Let's Look at a Sample of Racing Nicknames - One For Each Letter

Al "The Animal" Simoneau

Al Simoneau was a one of the first and most colorful entrants in the Catamount Stadium Street Stock division that started around 1978. With the Hurricane division having morphed into efficient little six cylinder pony cars called Grand Nationals, track management looked around for something more in the strictly stock, larger cars which had once been the Hurricanes. The class was an immediate hit, consisting some of the most interesting characters ever to grace that third mile oval.

        Dickie "The Original Street Stocker" Strobridge was soon joined by the likes of Cramer "The Creamer" Humphrey, Richard "Choo Choo" Smith, several colorful characters who didn't happen to have colorful nicknames, two or  three Caron brothers, and a returned Viet Nam veteran friend of theirs named Al "The Animal" Simoneau. Simoneau ran a huge 1967 Chevy with a Tasmanian Devil stuffed toy riding on the trunk. The crowd loved these zany competitors, a few of whom developed into bona fide late model spportsman drivers later. Al may have been the most remembered of all of them despite a short run in racing.

Courtesy of Cho Lee
Allen Simoneau

Courtesy of The Dragon Family

Al runs outside of Steve Blow.

Courtesy of Mark Austin
Al 'The Animal"  Simoneau

Harmon "Beaver" Dragon

While a little young doing it, Harmon Dragon was nearly in on the ground floor of stock racing in the Northeast. WHen I first saw him in 1961 at Otter Creek Speedway [being misnamed Herman Dragon], he had already run for over six years. It is said that he got the nickname from a man in his native Milton, VT whose wife remarked that he worked like a little beaver.

         Dragon would dirt racing and support division pavement racing before becoming one of the Northeast's greatest ever late model sportsman drivers. He has track championships  and NASCAR racing series championships to his resume; but, I honestly think he sometimes is more proud of his deer trophies. Son, Brent, raced up until recently.

Courtesy of Dragon Family
Harmon "Beaver" Dragon, here in
double duty. His uniform shows a
CVRA patch, as he was running
Devil's Bowl. But here he is at
Thunder Road [Northern NASCAR].

Courtesy of Cho Lee

This converted B Class car [now a Flying Tiger] was the first in which he drove under the name Beaver.

Courtesy of Dragon Family
His legendary Mike Laughlin - built
Vermont Mack Nova.


Rene "The Champ" Charland

          Rene Charland served as a U.S. Marine before coming out of Holyoke, MA to race in the very early days of the sport. He ran in a little - known but highly competitive region that included tracks in West Brattleboro, VT, Millers Falls, MA, Agawam, MA, Menands, NY, Stafford Springs, CT, Keene, NH, and many more venues in the 1950's.

         Charland was a great driver and a very accomplished technician as well. He gained the nickname from winning the NASCAR National Sportsman Championship four years in a row in the early to mid 1960's. This is no small accomplish because it required running all over the eastern U.S. and doing well at the same time. An unrepentant practical joker, he was at once a top competitor and one of the most irritating figures in the sport.

From HAMB Chat Site
Rene Charland, photographed in the midst of his national championship years.

Courtesy of Cho Lee

A very early photo, likely at
Rhythm Inn Speedway, Millers Falls, MA.

Courtesy of NEAR
Da Champ


Richard "Daring Dick" Caso

          Not having been from his neck of the woods, I don't know much about Dick Caso other than he ran Southern New England pavement modifieds, he did well on a limited budget, and there were a number of wisecracks made about how many welding rods were sacrificed to make one of his race cars. But double D's qualifies as as good a D nickname as any other. [Dickie Doo Ceravolo would have been the other obvious candidate].

From Dave Dykes
This is the car I was most familiar with. Dave Dykes claims it was sometime run on dirt.

Courtesy of Speedway Line Report

Dick got to run the Simons 9, no
small accomplishment.

Courtesy of Dave Dykes
Earlier Caso car.



Carroll "Easy" Ryder

           I don't know much more about Carroll Ryder than I do about Dick Caso. I recall the Oxford Plains Speedway announcer [probably Bob Walker] refering to Ryder as "Easy". Likely, this was about when the Easy Rider film came out with Robert Redford and Peter Fonda. Ryder always ran in his native state of Maine - in late models and later late model sportsman cars.

