Thread: Profile... Vic Gammel
View Single Post
Old 04-16-2009, 03:19 PM   #1
webby's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Lakewood, Colorado
Age: 55
Posts: 1,063
Post Vic Gammel

Following World War Two, a lot of young men came home from the service itching for something to do. During this formative post war period, Circle track racing on the local level was a popular vent for these guys, especially with midget racers and now track roadster (hot rod) racing.

By the late forties, stock car racing as we know it today was born, rapidly taking over interest from the track roadster boys. As more and more young men discovered, a stock car could be built for far less than these other forms of racing. Pretty rudimentary at first, for a few bucks just latch onto the old coupe or sedan in the neighbor’s yard, gut the interior, put in one of those army surplus seat belts that were now plentiful, paint a number on the side and go racing. Some protective iron on the front and rear didn’t hurt, and it was soon learned that fenders trimmed for tire clearance was also a good idea. Roll bars, from just a single hoop at first (I remember some that didn’t have any at all) to a full cage soon became the norm. In an era of drab colored family sedans, bright paint jobs were also popular to set these cars apart from the rest.

This track at Longmont offered several nights of racing each week during the early and mid 1950's.

Short tracks for stock car racing, both paved and unpaved, sprang up all over America, in small towns and large cities alike. Longmont was one of those with an unpaved oval carved out just northwest of the U.S. route 287 and Pike Road intersection south of town. This is the west end of the track as viewed from the south, a little fuzzy, looking through wire fencing that protected the spectators. Number 53G is Vern Grams, then from Greeley. Tracks in Greeley, Cheyenne, Fort Collins and Denver’s Lakeside Speedway as well as this track at Longmont offered several nights of racing each week during the early and mid fifties. Any trace of that track is long gone as a housing development filled that land during the sixties.

Vic Gammel was one of those north of the Denver metro area who chose to first race at the Longmont Speedway in his #61 L (for Longmont) Plymouth coupe. Front iron was pretty beefy in those days. Also note the cut out opening at the front of the top. Must have been for improved vision. (That year of Plymouths always looked like they had chopped tops anyway so anything to improve vision was helpful) D-C Trucking (one of the major AAU basketball forces in those days) was his sponsor.

Below is the rear view of Vic’s #61 L shows the opening up of the rear window area, (common practice for the time) presumably to more easily see who was coming up on you.

I’m not sure when Vic Gammel first traveled to Lakeside Speedway, but he was first listed in the program in 1955. This photo is the car that I remember, painted turquoise and white, and was apparently the same car that he raced in Longmont. If you look closely, you can see where the rear window section was welded back in, to comply with the CARC “stock silhouette” rule. Still running a full hood and grill shell, this ’33 Plymouth was said to be the only Plymouth at Lakeside during the mid fifties. Engine was a flathead straight six. Brown’s Service was Vic’s long time sponsor, continuing through the 1958 season for both of them. Vic’s son relayed that after the car was sold, the new owner promptly went out and totaled it!

Just a little trivia about Plymouths carrying the number 61 at Lakeside Speedway; except for a brief time when a Ford carried the #61 during the late fifties, Vic’s car was the first of a long line of Plymouths using that number, including those driven by Fred Henning, and Terry Daniels.

My thanks to Mr. Gammel’s son Vic for providing these photos.

Written by Bill Peratt
webby is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links