~ Road Trips ~
We enjoy chasing down leads and taking trips to
check them out. Each one is an adventure all it's
own and it's a lot of fun meeting new people with
shared interests in our hobby. Here's a few of
our recent trips:
On Sunday, September 21st,
2014 -
The Central New York
Stock Car Hall of Fame
Induction
ceremony was held
at the Otsego County
Fairgrounds in Morris, NY. The
event marked the 19th
consecutive year the induction
has been held and I can say
without any reservation that
this was one of the nicest
shows we've ever been involved
with. The weather, which by
mid-week was being reported
as thunder showers for
Sunday, instead was simply
wonderful. Warm, with a coll
breeze and plenty of sunshine.
It certainly had a positive effect
as all people I saw were
smiling, laughing, enjoying
themselves. My mother
commented that she had never
seen so many people hugging,
talking and laughing at a show.
People. I'm looking for a slant
for this report, so here it is. I'm
going to refer to "Blazing
Saddle's" quotes, mainly
because it's easy for me and I
think it'll be enjoyable. 'Has
anybody got a dime?'  
'People. That's what's missing,
people.' Just like the fake
Rock Ridge in Blazing
Saddles, without people this
even is nothing. The Induction
is more than a reunion of
racers, it's affirmation that this
club, this idea, to honor
former racers and keep their
memories alive, was a
righteous and lasting one. We
all love racing, and have for
the majority of our lives.
Today's racing has changed so
much, it's nice to go back to a
simpler time, one where
nearly anyone could afford to
race. A time when talent could
carry the day instead of the
wallet, when a good
relationship with your local
junkyard owner was a
necessity, when you had
better know how to fabricate
and weld yourself. When
people came to the tracks in
droves because there were so
many involved in racing, and
the weekend races were THE
event of the week. It's more
than nostalgia, it's a longing to
return to our youth. To
remember those wonderful
years and celebrate them in
honoring some of the people
who brought us those
memories.
'How about some beans Mr.
Taggert?' We know for a fact
that not all of the competitors
got along all of the time. How's
that for politically correct? It's
part of what gave racing it's
colorful character, it was
honest, hard, competition.
And hard fought competition
brings out the best, and
sometimes the worst, in
people. Like they say, if you
don't spin 'er once in a while,
you ain't trying hard enough..
everyone was giving it their all
and that kind of effort is going
to involve a lot emotion. And it
never ends. When we bought
the P-13 from Ron Pierce, he
offered us some pistons. They
were new, 4 1/2" stroke x 3
7/16" bore - impossibly big.
Perhaps they could have been
used in 1952 when they were
cast and blocks didn't have 50
years of water in the jackets,
but they were of no use to us. I
related this to my buddy Cliff
Kotary and he replied, "I knew
it! He was BIG!" Some 50 years
later and he'd finally got
confirmation that Tommy
Wilson's car was possibly
illegal... Funny. It never
changes, the same race has
two different stories depending
on who your talking to. Last
year I witnessed Earl
Mewhorter talking to Bud
Hinman about a race at
Midstate where the late
models and modifieds
combined - both remembered
beating the other.... What's
great about these re-unions is
listening to these guys relive
those days, it's fun and they
aren't the only ones enjoying
it.
"It's twue It's twue.' On
Thursday evening I'm heading
to Syracuse to pick up Ralph
Raastad who is flying in from
Orlando. We've been trying to
get Ralph to the show for
years. This year Gene Cole
stepped up and covered costs
to make it possible for Ralph's
trip back north. It's just one of
the behind the scene
contributions that take place
in order to bring together an
event such as this - there are
many other instances as well...
I meet Ralph at the airport and
he hasn't changed much,
same easy going Ralph. He's
had some hard times the last
few years, lost his wife, a son,
and times have been tough.
He rolls with it, and related on
the way back to New Berlin
that this whole ceremony is
"unbelievable."
