Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The 2018 Pine Brook Reunion

Pine Brook Stadium was the focus of the 2018 speedway reunion during the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports 2018 Race Car and Trade Show, presented by Sunoco and fueled by Insinger Performance at the Greater Philadephia Expo Center January 19-20-21.  (Click the image above for an enlarged view.)

Each year a different regional track from racing's past is highlighted at the show, and in 2018 a special display dedicated to Pine Brook was erected in Hall D of the spacious Expo Center, which offers more than a quarter million square feet – some six acres – of racing related exhibits over the three day period.

Activities at the Pine Brook display included interviews and autograph sessions with drivers who raced at the tight and highly-competitive track, and attractions included a lineup of race cars representing the evolution of the machinery through the three decades that the track was in operation.

A special added attraction was a live television-style stage presentation on Friday evening, January 19, where in a one-hour late-night talk-show format, mimicking the old Johnny Carson Tonight Show, personalities from the track's history told their stories.  Dino Oberto was the host, and among those appearing on the stage in Hall E were Bob Dini, winner of the very first race at Pine Brook in 1962, brothers Drew and Noki Fornoro, prolific winners at the track through the years, Jack Duffy, who raced at Pine Brook in each of the track's 28 seasons, Lenny Boyd, a championship driver in TQs, Midgets, and Modifieds, and Johnny Coy, Jr., who raced at Pine Brook against both his father and his brothers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Winner No Matter How You Spell It

Holding the checkered flag at Pine Brook is “Sal Gamby,” as lettered on the side of the car (click the photo for an enlarged view).  But the name was a phonetic spelling so that people would pronounce it correctly. The driver’s real name is Salvatore Gambelunghi, and 50 years later he sent this photo to us.  (You should send us your photos, too!)

Concerning his truncated racing name, Sal told us: "You can see why I shortened it – by the time the announcer would say it the race would be over!"

50 years ago Sal was a feature race winner at Pine Brook twice, claiming victory in the first race of the year on May 17, 1963, and then repeating on June 21.  In the first race, finishing second to Gambe was another young driver by the name of Mario Andretti.  Andretti would go on to win his first and only Pine Brook race on July 5 of 1963.

Gamby had been the ATQMRA’s “Rookie of the Year” in 1962 and his two 1963 wins proved that his strong rookie performance was no fluke.

Note that in the photo, someone has already stuffed a rag into the downdraft carburetor that feeds the Crosley engine, and another one into the tailpipe.  This practice was common in those days, as the TQs of the time did not use air filters, or even screens, on the carbs.

Here's another shot of Sal in Victory Lane, possibly at a winter indoor race to judge by the heavy apparel on the others:

And one more, showing the man 50 years later, in 2013:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Which Night is it?

From Paul Weisel of the Eastern Auto Racing Historical Society comes this newspaper clipping detailing the race results from Saturday, June 13, 1964.

It is a particularly interesting report because it notes the planned switch from Saturdays to Wednesdays, as well as the Montville Township Fire Department’s July 4 fireworks show which was drew the largest crowd in the stadium’s history... with no races.

The planned series of ATQMRA Saturday night races in Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium was short-lived, rain claimed five of Pine Brook’s Wednesday night races, and the season finale was run on a Friday, the only Friday race of 1964.  See all of the 1964 race results on our Results page.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Passing Parade

The "parade lap" before the start of a Pine Brook main event, circa 1970.  We guess 1970 because Larry Michaels' car (#39, outside of the third row) has a roll cage, while no other car in the shot is so equipped.  Roll cages were being phased in at the time.  (Click the photo for an enlarged view.)

Weekly feature races at Pine Brook were 35 laps in distance and started 16 cars.  18 cars would start the extra-distance races that punctuated the racing season.  In the track's later years, during the promotional tenure of Jack Bellinato, sometimes 20 cars would take the green.

The group of people at the upper left of the shot are gathered around a table on the roof of the box office building.  That rooftop is what passed for a "press box" at Pine Brook.  No one brought their car to the races in an enclosed trailer, either.  Simpler times...

This is a Dave Innes photo from the collection of Gary Mondschein.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Jaws 02

In this shot from Jeff Scott’s web site, Tony Romit is getting ready to be pushed off in the Wehrle #02 on a Friday night at Pine Brook circa 1972.  This was the year that the race car sported the "shark's mouth" paint job around the radiator opening.  Can't you just hear that distinctive music from the movie Jaws?

That's John Wehrle walking alongside the right-rear tire, while the Fisher Automatic Transmission Service push truck goes by on the inside.

Lining up behind Romit in the #60 upright is Bob Cicconi.  Bob Cicconi would soon add his name to the list of winners at Pine Brook, although not in this car.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Spy in the Sky

The first space satellite was launched several years before the Pine Brook Stadium was built, but the sort of satellite technology that today serves civilians with GPS directions and online maps was not readily available until several years after the track closed.

Here is a Google Earth satellite image of the Pine Brook track from April, 1995, nearly six years after the last race was run, on which the outline of the racing surface is clearly visible.

Click the photo for an enlarged view.

Route 46 is the road extending from the lower left to the upper right, and Bloomfield Avenue is the road across the lower portion of the photo. The warehouses of the Pio Costa industrial park are at the right, across the Passaic River behind the track. These were built on land that was largely vacant – and largely what today we would call “wetlands” – when the track was constructed.

To the left, across Route 46 from the track, we can easily see all the junk cars at G.I. Auto Salvage, which was there before and after the track but which today is gone.

The track office was still standing when this photo was taken, as was the “powerhouse” along the backstretch, but everything else was gone. The bleacher seats disappeared within weeks of the track’s closing in 1989, and the guardrail and the light poles went away soon afterward. At some point before this photo was snapped the rest room building outside of turns three and four was demolished and the old backstage building in the pits, behind the powerhouse, was torn down by this time also.

Now, take a look at this satellite photo, from 2010:

The Home Depot has been built, and the G.I. Auto Salvage property is in the midst of being cleaned up, but the surrounding area looks were much the same.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Long Before Digital Photography

A simply great shot from Jeff Scott’s web site. Black and white, grainy, blurry and soooo evocative!

Click the image for an enlarged view.

If you were never at Pine Brook this was taken from the spectator seating, looking into turn one.

The only car recognizable is Jim Gosford’s 61. The rest of them are pure art.  A great photograph from a time when you did not know what kind of shot you had until you went home and into the darkroom to develop the film and print the image.