From Walter Newell
Carroll managed the coveted inside pole in this race.

Courtesy of C. Ryder Facebook Page

A good color shot.

Source Unknown
Official Chuck Blanchard looks on as Carroll pits during a 1970's Oxford 250.


Reino "The Flying Finn" Tulonen

           I could have done a number of "F" nicknames including a couple of Flying Frenchmen and Flookie Buford, but I had Finnish relatives so guys like Reino and Bobby Karvonen always a spot in my heart. Tulonen began racing in the late 1940's, making him a true pioneer in stock car racing. I have a photo of him driving a relative of sprint car called a "big car" at Keene, NH in the late '40's, as well. He is best known for his unique cutdown #732.

From Anna Tulonen Collection
I think that is Reino, on the inside pole, at Safford Park, Cheshire Fairgrounds, Keene, NH.

Courtesy of Wicked Good Racing Site
Reino in the potent Falconi 10
at some place like Brookline Speedway or another regional site.

Source Unknown
Perhaps his most iconic photo ever. The famed cutdown, on fire


 Anthony "Goober" Scheidel

           I have seen Goober Scheidel photos and references mostly around dirt tracks like Lebanon Valley Speedway. An enormously popular driver, his life and career were cut short by an accident at home. His iconic beard is one of the things he is best remembered for. I thought of  using Bruce "Gomer" Taylor, but I had more photos of Scheidel.

From Dave Dykes' Collection
Goober Scheidel.

Courtesy of Chas Hertica
Goober leads Bobby Leach at
Lakeville. Leach has the famed Rossell - built sedan used previously
by Cagle, Jelley, etal.

Chas Hertica Photo
Goober checks out Mert Hulbert's Bruce Carman - built 23 at the Valley while Mert and Bruce talk to Uncle Art Stuarts and Dirl Van Ort.



Harry "Haywire Harry" Hughes

           I couldn't resist this Lebanon Valley Speedway regular due to the alliterative nature of his name. He was HHH before the more famous WWE Triple H. All of the great race track announcers could come up with catchy nicknames for certain drivers, and this one was a beauty. The legendary Raymond "Hully" Bunn was another I considered.

Chuck Ely Photo from LVC Collection
Haywire Harry Hughes.

Courtesy of Ken Gypson
An earlier shot of Harry
struggling at Stateline Speedway
outside of Bennington, VT.

From Joe Grossetti
A Valley win with the Raspuzzi 121.



Jack "Iron Man" Ingram

           A national champion when NASCAR's sportsman division left the realm of the coupe and went to the late model sportsman type, Jack undoubtedly earned the nickname from some sort of an ability to run many races in a small window of time. This approach to winning the national title was developed and perfected by predecessor Rene Charland, who managed four titles in a row. Like most late model champs, Ingram hailed from he deep South - Asheville, NC.

          My favorite personal memory of Ingram stems from his visit to Catamount Stadium in the summer in the mid 1970's. He was being touted as the reigning NASCAR National Sportsman champion and his nickname, Iron Man was being used frequently by announcer Ken Squier. It was a deadly hot, humid summer Saturday night and many of us were down to  tee shirts or less; and I wandered over to get a look at the guest star. The motor of the hauler was running [as was the heater] and there sat The Iron Man, in the cab of the truck, freezing to death with a jacket on.

I also gave serious consideration to Midwest driver Iggy Katona.

Getty Images
More comfortable, and not in the frozen North, The Iron Man could pose easily.

 A very typical Igram late model Nova.

Denis LaChance Photo
Ingram, perhaps at an Oxford 250.


Jack "Jumping Jack" Johnson

           Another alliterative nickname, Jack Johnson gets the nod mostly because of his impressive career. He is the son of racing figure Rollie Johnson [who dealt more with open wheel cars], and he had to work hard to develop his craft. I first saw him in a Tony Villano sportsman coupe in the mid 1960's.Jack went on to an astounding number of wins, while developing a speed shop business out of his Duanesburg, NY headquarters. He continued to excel even in later years until he was stricken with a delibilitating disease. I thought of others like Jolly Ollie Palmer, but Jack deserves the nod.

Dr. John Collection
Jack, at Syracuse, in the middle part of his career.

Russ Bergh Photo
Jack with his first car, a
Villano sportsman.

From Mike Budka Collection
A win later in his career with Mike Budka's car.

Billy "The Kid" Pauch

           There are at least a dozen drivers who were known as "The Kid", ranging from the little - known Kenny Martin in Vermont - to the famous Pauch. I personally know Joey The Kid Kourafas, and I appreciate the enormous popularity of John The Kid Clark, a Williamstown, VT driver; but Pauch has carried the nickname the furthest. A great deal fo his career was in open wheel cars.

Tom Herbert Collection
Pauch tools the Ribley - Harbinger 24S at Malta.

DPS Photo
This shot speaks volumes.

From Steve Barrick Collection
A wild - looking Flemington mod.


Joseph "Little Joe" D'Avignon

           I had to choose between D'Avignon [pronounced Devino] and Long Gone John Wale, a founding member of Devil's Bowl Speedway's Dare Devil class. There are no doubt other L nicknames of more prominent drivers but Joe was kind of remarkable, He supported a large family while racing fairly sucessfully with a very low budget. His purple 8 Ball cars [a look he kept after buying his first one from Herb Swan] did win the occasional races. Also, in the same vein as Fuzzy Van Horn and other drivers - he promoted a race track, Hillside Raceway, in 1965. Most of us know that track better as Otter Creek Speedway near Vergennes, VT [Ken Shoemaker's fond  little track].

From the Rob and Neal Davis Collection
Little Joe's first car, at Fairmont
Speedway in 1962.

Bob Frazier Photo Courtesy of The LaFond Family
Somewhat woozy, Joe emerges from his car [far right] after a big pileup at The Vermont State Fair in 1962.

From Art Visconti
Little Joe chases Art Visconti
at Fairmont in 1963 with his final [and best] flathead car.

Mike "Magic Shoes" McLaughlin

           MIke McLaughlin was in that class of Brett Hearn, Jimmy Horton, Billy Pauch, and such who had their sights set above the local bullring. McLaughlin excelled on the dirt in the Northeast and did some pretty successful pavement modified work as well. He then seemed to head up the ladder to NASCAR. I guess he still occasionally ran some modified races, and today, his son is headed up the ladder in dirt mods. I always liked the nickname and his car number LAZ8.

Photo from Dave Dykes' LVC Collection
Magic Shoes at a dirt track [maybe Fonda] with the familiar Gremlin.

Howie Hodge Photo
Mike [51] in Busch Grand National North racing two - time BGNN champ Jamie Aube.

From Unknown Source
With a later version of the Len Boehler 3.


Nelson "Nels" Grignon

           The N has been the hardest one so far. Nels ran in those small tracks in eastern New York like Pine Bowl, Route 66 and Whites Beach before having a pretty successful run at Lebanon Valley towards the end of his career. Usually running a number 35, he ran a coupe and - later - a late model Ford at the Valley when using such a body allowed you to run the overhead V-8 motors. It's hardly a racing nickname, but I couldn't find a thing on Nasty Neal Murray or Nippy Commindinger.

Via Cavalcade of Auto Racing
Nels Grignon.

Courtesy of Jamie Grignon
A victory lap at Whitges Beach Speedway outside of Ballston Spa, NY in 1958.

From Jamie Grignon
A Valley win with the Ford in 1962.

Charlie "Old Reliable" Laduc

           The Orwell, VT farmer was no spring chicken when started racing in the hobby class at Fairmont Speedway in 1963. He moved up to the top class, which became modifieds at the newly - built Devil's Bowl Speedway in 1967. Along there somewhere, Laduc was dubbed "Old Reliable" by track announcer Howard Cameron for his loyalty to the track and for the fact he really ran pretty well for such a limited budget.

           Charlie raced up into the mid 1980's when his career was cut short by a heart attack on the farm. Youngest son, Tim, is a real force at Devil's Bowl today, dividing his time between that and tractor pulls. Charlie's wife, Barb [a distant cousin of mine] still attends races at the Bowl to this day.

