11TH Annual Central New York
Midstate Speedway 9/9/06
Pulling into the Otsego County
Fairgrounds with the Flying 90 in tow,
the feeling I had anticipated for the past
few months now hit me. It was as if
going back in time, riding in the back
seat with my parents going to the races
at Midstate, fidgeting in the back seat
as Dad found a parking spot, can’t get
out of the car quick enough to get to the
stands and see the action. Same feeling
today, excited and nervous, it’s off to the
The 11th Annual Central New York Old
Time Stock Car Convention and Hall of
Fame Induction took place this past
Saturday at Midstate Speedway in
Morris, NY and was a resounding
success. The threat of thundershowers
didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits nor did
it keep people away as the grounds
were full of excited fans and former
drivers. The venue was perfect, plenty of
room and lots of memories. Looking at
the track it hasn’t changed much; two
drag strips with paperclip flat corners,
many of us commented we’d like to try
it out, doubt the horses or their owners
would go for that so we left the cars on
the midway. The stands are still in good
shape and it’s one of the prettiest
grandstands in New York State, many a
good time was had here and today we
get to shoot the bull with the
competitors that graced this once proud
speed plant.
It isn’t every day you get to meet and
talk with the hero’s of your childhood.
Earl Mewhorter juts out his hand to me,
I vividly remember contorting myself in
the car every time we went past his
shop out on Route 23 Southside of
Oneonta enroute to my grandparents.
His sharp #23 late models were always a
force at Fonda and Midstate. Bill ‘Hell
on Wheels’ Brunschmidt comes up and
asks “How’d you bag that?” in reference
to my wife Nikki, “Just lucky” I relate,
“You sure like the pretty ones” he
responds. Midstate and Fonda runner
Otto Graham is snapping pictures. Ron
Hills of ‘The Race Report’ is interviewing
Chuck Akulis on the Midway next to his
first car, the # Fordy. Dicky Sweet is
walking around with a permanent grin
on his face, taking in the Ace Garage
Special of Bill Salamacha. John and
Aaron Cross are talking racing business
with former driver Gene Cole. Quiet and
unassuming, at least off the track, Dick
Schoonover has made the trip, his late
models won a lot of races here and
Fonda too. Alan Tatich says “Try it out”
pointing to the George Latell sprint car
he’s brought. “I’ll never fit my fat arse in
there”, “I can get in it” he relates. OK.
Man this feels nice, more room than I
thought, the steering wheel falls in your
hands, the fuel pump is ready and
willing, hand brake right there, big gas
pedal and clutch, nothing that’s not
needed. This is a real race car. “Where
you gonna put your head when you roll
that thing over” asks Suicide Al
Sanders. “Just tuck it under my arm”,
“You’re crazier than me”. We push the
sprinter over by the hall entrance and it
draws fans like a magnet. Otto points
and smiles. 1971 Midstate champ Mert
‘Socks’ Hulbert is drooling while 1969
champ Bud Hinman slides in behind
the wheel for some photo ops.   
Cliff and Roy Kotary have arrived and it’
s good to see them again. I meet them
over by the Flying 90 and it’s like a
family reunion that only you’re favorite
relatives have come to. Roy brings out
his fathers 1963 NYS Fair
Championship trophy he’s had
restored, it’s the first time in 43 years
that the driver, car and trophy are
together in the same place again and
my shutter is whirring. And then we
run for cover as it rains cats and dogs.
Threat of thundershowers my arse. No
problem, everybody’s inside and the
cars don’t mind the bath. Don Newell
starts up, “WHO’S GONNA DRY THE
TRACK?!?” He has plenty of volunteers.
Donny is a real card and shooting off
one liners faster than a Smith and
Wesson. It’s really fun watching these
former combatants converse, backslaps
and belly laughs are the order of the
day. Time heals all wounds for sure,
many of these guys probably had more
than one beef with each other all those
years ago and now it’s just laughs,
forgiveness is great. Other drivers on
hand include long time Midstate
campaigners Brett Cobb, Marty Ackley,
Gene Johnson, Ray Bunzy, Smokey Joe
Norton, Larry Witter, 1966 NYS Fair
champ Larry Nye, 1966 Midstate
Champ Bill Northrup, Harold Humpries
who showed up with a sweet 1940 Ford
complete with fender skirts, Ed
Hitchcock, Maynard Smith, Maurice
Mariotti, and New Hampshire State
Champion Buddy Bardwell all the way
from Keene, NH.
The Morris high School band is offering
up tunes, the Morris Fire Department is
serving chicken Bar-B-Que and it
stopped raining as quickly as it started.
Really a blessing as it brought some
nice cool air along with it and the mood
amongst the crowd is as bright as the
sunshine. There’s plenty to see here as
members of the Midstate Antique Stock
Car Club have placed over 20 cars on
display along with a cruise in which has
attracted some nice old iron as well.
John Mason has the Hinman ’69 champ
car out, along with his 1937 Ford coupe
#111 driven by Leon Lobdell of
Gilbertsville. The trophy atop the car is
made of a beer can and says ‘First place
in the drinking contest’, apparently
Leon was a thirsty gent. John also has
the Joe Donahue Tc9 on hand with the
1967 Midstate High Point trophy on the
hood, that one is a little more
impressive. Mike Newell has the Fordy
as well as the Pink Panther of Chuck
Akulis displayed. He’s also brought out
several of Mel Ogdens cars including
the Brooks Bar-B-Que Special of Jimmy
Mott, the #29 late model of Art Kiser,
and his own #197 with Peek-a-boo
aboard. Mike really went full tilt for this
show and also painted up a ’53 Chevy
sedan to replicate Russ Card’s figure 8
champ car. I doubt Russ’s car looked as
good as Mikes did. Sharon and Richard
Parry have the Johnson #37 Falcon on
hand along with their wonderful trailer
full of local racing memorabilia and
pictures. John and Barb Clark brought
the Smokey Joe 3X as well as the Utica-
Rome pace car. Dad hauled over the
Mouseville Monster that Kurzon ‘Moose”
Cary rode to the 1961 and 1962 ‘A’
Class championships as well as the
Charley Pierce P-13 that Tommy Wilson
piloted to EMRC fame in the early 1950’
s. Alan Tatich rented a U-Haul cube van
to haul the Latell sprinter and
employed this Rube Goldberg setup for
the ramps, made me nervous but
worked perfectly. Buddy Bardwell
hauled his famous Horned 13 all the
way from Keene, I wish I’d had more
time to talk with Buddy who wanted to
see Belvedere, had to apologize for not
bringing him, I’m sure the big boy
would’ve enjoyed the Bar-B-Que but
geeze, he take up the WHOLE front
seat. Jim Chase worked a deal to bring
the ‘Ace Garage Special’ #88 that Bill
Salamacha campaigned at Midstate and
Lebanon Valley. This is the car that in
essence, started our club way back in
1983. Alan and Roxanne Weaver had
their immaculate Sonny Seamon built
#77 on hand that Chip Lantz drove at
Utica-Rome. Larry and Howdy Witter
had their GMC powered former Cross
car on hand. Jon Button showed up
with his Hillegas Sprinter. Everywhere
you looked there was models, pictures,
old painted up Cromwell and Bell
helmets, it was a lot to take in but we
were all doing our best.
Inside the hall now as the induction is
about to begin. Jim Chase take the
microphone and he’s obviously a little
nervous, there’s a lot of people here in
attendance, over 350 he tells me later
and it’s a bit overwhelming. First up is
the Phoenix Award given to the Morris
Fire Department and Emergency Squad
for their years of providing safety
support to Midstate Speedway. Next up
is Stanley Wetmore who started racing
out of the Fred Searing stable with
John Flach at the tender age of 12. I
remember his #73 Modified at Midstate
always being fast and running up front.
Stan was ever gracious and pleased in
receiving the induction award, and
related he had to be first up as he was
racing at Lebanon Valley. Hope you had
a successful night Stan. I’m sitting next
to Cliff and Roy, taking in Jim’s
struggles, watching him sweat. I’m
sweating too, nervous, wondering if my
little speech on Cliff will do him justice.
You only get a chance like this once, to
honor your hero, I don’t want to blow it
and am going over it in my mind when
Jim throws me a knuckle ball and calls
me to the stage. I though I was going
last but I guess he needed the break,
here goes..  As I look out over the crowd
I relate that a good friend of mine once
gave me some advice on public
speaking, just imagine them all in their
underwear. I look up and say ‘but in
this instance, maybe that’s not such a
great idea’ and launch into the speech.
