I recently saw Rick Parry release a list of the 1979 Midtlantic Race Series point standings [possibly final] on Facebook. Thanks to Rick, as always, for his unslefish sharing of vintage racing materials. It took considerable effort to even figure out where this series took place. I always suspected Fonda Speedway; and – with the names on the list – I had to figure that another track somewhere near Fonda would have to be involved.

            It wasn't easy even determining what this was, as I have only been in that area of New York a few times in my entire life [and none were around 1979]. Firstly, the term “MidAtlantic” does not geographically fit this area well. Secondly, the term – even as it applies to just racing – is quite widely used. I finally stumbled onto the second track – Brookfield, running its races at the Madison County fairgrounds in that racing – rich part of New York.

Ladabouche Collection
Cars like the semi late of Ralph Holmes from Malta and Utica – Rome, as well as the early Fonda late models such as
Harry Peek combined to form a late model culture in New York that blossomed well into the 1980's before fading.

Courtesy of Arnie Ainsworth via Otto Graham


            So, given that, it was not only the vast area from which these late model dirt teams came to participate; but, also the sheer size and quality of the roster. Today, dirt late model racing in Vermont and eastern/central New York is not the healthiest it has ever been. Compared to the sportsman modified classes at places like Fonda, the late model class seems to have shrunk considerably. Years ago, before even the Bruno era at Devil's Bowl, they had to jettison the late model [pro stock or whatever] class due to lack of cars.

          But, as you look at this huge list of points [and I am sure ti doesn't include numerous teams that didn't score at least thirty points], there was not shortage in 1979. This was an interesting time. C.J. Richards had [at least on the surface] abandoned his beloved Devil's Bowl while keeping Albany – Saratoga Speedway. The Bowl, taking the redundant name West Haven Speedway [remember Savin Rock] was ambling along under the promotion of Tom Perry, a man very familiar to that close – knit racing community around the immediate region of the track. Probably, the truth to be known, C. J. was still running most of it from behind curtain #3.

Courtesy of Ben Williams
Tom Williams and his Camaro 1X were clearly the combo to”
beat in that race series. Below – Jack Cottrell is arguably better
remembered for this car than he is for his excellent modified
career rides.

Courtesy of Andy Hickock

        At any rate, late model divisions [even at Devil's Bowl] were going great guns, having grown from such sources as Malta's semi late models, Fonda's late model class that started around 1968, and similar classes at places like Midstate Speedway, Morris, NY and the Brookfield track. Perhaps Airborne, whose late model class was in a developmental stage, was the only track without a really strong late model program yet [and it still wasn't that bad].

        Tom Williams of Deansboro, NY was the clear class of the field, finishing a full 300+ points ahead of second place [and very accomplished] Jack Cottrell, from the paper mill town of Rock City Falls. I read somewhere about some racing journalist who used the Williams car in a press race and how the car was set up so well it practically drove itself with that inexperienced chauffeur. Someone told me once Cottrell's Mopar late model was a Howe – built rig and was strong anywhere he ran it.

Courtesy of Arnie Ainsworth
Jay Bleser's popular and familiar #64 Camaro races Jack Cottrell's
Mopar at Fonda sometime around the MidAtlantic days. Below -
Dick Schoonover with the exact car he ran in the series.

Courtesy of the Midstate Club

           Jay Bleser of Schenectady was third with the Budka 64 Camaro. The 64 always reminded me at least in appearance to the Butch Rogers – inspired Camaros that were running at Devil's Bowl/ West Haven Speedway in that approximate era. Bleser would move on to modifieds, but it seems to me his heart stayed in the late models. He would go on to drive Budka 64's in the mods, as would Coville and others. I remember Jay as one of the New York invaders at the Bowl, at least from time to time. He was one of the most popular drivers in that era.

