Jump to content


Photo

A modest project proposal for TNFers


  • Please log in to reply
38 replies to this topic

#1 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 16 August 2008 - 21:33

Having heard from the estimable Jim Thurman in another thread that hometown memorials and monuments to the racing greats of yesteryear are rare in the US, it occurs to me that it is time to attempt a remedy. What we need to do is goad city and town councils into action, at least to the best of our fairly limited ability. I have in mind a project whereby interested posters isolate, say, 50 deceased American drivers we consider to be most worthy of memorialization. We then determine their place of birth and whether or not a memorial already exists. If not, we send a proposal to the given town council explaining why the native son deserves to be commemorated.

Note: I believe that if a driver is from a major city (a city with an NFL, NBA or MLB franchise), he would be disqualified. Polticians from massive cities have a lot on their plates and aren't going to pay any attention whatsoever to a load of Internet racing fanatics. Those from towns and smaller cities, on the other hand, just might.

So here is the tentaive plan:

1. We begin nominating drivers worthy of commemoration. Once we agree upon a worthiest 50, this phase is complete.

2. We determine where the 50 were born and whether or not there exists a monument to their life. If a driver was born in a large city or already has a memorial, that driver would be replaced by an alternate.

3. After we have arrived at 50 drivers who are, A. worthy of memorialization; B. do not hale from a large city; and C. are not already commemorated, we then begin making a case for each individual driver. Once we have marshalled the evidence and drafted the language, we would then send the proposal to the given city/town council and await the results.

I know this may be a pipe dream. I know it will require loads of work. And I know the prospects for success may not be particularly high. And if there is no interest among TNFers, then I will quietly drop this. I hope it is otherwise.

Advertisement

#2 Frank S

Frank S
  • Member

  • 2,157 posts
  • Joined: September 02

Posted 16 August 2008 - 22:43

Two quick questions:

Wouldn't "Hometown" be a better site than "Place of birth", supposing the two are not the same? Thinking of Mario Andretti, for an instance.

If the floor is open for nominations, may I suggest Rodger Ward?

--
Frank Sheffield
San Diego CA
USA

#3 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 16 August 2008 - 23:45

Frank,

Yes, we can be flexible on hometown. It would be a bit silly to designate Jonesville as Bob Smith's hometown if he was born there but moved to Brownsburg at the age of two months and lived Brownsburg the remainder of his life. Brownsburg, then should be the site for the memorial.

And Rodger Ward is a fine nomination.

:up:

#4 Stephen W

Stephen W
  • Member

  • 11,692 posts
  • Joined: December 04

Posted 17 August 2008 - 22:33

Dan Gurney

Carrol Shelby

AJ Foyt

to name but three.

#5 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 17 August 2008 - 23:36

Stephen,

We're looking for deceased drivers right now. Thankfully, Gurney and AJ are still with us. Not too sure about Shelby.

#6 Vitesse2

Vitesse2
  • Nostalgia Forum Moderator

  • 24,041 posts
  • Joined: April 01

Posted 18 August 2008 - 11:15

Originally posted by Flat Black
Not too sure about Shelby.

Well, he writes a column in Octane every month, so I'd say he's very probably still with us ....;)

#7 Stephen W

Stephen W
  • Member

  • 11,692 posts
  • Joined: December 04

Posted 18 August 2008 - 11:36

Originally posted by Flat Black
Stephen,

We're looking for deceased drivers right now. Thankfully, Gurney and AJ are still with us. Not too sure about Shelby.


OOPS! That'll teach me to thoroughly read the thread!

How about Timmy Mayer?

#8 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 18 August 2008 - 16:30

Originally posted by Vitesse2

Well, he writes a column in Octane every month, so I'd say he's very probably still with us ....;)


Not if he's a "ghost" writer.

;)

#9 HistoricMustang

HistoricMustang
  • Member

  • 4,076 posts
  • Joined: November 03

Posted 18 August 2008 - 20:22

My suggestion would be this.

Get the list together, collect the roughly $6000 (US - tax free) and have the memorial placed in Motorsports Memorial Plaza here in Augusta on public land. We have 12,000 square feet ready for additional granite and this would keep the idea very simple.

