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Welcome to our Website!  

Greetings everyone. I am George LeBlanc. I operate an auto pinstriping and truck lettering business here on Staten Island for the past 45 years. My interest was sparked in hand painted lettering and pinstriping at a very young age by the Stock Cars at Weissglass Stadium. Something that I noticed the very first time I attended the races,( A Sunday afternoon,the last race of the 1960 season),was that some of the cars were professionally lettered by a sign painter,and some were not. My attention was drawn to the nicely lettered cars. During my teenage years I started lettering Stock Cars for free, just to aquire the skills to do hand lettering. This also was my ticket into everybody's garage and I was able to be around the cars and go in the pits on Saturday night.  My passion for building and driving race cars was also inspired on that very same day, a passion that  has remained with me to this day. I built and drove race cars all over the country until I was 54 years old, and today I still build vintage race cars and run my businesses and my Weissglass Speedway Museum. I also operate LeBlanc Trains and Hobby Center here at 28 Hamlin Place,my lifelong residence. I started the Museum when the track closed in 1972 and acquired memorabilia and a knowledge of it's history,cars and drivers second to nobody. All of the drivers whom I admired in my youth have been here through the years to see my Museum. Most of them have since passed away. I raced there the last few years of operation myself after I returned from the U.S, Army and Viet Nam. Enough about me, lets get to the history of this race track as I experienced it from age 13 to the present. Thank You,George LeBlanc.

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, gave Promoter Gabe Rispoli $700 to make some needed improvements to the existing sporting facility and that is why it was named Weissglass Stadium. At the time new stock car tracks were being built all over the country to fuel the demand for the Stock Car racing hungry fans. Track owners were faced with a situation of having a track but no cars to race on it and no attraction for paying spectators. This forced the track owners to go with a NASCAR Sanction who in turn provided the operators with a guaranteed field of cars and drivers. Of course the operators had to pay a weekly NASCAR sanction fee,pay into the NASCAR point fund,and employ NASCAR officials at all of the events held at the track. Operators found themselves with a business partner so to speak.  During this period no NASCAR driver was allowed to compete at a non NASCAR sanctioned track. This forced many drivers to race under different names at non santioned tracks.One well known example of this is Bruno Brackey who raced under the name of "Johnny Frank" (his two brothers names) at Weissglass and Roosevelt Stadiums, and his real name at Freeport Stadium and elsewhere. Racing was very lucrative for talented drivers then and many drivers raced  7 nights a week ,earning alot more than what their jobs paid them. Bruno was eventually caught and suspended for life from NASCAR. This suspension was lifted in the seventies when he was allowed to compete at Islip. 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 when Gabe was able to secure enough local cars and drivers for the show.  Weissglass 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 first announcer was Chris Economaki who would later go on to gain national fame on ABC's Wide World of Sports.Chris also MC'd the tracks yearly award banquets held at The Plaza Casino well into the sixties. 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, John Bate, Johnny Cabral, Vic Strunk, Johnny Kronyak, 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.  As the cars became more expensive to build and maintain, the drivers felt that they should be paid higher purses.  Freeport Stadium,Long Island, and Old Bridge Speedway, New Jersey,had driver strikes in the mid sixties and Weissglass was to have it's own  strike also. In 1966 the top division drivers loaded up thier cars just before the night's racing card was about to begin, towed them around the track in front of the packed grandstands and left.  The promoter moved up one of the lower divisions to fill the void for the remainder of the season but it just wasn't quite the same without the tracks backyard of stars that the fans had come to see  year after year.                                                                                                    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.  During intermission when the cars were lined up for the main event ,young admiring fans got to go out on the track and present their favorite driver with a model that they had built and get a picture taken with him next to the car. I think Tiny Milano had the record for the most models!                                                                                                      Pit crews competed for best uniforms also in those days 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 flipped  his 40 Ford sedan, #227, over the guard rail and into the catch fence, nearly getting into the grandstands.  He was awarded a trophy at the dinner dance that year for "The Most Spectacular Spill" (the only such trophy that I know to exist)  His 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 , Lou Campa and on one occassion Ronnie Schwendenmann, who won the main event  handily.                                                                                       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 1965 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-existant 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. 

