OK, OK, you don't have to tell an antique dealer much about treasures in the attic. But, while up there looking to arrange the antiques, I stumbled across something more to be treasured by the racing historian part of my life – a whole manila envelope full of photos I haven't seen since the 1980's. There's a lot of memories in that pile of material I just spent hours scanning.

           For instance, back in the last two years of Fairmont Speedway, in Fair Haven VT [before the town foolishly decided to drive promoter C.J. Richards out of town] I had finally put aside my old Kodak Brownie box camera in favor of one my mother had but never used. While being another old Kodak, this one had a lot more adjustment capability and took much better photos [even had a flash attachment with those old exploding flash bulbs we have long forgotten about].

Source Unknown
The newly – discovered photo cache includes a rare shot of hardbitten
Dannemora prison guard Dominic Rascoe in this car, which happened
to be Jack Cottrell's first modified. It had been owned briefly in
between by my friend Don Richards.

           Those two years, with help from good friends, I was able to get out of the Fairmont bleachers and into the infield pit area, where I could observe much more and snap some pretty good shots. Several of the photos with the newer camera came to bad endings – water damage, being lost, and simply not being returned by borrowers. I stumbled upon two such photos in this lot. Then, there was also an enlarged photo from the older box camera as well.

           One shot I thought had been lost forever was one of a white, early '30's coupe numbered 15. Having been brought into Vermont from an unknown source, owner Ray Richards [brother of the track promoter] had tried the car out once or twice in 1964, while the track was still running only flatheads and six cylinders. Pretty rough looking, someone captured him in the car on the track; as luck would have it, I obtained the shot when Chris Companion rescued a shoe box full of photos out of the Catamount tower just before the Milton Fire Department sadly used it for hose practice in late 1987.

Ladabouche Photo
From left Jim Spaulding, UNK, Ray Richards, and Leon Richards
looking at the newly painted coupe in puzzlement. Below – Ray, in the car,
before it had the overhead V-8, new white paint job, and Mal Brown lettering.

Bob Frazier Photo Courtesy of Chris Companion


           The following year, Richards had acquired the services of Jim Spaulding, who had driven a bit in previous years. The coupe got a good white paint job [probably from Eli Vadnais' body shop] and was then lettered professionally by Mal Brown, the local painter to the racing world. My photo captured it when still looking pretty good. Richards, maybe his father Leon, Spaulding, and a couple of other members of the team are looking at the car, puzzled. I guess it wasn't performing up to snuff. Probably, by then, it had a new overhead V-8.

           Mike Richards [son of Ray] has a collection of photos of dad's early cars, and the 15 shows up in some other shots in the album. I am reasonably certain that Beaver Dragon once told me that he tried out the car in 1966 although he vehemently denied it by the time we wrote his book in 2005. It's quite possible, as he borrowed the photo of it and also because he drove cars at Devil's Bowl for Richards for at least two seasons.


Courtesy of Barb Laduc

The Ray Richards – owned RR [car 2nd from left] sits, twisted beside
the equally – ruined F4 of Beryl Fitzgerald at the 1962 CVRA
fairgrounds race in Rutland. Below – The body survived to become
Beaver Dragon's sportsman coupe at Devil's Bowl.

Dragon Family Photo

           I don't know what happened to the car, but it did not make it to the 1967 inaugural Devil's Bowl season – at least not in any form I recognized. It was harder then because my college career was winding up and I didn't get to as many races at the Bowl as I did at Fairmont.

          Richards would go on, like so many others in that racing community, to go down into Massachusetts or Connecticut and pick up a sportsman coupe to run at Devil's Bowl. The car, apparently already numbered #80, did sport some Mal Brown sign work including the strange sign on the rear “The Jiratoms. Mike later explained that this stood for JIm Spaulding, RAy Richards, and TOM Perry – the principals in this particular team. I guess Spaulding ran it a little but Ray was at the wheel when he got mixed up with Charlie McMahan and the two spilled off turn two, ruining the 80 coupe.

