IFART
As I recall from conversations
with my father, his first
recollection of going to the
races as a boy started with the
#35 car built in New Berlin,
Ny. The car was owned by
Herman Strain who had taken
out a ‘business’ loan for his
garage, and promptly bought a
racing engine instead. The car
was worked on by several local
New Berlin businessmen
(including Doc Myers) and was
originally piloted by a thrill
seeking Frank Wright. The
team was novices however and
had placed coil springs under
the front end which according
to Otto Graham, “Made the car
act like a pogo-stick”. Frank
promptly put the car on it’s
top the first time out at Morris
Speedway, ending his racing
‘career’. Jerry Pittsley later
campaigned the car and my
father tagged along with him
to 5 Mile Point in Kirkwood,
NY to watch the races. He
remembered that Ken ‘Monk’
Rauch was the top dog that
night (as in many of the early
1950’s events @ 5MP). That
was likely in the 1953-1954
timeframe, and my father’s
desire to go racing stated at
that time. In 1956 he and
some friends in High School -
Frank Myers, Ralph Raasted,
and Mark Enman conned local
garage proprietor Hermie
Strain into giving them a 1941
Ford Coupe to convert into a
race car and the ‘Tomato Juice
Special’ V8 was born. The car
ran in the ‘B’ Class at Morris
and Brookfield Speedways
with a stock flathead V8 that
the boys would run ‘full tilt’ in
2nd gear (with a hook on the
dash to keep the
transmissions locked) until
they blew. Replacements were
readily available at Burr Deans
Junkyard on the Morris
turnpike for $15, “We always
looked for the 21 stud
engines, they’d rev higher and
faster. Frank and I would take
his GMC Pickup up there with
a plank in the back and we’d
unbolt and engine and slide it
on the plank into his truck.
Throw it in the car and go
racing.” Other ‘technical
advances’ made by the team
included usage of wider
rubber. “Dad’s hearse had 8.90
x15’s on it, we’d borrow them
for the race and then put ‘em
back before he’d find out. Most
times. He finally did catch me
and that ended that.” Traveling
over the hills of either the
Morris or Oriskany Turnpikes
to the speed plants often
presented problems for the
overworked flathead in the tow
vehicle. Since the car was on a
tow bar, “we’d have someone
in the race car and have them
fire it up to get over the hills.”
Team members took turns
driving the coupe until it was
used up and needed
replacement. The boys then
located a Model A sedan for
that purpose and didn’t miss a
beat. The ‘41 chassis finally
got used as well and the boys
found a 1935 Ford slantback
for the last V8. “We had
chained the seat in place to
the frame. Ralph used his own
name when driving but my
dad didn’t want me driving so
when it was my turn ‘Dick
Jones’ took over the wheel. On
a start at Morris we got to the
first turn and the dust was
just terrible, couldn’t see a
thing. Somebody got into me
and next thing I know I’m on
my top, and the chains to the
seat broke. Banged my head
pretty good. We rolled it back
over, put some oil in it and I
went back out starting scratch.
Got back to 3rd that day so not
too bad.” By the end of 1958
the V8 team had run it’s
course but the boys still
wanted to go racing and so
took their talents to Edmeston
for 1959.
Gene Cole had been racing at
Morris out of a gas station in
Oneonta in 1958 when he
joined forces with Willie Wust
of Edmeston. Willie had been
at the game for some time at
this point, his first driver had
been Bill Brunschmidt, and
then Otto Graham took over
the chores. Gene had brought
over his own car in 1958 but
when Mark Enman and
Richard Ackerman came over
the team built a 1935 Ford
coupe and the 43 team was in
business for 1959. The car was
painted a two tone green by
my Grandfather Roger Hall
and sported the latest in
Flathead Technology of the
time, including a 4 3/8 X 3
3/8 stroker engine, a radius
(Isky 404) camshaft, Harmon
Collins dual point, Offy heads
and 3 duece intake fed by
strombergs. Good Stuff. My
dad recalls “Gene was a
smooth and good driver. We
never lost with that engine. He
won the Brookfield Fair one
night, which was as big a race
as we attended and then the
next day at Morris, it blew.