Starting with the 1960 season promoter Rispoli added a new division to the night's racing card.  This class of cars were simply referred to as "Jalopies".  This class was composed of very abundant and inexpensive late forties and early fifties cars, they offered drivers  very low cost entry level racing as they were bone stock, no roll bars, no racing modifications permitted, full fendered and ran their own 15 lap main event at the conclusion of the nights 25 lap stock car feature.  There were so many cars in the race that the last row was only a few feet ahead of the first and second place starting cars.  They went around the whole track!  There were no cautions unless the track was blocked and the fans loved it.  A point system was maintained for the Jalopies and at the end of the season the winner was crowned "The Jalopy King".  Drivers such as Art Lucky, John (The Baron) Vonichinsky and others enjoyed this title. The idea of the Jalopy class was to groom new drivers to eventually move up to the faster stock car division.  A few did make the move but most drivers were content to stay in the Jalopies.  These cars were also used once a month for the very popular "Powder Puff Race" which featured the wives and girlfriends and even mothers of the drivers in this race.  Stand outs of the female drivers were Dolly Siegel and Lois Hirsch (Dick's mother).                                                                                                                              Starting with the 1963 season Promoter Rispoli added yet another division to the racing card in a further attempt to make novice drivers move up and bolster the top division. This class was called..."Class B". These cars were allowed reversed wheels,locked rears,"one "slick racing tire, engine modifications,trimmed fenders,and proved to be popular with the Jalopy drivers who wanted to advance to a little faster race car without spending alot of money. Ultimately,the Class B cars were to become the top division three years later when the Stock Cars (top division) went on strike and left.                                                                                    

Another popular event was the monthly demolition derby.  The rules were very simple, the last car running under it's own power was the winner.  Anything went.  Head on collisions, trying to flip the other car and whatever it took to disable the other driver's car.  Many of the stock car and jalopy drivers also participated in the demolition derby.  One stand out in the demo derbys was Billy Edkins.  His cars were still able to move even after the most horrific crash. I found out why many years later.  (multiple bulldozer batteries in the trunk so he could ride the starter!!)   All in all the fans got a full night of entertainment from the zaney to the hard driving, wheel to wheel racing in the top division for $1.50.                                                                                                                                       

The site where the racetrack was is now a industrial park of somewhat, with several large buildings having been erected on the former speedways location.Despite some claims that the asphalt surface was buried under dirt,it was not. The entire track was scraped up and hauled away. I watched it being done and I saved a big chunck of the pavement.

                                                                 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 memoribilia, 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 ,T-Shirts,Stickers,and other souveniers if anyone is looking for a memento.  Calls welcome at 718-727-6126 emails at billeblanc@aol.com.  All photos courtesy of the late Dave Innes Sr., the official track photographer.  Thanks for selling me your negatives and photos for less than what I offered you Dave.                                                                            

I would like to thank everyone who has donated memorabilia for display in my museum.  I am always looking for anything pertaining to Weissglass Stadium, vintage stock cars and parts, photos, helmets, trophies, etc...  All donations gratefully accepted.  Updated 2-13-06

