"Harmony Speedway Memories"
Brainards, New Jersey
Here's yet another speedway that I didn't get too before the engines went silent, but fortunately, some of you did and it is our hope that you will share your memories with us. Please click below to add your memories of Harmony!
"Dad..., Can I have a quarter....." (Above decal was sold at the Harmony novelty stand.) Poster on the right provided by Mike Shaub
Background Information About Harmony Speedway from Greg Collins:
Carl VanHorn and Richard Crouse (a farmer from Harmony), were the original builders of the track which opened in June of 1963.
The last time "Modifieds" raced at Harmony was on July 7, 1972. During the final year of operation (1973) the track ran sportsman, late models and mini-stocks. The winner on that final night of Modified racing was Will Cagle in the #24 (100 lap Feature). The winner's share of the purse posted that night by track owner/promoter Anthony Pio Costa was $1500.
Fire service was provided by the Harmony Township Volunteer Fire Company which J. Richard Collins (father) was a member.
The property is now owned by Mallinckrodt Baker Incorporated. It's thought that the last deed transfer involving the sale of the speedway property to Mallinckrodt may have included a restriction that the property could not be used for racing purposes in the future.
Photo or right provided by John McCaughey and photo on left provided by George Koyt.
Harmony Drag Racing Memories
from Richard Coleman
from Greg Collins
more on the way... more on the way...
Click on the thumbnails below for a few pics from Harmony:
Harmony By the Hill!
Through the Fence.... 2006
Through the turn...
Ray Neary on the gas...
On the straightaway...
Tas in the Cozze #44
Dick "Toby" Tobias
more on the way...
more on the way...
more on the way...
HARMONY SPEEDWAY HOSTED FIRST NORTHEAST RACE OF THE 1970's
Provided by Harmony Speedway Historian Greg Collins, who used the Area Auto Racing News, the Easton Express, and his attendance at this event as sources for this article.
The advertisement in the March 4, 1970, issue of Area Auto Racing News proclaimed it to be the “1st Race of the ’70 Season”. The Harmony Speedway, a five-eighths mile dirt track located on River Road in Brainards, New Jersey, hosted the event on Sunday afternoon, March 8. Track owner Dick Crouse, race promoter Richard Gerhardt and chief steward Jim Nelson presented a racing program featuring modified stock cars which included heat races, a consolation race and a 30 lap feature race.
Pit gates opened at 10 o’clock for participants, and the 8,000 seat grandstand opened at 11:30 a.m. for spectators. Warm-ups began at 11:30 a.m. with the first heat taking the green flag at 1:00 p.m. Approximately 2,500 fans braved the chilly, windy conditions on that early March afternoon. Admission prices were $2.50 for adults, $.50 for children under the age of 12, and children under 6 admitted free.
The first heat race was won by Craig McCaughey in his #301, followed by Leon Manchester, Pepe Fernandez, and Ed Mann.
The second heat race was won by Al Tasnady in the Cozze #44, followed by Ray Neary, Phil Gemenden, and Jerry Morgan.
The third heart race was won by Dick Havens in the Taylor #93, followed by Roy Pauch, Joe Kelly and Jackie Hamilton.
The consolation race was won by Larry Honey in the #7, followed by Fred Bidwell and Jay Beers.
A special event on that afternoon was a scheduled 5 lap match race during the intermission period between Bucky Barker in the Ann Williams-owned URC sprint car and Al Tasnady in the Cozze Brothers #44 modified coupe. Barker’s sprint car had the advantage through the turns and coming off the turns, but Tasnady’s modified had the advantage on the straights. The race proved to be anti-climatic as Barker’s engine blew on the second lap of the race. Tasnady was in the lead at the time.
In the 30 lap feature race, Ed Farley started on the pole position and led the first two laps. Al Tasnady roared through the pack from his 17th starting position and took over the lead from Farley on lap three. Tasnady built a commanding lead while behind him Jackie Hamilton was locked in an early race duel with Leon Manchester and Ray Neary for second place. Tasnady led until lap 23 when the drive shaft broke on the Cozze #44, forcing him to a stop in the first turn.
