Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Stock Car?

What’s this doing here?

It’s here because the smiling young driver in victory lane at Freeport over 40 years ago vacated the seat in this street stock Camaro and began racing with the ATQMRA.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

He’s Joe Schaefer, who got his start in racing at the wheel of this Camaro in 1974, driving for Fred Tuski.  The team had quite a year, winning eleven features that season.  Those of us in the ATQMRA witnessed most of those victories since the TQs were racing at Freeport on a regular basis.

It was obvious that Joe’s success was due both to the advantages of the light and nimble Camaro – most of the Freeport street stocks were mid-size and full-size cars – and to his smoothness at the wheel.  Clearly, Joe had the knack.

But at the end of the year the track management – Don and Gino Campi at the time – told Joe that he could no longer race in the street stock class, that he was required to move up.  Problem was, he did not have the money necessary to advance, so he and Fred instead purchased the #18 TQ from Pete Petraitis.

They repainted the car white and burgundy and re-numbered it X-1.

Joe started the 1975 season in the ATQMRA but soon landed a Late Model ride, so he only raced the TQ when time permitted. He  won the Late Model Race of Champions qualifier that year so he headed back to the stock car world.  He later drove Modifieds for Lou Timolat, a former midget driver himself and helicopter traffic pilot for WCBS radio in New York, until injuries ended Joe’s racing career in 1983.

During the time that Joe had the TQ he raced it at the Long Island tracks as well as a time or two on the dirt at Grandview and an occasional trip to Pine Brook.

Joe Schaefer went on to become President of Konig American, and he contacted us to help fill in any blanks in the history of the race car, which is now restored as the #18 and participating with the Vintage Club.