Thread: Reminiscing... Lakeside Figure 8's
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:53 AM   #1
Thomas E
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Default Lakeside Figure 8's

And now "The rest of the story . . . "

The Lakeside Figure 8's

Pat (Mike) Frazier (Pat would run modified "Sweet 16" years later) and I ran a car in the Lakeside F-8's while the program lasted. I say while it lasted, the F-8 program did not even last the whole season, I believe it was doomed from the start. The ending of the F-8’s was mostly due to some of the F-8 owner/drivers who got on the wrong side of the CARC officials with a heated exchange of words and within a couple of months the F-8 program was over. I think at that time Sammy Gallo was the club president.

It was at Lakeside Speedway and not at a CARC club house meeting that the heated words that were exchanged involved two major sticking points, paving the "X" and the prize money. Paving the "X" was that really going to happen? I remember watching the cars going through the infield from dirt to asphalt and back was like a "Mouse Trap" nightmare, the cars at times would bounce hard going back on to the asphalt, and that was hard the car's suspension, clouds of dust that made it hard to see the action for the fans and drivers, and don't forget the flag stand just at the edge of the infield asphalt at the start/finish line.

Prize money, I remember we received $7.00 for finishing third in a 15 lap main. We didn't time in, the first week of competition our starting position was determined according to our arrival at the pit gate arrival for that week, after that we lined up according where we finished the week before, was that ever confusing, if we finished first the previous week, start last the next week, etc. there was one heat race, the flagman spent three pace laps trying to get a couple of cars into the proper line order, when the cars came around for possibly a fourth pace lap, the flagman gave them green, the result was then a quick red, for a many car pile-up in the north turn, like a "Mouse Trap" nightmare. There was no trophy dash, and the number of heats was determined by the number of cars that showed up. I think the main event was also a "Claim Race" for the winning car of the main, and within the club and not the spectators; the "Claim Race" could have been just for the engine.

On our part, Patrick and myself, we were young and wanted to race and what an opportunity, "Figure Eight's" at Lakeside and why not we practically lived there. Patrick had to watch from the grand stands, since at that time CARC had a “Over twenty-one” requirement, myself I was just over twenty-one. After each race Patrick would run back to the pit area. Wait, I said he was under twenty-one, right. So how could Patrick enter the pit area, simple, the pit area was a roped off section outside and around the east side pit gate, we were required to unload in that area, forming one row split by the access to the pit gate, and the move our tow cars or trucks to the south fence along 44th Avenue, if we couldn't find a spot, we were to park on the west gate entrance side, the gate would be opened and we could then park in the shopping center parking lot. We both had a membership in RMMRA, their age requirement was 18, the same for USAC, but that did not work with CARC, only on a split show with CARC and RMMRA.

The rules called for cars that were 1946 to 1953, to keep the engines limited to flatheads and sixes, and station wagons were allowed. No engine modifications, except for a classy looking chrome hot rod style air cleaner; no electric fuel pumps; the exhaust pipe(s) had to go past the seat area; cars were to gutted and stripped of all fire hazard, no glass allowed; bucket or bench seat allowed, if split the right passenger side seat back was to be removed; 3" seat belt fastened to the frame or roll bar and safety chained; minimal roll bar requirement, 2" diameter steel tubing/pipe, a single hoop with two back struts and one front strut on the right side; 5 gallon max gas tank inside car, and 5 extra gallons in our pit area; the battery was to be placed inside the car and covered with rubber, most of us used a piece of rubber cut from an inner-tube; the driver side door was bolted shut and the passenger side door was strapped shut, a just in case measure; a safety apron (diaper) under the engine for oil spills; inside front fenders could be removed if they were factory bolt in, but if welded like the Studebaker's, Nash's, and a few other makes, they could not be removed; no cutting the body; no trimming the bumpers back, the rear bumper tips could be bolted to the body. Car's were to be brightly painted with contrasting numbers. There was competitor who bolted a ‘34 Plymouth bumper across the rear wheel openings and was politely told by the tech committee to take them off, as they thought it to be a an unfair advantage.

Most of the cars were slab side Ford's with flat motors. I think Bobby Jackson, Lakeside’s demo king had a '50 something Chevy four-door torpedo back. I know there was bad handling Henry-J too, number 41, they pitted next to us, there was also a '51 Nash 2-Door Wagon. A few were well built, a couple of the cars had full cage’s and a real bucket seat.

Our car was number 105, a 1951 Ford Club Coupe with a flathead six, bench seat with the right side seat back removed. The car was already black, that was easy, so we just added white numbers. We had number 105 for two weeks, when the powers that be (CARC) had us change our number to 55, CARC said they would no allow three digit numbers and that was okay with us, I painted the 5's in the Axel/Jackson #5 style. Larry Ginardi drove it twice, but he didn't like the odds; then John Thomas drove once, and said it needs some work, and he would give it a go, two weeks later by the time we had it ready to go again, we received notice that there would be no more F-8's. We towed our car behind a '53 Chrysler Saratoga Coupe, our parts and supplies were little else than a few hand tools, five extra gallons of gas, and no spare tires or towing lights. But we were racers and little else seemed to matter at the time.

The few shows that the F-8's had were like a three ring circus, dust, noise, shake rattle and roll, but Patrick and I were racers (you know, AJ and Mario), and at the time for Patrick and I it wasn't any better than that, and besides we racing at Lakeside. After that Patrick and I parted ways about racing, but not our friendship. Patrick became involved with the CARC modified's, and I went to CNS to try my hand at dirt track racing.

When I think about it, Lakeside's size and the dirt infield "X" made F-8 racing very impractical, But hey we were young and wanted to race.

I often thought the guys who caused the problem with CARC officials and the F-8-er's, I recall two CARC members (supposed members?) who raised fit about the F-8 program, I wonder if they were possibly infiltrators from Engelwood who were encouraged to undermine the Lakeside F-8 program. Of course it is only speculation, like speculating if John Elway and the Broncos could have won a third Super Bowl, making it three in a row. Anyway all trouble makers and few others all went to Englewood Speedway, and as I saw it at the time for the Englewood F-8's the was no competition.

Well that's my part of Lakeside's F-8's.

And that's the way it was, I was there . . . Thomas E

"Stay tuned for the greatest spectacle in racing" ~ Sid Collins

LAKESIDE - Late at night by the old Lakeside Speedway, you can hear the ghosts - The barking, crackling "Flathead Fords", the zinging "Chevy Stove Bolt's", The rumbling of the "KK-Offy's", and the snarling "Ford V8-60's". Listen and faintly hear the announcer say, "Ladies and gentlemen, the line up for the trophy dash," and the place would erupt with the mix echoes of cheers and boo's...Remember...

Last edited by Thomas E; 06-19-2010 at 08:00 AM. Reason: Wording, "pit gate arrival"
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