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The case of Jimmy Davies


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#1 Jim Thurman

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 07:18

Ok, fellow historians, I've started this thread to state my case on the actual birthdate of Jimmy Davies, who raced Champ Cars and Midgets in the U.S. from the 40's through his death in June of 1966.

The debate over his birthday has come up in several threads, most notably Richard Jenkins "Where Are They Now" and more recently in "Speeds Ultimate Price".

All published accounts list Davies birthdate as 1923. I found, and pointed to Richard Jenkins, a listing in the Social Security Death Index that would, by all indications, be the same Jimmy Davies...but listed with a 1929 birthdate (Aug 8 1929 to be exact).

Much disagreement has ensued. One our best researchers, who shall remain nameless ;) , disputes the latter date in one of the threads, stating "he looked older". No offense, this is one of the most meticulous researchers in our group...but I'll state why I believe Davies birthdate to be 1929.

First, the SSDI, while not infailable, is a better source than published accounts. Are there other James Davies, or could there be other James Davies?...yes, of course, but indications are that the James Davies I found in the SSDI is in fact the one we are looking for.

And now, more importantly, Jimmy Davies began his racing career at a crude, loosely organized dirt oval located East of San Bernardino, California known as Ash Can Derby. There were few rules or regulations, it was the true definition of an outlaw race track. Underage drivers, stripped down passenger cars...all part of the mix.

Many years ago, I went through microfilm of the San Bernardino Sun newspaper which places Davies at Ash Can Derby in 1946 (along Joe James and Harry Stockman among others). The Fall of 1945 saw Troy Ruttman and the Rathmann Brothers racing at Ash Can Derby...both of whom got AAA racing licenses while they were underage by using someone else's birth certificate (in the case of Dick Rathmann, he used older brother Jim's - thus Dick became Jim and vice versa, got it?. Troy Ruttman used a cousin's birth certificate).

This may all seem circumstantial, but given the fellow competitors he was around, where do you suppose he might have gotten the idea to use an altered birth certificate?

In addition to the search by us historians in finding the true birthdate of Jimmy Davies, there is further ramification. If in fact, Jimmy Davies was born Aug 8 1929, his win in the AAA Championship race at Del Mar, California on November 6 1949 would make him the youngest person to win a Champ Car race (six months younger than Scott Dixon).


Jim Thurman

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#2 Barry Lake

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 10:26

I know this is not evidence at all, but I go along with the "looked older" theory.

Jimmy Davies raced in Australia in 1963 when I used to work in the pits at the Sydney Showground Speedway. I spoke to him numerous times, found him a quiet, very pleasant person - quite the opposite to Bob Tattersal in temperament. But he looked easily 40 years old; I might have believed more, but would have been sceptical (even skeptical, if you like) if told he was only 34 at the time.

Like I said, that isn't evidence; there have been plenty of people who look older than they are, but I still would have trouble trying to convince myself of the younger age.

But I do agree that, if he was the younger age and therefore the youngest champ car winner, we should acknowledge the fact.



#3 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 19:50

hmm... remind me how you found this one out again, Jim & I'll double check through the Ancestry site again to make certain
I have 8/8/1929, Glendale, CA d. 11/6/66, Chicago, Illinois at present

#4 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 20:02

Well, I had another check anyway

SSDI has 1929, but if you don't believe that, then you're not going to ignore the 1930 US Census!

There are no James Davies born in 1923 in there at all or 1922-1928... and one, James Davies, aged zero, born 1929, in living Los Angeles.


Time to rewrite all the record books, y'all...



Barry, just guess he "looked" old - like Moreno :)

#5 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 20:09

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
.....Barry, just guess he "looked" old - like Moreno :)


The power of wishful thinking?

#6 Jim Thurman

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 21:29

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
hmm... remind me how you found this one out again, Jim & I'll double check through the Ancestry site again to make certain
I have 8/8/1929, Glendale, CA d. 11/6/66, Chicago, Illinois at present


Richard,

That's the entry I have as well.

A lot of the early WATN question marks sent me into the SSDI (which you pointed me to :up: ), some I found, many more you found, some were collaborative and some we both found separately - if that makes sense.

To be completely honest, what with my illness early this year, I'm kind of cloudy on which ones I did in fact find or fine tune (especially since much of it came in the throes of my illness). Some I e-mailed you on, some were posted to the thread on TNF while others you posted before I could get back to you, so I used them as cross-checking. You clearly found and fine tuned most of the 50's era Indy drivers.

Thanks for the check of the census :up:

I still maintain that the then recent goings on involving Ruttman and the Rathmann brothers, and the fact that Davies either raced along side them or immediately after they passed through Ash Can Derby is worthy of noting.


Jim Thurman

#7 zamboni

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 01:15

In the 60's and 70' I was a big USAC fan and followed the midgets all the time. jimmy Davies raced with USAC for years.
So I e-mailed USAC as I figured that they had his info for insurance etc.
There reply was "Jimmy Davies was born August 18, 1923, according to our records."
Its good to see some of the great but not so famous drivers of a by gone era are still remembered.