Not many people remember
that it was Ralph that got this
whole movement going in New
Berlin. He restored the first
car, the former Bill Salamaca
#88 in 1983. He and Mel
Ogden of Franklin started
making shows with the
Atlantic Coast Old Timers but
found their rules tough, "they
even wanted you to have your
entire front end magnafluxed"
and so they decided to start
their own club. They recruited
locals Dave Allen, Carl
Carpenter and my father, and
the Midstate Antique Stock car
Club was born. I remember
attending what was the second
meeting at Ralph's house in
Pittsfield when Carl was
elected president. And, the
purpose of the club was
discussed at that time, to
restore old stock cars and
honor former drivers. At that
time you could get a car on the
track for around $500 - my
father and I both did. Seems
hard to believe that 30 years
have passed.
I learned a lot about Ralph the
next few days. We visited
Nancy Schoonover, Paul
Jensen, Butch Swarthout,
looked over photographs -
Ralph's racing heritage is rich.
Four consecutive late model
Championships at Fonda with
Dick Schoonover driving the
Lumber Wagon, many a
success himself at Midstate,
he drove the V8 my fahter
worked on as a boy... the
stories flowed. "I remember the
time I crinkled a fender and
Richard is out there on the
track slamming that fender
with his artificial leg trying to
beat it off the car AHAHAHA, I
think some lady in the
grandstand fainted.." My
father remembered, "That was
my first leg, it was rugged. I
used it as a jack stand once.
We were changing a tire and
didn't have anything to hold
the car up so I took it off and it
held it up just fine." A simpler
time indeed.
We're going through the
pictures, there is one of a
doodlebug - at the show I
learned from Gene Cole that
Ralph had taken Gene for a
ride on that Doodlebug and it
started Gene's lifelong affair
with cars. There is Ralph's first
car, a Dodge he drove at
Symrna in the early 1950's,
then a sharp 1934 Ford 3
window coupe. Then the V8,
first a '41 Ford, then a Model A
sedan 'grafted' onto the frame.
They were not fussy... From
there to a '57 Chevy late
model, to the Fords that he
made his hay with. "I always
used a 1963 Galaxie frame,
shortened it up, they were
rugged and lasted." He and his
crew once built a car in a
week. "It wasn't pretty but it
ran." Ralph got more from less
than anyone I know. It was a
great weekend getting to know
Ralph again, better than I ever
had before.
"Where's froggy?" On Friday
we drive over to Morris and
look over the fairgrounds. No
one is around but the work is
evident. John Mason and Mike
Newell have started to deliver
cars, the tables and chairs are
in place, the lawn is mowed, it
looks great. Now if only the
weather will hold.. how about
a spin? The track isn't quite
the same, but close, the
surface is groomed for horses
now but the track is the same
minus a little banking in the
turns. Ralph is talking, "About
here you'd better have some
good brakes. Getting into
three was no problem but
getting down into one you had
to hit the brakes hard. I'd use
up a set of brakes every race.
We'd probably be getting up to
90 or a hundred at the end of
the straights.." I believe it, the
straights are loong, like two
drag strips connected with
paper clip corners.
'Mongo like candy.' On
Saturday we deliver the
Mouseville Monster and the
P-13, more cars have arrived.
John and Mike have been
busy.. In the Oneonta Star we
see that Earl Mewhorter has
succumbed to cancer. He was
hoping to live long enough to
see this event, it's not fair. He
was a good and as nice a man
as anyone could hope to meet.
Finally, it's show time. We wait
at home for Bill Marsh and Bill
Kisselstein until finally we
can't stand it anymore and
head to Morris. We aren't
there 1/2 an hour and the
Bill's arrive, it's good to see
them both. Bill Marsh's
'Bucket of Bolts' flathead
powered big car carried
inductee Harry Eckert to
Victory at Warrensburg some
65 years ago now, and he's
here to see Harry be inducted.
Many thanks to Bill K. for
getting him down to the show.
There are so many cars here
this year - the cruise in is very
well attended. And tractors,
the Tired Iron Club is out in
force, Olivers, Massey
-Ferguson, John Deere's and a
really nice Willy's jeep catch
my eye. The Franklin Doodle
bugs are also on display with
some really neat machinery,
again from a time when you
made do with what you have.
