PICO RACEWAY

Rutland, Vermont


Courtesy of  Dan Kearney
This is the only known poster from Pico Raceway. Dan Kearney generously allowed us to photograph it.

COMPETITOR PHOTOS LINK


Courtesy of Lew Boyd

We now know this to Pico's opening day, 1951.

I HAVE SEEN A BRIEF FILM CLIP FROM THIS OPENING DAY. CLICK HERE TO GO TO A PAGE ON THAT.

Supposedly a shot of Pico Raceway action with unrecognizable cars, this shot donated by publisher Lew Boyd shows a very dusty track, with the bleacher area set above it. Concessions would have been behind the bleachers, as would the parking. Note that some cars parked on a hill above the track. To the right, out of sight of this shot would be the Rutland Railroad tracks that bordered the property. The judges' stand in the apparently-muddy infield is a very small and simple structure. A small child at the time, I can remember wondering what happened to those tires that had been sunk to border the racing surface. A recent microfilm of a sports page from the Rutland Herald has verified that this is - in fact - the Pico track [first year before the cement wall].


Rutland Herald - Aldo Merusi - Courtesy of John Nelson

This is the microfilmed Rutland Herald  photo, found by John Nelson and taken by perhaps the Herald's most famous photographer, Aldo Merusi. Note the sand bank and the wooden stairs. This is apparently the first race of the first program at Pico. Below is a clearer shot, added on October 11, 2007.


Rutland Herald - Aldo Merusi - Courtesy of Rutland Historical Society

Same scene, view further back. We need help with who these cars are. The outside pole is a #79, with dice on the sides.
Likely, the inside car in the second row is the #47 I have yet to identify. This is the best shot of the judges' stand.

        Pico Raceway was built to the south of Rutland in 1951 by a partnership of Pasquale "Patsy" Romano, father of the Romano brothers, who owned a successful local trucking outfit, local farmer Abe Newman, and Rutland County Sheriff, Gino Franzoni. One of the Romano brothers, Al, also was a successful driver at the track. The track ran around 1951 to 1952, having to share the somewhat limited number of competitors in the area with the old Fairmont Park Motor Speedway of Hugh Young, over in nearby Fair Haven, Vermont.

                        After that, it appears that unpaid bills forced the closing of the track. This is unfortunate because of its high quality infrastructure and seating. Other groups signed up to run races in 1953 and 1954; but, they never got them off the ground. One pair even aligned with the Tri State sanctioning body before failing [for whatever reason] to get one show off the ground.

 


Rutland Herald - Aldo Merusi - Courtesy of Rutland Historical Society

Another field from opening day takes off in front of the stands which, in year one, did not have the protection of the cement wall yet.
The middle car, definitely from Utica, NY, apparently won the heat. It is also possible that this is the same race as the photo
above and the #15 was the car that started outside pole.

 

            I was not very old when Pico existed, but I can remember Al Romano's 303 car, nicknamed the Bumblebee because of the distinctive noise the exhaust pipes made. "Three oh three, the Bumble Bee !", the track announcer, Red Wildey, would dutifully intone every time he mentioned his boss's car.

           I also now that the track featured such prominent drivers as Steve Danish, from Cropseyville, NY.; Jeep Herbert, from Schenectady, NY.; Dave Brooks, from Manchester, VT.; Gene Tatro, of Manchester Depot, VT.; New Yorker Spence Parkhurst; George Janoski, Stafford Springs, CT.; and Jollie Ollie Palmer, of Westmere, NY.

           The track also had its less - prominent locals such as Fair Haven's Vic Love, Proctor, Vermont's "Steady Tony" Provencher, Pittsford, Vermont's Henry LaVictoire-"The Crazy Frenchman", Cavendish's Carroll "Crash" Davis, Jerry King, and many more. Keene, New Hampshire's legendary Buddy Bardwell assures me he ran at Pico.

 


Rutland Herald - Courtesy of John Nelson

This Rutland Herald article on opening day at Pico lists a few drivers and other details; but, the most interesting data is about how many children were apparently admitted. From what I can tell most were unsupervised and caused problems - because the next Herald had the ad below:

            I can remember a later year when they opened the track, they once had such a bout with mud that not only did a car get stuck in the infield, but so did at least one wrecker hitched to that car. Multi-decade racing veteran Clarence "Butch" Jelley speaks of the sandbanks that the Romanos put along the track, supposedly to catch errant cars before they strayed too far off the track. He wasn't too crazy about them. I wonder now, with the recently - acquired photo at the top of the page, if he wasn't recalling that sand bank one would have to scale to get to the bleachers.
           Pico was always making a big deal out of its seating capacity, as can be seen by the following three Rutland Herald ads in which the capacity continues to climb. Some of this might be explained when - after the big cement wall went up - the bleachers were improved.


Rutland Herald ads - Courtesy of John Nelson

           I vaguely recall the fans' parking lot behind the grandstands and a few concession buildings of one sort or another behind the grandstands, as well. I remember a couple of those cheap little plastic stock cars bought for me as souvenirs - sure wish I had them now. I didn't care about driving, but I wanted to be a flagger like Chet Hames.

 


Bill Ladabouche Photo

Pico's Guardian Angel, Ed Fabian, stands in the middle of the Turn Three banking, trying to get a feel for the track he helped to grade in 1952.


Les King Photo Courtesy of Norm Vadnais

Art Morgan [43], Steve Danish [white car], and two others fly past the same
spot at where Ed is standing - except it was 1952.


Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
This blurry shot [my fault] is of construction at the track. One of the Fabian dump trucks is coming onto the track from the right of the grandstands. I hope to have a better quality shot of this later.

            I believe the track closed by 1954. But now I have been receiving information that it might have continued on under the name Green Mountain Speedway until 1955. My family went up to the track and drove around its neglected, wash-boarded surface about a year later, but it never opened again. Eventually, GE built a huge plant on the property and I can find no trace of the track any more. Being a defense contractor and all, they are not too crazy about having people snoop around the periphery of their grounds. Actually, the plant itself is probably larger than the track was...so there are few traces left to find. After walking the periphery of the GE property with Ed Fabian, the Guardian Angel of Pico Raceway, we found what we think is the back stretch and part of turn three.

 

 
Bill Ladabouche Photo

This view, down the old backstretch, shows the beginning of the Turn Three banking. Note the trees.
They are very similar to the trees behind Al Romano in his 1952 action shot above.

 

 
Bill Ladabouche Photo

This full view of the old backstretch, shows the beginning of the Turn Three banking and the banking that even the stretch had..

    Sadly, the Romano family recently disposed of all their records and papers on the track before I could contact them. There is very little left of the history of Pico now. If the above picture is to be believed as being Pico, it is the only picture I have. It would appear that the track was down in a sort of depression, with the stands above on a sandy bank.

Special thanks to Ed Fabian for some of the information in this informal history.


Rutland Herald - Ad - Courtesy of John Nelson

  
Terraserver Satellite Photo 

This is a Terraserver Satellite photo of the General Electric plant whose grounds have obliterated all traces of Pico Raceway. The track would have sat approximately from that white rectangle on the roof to road moving at a slight angle the left center towards the middle bottom of the photo. The bleachers nearly backed up to the road that curves around the property at the top of the photo.


Ladabouche Photo
The General Electric plant, as it looked in 1977, when I first re-visited the site.

    
Cavalcade of Auto Racing Photo

Rutland's Al Romano, shown here tuning a race car at Fairmont in 1964, was not only the owner of Pico, but also a prominent driver there. He drove the car #303, nicknamed "The Bumblebee" due to its distinctive header noise.

    
Photographer
probably RussBergh
 
 

Pico fans were fortunate to have one of the popular and colorful flaggers in all of racing - Chet Hames, of Saratoga Springs, New York [shown here at Fonda].

POSSIBLE PICO COMPETITORS

 


Courtesy of Ed Fabian
Al Romano, posing somewhere. We are now
sure this is at Pico. Note the cement retaining wall.

Courtesy of Ed Fabian
Al Romano, p
utting the Bumblebee through its
paces through turns 3 and 4 at Pico.

These photos [above] of Al Romano, shown here are the only ones I can currently guarantee are from Pico Raceway.

