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The Checkered Flag This is where we say goodbye to drivers, car owners, promoters, race tracks and other memorable auto racing fixtures that have passed away.

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Old 01-05-2010, 11:06 AM   #1
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Default Lost in 09

One of our members CARC 7 sent this to me and I thought that it should be shared with all of you.
Bruce "rapid30"

Billy Engelhart passed this onto me. Let's not forget our fallen heroes! HAPPY NEW

Best Regards,


For Auld Lang Syne – 2009 by Chris Romano

They are already testing stock cars at Daytona, the prototypes will
spring to life for the 24 Hours, short track racers will head to New
Smyrna. So prior to kicking off motorsports 2010, a pause to reflect
on those who left us in 2009.

1967 NASCAR Rookie of the Year and 1966 winner of the Firecracker 400
Sam McQuagg died at age 73. We lost Jack McCoy at 72, a multi-time
Winston West winner, together with journeyman 60’s and 70’s NASCAR
entrant Dick May. We also lost Benton Woodward, Jr., former NASCAR
driver at age 79.

In short track racing we said farewell to Lou Blaney, sprint and dirt
modified star, and the father of Dale and Dave. Former Carolina Clash
champion Ed Gibbons died at 46 in traffic accident. Matt Hawkins,
just 21, died of an accidental gunshot. He was an ARCA and USAR
winner, and Southern All Star Super Late Model champ. Former
Nationwide series driver Kevin Grubb, 31, took his own life. His
career ended after being banned by NASCAR in 2006 for substance abuse.
Alex Beaumont, 1988 Late Model champion at Delaware International
Speedway, died of heart failure at 55. Wayne Patterson, Late Model
champion at Southside Speedway and two time South Boston champ, died
in a road accident at age 60. Frank “Rebel” Mundy, NASCAR pioneer and
AAA stock car champion in 1955 passed away this year at 91. Midwest
veteran George Anderson died at age 80. Pat Wohglemuth, Sr., a champ
at Flemington and Morristown, left us at age 74. South Carolina dirt
late model competitor Phillip Seifert died suddenly of cancer at age
30. Jack Reilley, the 1965 Baer Field stock car champion passed on
this year, as did veteran ARCA owner Bobby Jones, at 62. At 76
veteran dirt late model owner Raye Vest passed on. He had been car
owner for Rick Eckert since 1995, and was a fixture at World of Outlaw
events. For years John McCarthy manned the pits at Star Speedway in
New Hampshire, and he left us this year. Rupert Porter, founder and
promoter of Anderson Speedway in South Carolina, died at age 73. Mike
Johnson, former owner and promoter of 311 Speedway and Ace Speedway in
North Carolina died at 64 after a long illness.

If you grew up around racing in New Hampshire and Maine then at some
point you were a Stub Fadden fan. He thrilled crowds for decades
running NASCAR North and keeping the youngsters honest. The hometown
legend died after a lengthy illness this year at age 75. Joining Stub
was another New England legend, Ernie Gahan, the 1966 NASCAR Modified
Champion who barnstormed throughout the northeast with the best of

It was a tough year in open wheel when we heard that Larry,
“Rice-a-Roni” Rice lost his battle with cancer at age 63. A racer of
the old school Larry was USAC midget champion in 1973 and Silver Crown
champion in 1977 and 1981. In 1978 he was co-rookie of the year at
the Indianapolis 500, sharing the honor with Rick Mears. He went on
to a successful career in broadcasting and insurance, and I had the
privilege of working with him at Seekonk many years ago. Truly one of
the nice guys.

Larry is joined at the Golden Speedway this year by “The Rube,” Lloyd
Ruby. The unluckiest man at Indy, Rube entered the race 18 times and
was always fast, but never first. Other victories on the champ car
circuit graced his career, and he was no slouch in sports cars,
winning the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring.

Bob “Caveman” Christie, an 8 time Indy starter died this year at age
85, while Danny Kledis, who drove in the 1946 Indy 500 for the
Granatelli brothers died this year at 92. We lost Big Jonathan Byrd
all too soon at age 57. The jovial cafeteria owner fielded a car for
years at the Speedway for genuine heroes like Rich Vogler.

