Cliff Wright, who would go back and forth between there and Fonda; but, that was hard to do. Perhaps the multi-car aspect of Wright's team made that possible. When I think of the heart and soul of Lebanon Valley, names like Ken Tremont and Fred Searing come to mind. The Valley benefited from some very established veterans like Doug Garrison and Westervelt, as well as the new breed like Butch Jelley and Tommy Correllis. The Valley may not have managed to attract the NASCAR Grand National North Tour races of the mid 1960's, but its acquisition of a World of Outlaws race may  have been the trump.

    Today, second and third generation Valley competitors keep the spirit alive down there. I'd love to visit and see one there sometime.


Irv Conroy Photo Courtesy of Chris Companion
We now believe this bunch of characters may be posing at the Valley. We have ascertained that Howie Westervelt is at far left, Lee Palmer is second from left, Ollie Palmer is third from left, and Lou Hacker is third from right. The guy on the far right may be named Henry Bouchard. The shortest guy is apparently Bob Kudlate. Thanks to Ron Hedger and Ken Tremont, Sr. for help, as well as the boys at the Watervliet Breakfast Club.

        We have learned a few interesting facts about some guys in this photo. Of course, Westervelt went on to be one of the best the Valley had to offer. Lee Palmer ended up driving one of the first Bob Hackel, Sr. cars. Jollie Ollie went back and forth to tracks all over the area, and becoming the first driver of Bill Fowler's 27 Jr. car ownership period. Hacker became a regular at the Valley. Bob Kudlate raced the number P38 [click here to see below]. Henry [Henri] Bouchard won tons of races in Massachusetts, New York, and probably even Vermont. He went on to have a salvage yard in New Lebanon , NY [where the Valley is] and he would promote at the East Greenbush, NY track.


Ray Williams Photo   Courtesy of Russ Blake
According to Russ, Gowie got into a tangle with the #58 of Dee Goodermotte [seen below] and
hit Rebel Harris in this 1959 beauty of a wreck. There was another big Gowie wreck photo I lost when the Otto Graham site went under.


Courtesy of Chris Companion
From left - Henry Tanner, Dee Goodermotte, Jack Sweeney, and Nelson Tanner. [And we thought Gene Munger was the first Flying farmer].

POSSIBLE EARLIER VALLEY COMPETITORS


Courtesy of Russ Blake
Bob Kudlate
at Route 66 Speedway, 1953

 

Ray Williams Photo
Courtesy of Russ Blake

 Chuck Irving,
New Baltimore, NY

NE Vintage Mod Site
 Stan Disbrow,
Poughkeepsie, NY

Garrison Family Photo
Doug Garrison,
Greenport, NY

Cavalcade of Racing Photo
Fred Searing,
Oak Hill, NY
CLICK HERE for
the Searing Page
 

Cavalcade of Racing Photo
Stretch Van Steenberg,
Saugerties, NY

Arnie Ainsworth Photo

 

Arnie Ainsworth Photo
D.D. Rebel Harris,
Poughkeepsie, NY
 

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Frank Hatch,
N. Adams, MA
 

Bob Frazier Photo
Butch Jelley,
Pownal, VT

Courtesy of Joe Grossetti
Link Pettit, Schectady
 and the 200 Crew,
Great Barrington, MA

Cavalcade Photo
link to the Pettit page

 


Courtesy of Rounds Family
Don Rounds,
Warwick, RI
 

Midstate Club Site
Johnny Flach,
East Westerlo, NY.

Dan Goewey Photo
George Gowie,
Rensselear, NY

Courtesy of Russ Blake
The 1959 car.
 


Photographer Unknown
Howie Westervelt,
Ravena, NY
The Wright / Zautner 83
 


Riverside Speedway Site
Kenny Goodermotte

Photographer Unknown
Joe Messina,
Troy ?, NY
The
Al Green 3 and 1/7


Courtesy Chris Companion
Dee Goodermotte,
and Crew

Cavalcade Photo
 


Photographer John Grady
George Welch,
Schenectady, NY
 

Jeep Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY
Kittler 37

Ladabouche Photo
Don Wayman,
Cobleskill, NY

 

Courtesy of Ed Fabian
Barry Purdy,
Bennington, VT

Ladabouche Photo
Chuck Ely,
Pownal, VT

Cavalcade Photo


 

Photo Source Unknown
Bill Wilson,
 

Courtesy of Ed Fabian
Bob Gaskill,
NY

NE Vintage Mod Page
Ray Delisle

Cavalcade Photo
Courtesy of Joe Grossetti

Lou Hacker,
 NY

A. Ainsworth Photo
Bruce Carmen,
Shaftsbury, VT
Future Carbuilder
Extraordinaire

Ladabouche Photo
 

Cavalcade Photo
Mike Ehring,
 NY

Cavalcade Photo
John Rohan,
 NY

Bob Frazier Photo
Ralph Chittendenn,
New Lebanon, NY
 

Cavalcade Photo
Rip Riley,
NY

Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
 


Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
Mike Schubert,
NY?


Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
Bobby Leach,
Stafford Spgs, Conn.


A. Ainsworth Photo
Stretch vanSteenberg,
Saugerties, NY
Car also ran the
Pine Bowl

A. Ainsworth Photos
Joe Messina,
Troy, NY
Tremont 115

 

Ladabouche Photo
RussBlake,
Pittsfield, MA

 


Garrison Family Photo
Doug Garrison,
Poughkeepsie, NY
 

Russ Blake Photo
Ted Lott,
according to Russ

Russ Blake Photo
Dennis Proper ,
losing a wheel

Cavalcade Photo Courtesy
of Joe Grossetti

Jim Hassan,
?, NY
 

Cavalcade Photo Courtesy
of Joe Grossetti

Ernie Beesmer,
?, NY

Cavalcade Photo Courtesy
of Joe Grossetti

Tom Dressell,
?, NY

Courtesy of Joe McCarthy
Link Pettit, with the Tom
McCarthy 38 out of Great
Barrington, MA
 

Courtesy of Joe McCarthy
Link Pettit, with the Tom
McCarthy 38 out of Great
Barrington, MA

H.A.M.B. Site Photo
The Pop Wilcox 32, at
home in New Berlin, NY,
with some of the kids.

H.A.M.B. Site Photo
Bill Wilson

H.A.M.B. Site Photo
Hoppy Jensen
If he ran the Pine Bowl and
Stateline, he probably ran
the Valley, too.

Probably Arnie Ainsworth
Jack Farquhar,
Ephrata, NY

Vince Barbuto 22

 

POSSIBLE LATER VALLEY COMPETITORS


A. Ainsworth Photo
Dexter Dorr,
Cohoes, NY
Another Carbuilder
Extraordinaire
 

A. Ainsworth Photo
Ralph Chittenden,
New Lebanon, NY

A. Ainsworth Photo
Vince Quenneville,
Whiting, VT

 


A. Ainsworth Photo
Joe Messina,
Troy, NY
 

A. Ainsworth Photo
Doug Garrison,
Poughkeepsie, NY
 

A. Ainsworth Photo
Butch Jelley,
Pownal, VT
Will Cagle's 24
 

A. Ainsworth Photo
Butch Jelley,
Pownal, VT
Newer Martin Riiska X

Dickie Larkin,
Great Barrington, MA

Waiting to hear from
the contributor, sorry

 

 


From Fred Baker
Fred Baker rolls by the water truck in 1974. It is a great shot of the that track's unique water truck. Fred is looking for more photos for this page.

Some Chuck Ely Photos

Go to Chuck's Special Page
CLICK HERE


Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Art Stromberg,
Putney, VT

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Chuck Ely,
Pownal, VT
Tremont 115 Sedan

 

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Dickie Larkin,
Great Barrington, MA

 

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Eddie Delmolino,
Great Barrington, MA

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Goober Scheidel,
Burlington, CT

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Jack Farquhar,
Ephratah, NY
Farquhar & J Christman 2
 

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

John Wood,
Great Barrington, MA

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Kenny Coon,
Troy, NY

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Butch Jelley,
Pownal, VT

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Dave Leckonby,
West Sand Lake, NY

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Jeff Fleury,
Address ?

Chuck Ely Photo
Courtesy of Bob Ely

Jimmy Corellis,
E.Greenbush, NY
       

More Ely to Come

 

See other Valley cars and drivers on Arnie Ainsworth's page.


Courtesy of Russ Blake
This photo shows a Russ Blake small block. According to Russ, his
son is in the background- as well as Jim Langenback.

Always ...

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