#8 Barry Lake

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:54

Zamboni?

Sorry to head off topic, but are you related to THE Zamboni... No time to look it up now, but I think it is Frank Zamboni, isn't it?

I road-tested a Zamboni for a story in MOTOR magazine in the 1980s, marvellous machine, all-wheel drive, hydraulic steering, but it rook a while to get used to its unique controls. It had amazing grip, even on ice. Mr Zamboni was so impressed with my story he invited me to visit him at his home in California. His neighbour and best friend was Charles M Schulz of Peanuts fame, who I also admired. Would love to have met both of them, but it's another of those "things I almost did" stories (which includes an offer to fly Sydney-Darwin-Sydney with Douglas Bader, and a personal offer from Juan Manuel Fangio to go to the opening of his museum in Argentina). On all three counts I was "too busy and too broke".

More like "too stupid".

#9 Johnny Mac

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 18:06

Jimmy Davies was my stepfather. He was indeed born Aug 8, 1929. I visited his gravesite this last August in Monticello, Indiana to verify what I believed to be correct and the date is correct.

Jimmy was one of the all time greats on dirt. His early Champ car rides of the 50's bear this out. He and his famous Midget could be magic at times. Even though he was National Champion several times, he was basically low budget and won over much fresher equiptment. He supported himself solely on his racing in a time when purses were pretty low.

His Indy record was not to shabby either, as he led the 1951 race for 25 laps until the rear end gears gave up the ghost. He was young and brave at that time and could have easily won that race. The gear set was mismatched by mistake and eventually wore itself out.

I first met Jimmy when he was about 19. His inability to self promote into high buck rides cost Jimmy a chance to be listed among the all timers. He was a truly gifted talent.

#10 ensign14

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 18:20

Wow, this place never ceases to astound. How someone could have picked up on a seemingly minor detail, and within a couple of days the chap's son-in-law confirms that Jim has discovered something that could create history...

Any chance of getting this into the mainstream motoring media? Little tribute to a forgotten hero?

#11 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 19:10

In Europe, the best way may be for someone to write a letter to Motorsport & maybe they will be prompted to run an article on Jimmy the following month...

But knowing how Haymarket's Birthdate & Deathdate Section is eight years out of date, they're notoriously slow & suspicious for new information. (ie the person who does the anniversaries has to work rather than recycle the same thing every year :rolleyes: )

The US market I don't know enough about, but I am sure there are people with significant clout there. Maybe Doug can help bend a few ears - he certainly has the influence


Thanks too, to "Johnny Mac" for putting the case beyond doubt - and helps reassure me that the SSDI is a godsend for cases like these. :up:

#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 19:54

Originally posted by ensign14
.....the chap's son-in-law.....


Stepson, he said...

Interesting that he met Jimmy at such a young age, too... his mother must have been older that Jimmy (another reason for the falsified age?) or a very young starter.

Thanks for wandering in, Johnny Mac, I guess you'll have some other stories to tell on similar subjects at times? Did you also race yourself?

#13 ReWind

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 21:11

ensign 14, Richie, Ray - I am flabbergasted all of you take Johnny Mac's credibility for granted.

Is that serious science of history?

Does anyone really know who "Johnny Mac" is?

Don't get me wrong. I would like to have a first-hand source on cases like this. But if someone appears out of the blue shouldn't we CHECK the validity of this source, first of all?

#14 ensign14

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 22:39

True enough, Reinhard, but I thought it would be unlikely someone would impersonate Jimmy Davies' stepson, in that you could impersonate AJ Foyt or something. But the other sources cited seem to check out.

#15 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 23:06

Originally posted by ReWind
ensign 14, Richie, Ray - I am flabbergasted all of you take Johnny Mac's credibility for granted.

Is that serious science of history?

Does anyone really know who "Johnny Mac" is?


Do you know who I am?

Maybe I'm a kid with a good library and an overactive imagination?

No, ReWind, I think we have to be somewhat positive at least... look at the facts:

The guy has never posted before, but joins specifically to put some edge on this thread. And not to be argumentative, simply to endorse the evidence gathered as correct.

He explains that Davies 'supported himself solely on his racing in a time when purses were pretty low'... now how many here would know for sure that Davies didn't have a part time job at a gas station?

He identifies himself, to some degree at least (partial name, family ties), and gives information that not everybody would have... to wit: The burial place of the subject and details of his retirement at Indy in 1951.

Now let's just ask... does fines or Jim or theunions or anybody else know of a source which explains that the gears were 'mismatched'? Likely the reports will simply say 'final drive failure' or something similar.

Let's just thank him for posting and ask him to continue to add to the wealth of knowledge that makes this place what it is.

Without forgetting, of course, that accuracy and evidence of proof are always important.



Johnny Mac... I assume you spent a lot of time travelling with Jimmy Davies... you must have a great deal more you can tell us. Please 'report in' to the 'even newer introductions' thread that's a sticky at the top of the page and begin your part in our journey.

#16 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 23:12

Originally posted by ReWind
ensign 14, Richie, Ray - I am flabbergasted all of you take Johnny Mac's credibility for granted.

Is that serious science of history?

Does anyone really know who "Johnny Mac" is?

Don't get me wrong. I would like to have a first-hand source on cases like this. But if someone appears out of the blue shouldn't we CHECK the validity of this source, first of all?




Well, in any case, the census & the SSDI have proved it's 1929, so your point is?





Besides, what's to stop us believing anything, that anyone posts if you going to take that attitude -


I triple & quadruple check my data (F3000 is only double - I'm triple checking it now)
In the 1923 corner:
No evidence - NO EVIDENCE AT ALL except "he looked older"

In the 1929 corner:
SSDI
Census
JD's step-son (almost certainly)

Hmm.. difficult choice which one to pick... :rolleyes:



#17 Mike Argetsinger

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 23:49

Originally posted by Ray Bell



Maybe I'm a kid with a good library and an overactive imagination?


You're not?

#18 Johnny Mac

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 00:38

I first met Jimmy when my father was alive and still racing. My dad was Johnny McDowell. He raced Big Cars and Midgets starting in 1934 at old Ascot Legion Stadium. He raced Indy as a riding mechanic in 1937 and Qualified and drove in 1949, 1950, 1951 and 1952. He was killed one week after the 1952 Indy in the same car he used at the Speedway.

We spent our summers at Lake Shafer as it was central to most racing activities. Just about every driver and mechanic would spend some time with us at the lake between races. I mean people like Ward, Bryan, Hanks, Ruttman, ets. We rented a resort for the summer. Jimmy Davies would spend time with us from 1949 to 1952.

After my dad's passing, my mom married Jimmy in 1953. they divorced in 1960, but I stayed close to Jimmy until his death in 1966. Yes, he was younger than my mom.

My dad was inducted into the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame this past August. Jimmy Davies was one of the original inductees. I am very proud of them both.

#19 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 01:15

Originally posted by Johnny Mac
I am very proud of them both.


And quite right, too. :up: They were two brilliant drivers.

Do you mind confirming your Dad's birthdate & place as 29 Jan 1915, Delavan, Illinois? One confirmation a day is great, two superb.













Well, Reinhard, does that answer your question or are you still not satisfied?!

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 01:23

Let's just extend a warm welcome to our newest oldest member...

I'm interested to know, Johnny Mac, how long you've been lurking here, or whether you were pointed to this forum because of this question or what?

It's clear that you can add a lot of first hand knowledge to this collective, that you can become one of our most valuable members in fact.

So please, as the theme for The Beverly Hillbillies exhorts, "Set a spell, hear?"










Lemme see now... there was Ian Stewart a few weeks ago, now Johnny Mac... who else will find us?

#21 Muzza

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 02:37

I understand your point, ReWind, but I have to say that this thread has blown me away. This place, The Nostalgia Forum, is astonishing. I just wish I had discovered it three or four years ago.

Thanks Jim for starting this thread, and very special thanks to Johnny Mac for his account. Wow. I cannot even imagine how many stories you have to tell.

I will correct the Motorsport Memorial database (that currently shows Jimmy Davies' date of birth as 18.Aug.1929); an update will be published Sunday night (Central Standard Time, United States).

Warmest welcome, Johnny.


Muzza

#22 Barry Lake

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 03:30

Originally posted by ReWind
ensign 14, Richie, Ray - I am flabbergasted all of you take Johnny Mac's credibility for granted.


While the situation has changed somewhat, since Johnny Mac's second post, I have to agree wholeheartedly with ReWind here.

Don't get me wrong, I hold Richie Jenkins and Jim Thurman in the highest regard, thank them wholeheartedly for the information they not only have unearthed, but which they are prepared to share with us, and I am amazed at the time and energy that Richie devotes to his research.

I also share the excitement that we possibly have here an original and reliable source.

However, that original post by Johnny Mac could easily have been written by a hoaxer with some knowledge of the subject.

ReWind's response, I am sure, was well intentioned, rather than aggressive. He has shown from his involvement in the Speeds Ultimate Price thread that he has a determination to get to the facts and I believe that he and that other recent addition to the SUP thread, Muzza, will prove to be among the most valuable and valued people on The Nostalgia Forum.

And, make no mistake, if Jimmy Davies really was the younger of the two ages mentioned, I will be as happy as anyone that he is given the credit he would then deserve for being "the youngest winner..." He was one of the most pleasant drivers I have ever met, and one of the best I have seen in action - a relatively rare combination.

#23 Johnny Mac

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 05:09

Johnny McDowell was born Jan 29, 1915 in Delevan, Illinois. Moved to Pasadena as a young teen and fell in with a racing crowd that included Rex mays, who was a mentor for my dad.

#24 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 11:33

Originally posted by Barry Lake


I also share the excitement that we possibly have here an original and reliable source.

ReWind's response, I am sure, was well intentioned, rather than aggressive.