Then of course there are the
stock cars of the Midstate
Antique Stock Car Club. Alot
of history here - track
champion cars to cars that
raced but once, they are all on
display in full glory. Members
who displayed cars are Mike
Newell, John Mason, John
Clark, Richard and Jeff
Ackerman, Brent Cobb, Mel
Ogden, Earl Mewhorter,
Richard Parry, Dave Conde,
and Norm Winton. Jeremy
Vunk brought his sportsman
out as well. Overall it was a
fantastic display of brightly
colored and heavily patina'd
cars - nothing better and
thanks to all who brought out
their machinery.  
'Work work work work work
work work, hello boys do you
miss me?' Walking around the
show, there is so much to see,
so many to talk to. I
congratulate Carl Nagle on his
induction. There's Otto
Graham, we haven't seen each
other in a while and it's good
to chat. In pulls this brilliant
yellow Mack Truck, it's a
beauty and from it comes Dick
Hansen - it fits him perfect.
"My winter project, a model L."
I introduce him to Otto and
then Ron Hills comes along
taking video and catches the
two of them discussing Ted
Tappet. It's great stuff. Dave
Conde arrives with his #20
Lyman Howe coupe, it was
raced once at Midstate by the
Wisnoski's and is splendid in
it's original attire. Although
Dave is a little heavy on the
throttle....I heard one
comment about witnessing a
flathead sacrifice in the pits...
Ray Bunzey and Marty Ackley
are on hand as always and it's
good to see them both. The
Newell's, Don and Bill are both
in good spirits and Mike hands
me a sheet of his dad's
'philosiphies on racing' - good
reading. Mike is allover the
place taking care of stuff. John
Clark has brought four cars
including the '63 Galaxie
Utica-Rome pace car. Barb
Clark is all smiles. Really
Really, a great day.
'Mongo only pawn in game of
life..' OK, onto the inductions.
We were led by an excellent
version of the Stag Spangled
Banner by a young lady, Liana
Garry who really sang it
superbly. So many times you
hear is sung incorrectly by
some diva, and it's not an easy
song to sing, she nailed it.
John Mason then handled the
mic and relates Earl
Mewhorters passing to the
crowd, it was difficult for John
but he gathered himself and
moved forward in introducing
Richard Parry, Dave Conde
and Mel Ogden - the three
guys that hatched this HoF.
Richard gave a brief synopsis
of the HoF history, how it got
started and why it was started
- to honor former drivers &
their families. Dave Conde was
up next and in truth, could
have been more focused on
the event at hand. John then
asked Mel if he wanted to say
anything to which Mel replied
"NOPE!" and got the biggest
applause of all...  
Onto the inductions: Harry
Eckert was first up and
appeared very pleased with
being honored. Harry was
really quite the guy - Bill
Marsh related to me "that day
at Warrensburg nobody
wanted to drive my flathead.
Harry's car broke and he said
'get the flathead out.' He set
second fast time with it. His
boss was there with a DO Hal
(dual overhead), which was
really something. In the
drivers meeting I can
remember him saying 'All you
lap cars get to the inside.' And
he had the flathead. He
started outside pole and left
them at the green. The track
had a sharp first corner, that
was the only place he lifted,
set it and full throttle all
around the track. He lapped
half the field and his boss
wouldn't talk to him for three
weeks. HAHAHA" John is
going over Harry's
questionaire, citing the tracks
he's raced at, Shangri-La,
Thompson, Williams-Grove,
Toronto, this is a long and
impressive list. The
Championships, the big cars,
the midgets. Mike has placed a
Dayton wheel on the table
next to a 12" wide
contemporary racing tire, and
hands the mic to me. I related
seeing the film the week
before of Shangri-La in 1946,
the big cars on the oiled dirt
track and the exposed drivers
struggling to maintain control
of their cars. I asked Harry
who related 'they were a
handful. We didn't have cages,
the cars look a lot better
without them. The helmet
(Cromwell) was basically
cardboard, but it saved my
hide more than once. A lot of
drivers didn't wear a belt
because they wanted to be
thrown free of a car if it rolled,
they didn't want to be caught
in a fire, I wore a belt.' I
wanted to impress upon the
crowd the fact that these guys
were traveling 80-90 mph on
these horse tracks with no
cage, no belts, a paper-mache'
helmet and a t-shirt. They
were doing this on
approximately 3 1/2 inches of
tread and wire strung wheels.
