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Book Review by Ron Hedger, Columnist for National Speed Sport News, Board Member of Saratoga  Automobile Museum, NY State Stock Car Association Hall of Fame Committee - 11/28/06


Daredevils of the Frontier, by Keith S. Herbst

Keith Herbst may be a "rookie" author but he made the "A"-main with his "Daredevils of the
Frontier," a look back at the glory days of racing on the so-called Niagara Frontier of western New
York.

Memories of youthful nights at Buffalo Civic Stadium are the foundation of Herbstís tale. Before
giving way to stock cars, the mighty midgets were king at the huge stadium, later known to non-
Buffalonians as the ballfield where "The Natural" was filmed before being leveled by "progress".
For residents of the Frontier, BCS was a legendary battlefield, with the locals fighting a valiant but
generally losing battle against such high-caliber invaders as Pappy Hough, Bill Schindler, Al
Bonnell, Duane Carter and Larry Bloomer.

To tell the story accurately, Herbst had to go back to the big car days of the 30ís and on to the 50ís
and 60ís, when stock cars heroes such as Billy Rafter and Dutch Hoag snatched the limelight from
the devoted midgeteers, so the tome covers a great deal of action and change.

Western New Yorkers will love the profiles of the characters comprising the "Buffalo Gang," but
anyone with even the slightest interest in post-war midget racing will find the book difficult to put
down. Herbst hits both the bad and the good: the tragic deaths and joyous victories, the
seemingly avoidable carnage contrasting with legendary promoter Ed Ottoís attempts to make
racing safer and the varied personalities of the players.

Through it all, thereís a photo or two of nearly everyone mentioned and statistics to illustrate just
how successful heroes like Schindler were. Herbst obviously revelled in the time spent with the
boyhood heroes still alive, such experts as Chris Economaki, Joe Heisler and Gordon White and
digging through photo files to find the exact photos needed to tell the tale.

The book also marks a milestone for prolific publisher Coastal 181, as "Daredevils" is their first
hardcover offering. With 192 pages and over 350 photos, itís a steal at $39.95.

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