Jim McWithey, a four time entrant in the Little 500 and a two time
entrant at Indy in 1959 and 1960 passed on this year. Roy Bryant was
a two time IMCA Sprint champ, a Belleville High Banks Hall of Famer,
and a four time entrant in the Knoxville Nationals. Fellow Knoxville
veteran Earl Wagner, a Knoxville sprint and supermodified champ and a
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame member passed on this year. Just 16,
talented mini-sprint racer Christian Stover was killed in an ATV
accident. Veteran northwest midget driver Harry Stryker, Sr., died
this year, as did Don Carr, 87, a veteran IMCA big car driver. Walt
James led CRA sprint cars for a long time and passed on this year.
Billy Wilkerson, the 1967 and 1970 CRA Sprint Car champion left us, as
did two time UMRA TQ champ Robert Nichols, Jr., who died at 46 in a
motorcycle accident. Nine time Pennsylvania Sprint Car champion Jim
Nace left us all too early at 55. Veteran sprint car engine builder
and owner Loren Woodke died this year at age 84. Gordon Betz, veteran
AAA and USAC official died at age 91.

And let’s not forget Art Rousseau who left us at age 87. Art was a
legend in sprints, cutdowns, and supers in New Hampshire.

Crocky Wright wrote what many considered to be the definitive midget
history in the US. The author, motorcycle daredevil, and racer passed
away late this year at age 91. There are a million Crocky Wright
stories but my favorite is when he took a tour bus around the
Speedway, sightseers and all, at racing speed. It was the shortest
tour bus driver employment ever at Indianapolis but I’m sure Crocky
thought it was worth every minute.

Road racing lost Bill Scott, accomplished Formula Vee racer and Summit
Point boss this year. Larry Miller, who built the beautiful Miller
Motorsports Park in Utah died at age 64. Longtime sportscar entrant
Harry Brix died at age 62. Paul Hacker, 1975 Car and Driver Showroom
Stock Sedan champion and long time SCCA racer left us, along with
Donna Mae Mims, H Production SCCA national champion in 1964, who
passed on at 82.

Teddy Mayer lost his brother Tim to the sport in the early 1960's, but
went to work for Bruce McLaren, guiding that company after Bruce’s
death in 1970. He went on to work for Roger Penske for 20 years, and
died this year at age 73.

Across the pond perennial British entrant Jackie Epstein died at 74.
Six time British Hillclimb champ Tony Marsh passed away at 77, as did
Roy Lane, four time MSA British Hillclimb champion at age 74. Tony
Maggs raced in the junior formulae and Formula One in the 1960’s,
retiring to become a game warden in his native South Africa. He died
this year at age 72. Pete Arundell was a two time Formula Junior
champion, graduating to become Jim Clark’s team mate at Lotus. A
devastating Formula Two crash at Reims effectively ended his career,
and he passed on at age 75. Formula Three and Formula Ford team owner
Joe Tandy died this year, just 26. Jean Sage led Renault to Formula
One and sportscar success, and was a pretty good driver in his own
right. He died this year at age 68. Swedish rally star Ingvar
Carlsson died at 62. And let’s not forget Frank Gardner, who famously
said he never wanted to be the fastest race car driver, just the
oldest. He made his name in touring cars, but was among the few who
Porsche called upon to tame the fearsome 917. The garrulous Aussie
died this year at age 78.

Tom Wheatcroft single-handedly resurrected Donington Park, bringing
Formula One back to the circuit for the first time since the 1930’s.
He amassed a priceless collection of vintage cars, and lent a hand to
so many young drivers, most notably the ill-fated Roger Williamson.
Suffice it to say an era ended with his passing this year.

The straight line set lost pioneer Chet Herbert this year at 81. He
was the father of NHRA star Doug Herbert. Former land speed record
holder Robert Pierson died this year at 82.

