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April 18th, 2007

Following close: Detroit's Harry Constant in Alfa #84 is hounded by Chuck Stoddard in the #25 Alfa, with the rest of the Put-in-Bay field in the distance. Photo: Joe Brown.

Read Part I

Stoddard Racing
Chuck Stoddard won national SCCA championships in 1959, 1961 and 1965 in Alfas. “The Giulietta didn’t get interesting,” he says, “until the Veloce was introduced. Bob Grossman was one of the first to run one. Max Hoffman was behind it – he pitted Porsche against Alfa. He would go to Porsche and tell them “The Speedsters are nice but the Giulietta is nicer.” That’s how the Convertible D originated, with its wind-up windows. He had a man named Linge to service the Porsches. He was a one-man band. He could do everything. He even had an FIA competition license. Hoffman wanted to prove that Alfas were faster so he entered Linge in an Alfa against some Porsches and Linge won. There was an immediate controversy because you weren’t supposed to drive in SCCA events with an FIA license. That was Mister Linge’s last race in America.

It's time to go to the grid and the blue Alfa #25 of Chuck Stoddard and the red Alfa #8 of Ivan Trofimov are on their way. Put-in-Bay, 1958. Photo: Joe Brown.

“We used to beat everything with the Veloce, except the 4-cam Porsches. We could even beat some of them. We did ten or twelve races a season, at Lime Rock, Bridgehampton, Thompson, Watkins Glen, Dunkirk, Akron Airport, Put-in- Bay, IRL, Road American, VIR. People racing Alfas then were Charlie Rainville, Chris Noyes, Ed Hugus, Reed Rollo, Norm Webb, Dave Elder and William Wuesthoff – he was a good driver. The secret was in the preparation of the car. You couldn’t pay someone to do the same job you would do – it’s like Bruce Jennings or Vasek Polak in Porsches.”

A Ferrari LWB coupe gets ready to form up the starters in G Production at Put-in-Bay 1958. Photo: Joe Brown.

Stoddard was well-known not only for his competition successes but a 2-part series of articles in Sports Car, the Sports Car Club of America magazine, on preparing the Giulietta within the rules. It included everything from carburetors to valves, timing, suspension, shock mounts, alignment settings, et cetera. “One time I was protested - it was at Louisville Fairgrounds – I was chasing Duncan Black in a Daimler SP250 and they thought I was too fast. They put my car in impound and tore down the engine. They could find nothing illegal so they had to pay to reassemble the engine. – I still have a copy of their check in my scrap-book – the amount was $270.” Stoddard’s careful preparation has paid off over the years. “In 37 years of racing,” he says, “I’ve only had one DNF. That was at Elkhart with my Porsche Spyder. It had a roller bearing crank that just stopped rolling.”

The Ferrrari approaches Roundhouse Bar, with the field of Alfas and a few VWs mixed in. The start would be 300 feet down the front street. Photo: Joe Brown.

Reliable racecars
Alfas are not only rugged mechanically but structurally too. Longtime racer John Fitch used Alfa Giulietta coupes at his competition driving school at Lime Rock in the days before roll-over bars were required. One day, while speeding around the course, a student managed to roll the car with Fitch riding as a passenger. “Both of us were belted in,” recalls Fitch. “Neither of us was injured and you could barely tell that the car had rolled. In fact, the windshield wasn’t even cracked.”

A sometime competitor of Stoddard’s in the Midwest was stockbroker Bob Parsons. “The thing I remember about Stoddard was that his car was always under a cover. He would take the cover off and go out for practice, then bring it back and the cover would go back on. He believed in preparing the car before the race and not working on it at the track. I was dumbfounded that I had the chance to beat him.

Stoddard, already a force to be reckoned with, gets his Alfa around the corner at Roundhouse Bar, Put-in-Bay 1958. Photo: Joe Brown.

Stoddard on the tail of Trofimov, again at Roundhouse Bar. Photo: Joe Brown.

Stoddard's engine lets loose right before the finish. Stoddard pushed in the clutch and coasted the 300 feet to the line to finish first. Photo: Joe Brown.

“I ran two races – Put-in-Bay and Watkins Glen – and then I went into the Army. I was in Europe from March ’58 to August ’59, stationed in Schweinfurt, where they used to have the ball bearing plants. Before I left I ordered a new Alfa Veloce and had it shipped to my folks in Cleveland. I couldn’t afford a Porsche but I knew the Veloce was the souped-up Alfa. They drove it out to Colorado where I was finishing school and I ran it at Continental Divide Raceway and La Junta Airport. At La Junta, the car ahead of me kicked up a big chunk of asphalt and it shattered my windshield. Next spring I got out of school and started racing at Lawrenceville Illinois Airport, where I got a 4th. For over a year I drove it to events, until I bought Ernie Ruffini’s trailer. He was a dealer in Rocky River, Ohio. Then I stripped the car down and Ernie’s mechanic prepared it for the races. He did a hell of a job because that was a fast car. I was in E-Production with the Porsche Supers. The fastest one was Bill Romig from Detroit – his car was so fast that the best you could do was second place. King Heddinger in Cleveland was also fast. I remember racing at Waterford Hills in Michigan because I could beat the Corvettes. They were just too much car for the tight twists and turns there.

