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#1934  -  That was the Borg Warner trophy at the time of the start of the ’59 Indy 500. The next visage to be embossed on it would be the day’s winner, Rodger Ward. Back then roadsters ruled the day, red-leather seats were popular, and white gloves were fashionable. But some things never change. Chief Steward Harlan Fengler’s appreciation for race queen Erin O’Brien is obvious, as everyone’s would be today. From UNITED STATES AUTO CLUB RACING PICTORIAL – 1959. (Ray Mann Photo)
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#1933  -  That’s Joe Leonard in the Nomex and Parnelli Jones in the headgear, checking out the right front. Here’s what Dan Gurney had to say about Leonard’s arrival at Indy: “In order to pass his rookie test, he had to pass a mandatory physical examination and vision test administered by Dr. Thomas Hanna, the esteemed medical authority at the Speedway. And Joe had a flaw and a big one, very poor eyesight. Without passing, Joe would not get permission to race. I took it upon myself to lobby and convince old Doc Hanna to let him take his driver’s test anyway. Doc could not let Joe pass without compromising Speedway regulations. But he had wisdom and he looked at Joe’s racing achievements which belied his lack of reasonable vision and tried to find a solution. He came up with some special Coke-bottle glasses for Joe to wear, which enabled him to pass his vision and rookie tests with flying colors. We called them the two-and-half milers. From that day forward, when Joe showed up in Gasoline Alley early in the morning, we greeted him by singing, ‘Jose can you see?’” Photo from As A Matter Of Fact, I Am Parnelli Jones, by Bones Bourcier (Hugh Baird Photo, Parnelli Jones Collection), Quote from INDY 500 MEMORIES: An Oral History of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” by Art Garner and Marc B. Spiegel
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#1932  -  Back in the ’70s, lensmen extraordinaire Gene Crucean and John Mahoney spearheaded a neat publication called Sprint Car Pictorial. Their 1976 edition carries this rather remarkable image of “Preacher” Pancho Carter. It is said he was officiating “the marriage of the apes” at the season finale at Eldora. The caption points out that promoter Earl Baltes had a “fertile imagination.” Has neo-owner Tony Stewart matched that? (Rick Lane Photo)
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#1931  -  In September of 1962, a daring, young, recently married hotrodder, biker, and jalopy racer from California climbed into a thundering J-7 jet engine-powered land-speed car at Bonneville. Glenn Leasher was intent on achieving fame and fortune – and he would go flat out so to do. After a couple of unsuccessful runs, Leasher terrified his crew by roaring by them at enormous speed far beyond the beginning of the measured mile. Their concern was justified. The car drifted off into the ungraded salt, and Leasher still did not lift or deploy the chute. Instead there was an explosion of sand, eruption of the fuel tank, and the most horrific crash ever at Bonneville. Leasher died. Remains of “the Infinity” are shown at a Utah Highway Department storage yard. From SPEED DUEL: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties, by Samuel Hawley.
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#1930  -  “In one of his early URA Red Circuit soirees at Fresno, California, Jimmy Bryan, ‘the Arizona Cowboy,’ had heard about the Vukovich boys and wasn’t really surprised when Bill rammed him with a wheel in a non-too-subtle manner. But Bill was surprised to find a wheel stuffed right back at him, and this back-and-forth banging continued throughout the feature. After the race, Jim headed for the pits and fully expected to have to fight half of Fresno, especially when he saw Vuky striding purposefully toward him, still wearing his helmet. (This was a trait of Vuky’s; once the evening’s racing began, he rarely took his helmet off.) All Bryan saw, however, was the swiftly approaching Vukovich, and he looked around for a wrench in case he had to protect himself. The grim look on Vuky’s face was misleading. When he got to Bryan, he stuck out his hand. ‘Son of a bitch, that’s how I like to race!’ enthused Vuky. ‘Good job, Kid!’ They shook hands, and Vukovich strode off. A slow grin spread over Bryan’s tanned face. He’d just received the best compliment of his young career.” Quote and photos from THE FABUILOUS FIFTIES: American Championship Racing, by Dick Wallen.
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#1929  -  John “Hot Rod” Heydenreich, a 60-something export from Bloomsburg, PA, to the Midwest and USAC, has been racing forever. He won the Hut Hundred in 1978, the Chili Bowl in 1990, set a Sprint Car record at Eldora – and he still makes the dirt fly in open-wheelers. Here he is suiting up for the millionth time – on this occasion for a DMA/USAC show at a lively, old-time quarter-miler in Vermont, Bear Ridge Speedway. (Photo by Photographer par Excellence, John DaDalt)
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#1928  -  That’s Parnelli Jones (L) and George Follmer. They were the hot setup in 1969/1970 Trans-Am racing. Parnelli recalled in 2013: “Overall, George and I had plenty of good times. Back in the day, Judy and I socialized with him a lot…. We still do some vintage racing together, and that is always a kick for us, sometimes not so much for the car owners. The only real difference between racing vintage and the old days is the fact that we now don’t have girls hanging around the pits and we don’t have to tell George, ‘Come on, George, leave the girls alone and get into the car. It’s time to go racing.’” Quote and Photo from FOLLMER: American Wheel Man, by Tom Madigan. (Follmer Collection)
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#1927  -  You never know just what’s gonna show up in a parking lot in New Jersey. This Hanchick & Lerch-funded ’57 Ford was driven by Al Tasnady in the 1964 Sportsman/Modified 200. Note the trick aero work on the top of the front fenders and over the headlights. Tas had also run a factory-backed ’57 Plymouth Convertible on the beach – and a Modified on the road course. He retired in 1972 with 400 victories under his belt. From STRAPPED IN, December 2006. (Shultz Photo)
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#1926  -  On the gas one day at Reading. Masked marvels Freddy Adam (#76) and Budd Olsen. From STRAPPED IN, October 2012. (Zellers Photo)
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#1925  -  No question that Rick Standridge out of Collinsville, Illinois, is one of America's all-time coolest short-trackers. His bride, Joyce, stopped counting his feature trophies at 200. This year he reached 50 – 50 years of racing, that is – still with a 50-year-old budget. A couple of weeks back he was warmly honored by announcer Dewain Hullett and an enthusiastic crowd at Jacksonville (Ill) Speedway, one of the very first tracks he frequented. (Standridge Family Collection)
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#1924  -  This past Saturday’s “Legends Day” at the recently opened North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, NH, had to be one of the most emotional racing gatherings ever. World-class oval-trackers George Summers, Carl “Bugsy Stevens” Berghman, and the late Ronnie Bouchard, known as “the Three Amigos,” were honored. In the image above, Dick Berggren, Russ Conway, Maggie Summers, George, Bugsy, and Doris Berghman listen as Paula Bouchard reads a poignant memory of her husband. There was a smile on every face – and a wee tear in each eye – as everyone left after the sold-out, interactive four-hour affair. (Scott Patten Photo)
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#1923  -  That’s the late Gene Bergin, one of New England’s finest all-time short-trackers, getting ready to test talented rookie owner Jim Jorgensen’s “Swamp Yankee” Chevy Indy Car at Stafford (CT) Speedway back in 1968. Gene did not look all that comfortable. That became even more apparent when they went to Milwaukee, attempting to qualify on the billiard-table flat fairground mile. “No matter what Gene did, the car pushed badly in the corners. Gene felt the solution was the same thing he’d always done: manhandle the thing and let the rear end hang out. The harder Gene tried, the worse it got. Every time he went out, the car went slower. They didn’t make the show, and Gene erupted. He picked up a bucket of water and threw it at the car. The pits were full of TV and media. The car’s co-owner, Buzz Harvey, who was trying to project a professional image to attract sponsors, didn’t appreciate the meltdown. Opinions vary on what happened, but at the end of the day, Bergin was out.” Quote and Photo from SWAMP YANKEE: The Racing Life of Jim Jorgensen, by Walt Scadden. (Jim Jorgensen Collection)
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#1922  -  Pretty! If you could see what sits atop this tubular space frame chassis, it would be a drop-dead beautiful ’32 Roadster called “Roadchamp.” It is owned by Steve Moal of Moal Coachbuilders in Oakland, CA. Photo from DEUCE: The Original Hot Rod: 32 x32, by Mike Case.
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#1921  -  Sometimes a bad night can throw the green to a just plain bad weekend. Such was the case in 1954 when Don Edmunds towed his Midget into the new 1.4 mile asphalt tri-oval, Marchbanks Stadium in Hanford, CA. He took time, never having been on the track before. With the advice of Billy Cantrel to “drive it like dirt,” he slid around turn one, the rear pointed to the wall. He was fast. But in the next turn, it didn’t work, and over the banking he went. He landed under the car, but fortunately his head was somewhat protected by a slight hole in the ground. Car owner Bob Sorenson is shown inspecting the busted-up car. Following a night in the crash house, Edmunds was released but still beaten up. His crew arranged a station wagon equipped with a mattress in back to drive him home. That’s when they got T-boned at an intersection by a pickup truck. The wagon flew off the road, and Edmunds off his couch. Ouch. Photo from THE SAGA OF ROTTEN RED: The Don Edmunds Story, by Paul Weisel, Jr.
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#1920  -  We all know him as the longest continually running competitor on the World of Outlaws tour, but 235 Sprint Car wins ago, Donny Schatz wheeled Late Models. He’s shown here at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He was WISSOTA Rookie of the Year in 1993 and Champion just three seasons later. Photo from TODAY’S SPRINT KINGS, by Gerald Hodges
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#1919  -  This is how it looked in the mountainous Tri-Cities area of Tennessee in the spring of 1965. Bristol International Speedway had been operating for four years. A capacity crowd of just under 20,000 showed up to watch Junior Johnson snag the Southeastern 500 on May 2. From NASCAR – The Complete History, by Greg Fielden.
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#1918  -  Here's a neat shot from our Quaker State buddy, Dale Snyder. That's Bentley Warren in the Connecticut-based Allyn Tool Sprinter owned by Skip Matczak at Pennsylvania's Hershey Stadium on May 28, 1969. If their tool box and single spare tire seem a bit modest, Skip has an explanation. Money was beyond tight for the team back then, and they had to get creative, even with travel logistics. While on the road, they would typically sneak into motels about eight in the morning and look for a room just vacated. They'd hang a 'Do not Disturb' on the door, shower, and wash off all that clay from the night before. The two had some fine runs, though, and Bentley was on his way to the Brickyard. (Dale Snyder Photo)
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#1917  -  In the early 1960s, when Harry Hibler was track manager of “the Pond” (The San Fernando Drag Strip), one of the more unpleasant things he had to deal with was clutch explosions – and they occurred frequently. In this case the flywheel of the Valley Home Service Special (a top-shelf dragster with a Max Belchowski chassis) cut the car in half, before taking flight, and trying to saw the roof of a nearby church. The minister returned the flywheel, and Hibler offered the entire congregation track passes, but his courtesy was declined.  Photo from LOST DRAG STRIPS II – More Ghosts of Quarter Miles Past, by Scotty Gosson. (Courtesy Dave Wallace Jr.)

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#1916  -  New Hampshire’s Ernie Gahan towed a million miles hither and yon, often alone, with his stark, industrial-looking #50, on a budget of less than nothing, and somehow beat out Ray Hendrick for the 1966 NASCAR Modified crown. When he fell terminally ill in 2009, a group of admirers sought to recover his championship trophy. Years before, he had donated it to a museum that was never built. Finally, it was found and brought to the nursing station at Ernie’s hospital, and the nurses were told that they had a NASCAR champion in house. They got together as a group, went into his room, and presented it. One of them asked, “Mr. Gahan, are you as good as Kyle Busch?” (Photo by Our Main Man with the Hat, Frank Simek)
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#1915  -  We have just received our shipment of the new and expanded version of HEWITT’S LAW by Jack Hewitt and Dave Argabright. It is really cool, but how could it not be with ‘Do-it’? Here he was in 1975, taking quite an unusual line at Eldora. His comment: “Part of the learning process. Sometimes you gotta find that wall so you’ll know where it is next time….” (John Mahoney Photo)
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#1914  -  Freddy Smith, the “Southern Gentleman,” was clearly pleased with his first NDRA win – at Wythe Raceway on May 31, 1980 – and celebrated with series honcho Robert Smawley and the comely Eva Taylor. Smith raced until 2012, reportedly collected 784 wins, and was inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in its inaugural class. From THE ROCK-EM, SOCK-EM TRAVELIN’ SIDEWAYS DIRT SHOW – A History of Robert Smawley’s NDRA, by Gary L. Parker. (Robert Smawley Collection)
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#1913  -  It was not that long ago that NASCAR’s elite drivers were a bit more engaged in things grassroots. Quite the cadre of them showed up at Ken Schrader’s (he’s in white between Truex and Edwards) I-55 Speedway in Pevely, MO. It sure looked like they were having a good time. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1913  -  All in the family. Probably 10,000 viewers tuned in at this moment last Sunday at the World Series at Thompson (CT) Speedway. An up-and-coming open cockpit driver, 14-year-old Ryan Locke, drilled the wall coming off turn four and flipped. Close behind was his dad, Jeff, who was out of his car in an instant, sprinting over to his boy. Mercifully, all was well. (Good Guy John DaDalt Photo)
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#1912  -  A.J. Foyt: “I had a Midget race car and they used to always have a race the night before the 500. I knew many of the drivers in the 500 because they’d come to my Daddy’s shop when they raced in Houston. I used to change tires and wash the cars of Johnny Parsons, Jimmy Reece and Bill Vukovich, and all of them when they came to town. So I knew them all. The night before the Indy Midget race, I’m working on my car and Jimmy Reece and a bunch of other drivers walked up. Jimmy asked me what I was doing and I told him I was jacking a little weight. He said, ‘The only place you need to jack some weight is on the right side of the car, up in front of the steering gear.’ I asked him what the heck he was talking about. ‘The throttle foot,’ he said, ‘Put a little more weight there.’ I never forgot that.” Quote from INDY 500 MEMORIES: An Oral History of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” by Art Garner and Marc B. Spiegel, Photo from FOYT, ANDRETTI, PETTY, by Bones Bourcier (John Mahoney Photo)
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#1911  -  Niki Lauda: “When I first saw the film (of his fiery crash at Nürburgring in 1976), I obviously knew that was me, that something was happening to me. But, somehow, I felt completely detached from it – it was a horrendous shunt that somebody was involved in, but I couldn’t relate what I was seeing to myself. I didn’t remember. There was no correlation between the film and my present state; the driver on the screen was a total stranger. There it all was: jack-knife, impact, slide, flamers. ‘Look at that. God Almighty, look at that.’” Quote and photo from NIKI LAUDA: Meine Story, by Niki Lauda with Herbert Volker.
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#1910  -  A fresh-faced, 22-year-old Steve Kinser was 63rd in 1976 USAC Sprint points. He had 577 World of Outlaws A-feature victories to go. From SEVENTIES CHAMPIONSHIP REVOLUTION: American Racing Championships, by Dick Wallen. (Dennis Torres Photo)
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#1909  -  That’s Dan Wheldon making sure Tony Kanaan was properly hydrated. They had quite the relationship.

At Indy in 2011, says Tony, “He passed me with about 15 laps left in the race. I didn’t know it at the time, but he thought I chopped him a couple of times during the race. I hadn’t, but he perceived it that way. While he passed me, I saw what appeared to be a wave. I thought ‘What the hell? Why is he waving?’ He ended up winning and I finished fourth, so I walked over the Victory Lane to congratulate him. I went to hug him, but he swore at me. He started yelling at me that I had cut him off. I said, ‘Dan, you just won the Indy 500. Let it go.’ He wouldn’t, so I had to apologize. ‘I wouldn’t do that to you,’ I said. ‘You know me.’ Then I said ‘Didn’t you wave when you passed me? I thought you were happy.’ He said ‘No, I was flipping you off.’

