Chemung Speedrome, The way it was.

SDW10

Meteorologist Mike Scott

Chemung Speedrome

Remembering 1976

The Bicentennial Years

Herbie Green #88

Forty years ago!  I cannot believe how time flew and how we progressed from the local dime stores,  Philadelphia Sales and Western Auto to Walmart.  Bank of America to  HDTV.

Herbie Green 88

Being the Bi-Centennial you had the patriotic look going on with many of the drivers but pictured above is Herbie Green of Elmira,  NY.    At one time this Late Model warrior even drove a rather cool looking Ford Torino sporting his usual #88 car.

Back in the seventies we had fins and hatchbacks,  spoilers and Superbirds. By that time I was also twenty years old and in the military for just about two years,  working at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

At that time I worked in the 314th Field Maintenance Squadron in the Survival Equipment Shop and was an Airman First Class.   (E-2)

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Going back to New York or any hometown while serving is about a big an event as getting a card from your honey in Basic Training.   Nearing home you would see the Exit for your town and feel a warmth and sense of community.   I got my first car,  a dazzling 1974 Gremlin-X.     I remember listening to Olivia Newton John and a song like, ‘If Not For You’  resonating with me as I went by the track,   now closed for the winter and I conjectured as to what was happening and who was winning what.

1974 Gremlin-X

This program was the 25th Anniversary of Eli Bodine’s Chemung Speedrome.   The older version that is and often featured drivers like Geoff Bodine and Brett Bodine both.    I am not sure if Todd raced there but he probably did.  And Geoff won a lot of races at the track his family built.

One of the coolest features in the program are the ads.    You can see what was being sold as far as cars, TVs and Refrigerators.   It just seemed so much more simple although by now the Vietnam War was over and Jimmy Carter was the President of the United States.

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Gail Barber was the featured driver and driver of the week for that week.   He moved from the Late Models into the Modifieds with modest success both,  both there and at the Old Shangri-La which also shut down there for awhile and was relocated and known as Shangri-La II these days.   At the old Skyline Park.   The park is gone and the track is nice but part of me thinks back to when I was a kid and this small park located on a hill was a fun spot.

I remember riding bumper cars and some hippies crashed the party and the cops were called in.   One of the hippies decided on singing a song at the cops arrival which probably featured Dick Casterline,  the driver of the #577 Pontiac.

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The times were different yet the same.   New ticket takers,  track owners and a lot of new drivers and fans but the legend of the Speedrome stands resolute against those changes and future generations of drivers and fans forget or never know of 1976 and boldly tell their elders they could care less.   But the true racing fan cares because it is those who shared popcorn and discussions of the great past where drivers did not wear helmets and if they did,  they were not like today.

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Wild action at Chemung Speedrome (Small)

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I took my chevy to the levy, but the Chevy was 55.

American Pie Racing

I remember riding back on a bus from a wrestling tournament in which I did fairly well beating the number one seed and then getting pinned.  lol.   Charlie Brown couldn’t catch a break either,   I guess.    On the bus with the snow heavily falling I remember Don McLean wistfully popping off esoteric lyrics;  many of which had resonated with me.   I remember dancing in the gym and being born in February and making me shiver and the thought of my crush possibly seeing someone else.

It was a day when Rock and Roll and God were permitted to be sung or said.   Idealistic maybe,  but at the end of the day, that will be what matters most.   And as we wax poetically in a cape of invincibility,  the pieces all fit together.    “And the jester on the sidelines in a cast.”    And my main blog being,  ‘The Times Are Changin’.    A reverent nod to Bob Dylan and the perspicacity of the young McClean.     Who like in Vincent painted an indelible statue on the pantheon of auto racing history.   Likewise with the brand of our cars and stock cars they seemed almost perfect in form and in function.

The eclectic poets put down their pens.   The past which was ours is stilled remembered,  like a Polaroid snapshot we sung with our whiskey and rye much like our school’s fight song,  “you bring the scotch and I’ll bring the rye”.

Good times,  a bit of self-delusion,   we built a city within arenas playing the National Anthem and the song ‘Proud Mary’ which blared from cracked intercom speakers  during breaks in racing activity and the intermission.   A time of Drive-in theatres and Woodstock.   We encapsulated in a bubble,  a kind of time capsule in an era of war and rebirth.

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I do not know of a time in racing in which racing that had so much mystique as the day of Chevy and in particular but not restricted to,  the 55 Chevy.    In fact,  the popularity today is continuing with restorations of privately owned personal automobiles as the stock car that once was such a fixture in short track racing.

Like the Pinto and Gremlins and J-2000s which dominated modifieds,  the 55 is a marvel in itself.    Our own dad helped Dick Casterline with his #577 which was not a Chevy but of that era.    Ike Edmister’s old race car hauler which we used to slide through our yard with.    The old truck with a Late Model engine and besides Ike was pretty cool.

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I remember my dad and Dick partying, coming into my room and lifting weights with one hand (120 lbs) and me kind of shocked there.    Anyhow,  it is awesome how an era can say so much and the music reflecting the mood of those turbulent times.    We had this and this was enough.

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Wild action at Chemung Speedrome (Small)

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To all my old and new friends,  this song is dedicated to you.   To the drivers,  our parents and our children.  These were the days!!!!