1953 Year in Review

Red Foote won an astonishing 16 Sportsman Stock races during 1953.  He won consecutive events on 6 different occasions, including one streak of 3 in a row.  2 of his wins were extra-distance 50 lappers.  He finished 76 points ahead of 4-time winner Ray Delisle to clinch the championship.  Delisle, driving for Frank Ploszaj, won the Mid-Summer Championship 100, the first 100 lap race in track history for the headlining division.  The August 8th event was reported as the largest attended event in the track’s short history with an estimated count of close to 11,000 spectators, including a standing room only group of nearly 3,000 in the field behind turns 1 & 2 (currently the north pits).  Red Foote set fast time of 18.730 in the Speedbowl’s first ever time trials for the Sportsman Stocks.  Foote led the first half of the race before Delisle took the lead on lap 46, Foote pulled off soon afterwards with mechanical issues.  Don Collins was Delisle’s only real threat until he blew out his right front tire with 5 laps to go.  Delisle finished 3/4 of the track ahead of Bill Slater, Ray Moran and Johnny Sandberg to claim the $1,000 winner’s purse.  Two more 100 lappers for the Modifieds were held in October:  Dave Roghoff won the Fall Championship 100 on October 4th after Ed “Spinner” Smith spun out while leading with 5 laps to go.  Delisle seemingly won his 2nd 100 laper the following week on October 11 until the Race Director Rex Records penalized him for making contact with Red Foote.  They were subsequently both credited with a win and split the winner’s purse evenly.  Defending Champion Dick Beauregard suffered through a miserable season long slump in which he was unable to capture a single feature victory. 

The support division permanently removed the claiming system amongst competitors.  Now known as the Non-Fords, they were dominated by Bud Matter who rattled off 15 victories  With Red Foote, they became the first 2 drivers to put up double-digit win seasons at the Speedbowl.  In a division where most of the competitors were driver/owners, Matter drove the Bill Faulkner #99 to his first and only Track Championship.  The Non-Fords had two 50 lap events during the season – the first won by Matter on June 24th and the second won by Tommy Van Epps during the Labor Day Monday special event.

Speedbowl advertisement for the Late Model 100 event on October 18, 1953

On July 4th, the Speedbowl held a Modified Team Race event where (10) 2-driver teams competed against each other for 150 laps total – each driver competing for 75 laps.  The team of Don Collins and Ray Delisle were victorious, but only after Race Director Rex Records reviewed scoring for the event afterwards.  The Collins and Delisle were officially announced as the winners prior to the next scheduled event on Wednesday Jul 8.  The Northeast Midget Association (NEMA) Midgets made their very first appearance at the Speedbowl on Memorial Day Weekend with Bill Eldridge taken the 25 lap victory.  The season closed with a 100 Late Model race (called “Pleasure Cars”) on Sunday October 18.  Jocko Maggiacomo took the win for his 2nd triumph at the Speedbowl within his legendary career.  Maggiacomo was also the Riverside Park Speedway Track Championship for the 2nd straight year in 1953.  

Mother Nature treated the shoreline oval well during 1953.  After rain forced the cancellation of 3 of the first 4 scheduled events, inclement weather only interfered with two other events, only one of which (Wed July 1st) was not rescheduled.  The Speedbowl schedule once again started on Sunday afternoons in April before switching to the Wednesday & Saturday weekly events through September.  Non-point events returned to Sunday afternoons in October with the Late Model 100 event on October 18th closing out the season.


Thrills N’ Spills at the Speed Bowl
produced by Robert L. Perry and narrated by Bob Endgren