AIRPS will take care of having the monument made, placed and dedicated in September 2009 at our annual event. :smoking:

Henry

#10 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 18 August 2008 - 20:45

I don't think it's an either/or situation. Would be fantastic to have a collective monument in Augusta, but I'd also love to see individual monuments to the greats in their respective hometowns. From the looks of things so far, however, there's not much interest in the project(s) on TNF.

#11 MPea3

MPea3
  • Member

  • 2,144 posts
  • Joined: July 01

Posted 18 August 2008 - 22:13

Originally posted by Flat Black
I don't think it's an either/or situation. Would be fantastic to have a collective monument in Augusta, but I'd also love to see individual monuments to the greats in their respective hometowns. From the looks of things so far, however, there's not much interest in the project(s) on TNF.


Just be patient. This could gain momentum as people think of drivers. I'll nominate Gober Sosebee, a legend in the town of Dawsonville, Georgia (also the home of the Elliots). He was a three time Daytona Beach winner and great from the early days of NASCAR. He may not have the fame of many of those who competed at Indy and in the AAA and USAC championships, but considering the current popularity of NASCAR it would be nice to see more recognition for some of the early pioneers.

#12 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 19 August 2008 - 00:59

Guess I'd better throw some guys in my own ring:

Jim Hurtubise
Mauri Rose
Ralph DePalma
Pete DePaolo
Ray Harroun
Frank Lockhart
Jimmy Murphy
Louis Meyer
Bill Vukovich
Dale Earnhardt

#13 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,154 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 19 August 2008 - 04:37

Mentioning Bill Vukovich reminds me that there is a monument to him in Fresno.

A side note to this (and something discussed in other threads here) is getting motorsports figures into various local and regional Sports Halls of Fame.

Some of the smaller cities/towns would seem even more likely.

If West Covina, California could put "Hometown of Major League Pitcher Jim Merritt" on signs (and mention it on the local radio station IDs)...then surely some racers could be likewise commemorated.

#14 HistoricMustang

HistoricMustang
  • Member

  • 4,076 posts
  • Joined: November 03

Posted 19 August 2008 - 09:03

I am of the opinion that it would be a monumental task to have this done at individual cities/towns.

My opinion would again be to gather the list and approach one location for the documentation. This location could possibly be a major racing facility like Indy or Daytona.

It is very time consuming to negotiate with local governments. Trust me on this one! :rolleyes:

Henry

#15 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 19 August 2008 - 14:37

Scratch Vucky. Great to know that Fresno has done the right thing. If I ever visit, I'll be sure to check out the memorial.

Henry,

I certainly do not propose any sort of protracted negotions with individual towns. All I propose is isolating 50 worthies, creating memorial proposals (bio details, accomplishments, etc.) for each of them, and then submitting those proposals to local governments with our signatures and credentials attached. If the governments show no interest, that's okay. At least we shot our bolts. But perhaps, just perhaps, a few of them will be spurred to action and we'll actually get a handful of memorials out of this. However, TNF's brainiacs must get on board or this whole enterprise is stillborn.

#16 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 19 August 2008 - 18:17

May I make a suggestion for another approach?

Today, I was doing some research of late twenties AAA races, and it occured to me that it is pretty pointless making a list of great drivers and then start scratching names from the list. Newspapers almost always listed hometowns, like Wilbur Shaw and Bill Cummings from Indianapolis, Ernie Triplett and Fred Frame form Los Angeles, Russ Snowberger and Ray Keech from Philadelphia. You are never going to get memorials from big cities like those, and it doesn't help to know that Triplett was from Belvedere, or Keech from Hephzibah, I guess they don't go into those details today. Also Triplett grew up in Fresno, and Shaw moved to L. A., so who are you going to ask?

Then you look at Deacon Litz, always listed from Du Bois (PA). I don't know how many people live in Du Bois, but it can't be that big. Sure they must be proud of someone who took the lead of the 1929 Indy 500 in a spectacular move, and ran away with the race until his mount broke? Winner of several small races, and a thriller of a 100-miler against Wilbur Shaw at Cleveland in '29? Starter in a dozen Indy 500s, and in the top ten every time he finished? And who can resist a practical joker of 250 pounds, whose real name was Artha Benson, anyway? :lol:

I'll nominate "the Big Deacon" - he may not be amongst the 50 Greatest American Race Drivers of All Time, but he sure made more headlines for Du Bois, or Dubois, Pee-Ay than any other man in its history. :up: Huh?

#17 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:08

Deacon Litz it is.

