FONDA  SPEEDWAY
A Premier Track in New York Whose
Drivers Often Drove in Vermont

        In the part of Vermont where I came from, NASCAR was not sanctioning any tracks. But, when we traveled to either the small Otter Creek Speedway in Vergennes, or if we ventured over to Fonda, I would get to see stars from Fonda Speedway, the track which was arguably the mecca for racing in our region - in the era of the 1960's. Ed Feuz and Jim Gage decided to field stock car races at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds race track.


Photo from the Fonda History Book

In this promotional photo from the first year, [from left - Walt Roberts, Herb Root, Spence Parkhurst, and Steve Danish pose with their cars to raise area interest in the new track.  By this time, Roberts, Danish, and Parkhurst had all competed at Vermont tracks like Pico Raceway and Stateline Speedway. Root may have, too.
 

     Prior to the 1953 opening of Fonda, races were already being held in a number of New York locations, as well as West Brattleboro, Vermont; Pico Raceway, in Rutland, Vermont; Fairmont Motor Park, in Fair Haven, Vermont, and Mettowee Speedway, a Granville location that was very near Vermont. Pico was seeing the likes of Steve Danish [Cropseyville], Spencer Parkhurst [Saratoga Springs], Walt Roberts [Poughkeepsie ?], Howard "Jeep Herbert [Rotterdam]; Pete Corey [Crescent], "Jollie Ollie" Palmer [Westmere], and a host of other New Yorkers who were looking for places to race in their new, burgeoning sport. Stateline was hosting these runners and more - including George Baumgardner [Saratoga], Joe Wunderlich [West Sand Lake], Link Pettit, and more.


Les King Photo

New Yorker Link Pettit slides his way through Turn Three at Pico Raceway.
Several of the New Yorkers who frequented Pico ended up at Fonda
[but not Link, who ran Lebanon Valley].

     It became evident, early on, [even before races commenced] that Fonda was going to be a prima location for New York racing; and the enthusiasm was tangible. Hence, everyone in the region who wanted to be in the ground floor of the operation made a mad dash for the first gatherings at Fonda. Les King, one of the Northeast's premier racing photographers tells how he, Chet Hames [the flagger], and a local announcer named Wildy would make a circuit of local tracks, handling those necessary duties for the various managements.


Feuz Collection Photo
A future Whites Beach Speedway promoter. the little - known Bob
Ruchdeschal [74] almost won the first featjure at Fonda when visibility was
so bad the faster cars couldn't make progress. Also seen are Jeep Herbert in a crude version  of Bob Mott's 3, Paul Korman in Hal Kempeny's 113, and eventual winner Chuck Kotwicka [2nd car from right]

Feuz Collection Photo
First Fonda feature winner Chuck Kotwicka takes a victory lap as Paul Brozyna
[2nd place] demonstrates how hard it became to see where you were going
as he heads for the infield pit area or maybe Victory Lane.


Courtesy of John Grady

Chuck Kotwicka, of Utica, Fonda's first ever feature winner, is trophied by
co-promoter Ed Fuez, left, and by Sally Whitbeck Gage, wife of co-promoter Jim Gage.


    When the word of Fonda reached them , the trio was ready to jump. Hames and Wildy headed for Fonda and King, for an unknown reason, missed their departure. Desperate to get the Fonda photographer's stand gig, he began hitchhiking to Fonda. Just before Les made it to the Montgomery Fairgrounds location, Russ Bergh, a rival, sought out Gage or Feuz and got the job.


Bill Ladabouche Photo
Looking from the
stands toward Turn 4

Bill Ladabouche Photo
The announcer's and
judges' stand. The
dragstrip is seen behind
and the Mohawk River is
in the distance.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Gigi Conover's junker
cars prepare to go out
and run in the track. The road
to the Thruway is in the
distance, and the famous
Graveyard is that white line
over the 2nd car from left.