Willie said ‘she tossed her
cookies’ and did she ever.
Nothing left.” Dave Conde
believes that Gene may have
won the Championship that
year but we don’t have any
proof recorded, the car was
dominant however which
prompted and addition to the
quarter panel  
‘Quitcherbeliakin’. The 1960
year was an almost equally
successful one, “We got a 4 ¼
stroker next and that was good
too but not quite as good as
the 4 3/8.” According to Dad.
Dave thought Gene might have
won the championship again
and related that “they won a
lot of races.” At the end of the
year the team made a rare trip
to Lebanon Valley and at the
start Gene related “They kept
jabbing the flag to go faster
and faster, by the time they let
it go I was wide open.” The rest
of the field wasn’t and they
promptly deposited Gene and
the 43 off the first turn bank
with Gene ending up in the
Pittsfield, MA hospital. Over
the winter of 1960-1961 the
team went about replacing the
‘35 with a 1934 Ford 5 window
coupe, the last one out of
Sugarman’s (Richfield Springs)
junkyard. “I remember we had
to take down a tin wall fence to
get it out” Dad has told me.
This car again was painted
green with large yellow
numbers ‘43’ by my
Grandfather and was
immediately successful with
the recovered Gene Cole back
behind the wheel. Dave Conde
recalls “That was the bounty
car, he won so much that the
track offered $25.00 to anyone
who could beat him. He had to
be running at the finish in
order for someone to collect
but that was a big bonus when
they were only paying $30-$35
to win.” The main competition
at this point came from
Maynard Smith driving Larry
Priba’s #1 car at Morris. After
the season Gene received an
ultimatum from his insurance
company, they didn’t want
him driving stock cars any
longer and Gene retired from
the game. For 1962 Willie
acquired the services of
Kurzon ‘Moose’ Carey, a Bell
Telephone lineman that had
likely warped as many poles as
frontends. My father recalls
“Moose was rougher than
Gene. Willie put a rounded
cow catcher on the front of the
43 to try and save frontends,
but we put a lot of them in
anyway. One time, we had just
put a new frontend in the car
and Willie took it for a test
drive. He headed out Rte. 80
in front of his garage towards
the bridge over the Wharton
creek. He was looking down
playing with the shifting
linkage and ran right into the
bridge. No one said a thing.
We just gathered it up, rolled
it back in the garage and put
another front end in it.” Green
was out in 1962, the car was
repainted white with red
numerals ‘43’ and Otto
Graham used his talents to
add ‘Moose the Mouseville
Monster’ to the quarter panel
and the Monster was born.
Moose notched the July 4th
Championship race at Morris
as well as the last Brookfield
Fair that year, Dave Conde
recalls “Moose won the fair
and his take was something
like $18.00 a small trophy and
a cheap watch from the fair, I
believe it actually was a
Mickey Mouse watch.” This
year Larry Priba’s car was
piloted by Rudy Schlaephfer
who still provided the main
competition for the Wust team
but it wasn’t enough as Moose
was credited with the Track
Championship at Morris (now
knows as Midstate). For 1963
Dave recalls the team still
winning a lot, and possibly
having another bounty placed
on Moose. The competition by
this time was picking up,
Gordy Smith’s Hudson, Ray
Kennedy’s 261 Chevy, Rudy
Schlaephfer, Smoky Joe
Norton and even the
occasional visit from Larry Nye
(who later told me he came
down expressly to “beat Moose
Carey”) made for real good
competition at the paperclip ½
mile track. My father recalls
“Willies place was a real
bonanza of parts. I once
collected up pieces laying
around and built a running
flathead from them. Mark
Enman was a real good engine
man, he learned how to degree
the camshafts and once he
did, our engines ran strong. I
remember Willie taking
bearings and wopping them
with a hammer, then coating
them with STP and fitting
them into the engines. We do
it the same way today.” At
Syracuse that year the 43 ran
within 1 second of Cliff Kotary
according to my father, and
they had pole for the first
heat. A spun bearing ended
the dream of dethroning Cliff
who won his 4th straight that
day. Dave Conde; “The engines
would really run for 3 or 4
weeks, then be ready for a re-
build. The dust at Morris was
terrible and of course nobody
knew what a good aircleaner
was, it’d just eat them up.” For
1964 Midstate attempted to
align themselves with Waterloo’
s (Maple Grove Speedway)
flathead rules as these were
the rules used at the NYS Fair
races (and I’m sure at least
some Midstate cars showed at
the Fair ‘a little over’). The new
rules required engines
conform to a 280 cubic inch
limit. This put many local
teams in a bind, no longer
were the Hudson’s and
Mercury strokers allowed and
it hurt car count. To
compensate, the track
management decided to allow
the OHV V8’s to compete and
the Five mile Point competitors
immediately took to the road
for the ‘easy pickings’. Dad
related, “We built a Ford, it
was a good engine but here we’
d build a small flathead and
then they let  in the V8’s, we
didn’t have enough for them.”
