Here’s how Paul Gommi describes his first Run EVER in a Dragster at Dover Drag Strip-1964:
The year was 1964 That’s my partner, the late Russell Grady on the right holding my Helmet. The other fellow cleaning my goggles is Pete (I don’t remember his last name) who hung out at our speed shop in Stamford. On the left is Mark Kennedy.
Behind my head is the famous GIANT RED BUDDIE’S RING SLOT CHUTE THAT PROBABLY WEIGHED 50 POUNDS ITSELF! Look at the GIANT CHUTE HANDLE I GOT TO PULL!
Note the Enderle Bug Catcher. NO FINS AND NO NOZZLES! It just had two brass shower heads that came in from the side and squirted over the rotors. Classy spray can paint job. Lettered I think with a magic marker. NOTICE THE REVOLUTIONARY, (NOT RECAPS) M&H SLICKS. A FULL 8 INCHES WIDE!
Garlits told me about these tires being made up near Boston. He said they only cost FORTY FIVE DOLLARS!
I was thrilled. I was going to get a set of those for our dragster. In those days, I made SEVENTY FIVE CENTS AN HOUR!
Forty five dollars was a lot of money.I saved for quite a while to get $45.00 together. When I had it, I told Russell.
“I’ve got the FORTY FIVE DOLLARS SAVED FOR THOSE M&H TIRES AND I”M GOING TO DRIVE UP THERE TO MASS. AND PICK THEM UP MYSELF. I WANT TO MEET THAT MARVIN RIFKIN.
I drove all the way up there and walked into M&H Tires. (Marvin & Harry—His dad). Marvin was standing there behind the counter.
” Are you Marvin?” I said.
“Yes, can I help you?” he answered.
“I drove all the way from Connecticut to get a pair of your Drag Racing Slicks like Don Garlits got from you.” I said
proudly fingering my giant wad of Forty Five Dollars in my pocket.
“Just a minute” he said and disappeared through a door behind the counter.
A minute later he appeared rolling two of those prized Slick Tires up to the counter.
I grabbed my huge wad from my pocket and started to hold it out towards him when he said.
“That’ll be NINETY DOLLARS please.”
When the new tires on my truck cost SEVEN DOLLARS EACH, In my wildest dreams, I never imagined any kind of tires
COULD COST FORTY FIVE DOLLARS EACH! My eyes were GALAZING UP. I was Fighting the tears.
I was starting to shake.
Marvin was staring at my reaction not saying a word.
“I though they were Forty Five dollars a pair.” I said so quietly it was almost a whisper, still holding back tears, BUT MY NOSE WAS STARTING TO RUN PROFUSELY AND I NOTICED DROPLETS LANDING ON THE TIRES.
” Oh, YES,THESE TIRES ARE NINETY DOLLARS A PAIR. THAT’S BECAUSE THEVE BEEN TESTED AND PROVEN BY DON GARLITS.” answered Marvin without missing a beat. “JUST A MINUTE” he said and rolled the tires back through that door.
About three mintues later he rolled a pair of tires out through the door and said:
“NOW THESE RACE TIRES ARE EXPERIMENTAL. THEY HAVE NOT BEEN TESTED AND PROVEN BY DON GARLITS. YOU CAN BUY THESE TIRES FOR FORTY FIVE DOLLARS A PAIR.”
My head was spinning. I was delirious. I was going to get my own set of M&H Tires for my dragster.There is a God, Life was good. Joy was mine.
I handed Marvin his FORTY FIVE DOLLARS and started rolling the slicks towards the door. As I rolled them my hand felt something wet on the tire.� It was kind of sticky. It was my Mucus from my running nose. They were the same tires.
That’s the kind of man Marvin Rifkin was.
will be getting more from Paul soon…he’s searching through his Relics.
Bumped this back to top “Cuase its just SO good” We have contact with Paul and he’s got some more goodies coming soon.
I Knew Paul Gommi and Russel Grady, they were great people and great for the sport, The person cleanning the gogles last name was Rijos from Stamford.
My dad will be sorry to hear about Grady’s passing. I have very few pictures of my dad pior to the early 70s. Seeing this picture was great. If you have any more of Puerto Rican Pete or also known as the Mad Rican please post them
Trish /Petes Daughter
I am trying to remember the story but I thought pete went away and had to do some time when his wife was shot.
Fred we all used to hang around pete’s station around 1963 and 1964 when he was racing the 63 Chevrolet and I think one year he towed all the way to Indy with the car.
Pete was a real nice guy who would always help everyone to stopped at this station.
I was about 15 years old and trying to figure out how to put a small block into my 1951 Chevy and pete helped me change it over from 6 volt to 12 volt.
