By TOM AVENENGO
Guess what? I’m back. Been a tad too long since my last column, hasn’t it? Again, with winter here, there really isn’t too much racing news, that’s for sure.
I often think back to the winters of the late 40’s and late 50’s when they raced midgets in the Kingsbridge Armory, in the Bronx, and later the TQ’s in the Teaneck NJ Armory. Kingsbridge ran many times with two shows a week. The Armory was (is) a huge building, and the track, which did not take up the whole floor, was 1/5 mile. Best I can see, from the records I have been able to get is there was only one race night cancelled due to the winter weather. It was kind of a hassle getting there, so I, personally didn’t really attend many of their shows. I do recall that we sat in the balcony seats. The Teaneck, NJ Armory was a tad different with a 1/10 mile oval and racing just once a week – pretty sure it was on Saturday nights. My future wife and I never missed any of those Teaneck races. In fact, as we left after a night of racing, we would order our same seats for the following week – directly across from the S/F line and on the front row. A brick/concrete wall was right in front of us and made for a pretty good foot rest”.
As for attending any midget racing outdoors, that depended on my father and his schedule. We did get to quite a few tracks, too. Hinchliffe Stadium, in Paterson, NJ, Danbury, Ct, Middletown, NY, Cherry Park in Avon, Ct. When midgets kind of died down, we started hitting some sprint car and a few Indy car races, too. We even took in some Sports Car races – usually my brother and I. Believe it or not, they actually had some pretty good Sports Car races in Montgomery, NY on the airport runways. Lime Rock, Ct. was another we visited on occasion. My brother, Raymond (Jim) was into the sports car scene and he made the yearly trips down to Sebring. I was fortunate to get to Sebring one time – 1957? Yes, we were at Lime Rock when Rodger Ward drove the Ken Brenn Offy Midget to a Formula Libra win, in 1959. That car, being the first Offy powered midget that Johnny Ritter came out with in 1947 – or 1948 was 11 years old in 1959. Maybe 12? My brother and I did hit a track out at the end of Long Island (Westhampton?) My brother really got into attending Sports Car races – more than likely because his favorite driver from the midget days, Ted Tappett (Phil Walters) was racing them, and was pretty good at it too. He was good enough to get signed by Ferrari to drive their Sports/Racing cars and their Grand Prix cars, too. However, just prior to him going with Ferrari he ran the 1955 LeMans 24 hour race for Cunningham. Think back some – that was when Pierre Levegh, driving a Mercedes, had a horrific crash that fatally injure some 80+ race fans. Walters retired from racing cars on that particular day.
Back in 1955, I got my first car – a 1946 4 door Chevy. Now, if I had the money and time, I could go out on my own to the races. On occasion, some of my friends would also go with me. Heck, in 1956, I even went to Sebring with my brother. Somehow I really don’t think it was as expensive as it is there, today. My mother and father divorced in the late 50’s, so I usually went to races on my own. I’d have to that my favorite track was that circular oiled dirt track in Langhorne. Trenton wasn’t too bad either. In fact, my first date with my future wife was either a 250 or 300 mile midget race at Trenton. Got her in free, too. The race was “rained out” the preceding Sunday. On that first try, I went there with a school friend – Ronny Columbo. He had someone to go the following week, with him, so when Joanie and I pulled in, in my MG, Ronny told me to wait a minute or two. He sent his friend down, with Ron’s rain check, and that’s how I get her in free. Just before the 100th lap, the skies opened up again. Yeah, this time we waited it out, and they continued the race. From what I can recall, there were some cars (mostly “invaders”) that had already made a pit stop for fuel. Not exactly sure what went down, but there was a little bit of a “hassle”. Somehow things got straightened out and the race continued.
Joanie and I got married on September 11, 1960. Three months later, “Uncle Sam” needed me to fill my military obligation, and I was drafted. That winter had to be one of the coldest and most snowy in a long time., up in the Northeast. One weekend, when I was home on a weekend pass, the wife and I discussed my military “obligation”. I was scheduled to take advanced training at Ft Sill, Oklahoma. We decided that as long I was in the Army, maybe I should do what I wanted, so I took the Basic Army Administration course, still at Ft Dix. Once completed, I was assigned to the US Guided Missile School in Ft Bliss, Texas. Believe it or not, other than getting married to the love of my life, it was about the best thing to happen to me. I was interviewed by a Sgt Harold Redfern. He, too, was from up in the Northeast – in Jersey. I guess I made a good impression on him because he needed another pair of hands in his section and he asked me if I would like to work with him. He did not have to ask twice! Basically, I typed up orders assigning the new students to various classes. Once completed, I also “cut” the orders for them as far as where they were going to go. I believe I got to Ft Bliss in May of 61. That September, my wife, who was pregnant at the time, arrived (via bus) in September. Sadly, shortly later, Sgt Redfern was transferred, and we had a new section chief – Walker? take over. Not only did the section I worked in assign the GI’s into various classes, then to assign them to wherever they were going to. We also handled the promotions in our company. In about 3 years I had hit the rank of E-5. We also had a second daughter born, in 1963 – Sandy. As they say, “All good things come to an end”, my name came down on an overseas levy – to France. Again, Joanie and I talked it over, and we decided that maybe it be best that I don’t re-enlist, but time to get out. OMG!! So far I’ve typed in over 1,153 words!
