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No questions this week, so we’re driving to the past…
Back in the 1970s, on Saturday during one of our two-day ASA events at Salem, John Anderson got quick a bit of damage to his car in a qualifying session. Since I lived in the area, John came to me and said they were going to need a car lift, and asked if I knew anybody that would help. Like the local Chevy dealer, etc. Well, I didn’t know them that well, but I said I’d try. I called David Dowd, a friend and the owner of a service station where I traded, at the Scottsburg interchange, just twenty miles away.
Dave said he’d let them use his lift as a favor to me if it wasn’t an all-night job. I checked with John, and he said it shouldn’t be but a three-hour job. On my way home, I stopped at the station to see what was going on. Dave came out to meet me and was effusive in his comments.
“These guys are out of sight,” he said. “They put the car on the lift, brought in their own tool boxes and the replacement equipment, then went right at it. It’s really something to see them work on a race car like this. It’s a new experience for me.”
He added, “The only problem is that my two guys are so fascinated by the whole thing that neither one of them is watching the pumps.”
Well, he got that problem solved, John’s crew got the car ready to race, and were back at their motel by 10 PM. At about that time, Dave called me at home, and said, “They wanted to know if they owed me anything. They hadn’t used any of my stuff. I went out and checked the bay, and they even cleaned up after themselves. The place was cleaner than when they came in here.”
I asked if he wanted to come over and watch them race the next day, and he accepted. He spent most of the time before the race hanging around their pit, and then went back to talk to them when it was over. This may have been one of those cases where we made a new race fan.
When a lift wasn’t required, it wasn’t unusual to see cars being repaired in the motel parking lots back in the day. There’s even a few stories about transmissions being taken apart and put back together in motel bathrooms. I’m sure that also applies to carburetors.
Roy Carruthers is a former driver who lives in Indianapolis. He was a very good driver, and he even won the Hoosier Dome race for the midgets one year. Roy was also the UPS delivery driver in my neighborhood, so we got to talk once in a while away from the track. On a Web site I frequent, Roy recently told a story about one of those motel parking lot sessions in Florida. A group of them were staying at the Daytona Inn while they were racing at what is now Volusia Speedway Park.
While they were all pulling maintenance on their cars in the parking lot, Michael Lang, another driver from Indianapolis, took his recently drained oil over to a nearby dumpster.
Now, who checks a dumpster in a situation like that?
Michael emptied the drainage pan by tossing all the oil over the edge. Suddenly, there’s a bloodcurdling scream from inside the dumpster, and an extremely angry homeless person came bailing out.
I’m sure there’s more to this story, but Roy didn’t elaborate.
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How about some racing questions, folks?
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John Anderson’s story would be quite a book. I’ve got pictures of him in various cars at different tracks. He was a helluva driver.
Next time I see Mr. Lang, I’ll have to ask him about that. Thanks, John.