In poking around looking for some photos of Northern NASCAR's chaotic 1973 season, I happened upon one solitary page out of Cavalcade of Auto Racing magazine given to me by my cousin, Norm Vadnais. I cannot tell the year or the issue of the Cavalcade, but it not a particularly new one. My issues seemed to run from 1963 up to the later '60's, but this one seems earlier.

Courtesy of Richard LaGrange

Oilzum has been around for a long time. Below- Naturally, Oilzum
would get a generous ad in each Cavalcade issue.

Ladabouche Collection

         The big thing with this particular page is the fact that – except for one featured driver, they all have a sort of back door connection to Vermont racing history. If you are not familiar with the Cavalcade of Auto Racing, it was a periodical that came out mainly from the earlier 1960's to maybe into the '70's. It was produced as a promotional item by Oilzum, under the guidance of Jim Moffat.

         One of the earmarks of the periodical was its pages that were devoted to a particular race track [almost certainly those that had a relationship with Moffat and the Worcester, MA – based Oilzum company]. This particular page was for Middle Georgia Speedway, a track opened in Byron, GA in 1986. Ironically [given the fact we are connecting all this to Vermont racing] its life span was almost identical to that of Catamount Stadium.

T. Massey Photo
Middle Georgia, as it looked during or right after it was
operating. Below – Not just racing stars performed at
Middle Georgia – this is a ticket from an Allman
Brothers show.


         Middle Georgia, according to Wikipaedia, did get to host a number of big league NASCAR races; hence, the three drivers on the bottom row of the photos are all prominent Grand National figures. Lee Roy Yarbrough, a huge name in the Grand Nationals in the 60's and '70's, had a brilliant career cut short by mental problems. He was one of Catamount Stadium's first big name guest drivers.

         Yarbrough showed up at Catamount in the late 1960's and was assigned to drive one of Tom Tiller's yellow 77's. I don't recall which of the cars Lee Roy drove, but it was almost certainly a Mopar, as Tiller was heavily into those when Catamount first went to the NASCAR late model sportsman cars. Although I was in attendance, I don't recall how Yarbrough did, which makes me think it was likely not anything much.

Courtesy of Ray Lasnier
Lee Roy and local driver/car owner Tom Tiller pose for a
Burlington Free Press photo before Lee Roy's drive there
in 1971. Below – The Yarbrough visit even got press in
Quebec that year.

Courtesy of Christian Genest

         Another face on the bottom row of stars from the Middle George track was that of DeWayne “Tiny” Lund. By then an established Grand National star, Lund still did a lot of grass roots driving in his late model Chevelles. He also was one of the stars in the short – lived NASCAR Grand Touring division – best known for running a Pepsii – sponsored Mercury Cougar for Bud Moore.

         Lund's connection to Vermont is two – edged. He did run at Catamount when the Grand Touring class visited for two years, around 1969 and 1970. But, more interstingly, he came up during the hectic 1973 season, when Northern NASCAR was trying to have that grueling five tracks – a week schedule, and ran with the locals for a week or two.

Courtesy of Andy Boright
Tiny Lund first appeared at Catamount with this Bud Moore
Grand Touring Cougar. Below - He made more of an impression in
1973 with his own blue #55 Chevelle. Here he is in a pit meeting with
Bobby Dragon, who would shove him back later in a race.

Source Unknown

          Lund was always a pretty physical driver. I recall him pushing his way around at Catamount when he first arrived with his blue Southern Music -sponsored '64 Chevelle #55 and getting it right back from Bob Dragon. I also heard about that hectic Sunday when they ran Thunder Road in an early afternoon race and then towed down to Devil's Bowl for an evening race. I am told they rushed down to West Haven for the second race and, en route, dumped an expensive race car jack on the road which was found by another local team.

Courtesy of Chris Companion
Bobby Allison converses as they prepare to unload at one of the
five tracks of the 1973 Northern NASCAR circuit. Richie
Panch crewman Terry Osterman peruses the '68 Chevelle.
Below – Allison and Jean – Paul Cabana take to the outside
around Ron Bettis, in the former Cabana Chevelle.

Courtesy of Andy Boright

         The third big name was that of Bobby Allison. I recall his first visit to Catamount. I'm standing by the pit fence watching the automatic tranny Hurricane cars warm up. One of the many unusual cars out there was Mike Lague's full -sized Cadillac.

         A voice next to me said, “That 'ol boy in the Caddy does all right, don't he ?” I turned around to find Bobby Allison standing next to me. Shocked, I croaked something in return. I have gotten to speak to him more since, as he has come to Vermont more than once – but that was special !

Source Unknown
The '63 Ford that Bobby Allison used to amaze onlookers
at Catamount in 1970. Below – An Allison Chevelle used
by young Richie Panch in 1971. It would remain on the
circuit, used by Steve Poulin and Claude Aubin until
around 1975.

