Friday, May 12, 2023

A Tough Few Weeks

We've had a tough time of things recently.  Right after learning of the death of Jim Rieder (see the post below this one) we learned of the passing of Bruce Kindberg and then shortly thereafter, Drew Fornoro.  All three of these men were woven deeply into the fabric of TQ racing -- and racing in general.

Bruce, following a successful career as a driver, winning at diverse TQs tracks such as Pine Brook and Convention Hall, enjoyed an even more successful run as the "Bruce" in Bruce's Speed Shop in New Jersey.

Drew, also a driver, not only won often in the TQ ranks but a record 85 times in the NEMA Midgets, taking home the NEMA championship nine times -- also a record.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

From Pat Sullivan we have learned of the passing of Jim Riemenschneider, better known to the racing world as Jim Rieder. Shown below with a rear-engine TQ midget of his construction, Jim was instrumental in the career of a host of Hall of Fame drivers.

For many, Jim Rider will always be associated with Pancho Carter and Noki Fornoro. Pancho won the Night Before the 500 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds with Jim in 1972 and his Rieder prepared car took the Hut Hundred. Noki would wax the field in the Night Before in 1985 & 1987. 

When Jim turned his attention to TQs, his Rieder Racers TQs hastened the transformation of the ATQMRA from the conventional and mostly Crosley-powered cars to the exterior-engine, radically offset cars that are clearly the design ancestors to today’s cars.  Rieder TQs won everywhere the ATQMRA raced, as well as with the Can-Am TQ organization and even at the Indianapolis Speedrome.

A member of the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame, Jim won numerous awards including the Ken Hickey award from ARDC. He was the ARDC President in 1971. In 1985 with Noki he captured the ARDC, Super Midget Racing Association and Eastern States midget championships. In 1986 Noki won 23 times and repeated as ARDC champ. All told he won 46 ARDC and 14 USAC midget mains. 

Jim started building cars in the basement of his home New Jersey in 1974. He later moved to Indiana and worked on all forms of open wheel cars and was the Mechanic of the Year in USAC's regional series. In retirement he moved to Henderson, Nevada, although he returned to New Jersey for an ARDC reunion in Warren, New Jersey. 

Smart, talented, capable, personable and a true racing competitor, Jim Rieder had a lasting effect on racing.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

We learned recently of the passing of Robert William Watkins, who we all knew as Bob, a winning ATQMRA driver in the 1970s and for two years, 1972 and 1973, a very effective President of the organization.  A tough but compassionate leader, the ATQMRA thrived during his tenure.

Shown here in his signature #91 in Atlantic City Convention Hall (now Boardwalk Hall), it was in A.C. that Bob scored the biggest victory of his racing career.  On March 1, 1975, Bob won the final of four indoor races that winter, claiming what was at that time the largest first-place payout in TQ history, $1000.

A Marine, Bob was a Korean War veteran, and after his service he opened a service station in Levittown, Pennsylvania.  He operated the service station for more than 50 years before retiring to Florida.  Bob was also an avid pilot, owning several airplanes.

In 2007, his son Robert, Jr., claimed the ATQMRA championship, also driving a car bearing the number 91.  Whether ironic or serendipitous, at the time of his passing Bob Watkins was 91 years of age.

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Champion, Indoors and Out

In this photo, driver Bobby Albert has just won an ATQMRA feature at the Islip Speedway in 1961. The flagger Johnny Zeke is on the left, in the middle is car owner John Dini and on the right is John's son Dick Dini.

In this car Albert would go on to win the 1961 ATQMRA championship, having already won the winter indoor championship driving for Bill Mildern.  (For many years, the ATQMRA offered separate outdoor and indoor championships, primarily because in those pre-Pine Brook days there were just as many indoor races as outdoor.). 

At the end of the 1961 season, John Dini sold this car to newly-retired Cleveland Indians pitcher Mike Garcia.  Garcia asked Albert to drive and maintain the car for the 1962 indoor season.  Garcia wanted Albert to race in indoor events at the Rochester War Memorial Auditorium and in Cleveland Ohio, which he did with success.  But the travel during the winter months, before the completion of the Interstate Highway system, got to be too much for Albert.  Vic Novell then offered Albert the ride in his #22 TQ for the remaining indoor season back east, so Albert gave the former Dini car back to Garcia.

Albert, who began racing in 1947, was a versatile driver who competed in Midgets, Sprint Cars and Stock Cars as well as TQs, winning a total of 109 feature races all together.  As a competitor in the always-tough American Racing Drivers Club series, Albert was voted Most Improved Driver in 1962, finished second in ARDC season-long points in 1965, and in 1969, driving the Strapoli Brothers Chevy II, he captured ARDC’s Stock Block championship.  He was the overall Super Midget Racing Club champion in 1974, driving a Buick-powered car entered by his son, Bobby Jr.

In 1980, driving in the United Racing Club Sprint Car series also in a car owned by Bobby Jr., Albert finished second to Paul Rochelle in driver points, and that was enough to earn the car owner championship for his son.

An intriguing footnote to Albert’s career is that he was the first driver to flip a car in a NASCAR race at the then-new Daytona International Speedway.  It occurred came one day before the first Daytona 500 in 1959.  The support race for the 500, the “Modified 200,” was comprised of Sportsman and Modified race cars, and for that first race Albert brought a 1937 Ford Coupe Modified to Florida from his home in the New York City suburbs.

The field was a whopping 55 cars, mainly consisting of coupes from the 1930s, like Albert’s. After qualifying 16th, Albert’s engine blew on lap three of the race while traveling 130 mph on the high-banked track. With oil on his tires, Albert spun in turn one. As the car hit the apron, it began to roll side-over-side, flipping several times before coming to a stop on the apron. Albert climbed out of the car unhurt and was credited with a 46th-place finish.

[Our thanks to Bobby Albert, Jr., for providing the photograph and much of the information here.]

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Old Photo

A nice shot of the Vintage Club pit area at Borgers Speedway in 2014.  It looks just like any pit area of 40 years earlier.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Longest Track

Here the Vintage TQs are on the track at Wall Stadium this past Saturday.

Wall Stadium is "the longest track" in a couple of ways.  First, for decades it was the largest track on which the ATQMRA raced.  Second, and more importantly in this context, it is the track on which the ATQMRA has raced the longest.  The TQs began racing at Wall Stadium in the 1950s and have raced there every year since.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Countless Race Victories

We don't have anywhere near enough fingers and toes to add up the number of racing victories represented by this group, photographed at a Vintage Club event at Bethel Motor Speedway.

The occasion included a tribute to Jim Maguire, which is why he is holding the plaque.

Bethel Motor Speedway is relatively close to the site of Max Yasgur's farm, where in 1969 the famous Woodstock festival took place.  Some of these guys were racing that weekend!