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GREASE! Hosted By:  Cemetery Jim

May 26th, 2007
"On to the Present..."

This time around Cemetery Jim covers "Alcohol or Gas", "A Jimmy Horton Interview" along with an interesting look at URC Sprint Car Racer Mares Stellfox called "Get the Draw on The Lady Outlaw - Mares Stellfox."

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OK Folks, as much as I would like to stay there forever, I guess it's time we moved on past the "50 Years Ago In Modifieds".

"Alcohol or Gas"
Besides the coupes, and coaches, and gremlins and pintos and all the other different personalities of the cars in the 50s and 60s, Two other things I really miss are the Injectors, and the Alcohol burning. If I live to be 150, I'll never forget the wonderful eye burning smell of standing behind an idling modified, belching out that alcohol laced with nitro. Or watching Sonny Dornberger going around the pits adjusting and tuning the injectors on car after car.

Sonny even adjusted Tom Hager's car once from home. Tom called Sonny from the speedway and said he couldn't get the car to run right. Sonny told Tom to put the phone next to the exhaust and gun the engine. Tom did, and Sonny told Tom what to do, after two or three adjustments done the same way, the car was perfect.

Talk about "Those thrilling days of yesteryear", Off they went in a cloud of dust and a hardy Hi Ho Silver...Away!

In the early 70s I got transferred to the west, and while out there I ran sprint cars for several years. I didn't return to NJ till about 1990, and man had things changed! The home built cars that I remembered so dearly were gone. No coupes, coaches, Gremlins, nothing. Just the same rubber stamped identical looking cars we see today. Basicly a sprint car, with a wide and silly looking body that just ends in back of the front wheels, like the front fell off, to accommodate a wing built into the inside of the car.

Sure, they're aerodynamic, but that's not the point. These were originally "Modified Stock Cars", well there's nothing "stock" about these monsters. There is also nothing "modified" about them. they were built like this in the factory, not built some other way, and modified to look like this. To call them Big Block "Modifieds" is a misnomer. Let's call them what they are, Big Block, Factory built, enclosed race cars. Do we need all that aerodynamic stuff, like the interior wings, and the front air scoops to make for good racing? NO! The ARDC took the wings off their midgets, and their popularity has boomed. Sure, they're slower without the wings, but they put on a better show. They're faster down the straights, and the drivers have to really finesse them around the turns. That is what racing should be about.

While we're at it, I wondered, who the heck's idea was it to go from fuel injected engines, running on alcohol, to One four barrel carb. running on gas? On the one hand we try to make the car faster by adding aerodynamics, and on the other we slow it down by going to the Carb. on gas. Logic seems to have taken a leave of absence here.

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"A Chat with a Legend -  Jimmy Horton Interview"

I decided to pick up the phone and call the guy who would know. While I was at it, I figured I might as well ask him a few questions I never get a chance to at the speedway. When he's at the Speedway he's all business. He sits in the stands in the pits and watches everything like a hawk. The track, the groove, how which set ups are working etc. He is a true professional. I called him, maybe you've heard of him, his name is Jimmy Horton.

As far as the single 4 Barrel, on gasoline deal, he said that came from NY. That was the way they ran up there, and DIRT decided to go with that. Hence, it sorta became the universal code, if you will.

As a kid, my hero was Jackie McLaughlin. I asked Jimmy if he had ever seen Jackie race. He told me no, Jackie died before Jimmy was old enough that his mom would let him go to the races. He did say that a number of people, (including me), had told him that he reminded us of Jackie's style. I told him that of all the drivers I had seen since Jackie's death in 1964, He reminded me most of Jackie, and the only other driver who did was Stan Ploski. (I will say that of the new young drivers coming up, the one who reminds me the most of McLaughlin is Steve Durand).

I asked Jimmy who were his heroes, he said A,J, Foyt, because he could drive anything, Mario Andretti, Billy Osmun, Mike Grbac, Stan Ploski, and a few others.