“At the awards banquet the next night, I congratulated him on the win and had some fun with our little moment. I said, ‘I did notice you waving when you passed me. Sometimes when you stick your hand up at 220mph, you can’t control all your fingers. It looked like you lost a few of them.’” Quote and Photo from LIONHEART: Remembering Dan Wheldon, by Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson.
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#1908  -  What Clint Bodford did in the 1950s when he flipped his coupe over the fence and into the pits at Bowman Gray was curious, but not that unusual. It seems that at the time, after a noteworthy crash, drivers sometimes climbed atop their cars to wave. Were they celebrating survival? One thing for sure – repair of damages was not as expensive back then. From BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM, by Richard Miller. (Forsyth County Public Library Collection)
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#1907  -  It has often been referred to as one of the most intense finishes in NASCAR history. On the last lap of the 1976 Daytona 500, the Fox, David Pearson, stormed by the King, Richard Petty, on the backstretch for the lead. The King dipped low in 3 and 4, and there was contact – and pandemonium. Lots of infield grass was aerated as they spun, but the Fox was able to limp across the line for a win in his abbreviated Wood Brothers machine. From STOCK CAR RACING: The High-Speed History of America’s Premier Motorsport, by Don Hunter and Al Pearce.
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#1906  -  New Zealander Gordon Tronson apparently has little problems dreaming up and crafting rather remarkable vehicles. This time he started out with two wide-bodied, all-aluminum 4.6 DOHC engines and a fiberglass 1927 T body. A million hours later, some 1.5-inch tubing for the chassis, and several Weiand Roots superchargers later, he rolled out “Double Trouble.” From How To Swap Ford Modular Engines Into Mustangs, Torinos, and More, by Dave Stribling. (Gordon Tronson Collection)
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#1905  -  It was a beautiful thing, as if the sun blessed the field, on the evening of July 22, the seventh annual Imperial Tile Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway in Nebraska. It was especially beautiful for T-Mac, Timmy McCreadie, who took off and hid after lap 22 and won himself $53,000. (Buck Monson Photo)
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#1904  -  Sam Posey’s conclusion on Rufus was: “Rufus Parnelli Jones could look mean, scary mean, but the facts show he never pushed people off the road, never did any things mean people do. He just beat you and beat you again, and he did it so often, you had to conclude he was mean.” Quote and Photo from WHERE THE WRITER MEETS THE ROAD, by Sam Posey.
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#1903  -  A slightly misty shot from the Spa (Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium) in its original form in the early 1960s. Formula 1 cars must have been really honking on that downhill S-turn. From 1960s IN FOCUS - Rare and Unseen Photographs From a Golden Decade of Motor Racing, Damien Smith, Editor.
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#1902  -  "Now that’s one way to get them out to the track. Roberta “Baby Imp” Schultz and her sister Linda in the far lane were part of the Miss Universe Drag Team that was dreamed up by promoter Tom "Smoker" Smith. It was a popular circuit that ran only a few years in the early 1970s. To the cringe of feminists everywhere, the hot pants and boots were mandatory gear." Quote and photo from MATCH RACE MAYHEM: Drag Racing’s Grudges, Rivalries, and Big-Money Showdowns, by Doug Boyce. (Photo courtesy Bill Truby)
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#1901  -  Feel the momentum. It was the Night before the 500 at the 16th Street Speedway in Indianapolis on May 29, 1958. Running hard were Lloyd Ruby #4, big-armed Buzz Barton in the #67, and Mauri Wilson in the #61. From The Kurtis-Kraft Story, by Ed Hiltze. (Dave Knox Photo)
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#1900  -  The 30-mile track on the streets of Briarcliff Manor, NY, back on April 24, 1908, had few of the safety considerations so much a part of road-racing facilities today. Future star Ralph De Palma was riding mechanic for Albert Campbell in an AAA event when they hit a log and flipped into a creek. Both survived – and Julian Block flew by on the bridge in a Renault roadster likely not even knowing they were there. From THE 1912 MILWAUKWEE RACES: Vanderbilt Cup and Grand Prize, by Joel E. Finn.
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#1899  -  This neat photo from Kyle James out in Tulsa shows him keeping the field in order on the pace lap. He writes, “It was a 55-lap non-wing Sprint Car race called the Ironman 55, run the second weekend of September at Oklahoma’s Creek County Speedway. Put on by local racers Danny Smith and David Stephenson plus Steve Gran with the track, it featured 2-barrel 360 sprints that run locally normally with wings. It benefited a triple amputee veteran who received a $20,000 mobility chair. The green #13 car trailing the field is 71-year-old Len Larkin in his 51st year of racing. He ran an 8-lap heat, a 12-lap B and a 55-lap A, and finished 17th of 25 cars.” (John Parham Photo)
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#1898  -  To paraphrase the old racing expression, “he ran where they weren’t.” The incomparable Bobby Santos III put on a real show in the Modified race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Saturday. After saving everything by cruising around in starvation mode for some 90% of the 100-miler, he decided it was time to go. But he snookered everyone. As shown above, he went downstairs, two feet right on the infield line. He was so strong that he lost no noticeable momentum to the cars on the outside, even coming off turns two and four. He waltzed easily and uncontested under everyone for the win. (Dick Ayers Photo)
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#1897  -  Three decidedly un-racy-looking cars at a 1951 NASCAR “Grand National” event. Upstairs was Al Teague in a Hornet, in the middle a streamline NASH, and downstairs a 1950 Plymouth fastback. It’s hard to believe, but Johnny Mantz drove that Plymouth to the first-ever 500-mile stock car race, the Southern 500. From DODGE DYNAMITE! – 50 Years of Dodge Muscle Cars, by Peter Grist.
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#1896  -  The late Ollie Silva really was incredible. That’s Ollie in his old-time, industrial-looking, small-block #0 Super at the NESMRA Challenge Cup at Thompson, CT, in 1972. Here he blasted under the big blocks of Brian Herb (high) and Ken Andrews (middle groove). Wrestling with his bow-spring front end all the way, Ollie sealed the deal and won the show. (NESMRA Collection)
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#1895  -  On October 5, 1991, Kara Hendrick, a beloved, up-and-coming driver the country was watching, died in a USAC Midget race at El Cajon (CA) Speedway. Her father, Arthur, mourning, said, “People came up to me all time and asked how I could let my daughter race. I would tell them I’m doing everything I can to discourage her. I would go up to her and say, ‘Kara, I’m not going to put any more money into your car,’ but she would go out and get it from sponsors. She’s up there right now, looking down and saying, “Dad, you were right. It is dangerous, but I still want to drive.” From UNITED STATED AUTO CLUB: Fifty Years of Speed and Glory, by Dick Wallen (John Mahoney Photo)
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#1894  -  This mighty six-banger was fielded by Emil Reutimann, Buzzie and Wayne’s dad in the 1947-48 era.  Usually the Reutimanns concentrated on tracks in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, but on this occasion, Emil ventured east to the imposing 1.25-mile Pompano Beach Speedway.  The track, built for horse racing, only lasted a season or two with race cars because of its poor surface.  (Brian Sharp Collection)