On the restart Hamilton assumed the lead with Neary in hot pursuit. Behind them Roy Pauch and Craig McCaughey were battling for third position. Hamilton’s lead was short-lived as an axle snapped on his racer with just two laps to go, forcing him to slow his pace. Pauch also encountered mechanical problems and was forced to slow his pace.
Neary now assumed the lead and kept the Fred Menschner-owned silver #21 out in front for the final two laps of the race, taking the checkered flag six car lengths ahead of Craig McCaughey. Finishing third through tenth were Jackie Hamilton, Ed Mann, Ed Farley, Mike Erb, Larry Honey, Fred Bidwell, Roy Pauch and Jay Beers.
The advertised purse offered to participants was 60% of the gate. The drivers eventually shared a $3,000 purse, with $500 going to feature winner Ray Neary. Area Auto Racing News columnist Walter T. Chernokel noted in his column dated March 11 that the payout for the feature event was coordinated by Harold Rulon and Joe Mundics, and consisted of the following breakdown for positions first through tenth: $500, $400, $325, $265, $200, $160, $135, $110, $105 and $100.
Your Harmony Memories!
Bill Reich 01.07.17
I remember as a young boy going to the speedway with my dad, grandfather, cousins and uncles. It must have been about 1969 or so.
Years later after the track closed, my moms boyfriend (who raced cars) took a spin around the now pothole and deep ruts filled with a rented Tbird!
Memories, gotta love em
Jack Burroughs 07.06.12
I used to drive my Chassis Research SBC powered injected rail there on Sat. nights, 1 night I helped a guy with the same injectors I had and he beat me. Used to go there to see Pete Gardner run his Street Stock. #456.
Used to race there at night 1\8 mile drag strip.. White 1963 dodge max wedge ss\a .... Does anyone have any pictures ..or time tickets? I think I had rampage painted on front fender by then.. Also raced at Flemington drag strip on Rt 12 .
Would love to find some pictures of that old car - I don't even have one..
Joe Lomastro ....firstname.lastname@example.org..
Andy Bradley 05.20.10
Man! Harmony Speedway! And why is a guy from Florida thinking about Harmony Speedway? I stumbled onto the Speedway Memories web page, and then the official site, while looking for photos of old modifieds to show to my sons. We live outside of Orlando and we visit several local tracks a few times each year. Sadly, they’re paved, and the new modifieds are all the same now.
When I was little we lived in Phillipsburg, on Heckman Street, just down from Kal’s market. Remember Kal had a big old German Shepard that just roamed the store? Remember who lived right across the street? Babington. He raced a kinda white, kinda late 50’s, car I guess. It was pretty rough but it was very cool. I loved to go by his garage when he was out, to see the car and to talk to him. I was probably five or six, but he talked to me just like I was one of the guys. I remember one time he was going off over having to weld the centers into his new wheels, because for some reason, that’s just the way they came. I got the idea that the wheels were somehow mandated by the track. I saw him race at Harmony just a few times before the place closed.
We went to Nazereth a lot, Flemmington occasionally, and Reading when we were visiting my cousins out there. I went to Wall Stadium once when I was about ten. That was the first blacktop track I ever saw, outside of TV. Oh yea, Dorney Park was paved. I only went to the races there once. I remember a guy in a 55’ Chevy put it on it’s roof, got out, and with some help from, beats me, they flipped it over and got back go’in!
I moved to Alpha when I was nine. One of my favorite places to play was in the wrecked 3K, 40’ Ford mod I think. Ken Kutzman, who later was my science teacher, kept one of his wrecked cars right behind Kutzman’s Exxon in Alpha. Awesome! I remember one time he was turning, not so hot laps, in the field right behind the Exxon. Excellent! When I went to PHS, I met the VanBuskirk kids. Clark was a year or two ahead of me, but I remember him and the old man out in the car port swinging wrenches at all hours on that sprint car. Best thing about that was that they fired that car when that car was ready to fire, not according to any damn clock. Again, just excellent!
