Thursday, December 27, 2012

Vintage New Year

There is a fair amount of buzz surrounding the fact that the TQs will be racing this New Year’s Eve in Providence, Rhode Island, but while it might be the first time for racing on New Year’s Eve it is not the first time for racing close to the dropping of the ball in Times Square.

On December 30, 1961, just one day before New Year’s Eve some 51 years ago, Jim Lacy won the main event at the Island Garden in West Hempstead, New York. On the other side of the holiday, Sonny Sanders won in the Island Garden on January 2, 1964, less than 48 hours after ringing in the New Year.

More recently, Mike Osite won on December 29, 1984, in the first race run in the Niagara Falls Convention Center. In the photo below, Osite (right) and Bentley Warren (left) flank the Niagara Falls trophy girl.

Mike Osite became the 1985 ATQMRA champion and was twice a winner in Niagara Falls. Bentley Warren was already a supermodified champion and a man with two Indy 500s on his resume at this time, and he was every bit as serious about winning in a TQ as he was in any other kind of race car. So when Osite dusted him in the warmups at that first Niagara Falls event, Warren sought out Osite to see who this guy was. The two became fast friends almost instantly – although Warren made sure to claim his own Niagara Falls victory in the fourth race in the series.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

50 Years Ago Today

On December 15, 1962, Jim Lacy won the ATQMRA feature race indoors in the Island Garden Arena, in West Hempstead, New York.

Lacy also won the features there on November 24, December 1, 8, and 22, sweeping five of the seven events run in the arena in 1962. Only Joe Gray, who won the opener on November 17, and Jerry Wall, who won the series finale on December 29, beat Lacy indoors that year.

The Island Garden was built in 1957 and was host to 55 indoor race meets in the years 1959 through 1965. The building was demolished in 1973, although today there is a basketball new arena, also named Island Garden, located just to the south of the site of the original.

Photo courtesy of H.A.M.B member Dog427435.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bumper Crop

That's a bumper sticker from 1959, advertising that year’s eight-race series of indoor events at the Teaneck Armory.  Click the image for an enlarged view.

The Teaneck Armory was built in 1938 and still stands today, although the National Guard unit assigned to it was disbanded in 1994. ATQMRA races took place in the facility in the years 1952 through 1962.

On the dates listed on the bumper sticker, the following drivers won the feature races:

January 10 - Len Duncan
January 17 - Jim Lacy
January 24 - Len Duncan
February 14 - Roger Bailey
February 21 - Roger Bailey
February 28 - Len Duncan
March 7 - Len Duncan
March 14 - Len Duncan

Among the drivers competing in the Armory that year were Chuck Arnold - Tony Bonadies - Fred Clifton - Johnny Coy - Dick DeYoung - Jack Duffy - Gordon Eisenhower - Lou Fray - Bobby Hamilton - Sy Kaback - Al Kemp - Russ Klar - Ben Landis - Ernie McCoy - Pete Mourad - Red Mulholland - Everett Rogers - Tony Romit - Tex Ryder - Sonny Sanders - Don Stumpf - George Sweeten - Jerry Wall - Tony Zarcone - and Johnny Zeke.

The Teaneck Armory

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Garden Party

With the TQs making their first appearance in Baltimore’s First Mariner Arena this weekend, we decided to post an indoor racing photo from 40 years ago. This photo features two of the best to ever turn a wheel, and it was taken in what is likely the most famous indoor arena in the world.

The drivers are Johnny Coy, in #18, and Tony Romit, alongside in the #02. The arena is New York City’s Madison Square Garden, where the ATQMRA raced once – and only once – in 1972.

Coy was a multi-time champion in the American Racing Drivers Club by this time and later won two ATQMRA championships as well.  Romit was a top driver in both midgets and sprints before settling on TQs because his wife feared the dangers of the bigger cars. Romit won countless races in the late 1960s and the early 1970s driving the car in which he is pictured, and he too is credited with a pair of ATQMRA championships.

The Madison Square Garden race was an interesting affair. The participants were determined by time trials that took place at Pine Brook several weeks beforehand. The track was tiny and slick – and made more slick when the crew at the Garden turned on the ice-making equipment before the races were completed, so as to be ready to make ice for the next night’s hockey game. The race track was on the fifth floor of the building as compared with street level, and the Mountain Garage Jeep got a workout pushing race cars up the spiral ramp that led from the street to the arena floor.  Driver Joe Lacy and official Jim Yates had a confrontation that had the Garden staffers thinking that they might have to break out the boxing ring.

