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  #511  
Old 05-14-2009, 09:53 AM
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Before we get too far past the teens, here is a low-point in my early racin days.

Here is the #14 Tornado built by my good friend, the late ‘Skinny’ Tom Robinson.

Tom was a co-worker of mine back in the Big 3 Auto Salvage days in Largo, but more importantly he was one of those friends that would give you the shirt off his back.

Tom was also a helluva fabricator & innovator. He reminded me a great deal of Dave McInnis, always thinking outside of the box.

This car had a lot of Tom’s radical thinking & innovations in it which made it very, very fast but also contributed to its downfall.

The frame on the #14 was heavily modified to off-set the engine to the rear several inches with heavy emphasis to cover up the frame modifications as well as the modifications to the firewall so that everything appeared stock visually. It was a masterful creation. You virtually had to crawl under the car with a tape measure and start pulling cross-dimensions, etc. with a stock-bodied car nearby as a comparison in order to catch it.

This car was so quick up off the corner it was unbelievable. I remember soft-pedaling it so we wouldn’t draw too much attention from competitors or officials.

We also had a flap door in the firewall so I could open it and advance the distributor slightly after starting the engine and coming up to speed. The reason I’ve gone into all this detail is that it all added up to the ‘perfect storm’ later.

This car was destroyed after only a few times on the track, hence only one picture of it, however we won every race we entered up until the accident shown below.

This incident happened at the beginning of the 1969 season at Golden Gate. We had won the heat going away and was hot after the lead in the Feature when the guy in front of me backed into me going into Turn 1 (this sort of thing happened frequently). The manual fuel pump on a small-block V8 Chevy motor in a 55’ thru 57’ frame is not normally close enough to the frame rail to worry about on impact unless the car the car sustains a heavy hit however on this car, it was very tight due to the relocation of the motor. The bump in the corner cracked the body of the pump so it was spraying out a fine mist but still left it functional.

Coming off of 2 and down the back chute I had heavy gas smell in the cockpit which of course was coming through the flap door in the firewall which at this point I had open. When I lifted to go into 3 the thing grenaded into a ball of fire inside the cockpit. It immediately sucked the oxygen out of the car so I couldn’t get any air.

I unstrapped myself, bailed out the driver’s window off of 4 ending up with my body against the wall. The last thing I remembered before jumping was if the fire didn’t get me then one of those guys behind me probably will.

The car rolled down the front chute then off into the infield while people were scrambling to get out of its way. It ended up against a wrecker where it burnt to the ground.

Everyone except the drivers right behind me and a few people that were on that corner in the infield thought I was still in the car. Including my wife, Linda, who was at the top of the stands sitting with friends and with our then 8-month old son, JC, in her lap.

She stood up and screamed and JC slipped out of her grip and fell thru the bleachers to the ground. JC ended up bruised in the incident but fortunately no serious injuries.

The rest of these images pretty much tell the story:






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  #512  
Old 05-14-2009, 09:56 AM
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Default More on the #14 Tornado car...

As a follow-up to the post above, I felt compelled to post the letter I received from Skinny Tom right after the wreck.

One of the reasons is the fact that he alludes to the serious efforts on Frank Dery’s part to make sure that I and my family received everything possible to help in this difficult time. I’ve made this comment before on this board and I’ll say it again, I can’t praise Frank Dery enough for all that he did for us during this time. He was the first one at the ER to meet Linda who rode in with me in the ambulance. He also sat with her through the first few hours of surgery while they were determining lung damage to make sure I was getting the best of care. Bottom line, Frank Dery was one helluva good promoter.







Also, I know that Tom’s kids, Craig, Donnie and Sherrie are still around and if any of them see this letter, I want them to know that it was very helpful to me personally at the time for my recovery. I loved your dad like a brother.


RIP Skinny Tom

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  #513  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ancrdave View Post
Fenton and ModelCarMan: Jim, I lost your e-mail address... need it again and need e-mail for ModelCarMan... thanks...
You have a PM.
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  #514  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:21 AM
Frasson118 Frasson118 is offline
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A couple of shots of legendary racer, Paul Degl... but the racing world knows him as Bill Spade.

Seems he was forced into making a choice when he was a teenager... sell the racecar or move out of his parents house. Paul convinced his parents to let him stay by convincing them that he had "hired" another guy to do the driving. He quickly made up a name, as a derivitive of Hollywood character Sam Spade, and called his mystery driver "Bill Spade".

After a while of getting away with this game, a neighbor approached Pauls dad, and asked if he was proud about his sons win the other night. Dad was furious, but eventually gave in to his sons wishes. He let him stay in the house, accepted the racing part, and eventually became proud to be referred to as "Mr. Spade".

This isn't 100% accurate, but it is the closest I can remember from an article that Paul/Bill had sent me about the alias.

Paul has been at the last 2 Reunions, and we're proud to have him there. A stroke has slowed his body and his speech, but his mind is sharp as a tack. Thanks for everything Paul/Bill...!!!
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  #515  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:32 AM
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The only female to ever win a World of Outlaws race, Erin Crocker.

Went on to help bust-up Ray Evernhams marriage!
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  #516  
Old 05-14-2009, 11:27 AM
ancrdave ancrdave is offline
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1) #16 Pat Herndon at Orlando in 1967...
2) #17 Dickie Ferry at Columbia...
3) #18 Doug Wolfgang at Golden Gate in 1977...
4) #19 Harry Pullen at Old Orlando...
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  #517  
Old 05-14-2009, 04:46 PM
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Bobby Alexander at DeSoto.


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  #518  
Old 05-14-2009, 06:31 PM
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Keep them coming guys. I don't contribute but I do look.
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  #519  
Old 05-14-2009, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
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Gotta slide back into the funky numbering thing for a second. Just found this shot of former Nascar driver, Charlie Glotzbach.

Saw him win ARCA races at both Atlanta and Talladega in the 90's
FYI - Charlie's daughter lives and works right here in the Tampa Bay area. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a party some time back and have enjoyed several conversations with her regarding her dad as well as her experiences involved with traveling with him around the circuit back in the day.

She's ate-up with racing as I am and I'm always in awe listening to her stories about the winged cars, Jr. Johnson, Pete Hamilton, Petty, Richard Brickhouse (who won Talladega in her dad's car due to the strike in 1969) and on & on.



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  #520  
Old 05-14-2009, 10:53 PM
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Tony Stewart in his Dirt LM, at the track he also owns, Eldora Speedway.
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Old 05-14-2009, 11:00 PM
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Bobby Allison driving 2 different versions of Mario Rossi's Dodge's. Everyone knows Allisons story, but not many know about Rossi's.

The following story a sort of long, but is a wierd and interesting story.

Is Mario still alive, or not???


The Mysterious Disappearance ...

When Mario's sister Virginia first contacted me about writing this article, she said, "My brother Mario has been missing since January of 1983. It is a very long and complicated story. My sister and I have been trying to find out what happened to him for the past 24 years."

Indeed, the mystery portion of Rossi's life story begins shortly after his involvement with NASCAR ends.

Not much is known about Mario's specific activities from the late 1970s until early January 1983, when his mother received a phone call informing the family that Rossi had died in the crash of a plane he was allegedly piloting off the coast of the Bahamas.

"At first, when we received the call in January of 1983, we did think he was dead," said DiMattia. "But as the weeks went by and we reflected on the information and phone calls, we were not sure."

Rossi had left NASCAR shortly after his departure from DiGard. His financial situation was grim and he reportedly declared bankruptcy and moved to Atlanta, later returning to Florida to work as a builder of racing boat engines.

South Florida was a mecca of drug activity in the early 1980s (think Miami Vice) and it is rumored that Rossi got mixed up in that dangerous world. If true, Mario's family believes that some aspect of his involvement in the drug trade could account for his strange disappearance.

DiMattia says that over the years, she and other family members have had numerous indications that the plane crash story was not true. "There have been too many unanswered questions and people possibly knowing some answers, telling us to leave it alone," she said. "We do know that for every door opened, another one closed. So many different stories have been told or related to us. Some are hair raising, some are not."

Of note, Mario was an experienced flyer who had owned and piloted a private plane for years.

