July 16, 2012
 

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Berlin’s Beetle kept the fun in auto racing

By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press

CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL SIZE
Photos Provided By Tom Ormsby's  SpeedwayLineReport.com

In racing circles, everyone knows the last name Farone. But mention the name Anthony Farone and people will say, what ... who?

Then mention Beetle Farone and everyone immediately will say what a good driver he was.

The Farone family might be the first family of racing in the town of Berlin, and although they have aged since their racing days, they are still recognizable to today’s racing enthusiast.

They are brothers Jo-Jo, the late Butch (John, aka Seymour T Clown) and Anthony (Beetle) who, along with their sister Helen and father John, were stalwarts at Plainville Stadium and other tracks. Beetle, however, was the one with the driving bug.


Beetle winning another at Plainville Stadium.
Phil Hoyt Photo

“It was actually my brother, Butch, who got everyone involved in racing. He was a little too young to drive but he built the car, but I didn’t feel comfortable driving the family car,” Beetle said from his home. “You were in a no-win situation driving the family car.”

While Beetle was not yet in the drivers’ seat, he was always helping out fellow drivers like Don Moon of Plainville and Frankie Manafort, but when he did start driving he found demolition derby’s to be to his liking.


The year is 1967. The remains of Beetles Demolition Derby car at Plainville Stadium

While Beetle was not yet in the drivers’ seat, he was always helping out fellow drivers like Don Moon of Plainville and Frankie Manafort, but when he did start driving he found demolition derby’s to be to his liking.

“I think I won like 90 percent of the demolition derby’s I entered, including two in one day with the same car.”

But before he could get comfortable, Beetle went into the armed services courtesy of the United States Government.

When he returned, he talked with longtime friend Jackie Arute, Jr., whose family had taken over the Stafford Speedway, and Arute informed him they were starting a new class called the Street Stock division.

“I figured this was something that I wanted to try,” Beetle said. “At first they only had like five to eight cars a week and before long they were averaging like 50 cars a week. I won most of them. I think they paid $200 to win, good money back then.”

Beetle would later run at the Riverside Park Speedway and win a championship in the late model division, but like many people in racing, it was the cost of racing that would end Beetle’s successful driving career.

“When I raced, I had the best of everything, and I had my fun. When I raced at Stafford, I had the best teachers watching over me, telling me what I did right or what I did wrong,” Beetle said.

Today he and his family can be seen with past racing friends and are a staple at the annual Plainville Stadium Reunion every October.

Brother Jo-Jo Farone also had the driving itch, running and winning many races at Plainville Stadium and other ovals, and when his driving career was done he could always be seen helping out different teams including the Sherri Cup modified driven by Brett Bodine and Mike McLaughlin.

While Beetle could be called somewhat mischievous, the same can be said for brother, Butch, whom to many fans of the Stafford Speedway was known as Seymour T Clown, the mischievous clown that, entertained fans before, during and after the races.

Because the two were similar in nature, sometimes if Butch was late, Beetle, after racing, would change into Seymour’s gear and play out his brothers’ act, and even Jack Arute, Sr. ,track owner and longtime friend, didn’t know the difference.

“I remember Jack, Sr. would tell my brother not to run on the grass as they were trying to grow it in the infield and I would be spinning around in it. Afterwards, Jack came over to me and said I thought I told you I didn’t want you running in the grass and I would say ‘you didn’t say that to me.’ We fooled even Jack as he didn’t know it was me.”

Beetle, after several medical problems, is back on the road to health and to help him mend and to give him something to do, he recently purchased a 1927 Chevrolet and had it on display recently at a huge car show.

“We (our family) had a lot of fun in racing. We tried things, we won and most importantly we had fun,” Beetle said.

Fun and racing are two things that no longer go hand in hand, and for many that is quite sad, but the Farone’s came along at the right time when fun and racing went together perfectly.

And nobody had more fun and made racing more fun than the Farone’s.

 

The Rest of the Farone Clan

 


Jo Jo & Helen Farone after a win in the family car. Frank Faust Photo


Billy Farone in the family owned car.
Phil Hoyt Photo


Big John & Mary Farone present a birthday cake to driver Nicky Porto. Phil Hoyt Photo

 


John "Butch" Farone aka Seymour T Clown. C-F Racing Photos

 
 

Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Editions" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.

 

Copyright © 2012 Brian Danko