Then, of course, I wanted to know how he wound up in Winston Cup, jumping fences at Talladega. He said in 1985, George Smith called and said he wanted to do a few Busch races, and wanted Jimmy to drive for him. It was a very low budget team, but they did buy a cup car in 1987, and there was Jimmy out there in an under funded cup ride. Actually, for an under funded team, they did pretty well. Jimmy won quite a few ARCA races as well.

He said he had a much worse accident than the famous Talladega over the fence deal, when he was almost killed when he was hit in mid air in another incident, and his car destroyed, but at the next race after the Talladega deal, at the driver's meeting, Bill Frace Jr. presented Jimmy with a bill for the fence, (as a joke).

I asked Jimmy how he liked running the cup series. He said, 'Well, I look at it like basketball. You come out, go like hell for 15 minutes, then lay back till the last 50 laps and go like hell again. The rest is not much fun.

Switching to yet another major accomplishment in Jimmy's career,

I said, "You still hold the record in the USAC Silver Crown Series, right?"

"Yeah," he said, "100%".

"Yeah", I said, " you ran one race and won it".

"Yeah, they called me and asked me to drive the Silver Crown Car Saturday and Sunday." he said, "I told them I can drive it Sunday, but I'm committed to running Middletown Saturday night". "Saturday night was at Flemington, so, they got Ploski to drive it", he said. "I took it out for warm ups Sunday, and the nose just fell off, no contact, it just fell off". The owner wanted to pack it in and go home, but the mechanic said "Hey, were here now, let's see how we can do"

"Well, we time trialed 5th, and raced up to 2nd. I couldn't catch the leader." Jimmy admitted. " I kept expecting to be freight trained by the regular USAC guys, but nobody came" He said, " I couldn't believe it, but with a few laps to go, the leader blew a tire". "All of a sudden I was leading, nobody challenged me, and I won"! "That's when I first met Kenny Schraeder, he was in the race, and I think leading the Silver crown points". "He came up in the booth and wanted to know "Who the heck was driving that thing???"

I said, "Jimmy, I know you were instrumental in designing the last version or 2 of the "Olsen Eagles", before that company folded. What do you plan to do when you retire?"

Jimmy said, "I'll build race cars, but not Modifieds. There's too much competition!" "But definitely oval track cars?" I asked. "Oh yeah, definitely, he said". Watch out "Beast", "Maxim", J&J, looks like there's a new kid on the block on his way!

Allright, we were just mentioning Jackie McLaughlin. He was my idol, my friend, my mentor, my buddy, and my big brother. Just by chance he also happened to be one of, (if not), the best race drivers of all time! be it in USAC Sprints, or Modifieds.

Now, speaking of GREAT drivers, and moving off my customary old timer stuff, to get a little more in the realm of the this sites telling you "If you don't go out and support your local tracks NOW! , you won't have any.

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"Get the Draw on The Lady Outlaw - Mares Stellfox."

OK, personally, I consider THIS to be my day. I think I may stand alone in that belief, however. I feel perfectly healthy, and more sexy, since I was 14, (with a blue pill of course), and reasonably intelligent. For the purposes of this piece, however, I will concede to the masses, and talk about things by their,(not my), interpretation of "Back in my day".

OK, first of all, "back in my day, women were not allowed in the pits. Peanuts were never eaten in the pits because of bad luck. Painting your car green was tempting the grim reaper to grab you in every turn.