According to a 1998 article in the Spartanburg, S.C. newspaper about Mario's disappearance, "An investigation by Prudential years later showed that the plane Rossi supposedly died in had been resold three times in the years since."

Rossi's remains were never recovered.

A Family Seeking Closure ...

The surviving family members (siblings and children -- Rossi's mother died in 1986), have considered every theory from the tenable to the extreme - among them, that Rossi may have been killed by someone from the local or international drug scene, or that he turned state's evidence and was placed in a Witness Protection Program, in which case DiMattia believes he could still be alive.

Rossi's sister sent a letter earlier this year to the U.S. Marshals Service requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act about Mario's possible placement in a Witness Protection Program years ago. She received a written reply stating in part, "The Marshals Service will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the records you seek."

DiMattia says that the family had been together just days before receiving word of the plane crash. "The last time I was in my brother's presence was December 28, 1982, for the Christmas holiday at my mother's home in Trenton, New Jersey. (Mario) was driven by family members on December 29th or 30th to the Philadelphia International Airport at 9 a.m. give or take a few minutes. He waved goodbye from inside the terminal, changed airline tickets, and was never seen again by the family. I tried to reach him in the Bahamas on January 1 to wish him a happy New Year, but there was no answer."

Two days later, the family was told that Mario was dead.

Despite the passage of time and the lack of definitive answers, Rossi's next of kin hold out hope that he could still be alive. "If Mario is alive, and he still follows racing news, he may read this and know we are still trying to find him," DiMattia says.

Either way, the family vows that they will never give up trying to learn the truth about Rossi's disappearance. "It has been 24 years of total frustration, not knowing if Mario is alive or dead," said DiMattia.

"We, as a family, must have closure."
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  #522  
Old 05-14-2009, 11:30 PM
Frasson118 Frasson118 is offline
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Patrick Sheltra, from Indiantown, FL, standing on the throttle in his Dirt LM.

After a huge crash at Daytona (that happened right in front of me), he came back to win an ARCA race the next time out.
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  #523  
Old 05-15-2009, 05:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Fenton View Post
As a follow-up to the post above, I felt compelled to post the letter I received from Skinny Tom right after the wreck.

One of the reasons is the fact that he alludes to the serious efforts on Frank Dery’s part to make sure that I and my family received everything possible to help in this difficult time. I’ve made this comment before on this board and I’ll say it again, I can’t praise Frank Dery enough for all that he did for us during this time. He was the first one at the ER to meet Linda who rode in with me in the ambulance. He also sat with her through the first few hours of surgery while they were determining lung damage to make sure I was getting the best of care. Bottom line, Frank Dery was one helluva good promoter.







Also, I know that Tom’s kids, Craig, Donnie and Sherrie are still around and if any of them see this letter, I want them to know that it was very helpful to me personally at the time for my recovery. I loved your dad like a brother.


RIP Skinny Tom

Hey Jim,
Thats a pretty awesome story, thanks for sharing it.
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  #524  
Old 05-16-2009, 11:20 AM
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Thanks Edm.

As you can see, it was one of those traumatic, life-changing events that sometimes occurs and suddenly jolts you with a dose of reality and makes you wake up to the fact that you have some of your priorities mixed up. Before this, that race car was top of the list for me with everything else coming after it. As evidenced by the bottom photo here, I moved family, with a few other things, above the race car. (Incidentally, that’s my son JC that I’m holding in the wheel chair that my wife dropped through the stands that night.)

Something like that also makes you realize who your friends really are. Glad to say that I had more than I knew.

Just a few more pics and an article I ran across while looking for something else:




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  #525  
Old 05-16-2009, 11:26 AM
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Here is the #24 Tornado I had a lot of success with back in 72’ & 73’

We bought this car originally from Tommy Kimura in 1972. We re-configured the chassis and stuck some power under the hood courtesy of Ward Blazer, Blazer & Sons Automotive and turned the thing into a rocket. This car (which we claimed high-point with 2-yrs running) brought together the crew combination as well as support that I ultimately had so much success with later in the FOUR Late Model in the mid-70’s.

Sitting on the front chute, Sunshine Speedway, 1973.