So I checked out the photos past and present, and that track is still there. So, of course, I got to thinkin’. Then I got sad. You could, but you can’t, although somehow, we can. I mean, you can do things in Florida that you can’t do in Jersey, anymore. We have Go-Kart tracks, Moto-X tracks, state forests where off road vehicles are welcome. We have a municipal skatepark that in my opinion is down right deadly. It’s all concrete, with bowls and concrete tables and staircases just placed randomly. And of course, you can buy beer anywhere. Beer at the racetracks, beer at the ball games, you can even buy singles at the gas station. But ya know? If I wanted to, here’s what I’d do. Maybe you can find someone who wants to.
With the demise of most, if not all motor racing venues in the Phillipsburg, NJ area, a product that once sold well in the area is no longer available. This product, a traditional family entertainment experience, continues to prove it’s viability in many other markets. Harmony Speedway presents an opportunity to capitalize on several factors. Supply in the area is non-existent, nostalgia is an old favorite, and several new forms of motor racing are gaining popularity in many areas. Harmony speedway has both a drag strip and an oval track. Modern day drag racing, on the local level, has changed from the days of the roaring lump under the hood, to high tech, street legal cars, trucks and bikes. And they’re quiet. The Go-Kart segment of motor racing has become a popular family sport due to the low cost and ease of transport. And they’re quiet. Drifting is also a popular new form of racing, and is easily accommodated by almost any racetrack or parking lot. And they’re quiet. And just getting to see an old modified or late model taking parade laps is also a crowd pleaser. Historic racing draws great crowds at Daytona twice a year, and then, of course, there’s the Monterey Historic races in California. Car shows are also popular and simple, and they’re quiet.
So. Who owns that land? I’ll bet Bob Shandor knows, and I’ll bet he could free it up if he wanted to. You’re gonna’ have to pave both tracks and probably some of the parking areas. I’d call Fred Weiss, or whoever is running Warren Paving now. Get a deal on the paving based on the potential to pave the area roads, which should become necessary if the speedway project is successful. Get Toby’s, Joes, and Jimmies Hot Dogs to show up with mobile kitchens, and advertise at their restaurants. Get the area high schools to promote use of the track as opposed to street racing. You’ve also managed to get ESPN to the area a few times. Does anyone have any contacts there? If not, make some. Play up the nostalgia, the country atmosphere, and most of all, the family entertainment. Make it like the fair. Daytona has carnival rides in the infield, even a Ferris wheel during the twenty four hour race. It doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t be, just about racing. And keep in mind, it’s your track, so if you want mufflers on the cars, then put mufflers on the cars. Dad and the kids don’t care how fast they go, they’re happy enough just doing something as a family.
My biggest complaint about P’burg was that there really was very little to do. Give em’ something to do. Oh yea, and try to figure a way to sell beer, maybe call that new Governer guy. He just may help you.
Nancy (Griffin) Collett 03.09.10
Mr Metz may have been the electrician (see post below), but my dad "SPEEDY GRIFFIN" of Griffin & Williams Electric was the original electrician & my Dad set all the poles & wires at the Harmony Raceway. So many memories going to the track watching Daddy do all that & then to go back & watch the races. Those were wonderful memories.
Donald Metz was the individual who performed the electrical work for Richard Crouse and Carl Van Horn during the construction of the track in 1963, and this gentleman is still active in the electrical business today.
We lived across the field from the speedway. I clearly remember while the track was under construction that the operator of "earth mover" giving me a ride on it while building. The next day I was sick with the flu, as it turned out, the operator was sick also. I used to go there quite often to watch it being built. The cart that that was used run up and down to pour concrete for the stands laid in the fence-row on top for many years and there may be remnants yet.
My mother, brother Keith and I were at the race when Hoop caught the skunk. Mom used to love the races.
My brother Wayne did the sound system for the track.
What comes around goes around. Like my sister Candy, I worked in the refreshment stand in '72, '73.
