Monday, May 23, 2022

Recently recovered photos from the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Racing Days in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario....

     With much thanks to Paula Orr and the owner of these photos, Gary Becotte and with permission we are able to add an all new HR&J post after many months.  Some of these photos are very rare to me as not many have been taken of these cars, particularly Tom Dow's car and his hauler.  A few other photos were taken from what was called the mezzanine.  The CLE added extra uncovered bleachers on the north side of the covered grandstand a few years after racing started at the CLE in the early 1950's.

The first photo here is of Tom Dow's race car hauler painted to match his car back in 1954.  The picture was taken in the lane-way behind what was the original Dow's Auto Electric which was located at 112 N. May St. later to become Chris' Billiard Hall.  The building still exists today in the same location.  

The building in the background here is the rear of the original St. Stanislaus (Stan's) school which also still exists today....the front of it faces Miles St.  

Tom and his brother built and tuned Tom's #2 car in that building on 112 N. May.  This is also where Tom met Barry Kettering who worked a few years before then for Thorne's Sargent Automotive which was located on the large parking lot on Violet St., before a spectacular fire had destroyed it.

The next photo here is the rear of the old St. Stan's school which can be seen behind the above photo and behind the following photo as well.

Here's is how Tom Dow's car looked in 1953/54.  It was a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe.  The holy grail of the Hot Rod world today.

The building below is the rear of 112 N. May St. as it looks today.  You can see where the centre of the garage area was once opened to a large door where the Dow brothers worked on #2.

The picture on the right is of a very young Tom Dow in racing whites.... well I guess they were white before the races started.

It's interesting to read the newspaper article below from July 29, 1954 to see what was happening at the old CLE 1/2 mile racetrack.  Tom did go on to win the 1954 Championship and carry the trophy home.


The following scrap yard photo is the first race car that Walter (Wally) (Walt) Prokosh raced at the CLE grounds in the same era that Tom Dow raced.  The car was sponsored by D & J Stitt Menswear, and Mid City Machinery.  It stood the test of time in 1953 but succumbed to it's injuries and by the end of the year, Wally had a brand new Jalopy to race.


Here's Wally's next car...a very nice '37 Ford coupe with the same sponsors and number 55.  Wally did pretty well with this car but destiny would change his future as you will see in the next photo.

Wally was offered a driver's seat in the bright yellow #54 car owned and built by the Abitibi Power and Paper Company of Port Arthur.  This winning car gave Wally a big name in the racing community here in the early 1950's.  It was a 1933 Ford 3-window coupe.  The use here of the wide 5 wheels from Ford's 1936 vehicles helped hold them to the hub at a 10 1/2 bolt circle.  There were less wheel loss from a larger circle and the racing community continued to use the 10 1/2's for decades to come particularly on sprint cars.

Here's a great picture of Wally Prokosh, cig in hand and goggled helmet being very cool with his new jalopy to drive.  This car also had a Ford overhead valve engine which basically put most of the flathead engines back in the pack.


Smack dab in the middle of these great photos is this very early, circa 1953 photo of Don Marsh's #60 car which I believe was Don's very first stock car, sporting a Ford flathead engine and a yellow and black paint scheme.  Don also did very well in his early years of racing.


From the Mezzanine this photo was taken of #77 Clyde Ditmars from Kakabeka Falls leading an unknown driver here coming out of turn 4.  There was consistant great racing at the CLE track in the 1950's and as a kid I dreamed about someday racing a jalopy, but it had to wait until I was older and until Riverview Raceway was built, and by then they weren't called jalopies.


Here's another of Wally Prokosh coming out of turn 4 as well with what looks like someone on their lid halfway through the corner.  Not clear but who cares....these are great photos.


Here's another of Wally in #54 with #36 further down the track. 

Finally we have Albert Massaro in his Rea's Esso #88 car going the wrong way 👈😂 ....and I have no idea who's driving the blurred car. 

Lastly here is the actual Lakehead Stock Car Club logo which was put to use on literally hundreds of racing jackets from the good old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition days.

All the above photos were copied and edited to make them as clear as we could to bring out the detail. Thanks again to Gary Becotte for the photos and Paula Orr for bringing them to our attention at the Hotrods and Jalopies blog pages.  A couple of my archive photos and a news clip were also added.

......thanks for visiting us again at HR&J, with more new racing posts to come.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Memories in our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur Ontario plus a few others...

Here's my annual Christmas Post with some familiar local photos and also some familiar memories that we likely all will remember.  The past year has been up and down for us and many others, but as Christmas draws near we try to calm ourselves and try to remember the things that made us happy throughout the years.

With that in mind, I start off with my annual FAKE NEWS magazine by taking a vintage magazine and make it look like a tongue in cheek edition of Hot Rods and Jalopies, a magazine that never was.

Note:  Try single or double clicking on each of the photos for good enlargements....

The next two photos many of you have seen before, but are two of my favourite local pictures from our storied past.  The first is how I remembered our city hall in Fort William, on the same property as the present one now in Thunder Bay.

 A holiday truth to remember.....

The following is a very typical seasonal Coca Cola advertisement from the 1960's


                                                         I just title this one "Oh nooooo!"