Well, right now we have one of the very best sprint car drivers I have ever seen, running the URC series. This driver has absolutely amazing car control, is smooth as silk, I wouldn't think anything of running side by side lap after lap with that driver in total confidence. A very fast, very aggressive driver, but totally clean. Not even any "paybacks" Wins features, has run with the World of Oulaw Sprint cars, and the CRA in California, at their invitation flew this driver out all expenses paid, to California and arranged a massive advertising campaign around this driver's appearance. they had a top notch sprinter waiting there for this driver to run , This driver was on the cover of "Open Wheel "magazine twice. This driver was offered a 3 year contract to drive NASCAR Busch Grand National cars, and... well, I could go on and on. Know who it is yet?
STELLFOX PICTURES_1.jpg (79863 bytes)

  The point is, this driver is a woman. A very beautiful woman. But, she wouldn't, even have been allowed into the pits back in whatever day my day was. Now, she is known as "The Lady Outlaw" Mares Stellfox.
 STELLFOX PICTURES_2.jpg (98564 bytes)

Most of the drivers "back in my day", drove clean, BUT there were a few that couldn't be trusted.

Unfortunitely some things have not changed. We had them then... and we have them now!
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When the URC Sprints took to the Grandview Speedway in the five Thunder On The Hill feature events presented in the Grandview THUNDER 5-25's.last year, I'd heard many rumors, several from very reputable sources, about driver Curt Michael telling them he intended to trash Mares Stellfox, and his being furious about Mares winning features, not to mention beating Curt many times last year. Now, I've known Mares for years, and there is no nicer person at any track than Mares Stellfox.

On the first lap, Scott Pursell flipped after a contact with Brook Weibley, Dave Ely and Jimmy Stitzel. Pursell did walk away uninjured. On the restart, Stellfox set the pace with Mark Bitner close in the chase. Bill Brian Jr., and Kevin Welsh were in a battle for third and fourth with Kramer Williamson in fifth .

later, slow traffic threatened to disrupt the flying leaders, but, the 5 car battle for the lead continued. Stellfox negotiated the lapped cars perfectly, and remained the leader, followed by Mark Bitner, Kevin Welsh, Bill Brian Jr and Curt Michael. The top five were now racing under a blanket. Then, on lap eighteen, Robbie Stillwaggon spun in turn one, and the dreaded caution came out.

With the lapped cars behind the leaders, and nothing but wide open clay ahead, the green flag fell and Stellfox left the rest in the dust. By lap twenty one, Curt Michael had moved into second.. For the next three laps, Michael was gaining very slowly on the hard charging Stellfox, going through turns 3 and 4, on the last lap it was obvious Michael wouldn't be able to beat Stellfox to the checker. Mares was running the top, and Michael, the bottom. He would get along side of her in the middle of the corners, but her momentum would carry her right past him as soon as they hit the straights, Sooooo... when he was under her in 3 and 4, on the last lap, Curt deliberately drove up the track, threw his car sideways, and slammed his right rear tire into Mares's left rear, sending her flying into the outside concrete wall, and totaling her car. She's very lucky she was able to walk away! If he did the same thing on the road he would probably be charged with attempted murder, considering his previous vicious statements, and threats.

Now, how can I be so sure that's what happened? and that he did it on purpose? Because I have a tape taken from the infield right where it happened. I've studied it over and over. There was no dust to speak of and the picture is great. You can see both cars coming at you out of 3, Mares had her right rear planted right on the edge of the cushion, she never moved down, Michael was nose to nose with her at that point, but there was 8 or 10 feet separating the two cars. Sudenly, Michael turned the steering wheel to the right, headed up the track toward Mares, then jerked the steering wheel left, which threw his car into a slide, steered right, and intentionally slid up into Stellfox. NO QUESTION - IT WAS INTENTIONAL, AND HE HIT HER SO HARD THERE WAS NO WAY ANYBODY COULD HAVE KEPT FROM SLAMMING THE WALL HARD!

Mares's comments were, "When I saw the white flag (after leading the entire race), I said "ok, GOD. If I can hit my mark in the next two turns, the race is ours". After setting the car in turn 3, I no sooner said, Thank you GOD ... it's our race - that's when the impact
came. I just can't believe Curt Michael would do anything like that."