Ladabouche Photo

         Allison would take the backup car of Ron Barcomb that night – a nice enough '63 Ford. He was running it in a heat race when there was a cluster f*^% up ahead of him. Cars spun and flew off the track, but Allison gunned his, doing a full three – sixty in the middle of the track and halting well before the wrecked cars. Guys watching from the pits were impressed to say the least; maybe speechless in many cases. I remember saying to whomever I was next to "That's why he's Bobby Allison and
we're not."

         Allison would also send up employee Tommy Howe to run one of his Chevelles either that year or the next. Howe, son of Allison mechanic and former champion racer Durr Howe, would keep the car in Milton, where I would get to hang out and watch what they did. One thing has always remained certain – the whole Alabama Gang, Allison especially, were some of the nicest racing people you would ever want to meet.

Grand National Photo
Grand National driver Cecil Gordon, a native of Horse Shoe, NC,
is the only Middle Georgia Speedway guy on the page with no
Vermont connections. He raced in New York and Maine, though.
Below – Tiny Lund, shown here with a car owned by his
friend, Paul Connors.

Courtesy of the Paul Connors Collection

         One of the guys on the top row was also Grand National, but he is the only one with no connection to Vermont – Cecil Gordon, who may have also been a weekly racer there. That brings us to the last two guys. Paul Connors was a close friend of Tiny Lund. I had first seen his name on a program of drivers for a late 1960's Grand National northern tour race at Fonda Speedway. What I didn't know until around 2007 was that Paul Connors was a native Vermonter.

         Connors grew up from Danby, VT and wanted to race in a period when there were not many available places for a young man with few funds to try. Stateline Speedway was not that far away but too competitive for a beginner; Pico Raceway, where his uncle George had raced, was closed, as was the track in Fair Haven. Granville, NY was too much of a haul, and the tracks of the Triangle Racing Association in New Hampshire were [like Stateline] too competitive for him at that time.

Courtesy of Paul Connors
Some kind soul took Paul Connors' camera and shot him
and his wife as they visited Stateline Speedway in North
Bennington , VT in 1953 – not long before they moved
to Florida and began a huge racing career. Below – Uncle
George Connors and his 6 7/8, at Pico Raceway, Rutland,
Vt in 1951.

LeFrancois Family Photo via Jerry King

         So, Connors and his fiance moved to Florida, where he became one of the greatest late model sportsman drivers in the history of the state despite not having much of any vision in one eye. It is probably then that Connors would have qualified to be on the Middle Georgia page. He would be the first man to run a Javelin when NASCAR started the Grand Touring class, and he confided in me that one of his bigger thrills was hauling the car to a race somewhere and seeing a billboard that featured Richard Petty, for the Grand National program, and him, for the Grand Touring division.

         Paul Connors would occasionally be chosen to run one of the many Buck Baker cars at some Grand National races, and he ran the GN circuit for a while with a former Petty car that he had re-numbered as 53. Paul Connors certainly had his best days running late models for a man named Hildebrand, but he always has kept a connection to Vermont and to his friend [and mine] Ed Fabian of West Rutland.

Courtesy of Paul Connors Collection
The Paul Connors Grand Touring Javelin – the first such car
in the new NASCAR division. Connors was a little - known Vermont
 racing success story.  Just not in Vermont. Below – Paul, at the height
of his career and with his most familiar type of car – a Hildebrand
Chevelle in Florida.

Courtesy of Paul Connors Collection

         That leaves our last man to discuss on the page. The Middle Georgia Speedway's page's first photo is that of Bob Leach. That is what caught my eye in the first place. Tracks like Stafford Springs [CT} and Lebanon Valley had a Bobby Leach who had run there in the 1960's. I was at the old Fairmont Speedway in 1965 when Leach appeared there with a car I had seen run at Fonda -the #M3.

         Bobby Leach was a darned good driver, but I had no idea he had come from down South. He would drive that M3 coupe until such a time as Massaschusetts car owner Arnold Fleury ended up buying the fast, controversial former Will Cagle sedan that had dominated Devil's Bowl around 1969 until Cagle sold it. Known for its square tubing, the Bob Rossell – built car had been nearly unbeatable at the Bowl, although it was found ultimated to be “very legal”.

         The car was purchased by Brandon, VT businessman Curt Prescott and it ended up mostly at Lebanon Valley. This was an era at the Valley when several of these sedans popped up in use. Prescott eventually sold the car to Fleury, who installed veteran driver Bobby Leach in it. After that, I don't know much about what happened to Leach. I know he and Fleury also acquired a “55 Chevy modified that had once been Mert Hulbert's; but, then the guy disappears.

Bob Frazier Photo in Cavalcade
Bob Leach as he looked in 1965 when he ran some races
at Fairmont Speedway, Fair Haven, VT. Below - Leach with
the highly – ugly and very fast Rossell – built Fleury coach.

From Lebanon Valley Classics

         But, all in all, for a page that should have had nothing to do with Vermont, it sure turned out to be just the opposite.

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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