The sport did not take a year off from tragedy this season. Carlos
Pardo, NASCAR Mexico driver, was killed in a horrific crash in a race
at Pueblo. Chad McDaniel was killed in a midget crash at Knoxville at
age 34. He led USAC/SMRA standings at the time. 2007 SCCA E
Production champion Thomas Thrash, Jr., died in crash at Road America
at 48. Henry Surtees, son of 1964 World Champion Big John died in a
freak Formula Two crash at Brands Hatch, just 18 years old.

John Schulz was killed in a modified crash at Red River Valley
Speedway in North Dakota at 47. Ikey Dorr, 56, had a fatal heart
attack during a Super Street Stock event at Speedway 95 in Maine.
Mechanic Dennis Frank, 48, was killed when he was struck by a sprint
car at St. Francois County Raceway in Missouri. Rudy Ramos, 62, died
when thrown from his 1958 Corvette in a crash at the Kauai Raceway
Park drag strip in Hawaii. Steve Bowers, Jr., was 49 when he died in
a modified crash at Thunderhill Raceway in Iowa. Charlie Webster, was
killed at age 38 in a Stock Car crash at Oxford Plains, in Maine.
Ronnie Marcum, 53, was killed in a freak drag racing crash in the pits
at California Speedway. Alan Burgess, 54, died of burns when his
Porsche caught fire at an SCCA event at Daytona. Richard Shafer died
at 66 of injuries sustained in an SCCA hillclimb.

The fourth estate lost Dick Beebe, publisher of the MARC Times for 47
years. NASCAR reporter David Poole, who covered the sport for the
Charlotte Observer, died suddenly this year at age 50. Stew Reamer
founded the RPM promoters workshop and newsletter, and he leaves
impossible shoes to fill. Veteran photographer Steve Snoddy left us
this year, while the midwest drags and sprints lost photographer Bob
Hesser at 46. NASCAR lost two of its best when Dick Thompson, the
long time public relations director for Martinsville Speedway died at
age 74, and northern PR director Bob Paulin passed on at age 62.
Phyllis Devine, who kept the vintage racer flame burning with her
little publication The Advocate, died this year after a long illness.

Thom Ring’s excellent Shorttrack Magazine fell victim to the economy,
ceasing publication.

Greed, stupidity, and the economy wasn’t kind to race tracks either.
The city of Birmingham, Alabama, decided they didn’t want to be in the
race track business any longer and shuttered Birmingham International
Raceway after 95 years. Nashville shut down the Fairgrounds, as did
the State Fair at Oklahoma. Dover Downs International pulled the plug
on Memphis Motorsports Park.

And a way of life came to an end with the closing of Manzanita in
Phoenix. Watching the sprint cars there was as close to heaven as
most of us may ever get.

And what will we do without Robert “Barnrat” Devaney. A New Hampshire
character in the mold of Mo Tweedie, Barnrat raced supermodifieds in
the golden era, and founded the V6 Super division at Hudson
International Speedway. He died this year at age 67, of cancer. Lew
Boyd, racer and publisher, recounted the story of Barnrat’s Last Ride
on his web site, Barnrat’s family gave another
legend, Pete “The Travelin’ Man” Fiandaca his ashes for one last time
around Hudson. Peter, sporting Barnat’s old number, 222, won his heat
and finished fourth in the feature.

At 97 Marvin Rifchin passed away this year, and with him a lifetime of
race tire knowledge. Founder of M&H Race Tires Marvin was racing
royalty. He was a good friend of Don “Big Daddy” Garlits, and you can
find his handiwork in the Smithsonian. But Marvin was most at home at
a street stock race or with the NEMA midgets. He could give you a
durometer reading by pressing a pencil eraser to the tire tread.

Racer Max Papis said this year that “life is about the stories you
tell.” And so, as ever, while we shed a tear at their memory, I ask
that you remember their stories, the stories we shared with them, and,
oh, how they lived. We raise a glass to them all, for Auld Lang Syne.

Joyeaux Noel, Bonne Annee mes amis. – Chris Romano

In addition to Chris' wonderful salute, let me note these racers and
racing folk who left us in 2009:

Several drivers who raced in NASCAR in earlier eras left us in 2009,
three of them Georgians: George Alsobrook made 18 starts from
1958-1962. He passed away at 75. Ken Spikes made 15 of his 16 starts
in the 1964 and 1967, he died this year at 74. Bob Burcham was a top
short tracker who made 36 starts at NASCAR's top level, 20 of them in
'74. Burcham, a member of both the Georgia and Tennessee racing halls
of fame, passed away at 73. Gutsy Joe Caspolich graduated from the
short tracks of Mississippi' s Gulf Region and survived a severe
accident in his debut in the '57 Southern 500 to make 7 more starts,
all of them on superspeedways - including the first race at Charlotte
Motor Speedway - and three more of them on the same Darlington Raceway
that nearly claimed his life. Caspolich passed away at 79. Virginian
Phil Good made 8 starts between 1984 and 1987 and passed away at 54.

Jack McCoy still has more wins than any driver in the history of
NASCAR's Western series and began his career at Stockton 99 Speedway
before moving into the stockers, where he won two titles. McCoy
chronicled his fascinating life and racing career in the book
"Racing's Real McCoy" and was hoping to do a book covering the history
of NASCAR's Western series. Jack died at age 72.

Vic Irvan is sadly better known as "Ernie's dad", but beginning with
Hardtops and winding up with Late Models, he raced 26 years on
California dirt tracks from 1952 through 1978. He excelled on the
Watsonville- Merced circuit for the unique NASCAR sanctioned Sportsman
division (winged open wheeled cars featuring bodies such as Corvair
station wagons!), where he won more than 60 features over a nine year
span at the wheel of his purple circle 9 car. We lost Vic this year at

Bill Osborne was one of the "Big Four" who dominated the Southern
California NASCAR Late Model Sportsman circuit from '73 through '76.
Osborne also raced in NASCAR's Western series, made some starts in
NASCAR's top series (including Rockingham, NC) and Trans-Am. Not as
big a winner as the other three - Ivan Baldwin, Bill Spencer and Chuck
Becker Jr. - the fact that he drove as teammate to Baldwin and Spencer
speaks volume about his abilities. The mercurial Baldwin would not
have tolerated a slouch in one of his cars. When the money was greater
at San Diego's Cajon Speedway, the team of Spencer and Osborne
switched their racing there and set records. Now, they're all gone,
except in the memories of fans who can still see the four flying in
formation in a trophy dash on the tight quarter at Orange Show or the
banked half mile of 605 or battling in any combination for a main
event win at those same tracks or in open comp races at other tracks.
Bill Osborne was 62.

Fred Steinbroner was an early star of the California Jalopy
Association and also an early stock car star in California.
Steinbroner passed away at age 83. Likewise, Billy Wilkerson started
out in the jalopies before moving on to super mods and the CRA
sprints. The '67 and '70 CRA champ died at 82.

While they rarely got out of their area, the West Coast short track
scene lost San Jose Hardtopper and owner Merv Furtado at 87, Orange
Show Speedway stock car fans remember Gary Headley, who died at 67 and
San Diego area race fans remember "Barney" Barney racing open wheelers
with the San Diego Racing Association at Balboa Stadium and Cajon
Speedway. "Barney" was 86. Ron McGee raced super modifieds at San
Jose, NASCAR stocks at Ontario and Riverside and later took the same
Chevrolet Laguna and ran it on Bay Area tracks (even dirt!). He passed
away at 61.

Ollie Prather owned sprint cars and champ cars. He died at 89.
Marshall Hansen owned CRA sprint cars and stayed involved in the sport
with his son (I also believe he was related to midget Hall of Famer
and Indy racer Mel Hansen).

Midget racing lost one of its last links to its pre-WWII era when
Judd Pickup, the inaugural Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association
champ in 1938, died at age 94. Cliff Spalding was an open wheel racer
out of Washington state who won 5 USAC National Midget features
between 1959 and 1962 and finished 11th in points in '62. Spalding
passed away this year at 80 years of age.

