Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Show Biz!

When the Tom Cruise movie Days of Thunder opened on June 27, 1990, Rich Tolerico’s Badger TQ was one of two race cars on display in the lobby of the Blue Star Cinema on Route 22 in Watchung, New Jersey. The other was Larry Brolsma’s stock car, which was far more appropriate for the film but since the theatre manager was a friend of the ATQMRA, a TQ got in the door too.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Before the movie began a drawing was held to give away tickets to an upcoming race at the Flemington Fairgrounds.  Pine Brook had closed the prior October, and Flemington would be gone in another 12 years.  Today the Blue Star Cinema isn't around, either.

Rich Tolerico remains active in TQ racing.

Days of Thunder, by the way, was a movie that got middling reviews at best but which was savaged by Chris Economaki, who gave it one-fifth of one star.  It is perhaps best remembered for this 18-second exchange between Robert Duvall, as the crew chief, and Cruise, as the driver.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ed's Derby

We can draw a line from the Vintage Club presentations at the 2013 ATQMRA banquet to that year's “Turkey Derby” at Wall Stadium.  At the banquet a new award was presented in the memory of Ed Enes, and it was Ed Enes who got the ATQMRA on the November schedule at Wall.

The Turkey Derby began as a big year-end special for the Modifieds that raced weekly at Wall each summer, along with the support divisions that also raced weekly.  So it was a bit of a coup when Ed, as president of the ATQMRA in the 1970s, struck a deal with Jennie Nicol to add the TQs to the program.

The ATQMRA has been a part of the Turkey Derby ever since.

In this photo taken by Jim Smith at a pre-Derby practice session in 2013, then-new ATQMRA President Buddy Sload leads the TQs onto the track.

We need your vintage photos!  Help us keep the “Vintage Photo of the Week” going by sending us your pictures and information.  Use this email link – thank you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vintage Words

What follows is the text of Bob Marlow's opening remarks at the 2013 combined banquet of the ATQMRA and the ATQMRA Vintage Club:

The yearbook has a vintage TV Guide vibe to it this year.  But television can’t compare to racing.

In February, 1973, now almost 41 years ago, I accepted an invitation to go to the Can-Am sanctioned TQ races at the Daytona Memorial Stadium in Florida.  That invitation was extended by Alan Mollot and Ed Enes, about whom you’ll be hearing more later.  Alan and Ed had a state-of-the-art tow rig with which to take Alan’s race car to Florida.... Ed’s two-door Pontiac and Alan’s single-axle open trailer.  There was a toolbox in the trunk of the Pontiac.  What more do you need?

Well, there was a fuel crisis at the time so there was at least one if not more 5-gallon cans of gasoline in the trunk, too.

We left from Ed’s house in the Bronx during a snowstorm.

Why did I go on that trip?  Why not – if I had stayed at home, with snow falling, what would I do, watch television?  The top five TV shows at the time were All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Hawaii Five-O, Maude, and Bridget Loves Bernie.  Yep, Bridget Loves Bernie was a top-rated show.

Well, the week we were in Florida there was also The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gunsmoke was still on the air, Ironside, Adam 12, or The Flip Wilson Show.  I could have watched Marcus Welby, M.D., The Waltons, The Carol Burnett Show, or even Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith.

What wasn’t on TV in those days was racing.  The first start-to-finish Daytona 500 on television didn’t happen until 1979, the Indy 500 was shown on an edited tape-delay basis, and aside from the occasional race segment on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, there was virtually no racing on television.

The Partridge Family or Barnaby Jones weren’t going to keep me home when there was a race to go to, just slightly more than 1,000 miles from my home.  Alan, Ed and myself had a very memorable trip.  We wouldn’t remember a thing about any of those TV shows had we watched them.

Racing creates memories.  The Vintage Club is all about keeping those memories alive.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Every year we attend the annual Antique Automobile Club of America's Eastern Division Fall Meet, better known to old car enthusiasts simply as "Hershey."  We go every year, and every year we are saddened by the sight of the beautiful Hershey Stadium.  It's still a beautiful arena but today it no longer has the race track on which the ARDC midgets raced in the late 1960s and on which the ATQMRA raced in the early 1980s.

Today only the straightaways of the track remain, turns one and two having been eliminated in favor of a right-angle walkway, and turns three and four occupied by a large stage for concert performances.

The AACA uses the stadium for the race car demonstration runs that accompany the big gathering of the old-car faithful, but the cars can only tiptoe around the walkway and the stage.

In this photo from the ATQMRA races at Hershey now some 30 years ago, a remarkable seven cars are crammed into a small portion of the otherwise spacious Hershey track.  Click the photo for a larger view, and count cars.  There are eight if you include the tiny tiny piece of one just entering the frame from the right.

Ron Smith is the owner-driver about to test the roll cage on his #48, with two cars trying to occupy the same space beneath his car.  Ron's good friend Bern Bradley is exiting the scene in his own #32.  You guess is as good as mine as to who any of the others are.

Lest you think that no one showed up to watch these races, this photo was taken in turn two, and the seating area along the backstretch was not used for these races -- the fans sat on the frontstretch.  With 15,641 permanent seats in the stadium there was no need to open the bleachers along the backstretch.

Hershey Stadium (now officially called Hersheypark Stadium) is a great stadium that once held a great race track.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bulldog Racer

Here’s Leigh Earnshaw, Jr., in Rex Green’s “Mack Special” in Atlantic City’s Convention Hall in 1969.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Earnshaw never made much of a splash in his limited appearances with the ATQMRA, but he most certainly made up for it when racing the ARDC midgets:  He became a four-time ARDC champion, winning the series title in 1973-74-75 and once more in 1980.  Earnshaw remains a highly respected member of the racing community today, some 30+ years after his retirement from competition.

Rex Green was known to everyone as “Doc,” because he was a physician and the company doctor at Mack Truck in Allentown, Pennsylvania – hence the “Mack Special” on his Crosley-powered car.  He was also one of the nicest gentlemen in racing, one of the guys who makes us miss "the good old days."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Antiques? No, Ahead of their Time

A substantial portion of the ATQMRA’s history is associated with the Crosley automobile engine, which was the dominant engine from the club’s founding and which remained in competition into the 1980s.  This, despite the Crosley automobile having last been produced in 1952.  Today the Crosleys are back on the track with the Vintage Club.

The Crosley was a tiny car, built in Indiana, and it sold in relatively small numbers.  Introduced in 1939, Crosley cars built before World War II were powered by two-cylinder Waukesha engines.  When Crosley automobile production resumed following the war, the Waukesha engines were gone, replaced by a remarkable overhead-cam inline four cylinder engine known as the CoBra.

“CoBra” was a contraction of “Copper Brazed,” because the engine block was fabricated from sheet metal!  The engine was developed during the war for military purposes, and served those purposes well, so Crosley adopted it for the cars beginning in 1946.  The block and cylinder head assembly weighed less than 15 pounds, and complete with all accessories (including the flywheel) the engines weighed only 133 pounds.  Displacement was 44 cubic inches (724 cc) and in original form the engines produced 26 hp at 5,200 rpm.  At the time this was the greatest horsepower output per pound of any engine.

In the military applications engine life was monitored by hours and careful maintenance schedules kept the sheet metal engines performing as designed.  But the postwar application in civilian automobiles led to corrosion problems for the engines, which damaged the reputation of Crosley cars.  For the 1949 model year, the engine was redesigned to incorporate a cast iron block assembly, nicknamed CIBA.

The Crosley CIBA Engine

Even with the change to a more traditional cast iron block assembly, the Crosley engine remained powerful for its weight, and soon became a popular choice in 750-cc class sports-car racing even before being adapted to TQ midgets.  Once the ATQMRA was founded, the cast-iron Crosley dominated the competition for 30 years.

If you’ve been following the timeline, your realize that this domination was accomplished by an engine that was in production only for the years 1949 through 1952, in a niche automobile that never sold in large numbers.  The engine’s longevity in racing is a testament to its remarkable design.

So, too, is the engine’s production life after Crosley automobiles were discontinued in 1952.  According to the experts in the Crosley Automobile Club, the rights to the engine changed hands a number of times, with Aerojet-General Tire, Fageol, Crofton, Homelite, and Fisher Pierce all owning the rights to the engine at one some point.  Each produced their own versions of the engine for a variety of uses, such as both inboard and outboard boat engines, refrigeration unit power sources, and for landscaping equipment.  Fisher Pierce, which marketed the engine as the Bearcat 55, discontinued it in 1972, some 20 years after the last Crosley car was built.

While there exist no specific records as to the last Crosley victory in an ATQMRA race, we can recall that the first ATQMRA race with no Crosleys in the field took place at the Freeport Stadium in the 1980s.  The Crosley had been displaced by the high-pitched two-cycle snowmobile engines that themselves dominated ATQMRA racing for 20 years.  The 2-strokes, smaller and lighter than the Crosley, were themselves displaced by the 750-cc motorcycle engines in use today.

1949 Crosley Wagon

1951 Crosley Hotshot

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Memorable Night

In this Dave Innes photo at Pine Brook on July 24, 1970, Phil Davoulas and the Bob Pouleson #7o7 are upside down against the backstretch fence at the far left as Bing Metz (33), Doug Craig (55), Frank Holz (41), and Joe Lacy (18) pass the accident scene.  Paul Weisel is facing the wrong way in Don Crabtree's #71, which had served at the launching pad for Davoulas.  Here’s the story, as told by Paul.  It’s a long story, but it captures the time perfectly.

Bob Wilkey and Larry Rice were graduates of the ATQMRA ranks, both moving on to the United Racing Club sprint cars by the late 1960s. With sprint car experience on their resumes, both also took occasional ARDC midget rides whenever their schedules permitted. Since I spent three seasons stooging for Bob Wilkey’s brother, Tom, on the ATQMRA tour, I was well acquainted with Bob Wilkey, his wife Mary, and their two children. Bob drove Dr. Rex Green’s #31 TQ and I got my first ATQMRA ride in Convention Hall in January of 1969 with Verona, NJ’s Willard McCumsey. Willie apparently bought Doc Green’s first TQ after a party following an Atlantic City indoor event in 1968, although neither Doc nor Willie could recall the details of the transaction. Those of you who attended those parties can understand how the details of minor events, i.e. the sale of a race car, could have been lost in the moment. When morning dawned Willie owned a race car and Doc was pleased his old car found a good home. With help from Karl Kindberg and John Fick, Willie’s #34 was ready for the first indoor race of the 1969 campaign and I was in the seat.

Larry Rice hailed from Little Falls, New Jersey, wore glasses, sported a crew cut, and was married with two children. My only personal experience with Larry came after Bob Wilkey won the July 27, 1968 Saturday afternoon URC event at the Delaware State Fair at Harrington driving for John Wergland. Everyone was heading to Reading for USAC sprint cars on Saturday night and there was no time to spare to make the start of the USAC program. Wergland led the procession towing his sprint car, Wilkey followed in the family sedan, and I brought up the rear in my Chevy. Larry decided he wanted to go along and since all the other vehicles were full, he hopped into the shotgun seat with me. Wergland took off, flying low, with Bob on his bumper. It was all I could do to keep up. Larry’s chatty disposition turned suddenly quiet as we began careening around the corners on US 13, heading north to Pennsylvania. Larry moved toward the passenger door and took a firm grip on the arm rest. He thanked me for the ride when we got to Reading, just as the sprinters were being pushed onto the track for warm-ups. He was never in need of another ride after that!

By 1968 roll cages were accepted on sprint cars running as supermodifieds all across the nation, including the iconic tracks comprising the central PA circuit. However, real sprint cars had roll bars, as did midgets and TQs. It was necessary to be 21 years of age to drive roll bar equipped open wheel race cars, regardless of their size. That’s exactly why I raced stock cars from 1966 to 1968, but I spent every free moment stooging for Tom Wilkey or just hanging around the open wheel pit areas. Open wheel clubs featured owners and drivers with very few men driving their own equipment. Sons of car owners carried on the family tradition and became car owners in their own right. At the end of the night, car owners paid their drivers. A core of veteran drivers served as the backbone of most open wheel clubs and they were quite content with the arrangement. Even after veteran Bert Brooks’ death in an ARDC event at Hershey on September 2, 1968, the ARDC membership voted against the use of roll cages for 1969.

On Thursday night, May 29, 1969, Bob Wilkey had a free night on his schedule and accepted a ride in Leigh Earnshaw, Sr.’s #51 Kurtis-Kraft Offy for the ARDC race at Reading. He was a racer on the rise and being offered the seat in a first-rate Offy midget was one of the perks of his career success to date. Bob started the main event outside the front row and drove hard into turn one, where he hooked a rut and barrel rolled the East End Garage Offy atop the outer concrete wall. Bob suffered a severe cerebral concussion and died of his injuries on June 3rd. From a somber waiting area in the Reading Hospital emergency room, I will always remember seeing a nurse cross the corridor with one of Bob’s boots in each hand. While Bob clung to life in Reading, I was off to run Willie’s TQ at Pine Brook the next night. I wasn’t alone, everyone else was there as well.

On June 15th, ARDC president, Ken Brenn, called for another vote on cages and the membership made cages optional for the remainder of the 1969 season. On July 3rd, during the running of the Bob Wilkey Memorial at Reading, Don Kreitz, Sr., driving a midget equipped with a cage, virtually duplicated the Wilkey crash in turn one and escaped with only a broken arm. Roll cages became mandatory in ARDC in 1970.

Larry Rice was between sprint car rides in 1969 when ARDC owner George Germond called him to drive his Offy midget at Islip, New York, on August 16th. Rice jumped at the offer. On the second lap of the scheduled 35-lap main event he tangled with Dutch Schaefer in Mike Sheehan’s Offy. In the melee, Schaefer’s car apparently struck Rice, rendering him unconscious before he crashed heavily into the outer guard rail. Rice was fatally injured, assistant starter, Dave Dannenberg, was struck and received a broken leg, and Schaefer was hospitalized in critical condition with a broken shoulder and pelvis.

So... kind of a long background to get to the Bob Wilkey / Larry Rice Memorial at Pine Brook in 1970. Although roll cages were mandatory in ARDC for 1970, they were not yet required in ATQMRA in 1970. No one seemed to mind as car counts were strong. Forty plus cars jammed the pits each Friday night at Pine Brook to battle for the sixteen starting spots in the feature. Cars were handicapped into four heats. Heat race qualifiers transferred to two semi-features with qualifiers from the semis going directly to the ‘A’ and non-qualifiers handicapped to the front of the ‘B’ Main. Non-qualifiers from the heats ran a consolation event with the qualifiers tagging the rear of the ‘B’ Main field. Qualifiers from the ‘B’ were added to the back of the ‘A’. It was no small trick to make the ‘A’ Main at Pine Brook in a field peppered with ARDC and URC veterans, plus the best from the Long Island and northern New Jersey stock car ranks.

