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GREASE! Hosted By:  Cemetery Jim

November 1st, 2005

This Month:



In the past few weeks, it has saddened me greatly to learn of the demise of some of those who were such a pleasant, special, and memorable part of my childhood. Added to those who have already past on, I was just thinking about how much I owe to so many for making my childhood so rich and happy.

I guess the most recent death, and the one that really inspired me to write this is Pete Clark. Pete loved stock car racing with a passion, and sponsored cars as well as providing the pace cars for Alcyon Speedway.

At the time Alcyon was in it's heyday, Pete owned Pete Clark's Used Cars, and would bring a different car from his car lot each week as the pace car. They were always special and beautiful cars, from 2 seater '55 - '57 T-Birds, to customized fords and chevys with mercury skirts, continental kits, and spinner wheel covers. They were almost as much fun to look at as the race cars. Thanks Pete... for all you did to make racing better and more fun, we won't forget you.

Speaking of memories, I attended the reunion at Elmer Sunday, and saw a lot of old friends, and met a lot of you readers out there. It's always fun to be talking to someone and have them say, "I read about that" and then ask if they read it in the GREASE column on 3wide, have them say yes, and tell them, " I'm Cemeteryjim" !

The thing that disturbs me at these reunions is the lack of younger people attending. I wish more of them wanted to learn more about the history of the sport, and actually meet some of the legends that made the sport great. If you hold a reunion like this 25 years from now, I don't think anybody will attend. Today's race fans are not like the fans of the 50's through the 70's. I truly believe that the cause of that is the lack of individual input in today's racing, as well as a drastic lack of separation between the fans and the drivers.

In the old days;

The cars were all built by different people, usually the car owners, they all looked different, there were all kinds of bodies, from coupes, coaches to Gremlins, Pintos, Vegas, and just about anything else you could think of. People actually fell in love with certain cars, just because of the look of them. Today, they all look the same.

You could clearly see the drivers inside the cars as they wheeled their powerful steeds around the slippery clay speedway. Now all you can see is a helmet, with a full flip down shield, so you can't even see a face in the car.

There were no caution flags, they through the red flag whenever there was an accident, the cars would all stop on the main straight, in front of the stands, and most of the drivers would get out of the cars, and walk around and talk to each other, so people knew what all the driver's looked like. Also, fans would go up to the fence, and the drivers would come over and sign autographs. Today 90% of the fans would probably not recognize a Wade Hendrickson, or Jimmy Horton if they ran into them at the local 711. I suggest that the cars for the feature be brought over to the front stretch, and the drivers get out and walk up to the fence for a 15 minute autograph session before the race.

Even though Sprint cars have maintained their original look, I think the SS Sprints at New Egypt, and the Jasper Sprints at Bridgeport should run without wings. And then you have those damn panels on the right side of the cockpit to protect the drivers from flying rocks, and clay clumps from the car in front of them which create the same problem. From the stands, all you can see is a helmet. You can't watch the driver working that wheel to blast that 1200 pound flying missile around that slippery track. In other words you miss all the fun. Now I realize that those panels are a great protection for the driver, BUT prior to the World of Outlaws being sold, Ted Johnson was proposing replacing the metal ones with clear Lexan so that the fans could see the drivers. Seems like a great idea to me.

Maybe we should try going back to the home built type cars for at least one division at each track as well. Why not change the Sportsman series to the type cars that ran in the '60s or '70s. Now they look exactly like the Big Block Modifieds. Why run 2 series of cars that look exactly alike. BORING.

If that's what people liked 600 racing would only make one body style for their legends cars. they actually offer at least 7 or 8, because people like to see all these different looking cars racing each other.

Well, those are my opinions, please email me yours.

Till next time - Cemeteryjim

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11/02/05 Dave Daniels Hi Jim,I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your articles that you submit to 3-Wides site. 

I agree with you on the poor turnout of younger fans, race drivers, what have you, for the racing reunions that are periodically held.  I personally feel oval track racing will be a thing of the past within ten years here in the state of NJ.  I'm 39 and I own and race a big block mod on an occassion.  I grew up going to Statewide Speedway (Bridgeport) in 1975 to present day and the cool vibe that was present in racing, in that time, is gone.