At that point, the starter threw the red and checker flags simultaneously. Curt Michael rolled into victory lane smiling, (in spite of the boos from the crowd), apparently happy with himself for wrecking the diminutive female, (about 5', and 100 pounds soaking wet) Mares, who was outdriving him.

Then the loudspeakers blared out the announcer's voice saying that Michael had been disqualified for overaggressive driving. A big shouting match ensued between URC and Michael and his crew. Later they announced that Michael was not going to be disqualified, just set back 2 spots


Stellfox did walk away uninjured from the crash but was left with a totaled sprint car. Bitner was sitting in the right place at the right time to wind up with his first ever URC career victory.

Now, maybe it's me, but, when you intentionally wreck the leader, as Michael was found guilty of, by URC, more than a two position penalty should be imposed.

The villain winds up third in a perfectly good race car, Stellfox, the leader, who led the whole race ran clean, and clearly had the villain beat, winds up with a destroyed race car, lucky to not be injured or killed, and scored 16th. Come on , WHERE IS THE LOGIC THERE????? I think Michael should have been fined, scored last, and suspended from at least three races, and put on probation for the next ten races!


MARES STELLFOX POCKETS $3,000 BAR'S LEAKS BONUS FOR FRIDAY NIGHT WIN AT PENN CAN (Posted on South Jersey Dirt Racing on August 13th, 2006)


Mares Stellfox of Prospect Park, PA drove the race of her career Friday night at the Penn Can Speedway, winning the feature event after starting nineteenth in the main event. For her efforts, Stellfox received a $3,000 bonus courtesy of Bar's Leaks, URC's tour sponsor.

Part of the extensive sponsorship package posted by Bar's Leaks, included a $3,000 bonus that would go to any driver that wins a URC feature event after advancing to the feature starting field, by running the "B" main. Stellfox did exactly that on Friday night at Penn Can Speedway.

Directly following this race Curt Michael was heard to say, "We Gotta do something about her, she's beating me too much!


The following interview took place in the pits of Bridgeport opener with Curt Michael,.this year

(You should have seen Curt's face when he realized who I was. Yes, I was one of the people who had written a really biting column about his antics in the URC Sprint portion of the Grandview Speedway Thunder On The Hill feature events presented in the Grandview THUNDER 5-25's. last fall.)

He had already agreed to the interview, and we were sitting in his hauler at the time. The color drained from his face. He knew he was in trouble. He was trapped. He thought I was going to do a "Hey, Great Job, you're a super driver" interview, now he realized who I was, and that I was one of the many writers who had written scathing articles about his disgusting antics at Grandview. Now he knew this was NOT going to be a "Good Boy"article.

He stumbled over all his answers, then went back and changed many of them.
When I asked him what this feud he had with Mares Stellfox prior to the Thunder on The Hill, was
all about, and why was he saying all this rotten stuff about her that several of the other URC guys had told me about, he said he liked her, he never said any bad things about her, and that it was the URC guys fault, they made up a lot of stuff. (Right... he's Mr. nice guy and for some reason 6 guys who hardly know each other tell me the same lies about him...umm hmm - That should make him popular with the guys in the pits),

I asked him about a number of comments that he allegedly made in the weeks before the Thunder on the Hill concerning taking her out, and particularly the one he made about "He had to do something about her, she was beating him too much, Then he said, Well, he may have said some things, but he does that about a lot of people. If somebody taps him, or holds him up on the track, or bugs him in some way he usually has some choice words to say about them when he comes back in.

I told him, you know, a few years ago Steve Kinser was standing in the pay line after a race waiting to get paid, and there was a rookie kid in front of him. He tapped the rookie on the shoulder and said, "How come, when you see one of us coming, you move over and let us by?" The kid said, "Because I'm just a kid, and you guys are the pros, I don't want to hold you up". Kinser said, " Look kid, you paid the same entrance fee that we did, that entitles you to any square foot of this track you want, You run YOUR line, it's our job to figure out how we're going to get around you." I told Curt, you might want to think about that before you get ticked off, and bad mouth somebody for holding you up!