The 1969 season was enough to retire Willie McCumsey from the owner ranks, but he will always be special in my book as my first open cockpit owner. I bought Ronnie Denman’s Crosley to run indoors in January and February of 1970, but I was always available to drive for someone else, especially someone else with a better race car. That someone in 1970 was Don Crabtree, a radiator shop entrepreneur from Caldwell, NJ. Don’s orange #71 wasn’t going to win any beauty contests, but his car’s Crosley engine was strong. On Friday, July 24th, we qualified in the heat, qualified in the semi, and started outside Bing Metz in the 35-lap ‘A’ Main honoring two guys I liked and respected.

Bing grabbed the lead at the green, but I was able to slip into second. A few laps into the event, Phil Davoulas in the Bob Pouleson Crosley powered roadster #7o7 motored around the outside of the #71 to take second. Veteran Jimmy Maguire had recently vacated Pouleson’s top-shelf ride to concentrate on the ARDC midget schedule for 1970. The roadster provided Jimmy with an opportunity to make an open wheel comeback from the loss of his right arm in a USAC sprint car crash at New Bremen, Ohio, on May 3, 1964. Jimmy regained his pre-injury form and became a contender in ARDC midgets for more than a decade.

As the event unfolded Doug Craig, Frank Holz, and Joe Lacy filed past on the outside, but we clicked off a lot of laps and when Nick Fornoro wiggled five fingers from the starter’s stand to signify five laps to go, we were solidly in sixth place. No one had gone by in quite a few laps and, aside from a few shots in the back bumper from the troops behind, things were looking pretty good. What I didn’t notice was, the guys who passed me earlier were now out of sight. What I couldn’t see was, I had eight cars, four rows two abreast, directly behind me and the leaders were now beginning to lap the tail enders. Pete Sindone, driving his own #40, had spent thirty laps trapped behind the #71, stuck in the lower groove I wasn’t giving up. With five to go, he ran out of patience, drove his bumper into my left rear, and spun the #71 exiting turn two.

I allowed the car to spin 180 degrees before I pulled the brake handle to prevent it from landing sideways in front of traffic. I knew there was a lot of traffic behind or I would have let the car spin to the infield, involving Sindone in his own mess. However, there were too many cars coming for that and Crabtree’s race car would have paid the price, so I decided to return the favor in an event to be determined. Who knows, maybe he had help? Things were going well until Sindone squirted to the inside and whoever was on the outside groove moved around on the high side. The second row also split me and the third row would apparently do the same, but there was a problem with the fourth row.

Phil Davoulas was leading the event and had moved between the final pair of cars in an effort to work his way through lapped traffic. Phil first noticed me when the third row split, but by then it was too late for him to miss the #71. When I saw Davoulas coming, I knew it was time to abandon the hand brake on the left side of the car. While lap belts were mandated, drivers of roll bar race cars never used shoulder harnesses because in a roll over you didn’t want to be held upright. With shoulder harnesses, YOU became the roll bar... not good! The idea was to bend in whatever direction was required and let the roll bar take the impact. We did, however, use Sam Brown belts which came around your waist and over your right shoulder and clipped into a steel chain or ring attached to the roll bar on the left side of the car. This setup was very effective for holding you in the car through left hand turns, but with Davoulas’ roadster bearing down, I needed to move RIGHT, something the Sam Brown belt would not permit.

By the time the #7o7 caromed over the front end of Crabtree’s #71, I had pulled my left hand into my chest and taken my right hand off the steering wheel. I’m told people under great stress see their life flash before their eyes – I saw Bob Pouleson’s roadster flash before me at eye level. Well, I saw at least half of Pouleson’s car before I turned my head to the right. I felt the #71 take slight contact before the #7o7 peeled off to the right in mid-flight like a WWII Corsair.

When all became quiet, Phil and the roadster were upside down against the outside fence, halfway down the Pine Brook backstretch. The left front tire on Crabtree’s car was flat and the hood was scuffed up a bit, but all my pieces were attached and working. As I took my goggles down and moved to the left to unhook my Sam Brown, I noticed a nasty tire mark about shoulder level on the left side of the roll bar on the #71. WOW! Six more inches toward the cockpit and Maguire and I could have been bookends! Twelve inches more toward the cockpit and, well, history would have been changed – for a lot of people!

Emergency crews were attending to Phil by the time Don Crabtree and his crew arrived. I exited the car, showed Don the tire mark on the roll bar, and helped them push the car to the pits. As we exited the track in turn two, Don asked me, “Are you all right?” Why do people ask race drivers if they’re “all right?” Good grief, we weren’t “all right” before we got into the car! I told Don that I was fine. That’s when he mentioned the tire mark on the left side of my helmet. When we got to the pits, I took off my helmet (open face – the only style available), admired Phil’s work, and put it in my helmet bag. Don wasn’t upset about the car, hell, we were running sixth in the main event, so we decided to run Pine Brook again the following Friday night. We continued together for the rest of the 1970 Pine Brook events.

I’m not sure Phil and I ever discussed the incident. We got along fine. It was unfortunate that Phil’s shot at winning the main event was lost, but he was aware I didn’t lose control of the #71, I was punted. He was uninjured. I was uninjured. Neither of the cars was seriously damaged. All in all, great fun!  After all these years, I have only one question about the incident. Phil, perhaps you can clarify? Did you hit me in the helmet with the left front or the left rear? In any case, nice piece of driving... or flying... or whatever combination of the two it was!

Note: If Paul’s face appears rather expressionless in the photo (click the photo for an enlarged view), it’s because he is wearing an unusual one-piece face shield that gave him the appearance of a robot or The Invisible Man.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On the Gas!

In this photo, Hank Rogers, Jr., leads drew Fornoro in Vintage Club races at Pennsylvania's Evergreen Speedway in 2013.  Yes, these vintage cars are raced.

Rogers went on to win this race and as you can see he is leaning on the car, it’s in a slight drift and he’s got just a little opposite lock dialed in.  Fornoro is hard after him, lifting the inside front just as Tony Romit did all those years ago.  (You don't think guys like Hank and Drew are just going to cruise around, do you?)

This particular race was for the four-cycle cars, and both of these machines are powered by Crosley engines.  A separate race for the two-strokes was captured by Tom Arntz, Jr.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Viva Libre!

This photo from 1959 depicts one of the most famous races ever run, a race which many call the best race ever run.  Why is it here?  We’ll tell you after we tell you the story of the race.

In July of 1959 the Lime Rock Park road course in Connecticut staged what was termed a “Formula Libre” race, what is more colloquially referred to as “Run Whatcha Brung.”  A handsome purse was posted, and the event drew Ferraris, Maseratis, Corvettes, and Aston Martins, and included cars that had run and won in Formula One races.

Also there was the Kurtis-Kraft Midget shown in this photo.

The entry list contained a Who’s Who of drivers of the day, George Constantine, Pedro Rodriguez, John Fitch, Lance Reventlow and Chuck Daigh among them. 

And that year’s Indy 500 winner Rodger Ward, driving the Midget.

The day’s activities consisted of two 20-lap heats and a 60-lap main event.  Ward trailed in the first heat, but with a few changes to the car he managed to win the second heat by a comfortable margin.  Then the fun began.

