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.