SPRINGFIELD, MA- The Sunoco Race Fuel/Hoosier Tire New England Racers Auction & Trade Show presented by CARQUEST Genden Auto Parts is pleased to announce the Class of 2017 inductees to the Riverside Park Speedway Hall of Fame. The Class of 2017 will feature Reggie Ruggiero, the all-time winningest driver. Along with Dan Avery, Chris Kopec, Jack Lecuyer, track owner Ed Carroll, Jr as well as car owners Mario Fiore, the Czarnecki Brothers (Joe and Paul) and Bob Judkins.
Dan Avery is from Somers, CT. He won the 1995 Riverside Park Speedway Modified Championship. Avery’s stomping ground was Riverside Park Speedway. He started his career at Stafford and then become a regular at the Quarter Mile Oval. It was where all the modified drivers went on Saturdays. Before Avery won the championship in 1995, he was runner up four years in a row. Avery won a bunch of races during that time period but could not seal the deal. When he clinched the modified championship in 1995, that weight was lifted off of his shoulders.
“When I got the news I was kind of blown away. It was not even on my radar. It wasn’t even on my mind. Then to be grouped up to what I call legends that I am being inducted with Reggie (Ruggiero) and Mario (Fiore) and Jack Lecuyer and among the other greats.” Avery said
Chris Kopec took down the 1994 championship in the modifieds. Kopec remembers the great car count the modified field had along with the other divisions. Kopec felt the fans were phenomenal and remembers going to The Park in late March where it would be the cold and the grandstands would be packed. Kopec remembers that winning the championship was tough as where there were a lot of good cars every week. Kopec’s favorite memory was winning his first modified race at the park.
“It’s really something special I never expected. Just getting to race with all the people, Reggie Ruggiero, Dan Avery, Jerry Marquis, Stan Greger and Bob Polverari. Just getting to do that when I was growing up was really awesome.” Kopec said
Reggie Ruggiero was the all-time winningest driver at Riverside Park Speedway. The fan favorite came close to 100 wins at the Quarter Mile. Known as “The Reg”, he thrilled fans on the track with his moves in his famous number 11.
” I am really excited about coming from North Carolina to see all my fans and fellow competitors. After moving on racing in the Don Moon number 9 at Plainville Stadium. I moved on to Riverside Park Speedway to become the all-time winningest driver in the track’s history.” Ruggiero Said
Mario Fiore was one of the greatest car owners of our time. Fiore started out at Riverside Park as a photographer. When he and his friend went out to buy their first race car, the owner told Fiore there was a conflict of interest. Fiore made his choice and owned the race car. He had some of the best talented drivers driving for him such as Reggie Ruggiero, Rick Fuller, Bobby G, Mike Stefanik, John Blewett, III and others. Fiore was known to have young crew members working on his car at The Park such as Rich “Haskell” Lavalette and Paul Clapprood. They went on to work down south for NASCAR teams.
Car Owner, Bob Judkins, brought his famous “2X” to Riverside Park Speedway. He had drivers such as Ed Flemke Sr, Gene Bergin, Art “Fats’ Caruso and Jerry Marquis drive for him and with much success.
“ I raced in the 60’s with Gene Bergin and won my last championship with Jerry Marquis.” Judkins Said
Jack Lecuyer was known and well respected by drivers and fans. He was known as “Gentleman Jack” and drove the Czarnecki Brothers and Leo Matte race cars. He scored the Riverside 500 win back in 1968 and was part of the Riverside All-Stars which traveled to other tracks.
The Czarnecki Brothers, Joe and Paul, will also join the Class of 2017. These two brothers ran their brown number 20 at The Park and had drivers Bob Polverari, Bobby Bard, “Gentleman” Jack Lecuyer, Ronnie Wycoff, and Bobby Stefanik drive for them. Rick Czarencki continues the family tradition by running the 20 modified at modified events around New England.
Ed Carroll, Jr was the track owner at Riverside Park. He and his son Ed, III raced in the Pro Stock division at The Park.
“I am honored to be inducted into The Riverside Park Speedway Hall Of Fame. I am sorry that I cannot be in attendance. I hope that my longtime crew chief Butch Shea can accept this prestigious award on my behalf.” Carroll Said
I’ll try to be brief. Trying to cover over 50 years of racing at Riverside Park Speedway in a few minutes is an impossible task, so I’ll just try to hit the highlights while trying to keep this brief.
My father converted the space where the Track is from a huge Dance Hall shortly after he purchased Riverside Park. It was successful right from the beginning. In trying to thank every body who was a part of The Speedway I began to list the names of all the people who helped, dreamed, raced or somehow contributed to the long term success of “The Park” but the list become too long. It would take hours to include everyone and this is not the time for that. Let’s just say that The New England Racing Hall of Fame is filled with so many people who made “The Park ” great.
The Induction will be held as part of the Sunoco/Hoosier Tire New England Racers Auction & Trade Show presented by Carquest Genden Auto Parts on Saturday, December 2 at the MassMutual Center. There will be a Riverside Park Speedway reunion to be held from 3:00pm until 7:00pm. The public is welcomed to enjoy the entire day’s activities. The admission is just $10 and children 12 and under are free.
For more information on this event please visit the shows’ website at www.neracersauction.com or the show’s Facebook page at New England Racers Auction & Trade Show.