Courtesy of Mike Richards
The former pavement JIRATOMS car at home. Below – The demise
of the JIRATOMS car at Devil's Bowl in 1967.

Courtesy of Mike Richards

          Ray Would then go on to own cars for Beaver Dragon to run. He took the body from the #RR that he had George Pritchard drive at the big 1962 race show at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland. Involved in the first of two huge pileups in the dust and lowering sun that day, the RR 's frame was twisted fatally while the body was nearly untouched. Too bad, George had one a heat before. Tom Perry would go on, in one of the first Devil's Bowl seasons, to run a late model Chevy which he numbered 80, as well.

         Ray Richards stayed in the game with local driver Bob Ellis until he decided to retire from the racing game. Son, Mike took over and continued on with more modern cars, using Ellis, Bob Savoie, and Gene Munger as some of his better known drivers. Ray Richards went through a pile of used cars in his earlier days as a car owner and driver, even keeping the Beaver Dragon connection solid by buying [and subsequently destroying] the little coupe Dragon had used to win his famous upset over the big modified teams running Catamount in 1966. Both Ray and Mike have stepped aside from racing by now.

Courtesy of Mike Richards
Ray's next victim was the little Norm Cyr – built coupe that
Beaver Dragon won his big upset win at Catamount with in
1966. Below - The shot of one of the Mike Richards / Bob Savoie
team cars was also in the lost photo trove.

Source Unknown - Maybe Richard Pratt Photo

          Another earlier photo from that camera was one of the first sportsman car built by the – later – to – be super car builder Dexter Dorr. Dorr had come out with one of thebest looking hobby cars ever to run at Fairmont. In fact, the car went on, in the hands of Ralph Soulia, to win a track title. Dorr had arrived at Otter Creek Speedway for a practice run with a rakish Chevy coupe that would be dubbed as “Super 29”. By the time I photographed it, he had it permanently lettered, complete with a bolt of lightning along the sides.

         In my shot, they are fussing with the Dorr car, as some other race figures such as Castleton's George Rogers are standing off to the side giving the car a good lookover. Dorr would characteristically not keep the car long, selling it off to Vince Quenneville, Sr. and then car owner Gael Dundon for the inaugural Devil's Bowl season in 1967. Quenneville and Dundon would make a few alterations such as a Dutch Hoag – like periscopic rear view mirror sticking out of the roof. Lettered variously as 3 and 38, the car served him that year before he went back to original owner Norm Scarborough and the car was sold to Bob Harrison.

Ladabouche Photo
Work on the New Dexter Dorr sportsman at Fairmont Speedway
in 1966. Below – Vince Quenneville heads out ot practice at Devil's
Bowl in 1966 with the car while it was still numbered 3.

Bob Frazier Photo

          Another treasure came from 1962, and the Kodak Brownie. I had always liked watching Warrensburgh, NY's Dick Pennock and his distinctively – name “Super 38” car. The significance of the number went back to the 1950's and to tracks like Warrensburgh Speedway [aka Ashland Park], and Mettawee Speedway in North Granville, NY. According to one former Warrensburgh man, the clock in the service area of Maltbie Chevrolet was lettered to say “Super Service”, and this gave the original car owners the idea, as well as the fact the cars were amost always 1938 Chevies.

          Anyway, in that first season, Richards installed lights midway through the schedule and started running on Saturday nights. It was harder for me to get there, and I missed a lot of those shows. One of my friends did tell me that Pennock had gone off the track and had taken down some of the newly – installed light poles in the process. What they didn't know was that he also had run smack into his wife's nearly brand new car. Nice.

Ladabouche Photograph
The newly re – lettered second Super 38 sits in the infield
at Fairmont Speedway in 1962. Below – Dick produced this
beauty in 1964 before going to off to run at Fonda in the
late models. Push truck man and former driver John
Spafford admires the Chevy coupe, which broke with
the usual 1938 Chevy motif.