And, make no mistake, if Jimmy Davies really



Ian Stewart popped up from nowhere, so did Vic Elford & Brian Redman. Most of the TNF fell over each other welcoming them to the board - quite rightly. When someone, who twice & now three times posts information few people in the world know, let alone TNF, is he given a welcome by all? No - he's accused of being a fraud. That's not the TNF I know... Thanks Johnny Mac, for confirming McDowell as well.

You also say if... why if - I thought by now, the youngest winner thing is not in question...



But I know there are people on this board who don't believe anything I say & prefer to keep to old & safe information, copying off others were handy & safe, including a very respected poster here.

So I talked to Harry Merkel's daughter & spend what must amount to days on end checking birth certificates in UK & the US, speak to friends & family of the drivers or the drivers themselves, either first or second hand. But there are still people who think I don't know shit & must be making it up - or worse - people who copy my info with no credit - Motor Racing World's the latest - I'd love to know where they got that Harry Merkel & Jack Rounds info from :rolleyes: (not on the site, but on the working pages if you search hard enough)
Let's face it, in this kind of business, no-one is ever going to be totally right, but when the chance comes along, we must take it - if the person turns out to be false - and I've had a few of those - then we'll know quickly. There are so, so few people left from those days who can help us, so lets be welcoming at least, first, shall we?

Apologies for going on a rant in what should be a celebration of Jimmy Davies' life & career, but right now I am seriously considering whether I should no longer share information with others if it's just going to be copied without credit or ignored. The accusation from Rewind that I must be a blithering idiot for believing something genuine, just adds to that case.

#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 12:22

Let's just remember, Richie, that ReWind is very new here too...

He hasn't seen the things you've seen come up. I can recall the joy of seeing Mike Argetsinger arrive, and Ursula Atkins, people with direct links to the past. We've certainly had odd appearances from Brian Redman and Quick Vic, one of them having been asked to participate by a member who knew him, and then we've had the posts from Justin Gurney. Justin normally posts under a different name, but when it concerns his father he uses his own name, and that's nice.

I well recall the joy that I felt, and Don too, when Mike Argetsinger joined us. And Ursula Atkins too, bringing with them direct links with famous and important people in the past of the sport.

When ReWind appeared just a month or so ago, however, TNF was a different place to what it had been in the past. Levels of accuracy have increased and demands on posters to give sources to verify facts have come in. Especially in the area where he's been most involved.

You may well have been disbelieved at times. I empathise with you over this, for during the period of my ban I had a fact I'd posted challenged. No, it wasn't the fact that was challenged, it was the fact that I was the source.

Now I know I sometimes make mistakes. Everyone does, but this was something which couldn't be mistaken... a fact that was memorable. I wasn't wrong.

These things, I know, can bug you, but I think you have to sometimes let it slide... there are more with you than against you. We have so much good going on here at TNF, it's important that the 'team' remains intact and continues to grow. Richie... please hang around.

For my money, Johnny Mac is now a member of the team. I think Barry has also said that, but it was somewhat convoluted so that the impression is that he is doubting our new friend. Look again...

And now he brings no less an identity than Rex Mays into the equation. Who else has posted here and been so close to someone so far in the past?

#26 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 12:26

DING! DING! Time out, gentlemen! Before this descends into a slanging match, can we please retain a bit of decorum?

First of all, Richie - Reinhard did not call you a "blithering idiot", or anything of the sort. His post might, as Barry says, sound a bit aggressive, but bear in mind that English is not his first language - German is a much more matter-of-fact language than ours! And no-one has accused Johnny Mac of being a fraud but, as Barry (again) said, the original post could have been written by a hoaxer - the two subsequent ones seem to give the lie to that and I'm sure Reinhard will say the same when he sees them.

And what's the point of gathering that info if you're not going to share it .....? :)

We now return you to our normal programming ....

#27 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 13:16

Originally posted by Vitesse2
And what's the point of gathering that info if you're not going to share it .....? :)




So I can hide in my secret lair, grow a huge beard & in 50 years time come out in the real world & chortle "heh, heh heh, I know where Harry Stockman was born...." & stun everyone :D

Well, all I can say, is like Ray said, there's stuff in that first post that clearly cannot be written by a hoaxer.

Don't forget 2004 is going to be a major upheavel personally for me, I cannot devote my time to WATN & my job equally any more - I will try & keep it going for my entire lifetime, but there's times when I think, "well, why bother?" with all the pressures my work will entail. (The answer lies in another thread, Tyrian's ALMS thread - I think he was describing mine & if he was, that's one of the nicest things anyone has said about it)


I think I might know what it is - this negative mood of mine - Russia :mad: It will take me two years to recover :cry: :) (and I'm not talking about Russian quizzes either!!)

#28 Bruce Moxon

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 13:25

Don't worry about any Harry Stockmans...

We've got much more important Bruce-Browns to unearth.