Update 3-26-08.  With the recent development of the unexpected closing of Wall Stadium this spring, where the track management waited until the last minute to announce that the track was not going to open, it reminded me of the drivers meeting that Promoter Gabe Rispoli called in the pits about half way through the 1972 season. He knew the lease was up on the property that year and there had been a poor showing of cars and spectators for the last two seasons. I'm certain that the business end of running the track had been non profitable for some time. Gabe announced that this was the last year for the track. His next words were, "Don't sell your Cars. I'm going to open a new track for you guys to race at". I think we all knew it was over for racing on Staten Island. There were a couple of attempts to go partners with local land owners,but none were successful. At least he made an effort to keep it going. With the closing of Weissglass my racing days were over until 1994 when I returned to the track in a Legends Race Car. I competed at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte,North Carolina, The RCA Dome in Indianapolis and numerous other tracks in the Tri-State area for 6 years until at the age of 54. Iwhen I stopped racing, my efforts went back to the vintage stock cars and the museum. This past January 08 ,myself and my old buddy and former Weissglass driver Eddie Isnardi had a Weissglass Speedway Memorabilia booth at the Atlantic City Convention Center Motorsports show. I had Bruno Brackey's TQ on display which I retro-restored without the roll cage just the way Bruno drove it to many victories years ago. Eddie had his great stock car models & photo albums on display also and was good enough to present Anne Creveling ( a track reporter & writer at Weissglass ) and myself with appreciation plaques. Thanks Eddie! We will be at the Warren,New Jersey Car Show in September 08,with stock cars and other items on display. Stop and say Hello.                 I do not solicit sponsors for my site as many vintage racing websites do. It does cost alot of money to build replicas of these stock cars and pay salaries to people that work for me.I would ask any of you Staten Island race fans out there to help out by purchasing a T-Shirt, hat or a Stock Car Sticker that I sell. My "Speedways of the Past" T-shirt and sticker collection offers T-Shirts and Stock Car stickers that include Weissglass Speedway,Old Bridge Speedway,Freeport Stadium,Flemington Speedway,Wall Stadium,in shirts and hats plus numerous stickers of many defunct tracks. Also at Christmas time please remember my Hobby Center listed in the Staten Island phone book,"LeBlanc Trains and Hobby Center " for Lionel trains,Carrera Slot cars,and much more. 718-727-6126 ,Thanks,George.                                                                             There has been alot of celebration and notarity lately among the New Jersey  vintage racing fraternity. Drivers of the past are being honored with birthday parties and other events. One such event was just held for Frankie Schneider on his 82nd birthday. Frankie was the first track champion at Weissglass Stadium in 1953 and scored 9 feature wins that season.That number of wins in a single season was matched by George Kaufman many years later. Anyway,all the hoopla in regards the Frankie brought to mind something that Gabe used to say to me on more than one occassion.  I know Gabe and Frankie were good friends for many years and Frankie would come to the annual dinner dances at the Plaza Casino and present the trophies to the drivers well into the sixties.   What Gabe complained about was the fact that when Frankie won the Race of Champions at Langhorne in 1954,there was no mention of the track that he had won the qualifing race at or the track that he was representing there at that prestigious event.. Well,as you may have guessed, he was representing Weissglass Stadium. When Frankie got badly burned in 1955 at Vineland Speedway in New Jersey, Gabe ran a benefit race for him at Weissglass and presented him with a check for $1000, the entire nights proceeds. There was no purse that night. The drivers raced for nothing. Gabe repeated this generous gesture in 1961, when Artie McCarthy ,a local driver,was badly burned at Oldbridge Speedway in New Jersey . These acts of good will & generosity were obviously forgotten when the drivers went on strike for more money in 1965.  I was surprised to hear what Gabe said to me the last time that I spoke to him. He said very simply that "The Strike hurt the track" . I was surprised that he could almost admit any kind of defeat being such a stern business man and promoter. I can only say that he was always good to me at the track. 

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 On Thursday,April 6th,2006,one month short of his 85th birthday,Gabe Rispoli died in The Miami Heart Institute . He was devoted  to Staten Island and was a great sports enthusiast and promoter. Thanks Gabe.
 
 
 

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Showcase full of Trophies from the 50's & 60's

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George LeBlanc's 100+ 32 Plymouth Coupe

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A replica of this car is part of the museum.

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Jake Goodski edges out Howie Brown for the win!!

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Bruno Brackey's 71 is on display here!!