Watching the cars go by the house on race night was always a big event. Back then as kids we would build push cars to run down the hill and Keith painted his orange with blue "95" on it. He would put in front of the house on race night waiting for Hoop to go by.
Dick? Kutzler used to drive his race car on the road from Harmony Station area to get to the track.
If I remember correctly, Tri-State was the name of the organization that last ran races at the track.
Larry Ehasz 02.18.09
Some of the girls that worked in the food stand at Harmony Speedway were Helen Lutz / Beverley Crouse, Candy Lukachek and Dawn Hockenberry from Barinards. In the fries stand was Dave /Billy Cavanaugh from Alpha NJ.
Alby Salter 07/31/07
Harmony was great d-shape track. I was born and raise in Harmony and went to all the races. I still live about a mile from the track. We deer hunt thru there now - it is so thick with bushes. There was some good races there. Ii remenber when Stan Ploski was just a rookie back then.
Gary Rush 07/12/07
The #77 featured in the "A Few Harmony Photos" section is a rare Chevrolet body style. It is a 37 or 38 coach, a 2dr sedan without a trunk or hump with the spare tire mounted under the rear window. the 77 was powered by a fuel injected 427 FORD. This car was one of only a few that could beat Dick Tobias in the Consoli #54 or Al Tasnady in the #39 at the R.S.C.A sanctioned Sunday night races at the HARMONY speedway. The 77 was unbeatable down the long frontstrech and handled well throuh the rear dog leg. Lux had the gearing just right for the HARMONY track. Ii rarely missed any races at HARMONY from day 1 of the track.
My father was Peppy Fernandez, I was only 5 years old when went to Harmony, my father ran sportsman AND SOME MODIFIED. AT ONE POINT THEY HAD A BOUNTY OUT ON HIM BECAUSE HE WON SO MANY FEATURES, THEY INCREASED IT EACH WEEK, HE RAN THE RED X9.I REALLY MISS THOSE DAYS. THANKS FOR THIS GREAT SITE!!!!!
George Collins Date: 08/07/06
I ran Harmony on Friday the 13th of July 1973. It was in a Modified Mini Stock and the last race I ever ran. There was a problem with the track as far as wet spots up in high in turn 5 (remember that you had the D in the back). It was a heat race and everybody would run the feature that night, being a 5/8 mile there was plenty of room for all the AMSA cars that made the tow.
I started on the tail of the heat since I had never seen the track before and did not want to cause a problem on the start. Got the green, ran thru #1 & 2 hit the dogleg and just got a launch down the track, I was told I moved up to 3 rd on just the dogleg. I got into 4 & 5 up high and was just getting the car set for the run down the front chute. Car was sideways and then it got a good bite and shot into the inside fence about where the #7 of Leon Manchester is in the picture. The impact "Z" bent the driveshaft and moved the engine BACK almost 3 inches. The cage broke at the welds to the frame but the seat and belts held just fine. I got out of the car and walked back to my trailer. My dad said "Your mother is going to kill you" Car was a total my dad got sick and I moved to Florida.
The car #25 was sold for the undamaged parts for $35.00. Never found out who bought it.
I never went back but that night even the Sportsman cars put on a great show and the thunder off their motors made you wonder what the big boys sounded like in that valley.
Take Care - George Pavlisko CEO
From: Greg Collins Date: 08/07/06
Joe Poliachek and his brother Dave were what I guess you'd call the "General Managers" of Harmony Speedway in preparation for the 100 lapper that was run for the modifieds in July of 1972 (won by Will Cagle). Anthony Pio Costa had purchased the track at auction, and we suffered through 3 or 4 weeks of rainouts before we ran our one and only show under Mr. Pio Costa. I was a 17 year old from Harmony, and worked at the track every day in preparation for that race, rode my bike a few miles to the track every day, and pedaled home in the dark at night, we painted anything and everything that didn't move (including toilets!), cut grass, chopped weeds, I remember Joe riding a tractor with a grass cutter attached to the back of it, cutting the grass in the parking lot, going into the dark hours of the night. Had a bunch of us teenagers who were on top of the world helping out during that time, it allowed us to be "on the inside" and what a thrill it was.
One evening as we were working Mr. Pio Costa arrived at the track in what I remember as a mile-long Caddy, the car was driven by his "driver", who was modified driver Lou Inzio. He bought us burgers and milkshakes.
For the race I ended up assisting the announcer in the press box (I received the lineups from the pit shack, was a "spotter" for the announcer, called down results to the pit shack, and at the end of the night assisted Mr.Pio Costa in getting him from the press box down to victory lane for the trophy presentation to Cagle). It was from that experience that I began to follow Joe's career and would always look for him and his father in the Nazareth pits in the years after that. Priceless memories.
Thanks for you efforts with the site that keeps people and events from the past alive for folks like me who were blessed to have been present during the truly golden age of dirt track modified racing in this area.
Greg Chelak 07/08/06
1. In the late 60's Harmony Speedway became special summer weekends where my mother [Marjorie] would take my brother [Gerard the Photographer] and I just to get away. We loved it, getting there as early as one possibly could, touring the drag strip examining all the weekend warriors machines, climbing on the trailers, under the cars and thru the windows getting our picture taken next to our favorites, as the evening progressed taking in the fantastic "Power Sliding" Modified action, staying till the lights went out and then crashing at the Holiday Inn near Phillipsburg to review our purchases from the concession stand. Those fantastic small, black & white photos one can purchase for twenty five cents each. My brother and I collected Cagle in the Red # 24 coupe, Decker in the blue # 16 sedan, Sonny Strupp in the Charlie Frank orange # 55, Whip Mulligan # 1 coupe, Jim Wismer 7A coupe, Bobby Bottcher in the 666 Coach, Bud Olsen in the cream # 0 coupe, Billy D in the # 104 Blue coupe, Larry Honey in the # 1 Coach, 777 Chi-Chi Special coupe, Del George in the orange 52 coupe to name a few! I believe some where we have, an original Harmony Speedway decal also some where in our collection! [I have attached a couple of "Shoe Box Shots"]
2. Early memories about the speedway were the huge looking stands sunk into the "Hill" with Speedway written across the top [my brother and I had fun with that] but on a hot August afternoon the concrete / block construction would absorb the suns heat and dissipate it all evening long. Speaking of obstacles that proved you were a "Die - Hard" Harmony lover, what about combating the insects at dusk, Gee! None of this deterred the excitement and anticipation of any young race fan. We would always look forward to the next trip to the track as much as any other.
3. As a Jr. in High School I began writing my own column "Inside the Pits" for the local home town newspaper The Orange County Post, out of Washingtonville, NY. Favorite columns included the Harmony Years of '71 & '72. On Friday nights I wouldn't be running at Accord Speedway you could find me in the pits at Harmony with my trusty Underwood clapping out the keys. I am on a mission to retrieve as many of those columns as possible to share with the 3 Wide's Picture Vault over this year.
4. In the Vault's posting "Few Pictures from Harmony" If you click on the Will Cagle photo I am the guy in the white shirt and blue jeans with the "Big Part" in the hair walking behind Cagle. I believe that was 1972, I don't think this particular race was the 100 lapper he won to close the Modified action at the "D-Shaped" facility for good!
5. Cagle & Bottcher battles were plentiful in those years. Wiley Will studying every inch of the race surface prior to the feature making the competition believe he was "Reading" it like an encyclopedia. Bottcher wouldn't be fooled and would resort to his patented fourth turn three wide move to assist his charge to the front of the field. These two drivers were the dominant but the real racers were the likes of Ward Crozier, Charlie Decker, Sonny Strupp, Dave Pace, Lee Hendrickson, Leon Manchester, Del George and Pepe Fernandez. These drivers made Harmony come alive night after night. How about "Cowboy Leon" one tough competitor, always trying extra hard for that Harmony win which would elude him! His three window coupes were always prepared and ready for action.