          Dick Schoonover, from Burlington Flats, came in fourth. Schoonover, whno had driven at Midstate extensively also ran at places like Fonda. He was a genuine veteran by the time this MidAtlantic series came about – having driven everything but the kitchen sink at Morris. Dick placed fourth In the series with a #16 car, although he spent most of his career in early #33's and also Fords numbered 26 that may have been connected with Ralph Raastad. Interestingly, a #26 and the name Raastad appear near the bottom of the standings in the person of a Norm Raastad, #26A.

Source Unknown
This composite shows Randy Glenski and the car he likely used
in 1979. Below – Bill Roese, at Devil's Bowl with the Mercury.
This is the car I remember the best.

Courtesy of Cliff Haynes

          A number of the top performers in this series went on to significance in modified or modified sportsman racing. Joining Cottrell and Bleser in that regard was fifth place Randy Glenski, from the racing hub of Uitca. Running his trademark 17A, Randy had accrued 600 points, 200 behind the closely – locked Bleser and Schoonover [between whom there were only 20 points]. Randy would go on to much more notoriety in the big cars, having strong finishes at places like Syracuse. We Vermonters recall him as one of the big New York names to sit in the Jack Ryan #28, out of Vermont.

         Behind Glenski by 70 tallies was another long – time racer, Bill Roese, froom Central Bridge. I first saw him [probably running out of Morris, as well] in a 1955 Ford at Fonda, the first season the Track of Champions ran late models. Points show he ran Fonda fairly consistently that year. I used to enjoy him bringing the Mercury late model to Devil's Bowl on a Sunday night when the original CVRA – run track was still healthy. The car, still a blue and white #28] had a distinctive buzz to it as it was at speed. Roese, apparently a Midstate Speedway, Morris regular for years, was still running after the track closed.

Cheryl Clough Photo
HOFer Jensen in a serious broadslide. Below - We don't have
a Bruce Curtis shot, but this is Larry Curtis, same surname
and same town.

Courtesy of Scott Dowmont


      Following Roese was a Don Stone, #1, about whom I know absolutely nothing [sorry]. Eighth was a Jackie Brown, from Accord – another mid New York racing center. I watched a Jackie Brown run Devil's Bowl's dirt short track in 2017, but I don't know yet if it is the same guy. Ninth place Paul Jensen, from nearby New Berlin [the home of legendary Pop Wilcox and his #32's] is another late model guy who went on to bigger things in the mods. Jensen, now an NYSSCA Hall of famer, was from Edmeston, very near Fonda and Brookfield.

      The remainder of that points field is probably folks who didn't race the series all the time; but, it does contain some interesting names to me. Thirteenth place Bruce Curtis was from Argyle, NY. We had watched another Curtis – Larry, race bi Charger cars at Malta and Devil's Bowl for a few years, remarkably wheeling the behemoth automatic transmission monster with an artificial hand. Being Curtises and both from Argyle, the chances of a close relation are pretty high. Right after Curtis was Bruce Milo, from Castleton, Vermont. Although he would go on to race a self – built modified at the Bowl later, Milo was racing a #8 Camaro at the time.

Courtesy of John Gallant
A recently - acquired shot of the Bruce Milo Camaro.
Below -This is a Butch Rogers Camaro, model for Milo's 8.

Courtesy of Tim Rogers

           Either at this time or right before, Milo was one of a special group of drivers who drove very distinctive Camaros at Devil's Bowl. Designed by Butch Rogers [with some inspiration from a Dexter Dorr car], these Camaros were very upright in stature with central seating a chain – driven steering. Milo, a neighbor and close friend of Rogers at the time, would construct his car closely resembling the prototype Rogers #2. A some point in time, either driving Rogers – built cars or close copies, Rogers, Milo, Charlie Brown, Reggie Lussier, and Lee Nutting would all drive such Camaros. I don't know if Milo was using that car in the 1979 series or not.

