A Little Background on Weissglass...
From George LeBlanc
(Information below can also be found at it's original source by clicking on link above)
(Weissglass Stadium was located on the North Shore, on Richmond Terrace. It was torn down around 1973.)
From 1953 until 1972 stock car races were held weekly from May until October at the 1/5th mile asphalt racetrack here on Staten Island. The local dairy, owned by the Weissglass family, sponsored the track upon it's opening. The first three years of operation were NASCAR sanctioned and beginning in 1956 the races were held under promoter Gabe Rispoli's own Hollywood style stock car racing club.
The track was unique in the fact that it had no real straightaways and was one constant sweeping turn. It became nicknamed 'The Flying Saucer' by some of the early drivers because of this.
The track's first champion in 1953 was Frankie Schneider. Other drivers who achieved notariety at the track included Howie Brown, Jake Goodski, Bruno Brackey, Tiny Milano, Red Hammersly, Sonny Mims, George Kaufman, Earl Elzer, Norman Tryde, Dennis Dibrizzi, Buddy Laureno, Jerry Dunklemen, Al Lucky, Jack Duffy, Jack Zakian, Jim Long, Johnny Popick, Johnny Lee, Doggie Hewitt, Cliff Ryerson, Lou Bonin, Joe Urciuoli, Bobby Doyle, Dick Hirsh, Les Carajat and a host of other local stars. Under the NASCAR sanction, which were drivers from New Jersey, promoter Rispoli started a Staten Island Division to build local interest and held a special NASCAR vs Staten Island drivers race at the end of the night, which was very popular with Staten Islanders and led to developing a local field of cars.
The track enjoyed packed grandstands and quality cars and drivers into the early 60's. In 1966 the top division drivers held a strike and left. The promoter moved up one of the lower divisions to fill the void but the racing never really recovered leading to smaller crowds and poorer fields of cars.
George Kaufman is the all time feature winner with 45 feature wins. Howie Brown is second with 20. Every kid's favorite had to be Tiny Milano with his sharp looking cars and whitewall tires that always were spotless at the beginning of the night. Pit crews competed for best uniforms in those days also with probably Doggie Hewitt's crew being the most unique as they all wore derbys and had matching red shirts.
One of the most spectacular accidents in the history of the track had to be the time that Dick Hirsch hung his 40 Ford sedan, #227, in the catch fence, nearly getting into the grandstands. The car was left there for the remainder of the night's show and removed the following morning with a crane.
Cars from Freeport Stadium invaded quite regularly and ran very well, sometimes winning the feature. Freeport regulars included Bruno Brackey, Cliff Ryerson and Lou Campa. There were two special 75 lap extra distance races held every season up until around 1967. The first of these races was referred to as the "Mid-Season Championship", unless a local business sponsored the race by paying for the trophy. In this case the race was referred to as the "Gold Seal 75",(Weissglass Dairies Brandname for their milk), or the Bardahl Sweepstakes ( Bardahl Oil Additive was a major sponser of the track) or the "Parrish Cup" ( Monte Parrish owned a big hardware store near the track). The other long distance event was the 75 lap Langhorne qualifier. Every October there was a 100 lap race held at mile long Langhorne Speedway in Langhorne Pennsylvania called the "Race of Champions". The starting field was made up of winners of these qualifying races throughout tracks in the north and southeast. This was a prestigious event and Weissglass Speedway was represented by such drivers as Howie Brown, Jake Goodski, Al Lucky, Lou Bonin and several others. Howie Brown was able to have a top 10 finish in this race on one occasion. Eventually, the extra distance races were reduced to 50 lap and finally 35 lap as the cars were unable to complete the extra distance.
Upon Howie Brown's untimely demise in 1967, promoter Rispoli held a memorial race for him every season until the track closed. Carl "Pop" Carlson, a local engine builder, also had a memorial race in his honor when he passed away.
Promoter Rispoli tried to limit the cars to flathead V-8s and 6 cylinders as long as he could but finally in 1966 he allowed overhead valve V-8 engines in the cars. This change made the cars almost too fast for the tiny track and with the wider tires needed, side by side racing became more difficult. Track records for a 10 lap heat and a 25 lap main event were established by Jake Goodski in the 1960 & 61 seasons and were never broken. One reason for this is that non-stop caution free races became non-existent after the 1965 season. A non-stop 25 lap feature was over in about 5 1/2 minutes indicating a average speed of about 65 miles per hour.
The site of the racetrack today is a garbage strewn field with no traces whatsoever of the racetrack being there.
Having grown up in the shadows of the speedway, I took an early interest and followed the activities intensely and raced there myself the last four years. I've amassed a large collection of memorabilia, photos, helmets, trophies, actual stock cars that raced there and have much of it on display. I've held several reunions over the years with the last one being in 1992 and am in touch almost daily with several of the early drivers. I sell photos and other souvenirs if anyone is looking for a memento. Calls welcome at 718-727-6126 email@example.com Be sure to to check out: www.weissglassspeedway.com
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