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(Ken Paulsen Photo)



Enough is enough already.

Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Barney Frank, it seems like all of them – both sides – are mashin’ the pedal, making lots of noise, and spinnin’ their tires – so concerned about the grandstand and so negative about each other that they’re going nowhere.

Step back from this mid-term narcissistic nonsense for just a second. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could fill the field with some racers, some of those common sense motorized movers who continually get it done against all odds? You know the type: crusty Steve Kinser still winning after capturing more than 500 WoO features, even though he has no right to still be walking upright. Or Randy Queensland and his family who pulled off the Fall Jamboree this past weekend with a full pit and full bleachers despite horrific flooding and washed-out roads all over southern Minnesota.

Well, there may just be a flicker of hope out there, coming from the most unlikely corner. Way up there in Strafford County, New Hampshire, running for state representative, is Marty Harty. It’s as if he has ridden onto the Republican ballot in an early Ford chassis, powered by a flathead. Earlier this year Marty was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame for his prowess as a long-time race car builder. He is definitely one of the most colorful characters I’ve ever met and quite possibly one of the brightest. He’s 91 years old.

Much of Marty’s history and philosophy is articulated amusingly in his informal 2008 self-published 197- page booklet, Half Wit And Half Wisdom – An Outhouse Reader. Marty’s life has always been one of a working man, most always on his own clock. It was metal salvage before a tour in North Africa and Italy during World War II. Then a fling as a short-order cook in Boston and Hollywood. By the 1960s, Marty and bride Arlene (they had ten children) were into second-hand goods. It was nothing for them to jump in their clapped-out VW bug and motor from New Hampshire to Phoenix for a flea market.

By the dawn of the seventies, Marty had become what he has remained right up until this summer, “the Old Yankee Peddler”. Legendarily popular, he’d go from garage to garage all over New England in vans veteran of hundreds of thousands of miles, crammed with every bit of bric-a-brac your neighborhood mechanic could possibly need.

All the while, though, Marty, with his slightly mischievous smile and incisive wit, was a little different. It was as if he was just a tad removed from his own self, amused by watching the world go by with himself in it. From the very first paragraph, his book reveals the mind of a life-long learner, extremely well read. He constantly references Shakespeare, Einstein, Mark Twain, and Isaac Asimov.

Two chapters in Marty’s opus are devoted to racing. He details thoroughly a remarkably scientific approach to chassis and setups, even from back in the fifties. Every car that he built came with a guarantee. It would win a feature, provided that, if necessary, Marty could supply his own driver. Marty’s provision was decidedly unnecessary with the modified he built in a week with Vic Kangas for Ernie Gahan. Gahan won the 1966 NASCAR Modified title with it.

One of Marty’s Machines at Thunder Road in Barre, Vt.
He’s been around for a while. (Harty Collection)

Needless to say, Marty’s political leanings do not line up with group-think. He is certainly no liberal. His comment “I will vote for any laws tending to take mothers out of the workplace and making homes small-sized, comfortable places instead of edifices glorifying greed” would do no good for him even with the most conservative Democrats. Then, of course, Republican hardliners would be done in by his attitude about the no-tax pledge: “You have it from me right here – I never, ever will sign that asinine thing!”

If you are around New England, you can likely find Marty with his placard (and his NEAR Hall of Fame jacket) at Lee USA Speedway’s Oktoberfest on October 23-24, just down NH Route 125 from his home.

As for me, I’m thinking of moving up there just to vote for him.

© 2010 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181

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.: Previous Tearoffs :.

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

© 2007-10 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181