#29 Barry Lake

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 13:43

Richie

You say there are people on TNF who don't believe anything you say. Well, I have never been aware of that. I have always thought that the people who care (which is most of the posters on TNF) have the same admiration for what you have achieved as I do. I thought I had often thanked and praised you for your efforts. If I haven't, I apologise; I should have.

What you should understand, though, is that TNF people sometimes question something only because they want to ensure that it is correct, not because they wish to insult the person making the statement. And that is the way it should be. If people here were to blindly accept anything that is put in front of them, we would be open to all sorts of misinformation.

Also, I believe that many on TNF, myself included, have no first-hand knowledge of the records you use to zero in on these birth dates and death dates. So it is only natural for anyone who respects the truth to wonder if they are complete and completely accurate, or whether it is possible that they do not include every piece of information that we would like to believe they do.

And I would like to ask you to be a little more understanding of how sceptical some of us have become after several decades of being conned and hoodwinked by experts at the game - and even occasionally unwittingly misled by the best-intentioned of people.

As for your last post, which arrived while I have been writing this, I well understand that you will have trouble keeping up with Where Are They Now? as your job becomes more demanding. I always have wondered how you keep pace with such a constantly-changing subject anyway.

But please don't leave us all together; you are too valuable around here... and greatly appreciated, I can assure you.

#30 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 13:51

Originally posted by Bruce Moxon
Don't worry about any Harry Stockmans...

We've got much more important Bruce-Browns to unearth.


Please don't blame Bruce for this lousy post...

I posted it on his computer before I realised he'd logged back in. It's all mine...

#31 Barry Lake

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 14:01

Richie, you mentioned Harry Merkel.

I was chasing the actual date of death of Harry for you, and phoned his son Ralph. I knew them both well when Ralph was racing Formual Vee and Harry used to help him. For some reason that I don't understand, Ralph seemed reluctant to help. He told me he couldn't remember, but said he would call me back when he found the date. I have never heard from him since.

When I think of it during daylight hours (these things usually come to me in the middle of the night) I will call him again to see if I can prise it from him.

There is actually another way I might be able to track it down, I just realised. I will give that a try also.

#32 ReWind

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 16:28

Nobody told me TNF can be a mine field! :eek:

Put my hand up with a well intended warning against credulity... and amazingly came under fire! : Phew!

Anything else I could say on Richie's responses undoubtedly would call up Bira or Don. So I think we should leave it at that. :)

Barry, Ray, Richard (Vitesse2) - thank you for your kind words.

And, yes, from the subsequent posts by Johnny Mac I am convinced he is a credible source. (Getting this checked was all I intended.)

Johnny Mac - I hope you accept the apologies of an initial doubter.

Can you enlighten us with an explanation for your step-father not only dating back his year of birth (1923 instead of 1929) but also slightly changing his birth-day (18 August instead of 08 August)?

Finally, TNF being the insatiable place it is, can you provide us with the complete names of your father and your step-father?

#33 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 18:41

Re. Merkel - Well, I found it odd that his daughter didn't know when he died, precisely - it wasn't a one-off thing, this was a series of e-mails. They were close but.. hey.. that's a business I don't want to go down into - I know that, personally, only too well. I've now lost all contact with her - I've got her details but she never replied.....

I guess I'm more upset about the fact that I'm getting (blatanly) copied (three times now- largely due to the Indy 500 non-starters) without credit - I am more than happy, for anyone like Muzza or Jim Bob Jombo, for example, to take the bulk of what I've found and incorporate in their site if they ask first - I consider that a great compliment. But I'll be (sorry for bad language) f****ed if they're going to "nick" it. I've already "bitch-slapped" one such offender :) Maybe my reaction from Rewind's post is a spin-off of that, I don't know. :

Barry, you're one of the ones who helps the most. You actually look to see I'm not incorporating porkie pies in ;) - you know I should do that - fill the whole lot with false data & then see the websites squirm :lol:

No I won't - I'm not that low.......

I can't post links to censuses because it's a pay site, so when it comes to Ancestry, you're going to have to take my word for it. I may have misinformed, but never lied - what's the point - I've suffered from the con-artists you mention as well. I'm surprised people think I would spend hours in front of a computer screen sifting through names just to wind them up.. but hey..

Originally posted by Barry Lake


What you should understand, though, is that TNF people sometimes question something only because they want to ensure that it is correct, not because they wish to insult the person making the statement. And that is the way it should be. If people here were to blindly accept anything that is put in front of them, we would be open to all sorts of misinformation.

Also, I believe that many on TNF, myself included, have no first-hand knowledge of the records you use to zero in on these birth dates and death dates. So it is only natural for anyone who respects the truth to wonder if they are complete and completely accurate, or whether it is possible that they do not include every piece of information that we would like to believe they do.

And I would like to ask you to be a little more understanding of how sceptical some of us have become after several decades of being conned and hoodwinked by experts at the game - and even occasionally unwittingly misled by the best-intentioned of people.

As for your last post, which arrived while I have been writing this, I well understand that you will have trouble keeping up with Where Are They Now? as your job becomes more demanding. I always have wondered how you keep pace with such a constantly-changing subject anyway.

