Regional Drivers Who Tried the Big Time at NASCAR'S Bigger Leagues

     Catamount - and Northeast racing, in general - has produced more than its share of topnotch drivers. In the formative years of stock car racing, it was a little more possible to attempt participation in either the Grand National / Winston Cup / Nextel Cup level or in whatever its top support division was at the time. These divisions have included the Permatex Late Model Sportsman division, its descendant divisions, the Grand Touring / Grand National East division, and today's Busch Grand Nationals and Craftsman Trucks.

Courtesy of Legends of 

Red Byron's car was nearly stock in 1949.

Courtesy of Pascal "Magnum"

This 1953 Grand National Ford is more of a specialized racer, but it still not very high tech.

Courtesy of Legends of 

Cotton Owens' Pontiac was typical of the early Grand National car.

    Back in the earlier days, practically anyone who felt they were capable of driving a race car adequately could put together an effort to run in the NASCAR lead division. In fact, the earliest Grand Nationals ran all over the country and were not far from the family car. In the 1950's and the earlier 1960's, it was quite possible for ordinary race car drivers or teams to field a Grand National car, as these cars were not very hard to construct. Obviously, as the Southerners began to learn tricks of the trade, it was more and more difficult for people from our region to compete with drivers having the inside track.

    By the 1970's Northeastern drivers had varying success going South. The modified teams actually held the advantage over the Southerners; but, the late model teams struggled because they were competing against the Emmanuel Zervakises, the Mike Laughlins, the Banjo Matthews, and all the other high - powered car builders and team owners.


Kevin-Kodak.gif (16918 bytes)
Lepage Website Photo

Kevin Lepage, from 
Shelburne, VT has stuck with the big leagues longer 
than any other regular Catamount driver.

Vt Teddy Bear 
Handout Photo

Dragon Family

Beaver Dragon, of Milton, VT drove the Bob Bahre-owned Permatex Sportsman

Dragon Family


Courtesy Of Bob Novak

Jack DuBrul of Shelburne, VT shows his Daytona car around Thunder Road

Courtesy of Mike Watts, Sr.

Getty Images

A standard portrait of drivers at Daytona in the early 1960's.

Courtesy of Jeff Pearl's Site: Dave Dykes Page From Past
Paul Connors,
Danby VT

Connors Collection
Drove Grand National for himself & Buck Baker. He also built the first Javelin Grand American car.

Connors Collection

Andy Boright Photo

Jamie Aube of North Ferrisburg, VT won Busch North titles and tried the Craftsman Trucks

Trading Card 


Andy Boright Photo

Stan Meserve, from
Winslow, ME raced
with Northern NASCAR
 after a season with the
Grand Nationals in 1967.

First decent shot I've ever seen of his GN
Dodge #51.


Danish Family
Steve Danish of
Crospeyville, NY brought 
his regular car to the Beach Course in the 1950's. Never
did the late models.

Via John Danish

Views of the Danish car at Daytona around 1952.

Via Lou Lazzaro

Courtesy of Pascal 

Bill Wimble from Lisbon, NY also brought 
his regular ride to try 
out at Daytona.

Bob Mackey Photo
via John Rock

Getty Images
A standard driver portrait
from the early 1960's.

Catamount Yearbook

Jean-Paul Cabana, then from Montreal, drove this 1959 Pontiac at Daytona before selling it to Jack DuBrul

Courtesy of Pascal 

Cabana in action in the Permatex 300 around 1962. 

Neal Davis

Dick Skillen, of Claremont, 
NH tried the Grand Nationals 
for almost an entire year
 in the mid 1970's

Via Racers' Reunion


Source Unknown

Courtesy of Jeff Pearl's Site via
 Dave Dykes Page From Past

Bill Slater of
Connecticut at Daytona

Courteesy of Dave Dykes

His Daytona entry

Catamount Yearbook


Dick Nephew, of 
Mooers Forks, NY
tried Daytona driving for Allie Swears of Glens Falls, NY

8MM Footage Source Unknown
Dick comes in for a 1960
pit stop under rain delay with his own coupe.


Courtesy of Pascal

Francis Affleck, an 
inexperienced Quebec 
driver, ran cars for Bill Hollar around 1974 until he was  killed in a race.

via Big Mike 312

The Bill Hollar car after a
minor skirmish.