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An admiring fan presents Johnny Lee with a model.

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George Kaufman, all time feature winner 45 wins.

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Johnny Popick leads Jack Zakian & Jack Duffy

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Thrill Show dive bomber crash!!

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John Bate ran very well in this car winning the feature 3 weeks in a row.

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Dennis Dibrizzi at Middletown N.Y.

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July 8th, 2009 Gathering at the Weissglass Speedway Museum. 

Left to Right: Frank Leandro, Johnny Bate, Artie Fillburn, George LeBlanc, George Doolin, George Kaufman, Gary Gardella, Charlie Edkins, Eddie Isnardi, Joe McKinney.

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June 13th, 2010 Reunion at George LeBlanc's

Center Rear: Virgil Barnet  Standing L to R: Ed Isnardi, John Garner, George LeBlanc, Charlie Edkins, John Bate, Joe Maurizio, Tiny Milano, Les Joia, Bill Nestved, Art Lucky, Larry Houseman, Mike Sadowski, Robbie Romer  Seated L to R : Junior Venditti, Joe Quattrachi, Walt Lewis, Jerry Dunkleman

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Weissglass Reunion, June 12th, 2011

June 12th, 2011 Weissglass Reunion at George LeBlanc's 

Left to Right: Joe McKinney, Les Joia, John Roselli, Bob Romer, John Bate, Artie Fillburn, Larry Houseman, George LeBlanc, Joe Quattrachi & Ed Isnardi

 

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We had the honor of having well-known race car owner Ken Brenn at our Reunion this year.  Pictured above Ken Brenn & George LeBlanc

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June 10th, 2012 Weissglass Reunion at George LeBlanc's 

Front Row:  Eddie Isnardi, Robbie Romer, John Roselli, Johnny Bate, Joe Quattrachi, Charlie Edkins, Tony Mazzerella

Back Row: Artie Fillburn, Les Joia, Ray Liss, Ken Carr, George LeBlanc

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June 9th, 2013 Weissglass Reunion at George LeBlanc's

Left to right: Joe Urciouli, Frank Leandro, George LeBlanc, Joe McKinney, Ray Liss,1956 Champion Sonny Abagnale, Robbie Romer, 1972 Champion John Roselli, Larry Houseman, Charlie Edkins

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Bruno Brackey's 3/4 Midget

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Here's one of my vintage stock cars that I take to shows and use in Staten Island parades.  I also advertise my Lionel Train Store on it.  Please visit my website www.LionelTrainStoreofStatenIsland.com.

 

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My Island Princess, medieval coach show car that I built from a 1956 DeSoto in the 80's.

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Tiny Milano's Helmet, models and photos

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Howie Brown 1959-1960 Track Champion

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Representing Weissglass at Langhorne's ROC

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Jake Goodski of Elizabeth NJ 1961 Track Champion

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Johnny Kronyak driving Jack Ruggerillo's 5Jr

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Jack Duffy with Jim Hoffman's # 6

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Every kid's favorite, Yonker's Tiny Milano

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Jack Zakian's 17a

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Heavy traffic in the second turn.

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Dennis Dibrizzi with his Pop Carlson 6 Cylinder powered Ford Sedan

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Typical Jalopy roll over.

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1/18th Diecast 37 Studebaker Truck $35

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Original Weissglass Poster

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Weissglass Speedway T Shirt $20

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Ticket booth and entrance gate to Weissglass Stadium.
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My Legends Car at Port Jervis, New Hope Farms Arena indoor race win, February 1995.

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1970 photo of my 100+ 32 Plymouth coupe that I ran at Weissglass.

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Jack Duffy & George LeBlanc

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Jack Duffy in Gary Mondschein's 3/4 Midget

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George LeBlanc and 1956 Weissglass Champion Sonny Abagnale (Sonny Mimms)

You can e-mail us at:  billeblanc@aol.com

George LeBlanc 718-727-6126