Jack Duffy, at the wheel of the Zrinski "Six Bits," won the main event.

The race made the evening television newscasts in New York and was on the back page of the New York Daily News, but New York was not and is not a racing town, and the spectator count was not enough to justify a return engagement.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Nearly Back Where it all Began

This weekend the TQ Midgets are racing for the first time in Baltimore, Maryland, indoors at the 1st Mariner Arena. This is perhaps the closest that the TQs have gotten to their roots in more than 60 years.

There is a large, run-down building next to the tracks near Union Station in Washington, D.C., 35 miles from the 1st Mariner Arena. In this building commuters park their cars in the morning and leave in the evening without pausing to take a look around. People walk by without a glance. Train passengers look out the window and think nothing of it. But it holds a signficant place in history... and in racing history.

The Uline Arena

It was called the Washington Coliseum when the Beatles performed their first U.S. concert here. Concerts, ice hockey, basketball, circuses, political rallies and much more are all a part of the history of the building that first opened as the Uline Arena in 1941. And when the Tom Thumb Midget Association, the organization that evolved to become the ATQMRA, staged its first-ever race, it did so in the Uline Arena.

It was November 20, 1950, when Tony Bonadies won the Tom Thumb Midget Association’s first race, indoors at the Uline Arena.
Tony Bonadies (Photo courtesy Ron Lauer)

The building was constructed by Miguel L. Uline for his professional ice hockey team, the Washington Lions. It was built along the tracks leading to Union Station in an area now known as NoMa (North of Massachusetts). Uline Arena was also home to the Washington Capitols of the Basketball Association of America, a team which was coached by Red Auerbach prior to his move to Boston.

But it wasn't until jewelry wholesaler Harry G. Lynn bought the arena in 1959, renamed it the Washington Coliseum, and made it a place for concerts that the place became world famous. That's because the Beatles performed their first U.S. concert there on February 11, 1964. Concerts featuring everyone from the Woody Herman Orchestra to the Royal Ballet to Bob Dylan were presented at the arena.

The Beatles perform where TQs had performed before

Newer venues later cut into the arena’s business, and by 1987 there was a planned $17.5 million renovation featuring convention space, a chapel, schools, and radio and TV studios for a faith-based organization. But these plans never same to fruition, and in 1994 the building was converted into, of all things, a trash transfer station.

Finally, following new regulations governing the handling of garbage, the building became the dismal parking garage that it is today.

The decaying interior of the Uline Arena today

Through the years there have been an remarkable array of events at the arena, including such diverse uses as an inaugural gala for President Eisenhower in 1953, and as a holding cell for many of the 12,000 people arrested during protests of the Vietnam War in 1971. But now, the only hope for the first race track on which the Tom Thumb TQ Midgets raced is yet another redevelopment plan, which currently is stalled, at best, due to today’s economic conditions.

A redevelopment concept for the Uline Arena
Perhaps one day the building will be restored to its former glory, since the neighborhood surrounding it is being redeveloped. It happened when Convention Hall in Atlantic City was renovated into Boardwalk Hall. It would be great to see the history of the Uline Arena honored and preserved while moving forward with a 21st century renovation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wally & Ray

Joe Macfarlan of grabbed this shot of Ray Evernham (right) pointing out a detail on his Modified to Wally Dallenbach, Senior (left) and Wally Dallenbach, Junior (center) at Wall Stadium's Turkey Derby this past Saturday.

What does this have to do with the ATQMRA? Plenty.

Ray Evernham, of course, achieved national fame as a championship-winning crew chief for Jeff Gordon in NASCAR, and then shepherded the re-introduction of the Dodge brand to NASCAR racing. But as most people in our region know, Evernham got his start in racing in the stock cars at Wall Stadium.

Wally Dallenbach, Sr., got his start on the short tracks of New Jersey before making it to the Indy 500, where he competed on 13 occasions with a best finish of fourth in both 1976 and 1977. Before Indy, Dallenbach raced not only at Wall Stadium but at long-gone tracks such as Old Bridge, and he raced both stock cars and open-cockpit cars. After retiring from competition, the senior Dallenbach forged a solid reputation as the Chief Steward for the Indy cars under the CART banner.

But what these two gentlemen also have in common is that they raced with the ATQMRA, Dallenbach in the early 1960s and Evernham in the late 1980s.

Both men were on hand at Wall Stadium for the unveiling of the restored XL-1 Modified, which Evernham resuscitated because of the memories he had of watching Dallenbach and others race the car. It was quite an event, with a huge throng gathered around, and once the car was revealed Dallenbach couldn’t take his eyes off it. We saw him more than once simply touch the car with his fingers, as if to confirm that it was really there.

