Wednesday, October 12, 2011

With the Packards and the Duesenbergs

Here is the Boyd #43 Triumph, a many-time Pine Brook winner, on display October 8, 2011, as part of the Antique Automobile Club of America's annual Eastern Divisional Meet, better known to classic car enthusiasts simply as "Hershey," the Pennsylvania town where the big show has been taking place for generations.

The AACA is devoted to stock production automobiles, in either original or restored-to-original condition -- no street rods or customs.  But there is a class for vintage race cars, again in either original or restored-to-original condition.  TQs, midgets, sprints, Indy cars, road racing machines, dragsters, land-speed cars, they are all represented.

One of the other requirements is that all cars must be driven onto the show field under their own power.  This is problematic for a push-started car such as this TQ, so to accommodate the race cars the organization stages an event known as the "Race Car Condition Run" on the day before the show.  Here every car is started and driven around the old track in the Hershey stadium to demonstrate its operability.

For old racing fans it is both wonderful and sad to see.  Wonderful, of course, to see and hear these great racing machines.  Sad, however, to see the remnants of the Hershey track, now reduced to two straightaways with a walkway at one end and an awkward loop behind a large stage at the other.  Still, the stadium itself is in fine condition, and on a beautiful warm autumn day as we had this year it was a great place to spend a day.

Here also is the old Pine Brook poster that the car's current owner, Jim Hempfill, displays along with the car.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hail to the Chief

We like this photo, taken on a Friday night in the 1960s at Pine Brook, for two reasons:

First, the car. Jim Gosford’s #61 was always a favorite. We just liked the way it looked. Bronze with gold-leaf numbers. Clean, classic lines. Plenty of chrome. It didn’t hurt that it was a competitive machine as well. Gosford’s nickname was "the Chief."

Second, the driver, Bobby Courtwright. Courtwright was a URC Sprint champion before taking to the TQs almost exclusively in the 1960s and 70s. He was a smooth driver who was always near the front. Courtwright was only one of a number of top drivers who drove for Gosford.

Courtwright could be curmudgeonly – he grumbled when roll cages came in, for example – but Gosford could be set in his ways, too. They were both great competitors.

This is one of the countless Dave Innes photos now in the collection of Gary Mondschein. Keep ‘em coming, Gary!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Springtime Means Roast Time

The race car in the photo turned many, many laps at Pine Brook, and won its fair share of races in the process. It’s the Tom DeMasco No. 18 Crosley, and it was unveiled in restored form this past weekend during the annual ATQMRA "Roast" at Lenny and Donna Boyd’s Ocean Aire facility.

The roast was the second such event organized by Gary Mondschein for the ATQMRA, having begun last year with Alan Mollot in the hot seat. This year’s honoree – or victim, if you prefer – was Mike Osite, the 1985 driving champion and arguably Brooklyn’s best race driver.

But also on the agenda was a salute to the "Bad Guys," the merry band of Long Island-based racers whose unofficial leader was Pete Petraitis. That’s Pete’s son, Jon, second from left in the photo.

Also in the photo is driver Sonny Sanders’ daughter, Christine, far left. Sonny Sanders was just one of many great drivers to pilot this car. At the far right is Peggy Smith, another Long Island racer whose success as a driver came three decades before "Danica Mania."

In addition to organizing the event, Gary Mondschein also undertook the restoration of this car, which was rescued from a Florida swamp, alligator eggs and all, only 14 weeks earlier.

The event had an excellent turnout and it was wonderful to see people whom we have not seen in some time. Looking fit was Dick Peterman, whose racing career began the same year that the ATQMRA was formed back during the Eisenhower administration and who raced at Pine Brook from the track’s opening in 1962 through its closing in 1989.

It was also delightful to see Maryanne Michaels, widow of Larry Michaels, the law enforcement professional who won a championship in the 1970s and who was always a fan favorite.

Among the persons delivering barbs to Mike Osite during the roast was Bruce Kindberg, proprietor of Bruce’s Speed Shop and himself a many-time winner at Pine Brook. But Bruce is not the man he once was – literally. Bruce shed some 140 pounds to get himself in better shape, and he looked great and smiled broadly all night.

Last year’s man in the spotlight, Alan Mollot, was not on the dais but he did have one of the better stories to tell, concerning Mike Osite’s personal monetary policies. Mike is notorious for being extravagant and frugal at the same time. Some years back, Mike was visiting Alan’s home for dinner, and he brought with him two very expensive bottles of wine. But he got lost en route because he used Route 9 instead of the Garden State Parkway. This because the tolls on the Garden State Parkway had risen by a dime and Mike was unwilling to pay the ten cents.

Below is a photo of the DeMasco No. 18 taken nearly 40 years ago, at Pine Brook, after roll cages were mandated and with Bruno Brackey at the helm.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Would YOU Drive a 1963 TQ?

Racing remains a sport with risks, but none so vivid as that shown in this sequence of photos from Pine Brook in 1963.

No roll cage, just a rudimentary roll bar. No five-point harness, just a padded "Sam Browne" belt. No Snell-rated helmet, just a basic "Cromwell" or, if you were truly state-of-the-art, a Bell Star.

I question seriously how many of today's drivers would drive one of these cars.

Happily, this driver was not injured in any significant manner, despite his car rolling over fully and traveling to the guard rail, off of which it bounced before coming to rest. Unhappily, I have no idea who it is! The car is numbered 65. Does anyone out there have any specific knowledge? If so, send a note to