Sixth-Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion Slated For October 11th
By Dave Dykes
September 9, 2014
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(BERLIN, CT) Following the conclusion of World War II, short track auto racing became popular entertainment with new tracks springing-up nationwide. A new generation of New England fans emerged, enthralled by the roar of the open-wheel Midgets. Stock cars soon followed, and by the early-1950s Connecticut was home to no-less than eight oval tracks with the pre-war coupes & coaches topping the marquee.

Only the Waterford Speedbowl and Stafford Springs Motor Speedway remain as weekly venues. Presently, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park hosts a limited schedule of stock car racing.

Joe Tinty opened the gates to his ¼-mile Plainville Stadium in the spring of 1949 and it closed at the dawn of the 1980s. However, the colorful facility lives-on in the memories of fans & racers who made it their Saturday night destination for decades.  

On Saturday, October 11th, the Nutmeg Kart Club in conjunction with the Berlin Lions Club World of Wheels presents the Sixth Annual Plainville Stadium Reunion. The event takes-place from 10am – 3pm at the Berlin Fair Grounds located 430 Beckley Road, East Berlin, CT. The rain date is Sunday, October 12th.  

Coming-off another successful season of competition on the Berlin Lions Club 1/12-mile World Karting Association dirt oval, the two organizations have teamed to make the day a family-priced event. Adult admission is only $5.00.

Award-winning Racing Journalist and New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Pete Zanardi always looks-forward to the event. “They do a fantastic job every year, and it continues to get better & better” he stated recently. “An incredible sense of camaraderie prevails among the former fans & drivers. It’s obvious that the track meant a lot to people, and that “connection” remains. Historically-speaking, it simply can’t be denied that Plainville Stadium was a key raceway within the scheme of things. The Wednesday night open-competition races are stuff of legend; everybody was there including the Long Island drivers. Some of the best racers of our region honed their skills at Plainville.”

Critically acclaimed Auto Racing Journalist Bones Bourcier also weighed-in with some recollections of the track that ultimately defined his career path.  

States Bourcier; “The first automobile race I ever saw in person was a regular Saturday-night program at Plainville Stadium, capped by a 50-lap Modified feature. Dave Alkas won it, driving Roland Cyr’s #54 coupe. I was 12 years old. Today, on a shelf behind my writing desk, there’s a chunk of asphalt from Plainville, given to me by Dave and Paula Alkas. It’s just a black piece of pavement, but to me it’s priceless. So many of my earliest racing heroes drove across that very same asphalt. Plainville was a tight little place, but, looking back, it was incredibly racy. We’re talking about a flat quarter-mile, so you’d think it would be impossible to pass, but I saw Stan Greger, Jap Membrino, Reggie Ruggiero, Ronnie Rocco, and Dave Alkas come from the back week after week. It was just wide enough, and the turns were rounded just enough, to let an aggressive driver jump to the outside and go for it. There’s no doubt that my life was steered in a positive direction by the races at Plainville Stadium. I was a restless kid, and the action hooked me right away. I was drawn in by those great coupes, sedans, Pintos, and Gremlins, and all the colorful drivers: Jap Membrino, Dave Alkas, and up-and-coming ‘kids’ like Reggie Ruggiero, Stan Greger, and Ronnie Rocco. I’ve often wondered about this: Today in that same area – Plainville, New Britain, Berlin, Meriden, Waterbury, and my hometown, Southington – there must be hundreds of kids as restless as I was as a teenager. What do those kids do on Saturday nights?”

As one of the organizers of the event, Gary Bienkowski is also confident that this year’s edition will be better-than-ever. Prior versions were very-successful.

“For 2014 we have even more to offer” he states. “It’s expected that there will be more memorabilia on display, and former official track photographer Phil Hoyt has stepped-up his display. We’ve again increased our efforts in reaching-out to the tracks former competitors in all the divisions including the Novice class.”

Also on the agenda is a Nutmeg Kart Club IROC Race on New England’s only WKA Dirt Master track. The appearance of several vintage race cars along with a display of classic & custom autos, raffles, a driver meet & greet, and a 50/50 drawing add to the day’s festivities. The New England Antique Racers (NEAR) Mobile Hall of Fame Museum is expected to be present also. Click here for flyer