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#1893  -  “A very unique early dragster was Slice of Pie, campaigned by Creighton Hunter around 1955. Creighton’s crude-looking dragster featured a full, owner-fabricated body covering a front-mounted tri-carb flathead, positioned sideways in the chassis and running direct drive via chain to the rear axle. Creighton relied upon a jacking system to raise the rear of the car once he was at the starting line. Bringing up the RPM, he dropped the car when the flag dropped. Creighton topped 150 mph with the car in 1956 before crashing it at Santa Ana.” From 1001 DRAG-RACING FACTS, by Doug Boyce. (Bob McClurg Photo)
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#1892  -  In 1969, Mickey Thompson towed his SOHC Ford-powered Funny Car to Detroit Dragway to test. Here the front wing appears to be set for downforce, while the rear seems to be neutral. Sometime shortly after the car’s debut, the sanctioning body outlawed the wings. There was a lot to learn about mounting them. Speed and downforce could fold the wing struts back or collapse the entire assembly. Several road race cars experimented with the strut mounting system. A series of accidents, attributed to wing failure, led to rules that prohibited them or required upgrades to the mounting. From KAR-KRAFT: Race Cars, Prototypes, and Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Program, by Charlie Henry.
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#1891  -  Soft-spoken New England Hall of Famer Fred Borden passed away last weekend, having just reached his 90th birthday. Freddie was a starring chauffeur starting back in the jalopy days in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, at venues such as Dracut, Hudson, the Medford Bowl, and West Peabody. By the mid-’50s he had advanced to the cutdowns and is seen in this photo in Andy Smith’s remarkable A-Framed #99 when overhead engines came on the scene. In the 1960s he was The Man at Westboro, MA, and Brookline, NH, Speedways, driving the Falconi Bros. #10 Modifieds. He is likely the biggest winner in Westboro’s 38-year history. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1890  -  Two true Eastern legends, great friends, fast racers, and talented car builders, the late Budd Olsen (L) and Dick “Toby” Tobias. Olsen started racing far and wide in 1948 and was 1951 National Auto Racing Association Sprint Car champ in 1951. Seven years later he romped to the NASCAR National Modified Championship in Busty Luso’s ’37 Ford coupe. He took in $600 plus a shotgun for the title. He subsequently raced locally until 1973 when he retired and built BOSS Modifieds with his son, Doug. Toby, on the other hand, began with jalopies in 1950 on local bullrings and over the next couple of decades began to race nationally, entering national USAC competition in open-wheelers. He died at Flemington, NJ, in a Sprinter in 1978. His company, Tobias Speed Equipment, is said to have sold 1,000 kits and cars, including Modifieds and Sprint Cars. (Bob Sweeten Photo, Rob Sweeten Collection)
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#1889  -  “The sport of drag racing has changed much since Kenny Bernstein built this Funny Car in 1978. Today, the strip is one thousand feet, and Funny Cars travel it in less than 3.9 seconds, topping out at over 330 miles an hour. But the heart of just about every Funny Car and Top Fuel dragster since the mid-seventies has been the 426 Hemi. Today these 500-cubic-inch engines generate 11,000 horsepower, with 90% nitromethane forced into the engine at 110 gallons per minute. It’s estimated it takes 950 horsepower just to turn the supercharger at full throttle, and the twin sparkplugs throw a spark equivalent to an arc welder to ignite the dense explosive fuel mixture. Still, open one of these $150,000 engines, and the block and cylinder head design is clearly based on the legendary 426 Hemi – huge valves, twin rocker shafts, and hemispherical combustion chambers.” From THE ART OF MOPAR – Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth Muscle Cars, by Tom Glatch. (Tom Loeser Photo)
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#1888  -  It looks kinda clunky, but it sure wasn’t. This was one of A.J. Foyt’s “Supermodifieds” at Playland Park and North Houston Speedways back in the 1950s. It was Flathead powered with an Ardun OHV conversion, a Hilborn injection on top, and a Harmon-Collins magneto hanging off the front. A.J. reportedly “tipped the can” with some interesting chemistry in the gas tank. This phase of Foyt’s career would come to an end mid-summer in 1956 when he left for Midwest Sprint Car wars. (Photo from DEUCE – The Original Hot Rod; 32 x32, by Mike Chase. )
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#1887  -  The seemingly centuries-old group of good guys, the Ty-Rods Club, held their annual gathering in Lancaster, MA, this past Sunday. The day was as awash in sunshine as Florida was in Irma, and 100s of square tops and early muscle cars rumbled in. One of the biggest hits of the show, though, was an oval-track race car – the original pre-war Midget in original condition owned and operated by Ralph Moody of Holman and Moody fame. Believed to be one of the first tube-framed Midgets ever, the car certainly showed Moody's creativity. He even solved the overheating problem so generic to Ford V-8/60s. Note the two radiator hoses coming from the top of the radiator towards the cockpit. They go to an auxiliary water tank under the cowl. (Coastal 181 Photo)
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#1886  -  It is the start of the 1970 California 500, the opener of the enormous and controversial Ontario Motor Speedway before a crowd of 178,000. The ambitious $145 million (today’s dollars) project was successful at the outset and did attract major attendance, but over time it was not the massive audience necessary. All of the racing legacy that’s left at the 800 acres across the freeway from the Ontario International Airport is an indoor go-kart track in the middle of a business park. Photo from LOST ROAD COURSES, by Martin Rudow. (Riverside International Automotive Museum Collection)
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#1885  -  Everybody move back!  This is Buzzie Reutimann’s first car, at Rocket Speedway in Orlando in 1957.  The track, notable for its guardrail, ceased operations that year. Buzzie most certainly did not.  From FLORIDA MOTORSPORTS RETROSPECTIVE PICTORIAL, by Eddie Roche. (Charles Greco Photo)
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#1884  -  Seventy-one years ago last Memorial Day an energetic entrepreneur named Anthony Venditti carved out the shape of a track on Rt. 6 in Seekonk, MA, formed a quarter-mile speedway largely out of cement, and opened with a gala Bay State Midget Association event. It was won by infamous East Coast open wheeler Oscar "Cannonball" Ridlon. Fate would not make life easy for Venditti, as there were three separate fatalities that inaugural season. He persevered, however, and the track became successful and is operated still today by the Venditti family. (Pete Zanardi Collection)
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#1883  -  In one of the coolest races ever, 74-year-old Denny Soltis of Torrington, CT, romped home winner of this year's big block Modified finale at Lebanon Valley (NY) Speedway. It was an incredible performance – a remarkable human feat. It certainly does NOT seem like yesterday that rookies Denny Soltis, the late Corky Cookman, and we - in our #181 - lined up together at the Valley opening day in 1969. (Photo by Our Man from Amsterdam, Dave Dalesandro)
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#1882  -  Charlotte Motor Speedway has long held the belief that inviting dignitaries can really spice up the show – even by year two in 1961. June Wilkinson, the English model and actress, was in town for the World 600. Quite predictably, she caught the attention of promoter/racer Curtis Turner. Photo from CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY HISTORY: From Granite to Gold, by Deb Williams. (CMS Collection)
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#1881  -  They say that once the great G.P. (Gary Patterson) went to Australia and ran a Midget with his familiar peace sign. A spectator asked him what kind of number that was. G.P. replied it was a #1 with crutches ’cause he was so damn fast that it needed them to stay upright when he raced. (Joyce Standridge Collection)
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#1880  -  Illinois’ Bud Koehler (L) and Wisconsin’s Dick Trickle pose at Blue Island’s Raceway Park on May 19, 1964. The 1/5-mile asphalt facility offered up nearly 3000 programs before being shuttered in 2001. Trickle ran third in the main, while the respected Koehler won it, as he did 489 other mains at that track alone. When having his picture taken, Koehler would typically hide his right hand which had been injured and deformed in a railroad incident when he was a kid. From BLUE ISLAND’S RACEWAY PARK by Stan Kalwasinski and Samuel Beck (Stan Kalwasinski Collection)
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#1879  -  Kramer's excellent June day. On June 9, 1976, Kramer Williamson and crew made the long trip out to Atomic Speedway in Ohio, and he won the All Star Super Sprint race handily. While in Victory Lane with Roy Salt (R) and Miss Atomic Speedway Ronna McCloy (L), Kramer announced his intention to marry Sharon Beahm. (Photo from KRAMER WILLIAMSON: Sprint Car Legend, by Chad Wayne Culver.)
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#1878  -  Dick Shuebruk appears to be following the old race-driving adage, "Never give up trying to get out of a crash." But that night in 1947 at the old Dracut Speedway in Massachusetts, he flipped anyway. (Pete Zanardi Collection)
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#1877  -  Des Moines, 1969. Pete Folse (Honore Offy #2) and the ill-fated Al Chamberlain (his own Chevy #55) duel downstairs while A.J. (D. Wilson Offy) hammers the outside. From BIG CAR THUNDER, Vol. 1, by Bob Mays. (Leroy Byers Photo)
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#1876  -  “In my first year at Indy, about halfway through the month of May, I walked over to where A.J. Foyt was. I was stuck. Turn 1 was really difficult because the car I had – I didn’t know it at the time – was very imbalanced aerodynamically and it was loose – the back end kept coming out. That isn’t a problem when you’re going 100mph on an open road race, but if you’re going around Indy at 230mph, it is an issue. So I went there and I said, ‘Hello, I’m Eddie Cheever,” and he looked at me with great disdain. The disdain did not bother me so I just sat there and said, ‘Look, could you give me one good thought that I could use around here because I’m really stuck – I can’t seem to go any quicker.’ He paused and in that southern drawl of his, he said, ‘Keep turning left.” I thought, OK, where’s the punch line to the joke. He smiled at me and walked over and got into his car – and that was that.” Quote by Eddie Cheever, Jr, from INDY 500 MEMORIES, by Art Garner and Marc B. Spiegel. (Photo from THE RACE: Inside the Indy 500, by James McGuane)
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#1875  -  Ready for DoT inspection and ready to cruise down the highway in style was Midwestern competitor Lawrence Hughes. From THE HIGH BANKS: Belleville’s Amazing Track and the Men Who Tried to Tame Her, by Beryl Ward, L.A. Ward, and Bob Mays (Lawrence Hughes Collection)
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#1874  -  Tom Sneva on the Indy 500: “I remember in 1981, we were just a little bit into the race, and I’m getting a lot of cross-frequency chatter over the radio. It took me a few laps to realized that it was one of the observers. They had twelve observation posts around the track. The guy at ‘post nine’ had spotted a good lookin’ gal in Section 23 – Row WW, and he was trying to tell his buddy over at observation post eight where she was. I was in a pretty good battle with Foyt at the time, and it took me about twelve laps to find her myself. There are some of the stories that don’t always get out. These are some of the problems that drivers have to overcome, that fans don’t realize, at times.” Quote and Photo from THE RACE: Inside the Indy 500, by James McGuane,
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#1873 Guess who? Huge hint: He loved the outside! Photo from STRAPPED IN magazine, November 2013.  Answer: PDF HERE
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#1872  -  It was August 21, 1938 in Southgate, CA. The 37 competitors, including Bill Stroppe and Wally Parks, went to battle in the first “jalopy derby” before 10,000 fans at Southern Ascot Speedway. Don Farmer in the #27, being chased by Tall Valance, was the class of the field. He sat on the pole and won it, apparently paying little regard to either helmet or seat belt. From MEMORIES OF THE CALIFORNIA JALOPY ASSOCIATION, by Thomas D. Luce. (Photo, Don Farmer Jr Collection)
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#1871  -  By 1939 the mighty Midgets had really mushroomed nationwide. In his brand new book, Loren Olsen lists 13 venues in Wisconsin alone that held races. Some tracks such as Milwaukee State Fair Park and Racine Horlick Field ran full schedules, while some venues ran just one show. Tomah Fairground was one of them, but it didn’t even get through its solo event, which was cancelled because of a bad accident and never restarted. One of the competitors there was Joe Deswysen, who was looking pretty fearsome in his rear-engine machine. From MIDGETS OF WISCONSIN: An Illustrated Year-by-year History of Midget Racing in American’s Dairyland, by Loren Olsen. (Photo, Ramsby Racing Collection)
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#1870  -  Wily Will Cagle (#24) and Alan Johnson (that would be #14j beneath the clay) duel for the point in a DIRT feature at Canandaigua, New York, back in 1980.  That was right at the juncture that the manufactured chassis would become the rule of the day. The era of a bunch of guys gluing something up in their garage with a few boxes of 6011 welding rod was gone in an instant. From STRAPPED IN magazine, May 2009. (Lukowski Photo)
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#1869  -  “GM Goodwrench’s first appearance as Earnhardt’s primary sponsor came in the 1986 Busch Series season opener at Daytona. Here, he waits on a postcard-perfect Daytona day with Morgan Shepherd (7) and Ken Bouchard (10) for practice to begin prior to the race.” Quote and photo from DALE vs DAYTONA: The Intimidator’s Quest to win the Great American Race, by Rich Houston (Photo Courtesy Dick Conway)
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#1868  -  Fueled up at Oswego, New York. (Photo from STRAPPED IN magazine, Nov. 2013, WM Collection)
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#1867  -  Marty Harty, a 98-year-old New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, passed away in Dover, New Hampshire, last Saturday. Marty was a sweet-tempered man, a throwback to a gentler time. For years and years an institution around the Northeast, he made rounds to garages with an over-stuffed Volkswagen bus, peddling brooms, wrenches, and all manner of bric-a-brac. He was also the brightest man I ever met. In Europe, back in World War II, he taught himself Italian, and in his nineties could still quote chapters from Dante’s Inferno that he had read back then. In the 1950s and ’60s he was a stock car builder for hire, who would deliver his cars and guarantee that they would win, provided his driver and his setup were used for the test. His finest work was likely the time he built the Modified with Vic Kangas that carried Ernie Gahan to the 1966 NASCAR national title. They had literally one week to complete it, while Ernie was banged up, recovering from a crash in Middletown, NY. Marty also had quite the wit. Several years ago, Parnelli Jones was at the Vintage Celebration at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. When introduced, Marty looked Parnelli up and down and said, “Well, you don’t look all that special to me...” (Photo, Howard Towns Collection)
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#1866  -  Back in the 1960s, folks out on the West Coast couldn’t seem to get enough of those outrageous Fuel Altereds. The epitome of the phenomenon was the Fuel Altered National Tour, which lasted for four years after its 1968 start. The cars were short and very, very fast. Mondello and Matsubara’s blown 427 Chevy Fiat was the first Fuel Altered in the 7-second bracket at above 200mph. “Out-of-control, guard-rail to guard-rail, Christmas-tree-destroying runs, all four wheels in the air, and trail-dragging wheelies weren’t the exception to the rule, they were the rule.” As expected, Wild Willie Borsch ran right up front. Photo and Quote from MATCH RACE MAYHEM, by Doug Boyce. (Photo, Author’s Collection)
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#1865  -  Continental Divide Raceway in Castle Rock, Colorado, operated its 10-turn, 2.7-mile road course from 1959 through 1983. There was an adjoining oval and a drag strip. Here an enthusiastic starter (whatever happened to them?!?) waves on an early 1960s race with “a few Lotus cars, a couple of specials, an Abarth, even a Formula Junior.” From the height of the hill, spectators could see the entire track. From a neat new book LOST ROAD COURSES, by Martin Rudow, (Photo, Castle Rock Museum)
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#1864  -  This is the way many beautifully restored race cars are initially found. The car sits in the woods behind a house in a small town north of Boston. Included in the find are the Midget’s radiator, two V8-60 engines which have been garaged, the rear end complete with wheels and slicks, and other parts. Not found is the car’s history. We don’t know who built or drove it or even if it was ever finished and raced. One of the engines comes with headers (that were once chromed but the plating has largely fallen away) and an aluminum Edmunds intake. That engine will be restored and displayed at the North East Motor Sports Museum. (Caption and Photo, North East Motor Sports Museum)
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#1863  -  They say that May 15, 1938, nigh on 80 years ago, was the day that hot rodding came of age. Most all of the Los Angeles area car clubs had been merged into S.C.T.A., the Southern California Timing Association, and this was the date of their first big meet. Three hundred cars roared across the Muroc Dry Lake that day. Apparently the oldest of the S.C.T.A. competitors was a 40-year-old school teacher. Describing the impact of that incredible day on motorsports, William Carroll wrote, “It took primitive Muroc Dry Lake, at every chill dawn a barren, featureless slab, dusty at the course and dirty wherever touched, to host the beginning of what is remembered as one of the truly great communal efforts of modern youth.” From WHEN THE HOT RODS RAN – May 15, 1938, by William Carroll
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#1862  -  She looks pretty cosmopolitan – almost like Meryl Streep, but it wasn’t Meryl. This was back in Havana, Cuba, at the start of the 1958 Grand Prix. She was leaning on Wolfgang von Tip’s Ferrari 315s. Lean on! He ran fourth. Photo from CUBA'S CAR CULTURE: Celebrating the Island’s Automotive Love Affair, by Tom Cotter and Bill Warner. (Photo Bill Warner Collection)
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#1861  -  "Left of Frank Kurtis is Harry Pitford, a very close friend and chief welder. This was, perhaps, the final race car to come from the plant of Frank Kurtis. In 1962 he built this modern type which may have been the only Indy car ever constructed with a combination roll bar and cage and thanks to the Kurtis design this ‘cage’ was not ugly. Junior Johnson of NASCAR fame was slated to drive. But after a few laps on the Indy oval he found it wasn’t his cup of tea. Colby Scroggins, a rookie, was then picked to drive it. Colby was more than able to keep up with the fast runners in the turns, but had no power on the long straights. This was no mystery as the stubborn owner insisted on using a passenger car typed ignition with a wet battery, rather than the tried and proven magneto on the Offy engine. It didn’t work. Disappointed and discouraged in having to deal with such customers, Frank made his decision to retire from his long and successful career of race car building." Photo and caption from THE KURTIS-KRAFT STORY by Ed Hitze.
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#1860  -  He’s up before 5:00 each morning to ensure that his commute from his home in New Hampshire to the financial district in Boston is under two hours. He often spends 80 hours a week at work at Fidelity Investments, where he is a Vice President. But there’s a screw loose somewhere. Every time he possibly can – often just a couple times a year – he’s slinging his Modified around dirt tracks in Northern New England. They call him Blake “Sideways” Shepard. We’re proud to have him carry our colors. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1859  -  Roscoe “Pappy” Hough, a pioneering East Coast Midgeteer, sure was of hearty stripe. Here is one of his haulers, prepped for the 400-mile weekly trek from Gasoline Alley in Patterson, New Jersey, to the Buffalo Civic Stadium with a few of his Midgets. One night he was pulled over by a policeman who said the two-story trailer couldn’t slow down in a country mile. He demanded that Pappy take it back up to speed. The policeman would follow and then flash his lights telling Pappy when to try stopping. That they did. The lights flashed, and Pappy jammed on the brand new binders he had just installed, plus he downshifted and yanked on the emergency brake. The officer promptly piled into the back of the trailer, smashing up his cruiser big time. Ever the civic-minded citizen, Pappy towed him back to town. Photo from DAREDEVILS OF THE FRONTIER, by Keith Herbst. (Photo, Bob Miour Collection)
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#1858  -  "NASCAR president Mike Helton prepares to offer a toast pf Japanese Sake during a drivers party at Suzuka City, Japan in 1997." Quote and photo from NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers & Personalities, Volume 1, by Gerald Hodges.
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#1857  -  Printed materials played a much larger role in American racing back in the 1950s than today. Colorful posters – typically with large splashes of orange and red – were commonly tacked onto telephone poles pumping the local track. And, once folks got there, the usual first step was to buy a program. The graphics were rudimentary, certainly carrying their period look. Check out Spinner Smith. (Pete Zanardi Collection)
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#1856  -  The 1950s/’60s was a wonderfully creative era in motorsports, but in fairness, the enormous number of vintage coupes and coaches cut up along the way is simply immeasurable. One of the most notorious characters in New England back then was Frank Maratta, a great car builder and the promoter of Connecticut Dragway. He had his humorously dramatic side, as this publicity shot demonstrates. Here "a blast of CO2 quenches his torch before he can push back the borders of automotive design any further." Photo and quote from COOL CARS AND SQUARE ROLL BARS: Photos and Recollections of Fifties Hot Rodding in New England, edited by Bernie Shuman. (Ron San Giovani Collection)
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#1855  -  My kingdom for a cage! It was July 1968 on the high banks of Salem Speedway. Bud Randall’s #12 spun, and Al Smith threw his #2 Watson Ford sideways to miss him, when along came Jerry Daniels #3. There was little choice but to go through Smith’s cockpit. “Smith suffered facial lacerations.” Photo and quote from USAC SPRINT HISTORY 1956-1980, Carl Hungness publisher (Armin Krueger Photo)
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#1854  -  It was a grand moment on June 22, 1941. Duke Nolan motors the infamous Poison Lil across the line for his second consecutive 100-miler at Langhorne. His time was a world record 1:04:39.88 lasting for 13 years. Spencer Riggs figures that Nolan was looking over to the infield at car owner Paul Weirick. Maybe, but for sure he wasn’t looking at the nattily attired starter, Doc Gerner. It’s hard to imagine flagging a race from the outside of the track, on the track. From LANGHORNE: No Man’s Land, by L. Spencer Riggs. (Walter Chernokal Photo, Courtesy Racemaker Archives)
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#1853  -  It’s all in a season’s work. Jack Bowsher had a terrific tour with his self-owned USAC stock car in 1971. He won six, racing at Tri-County, Eldora, New Bremen, Wisconsin State Fair Park and Illinois State Fairgrounds.  From UNITED STATES AUTO CLUB: Fifty Years Of Speed And Glory, by Dick Wallen. (Photo, Dick Wallen Collection)
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#1852  -  Clyde Rowlee gives them one more before the green at Oswego, NY, in 1964. The field includes Jim Shampine in the #8 ball, Jim Gresley in the #21, Roger Boas #53, Leon Wieske #551, Bobby Baker #c47, and Bobby Pierce #11.  From THE PINE - The Authorized  Biography of Jim Shampine, the Greatest Open Wheel Short Tracker of All Time, by Andy Fusco with George Caruso, Jr.  (NOTE – We are reprinting this popular book right now so watch the home page in about a week!)
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#1851  -  Moments after the start of the 1961 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, traffic conditions became a tad congested. Jack Brabham was up front in a Cooper with Stirling Moss right behind in Rob Walker’s Lotus. Further back, Jim Clark’s Lotus, way low, stirs up some dust in front of Walt Hansgen. From WALT HANSGEN: His Life and the History of Post-War American Road Racing, by Walt Hansgen by Michael Argetsinger. (Ron Nelson Photo)
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#1850  -  Tony Stewart once said he wished someday to be able to run the top like Page Jones. Jones was so hot winning the 1993 Belleville Midget Nationals in the Kunz Fontana Stealth that he had to cool everyone off. Scantily attired celebrants take cover! Photo from THE HIGH BANKS: Belleville’s Amazing Track and the Men Who Tried to Tame Her 1910-1997, by Beryl Ward, L.A. Ward, and Bob Mays. (Mike Arthur Photo)
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#1849  -  An aerial view of New Jersey’s New Egypt Speedway in 1998. Over the years it has been a shape changer. From 1954 to 1958, 1960-1987, 1990-1992, and 1995-1996, it was a 1/5-mile asphalt known alternatively as Thunder Bowl Speedway, Central Jersey Speedway, Ocean County Speedway, and Fort Dix Speedway. In 1998-2000 it became a 1/3-mile dirt and in 2001 it was expanded to its current half-mile dirt configuration. Photo from TOW MONEY II –The History of the United Racing Club from 1978 to 2006, by Buzz Rose and Jim Chini. (Bill and Larry Wall Collection)
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#1848  -  Here's a classic from Orange County in jam-packed Middletown, NY, sent to us by Patrick Martin. That's his dad, Ray, on the left. Ray usually had the mike, because he was the respected announcer and publicist at "the hard clay" for years. This day Buzzie Reutimann must have been feeling especially talkative. Perhaps he wanted to tell everybody about his sideburns. (Patrick Martin Collection)
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#1847  -  Three daring disciples of the church of the Eastern clay. L-R were Gary Gollub, Paul Lotier, and Fred Rahmer. They preached sensational sermons, be it in a Sprinter or a hard top, on a big track or a bullring. (Tobias Family Collection)
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#1846  -  Our friend Dean Wright sent along this neat shot of his father, Ennie, with a V-8 60 at Monroe County Speedway in 1948. The track was a half-mile dirt oval at the Rochester, NY, Fairgrounds, known for its wide, smooth, and ultra-fast surface. It was a favorite for fans and guys like Dutch Hoag, Bill Wimble, Elmer Musclow, and Lee Osborne in full coupe days, but also was visited numerous times in the ’50s by the NASCAR Grand National travelers. How cool to race there with a cageless Midget! (Wright Family Collection)
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#1845  -  “Jon Backlund had quite a day on August 26, 1971 at Belleville. He crashed his regular ride, the Jim Mahoney Chevy in qualifying, then jumped into Harry Ivers’ car for the first heat which he won, then back into the Mahoney car for the third heat, finishing fourth. Back to the Ivers car for the semi, which he won, then into the Mahoney car for the feature, winning again. For those keeping score, that’s four races, two cars, and one BCRA title – not a bad day’s work!” From THE HIGH BANKS: Belleville’s Amazing Track and the Men Who Tried to Tame It, 1910-1997, by Beryl Ward, L.A. Ward, and Bob Mays. (L.A. Ward Photo) [So, Jon, never mind all that. What’s her name?! ]
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#1844  -  Ford Easton, who recently published a neat book Stock Car Racing in the '50s: Pictures and Memories from Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, sent along this very cool shot of Jim Hurtubise’s brother, Peter. While working at their uncle’s service station in Tonawanda, NY, the 20-year-old decided to ditch his hydroplane and come onto land. He ran both Midgets and stock cars on the local circuit, including events at the infamous Buffalo Civic Stadium. For more on the Civic Stadium, see Daredevils of the Frontier. (Photo, Ford Easton Collection).
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#1843  -  Pure and simple, it was a promoter's dream. One Tuesday back, July 4, Kyle Larson stopped by Bob Miller's Thunder on the Hill Series at Grandview, PA. It turned out to be yet another win in Larson's astounding Eastern Swing, and a totally packed house of fans just loved it. But what made them really go berserk was when local Ryan Smith in the Warko Group #94 (above) appeared on the scene, making serious moves to grab the lead. Then with five to go he actually got by Larson on the outside in turn two, only to clip the fence and flip wildly in three. (Photo, Bob Miller Collection)
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#1842  -  In 1966 A.J. Foyt’s own car was wiped out on the first lap of the Indy 500. His response was to buy the second-place finishing car, a Lotus Ford driven by Jimmy Clark. It was then off to Milwaukee. In a test session, the left rear suspension of the car broke, and A.J. clobbered the wall. The car was engulfed in flames, and manly A.J. reached down to force himself out of the car, burning his hands severely in the process. Here wife Lucy helps him with a drink in the West Allis, WI, Hospital. The cost of the ten-lap test: $50,000. (Photo from Illustrated Speedway News, June 14, 1966)
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#1841  -  Lil John Lombardo’s 1970s-era AA/GS Corvette had a dramatic psychedelic wrapper, but, as the saying used to go, “It ain’t how you look, it’s what you got under the hood.” In Lombardo’s case, it was a straightforward chassis and roll bar design. From MATCH RACE MAYHEM – Drag Racing’s Grudges, Rivalries, and Big Money Showdowns, by Doug Boyce. (James Handy Photo)
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#1840  -  A moment in time. High noon with the Reading Stock Car Association. Gary Butler hustles through the second turn at Reading in the 1970s with a minimalist Ford coupe atop a flyweight center-steer chassis, powered by an injected big block, cushioned by a good ol’ buggy spring and a suicide front end. From Mike Feltenberger’s STRAPPED IN magazine, July 2014. (Zellers Photo)

