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!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not Quite 75 Cents

What’s this?

It is the remnants of one of the ATQMRA’s most successful cars, the Zrinski “Six Bits,” the Crosley-powered #75 driven to multiple race victories by Jack Duffy.

Included among those victories was the one-and-only automobile race run inside New York City’s Madison Square Garden more than 40 years ago.

It is now in the hands of Lou Zrinski once again, and Lou is undertaking a full restoration.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)  Jack has his helmet bag ready!

An interesting sidebar to this story is that Jack Duffy was the only driver this car ever had.  In the years when the driver was one of the parts most often changed in a race car, the relationship between car owner Zrinski and driver Duffy was solid.

Here is another shot of the car, with Duffy at the wheel, taken after a feature race win at the Freeport Stadium in 1975:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Stock Car?

What’s this doing here?

It’s here because the smiling young driver in victory lane at Freeport over 40 years ago vacated the seat in this street stock Camaro and began racing with the ATQMRA.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

He’s Joe Schaefer, who got his start in racing at the wheel of this Camaro in 1974, driving for Fred Tuski.  The team had quite a year, winning eleven features that season.  Those of us in the ATQMRA witnessed most of those victories since the TQs were racing at Freeport on a regular basis.

It was obvious that Joe’s success was due both to the advantages of the light and nimble Camaro – most of the Freeport street stocks were mid-size and full-size cars – and to his smoothness at the wheel.  Clearly, Joe had the knack.

But at the end of the year the track management – Don and Gino Campi at the time – told Joe that he could no longer race in the street stock class, that he was required to move up.  Problem was, he did not have the money necessary to advance, so he and Fred instead purchased the #18 TQ from Pete Petraitis.

They repainted the car white and burgundy and re-numbered it X-1.

Joe started the 1975 season in the ATQMRA but soon landed a Late Model ride, so he only raced the TQ when time permitted. He  won the Late Model Race of Champions qualifier that year so he headed back to the stock car world.  He later drove Modifieds for Lou Timolat, a former midget driver himself and helicopter traffic pilot for WCBS radio in New York, until injuries ended Joe’s racing career in 1983.

During the time that Joe had the TQ he raced it at the Long Island tracks as well as a time or two on the dirt at Grandview and an occasional trip to Pine Brook.

Joe Schaefer went on to become President of Konig American, and he contacted us to help fill in any blanks in the history of the race car, which is now restored as the #18 and participating with the Vintage Club.

Monday, January 13, 2014

42 Years Later

A few minutes before the doors opened for the annual Motorsports show in the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in January of 2014, the freshly-restored Barclay #93 stands ready in the ATQMRA booth.

The car was looking extra-sharp and attracted plenty of attention during the weekend-long exhibit.

The ATQMRA and the Vintage Club occupied a shared display space, calling attention to both the 2014 racing schedule of the modern TQs and to the activities of the Vintage Club.

Below is a photograph of this same car, at New Egypt Speedway 42 years earlier, with Jim Barclay up on the wheel.  (Click either photo for an enlarged view.)