Reino Tulonen
Class of 2005

Reino Tulonen had no intention of driving a race car when he and his friend, Ray Hill headed out from Fitchburg, Mass to watch the “big cars” run at the Chesire Fairgrounds in Keene, NH.  Arriving at the track, they stopped in at the pit area of another friend, Harry Billington.   Billington owned a car that raced under the New England Big Car sanction.  The Big Cars were extremely dangerous, and Billington’s driver bowed out at the last minute.  When race officials came up and asked Harry who his driver was, both he and Hill pointed to Reino.    Thus began the racing career of Reino Tulonen, The Flying Finn.

Tulonen excelled at everything he drove, from the big cars to the midgets to the sprinters.  He also drove jalopies, full coupes, late models, and cutdowns, getting started in stock cars at the Westboro Speedway, where he drove the #32, which was owned by Custom Auto Body of Fitchburg.  

By 1951, NASCAR was in full swing, and the Custom Auto Body crew purchased a Henry J for Tulonen.  The car was registered, so Reino could race it, then drive it home.  During the 1951 season, after successful finishes at Westboro and then at the Thompson Speedway, Reino pointed the Henry J south, driving down to Darlington, racing against the Flock brothers, Bill Rexford, and Sammy Packard.  Later in his career, he was successful making the transition to supermodifieds and NASCAR modifieds.