The VERMONSTER

      Usually, I wouldn't do anything on this site not pertaining to the history of stock car racing. However, given the close relationship between the Milton Speedway [the drag strip located in Milton] and many of the drivers in the area who actually participated at it as well as Catamount Stadium, I can justify this one page. I recently received a number of great photographs from Del Masse, that depicted the dragster known as "The Vermonster".
     As nearly as I can determine, the Vermonster, a small front - engine - mounted rail dragster, was the product of John Keefer, who also just happened to be critical in the Bob Dragon racing efforts of the '60's nad '70's. Keefer, also my former neighbor and father of one of my daughter's good friends, is a motor man extraordinaire. His car was driven adeptly by Frankie Woodard, another Dragon crew member - an East Corinth, VT native who is still active in racing [advisor and crew member to the Emily Packard team].
      The Milton dragstrip had the misfortune of frequently running against Catamount programs. The strip was the former north/south runway of the Schill Airport in Milton. Besides Keefer and Woodard, other Catamount figures who ran at the strip included both Dragon brothers, Jack Dubrul, and countless others. The distinctive red and white checkerboard announcer's stand from the dragstrip eventually wound up at Catamount as the hanicapper's booth. As can be seen in a couple of the photos, the technology of the day did include a Christmas tree - type starting pole; but, unlike the NHRA shows we see on TV today, a man had to stand there and manually trigger the light sequence.
     I never got to see a show at Milton Speedway but I remember seeing cars going and coming from the venue. My favorite was a car called "The Abominable Slowman". Larry LaCaillade, the Border Jumper, was a big draw at the strip. The Vermonster was recently unearthed from some storage place and lovingly restored in 2014,. It was even invited to the upscale Stowe Car Show in '14.


Courtesy of Del Masse
Frankie peeks back as he is apparently headed out to race. There's the familiar checkerboard tower.


Courtesy of Del Masse
A great shot. Frankie is poised for a single pass. Probably they didn't have another car in that class.
Check out the starter poised to trigger the Christmas tree. If you're from the area, we are looking
back towards where the Milton Diner is today.


Courtesy of Del Masse
A very young John Keefer [right] helps push out Frankie in the car. The guy at the fence may be reacting to alcohol fumes.


Courtesy of Del Masse
Frankie turns her loose. I imagine he eventually got where he would wheelstand.


Courtesy of Del Masse
Great shot of the takeoff. Shows the tree and the ambulance.


Courtesy of Del Masse
A kid, possibly Kelly Keefer, tries out the controls.


Courtesy of Del Masse
A peek under the wraps.


Both Photos Courtesy of Del Masse
Probably at Keefer's house. A Texas lawn ornament. Early on - no lettering yet.

 


Courtesy of Del Masse
If the '62 Chevy tow car is Keefer's - it was very likely pretty perky, too.


Courtesy of Del Masse
Frankie and John at the Stowe car show.


Courtesy of Del Masse
SItting right about where the starting line used to be at the strip. Is it me or is the restoration a longer frame ?


Courtesy of Del Masse
Safely tucked away, for now.


Courtesy of Del Masse
Restoration team 'graduation' shot. Frankie, John, and Dave Whitcomb in the foreground. Del Masse at far right. Need help with others.

OTHER SHOTS FROM THE VERMONSTER AND MILTON SPEEDWAY


Courtesy of Cho Lee
Jack Dubrul with the unnamed driver
of his dragster.

Courtesy of Cho Lee
Jack Dubrul shows the
Thunder Road crowd what
a dragster looks like up close.

Courtesy of Steve McKnight
Cars are poised, waiting for the
tree to start its sequence.
 
Courtesy of Chris DaBica
A trophy from the Milton
strip was found somewhere
in New York.|
 
Courtesy of StartLogic.Com
Al Kitts, John Gorney, and Skip Sheldon
with the famous Willis Ford entry out of Waterbury, VT.
 
Courtesy of Dragon Family
Catamount stock car star
Beaver Dragon raced one of
his family cars, this Pontiac
Chieftain, at the strip.
 
Courtesy of David Delange
Younger brother, Bob Dragon had
a '40 Ford [not this one] that he drove
at the strip. Had a whole class to himself.
Then he damaged the grill and they made
him run it in a modified class... didn't
do as well then.
 
ForumAction.Com
Larry LaCaillade and the
Border Jumper appeared
at Milton often.

Courtesy of Del Masse
It appears here as though Frankie
hole shot whoever is in the other rail.
Maybe it was a time handicap, too.

Courtesy of Del Masse
John and Frankie talk as
possibly Mrs. Keefer looks on.

Courtesy of Del Masse
Vermonster renovations.

Courtesy of Del Masse
Vermonster renovations -
Frankie tries it out.
 
Courtesy of John Grady
Shirley Muldowney appeared
frequently at Milton - just not in
equipment like this.

Courtesy of Del Masse
Vermonster in front of the same
Chevy that hauled it there.
Recoginize anyone here ? It
is at Milton.

Courtesy of Del Masse
Vermonster renovation.

Probably From Del Masse
John and Frankie - maybe at
the Stowe show.

Courtesy of Frank Woodard
The Vermonster at someone's
house. This is labeled by Frankie
as "20 Patrick St". He also labeled
"blown engine", which has a whole different meaning in drag racing, eh ?
.
 
Courtesy of Frank Woodard
The Vermonster awaiting one of its
first runs at Milton. Note - no lettering
yet.