The photo below is beautifully evocative, as Dallenbach, wearing his signature hat, took some slow laps around Wall Stadium in the restored car.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Victorious Vintage Vehicle

Last year, the oldest driver in the field won the Turkey Derby. This year, it was the oldest car.

In this photo, Greg and Kyle McGowan flank Joe Payne, Jr., after Joe won Saturday’s ATQMRA Turkey Derby feature at Wall Stadium... driving a car that is old enough to be Vintage Club eligible!

Alan Mollot’s #51 was built in 1981, and a car needs to be 30 years old to be eligible to participate with the Vintage Club. Trouble is, a car also needs to be retired from active competition to be eligible to participate with the Vintage Club, and as long as this car continues to win what motivation does Alan have to retire it?

I am sure that there are plenty of other racers who wish Alan would retire the car... so that they could have a better chance at winning!

By the way, Joe Payne came verrrry close to winning the main event for the Dirt-style modifieds later in the afternoon, finishing a hard-fought second in a ride he picked up for the day.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wall Weekend

But with the ATQMRA's annual appearance at Wall Stadium's "Turkey Derby" upon us, it seemed appropriate to post this Ace Lane photo from last year's event.  The Turkey Derby is an ATQMRA tradition that goes back 35 years.

While for many years the TQs were relegated to a supporting role on Friday, since Cliff Krause has taken over the management of the speedway the ATQMRA has enjoyed a starring role on Saturday, in the sunshine before an overflow crowd.  Mr Krause loves the speed and the competitiveness of the TQs, and he has continued and enhanced the ATQMRA's long history at the track.  The ATQMRA has raced every year at Wall Stadium for well over 50 years!

If, however, you think that there is not enough "Vintage" in this photo, just remember that the 2011 race pictured was won by the oldest driver in the field.  Robin Johnston, who himself dates back to the mid-1950s, bested all the young 'uns last year!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Full House

Jim Smith sent along this photo from the awards banquet this past Sunday, and as you can see, combining the banquets of the contemporary ATQMRA and the Vintage Club resulted in a full house!

It was cool too, to acknowledge the pioneers of TQ racing while at the same time honoring the young drivers of today.  Ryan Tidman repeated as ATQMRA champion for 2012, driving a car owned by Lenny and Donna Boyd.  Lenny's father, was a top car owner in the ATQMRA decades ago, and Lenny himself is a past TQ and Midget champion.

Jim Hempfill, who owns the restored car that was campaigned by Lenny's father, was on hand, making another connection between the past and the present.

A.J. Fuge was named the 2012 Rookie of the Year, in the presence of retired greats such as Hank Rogers, Jr., and Jim Maguire.  Mike Casario received the Vintage Club's Norm Smizer Preservation Award, with Norm's son, Ed Smizer, making the presentation.

There is a long unbroken line between the ATQMRA of a half-century ago and the ATQMRA of today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Old Friend Drops By

Championship-winning driver Nick Fornoro, Jr. – "Noki" to all his friends – was able to slip in to the ATQMRA banquet this Sunday almost unnoticed, thanks this disguise: Bald head, and silver facial hair that could earn him a spot with ZZ Top.

Despite not being recognized right away by many who have known him for years, Noki was warmly greeted, as was his son, Lanson. Lanson has followed in the family tradition, racing midgets, primarily with Northeastern Midget Association. Lanson’s father is a nationally-known midget racing champion, and his grandfather was as well.

Our thanks to another father & son combination, Ace Lane and John-John Lane, for the photo.

And speaking of Ace Lane, whose birthday fell on the day of the banquet and for whom a large birthday cake was prepared, he and John-John also provided us with this photo of all the award recipients on this day, both with the Vintage Club and the modern ATQMRA:

And here, ATQMRA President Mike Roselli, left, and Vintage Club President Gary Mondschein share a light moment.

It was an excellent banquet – nice place, good food, and great company.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Riddle is Solved (Mostly)

A few weeks ago we posted this photo, identifying it as containing a puzzle.

The puzzle in our original post concerned the silver car. It was brand-new on that October afternoon at Pine Brook in 1967 when the photo was taken, and it was unpainted, with a masking-tape "X" for a number. At best it made only a limited number of laps in warmups and it did not race. Most significantly, and why we were interested all these years later, it was front wheel drive.

We asked, who built it? Who owned it? Who was the driver on this day? What became of it?