6. Cagle always wanting the same pit area and crying about it if some one took it before he got there. He would make your night terrible if you attempted to stay in "His Pit Spot" both off the track and on it also!
7. The Back-Shoot "Dogleg" was special, only a limited few photographers got to stand buy the rails there, I was one of the fortunate. You could almost reach out and touch the cars running the rail as they raced by, provided for some great shots.
8. While the pit action was close and furious the 1/8th mile Drag Strip positioned in front of the grandstands put the fans too far away from the action. That was a problem for any young child who liked to poke their nose through the fence and talk to his favorite driver before the start of the feature. Anyway you look at it "Racing by the Hill" was unique & memorable!
9. Tri-State! Was a huge impression on my Harmony memories. Harmony was home for Tri-State and Leon Manchester [President.] Tri State /Harmony were out to prove a point at the big name tracks and they did. The car counts were down at Middletown and other locations. In order to see majority of your favorite Super Stars you would have to make the journey to Harmony. Just before Exit 16 on the New York State Thruway [Harriman] to the right, painted on a large rock in full color was "Tri-State All the Way!" It remained much longer then the Speedway but every time I passed it brought back Harmony memories. 10. The closing years the trusty Late Models took over the helm with the likes of Clarence Hill in the Hills Brothers # 28 Late Model, Jimmy Weed of Washingtonville, NY in his # 13 would make the occasional long haul and a cast of other local favorites attempting their skills on the "D - Shaped" speed plant. Although they were good events they didn't hold the action as the Modified's would in the earlier years.
11. The cast of characters that competed at Harmony were as much a part of the track itself!
One thing neat about Harmony was you could see your favrote driver coming down the drag strip entering the track hearing the beachboys songs like lil. ducecoupe 409 and others. My niece lives in Brainards. We went to a picnic I am standing at the end of her yard she comes up to me and says what are you starring at? I'm looking at turn two and could see Toby Tobias getting it sideways taking to the D if you know what i mean. If you went to Harmony and watch it you know what I mean. If you missed it wow what a memory.
Craig C. Snyder 01/02/06
My father use to tell me of a race at Harmony, I would assume in 1963. My father raced a 1937 Ford humpback Sedan with a flathead. So he ran the sportsman division.
He told me about the time he raced against Aldo Andretti.
My Father would tell me about a race that he said he was entering the dogleg on the outside. There was another car on the inside of my Father. Aldo made an attempt to pass both cars between them. Hence, my Father ended up over the fence. My Father said that the dogleg turn was not wide enough to race three wide. Aldo thought differently.
My father never talked bad about Aldo. He always gave the impression that it was a racing crash. My Dad always said that Aldo was the better driver of the two brothers.
I never got to see my father drive a race car. But I did get a lot of great stories from him. He did take me to see a couple of races at Harmony in the early 70's. I was only five or six. But I do remember the concrete stands. A lot of great memories of my Dad and early races. My Dad is now resting at Greenwich Cemetery. The only thing left are his memories. Great ones at that.
If anyone would have a little information about my father, Craig Snyder was his name. His car was a blue no. 12. I think he said the 12 was yellow or gold. Please email me at email@example.com My name is Craig Snyder too. My Dad ran a Tobias Gremlin in 1973. It was a red white and blue 11x.
From: Barry Pursell 11/02/05
Bob Rossell in the #36 running away with the feature - Sees the white flag and pulls into the pits. (thought the white flag was the checker). On monday he had checkered flags hanging all around his bay just to remind him.
Does anyone remember Clarence Williams in the 45x? Hhe ran a straight 6 cyl. He would go from the pole to last by the time he got to the first turn. One week he put a V8 in the car and flipped end over end. Next week back to the 6cyl.
How about Russ Stecker in the 3 sportsman and his wife Wanda winning in the powder puffs. Those were the good times. Thanks Barry Pursell - Allentown, PA.
From: Mark Allen 08/05/05
My father owned Jack Reilly's 33 sportsman in the middle 60's. I remember sneaking into the pits as a 12 year old. Dad always parked next to Frankie Schneider. I had to keep a low profile so I would not get caught and banished to the infield. Frankie would always find 5 minutes to stand in the back of Dad's pick up and talk to me.
