The demise of the Midstate Vintage Stock Car Club this past fall can be attributed to an
accumulation of many factors which I'll attempt to outline from my perspective. To fully
understand the downfalls though, you first have to understand the roots of the club, where it
started and how it grew initially.
    The Club was initially called the Midstate Antique Stock Car Club as that properly described
our activities which was to restore and/or re-create stock cars that had raced at local tracks in the
1950's and 1960's. Since the club was being formed by guys from New Berlin, Pittsfield and
Franklin, NY - the local tracks we had in mind included Brookfield, Midstate (Morris), Fonda,
Utica-Rome, Syracuse and Five Mile Point. The main purpose of the club was to honor the former
racers who built and raced these cars.  
    The initial rules did not include tubular frames, they were not allowed. Nor were overhead V8's,
we discussed both right from the beginning and voted against them both. The reasoning was that
we didn't feel the tube frames fit the era we wanted to promote, and the overhead V8's we felt
would be too expensive, and too fast. What we decided upon were the 1963-1964 rules from
Midstate Speedway which allowed unlimited Flatheads -V8's & 6's as well as Stovebolts (Chevy &
GMC 6 cylinders). Some members didn't feel this equipment was accessible so we allowed
overhead 6 cylinder engines as the 'alternative'. When the 292 Chevy and 300 Ford proved too
dominant, this 'alternative' engine formula was cut back to 250 cubic inches with a single barrel
carburetor. This proved to be a good formula as the competition between this engine package and
full out flatheads & GMC 6's was keen. The 50's class was allowed unlimited modification to their
GMC's and Flatheads since they were limited in initial design by fewer main bearings, and poor
fuel flow. We also felt that if we could get members to build cars with original speed performance
equipment, it would draw interest to our club. It worked very well and over the years we had
stroked flathead Fords, Mercury's, Hudson's and Plymouth's. We had supercharged and injected
flatheads, a crossfire, a 12-port injected GMC, a bon-a-fide 1800lb Pennsylvania Bug, as well as
Track Champions from New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and New York in the 50's class. The 60's
class was just as interesting with cars from all over New York representing former drivers, most of
them original cars.
    The first mistake the club made was allowing the tube frames into the club. It passed by one
vote and coming out of the meeting that day a fellow from Connecticut said, "You just lost your
club." The initial idea was to allow just the frame as many related it was 'hard' to find a good
frame. It really wasn't that hard at the time (and wouldn't be now either) - it was just a matter of
fixing a frame and building a cage - which was considerably more work than picking up discarded
Troyer for $100. Many of us felt it was a mistake - still they had to outfit them with leaf springs at
that point, and a new class featuring the 70's cars was formed. Initially this class had the same
engine rules as the 60's class. But then some flathead car blasted past a 70's car one night and
from then on, things changed...
    The competition continually ramped up from that point on. The 70's class was separated from
the 50's & 60's classes, and henceforth set their own rules which continuously included more and
more contemporary equipment. A few people joined with deep pockets and things changed again
when a brand new Bicknell down tube chassis entered the club in the mid 90's - it got ridiculous
fast - $10K engines and more... The tube chassis made the club accessible for more people who
couldn't fabricate a car, but it also made it impossible for these same people to be competitive
without spending heavily. And so, human nature or more precisely - competition is what was now
fueling the club. It was about this time we changed the name from 'Antique' to 'Vintage' and
correctly described ourselves as a racing club. There were a lot of growing pains, as with anything
to do with competition, there was plenty to argue about. So, 'Social Club' and 'Competition' don't
always mix... cliques were formed, people ostracized, it wasn't always pretty. The club continued to
get offers from tracks further and further from our center and we had started charging a fee to put
on a show. As long as we were getting paid, and getting into the pits free, many of our members
could afford to do it. At this point it was very much like racing in the 50's and 60's, guys who really
couldn't afford it were able to do it with the gas money we split up at the end of the night. And, for
the most part we all helped each other, so while the competition was heady, the camaraderie was
still great, at least up until about 2005... The members who fell by the wayside were almost always
replaced quickly, and the core members still went on. At one point, in the late 90's, we had 55
cars in the pits at Fulton, and 53 the next night at Utica-Rome. A lot of cars, we had over 100 in
the club at that point. The formula was pretty good at that point - the timing was right, in other
words it wasn't sustainable. But, it sure was fun.
    The first crack in the armor was the loss of the fee's from the tracks who said they
wouldn't/couldn't pay us any longer. That meant a lot of guys who did it on a shoestring couldn't
continue, at least not as they had before. That hurt car count. Other things that hurt car counts
was domination in classes, some guys just gave up. Still, we had healthy car counts and for the
most part were able to keep classes separated as most tracks. When we couldn't, it was a problem.
The biggest mistake I saw in the club without doubt was the incorporation of the overhead V8's. It
doomed the club as it made all of the current equipment obsolete. Talk about irony, you have a
club that runs obsolete equipment and in one fell swoop you make that all equipment obsolete. All
the 50's cars were now uncompetitive and most parked. All the 6 cylinder engines were in the
same boat. Many tried, but success was not easily found.. The thing is, the OHV V8's could have
easily been incorporated in a limited package that would have allowed all the other equipment to
continue to race competitively. It was stubbornness, a personality conflict and stupidity that led to
the rules package that alienated many club members and led to the current state of the club,
which is now defunct.
    Still, even from that point in 2005 it took 10 years before the club completely petered out. In
that time several things happened:
1.) Convoluted rules that were not always applicable to all members and hard to follow. Not to
mention that some were not easily measurable. Let's face it, when you have 2010 Bicknell and
IMCA chassis, it's no longer a 'Vintage' club. It's like starting a Model T club and allowing Corvettes
in. It didn't really matter what a guy built, it would be accepted anyway as the club 'needed the
car count'... Problem with that was for every guy you gained with an out of spec. car, you lost a
couple who had cars that were within the rules. It became nothing more that a traveling
sportsman show with old tin for the top of the bodies only, and members were not the only ones
who lost interest. The last show I saw this past year, people were going to the concession stand
during the MVSCC feature. The fact is, people who now attend races weren't going to the races
when coupes and coaches were THE race cars, and what the club was putting on the track was not
compelling enough to draw their interest. The racing wasn't good. The cars didn't accurately
represent anything remotely close to what ever era they were attempting to depict. Nobody
recognized the drivers or cars. It was a true travesty.
2.) Poor Leadership. Several guys tried and undoubtedly their hearts were in the right place. It's
easy in hindsight (or even at the time..) to criticize someone's effort but the simple truth is that
the leadership of the club failed. There was no enforcement of any rules, in fact many were 'bent'
to allow certain favored members to race, and in fact many a night was manipulated in one fashion
or another (lineups, classifications) to allow these certain favored members to win a class. People
in the stands, race fans, know a farce when they see it. The influx of cars that were allowed led to
the group losing any unique flavor it had at the onset of the club - and the purpose became
getting members a checkered flag so that I once thought we were going to play t-ball (everyone
gets a trophy...). It wasn't a club that any longer honored the memory of former drivers - not when
everyone had their own name on the cars, no one cares who 'Mike' or 'Kavin' is.... and it wasn't
really a racing club either when you put a car with a $14K engine in it up against (1) one other
guy in a class and give him a checkered flag at the end of the 'race'. I saw one member get lapped
(3) times and pull in for the checkered flag and a class win. It was pathetic. Truth is, a leader in
this type of club has to be a bit of a Napolean, a dick-tater... but one who can still bullshit and get
along with people, but be firm. It's not an easy task and it's certainly a thankless one. We did have
a few good leaders in the club over the first 20 years.....
3.) Age. Like I said, not many, if any, race fans in the stands today, remember the coupes and
coaches. At this point, in order for any racing fan to become interested in the club we would have
to do some promoting and educate people as to what a car of this era was like. That's hard to do
when you're pointing to a contemporary chassis. One night at Thunder Mountain I won the 50's
and 60's class race, in victory lane the third turn flagger came up to me and asked what my car
was "34 Ford" I responded. "Flathead engine from 1952, 1936 Ford frame with model A frame up
front, 1939 Ford transmission, halibrand 6 spline quickchange from the 1950's in the rear." He
was looking it over and nodding, it's all home made shade tree mechanic stuff and it shows.
"What's that?" he asked pointing to the 70's class winner. "That's a Troyer." I responded, he went
over and looked and then came back. "You're right. I can't believe they run that." Truth, the
equipment in the club for the last 10 years is likely as good as, or better than, the equipment
being run in most tracks sportsman divisions. It truly became a traveling sportsman show. I heard
guys bragging of 470+ horsepower... (and that was before the 'unlimited' asphalt class that has
cars in the 815-850 Hp range....) The last time I raced was at Thunder Mountain, I was lucky
enough to win. So was Doug Worthing's son Byron, in the modifieds. Afterward we talked and he
wondered aloud if Byron's car would be legal in our club, it was a 2007 Chassis. And it would be,
all he needed to do was add the 'restrictor' plate (which adds 9 hp) and the corresponding Holley
4412, along with a piece of tin off the top of some sedan and he's legal... I've digressed from the
starting point of this bullet, AGE. Most of the guys who helped start the club, and the core
members, have gotten old and cranky and don't have the energy they used to. It just became
something we didn't want to do anymore, when something you're doing for fun isn't fun anymore,
why bother? Especially when you have another club that is doing it right and you can have fun
with that.
