VOLUME 1, NUMBER 1                                                                                                                          SATURDAY JANUARY 24, 2009

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


Zimmerman Takes Down Plainville Feature - 1964
Glastonbury’s Dennis Zimmerman spurted into the lead on a 17th lap restart and went on to win the 25-lap open competition feature at the Plainville Stadium Speedway yesterday. Zimmerman took over the front spot from Bob Vivari of Meriden who had led from the fourth lap. Full Story>>

Burgess-Flemke Star in Stock Car Show At Candlelite Oval - 1951
Bridgeport, Conn. – Moon Burgess, of Meriden roared to victory in the 100-lap feature race which highlighted a slam-bang stock car racing program at Candlelite Stadium Monday night. The veteran Silver City pilot took over the lead mid-way in the race and held it to the finish. Full Story>>

Riverside 300 Goes to Mordino - 1966
Tony Mordino last Saturday night won the third race of the “triple crown” when he came home first in the 300-lap main event here at Riverside Park Speedway. This also was the final show of the 1966 racing season here at Riverside. Full Story>>
Leo Cleary Takes Big T “Indian Day” - 1976
“Indian Day” at the Thompson Speedway saw the mainstays of racing, the little guy, make off with the big bucks as Leo Cleary outraced Ronnie McCann to the wire and take his first win of the year at the “Big T”. Full Story>>

Bob Riley Takes Down Feature At Danbury - 1980
Norwalk veteran Bob Riley, who blistered the SNYRA ranks last season with seven wins, took the Season Opener this season, but had been shut out of Victory Lane since, got back into those once familiar surroundings once again last Saturday night, winning a hard-fought 25-lap main event. Art Dave, Don Popowski and Don LaJoie were next in line in the event, played out before a crowd of 7,343 race fans. Full Story>>







The Zanardi Files
From time to time you will find award winning  journalist Pete Zanardi's vintage stories on this web site. Pete has written for numerous auto racing publications over the years including National Speed Sport News, Speedway Scene, Stock Car Racing Magazine, Trackside Magazine, besides covering Auto Racing & Baseball for the old Hartford, Ct. Times and later the New Haven, Ct. Register. Pete has also served as Media Coordinator for Stafford Motor Speedway & The Waterford Speedbowl and currently handles Public Relations for the North Eastern Midget Association (NEMA). In 2008 Pete was inducted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame.

This is the very first auto racing article Pete Zanardi wrote. It was in the August 22, 1963 “The New Era,” a weekly newspaper in Deep River, CT. Zanardi, between his junior and senior years at Boston University, was a summer intern.

What Makes A Race Car Driver?
Chester’s Joe Tiezzi Explains
August 22, 1963

By Pete Zanardi
Those who like it usually love it and, after a while, it becomes an obsession, a way of life. Those who dislike it usually hate it, many without ever having seen it.

The sport is auto racing. In the last five years the sport has made great gains in this area. The new popularity, however, isn’t confined to our area.

Joe Tiezzi in his Uncle Barney's #230 in the  1960's.

The sport has continued to gain since the end of World War II and today ranks just behind horse racing as the No. 2 spectator sport in the nation.

Within our area there are a number of outstanding race cars and race drivers. From Haddam comes Barney Tiezzi’s 230; Putt Maffi and Walt Kensel of Chester [with] the very successful 53; Westbrook Garage owns the oft victorious 716 and Bob Vitari and Vic Bombaci’s V-8 is one of the outstanding cars in the Northeast. Ron Narducci of East Haddam and Joe Tiezzi of Chester are two of the area’s drivers.

“Racing Bug” Bites Hard

The growth of racing, here and throughout the nation, has been marked by two factors. The racing bug has bitten an increasing number of people and has affected another group in the exact negative. While many ask for more, many ask for none at all.

A description of auto racing can be difficult. The shop talk of camshafts and crankshafts, of roll bars and nerf bars or mag wheels and racing slicks isn’t such that it will be acquired overnight. A much better description is a look at the people who are active in it… people like young Joe Tiezzi…

Ask Joe to describe racing and he will tell you, ‘It’s bumpy, heartbreaking and sometimes it drives you right up to the limits. You know, like striking out with the bases loaded. But it’s worth it and when you do a good job, nobody has to tell you [because] you know it. It’s a good sport; put it this way, it’s my sport.”

