Friday, July 19, 2013

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition's "Boys of Summer" in the 1950's and early 1960's....

The taste of dirt, exhaust fumes and the smoking tires constantly remind me of the wonderful memories of the old CLE racetrack at our fairgrounds in Fort William, Ontario.  Even though I spent a few years racing in the late 1960's at Riverview Raceways, my childhood memories always bring me back to the times spent at the CLE.  Here are a few more nostalgic records of those times......
This next group of photos shows how our "boys of summer" go beyond the call of duty to actually fight a fire that developed in the lower area of the on all photos to enlarge them and read the clippings.

Above right in the forefront is Ross "Pappy" Fowler former driver
and current flagman hauling a fire hose.

This blog site names a number of drivers and pit crew from the CLE days that were most notable of the times, and in many instances we haven't added many of the other names and faces that were no less important than the so called more famous.  I have a number of photos that have been loaned to HR&J with names and faces that you may not recognize but still made a huge impact on racing here in the Lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur.  Here are some of them.
In the rear is M. Whittingham, Bill Malcolm, and unknown.  In the front with the helmet is Don Deakin and beside him is Ted Charleton.  The lettering on the right reads in full "Look what we did to this car".  Tongue in cheek of course.

 These two early 1960's photos are of #11 All Bishop working on his car.

Noted in prior blog posts were of course the importance of sponsorship, as without the sponsors there would have never been any racing in those days.  North Cumberland Service was no exception, paying for advertising for the races, and sponsoring cars .  Many thanks to Al Whittingham and his son Morris.

These photos show their old Ford North Star Oil service truck and offering their service at the Championship races held at the CLE.

North Cumberland Service was at 368 North Cumberland Street, the present day site of Cordone Brothers used car lot.
Here is a typical day-after race day newspaper clipping.  Here we see Clyde Ditmars' checkerboard jalopy rolling over in a collision with Ernie Pauluk.  In the first photo, you can hardly spot Ernie's car, but in the closeup below it can be seen.

This next photo is about the era where they started doing the cut down or channeled cars.  This is Lorne Morin's cut down coupe with their crew behind including R. Couture, R. Donyluk and D. Couture.  Merv Dove after an accident with his #31 car was gracious enough to loan Lorne his new 292 Ford engine and his Lincoln that's true sportsmanship!

Here we have a shot of Jerry Donyluk crashed into the Grandstand
 Ray Shirley's Plymouth Coupe #5

This is one of Fort William's Murray Simmons red, yellow and black striped car taken at Russ Laursen's shop in Superior Wisconsin.
Our "Boys of Summer" constantly put their lives on the line for the entertainment of many, but they also had hearts of gold as well as noted in this June 1954 news clipping. 
The photo on the right is Bill Machinski #46.  For some of the regular races and especially for the Championship races the CLE added more bleachers to the front area of the grandstand as shown here.  It was a miracle that anyone wasn't killed or seriously injured, as these seats were very close to the track with very little protection for the spectator.
Bill Machinski #46

Many drivers were maimed for life at the old CLE track and Wes Inkster was no exception.  He was seriously injured back in the 1950's in this car.  Many of the advertisers, other driver's and their families and fans alike came to Wes' aid while he recuperated.  After some time and with the help of many, he was able to return to his service station and continue on with his life.

As noted above, a benefit show was held at the Fort William Gardens on Aug 22, 1957 in aid of the Wes Inkster fund, featuring local artists such as Myrna Lorrie, Johnny and Harry Siczkar, Roy Coran and the Colosimo accordion group.
Junior (Fran) Speer continued to race Wes's car to the joy of many at the old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track.


1 comment:

Dave Cano said...

I received an email through my facebook page as follows....Thanks for the additional data Bob.
Bob Travish
8:31pm Jul 24
Hi Dave!! Its Bob Travish.I was just looking through your Hotrod and Jalopie's page.There is a picture in there with Mr. Al Bishop working on his #11 stock car/race car.I knew when I looked at that picture that the other guy in that pic(just the back view of his head,while working on the car) was that of my Father. Brent Travish Sr. The date on that pic is August 1961.