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#1839  -   “Henry Ford II and wife Christina, with Ford’s son, Edsel, in tow. Christina reportedly bet $1,000 that Ferrari would win the 1967 Le Mans race. Her flippant reply to questions about the bet was, ‘After all, I am Italian.’ It did not endear her to the Ford crew. Not that she would have spoken to them anyway.” Photo and Quote from KAR-KRAFT: Race Cars, Prototypes, and Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Activity Program, by Charlie Henry. (Photo courtesy Ford Images)
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#1838  -  Here’s a scene from the 1922 Targa Florio in the mountains of Sicily. The oldest sports car racing event, it started in 1906, and one of its early competitors was Enzo Ferrari. Here he horses an Alfa Romeo through a turn before a not-so-huge crowd. Good thing. No one had given a lot of thought to crowd control. Photo from KAR-KRAFT: Race Cars, Prototypes, and Muscle Cars of Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Activity Program, by Charlie Henry.
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#1837  -  Two non-stop characters, Reb Wickersham and Linda Vaughn in the early 1960s. Reb recalls, “While I was recuperating from my accident at Darlington, I was on NASCAR compensation of workers’ comp or whatever. They were paying me $75 dollars a week, which was big money in those days… A friend of mine says, ‘Why don’t you get into boat racing?’… I went to California and picked up one of those big ski boats …and brought it back to Florida. It had a Bill Stroppe engine in it, a big Merc in that sucker, and I took it back and put straight pipes on it. Went to a race down in Palm Beach and was runnin’ about 125, 130. The boat was only 17 foot long and weighed about 1,200 with that big engine in the back of it. I was runnin’ this race on the intracoastal waterway and was just kickin’ ass, nobody staying near me. Somebody took a picture of me goin’ under the bridge and my boat was out of the water by about three feet. That picture hits the damn papers on the West Coast of Florida and the next thing I knew NASCAR called and says, ‘We’re cuttin’ off your money right now ’cause you’re not hurt.’ That was the last of my worker’s comp.” Photo and quote from DECLARATIONS OF STOCK CAR INDEPENDENTS, by Perry Allen Wood. (Photo Wickersham Collection)

 

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#1836  -  Happy go lucky and cageless with the California Racing Association, Reseda’s Leon “Sonny” Pratt won the 30-lap Sprint Car feature at Ascot Park on the summer solstice, June 21, 1961.  A week later he rode someone’s wheel and flipped, landing hard and upside down. He died on the way to Gardena Hospital.  (Photo from RACERS AT REST, by Buzz Rose, Joe Heisler, Fred Chaparro, and Jeff Sharpe, Sharpe Collection)    
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#1835  -  The start – Chillicothe, MO, 1946 and Phil Catalina, George Binney, Frank Bailey, Larry Bunch, and Jim Summers bring them down.  Better to be perched in one of those topless Midgets or be standing behind one of those hay bales?  (From 80 YEARS OF MIDGET RACING, presented by Allstar Midget Series)
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#1834  -   Swindells in profile.  Sammy and Kevin.  (Photo from Knoxville Nationals program, 1994)
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#1833  -  Here’s a shot from the front straight at the old Syracuse Mile in September of 1973. It probably belonged on some Post Office walls. Left to right, aside Joe Leto’s mighty Gremlin Modified, were Budd Olsen, Maynard “Cyclone” Forrette, Jimmy Shampine, Lee Osborne, and Tommy Corellis.  (Coastal 181 Collection)

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#1832  -  Another place, another time. It was July 10, 1969 when the weary NASCAR Grand National highway men pulled in to the Thompson 300 at Thompson, CT, the 30th show of the circuit. It all looks pretty primitive – Thompson with its infamous sand banks and the NASCAR field just a little less kitted-out than today. But they were all there. Of the 31 starters, only Dick Watson, Ken Meisenhelder, and Roy Halquist were from New England. David Pearson won it with James Hylton and John Sears sharing the podium a lap down. (Photo from Bruce Nichols)
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#1831  -  Mark Juron and John Christopher sent in this guest Photo of the Day. A surprise birthday party will be held at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY on June 30 to honor the unforgettable racing lensman, John Grady, on his 87th. Here's what they have to say:

Photographer John Grady from Schenectady, NY, has recorded over 50,000 stock car racing images, from the late 1950s to the 2000s. He began taking photos with Track Photographer Irv Conran at Menands Speedway, NY, in the late 1950s. Primarily, black and white photos were taken for print and press. John was one of the first to take color at night. Getting the proper light and adjusting for the film of the day was a challenge. John mastered that and started selling photos and meeting press obligations.

Utica-Rome Speedway, NY, in 1961, provided John with his first position as Track Photographer where he befriended Joe Lesik, track builder and promoter. He made the weekly haul to Utica on Sunday nights to take photos and manage a photo stand. He worked there until the track was sold and Lesik built the "new" Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY, in 1965. Closer to home and with the endorsement of Modified Champion Rene Charland, John became Malta’s Track Photographer. John was the photographer there for 15 years. He was noted for the famous photo of then Modified champion Rene Charland, whose car caught fire in May 1966. Eddie Flemke ran into the flames and saved Rene. John often commented that it was the bravest thing he ever witnessed in racing. He went to Eddie afterwards and commented on it. Eddie said, "He would have done the same for me". John's response was, "Are you sure?"

He worked with various track owners and promoters. Larry Mendelsohn and Spectacular Promotions from Islip, NY, brought Grand National racing to Albany-Saratoga in the early 1970s. John was there from the transition from asphalt to dirt, and worked with promoter C.J. Richards during the transition. John and his wife Sondra and son Chris ran the novelty stand and photos, during this period, as well.

He was the Track Photographer at Fonda Speedway, NY, in 1979 for one year, and then it was onto Howard Commander's, Lebanon Valley Speedway. John worked at Lebanon Valley for 15 years and sold thousands of photos "off the wall" with no booth, just tables. He was noted for selling photo grab bags. Three photos for one dollar. With the help of announcers Dan Martin and John Stanley, he sold thousands of these to race fans, primarily kids.

Eventually he returned to Fonda Speedway to work with son Chris, who ran the novelty stand, selling photos old and new. He worked there with Ralph Compani and Ric Lucia for another 15 years, primarily freelance.

John was a friend to many in the racing community. His sense of humor and story-telling from racing history made many laugh. He loved giving photos away and also making a "few bucks" with racing. He commented that he loved racing and never had to pay to enter a track!

A NYSSCA Hall of Fame member in 2004, writer for the Daily Gazette for ten years with his weekly Stock Car Column, and photos in all racing publications are just a few of his accomplishments. As an elementary school teacher, at Niskayuna School District from 1963-1987, John was also entertaining.