He took me to Mount Vernon, New York to a Stuss Store that tha also sold speed parts to order the motor mounts I need to drop the motor in.
Vito tells me you stop over to see him when you come back to Connecticut.
We sure had fun working and helping Pete when he went to Dover with the car.
You are correct we all hung out at Pete’s Arco station in Stamford back in 63 and 64 and learned to get involved in drag racing and how to be of help to our fellow racers. There were lot’s of Stamford guys who hung out and would make the trip to Dover every Sunday on Old rt 22.
I went with Pete to Indy for the 64 nationals and flat towed with a big old buick wagon. He was running c/mp and we had a blast parked next to the Lil Giant, some of the other guys from Dover that made the trip as well Jack Roush and his marverick at a park across from the track. We had a blast and yes i was only 16 at the time. I ran the 64 Comet Cyclone known as Go-GO-Comet at Dover from 64 until 66 when i got married.
Vito Sabato wound up with the car, in 1969 he bought a new 69 Z28 from Byrne Bros chevrolet and within a month we teamed up and started racing again this time in E/mp at Dover and Lebanon Valley after Dover closed we also ran the Div 1 circuit.
Pete still has his Camaro and I would love for him to take it back out but the last time we had that conversation he told me he was having fun snowmobiling and was saving the car for his grandson . I just spoke to his daughter a few weeks back and she said he is doing good.
I try to always see Vito when i get back to conn. He is a great guy to know and also is willing to help everyone he comes in contact with we met back in 63 at Pete’s station and we have had a friendship since.
Thanks for bringing on the memories. Let’s stay in touch I’m sure there is more guys out there from the old club known as Shippan A.C. (Auto Club)
My wife and i presently run a 87 camaro in Super/Pro and my 69 Camaro in Bracket, I ran at Island and lebanon with both cars until i moved to S.C. due to health Issues. We plan on making the 2nd annual Dover Drag reunion next year god willing.
Staying Alive Racing
Everytime I go back to Connecticut I go over to Vito’s shop and we either go out for breakfast or lunch and catch up on old times.
When I start thinking back to Pete’s old station I remember so many of the guy’s that used to hang out over there.
I remember going with Pete over to Dick Moroso place when he lived with his parents on Park Place in Old Greenwich and Dick lived in the room over the garage. I think Pete needed to barrow something for a sunday race or something like that.
Pete was a wonderful guy who always seemed to like to see everyone hanging around his garage and in those day’s that was the place to be if you were interested in cars.
Freddy do you remember the time the old guy came into Pete’s garage and told him his car was faster then Pete’s 63?
He told Pete that they should go over to I-95 and race for about 5 miles and when Pete tried to explain to him that his car was only fast in the 1/4 mile the old guy said see I told you I could beat your car in a race.
We all had a good laugh
I bet you remember Benny Daddona and his 64 409 and many of the other guy’s.
Freddy I think you had a younger brother that used to come around once in a while but I can’t remember his name.
Check out my web site if you get some time it’s Nostalgic Racing Decals and I really started the whole thing about 8 years ago to try and keep alive all the great memories from those day’s
I have been living for the past 18 years in Palm Harbor, Florida because I got tried of the cold winters and snow.
Back in the 60’s Waterside and Pete’s station were the number one place for car guy’s to hang out at night and we sure had a lot of fun. Pete was always laughing and playing tricks on everyone.
Sounds like American Graffitti ! …Hangin Out…..:”Toad,We’ll take them All on” ….Cruisin? ….Street Racin?
Thanks for reliving those memories. Glad you are doing well and yes that is a great website you have. I will have to be a customer soon (like all your merchandise)
As you stated Pete was a great person who liked to share his passion with those who were just beginers like us and many more from Stamford. He was my mentor growing up when i injested that drug called gasoline and drag racing, today i take drugs just to keep me Alive.
Pete is still the same guy just a little older we became so good friends back in 64 that he became my daughters godfather in 1973 and we named our youngest son Pete after him in 1979.
Yes i do have a brother Joe and still lives in Stamford and has had a furniture store for the past 35 years, and has a passion for Harleys and his 55 Chevy.
I’ll try to remember some of the guys back from the good old days that made it cool to hang out at the station.
Ben Dadona, Bob Morelli, Mark Boccuzi, Vito Sabato, the late Kenney Bateman, the late Jimmy Hickey, two brothers also from waterside that had a 64 SS Impala, of course you and I. Memory just went blank sucks when your memorie goes blank I will give you a call now that i have your number from the website.
Dino thanks for maintaining this wbsite it sure makes you feel young when you read some of the stories and look at the pictures as well it help you find old friends.
Staying Alve Racing