– the Checkered Flag 


































Racing Commentary

Email Lew at lewboyd@coastal181.com


The bearded Doc MacKenzie, from Racers at Rest by Buzz Rose
Sharpe Collection)



From all reports, he was the kind of guy who could do anything.

Born to a prominent family of physicians in Eddington, PA, in 1906, George MacKenzie’s star shone brightly from the start. He was handsome, athletic, articulate, and intelligent, undertaking all challenges with flair and flourish.

He was fully expected to complete his medical education, but he dropped out in 1928 to join the Church of the Clay. Carrying with him only the nickname “Doc,” he sallied forth to become one of the greatest, most colorful dirt-trackers of the day, a promoter’s dream.

By 1930, he was a terror from the boards at Woodbridge, NJ, and the lofty banks of Legion Ascot. But racing wasn’t always pretty. He crashed mightily at the Detroit State Fair, injuring himself seriously and his riding mechanic, William Berry, fatally.

The next season at Langhorne, the circular site of some of his most sensational performances, the 25- year-old met his match – an uncommonly pretty Verna Mather, perched atop a fire truck in the infield. They became an instant item.

Doc Mackenzie getting some warnings and possibly some pointers
from his sweetheart, Miss Verna Mather, at Langhorne before starting
the fifty-mile sweepstake feature, which he won."
E-P Motorsports collection)

Another obsession sprouting that summer was Indy, where Doc qualified for his first of five consecutive 500s. He grew a beard and swore he would not shave it until he sipped that cool Hoosier milk.

Facial fuzz was not totally uncommon at the time. Likely the most famous follicle frolicker was Man Mountain Dean, the 300-pound- plus wrestler whose shaggy beard only added to his ferocity.

Dr. Emmett Choate, a renowned psychologist, spoke to the subject of beards: “Many a man owes his success in life to the superiority complex given to his ego by the attainment of a healthy mess of whiskers.”

But for Doc MacKenzie, the beard may have meant something else, something more profound. It likely signified recognition of the danger of his profession and his deep fear that in an accident he might “lose my guts,” his eagerness and ability to compete.

That didn’t happen, even after a series of savage wrecks on his way to 35 wins and the AAA Eastern Championship in 1935.

Nor did it happen at Reading, PA, on July 12, 1936 when Doc collided with Floyd Roberts. Both entered nearby Homeopathic Hospital near death, and they shared a room for two weeks.

Verna was at the hospital the whole time, tending to her man, and Doc proposed. They were married right there on Monday, July 20, Floyd Roberts filling in as best man right from his bed.

But Verna had a catch. Doc told reporters, “That beard has been my lucky charm, but it comes off if Verna says so.” Out came the razor.

The last weekend in August, Doc was at it again. He went to the Springfield (IL) mile and set a new record of 38.57, only to drop out of the feature with exhaustion.

The next day in Milwaukee a clean-shaven MacKenzie seemed fully back in form. He had the moves of a winner as he chased Billy Winn for the lead. Then, suddenly and surprisingly, he rode over George Connors’ wheel, and flipped four times along the wall.

He died that night at the hospital, a devastated Verna at his side.

Doc when the luck was gone. 
-P Motorsports Collection)
Doc at Indy
(DE-P Motorsports Collection) 

© 2011 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :.

1/15/11 - Reconsidering Generalizations

12/31/10 - Powerful Passion

12/19/10 - Tearoff at Yuletide

12/6/10 - Indy in December

11/21/10 - Mutt and the Brutal Ballet

10/29/10 - The Johnny Bensons and Their Supers

10/13/10 - Anatomy of an Accident

9/28/10 - Maybe Marty

9/14/10 - Push Refresh for Speedway Illustrated

8/23/10 - An Ode to Senior Supers

8/6/10 - Adrian and the Deep Water

7/20/10 - Holdout in Yuppieville

7/7/10 - The Wins are Gustin

6/16/10 - Racin' Kid, Racin' Dad

5/28/10 - The Monk and Matty D.

5/15/10 - Bluebird

4/27/10 - Catching Up With Steve Arpin

4/11/10 - The Song of the Fifties

3/22/10 - Davey!

3/8/10 - Restart!

2/21/10 - Miracles of the Rock

2/8/10 - Roger The Remarkable

1/21/10 -  Shane's Sensational '78

12/28/09 - The Flying Finn and The All American Boy

12/12/09 - Hello Wall

11/29/09 - Once More for Ernie

11/15/09 - Ernie's Excellent Chase

11/1/09 - In The Zone

10/19/09 - Rough Week in the Midwest

10/1/09 - Common Starts, Uncommon Comebacks

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

© 2007-11 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181