John's 87th birthday is June 30th. It will be held at Albany-Saratoga Speedway. His son Chris and Historian Bob Novak will have thousands of his photos on display at the track. Race fans are encouraged to look at photos and say hi and Happy Birthday to John, who has been struggling with dementia the past few years. With the help of Andrea Johnson, Ronnie Johnson's mom, he was able to stay home until recently. He is now in Brookdale, Dementia Care Facility, in Niskayuna, NY. John's wish was to "get his photos out there, they are no good sitting in boxes, in the garage," so fans are invited to visit with John and look at so many wonderful racing shots. Photos are for sale, and all proceeds will go to the Dementia Society.
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#1830  -  After a few rocky years at the beginning of his career, Scotia, New York’s C.D. Coville undertook the long weekly tow to Reading, PA, at the dawn of the ’79 season. After four weeks, he apparently grew weary of the miles, but he was leading in points. He’s certainly on the gas in this shot, beneath Reading veteran Bobby Braxton (who would end up with 119 RSCA top tens). When C.D. decided to stay put in Upstate, he had become a different driver. He was now “Super CD.” Photo from READING FAIRGROUNDS – Modified Memories, Vince Vicari, Editor.
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#1829  -  Reading Stock Car Association, 1968. Could there ever be another one? (Tobias Family Collection)
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#1828  -  That’s Dick Tobias looking you right in the eye from the front stretch at Langhorne, PA, in 1964. Toby was especially focused when he ventured to the circular mile, as getting to Indy was always in the back of his mind. He had some great rides at the ‘Horne, including this Sterling Lerch coupe. It was powered by a engine from a Pontiac Catalina that had been defective from the factory and was donated to the team. It was rebuilt and sent to Daytona where Smokey Yunick installed injection and dyno’ed it to perfect pitch. Even with this weapon, Toby was unable ever to match his fast time and second-place finish a couple of years earlier. That had been in John Regester’s bug-like #6, powered by a peashooter 283 Chevy. Our book on Toby and his star-crossed family will be out in the fall. (Tobias Family Collection)
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#1827  -  Early on in the 1957 season, fun-loving, big loving Don Hendenberg, "the bear who walked like a man," looked forward to another possible championship at his home track, Fonda, New York. But a tree got in the way of his Volkswagen bug one morning, and he died. For whatever reason, Fonda management turned down the suggestion for a benefit race. It ended up taking place far to the east. On a Sunday night a whole gaggle of upstate New York runners towed all the way to Bennington, Vermont's State Line Speedway, owned and operated by Pete Corey's uncle. The solemn 100-lap memorial was taken by Cliff Kotary, "the Copper City Cowboy” from out by Rome, near Syracuse. He drove using his left foot on the go pedal as his right foot had been temporarily rendered immobile by a gunshot wound. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1826  -  It could have easily been from 1970, but it ain't. It's last Sunday (06-11-17). The unstoppable KO was caught suiting up yet again for an evening's action at Sun Prairie. Kevin Olson's new book CAGES ARE FOR MONKEYS is, no contest, our best-selling book to date in 2017. (Photo by Father Dale Grubba)
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#1825  -  Five years ago up-and-coming racer JC Flach perished at his family property in Coeymans Hollow, New York, when a tree fell on him. He was the 2008 New York State Stock Car Association rookie of the year and was extremely popular, as is his family, so active at Lebanon Valley Speedway for years. A week ago the track held its fifth memorial event. (Photo by our Man from Amsterdam, Dave Dalesandro)
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#1824  -  In Victory Lane with Fred Lorenzen and co-crew chief Jack Sullivan at the 1965 Daytona 500, Miss Teenage America seemed to be asking, “What in the world just happened?” So was Freddy. “It all came too fast, too quick. I got into racing too early and quit too early. I was good for another five or six years. I was at my prime, but I’d won about everything there was to win and I had plenty of money. I was sick with stomach ulcers, and I was tired of traveling and living out of a suitcase. Most of all the spark was gone; the candle was out; the King (Fireball Roberts) was dead.”   Quote and Photo from HOLMAN MOODY: The Legendary Race Team, by Tom Cotter and Al Pearce. (Don Hunter Photo)
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#1823  -  Accomplished Portland, Oregon, native Len Sutton had a very happy day on the Milwaukee mile on August 25, 1960, winning the 200-mile USAC Champ Car event. Everyone must have figured that the fans were going to have a happy day, too. After all, this was the time of the oft-repeated line, “I’m from Milwaukee where the beer comes from!” The day’s racing program was literally saturated by advertisements for hops. This one is kind of neat, but also curious. The advertiser, Pabst, only saw fit to mention its name in microscopic print in the lower left.
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#1822  -  Midget racing has not been for the faint of heart over the years, as this 1950 shot of Al Pavasil at Sun Prairie’s Angell Park demonstrates. There is a lot of evidence about that these days at Coastal 181. We are finishing up an incredibly thorough photographic and statistical history of Midget racing in the Wisconsin, 1930s - 1961, written by Loren Olson. Long live Angell Park! (Armin Krueger photo, Greenfield Gallery Collection)
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#1821  -  Richard and Vanessa Jordan, the energy force behind the wonderfully revived Wiscasset (Maine) Speedway, are doing all the right things. Great shows; great crowds. Speaking of shows, popular veteran Midget driver, Paul "Dangerous" Scally put one on a couple of weeks ago. He was running really well in his full NEMA car, but it broke in the main. So he decided to "go for it" when he chugged out in his NEMA Lite – and right to the front he went. With two to go, he was praying "nuthin' would break" and when he pulled into Victory Lane – for his first time – "the adrenaline carried me right up on that tire!" Asked what this "Dangerous" moniker is all about, Paul laughs, explaining that he was pinned with it one night by a competitor and he decided to keep it. "It's not all that bad to be called “Dangerous" when you are starting on the inside of a fast outside row!" (Crystal Snape Photo)
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#1820  -  "Jim Dunn’s Woody Gilmore-designed rear-engine Plymouth Barracuda was considered the only successful rear-engine Funny Car of its time. Jim won the NHRA Supernationals in 1972, running the high gear drive only with a 6.44ET." Quote and Photo from DRAG RACING FUNNY CARS of the 1970s, Photo Archive, by Lou Hart and Wallace A. Wyss. (Photo by Steve and Kathy Dull)
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#1819  -  This shot, labeled August 12, 1957, was taken at the Otsego County Fairgrounds in Morris, NY. From 1949 through 1972 racing was held on the dusty, half-mile paperclip-type oval under the alternative banners of Mid-State and Morris Speedways. Occasional reunions are still held there. We would sometimes tow out at the turn of the ’70s, and it was a long 300-mile trip back to Massachusetts on a Friday night. The first time out it was immediately obvious – especially on that high-speed backstretch – that the lighting was not really sufficient. Concerned about what to do, I turned to the local hot shoe, Dick Hansen. He looked at me like I was kind of a stroker. “Well, just do the usual thing,” he said casually. “Count the light poles and then turn left.” (Coastal 181 Collection, photographer unknown)
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#1817  -  Here’s a shot from 1982 depicting the enormity of Talladega Speedway. What didn’t look that big, however, was the catch fence. Good thing it went on steroids over the years. And we bet Carl Edwards would agree. (Mike McClelland Photo)
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#1816  -  If walls could talk….Smokey Yunick’s shop, June 2005. (Mike McClelland Photo)
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#1815  -  Afternoon delight! Fort Lauderdale’s Ryan Hunter-Reay swept the 2014 Indy 500 in the Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12. Here he greets his wife Beccy Gordon (Robby Gordon’s sister) in Victory Lane. From THE RACE – Inside the Indy 500, by James McGuane.
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#1814  -  It was quite the crew in Victory Lane at the 1972 L&M Continental 5000 Grand Prix at Riverside, CA. L to R: Sam Posey, Loretta “Hot Lips” Swift, and Brian Redman. It is understandable that winner Redman’s eyes were sending out kind of a mixed signal as he raised the glass. But why was Posey looking so pleased? You’d think he’d be a tad unhappy: Earlier Redman had passed Posey under a yellow flag. But Redman claimed he never saw the caution, and so the SCCA just fined him $100 – and he headed back to the UK with $17,800 in his pocket. From RIVERSIDE: Palace of Speed, by Dick Wallen (Frank Mormillo Photo)
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#1813  -  Quite possibly, Dick Tobias never slept at all. It was always something. In 1967, aside from running his speed shop in Lebanon, PA, he was gunning for the Reading Modified championship on both Friday and Sunday nights. In between, he decided to try the pavement at nearby Hershey Stadium that was bringing in Supermodifieds on Saturdays. Probably because he often said he would like to get to Indy his own way – by racing in, he picked up a former Troy Ruttman roadster, shorted it up, and topped it with a wing. He won the most features there that season and would likely have won the championship, had it not been for a violent mid-season flip. He broke his arm, but that wasn’t enough to keep him out of Victory Lane the next week. (Tobias Family Collection)
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#1812  -  It certainly was not landscaped to Mar-a-Lago standard, but Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta was one of the most infamous tracks in the South. This shot was taken on November 1, 1953 at the one-mile dirt facility while the NASCAR Grand National cars lined up for their season finale. The speedy Flock boys, Tim and Fonty, started up front with their Hudson Hornets, but in the end it was Buck Baker with the trophy of the day. It took Herb Thomas a 14th-place finish to capture the seasonal title and pull in a princely $28,090.58 for a summer’s work. Photo from NASCAR: The Complete History, by Greg Fielden.
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#1811  -  “If anyone in modern Indy car racing could be described as a self-made man, it would be Tony Kanaan. In the beginning no driver had less in terms of financial resources, and no diver worked harder to reach the highest levels of the sport….In 2013 the stars finally aligned for Kanaan. In a race that can only be described as historically competitive – 68 lead changes among 14 drivers – Kanaan prevailed as the race finished under caution. Finally the hard-luck man could turn his machine toward Victory Circle.” From Indy 500 Program, 100th Running, May 26, 2016.
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#1810  -  Wisconsin racer Bobby “Mr. B” Bennett ran USAC, IMCA and local Late Model shows in the Midwest back in the day. He’s shown repairing his Dodge at Wisconsin International Raceway with a sledgehammer. No question he was the type to do whatever was necessary. “He suffered a major setback in December 1968. A licensed pilot, he was flying his plane while a group of people were fox hunting on land near his home in Greenville. The plane went straight down from an altitude of about 500 feet and crashed into a field. ‘We had 25 guys hunting fox at the time,’ recalled Bennett. ‘I was spotting for them. I’d see the fox and dive bomb them so the guys would see where the fox would be. The doctors think I may have blacked out prior to the crash.’ Bennett suffered 210 different fractures in his pelvis, chest, legs, and arms in the crash. ‘I was back racing the next April,’ said Bennett. ‘They’d carry me from one car into the race car. I had a block on the accelerator I’d use because my ankle was shattered. In fact, I won my first race after the crash. I beat Milo Van Oudenhoven for the win.’” From LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: A History of Stock Car Racing in Northeast Wisconsin from 1950-1980, by Joe Verdegan
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#1809  -  What at period it was in URC racing back in 1964. Whether it was a Chevy or an Offy, the big boys were elbows up, no cage between them and the stars. On the outside was tough guy Bill Brown in the Jorgensen #0 and Dave Lundy downstairs in a Ken Brenn machine. From SWAMP YANKEE: The Racing Life of Jim Jorgensen, by Walt Scadden. (Neal Cunningham Collection)
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#1808  -  Johnny Boyd (in car) and Bob Sweikert had been buddies since the two Californians competed on the West Coast circuits in the 1940s. As they both migrated east to Midwest competition and Indy, they looked out for each other. It was Boyd who arranged Sweikert’s first ride at Salem, IN, in 1952, and a win was just the catalyst Sweikert’s career would need. Just three years later he won Indy in the Zink/Kurtis #6 roadster. But it was all short-lived. On June 17, 1956, Bob looked forward to coming back to Salem, his favorite track. But coming off four in his heat race, he ran side-by-side with another former Californian competitor, Ed Elisian, and they touched. Sweikert flew outside the track, landed about 100 feet below, on fire. It was not survivable. From EARLY SPEED KINGS: Twenty-four of America’s Greatest Open Wheel and Sprint Car Drivers, by Gerald Hodges
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#1807  -  “A rare USAC winged show at Haubstadt (Indiana) in 1983, with Tom Tepee ahead of Jeff Gordon. This was a period of experimentation at all levels of racing, and Tepee was trying out a Lexan wing. Vision for other drivers was good as they could see through it, but Lexan was heavy, tended to crack, break and leave a mess on the track at times. As you know, aluminum won out.” Quote and Photo from DID YOU SEE THAT? Unforgettable Moments in Midwest Open-Wheel Racing, by Joyce Standridge. (Allen Horcher Photo)
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#1806  -  “Sport Allen’s first sprint car win came in 1984 at age 13. No underage citations were issued as his dad was a St. Pete (Florida) police officer. He’s shown here in 1985 after becoming the youngest driver ever to qualify for the Little 500.” He was fourth at New Smyrna last Saturday, May 6, 2017, in a 360 winged sprint. Quote and Photo from FLORIDA MOTORSPORTS RETROSPECTIVE PICTORIAL, Vol 2, by Eddie Roche.
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#1805  -  Were these guys ready or what? That’s John Peter’s team at the March meet in 1965 at Bakersfield, CA. They are tending to their legendary and thunderous twin-powered Chevy Top Gas dragster, “the Freight Train.” Apparently, the rail-men once encountered the outlaw-branded crew of “Billy the Kid” Scott on a starting line, and a major shoot-out broke out called “the Great Train Robbery,” and the cap guns were blazing. Photo from SLINGSHOT DRAGSTERS OF THE 1960S Photo Archive, by Lou Hart. (James Handy Photo)
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#1804  -  The late ’40s-era Roadster racing was a national phenomenon, and this spiffy unit was apparently a big part of it. Can you imagine competing in it on a mile track? That was the case on this day when an event was held at Florida’s Pompano Beach Speedway. Here’s what Miami race buff Brian Sharp has to say: “This was Andy Granatelli’s car. I believe it is Duane Carter on the left, Granatelli in the middle, and the lady is Carter’s wife, Azra. I think this is the old Yam Oka Roadster out of California. I think Jim Rathmann drove it when he was in Chicago and he may well have driven it this day. He lived down here and had a speed shop here until he retired from driving.” (Photo Brian Sharp Collection)
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#1803  -  In 1963 Carroll Shelby, Briggs Cunningham, and Al Momo collaborated on popping a Weber-ized 289 Cobra into a just a little exotic “birdcage” Maserati. Here’s how the exposed hind end looked, replete with toothpicks. From FORD TOTAL PEFORMANCE: Ford’s Legendary High-Performance Street and Race Cars, by Martyn Schorr.
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#1802  -  This shot is from a booklet called Stock Car Racing published in 1979 in New Zealand. This is the explanatory caption. (Note the last sentence). “Race control officials inspect each car to make sure seat belts are secure and drivers have fire extinguishers and safety gear. Each car must be in safe condition and obey the rules for its class. It has to have a weight ticket, too, saying that it’s not too heavy.” From Stock Car Racing, by Verne Newcombe, Mary Tagg, and Robin Morrison. (With thanks to A.K. Bowie, Auckland, NZ for the booklet)
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#1801  -  A study in styles at Winchester. “Johnny White gave Dizz Wilson his first, and only, IMCA championship in 1962. It would prove to be the last time an Offy would be on the top of the podium. Here, White is sweeping around the top of Winchester with Gordon Wooley (C. Wilson Chevy 25) gliding in the low groove”. Quote and Photo from BIG CAR THUNDER : Sprint Cars on America’s Fair Circuits, Volume 1, by Bob Mays. (Armin Krueger Photo)
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#1800  -  Broken Arrow, Oklahoma’s Andy Hillenburg had a world-class career in Sprint Cars before retiring at age 35. He also won the 1994 Chili Bowl, a wild shootout with P.J. and Page Jones, called the greatest race ever by many who were lucky enough to see it. He was driving the John Godfrey/Keith Kunz midget. Six or seven years ago, Andy and his wife DeAnn were at Port City Raceway in Tulsa watching their boys Drew and Hayden in their Mini-Sprints. So taken by the skills displayed by a 14-year-old named Christopher Bell, Andy called Kunz and said he had to keep an eye on this kid. That’s just what Keith did. And this year, Christopher became the second Oklahoman to win the Chili Bowl, also in a Keith Kunz machine. (Photo – Chili Bowl Collection)
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#1799  -  We took “Jean,” our late ’80s-era open comp dirt car, to the North East Motor Sports Museum booth at the Spring Sizzler at Stafford, CT, last weekend. Once again by noon time the grandstands were packed. So is the Museum (www.nemsmuseum.com), with cars and all manner of memorabilia flowing in on a daily basis in anticipation of the opening barely over a month away. (Mark Hann Photo )
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#1798  -   Irv Taylor, the great upstate New York wheelman back in the day, passed away last week. He personified his racy times. His deal was to turn a buck with a race car and move on. Free agent; no binding contract; no hard feelings. He drove for 22 different owners. Around the turn of the 1960s, he landed a highly prized ride in Henry Caputo’s 283-fired ’37 coupe. They started out on the tri-oval at Daytona (can you imagine?) and later went to Middletown, NY. Irv started flipping. He said, “The lights went out when I finally stopped. I was okay and I got to thinking that death ain’t that bad. Then a track light came into focus, and I realized I had landed in a gully and was covered with mud. We banged the roof out, but Henry was really pissed. That’s okay. I had other stuff to drive.” (R. S. Bergh Photo)
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#1797  -  May 6, 1978, Terre Haute, IN, the Tony Hulman Classic, USAC Sprint Cars. There was a bit of any empty feeling that day, so soon after eight USAC officials had perished in a plane crash coming back to Indianapolis from Trenton. This shot late in the race shows leader Dick Tobias in his blue and yellow #17 just ahead of “Duke” Cook (did you know his name is Dennis?) stormin’ upstairs. Toby nipped him at the line for the win, but it could oh-so-easily have been otherwise. Toby broke motoring under the checkered and couldn’t even get past the first turn. (Jack Gladback Photo, Tobias Family Collection)
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#1796  -  “In 1953 Chevrolet introduced America’s first fiberglass-bodied, production line-built, two-seat sports car, the Corvette. Since Chevrolet had yet to produce its first modern V-8 engine, power for the Corvette came from the old reliable Blue Flame ‘stove bolt’ incline OHV six-cylinder that powered passenger cars. The only concession to performance came from a special intake manifold mounting three side-daft carburetors. Further hampering the Corvette’s performance was the fact that the only available transmission was the 2-speed Powerglide automatic.” Quote and Photo from DETROIT MUSCLE: Factory Lightweights and Purpose-Built Muscle Cars, by Charles Morris. (Photo Charles Morris Collection)
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#1795  -  It was a grand time in 1975 at the Tulsa, OK, Speedway. Crowds of six to eight thousand packed the place weekly. One of the coolest divisions was the six-cylinder Modifieds, and one of the emerging stars was the irrepressible Shane Carson. That’s Shane making haste on the outside in the first photo. In the second, having won the dash, he is greeted by trophy girl Deede Wade, niece of Kansas Sprint Car great Grady Wade. Shane was in contention for the title that season, but his runs were so impressive that Vern Nance came along and popped him into a Sprinter. And that was the beginning of one great career. (Shane Carson Collection)
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#1794  -  It was July 1940 on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and that was AB Jenkins, the racing mayor of Salt Lake City. He had just completed an amazing 24-hour run in the 700 horsepower Mormon Meteor 111, covering 3868 miles. The non-stop trial of speed and endurance was sponsored by a most race-friendly Gilmore Oil Company. Jenkins, averaging 161 mph, broke 21 world and 63 American records. From ROAR WITH GILMORE: The Story of America’s Most Unusual Oil Company, by Charles Seims and Alan Darr. (Alan Darr Collection)
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#1793  -  Here’s at how the floor at the new North East Motor Sports Museum on the grounds of New Hampshire Motor Speedway is shaping up. Cars in the photo include Reino Tulonen’s Midget (#14), Peter Ross’s 1932 road racing MG, the stretch Midget owned by Ray Boissoneau and driven by Johnny Thomson, Skip Matczak’s Big Car, the King & Marshall dragster, Ray Boissoneau’s Leader Card Offy-powered Midget, an early square-top that won at Bryar, Sam Posey’s Can Am car, Ollie Silva’s Super (tucked deep in the corner), and a Beech Ridge Supermodified. The Museum will be open for an initial viewing for members on June 10 and 11. A general opening will follow shortly thereafter. (North East Motor Sports Museum Photo)
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#1792  -  Here’s Joie Chitwood on the mike accepting the 1940 AAA Eastern Sprint Car Championship from promoter Sam Nunis. They say Chitwood was one of the all-time gassers. Evel Knievel put it this way: “The first time I saw Joie Chitwood perform in my hometown, Butte, Montana, the thing that impressed my 15-year-old mind the most was his intoxicating spirit and incredible showmanship. It was then I knew this business was for me.” Quote and Photo from SAFE AT ANY SPEED: The Great Double Career of Joie Chitwood, by Jim Russell and Ed Watson. (LC Roberts Photo)
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#1791  -  Starter’s stand, Rhythm Inn Speedway, Miller’s Falls, MA, August 24, 1951. It really was another day. A special attraction was the pie race. Race a couple laps, dismount and dispatch a couple slices, and run a couple more. But, some things never change. Those guys on the right, “Sneaky Pete” Fournier (53) and Bill Flebut (XX) had best be careful. That’s Rene “The Champ” Charland separated just a bit to the left, as if ready to make a quick retreat. The Champ was always the scamp. He was known to slide his cigar into the sandwich of the poor soul who happened to sit next to him at lunch…..(Ed Duncan Collection)
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#1790  -  Dave Darland first ventured to Kokomo, Indiana, with a Sprint Car on a Sunday in September 1982. He remembers his heart was pounding, as it should have been for a kid who had just turned 16 a week before. He became a true master of the tricky, flat little quarter, as shown in this shot from 1995. That turned out to be the year that Dave started running Midgets as well as Sprints. Since then the track has been reconfigured into one racy, high-banked place, and you can only imagine how many laps he has there now. It’s still his favorite track. From THE PEOPLE’S CHAMP: A Racing Life, by Bones Bourcier. (Randy Jones Photo)
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#1789  -  "Many great racing drivers and car builders began their competitive wrenching and steering-wheel turning day as hot rodders. Pay particular attention to the tall cat-in-the-hat on the right with the big smile and his hand in the air. Dirty T-shirt and ’34 Ford coupe notwithstanding, he’s none other than the All American Racer Dan Gurney. From humble beginnings comes great speed." From ISKY: Ed Iskenderian and the History of Hot Rodding, by Matt Stone. (Gurney Family Archives)
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#1788  -  Winner – Le Mans, 2011. Audi R18 carbon fiber monocoque. 3.7-liter aluminum V-6, single turbo-charger, 540 horsepower. Twin front-mounted electric motors, 100 horsepower. From ART OF THE LE MANS RACE CAR, by Stuart Coaling. (James Mann Photo)
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#1787 Mark Martin had his share of good days in NASCAR, and unquestionably this was one of them. On March 1, 1998, he took the inaugural Winston Cup event at Las Vegas by motoring his Taurus past Geoff Bodine with 23 laps remaining. Awaiting in victory lane were three glitzy trophies and $313,900. From NASCAR: The Complete Story, by Greg Fielden.
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#1786  -  "In 1973, Roger Penske’s star driver was dirt expert Gary Bettenhausen so he added an unconventional dirt car with side-mounted radiators and independent front suspension to the fleet. Jimmy Caruthers (left) sure thinks it’s pretty funny. The next year at Syracuse, Bettenhausen just about bought the farm when this thing tried to jump over a concession stand in turn two." Quote and Photo from COMPETITION PORTRAITS: The Dirt Championship Cars, by Bob Mays. (Armin Krueger Photo)
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#1785  -  There’s so much talk these days about the haves and the haves not in racing, but the disparity in competitors’ equipment is hardly just here and hardly just new. Take for example this tale of the late Dan Wheldon. By just eight years old Wheldon was already an extraordinary Kart driver, and, happily for him, his dad, Clive, was doing what he had to do to “shoe the horse.” Clive recalls, “We were just starting racing over in Europe, and there was an English guy in charge of tires at Bridgestone. If you weren’t well-known, you got the crappy tires in the heats. Dan would be right out front, leading, then all of a sudden he’d drop back because the tires were going off. The guy from Bridgestone came to me and said, ‘You’re in the plumbing game, aren’t you? I’d like a bathroom.’ I said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’d like…I’d like some of those tires.’ So, I did a deal for the pre-final and final for yellow spot tires. We put those on, and we’d already qualified 10th or something, but all of a sudden while we were near the back, they came in. Dan came through the field, with some unbelievable overtaking. Pantano was leading and we passed him with five or six to go and won. It was an absolutely amazing race to watch. In the final, it was pretty close from the pole for the first couple of laps, but then Dan started to pull away from Pantano and won. My Bridgestone guy came from South West England and I had to go and do his bloody bathroom suite, and we got the tires.” From LIONHEART: Remembering Dan Wheldon, by Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson.
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#1784  -  "Though history will record New Jersey’s Bob Rossell primarily as a disciple of the church of the clay, he cut his teeth (and his lip) on the pavement of Old Bridge [Speedway.[ ‘What a place! ‘See this scar? I was still learning and I snapped a radius rod and drilled the fence right at the starter’s stand. Along comes Danny Gallulo and bam! Got my lip sewed up , but it seemed to happen again whenever I was on the track with Danny. I had a #4 up there in the sixties. It had a compression leak I didn’t know about. In the heat, I threw a radiator hose and smashed the boards. In the feature, the same thing happened, and I went backin’ on out right through the same hole’." Quote and Photo from PAVED TRACK, DIRT TRACK: Racing at Old Bridge Stadium and Nazareth Raceway, by Lew Boyd. (Ace Lane Photo)
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#1783  -  Two more from Upstate New York, among of the country’s most lively racing areas in 1957. Six decades later, one track motors on; the other is long gone. The top photo is the Montgomery County Fairgrounds alongside the Mohawk River, also known as Fonda Speedway. The track opened with an early NASCAR sanction under promoters Jim Gage and Ed Feuz in 1953 and became an instant success. By 1955 it was known as the Track of Champions and played to huge, sellout crowds. Fueled by their good fortune, Gage and Feuz decided to do it again. They built the half-miler (lower image) in nearby Richfield Springs for Sunday programs. It was very much in the image of Fonda, as can be seen by the comparable announcers’ towers built in the infield next to the start finish line. The one obvious difference is that there were no lights at Richfield, and that is likely the reason it lasted only one season. Few dirt tracks have ever been able to survive with afternoon racing. While Fonda at the time was known for its tacky, racy surface, Richfield blew away in a cloud of dust. (Coastal 181 Collection, photographer unknown)
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#1782  -  According to Alan Brown’s survey, over time, stunningly, New York state has had 337 oval tracks, while by 2003 just 49 were operational. It’s interesting to postulate why the 15% were successful. The two photos were reportedly taken on August 9, 1957 at different tracks near Albany. Route 66 (also known as Hollywood Bowl) did not make it, but Lebanon Valley still lights up big-time each weekend and is nationally recognized. In any case, today’s physical plants certainly convey a far less primitive and gritty image than back in the day. (Coastal 181 Collection, photographer unknown)
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#1781  -  Two weeks after a pleasing sixth-place finish at Indy, Ronnie Duman’s wife and children watched as he perished at the 1968 Rex Mays Classic in Milwaukee. “According to two drivers, Wilbur (Bay) Darnell and Norman Brown, this is the way it appeared to happen. Brown, who was trapped in his car while flames roared around him, apparently triggered the tragedy when a part from his car had flown off causing him to skid and ram the south wall. Duman appeared to have struck Brown’s car and bounced off the concrete retaining wall. One of Duman’s tires sailed over the 12-foot wire fence into the stands hitting a couple of fans. In all six spectators were injured as nearly 40,000 fans looked on in horror. Darnell’s car then skidded into Brown’s car and also broke into flames. ‘Gas rolled into my cockpit,’ recalled Darnell who was hospitalized with second- and third-degree burns to the hands and knees, ‘and I was all on fire.’ Duman’s car was the only one not touched by the fire as the firefighters were able to reach him before the flames. The 37-year-old was killed when his head struck the wall when he overturned.” Quote and photo from RACERS AT REST, by Buzz Rose, Joe Heisler, Fred Chaparro, and Jeff Sharpe. (Sharpe Collection Photo)
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#1780  -  Ten years ago…. The Family Swindell at work. Kevin buckles up in Guy Forbrook’s Sprinter, while Dad Sammy sets the wing, and Mom Amy provides the head gear. From SPRINT RACING 2006 (Paul Oxman Calendar), Jack Kromer Photo.
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#1779  -  Take a close look at this shot taken at Tiverton, Rhode Island, on Sunday afternoon, August 17, 1941. Pappy Hough won the feature, but along the way the Midgeteers were definitely playing hardball. That was Pete Dean in the #17 and John Bogash in the #42. John “Butch” Hoffman, who was taking his leave from his car, likely needed more than a Band-Aid. (Pete Zanardi Collection)
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#1778  -  Upstate New York’s Brandon Kidd likes his challenges. The Syracuse University grad jumped into Karts at 11, asphalt and dirt Late Models at 16, did a stint in ARCA with Bobby Gerhart Racing, and currently runs a Sprinter with ESS. Here he confers with Doug Emery, his “coach” and car owner. Brandon is also an investment advisor with Pinnacle Investments LLC. When he ends up conferring with other racers during the week, “My advice to them is hopefully they don’t throw all their money into race cars and save a little for when they hang up their helmets.” Tough call! (Kidd Family Collection - Photo by Steve Berthiaume at 360Nitro.com)
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#1777  -  Thankfully for the short tracks, Rico Abreu is back from the superspeedways full time for ’17. Here’s what he had to say back in September of ’12: “Right now I just want to keep racing. I want to run 90 shows a year and win a bunch of them. I do love Sprint Cars, but I guess Indy Car racing and Sprint Cup have to be a superior goal for any racer. I’d like to get there, but I’d never attempt to buy my way in. No way. And no way would I want to be there just because I am a little person. I would want to go in just like Kyle Larson – because people could see I was just that good.” Quote, as told to Coastal 181, Photo motorsport.com.
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#1776  -  The look of terror. Joe Gersich hangs on for dear life, while Cal Trottman grabs the binders at the Chicago Amphitheatre in 1947. Indoor racing for Midgets has continued for decades at many venues around the country, none of which has been as meteorically successful as the Chili Bowl, run each January in Tulsa. From FEARLESS: Dangerous Days in American Open Wheel Racing, by Gene Crucean. (Ted Wilson Photo)