Safety was not at the forefront
in those days, speed was. And
drivers were considered
expendable, you could always
get another driver. I asked
Harry to take us on a lap of
Langhorne 'well it was a mile
and oval, you never really let
off. The track was awful rough,
I qualified against a stellar
field and was doing ok but the
car started falling apart, when
the gas tank fell out I was
done.'  Mike Newell made a
beautiful model big car for
Harry, which we presented
with his plaque. As he was
leaving later Harry related,
"I'm very impressed with your
organization, it's a nice show."
We were pleased harry and
Bill could both make it.
Next up, Richard Parry related
all the contributions Ralph
Raastad made to the local
racing scene, the Midstate
victories, the Fonda
Championships. Ralph comes
up in front the crowd and
relates 'he's a man of few
words but I sure do appreciate
this... thank you." He's
obviously touched and when I
ask for a picture with him and
Schoonie, I can see a tear.
John is back at the mic now
relating the significant career
of Carl Bub Nagle, easily one
of the most celebrated and
winning-est drivers in the
Southern Tier of New York.
Multiple track championships
at Penn-Can, 5 Mile Point and
Thunder Mountain, multiple
Irv Heath Memorial wins, 200
feature wins (it may be a lot
more...) Carl is also a man of
few words, and also obviously
touched by his inclusion, he
has a difficult time saying
more than 'thank you' before
returning to his seat.
Richard introduces Clyde
Hewitt relating his long service
to the Midstate track on the
board of directors, as well his
long racing career and his
inclusion on the technical
committee at Midstate. Clyde
is all smiles.
John introduces us to Mr.
Ford Fred Barse, who
apparently liked to stand up
the challenge that only a
Chevy could win at Midstate.
Fred proved that challenge
wrong in the Super Stock
division, and again, he's all
smiles in receiving his plaque.
Richard handles the final
inductee, Linda Mewhorter
who understandably isn't in
attendance. We're awful sorry
for your loss Linda, we all
liked Earl very much, in fact
everyone I know that's spoken
of Earl, always talked very
highly of him. Linda's sister
Mary Knapp accepted Linda's
plaque in her absence.
'Wow, you shot the bad guy.
Lets go watch the end of the
movie. I hope it's a happy
ending.' It is a happy ending.
Nothing but compliments are
heard all around. One fellow
from the cruise in asked if 'a
flag could be raised on that
beutiful mast?' I mentioned it
to Mike Newell and wiola - 5
minutes later the flag was up.
Mike did a great job with
everything, so did John
Mason, Debbie Newell with the
t-shirts, the Fair Board with
the concessions and the club
members with delivering the
goods. We'd also like to thank
all those who brought doodle
bugs, tractors and cruise-in
cars, we appreciate it all.
Lastly, thanks to Gene Cole of
Gate-Cole Insurance for
sponsoring the show once
again - we couldn't do it
without you. And thanks for
that little story about Leroy
Taylor at Midstate looking at
the rather large woman in the
stands and wondering if it was  
uhh, well - probably best left
at that... pretty hilarious. And
a god way to end the day -
with a laugh. Also, many thaks
to Ron Hills of the Race Report
for providing the DVD's of last
years event, and the upcoming
ones from this year. Hope all
attendee's had a great time,
see you next year.
PS Thanks to Otto for the good
pictures..
Gene Cole, Dad, Ralph Raastad
Dave Conde
Dick Hansen and his Model L Mack
Dick Hansen and Otto
Brent Cobb, Bob Wing, Clyde Hewiit and Marty Ackley
Bill and Don Newell
Sam Caraft
Bill and Harry
Bill Marsh and Harry Eckert
Ralph Raastad and Dick Schoonover
Carl Nagle
Fred Barse
Clyde Hewitt
Mary Knapp
2014 Inductees