Well, Vintage Division member Ben Trimble remembers the car well, and has identified it as having been built by Jon Fick, the car owner for who Trimble drove for many years and for whom Trimble built engines. Trimble remembers that the front wheel drive components were taken from a foreign car of some sort.  Trimble remembers the car making only a few laps, but he does not recall who was driving it on this day – it was not himself.

We have the vaguest recollection that Joe Kidd may have been in it that day.

He remembers the story behind the car having never appeared again. Apparently, the car was somewhat controversial within the ranks of the ATQMRA. Jon Fick had been inspired by the front wheel drive Indy cars and perhaps also by the recent introduction of General Motors’ Oldsmobile Toronado, but the ATQMRA was not prepared to embrace the concept. There was talk of banning the car. Jon Fick, annoyed by this, took the car home, pushed it into the back of the shop, and that was that.

Years later, the car changed hands, but it still never again appeared on-track. It’s final fate, after parts had been harvested from it, was burial!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Pioneer

Shown in his TQ Midget more than 50 years ago is Norm Smizer, one of the founding fathers of the ATQMRA and the organization’s first president. We are posting this picture this week because Smizer will be remembered at the ATQMRA banquet this Sunday, November 18.

At the banquet the Vintage Club will be presenting the Norm Smizer Preservation Award. The award will be presented to an individual who by his efforts and actions exemplified the Vintage Club’s goals of documenting, preserving, and displaying the history of TQ Midget racing. The award is named in memory of Norm Smizer in recognition of Smizer’s dedication, his craftsmanship, and his inspiring personal story.

In addition to being a driver, Smizer was a skilled craftsman and a talented engine builder. When he was no longer driving, he built engines for others, including four-time ATQMRA champion Doug Craig. But it is nothing short of inspirational to realize that the greatest of Smizer’s achievements as a engine builder came following the loss of his eyesight due to complications from cataract surgery in 1967. Terming his blindness as no more than "an inconvenience," Smizer continuing building engines – engines which won countless races and numerous championships.

But Norm Smizer will not be the only ATQMRA pioneer whom we recall at the banquet. The Vintage Club will also be presenting the Dick Marlow Participation Award, named in memory of the founder of Pine Brook Stadium and the ATQMRA’s first full-time traveling announcer. This award will be presented to teams who demonstrated outstanding participation and support of Vintage Club events during 2012.

Two additional awards are named in honor of individuals who are still very much with us. The Jim English Sportsmanship Award, named in honor of one of the finest gentlemen you’ll meet, will be presented to an individual who exemplifies amiability, a spirit of camaraderie and a positive attitude towards the Vintage Club and it's members.

The Robert Noll Service Appreciation Award is named in honor of auto racing's most dignified and dedicated supporter, and it will be presented to an individual whose efforts exceeded expectations for the betterment of the Vintage Club.

The banquet is this Sunday, November 18.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Smith Crosley

This car should be considered to be the first vintage TQ.

It’s not the oldest car, but to our knowledge it is the first ATQMRA car to be restored following its retirement from active competition. It has appeared in the restored condition shown in this photo for well over 20 years.

The "Smith Crosley," as lettered on the hood, was campaigned by New Jersey-based owner Charlie Smith, with a variety of top drivers at the wheel through the years. It raced, and won, both with a roll bar as seen here, and with a roll cage fitted when cages became mandatory.

When it was retired from the track it was acquired by Pennsylvanian Jay Young, who restored it to the configuration shown and who still owns the car today. Young has participated with the car in Vintage Club events, but long prior to the formation of the Vintage Club in 2011 Young displayed the car as part of many vintage racing activities.

Back when the annual midwinter "Motorsports" show was still being conducted at the Valley Forge Convention Center, prior to outgrowing that facility, this restored car was part of a "then and now" display in the ATQMRA booth – that’s how long this car has been a restored classic.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fort Dix

We are finally back with a new old photo, delayed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

This photo is from a race track not far from the hard-hit areas along the Jersey shore: Fort Dix Speedway, which today is a dirt track named New Egypt Speedway but which was a paved track when this photo was taken in the late 1960s. The track is on Route 539 in Ocean County, not quite 20 miles inland from the storm’s oceanfront devastation.

In the photo are Bobby Courtwright, in the Ted Seiz Crosley #56, and Ben Trimble, in the Jon Fick Triumph #11. The shot is turn one at Fort Dix, on the original – and very abrasive – paved surface before the track was re-paved and enlarged in the early 1970s.

Bobby Courtwright has been gone for many years now, but Ben Trimble is alive and well at age 85, and is an active participant with the Vintage Club, as is the #11.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Greece is the Word! is viewed around the world and as a result we have received this photograph of a vintage TQ Midget... in Greece!

Constantin Sourelis of Evnia Automobiles, a collector-car broker in Switzerland, contacted us regarding a 1960 TQ that he is offering for sale on behalf of a client in Greece.

The car is fully restored and appears beautiful in all details, but in our view is optimistically priced at €24,000 (24,000 Euros). At the moment that this is written, the Euro-to-Dollar conversion makes that $31,500. Plus shipping. Yikes.  Update 1/18/13:  The seller has revised the price to a much more realistic and attractive US$16,000, including shipping to the US!

The car was built in 1960 in Florida by a racer named J.W. Payne, and was raced at the Florida City Speedway near Homestead, as well as at tracks in or near Jacksonville, Hialeah, and Palm Beach through at least 1966. After passing through several owners and suffering several periods of neglect, the car was given a high-dollar restoration in 1996.

It was not an ATQMRA-legal car, it ran on an alcohol-nitro mix with twin Dellorto carburetors and has a number of details that were perfectly legal in Florida TQ racing but which did not conform to ATQMRA rules. Not that we care today – all vintage TQs are welcome in the Vintage Club.

It is not clear how the car came to be in Greece, but Greece is where it is.

The sale of the car includes extensive documentation in two large files, with period photographs and even home movie footage – which can be seen here on Youtube. The photo below of J.W. Payne winning a race shows a sister car, Payne built three cars in all.

The car can be seen on the Evnia Automobiles web site, just scroll down a bit past the Bentleys and the Jaguars to find the TQ.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Camden Cop

One of the top drivers in the ATQMRA in the early 1960s was George Sweeten, shown here in his signature number 54. He raced at Teaneck, Pine Brook, Old Bridge, Wall Stadium and elsewhere in those years.

But despite being the club’s 1965 driver co-champion and winning one of the big indoor races in Atlantic City in 1966, he quit racing because his family perceived it as being too dangerous.

Sweeten then took up something hardly without risk: He became a cop in Camden. In case you are not familiar with the city of Camden, New Jersey, there are few places tougher for police work.

He joined the Camden Police Department in 1969. Already in his 30s when most police rookies were in their 20s, Sweeten was nicknamed "Pappy" by his fellow officers. He served Camden for 25 years before retiring in 1994, having risen to the rank of Detective.

George Sweeten passed away in December, 2007, at the age of 74.

Sweeten was remembered by a former police partner as "a good guy to work with, straight as an arrow so you didn't have to worry about him. He was an honest cop, an all-around good guy." Those who were around the ATQMRA when Sweeten was racing will also describe him as an all-around good guy. He conducted himself like a gentleman and was an easy fan favorite.

When George Sweeten set racing aside he was not without a hobby. He had worked as a sign painter and was an accomplished artist, painting landscapes and covered bridges. He was a devoted family man who left a widow, three daughters and five grandchildren at the time of his passing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vintage Mystery Car

A puzzle this week, in a 45-year-old snapshot:

This Instamatic photo – remember Instamatic cameras? – was taken on a Sunday afternoon in October, 1967, at Pine Brook. The occasion was a racing program for the benefit of Norm Smizer, who had recently lost his eyesight due to complications from cataract surgery.

This photo was intended to be a clear shot of the silver car in front of the Mountain Garage Jeep, but the #0 whizzed into the frame as the shutter was opened. (Hey, what can you expect from a kid with an Instamatic?)

The puzzle concerns the silver car. It was brand-new that day, unpainted, with a masking-tape "X" for a number. But it did not fire and it did not race. Most significantly, and why we are interested all these years later, it was front wheel drive.

We cannot recall anything else about it. Who built it? Who owned it? Who was the driver on this day? What became of it? As far as we can remember, a front wheel drive car never again appeared after this day.

Was it squirreled away somewhere? Was it converted to a conventional rear wheel drive car, painted, and raced?

If you know the answers to any of these questions, or even if you have only a good guess, let us know via this link.

Oh, and if you want to confirm for us who the driver in the #0 was on this day, we’ll happily take that, too!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Like Ike

Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, and Gordon Eisenhower was on his way to victory in this photo taken on July 25, 1959, by Ace Lane, Sr.

We are posting this photo because the race was run on the fifth-mile infield track at Old Bridge, New Jersey, and Vintage Club members will have their cars on display this weekend as part of the annual Old Bridge Stadium Speedway Weekend.

