Sunday, June 21, 2009

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!!

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