Answer to the question on yesterday’s Photo of the Day: Jeff Gordon! From Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive, and Destiny, by Joe Garner. (Photo, Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC)
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#1775  -  Chris Parnell is on the left at a skit on “Saturday Night Live” in 2003. Question for you: Who is the guy on the right? Clue – he is visible more than ever today on television. (Answer and photo credit in tomorrow’s Photo of the Day.)
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#1774  -  In Photo #1758 we ran a shot of Rags Carter in an early roadster at Opa Locka Optimist Speedway in Miami in the 1940s. Here’s another of him down there, this time in a spiffier #47 with Dur Howe in hot pursuit. In the later ‘50s, Howe became one of the earliest of the Miamians to wander north to the New Jersey/PA area to seek the relatively fatter purses in Modified racing. Carter would follow in the ‘60s. We are currently finishing up a book with Alan Carter Jr., JUST CALL ME RAGS. (Carter Family Collection)
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#1773  -  It was December 1986, three centuries ago in racing time. Two most different personalities, Jeff Gordon (#5) and Kevin Olson – the American team, lined up to take on the Aussies in Perth, Australia. It was quite a trip to say the least. If you’re up for a belly laugh, you can read all about it and other adventures in KO’s book, CAGES ARE FOR MONKEYS. For a completely different view on life, you could pick up another very popular title this year, JEFF GORDON: His Dream, Drive, and Destiny. Photo from CAGES ARE FOR MONKEYS: Unleashed with Kevin Olson, Racing’s Zaniest Hall of Famer, by Kevin Olson and Lew Boyd. (Peter Roebuck Photo, Anthony Loxley Collection)
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#1772  -  Racing journalist Pete Zanardi sent along this neat shot of the Midgets on the 5/8 oval in Thompson, CT, known as "the Ascot of the East" back in1947. The drivers were Billy Tibbert in the #2, Joe Sostilio in the Koopman #17, Sammy Bruno in the Palliano Undertaker Special #43, and Dynamite Duggan in the #64. Their chairs were so upright that they looked seated near Heaven and just didn't look that fast. Most of them were not even running up in the momentum groove. However, racing historian R.A. Silvia says that right around this time they were clocked down the backstretch at 117mph. Yikes. (Pete Zanardi Collection)
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#1771  -  Keep an eye on this kid from Goffstown, New Hampshire. At age nine, Kadyn Berry’s first year at Rt. 106 Racepark, in Sprint Karts he was 2016 overall points champ, rookie of the year, car show winner, and most popular driver. It's gotta be those genes again. He is a FIFTH generation racer. (Berry Family Collection)
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#1770  -  This shot was taken in the pits of Ventura, CA, in the 1990s. Wouldn’t you like to know the story behind it? From THUNDER ROAD: A Photographic Journey of Open Wheel Racing, Carnivals, and the Iconic Highways They Travel, Circa 1990s, by Tom Loutz (Tom Loutz Photo)
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#1769  -  Dan Gurney, an Indy 500 rookie, is about to don his helmet for the start of the 1962 running. He listens to another emerging American racer, Roger Penske. Even that early in their meteoric careers, neither of the two had the look of a strong-armed dirt tracker from the fair circuit. (Photo from INDY 500 OFFICIAL PROGRAM, May 29, 2016)
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#1768  -   "Lee Kunzman is one of Indy’s 'what if' stories. What if he hadn’t had to sit out a year, healing from injuries, after a violent 1970 Sprint Car wreck in Missouri? He’d passed his Indianapolis rookie test; team owners were interested. And what if he hadn’t had a second savage crash in ’73, in an Indy Car at Ontario, after cementing his comeback with nine top-ten finishes? Lee’s fine 500 record includes two seventh place runs (1973, ’77) in four 500 starts."  Quote from THE STINGER: 273 Drivers Speeding Toward Hope,  by Bones Bourcier and John Andretti (John Mahoney Photo)
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#1767  -   Here’s the stadium used by the University of Akron’s football team. It didn’t always look quite like this. From the Great Depression through the 1950s, it was the site of the Akron Rubber Bowl, a gritty – and frightful – oval famous for wild open-wheel racing. It still has its loyal motor head devotees, such as our not-to-be-named friend pictured above with his Midget. “I can say for certain I was the last race car driver to drive there. I unloaded, tore up some turf, and left before the cops came.” (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1766  -  Photographer Chris Burgess had quite a vantage point way up over the stands for Super DIRT Week last fall. The dirt-over-pavement at Oswego Speedway was pretty racy until if began breaking up. This image shows Timmy McCreadie and Matt Sheppard dueling for the lead. Note that emerging hole in the lower right, exposing some asphalt. Then note Timmy’s right rear. Not the right look for a DIRT mod entering a turn! Lots of equipment and hearts were broken, but the fans were there, and officials contemplate a much more ergonomic surface in ’17. (Chris Burgess Photo)
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#1765  -   Indy 1964 was sad enough before this famously painful scene the following week at Milwaukee. Coming out of four, Roger Ward, Jim Hurtubise, and A.J. Foyt were running one-two-three in strict formation. Suddenly a bearing in Ward’s rear end spun. He threw his hand in the air, but slowed so quickly, there was no way to avoid contact. Both Foyt and Herk jumped on the binders, but they touched and Herk headed for the wall. His right rear tire came off and hit him on the chest, breaking ribs and puncturing a lung, and knocking Herk out. But the horrible part was when the front axle pushed back and the crushing metal caused so much pressure inside the fuel tank that it popped the filler cap off. Methanol spewed into the driver’s compartment. Buster Warke, in the hat, was one of the first on the scene. Herk would live, and every race fan in the world knows how his Olympian determination to race again eventually outpaced his suffering. (Cal Lane Collection)
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#1764  -  A very competent former Sprint Car driver himself, Mal Lane of Dundee, NY, here with his wife Cindy at last weekend's Gater Motorsports Expo at the Syracuse Fairgrounds, seemed to be bitten again with the racing bug. Here is a drop-dead beautiful Silver Crown car he's just put together – 1396 pounds of fun delivered by a 775hp 356. He's also now got a bad case of spring fever. A thousand people asked when he and Mark Smith, the Pennsylvanian wheelman, would be debuting the Maxim. They just can't wait for April 2 and the Sumar Classic at Terre Haute. (Coastal 181 Photo)
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#1763  -  This image was taken in 1968 at Ray Caldwell's shop in Massachusetts. Two nearly identical Can-Am Series road racing cars were built in New England, and this one is the  lone survivor. It was designed for and driven by New England's own racing and TV star, Sam Posey, and now sits in the North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, NH.  (www.nemsmuseum.com). The Museum will be opening in July, but a gala event will be taking place in just over three weeks.