  JollieOllie.jpg (284244 bytes)     Jollie_Ollie_Earlier_JO_Stateline.JPG (209041 bytes)
Photographer unknown  
Jollie Ollie Palmer
Westmere, NY

This car absolutely ran at Pico. It's one of the few I can remember distinctly.

Tatro91.1stcar.jpg (10124 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Photo
Gene Tetrault,
Manchester Depot, VT 

Tetrault_Alone.JPG (35024 bytes)

37Jeeplanghorne.jpg (146490 bytes)
Otto Graham Website Photo
Howard "Jeep" Herbert,
Rotterdam, NY

 
Danish.19.jpg (137154 bytes)
Rick Parry Photo

The Danish Chevrolet loaded up at the Pleasant Valley Garage in Cropseyville. Given the era, it could have been headed for Pico.

Danish_Sedan_Sheppard.JPG (226052 bytes)
Courtesy of John Danish

This is probably the first Danish Chevy. It was sometimes driven by Freddy Sheppard.

 

danish_at_pico_orfairmont.JPG (112346 bytes)
Photo Courtesy of John Danish

Steve Danish relaxes after a race - either at Pico or at Fairmont Park. John Danish wasn't quite sure which. That is probably Mrs. Danish at right.

 
Courtesy of John Danish

Steve in the 61 Jr., sometimes driven by brother, Al Danish.

 

Geo Rogers.jpg (31363 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Photo
George Rogers,
Castleton, VT

Rogers was a regular at the rival Fairmont track, but he did run at Pico occasionally.

Buddy_Bardwell_1st_Car.JPG (84770 bytes)
Buddy Bardwell Collection Photo 
Buddy Bardwell, 
Keene, NH
Art Cody.jpg (99551 bytes)
Ken Paulsen Site Photo
Art Cody, 
Keene, NH
Nephew 6 seven eigths.JPG (58864 bytes)
Photo Courtesy of  Yves LaDouceur
Dick Nephew, 
Mooers Forks, NY
Bunn_NEVintModSite.jpg (115270 bytes)
New England Vintage Mod Site Photos

More likely than not, the great Hully Bunn  ran at Pico at least once or twice.

Hully_Bunn_138.jpg (106378 bytes)

 

Corey_Mott3.jpg (13901 bytes)     Corey_Mott3a.jpg (26186 bytes)
          Otto Graham Website Photo         
Pete Corey,
Crescent, NY

Bob Mott's #3

Very_early_Corey.jpg (31508 bytes)
Herbert  Family  Photo  
Another possible Corey ride at Pico

parkhurst_danish_fonda_promo.jpg (124767 bytes)
Photo Courtesy of  Riting Collection
Spence Parkhurst [#36]
Saratoga Springs, NY

McDowell Photo Courtesy of 
C.J. Richards
rounds_101_mcdowell.jpg (137440 bytes)
Vintage Modifieds.com Photo
Don Rounds
Apponaug, Rhode Island 

He ran in this area during the 1950's. This shot is at Stateline, in Bennington.

Ted_Brown_ClaremontJalopy.JPG (51986 bytes)
Courtesy of Neal Davis 
Ted Brown,
Keene, NH

 

rene_charland_12.jpg (126965 bytes)
McDowell  Photo  
Rene Charland,
Holyoke, MA

 

 

ButchJelley.jpg (32968 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Collection
Bob Frazier Photographer

Although he had to have been very young, Pownal, Vermont's Butch Jelley asserts that he ran at Pico and that he remembers heavy sand banks placed around the track to "catch" errant cars.


King Family Collection
Jerry King,
Rutland, VT

      King's 5 Aces was a regular at Pico.
CLICK HERE for a page
on Jerry 

vic_love.jpg (121397 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Photo
Vic Love,
Fair Haven, VT

      Love drove primarily at the hometown Fairmont track, but he made the occasional appearance in Rutland.

geo_pritchard.jpg (38377 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Photo
George Pritchard,
Castleton, VT

 

DizzyDavis.22.jpg (19324 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Photo
Skip Wilcox,
Whitehall, NY

 

early_cecil_bosworth.jpg (110297 bytes)
Keene Sentinel Photo
Cecil Bosworth,
Athol, Mass.