4.) Talent, or lack thereof I should say. The club, at least during it's heyday, was a 'do it yourself '
deal. At the end there wasn't a handful of guys who could fabricate. I watched some of them. Then
there was the matter of driving them. One rule placed a hard tire on a car that had won (3) feature
events - I never understood why you would want to make the fastest car in the club squirrelly with
essentially a novice driver. And then there is the horsepower issue which I alluded to above. Now,
it must be agreed that adding OHV V8's did make the cars more authentic, no argument there.
And I do like that some of the asphalt guys are using vintage paint schemes, kudos to that but I
also fear that when you put what amounts to essentially a novice driver in one of these cars with
815-850 horsepower, which is more that the NASCAR modifieds are boasting, then it's a recipe for
some really bad stuff... just my opinion. I'd really prefer not to see someone hurt.
5.) Travel. It got too spread out, the cost of gas went up, then down but still, car counts were
always poorer at the 'outskirt' tracks. The tracks that always got the best car counts were in
Central NY. And another thing that lead to poor car counts was the schedule. Too many races
scheduled which meant that members could pick and choose, and skip shows they didn't want to
support. Of course EVERYONE wants those races at the meetings but then come time to actually
make them there was always a myriad of reasons not to... 'it's too hot... it's too far... it's date nite...
I heard them awllllll....
6.) Lack of Purpose. Initially the 'cars were the stars...' When it became all about the club
members, who wanted to see their names in print, it was doomed. One president, who shall
remain nameless, related to me that "I've never seen a group of more selfish people." It was the
truth. The Attitude changed over the years, members felt entitled to see their name in the Gater,
and on the internet. They expected to get into the pits free, and to have the lineup set up, and
they'd  better have a good spot. They usually felt that we should be paid for our racing, that we
should have all the warmup time, and as many laps as we wanted. They were totally oblivious to all
the work it took to get there, how long it took to obtain those perks, and clueless as to what a
privilege it was to even be on a track. Spoiled rotten. And out of touch with what a promoter
wanted or needed from the club. When it became all about the members, the purpose of honoring
former racers was lost and, as far as I'm concerned, so was the club. The members became their
own worst enemy, thought only of themselves and not the club as a whole or for the future of the
club.

    You could probably file this entire group of thoughts under 'Who Cares' - but to many of us the
club was important. Otherwise it would not have lasted for 32 years. It was a good club, for many
years. We put on excellent shows at several venues through- out New York, Pennsylvania and
Canada. At Syracuse our races were always the most competitive of the day. Through the club I
met many former racers and long time friends, the camaraderie was great. The cars were unique,
and so was the racing, which as anyone who's raced knows, is very addicting. It didn't matter how
much work it cost, it was worth it once you got on the track. At least it was up to a certain point,
and that point has been passed. But, when the club was going good, when you got a fair shake,
and the talent on the track meant you had to earn a top ten finish, it was great. It's too bad it
couldn't have continued that way.

    So, there it is, how not to run a successful social club. The reformed (2005) Midstate Antique
Stock Car Club that does still exist (and thrives with a limited membership..) has re-asserted the
original purpose and philosophy of restoring original stock cars of 1950's through the early 1970's
now, and has decided to leave the competition on the track to other entities that have splintered
off of the MVSCC disbandment. What we would like to do with promoters this year is to continue
to display our cars behind the grandstands at racing events, and then take them to the track for
some hot laps to show them off. No racing events, just hot laps. Of course there is an agreement
amongst us not to bang each other up as nobody wants to bring home their nicely restored car in
a bushel basket, nor is that any fun for the fans to see them get towed off. We also want to educate
people who are interested in what these cars are, we have to create interest in them if we want this
part of the sport's history to survive - otherwise they're just dust collectors - or rat rods... It
shouldn't be difficult to do, when you can display a period correct car as a training tool, that
makes the job easy. With this philosophy and purpose, our club will remain unique from the
racing clubs, and restore the name of 'Midstate' as a proper Antique Stock Car Club, just as it was
on the onset. The Real Deal. Anyway, that's our plan. Should be Fun! See you at our shows this
coming summer.       
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