Remembering Doug Friedel
Friedel was born August 6, 1938 in Baltimore, MD. Doug was a kind,
thoughtful and gentle man. He was a class act who never had an
unkind word to say about anyone. Sadly, Doug will be missed by all
who knew him, but he will also be proudly remembered for the kind of man
I was just getting to
know Doug, thanks to my becoming involved with the Bowling Green
Speedway Preservation Society. For those of you who are not
familiar with Bowling Green, this track only existed for a few short
years in the 1950’s. It wasn’t around very long, but even
after 50 years, many of those who raced there still share an incredible
bond with each other and that track, enough so that they got together
and formed an organization to preserve the history of the B.G.A.R.A.
Doug Friedel is a shining example of just how special that place and those times were. He only went there as a competitor three times. At age 15, during his high school years, he started racing even before he was able to drive on the road. However, that’s all it took for Bowling Green to become such an important part of his life. Doug proudly took on the responsibilities as a member of the Bowling Green Speedway Preservation Society’s Board of Directors, serving as the organization’s Secretary.
On a personal note…
Doug knew all too well the seriousness and the risks of the medical
dilemma he was about to face. Knowing that there was rough road
ahead, he thought it best to hand off his duties with the B.G.S.P.S.
until he was able to put this time behind him. I can’t express
in words how honored I was to be asked by him to consider taking over
those duties. I was also just as honored when the membership
agreed with his choice. He has left me some pretty big shoes to
fill and I can only hope to be half as good as he was at it. I will do
my best to make him proud.
In October of 2002, the club had its 1st annual picnic. As the club’s Historian, I have begun trying to collect as many of the member’s personal stories about their days at Bowling Green Speedway as possible. What follows is from a conversation that Doug and I had that day about his racing at Bowling Green Speedway.
"Friends of mine had a car,
#32, and they use to race down at Westport, Lanham and Hagerstown.
When they got out of it, I asked if they would give me the motor out of
their car. My car was the same kind, a ’40 Ford. I made mine 32
Jr., after their car number. Everything was cut by hand, all the
sides and… the roll bars, my uncle had welded in… stuff like that.
The first time I went to Bowling
Green, I was 15 years old and still in high school. I didn’t have a
license to drive, so friends of mine use to tow the car up there.
The first time I went up, I didn’t drive it myself because… I just
wasn’t use to racing a car. So, we didn’t do anything that
We came back, worked on the car a
little bit and the second time we went up, the second Sunday, I drove
it. I was so nervous when I got in the car, my buddy that came with
me… that drove me up, had to hook the seat belt because my hands were
sweating so bad! <laughs> I could not get it buckled!
Anyhow, I qualified for the feature
and I was in a consolation race… but umm… during the consy there was
an accident and I was involved in the accident. I hit another car
and the radiator came back against the fan and had a hole in it, so I
didn’t go out and race the feature.
I raced one other time up there…
with no luck. I mean, you know… I just wasn’t that kind of a
driver. Coming home from that third time, we were on our way home
and a guy came through a stop sign and hit me broadside. Of
course, the tow hitch hit the road and came back through the radiator…
the radiator went back and broke the intake and the car went up a bank
and rolled over. Back in those days, in ’55 when I was going to
school, I was only making $.40 a car to wash cars, so I didn’t have a
whole lot of capital money to work with. So… that kinda ended my
racing career at Bowling Green.
What I really remember about Bowling
Green… the turns were so steep. Even the straightaways had like
a 12 degree banking on them.
It was almost like… you couldn’t figure on yourself rolling
over, it was just that steep on the turns. It was just a fun place
to race, you know… compared to like Westport. I use to go there
every Saturday night, years ago, and that was all flat. You just
went around… it was a baseball diamond. Bowling Green was
absolutely a wonderful track. It’s a shame it didn’t last more
than those 4 years. I had a great time.
I think what made Bowling Green Speedway so special to everybody was the fact that if you had any problems, if you broke something, you could go to the guy next to you in the pits and say, “Hey, I need a generator.” Or, “I need a fan”, something like that… Even if it was a rear end or a gear or something… they were right there saying, “Okay, let me see if I got one and I’ll give it to you.” You’d put it in your car and I guess the next time you went back, you gave it back to them. Everybody just worked together, even though it was competition. In those days, that’s just what it was. It was a good, fun time to race."
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Last Updated: 01/26/2009 10:47 PM