2019 News Stories
(Most Recent Appearing First)
Racer Bryan Coffey Passes
5/20/19 - Sad news has reached us of the passing of racer Bryan Coffey. Bryan ran at Flemington (left photo - pictured here in 1980 sportsman action), at Bridgeport, and also in the late 90's/early 2000's at New Egypt Speedway (right photo.)
We offer our condolences to Bryan's brother, noted engine builder Wayne "Tea Bag" Coffey, and to the friends and family of Bryan Coffey.
Calling hours are Sunday 5/26 between 2:00 to 4:00 at The Schneider Funeral Home 431 N York Rd. Hatboro,Pa. 19040
Ray Neary Passes
Ray Neary, behind the wheel of the Menschner #21 (top 3 rows, left photo row 4) was victorious at tracks such as Harmony and East Windsor Speedways in the early 70's After a few year absence, Ray retuned to racing in 1976 and fielded the lightweight #21 Gremlin (row 4 - right photo.) That's Ray (left) and car owner/engine builder Fred Menschner (right) at a Phillipsburg Mall event in 2009. (Photographer/Provider information as marked.)
5/19/19 - We are sad to hear that Ray Neary has passed away. Ray was a multi-time modified feature winner at tracks such as Harmony and East Windsor, and a top runner at Flemington, behind the wheel of the silver Fred Menschner #21. In the early 70's, the Menschner/Neary team became a major contender every time they lined up to take the green... up against the power teams of the day... And on more than a few occasions, when the checkered flag waved at the end of the night, it was Ray crossing the line first.
Ray was a student of master car builder Wally Marks, and attributed a lot of what he knew about setting up race cars to the years he spent working side by side with Wally in the garage. Ray was always quick to remember lessons learned from Wally, and enjoyed sharing those stories when asked... Lessons about suspension set ups... linear travel for throttle linkage... Little things like Wally's very specific way to saw metal with a hacksaw......and many more. I can still hear Ray, sounding a little like Wally probably sounded decades earlier relaying a little of Wally's philosophy about racers: "A racer will spend $35 on the racecar and $0.35 for soup."
After his competitive racing career ended, Ray would later become involved on the vintage scene, first by totally restoring the last modified built by Wally Marks, which Ray enjoyed driving at the vintage exhibition events. A few years later, Ray would take on another project in restoring an Al Tasnady/Dave Piscopo tribute car.
Ray Neary on the track at New Egypt in a vintage exhibition event at New Egypt Speedway in 2001 (left), and then in victory lane at Bridgeport later that same season. The Piscopo #39 tribute car, restored/recreated by Ray Neary for all the to remember when....
Back in the 60's, Ray spent a lot of garage time with Dave Piscopo, owner of the Polecat #39, which with driver Al Tasnady behind the wheel was the hottest combination of the day. Out of respect for "Davey" and what that winning team represented, Ray restored the #39 tribute car, a car that had been displayed in the 90's under the stands at Flemington. Once restored/recreated, and then displayed by Ray, the car was always guaranteed to bring the great memories back for those who enjoyed watching Tas behind the wheel of the Piscopo #39 back in the mid 60's.
In addition to Ray's winning ways on the track, and his mechanical ability and desire to restore two vintage racecars, both with historical significance to our sport, Ray was a guiding force in the creation of this website. In the very early going (sometime in 2003), Ray was kind enough to meet with me at the Washington Crossing Inn to listen to some ideas I was sketching out for a website to feature the cars and drivers from what many of us will always continue to be the greatest days of short track racing. Ray provided the perspective of not only a driver, but also that as a true historian of the sport, and shared with me his ideas of the respect that was deserved for those - all of those - who did what they had to do to be part of the show that we'll never forget.... Ray's words on that day were very important in setting the direction and tone for what would become 3 Wide's Picture Vault.
Ray had a love for this sport possibly more than any other driver I know.