          The next group included Nick Lazzaro, Tom Hammond, and Mike Paquin. Lazzaro, from Utica, would almost have to have been somehow related to the great Lou Lazzaro [but I don't know how]. Hammond, of Wilton, NY, was running a #61 – a number often connected with Wilton's Johnny Peoples, a successful late model driver years earlier who also tried running the Northern NASCAR late model tour in Vermont for a while. There have been Hammonds also listed as car owners in the late '50's and early '60's around Fonda. Paquin ran support division #33's for many years, performing well on a very limited budget. We used to enjoy watching him at Devil's Bowl.

Courtesy of Mike Paquin
Long – time standout Mike Paquin plies the dirt at Albany -Saratoga Speedway. Below – No photo
of Tom Hammond, but he shared a town and a number with Wilton's John Peoples, a star in similar classes years before.

Ladabouche Collection


           The next guy, had he run every race in the MidAtlantic series, may well have finished at or near the top. Warrensburgh's “Fast Eddy” Keenan started out with a grey primer '57 Chevy that was soon dubbed The Grey Ghost at the Bowl. He would run #07 cars for years, sticking pretty close to a silver or grey color scheme. He associated himself with mechanical talent such as Dae Coonradt and always was a top performer wherever he was. Like fellow Warrensburgh residents Dick and Jerry Pennock and Rusty Duell, he had to travel to run his cars because the Warrensburgh Speedway had died out around 1960.

          The next finisher was another Vermonter who actually had started all the way back at Fairmont Speedway in 1963. Dorset, Vt's Tim Baker was, by 1979, one of the older veterans still running a late model – 16 years after he had debutted with a Ford numbered 79Jr in Fairmont's hobby class. Baker had, for a long time, become identifed with the number 04 and was still running that in 1979. He would, for a while try running modifieds.

Courtesy of Marty Kelly, Jr.
Fast Eddy Keenan [above] and Tim Baker [below] locked horns at Devil's Bowl and other venues on numerous occasions.

Courtesy of Mike Bruno

          Another Vermonter, Ralph Bruno of Fair Haven, finished well down the list – likley having run few races in the series. Brother to Johnny Bruno and uncle to current Devil's Bowl promoter Mike, Ralph was a stalwart for Tom Perry and Lorraine Fabian at West Haven Speedway when the former Devil's Bowl seemed to be left to its own devices around 1979 and 1980. Bruno, while not making big dents in the MidAtlantic series, was a champion in the West Haven years.

          Some other recognizable names include Walt Koperda of Utica, who was certainly a runner at Fonda for some time. Jack Miller, from Schoharie, also appeared with regularity at Fonda particularly in the earlier late model seasons there. He would have been a regular against the likes of Jim Devine, Harry Peek, Joe Johnson, Gene Mangino, Norm Moyer, and the like. Koperda seemed to concentrate on the 1968 season at Fonda whereas Miller began to show up in the standings in the following season.

Bruno Family Photo
Ralph Bruno's car, somewhere around the time he may have run in this series. Below - Jack Miller
with a car he would have run in the earlier late model seasons at Fonda.

Courtesy of Ron Wetzler

        Larry Gallup of Cooperstown elicits a recognition as I recall George Gallup, a 50's stock car star from that region and also Kenny Gallup of Albany – a late '40's sprint car driver. George, an Oneonta native, drove for Frank Trinkhaus, Dave McCredy, and other prominent owners. I don't know much about Larry. Way down the list, with probably one appearance is John Proctor. Proctor, then from Crescent, was running his famous “Narrow Camaro”, converted over from a Ken Canestrari pavement modified. Proctor would go on to modifieds and the car would become Kenny Van Wert's #15 Moosejaw Express.


Proctor Family Photo
John Proctor at speed with the legendary Narrow Camaro.


          By the time we venture int the 1990's, you would probably not be able to pull of anything like that series of late models. I can remember the division – at least at Devil's Bowl, just shrinking away. Drivers would also run Malta, where there were a few more competitors; but nothing like before. I don't know how long that series lasted – but 1979 sure looked like a great thing !

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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