Leo Cleary Takes Big T “Indian Day”
October 10, 1976

 

THOMPSON, CT. – “Indian Day” at the Thompson Speedway saw the mainstays of racing, the little guy, make off with the big bucks as Leo Cleary outraced Ronnie McCann to the wire and take his first win of the year at the “Big T”.

A cool October afternoon was in the offering, this kept the attendance down, but it didn’t keep the competitors from the race track. A total of 61 small block modified race cars and 45 late model stock cars entered into competition with full heats and consolation events being run prior to the action packed features.


Leo "The Lion" Cleary put the Tiger Tom T-5 into victory lane on "Indian Day" at Thompson Speedway.

At the outset of the small block feature it appeared that John Rosati or Ray Miller would be the odds on favorites to finish one and two. Such was not the case as McCann took the early lead and with Nick Giardina, Ron Cote, Cleary and Rosati right on his tail, the race for the checkered flag was on. It didn’t take Cleary long to reach the runner-up position, for lap after lap it was McCann and Cleary until there was five to go and traffic coming up. Cleary pet his experience to work, made the right move and took the lead as McCann found a lapped car in the center straight and learned that you can’t go high and to the outside and still hold on to a slim lead.

That’s the way that it ended, Cleary the popular winner with young Ronnie McCann turning in an equally popular second place finish. Taking down third place in this annual “Indian Day” program was Ron Cote, Dick Dunn was fourth and Nick Giardina fifth.
 


Don Fowler pictured at Waterford Speedbowl in 1975, finished 2nd in the Late Model feature. Don raced SK Modifieds at the Speedbowl until 2006. (Rene Dugas Photo)

Dick LaFlesh made it home first in the late model stack car feature event, LaFlesh held the lead, lost the lead and then came back on the final lap with a “Daytona like sling-shot move” to beat out Don Fowler and Bob Fuller in a blanket finish.

Bruce Smith had been the early leader in this event, but gave way to Fowler who then gave up the lead to LaFlesh. On a restart LaFlesh went high into the first and second turns and this gave Fuller the opportunity that he wanted and the race had a new leader. With the white flag down the three leaders went into the third and fourth turns hard, Fuller went high with LaFlesh taking the low groove and followed by Fowler. By the time that Fuller had recovered, it was LaFlesh to the finish line first, Fowler in second place by inches over Fuller.

The top 10 finishers in both divisions as follows:
SMALL BLOCK MODIFIED: Leo Cleary, Ron McCann, Ron Cote, Dick Dunn, Nick Giardina, Ray Miller, Phil Spiak, Gary Ryan, Dave Humphrey and Ray Lee.

LATE MODEL STOCK CAR: Dick LaFlesh, Don Fowler, Bob Fuller, Bruce Smith, Si Allen, Jeff Fuller, Don Steiner, Dave Alexandrovich, Bill Chikan and Bob Kleeman.

THOMPSON PIT NEWS – The hard luck team on this date was the Joe Brady and Bob Santos combo. Problems in the qualifying heats and running well, problems in the consi after running well. The No.41M sat in the pits at feature time and on a race date that many believed that this would be the car to beat based upon the last few weeks performance on the track. Kevin Coan and John Rosati would be the runner-ups for the hard luck award.