But please don't leave us all together; you are too valuable around here... and greatly appreciated, I can assure you.



I'm getting cynical for some - there are dates I refuse to change, but for good reasons, not for laziness - but recent discoveries have proved me right. I'm not saying I don't make mistakes - I do - I'm hardly saying I'm perfect either - god forbid :lol: - but all I'm saying is I'm trying desperately for my work to be taken seriously away from TNF ( I know it's valued here). Because I've never worked for Haymarket, because I'm not rich or a journo, they don't want to know. No... stop.. stop.. I'm going to rant all night..... :lol:


I will try to keep this going, at my own personal time & cost next year & for many years - it's gone 10 years already. But my job will start to eat in in 2004 & it may be other things spring up from that job which mean even less time (ie personal stuff) & then I probably won't give two hoots about Joe Giba's death date... Let's see, hey, hope for the best..... Enough about me - I'm not worth it...


Bruce, or Ray, or Bruce? I've tried D B-B, but 1887 seems certain, so he loses out big time, regardless of Jimmy Davies or Dixon or whomever. Anyway, Harry Stockman's licked, as it were. 1 down, 114 questionables left :lol:














Anyway, let's get away from all this nonsense & here some good old stories & memories of "Johnny Mac's" two legendary fathers - that was the idea of this thread, after all....

#34 Barry Lake

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 23:09

[i]Anyway, let's get away from all this nonsense & here some good old stories & memories of "Johnny Mac's" two legendary fathers - that was the idea of this thread, after all.... [/B]

Agreed. :)

What a welcome we have given ReWind and Johnny Mac! They open the door slightly, poke their nose in, and here we are throwing live hand grenades around. If they haven't been hit by shrapnel and if we stop playing with live ammunition, maybe they will enter and enrich the discussion.

Regarding Harry Merkel, Ralph also was very vague about his sisters/half-sisters/step-sisters (I'm not sure which category they fit, exactly). They are much older than he, and they live on the other side of the world. I don't think there ever has been much contact between them. But some day we should be able to get Harry's particulars. I just don't have the time to hammer away at it constantly; it has to wait until I can find the time.

On the subject of Where Are They Now? I think you shouldn't be giving up all hope, but rather backing off as much as you need to in order to get on with the rest of your life, and then relying on help from others.

The biggest problem I see, for your site, is in keeping track of the whereabouts of those who are still alive. That's a constantly moving target. Those who have died, with the odd exception, should all be taken care of in time - especially with help. As for the "moving targets" I think you have to learn to live with the fact they can't constantly be kept up to date and just rely on others keeping you informed of their movements.

Even so, the upkeep of these web sites must involve incredible hours and work loads, which is why I always worry about their fate. Many people seem to think that information that is on the web will always be there. But what happens if the person who owns the site dies, or simply gives up and walks away? Only last night, in another quest for information on Harry Merkel, I came across a site that had "last updated October 1996".

And on the subject of people stealing your hard-earned information, well, what can you do? There are many parasites in the world who live by stealing from those who do all the work. These, I believe, are also those who, because they have no values, take no care with the information and often introduce errors into what they steal. But the people who matter know who should get the real credit for the original and correct information.

Which reminds me of another thing that gets up my nose: In studying the history of general motoring and the technical development of the car, I have come across countless examples of people inventing or developing some new concept, only to have someone else come along and patent that concept in their own name, and to go down in history as the "inventor". It still happens. It's not a case of knowing how to create something new, but in knowing how to get it patented in your name. I would love to see a group of people like those on TNF get into this sort of history and right some of the wrongs. Unfortunately, general motoring and technical history don't seem to inspire the same sort of passion that motor sport does.

#35 Johnny Mac

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 06:42

This is a very interesting site to say the least. It's interesting that there is a mention of Zamboni, as Richard Zamboni is a friend of mine and I met Frank Sr. before he passed away. A true gentleman who probably was not aware of what effect he would have for future generations even though his company was shipping ice machines all over the world. His grandsons worked for my company and are terrific kids.

This seems to be a site which attracts people with a sincere interest in the history of auto racing. I came accross this site as a link from Trackforum.com which is primarily IRL. Good site , not much BS.

Most of my memories are from the mid 40's to the early 60's as these were the years of my dad and Jimmy Davies. I follow all forms of racing, with most attention to the IRL amd F1. I do follow
the non-wing sprint cars on dirt as they provide some link to the past. I attend the Indy 500 every year and the LBGP and Fontama events. I raced many disciplanes, but true talent seems to have skipped a generation even though I thought of myself as very successful.

Vintage racing interests me alot, and I try to catch these when they are within driving distance. I am very impressed with the quality of vintage cars running today. I have a friend who just purchased a Harry Miller 2-man 1935 (?) Indy car at the Pebble Beach auction and I can't wait to go take a look at it. He has a collection of about 20 vintage Indy cars. The real bummer is he doesn't let anyone else drive them except himself.

