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.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Two photos of the same race car, taken more than 40 years apart.

At Pine Brook in 1972, smiling for the camera before climbing aboard his number 26, is Bill Force.  There is some last-minute attention being given to the right-rear corner of the car by Bill’s crew, and National Speed Sport News correspondent Bill Shand looks on.

At the Dimension Design shop in 2013 sits the same race car, freshly restored for the upcoming Vintage Club season.  There is some last-minute attention yet to be given to the car – the rear bumper is not yet installed, for example – but the car is nearly ready to go in a photo taken this past week.

As always, click either photo for an enlarged view.

In 1972 Bill Force teamed with his father, Hank, to field the car.  Today, Bill Force is teamed with his own son, Bill Jr, in the Vintage Club.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tom & George

Driver Tom Arntz appears a bit peeved in this photo from Atlantic City from 30-some years ago, and car owner George Spafford doesn’t look all that happy, either. But it’s just an unflattering photo – both men were generally cheerful and a pleasure to have at the track.

Perhaps the reason for the unhappy faces is that neither driver nor owner had the success with this car that they enjoyed with the traditional upright number 30 that preceded it.

In the background of this shot is the Smith rear-engine #5 that is currently awaiting restoration for participation with the Vintage Club.

The Arntz name remains active in racing in this region. The next generation – also named Tom – is a regular participant with the Vintage Club.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Vintage Color

There are quite a few people in the Vintage Club who remember with fondness the ATQMRA Coloring Book, the coloring book in which they doodled while dreaming of the day that they would become racers. Created by Bill Force more than 40 years ago, the coloring book was a very popular souvenir item at the Pine Brook Stadium, with the result that it sold out – there was no remaining stock.


Bill Force himself retained a small handful of copies all these years. And at the 2012 combined ATQMRA and Vintage Club awards banquet, he surprised several of these now middle-aged club members by presenting them with unused copies of the coloring book. Inside are the same pen-and-ink illustrations that they remember from their youth, illustrations of their racing heroes and their favorite races cars.

It is unlikely that any of these adults will be breaking out the Crayolas. But we expect that more than one of the newly-discovered copies will be placed in the hands of a child. Shown in the photo is the handiwork of Anna Mondschein, the young daughter of Vintage Club founder Gary Mondschein. Anna, having seen the Vintage TQs in her father’s shop and on the race track, was truly excited to get a copy of the coloring book and to put her personal stamp on the illustrations.

We love in particular how a child such as Anna is not constrained by grown-up expectations. Doug Craig’s championship-winning yellow #55 is rendered in chocolate brown. Jim Yates’ white #27 becomes pink. And the #56 of Ted Seiz, a jet-black car back then, is a vivid yellow in Anna’s eyes.

A coloring book, even when illustrating actual people and machines, is today just as it was then a means to allow a child’s imagination to soar.