Leo Wyrsch was 92 when he died this year, having spent a life in the
sport from helping son Richard to co-promoting the legendary West
Capital Raceway dirt track in West Sacramento, CA. Bob Blood raced
super modifieds at the same West Capital Raceway in the early 70's. He
passed away at 70.

The sports car world lost Charlie Kolb, who raced everywhere from
Daytona, Nassau and LeMans to Southern U.S. airfields. Kolb died at
85. Super Vee racer Peter Kuhn, who made 3 CART starts, died in a body
surfing mishap at 54.

Internationally, Oswald Karch, 91, drove in the 1953 German GP. Gino
Munaron drove in 4 GP's in 1960. He died at 82. Jackie Pretorius was a
successful South African racer who made three starts in the South
African GP. Sadly, he died of a heart attack days after being beaten
by intruders in his home at age 74.

Ian Gordon was a mechanic and fabricator who left his native Australia
to work with Frank Gardner, Peter Revson, Pedro Rodriguez and in F1
and Indy Cars (with All American Racers). He died at 67. Peter Bryant
was a mechanic and designer who was involved with several teams and
best known for his work on the titanium Ti-22 Can-Am car and Team
Shadow Can-Am cars and chronicled his career in the book "Can-Am
Challenger" died at 71, days after enjoying the "Legends of Riverside"

Behind the scenes, Jerry Van Dyke, 74, announced and worked at many
Colorado tracks and was founder and former chairman of the Colorado
Motorsports Hall of Fame. Colorful "Dutch" Holland resurrected racing
in the northern California town of Ukiah in the 80's. "Dutch" passed
away at age 75. Earle Brucker Jr. ran Cajon Speedway for many years
before turning the track over to his sons. A photo of Brucker Sr.
doing a last walk around the closed speedway
( http://public. DollarDave/ mr_bruckers_ final/ ) as it
was being disassembled in August of '05 brought a mist to the eyes of
any San Diego race fan who spent many a Saturday night at the 3/8 mile
oval. Brucker passed away at age 83.

And lastly, Altamont Raceway - recently known as Altamont Raceway Park
- the track that has died a dozen deaths, may finally have been
shuttered for good. The 1/2 mile and 1/4 mile paved ovals witnessed
many an interesting event in it's 43 years, ranging from Parnelli
Jones winning a USAC National Midget feature and USAC Sprint wins for
A.J. Foyt and Bobby Unser to regional legends in NARC Sprints, NASCAR
Super Modifieds and NASCAR Grand National West to the Rolling Stones
ill-fated "free" concert that featured many legends of rock & roll.
Eternally windswept and blazing in Summer, noise complaints from a
couple of persistent neighbors (and the economy) may have sealed it's
fate a final time.

To anyone whom I've missed, apologies and thanks for your
participation in our sport. You all deserve a salute.
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:34 PM   #2
Olen McGuire
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Default Re: Lost in 09

Wow, there have been many race tracks that are already up there (Re:The ghost of old race tracks) so that elite crowd of racers (Re:Lost in 09) won't have any problem finding a track to race on. When I get there to watch them, I'll send down a new thread for Auto Racing Memories.~Olen
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Old 01-05-2010, 12:44 PM   #3
Jerry Lee
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Default Re: Lost in 09

Don't be heading there too soon Dad.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:28 AM   #4
Mitch G.
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Default Re: Lost in 09

Wow, that's an amazing article. Being a Colorado native, I was shocked to see Judd Pickup's name. I just assumed he'd been gone for years, but wow, 94 years old! I think there should be a 90 year old minimum age for admission up there, so we can keep some of these great old racers around for awhile.
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: Lost in 09

A couple of local racers that passed away in Dec. that did not make this list is long time Englewood racer Dick Baty, and Mike Garrison, driver and son of legendary racer Paul Garrison.
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:45 PM   #6
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Default Re: Lost in 09

What a eye opener!!! We take all these great racers and tracks for granted.
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