GREASE! Hosted By: Cemetery Jim
Note From 3 Wide:
12/20/09: We are all saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Murrow, the host and provider of all content here in the section of our site that Jim had named "Grease".
Many of you have enjoyed reading Jim's featured column "Grease" here in The Vault and fans of the column had noticed that Jim had not offered a new addition recently. Jim had been been battling an illness for many months.
Thanks to Jim's friend Bill Skinner, we were very fortunate to speak to Jim over the phone last Saturday. Jim knew he was in a battle... but still had his sense of humor as we both agreed that "throwing it sideways, wide open in a sprint car on a dirt track would surely cure everything...." I told Jim that we were fortunate to have his writings here on the site so that his stories will continue to be shared. I hope he found some comfort in that...
We appreciate the excitement that each of Jim's columns capture, and we will always remember Jim as a racer, a historian, and a communicator of those things that we'll never stop enjoying.
Our condolences go out to Jim's wife Brenda, and to the friends and family of Jim "Cemetery Jim" Murrow.
Back Issue's of Grease!
HERE COMES 2009! Jan 21, 2009
Twas The Week Before Christmas December 21st, 2007 BACK TO THE FUTURE! The NEW Coupes and Coaches November 17th, 2007
"Yesterday and Today" July 18th, 2007
"On to the Present..." (May 26th, 2007) 50 YEARS AGO IN MODIFIEDS (April 14th, 2007) Daytona - The Old Days! (March 6th, 2007) THE ORIGINAL "FLYING FARMER" (Nov 26th,2006) MY LIFE IN RACING-Part 3 By Steve Elias (July 4, 2006) MY LIFE IN RACING-Part 2 By Steve Elias (June 6, 2006) MY LIFE IN RACING-Part 1 By Steve Elias (May 1, 2006) "Sonny" Dornberger Will Receive the DIRT Northeast Mechanic of the Year Award" April 3rd, 2006
50 years ago Racing in 1956 Jan 12th, 2006
Twas The Night Before Christmas Dec 20th, 2005 THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES... November 1st, 2005 A DRIVER IS A DRIVER IS A DRIVER... June 18th 2005 GREASE TRIVIA! 04/17/05 April 17th, 2005 GREASE TRIVIA! 03/27/05 March 27th, 2005 The Albert Einstein of Modifieds - Part 3 March 15th, 2005 The Albert Einstein of Modifieds - Part 2 December 6th, 2004
The Albert Einstein of Modifieds - Part 1 November 6th, 2004
The Time Machine September 6th, 2004
Paranormal Racing August 13th, 2004 4th of July, 1957: The South Rose Again July 2004 50 years ago in Modifieds! June 24th, 2004 Grease - Have You Heard? June 20th, 2004
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06/20/04 From 3 Wide
Thanks Jim! Let's hope those visitor's with a little more experience than the average fan aren't afraid to email you their thoughts and memories of the 50's and 60's! Thanks again and I hope to hear from some of you guys out there...
06/20/04 From John Stover
Tas and Jackie were two of my childhood favorites. I was wondering if Jim or anyone else has a rough feature win total for Jackie before his untimely death at Nazareth in Aug of 1964? Thank you
06/20/04 From Cemetery Jim - To the best of my knowledge, nobody presently has that number... I would answer that question as follows:
Jackie finished 13th in URC Big Car points in 1954, and he was their Rookie of the Year. He won three features in October and finished 8th with URC in 1955 in addition to finishing 16th in the nation in NASCAR mods. He was Modified Champion at Flemington several times, and at Alcyon several times.
He also raced several times with the USAC sprinters in 1956 As time went on, he concentrated much more on modifieds, usually only racing sprints at Tampa during speed week in Daytona.
Racing historian Bill Skinner is working on as complete a history of Jackie's wins as possible, however it's very difficult, and time consuming.
Jackie regularly drove on asphalt, and the on dirt so if you add all the heat and featire wins, on both dirt and asphalt, in sprints, (or "Big Cars" as they were known then), and modifieds, he won literally hundreds of races in his very short career. My personal guess would be somewhere between 200 and 300 races. As soon as the statistics are in, I will post them, but it will probably be another 6 mo. to a year before all the results are in and tabulated..
There is no question he was one of the best ever, not to mention one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet!
Thanks for the question, John
06/21/04 From Ralph J. Richards, Jr.
The South Jersey auto racing statistician Bill Skinner is in the process of trying to do this. He has used old programs, racing papers and any thing else that may have results in them. I know he spent countless hours at Program Dynamics with Steve Barrick and has gone through all of my Speed Sport News and other early racing papers to fill in the gaps. I do believe it may be impossible to get an accurate number.
Sometimes Jackie would race under a pseudo name and we can't be sure where or when. I do believe that when Bill is done he will have the most complete list of results from most tracks in the tri-state area from the 1950's & 60's. I want to acknowledge my gratitude to Bill for his time and effort doing this project.
06/23/04 From Greg:
I know a sportsmen that was a NJ state champ in 1963 that was towed by a 54 hudson hornet conv
06/26/04 From John L Polson:
Great Job Jim! I posted my Alcyon memories 9/15/03 and continue to checkout 3wide vault pictures and articles. We always went to the track on Friday nights in our 1954 Hudson Hornet. What a beast! Just looking back at the list of drivers from back then you had a real Who's Who of stock car racing. Thanks to all that are contributing to the memories. Keep up the good work! John L. Polson Sr.
06/20/04 From Cemetery Jim: - Answer to "Alcyon Memories" Thanks a lot, keep checking back we have some new features coming to our GREASE feature soon ! (Wonder where that Hudson is now?) Cemetery Jim 06/26/04 From John Stover:
While talking about Tas, I believe he was at one time a regular at Reading, Pitman, Vineland, Flemington, Nazareth and Harmony. These tracks pretty much cover his career from the mid 50s until his retirement in 1972. What tracks did he race at from 1949 - 54? I know record keeping was spotty to nonexistent during that early time period. Thank you, John Stover
06/27/04 From Cemetery Jim: John, you're right, information on the prior to 1955 period is kinda spotty. I do know that "Tas" ran at the old Hatboro Pa. Speedway, and won 7 features there. Maybe some of our other readers can supply us both with more information. Thanks for the question 06/29/04 From Ralph Richards:
I believe on the video "The History of Alcyon Speedway" it shows Tas and Jackie in Lucky Jordan's blue #2 & # 3 sedans in 1953 out for the first time at Alcyon. They both were wrecked that day. It has Tas taking hot laps in the #2 and wrecking in a first turn pile-up. They both went on to do rather well in Jordan's cars over the next 10 years. Budd Olsen also drove for Lucky in the late 1950's Thanks, Ralph J. Richards, Jr.
07/03/04 - From Alcyon Fan:
Ralph Richards mentions a video with a lot of the legends of the sport back in the old days called "The History of Alcyon Speedway" Video. I have it,and it's great for all the old timers out there to bring back memories as well as for the young whippersnappers to see what it was like way back when. Info on how to get the video is available on the 3wide home page... I highly reccomend it to everyone, (Makes a great gift, too)
07/03/04 - From Kevin Newman
Cool Column! Even though I wasn't born until 1958 ,I recognize many of the racers mentioned,as most raced into the 70s.Like you I spent MOST Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the track.My stepfather Tommie Elliott raced modifieds (by the way 1954 was a terrific year for him too!!!)Keep the memories coming...I LOVE IT!!! THANKS!!! Kevin Newman, Frankfort, KY
07/03/04 From Cemetery Jim: Hey Kevin, thanks for the email, great to hear from you. Your step Dad, Tommie Elliott was always one of my favorites. Didn't he drive one of the Ken Brenn Offys back in the late 50s? and who drove the other one? Was it Jim Whitman? - Thanks for the comments Kevin, looking forward to your answer. - Cemetery Jim 07/04/04 From 3-Wide
Jim, this is kind of a generic question, but what percentage of racecars back in the 50's would you say were associated with a particular garage? For example, I can even remember in the 70's that Pee Wee Griffin kept his car at a Gulf Station on the Cranbury Circle on Route 130, and Dusty Malsbury keep the #777 about 3 miles further south at a the Windsor Gulf station next to Jim's Country Diner in East Windsor. Now that 95% of all gas stations are gas only or conveniene stores, I'll bet there's less than a handful of drivers that work at and/or keep their cars at a repair shop.