Courtesy of Barb Laduc
Charlie was a real force with this hobby car car. at Fairmont Speedway. The class matched his budget

Courtesy of Barb Laduc
Charlie with his first "sportsman" car. still at Fairmont Speedway.

From Barb Laduc
The Henry J wasn't his best car ort his last car but it was his most popular car with the fans.

Walter "Pepper" Eastman

           There may have not been a more popular driver than Pepper Eastman. He had the typical popeye amrs that most of the old - time driver had from cranking on those big steering wheels with no power steering. From small - time Madison, NY in the center of the state, he ran his car #181's [for whom Lew Boyd's cars and business name are in tribute] until he finally hopped in the Bob Zimmerman 172 to run at Fonda and Victoria in the mid 1960's.
          Eastman was tragically killed in the 172 in 1965, the same year as was Lou Smith, who came from the same general region. I can't speak much beyond this, but I know in what esteem he was held. You could feel at Fonda for weeks after his passing.

Courtesy of John Grady
Pepper, with his own car, at Victoria Speedway, Dunnsville, NY.

Courtesy of John Grady
A heat win at Fonda Speedway.

John Grady Photo
With the ill - fated Zimmerman car at Victoria, mere weeks before the fatal
crash at Fonda.



Bob "The Quaker Shaker" Cain

           If this is the same Bob Cain I'm thinking of, he came from thew shadows of Rolling Wheels Speedway in the town of Auburn, NY. Some of Cain's cars were  more fascinating than any nickname. At Maple Grove Speedway, Waterloo, Ny he drove a sedan called the Flying Bath Tub. He usually preferred the number 36.

Courtesy of MIdstate Club
The Bath Tub, entering Maple Grove
Speedway at Waterloo, NY.

Courtesy of MIdstate Club
Success at Maple Grove Speedway.

Jeff Wiegand Photo via Midstate Club
A later car.

Ralph "Ralph the Racer" or "Racin' Nason" Nason

           There's not much in racing Ralph Nason hasn't done. He drove stock cars near his home in Newburgh, ME for decades and he has, like Joe D'Avignon above] been a promoter. Nason kept Unity Raceway in Maine running for a long time when some gave it up for dead. Pretty much a late model and pavement man, he was famous for a while for having one of the region's first Chrysler kit cars, which he numbered 10. Ralph used to recognize my face but never rememebred my name; he always called me "fella".

           Once, to get under the skin of NASCAR North's Tom Curley, he showed up for a racing season with the oldest possible he could get on his car [in a very appearance - conscious organization]. Running an old '68 Chevelle body in a group that was now into trendy Gran Am and Buick Regal sheet metal, he paintedthe thing orange, called it the Sachs Sex Machine, and made waves most of the year. He would return to Curley somewhat later to run the Jim's Salad Co. cars in the ACT.

Courtesy of Andy Boright
The first kit car, entering Catamount
around 1976. He seemed to always have chain saw sponsorships in that era.

Denis LaChance Photo
The Sachs Sex Machine, in about the same spot, two years later.

Around Maine.com
Later in his career - maybe late '80's.

Clarence "Super CD" Coville

           Scotia, NY's C.D. Coville ruffled a few feathers on his rise through the ranks - particularly at Fonda; but, his unmistakable talent behind the wheel of a modified race car soon became what defined him. Glib and quick - witted as can be, he started the major part of his career with Jerry Barnowski's car and ended up winning races for many car owners before health problems sidelined his career.At first, the moniker was simply C.D., a reversal of his father's initials I think. The Super part was earned by ridiculously difficult racing moves and dozens of feature wins at Fonda, Devil's Bowl, and many other venues.

Courtesy of Susan B. Coville
Early in the career with a Fonda late model.

Source Unknown
C. D. with the Barnowski car [an L&R I think] which really launched his career.

From Mike Bruno
Later in his career, he ran this mod for West Haven, VT owner Mike Richards. Mike was one of several car owners Coville drove for then.