In effect the track
handicapped it’s loyal
participants and handed the
keys over to the invaders. It
was not accepted with grace,
“Moose had the lead one day
and (Stan) Lupka was on his
tail. Stan had a Crosley bodied
car with a Corvette (283)
engine that was fast. The
flathead blew and Stan got
into Moose turning him
around. I think the engine
blew first, we were turning the
hell out of it and when Moose
let off I think it blew. Moose
saw it differently, and figured
it blew when Stan hit him.
Stan comes by the next lap
and pulls up toe Moose to see
if he’s ok and Moose grabs him
though the window and
smokes him. A lot of that stuff
went on around Moose.” This
is the year that Lupka won the
Midstate Championship but
he had a lot of company from 5
Mile Point; Joe Donahue, Pete
Cordes, Chuck Brady, and
Gordy Smith were all
consistent participants. To
finish out the season, the
team installed Fats Fullers 327
Chevy small block which ,
according to Dave Conde,
“Willie hated that engine. He
only ran it for a few weeks and
re-installed a flathead.” My
father remembers “It was
supposedly a good 327,
probably was but for some
reason the balance of the car
wasn’t right when it was in
place, probably had too much
power.” For 1965 the team
built ‘Moose’s 88’, Carey had
always used the #88 on his
cars prior to driving for Willie
and so this new 1937 Ford
Coupe got his number. The car
was built extra-rugged to
match Moose’s style, they
used a Ford ¾ ton truck frame
and what looked like at least
2” water pipe for the roll cage.
The small ‘Mickey Mouse’
Halibrand V8 quick change
was stolen from the Monster
and a new 289 Ford Hi-Po with
a 4 speed was located in Utica
out of a wrecked Mustang. The
Monster was fitted with a
Flathead and driven by Fred
Willems as a 2nd car out of the
garage. As Dave Conde put it
“All the effort went into the
‘37, Fred drove the 43 a few
times and then it was sold.
Willie thought it went to
Watertown but who knows.
They had a lot of bearing
trouble with the 289 and didn’
t win nearly as much as they
had with the 43. I think they
were lucky if they finished half
the races they entered with
that car.” Dad recalled, “We
were giving a  lot away to the
Chevrolet’s, most guys were
using 327’s so we were
turning the living shit out of
that 289. I remember going to
5 Mile Point a few times. Once
when we were towing the car
down there in Willie’s
Ranchero the trailer jack-
knifed and got loose. I said to
Willie ‘There goes the 88’ as it
went by us. We were lucky and
able to get it hooked back up
but brother. Another time
down there was a big race, 100
lapper and Moose drove the
race of his life. Dave Kneisal
had that bug, it was basically a
sprint car and he was in the
back. He was coming up
through and caught a wheel,
put him right on top of the 4th
turn wall and they had to get
two wreckers to get it off and
back on the track. So he
started back scratch on the re-
start, Moose is leading. And
Moose lead that thing all the
way to nearly the last lap
when Dave got by him. The
next night we won at Morris
and it was the best paying
weekend we ever had, maybe
$300 between the two races.
Another time out to Lebanon
Valley, where we were just fast
enough to qualify, Moose is in
the consi in the last qualifying
spot. This fellow hits him hard
in the corner and breaks a
rear spring. Here comes Moose
into the pits with the rear
flopping back and forth, he
jumps out of the car and goes
over and clobbers that guy.