And if you'll note, Michael, I stated in the initial post that we wouldn't bother with drivers from huge cities for the very reason that those city governments would pay us no attention whatsoever.

I also posted fairly early on that "hometown" is a fairly nebulous term and that we will have to do a bit of research to determine a true hometown (not necessarily the place of birth or where they lived when they became famous) for some drivers.

#18 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:14

Yes, I did notice all that - perhaps I didn't express myself well enough! :D What I meant to say is this: start looking for drivers who are closely linked to one particular locality, not necessarily the big stars. Like Rick Mears or Ziggy Snider with Bakersfield, although both are still alive, I know! Gimme ten minutes to make a small list...

#19 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:48

Sounds like a good idea, although I'll be interested to see how you determine a driver is "strongly linked" to a particular locale.

Advertisement

#20 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:50

Jan Opperman, Beaver Crossing (NE)
Arnie Knepper, Belleville (IL)
Bobby Kinser, Bloomington (IN)*
Johnny Thomson, Boyertown (PA) or Springfield (MA)
Don Branson, Urbana/Champaign (IL)
Lee and Scott Brayton, Coldwater (MI)
Eddie Johnson, Cuyahoga Falls (OH)
Doc MacKenzie, Eddington (PA)
Jerry Richert, Forest Lake (MN)*
Jerry Blundy, Galesburg (IL)*
Carl Williams, Grandview (MO)
Mike Magill, Haddonfield (NJ)
Greg Weld, Independence (MO)
Stan Fox, Janesville (WI)
Deb Snyder, Kent (OH)
Mark Light, Lebanon (PA)
Emory Collins, Le Mars (IA)
Jerry Karl, Manchester (PA)
Maynard Clark, Milan (IL)
Joe Barzda, New Brunswick (NJ)
Jim Hurtubise, North Tonawanda (NY)
Pat O'Connor, North Vernon (IN)
Tommy Hinnershitz, Oley or Laureldale/Reading (PA)
Bobby Marshman, Pottstown (PA)
Lee Wallard, Schenectady (NY)
Tony Bettenhausen, Tinley Park (IL) - perhaps too close to Chicago?
Jimmy Daywalt, Wabash (IN)
Leon Clum, Wapakoneta (OH)*
Billy Cassella, Weirton (WV)*
Ben Shaw, Westville (NJ)
Ottis Stine, York (PA)

* - still alive?

Well, just a rough list! Now pick a town where you're most likely to succeed...;)

#21 fines

fines
  • Member

  • 9,647 posts
  • Joined: September 00

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:55

Originally posted by Flat Black
Sounds like a good idea, although I'll be interested to see how you determine a driver is "strongly linked" to a particular locale.

Noticed the post about the Chevrolets and Beaune in France in the main Memorials thread? All you need is a small community, and a somewhat famous person that has lived there, if only for a time! The smaller the community, the lesser the celeb, and the shorter the necessary stay - bigger communities need bigger stars! Easy formula!;)

#22 ReWind

ReWind
  • Member

  • 2,360 posts
  • Joined: October 03

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:56

Originally posted by fines
Leon Clum, Wapakoneta (OH)*

* - still alive?

No. Born in 1923, died in 1990.

#23 HistoricMustang

HistoricMustang
  • Member

  • 4,076 posts
  • Joined: November 03

Posted 19 August 2008 - 19:56

Originally posted by Flat Black

Henry,

I certainly do not propose any sort of protracted negotions with individual towns. All I propose is isolating 50 worthies, creating memorial proposals (bio details, accomplishments, etc.) for each of them, and then submitting those proposals to local governments with our signatures and credentials attached.


I do not want to rain on this parade but it took years for one of our sister groups (Save The Speedway) to make this simple marker happen. And this was one of the top two or three most important tracks in NASCAR history.

All I am saying is be prepared for and extended effort that must be monitored on a daily basis.

We were lucky here in Augusta as the former track fell into public hands and is being turned into a park. And, it has still been a monumental effort.

I (and AIRPS) are here to help if this project gets moving.

Henry

Posted Image

#24 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 19 August 2008 - 20:41

That's quite a list, Michael, although I must admit that I haven't heard of a few of those guys! And, of course, your formula is a good one. What it comes down to is the higher the ratio of celebrity to smallness of community (with duration of residence factored in), the greater the likelihood of success.

Henry,

Thanks for your warning. And thanks for the offer of help. My hope is that, particularly with some of the smaller towns, the mere "idea" of a memorial will catch fire in the city government and they will run with it. After all, most of these towns probably have very little in the way of celebrity to celebrate. They may just glom on to something like this. And I reiterate that I am not looking for anything monumental here. Nothing expensive or complex. If the town fathers can put a plaque on a pedastal in a park somewhere, I'll feel like we've accomplished something of note.

PS--As Michael has already figured out, this is not just for the Yanks. If any of you Occidental types or residents of Albion would like to throw names of favorite American drivers into the ring, please do.

#25 HistoricMustang

HistoricMustang
  • Member

  • 4,076 posts
  • Joined: November 03

Posted 19 August 2008 - 22:19

Just another thought and Don can tune in on this one.

Perhaps have the TNF members start a fund to help set up what is being suggested in library form such as here:

http://www.library.a.../resources.html

Again, not that far from my location and help is offered.

Several forums have a yearly fund drive for support and this could be ours here at TNF.

As a side note I hope to soon make an announcement on a virtual library about one of our favorite drivers that is being constructed as we speak! :eek:

Henry

#26 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 19 August 2008 - 22:34

Originally posted by Flat Black
What it comes down to is the higher the ratio of celebrity to smallness of community (with duration of residence factored in), the greater the likelihood of success.

I think the other important factor is the competition. If the town in question has a famous author, inventor, Civil War hero or World Series star with no memorial, you're unlikely to interest the community in doing anything about some racecar guy, no matter how important his name in our small world

#27 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,154 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 20 August 2008 - 18:40

This should be brought up to local historical societies. This is something they could get behind, though economic conditions aren't exactly the best at the moment.

Michael, both Rick Mears and George Snider are inductees of The Kern County Sports Hall of Fame (Roger Mears too) :up:

Last I heard, Jerry Blundy and Billy Casella are still with us, though Blundy is in a retirement home and not doing too well :(

And Tinley Park, like other once outlying communities that get swallowed up by suburbia, would not be "too close". These sorts of cities would be very good candidates for this sort of project as it shows a heritage prior to becoming urbanized as well as a sense of identity. Actually, communities like Tinley Park would likely be among the best candidates for this sort of commemoration.

#28 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 20 August 2008 - 19:52

Any more nominees, fellas? Before too long I'm going to see if we've got 50, and if so, beginning winnowing out any poor suckers who are still alive or who hale from a megalopolis.

#29 Derek Pitt

Derek Pitt
  • Member

  • 296 posts
  • Joined: June 08

Posted 21 August 2008 - 20:29

You have left out the chap I consider your best driver of the 50's and 60's...

Walt Hansgen


Just an aussie observation

#30 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 21 August 2008 - 20:42

Good one.

With any luck I'll have a list of 50 this weekend.

#31 Kingsleyrob

Kingsleyrob
  • Member

  • 1,486 posts
  • Joined: August 06

Posted 21 August 2008 - 21:05

Can I throw in from this side of the pond, Harry Schell???

I know Paris is 'a big city' but as far as I know has no NFL, NBA or MLB franchise.;)

I always enjoy reading anything about him, and have done since I picked up my first motor racing book as a nipper (youngster) in 1964 or so.

Another driver I always enjoy reading about is Masten Gregory - particularly his exploits on the European circuit, so how about him as a nominee, even though he might fail the NFL NBA MLB ruling? His Le Mans win in '65 is certainly notable.

Plus Richie Ginther of course, although those in the know might count Granada Hills as LA. :confused:

Have a nice day :)

Rob :wave:

#32 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,154 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 22 August 2008 - 18:08

Originally posted by Kingsleyrob
Plus Richie Ginther of course, although those in the know might count Granada Hills as LA. :confused:


Worthy candidates Rob. Granada Hills is actually part of Los Angeles, but a good example of a community that is proud of it's heritage and own identity. One major obstacle, a fellow named John Elway went to Granada Hills High School :

#33 HDonaldCapps

HDonaldCapps
  • Member

  • 2,482 posts
  • Joined: April 05

Posted 22 August 2008 - 18:26

Originally posted by Kingsleyrob
Another driver I always enjoy reading about is Masten Gregory - particularly his exploits on the European circuit, so how about him as a nominee, even though he might fail the NFL NBA MLB ruling? His Le Mans win in '65 is certainly notable.