I have often thought of writing a book on the summers I spent On Lake Shafer in Indiana and all the many tales of the fun we had with so many of the all time hero's of those days. Most of my dad's contemporary's have passed away, and I am not sure the current generation of race fan has any interest in the past, except for those who follow forums such as this.

I know I am rambling, but I felt there might be an audience.

Thanks for your kind thoughts for a first time poster.

#36 conjohn

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 11:29

Originally posted by Johnny Mac
I know I am rambling, but I felt there might be an audience.


Rest assured, Johnny Mac, there is.... even across the pond in Sweden... so keep 'em comin'.

#37 Barry Lake

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 23:35

Originally posted by Johnny Mac
This is a very interesting site to say the least. It's interesting that there is a mention of Zamboni, as Richard Zamboni is a friend of mine and I met Frank Sr. before he passed away. A true gentleman who probably was not aware of what effect he would have for future generations even though his company was shipping ice machines all over the world. His grandsons worked for my company and are terrific kids.



Small world - and smaller since the advent of the Internet and the WWW. I was hoping someone would pick up on the Zamboni mention - although I thought it would be the person who posted as Zamboni. I ddn't expect it to be Johnny Mac.

I was remembering "Frank Sr" as Frank J Zamboni, but didn't have the time to confirm it. I had considerable correspondence with him during the preparation of the story I wrote and he came across as you mention - a true gentleman. It has bothered me ever since that I didn't take up the offer to go and meet him in the US.

At the time, during the lead-up to this story, I wrote the odd small "teaser" in the magazine, saying there was a test coming up of this unique all-wheel drive sports vehicle called Zamboni. There was a senior motoring journalist in Australia who was an acknowledged expert on performance cars of the world and particularly Italian sports cars. He assumed the Zamboni was an Italian sports car and spent a lot of time trying to find out what it was without letting on to me that he didn't know. That was all part of the joke, but he never did see the funny side of it.

#38 zamboni

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 01:38

Thought I should get back to you gentlemen regarding zamboni. Being a hockey Fan second only to Auto Racing I took the name zamboni as an e-mail address several years ago. And although my original ISP has since been left behind I often keep the name as a connection to the sport.
So no I am no relation.
As far as this thread is concerned, I was drawn to the Atlas F! forum for the first time , although I have been a follower and subscriber to Atlas F! for a long time, when I saw the reference to Jimmie Davies. I was surprised and pleased to see a reference to a U.S. short track champion so I entered the forum for the first time.
Another short track midget driver that made it to Indy was Chuck Rodee. I was there on the Saturday morning when he unfortuinately died. I believe it was a Wilke car and the year was '62 or '63.
This entry probably belongs at Speeds ultimate price I will go there and follow that thread.
Richard Wagner (Zamboni)

#39 Barry Lake

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 07:48

Since we now have the attention of at least a couple of people with knowledge of the 1940s-1960s era of midget racing, I would like to ask a couple of questions about the cars Jimmy Davies raced in Australia.

The first (1962/63 season) was a beautiful little car with a much smaller nose than most Offy-powered cars of the time. It looked brand new, it was so well prepared and presented, but apparently was actually a very old car - at least 1940s vintage.

We think (but don't know) that this was the car in which one driver had been killed before Jimmy bought it, and which was later stolen from Jimmy. He found it only because it was involved in a second fatal crash and a photograph was published in a newspaper. Jimmy recognised the car in the photograph, somehow proved ownership, and was able to retrieve it. This was a few years before he brought it top Australia.

From what I can gather, he had this car for quite a long time. Can anyone tell us what happened to it? Of at least as much interest to us, do you know who built this car originally, and when?

The second car he brought here (1963/64) also was quite an old car, not as nice looking as the first. Coincidentally, it was raced in Australia nine years later, now with a roll cage on it. Does anyone know the ultimate fate of this car?

Another mystery (to us) is which car Jimmy was driving when he was killed. We have heard two very different stories. It would be nice to know which is the real one.

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#40 Barry Lake

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 13:15

Has everyone gone on holiday? Or did this thread just dart off to page two before we knew what was happening?

I really thought we were on to something here, in terms of recording something of Jimmy Davies' career. I'm hoping someone will come up with some information on his cars. It's an important part of Australian speedway history.

Incidentally, I was speaking to a speedway historian/author/editor about this last week and he agreed that Davies was one of the most polished midget drivers he ever had seen in almost 50 years of watching speedway.

And I mentioned him to a 1930s-1950s speedway photographer friend, adding, "He's after your time; you might not know of him." He surpsied me by saying he had gone to the speedway as a spectator when Davies raced (at the Sydney Showground) and he shares our opinions.

So Jimmy is certainly highly rated in Australia.

#41 fines

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 21:21

Originally posted by Barry Lake
The first (1962/63 season) was a beautiful little car with a much smaller nose than most Offy-powered cars of the time. It looked brand new, it was so well prepared and presented, but apparently was actually a very old car - at least 1940s vintage.