Time for some Racin’ Stuff, huh? Again, sad to say, but racing news is darn near non-existent at this time. They have so far, have had the indoor TQ races (Demo Derbies actually. Sure ain’t like it used to be, that’s for sure! Then there’s the Chili Bowl. Oh, they get a TON of midgets there, for sure. Hard to believe there are that many midgets in the US. Sadly, a good many of them are just entered for this one event. Then they go into hibernation until next year, so it seems. There has been an agreement between the USAC and ARDC Midget groups for here in the east. I’m trying to figure out if it will help midget car counts here in the Northeast, or not. Lately, as far as I’m concerned, the “fields” of midgets in the Northeast has been quite dismal. I truly believe that more midgets would come out of hibernation if they got rid of those 30,000.00 engines. Remember when the midget fields consisted of mainly VW powered midgets? Or, before that, when you had Offies, Ford V-8’s, Cycle powered and outboards – along with some other types, too. What is also a shame is that the two main midget groups here in the Northeast really can’t compete against because one groups requires wings, while the other doesn’t. On top of that, about of all the tracks the midgets ran on are no longer around. For some reason, the ARDC has it in their minds that smaller tracks are better – but are they? NEMA kinda wised up and now they have two “classes” – one for mega bucks, and the other with non racing engines (like it used to be). Needless to say, the “Mega Buck” powered cars have smaller fields. They do, however allow the full, expensive car drivers the opportunity to get rides in the less powerfully powered midgets. A good move? I think so. Maybe it’s time for those that run the ARDC get their heads out of the sand? Also, one group only runs on pavement, while the other only runs on dirt. I think that could be easily remedied.
Being a long time race fan, I’ve always wanted to attend the Chili Bowl. Sadly, it didn’t happen this year and it looks doubt full for future years, too. But last Saturday I received an email from the Chili Bowl folks advertising that starting this Saturday, I’ll be able to watch it “LIVE” on my computer! Yes, for the Chili Bow, and other races over the year, one can watch them on our computers etc, etc. Yes, there is a cost involved – a few cents short of $60.00. Of course the weather forecast for that area kinda sucks, though, and I would not be surprised if it messes up the show. Biggest “downfall” as of now – no DIRTcar modifieds are scheduled.
Before I go any further, I think a few photos are in order. This week, some Sprint Cars from “Back in the day”:
Might as well start off with one of the very best – Tommy Hinnershitz:
Johnny Thomson in a Sam Traylor sprinter.
Bill Schindler in the Earl Beal # 2 Sprint Car.
Paul Russo in the Earl Beal Sprint Car.
Russ Klar – one of my late wife’s favorite drivers (mine too) in a Sam Traylor Sprint Car.
Bill Randall in a Jake Vargo Sprint Car.
Nick Fornoro in the Frankie Cal # 52 Sprint Car – “Stretched Midget?”
That’s it so far for this week, with photos, folks!
Kinda old news – maybe?
Nazareth Speedway sold: For more than a decade, the Nazareth Speedway has set idle. But around town, people still remember this was the place to be in its glory days. “We used to go to the races there and see Mario Andretti,” Bob Kline remembers. The big names rolling down the track, boasted big speed. But the engines were silenced in 2004, when the track closed. Since then, there have been reports here and there that something was in the works, but nothing ever came of it – until now. Jaindl Real Estate has purchased the land and developer David Jaindl says his company will farm the agricultural lands around the speedway this Spring. It’s not clear their plans for the actual track, but some say they’d just like to see something done with it. Time will tell what the new owner does, but people have already been waiting a dozen years. “It’s been so long that it hasn’t been in use,” Kline says. They might be willing to wait a little more, to see if the road for this speedway will ever re-open again, or if it’ll be done away with completely – and mark the true finish line for the old track.(WFMZ)(4-8-2016)
A little NASCAR news:
More rules changes for 2017, tires….: NASCAR competition officials issued memos detailing rule book changes for the 2017 season in its three national series, including limits on tire allocation. The 80 total pages of revisions released Friday afternoon pertain to Sections 20 (Vehicle and Driver Safety specifications) and 21 (Pit Equipment and Crew Safety specifications) across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Among the highlights in the tire rules updates:
” NASCAR set its regulations on tire allocation for all three series in 2017. In the Monster Energy Cup Series, the number of tire sets available to teams per event dropped for 13 of the 36 points-paying races and increased for eight events compared to last year. With the exception of the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the number of tire sets was only adjusted by one. Teams will have two fewer sets in the season-ending event this season, a reduction from 2016’s 12 sets to just 10 in 2017.
