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70 years ago today...

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#1 Michael Ferner

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Posted 04 November 2021 - 21:20

... Don Radbruch won the championship of the American Racing Association at his first try, by finishing third at the Napa County Fairgrounds in Calistoga, California. After several years racing track roadsters and jalopies in the Bay Area, Don (from Redwood City) and his brother Les built a Big car with a modified Mercury V8 engine and started appearinjg at ARA Big car meets in Northern California late in summer of 1950. By June of the following year, Don was leading the point standings, and going into the last race in November he held a narrow 25 point lead over Dave Lee. With 100 points at stake for the winner Joe Gemsa and Bill Jenkins also still had a chance at the title, but after 100 grueling laps around the half-mile dust bowl at 'Stoga, Radbruch was the only one of the hopefuls still running, following hometown hero Jack Pacheteau in the #7 Vermeil/Cragar "Owl Garage Special" of Louie Vermeil, who would develop into the heart and soul of the ARA and its follow-up organisation, the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) so much so that nowadays both NARC and Calistoga Speedway advertize as the "Home of Louie Vermeil" NARC: The Northern Auto Racing Club | Flickr


Don and Les Radbruch continued racing into the mid-fifties, building and preparing cars for other racers as well, then Don continued his love for the sport as a writer, penning articles for Speed Age, National Speed Sport News and other magazines, later for Historic racing print media like Vintage Oval Racing or The Alternate. He published newsletters as well, and adapted well to the age of the internet with an early website, besides participating in online discussions and bulletin boards, such as The Nostalgia Forum of the old Atlas F1 website Don Radbruch - Viewing Profile - The Autosport Forums, in addition to which he wrote some fine books. He passed away on January 1 in 2008, two months after his last post on this site.


#2 Jim Thurman

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Posted 05 November 2021 - 16:36

Thanks for doing this Michael. Don Radbruch actively encouraged me, and so many others, to delve into U.S. racing history. He got me involved in projects, big and small. For all the discussions he was involved with on various bulletin boards, he was even more involved with e-mails to various folks, always seeking more information and digging around to find it online, on microfilm, in old print publications, contacting and speaking with drivers from earlier eras. I truly miss our e-mail exchanges and often think how much he would have enjoyed some of the information uncovered in the time since, and how active a participant he would have been in it all.

#3 DCapps

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Posted 05 November 2021 - 18:10

Simply echoing Michael and Jim's remarks.


While I was sitting in the desert (it was actually more like bouncing all over the place) in SWA, Don Radbruch was a faithful email correspondent. Scarcely a week went by without Don sending at least one or two (or more in some cases) emails my way.


He and John Glenn Printz were probably two of the major reasons that I finally began to dig into the history of US motor sport.


As noted, Don was somehow always managing to point me in the direction of some material that I never knew existed or just as importantly how to access it.


And, the phone conversations were always both fascinating and a struggle to keep up with everything that he was throwing at me to think about.


He is greatly missed by many of us...