Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Clyde Ditmars - One of the Boys Who Started Their Engines at the CLE in 1953......

A little clipping in this past Thursday's newspaper brought back a ton of memories of the one and only Clyde Ditmars (Mr. Texaco)......Happy 80th Birthday Clyde (March 27, 2014) from all your old buddies and Stock Car fans from 1953 and later years.  Clyde was one of the Boys of the summer of the 1950's who started their engines at the old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track right here in our home town of Fort William, Ontario.  Their isn't a gearhead my age that would not remember guys like Clyde.....these jalopy jockeys brought us more entertainment as kids than any venue in our home town.  These were our movie stars, our idols....the guys that we admired most back in the early 1950's
There was no name printed on the ad, but who could not remember
 that face from the CLE days.....Happy Birthday Clyde Ditmars!

Picture of Clyde from a 1953 CLE racing program

Unfortunately you'd see Clyde upside down once in awhile......he did that to entertain us....Check out the Coliseum building in the background at the CLE which still stands today.

 Here's a close-up of Clyde's #77 Car upside down with a very cool checkerboard paint job.

Above and to the left and right are pages from the 1953/1954 program showing Clyde Ditmars right in the middle of all the action including two newspaper clippings from 1953 to the right.  Be sure to click on all the photos and clippings here once then twice to enlarge to screen size so that you may read them in detail.
It is totally amazing to read this 1953 article from the Port Arthur News Chonicle paper dated Aug 27, 1953.  It states that there were 5,500 fans taking in the races at the CLE grounds that day.  I don't remember any entertainment in our city in recent history that brought out that many fans for a single event.....and there, down near the bottom is Clyde's name in black and white........those were truly the good ol' days.

Clyde ran a Texaco Service Station in Kakabeka Falls for many years and hauled his jalopy numerous times from Kakabeka to the fairgrounds for the ever popular Wednesday night racing.  Here is a clipping from a 1959/60 Fort William Ontario phone book showing the garage.
.....and would you think that there would be a street named after the Ditmar's family in Kakabeka Falls today......see for yourself!

Finally one more thank you to living legends like Clyde Ditmars for the entertainment he and others gave us young guys and for the inspiration and determination to carry on a great sport be it on the track or not......once more, Happy Birthday Clyde!
Clyde now lives in Fort Frances Ontario and by all reports is doing quite well even after all the thrills and spills at the old CLE track.  Thanks to Clyde's friend and my old friend Glenn Carson for filling in some of the blanks, and thanks to those photographers who took all those incredible pictures back in the day, for us to enjoy now!
Now, before you go......Click on each of these following links, then come back.  In each of these links there are more stories about Clyde...check them out.....

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