Ray was not only a participant of the sport, but always, a keen observer... whether it be from his racing days, or even in more recent years. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to watch a few races from the stands at New Egypt with Ray seated next to me and was getting a lesson in car suspension from him, watching the different ways the cars were negotiating the turns (weight transfer, drive off the left rear... what looked like was working, and what looked like was not.) At one point, the yellow flag came out for a small incident between two cars, with one car spinning, and the other continuing on its way... Shortly afterwards, the announcement was made over the PA that the other driver involved was being sent to the rear for "over aggressive driving." Ray looked at me and said, "Hell... If I didn't drive overly aggressively, I wouldn't of had a ride!"
Whether because of his exciting, broad sliding style of driving, or because of the vintage cars he brought back to life to help us all remember some of the great drivers/car owners of the past.... or because of the way Ray could tell a story... heading Fonda with Fred in the old #21 ramp truck with gear oil can on the rack over the cap tipped over and started dripping down onto the windshield.... or recalling a specific moment of a race, (always made all the more engaging by Ray's ability to inject a little of the personality and voice of those drivers/owners featured in the story)... we will always remember our friend, Ray Neary.
Fred Menschner (left), Dave Piscopo (center), and Ray Neary on a Morrisville visit to Dave's shop back in 2004.
James Williams Sr. Passes
5/5/19: Sad news has reached us on the passing of James Williams Sr. Some may not be familiar with James' name, but anyone who went to Flemington in the 70's & 80's would surely remember James' voice as he made his way through the spectator stands for all to hear with his attention grabbing, "Hey ice cream here... Peanuts!"
James Williams (with the safari hat) makes his way though the covered grandstands at Flemington speedway offering speedway treats such as ice cream, peanuts and other snacks for sale to spectators. (Hank Winecker photo.)
James had a way of surprising folks who didn't realize he was standing right next to them, causing them to be startled as he belted out his "Ice cream here" signature call loud enough that some folks sitting in turn three would say they could here him when he was in the frontstretch stands!
James, along with his son "Ice Cream Johnny" have become so much a part of the core of our sport that in 2015, they received the Garden State Vintage Stock Car Club's Bobby Thomas Award for their contribution to the auto racing in NJ.
We offer our condolences to son Johnny, and to the entire Williams family on the passing of James.
Sportsman Racer Tony Barone
Our condolences go out to the Family of Tony Barone. Tony drove his silver #3 coupe, and also the silver #3 Pinto in Flemington's Sportsman division in the early 80's.
Tony Barone - Flemington Speedway - Ace Lane Jr photo.
Fellow racer Rick Shive added, "Tony's last years in racing were as a car owner, first with Steve Fisher, then John Schmoltze in his #3. Lately his son Mike has been racing at Snydersville in champ karts. Tony got to see him win his career first last year. Tony was a hard working guy who loved racing, and who will be missed by his family and many friends."
We offer our condolences to the friends and Family of Tony Barone.
TQ/Modified Racer Jack Bertling Passes
TQ/Modified racer Jack Bertling has passed away. Jack was a muti-time Boardwalk Hall winner, as well as being a Pine Brook Speedway Champion. Many modified fans will remember Jack behind the wheel of the #58 modified at OCFS, and the Romeo #44, where he was a feature winner at Flemington Speedway.
Jack Bertling in victory lane at Flemington (top photo by Ace Lane Jr.), Jack behind the wheel of the Roxbury Auto Wreckers #58 at OCFS (bottom photo by George Koyt.)
We send our condolences to the Bertling family at this sad time.
Racer Don Rounds Passes
5/3/19 - We received word that long time winning stock car racer Don Rounds Sr. has passed away. Don drove throughout the New England area and beyond in the 50's & 60's and won many feature events, often behind the wheel of the #101.
Because of his accomplishments, Don was inducted into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in 2001.
Here are a few pictures of some of Don's cars through the years:
Don had the opportunity a few years ago to reunite with a special car:
We offer our condolences to Don Jr., and the entire Rounds family on Don Sr's passing.
Remembering Ken Brenn Jr.
Photographer and provider information as marked in each image above.
Ace Lane Jr.
Ned Stites III
We thank the photographers/collectors who made the images above of Ken Brenn Jr. possible.
5/2/19 - The racing community is saddened upon hearing that Ken Brenn Jr has passed away.
Ken won in just about every car he ever drove…. Dirt or asphalt - It didn’t matter. The Ken Brenn Sr. owned #24 cars…, The Trenton Mack #74, Benny Shear's #1A, Jim Romeo #44, The Stashluk #71… He was deceptively fast because he was always so smooth… No wall banging.. No ¾ drifts on the edge of losing control… Just smooth… and FAST.
Close your eyes and picture Kenny gliding around Flemington, and picture how his hands would almost never move… with his left hand at the “10 o’clock” position, and his right hand at “4 o’clock”… just slight corrections to keep the car exactly where he wanted it to be.
Kenny knew the “feel” of a racecar, and knew what adjustments to make to fit his “smooth but fast” driving style. It didn’t matter what # was on the side of the car, or the owner’s name. Ken was a master of making a car handle.
Respected by his competitors… Admired by the fans.
I found this piece (courtesy of Super Dirt Car Series) written by Herb Anastor upon Kenny’s induction in the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 2009, that speaks to some of Ken’s accomplishments:
Years after hanging his helmet up, Kenny was always a fan favorite at the local racing reunion events. Always with a smile… Always humble. Always Kenny.
Because of this website, I have gotten to meet many amazing people… People who have done amazing things… who just kind of shrug it off, as if to say, “no big deal….” That was Kenny.
I don’t know if he really knew how many fans he had out there… and how much he meant to so many folks in the racing community… If he did, you’d never know it… because that’s just how Kenny was.
I will miss Ken Brenn Jr, the racer, and I’ll miss Kenny, the guy that would answer my questions about King cars… and suspensions… and anything else I bugged him about regarding the cars he drove, and the races he ran, whenever I’d see him at one of the racing gatherings.
A true talent behind the wheel of a racecar, and a guy that made those around him smile.
I offer my condolences to Ken’s Family, and to the many friends and fans of Ken Brenn Jr.
Service Information for Ken Brenn Jr.:
A visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 from 3 to 9:
Higgins Home for Funerals
725 Mountain Blvd.
Watchung, NJ 07069
Obituary and Additional Information
Modified Racer Darren McCaughey Passes
Darren McCaughey's # 301"Too" - East Windsor Speedway - 1990's
Photo By Joe Gorski - Provided by Joe Gorski
4/24/19: Short track racer, Darren McCaughey has passed away.
The McCaughey name is well recognized here in the Northeast when it comes to short track racing, with Darren's father (the late Craig McCaughey) winning races in the 60's,70's & 80's, and Darren's brothers John and Sean winning races in various divisions decades later. Darren would begin his career in the 1990 Rookie Division behind the wheel of the #57, and it was obvious right from the start that Darren had what it took to be a winning racecar driver. Over the next 2 decades, Darren's success behind a racecar would reach a high level by winning in the modified division at East Windsor, New Egypt and Bridgeport Speedways, often behind the wheel of the "#301" and also by getting the nod from owners of top running modifieds such as the #R10 from the Rio Bros, the #28 of John Burnett, and others to drive their cars.
Those who raced against Darren know that he was a no nonsense, hard charging "genuine" racer. Those same things could be said about Darren outside of the car as well.
Outside of the racecar, Darren, a family man, was a very skilled carpenter. When we needed someone to turn our shed in the picnic area of New Egypt Speedway into a nice facility to display memorabilia and photographs for race fans to enjoy, it was Darren who stepped up and did all the finishing work on the inside of the building, turning the "shed" into "The Vault."
We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Darren McCaughey at this very sad time.
Viewing and service will be Tues, April 30th from 5-8 PM at the Tilghman Funeral Home, 52 Main St, New Egypt, NJ.