We think (but don't know) that this was the car in which one driver had been killed before Jimmy bought it, and which was later stolen from Jimmy. He found it only because it was involved in a second fatal crash and a photograph was published in a newspaper. Jimmy recognised the car in the photograph, somehow proved ownership, and was able to retrieve it. This was a few years before he brought it top Australia.

From what I can gather, he had this car for quite a long time. Can anyone tell us what happened to it? Of at least as much interest to us, do you know who built this car originally, and when?

(snip)

Another mystery (to us) is which car Jimmy was driving when he was killed. We have heard two very different stories. It would be nice to know which is the real one.

Found by accident, and although I'm not really an expert for Midgets, and Barry isn't following this forum anymore, I might just add a couple of things I know:

1) the "small" nose midget was built by Bob Pankratz in 1948 (?) and was the one in which Mel Hansen had his career ending crash. It was later owned by Pat Clancy and driven by Davies, then got stolen and retrieved after the fatal accident of the thief, famously identified in a photograph. Davies then owned it and ran it through the rest of his career, winning three National Championships with it. After that, Les Scott owned it and raced it for several more years, possibly well into the eighties.

2) I always understood it was this very car Davies had his fatal crash in.

#42 fines

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 21:29

Originally posted by Richie Jenkins
Anyway, Harry Stockman's licked, as it were. 1 down, 114 questionables left :lol:

The reason why I searched for this thread :D is Harry Stockman! Richie, can you check your source? I have from a good (though anything but infallible ;)) source that he was born in Detroit, MI (as you have it), but Jan 13, 1916! Moved to Cal. in 1947, wife's name is Cleo if it helps.

#43 Jim Thurman

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 23:11

Originally posted by fines

The reason why I searched for this thread :D is Harry Stockman! Richie, can you check your source? I have from a good (though anything but infallible ;)) source that he was born in Detroit, MI (as you have it), but Jan 13, 1916! Moved to Cal. in 1947, wife's name is Cleo if it helps.


I have Harry F. Stockman, b. January 13, 1919 in Michigan and d. March 23, 1994 in San Bernardino County, CA

Source: California death index records. This all seems quite familiar, though not over Stockman ;)

His son is head official at the track in San Bernardino, want me to contact him or put you in contact with him?

As far as Barry, did you pm or em him your findings?

#44 fines

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 07:50

Barry doesn't respond to e-mails atm, apparently he's too busy moving his feet swiftly and shoving Loretta over the dance floor ;)

Jim, your data is different from Richie's! He has him born Nov 13, 1919 and died 1994-03-23 alright but in Kingman, AZ! For his death I have only March 1994 and no place, but last (?) place of residence Rialto, CA - you probably know if that's in San Berdoo Cty.

#45 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 09:41

Sorry, should be 13 Jan 1919 d. 23 Mar 1994. Obviously November came from my own poor handwriting. (1 & 11)

SSDI says Arizona, but if the Californian Death Index says SB, then I'm happy to change that accordingly.

#46 fines

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 18:13

So, is it settled, then? A mistake in my source? I'm not gonna fight... :D

#47 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 18:23

As far as I'm concerned, yes, the dates & places JT put, are the correct ones.

#48 Jim Thurman

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 18:44

I'm afraid this one comes down to me :blush: On occasion, I miss something in proofreading, my weakest aspect (ask Richie about that!). In this particular case, Richie asked me about Stockman right as I sank into a serious illness.

Richie, I have an explanation for Stockman's listings. The SSDI lists Stockman's last residence as Kingman, Mohave County, Arizona. The California death index indicates he passed away in San Bernardino County. This indicates to me he might have passed away while visiting (or was in hospice or care facility there while maintaining residence in Arizona).

And, yes Michael, Rialto is the city that borders San Bernardino on the West (I once lived in the town to the South and West of Rialto) and is in San Bernardino County.

Michael, that's being a good researcher in questioning everything. Otherwise, how would we catch items like this.

However, when it comes to Richie's material and my contributions, the sources are always the SSDI and, where applicable, the California Death Index (and California Birth Index when possible). So, the sources are as impeccable as can be. I also realize you do not have access to these (though they are on line ;) ), which makes you question them even more.

I offer this only as explanation of the sources. And it's that way for all of Richie's entries. Obviously, if someone passed away outside of California or was born in some other state, the California indices are not of any use.

#49 fines

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 19:26

Originally posted by Jim Thurman
However, when it comes to Richie's material and my contributions, the sources are always the SSDI and, where applicable, the California Death Index (and California Birth Index when possible). So, the sources are as impeccable as can be. I also realize you do not have access to these (though they are on line ;) ), which makes you question them even more.

No! No, nononono, not at all... it's just that I love to be obnoxious :p :lol:

Seriously, you say SSDI and Cal. B & D Index are online, where may one find them? :cat:

#50 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 21:30

The full list and many, many more are on www.ancestry.com - the answer to US motor racing driver researchers prayers!

But a good link - and free - for the SSDI is: http://ssdi.rootsweb.com/