On Saturday April 8th, from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm at Midway Buick/GMC located at 155 Rte. 108 Somersworth, NH, there will be a "Casino Museum" event that will include blackjack tables, a money wheel, Let it Ride, and Texas Holdem Poker, along with other games.  Midway is owned by Bob Demers, a highly respected SCCA road racer and instructor and a Museum devotee.

There will be prizes of all types, ranging from race car equipment to restaurant gift certificates and even a chance to become a member of a pit crew for a night. In addition, the museum will be giving away memberships, books from Coastal 181 and access to many upcoming racing events.

Also taking place on the same day, SCCA racers will be bringing their cars to the dealership for pre-season inspection and will have racecars on display along with driver meet and greets.

The North East Motor Sports Museum is located next to the south entrance of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will be the only museum of its type in the Northeast. The grand opening is slated to take place in July during the NASCAR race weekend.   (Photo, Dick Berggren, North East Motor Sports Museum)



#1762  -   It would be so easy to become totally retrospective about racing, especially when you get to thinking about CRA out there at Ascot. Bob East in the #10 and Clark Templeman in the #711 show why. (Barbara Jo Garson Photo, Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1761  -   In 1966 Will Cagle was on his way from being “The Tampa Terror” to becoming “Wily Will.” He shocked them all at Langhorne. Even though the grand circle was then paved, Will showed up with his dirt car. It was outfitted with different springs and shocks and shoed with some special rubber from Marvin Rifchin of M & H Tire. Upfront was a 402 small block assembled by Buzzie Reutimann – and upfront is just where Cagle finished. (Cagle Family Collection)
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#1760  -   “For George ‘Hutch’ Hutchenson, The Stone Age Man wasn’t just a name on one of the 1960s most beautiful dragsters but it was a whole persona. George had a vivid dream in 1968, one in which he saw a helmet, similar in style to that which a Roman centurion would have worn, and affixed to the helmet were 24 red plumes. Over the next couple of weeks, George went to work building the helmet, which became part of the Stone Age Man persona. Thereafter, not a pass was made without the helmet.” Quote and photo from 1001 DRAG RACING FACTS, by Doug Boyce, (Dave Davis Collection)
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#1759  -  SEMA president Ed Iskenderian having fun at an early show banquet, cutting a rug with his wife, Alice. “Previous to this, Ed didn’t know how to dance and didn’t want to look stupid if he ever got hauled onto a dance floor, so he bit the macho bullet and took dancing lessons.” Quote and photo from ISKY: Ed Iskenderian and the History of Hot Rodding, by Matt Stone. (Photo Courtesy of TEN: The Enthusiast Network Archive)
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#1758  -  That’s the late Alan “Rags” Carter at the Opa-Locka Optimist Speedway just North of Miami in the late 1940s. Rags had just been driving for a year or so, but was already a top dog at the funky third-mile track that straddled on top of both an airport and a baseball field. It was half paved, half dirt. On Wednesdays they ran jalopies and on Friday roadsters. Rags’ very first ride had been when a driver didn’t show up for a roadster race. Apparently, the guy had gotten cold feet. Looking at Rags’ car, it’s hardly a wonder why. (Alan Carter Jr. Collection)
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#1757  -  "Although its origin is from racing, the term Hog has become synonymous with the Harley-Davidson motorcycle as well as the Hartley Owners Group (H.O.G.) and the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol. The name was first used in 1920 when the H-D factory team became known as the Hog Boys. It wasn’t just their farming background that garnered the nickname; they actually brought live pigs to the events as their mascot. After each of their frequent victories, the winning rider put the hog on his bike and took a victory lap." Quote and Photo from 1001 HARLEY-DAVIDSON FACTS, by Tyler Greenblatt. (Photo Courtesy of Harley-Davidson)
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#1756  -  Is this cool or what? A jubilant Stirling Moss has just won the 1960 Grand Prix, and he takes Maserati Team chief mechanic Guerino Bertocchi for a victory spin. The location – Havana, Cuba. The event was promoted by West Palm Beach’s Ken Coleman under the close watch of Fidel Castro. From the just released CUBA’S CAR CULTURE: Celebrating the Island’s Automotive Love Affair, by Tom Cotter and Bill Warner (Bill Warner Collection)
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#1755  -  This Photo of the Day and its caption comes to us from our associate Joyce Standridge. "Those reminders that we're not playing with tinker toys are tough to take. When the word filtered back that one of the three pitsiders injured when Dale Blaney's sprint car penetrated the fence at Volusia during Speed Weeks was Kelly Kovski, a lot of Midwestern racers were shocked. Some people know him from his ARCA and late model driving and a lot more from his long-term tenure at Hoosier Tire Midwest. There aren't many in the business who are more likable. Among Kelly's multiple serious injuries are broken vertebrae, ribs and ruptured spleen. More than two weeks after the wreck, medical staff have not been successful in removing him from the ventilator. It's going to be a long, long recovery. A substantial group of fans and friends have put together a benefit auction for Kelly, his wife Amanda and their two little girls, scheduled for April 2nd in Springfield, Illinois. Racing folks are at their best when a racer is at his lowest. Donations, whether auction items or financial gifts, are still being welcomed by Hoosier Tire Midwest General Manager Terry Young. You can reach him at hoosieris1@aol.com.
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#1754  -  Looking back at Indy. It was a practice run in May 1966, and driver Bob Veith could see things weren’t so cool. He slowed way down, allowing the flames to fan away from the cockpit. The fire trucks caught up with him, and the fire was extinguished before the car even stopped. (Illustrated Speedway News Collection, Walter Chernokal Photo)
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#1753  -  Absence makes the heart grow Fonda. (Photo Mid State Stock Car Association Collection)
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#1752  -  The entirety of the Supermodified community mourns the loss of good guy Kendall Smith. A graduate of Bentley College and long-time President/CEO of Pentucket Bank in Haverhill, MA, Ken was highly honored for his success in business and his participation in local charities and community organizations. But, the image of energy, he always was on the go, doing things his own way. Case in point was the remarkable co-founding and nurturing of the New England SuperModified Racing Association (NESMRA) and promotion of over 1,000 shows with his partners Charlie Elliott and Russ Conway. For people who really knew him, there was little surprise when he showed up looking dutifully like a banker with his black Caddy. It just happened to have flames painted on the front quarters. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1751  -  It always seems that Will and Barbara Cagle are together. Here they are at an autograph table at the Living Legends of Auto Racing auction night last week in Daytona Beach. Asked about their close relationship, Barbara smiles and says that it has been over 60 years – and she tells a story from the fifties. Back at Plant Field in Florida, Will was hustling towards the front of the field in a black #24 as he always did, while Jimmy Riddle kept jumping the flag on restarts. The starter got irritated and threw the black flag – for Will by mistake. Will motored back to the pits, totally incensed. After the race, the starter came over to discuss the incident and, in Barbara’s words, “Will socked him.” Down he went. And when a reinforcement officer rushed over, he went down, too. But soon the two were back on their feet, starting to pound on Will, so Barbara jumped on one of their backs. That move was to no avail, so she grabbed one of their guns and, pointing it enthusiastically, told them to lay off her Will. At this point the fans had taken notice and were applauding loudly. Barbara handed to gun to one of them, and it was handed over row to row, all the way to the top of the grandstands, where it was tossed away. Needless to say, there were legal repercussions, but Barbara says there was no record since she and Will were under 21. Just then at the Living Legends table Billy, the Cagle’s quite normal looking son appeared. Asked whether this story could possibly be true, he just shook his head, smiled, and said “absolutely.” (Photo by Dick Berggren)
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#1750  -  That Seymour Family of Marlborough, MA, sure has its mark on open-wheel history. The late family patriarch, "Boston Louie" Seymour, was said to have towed a million miles with his Sprinter and Silver Crown rides for over 50 of the country's finest wheelmen. His sons, Bobby and Mike, both formerly top-shelf drivers themselves, continue the racing tradition with their speed-part activities. Now their nephew, Ben Mikitarian, has jumped in the seat and sure is getting it done. He's shown here, age 15, at New Hampshire's Star Speedway on his way to winning Lite Rookie of the Year in the NEMA Lites. He looked really good on the ultra-fast banks of the 5/8-mile Thompson (CT) Speedway in NEMA's final race of the year. His mom, Celeste, said that she was one proud mama, but could only watch with one eye. (Mikitarian Family Collection)
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#1749  -  It’s about the eyes. (Ryan Newman going very fast at Phoenix in 2000). Photo from UNITED STATES AUTO CLUB – Fifty Years of Speed and Glory, by Dick Wallen (Mike Arthur Photo)
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#1748  -  What a time for racing the 1970s turned out to be. There was the nationwide rollout of NASCAR superspeedways; the launch of the World of Outlaws at Devil’s Bowl in Mesquite, TX; the glory days of the Modifieds in the Northeast – and on and on. This gaggle of Modified masters sure could pound the pavement. L-R, Jerry Dostie, Freddy Schultz, Dick Armstrong, Bugsy Stevens, Bob Judkins, Leo Cleary, Ted Marsh, Billy Harman, and Bill Slater. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1747  -  Even back during World War II, Ollie Silva had that look. His physique, his chiseled good looks, and surely those sunglasses predicted the dashing image he would convey for three decades as one of the country’s top open competition open-wheelers. It’s curious though, how looks can deceive. In actuality, Ollie was quiet, private, and unassuming. He once said that all he needed in life was a good road car to drive and some decent threads. (Russ Conway Collection)
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#1746  -  Jim Donnelly, Senior Editor at Hemmings and author of our Miller’s Time on Don Miller, is working on a book about the Tobias family for us. What a story they are! They have dedicated so much to racing for so very long. Here’s a way cool square top Toby showed up with right at the beginning. How about that windshield and the seat brace – and that exhaust system! (Flex pipe never did work). (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1745  -    It seemed highly unlikely when in 1952 a dance and ballroom operator from the Bronx moved to cement-dusted Nazareth, PA, to run the half-mile race track at the Fairgrounds. Jerry Fried demonstrated incredible tenaciousness in guiding the facility through good seasons and bad over the next three decades. He had one especially lofty dream – to be a key figure in what he felt would be an explosion in the popularity of racing, “the sport of the seventies.” He built the enormous 1 1/8th-mile track next to the half-mile, intending over time to light it for night racing – and even to cover it with a dome. There was some amazing Modified and Sprint Car racing in which most of the entries were going far faster than their design speed. For whatever reasons, though, he could not ride that wave of superspeedways and television that so enriched NASCAR. The big track closed first, and, just 11 months after he was forced to shutter the half-mile, he quietly passed away. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1744  -   It was not a good situation at all for Roger McCluskey. He arrived at Reading, PA, on March 29, 1964, as the defending USAC champion and had not anticipated departing in an ambulance. He pitched Wally Meskowski’s Sprinter just past the starting line, having qualified right up front, hit a rut between one and two, and things got out of hand. He ended up with two broken arms. It took a while to recover, but he was up for hugging one of J.C. Agajanian’s trophy girls in victory lane at Ascot that fall. From UNITED STATES AUTO CLUB – Fifty Years of Speed and Glory, by Dick Wallen (Walter Chernonakal Photo)
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#1743  -  It was a beautiful thing on Labor Day of 1946 when Ted Horn roared into the first turn at the one-mile Lakewood Park track, leading the field into a 100-miler. Entering the third turn on lap 98, however, things went terribly wrong before the shocked crowd of 38,500. George Robson, Indy 500 winner that year, was blinded by worsening red dust conditions and rammed into a lapped car; a huge wreck ensued, consuming all but three cars. The race was cancelled immediately with Horn declared winner. George Robson and George Barringer were the clear losers, both fatally injured. From Racers at Rest, by Buzz Rose. (Jeff Sharpe Collection)
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#1742  -   If you’re headed to Speedweeks next week, you’ve just got to stop in on this one. It’s a function put on at the Living Legends of Auto Racing Museum (Sunshine Park Mall, 2400 S Ridgewood Ave, #36) in South Daytona on Thursday (the 23d) from 10 to 2. Known as “Coffee with Characters,” it’s all about old-time racing storytelling – and the last couple of years have brought some incredible tales. Much of that is because of the host, “Dynamite Dave” Dion. The photo above is from a book on Dion we did with Dave Moody some years back called LIFE WIDE OPEN. The caption is: “I may look ecstatic after winning the ’75 Oxford 250, but don’t believe it. The truth is, I’m in pain! My leg cramped up from the heat, and I couldn’t straighten it to get out of the car.” It’s always sumthin’ with Dave. He’s the biggest character of all. For more info on the event, ring Dave’s chimes at 603-320-3095. Bill Balser photo from LIFE WIDE OPEN, by Dave Dion with Dave Moody.
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#1741  -  In New England in February a young man’s heart turns…..INDOORS. So, here we are again at the turn of the ‘50s at Rhode Island Auditorium. The show was Crosley city, presenting all flavors – a passenger car, a pickup, and a wagon. The bespectacled guy in the pickup, Ray Hill, was an exceptionally brave – star-crossed – racer. During the war, he was given a 4F for diabetes, and by this time, winter of ’52-53, his health was deteriorating. Perhaps that’s why he opted to go to the sprawling Thompson, CT, oval the next fall in a car unsuited for the high speed. He crashed and – most dramatically – flew out of the car and perished. Another photo from R.A. Silvia’s fabulous files.
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#1740  -  Like most of us from snowy New England yesterday, our friend John DaDalt was busy digging through piles - in his case very cool racing photos he has taken over the years. Here's one from Iowa in 2001. Twenty-one-year-old Kasey Kahne was seeking a win in the Knoxville Nationals, but, alas, it was not to happen. Dover, Missouri's fast-talkin', fast drivin' Danny Lasoski, twice his age, snatched the pole and went wire-to-wire in the 30-lap main. Kasey did not make the show. (John DaDalt Photo)
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#1739  -  This shot was taken a while back at the fabulous Modified Reunion held each year at New Smyrna during Speedweeks. The late Dutch Hoag, right, was concerned about the knee replacement he faced the following week. Bentley Warren had just been through the procedure and was assuring Dutch that was no problem. “Gosh,” he said. I was chasin’ the nurses down the hall in half an hour.” Dutch didn’t look that convinced. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1738  -  Every rookie driver has heard a gray beard say it: “Always focus on three cars ahead of you.” Here’s why. Suddenly, coming down for the green at the Lincoln, PA, opener three winters past, Derek Sell’s #20s bicycled. The field scattered immediately. From Mike Feltenberger’s STRAPPED IN. (Kirk Rissmiller Photo)
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#1737  -  Things could get a little spirited indoors back in the day. This was a March 1951 show at the Rhode Island Auditorium in Providence. According to New England’s esteemed historian RA Silvia, Mickey Gill had been pretty much cruisin’ along in the low groove when future Hall of Famer Hop Harrington was buzzing around upstairs. Apparently Hop kept coming down on Mickey and rapping him. The last time was the last time. When Hop got close, Mickey leaned over, grabbed his steering wheel, gave it a yank – and Hop was into the wall. Unfortunately, Mickey reported, “I didn’t let go in time, so I went for the ride, too.” (Harold White Photo, RA Silvia Collection)
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#1736  -  Johnny Parsons Jr. is from California – an L.A. policeman before starting an impressive open-wheel career, including 12 Indy 500 starts. He knew about tearoffs – he was on the hammer whether in a Midget, Sprinter, or Silver Crown car. Photo from THUNDER ROAD: A Photographic Journey of Open Wheel Racing, Carnivals, and the Iconic Highways they Travel, by Tom Toutz
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-#1735  -   It may not have been as technologically – and financially – advanced as what is happening in Daytona today, but testing has been a part of racing since our world was young. Case in point is this scene from Thompson, CT, back in the 1950s. Close enough to perfect for me. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1734  -  We were at the Chili Bowl with our books, especially Kevin Olson’s CAGES ARE FOR MONKEYS. Needless to say, we were watching carefully when he ran his alphabet feature on Saturday – and what a trip that he won it. When we told him he looked great, he said we couldn’t see what had been really great. Character that he is, he was wearing his old time open-face helmet. He said, “I was going down the backstretch and I got hit right on the nose with a rock or a mud ball. It was really cool – just like the old days.” Here are images of a young Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti. Wonder what they’d say. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1733  -  Longest serving Juanita “Lightnin’” Epton saw her first race in 1945. Now at age 96, she has worked at Daytona Speedway’s ticket office for its entire 58-year existence. As such, she is the track’s longest-serving employee. “I was there before Bill Junior,” she proudly says. Former track president Joie Chitwood in a newspaper interview said, “She’s a spitfire.” With a warm smile and great caring for the track’s customers for so many years, many instead call her “a legend.” Her late husband gave Juanita the nickname because, as she says, he “…never knew when or where I’d strike.” (Photo and caption by Dick Berggren)
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#1732  -  Here’s good guy Walt Scadden in his first Supermodified at Thompson, CT. Walt recalls that with a 289 Ford it was “slightly underpowered.” The wheelbase looks short enough that a front bumper was able to serve as a nerf bar. I bet Walt had to pay attention to keep it straight on those long straightaways. (Scadden Collection)
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#1731  -  It is hard to believe that something so beautiful could make someone feel so racy. Here is one of Peter Mullen's Bugattis at the amazing "Art of the Bugatti" show at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. (Dick Berggren Photos)
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#1730  -  Remembering LEO CLEARY, a racing legend.
(North East Motor Sports Museum)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0s28Uab_AM


