When I was growing up I played with June and
Chip. They were around my age and lived up the alley in the house with the
old car sitting in the weeds. My dad used to tell me about their dad, Al
who raced stock cars at the local race track.
As I became more interested in racing I
decided to look up Al and see if he would be interested in spending some
time talking about racing. Al was ready. He had his scrapbook and was
ready to recount his many adventures from years gone by.
Al, now in his 70ís has not been to a
speedway in several years but instead prefers to watch NASCAR races on
television, but that doesnít mean that the passion for what he did still
does not burn. Several times during our conversations, Al who is a tall,
physically imposing gentleman would spring to his feet, voice raised, fist
clenched, as he spoke of a situation that happened 45 years ago. Recalling
in detail the people and places that we spoke about.
Al started his racing career in the
1950ís driving a red #21 coupe for Gil Petrosky of Sunbury. Al
affectionately refered to Gil as the "Big Pollock". He raced
mostly at Selinsgrove, PA in the days that racing was promoted by Buster
Keller and racing was sanctioned by Penn Eastern Racing Association. Al
won a race in 1953 at Selinsgrove, when the purse was based on a
percentage of the gate. It was a rainy night and after splitting the purse
with his owner had $10.00 in his pocket.
The #21 traveled to many of the local
Central Pennsylvania speedways of the 1950ís including, Riverview in
Williamsport, Muncy, Silver Spring, Evergreen in Drums and The Fairgrounds
in Honesdale and Lehighton.
Al later drove for Bob Hollenbach of
Selinsgrove. His potent Holman Moody Mercury aquired down south from a
NASCAR team later ran at Langhorne Speedway. The team was sponsored by KEO
Mobile Homes which would supply the team with light weight aluminum to fix
Smiley, as he was known and is still
known by his old competitors first love was his wife, Pauline and
children. On the day they were married, Al and his buddy Bobby Peck took
their coupes to a little oval they carved out of the swamp, over the dyke
in the north part of Sunbury and ran several test laps against each other.
They then took the cars home, got cleaned up and went to Alís wedding 3