07/06/04 From Cemetery Jim: 3wide, you're absolutely correct in that lots of gas stations had stock cars sitting at them in the 50's. back then practically every intersection had 4 gas stations, one on each corner. I would guess about 20% of all gas stations had stock cars there. Maybe even more cars were sposored by gas stations, and a lot by body shops as well. If a body shop would agree to keep up the body work and painting on the car for the year free, they would be given the primary sponsorship of the car. One set of tires would get you an associate sponsorship.
Case in point... In 1958 a gentleman named Busty Luzzo owned a Texaco station, and a modified. The Modified was built and maintained at the station, and he had only one car. Busty owned and built the car, was chief mechanic, and had only one car. He raced the car 4-5 nights a week, on both dirt and asphalt tracks.
The car was #98, the driver was Budd Olsen, and they won the NASCAR National Modified Champions that year. - Cemetery Jim
07/08/04 From Bill Skinner: I have done a lot of research on Jackie McLaughlin, and I will try to answer the question "How many wins did Jackie McLaughlin have in his career?"
First of all, Cemetery Jim's answer that Jackie probably had between 200 and 300 wins between heats, consies, and features in stock cars and sprinters (big cars) is probably correct. Since both Steve Barrick of Program Dynamics, Inc. and I can only list three 1955 feature wins for Jackie in sprint cars, most of his feature wins were certainly accomplished in modified-sportsman stock cars. And almost all of Jackie's stock car feature wins occurred between 1955 (when Jackie was not yet 22 years old) and when he was killed in 1964 a couple months short of his 31st birthday. On Fridays Jackie raced primarily at Alcyon Speedway (1953 to 1959), Georgetown (1960 to 1962) and Reading (1963 and 1964). On Saturdays he raced primarily at Flemington (1955 to 1963) and Middletown (1963 and 1964). On Sundays Jackie raced primarily at Nazareth (1955 to 1964). While it is true that he sometimes raced on the paved surface at Vineland (1959 to 1962), he only won the feature there twice during that time. I will now list all of Jackie's feature wins that I know of after extensive research of his records at these speedways.
By my count, Jackie had 41 wins at Flemington, 24 wins at Nazareth, 23 wins at Alcyon, 20 wins at Georgetown, 9 wins at Reading, 8 wins at Middletown, 4 wins total at Vineland, 3 wins at Allentown (1962 to 1964), and one win each at Old Bridge (1955) and Hightstown (1960) for a total of 134 feature wins. He might have also won at least one feature at Delmar in 1958. By my count, Jackie won 1 feature (at Alcyon) in both 1953 and 1954, 12 features in 1955, 12 features in 1956, 15 features in 1957, 6 features in 1958, 3 features in 1959, 20 features in 1960, 8 features in 1961, 29 features in 1962, 11 features in 1963, and 16 features in 1964 before he was fatally injured on August the 23rd. Again, that's a total of 134 by my count.
If anyone knows of other feature wins for Jackie, please notify Cemetery Jim. Thanks. Bill Skinner
07/07/04 From Ralph Richards: I was told by driver Steve Elias that Jackie won at Atco Speedway in NJ also. He doesn't remember how many times but did remember him winning crossing the finish line in reverse after being spun coming off the 4th turn. Another Jackie legendary moment? Thanks, Ralph Richards, Jr. 07/11/04 From John Stover: Thank you for the win totals on Jackie. These are impressive numbers considering his youth. Also, he competed in an era without any traveling series, All-Star League, Super Dirt Series, multi mid-week shows, and the3-20s, 4-25s, 2-20s, etc. Furthermore, he was of the first generation of modified racers and did not have any other drivers win totals to aim for. Plus, I do not think win stats were really as important in that time period compared to the 70s-80s-90s etc. At any rate, I always considered him one of the top 5-7 modified drivers that I have ever seen. Thank You, John Stover 07/24/04 From Dave Marsh: I noticed your comments on the Hudsons as race cars. They dominated way back when.
