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.