The fellow was a local and he
had a lot of friends around, we
didn’t. Willie and I loaded the
car and got the hell out of
there.” The 88 did have some
really good days at Midstate as
well, I can recall as a boy
watching Moose take on the
hot New Berlin car of ‘Pop’
Wilcox, who generally ran
Fonda and Lebanon Valley.
Dad remembers that day
vividly as well, “Willie poked
his head in the car and said to
Moose ‘I don’t care if you #@$%
^&@! Blow it, don’t let that
#32 car get by you!” Moose
didn’t, he held off a smooth
and game Jerry Townley for
the win on that hot and dusty
afternoon. The end of the team
came in 1968 after getting the
crankshaft throws chrome
plated in an effort to solve the
bearing trouble. It didn’t work,
“We had that done and went
up to Devils Bowl in Vermont
to try it out. The chrome
plating came off the crank and
wadded up the bearings. That
was it, we threw in the towel.”
By this point costs were rising,
to be competitive you had to
have tires and a good engine.
Racing was becoming more
specialized and not many were
getting by with $15 engines
anymore. The 88 was sold to
Rudy Schlaephfer for
$1200.00 in 1968 and Bill
Salamacha was tapped for the
seat. That ended my father’s
involvement with Stock Car
Racing until the Midstate
Antique Stock Car Club was
formed over the winter of 1983-
1984. (The MASCC History can
be viewed
here.) My brother
Tom, friends Jeff Wiggens and
Richard Howard along with my
father and myself built a new
1934 Ford Mouseville Monster
Coupe at that time for
competition in this new club.
The car was/is a dead ringer
for the original, heavily re-
enforced frame, Halibrand V8
quick change with ¾ ton axles,
‘Full House’ Flathead racing
engine, we filled the soft top
with ¼ plate steel so we could
stand on it to watch the races
and stuck a light on top of it so
you could see it from the
stands through the dust - just
like the original. Otto Graham
even added the Monster to the
quarter panel. Since then we’
ve built or owned five more
competition cars and several
cars that we use for still shows
only. Nearly all have been
Flathead powered, although
we have plans for some OHV
V8’s projects as well. Through
it all, we have (in general)
enjoyed ourselves, it’s still a
great hobby and we’ve always
been very passionate in our
participation. And we’ll
continue to be. So if you see
us coming down the road with
an open trailer, give us a wave,
or stop by and see us at the
track or show - we don’t bite,
much...
Doc Myers on front fender, Frank Wright with Helmet, Herman Strain inrear, 2nd from right.
Dad's 1934 Ford 3 Window coupe from High School.
The Tomato Juice Special.
Hooking up to Dad's convertible to go racing.
The V8 gets a Model A sedan body.
Don't be too fussy.
Dad with Ricky and his 1951 Victoria.
Dad, Mom, Ralph Raasted and Frank Myers in 1958.
Mark Enman and Gene Cole at Willie Wusts in 1959.
Gene hands Don Phoenix the flag at Morris.
Gene Cole.
Dad in background, Gene on the tire with my Aunt Betsy.
The bounty car, Dad changes a wheel.
Denny Payne, Nellie Harrington and Willie Wust.
Nellie's coupe raced out of the Wust Garage as well.
Moose the Mouseville Monster.
Moose Carey at Morris.
Another checkered.
Stan Lupka with his cut down Crosley at Midstate.
Willie hated the Chevy.
Willie once told me - we'd have won a lot more races if we didn't have a 500 lb driver!
Dave Kneisal's Lynmar Special.
Moose's 88.
Moose with flag.
Cobra Powered.
Jerry Townley piloted Pop Wilcox's potent #32.
They finally cut out the window post for Moose.
At Brookfield for Wheel Days.
Willie Wust.
Wilie left, Moose in coupe, Lydell Smith and Art Kiser on right. Denny Moore photo.
Dad at Midstate in 1990.
Dad's first win at Brookfield.
At Fonda in 1985.
Tom at Brewerton 1987.
The 96 at Brewerton 1987.
At Oswego 1992.
At Thunder Mountain 2001.