Racing History in the Southern Tier of New York

Just because Woodhull kicked off their 50th year of racing with the Arnot Mall car show this past weekend: George Williams' Woodhull Raceway opened it's gates for the first time on June 13, 1965 for a 2:00 afternoon show, Running "Moderns" (16 cars) and "Amateurs", plus there were three B-Mods (Bugs) in attendance. The first ever checkered flag at Woodhull went to Wayne Melliman from Cuba, N.Y. in Joe Love's dark red '49 Ford Business Coupe, numbered 04. Melliman backed it up with the win in the Amateur Feature. It was Melliman's only visit to Woodhull, but Bill Layfield put the "Love Machine" back in Victory Lane on August 8th. Current Woodhull Pit Steward, Earl Eccleston was third in the first feature in a '55 Ford numbered 363. There were eleven different winners out of 14 events in the Amateur division in the '65 season. The Ulysess, Pa. based, Sherwood Auto Parts sponsored, "Blue Angels" swept the top three spots in the Modern main event. Harold Sherwood led Lyle Cornelius and Gabe Haynes to the flag in matching powder blue with white top Chevy hardtops. Sherwood and Cornelius were in 1964 Impalas (remember, this was 1965), and they duplicated the finish the following week, with George Schenk breaking the Blue Angels' domination by snagging third. Jim Hakes put his yellow 1958 Ford into Victory Lane the following week, with Paul Hidek from Bath, N.Y. making his Woodhull debut and finishing second in a maroon and white '61 Chevy sedan numbered 6 7/8. Hidek won 10 of the next 11 Modern features, on his way to the first Woodhull Championship with Bill Layfield winning the August 29th feature... Hidek was second.
Lots more, but it's a start.


I am thinking red body and white roof on the 67X.Mert Bellnap had a team car #66X.I was only 8yo. at the time but I do remember those 6cyl. moderns.
112SMW said:
I am thinking red body and white roof on the 67X.Mert Bellnap had a team car #66X.I was only 8yo. at the time but I do remember those 6cyl. moderns.
Light bulb just came on... How about one was a '54 Ford and the other a '55. One in a stake body truck and the other tow bar behind the truck? I was 11 at the time but foggy memory says we followed them to the track one night and it was one of a very few that hauled two cars with one vehicle.
tangletouge please keep posting old woodhull history !!! 1 question from the peanut gallery - who has more mod (or any class) feature wins, don kio or billy van pelt?
railbird steve said:
tangletouge please keep posting old woodhull history !!! 1 question from the peanut gallery - who has more mod (or any class) feature wins, don kio or billy van pelt?
My first reaction is that Billy has more Modified wins, simply because Billy's career has been pretty much Modifieds. Don spent a number of years in the Moderns and Late Models, where he did his early winning. When Stock Car Racing Magazine did the Woodhull article, Kio claimed a career "200 or so" wins. I've not been able to confirm that, and Don admitted not keeping good records. He also didn't specify heats/features, and didn't say all were at Woodhull. I know Billy really added to his total during the TWR days. I'm not going to predict how it will turn out, but I'm trying to gather up the history. As for best seasonal record, I'll go with Billy, but Paul Hidek (11 for 15), and Joe Tomes (16 for 20) are right up there in the batting average.
when I was growing up( 70s)-joe tomes was the man at woodhull , wwhat about arnie flint ? didnt he win alot of races?  I went in the marines in 82 - lin hough @ curt vanpelt were the hotshoes, -seemes to me there were mod drivers that came from canada?  WE LOVE WOODHULL HISTORY  !!!!
A couple of old Chemung Speedrome photos to share with you...
1) Harry "Flipper" Carlyle
2) Jackie Soper
3) Dick Regan with flagger Al Dillon


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Some more Chemung Speedrome "bugs"...
1) "Stub" Crane
2) "Chubby" Chandler
3) Frank Chapman


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More Chemung photos...
1) Vern Coyle w/ a "bug"
2) Larry Catlin w/ a "bug"
3) "Big" Herbie Green


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The more I look at it the more I'm inclined to think this was from the late thirties. The font is the type they were using at that point in time. The year they ran as Tri-Cities (1938) they only ran on holidays. I saw a blip somewhere in regards to someone talking about running there for a season. Unfortunately there isn't anything in print about the later stuff. Just a gut feeling that this is from 1939. The last ad I could find was for 1940 (a Jalpoy race). Of course, I have been totally wrong before..........
An article from the Elmira Star-Gazette in 1956. Al Mallette was the premier Elmira sports writer in his day.....