Ladabouche Photo

By the time I got to another race, the Pennocks had come out with a new car, which was still not painted in the customary blue and white. Instead, it bore the foreign number 308 and was painted in some of the most disgusting brown paint imaginable. My photo shows the replacement car when they had restored the color scheme and number. Dick would go on to race until at least 1964 or 65. He then took up a late model Chevy and raced at Fonda's new late model class. He would race modifieds at the Valley into the 1970's. Brother, Jerry [apparently “Porky” to the family], would start off in the same class but would go on to considerable notoriety driving modifieds at Fonda and other related tracks.

Gater Racing News Photo

Dick, at Fonda, with his late model. Below – Jerry Pennock,
with the Al Ryan sportsman he sometimes ran at Devil's Bowl.

From Devil's Bowl Program

           A photo of considerably less age but of more significance is a Victory Lane shot from 1984 at Plattsburgh's Airborne Speedway. The track had been hitting hard times and the long, paper clip asphalt track had been replaced by a shorter, more banked dirt oval by C.J. Richards. The track now to be promoted by modified star Wes “Slugger” Moody, I was brought in to handle publicity. When the track opened in May, the first program appeared to go OK although, in the background, it was a cluster &%$#!.

          The opening show had attracted Carl Murdock, a star from the northernmost, Canadian border region of the state. Unlike most of the field who were unfamiliar with driving the modern day dirt modified, Murdock was an established star and he ran away with the show. There was a mad scramble to put on a convincing Victory Lane ceremony. Some girls wearing Budweiser racing jackets were already lined up, having worked at various tasks that evening like concessions.

Richard Pratt Photo
Carl Murdock, first Airborne Speedway winner in the Wes Moody
promotion era, stands in a chaotic Victory Lane with others
including some of Moody “track whores”. Below – Dale Beaulieu's
65A sits, crossed up in some early Airborne mayhem that night.

Richard Pratt Photo

           Moody decided he also wanted daughter Kathy Ann to appear. She was not appropriately clad for that kind of job at the time. Moody ran into the building yelling “Get Kathy Ann dressed and get her out there !” Many of the men working that night were saying to themselves - “Kathy Ann's not dressed ? Where is she ? Where the hell is she ? I wanna see that !”

          Eventually the Murdock car was lined up at the start / finish line and he, some girls, and at least one sponsor were introduced to the excited crowd who, for the most part, had no idea who Murdock was. One of our older female staff had been imbibing quite generously all night long, and she decided Carl needed company for the rest of night. She appropriated some local talent who was equally greased by that time and off to the Econo Lodge we went. She feel asleep immediately and I went to rescue the poor man from that room. He had no idea who she even was, and we never saw him there again.

Richard Pratt Photo

Wes Moody [as promoter] put Bruce Bordeau in one of his
former Olsen cars and former national champion, Dick
Nephew [below] in another to bolster Airborne fields.

Richard Pratt Photo

           For anyone- who knows Wes Moody, you know he does not put what he is talking about in very delicate terms. We were sitting at his farm house in Saranac Lake about twenty years after the infamous 1984 Airborne season. Recalling some race in which he was in a podium finish, he blithely referred to the trophy girls as “track whores”. Kathy Ann, then in her late thirties, turned around [as well as her sister Jackie] and reminded her father that – back at Airborne in 1984 – she, too must have been a track whore. One of the few times I ever saw Slugger sheepish.

           Another photo shows former NASCAR National Sportsman co – Champion Dick Nephew, sitting in Victory Lane, the front of his familiar red coupe completely shrouded in steam, talking with the flagger. The Nephew cars of that era [1964 through 1968] still bore that familiar look of an all red 1937 Chevy coupe #6, and they always ran well at the rustic Saranac Lake Speedway near Lake Clear, NY, where the photos was taken. I have shots of both Nephew and a young Bernie Kentile, one of his mechanics at the time, winning features there.

