Saturday, June 27, 2009

Very Talented Car Builders!

Here's two great guys I have known most of my life........long time and very talented hot rod and custom car builders. Top left and b&w photo is Big Bad Bob Kostyniuk, and lower left is Volker Lehmann. We all attend the Church of the Golden Arches(you figure it out) every Sunday at 10am(with many more in attendance)....if us old timers can get up by that time...LOL. The B&W photo clearly shows a 1961 license place....Wow, Bob and Volkker look better now that they did way back then!'s just because we all refuse to grow up. Thanks for posing for the great pictures with your beautiful Chevys.....see you on Sunday! To the right of Bobs car you can see a bit of Ron Limbrick's '39 Ford and to the right of Volkkers car you can see some of Allan Yahn's '33 Ford. to enlarge.

Matchbook Memories from our Cruisin' Days....

Click-on to enlarge, and scroll down!

You local Fort William and Port Arthur(ites) will fondly remember most of these businesses along our cruisin' routes back in the late 40's, 50's and 60's. Some of the buildings still exist to this day but most are long gone. Do you remember where they all were? I remember most of them.
The Flamingo Club is where our wedding reception was in the 60's. The place turned into a real dump throughout the '70's and 80's then was finally torn down to build an apartment building.
In Fort William, "Spuds Burger Major" was the next best place for burgers and fries after the long living A&W. The first A&W in what we now call Thunder Bay was on 10th ave. near intercity, which later became the Welcome drive-in and is now a hair dressing spa.
The Columbia Grille on May Street(now Norma Jeans) became famous for unknowingly harboring the infamous fugitive "Bambi" Bembenec, which took place about 20 or so years ago. Thunder Bay was put on the map because of a movie made of her escapades and the fact that she hid out at the Columbia. Click on comments below to get a final story on Bambi(Thanks for the input)....Dave.
Are you too young?...or too old to remember?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Barry Kettering, Stock Car Jockey.... part 2 of 2

Part 2...
During the sixties, Barry would blossom into one of the top open wheel racers in the Minnesota/Wisconsin area winning several big events, and he would take "ownership" of the supermodifieds at Princeton ,MN. There he would win the title seven times with three others coming at North Star Speedway near Blaine. In the year 1973, Barry was again part of a racing club formation as he was one of the co-founders of the Midwest Sprint Association (MSA) just as he had been with the Lakehead Stock Car Club. Throughout the next three years, Barry served as the association's President as well as its goodwill ambassador, dominating driver and fan favorite. In the first year of the clubs existence, it was dominated on the track by Kettering as he won 14 features and took the initial title. On the way to the title, Barry won the unsanctioned Invitational Championships at Riverview Raceway in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Barry again took the MSA title in 1974 and 1975. While Barry would rarely travel too far from home to race, when he did he was often rewarded with a win or a top finish, such as starting at the rear in a 22 car field in Minot,ND and crossing under the checkered flag first. In 1976 ,Barry co-drove with Ron Larson in the famed Little 500 in Anderson, IN running second when an oil leak close to the finish required repairs relegating them to an eighth place finish. He was on his way to the 1976 title on Friday June 11 of 1976 when he lost his life as he was thrown from his red & white #57 in a roll over on lap 13 in corner two at Fairmont, MN.