I remember Will Cagle going over the scales before the Feature and immediately pulling back into the pits and changing all 4 tires.
And how about the night Carl Van Horn kept everyone waiting in a thunderstorm after the feature trying to find a way to pay the purse!
From: Larry Ehasz 02/02/05
I REMEMBER AT HARMONY SPEEDWAY SEEING HOOP SCHIABLE IN THE ORANGE #95.
SCHAIBLE CHASE A WILD SKUNK THROUGH THE PITS.
ALSO REMEMBER SEEING HOOP SCHAIBLE COME FROM BEHIND TO WIN THE 1964 > WORLD'S FAIR HANDICAP FEATURE WHICH WAS HIS ONLY FEATURE WIN AT HARMONY.
KIDS THAT WENT -ABLY SALTERS, BILLY GRIFFET, WOODY STASAK, BOB FECHISIN, PAULY CATHERS, STEVE EHASZ, JOHN LABAR (ALL FROM BRAINARDS OR HARMONY) AND JIMMY CRANE FROM BELVIDERE..
From: ABC1Rob 01/27/05
Did Pete Madsen ever drive Don Morris's 111 car at Harmony? I remember him driving the car. I just don't remember what track. A list of other drivers in the #111 were Stan Ploski, Sandy rochelle, Joe Sulpy, Paul Nuelton, Billy Benson (Nickname, EMO) and a couple others. If someone can remember. The cars were certainly some of the best looking. I have a picture of Ploski in victory lane at Flemington in the #111. I think from the Shaffer Qualifier.
From: Terry Ziegler 01/01/05
I remember one night at Harmony during the RSCA years. I was just a kid and a huge Tas fan. They had a double feature, I believe because of a rainout, and Dick Tobias was his number one rival at Reading and Harmony. Anyway, Toby beat Tas in both features (cleanly I might add), and I was pretty upset about that. After the races, mom and dad would always stop at the Starlite Diner in Fogelsville for something to eat. Anyway, the place was packed and after we got our table, guess who walks in! Toby and Mary. Dad, being the nice guy he was, offered the seats to them, and guess who sat next to me! I earned a new respect for Toby that night, but Tas was still the man!
From: Mike Schaub 12/30/04
I recall the good old days. My friends and I used to help Pete Gillete and Bill Rafter in the potent #45 from NY when they would come down in the early spring. One day in particular we ran at Nazareth in the afternoon and like most of the cars/driver we headed off to Harmony for the Sunday night race.
Pete and Frankie Schneider were close friends and Frankie had told us to follow him. We stopped at a diner in Phillipsburg to eat. The place was packed and everyone was dressed up. Frankie walked into the diner and several minutes later he came out and told us to follow him. As we walked into the diner, all dirty and scruffy, the people looked at us as though we were scum. The owner had 2 booths cleared and two waitresses waiting for us to order. We got our food within 5 minutes, ate and left. Everything was on the house. The owner and Frankie were very good friends. The looks on those people that were still waiting to eat and get in were priceless!! Frankie took us the back way so that we didn't have to take the narrow road along the river and railroad tracks. I believe Frankie won that night and Rafter finished in the top ten.
One other memory I have is one night after it had rained, Lindy had asked for anyone in the pits or infield to help dry the track out by bringing out there personal vehicles. There was a gentleman in a new white Ford pick-up truck trying his hand at "Racing". He went through the dogleg, lost it and backed it into the inside guardrail and totaled the rear end. They needed a tow truck to remove him from the track. The best part was that it was his employers BRAND NEW Ford pick-up. I'm sure he had a lot of explaining to do on Monday morning!!
Harmony was a very unique track that unfortunately was kind of out of the way for most people. Plus it was a Sunday night race running against Nazareth, and whoever didn't wreck their cars on Friday or Saturday that didn't go to Nazareth would go there. Depending on how quickly the races went at Nazareth, you could drive quickly and get to Harmony in time for the consolation. I know there were two consolations races on several occasions because of the cars coming from Nazareth.
