Johnny Gammell
Driver
Class of 2008

     

       

       Johnny Gammell began racing in 1949 at Webster’s Flat in Lyndonville, Vt.  and moved to the Log Cabin Speedway in NH, in 1953 and ‘54.  In 1959, he won the first of his two Vermont State Championships, winning 5 of 12 features run at the Northeastern Speedway, in the Charlie Healy #88.  In 1960, he was elected president of the Northeastern Speedway Driver’s Association.  He won the first feature ever run at Northeastern in 1959, and repeated the feat in 1964, winning the 1st feature ever run at Riverside.  A flat tire late in the race kept him from winning Thunder Road’s 1st feature in 1960.

      John’s 2nd Vt State Championship came in 1964, driving the W.G. Fitzgerald #32.   Harold “Hard Luck” Hanaford competed against Johnny several years.  “Johnny was a quiet, shy kind of guy”, Hannaford remembers.  “But when he strapped in that car, everything changed.  He became a fierce competitor. Given equal cars, there’s nobody I raced with that I’d have a harder time getting by.   He’d never hit anybody to get around ‘em.  He’d just race you hard and clean.”

       Johnny’s fellow drivers named him winner of the Rice Memorial Good Sportsmanship Award in 1963. In 1971, John won the prestigious Don MacTavish Award, voted on by sportscasters and writers. The only other winner at that time had been “Big” Bill France.   In 1969, Johnny stepped into Joey Laquerre’s Hawaii-Five-0, and won Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl.