September 9, 2014

(Click on Photos Below for Full Size)

L-R, Billy Greco, Ray Miller, John Lobo, Sr.,
Dick Brooks and Bob Polverari
(Photo by Gary Danko)

An estimated crowd of 600-700 people helped to “keep the memories of Riverside Park Speedway alive" at the NEAR sponsored Riverside Reunion on Sunday, August 31st. The gray skies didn’t keep down the attendance as a steady stream of cars entered the parking lot of the Agawam Polish Club.

Many drivers, car owners, crew members, track officials, and fans were in attendance. There are too many to mention and we don’t want to unintentionally leave out some one, so we are going to let the pictures and captions tell the story of the reunion.

The story that we do want to tell is about all the hard work many people provided to make this event a success. With only about ten weeks to plan this event the Riverside Reunion committee consisting of Al Fini, Chairman, Bill Henry, Pete Newsham, Mare Harlow, Rich and Claire Belmonte, Jim Torok, Bobby Steele, and Billy Greco worked very diligently to make this event a success. Besides executing their assignments they all had to travel to the site earlier in the month to lay out the whole program so that we were ready when the first cars started to arrive on Sunday.

We are especially thankful for all the NEAR members that stepped up and helped out on the day of the event. Brian "Spanky" Bancroft was in charge of the raffle and he did a superior job. Ken and Tanis Meisenhelder kept the videos running. Fred Ciavola provided all the history wrapped up in over 50 books. Ric Mariscal brought the Hall of Fame Mobile Museum after the Saturday show at Seekonk. R.A. Silvia organized the autograph table. Paul Masse took on the task of supervising and judging the model race car contest; the decision was so difficult he received permission to award three first place trophies.

George and Candy Cleveland really stepped up and helped with admission sales as the line of cars never seemed to stop for three hours. Matt Provost brought the putt-putt car for the Kidde rides; that was one of the major attractions. Megan and Rhonda Blanchette made sure everyone bought raffle tickets.

A special NEAR thank you goes to Mark Wiernasz. The former track announcer took on the task of keeping everyone informed of the day’s activities as well as helping Spanky give out the raffle prizes. And last but not least, a big NEAR thank you to all who brought the race cars and special interest vehicles to our show.

By Al Fini

Ric Mariscal manning the NEAR Mobile Museum Bob Stromberg and Gary Danko
(Photo Courtesy of Gary Danko)
Billy Greco and Bob Polverari
(Gary Danko Photo)
The Pavilion was the center of activity food trucks
to the left and the antique putt-putt Riverside
Ride brought by Matt Provost in front
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
Rich Belmonte L with long time car owner
Walt Smith as they stand in front of his
original GMC 6 cylinder #6 coupe
(Photo Courtesy of Rich Belmonte)
Paul Masse, who was in charge of the model car
contest with friend, Linda
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
Teddy chalmers brought his original Late Model
( Lenny Blews Photo)
Ted Chalmers (C) with Peoples Choice Trophy, Lenny Blews (R) brought Teddy's car to show. 
(Lenny Blews Photo)
Pete Penfield brought the original #20
( Bruce Bachta Photo)
Billy Greco standing next to the original Walt Cziepul #888
(Pete Zanardi Photo)
Ted Hebert brought the old pace car
( Bruce Adams Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
Ron Wyckoff, Reggie Ruggerio, Bob Polverari
( Brian St. Jean Photo)
Cheryl Reilly holding Appreciation Award Presented by Al Fini (R)
(Brian St. Jean Photo)
Billy Harmon (R) joined Brian Ross and his wife
(Pete Zanardi Photo)
Hall of Fame inductee, R.A.Silvia in front
of the Suffield #5
(Pete Zanardi Photo)
Ray Miller brought his #7 coupe
(Pete Zanardi Photo)
Wonder what Reggie, Bob, and Billy are talking
about as they sign autographs?
(Pete Zanardi Photo)
Early Hall of Fame member, Dennis Zimmerman (R) welcomes newest inductee, Ron Wyckoff (L)
(Pete Zanardi Photo)
Display of Special Interest cars, 2 shows in 1
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
Peoples Choice trophy winner, #28 late model of
Ted Chalmers. Car has been parked ever
since 1999 last race
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo) Central display area including the 1941 Dodge, Budweiser pace car
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo) (Rich Belmonte Photo) (Rich Belmonte Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo) (Rich Belmonte Photo) (Rich Belmonte Photo)
Meghan and Rhonda Blanchette handled
the ticket sales
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
Steve Ellison won the "furthurst tow trophy" as he brought the Walt Cziepul #888
back home from Long Island. This car sat for about 30 years less than a mile
from the Polish Club before Steve was able to acquire it.
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo) Bill Gurney (L) and Johnny Lobo Sr. first raced against each other almost 60 years ago
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
Dennis Zimmerman and Johnny Lobo Sr. started their racing at the Park in the 1950's
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
One of the thousands of early pictures on
display or for sale
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
(Rich Belmonte Photo) (Rich Belmonte Photo)
Original Czarnecki Bros, Bob Stefanik driven, car brought by long time NEAR member, Pete Penfield
(Rich Belmonte Photo)
  Two of the more than twenty race cars on display
(Photo Courtesy of Pete Zanardi)
Some of the model cars on display, seen below; the judging was so intense we awarded three 1st place trophies
(Rich Belmonte Photos)