Bob Frazier Photo

Dave Dion, Hudson, NH
tried the Grand Nationals for a few races with his own car in the 1970's.

Denis LaChance Photo

Getty Images
The unheralded Dion sits on
the pole for a superspeedway
race for NASCAR late
model sportsman cars.


"Magnum's site photo

Randy LaJoie of Norwalk, CT is one of the region's more successful competitors - particularly in Busch Grand Nationals

Getty Images

Catamount Yearbook

Rene Charland, of 
Agawam, MA with a 
Studebaker Sportsman at Daytona. This car ended up on the sign at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway when it opened. In the background you can see Bill Wimble's car.

Vintage NE Modified Site 

Charland with his Grand National car around 1964.

Getty Images
The Champ with his 1963
Permatex entry.


Pascal "Magnum" Site

New Jersey legend 
Frankie Schneider raced in the very early Grand Nationals

Courtessy of Lew Boyd
Frankie gets to run a Petty backup car, probably at
a Northern track.

Reed Trucks Website

Jim Reed, Peekskill, NY 
was an early Grand
National success story

Via Chas Hertica

Russ Truelove of NJ is
another Northeasterner
 in the early Grand Nationals

Legends of NASCAR

Via Edward B. Brown III

Pete Hamilton of
Dedham, MA was 
one of the Northeast's 
most successful
GN   drivers.

Via Speedway Line Report

Catamount Yearbook

Richie Panch may 
have been born in 
Florida, but he 
started with us.

Panch Collection

MacTavish_Closeup.jpg (48125 bytes)
Source Unknown

Don MacTavish's career in the NASCAR bigs 
was cut tragically short He
was from Dover, MA.

Berggren Collection
Courtesy of Paul Mascitti


Catamount Yearbook

Red Foote, of 
Massachusetts, was one of the original Eastern Bandits who showed Southerners how the modified coupe should be run. Here, he is in Junie Donleavy's car - no doubt, adding his own advice.

Courtesy of Dave Dykes 

Foote, with the Rocky
Hinton Ford at Daytona.


Courtesy of Justin St. Louis

Ricky  Craven from Newburgh, ME raced briefly at Catamount
before a big league career that included Sprint Cup wins.

Furniture Row Racing.Com

Getty Images
The popular Rotterdam, NY driver Howard "Jeep" Herbert ran thisA.C. Caprara Ford at Daytona in 1960.

From Footage by Dan Ody
Herbert, at speed on
the Daytona track.
Both Photos Courtesy of Midstate Club

Dick May, from Watertown, NY
ran in the Grand Nationals as an independent for yea

Well - known Watertown driver Don June is noted on the crew list.

Courtesy of Marty Little

Harold "Hardluck" Hanaford
of Plymouth, NH. This Pontiac
had been through Elmo Langley,Jean-Paul Cabana, Jack DuBrul, and Bob Pratt before getting to Harold and Mr. Mosley.

Hanaford Collection
via Ken Paulsen

Courtesy of Pascal 

Cam Gagliardi, of 
Lockport, NY had bad luck qualifying this Buick in the early days of Grand Nationals at Daytona. Gagliardi - wrenched Gil Cramer cars would be run in Permatex races by Jerry Cook, Lee Roy Yarbrough, Lou Lazzaro, and

Merrittville Site

A typical Cramer/Gagliardi
Permatex entry. The team
had several top drivers.


Courtesy of Lou Lazzaro

Lou Lazzaro, from Utica, NY
was arguably the most accomplished Northeastern driver given his limited budgets. He ran Gil Cramer's car at Daytona at least  once.

Getty Images

All gussied up in a new uniform in Gil Cramer's 70.

Getty Images
George Baumgardner, of
Saratoga Springs, NY

Courtesy of Roger Liller
Baumie, with owner
Lyle Sokoll.

Courtesy of Bill Farress
Baumgardner is very likely
the driver of Henry Caputo's 11, shown here on the Daytona Beach Course..



The Permatex race that involved three local drivers. Beaver finished 22nd, Francis Affleck
 finished 33rd, and Jean-Paul Cabana ended up 39th - after problems.

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