Back in the early to mid-1960s, I used to attend races at Flamboro Speedway out near Hamilton.
In those days, I might be at Mosport during the day on Saturday to watch practice and qualifying for Can-Am or Formula Fords and then bomb out of there by 4:30 or 5 in the afternoon so I could get over to Flamboro in time for an evening of supermodified racing. Then I’d be back at Mosport Sunday for the feature event of the weekend.
It was a great life.
I went to Flamboro with my best friend at the time, Rick Clare, and his brother and my sister (they dated for awhile) and assorted other friends and acquaintances.
The racing was edge-of-your-seat stuff, with guys like Harvey Lennox, Joe Hylwka, Jack McCutcheon (he had Woody Woodpecker painted on his car), Howie Scannell, Gary Witter, Jack Greedy and countless others screaming around the quarter mile of asphalt.
I always used to tell people that if they wanted to see great driving, they should go to Mosport; if they wanted to see great racing, they had to go to Flamboro.
Of course, there were other attractions at Flamboro besides the supers. The hobby class attracted upwards of 50 (or more) cars a night and Dizzy Dean Murray, the track announcer, worked as hard or harder talking up their heats and feature as he did the headline division.
"And here they come, ladies and gentlemen, Canada’s future Indianapolis 500 drivers, out on the track for tonight’s jalopy feature brought to you by Wheelspin News. Pick up your copy at the newstand near the hot dog counter and don’t forget to read MY COLUMN." (Dizzy was not above promoting himself when it came to patter . . .)
There were several interesting things about that meet:
First, the USAC had recommended that all cars mount an enclosed roll cage but it had not yet made them mandatory. So you had about half the cars with the drivers fully protected (both Tattersall and Carruthers drove modgets with full cages) and the other half with truly open cockpits and just a roll bar behind the driver. Old campaigners like Les Scott and Mel Kenyon were still out there racing "bare headed."
Second, both Tattersall (above, in a pre-roll cage car) and Carruthers survived what was a very dangerous era in car racing, only to die of cancer. "Tat’ passed in 1971 and Carruthers in ‘75. In fact, Carrruthers, who'd made it to Indy by that time, won the USAC Silver Crown championship that season; he clinched the title six weeks before his death when he finished third in the Hoosier Hundred on the dirt mile at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
So those are some of my memories of Flamboro Speedway. Randy Spencer, a journalist who works tirelessly to preserve the heritage of short-track oval racing in Ontario, is looking for some of yours.
Spencer issued a media release this week announcing the creation of the Flamboro Stadium and Speedway Hall of Fame, Museum and Archives. The first inductees will be enshrined this November (I nominate McCutcheon – as Spencer himself has written, McCutcheon won the very first feature when the track opened 51 season ago).
"We are looking for anything interesting for the museum, including photos, old newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, old programs and racing newspapers and personal items such as driver trophies, race suits, helmets and anything Flamboro-related that we can display.
"We will accept permanent donations or anything on loan to be returned. Items will be posted on our website as well as for display at the track. Also looking for any help by way of sponsorship to help with anything from the cost of producing the large scrapbooks to setting up the website or any of the other worthwhile projects that will happen over the coming months."
I wish Randy the best of luck with this project.