 

Earliest_Loomis_P61.jpg (20943 bytes)
Bill Ladabouche Photo
The Loomis Brothers,
Granville, NY
 
Three Wide Photo
George Janoski,
Stafford Springs, CT

A later car than Pico

 
Fonda Promo Photo
Walt Roberts,
Albany, NY

Les King Photo
Link Pettit
New York

Courtesy of Jerry King
Art Morgan
Address Unknown

Courtesy of Norm Vadnais

Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
Henry LaVictorie,
Pittsford, VT

The Four Crazy Frenchmen were LaVictorie, Eli Vadnais, Homer Vadnais, and Ray Pomainville

Courtesy of Norm Vadnais
The second car - a five window coupe. That's David and Norm Vadnais on the trunk.

Photographer Unknown
Dave Brooks,
Manchester, VT

King Photo Courtesy of 
Provencher Family
Steady Tony Provencher,
Proctor, VT

Courtesy of 
Mark LeFrancois

For more pictures CLICK HERE

McDowell Photo Courtesy of 
C.J. Richards
Charlie Morse,
North Adams, MA

King Collection
John DeGraff,
Address Unknown


Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
John DeGraff, checking on
another driver who's wrecked.


Herbert Family Collection
Jack Barney,
Bennington, VT

King Collection


Ladabouche Photo
This model of the car Carroll "Crash" Davis, from Cavensdish drove at Pico is very  close the real
 thing, according to his sons, historians Neal and Rob Davis.

POSSIBLE PICO COMPETITORS LIST
From Me and Ed, Mostly

Anderson, Bill
Audreak, Joe
Baker, Ed
Bardwell, Buddy
Barney, Jack

Brooks, Dave
Brown, Ted
Bosworth, Cecil
Bunn, Hully
Charland, Rene
Cody, Art                   
Connors, George
Corey, Pete              
Danish, Al                          
Danish, Steve                 
Davis, Carroll
Davis, Wally
DeGraff, John
Farnsworth, Ronnie
Goddard, Leon
Goodrich, Russell
Goodwin, Peanie
Goodwin, Pop
Herbert, Howard [Jeep]
Janoski, George
King, Jerry
Kyer, Harold




 

 

Langlois, Ted
LaVictorie, Henry
Loomis brothers
Love, Vic
Morgan, Art
Morris, Leon
Morse, Charlie
Owen, Gordy
Palmer, [Jollie] Ollie
Parkhurst, Spence
Peterson, Jackie
Pettit, Link
Pomainville, Ray
Pritchard, George
Provencher, Tony
Rabideau, Moran [Sonny]
Roberts, Walt
Rogers, George
Romano, Al
Ronda, Richard
Rounds, Don
Rousseau, Art
Shoemaker, Ken
Shover, Charlie
Tetrault, Gene
Vogel, Ted
Wilcox, Skip            

 


Bill Ladabouche Photo

A piece of discarded metal ? Ed and I prefer to think this is something like a piece off Steve Danish's car. It sits in the woods on the former Pico site.

EXTRA TONY PROVENCHERS PHOTOS


Courtesy of Deborah Danforth
Tony examines the car after an apparent rollover.

Courtesy of Deborah Danforth
The car on its wheels and back home.

 

TED VOGEL, SR.  PHOTOS


Courtesy of Ted Vogel Family
T
he majority of the Vogel family Poses
by dad's car in the infield/pits at Pico
around 1951.

Courtesy of Ted Vogel Family
Les King Photo

A win at Pico.

 


Courtesy of Ted Vogel Family
The first Vogel car on its trailer.
 
Courtesy of Ted Vogel Family
Les King Photo

A
young Ken Shoemaker, with a
Vogel car, at Pico around 1951.
 

 


Courtesy of Mark LeFrancois
The Loomis Brothers' P.38, driven by Nelson Moore, probably ran at Pico.

