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 Gamby 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, whose name was also at times abbreviated as Gambe, 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.