Joe drives the 230 at Waterford [Speedbowl] every Saturday night and anything else he can get anywhere else. Racing at a track were most drivers have been active for at least 10 years, 22-year old Joe has won the plaudits of many for his work with the 230…He admits to being “a little green’ but the record shows Joe has improved with each meet.

The Inevitable Question

There seems to be a favorite question directed at race drivers. Why?…The usual answer in quite similar to the mountain climber who explained his activities by answering, “because it is there.” It is much more rewarding to seek the answer with another approach. What makes the race driver?

A racing family helps. Adelmo Tiezzi, Joe’s uncle, became active in racing during the latter half of the 1940s. His interest pre dates that. His adopted name, Barney, was acquired from Barney Oldfield. Known for his fondness of the Hudson Motor Car, Barney went to work and built himself a race car, the D-1, a Hudson, of course.

“Things were pretty bad for a while, I mean tough,” Barney remembers. “We carried her home a good many nights.” Things got better. By 1956 Barney, with a new number, 230, and driver Benny Derosier, were top contenders [at the Speedbowl]. He has remained a contender at Waterford and has raced at Daytona Beach, Fla., the fastest track in the World, at Seekonk, Stafford Springs, Riverside [Park in Agawam, MA] and [Eastern States Exposition].

The 1950's and Benny Derosier behind the wheel of the Barney Tiezzi 230.

[This year] marked Barney’s first … without his treasured Hudson. The power this year is a Chevy…Progress has been slow. The car is new and the driver is young [but] Barney looks ahead…

An interested and understanding father also contributes. Joe’s father Arthur dates his interest in auto racing with Barney’s. He finds the efforts put into a racing engine to be a rewarding accomplishment. He accepts the long hours, late nights and sore eyes as part of the sport.

“Joe wants to be a race driver,” he says. “I don’t think it odd to want to help my son. It’s not an easy sport and it takes a lot of hard work. I like to make sure the car is fast but safe for him. Joe has the hardest job. Good drivers are not made in one race. It will take a lot of laps with a lot of bumps and spins.”

Will Joe make it? Arthur first frowns [at] such a question then answers with an optimistic smile.

Then there are the opinions and well wishes of his friends, the other drivers. Hank Stevens, a very successful racing veteran from Portland, watched Joe during a heat. “He is going to be a tough one,” Hank said. “He does alright now, but it takes time.”

Hank offered his views on the education of a driver: “time is the vital factor,” he said. “A driver, before he has the machine, must have a combination of head and guts. A driver without that combination is nothing.”

Does Joe have the right combination? ”Yep,” Stevens replied and climbed into his car to race against Joe.

What makes a race driver? The answer lies with the man himself. What are the qualities one must have? They are like those needed for success in any sport.

Love Of Competition

Joe Tiezzi raced into the 1970's, this Gremlin in the mid-70's.

Love of competition must be counted. Joe’s love for sports does not end with racing. He was active in Little League and Intermediate League [baseball]. “I threw one pitch that moved so slow the catcher could have read a book by the time it got up there. [I was]  Chester’s Stu Miller.” He smiles about his short career as a left-handed shortstop and his home run against Old Saybrook.

He is always ready for a pick up game of touch football and thinks himself quite apt [at] horseshoes. He admits to a fondness for the Giants, both in baseball and football.

Optimism is a vital point. It takes loads of this to rebuild after a mix up, to continue after a spin, to forget food and sleep in the rush of building and planning.

“Often, a race driver is left only with a hope for the next race. I guess it sound mushy ,” he said, ‘but it you don’t think you can win, then there isn’t much sense in going out is there?”

The most important quality is dedication. You don’t look for a quote here. There is none. Dedication in racing, or anything else, is observed. You see it late at night. It reflects off Joe’s goggles in a tight turn; it’s around in the quietness after the race when the spectators have gone home.

An early Barney Tiezzi creation. This one was also driven by Benny Derosier.

It’s Joe’s promise to himself that he would be a race driver when still in his early teens. The first time he had a car on the track he sought out the fastest car. His first regular ride was a bomber he built himself and drove at Stafford Springs Speedway.

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