 


Bill Ladabouche Photo
The water truck would run
for hours and hours,
turning the track into what
would appear to be an
undrivable quagmire.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Looking to Turn 1. That
tractor thing with multiple
tires is running in the
track surface. You can also
see the ticket entrance.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Early arrivers find ways
to pass the time.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Looking at Turn 4, and the Cow
Palace behind it, as the
Conover Auto Parts cars run
in the track.

 


Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
The old ticket entrance
around 1958.

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Another angle.

Bill Ladabouche Photo
Jean-Guy Chartrand
arrives at Fonda after rains caused a cancellation. The entrance is
slightly changed here.

 

Muldowney Site Photo
Famous drag racer
Shirley Muldowney got her
start at Fonda. This is
that same entrance.

Muldowney Site Photo
The infield drag strip
was very short.

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Car 555 runs in the
track.

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
A full - bodied Car 73
running in the track.

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Willie Chest[54] and
Lynn Delong [2nd]
are among the cars
running in the track
before a 1955 show.

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Jim Luke in Hal
Kempeny's 113 and
Paul Marshall in the
Warren Daniels
7-11 Jr run in the
surface.
 

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Bennett's 71, with its
driver du jour running
in the track.

Courtesy of Dan Ody
Steve Danish's car
sits in the background
in this mid 1950's
view of the infield.
           


Ed Feuz Collection
Co - Promoters Jim Gage [left] and Ed Feuz clown it up during the first season at Fonda.

    After a rough start, with small fields and some track surface issues, the track grew incredibly fast into what came to be known as "The Track of Champions", and deservedly so. And, when some of its great stars would make occasional forays into Vermont to race somewhere and go home with the locals' prize money, it was a treat [at least for the fans]. Steve Danish won one of his last features in Fair Haven; Jerry Townley won one of his only wins in the #108 in Rutland; New Yorker and future Fonda regular Jerry Cook had his car [driven then by Ken Meahl] win one of its first races at Vergennes. These are a few of the stories that furthered the Fonda mystique in Vermont. Ironically, today, Vermonters like Dave Camara and Johnny Scarborough go to Fonda and come back with the prize money - frequently.


Photo from Otto Graham's Site

Jerry Townley, when with the Thomas Chewins 108, took a fairly easy win at
 the Vermont State Fair track in the early 1960's, beating out a field
of out-gunned locals.

EARLIER FONDA STARS AND CARS


Danish Family Photo
Steve Danish,
Cropseyville, NY
Drove at Pico, Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee,
Ashland Park

John Grady Photo
Jeep Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY
One of JR Earl's  sedans
Drove at Pico, Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee

John Grady Photo
Pete Corey,
Crescent, NY
Bob Mott's 3
Drove at Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee

 


Photographer Unknown
Ken Shoemaker,
Schenectady, NY
Ted Vogel's 95
Drove at Fairmont,
Stateline

Schenectady Collection
Hoppy Redner.
Young/Vine 75

Photo from Bob Novak
George Baumgardner,
Saratoga, NY
Jim Young/Ray Vine 75
Drove at Pico, Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee,
Otter Creek, Ashland Park

McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Phil Miller

Walt Roberts,
Catskill, NY
Drove at Pico, Stateline, Mettawee

Fonda History Bk. Photo

Spence Parkhurst,
Saratoga Spr., NY
Drove at Pico, Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee,
Ashland Park

Courtesy of  CJ Richards


 


McDowell Photo
Jollie Ollie Palmer,
Albany, NY
Drove at Pico, Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee

Conde & parry Site
Chuck Mahoney,
Utica, NY

Otto Graham Site Photo
Tom Kotary,
Rome, NY
Theron Moore's 112
Drove at Stateline,
Otter Creek

 


Courtesy of  Rick Luke

Jim Luke,
Utica, NY

Otto Graham Site Photo
Dutch Reed,
Glens Falls, NY
Bill King's 90A
Drove at Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee,
Dutch Reed, Dev.Bowl

Courtesy of  Mike Russo
Irv Taylor,
Crescent, NY

Otto Graham Site Photo
Lynn DeLong,
Glens Falls, NY
Delongs Drove at Fairmont,
Stateline, Mettawee,
Ashland Park, Otter Creek

John Grady Photo
Don Hendenberg,
Lee Ctr., NY
1st Dave McCready Car

Fonda History Bk Photo
Don Courtney,
Schenectady, NY
Walt Roberts' Car

Fonda History Bk Photo
Cliff Kotary,
Rome, NY
Mike Michaels' Car
The car ran at Otter Creek.
 

