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: