ALBANY - SARATOGA SPEEDWAY
"Malta", to Most of Us

Here's a long - overdue start on a track that really affected Vermont racing.


Ladabouche Collection
An advertising postcard mailed to my uncle, around 1964 or so. Not sure of exact year.

     The image of the Albany - Saratoga Speedway, when it started out, was not even close to the way the track is looked at today. On the wings of recent television successes on ABC's Wide World of Sports with demo derbies, the asphalt racing interests from the Greater New York City area came up to the Capital District area and built a state - of - the - art race track, square in the middle of traditional New York dirt coupe country. I was not very old when this was done, so some of these facts may need adjusting, but it appeared that the same bunch that worked with Larry Mendelson around Long Island, seemed to be hooked up with these guys. The promoter was listed in Cavalcade of Auto Racing as Joe Lesik.

 


Cavalcade of Racing Photo
Charland was a big factor with the Czepiel 888, built by Fred Rosner.


     The new track would remind me of Ken Squier's Catamount Stadium design, with modern facilities and attention to getting away from that bucolic, outhouse-style facility that had, for so long, been the norm for small-time stock car tracks out in the country. Located in the town of Malta, right on Interstate 87 [the Northway], A-S attracted the leading pavement teams of the day. At first, it didn't appear that many of the dyed - in - the - wool dirt guys from places like Fonda or the Valley would be interested in running there.
      Eventually, locals like Lou Lazarro and others would change their setups on a Friday night and join the fray against out-of-staters like George Pendergast and Don MacTavish. Eventually, as evidenced by the fields that Catamount would get, the dirt and pavement modified teams all became one big group. My particular favorite at Malta was the Semi Late Model division, that featured mostly early 1950's late model - bodied cars. But, it did leave a loophole that allowed a group attached to Rene Charland to field two 1937 Chevrolet sedans which raised hell in the division, driven by Al Fini [Red Carr] and George Rettew.

 


Riverside Park History Site Photo - Probably by John Grady
George Rettew, with one of the Charland cars.


      The track began to have a strong connection to Fairmont and then to Devil's Bowl, as teams like Donnie Antolick, from Stillwater, NY would bring their semi late models up to Vermont to race, when they could. Eventually, as we all know, the original promoters cleared out and C.J. Richards took over the track, making the unprecedented move of placing good Devils Bowl clay on top of the paved surface. It's been that way ever since, and seems to be prospering now under second generation Richard family members - in particular, Bruce.

EARLIER SPORTSMAN AND MODIFIED TEAMS


Cavalcade Photo by John Grady
Dennis Zimmerman,
Glastonbury, CT

Photo by John Grady
Ken Shoemaker,
Westmere, NY
Cliff Wright's 24

 

 


Cavalcade Courtesy of Mike Kamm
Bruce Doestal,
Johnstown, NY

Photo by John Grady
Paul Hamel,
Leveldes Rapides,QU
George Pendergast often
drove this at Malta, too
 

Photographer Unknown
Bill Slater,
Connecticut

 

Cavalcade Photo
Jerry Cook,
Lockport, NY
A-S starter
Johnny Telleni
 

Photo Courtesy of MikeWatts
Don MacTavish,
Dover, MA

Photo by John Grady
Ernie Gahan,
Dover, NH

Ladabouche Collection
Pete Hamilton,
Dedham, MA
The Worcester Sand
& Gravel 69
 

Russ Bergh Photo
Pete Corey,
Crescent, NY

Photo by John Grady
Andy Romano,
Johnstown, NY


Jean-Paul Cabana,
Beloeil, QU

Photo by John Grady
 


Source Unknown
 Eddie Flemke, Sr,
New Britain, CT
The Judkins 2X

BobMackey Photo
 Bob Bruno,
Morrisonville, NY
The Vic Wolfe 66
 

Ladabouche Collection
 Nelson Moore,
Fort Edward, NY
The Dooger Jones
25VT
 

Cavalcade of Racing
Rene Charland
Agawam, MA
The Czepiel 888

John Grady Photo
 George Pendergast,

 

Bob Mackey Photo
Courtesy of John Rock

 Billy Harmon,
Niantic, CT

 

Bob Mackey Photo
Courtesy of John Rock

 Elton Hill,
, CT
 

Courtesy of Bill Fifield

 Lou Lazzaro,
Utica, NY

 


John Grady Photo
Robbie Kotary,
Rome, NY
Bill Fowler's 27Jr.
 