In the 60-lapper – more than 90 miles on the twisty Lime Rock circuit – Ward kept himself in a position to win while the fuel load burned off, then, with 15 laps remaining, he turned up the wick.  He passed Daigh for the lead and won overall, thrilling the crowd and creating a racing story that quickly swept across the nation and the globe.

But why is this here?

Because active with the Vintage Club these days is Ken Brenn, the gentleman who owned the car driven by Ward on that historic day nearly 60 years ago.

Ken Brenn has a long list of accomplishments in racing, but one of his lesser-known contributions is that he is the contractor who paved Pine Brook Stadium in 1962.  Today Ken Brenn is a great supporter of vintage racing, from TQs to Indy Cars.  He is the man who, with Rodger Ward and a then-11-year-old car, did something in 1959 that today would be called “mind-blowing.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vintage Jim

In this photo from 1972, Jim Barclay in #93 hikes the left front while looking for room down low to stay ahead of Tony Romit, coming on strong in the upper groove at New Egypt.  Barclay was a consistent top runner, but at that time almost no one was a match for the combination of Romit and the Wehrle #02.

Today, both Romit and the Wehrles are gone but in 2013 Jim Barclay was very much with us and a supporter of the Vintage Club.  That’s him in the photo below, at Ken Brenn’s Warren Car Show in September of that year.

And car #93 is a part of the Vintage Club, too.  Having gone through at least two owners since Barclay sold it in the 1970s, in 2012 the car was reunited with the Barclay family.  Since the Wehrle #02 is also a part of the Vintage Club, today is is possible to see a re-enactment of the 1972 matchup on the track.

(As always, click either photo for an enlarged view.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Under the Lights

A neat photo taken by Ed Smizer at a Vintage Club event at Oswego Speedway in 2013.  Those of us who have been around racing for decades understand the appeal of race cars under the lights as the sun sets and daylight fades...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Classic at the Classic

It's "Classic Weekend" at Oswego Speedway this Friday-Saturday-Sunday [Posted 8/27/2013], and the Vintage Club will be there for exhibition laps on Saturday, August 31, along with the modern ATQMRA's big show and feature races for the Small Block Supers and the ISMA Supers.

Here's a photo taken by James Briery during last year's event.  (As always, you can click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lookin' Good, 50 Years Later

Two weeks ago we posted a 1963 victory lane photo from Pine Brook, showing a satisfied-looking Sal Gamby.  50 years later, Sal still looks good!

By the way, we noted in that earlier post that when racing Sal spelled his name phonetically, “Gamby” or “Gambe" or "Gambi.”  But this was a nom de guerre.  “My real name is Salvatore Gambelunghi," Sal told us.  "You can see why I shortened it – by the time the announcer would say it the race would be over!"

But what became of Sal’s race car, as seen in this photo also taken at Pine Brook in 1963?

Sal sold the car to Curtis Reid, shown below in the car in Atlantic City’s Convention Hall (now Boardwalk Hall) circa 1970.  We see that the roll bar has gained elevation, and the car has a sidedraft carburetor instead of the downdraft.  Curtis had some good runs in the car.

Curtis Reid later sold it, but today he no longer remembers to whom he sold it.  Do you know where it is?

PS:  Want to see your photos here on  Just send them to us, like Sal did!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TQ Racing at Hinchliffe?

Yes, for a short while there was a possibility.

It was back when Lawrence "Pat" Kramer was mayor of Paterson.  A meeting between ATQMRA representatives and the mayor took place in the mayor's office on October 10, 1979.  In attendance were Bruce Jones, at the time the ATQMRA President, plus Dick Marlow, the builder of Pine Brook Stadium, and Bob Marlow, at the time the ATQMRA's announcer and publicist.  And, of course, the mayor himself.  It was a meeting to explore the possibility of re-introducing racing to Hinchliffe Stadium.

The mayor was in favor of the plan.

There were plenty of issues to be resolved -- lighting, parking, adequate pit space and more -- but one issue proved to be the downfall of the plan.  At the time the stadium was still being used for high school football, and a requirement was that any race track not interfere with the playing field.

An inspection of the stadium by the ATQMRA representatives made it clear that there was simply no way to install a modern paved race track of sufficient width and still leave the football field undisturbed.

The plan was shelved.  But for a few days that October, it seemed tantalizingly close.

The notion of racing at Hinchliffe persists, but today it persists in the form of a vintage racing expo, which takes place each September.  Keith Majka, Sr., is the driving force behind this event.

Monday, August 12, 2013

31 Plus 30 Equals 30

In the photo is Tom Arntz, driving his restored TQ, one of the “Used Cars” campaigned by the late Jerry Morese 30 years ago.

The photo was taken in the summer of 2013 at Borger’s Speedway.

Jerry Morese, by the way, did not approve of our referring to his TQs as “Used Cars,” even though he had the name of his business, Jerry Morese Used Cars, lettered prominently on each of them.

This car was originally numbered 31, but Tom re-numbered it 30 in tribute to the cars his father raced with the ATQMRA.

Trivia:  Long before Jerry Morese raced with the ATQMRA, he raced a stock car at Wall Stadium, where he won... in 1950!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Everybody Loves a Winner

Enjoying victory lane at Pine Brook 50 years ago is “Sal Gamby,” the name as it appeared on the entry lists and in the results charts. But the name was a phonetic spelling so that people would pronounce it correctly, and sometimes it appeared as "Gambe" or "Gambi." This driver’s real name is Sal Gambelunghi, and 50 years later he has sent this photo to us. (As always, click the photo for an enlarged view.)

In 1963 Sal was a feature race winner at Pine Brook twice, claiming victory in the first race of the year on May 17, and then repeating on June 21.  In the first race, finishing second to Gamby was another young driver by the name of Mario Andretti.  Andretti would go on to win his first and only Pine Brook race on July 5 of 1963.

Gamby had been the ATQMRA’s “Rookie of the Year” in 1962 and his two 1963 wins proved that his strong rookie performance was no fluke.

Over at we have posted another photo of Gamby and his winning car.  (You should send us your photos, too!)  Sal, what became of that car?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Round the Square

The Flemington Fairgrounds is just a memory today, but at the beginning of the 1972 season the ATQMRA participated in a Sunday afternoon program, one of the very few times that the TQs raced on the square. We can recall just two such events on the track during its long tenure as a dirt surface. (The track was paved for the 1991 season.)

In this photo, Doug Craig’s #55 is the most recognizable, coming up on the outside.  But the other identities are (correct us if we’re wrong by sending an email to us here): Mel Mondschein in the #9, leading this pack by a slim margin over Jim Adams in the #88; an unidentified car obscured behind Mondschein; possibly Drew Fornoro in the Karl Kindberg #10, and Bill Force in his #23 during the period that it sported the “Johnny Lightning” paint scheme.

Click the photo for an enlarged view.

This is not the lead pack.  Visible in front of Adams is some dust, kicked up by at least one car ahead of this group.

Sadly, today the site of the Flemington Fairgrounds has something in common with the site of the Pine Brook Stadium:  There is a big-box home supply chain store on the property.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Turning Point

Here’s Mike Calla, having just pulled off the track at Pine Brook in May, 1969.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)  And we are going to draw a line from this moment over 40 years ago to this weekend’s Vintage TQ event at the Mahoning Valley Speedway.  [Posted 7/11/2013]

You’ll note in the background two other cars, Pete Falk’s #44 and Vinnie Bing’s #66, neither of which has a roll cage.  That’s because in 1969 Mike Calla’s car was the first and only car with a roll cage.