"Well I'm a very clean driver", Michel said, " you saw me pass a lot of cars in my heat tonight, and I drove clean".

"Yeah, you did", I told him,honestly, "but we're not talking about today's heat, we're talking about last year when you intentionally wrecked Mares".

Then he went into a rage, shouting "I don't know where all this I don't like women drivers comes from, I helped, a girl get started, and as far as I'm concerned when we strap into a Sprint car we're all the same". (Note, I hadn't mentioned women drivers, guilty conscience?)

"Then what possessed you to wreck Mares that night?" , I asked.

"I didn't wreck her on purpose, it was an accident", Curt replied. "Look, this is racing and there's not a driver out there who doesn't make a little mistake now and then and accidentally bump another car" He went on.

I told him I had a tape taken from the infield that night from right where he hit her." It clearly shows Mares and you coming out of 3, with you on the bottom, and Mares up top". I told him, "Mares's Right Rear tire was planted right up against the cushion".

He interrupted, and said, "but she wasn't all the way up to the wall".

I said, "No, she would have had to have jumped the cushion to get up there, then she would have probably wrecked herself, she was doing a beautiful job of riding just up against the cushion. You were on the bottom, about 8 feet below her", I continued. "In the tape you can CLEARLY see you turn your wheel right, head up the track toward her, and then whip the wheel left, then right, to put the car in a slide, and slam your right rear tire into her left rear tire. You knew that would put her in the wall hard". "It was not a move that would just get her a little out of shape so you could get by., it was a vicious blow designed to wreck her badly, which it did."

"I didn't know she was there", he said.

"You had to see her", I replied. "You were nose to nose".

At this point he got belligerent and said, "Look, I was mad because URC restarted me in the back early in the race, when they should have restarted me 4th, I was driving a little wild, but I was determined to win that race no matter what I had to do, and I'm NOT going to apologize for what I did!, OK? " "It's over, It's done, move along! to something else for God's sake!" " AND, I never gave the crowd the finger as they were booing me in victory lane, I just motioned like this, (here he took both arms and and waved them in a beckoning gesture) I guess for them to come down and he would take them all on!". ( Oh, that's MUCH better public relations).

The whole interview sort of reminded me of the infamous O.J. Simpson fiasco, "I didn't kill her but if I had, this is how I would have done it!"

I said, "Curt, I'm going to tell you another story". "Back in the 50s and 60s, there was a legendary driver named Jackie McLaughlin. He literally won hundreds of Sprint car, and Modified races in his short career". "One day", I continued, "at the age of 31, he was passing a car on the outside". "The driver on the bottom did exactly what you did to Mares". The result of that incident was One of the greatest drivers of all time, was dead at 31, because someone did what you did to Mares", I told him.

That seemed to sober him up and take some of the the belligerence out of him.

"I didn't know how he died", he said somberly and quietly..

We talked a little more , but all the fire and brimstone was gone from his demeanor.

I can only hope that our talk took a little of the cockiness out of him, and makes him think a little before he does things. Hot Heads don't often make it in this sport. Neither do people who think only of themselves. One more position, or one more win do not warrant intentionally risking someone else's life!

It's my understanding, from what I consider totally reliable sources, that Curt was really mad about that, and made several comments about doing something to her. That was shortly before the Grandview incident.

At any rate, the point I'm trying to make here is this, If the only way you can win a race is by deliberately stuffing somebody in the concrete wall at 130 MPH, then settle for 2nd and call it a good day. I've been into the concrete wall at about 130, and after a month in a wheelchair, 2 months on crutches, two months on a cane, and a whole lot of pain I was OK, thank God ! Also, thank God this happened near the end of the season, so, I was back for the first race the next year.

Unfortunately, my race car suffered fatal injuries that night and was killed instantly. Oh well, My owner had a brand spanking new Edmunds upright ready for me by the time I was able to get my aching bones back in a cockpit.