Jim, I don't think this younger generation has any interest in racing!  I see a lack of respect for the older drivers, let alone for mature people in general!  It's all about being young!  We live in sad times!  I revere my racing heros!  In the late 80's I use to deal with Bud Olsen himself when I purchased parts.  I totally admire him and others from his generation who built their own cars from the ground up.   I've built a few this way and have seen success with them.  One was a late model for Flemington Speedway, that ended up racing at Bridgeport and New Egypt.

Well, I'm rambling on Jim,  I don't see guys younger than me caring at all for the history and people who made this sport what it is today!
11/3/05 cemeteryjim Hi Dave;  Thanks for your comments. I don't pretend to be a statistician, or to have direct knowledge of any other tracks in other states, but it does seem to me that NJ is is suffering a lot more from lack of paid attendance at speedways than most other states.

Pa. is loaded with speedways, most of which seem to be doing OK. The Midwest seems to be doing very well with both the sprints and midgets, and the IMCA style Modifieds. Many tracks seem to do very well with the dirt Late Models.

Maybe our problem is that we're running the wrong cars.It seems that 410 Sprints, and dirt Late Models, and IMCA Modifieds are more popular with fans than our northeast style Modifieds, so, maybe it's time we move on to one of those as the featured race cars.   Thanks for your comments; cemeteryjim
11/05/05 Walter Onora I started attending "Stock" car races int the early 60's (mainly Weissglass Stadium and Old Bridge), Then about 1967 or 1968, started going to Flemington.  I truly miss the "Good ole days". Each car had its won identity!! (E.G.Parker Bohn's 659, The XL1,driven by Joe Kelly or Tommie Elliot, or the Lightning Zero, driven by Budd Olsen, just to name three)

These cars now are all the same. I call them cookie cutter cars.  The drivers have no true identity, neither do the Modifieds, Sportsman, or whatever!   Almost hate to say it, but the thrill is gone!
11/10/05 cemeteryjim Thanks for your comments, Walt.

Those are 3 of my favorite cars, too. Especially the XL-1 that had the severely low, short hood with a windshield that looked 6' high, but full front fenders that came about 3 ' further forward than the hood. The one that Joe Kelly drove in about 1965. Call your local track and tell them how you feel and what you want to see, if enough people do that, maybe we can save our dieing sport.
11/10/05 BOB HUMMMER SR. Well said Jim, You are 100% correct and I couldn't agree more with the changes that you suggest being made which reflected on the "way we were" in racing in the past three to four decades. I remember these exciting races as a kid which got me hooked and when the day came that I could afford it I also got into racing in the late 80's.

The cars were not like they were as I grew up and I saw the fans dropping off as the sport turned into its modernization with all shelf manufactured parts, frames, bodies along with the fancy high dollar tow vehicles and trailers. It was so much more personalized when the cars were garage built from scratch vs. today's cars that are all so basically alike. It would be nice to see things go the other way but I doubt it will happen. Take care, Bob Hummer Sr. R7 modified

Thanks Bob, I agree that it's doubtful that those changes are going to happen, but I think if they don't it will eventually spell the demise of Dirt Modified racing.

One of the most popular cars on the ARDC full size Midget series is the Miller Racing ARDC sponsored car which is running a retro 50's style nose fabricated by one of the Miller crew.
grease_midget_nose.jpg (56529 bytes)

Personally, I LOVE to see that car out there, and I'm in the majority, not the minority on that, so... just maybe... other series will begin to see the light.

In the set of Modified pictures, I took a standard new Troyer, and doctored it up with '50's/'60's style sheet metal. As you can see, the inside wing, and cockpit and nose remain standard Troyer, only the outer sheet metal has been changes. The possibilities are endless and each car would have it's own personality.
grease_murrowcoupe (1).jpg (62702 bytes)
Again, thanks a lot for your comments,


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