Michael Cox, AKA 'Joe Fan,' led a successful campaign to get Masten Gregory inducted in the Kansas City sports hall of fame or whatever the specific recogniton was. Point is that Michael was successful in gaining local recognition for Gregory.

#34 Jim Thurman

Jim Thurman
  • Member

  • 4,154 posts
  • Joined: February 01

Posted 22 August 2008 - 18:40

Originally posted by HDonaldCapps


Michael Cox, AKA 'Joe Fan,' led a successful campaign to get Masten Gregory inducted in the Kansas City sports hall of fame or whatever the specific recogniton was. Point is that Michael was successful in gaining local recognition for Gregory.

Don's post reminds me to mention that the late Earl Ma, who was a regular here on TNF, similarly waged a successful campaign for Danny Ongais' induction into the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame.

I've mentioned on TNF before that an effort to induct these men into local and regional sports halls of fame is a worthy cause. Some of these men are in national and international racing halls of fame, and not in their local one.

#35 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 23 August 2008 - 21:55

My final batch of nominees here, then I'll begin compiling a master list.

Ralph Mulford
Joe Dawson
Howard Wilcox
Barney Oldfield
Earl Cooper
Tommy Milton
Harry Hartz
Ralph Hepburn
Fred Frame
Ray Keech
Rex Mays
Cliff Bergere
Sam Hanks
Joie Chitwood
Paul Russo
Tony Bettenhausen
Bill Holland
Fred Agabashian
Duane Carter
Johnnie Parsons
Troy Ruttman
Pat Flaherty
Don Branson
Shorty Templeman
Eddie Johnson
Roger McCluskey
Bobby Grim

#36 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 23 August 2008 - 23:57

Here's the master list. We'll have to whittle it down by 14.

1. Rodger Ward
2. Timmy Mayer
3. Gober Sosebee
4. Jim Hurtubise
5. Mauri Rose
6. Pete DePaolo
7. Ray Harroun
8. Jimmy Murphy
9. Deacon Litz
10. Jan Opperman
11. Arnie Knepper
12. Bobby Kinser
13. Johnny Thomson
14. Don Branson
15. Lee Brayton
16. Scott Brayton
17. Eddie Johnson
18. Doc MacKenzie
19. Jerry Richert
20. Carl Williams
21. Mike Magill
22. Greg Weld
23. Stan Fox
24. Deb Snyder
25. Mark Light
26. Emory Collins
27. Jerry Karl
28. Maynard Clark
29. Joe Barzda
30. Pat O'Connor
31. Tommy Hinnershitz
32. Bobby Marshman
33. Lee Wallard
34. Tony Bettenhausen
35. Jimmy Daywalt
36. Leon Clum
37. Ben Shaw
38. Ottis Stine
39. Walt Hansgen
40. Richie Ginther
41. Ralph Mulford
42. Joe Dawson
43. Howard Wilcox
44. Barney Oldfield
45. Earl Cooper
46. Tommy Milton
47. Harry Hartz
48. Ralph Hepburn
49. Fred Frame
50. Ray Keech
51. Rex Mays
52. Cliff Bergere
53. Sam Hanks
54. Joie Chitwood
55. Paul Russo
56. Bill Holland
57. Fred Agabashian
58. Duane Carter
59. Johnnie Parsons
60. Troy Ruttman
61. Pat Flaherty
62. Shorty Templeman
63. Roger McCluskey
64. Bobby Grim

#37 Tim Murray

Tim Murray
  • Member

  • 14,301 posts
  • Joined: May 02

Posted 24 August 2008 - 08:49

Is there any reason why David Bruce-Brown has been left out? I would rate him much more highly than some of the names on the list, but does he maybe not fit the qualification parameters?

#38 David McKinney

David McKinney
  • Member

  • 14,156 posts
  • Joined: November 00

Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:03

and Ralph DePalma's been dropped off too

#39 Flat Black

Flat Black
  • Member

  • 480 posts
  • Joined: May 08

Posted 24 August 2008 - 14:40

Bruce-Brown was from NYC, although you're welcome to contact Bloomy if you like.

:D

DePalma was born in Italy and lived there for the first eight years of his life.

More to the point, we need to beginning cutting drivers, not adding to the list. We've got more than enough worthy drivers as is.