Courtesy of Frank Woodard
The Vermonster awaiting one of its
first runs at Milton beside another rail job. That might be Jack Dubrul's car. Love the
Falcon push truck.

Courtesy of Frank Woodard
Yes, folks, Frankie was once
that young !

Courtesy of Frank Woodard
Frankie Woodard's car,
The Black Lemon Ford.

Courtesy of Frank Woodard
The Vermonster getting up to speed
on the short MIlton strip. Doncha love
what passed for a starting light
Christmas tree ?

Courtesy of Frank Woodard
Frankie [right] at Napierville
with Danny Choiniere, after some
apparent success.

Courtesy of Milton Spdwy Site
The Blitzkrieg VW entry.
 
Courtesy of Frank Woodard
Frankie with the Black Lemon.
 
Courtesy of Rod Case
Eastern Raider and the
Screamin' Eagle at Milton
.
 
Courtesy of Frank Woodard
Frankie [right] at Napierville.
 
Courtesy of Rod Case
The Fugitive, a wheel
standing Corvette.
 
Courtesy of McCormack Family
I THINK these were called
altereds.
 
Courtesy of McCormack Family
Gardner Stone's Widowmaker
Buick Special.
 
Courtesy of McCormack Family
Street cars take off at Milton.
 
Courtesy of Frankie Woodard
Street cars staging.
 
Courtesy of LaBerge Family
Petco's Pride. [of
R & L LaBerge ?]
 
Courtesy of McCormack Family
A Mopar taking off.
 
Courtesy of Frankie Woodard
Preparations around a
Studebaker gasser.
 
Courtesy of Dan Rothenberger
Dan Rothenberger
at work with his car.
       
 
Courtesy of Dan Rothenberger
Dan Rothenberger
at work with his car.
 
 
Courtesy of Dan Rothenberger
Dan Rothenberger
at work with his car.
 
 
Courtesy of Rod Fisher Jr
Rod Fisher, Sr. with his car -
being watched by a guy with a Jack
DuBrul jacket. Those jackets were
also worn at stock car races.
 

Courtesy of Frankie Woodard
Rod's Rogue.

 
Ads From ObscureVT.Com


Souza Kingman Marshall Photo Courtesy of Randi LaBerge
An important photo. This is said to be Don Garlits at Milton.


MORE SHOTS OF THE WILLIS FORDS AND MILTON SPEEDWAY
All Photos Courtesy of The Willis Family, Al Kitts, Del Masse, or John Casey



Al Kitts with a Willis entry.
It may have been MIlton or
somewhere in Central NY.


Al Kitts takes off with a Willis entry.
It is supposedly somewhere in Central NY.


Mark Emmons with one of
the Willis Ford entries
.
 

Larry Willis with the first
and maybe most famed
car - the Yellow Bird.
 

Larry Willis, Al Kitts,and Bob Willis
flank an unidentified woman with
one of the later Willis cars.
 
Courtesy of Brian Lohnesy
An ad - I am not sure of the size.
 

The Yellow Bird lines up with
the Devil Jack, out of Canada.
 
ForumAction.Com
Another Willis Ford that
 appeared at Milton.
 

A 1961 Ford at the ready.
 

Very blurry shot of a red
Willis Ford with the driver.
 

Maybe Larry and Bob with
that same red Ford - at home.
 

Ford Fairlanes lined up to run.
Not clear if the front car is
a Willis Ford.
 
From superstockamx.com
Nicky Pappas and his AMX
Nicky's Nash ran a little at
Milton Speedway.
 
From superstockamx.com
Nicky Pappas' car, behind
Aunt Sara's Pancake House
on Shelburne Rd. Nick, Sr.
ran the business and also sponsored
Larry Warren at Catamount.
 
From superstockamx.com
Nicky's Nash against a rail
somewhere other than
Milton.
 
From superstockamx.com
The For Sale ad for
Nicky's Nash.
Fred Masterson bought it.

8MM FRAME SHOTS OF MILTON SPEEDWAY
All Photos Courtesy of  Del Masse



Two Corvettes take off.


A yellow Henry J
blows off a late model
competitor - probably in
a lower class.


Milton's distinctive Cobble Hill
is visible in the distance as two
car finish their run.
 

The same Henry J
blows off another late model
competitor - probably in
a lower class.
 

The camera pans across the
busy pit area.
 

The yellow Henry J
returns from one of
its runs.
 

What looks like a Jeep
drag car is pushed back.
 

Sure looks like a Jeep.
 

An old sedan body
sitting on the line.
 

A yellow Willys
coupe getting a
push back.
 

Same Willys.
 

The yellow Willys
blows off a late model
competitor - probably in
a lower class. It appeared faster
than the Henry J even.
 

A Crosley being
pulled back to the pits.
 

More Crosley towing.
 

They apparently didn't want
this rail job on the return
road.
 

This sharp 1936 Chevy
returns after running
against the Willys.
 

What looks to be a Willis Ford,
lined up by the checkerboard stand.
 
 
Courtesy of Del Masse
Taken off old 8MM footage
belonging to Del Masse. This
Henry J is seen at speed.
 

 

 

 
Google Earth Photo
The old strip still is quite visible, thanks to the efforts of one man to restore it to a runway over a decade ago.


Courtesy of Brian Lohnes
The old strip still was quite visible for a while, thanks to the efforts of one man to restore it to a runway over a decade ago.

 
Courtesy of the Milton Historical Society

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