Thomas "Tiger Tom" Kotary

           I know, I know there are a lot of T possibilities; but, I chose this complicated World War II veteran from Rome, NY, one of the first NASCAR sportsman drivers I ever saw, who managed to race somewhat effectively despite a long battle with what we now call PTSD. Tom ran for teams like Hal Kempeny, Joe Romano, Henry Caputo and more - while also sometimes driving the family #12. Tom ran in the shadow of older brother [and Syracuse legend] Cliff and also shared the track with brother, Robbie.

Courtesy of Jo Townd via Otto Graham
Tiger Tom with Hal Kempeny's potent 113 which was also driven by Jim Luke and Bill Wimble.

Via Bill Fifield
Tom with Joe Romano's 97. When a young Andy Romano got sick of fixing Tom's crashes, he decided to drive it himself and a career was launched.

Russ Bergh Photo  Ladabouche Collection
Tom with the Kotary family sportsman.



Arthur "Uncle Art" Stuarts

           Sorry, I have no other names for drivers and Lebanon Valley's iconic Art Stuarts certaonly deserves tghe honor. He not only announced and did a number of other promotional tasks, but hew published a b ook of photos, facts, and data about the Valley in the 1960's which serfves as as important refeence material for us today.

Courtesy of The Uncle Art Book
Uncle Art Stuarts.

Chas Herttca Photo via LVC
Uncle Art [2nd from left] chatting with the Jackie Wilson team at the Valley.

From Otto Graham
Uncle Art [ctr] with Tim Rafferty and John Harper in the Valley tower.

Rodney" The Virginia Leadfoot" Franklin

             Rodney is the only V oriented nickname I could come up with. A Virginia dirt late model driver. I don't know if he is still living. One post seemed to suggest not. Apparently, he was a top talent in this type of racing.

TradingCards ddb.com
Rodney Franklin collecticble.

Race Review.com
Victory at Hagerstown.

Public Fotki.com
At speed somewhere.

Elton" The Wild Man" Hildreth

             That highly competitive region of New Jersey/ Pennsylvania / New York racing that produced the likes of Will Cagle, Budd Olsen, Leon Manchester, Frankie Schneider and dozens more legends was also home to one just as good as they were: Elton Hildreth. He goes all the way back to the infant days of NASCAR, racing in their earliest divisions, and his went on to fame driving his trademark car #16J for many years. We are lucky to still have The Wild Man with us, as well as rivals Cagle, Schneider, and a few others.

Via EdwardB. Brown III
Elton's NASCAR Short Track Series Nash, in the early 1950's.

Via Edward B. Brown III
His familiar Colonial Ford 16 - J.

Via Edward B. Brown III
Another, earlier car.

Sorry, we just don't have one.

Mike "The Yankee Flyer" Osborne

             A diminutive man with high talents in many areas, Mike Osborne entertained the Thunder Road crowds, on and off, for tow decades. He was also racing with an alcohol addiction and that was the final victor. But Mike excelled - especially in the Thunder Road flathead coupes of 1960 - 1965. He did have a run at driving a New Flying Tiger at the Road in the 1980's. I never heard anyone say a bad word about him.

Norman McIver Portrait Via Cho Lee
Mike Osborne.

Bob Doyle Photo Via Cho Lee
Mike is dwarfed by the massive Ronnie Marvin and the equally tall Johnny Gammell at T Road.

Via Tony Miller
The Flying Tiger.

Ray "Zero" Brown

             Getting his nickname from a helmet he often wore bearing a big 0 on it, Ray was zero in name only. There is not enough known about how good this man was. He ran in open wheel cars and stock cars, beginning around Riversdie Park Speedway in the 1940's. He was a champion at the track in Middletown, NY [whatever they called it then] , as well as at other venues. Ray Brown drove for a number of stock car owners and was a force with all of them - deep into his career. He is one of my faves !

Via Doug Post
One of Ray's 0's. It is said that he is
at the massive Kingsbridge Armory in NYC here, where they raced inside the building while the crowd would get sick from the fumes. This is 1949.

Photo Via NE Mod SIte
Ray raced this coupe in the highly competitive circuit that sometimes included Brattleboro Speedway, Keene, NH fairgrounds, Rhythm Inn Speedway in Mass., RIverside Park, and track in NY.

See Credits on Photo
The 0 helmet with another car.

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