SAAC: The Branford Festival's "Gary DiNello Memorial" Classic Car Cruise, Sunday, June 17, 2012, Branford, CT
(this page new as of 2/8/2013)

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Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012A Good Time to Think About the Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise again… "Good timing" on my having started (at long last!) to start work on putting together a web site feature about the 2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, because right around the time I started to work on it, I received a very timely e-mail…

As it turns out, the Branford Festival committee has identified a need for someone to Chair this coming year's Branford Festival Classic Car Show, which is held on the Rear Green area (behind Town Hall), on Sunday of Festival Weekend--which I believe is also Father's Day (this year's Branford Festival is listed to run June 14th thru 16th, per http://branfordfestival.com/ , so that would mean the Car Show would take place on Sunday the 16th of June). I would like to quote from the 2012 Branford Festival Committee Co-Chairman (ref: http://branfordfestival.com/page/13199-Committee) Barb Barringham’s e-mail of 1/11/2013:

“…Hi Steve, Kevin Cudgma who has organized and run the Branford Festival Car show for the last couple of years needs to take a year off for health reasons. I was wondering if you might be interested in filling in for this year? I know you have plenty of "car contacts" and I'm sure Kevin would assist you in any way he can. Think it over… and let me know if you are interested. Thanks! Barb…”

For your info, here is a link to the Branford Festival’s 2012 Car Show info page: http://branfordfestival.com/page/17837-Car-Shoe  

I had to tell Barb that my hands are more than full with old car hobby responsibilities--not the least of which is creating and producing this web site , plus maintaining my own cars, etc.--and added to that fact is that I am already a committed Branford Festival volunteer (I work at the Branford Exchange Club's fried dough booth every year), and that I could not volunteer to run the Festival Car Show, but that I'd be glad to help spread the word about the Branford Festival's search for a 2013 Car Show Chairman.

In a follow-up e-mail dated 1/13/2013, Barb Barringham wrote:

“…Totally understand! That would be great if you could (publish) a little notice about us needing someone for this year. We'll see what happens from there!... Thanks!... Barb…"

If you are interested in getting in touch with Barb Barringham to discuss what Chairing the 2013 Branford Festival Classic Car Show would entail, please contact her via e-mail at: BBarringham@rbcbearings.com

Here is an online report I constructed about the 2010 version (which was still being held on the Front Green at that time): http://home.comcast.net/~shorelinesteve/BFDFSTCRZ10/Report.html  

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012In thinking more about the 2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, I was also reminded that it has been renamed recently in memory of one of its founders and greatest hard-working proponents, Gary “The Welder” DiNello, who passed away in May of 2011. I have been privileged to attend and/or participate several of these wonderful events that Gary produced (my Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise experiences actually go back to the Todd Vigorito era, who ran the event for several years before Gary, also doing a great job and establishing a great foundation for the event), and I was always impressed at what a relaxed and welcoming spirit that came through at the event, as orchestrated by Gary and his helpers. I don’t have any of the direct professional contact with Gary that so many in our town have had, via his “Custom Boating Fabrication” business, on North Ivy Street, which translated the dreams and designs of so many artists and engineers into metallic reality. It certainly seems more than fitting that the Festival’s Classic Car Cruise was renamed in his memory. I located his obituary that is published online (address: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nhregister/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=150761016), and would like to transcribe it here, exactly as it appears:

“…GARY MARTIN DINELLO - DiNello, Gary Martin Gary Martin DiNello (Gary the Welder), 54, of Branford began his next journey on May 2, 2011. He will be greatly missed by his parents James & Rita (Petrillo) DiNello, his wife Cheryl Hall-DiNello, his brothers Jay & John DiNello, sister Gabrielle DiNello, niece Hailey Marie & nephew Tyler Shand. He graduated from West Haven High School, Class of 1974 and in 1976 he received his Associates Degree from Norwalk Tech. From 1988 he was the owner of Custom Boating Fabrication in Branford. He was president of Elm City Gun Club and organized the yearly Branford Festival Car Show. Gary enabled the designs of artists, engineers, car & motorcycle enthusiasts to function and come to life. His fabricating and engineering skills can be seen in numerous magazines. Gary will leave an unfillable void in the lives of those who knew and loved him. We would like to thank the nurses and physicians at Smilow Cancer Center and Branford Hospice for their wonderful, compassionate care. The hours for visitation will be Wednesday from 4 to 8pm at the West Haven Funeral Home at the Green. His funeral procession will leave the funeral home Thursday morning at 10:30 for a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Paul's Church at 11:00. A celebration of his life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers donations in his memory may be made to CT. Hospice, 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405. To leave an online remembrance please visit www.westhavenfuneral.com... Published in New Haven Register on May 4, 2011…”