Courtesy of Tom Neff
Dick Nephew, not far removed from his championship year, sits
in Victory Lane with starter Art Prairie. Below – Cars ply the
frontstretch at Saranac Lake: visible are Nephew [6], Mack
Miller [M1], and one of the Provost brothers in 100Jr.

Courtesy of Tom Neff

           The track, according to hometown boys Wes Moody and Jim Hoyt, could be very heavy and that probably contributed to the overheating problem. The diminutive Aaron Hoyt, track owner, always worried about that slick surface causing one of the faster cars to fly off the track and ram into his beloved barn that sat fairly near the track and which sometimes apparently served as a tech area. So Aaron would park a manure spreader between track and barn – and one night he caught one.

           Saranac Lake, while not attracting nearly enough spectators to pay the bills, did attract cars from all over. One this particular occasion, he had lured in a driver named Paul Whitmarsh, who usually raced at places considerable far away from Saranac Lake. Whitmarsh's white #13 sportsman coupe slid off the wet track and right into that manure spreader. Moody claims the poor guy fell out of the car, coughing and spitting out cow poop which had covered both car and driver. Probably another case of a guy never returning to a particular track.

Courtesy of Wes Moody

A young Wes Moody and one of the Ecert boys pose as the Aaron
Hoyt barn looms in the background. Below- Alas, poor
Whitmarsh. Further Below - This grainy 8MM film frame shows the
Hoyt barn, in some Saranac Lake footage.

Courtesy of Craig Revelle

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

           The final photos in question out of that large pile were, for me, very sad. The year that C.J. And Wes re-opened Airborne in 1984, DIRT had convinced them to run a couple of special races with higher purses. This drew in the likes of Barefoot Bob McCreadie, who had sold one of his cars to Airborne local runner Ed Champagne. Also, the track had attracted Dave Heaslip and – at the last minute, Doug Hoffman agreed to come with his #60 OVER modified.

          The race was more or less dominated by Hoffman. I won't say he won easily, but McCreadie was having an uncharacteristically hard night and the Heaslip car had just been rebuilt from a bad wreck. The local strong runners actually gave Hoffman a good run before Doug won by a good margin. This race showed the new Airborne fans who were not accustomed to modified dirt racing, some of the fastest speeds they would see that season. Hoffman, of course went on to a stellar career as did McCreadie.

Richard Pratt Photo
Doug Hoffman flies by the X of Craig Ormsby on the way to a
win in Airborne's special race in 1984. Below – Doug pauses for
photographer Richard Pratt earlier in the evening.

Richard Pratt Photo

          In 2011, I was honored by being inducted into the DIRT Hall of Fame in Weedsport for my work with the website. Drivers inducted that year included Jerry Cook, Irv Taylor, and Doug Hoffman. Also, New Jersey car owner Dick Cozze was honored as was mechanic Ron St. Marie. I was proud to be standing up there with those notable men. I didn't get to talk to Hoffman at all, but I mentioned his dominating run at Airborne in 1984 and that brought a brief smile. Not long after that program, I learned he had died. It was particularly sad given his younger age.

Roxanne Ladabouche Photo

Me [left] Ron St. Marie, Doug Hoffman, Jerry Cook, Irv Taylor,
and Dick Cozze at the 2011 Weedsport induction.


           I will eventually get around to putting most of those photos from me, from the late Richard Pratt, from Dick Britain, and from some unidentified photographers onto various pages on my website. What a kick it was to find them after having despaired of ever seeing them again !

Please email me if you have any photos to lend me or information and corrections I could benefit from. Please do not submit anything you are not willing to allow me to use on my website - and thanks. Email is: . For those who still don’t like computers - my regular address is: Bill Ladabouche, 23 York Street, Swanton, Vermont 05488.


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