The cage was a bolt-on affair, removable such that a conventional roll bar would remain.  And at first, there being no mention of roll cages in the ATQMRA rule book, officials directed Calla and his racing partner Bruce Jones to remove the cage.

But 1969 was a sad and controversial year for Eastern racing.  In the ARDC Midgets, Bob Wilkey lost his life as a result of injuries suffered at the Reading Fairgrounds, and Larry Rice was killed in a crash at Islip.  Both men had raced with the ATQMRA, and both fatalities spurred a change in ARDC’s policy which until that point expressly prohibited roll cages.  Cages became an option in ARDC.

In the ATQMRA, Calla and Jones routinely arrived at the track with the cage on their car, and removed it only when told to do so.  Then, at the opening race of the 1970 season, ATQMRA champion Doug Craig arrived with a cage on his championship-winning car.  That was the end of the debate.  Neither he nor Calla nor anyone else was ever asked to remove a cage, and not long thereafter roll cages were made mandatory.

Today it is sometimes hard to believe that the use of an obvious safety device such as a roll cage was ever questioned, but there existed a fundamental objection to them that was perhaps best expressed at the time by veteran driver Jack Duffy: “If you put cages on the cars,” Duffy said at the time, “anybody will drive them.”

What Duffy’s words meant was not that you had to be courageous and crazy to drive a race car, but rather, that you had to have respect for the dangers racing presented.

But what does all this have to do with this weekend’s Vintage Division event at Mahoning Valley Speedway?  Well, we mentioned that Mike Calla’s partner in his racing venture was Bruce Jones – note the “C & J Special” lettered on the car.  Jones continued to race with the ATQMRA long after Mike Calla stepped out of the cockpit, and Jones drove for many years for car owner Tom Williams.  And Tom Williams will be the Guest of Honor at this weekend’s program.

Tom Williams’ cars, always numbered 9 or 9W, were entered under the “Williams Brothers” name, but despite his brothers’ involvement with the team there was no question that Tom – known to everyone in the pits as Tommy – was the team leader.  The team’s mascot was the cartoon character Speedy Gonzales, and the cars were always immaculately-prepared machines.  At the turn of this century, Tommy Williams became the championship-winning car owner in the ATQMRA.

This Saturday’s event at Mahoning Valley Speedway is another combined program with the modern ATQMRA.  Here’s hoping that things go better than they did last year, when a late-day thunderstorm knocked out the power to the community and curtailed the on-track activities.

And here’s a tip of the hat to Tom Williams, one of the finest gentlemen in racing.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Racing History for the 4th of July

Pine Brook Stadium, which opened in 1962 and closed in 1989, was not only the home track for the ATQMRA during that time, but it was also the only speedway operating in northern New Jersey.  And while it was the last speedway to operate in northern New Jersey, it was certainly not the first.  For the Independence Day holiday, here's the story of the track that infused Pine Brook builder Dick Marlow with a love of racing, a track which ran its last race exactly 75 years ago.

Written by Jim Wright, and published in The Record of Bergen County on July 3, 2013

Seventy-five years ago this summer, at a bygone place called the Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway, a horrific crash ended an era in North Jersey.

In the final race on Fourth of July 1938, drivers Henry Guerand and Vince Brehm locked wheels, sending Brehm’s vehicle through a guardrail.

The crash killed a 10-year-old Ridgewood boy and a 30-year-old man from Hawthorne, whose leg was amputated with a pocket knife on the scene. Seventeen others were injured.

The accident left such an indelible mark that the speedway closed immediately and forever. After World War II, the 23-acre property was sold to make way for houses.

Few reminders of the once-famous speedway remain: Race Track Road (with those giant green exit signs off Route 17), the enlarged old photos in the Krauszer’s Food Store in downtown Ho-Ho-Kus, and a race-day poster at the nearby Ho-Ho-Kus Inn.

Ho-Ho-Kus residents Kevin and Nancy Pianfetti want to start changing all that. Their house sits on the site of the speedway’s grandstand, and with the borough’s help, they want to erect a historical marker about the speedway.

"Some amazing history happened there, and it needs to be acknowledged," said Kevin Pianfetti.

Unlike modern asphalt racing tracks, built for 800-horsepower machines, the Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway was a half-mile dirt oval originally designed for one-horsepower thoroughbreds in the 1870s.

According to author Gary Ludwig, who wrote a recent biography of champion race driver Tommy Hinnershitz, safety was a major worry in the 1930s — even if precautions were often minimal. "The circumstances were that drivers were going out like crazy men on a half-mile dirt track," said Ludwig. "Someone was bound to get hurt, and a certain amount of people were going to get killed."

Ludwig says the auto races started out as driving exhibitions on the horse tracks at county fairs, and when promoters discovered there was money to be made, they turned the exhibitions into pedal-to-the-metal races.

"Drivers had to accept the fact that the equipment wasn’t the best, that you could get upside-down and lose your life," he added. "They didn’t have roll bars, they didn’t have seat belts. They wore those leather helmets that football players wore."

Drivers did not want to be strapped into their open-wheel race cars because they believed that if their car flipped, they were more likely to die if they stayed in the car than if they were thrown clear of it. "What really scared the guys in the ’30s was fire," said Ludwig. "Tommy [Hinnershitz] in particular feared burning to death because when a fire started, you couldn’t control it. No matter how fast the rescue guys got to you, you were gone."

Safety measures for fans at many of the tracks weren’t much better. The guardrails, after all, had been designed for horses – not race cars.

Even though the speedway was in a small town, it was immensely popular. Nearly 10,000 spectators were on hand for the races on that fateful July 4 — not bad for a town with a population of around 1,500.

The attraction of auto racing was the same then and now: thrills and spills. Earlier that same day, for example, a driver broke his right leg and suffered possible internal injuries after his car overturned.

"That’s why we went — in hopes of seeing accidents, but they were usually minor," says Allendale resident Stiles Thomas, who as a young teen in the 1930s took the train to Ho-Ho-Kus and walked a mile to the speedway.

"We could get into the race track free if we were accompanied by an adult, or we could climb trees on the peripheral part of the track," Thomas says. "All the trees at the track were filled with boys watching the races. One time I was sitting in a tree, and a tire from the raceway went flying over the fence and out into the street."

"When the winds were right, you could hear the race cars in Allendale [four miles away] and smell them, too, because they added castor oil to the gasoline," Thomas recalled.

For young men within earshot, the raceway offered a clarion call.  Pine Brook Stadium builder Dick Marlow grew up less than two miles from the track and with his older brother, Alfred, would be among the teenagers climbing the trees around the track.

In addition to racer Bob Sall of Ridgewood, a top draw at the speedway was Ted Horn, a California driver who relocated to Gasoline Alley in Paterson in the 1930s when the East Coast became the hotbed of auto racing.

Ted Horn at Ho-Ho-Kus recounts an example of Horn’s charisma: "Before the race at Ho-Ho-Kus, he walked the track, studying every inch. Handsome, disciplined, well-dressed, and mostly, fast, Ted was an instant crowd favorite ... Horn won the first heat and the 30-lap feature, almost lapping the field. It was a new track record."

Horn came to embody that high-risk chapter in American open-wheel racing. The three-time national driving champion crashed in his very first race at age 16 in 1926, and died behind the wheel of a race car in Illinois 22 years later. Horn is buried in Paterson’s Cedar Lawn Cemetery — 10 miles south of the old Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway.

The racetrack also launched the career of one of the most-celebrated names in auto racing, Chris Economaki. As a young teenager in Ridgewood, he, too, heard the roar of the race cars at the speedway on Sunday afternoons.