PICO LAYOUT  PHOTOS

 



Courtesy of  Jerry King
This is the best shot of Pico I have - a race getting lined up. I think we see [from left] 5 Aces Jerry King, Rutland; unknown #6;  6 7/8 George Connors, Danby;  13, possibly Buddy Bardwell, Keene, NH; unknown; and 43, Art Morgan.
 

Courtesy of  Jerry King
The Pico. heat race rolls off into turn one. You get a good look at Turn One and the grandstands.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
Another race getting lined up. Jerry King is in the
back, next to whom I believe is Carroll "Crash" Davis of Cavendish, VT. I don't know the other cars yet.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
An infield pit area confab with some of the regulars: [left] Keith Napp, mechanic for the #43; Art Morgan, with the belt, driver of the 43; Don LaFrancis, partner of Jerry King with the 5 Aces; King; and an unknown man.


Courtesy of  Jerry King
The muddiness of the track [when it wasn't dusty] is evident as Jerry King works on his windshield with partner, Don LaFrancis [hat] looking on.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
The grandstands are easily visible as Jerry King leads a field of cars out of Turn Four. The track in this photo at far right is still somewhat visible on the site today. One can see the railroad tracks, on which many people stood to avoid paying admission.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
The turns three and four are seen well here as a good-sized field slides through. The people on the tracks are clearly recognizable as are a few of the cars. Third from right is 43, Art Morgan; fourth from right, is 61, Steve Danish [or maybe 61, Jr. Al Danish; and possibly second from right is the 9 of Walt Roberts. The car leading appears to be the #6 also seen in the first photo and also seen in a Stateline Speedway photo racing Jeep Herbert.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
Jerry King earns a muddy victory at Pico.
Note the famous wall in the background. After the race Jerry enjoyed a beer in the pits among his fans.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
Jerry King's car is looked over by spectators
dressed in varying degrees of formality.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
The crowd rises in anticipation of Jerry King's
5 Aces leading the field down the frontstretch.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
Jerry King, at speed, in Turn Three. To compare this location, I am also showing Al Roman in a similar shot, in a similar spot on the track.

Courtesy of  Ed Fabian

Courtesy of  Jerry King
Jerry King, at the Tydol station of his partner and friend, Don LaFrancis. The station was located across from the fairgrounds and the Fairmont Restaurant, on the corner Park Street and  South Main Street.

Courtesy of  Jerry King
Jerry King and some of his family greet fans  after a race at Pico Raceway.

Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
A small field of cars goes by the filled grandstands at Pico. We need help with cars and drivers. The 80 may be eventual feature winner Roy "Pappy" Forsythe.


Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
Chet Hames flags off a heat on opening day.
We need help with cars and drivers.


Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
#79, with dice on the dice on the sides,
negotiates the front stretch.
We need help with cars and drivers.

Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
A heat flies by on opening day.
We need help with cars and drivers.

Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
Car X-10 wrecks off turn three. Note all the people watching from the railroad tracks. John DeGraff is the driver at left and the unknown driver of the X-10
is in front of the car.

Courtesy of  Rutland Historical Society
Photo by Aldo Merusi
This early Pico race winner is clearly from Utica, NY.
It could be Johnny Velletto, or Junior Bianco.

Courtesy of  Norm Vadnais
It is now believed this is another shot of action in Pico's third turn. 43 is Art Morgan; the white car is almost certainly Steve Danish; and we see that #47 in other photos on this page.

VOGEL NOTES

Mrs. Ted Vogel, Sr. took down lineups of races her husband attended, in a notebook a portion of which I got to see. There were a few references to the Pico track. However, it was around 1954 or 1955 and the track was referred to as Green Mountain Speedway. That version had only about one, very poorly attended race. There were notes of the drivers also going to the track one other time that
year and refusing to run because they could not be guaranteed enough of a purse.

B29 Maille Earl, from Glens Falls]
F84 Al Perry
15 Wally LaBelle, Glens Falls
95 George Baumgardner, Saratoga
91 Gene Tetrault, Manchester Depot
1 Howard Minthorn
65 Coons, Ed
3 Peter Corey, Crescent
61 Steve Danish, Cropseyville

 

 

Return to the Main Page

Return to the Main News Page

Return to the All Links Page

Return to the Pre-Catamount History Page