Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Best of the Best 1950's Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Racing Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario....

As requested, we have 27 great photos from the 1950's at the Fort William and Port Arthur Exhibition Race Track.  Only a few of these have been seen in prior posts on this blog.  It is interesting to note that there were literally thousands of fans who came out every Wednesday night and on special holiday race days to support such a wonderful event in our area for years and years.  I believe that no other sport here at the Lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur was ever supported to this extent......some race days topped the 4,000 spectator mark.  Riverview Raceways in later years had some great fan support but nothing like it was in the 1950's.   
Sit back and click on each photo for a special memory or your own and enjoy the best of the best CLE racing wrecks.
Be sure to click on each and every photo for much larger views. 
Due to the fact that some of these photos are from private collections, I have been asked that you not copy them, but come back to view them time and time again.  Thank You.
Wednesday racing under the lights all summer long.

Over 4,000 fans came to see!
Click on this and you can see all the people in the stands.
They had to build larger bleachers on the north and south
side of the original grandstand.

These two photos attest to the fact that thousands of fans came out each week to support and enjoy the racing where every driver put his life on the line to entertain you.
This next photo is my all time favourite.  It shows Barry Kettering's '32 Ford Coupe in the River, to the north side of the race track during a Wednesday evening race.  Luckily Barry only went in part way, but note what is written on his back bumper - "In God We Trust".

In the following photo, the Glenstad Motors #6 car is another almost in the river shot.  The view is to the west and in the background you can see all the parked cars on the other side of the walking bridge across the river.  The walking bridge separated two sides of the original fairgrounds.....beyond that is May Street and the old Elevator on Vickers Street in the distance.

#77 Clyde Ditmars was probably on his lid more than on 4 wheels back then, but he always gave his fans a thrill.
This picture was taken just before the
one on the right.
Here's Clyde up on two wheels...not uncommon for these guys.

Here's another two #77 Clyde Ditmars photos...the second one being a close-up of the other.  Clyde was racing a big Ford Sedan with a nice checkerboard paint job, and did a barrel roll down the track right beside the Coliseum building which is still there today....You probably park your car today right where Clyde flipped over.
Go over to the Golf Dome today and face the Coliseum will see this same view.

This next picture is probably the most spectacular photo ever taken at the's a full two wheel unintended stunt by #73 Jim Manduca.  In the third picture here you can see how much fence Jim ripped out with this roll.

Click on this picture to see all the fence torn out
as well as the stores on the corner of Fort William
Road and Northern Ave.  Also you can see the
Grain Elevators in the distance.

Here is Sammy Myronuk doing a nose roll in his #15 car along the backstretch.  The houses you see are along Northern Ave. on the south side of the Golf Dome today.
#15 Sam Myronuk with #49 Conrad Trombelli
about to nail him!

The always present St. John Ambulance boys on hand to give
aid to injured drivers such as this #41 car.

Here's #87 Tony Massaro in his almost perfectly streetable #87 car...first time out and does a spectacular roll.

This wreck is that of the #12 Cye Kehoe car.  I found the body from it almost 50 years later and built a vintage style modified racer with it.  The restored modified that I built now resides in Syracuse NY, where the owner gives total credit to history of the car whenever it is raced or shown.  If you want to see a photo of the finished restoration, click here, then come back.
Here you can see the dated ambulance and Dominion Motors
tow truck, as well as the CLE Coliseum building in the background

Here, #49 Conrad Trombelli's car looks like a dead lady bug on it's back.....It is actually a 1932 Chevrolet Coupe.

That's Don Marsh standing at the front of his '32 Ford dead lady bug hoping the someone comes soon to help him get it back on all rubber.  On the right bottom is "Little" Joe Guzzi up on the timbers as well.  His pair of deuces didn't help him at all.
#60 Don Marsh

 Here, Albert Massaro's car took quite a hop to get on top of the rub rail.  Noted on Albert's car is Rea's Esso Service.  Rea's was located on Arthur St. between Vickers St. and Marks St. in Fort William, where the parking lot for Arthur Square is today.  I also lived just down from there on Arthur Street back in the day.  The next picture is #96 Harry Hearn with Embassy Grill sponsorship poking his head out of his coupe so the corner flagman could see that he was OK.

Finally, I have to add a couple more of my all time favourite CLE shots.  Look and you can see the tire flying through the air in both these photos.  The first one has a pretty large hole in the middle, which indicates that the whole centre came out of the wheel.  Those animal barns on the fairgrounds would be right in the middle of the parking area for the golf dome and a little to the west.  The coliseum building is just out of the picture to the left.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I do.  Thanks for looking. HR&J