September, 1972, after a win. That’s my son JC hanging on my shoulder, my better-half all the way to the right and Terri & Harlan Faircloth, my Niece & Nephew in the forefront.


July,1973. Trophy cups in hand. From L to R: Ward Blazer, Jr., Buck Taylor (owner of J & K Auto Body), Butch Blazer, mwaa, GRA member (name unknown), Ward Blazer, SR.


1973 again. The motley crew from L to R: Jimmy Gray, Whitey Wescott (Bryan’s dad), Ward Blazer, Sr., mwaa, my Nephew Harlan Faircloth, son JC, daughter Michelle, my life partner Linda, with my Niece Terri Faircloth next to Guy Blazer kneeling.


July, 1973. OOPS.
That’s the #73 Tornado sitting on top of my RR quarter panel. Standing in the forefront is the sponsor, J.D. Barnes (on the left) and the owner / driver Frank Barfuss (right). Appearing just to Barnes’ immediate left in the white tee-shirt with his head showing just over my roof is my good friend Joe Blackwelder. The guy in the visor is Terry Allen. The guy just to the left of Terry (with head showing just above his roof) is Mike Yates, whose #94 Tornado rests buried into my front end. Then yours truly appears barely in-frame on the left looking at my front-end damage and wondering why these guys keep backing into me. :^)

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  #526  
Old 05-16-2009, 11:31 AM
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More #24 Tornado stuff:

1973. Bob Phillips, mwaa, my lovely bride Linda, Guy Blazer & nephew Harlan Faircloth.


June, 1973. Butch Blazer, Bob Phillips, mwaa, pop Fenton & Ward Sr.


April, 1974. Bob Phillips, mwaa, Ward Sr. & Butch Blazer.


November 30, 1973. Sunshine Speedway’s First Annual Awards Banquet.
Treasue Island Auditorium. Tornado High-point award.
On left: Al Lamphier (SS General Manager). On right: Benny Moore (Race Director).
Last but not least, standing behind Benny looking very dapper in his yellow suit and
white bucks is a very young Larry MacMillan.


Same Awards Banquet. I elected to present an award of my own to our engine builder,
Ward Blazer, Sr., for my appreciation of his efforts with the #24 car for 2-yrs running.

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  #527  
Old 05-16-2009, 02:05 PM
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Hey Jim, I know what you mean about the racing family. I was in a garage fire when I was 16 while working on my dad's race car in 1978. The garage belonged to our racing partner Tommy Evonosky. We were working on the race cars when the fire started. My dad's race car, Tommy's race car and his shop all burnt to the ground. 30% of my body was burned, arms, back and stomach. I was in Tampa General for about a month. While in the hospital I received over 50 cards from fans and teams, even from teams we didn't get along with at the track. People came over and helped clean up what was left of the shop; then drivers at East Bay went into the grandstands with their helmets to collected money for Tommy's shop and my medical bills. It was so cool to see the racing family all come together. Here two pictures of the shop with my dad and Tommy's race cars.



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Old 05-16-2009, 05:51 PM
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Hey Ricky,
WOW I never knew about that. Looks like you were lucky to get out of that one as well as you did. It's obvious that you guys took a big hit equipment & structure-wise also but all those things can be replaced.

Burns are very serious business and just like anything else, when you look around there's always someone who took a worse hit. As I'm sure my friend Leroy Porter can testify to.

I have two stories pertaining to that subject while I was in the burn unit for 75 days at University Community Hospital. One is funny (sort of), but the other one is very sad. However, out of respect for the theme of this thread, I'll continue it, for lack of a better place here, down in the "Where Are They Now"? forum at the bottom of the main page. That forum hasn't had a post since the beginning of the year so I'll go down and get the rust off of it.

Glad to see you came out alright on this one man!

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  #529  
Old 05-17-2009, 09:57 AM
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Seeing Charlie Mincy's #116 (his regular number was actually #16) in this shot brings back fond memories of him. I first met him at St Pete (SS Speedway) than actually became friends with him later with my first trip to his home track, Dixie Speedway in GA. He was helpful to me up there with some good tips to get around the place and I always appreciated that.

