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.

No comments: