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.