Friday, May 12, 2023

A Tough Few Weeks

We've had a tough time of things recently.  Right after learning of the death of Jim Rieder (see the post below this one) we learned of the passing of Bruce Kindberg and then shortly thereafter, Drew Fornoro.  All three of these men were woven deeply into the fabric of TQ racing -- and racing in general.

Bruce, following a successful career as a driver, winning at diverse TQs tracks such as Pine Brook and Convention Hall, enjoyed an even more successful run as the "Bruce" in Bruce's Speed Shop in New Jersey.

Drew, also a driver, not only won often in the TQ ranks but a record 85 times in the NEMA Midgets, taking home the NEMA championship nine times -- also a record.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

From Pat Sullivan we have learned of the passing of Jim Riemenschneider, better known to the racing world as Jim Rieder. Shown below with a rear-engine TQ midget of his construction, Jim was instrumental in the career of a host of Hall of Fame drivers.

For many, Jim Rider will always be associated with Pancho Carter and Noki Fornoro. Pancho won the Night Before the 500 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds with Jim in 1972 and his Rieder prepared car took the Hut Hundred. Noki would wax the field in the Night Before in 1985 & 1987. 

When Jim turned his attention to TQs, his Rieder Racers TQs hastened the transformation of the ATQMRA from the conventional and mostly Crosley-powered cars to the exterior-engine, radically offset cars that are clearly the design ancestors to today’s cars.  Rieder TQs won everywhere the ATQMRA raced, as well as with the Can-Am TQ organization and even at the Indianapolis Speedrome.

A member of the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame, Jim won numerous awards including the Ken Hickey award from ARDC. He was the ARDC President in 1971. In 1985 with Noki he captured the ARDC, Super Midget Racing Association and Eastern States midget championships. In 1986 Noki won 23 times and repeated as ARDC champ. All told he won 46 ARDC and 14 USAC midget mains. 

Jim started building cars in the basement of his home New Jersey in 1974. He later moved to Indiana and worked on all forms of open wheel cars and was the Mechanic of the Year in USAC's regional series. In retirement he moved to Henderson, Nevada, although he returned to New Jersey for an ARDC reunion in Warren, New Jersey. 

Smart, talented, capable, personable and a true racing competitor, Jim Rieder had a lasting effect on racing.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

We learned recently of the passing of Robert William Watkins, who we all knew as Bob, a winning ATQMRA driver in the 1970s and for two years, 1972 and 1973, a very effective President of the organization.  A tough but compassionate leader, the ATQMRA thrived during his tenure.

Shown here in his signature #91 in Atlantic City Convention Hall (now Boardwalk Hall), it was in A.C. that Bob scored the biggest victory of his racing career.  On March 1, 1975, Bob won the final of four indoor races that winter, claiming what was at that time the largest first-place payout in TQ history, $1000.

A Marine, Bob was a Korean War veteran, and after his service he opened a service station in Levittown, Pennsylvania.  He operated the service station for more than 50 years before retiring to Florida.  Bob was also an avid pilot, owning several airplanes.

In 2007, his son Robert, Jr., claimed the ATQMRA championship, also driving a car bearing the number 91.  Whether ironic or serendipitous, at the time of his passing Bob Watkins was 91 years of age.