"I’d go over there and look through the holes in the fence or sneak into the pits," Economaki later recalled. "I became intrigued. I got thrown out of the pits so often that, for my 13th birthday, my mother bought me a ticket, and I saw my first race from the stands."

Soon after, the young Economaki became a jack of all trades — selling a new auto-racing publication at the speedway, taking photos of the cars and drivers with a new little Kodak camera, and even writing for the weekly paper, called National Speed Sport News. He eventually became publisher of the highly successful newspaper.

With the rise of television, Economaki became the nation’s leading commentator on auto racing. He appeared regularly on "ABC Wide World of Sports," and covered racing from the ATQMRA to the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. He even earned the unofficial title "Dean of American Motorsports."

Economaki died last September, at the age of 91. He is buried in Ridgewood’s Valleau Cemetery, a short walk from Race Track Road.

Economaki’s daughter, Tina Riedl of Paramus, said he always talked fondly of the raceway. "My father said one promoter would reserve a room at St. Joe’s or Paterson General — whatever the closest hospital was — and God forbid anybody got hurt, he’d have to pay for the room," said Riedl. "So he’d have the crew say to the driver, ‘You want to go to the hospital, or do you want to have a drink?’ If they settled for a drink, he’d take them to Patty Burke’s [located near the racetrack]."

Economaki himself steered clear of race-car driving. He once told a reporter he had raced a car only one time, in 1939: "I did worse than poorly. Finish? I felt lucky to be alive after the race."

Dick Marlow, too, did not compete, and never had an urge to try.

Jim Wright writes on a variety of local subjects. His latest ghost story, "Phantoms of the Ramapos," set in 1938, takes place at the Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway (among other locales). It is available as a free iBook download for iPads.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When? Where?

When and where was this ATQMRA photo taken?

It’s a trick question.  The photo was taken on Saturday, June 22, 2013, at Bethel Motor Speedway during the combined ATQMRA and Vintage TQ program at the fun and family-priced little track.  But it sure looks like a photo from decades ago, doesn’t it?

The Vintage TQs turned out a solid field of 18 preserved and restored TQs.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gettin' Ready!

Stan Ploski may be retired from active competition but he looks fit and ready to race as he slides in to the former Kindberg 10x at Evergreen Speedway last month... before the rain washed out the day’s planned activities.

So what was to be the Vintage TQ Club’s 2013 season opener with “Stan the Man” participating will now become a season wrap-up in October, and this Saturday’s double-header with the modern ATQMRA at Bethel Motor Speedway will be the Vintage TQ Club’s kickoff for the year.

It will be “Jack Duffy Night” as we honor the man who won the only race run in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, who raced the last classic coupe-bodied Modified at Daytona, and who today, in his 80s, still races!

It should be a great evening at Bethel, a track ideally suited to both the modern TQs and the vintage cars.  The track, located in White Lake, New York, is billing the program as a TQ Spectacular, but there will be much more on the program than just  TQs – the track’s regular Sportsman, Legends, Bandolero, BMS Modified, and 4-Cylinder classes will be on the bill as well.  For $6 spectator admission – six bucks! – it is probably the best bargain in racing today.

More information, including directions to the track, can be found on the track’s web site, .

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Common Link

Four guys with the ATQMRA in common.  This photo, taken at the Pocono Raceway when the IndyCars were there for a test session earlier this year, includes (left to right) Mario Andretti, Ace Lane Jr., Jim Maguire, and Gary Mondschein.  All four of these men raced with the ATQMRA.

Younger viewers might think of Ace Lane Jr. only as a racing photographer, but he raced with the ATQMRA at Pine Brook, Atlantic City, Grandview (yes, Grandview) and elsewhere.

Gary Mondschein raced with the ATQMRA in the Pine Brook days and extensively with ARDC as well.

Jim Maguire won in TQs, Midgets, and Sprint Cars, and today is an active supporter of the vintage racing.

Mario Andretti also won in TQs, Midgets, and Sprint Cars, along with the 1967 Daytona 500, the 1969 Indy 500, and the 1978 Formula One World Championship.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Not a TQ, 2

In early April we posted a vintage photo of Jerry Wall’s rear-engine “Yellowjacket” Chevy V4 midget, even though it is not a TQ. We posted it because Jerry Wall had been an active and successful ATQMRA competitor. (We also posted it because we flat-out loved the car.)

We now have another reason: The car has been acquired by George and Marilyn VanVarick and Dimension Design, where it now resides awaiting restoration in the midst of several Vintage Division cars. We cannot wait to see this car's return to the track!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mom and Mario

In the 1980s, long before he won a CART IndyCar race, long before he won a NASCAR Cup race, John Andretti was racing a stock car at Dorney Park, and one night, his uncle Mario showed up to watch.

It was a night that the ATQMRA was on the card as well, so it was a reunion of sorts – Mario Andretti won his first race of any significance with the ATQMRA in the Teaneck Armory, and went on to win at Pine Brook before climbing the racing ladder to the very top -- Daytona 500 winner, Indy 500 winner, Formula One World Champion.

In this snapshot from Dorney Park that day, Mario poses with driver Mark Pritchard’s mother, along with Pritchard (right) and Tim Adams (rear).

John Andretti’s father is Aldo Andretti, Mario Andretti’s twin brother.  Aldo also raced with the ATQMRA before retiring from driving following injuries suffered in a sprint car crash in 1969.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


At Pine Brook in 1968 is this modestly-proportioned TQ with a somewhat generously-proportioned driver.

But there is no number on the car.

Who is it?  Do you recognize either the car or the driver?  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Such simpler times, by the way.  No roll cage.  No gloves.  No way that Bardahl jacket is fire-resistant.

8-inch diameter wheels.  And tires that probably lasted a full season, instead of a single race.

Anyway, if you can fill us in on the car and or the driver, contact us here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Smilin' Jack

In this photo from Pine Brook in the early 1970s, Jack Duffy enjoys a victory lap in the Zrinski #75, his regular ride and a combination that won plenty of races.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

In the background, Bill Force has pulled up to the pit gate in his #26, and Alan Purdy has stopped behind Force, in his #4.

That’s Hank Force, Bill’s father, leaning into the cockpit of the #26, and Ed Enes, at the time an ATQMRA officer, standing with his arms folded.

Why have we chosen the above photo for this week?  So many reasons, beginning with this new photo:

When this past Saturday’s scheduled 2013 opener for the Vintage TQ Club was rained out, instead of there being racing there was a social gathering at Gary Mondschein’s Dimension Design shop in Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania.  There, Jack Duffy, now some 40 years older but looking the same, took a seat in the very race car that was obscured by his checkered flag in the Pine Brook photo.

Duffy, who today resides in Florida, had traveled north for the occasion, and while he was disappointed to not get on the track with the Vintage Club, in the Purdy #4 he is smiling more than we recall him ever smiling after a race victory!

The restored #4 will be among the cars participating in the rescheduled season opener, now set for this Saturday, May 18.  So will the restored Force #26, with Bill Force himself on hand.

So we just had to use the old Pine Brook photo this week.  In that photo we see two of the cars and two of the drivers now participating with the Vintage Club.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Vintage!

Shown almost ready for its debut with the Vintage Club on May 11 is this car, originally owned by Jerry Morese and now belonging to Tom Arntz, Jr.

Tom has chosen to restore the car not in its original white and red livery and numbered 31, but in the blue and white scheme seen here with the number to be 30.  Think of it as a “continuation” car – Tom’s father drove the blue and white number 30 TQs fielded by George Spafford.

