VOLUME 1, NUMBER 5                                                                                                                     SATURDAY FEBRUARY 28, 2009

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Featuring Stories, Results, Photos and Articles From Northeast Racing's Past

VINTAGE RACE RESULTS

Harrington Wins Gold Cup Challenge Race at Thompson Speedway-1950
Hop Harrington of Providence, Rhode Island today won the Gold Cup Challenge Race. Driving a well-timed race and some luck riding the running board, Hop Harrington finished the 50-lap feature here at Thompson Speedway with his coil gone, winning himself a beautiful trophy.
Full Story>>

Pine Bowl Cash to Centinaro-1963
Before a bumper crowd of race fans and thrill show devotees, Charlie Centinaro of Waterbury, Conn., returned to the “Speedway in the Pines” and left conqueror of a top field of stock aces Sunday afternoon.
 Full Story>>


Bobby Black Cuts Loose to Score in West Haven Race -1964
Bobby Black, cutting loose with one of his best driving exhibitions of the season, won the 35-lap feature here at the West Haven Speedway tonight.
 Full Story>>


Billy Harman Goes Home To Speedbowl And Takes Checker-1975
It was “Home Town Night” Saturday at the New London Waterford Speedbowl, as nearby Niantic and Waterford drivers captured both feature races at the oval!
 Full Story>>


N

By Pete Zanardi

September 1999 Trackside Magazine

ace car drivers never forget the track on which they cut their teeth or made their ways into the record books. It’s as if they leave a piece of themselves behind, even when their racing careers take them far from the bullrings of their early years.

Such is the case with Hall of Famer Gene Bergin and Riverside Park Speedway.

Qualifying in the Massachusetts speedplant back in the 1950s and early 60s was no easy matter. Avoiding the consi was of paramount importance. Accomplishing that meant earning a feature berth via a heat and semi.

Bergin, a Riverside regular through most of the 1950s, recalls a particular semi.

”I was leading and entering the third turn when I just lost it,” he begins. I wound up over in turn four with my front end in the fence. I put the thing in reverse, and then it occurred to me I might as well leave it right there instead of trying to find low gear. I just kept right on going in reverse.”

He backed over the line in a qualifying spot.

”I’ll always remember Ralph Boehm, who followed me across, saying ‘damn you Bergin, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going,’” Bergin continues. “I think Harvey Tattersall made a rule the next day – no more backing over the finish line.”


Harvey Tattersall made "The Laws" when Gene Bergin raced under the United Stock Car Club sanction at Riverside Park Speedway. (Steve Kennedy Photo)

Tattersall, who ran things at Riverside (a fifth-mile until 1972) for the United Stock Car Racing Club for so many years, is just one of those remembered by Bergin, the 1962 champ at “The Park.”

He was like a knight in shining armor,” Bergin continues. “What he said was the law. He would stand behind the starter, making sure everything was done his way. He was always dressed so well, and that big cowboy hat was his trademark.”

The end of Riverside Park grieves Bergin, now a Florida resident.

”I remember a lot of race tracks, but not like I remember Riverside Park,” he declares.

Bergin won 16 Riverside features between 1955 and 1963, many coming in two of the most famous cars in the track’s history – the Walker Motor Sales M6 and the Flying Zero, the latter owned by Jim Jorgensen and Dexter Burnham.

It was the first win (Riverside records date it July 23, 1955) in the Norm Keis No. 21 Dodge Red Ram that “put me in a different class,” Bergin says.

”I finally got a win at a track where you got your name in the newspaper,” he said. At that point, Riverside was years ahead of everybody else.

He had won at Rheinbeck, the Pine Bowl and Menand in New York State before that first Riverside win, “but I couldn’t compete at Riverside,” he says.

”I didn’t have the equipment for some time,” Bergin related. “There were other tracks around, but they didn’t have the atmosphere Riverside did. That was where the money was, where the publicity was, where you built a reputation.”

It was also where Buddy Krebs, Jocko Maggiacomo, Ed Patnode, Ed Flemke, Dick Dixon, Jerry Humiston, Benny Germano, George Lombardo, Moe Gherzi and Rene Charland were.

“Tough guys, every one of them,” recalls Bergin. “Nothing was easy because you had 40 to 50 cars every Saturday night.”
 

One of Bergin’s early wins (“it was back in the Flathead days”) came in the Town Line Auto Body No. 36.

”I was running like fourth and all hell broke loose in front of me coming out of four,” he remembers. “I went to turn left and somebody came down and I went over Art Howard’s left front and continued up over the top of his car, engine radiator – and when I came down, I was over the finish line.”


Gene Bergin in the Town Line Auto Body #36 in which he recorded one of his early career wins.

Bergin, however, remembers, “How efficient the place ran,” especially the front end loader “that just picked your crashed car up and carried it away.” The stadium effect was special. He loved “looking up and seeing people who were looking down at me and what I was doing.”

And there were people.                                          PAGE TWO--CLICK HERE>>

 

 

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