I drove a Hudson Terraplane at CJ Stadium in Witchita, KS. Usually finished in the top 5. It was a very unusual track as there were two different ground elevations on the backstretch. It made for a lot of "air" as the kids call it today. dave marsh
07/24/04 From Dave Marsh: Some of the recent altercations in pits in nascar have reminded me that it's really nothing new. Iit happened (very often) back in the old days when there were no regulations like today.
In the late 40's at yellowjacket speedway (outside phila.) there were three cars from Morrisville, PA. (myself, Bus Mcallister, Russ Hutchison. My pit crew was a friend, Joe Marrazzo and a very feminine girl named "Tommie" both from Morrisville. We three were together in a heat race which included the local "hot dog" Monk Keller.
Russ spun Keller out and after therace, Russ was confronted by Keller and a host of his crew and friends in pits. Ssince we three pitted together we were all involved in a wild brawl that took the Phila. police to break up. We three were disqualified and had to be given a police escort out of town. Russ and Bus are dead now but Marrazzo and Dave Piscapo would remember this. This happened in Hatfield one time also which i'm sure Larry Voss would remember. dave marsh
10/30/04 From John Stover: I've always been a fan of Al Tasnady. Here are some tracks/win totals:
Reading - 52, Flemington - 96, Vineland - 25, Alcyon - 30 (estimate), Nazareth - 28, Harmony - 9, Hatfield - 7, East Windsor - 5 (estimate), OCFS - 9, Allentown - 2 (estimate), Nazareth National -1.
The win total would be 264. I am fairly sure Tas has more wins than this. I know he competed at Langhorne, Trenton, Delmar, Georgetown, and Dover,NJ. What tracks am I missing ? Any help would be appreciated.
Thank You, John Stover
11/25/04 From Bill SkinnerThanks, John Stover, for the information on Al Tasnadys feature wins. I can add only a little to your fine work. Here are a few additional feature wins that I can document from newspaper accounts that I have:
Al won at least 4 features at Georgetown (one in 1957, two in 1962, and one in 1963), at least 4 features at Delmar (one in 1956 and three in 1958), at least 9 features at Atco, NJ (two in 1955 and seven in 1956), at least 4 features at Dover, NJ in 1954, and at least one feature at Harrington, DE (6/19/63).
He won at least 35 features at Alcyon (seven in 1953, four in 1954, three in 1956, three in 1957, nine in 1958, six in 1959, and three in 1960).
Al Tasnady may have been the best stock car driver Ive ever seen.
Thanks. Bill Skinner
11/27/04 From John Stover
Hey, Bill, thanks for the information on Tas. I thought that maybe he won around 400 feature events. I think Al began his career in 1949 and I know record keeping was almost non-existent during the late 1940s -early 1950s. And I agree with your opinion that he was the best. In my opinion Al and Kenny Brightbill are at the top of the list. Thanks again John Stover
01/24/06 From Bill Skinner
Here are some additional feature wins for Al Tasnady plus some corrections to the Tasnady win totals I reported in this column on 11/25/04:
Al won at least 10 features at Atco (two in 1955 and eight in 1956), and he won at least 36 features at Alcyon (with five in 1954, not four).
Tas also apparently won the track championship at Atlantic City/Pleasantville in 1952 where he had already won 9 features as of August 26th.
He also won at least once at Morristown in 1953, once at Trenton 9/26/59, and twice at Allentown in 1963.
In 1958, Al led the nation with 24 feature wins in the Lucky Jordan deuce, and in 1963 he recorded 37 wins to Frankie Schneider's 34 to take the crown again in the Paul Deasey 707.
He was a truly remarkable race car driver- one of the very best!
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