Moon Still Takes Pride in Plainville
Don Moon during his heyday at
Plainville Stadium. Phil Hoyt
|By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press
Photos Courtesy of Tom
When Don Moon was a youngster growing up, he told
his mother he would one day drive one of the race cars that would flat
tow by his house on Queen St. in Southington, as they were headed to
Joe Tinty’s Plainville Stadium. And in 1960, he proved his youthful
Moon was, like many drivers in his generation, a person who built
everything on the car, from the motor to the rear end. And according
to Moon, that is how he knew what a car could do.
“I certainly didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning but I had
two uncles who helped me. My cars always seemed to handle pretty good.
I lost my first ever race by about six inches,” Moon said from his
auto repair business in Plainville.
Don Moon with one of his many Novice Division
Frank Faust Photo
While Moon toiled in the novice division (beginners) a few years, he later
moved up to the modified division and that is where learned under the
tutelage of Eddie Flemke, Sr.
“I traveled around with Eddie for a couple of seasons running the NASCAR
circuit. I learned a lot from Eddie, as did a lot of other drivers. He
knew how to set up a car and he knew when he had to go in a race.”
After running Plainville Stadium, he left there and ran four seasons at
the Danbury race track driving for John Spada but then he returned “home”
to Plainville Stadium.
Moon will always be remembered for driving the No. 9 modified at
Plainville and regardless of how the car ran; it was always in meticulous
“I took a lot of pride in not only how well we ran but how the car looked.
Bill Bailey did all the numbering and lettering on not only my car but
many others at Plainville.”
One of Reggie's 10 wins in 1975.
Phil Hoyt Photo
While Moon was always a pretty good “shoe” in his
days, in 1975 he suffered a broken arm and was sidelined the rest of
“My father in law said ‘you can’t just have the car sit there you need
to put someone in it,’” Moon remembers. “I took my car to Plainville
that night and looked around to see who didn’t have a ride and Reggie
Ruggiero didn’t have one that night.”
That decision changed the lives of two people, Moon and Ruggiero, as
the latter would go on to record 10 wins at the tough, flat quarter
mile and the beginnings of propelling Ruggiero to national fame as a
“I had watched Reggie drive other cars and you could tell there was
something there. The cars he ran were OK but not great.”
That year of 1975 would see Moon’s car in victory lane a total of 12 times
with Moonie winning one, Ruggiero 10 and Stan Greger, another young driver
won an open competition at the always competitive Stadium.
The following year, Ruggiero was hired to drive for car owner, Mario Fiore
and with his cars and Ruggiero’s driving ability propelled that team to
one of the most potent teams not only at Riverside Park Speedway but other
New England speedways and Moon went back to driving his own car.
But that would be the last year he raced as he bought an auto repair
business and, as he said, “I didn’t need a race car taking my time and
money away from the business.”
When asked about one of the toughest drivers to race against at
Plainville, Moon without hesitation said “Dave Alkas. He was just so tough
and knew his way around the track. You always had to worry about Tony
‘Jap’ Membrino because you never knew what he was going to do. Stan Greger
was another very good driver as was Ronnie Wykoff.”
Just like all race teams there are more than the driver that helps get the
car on the track and he credits Tom Zenobi, Elliott Beverage, Jimmy Wilson
and Dave Tracy as a few of the people who helped him over the years.
While Moon has long been retired from racing, he is
one of the people instrumental in the reviving Plainville Stadium as
he again is on the committee for this year’s fourth annual Plainville
“We talked about it a long time ago, maybe 10 or 15 years, but we
always thought it would be too expensive to put on getting a hall but
then Dave Tracy, Dave Alkas and Gary Bienkowski worked to get it at
the Berlin Fair grounds and it has grown from there. This past summer,
the Plainville Historical Society recognized Plainville Stadium and
what it meant to the town,” Moon said with a lot of pride.
Moon said while a few changes are planned for this year’s reunion, he
said it will basically remain the same.
Don is again being instrumental in putting together
this years Plainville Stadium Reunion.
“We will still have the cars, the memorabilia, photos and other Plainville
Stadium items as well as the drivers, owners and the fans that enjoyed the
racing at Plainville. It has grown since the first year and we hope it
continues to grow.”
This years Plainville Stadium reunion will be held on Saturday, October 13
from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Moon is helping keep the tradition of Plainville Stadium alive along with
many other drivers and owners.