- YouTube video excerpts from Norwood Arena: The Movie
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#1729  -  We were going through our photo collection at Coastal 181 getting ready to induct Will Cagle into the Living Legends of Auto Racing during their Awards Night in Daytona the Wednesday before the Daytona 500. This surprising image popped up. Will is shown here with the late – and rather impish – New York journalist and lawyer Andy Fusco. Will, on the other hand, was quite reserved through all his years of incredible successes. Somehow Andy’s advances must have worked. Nobody could believe it when Will allowed Andy to jump into the mighty #24 Modified and hot lap it at Weedsport, NY. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1728  -  Pain and pleasure: He had just won the 1996 Indy 500, and everyone was grinning except Buddy Lazier. What was the problem? Just two months earlier he had entered the Dura Lube 200 at Phoenix, but never made the show. He crashed in warm-ups with Lyn St. James and definitely was the loser. At Indy he still suffered from the 16 fractures in his back. (FROM AUTOCOURSE: Official History of the Indianapolis 500, Second Edition, by Donald Davidson and Rick Shaffer)
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#1727  -  The Olds “Pirate” was the very first car to make an unofficial timed run on the sands of Florida – at Ormond Beach in April of 1902. The driver was the designer, Ransom E. Olds. Quite remarkably he cruised own the beach, powered by a 5-cu. in., 1-cylinder engine, at 57 mph. (Photo from FORD: The Dust and Glory – A Racing History, by Leo Levine
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#1726  -  It sure looked like the afternoon commute on Route 4 in Orlando, but it was actually a Saturday night at Oswego, NY. The participants were Mark Letcher (c-15), Jim “The Pine” Shampine (8-ball), “Rapid Ralph” Denson (67), “Irish Jack” Murphy (6-backwards), Billy Yuma (X), Neil “Terrible” Tooley (23), “Stormin’ Norman” Makereth (40), and Leon “Cowboy” Weiske (551). (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1725  -  Here’s a shot of Ed Flemke, “Modified Racing’s Fastest Professor,” in 1966 in an unusual dirt track appearance – at New York’s Fonda Speedway. Bones Bourcier, who wrote Flemke’s biography (STEADY EDDIE), says, “He always, ALWAYS used the cliché, ‘Dirt is for planting potatoes.’ But he certainly never looked down on it; he always kept more or less abreast of what was happening, who was winning, new chassis developments, and so on. He did drive for Sharkey and others on the dirt at Stafford, Connecticut, but only because there were no Friday-night blacktop options in that season or so between the end of the Eastern Bandits and the opening of Albany-Saratoga in New York.” (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1724  -  It was a score when the Agajanians hired Leslie Bremer to be their trophy girl at Ascot. The intolerably beautiful model/actress from Thousand Oaks, CA, was a hit with all generations. (Open Wheel Magazine, Mike Myers Photo)
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#1723  -  Dick Berggren captured this moment at the old Trenton, NJ, Speedway back in the ‘70s. Jan Opperman (L) and Dutch Hoag were alike in their Olympian talents, but oh so different in their packaging. (North East Motor Sports Museum Photo)
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#1722  -  In #1720 we ran a shot of Massachusetts’ Scotty Martel making his way very quickly around Flemington, NJ, in his Super. Here’s his dad, Jim, a New England Auto Racing Hall of Famer, exercising Skip Matczak’s Sprinter at a 1971 NESMRA race at Star Speedway in Epping, NH. Skip, also a Hall of Famer, commented, “The car was a Ron Ward chassis which Bentley Warren drove to many wins at Bryar Motor Sports Park. We also won a couple of times with it at Pocono. It was a great car. The cage was a bolt-on as USAC did not allow cages when we ran with them. Tassi Vatis noticed us as we ran pretty well on pavement and, after a call from Paul Young, he invited us to lunch, where he asked Bentley to come to Indy that year. Bentley then suggested I hire Jim Martel as his replacement. It was a good choice as we won together including on dirt at Claremont.” (North East Motor Sports Museum Photo)
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#1721  -  Legendary Sprint Car champion, Jimmy Oskie, is a familiar – and welcome – sight for emerging wheelmen and wheelwomen in California. He shares racing strategy, visualization, and centering techniques – even at the intensely pressure-packed starting grid of the Chili Bowl. This is Ashley Hazelton, a top notch West Coast USAC runner, ready to be pushed off for one of the alphabet qualifiers. That’s Jimmy’s arm in the striped shirt reaching in to hold her hand as they share a calming prayer.
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#1720  -  The Martel Family of Ipswich, MA, has been immersed in Supermodified racing for decades. Here’s a cool image of second-generation Scott Martel at speed at Flemington, NJ. Scott says, “That sure brings back some great memories. I believe this was the first-ever race on the newly paved Flemington Speedway. ISMA heats were the first to roll out that day, and I won the first one from the pole. If I remember correctly, I led the feature for a while and finished second to Bentley Warren with my right rear badly blistered. It was one very interesting place for a guy who grew up at small bullrings like Star and Hudson up in New Hampshire. I wish it was still there. It was FAST, square, and fun.” (Jim Donnelly Photo)
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#1719  -  Three of the stars of American open wheel racing met up at the Western at Manzanita in 1968. L to R, Lee Kunzman, Gordon Wooley, and a carefully combed Jan Opperman. All three were huge winners along the way in their Sprints, but all three also suffered serious injury. (Open Wheel Magazine, Jim Chini Photo)
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#1718  -  Actually they look pretty sane, but they weren't. New York Hall of Famer Dick Hansen (L) and NEAR Hall of Famer Dick Berggren share tall stories after a show at the gritty old Lakeville, MA, Speedway in the 1970s. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1717  -  Every auto racing museum relies on volunteers to make things work well. Museum volunteer Rick Nelson smiles on completing the cleaning and polishing of a trophy case and the trophies to fill it at the North East Motor Sports Museum. Hard to believe but all these trophies and more were won by one driver, Dave Sanderson, who was a top drag racer in the 1950s and ’60s. Sanderson designed, built and raced a unique car whose Pontiac engine was an integral part of the chassis, thus saving weight. As brave a race car driver as he was, Sanderson feared water and never learned to swim. Sadly, he lost his life when he fell out of a boat. (Caption and Photo, North East Motor Sports Museum)
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#1716  -   It was some kind of show in front of the full stand at El Centro, CA, when Larry Clark got to flipping his Sprinter. On the way by, the nose of the car tore up the starter’s stand, sending Steve Vadden for one serious moon shot. He ended up with a compound leg fracture. (Open Wheel Magazine, Greg Talley Photo)
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#1715  -  They were two buddies – and two of the very best – so we have to forgive them their hats. That’s Al Tasnady up front and Bill Wimble on the back, Langhorne 1963. (Steve Pados Collection)
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#1714  -  Darrell Waltrip actually seemed to be listening. But who wouldn’t when Marty Robbins piped up. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1713  -  Keokuk, the southernmost city in Iowa, sits right near the junction of the Des Moines River and the Big Muddy. It played a big role in Mark Twain’s Life On The Mississippi. More recently the city, population around 10,000, has played a curiously distinguished role in pit areas in the middle part of the country. Among the long list of Keokuk racers past and present are Ernie Derr, Ron Hutchinson, Dick Hutchinson, Lem Blankenship, Ramo Stott, Lance Stott, and Don White. Photo (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1712  -  Lots of action seemed to accompany “Big Bob” Pronger wherever he went. He blasted onto the scene with vigor in Daytona in 1953, shown above. He set new standing-start, measured-mile and two-way run records and then sat on the pole for the Grand National race at 115.77 mph. Pronger supposedly bet Fonty Flock, his front-row mate, that he would whip him on the first lap. That didn’t quite work out, as Pronger flipped over the North Turn embankment. For years and years he became a standout at Chicago’s Raceway Park, while allegedly supporting himself as a chop shop operator with mob ties. He reported being shot at a couple of times pulling into Raceway Park, and on June 17, 1971 he just plain disappeared. A body believed to be his – but never officially identified – was eventually found in Griffin, Indiana. (Coastal 181 Collection)
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#1711  -  It was a very spiffy “cutdown” in the very late 1950s at Seekonk, MA- Speedway. The caffeinated Gavin Couper was tucked tightly into the office with both shoulder harnesses and a Sam Brown-type belt, surrounded by a rather minimalist cage. Up-and-coming Jim McGee was in the lower right, at the outset of a spectacular career that landed him in Indianapolis. (John Monaghan Collection)
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#1710  -  Fearsome looking Supers under power at Pocono in the 1970s. Masterful Jim Shampine is chased by versatile Neal “Terrible” Tooley. (Photo, North East Motor Sports Museum)
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#1709  -  Stars from different galaxies. What could Steve Kinser had said to get Mark Martin goin’ like that? Bet it had something to do with girls. (Photo, North East Motor Sports Museum)
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#1708  -  Get two people together who are a half-bubble off center and guaranteed they will demonstrate that some things just never change. This went down at PRI a couple weeks ago.  The top photo is an Olson Family portrait from the brand new CAGES ARE FOR MONKEYS book showing Kevin, brother Loren, and sister Sharon in the mid-‘50s.  In the second shot Speedway Illustrated’s Karl Fredrickson has asked Kevin for an autograph – on that page.  (Photos, Speedway Illustrated and KO Family Collection)
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#1707  -  Jeff Gordon and Ingrid Vandebosch actually were hitched quietly – and uniquely – on Halloween in 2006. “He and Ingrid pulled off a surprise wedding – and in costume no less – in a secluded gazebo in New York’s Central Park. With a judge dressed like a witch, Ingrid in a tutu and crown as the black swan from Swan Lake, and Jeff clad as a polo player next to their cowboy hat-wearing dog Valentino, the happy couple took their vows. ‘Normally, a guy forgets his wedding date, but I was afraid I’d forget – I’m no good with dates,’ Ingrid says. “So I said, ‘Let’s do it Halloween so we’ll never forget.’ A week later, on November 7, they tied the knot again in front of their friends and family at a ceremony in Mexico.” From JEFF GORDON: His Dream, Drive, and Destiny, by Joe Garner. (Gordon Family Photo)
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#1706  -  No question that racing is a family sport. It only makes sense that a kid spending countless summer nights in a grandstand with his family would be bitten by the bug and want to show his stuff in the cockpit. But often talent seems to seep down through the generations as well. Take for example the unassuming teenager from Derry, NH, Max Dolliver. Watch him run his Dolliver Streeter – upstairs, downstairs, up the middle. Look carefully and you might as well have been watching his dad, Bryan, (named for Jimmy) wheel his dirt car around Canaan Speedway – or even his granddad, Jerry, a gentle man who racked up multiple championships in Supers and Sprinters, performing with grace and civility. (Dolliver Family Collection)
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#1705  -  The traffic reports called out heavy congestion in Williams Grove, PA, in 1958. Len Sutton #48, Don Branson #10, AJ Foyt #29, Earl Motter #25, and Buzz Barton. From FEARLESS: Dangerous Days in Open Wheel Racing, by Gene Crucean. (Dave Knox Photo)
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#1704  -  One beautiful race car. Engine builder Jim Travers of TRACO, Karl Kainhofer of Penske Racing, and Mark Donohue get ready at Mt. Fuji, Japan in 1968. From PENSKE’s MAESTRO: Karl Kainhofer and the History of Penske Racing, by Gordon Kirby. (Karl Kainhofer Collection)
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#1703  -  “Ralphie the Racer” Liguori grins through the Langhorne grime as he sweeps past the starter for a win in the Leitenberger Offy. He set a 50-lap record of 104.107mph that will never be broken. His comments on the grand circle: “It was a tough place, but I liked it. You know that track, the way they oiled it, graded it and everything else, if you were very cautious and you didn’t get full-throttle on that joint, the car would jump all over the place. And the faster you went, the better it felt. When it felt good enough that you could do anything with it, that was time to back off a little bit. It was very deceiving. I got in trouble one time, and that’s how I learned that. And then down in Puke Hollow, you had to go up to the fence and run straight. If you ran through there sideways, you ‘d catch a rut for sure. Also, if you came down the front and went in there low, you’d get upside down. ‘Cause that underground stream or whatever it was, you just had big holes and everything….You know, I wonder if a house ever sunk there.” Photo and quote from LANGHORNE: No Man’s Land, by L. Spencer Riggs. (Walt Imlay Photo)
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#1702  -  A fiery bummer. Dave Darland was bidding for the 1995 Championship when the Silver Crown cars pulled into California’s West Capital Speedway. All was going well until lap eleven when an oil fire erupted, forcing “the People’s Champ” to the pits. He ended up losing the crown to “Smoke” by two points. From SACRAMENTO: Dirt Capital of the Wesr, by Tom Motter. (Dennis Mattish Photo)
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#1701  -  Diminutive Walt Faulkner, nicknamed “Little Dynamo,” was a native of Tell, Texas, who moved to L.A. in 1936 and became a top-rate racer. He showed his stuff by going to Indy in 1950 for his first Championship event, becoming the first rookie to gain the pole position. He ran seventh. He was especially proficient in Midgets, but they nearly did him in. Here he is at Bonelli Ranch Stadium in California on October 7, 1945, getting drilled face first into the dirt. Tossed around with his feet caught in the seat belts, he ended up with a broken pelvis and multiple leg fractures. Eleven years later he died in a USAC Stock Car at Vallejo Speedway. From DISTANT THUNDER: When Midgets Were Mighty, by Dick Wallen (Dick Wallen Collection)
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FATCOW HOSTING  -  2-20-17  -  NLM