                  A very typical Street Scene in the 1940's anywhere in Canada or the USA......

Getting your Christmas tree in those days meant heading out to the bush to cut one down.  It was an annual event in our household to bring home as many as you could stack on your car for your families and or your neighbours too.

Most kids today never share in the enjoyment and excitement heading out to the bush for Christmas trees. 

You may remember seeing photos like this of your parents or grandparents with a tree on the roof of their Model T Ford.

Here is a small town shopping district on a winter's evening looking very cold, but your family may have been out looking for a last minute gift for someone special....and the weather wouldn't have mattered.


Treasure Chest Comics were a staple around our house at Christmas or any other time of the year.  They always depicted typical family stories and gatherings all year long

Every adult seemed to have smoked back in the day and Santa of course always smoked a of course you'd see many pieces of advertising similar to this one.

A typical scene long before Mom and Dad were up.....and I'm sure you remember doing this, or maybe sneaking a peek or two at what was right under the tree from Santa.

Long before computers and the like.....I remember getting a Telegram from Santa.  How many young people even know what a Telegram is?

A television set in the house in the early 1950's was a rarity, but by the end of the 1950's almost every home had a typical Dumont, or maybe a Sylvania or RCA black and white television set.

                                  Or maybe mom or dad got a new Nash in 1951

                 Or a new Plymouth in 1948.....things were getting better after the war was over......

I'm coming to the end of the 2021 Christmas Post, but I would be remiss if I didn't post this great photo of my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter volunteering for this year collecting for the parade of lights.....what a beautiful pair and a beautiful moment.  We are so proud of you both for doing this.💓💓

                   Merry Christmas to all......and to all a Good Night......................


Sunday, November 7, 2021

Canadian Lakehead Exhibition 1953 fresh and new Stock Car film with written play by play from our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ont.

Rarely do we find an old piece of never seen before film from the original Canadian Lakehead Exhibition 1/2 mile track, and before I show it to you, I have to thank a few people for it's find and excellent film transfer to present day digital.

Firstly, I believe the photographer back in 1953 was Y. W. Nelson of Port Arthur as noted on the 8mm film pack.  It was given to me by Louis Shaw for my exclusive use.  The film transfer was done by Mark Lucchese of "Once In A Lifetime Productions" who did an incredible job keeping as much colour and clarity as possible.  To get the best transfer is having the original film to do it.

Many of the names and numbers you will see don't match the ones later in the 1950's.  The Lakehead Stock Car Club was in its infancy here and drivers were just starting out, many changed cars and numbers as time went on, but what you see and read here is taken from archives.

I will show the silent film first, then I will do a rundown on who all the drivers were back in 1953/54.  You can enlarge the film to full screen by passing your mouse and clicking on the little box on the bottom right hand corner of the film clip then click on Esc (escape) on your computer to bring it back to here.

The play by play starts and continues as each car number appears in the film:

Parked in the pits in the front is the #2 black and white car driven by Tom Dow, and parked next to him in red and white is #3 driven by Eddie Cusson.  The #89 black with white lettering is Pat Allen.  Next to him in pale yellow is #88, Albert Massaro.

Cruising by is #57 driven by Brent Hard.  #97 in red and white is John Cole.  The tri-coloured car is #37 driven by Glen Kettering.

Following that is an overhead pit shot.  They lined up the cars in the pits in numerical order for the judges.

Lined up next are the red #73, Jim Manduca, then #57 Brent Hard, followed by #88, Albert Massaro showing its checkered top.  #3 is Eddie Cusson, #97 is John Cole.  These cars commence a race.

With the photographer actually standing on the top or the old original grandstand you can clearly see all the elevators on the waterfront and pretty much nothing at all in the intercity area.

Massaro and Cusson battle for 1st place, and if you look closely you can see #7 driven by Louis Tocheri in Maroon and Yellow.  Passing Louis is #11 driven by John Zatti (The Potter and Kerr car).  Coming in neck and neck is #11 John Zatti and #90 Dickie Tonkin.  

Parked in front of the grandstand is the famous silver #47, One of Barry Kettering's first car (the roller skate car).

Lining up is #83, a studebaker driven by John Panvica, then #89 driven by Pat Allen.  Pulling out of the pits is #49, a Dominion Motors sponsored Pontiac driven by Conrad Trombelli.

The #95 7up car driven by Bob Cameron with a nice lead, but coming our of turn 2 hit the rub rail and rolled it.  Then can't quite see who took the win.

Next you see #99, another car driven by Johnny Panvica (different class)  Classes were slow car and fast car determined by time trials and modifications.  Then you see #37 the Glen Kettering car, then the extra nice orange '49 Ford #15 driven by Sam Myronuk.  

The next scene shows single file, first the checkered top car #77 driven my Clyde Ditmars from Kakabeka Falls, then #2 Tom Dow, then the blue #99 Johnny Panvica.  Another car you can see here is #98 driven by Ross "Pappy" Fowler.

The film ends with #37 Glen Kettering and #15 Sam Myronuk in a dead heat at the finish.

I hope you enjoyed this treasure.  It is the best coloured and oldest film I have seen from The Lakehead Stock Car Club. 1953

The Centerfold from the 1953 program below shows all the names and numbers.