From Fonda Book,
Fuez Collection
Chuck Kotwicka,
Utica, NY

Otto Graham Site Photo
Otto Graham,
Burlington, NY
Theron
Von Benschoten's 20

Fusco Collection
Smokey Stover,
Glens Falls, NY
Drove at Ashland Park

Otto Graham Site Photo
Joe Ciganenko,
Richfield Spr., NY
Frank Trinkhaus' 62
 

From Fonda Book
Frank Blum,
 

Fonda Book Photo
Herm Buttery
?, NY
.
Notice the infamous grave
yard in the background.

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Fred Shepard,
Cambridge, NY
.
The car ran at Stateline
and Fairmont.

John Grady Collection
Larry Norgrove,
Colonie, NY

Schenectady Collection
Willie Chest,
Canajoharie, NY

Courtesy of Dan Ody
Ken Shoemaker,
Westmere, NY
Red Knoblauch's 13
Drove at Pico, Fairmont
Stateline, Mettawee

Schenectady Collection
Johnny Perry,
Ephrata, NY
Red Knoblach's 13
Drove at Airborne
 

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Howie Westervelt,
Ravena, NY
.
Cliff Wright's 24
The car ran at Stateline


John Grady Collection
According to John
Grady, Rollie
Johnson owned the
"Miss Pauline" #77
before Richard Welch.
This shows Rollie and
 Ed Pieniazek. Need help
with the others.
Drove at Otter Creek
 


John Grady Collection
Guy Chartrand,
Montreal, Can.
Drove at Fairmont, DBowl,
Catamount, Airborne

John Grady Collection
Ray Sitterly,
Amsterdam, NY
Ray always had
nice cars.
Drove at Fairmont,

DBowl


John Grady Collection
Paul Marshall,
Schenectady, NY
A huge man.
Warren Daniels' 711Jr
Drove at Otter Creek

Ladabouche Collection
Pete Corey,
Crescent, NY
Bob Whitbeck's 22

Moody Collection
Wes Moody,
Saranac Lake, NY
Drove at D Bowl

 


John Grady Photo
Lou Lazarro,
Utica, NY
Vinnie Maugeri's 4
Drove at Catamount,
 

John Grady Photo
Lee Millington,
Palatine Bridge, NY
Dick Bennett's 71

John Grady Photo
Doc Blanchard,
Gloversville, NY
Drove at Otter Creek

Source Unknown

 


Dwyer Family Collection via the Fonda Book
Chuck Dwyer

John Grady Collection
Jeep Herbert
Schenectady, NY
.
Sam Kitler / Gibby Wolfe 37
The car ran at Pico &
Stateline - often with Jeep
driving.

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Don Stumpf,
Bellamawr, NJ
He won an upset at
Fonda, running it like
a paved track. Caused a change
in philosophy about which
grooves to run @ Fonda.
 

Courtesy of Midstate
Club Site
Cliff Kotary,
Rome, NY

 

Courtesy of The
Dave Brooks Family
Al Danish

May have run Fonda in
its earliest years.


McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Phil Miller

Johnny Perry,
Troy, NY

Courtesy of Midstate
Club Site
Larry Nye,

Usually a Watertown
driver

 

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Al Parry,
Saratoga, NY

 

Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Bob Zimmerman,
Albany, NY

Fred DeCarr Collection
Tom Wilson,
Rome, NY

Charlie Pierce's P13
 


Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Herb Roots,
Gloversville, NY

Various Drivers
 


Courtesy of CJ Richards
Charlie Morse,
N. Adams, MA

Ed Winn 467. A very
dominant early '50's
team.


Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Don Wayman,
Cobleskill, NY

 


Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
George Welch,
Schenectady, NY

The Ray Vine 75


Courtesy of the
Starin Family
George Gallup,
 

Courtesy of the
Starin Family
Jerry Jerome,
Johnstown, NY

Courtesy of the
Starin Family
Carl Taber

Courtesy of the
Starin Family
Jack Harris,
Broadalbin, NY

Starin's 550
 


Courtesy of the
Starin Family
Doc Blanchard,
Gloversville, NY

The Herb Roots 271
with number changed.
Wrecked in the Jerry
Jerome crash in 1958.


Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Unknown
driver

Courtesy of Otto Graham
Nick Carter,
Dolgeville, NY

The Racin' Detective

 


Courtesy of the Starin Family
Chet flags off a 1950's feature. Jerry Jerome [far left] leads in the #777 which would become the 550Jr. The second car may be the Vogel 95 with Shoemaker aboard. The S-55 was Johnny Perry; the 62 was Joe Ciganenko in Frank Trinkhaus's entry; the 37 was likely Jeep Herbert; the 32, Paul Brozyna; the 3NY, Pete Corey; and Harold Betts was in the 40.
 


Photo Source Unknown
A good part of the Fonda contingent during the Golden Years. I recognize several: [Bottom row- Doc Blanchard, Unk., Unk., Unk., maybe Howie Westervelt, George Baumgardner, maybe Bob Fiske, Don Wayman, Tom Kotary, and Unk. [Top Row- Ollie Palmer, Unk. Earl Maille, maybe Geo. Gallup, maybe George Welch, Bill Wimble, Ken Shoemaker, Steve Danish, Jim Luke, Paul Marshall, Buck Holliday, unk., and Lou Lazarro. Probably Corey and Jeep are in there, but I can't see them.

LATER FONDA STARS


Source Unknown
Ron Narducci and the first -year driver Andy Romano roll by the announcer's stand and Chet Hames [on track by guard rails] during
slow warmups at Fonda around 1963.

THE GOLDEN ERA FONDA STARS AND CARS


Ladabouche Photo
Jack DuBrul,
Shelburne, VT
Drove at Catamount
Otter Creek, TRoad
 

Russ Bergh Photo
Howie Westervelt,
Ravena, NY
 

Russ Bergh Photo
Don Wayman,
Cobleskill, NY

Bill Fifield Photo
Robbie Kotary,
Rome, NY
Ward Petit's 148

Shaney Lorenzent Photo
Courtesy of Andy Fusco
Ron Narducci,
E. Haddam, CT

Shaney Lorenzent Photo
Courtesy of Andy Fusco
Russ Betz,
Hartford, CT

Ladabouche Collection
Jack Farquhar,
Euphrata, NY

 

Ladabouche Collection
Bill Wimble,
Lisbon, NY
Dave McCready's 33
Drove at Otter Creek
 

Courtesy of Mike Watts
Buck Holliday,
Waddington, NY
Floyd Geary's C38
Drove at Otter Creek

Ladabouche Collection
Skip Roots,
Gloversville, NY

Shaney Lorenzent Photo
Courtesy of Andy Fusco
Bob Leach,
, CT

Frank SImek Photo
Jerry Townley,
Catskill, NY
Pop Wilcox 32
Drove at Rutland
 Fairgrounds
 

From Dave Dykes' Site
via the HAMB Site

George Janoski,
Stafford Sprgs, CT

Drove at W.Brattleboro
in early days.
 

Ladabouche Collection
Don Wayman,
Cobleskill, NY

Cliff Wright's 9A

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham

Ken Meahl
Lockport, NY
Jerry Cook's 38
Drove at Otter Creek

John Grady Photo
Gaston Desmarais,
Tupper Lake, NY
Drove at Airborne
and Catamount

Frank Simek Photo
Ken Meahl
Lockport, NY
Jerry Cook's 38
Drove at Pico &
Fairmont.

 

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham

Jerry Townely
Catskill, NY

Tom Chewins' 108
Sponsored by former
driver Walt Roberts.

 

Mike Watts Photo
Bob Bruno,
Morrisonville, NY
Vic Wolfe's 66
Drove at Otter Creek,
Catamount, Airborne.

Ladabouche Collection
Dick Nephew,
Mooers Forks, NY
.
Allie Swears' 51
The car ran at Fairmont,
Airborne, & Otter Creek
 

John Grady Photo
Al Sanders,
?, NY
.
 

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Dutch Reed,
Glens Falls, NY
.
Joe Romano's 97
The car ran at Otter Creek

John Grady Photo
Ken Canestrari,
Cohoes, NY
.

John Grady Photo
Ken Canestrari,
Cohoes, NY
.

Courtesy of Bob Novak
"Blackjack" DuBrul,
Shelburne, VT

The car ran at Otter Creek

Ladabouche Collection
Jack Farquhar,
Ephrata, NY
.
Vince Barbuto's 2

Ladabouche Photo
Lou Smith,
Munnsville, NY
.
 

Ladabouche Photo
Mike Michaels [Suraske],
Oriskany, NY
.
The car ran at Otter Creek
 

Ladabouche Photo
Howie Fassett,
Canajoharie, NY
.

John Grady Photo
Tiger Tom Kotary,
Rome, NY
.
Joe Romano's 97
The car ran at Otter Creek

Courtesy of Steve Judd
Ron Quakenbush,
Fultonville, NY
.
 

Courtesy of Conde &
Parry Website
Tom Kotary,
Rome, NY
.
Kotary Family 12

Ladabouche Photo
Pete Corey,
Crescent, NY
.
Tony Villano's 37
The car ran at Fairmont
 

Ladabouche Photo
Ernie Gahan,
Dover, NH
.
Koszella's 15CT
 

John GradyPhoto
Pepper Eastman,
Madison, NY


 

Gater News Photo
Rene Charland,
Agawam, MA

Czepiel's 888
 

Frank Simek Photo
 
Johnny Kollar,
 Johnstown, NY
.

The car ran at D. Bowl

 


Courtesy of Cho Lee
Andre Manny,
Laval des Rapides, QC

The car ran at Catamount
and Thunder Road


 


Courtesy of Cho Lee
Bernie Miller,
Canastota, NY

Primarily a pavement driver.
Did run Catamount.


 


Courtesy of Otto Graham
Bill Rafter,
Clarence Center, NY
.
Gil Bruss''s 22
 

John Grady Photo
Bob Emsminger,
Gloversville, NY
.
Bruce Dostal - built
 

Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
Bobby Leach,
Connecticut

The car ran at Fairmont

NE Vint Mod Site Photo
Several Drivers

The Godfrey Wentzel 03
 


John Grady Photo
Bruce Dostal,
Johnstown, NY

Courtesy of Cho Lee
Jean-Paul Cabana,
Beloeil, QC

The car ran at Catamount
and Thunder Road

 

D. Bowl Program Photo
Will Cagle,
Tampa, FL

Occasional only.
 

John Grady Photo
Cam Gagliardi,
Lockport, NY

Occasional only.
 

Bob Mackey Photo
Courtesy of John Rock

Charlie Trombley,
Mooers Forks, NY
The Ross McNaughton 5  7/8
The car ran at Catamount
and Thunder Road

 

John Grady Photo
Charlie Peters,
Delanson, NY
The Car ended up as
Dick Diamond's 8Ball


 

Ladabouche Collection
This shot of Rene Charland with the Russ Betz 59 shows the Dick Diamond 8 Ball in the background [white].

John Grady Photo
Chuck Mahoney,
Rochester, NY
Peter Hollebrand 53
 

Ladabouche Collection
Pete Corey
Crescent, NY
The fabled Falcon
The car ran at Fairmont.
 