I believe I heard quite awhile later that Charlie was badly injured at Dixie with a hard 90-degree impact at full speed into the front straightaway wall (also heard that it sepatated his rib cage) which pretty much ended his career.

I think ModelcarMan is much more familiar with Charlie's history as well as Dixie Speedway so I'm sure he can straighten me out on these details.

JF
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Your right Jim, Charlie Mincy number was #16. Here's a picture of his car at Dixie on pit row before the race. Looks like the same car from the Gate to me.
Hey, what-a-ya know.

While scrounging around in my stuff looking for something else I found this shot of Charlie when I first met him!

Sunshine Speedway pits, 1974. Me, Charley and Kenny Faircloth.


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Old 05-17-2009, 11:45 AM
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Yeah you're right Jim. When I was in the hospital I lady didn't make it from a fire.
I do remember when I was in the hospital they would take us one at a time and put us in a tub of water and washed our burns every morning...man that hurt like HELL!!!

That picture of you, Charley and Faircloth looks like a motley crew bunch Just kidding

Do you know if anyone does a racer reunion thing of the good ol' days around here? That would be so cool to see my hero’s when I was a kid.
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:41 AM
Frasson118 Frasson118 is offline
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Not a great picture here, but this is Earl Brooks, who ran both the Grand Nationals, and also the old Grand National East series.

Wendell Scott has said that Earl was one of the guys who had his back during the overly racist days that Wendell faced.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:19 PM
Frasson118 Frasson118 is offline
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Jan Leaty from Williamson NY, hometown of Spencer Speedway (the track that infected me at a young age).

Jan has always had beautiful racecars, although I don't consider this one of the nicer ones. This must have been a 'hired' ride, as his own number has traditionally been #25.
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:22 PM
Frasson118 Frasson118 is offline
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As a tribute to his sponsor, which is a salad company, Brian Paulus did his best to make his Sprint car look like a salad. It's a stretch, but the effort alone is worth a few points. If I were the sponsor, I'd be impressed with the exposure Brian got for doing this!
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:58 PM
Frasson118 Frasson118 is offline
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Tripper & Haudfan might appreciate this one...

Kenny Weld, in the Bob Weikert owned Sprint car. Bob was one of the all-time great car owners, who got out only a few short years ago. And then passed away shortly after his retirement from racing.

Weld was a Hall of Famer, who won damn near everything there was to be won, back around the time a kid named Steve Kinser started doing his share of the winning.

Weld also went down the drug-smuggling path along with Balough, Grant King, Billie Harvey and about a dozen others. He spent some hard time in the pokey, but vowed to get back into racing as quickly as possible after his release.

His biggest rival in racing was Jan Opperman, who also had his share of lifes tragedies which almost took his life, and forever ended his driving career. In a strange twist, they died within a few months of each other. Weld, the clean-cut redneck from Kansas couldn't stand Opperman because of his long-haired, pot smoking ways... and wound up a convicted drug smuggler himself.

As for this picture, when have you ever seen a Weikerts Livestock car that wasn't predominantly blue.... I don't see much blue in this shot!
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Old 05-26-2009, 01:00 PM
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Forgot the picture... !
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Old 05-26-2009, 01:42 PM
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Marvin Bradford from Herington, Kansas.

Check out the fancy high rise manifold and dual carbs.
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Old 05-27-2009, 09:47 AM
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Look how far back he's sitting in that Chevelle also. That will put some weight on that left rear tire.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:32 PM
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Gary Balough in the Billie Harvey owned, Grant King built Modified, raced under the team name of Fast Lane Ltd.

I love the body english Gary is putting in behind the wheel.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:36 PM
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A beautiful Supermodified driven by Nokie Fornoro, whose father Nick was the flagman for many years in the CART days. He also has a brother Drew, who was a great Midget racer a while back. Haven't heard much about Drew over the years, he may have retired.

The car is owned by Dan Soule, who has campaigned Supers at Oswego for as long as I can recall.
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Old 05-27-2009, 02:39 PM
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The Supers have come a loooooonnnnnngggg way from Dick Batchelders ride in 1973. Photo credits say this is Thompson Speedway in CT.
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