The passing of Mr. DiNello was undoubtedly a tremendous loss for the Festival and for the town of Branford and surroundings in general, but mostly for his family, to whom we extend our deepest sympathies.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012We also need to reflect on the contributions of Kevin Cudgma, who has been running the Festival Classic Car Cruise (as far as I know) after Gary DiNello. All of the photos you see on this page were of course taken at the 2012 event, which Mr. Cudgma did a superb job of directing. I was extremely pleased to be able to participate in this one (Diane let me drive her ’73 Pinto Squire there to participate), and remember how graciously I was greeted upon entering the field (the expansive “natural amphitheater” area directly behind Town Hall) by Mr. Cudgma and his helpers, and how welcomed I felt to be there! It was among the most well-run Festival Classic Car Cruises I can remember! I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but I will also try to get into identifying at least a good number of the vehicles that are visible in the "individual-type" shots.

I definitely want to recognize the contributions of Kevin Cudgma to the success of last year’s superbly-run event—especially in light of the “health reasons” mentioned by Barb Barringham in her original e-mail that was presented back toward the beginning of this page. We really hope that Kevin’s doing well, and can certainly understand that ones health always comes first!

Which finally brings us back again to “how timely” it seems that we are getting around to getting review of the 2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise together. If you have an interest in getting involved with running the 2013 version of the Gary DiNello Memorial Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Barb Barringham—I know she’d love to hear from you! Her contact e-mail once again is: BBarringham@rbcbearings.com

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed working with photos and notes from this past summer’s Gary DiNello Memorial Branford Festival Car Show, going through the photos, and then seeing what I could do to work up descriptive words to go along with them. So many beautiful cars to enjoy, in such a wonderful setting! First we'll start with some "overview" type shots, to give an idea for what the overall gathering was like... These first several are from various vantage points around the "bowl" area behind Town Hall, where most of the cars were arranged...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Getting into more individual-type shots, now, there were a beautiful pair of foreign sports cars that were arranged near the Branford Civil War “Soldiers Monument,” which is just to the west of Town Hall (see the lead photo at the top of this page, with the vintage GTO parked near the monument); the coupe was a maroon 1971 Alfa Romeo GTV owned by Betsy & Stan Robison of Branford, and the roadster was a bright red 1969 Datsun 2000 owned by Andy Everson of Branford.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

In the background of the photo of the Alfa and the Datsun front ends, you can see a very light bit of an older car, which was one of a very beautiful pair parked nearby—and so I made a point of getting some shots both of them also.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

The “woodie” with whitewalls was a 1931 Ford Model A in maroon with black fenders, and the windshield card indicated it was owned by Festa of Northford.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

And finally, parked right next to the ’31 woodie, was a beautiful blue with black fenders 1932 Chevrolet Sedan model BA Confederate Deluxe owned by Perry Funk of Killingworth.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

There was an interesting article published on November 11, 2010, by the New London Day “Zip06” web site, about the ceremonies commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Branford Soldiers Monument, with several photos. Recognizable faces from the ceremonies visible in some of the photos there (Pam Johnson/The Sound photo credits) included Branford Veterans Parade Chairman Frank Whelan, and also Branford Veteran and RTM member Peter Black. You can check that article out online at: http://www.theday.com/article/20101111/NWS01/311119849/-1/zip06&town=Branford&template=zip06art . That kool GTO that was parked by the monument in the lead photo at the top of this page, by the way, was Spencer Russo’s Branford/Bridgeport-based 1965 Pontiac GTO, and you can also see the above-described '31 Ford Woodie and '32 Chevy Sedan also in this photo of all three below:

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

I’m not going to be able to identify every single vehicle that is shown in the various pictures on this page (close-ups as well as overalls), but I’ll give you what I have, based on notes and photos of windshield cards that I was able to record. So, let’s do the best we can...

First, it's a positively magnificent white 1962 Seagrave model 531 BS Firetruck owned by Sean P. Reynolds (no town of origin identified). An identification plaque attached to the side of the truck contained the following interesting background information about it: “…This 1962 ‘Anniversary Series’ Seagrave Model 531-B, 750 Gallon Triple Combination pumping engine was delivered to the city of New Haven September 13th, 1962. This Fire Engine was purchased under the direction of Fire Chief Thomas J. Collins for Engine Co. 15, in the Westville section of New Haven. This Fire Engine served the city of New Haven for more than three decades…” What a magnificent machine, in positively spectacular condition!

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Next is a spectacular black 1957 Ford Thunderbird roadster owned by Rich Sgueglia of Branford; I remember this car from the recent “Branford Holiday Festival Parade” in which I participated, this past November, and also other events in town over the years.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

The pair of cars below the Sgueglia T-bird, posed in front of the Branford “Cenotaph” (and directly adjacent to the registration booth) happen to belong to a couple of the event organizers. The orange convertible in the foreground is a 1971 Mercury Cougar, in stock original shape, owned by Kevin Cudgma of Branford. The “grey suede” pickup next to the Cougar is a 1972 GMC, owned by Matthew Cudgma of Branford.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Next below the shot of the two Cudgma vehicles is a spectacular bright red 1962 Chevy Corvette Convertible owned by Mike & Laura Luzzi of Hamden; the window card also indicated “2nd owner, 40 years,” wow!

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Slightly visible in the background of the photo of the Luzzi Corvette was a copper-colored 1976 Datsun 280Z “2+2” owned by Joe Dymarczyk of Hamden. Visible in the right background of this same photo is the magnificent red Guilford-based 1962 Ford Thunderbird Roadster of our buddy Orlando Amato--and in fact, that appears to be Orlando himself in the black shirt standing behind his car. Regretfully I did not take any direct overall photos of Mr. Amato's magnificent T-Bird, however, if you have been attending local-area car shows over the past several years, perhaps you may have run across it. It is one tremendous machine!

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Next is a highly unique vehicle that I also recall from this past November’s Holiday Festival Parade—it is a metallic copper and black dune buggy described as an “Ocelot S/S VW Dune Buggy,” featuring 1961 chassis and 1969 body, and owned by Frank Cirillo of Branford. There were many other informational signs and posters depicting original sales literature for the Ocelot, and much more, displayed with the car. One of the signs further indicated that the car sported a 1971 VW Transporter engine.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

On that same sign the owner’s name was indicated as Pat Florio (maybe Mr. Cirillo purchased the car from Mr. Florio recently?), and with a list of “special thanks to” as follows: Classic Motor Car Service, Nick Cirillo, Dave Derico, Frank ‘Pop’ Pandolfi, Matt Goodwin PND Welding and Fabricating, Steve Urbowicz, Jacob Kennedy, John’s Autobody, and Paul Martin. I did find a listing for “Classic Motor Car Service,” which appears to be a Mercedes specialist in Branford, reference: http://www.classicmotorcarservice.com/ and believe they are located in the industrial area just to the west of the Chowder Pot (actual published street address is: 550 East Main Street #20, Branford, CT 06405, and telephone 203-483-5156). Nick Cirillo is identified as the owner of the company, per their history page: http://www.classicmotorcarservice.com/history.html . I also found a listing for PND Welding, online at: www.pndweldingct.com , and they appear to be located at 45 NE Industrial Road, Branford, CT 06405, telephone 203-903-1646. Finally, I found a listing for John’s Auto Body at 45 Tabor Drive, Branford, CT 06405, telephone 203-488-0624 (Branford Patch info page: http://branford.patch.com/listings/johns-auto-body-of-branford). A lot of significant Branford connections appear to have gone into that car! Pretty cool! Oh, and studying the reproduced “Ocelot” sales literature that was displayed with the car, it appeared the “Sand Chariots” company who manufactured the Ocelot, originally based in Fullerton, California, apparently had an “east coast” home base, known as “Sand Chariots East,” located on North Main Street, in Stratford, CT. This must’ve been back in the ‘heyday” of dune buggy building, I’d guess mid to late 1960s. I’m sure that both the main (west coast) and east coast “Sand Chariots” companies are both long-gone at this point.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Moving to the next photo below, the sleek roadster in the foreground is the dark blue 1948 Lea Francis model 14 Sports of Tricia and Al Ridinger of Branford. This rare and beautiful car was featured magnificently a couple of years ago in the July 2011 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car magazine, which included a great history of this British marque, plus many great photos of the car. Happily, the online version of David LaChance’s article (all words and photos credited to Mr. LaChance), “The Rakish Leaf” is accessible online at: http://www.hemmings.com/hsx/stories/2011/07/01/hmn_feature3.html .

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

In the direct background of the same photo with the ’48 Lea Francis above is the flashy gold 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am of Branford’s Harry DeBernardo, featuring the “WS6” special performance package (consisting of special wheels & tires, special handling package), 6.6 liter (403 cubic inch) V8 engine, close-ratio 4-speed transmission, and T-tops option. Harry had a copy of the car’s original window sticker displayed with the car, which was really interesting to study. The actual color name, first of all, was “Solar Gold.” Harry’s car, as equipped, plus several other options, stickered-out at $9,103.45, and that included the $311 destination charge, and total of $1,909-worth of options. Only partially visible beyond Harry’s ’79 Trans-Am in the image above is our other local Branford-based Trans-Am driving buddy, John Astarita, who is visible getting something out of the trunk of his black, all-original unrestored, “Smoky & The Bandit Edition” 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am! Better shots of both cars appear below...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Moving up to the fantastic bright orange custom 1957 Chevy Pickup that I’ve admired at many local-area car shows over the past few years, this one, that was parked just on the other side of John Astarita’s black Trans Am, is owned by Mark Alex of Branford—it is a real beauty—a true show truck!

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Paired with the Alex '57 Chevy Pickup below is the front end of a magnificent black 1949 Ford Convertible—this one, unfortunately, I don’t think I ever saw a window card for, so I have no idea who owns it—it was a superb, and, as I recall, quite original-looking car.

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Parked next to our '73 Pinto wagon was a magnificent dark green 1936 Ford 2-door Sedan; this one was in superb shape (possibly restored shape?), and was owned by Bill Hitchcock from Branford, per the windshield card. The pair provided a unique photo-op of a pair of vintage Fords!

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

And the cars keep on coming (even though my notes are rather minimal...) Here is Dan Elliston’s North Branford-based ’68 Ford Mustang...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Here's Ken Valente’s 1923 Ford “T-Bucket” from North Branford...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Here's Lee Engelman’s 1973 Buick GS Stage 1 from Old Saybrook (“Likes to race!”  per Lee’s windshield card, and also displaying a Lebanon Valley Dragway timing slip indicating 13.16 seconds @ 101mph in the quarter mile-wow!)...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Here's Doug Spaeth’s 1968 Dodge Charger R/T from Guilford (“63,000 original miles, #’s matching, 440 magnum engine @ 375hp”)...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Here's Brian Smith’s 1972 Chevy Chevelle from Branford (sorry, no info available on the beautiful Chevy Pickup it was parked next to)...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Mark Rogers' 1958 Chevy Biscayne from Branford appears in the foreground of the left photo below (and also some of the "overall" type shots elsewhere on this page)...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

And here's Joanne Wilson’s 1966 Ford Mustang all the way from Beacon Falls (“289, 4-speed, hi-po”)...

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

As was noted near the top of thie page, the Branford Festival is looking for a new Car Show Chairman to organize this year’s Classic Car Cruise (to be held on Sunday of Father’s Day weekend, I believe, so, again, that'd be Sunday, June 16th)—read more about that search toward the top of this page, and here’s Festival Co-Chair Barb Barringham’s e-mail address once more for you to contact, if you feel you can help out: BBarringham@rbcbearings.com .

Thanks again to all the fine people who've made the Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise the wonderful annual event that it is, from Todd Vigorito, to Gary "The Welder" DiNello, to Kevin Cudgma, and onward (not to mention hard-working behind-the-scenes folks like Barb Barringham and many others).

We've appreciated all of it!

And with that, we'll wrap this up, and finish with a few more "overall-type" views--thanks for visiting!

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012

Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012 Branford Festival Classic Car Cruise, 6/17/2012


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