Ladabouche Collection
Pete Corey
Crescent, NY
The Studebaker - good
for 1/2 a season.

Ladabouche Collection
Pete Corey
Crescent, NY
The post - Studebaker
a coupe .

Bob Mackey Photo
via John Rock
Pete Corey,
Crescent, NY
Typical Corey cars
arriving at Airborne.

The car ran at Airborne
and Devil's Bowl
 

Russ Bergh Photo
via Otto Graham
Steve Danish,
Cropseyville NY
A man of stature deserves more
photos but all his cars looked
the same.

The car ran at Fairmont.

Courtesy of Jeff
Ackerman
Dick Clark,
Munnsville, NY

The car ran at Airborne.

John Grady Photo
Doc Blanchard,
Gloversville, NY
Actually this is his
pavement car.

The driver ran at Otter Creek.

Ladabouche Collection
Lee Millington,
Palatine Bridge NY
The Dick Bennett 71
had many, many drivers
at Fonda.

 

Ladabouche Collection
Jack Johnson,
Duanesburg, NY
The Tony Villano 37 -
his 1st ride.

The car ran at Fairmont
and Devil's Bowl.

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Bob SItterly,
St. Johnsville, NY
 

Russ Bergh Photo
Ladabouche Collection
Ed Ortiz,
Ransomville, NY
 

Russ Bergh Photo
via Otto Graham
Ed Pieniazek,
Schenectady, NY
Tony  Villano 37
The car ran at Fairmont.

Russ Bergh Photo
Ladabouche Collection
Ernie Gahan,
Dover,  NH
One of the former Chris Drellos
team cars.

The car ran at Otter Creek.
 

Russ Bergh Photo
via Otto Graham
George Welch,
Schenectady, NY
George was killed flagging
at another track.

 

Russ Bergh Photo
via Bill Fifield
Irv Taylor,
Rexford, NY
I was inducted into Weedsport
with Irv.. .  a wonderful man.

The team ran at Otter Creek.

Russ Bergh Photo
via Otto Graham
Jeep Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY
The Vince Barbuto 2

 

Russ Bergh Photo
Ladabouche Collection
Jack Farquhar,
Ephrata, NY
Vince Barbuto 2
lowered.

 

John Grady Photo
Jeep Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY
The Hammond & Strong 56 CT

The car ran at Fairmont.

Russ Bergh Photo
Jeep Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY
The Drellos backup car -
it was a dog.

Ladabouche Collection
Jerry Cook,
Lockport, NY
I was inducted into Weedsport
with Jerry.. .  we had a good time. The first variation of this car appeared and won at Otter Creek, with Ken Meahl driving, in 1963 [see right]

The car ran at Otter Creek
 

Ladabouche Collection
Ken Meahl,
Lockport, NY
Jerry
Cook's 38
The car won at Otter Creek
 

A Xerox of a
John Grady Photo
Jerry Pennock,
Warrensburgh, NY
Tony Villano 37

 

Courtesy of Wes Moody
Jim Hoyt,
Saranac Lake, NY
This car was involved in one
of the worst wrecks in Fonda
history.

 

Conde & Parry Site
Jim Kuke,
Utica, NY
The Pop Wilcox 32

 

Russ Bergh Photo
Ladabouche Collection
Jerry Townley,
Catskill, NY
Thomas Chewins 108

The car ran at Rutland
Fairgrounds.

Ladabouche Photo
Jollie Ollie Palmer,
Westmere, NY
IBill Fowler's 27Jr.

The car ran at Fairmont.

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
Ken Meahl,
Lockport, NY
Jerry
Cook's 38
The car won at Otter Creek.
Photo is above.

FONDA HOSTED A NUMBER OF NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL NORTHERN TOUR RACES PRIOR TO 1970


Ladabouche Collection
A handout advertising the 1967 Grand National race at Fonda. As you can see, there
were a few big names and the rest were field fillers.

 


More to Come

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