It was a 20-lap feature that night more than 50 years ago, one of four late-summer ATQMRA dates at Old Bridge that year. Eisenhower qualified the Bob Pouleson 7o7 – the original 7o7, not the later roadster that many of us still remember – by winning the consolation race after failing to qualify through the heat races. Eisenhower took the lead on the twelfth lap and led Tex Enright and Jerry Wall under the checkered flag.

Today's drivers may not know what that lever is, outside the cockpit, on which Eisenhower has his left hand. That’s the brake lever, these cars did not have foot brakes. Also, down low alongside the cockpit is a nearly-vertical cylinder, which is the fuel pump. The fuel tank was pressurized by manually pumping this pump. Pressurized gas tanks... these cars were rolling bombs!

Eisenhower is wearing a loose-fitting uniform, likely not even remotely fire-resistant but certainly better than the T-shirts we see in many old racing photos. His goggles are hanging around his neck because – hard to see unless you click the photo to enlarge it – his helmet has a clear shield.

Eisenhower would win at Old Bridge again in August, again doing so by qualifying through the consi. Trailing Eisenhower to that second victory was George Sweeten, followed by Lloyd Mullin.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mr Zip and the Boss

Here is a study in racing evolution.

At the recent Warren Township Car Show, the vintage #71 is shown alongside the brand-new #23.

The vintage car is well-known to followers of ATQMRA racing as being the car of the late Bruno Brackey, perhaps the winningest postman in all of racing. The car dates back to the 1950s and Brackey continued to race it into the early 1980s!

The new car is well-known to followers of ARDC racing by its number, 23, which has long been associated with car owner and former ARDC president Ray McCabe. The new car is to be piloted by longtime McCabe driver and past ARDC champion Phil DiMario.

(One of the first things that McCabe noticed when he got involved with TQ racing was how little fuel the cars consume. TQ racing should be considered "green!")

On the side of the #71 is a picture of "Mr Zip," the Postal Service character for the promotion of ZIP Codes. On the side of the #23 is a line from Bruce Springsteen. The always-smiling Bruno Brackey was indeed Mr Zip on the speedways, and the equally-cheerful Phil DiMario hopes that the new car proves in fact to be "born to run!"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mountain Motoring

Under simply perfect weather conditions on September 23, Karl Mondschein and Bill Force Jr each took top honors at Mountain Speedway, Mondschein by winning the feature race for the roll bar class and Force for leading the roll cage cars to the checkered flag, all under the auspices of the Vintage Club.

Driving the DeMasco #18 in the roll bar class, Mondschein grabbed the lead at the start with Drew Fornoro in pursuit in the Wehrle #02. With Mondschein leading Fornoro raced for second place with Bill Force Sr, at the wheel of his own #26. When the engine in the #02 faltered, Force grabbed second place and Keith Majka moved into third position. At the finish it was Mondschein, Force, and Majka, with Fornoro finishing in fourth position and Mark Sasso completing the top five.

In the roll cage class Mike Trimble was the early leader in the rear-engine #16 driven by his father decades ago. At the half-way point in the race Tim Arntz took the lead in the Jon Fick #11, and Matt Janisch moved the Mike Osite #81 into second position. When a cracked oil reservoir took Arntz out of the lead with three laps remaining, Janisch and Bill Force Jr swapped the lead before Force gained the upper hand and claimed the victory. Janish, Tom Hindley, Art Lawshe Jr and Arntz rounded out the top five.

Wait... they race these cars?  Yes, they do, albeit under controlled conditions. But even with this and other safety-related rules in place, the drivers are really racing and they’re having a ball doing it. "This was fun!" said Bill Force Jr in victory lane.

Some Vintage Club events are display, only; some are on-track exhibitions, and some – like this one – are turn-the-clock-back races.

Karl Mondschein kneels between the DeMasco #18 and the Trimble #16
to show off his trophy from Sunday's race.
Did anyone get a photo of Bill Force Jr?  Send it to us here!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Old Master?

This photo, taken at Pine Brook in the mid-1970s, shows John Little's #73 leading Bruce Kindberg's #10.  Bruce is driving the #10, but who is in the #73?  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Vintage Division president Gary Mondschein thinks that it is Frankie Schneider, "The Old Master," in a rare TQ appearance.

In case you have been living under a rock, Schneider first won a stock-car race at the Flemington Fairgrounds in 1947, and scored his last stock car victory at the Nazareth Speedway in 1977 -- a remarkable 30-year record of winning that was punctuated by more than 750 visits to the winner's circle.

He won numerous big events but the bulk of his victories came in what we think of as ordinary Saturday night short-track racing.  Such racing was never ordinary when Schneider was in the field.