Mike Shaub Sr.
From: Pete Madsen Date: 12/18/04 Only one donor in 1 year? Guess I'll speak up! (Editor's Note: 70's Sportsman and Modified Driver Pete Madsen is referring to the lack of participants in our Harmony Memories Section - We thank Pete for his comments)
I remember Neary that year also. (referring to Greg's comment below about Ray Neary driving the Menschner silver and red #21 in 1970) Heck, if you saw it, you COULDN't forget it; the way he backed the thing into 1. It looked like he had no brakes, and that's how he got it slowed enough to get thru! Tobias did it similar, but not nearly as radical as Neary.
Does anyone remember the match race between Tas and Toby? I was a Tas fan, but Toby embarrassed Tas in that one! How about Anna Mae Pauch blasting thru the guardrail out into the cornfield during a powderpuff! Anyone remember THAT? Oh yes, Frankie Schneider; he OWNED the place in the 60's. No radical maneuvers like the others..he just passed them where he found them. Made it look easy.
For a time, I think Vacari ran the place. I remember the 3 minute clock, just like Reading. Quite a few Reading guys ran there, too.
I remember Tas doin' the dogleg. He would come off 2 up against the wall, then he'd get it turned before he got to the dogleg. When he reached it, he'd shoot across to the inside and pick off one or two a lap the same way each time going into 4. I remembered that, and when we built the new car in73, we took it up to Harmony. In a short time, I had that move figured out, and in the feature we came thru quickly using it. We had already passed Larry Honey, who won that night, and got to fourth before having to pull out.
It seems they had a real track problem with dust that summer. I had never raced on a track with anywhere near that much dust. I always strapped my facemask around the outside of the helmet. This left a slight gap on the edge of each eye, and the dust poured in. The further toward the front we got, (and the dryer the track got) the more excruciating the pain became! Calcium burns like hell, and even though you couldn't tell by the dust, they apparently had SOME down! Well, with the adrenaline flowing, and knowing we had a shot at it, I was going to stay out. But when a caution came out, I couldn't stand it any more. Had to pull out. Ah, the learning curve (.and a pretty expensive lesson!)
One more thing. Does anyone remember the drag strip they had there? It was an eighth mile. I raced on that, too. There was a '63 Galaxie with a 427 that ran there. It was sponsored by Allen Ford, and was quick enough that I remembered it!
That's it for now. Pete Madsen
From: Greg Collins Date: 12/22/03
- I grew up in Harmony, NJ, and attended the vast majority of races held there over the years it operated, 1963 through 1973. Years ago I put together a history of the races run there. I worked there the last two years of operation (as a teenager), helping sign in the cars and assisting the announcer as a spotter and communicating with the pit shack getting race lineups, etc.
- My father is a member of the Harmony Township Volunteer Fire Company, which provided fire protection at the track. I recall him crawling into an upside down car to hit the kill switch for a dazed driver.
- Tas and Toby, Jackie Evans (I got his autograph behind the press box one of those years), all those great RSCA guys made the trek to Harmony. Of course, my all-time favorite is Frankie Schneider, who is the all-time modified feature winner at Harmony. He even won a minstock feature in 1973!
- I was also there the night in 1965 when Larry Dickson won the URC sprint car feature. Indy 500 driver Steve Krisiloff raced in a SCODA sports car race at Harmony in, I believe, 1964 or 1965. I once asked Wally Dallenbach if he had ever race at Harmony. He said no, but he had gone to the track once as a spectator with Will Cagle. Mario Andretti told me he had never raced there. His brother Aldo did race there in the first year or two.
- Ray Neary - wow, do I ever remember the way he would pitch his #21 sideways at the end of the frontstretch and back it into the first turn. He really had that place mastered. Won the season opener for the entire East Coast at Harmony back in 1970. As I recall Toby Tobias would pitch his #54 in the same way during the RSCA years of 1966 and 1967.
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