Tom has been racing in the Slingshot class in recent years, but is truly excited about being able to participate with the Vintage Club in just over a week’s time.  Tom’s enthusiasm includes the fact that he will be able to share the track with one of his racing heroes, Stan Ploski, who will be driving with the Vintage Club this year.  Ploski may be most closely associated with dirt track Modifieds, but he has plenty of Sprint car and Midget experience as well.

This car raced -- and won -- at Pine Brook and elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Open House!

This Sunday, April 28, the Eastern Auto Racing Historical Society is having its Spring Open House, one of two times per year that the racing public is invited to visit the EARHS showroom in Orefield, Pennsylvania.  [Posted 4/24/2013]

Among the many race cars on display are vintage ATQMRA cars like this red #25, a car which made its debut at Pine Brook in late 1967.  Also there is the former Fred Brink #54, which prior to Brink’s ownership was owned by Herb Sweeten.  On display also is the Sam Yoder/Jack Rabold #92, restored to its original configuration as a micro, #W2.

Quarter midgets, micros, TQs, midgets, sprints, big cars, stock cars, they are all part of what the EARHS showroom has on display, along with an incredible assortment of documents, photos, and memorabilia.

It is well worth the trip, and the organization deserves your support.  The hours for the open house are 10 AM through 5 PM this Sunday, April 28, 2013, and the showroom is located at 5080 Kernsville Road, Orefield, PA 18069.  To learn more, visit the EARHS web site.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oswego, via Kansas

James Briery is resident of Kansas and a devoted racing fan.  When work-related travel took him east last summer he seized the opportunity to visit Oswego Speedway on Classic weekend, where he shot this great photo of Bill Fischer piloting the restored Alan Purdy TQ roadster during the Vintage TQ Club’s on-track activities.

(Click the photo for an enlarged view)

Bill Fischer is more than a driver with the Vintage Club.  He is also the organization’s assistant event director under Tom Berry.

And James Briery is more than just a racing fan.  He is a supporter of vintage racing, and he has established a Facebook group for the Belleville High Banks Vintage Nationals in Belleville, Kansas.  If you’re a Facebook member, check out “Belleville High Banks Vintage,” which has a fabulously evocative cover photo.

James Briery’s own Facebook page has dozens of photos from the Oswego Classic weekend, including all divisions.  We’ll be posting more of them here as time goes on.

Thanks, James!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Not a TQ!

This is not a TQ, it’s a midget.  A “full midget” in the parlance used around the track.  We feature it here this week because the driver (who also happened to be the car’s owner... and designer... and builder) was one of the best in the TQs before turning his attention to the midgets.

He’s Jerry Wall, and the car is his distinctive and very successful “Yellowjacket” Chevy V4 midget, not the first rear-engine midget but certainly the first successful one.  Jerry won a lot of races with this car.

During his racing career Jerry lived and worked in Little Falls, NJ, close to Pine Brook and Teaneck and other busy TQ racing venues at the time.  He was a TQ winner in conventional upright cars, roadsters, and even rear-engine TQs.

We confess: We loved the look of this car.   Still do.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Vintage Friends

Through the cold-weather months, old racers and friends have been meeting for lunch periodically. The most recent of the lunches included this band of scoundrels and reprobates (Click the photo for a larger view):

From left-to-right they are:  Mike Trimble, Greg Klar (partially hidden, how does the tallest guy there get obscured in the photo?) Mike Osite, Robert Noll (smile, Robert!), Jim Maguire, Bill Force Sr., Gary Mondschein, Drew Fornoro (wearing a shirt which describes him), Ben Trimble, Art Lawshe Sr., Robert Hall, Jim Hemphill, Tom Berry and Ken Brenn.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vintage Innovation

Through the years, the ATQMRA’s relatively basic race car rules left plenty of room for innovation.  This photo shows one such innovation.

This is a rear view of the Wehrle #02 from the 1970s, with the radiator mounted on the rear of the roll cage.  The car appeared in this configuration one winter for the indoor races in Atlantic City... and then never appeared this way again.  Not all innovations pan out.

The radiator placement affected both cooling, which was improved, and handling, which was not.  The car remained competitive but instead of staying at the front where it was usually seen, it ran mid-pack.  Driver Tony Romit praised the setup, but struggled.  The radiator was returned to the more conventional location come springtime.

Here’s another shot of the car at that time, with driver Romit in the seat:

Where the ATQMRA once had upright cars, offset cars, rear-engine cars and mid-engine cars, today most ATQMRA cars stick to a formula that has evolved over the years:  Engine dramatically offset to the left of the chassis, driver reclined in the center of the chassis.   But this evolution was not determined by rules, it was determined by trial and error.  For the most part, ATQMRA rules have boiled down to dimensions, displacement, weight, and safety.  It has never been specified where one must put the radiator, or the engine.  As a result, there have been some truly distinctive cars and some truly creative ideas through the years.

The Vintage Club is where these cars and ideas are being preserved.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vintage Painted!

The color image shown below is not a photo, but a painting, based on the black & white photo shown below it.  It was painted by an artist named Joel Naprstek on behalf of a TQ racing fan named Wayne DeWald.  Mr. DeWald sent it to us along with the following information:

I really enjoy your website. I visited Pine Brook once in the mid-late '60s and greatly enjoyed the races.    I have the old Crocky Wright book about TQs at Pine Brook.  My Dad and I befriended Tony Romit while he was racing full midgets in Florida and I have a couple photos of him in his TQ.

My Dad, George DeWald, raced TQs in South Florida from about 1960 until 1972 or '73. The painting is from Florida City Speedway, a beautiful banked 1/8th mile oval south of Miami that opened in May, 1964.

The car is Crosley-powered and did pretty well at tracks throughout South Florida, always in the top ten in points.  My Dad bought the car and trailer as well as a few spare wheels/tires for $350!

Just as we are trying to preserve the history of the ATQMRA at this site and the history of Pine Brook on the Pine Brook site, some people who were involved with Florida City Speedway are doing a nice job of preserving that track’s history with their own web site, which you can see by clicking here.

Florida City Speedway was in south Florida, near Homestead, and there are a lot of parallels to be drawn with Pine Brook.  The track was purpose-built for TQ racing in the early 1960s.  Although larger than Pine Brook, the track was nonetheless relatively small, described as a 1/8-mile.  And while the mini-stocks that were born at Pine Brook failed to thrive at Pine Brook, the same class of cars was successful at Florida City Speedway.

Sadly, Florida City Speedway did experience something that thankfully never happened at Pine Brook, a fatal accident.

The TQs that raced there were not generally ATQMRA-legal cars, because the use of alcohol-nitro fuel mixtures was permitted.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dapper Bob

Spring is not far off but we can't resist at least one more indoor racing photo.  Here is Doug Craig following a victory at Atlantic City's Convention Hall (today's Boardwalk Hall) 40-some years ago.

We don't know why Doug is holding two trophies.  Perhaps he also set Fast Time on this day?  Perhaps there were separate trophies for the winning driver and car owner?  (Doug was both.)   But check out the spiffy outfit on Bob Watkins.  Bob was the ATQMRA President at the time and he took seriously the need to project a professional image.  Slacks, sport coat, necktie, hair neatly combed.  When was the last time you saw that at a race track?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vintage Quiz: Where?

UPDATED, see below.

This shot of Hank Rogers, Jr., taking a victory lap in the Boyd #43 was taken -- where?

