Thursday, May 24, 2012

TOM DOW - Racing, Winning and Flying.....Part 2

This is a very familiar sight from 1953 where as a young kid I would sit in the grandstand at the old CLE track with my dad or my friends and always see Tommy Dow's Black and White '32 Ford 3-window coupe #2 in the first row on the left.  In the early years everyone had their specific pit spot. 
Please do not copy any of these photos to another web page without permission from HR&J.
This is a closeup of the first row on the left with Tom's car.  The graphic art to the right became the new(1953) Lakehead Stock Car Club logo which stuck around for many years.

Here is Tom on the left with a few of his young fans and another picture on the right showing the famed black and white #2 and a few more young fans, at pretty much the same age I was at that time. 
Always click on all the photos and articles once then twice for good closeups and also to be able to read the newspaper clippings.

The above Fort William Times Journal clipping is from the summer of 1954.
In the left photo bottom right is Tom receiving his trophy at the fall banquet in 1953 for his 33 second time trial track record.  In the photo on the right is Tom receiving the same award at the last race of the 1953 Season. 
To his left is the most popular driver for 1953, young Dick Bortolussi receiving his award as well.

Jumping to the end of the 1954 racing season is the following clipping of Tom receiving his award for capturing the 1954 Track Championship.....notably that the title was decided in the feature event of the last meet of the year.

                         This picture and the one below is Tom's -2 car as he attempts to
           start a new total "stock" class again after most drivers had been modifying their cars.

Jumping ahead to 1972 is the following article from the "Canadian Aviation Magazine" telling of Tom's escapade heading to India to purchase three Tiger Moths from the Madras Flying Club and also a load of parts, enough to assemble another, all to arrive in Thunder Bay in the spring of 1972(a little known story shared to us by Tom).  Very interesting for sure!

These are a few pictures of what a tiger moth trainer looks like.  Tom had them stored at the Kakabeka Flying Club until they were sold.

Here is a short film of a Tiger Moth in flight.........

This is Tom as he looks today with his 1922 Durant which he has been restoring.  Tom also owns a 1926 Whippet 2-door sedan and a 1924 Dodge Touring.  He is still very active to this day, working on his own cars doing mechanical work, restorations and painting.

Tom's 1922 Durant project.......

Tom and yours truly in his garage last year.

Many thanks again to Tom Dow for the great visit....It's almost time for another.  Thanks Tom for the use of your wonderful photos....some we will use in another post, and thanks again to Roger Rickards for helping set up the first visit.
Tom is an incredible guy and an inspiration to all us gearheads to never give up on your dreams.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TOM DOW - his contribution to local racing, history and lore...PART 1

Roger Rickards and I were very privileged to have had the opportunity to visit Tom last year and talk about his racing years, as well as some of his flying years.  Tom also let us use some of his photos, most of which I had never seen before.  Please enjoy these but please do not copy them to another web site without permission from HR&J.  Be sure to click once or twice on each of the photos for larger versions.  This will be published in two or possibly three posts due to its large photo and story content.
Tom Dow as he looked in the early 1950's with his crash helmet on.
They were used for much more than just football!!

An ad from an early
1950's CLE program!
The King's Special taken from a film clip in 1933.

The Following is a portion of an article by Jeff Caldwell on the famed “King’s Special”.
QUOTE - “The car was last known to be owned by local racing legend Barry Kettering in a different form, powered by a regular T Ford motor, in 1950 he would informally race it against another 1920’s race car, “The Hudson“, then owned by Tom Dow.”

In Tom Dow’s own words, the race noted above was the new beginning of Jalopy racing here in Fort William and Port Arthur in the early 1950’s.  Tom was working at the family shop “Dow’s Auto Electric” at the time.  It was located directly across from the Times Journal Building on May Street in Fort William at 112 N May Street(The old yellow building still exists to this day).
Tom would call them “Bugs” and said that he and Barry would legally drive these cars on the street as well as on the track.
At the same time Barry Kettering was working for Thornes-Sargent just around the corner from Dow’s on Violet Street(presently a parking lot).  The businesses were back to back and Barry and Tom would naturally have become good friends due to their mutual interest in car racing.

Tom would say that after racing their “Bugs”  around at the Murillo track for fun, they thought they could make some cash by convincing some fellows to bring their cars to the Murillo track.  They would be paid a small fee just for bringing their cars to race and would charge $1.00 for the public to watch.  In Tom’s own words, “We just couldn’t believe it, we were bringing home cardboard boxes full of dollar bills”.
This WAS the true beginning of stock car (jalopy) racing here at the Lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur.
After doing this for two years  the Lakehead Stock Car Racing Association was  formed out at Uncle Franks on the Scott Highway on August 21st, 1952.  See the attached article from an old CLE program.  They would race initially at Murillo but would soon move to the CLE racetrack at the fairgrounds close to the border between the then Fort William and Port Arthur, to be closer to the fans and a much larger grandstand and much better track for car racing.
The following is an advertisement from Thornes-Sargent, taken from a Fort William Collegiate yearbook from the same era.

Present day location of Thornes-Sargent

This is how the back of the present day Dow's Auto Electric
building looks today.  You can see where the automotive door
has been filled in over time. The far right is the old Times Journal
building on May Street.

The article on the left is pretty much the story on how the Lakehead Stock Car Racing Association was formed.  This was taken from a late 1950's Championship racing program.  Click on this and all other photos for a better look!

This is how Uncle Franks looked at the time the Lakehead
Stock Car Racing Association was formed.
This is a ticket for the first club sanctioned
race in 1952.

This photo of Glen Kettering's car and the following photos
were taken at the Murillo Race Track about 10 miles north of
Fort William and Port Arthur during the 1952 racing season.

Jalopies racing the back stretch at
 Murillo Speedway.

Lining up in front of the Murillo Grandstand.

Jalopy jockeys doing the Murillo back stretch.

Here, Barry Kettering's "Snitch Special" is lining up with
what looks like a car that someone drove from town to the track.

Every one's talking about the great
entertainment at the Murillo track!!

A great shot of the Murillo Grandstand.

#33 on his lid!

A great panorama shot of the Murillo backstretch!!

Another backstretch shot!

More action!

An early spring or late fall shot in the snow at Murillo....'s #00, Barry Kettering!

See??  ...It's Barry's car!

A shot of Tom Dow in Murillo.

This and the rest of the photos are of Tom's famed '32
Ford 3-window coupe(look how perfect it was)
most rodders would die for a 3-window in this
shape today!

Tom's Deuce 3-window coupe!

A bit blurry but showing the cut off fenders.

A very cool #2 - Remember "Nipper" from the 1950's

Here's Tom doing a pre race tuneup!


Check out that sophisticated Tune-up Equipment!

Tom's Deuce hauler - Not too shabby itself.
Thanks to Tom Dow for the photos and great interview.  There are more to come but not necessarily in perfect chronological order.