A Remarkable Story of NEAR President, Al Fini


    When my uncle and I were traveling to New York to visit tracks like Fonda and Albany - Saratoga during the Golden Era of New York racing, A-S [or Malta] was running a division called the "semi late models". The purpose of this vague name was to allow just about anything to run that did not qualify as a sportsman.

     The division eventually featured some very impressive talent from all around the Northeast, like Tommy Correllis, Mechanicsville, NY; Kenny Platt, Rome, NY; Norm Moyer, Oneida, NY; Harry Peek, Schenectady, NY; George Rettew, Chicopee, MA; Jerry Pennock, Warrensburg, NY;  Lucky Sutton, Rome, NY; and Donnie Antolick, Stillwater, NY - to name a few.

Al Fini Collection
Al Fini, AKA Red Carr
A pose with the Charland - backed Holiday Magic team car.

Photo Source Unknown
Red Carr on the old Riverside track in Agawam, the home base of the Holiday Magic cars.

     One of the more consistent competitors in the division was the Holiday Magic Cosmetics teams cars of Rettew and team mate Red Carr. I didn't know it at the time, but Red Carr was the racing name of Massachussetts turf farmer Al Fini. Fini would campaign the car at Riverside Speedway and Albany- Saratoga. If he raced elsewhere, I am not sure. There was a similar division also at Utica Rome [where Moyer and Sutton were based].
     Red Carr seldom missed any program I attended and I came to appreciate the workmanship in the two unique Holiday Magic cars. The semi late models were primarily '57 Chevies and '55 Fords; but, Rettew and Carr had older Ford sedans - through some loophole in the body rules - and those cars could really sing ! Whereas I had seen George in a standard '55 Ford at times, Carr had only the old sedan - while I was attending.

Photo Source Unknown
Rettew had the team car, after he
had run a newer Ford

Bill Richards Photo
Rettew being awarded a trophy at Malta
around 1965 or 66

     Eventually, the division changed and the old Ford sedans were phased out. Fonda had opened a similar division, and the bodies went the way of progress. Norm Moyer was still skirting things a bit with a very modified - like '48 Chevy coupe that was trashing the competition; but Carr's ride was no longer welcome at any track I was able to attend. So, I tended to relegate the Holiday Magic guys to the dusty history bin in the back of my mind.
     Al would recently explain the Rene Charland wanted to get in on the ground floor of the manufactured race car business. He said that the rules for that semi - late model division were so broad, that cars like his, Rettew's Moyer's and Taylor's could fit in legally. He playfully adds that the whole Holiday Magic #3 cost about $500 then.
     Apparently, Fini eventually garaged one of the Holiday Magic cars in a barn on his property, where it stayed until a fire destroyed the barn in either the late '70's or the very early '80's. He had the charred racer dragged out somewhere in the back and there it sat until he wrote a column I had written in SPEEDWAY SCENE about those wonderful Holiday Magic cars I remembered [and about Red Carr].
     I had seen Rettew once after those Malta days. He had tried a somewhat substandard Ford late model sportsman car at Catamount and Devils Bowl during that hectic Northern NASCAR 1973 season; but he soon disappeared back into Massachusetts, not to be seen again up here.

Cavalcade of Auto Racing Photo
The Ford that George Rettew ran at Malta before hooking up with Charland.

Bill Ladabouche Collection
Rettew was to return with this rather limited LMS,
 but we never saw Carr again.

Al Fini Photo
Red Carr in a compromising
moment in the Riverside Speedway wall.


Bill Ladabouche Collection
A good look at the Semi Late Model divison at Malta:
Jerry Pennock [59] spins as Ken Platt [99] and Don Antolick go by.

Photo Source Unknown
Tommie Correlis started out in this rig. This
shot is from Malta, but the car also ran Pine Bowl.

Conde & Parry Site Photo
Ralph Holmes, from Oneida, was a
 frequent runner against Red Carr at Malta.

Conde & Parry Site Photo
The Bald Bandit, Norm Moyer, was
perhaps the best in the division.

John Grady Photo
Gene Mangino,
Schenectady, NY

John Grady Photo
Ed Brockett,
Troy, NY

John Grady Photo
Bill Nelson, Jr.,
Tribes Hill, NY

John Grady Photo
Bill Russell,
Burtonville, NY


    Al Fini carried his newfound vintage racing enthusiasm further and eventually became president of NEAR. While serving in that capacity he had some health problems. Last time I saw him, Al said he was feeling a little better. God Speed, Red.

Al Fini Collection
The burned car is still hitched to the
tractor that pulled it out of the barn.

Al Fini Collection
Another look at the charred Holiday Magic car.
This one was not the usual 3Mass Red ran.

Al Fini Collection
Looking inside. A portion of the door is off.
Check out the hand brake setup.

Al Fini Collection
Someone else trying out the newly-restored car.

Al Fini Collection
Al, when he felt better - around 1980.


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