Born in 1926, Schneider is still with us today and is rightfully accorded immense respect in the racing community.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spec Racing?

A criticism that is leveled at major racing series today, from NASCAR to IndyCar, is that the cars are "spec" cars – all the same except for paint.

The photo below, taken at the Vintage Club’s appearance at Mountain Speedway earlier this year, demonstrates how the ATQMRA midgets have been anything but cookie-cutter.

(Click the photo for an enlarged view)

The yellow #26 is a Crosley-powered "upright," a car with the driveline centered in the chassis.

The red #16 is a Triumph-powered rear-engined machine.

The blue #1-X is a Rotax-powered offset roadster.

Each of three of these cars was built to a common set of specifications, but clearly those specifications left plenty of room for innovation!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Len K

Driving car #3k at Hershey Stadium in 1981 is Len Krautheim, who probably liked the tow to Hershey from his Pennsylvania home a lot more than the trips to Pine Brook, Islip, and elsewhere.

Krautheim spent a relatively short time racing in the ATQMRA -- only a season or two -- then went on to find success in the Central Pennsylvania sprint car ranks.

Chasing Krautheim in the #29er is Glen Rittenhouse, and coming around the outside is Mark King.  As with most of the photos we feature on this page, click the photo for an enlarged view.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Warren Piece

Racers are involved with the annual Warren Township Classic/Antique Race Car/Motorcycle Show because a racer is at the heart of the show.

Ken Brenn, the former Warren Township councilman, mayor, and championship-winning race car owner, is one of the movers and shakers behind this show which enjoyed perfect weather for it’s 7th annual installment this past Sunday. Hundreds of classic cars, street machines, and race cars filled the Warren Township Municipal grounds, and among them was a very nice turnout of Vintage cars.

The Vintage cars at the Warren Car Show

The event has become a staple of the community and it benefits the Warren Township Fire Department.

"This show is getting bigger and better each year, we have a wonderful hard working staff that pulls together and makes all of this possible," Ken Brenn told the Vintage Club’s Gary Mondschein. "But we are not resting on our laurels. We have been in discussion with our racing clubs and racers with the intention of expanding their presence."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh Two!

There is plenty of history in this shot!

It was taken this past Saturday, at the Oswego Speedway, a track which itself has a long and distinguished history.

The car is the Wehrle "Slingshot" #02, a car which in the hands of driver Tony Romit dominated ATQMRA racing in the early 1970s.  In addition to being distinctive in accomplishment and appearance, the car has some very innovative features, including twin front axles that give it a longer wheelbase on the right than on the left.

It is a car that caused all other competitors to raise their game.

Then there is the driver in this photo.  It is Joe Payne, Jr., who has a stellar record not only in TQ racing, but in NEMA midgets and in the supermodifieds at Oswego.  As noted in the post below this one, Joey has elected to step back from racing at Oswego next year in order to be able to spend more time with his family in New Jersey.  But what a way to say au revoir!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Big "O"

The Vintage Club was proud to be a part of the Budweiser Classic at the famed Oswego Speedway on September 1st. "The Classic" has a history that stretches back many decades, and this year’s event included putting the spotlight on the racing career of Joe Payne Sr and by extension, the entire Payne family.

That Joe Payne Jr went out and won the modern ATQMRA Midget portion of the program was only icing on the cake.

Honoree Joe Payne Sr was lauded for his long and successful career in racing, and he spoke of his early days at Pine Brook Stadium. "We started at Pine Brook in 1971 with a car I copied from Fletcher Fish," Payne said. Fish was one of the pioneering car owners of the early ATQMRA. Payne continued, "Past champion Joe Kidd ran the car for us and we've been at it ever since."

Joe Payne Sr is rightfully proud of his accomplishments as a car owners but was quick to talk of his great racing family. "Racing has kept my family together for many years, it's our way of life," Payne said. "I am so proud of my boys, they have become great racers, but more importantly the have become great people." Payne was joined at the track for this event by his family, including his wife, Betty.

With the accolades Payne also received a pen-and-ink rendering of himself standing next to his first TQ with Kidd at the wheel, prepared by Bill Force. "This brings back so many found memories," Payne said. "I am so grateful for the people I have been surrounded by in racing."

Joe Payne Jr, known to most as Joey, was equally touched by the proceedings. "I am so proud of my father, my family, such a special night." Joey, teary eyed, continued, " I have chosen to step back from running full time here at Oswego and spend more time with my family." Joey’s decision is understandable, despite his considerable racing success at Oswego, because the track is 280 one-way miles from his home in New Jersey.