Remembering the #301.
Tom Cimpko Passes
Tom Cimpko (L) and Billy Pauch (R). Photographer Unknown - Provided By Bill Pauch
4/15/19: The racing community is saddened by by the passing of Tom Cimpko. Tom was known for being the "brains" and the "wrench" behind the scene on many of the top running modified racecars throughout the decades.
Multi-Track Modified Champion Roger Laureno offered, "You had to get up early in the morning to try to out work Tommy. A great guy and a true racer. I really enjoyed the time I got to spend with him building and racing the MBC 58 and Tony Sesely 16."
Racer and Car Builder John McCaughey said, "Tom was a good man and a helluva racer....He wrenched on lots of cars over the years, especially the 121's. Thought the world of Pauch. He'll be missed."
We offer our condolences to the friends and family of Tom Cimpko and will always remember the contributions he made to the sport of short track racing.
Bill Hewlett Passes
2/5/19: The racing community is sad to learn of the tragic passing of modified car owner Bill Hewlett.
Bill's signature #901 modifieds have been on the racing scene for the past 6 decades with drivers such as Larry Voss, Tom Eppolite, Bob Ayres behind the wheel in the early years, and drivers Jim Horton, Richie Pratt, Ryan Godown and many others in more recent years.
Bill was also a huge help to those who wanted to learn more about the sport. One of those who Bill gave an opportunity to learn back in the early 70's Charlie Langenstein, who would later go on to key roles at many of the top modified teams, followed by many years as Head Mechanical Director at Hendrick Motor Sports.
Charlie offered these words: "I owe so much to Bill for giving me my start on working on race cars. My dad worked at the race track many years ago for Bill. I first helped Bill on his race car at Reading Fairgrounds when Johnny Bennett Sr., and later when Larry Voss drove his car. Bill and I spoke many times about how he had giving me my start on working on the famed 901. He believed in me enough to work on any end of the car without checking on my work. He did things his way and he gave many different drivers a chance to drive for him."
"Last season, Bill and I talked about giving my son Austin a chance to drive his 901 race car. It was his idea because he, in his words, wanted our friendship to come full circle. He was that kind of a guy. He gave many drivers a chance during different stages of their careers and proved once again that with the right driver behind the wheel of his cars, and with Bill's knowledge, they could still win races."
"Bill was truly a special person that comes along once in a life time. I can't ever thank this special person enough. We pray that his wife gets well, and God bless you Bill. You had one heck of a ride. Not only with your 901 race cars, but in life itself. You will be missed buddy. RIP Bill."
A few of the #901 cars fielded by Bill Hewlett. (Top photo yellow #901 - driver unknown - Paul Irving photo. Larry Voss with the #901 sedan EWS pits - Bill Young photo. Larry Voss again, this time with the #901 Vega EWS pits - George McCormick photo. Tom Eppolite in the #901 Vega EWS frontstretch - Ace Lane Jr photo. Red #901 at Bridgeport - Bob Sweeten photo.)
We will always remember Bill's dedication to the sport.
We send our condolences out to the Hewlett Family at this very difficult time.
Racer, Car Owner Rick Thum Passes
1/23/19: Sad news has reached us on the passing of Rick Thum.
In addition to driving his own blue #12, in the 60's & 70's at many of the area short tracks including East Windsor, Flemington and others, Rick also drove the Inzeo #80, the Cass #9, and other cars through the years.
Photo credit: Top Left (Ace Lane Sr photo/Ace Lane Jr provided). Top Right (Dave Innes photo/Provided by GSVSCC.) Center #12 (Ace Lane Jr photographer/Provided by Mike Clissold.) Bottom photo (Steve Cameron photo/Steve Cameron provided.)
After retiring as a driver, Rick was a successful car owner with drivers Frank Cozze, Danny Johnson and others behind the wheel.
We send our condolences to the friends and family of Rick Thum.
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