Barry Kettering was always a highly respected racer both on and off the race track, popular with not only the fans but fellow competitors alike, and he was always willing to help the rookies or lend a needed part to a fellow competitor. The Sunday night race at North Star Speedway in Blaine, MN following Barry's accident was green flagged with the pole position left open in memory of the great racer. Always one to give for the betterment of the sport and being one who raced for the love of it not the glory or prize money, Barry was a great goodwill ambassador for racing! Barry would gladly hand out schedules at winter car shows, let kids sit in the sprinter, tow to Austin, MN to promote an upcoming MSA race for the small fee of gas money, and in a dispute regarding a scoring decision at an MSA race at North Star Barry offered to pay the $100 difference out of his own pocket. Always well spoken, clean cut Barry was very businesslike in his efforts to make the MSA a viable and successful club. He would meet fair board representatives in an effort to book MSA race dates. On that June evening racing lost one of its greats. Though not nationally known, Barry Kettering took on all comers in his area often sending the visitors home empty handed. Both on and off the track, Barry gave his all to make racing better. From the stock cars in Fort William to the sprint cars in Minnesota, he was a true racer and he is missed by both those he raced with and those who watched him. Having given so much to the sport, it was perhaps best said by fellow Fort William sprint racer Lyn McIntosh, when Riverview track management decided not to hold the Barry Kettering Memorial in 1981, Lyn and his partners Murray Robinson and Pat Slivinski chose to host it themselves with Lyn saying " Barry gave too much to the sport for his memory to be forgotten".
Footnote by Dave: I had the privilege of meeting Barry and Glen on a number of occasions when I was a young boy. I hung around the Kettering garages(they were always gracious and glad to see their young fans), and built push mobiles of Barry's cars. His wife Rene was a friend of my grandmother Catherine Jarvis and my aunt Lorraine Jarvis.  My uncle Bob Jarvis was also good friends with Barry.  Both Barry and his wife had visited my grandmother and my aunt and uncle on many an occasion when I was there. I would be in awe of him and all those stock jockeys that raced at the CLE. They were famous in their own right(just as much as any movie star) and we owe them all a huge vote of gratitude for keeping our young lives busy by entertaining us with their daring-do at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track. We will always miss you Barry. Thanks again Jeff for the great Bio, and for letting me use it.......Dave.

Barry Kettering, Stock Car Jockey.... part 1 of 2

With permission from Jeff, I am posting this bio of Barry Kettering that he wrote a few years ago. This is part 1 of 2. I will leave a footnote after part 2.
Barry Kettering by Jeff Caldwell, Thunder Bay, Ontario Part 1.....
Barry Kettering would start his racing career match racing Tom Dow at the Murillo Fairgrounds behind the wheel of the Kings Special, a 1920-30's vintage speedster in 1951-52. Barry was one of the founding members of the Lakehead Stock Car Club in the fall of 1952, and the first stock car he built was a 1934 Plymouth numbered 00. It was called "The Snitch Special" as apparently that's how some of its parts were obtained. He would then move into Bud Heidrick's #47 "Bud's Thing" '37 Ford in 1953 and later a '32 Ford until 1957 when he drove the Provincial Stock Car Club #57. In 1958, Barry and brother Glen, with whom he was partners in a local service station, built a 1934 Ford coupe powered by a 312 C.I. Ford. This car would carry Barry to his long sought after track title. Barry, always the tough but fair competitor, would again win its title in 1959 in the '34 Ford and a cut down version of the same car carried him to the title again in 1960. Though Barry was leading the points & defending his title in 1961, he sold his share in the service station and moved from Fort William to Rice Lake, Wisconsin so that he could race more often.

Barry had first ventured stateside to "see how they raced" in 1958 and left a souvenir for the meeting room of the Indianhead Stock Car Racing Association, a check in the amount of $15.00 for tow money which he refused to accept. Upon his return to Rice Lake, WI in the spring of 1959, Barry "cleaned the boards" and started to leave his mark south of the border. Barry Kettering's gesture of refusing the tow money was a precursor to several others gestures he would make through his racing career for the betterment of the sport. Barry continued racing in modifieds, and the '34 Ford was retired with a new car being built based on a '49 Ford frame with a Crosley body and a 390 C.I. Ford powering it. Upon its completion in the spring, Barry was looking to give it a test run. Finding Raceway Park in Shakopee, MN running, Barry and his crew headed for the track to discover that it was asphalt. Undaunted and though the car was built for dirt and Barry having no previous pavement experience, he threw the car sideways through the corners as if he was racing on dirt thrilling those in attendance. Barry returned to Shakopee for its opening day show, won his heat, and ran out of gas on the white flag lap of the feature while leading. Soon the calls were going out "look out, here comes the Bear Cat!!". Through the years whenever Barry towed into the pits, he would be regarded as one of the guys to beat. click on photos to enlarge. Thanks for the Crosley photos Jeff!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

My '57 Chevy 4-door HT 1963-1968

This was my second car. I had owned it from '63 to about '68. I always liked the 4-door hard top actually better than the 2-door model as the top seemed in better proportion to the bottom. It was the first car that I got into showing. When I purchased it, the colour was sea foam green(turquoise) and cream. It wasn't long before my dad and I started doing a bit of custom work on it such as filling the hood, nosing and decking it(removing excess chrome and what-not from the hood and trunk), changing the grille to a '59 Chevy vintage, tinting the windows, adding a sunken antenna and changing the upholstery. This was called a "conservative custom" at the time. The first colour was "Magenta", a Chrysler colour. After it was shown in that colour, we completely changed the colour again to "Mandarin Orange". I had borrowed a set of Radir wheels for the car show from Scotty McCallum(he had them on his '63 Chevelle rag top(very cool car too). We just traded wheels and tires for the car show. We also did the grille(anodized look) in gold. It was blue when the car was Magenta. This was done by painting candy colours directly over the aluminum grille. It stuck pretty good. The automatic transmission was changed to a 3 speed standard, the engine was bored out to 301ci and it had 3 deuces(triple carburetors). When I was married, we drove this car to Chicago, Detroit and back and actually had cheater slicks on it the whole way, just in case there was a racing encounter. It was only a slap on the wrist in those days if you got just for thinking about it you will have your license suspended. I miss this car to this day and always think that some day I will own another. It was sold to a bush pilot who totalled it no more than 6 months after he bought it. The yellow ad is how it would appear in a brochure or billboard.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dick Spooner Photography....

Another of Dick Spooner's art pieces. Dick took this photo of our '28 Ford Model "A" Hot Rod last summer on High Street in Thunder Bay, Ontario near what is known as Hillcrest Park(this is taken in part of the old city of Port Arthur). Further in the distance was the Fort William area of the city and old and present day Mount McKay. Even though we have long cold snowy winters, the area comes alive in June with wonderful weather, scenery, flowers and greenery. Thanks for the great shot Dick. Click to see enlarged photo and scroll up and down to see it all. D.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dick Spooner's napkin art!

Dick Spooner, local artist of fame, friend and great guy did a preliminary sketch today Sunday June 14, taking him only a few seconds, and from memory(a photo he had seen on my blog site here).
Dick is an incredible artist, educated here in Thunder Bay and Toronto. He is an honours graduate of the Communication Design course of the Ontario College of Art majoring in photography and illustration.
Dick's illustrations, specifically cityscapes and landscapes in and around Thunder Bay have been reproduced from original works into limited edition prints and art cards. Visitors to Thunder Bay, regional dignitaries and former residents have carried these items to all corners of Canada and the world.
Looking at the enlargement of the sketch, you can see that it was done on....oh yes!, a McDonald's restaurant napkin.
We are trying to get Dick to do a rendering of our old local stock car track that used to exist at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition grounds in the intercity area of Thunder Bay.
Great start Dick....give it a go....
The coloured picture on the right is the one he had remembered from my site. Click on either of these photos to enlarge. You can also see Dick's own website by clicking here Thanks a ton RL. Dick's ice racing talents will also be shown on this blogsite some time soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Duluth or bust.....

The Pigeon River US/Canadian border crossing about 35 miles south-west of Fort William(now Thunder Bay) was an important part of growing up, because the closest large city to us was and still is Duluth, Minnesota(about 185 miles). My family took hundreds of motoring trips to Grand Marais, Duluth and Minneapolis/St. Paul, through the years, and even though one always told the truth about what you purchased across the line, you always felt intimidated by the border officers on either side.
The border crossing as we know it today is in a totally different spot, still on the Pigeon River but much closer to Lake Superior. The b&w photo on the left shows some great 1930's cars taken in front of the Pigeon River Hotel, and the one on the right shows some wonderful 1950's cars. In the colour picture on the right, the old Pigeon River hotel is shown on the far left of the photo, and the new Pigeon River hotel is just to the right of it. The original bridge is shown to the far right, and the actual building where you talked to the officers as you left or returned is in the center. There were stores, souvenir shops and many other buildings on both sides of the river and it was a very popular spot to go for a drive and taste some American beer like Fitgers, Colt 45, Hamms or some American candy such as Black Jack chewing gum, Beemans Pepsin gum, or giant suckers. Do you remember??