By Ken Schrader


by Kenny Wallace


by Doug Wolfgang
with Dave Argabright






































Racing Commentary

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com

Jim Cheney and Paul Richardson

(Boyd Collection)

October 1, 2009


Coming of age back in the sixties was a different deal from what it is now. Two young twenty-somethings from Georgetown, Mass., Jim Cheney and Paul Richardson, were typical of the times: they were out to have a good time. But they also shared a more serious goal. Both of them were obsessed with making their marks as supermodified drivers.

The infamous New England Super Modified Association was forming at the time, and regular meetings were being held at the bar at the Heidelberg Restaurant near Haverhill. In time, young Paul and Jimmy were invited to attend.

The seating arrangement was hierarchical. At the near end, the demi-gods: the crusty Don MacLaren, master racer Ollie Silva, Dick Cloutier, and the like. Then sat the middle runners and officials, and at the far end, the newbies.

Paul and Jim saw immediately that they would have to prove themselves here as well as on the asphalt. The minute they were perched, Silva slid two shots down the bar. Paul remembers how Ollie watched the way they tossed ’em down, one after another, with beers as chasers.

By the time the session was over, it was a just little hammered out. Drunk driving was not the serious social crime it is today, and Paul and Jimmy continued pounding down the beers on the way home. As they neared the Georgetown line, Paul polished one off and, without a thought, tossed it out the window and over the roof of the car – a direct hit onto the hood of a police car.

The chase was on, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring.

After a half-mile Jimmy and Paul had a good lead, trucking along at over 90 mph, lights out. They decided to duck off onto a side road. Jimmy tossed the car, no brake lights, into a subdivision, and lost control. He hadn’t known they had paved the road that day and it was covered with fresh tar and sand. They slid and fish-tailed wildly and, incredibly, ended up inside someone’s open garage. They jumped out, pulled down the garage door, got back in the car with a sigh of relief, and lit up a cigar to wait until the coast was clear.

Within a couple of minutes, however, they heard voices and police radios outside. That’s when it dawned on them that they had laid some rather obvious tracks in the sand and across that poor dude’s lawn. When the garage door opened and Georgetown’s finest marched in, Paul remembers rolling down the window, cigar in hand, and asking “like a puff?”

Over time both Paul and Jimmy did settle down – somewhat – and both achieved – no question – a major role in supermodified history. Both were hugely popular, major winners.

Jim Cheney in the office. 
(Conway collection)

Paul Richardson with a roadster.
(Wes Pettengill Collection)

But, in a strange twist of fate, the two former neighbors from Georgetown also starred individually in two of the greatest comebacks in racing history. In 1977, Jimmy crashed at Oswego and was trapped inside the Holinski Roadster, upside down and on fire. He was savagely burned and endured months of painful therapy over that winter. Who could have possibly dreamed that this same driver, in that same Holinski war wagon, would win the season opener at the Ice Breaker at Thompson Speedway the following spring?

Twenty years later Paul “Ricochet” Richardson was still at it. He was the fastest thing around in a Freddie Graves car owned by Bobby Witkum and sponsored by NAPA. One night in August he was warming up at Star Speedway and the go pedal stuck. He slammed the wall head on and landed in a twisted mess. He was so broken that, before a helicopter flew him to a medical center in Boston, the local hospital said he would surely be paralyzed for life. Paul was out of commission for five months, and like his friend Jimmy, underwent painful surgeries and therapy. But on the eighth month after the accident, Richardson drove that same NAPA Super to a resounding win at the Star opener.

© 2009 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

Stop by our Book Store Directory for a look at our book and DVD selections:

Book Store

.: Previous Tearoffs :.

9/4/09 - South Dakota Chris

8/15/09 - Facial Exposure

7/31/09 - Dying in the Pits

7/9/09 - Barn Rat's Last Race

6/18/09 - Catching Up With Brad Doty

5/20/09 - Big Boys in The Attic  - rare photos of legends

5/6/09 - Back Up In The Attic - more rare photos

4/22/09 - The Son of Hard Luck - accessible racing
experience for the handicapped

4/3/09 - Racin' In The Attic - Gordon Ross photo collection

3/18/09 - About That Mike Spaulding

3/3/09 - Dick Berggren's First Win - (you had to be there!)

2/11/09 - Peter at the Park - Peter Fiandaca at Riverside Park

1/30/09 - Steve - Steve Arpin

1/4/09 - Racer Speak -cool quotations

12/16/08 - Wimble Power, Will Power - Bill Wimble

11/24/08 - Remembering Chuck Amati - by Joyce Standridge

11/11/08 - That Rick Ferkel

10/24/08 - Beyond Bionic - Bentley Warren

10/6/08 - Fifty Second Classic - Skip and Lois Matczak

9/20/08 - Joey's Dad - Tom Logano

9/1/08 - One Night at The Park - the death of Les Ley

8/20/08 - Transitional Technology - early supermodifieds

8/6/08 - Wallace on Wednesdays - dirt trackin’ Kenny

7/19/08 - Star(ter) of the Show - importance of good flaggers

7/7/08 - McUnderdog - Eddie MacDonald

6/18/08 - The Night Buzz Was Worried - Buzz Rose

6/5/08 - John Richards - Boomer Role Model

5/20/08 - The Spirit of a Racer - the late Al Powell

5/1/08 - Bobby's Blues - Bobby Santos III

4/15/08 - Thinking About Rene Charland

3/26/08 - Carl and Corey - Carl Edwards and Corey Dripps

3/4/08 - A Cool Track with Cool Racers - West Liberty, Iowa

2/14/08 - Doug Wolfgang

1/25/08 - Frankie Schneider

1/7/08 - When Drivers Can't See - cockpit vision

12/21/07 - When Starters Couldn't See - flagstand vision

12/1/07 - Ride Along with Erica Santos - in-car camera midget win

11/15/07 - Tough Drivers

11/1/07 - Cockpit Safety

10/15/07 - That First Race

10/1/07 - Racing Nicknames

9/15/07 - Too Many Officials

9/1/07 - The Look of a Real Driver

8/15/07 - Being Dale Junior

8/1/07 - Armond Holley

7/15/07  -  Red Farmer

© 2009 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181