” Tracks with one fewer set of tires allowed next season: Daytona (500 only), Phoenix (both races), Auto Club, Martinsville (both races), Bristol (both races), Kansas (both races), Kentucky and Chicagoland. Tracks with an additional set of tires allowed next season: Talladega (both races), Sonoma, Daytona (July only), New Hampshire (both races), Watkins Glen and Darlington.
” In 2017, Monster Energy Cup teams will be required to start the race on the tires they used in Coors Light Pole Qualifying. This change does not apply to the XFINITY or Camping World Truck Series.(NASCAR)(1-16-2017)
AJ Foyt Racing To Use Chevrolets in 2017
WALLER, Texas (Jan. 17, 2017) — AJ Foyt Racing will use Chevrolets to power its ABC Supply Racing team in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series.
“I am looking forward to what will be a new chapter for us that involves returning to an old friend in Chevrolet,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “There are a lot of changes happening within our team this off season and I won’t minimize the challenges, but I see a lot of potential with our plan.”
“We are pleased to welcome AJ Foyt Racing to the Chevrolet IndyCar program,” stated Mark Kent, Director Chevrolet Motorsports Competition. “Chevrolet and Foyt both have long histories in IndyCar racing, including prior opportunities to work together. We look forward to renewing the partnership and a strong start to the 2017 season.”
Carlos Munoz will drive the team’s flagship No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet while Conor Daly will pilot the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Both drivers recently celebrated their 25th birthdays and are younger than most of the full-time drivers this season. The team expects to conduct its first test in the ABC Supply Chevrolets at Sebring International Raceway later this month.
The last time that A.J. Foyt drove a Chevrolet-powered car at the Speedway was the Chevrolet Camaro he used to pace the field for the 100thAnniversary Indianapolis 500 in 2011.
The last time the team used Chevrolet engines was in the latter part of 2005 when A.J. Foyt IV piloted the No. 14 ABC Supply Indy car.
The senior Foyt has competed in Chevrolet-powered cars throughout his illustrious career whether it was in NASCAR, sports cars, sprint cars or Indy cars. In his final IndyCar race as a driver—the 1992 Indianapolis 500—he drove the Chevy-powered No. 14 to a ninth place finish at age 57. In his eighth front row start, he qualified second at Indy in 1991 in his Chevy-powered car. That Indy 500 Diamond Jubilee Front Row included pole winner Rick Mears and Foyt’s longtime rival Mario Andretti.
“I’m glad to be back with Chevy,” said A.J. Foyt, team owner and first four-time winner of the Indy 500. “I’ve had a lot of success with them in the past and I’m looking forward to more success in the future.”
The season kicks off with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend March 10-12.
Here’s something that might interest retired Military Veterans about the possibility of being able to use Exchanges, online.
Millions More Vets to Be Able to Shop at Exchanges Online.
A little trampoline comedy for ya:
Doctors Issue Warning About One Of America’s Most Popular Foods; If You Eat It, Stop ASAP!
We’ve all tried a nice cheap cup of noodles.
However, a doctor in Massachusetts has the internet questioning whether they will ever eat instant those world famous Rameen Noodles again!
The doctor used a camera the size of a pill to find out what happens while the body digests pre-cooked noodles.
He found that the noodles were still intact after two hours! NO!
Here’s the catch… as long as the noodles remain in the stomach, so do all the noodles’ additives, including all those nasty toxic preservatives. This could become very bad for your health!
Hate to say this, but this is the time of the year where racing news is almost non-existent. Heck, basically most of the news in this week’s edition of the AARN is about season ending banquets. Actual racing news is quite difficult to find. Yes, there is some info about some drivers leaving one team and signing with another one. So, racing news, not being available, should return in a few weeks – mostly from Florida.
My next column will be in two weeks. Catch ya then!
As usual, I can be reached, via email at: email@example.com.