The scene shifts to Watkins Glen, 1961. Stoddard again in #78 Alfa leads as a Porsche goes off trying to keep up. Reed Rollo eventually won in another Alfa Veloce. Photo: Alix Lafontant.

A rare rear view of the Alfas and Porsches at the Glen. Stoddard is the lead car. Photo: Alix Lafontant.

Chris Noyes leads Stoddard and two Porsches, the Glen, 1961. Photo: Alix Lafontant.

”The height of my driving career was beating Chuck Stoddard at the Dunkirk, New York Airport course. We started side-by-side on the front row. I beat him to the first turn and held the lead through the race. I’ll never forget coming around one corner, sliding out, I threw the wheel the other direction and just at the last second before spinning, it caught. It was the toughest, most rewarding race I ever drove.

Skip back a year at the Glen and the Alfas, at only 1300cc are being harried by the new 2000cc Triumphs. Photo: Alix Lafontant.

“Later I had a big crash at Meadowdale - like several other people. I was also leading Stoddard at the time. The car was pretty well banged up, so we put my engine in Russ Smith’s car and took turns racing it. We took it out to Vineland, New Jersey for a 12-hour race they had and won the Index of Performance. Later on I drove a Porsche Speedster for Julius, the Hungarian guy who had a garage out near Cleveland Airport. His wife said she’d divorce him if he raced it, so we took it to some events and I drove. It was fairly successful.”

Vintage Racing
Maintaining and racing an Alfa Giulietta these days is slightly more difficult than with a Porsche or many of the British cars, due to parts availability. The adjustment shims and cam followers for the engines are in short supply, for example. Even with the Alfa Romeo Owner’s Club, an e-mail forum and a network of suppliers like Re-Originals, Centerline Alfa in Boulder, Colorado, and Alfa Parts Exchange in California, parts can be hard to find or at least you may experience delays. On the other hand, the cars are a lot easier to work on than a 356 Porsche, and almost as reliable.

Ralph Veit's Alfa Veloce at the Swan Road Hillclimb in Colorado, 2002. Collection of Ralph Veit.

Ralph Veit (pronounced “Veet”) of Parker, Colorado currently races a 1958 Giulietta Spider in vintage events sanctioned by Rocky Mountain Vintage Racing. They compete at Second Creek Raceway, Pikes Peak International Raceway, Pueblo and La Junta Airport. “There really isn’t a good turnout of Alfas out here,” he says. “Besides mine, there’s just a Sprint and another Spider that has a 1750 engine and disc brakes. I run a 1300 in F-Production, for cars with drum brakes and no fender flares. They will be moving the class from 1959 up to 1967 to attract more entries. I’m now racing with Volvo P1800s, MGAs and MGBs and we’re all fairly competitive. My worst finish last season was a 4th place. I can usually beat Porsche 356s, but not the ones in class E and D, with 1750 engines and disc brakes.

Veit leads a Porsche in an RMVR race in July of 2003. Collection of Ralph Veit.

“Last year I had a Veloce-spec engine that was built by Dale MacGowan at Alfa West. I put in a 101 series 5-speed with close-ratio gears and a GTV limited slip differential – wheel spin is a major problem. I use 5.50/15 treaded Hoosier tires on the back and 5.00/15s on the front. With a 5.13-to-1 final drive ratio, Dick Smith’s gear chart says I will go 134 miles an hour. “This year I installed a 1600cc engine and larger tires. They are 205x15s on stock Alfa steel centers with 6 inch rims, and I installed a 4:56 rear ratio. I still use the stock brakes, but I must say the bigger engine makes a major performance change. I have a lot of drivers wanting to know how I improved the car’s performance and I just say I must be a better driver this year.”

Now you know why the author is still an Alfa fan. The young man is Carl Goodwin and the car is a Giulietta Sprint Zagato, found on the streets of Turin in 1963. Photo: Nancy Goodwin.

With virtually a continuous race history now going on a half century, the Alfa Giulietta Promises to remain a treasured classic with a genuine racing heritage.

The author would like to thank Dean Russell and his sidekick Jim at Trail Auto in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Their website is

Portions of this story previously appeared in Sport Car International magazine.

For a list and urls of more articles about Alfas and Giuliettas, click here: Alfa Articles.

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