Elmira Star-Gazette  Sept. 28,1956
Change of Pace by Al Mallette
Stock Racers In Big Show

Chemung stock car racers Saturday night will put on the biggest show of their greatest season at the Speedrome. Chemung stages its championship races Saturday and with a break in the weather, flagman Bob Fuller looks for the best crowd of a season blessed with outstanding attendance.
Fuller, who is one of the big men behind the Atlantic Stock Car Racing Assn. program as well as No. 1 flagman at the track, reports that this is the best season attendance-wise since Chemung opened four years ago. "We've been averaging about 1,800 each week," said Fuller, "It's our best record. Maybe it's because there's no baseball in Elmira..."

FULLER CONTINUED, "You know we've got a pretty good battle for the points at Chemung this season. The championship races Saturday may decide the point champ."
He went on to explain that Art (Chubby) Chandler of Chemung is leading 19- year-old Jackie Baldwin of Ithaca by four points in the A Class. Chandler was champ in 1954 and again last year.
Some of the other top A Class drivers are Lucky Cornish, Bucky Buchanan, Percy Brown, Hank Clark and Cecil Keister.
In the B  the leaders are Hal Green, Pete Schaeffer, Cliff Pierce, Bob DePew, Earl Bodine and Tex Owen. Schaeffer and Pierce are now racing in A.

THAT RAISED the question as to the difference in A and B racing. "The A cars have dual carburetors and different piston sizes," explained Fuller. "The B cars have single carburetors. And there's a difference in the cost of the cars too."
Whats the difference in speed between A and B on the one-quarter mile Chemung track?
"That's a pretty good question for an average fan," replied Fuller. "Perhaps it's not too noticeable but the A cars 'pick up and go' much faster down the straight stretches. Our average speed is 38 miles an hour which means about 60 or 65 on those straightaways."

IT WAS NOTED that most of the cars at Chemung were coupes and that led to another  question. Which is better for stock car racing, coupes or sedans: and how much do the cars cost?
"The coupe is better suited," answered Fuller. "The drivers put most of their money in the engine and pick up most of the bodies in junk yards. For instance, Chandler's car has a '55 Thunderbird motor. Baldwin's car has a Mercury motor and Buchanan's car has a Ford 'flathead'.
"I'd guess that Keister has the most money tied up in a Chemung car. I think it's about $3,000. You know, another interesting feature about our drivers is that most own their racers. I think the ratio is about 75-25 in favor of ownership."

WHAT ARE SOME of safety precautions drivers use? "First," replied Fuller, "is the safety belt. Safety belts in our cars go down through and under the body frame. Generally these belts go under the seats. We find, however, our idea is far better.
"Of course, all drivers wear helmets and each car has roll-over bars installed. Another important safety device is the fire wall between gas tank and driver. This has prevented many serious accidents."

WHO ARE THE favorites with the fans? "Practically every driver has his own fan club," answered Fuller. " But probably the most poular in a general sense are the kids, Baldwin and Bodine. Among the others are Chandler, Green, Brown, Buchanan and Cornish.
"You know Cornish's nickname used to be 'Crash' because of the many pileups and mishaps he had at tracks in Wellsville and Corning. he was lucky to escape serious injury in some and thus the tag 'Lucky' "

WHAT ABOUT THE flagman's job? Isn't there a bit of danger in this? Suppose you hit an oil slick or trip as you jump away from those on-roaring cars after waving that green flag? "To me the job's a lot of fun," said Fulle