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.