We know.  Do you?  Do you recognize the race track?  If you do, or you just want to take a stab at it, submit your answer to us here.  We'll update this post with the answer once someone gets it right.

Hints: This victory lap is for a heat race win, not a feature.  The date was perhaps the only time the ATQMRA raced at this particular track.  And through the years, this race track has had a few different names.  We’ll accept any of those names as “correct.”

UPDATE:  So far, no one has gotten it right!  Well, one person has, but that person is Gary Mondschein, and since he gave us the photo we are disqualifying him.  (Cheating?  Unsportsmanlike conduct?  Actions detrimental to NASCAR?  We'll think of something.)  So you still have a chance -- at what track was this photo taken?  Even Ernie Saxton has a chance, he was present for this race and it's not Grandview!  Contact us via the link in the text above.

UPDATE:  Okay, we give up.  Only Gary got it right, everyone else guessed the incorrect track, with the old paved Fort Dix Speedway/New Egypt Speedway getting more votes than any other.  But the big clue is the absence of a guard rail in the photo.  It's Albany-Saratoga Speedway, in Malta, New York.  On the day this photo was taken there was a distinctive all-open-cockpit program at the upstate track:  ATQMRA TQs, ARDC Midgets, and URC Sprints.  Each division ran a 30-lap feature and there was not a single yellow flag in any of the three features!  It was also the only time in history that the three Eastern open-cockpit clubs ran together on the same card.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Quarter-Century

Crossing the finish line first is Dick Peterman, in the second race ever run in the Niagara Falls Convention Center.  The date is January 26, 1985, and the other car in the photo, #79, was not the second-place car.  Dick had a commanding lead.

While this was Dick’s last indoor race victory, it was not his first.

His first came a remarkable 25 years earlier, on February 20, 1960, in the Teaneck Armory.  He won again in Teaneck before recording a substantial number of outdoor race victories in the late 1960s.

Dick drove for several car owners through the years, but this Niagara Falls win came at the wheel of his own car, numbered 98 as were all the race cars he owned throughout his career.

Standing at the right in the victory lane photo below is Paul Mecca, who was one of the race organizers at Niagara Falls at the time.  Earlier this month Mecca visited the indoor TQ races in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, there with drag racer Ron Capps on behalf of event sponsor NAPA.

Dick Peterman, now in his 80s, is still very much with us and is seen regularly at the track.

As always, you can click the photos for an enlarged view.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 1, 1958

In this photo from 55 years ago we connect three generations of racing enthusiasts.  (As always, you can click the photo for an enlarged view.)

It is February 1, 1958, the opening night of that year’s winter indoor races in the Teaneck Armory.  Driving car #4, which has a Harley-Davidson engine, is Tommy Shortino.  Shortino is en route to victory in the first heat over Chuck Arnold and Tony Bonadies.

The photo was given to us by Keith Majka, who along with his son is an active member of the Vintage Division.  The photo has special meaning to Majka because the car belonged to his father, Fred Majka, and this was perhaps the only time that it won a race.

“My father’s car was not fast,” Majka told us.  Indeed, Shortino’s name does not appear among the top 12 finishers listed for the feature that night.  Chuck Arnold, who finished second to Shortino in the heat, won the feature.  There were 32 cars in the pits on that evening, and a sellout crowd of fans on hand.

Keith Majka was among those fans, sort of.  His mother was in the stands, very pregnant with her son who was born two months later.  “I didn’t see the race,” Majka said, “but I was there!”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Taking Stock

Mike Calla – who raced with the ATQMRA years ago – got this great shot of the defining moment in this past Saturday night’s “Gambler’s Classic” in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall:

That’s Ted Christopher’s car flipping over the car of Jimmy Blewett with only a handful of laps remaining.  Both Blewett and Christopher were chasing Anthony Sesely, who went on to score the victory.  (As always, you can click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Sesely, Blewett, Christopher and the driver of the next car in this photo, Rowan Pennick, are all drivers who came to the indoor races not from Midgets or TQs, but from Modifieds.  Christopher’s flip eliminated him from the race, but Sesely, Blewett, and Pennick finished 1-2-3.  All of these men are "stock car guys," and they were far from the only stock car guys in the race.

What does this have to do with the ATQMRA?   Well, after decades of dominance in indoor racing by drivers who cut their teeth in TQs and Midgets, the pendulum has swung back to where it was more than 50 years ago.  Stock cars guys were prominent figures in the ATQMRA's winter indoor races in the Teaneck Armory and Island Garden in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Drivers such as Al DeAngelo, Jim Hendrickson, Bruno Brackey, Pete Frazee and others, known primarily for their exploits in stock cars, raced indoors with the ATQMRA.  And, just like the top three in Atlantic City this past weekend, they achieved considerable success in the small cars even though they were better known as stock car racers.

One distinction, however, may be that the stock car guys from years ago also raced the TQs in the warm weather months when their schedules permitted.  Because Pine Brook was a Friday night track, the stock car drivers of the day often raced there. DeAngelo won the 1962 ATQMRA championship, and Hendrickson was the point leader at Pine Brook in 1962.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Six Bits

As the racers of the modern ATQMRA get ready to compete in Atlantic City this weekend, we take a look at an Atlantic City victory lane from 42 years ago... January 23, 1971.  Click the photo for an enlarged view.

Jack Duffy has won, driving the Zrinski #75, a car nicknamed "Six Bits."  That’s a youthful Lou Zrinski seated to Duffy’s left, while announcer Walt Chernokal conducts the post race interview.

STP was a contingency sponsor of the indoor races back then, and at the far right is STP representative Art Maxim.  An STP jacket was part of the swag a driver would collect for an Atlantic City win, and Duffy is wearing one... but it has Maxim’s name embroidered on it.  Presumably, a jacket with Duffy’s name would come later.

Next to Maxim and behind Zrinski is Crocky Wright, who would later move to Indiana in protest of wings on Eastern midgets.  In Indiana Wright became an early supporter of a young driver named Tony Stewart, and later, after Stewart had achieved fame and championship success in NASCAR, Stewart quietly saw to Wright’s needs in Crocky’s last years.

Mostly obscured behind Chernokal, and arguably the tallest figure in the photo, is Don Crabtree, himself later a TQ car owner.  Flagman Nick Fornoro, Sr., is at the left.

Finally, this note: The Zrinski car was a roadster, and this was before roll cages.  Duffy is sitting on the car, having simply hoisted himself out of the seat and onto the tail.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vintage Whazzit?

A new photo riddle this week, courtesy of the photo collection of Gary Mondschein.  Gary knows nothing about this car, and neither do we!  Can you help?  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

The photo was taken at Pine Brook, of course, circa 1962-63-64.  A&C Radiator provided push truck service at Pine Brook in those years, but we are not certain whether this Chevy truck is a 1962 or later model.  The push truck driver is struggling to see the low-low car!

The car is vaguely reminiscent of Mickey Thompson’s 1963 Indy car, which appears in the photo below.  Could this car have been inspired by Thompson’s car?  (A note of racing trivia:  The tires on Thompson's car were much smaller in diameter than any used at Indianapolis previously, and he had to have them specially-made.)

Unfortunately, the Pine Brook photo is grainy to the point that it is difficult to discern any details.  We can tell that the car's driver is certainly very exposed at the forward end of this rear-engine car, and it appears that whatever rollover protection is present is dedicated more toward protecting the engine that the driver!

Do you know anything about this car?  If so please contact us via this link.