John Grady Photo
Richie Evans,
Rome, NY
Brief stint in the
Cliff Wright 24.

 

John Grady Photo
Dave Kotary,
Rome, NY
 

John Grady Photo
Ernie Gahan,
Dover, NH
 

John Grady Photo
Pete Hamilton,
Dedham, MA

Ladabouche Collection
Nelson Moore,
Fort Edward, NY
The Dooger Jones 25Vt
 

Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
Bill Wimble,
Bridgeport, NY

Courtesy of Otto Graham
Denis Giroux,
Quebec City, QU

Courtesy of Mike Pa
Bernie Miller,
Canestota, NY
See the large photo just below.

Courtesy of Mike Pa
Buddy Krebs,
Hartford, CT
At Riverside, but he
likely used the car at Malta.

Courtesy of Mike Pa
Rene Charland,
Agawam,  MA
The Malta - based
Roland Ballinger 302.


 

Courtesy of John Grady
Pete Corey,
Cresdent, NY
Shaking down the newly -
built Mustang at Malta.
 

Courtesy of Mike Pa
Ken Canestrari,
Cohoes, NY
He still drives.

 
     


Photo Source Unknown
Phil Spiak leads a full field down to the green prior to his going South to run the Grand Touring Division.
Also identifiable are - 41, Bernie Miller; and 97, Andy Romano.

8MM FILM STILL SHOTS OF EARLIER SPORTSMAN AND MODIFIED TEAMS


From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Doc Blanchard lines up
at Malta in the late 1960's.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Don MacTavish with
the black CIrcle J.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Ernie Gahan,
Dover, NH [rt]

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Ken Shoemaker,
Westmere, NY
Cliff Wright's
famed 24NY

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Mack Miller,
Ellenburg Depot, NY
A classic low - budget
team from Airborne.
 

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Ray Hendricks
The Tant/Mitchell
11 VA

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve Bosley, manning
the L&R Speed Shop
truck at Malta.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve Bosley, in the
 Malta pits.
   

SEMI LATE MODEL TEAMS


Ladabouche Collection
Classic Semi Late Model action at Malta. Jerry Pennock, Warrensburg, NY spins the 59 as Kenny Platt,
Rome, NY and Donny Antolick, Stillwater, NY find room to avoid him.


Photo by John Grady
Foster Wendell,
Greenfield Ctr, NY

Source Unknown
Norm Moyer,
Oneida, NY

 

 


Courtesy of Conde/Parry Site
Ralph Holmes,
Oneida, NY

Photo by John Grady
Red Carr,
Massachusetts
Real name, Al Fini

Photo by John Grady
Ken Platt,
Rome, NY
Roehrig's 99

 

Photo by John Grady
George Rettew,
Chicopee, MA

Courtesy of Steve Judd
Don Antolick,
Stillwater, NY

 

Photo by John Grady
Harry Coonradt,
Malta, NY

Photo by John Grady
Wayne Perkins,
Greenwich,NY

Photo by John Grady
Dick Smith,
Crescent, NY

Photo by John Grady
Tommie Corellis,
Mechanicsville, NY
 


Source Unknown
Bill Richards and Harvey Tattersall, Jr. join semi late model winner, George Rettew
and starter Johnny Telleni in victory lane in the track's earlier years.

 

CHARGER TEAMS


Photo Source Unknown
Larry Curtis,
Argyle, NY

Photo by John Grady
Dave Depew,
Argyle, NY
 

Photo by John Grady
Ken Boutwell,
Bomoseen, VT

Courtesy of Ed Fabian
Chargers in action

 
       

Photo by John Grady
Bill Brooking,
, NY

 
             


HAMB Photo
Albany - Saratoga hosted NASCAR Grand National races in both 1970 and 1971 - both called
The Albany - Saratoga 250. Richard Petty won both. Bobby Isaac led a lot of laps at both races.

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