When the cars of the Vintage Club took to the Oswego track for demonstration runs, Joe Payne Sr saw his two sons, Joey and John, and his grandson Joe Payne III among the drivers in the gleaming vintage machines.

Vintage Club VP Tom Berry proclaimed it "another fantastic event for the club," and went on to say that " we are looking forward to returning again to the big O."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sousa March

There is a lot going on in this photo, taken at New Egypt Speedway in 1974.
First, the gentleman smiling for the camera is Phil Sousa, whose full name was John Philip Sousa, same as the world-famous composer whose marches are icons of American music. If you attended the TQ races at Pine Brook in the years 1962-64, Sousa marches were what played on the P.A. system prior to the start of each racing program.  Yet today, thanks to the Sousa's Liberty Bell march being used as the theme music, most people think of Monty Python's Flying Circus when they hear a Sousa march.

Second, the yellow #93 is the Jim Barclay machine, prior to its purchase by Jack Becker. The car was only recently acquired by Bobby Barclay, Jim’s son, who plans to restore it to the configuration in which it appears here. And yes, that is Jim Barclay strolling out of the shot at left.

Next, in the background is the Ford Econoline van in which Wilfred and John Wehrle transported the distinctive #02 that was driven with so much success by Tony Romit. That’s Wif Wehrle at the door of the van with his back to the camera, and that’s Tony Romit’s helmet on the table seen between Jim Barclay and the #93.

The Wehrle #02 is today a staple of Vintage Club events.

Finally, just past the Wehrle van is a maroon Buick, which is the car with which John Little towed the trailer carrying his #73. This Buick towed both the conventional upright TQ that John campaigned prior to the construction of the unique roadster with which he and driver Jack Bertling won the 1973 championship, and that championship-winning car as well. That car is the subject of the post below this one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back Home Agaaaaaain...

The 1973 ATQMRA championship winning car, which by coincidence was numbered 73, was located earlier this year in Arizona, and it has has been purchased by Pine Brook TQ veteran and current TSRS Sprint competitor Bruce Kindberg, owner of Bruce’s Speed Shop on Route 46 in Rockaway, New Jersey.

In Arizona, the historic car had been acquired by a church whose members had no idea what it was but thought that they could make it into a kart-like "fun car" for their youngsters. Fortunately this didn't happen and the car appears to be fairly complete and ready for restoration.

Original owner John Little and original driver Jack Bertling will assist in the restoration and the hope is to have the car ready for the annual "Motorsports" show in Pennsylvania this winter – exactly 40 years after the car made its debut and raced to the season-long championship.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The August Festival

In Macungie, Pennsylvania, each August there is an immense three-day antique and classic car show called Das Awkscht Fescht, which draws many hundreds of cars over the weekend and many thousands of visitors. This year’s event was the 49th annual edition.

Each year, Das Awkscht Fescht has a "feature car," and this year that car was the Crosley. The Crosley Automobile Club assembled a great display of various Crosley vehicles (and other Crosley products such as refrigerators and radios), and the Vintage Club participated alongside them.

Just a small portion of the Crosleys on display at Das Awkscht Fescht
The vintage TQ display was impressive and garnered much attention. The cars of Bill Force Sr., Gary Mondschein, Jay Young, and Sonny Hull were on display. Vice President Tom Berry worked the booth throughout the weekend, and many club members stopped by including Tom Hindley, Jim Hempfill, Wayne Laucius, Robert Noll, Bob Marlow and more.

The vintage TQs mngle with the vintage Crosleys at Das Awkscht Fescht
"Your TQs attracted an amazing amount of interest" Crosley club representative Duane Gorrell told us. Our thanks go to the Crosley club for welcoming us into their display.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Payne to be Honored

Joe Payne Sr will be the guest of honor of the Vintage Club at the Oswego Classic weekend on Saturday, September 1st, 2012.

Joe's career in racing spans more than five decades as a winning car owner and builder in both the TQs and the Midgets, with drivers such as Joe Kidd, Johnny Coy Sr and Jr, Joey Coy, Kim Cesare, Dolf Battle and his sons Joey and Johnny Payne. The great Johnny Coy Sr won the final race of his career running the Payne family #67 at Wall Stadium.

"I've been surrounded by many special people through the years," stated Joe "TQ racing has
always been in my heart."

At Oswego the Vintage Club will be running a 15-lap slow-speed exhibition during intermission. Pit gates open at 11:00 AM, stands at 2:00 PM.

In the photo above, Joe Payne Sr is at the right with driver Joe Kidd in the car, circa 1971.