.- Cemetery Jim

Have Helmet - Will Travel


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05/28/07 Ned Stites III One only needs to ask Frankie Schneider about this. In 1955 he survived a crash and fire at Vineland Speedway. He always mentions that if he were running gasoline he may have not survived or his injuries would have been much worse. I miss that part of racing. Alcohol and racing are like meat and potatoes.

It's probably the same reason we didn't use it in street cars all of those years, someone has been making lots of money from oil products. When they figure out how to charge an enormous price for it, we may use it in our cars as well.

Ned Stites III
06/10/07 Nandi Jim, I just read your whole section in my friend Joe's (3 Wides Picture Vault). The interview with Curt Michael about the night at Grandview Speedway was a great story. My daughter Erika and I were sitting in the back stretch pit grandstands that night. We "kind of" saw what happened from where we were sitting but did not want to believe that any professional driver would purposely do that at that high of a speed in front of everyone to see. But after watching the video a couple of nights later and now reading your interview with him puts an end to it all. What an idiot Curt Michael is! I hope your example of Jackie's death really made him think of how dangerous a race car in the hands of a selfish jerk can be! I hope you opened his eyes and he never does something like that again to anyone! Thank you for pinning the tail on the donkey...
Thank you, Nandi from Palmco Repair.
06/10/07 Cemetery Jim Thanks, Nandi;

I couldn't just let something, or someone like that go. Someone had to,"Dress him Down" and tell him off. Since URC,(Which, by the way I have a lot of respect and admiration for except for this one incident), wasn't going to do it, then I felt I had to.

There is an old movie from I think the 30s or 40s called "The Big Wheel" starring Mickey Rooney as a dirty midget/Sprint driver who's only ambition in life is to get to drive the Indy 500, and he doesn't care who he has to wreck on the way. Eventually he winds up killing someone on the track, and it ruins his career. It's on AMC or Turner once in a while. If you get a chance watch it, it's one of the better racing movies. (I think you can still buy it on tape or DVD, by the way).

Anyway, yes, it was my sincere hope that confronting him, making him admit he did it on purpose, and pointing out to him that it is NOT acceptable to most of us to tolerate that kind of behavior, plus what can happen from it would tone him down a little. Alas, it didn't work. He did the exact same thing a few weeks ago to somebody else.

He is a very hyper personality, and came at me with wild eyes like he was going to kill me when I kept insisting I knew he did it on purpose, and his stupid excuses weren't going to work with me. He stood up, leaned across the table and screamed in my face. I just sat quietly till he was done and then told him that he was lying, until he finally admitted it. He didn't scare me, and he never touched me.

He's unstable.

When he reads this he will probably have his whole team physically attack me at the next URC race I cover, but I have several URC teams who actually like me. (No accounting for taste), and anyway I've been around long enough to see the best, so if we're going to have to deal with the Curt Michal's now, I'd probably rather be with Jan Opperman, and Jackie McLaughlin, and Budd Olsen, and the other really nice people in racing who are racing in heaven now.

Cemetery Jim
06/10/07 Dave Suchy Hello Jim:
I'm wondering if you are the same "Jim" that writes the "OLD TIMERS CORNER" in the Western Pa. Racing Newspaper RPM? If so, how can i get a copy of the #41 WAYNE MAGUIRE photo in the latest issue?
Hey, if you ain't the same guy, it was worth a shot askin' and I do enjoy your website anyhow.
Thanks......Dave Suchy
06/11/07 Cemetery Jim Thanks for writing, and I'm glad you enjoy my column.

Unfortunately, though, no, I'm not the same Jim who writes the "OLD TIMERS CORNER" in the Western Pa. Racing Newspaper RPM, so, I can't help you with the picture of the #41 WAYNE MAGUIRE.

I'm sure, however, there is a phone number on the paper somewhere, and if you call them they should be able to help you.

Thanks for reading my column,
Cemetery Jim

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