Plainville Stadium Reunion at Berlin Fair Grounds to showcase local racing history

Published on Thursday, 22 September 2022 12:59
Written by BRIAN M. JOHNSON

@brianjohnsonBP

PLAINVILLE – The 14th annual Plainville Stadium Reunion this Saturday at the Berlin Fair Grounds will showcase local racing history.

The reunion, sponsored by the Berlin Lions Club at Nutmeg Kart Club, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fairgrounds at Beckley Road in Berlin. Visitors will be able to see the sort of vehicles that raced in the former Plainville Stadium, where the Lowe's Home Improvement now stands, during its heyday and meet some of the former racers.

In addition, the New England Antique Racers will be bringing several vintage cars to the event.

"We've done events in Stafford and Bethel, NY and we came to this reunion last year as well," said Beverly McAllister of the New England Antique Racers. "We'll be bringing a lot of Coupes from the 1930s."

Gary Bienkowski of the Berlin Lion's Club said there will also be karts on the track for exhibition races. Additionally, there will be about 37 original racecars, or cars of the same model, coming to the reunion.

"I fielded a car the last couple of years that the stadium was open, in 1980 and 1981," said Bienkowski. "I did ok, but it was a learning experience that I used as a stepping stone when I went on to race at Stafford. I raced cars there until 2015."

For those who remember Plainville Stadium, Bienkowski said, it will bring back "a lot of good memories."

"I miss having a home town track and the camaraderie among the racers," he said. "When I was younger, a lot of the older racers were like superstars to me. Now, I've gotten to know them and become friends with a lot of them. It's very cool."

For those who never experienced Plainville Stadium, Bienkowski said that it will be a chance to learn about a piece of local history.

"Racing has changed a lot over the years," said Bienkowski. "Guys used to work on their cars in their backyards or they were sponsored by a local garage. Sometimes, they would improvise with parts from the local junkyard. Now, everything comes from Amazon."

Last year, Don Moon, the owner of Don Moon's Auto Repair and one of the reunion organizers, shared the history of Plainville Stadium.

Plainville Stadium opened in 1947, originally as Tinty’s Flying Ranch, where it was used for horse shows, circuses and small air plane shows. In 1948, it was converted into Plainville Stadium and an asphalt track was laid down. The stadium became a hub for the local racing scene, drawing packed crowds in its heyday. Plainville Stadium remained active until 1981, when it was closed and sold to a property developer.

Moon raced frequently at the stadium, starting in 1960 with his 1949 Ford. Over the course of his racing years, he also drove Chevrolet Coupes and Ford Sedans and he ended with a 1980 Ford Pinto.

“I almost won my first race as a novice driver but my tires went flat at the end,” Moon recalled.

Moon said the reunions are a great way for former racers to “enjoy the memories.” Seeing all of the classic racecars, he said, reminds many of when they used to line up on the stadium’s Pit Road before going to the track.

“It’s a fun day to come and see the old cars and meet the old drivers,” he said. “A lot of people bring their kids.”

Moon has also accumulated a large collection of signage, photographs and other memorabilia from the days of Plainville Stadium, which people can see at his auto repair business.

These items, Moon said, were used to create past exhibits at the Plainville Historic Center. Moon has also brought his racecar to the Wings and Wheels festival when it used to be held at Robertson Airport.

Admission to the Plainville Stadium Reunion is $5 at the gate.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Plainville on Thursday, 22 September 2022 12:59. Updated: Thursday, 22 September 2022 13:01.