Doing pretty good, talking of Cliff’s early
days and his innovations, then get
tongue tied, this is a heck of a time to
go cross eyed and dyslexic at the same
time. I get through it and ask Cliff to
join me on the podium to accept the
CNY Pioneer Award, given to the driver
that not only was innovative, but also
made several noteworthy contributions
to the sport of stock ca racing. I can’t
think of anyone more deserving than
Cliff Kotary, his 6 consecutive wins at
the NYS Fair Championship were not
only a testament to his skill as a driver,
but also in preparing the cars for the
grind. I also was proud to present him
with a nicely done model of his 60X,
maybe someday I’ll get to the real thing.
Gotta say it was pretty cool to see his
eyes light up. Cliff related he felt
“honored” to receive the award, I was
very honored to be able to present it to
him. Figure 8 Champion Russell Card
was next up as Jim took the mike back
and related that when he asked Russ
who his friends in racing were, Russ
responded “No one in figure 8 racing.” I
guess that’d have to be true. Russ
related feeling very pleased at his
induction and thanked everyone for
including him. Chuck Akulis was the
next honoree and although most
remember his 13 track championships
at Five Mile Point, he was tough
business on the half mile at Midstate as
well. His brightly painted Pink Panther
#3 was always up front and challenging
for the win here, taking many flags in
the process. He’s so quiet and
unassuming as you meet him, you can
hardly believe this is the same
tenacious driver. Nice guy, as all the
inductees here today are, again he was
pleased and thankful for the award.
Unfortunately neither Bill Salamacha
nor Wayne King could attend the event
as family matters precluded their
involvement. Teamed with Rudy
Schlaephfer in Bridgewater NY,
Salamacha’s #88 ran strong in the
modified division both at Midstate and
Lebanon Valley and was one of my
personal favorites, was hoping to meet
him but it wasn’t to be. Friend Brian
Twichell accepted the award for Bill and
related his apologies. Wayne King also
ran strong in the late model division at
both Midstate and Twin Valley
Speedway’s in his #7, crew member
Dave Gould accepted his award on
behalf of Wayne and thanked everyone
again for their efforts.
With the induction over it was back
outside for some more photo ops and
bench racing, I was pleased to find that
Cliff is now calling me his step son and
we’ve made plans to get together this
winter and build an engine like one of
his state fair winners, that’ll be a fun
project and most of the parts are
already in stock. It was just a wonderful
day in all, and I didn’t really want it to
end but it had to. I bid the Kotary’s
farewell and will see them again soon.
Here comes Sock Hulbert in his truck,
waving so long, good to see everyone
there and I’m already looking forward to
next year.
Kudos and Thanks Department: To the
Morris High School Band who had
nearly everything on key, pretty good.
The Morris Fire Department for the
eats. The Otsego County Fair Board for
allowing us the use of the Fairgrounds.
Gates-Cole Insurance for sponsoring the
event. The members of the Midstate
Antique Stock Car Club who brought
out all of their wonderfully restored
racers for the event. To all the former
inductees and drivers who made the day
very special for all of us. To all of today’s
inductees whose skill on the track
inspired us. To my wife Nikki who
endured weeks full of my cantankerous
behavior and swearing fits as I struggled
with leaking Stromberg’s and gas tanks.
To her sister Sarah who assisted in
selling off T-Shirts. Mike Newell literally
worked his arse off for several weeks in
preparing for the event. Mowing lawn,
painting, putting up banners, getting
chairs and tables, setting it all up, you
did a great job Mike and we all owe you
for making this event as nice as it was.
Richard and Sharon Parry did a lot of
work behind the scenes in guiding the
event as they’re old hands at this,
having held the first ten events
themselves. And lastly but not leastly,
Jim and Kay Chase who organized the
event. Flyers, mailings, phone calls, you
name it, they did it. It was a collective
effort as any event this size is but Jim
and Kay were the driving force behind it
and deserve our gratitude in having an
event that was not only well organized,
but well received. Jim related to me
afterwards that he’s been working on
this since October of last year, it
showed. Success is where opportunity
meets preparation; Jim was well
prepared for the opportunity. Thank
you to all for making this dream day
come true.
Next week the club is off to Little York
for a car show on Sunday the 17th
starting at 10:00 Am. Bring the wife, I
hear the flea market is outstanding. The
following week it’s off to the Madison
County Fairgrounds in Brookfield NY,
another former racing venue for the
Annual Wheel Days event on the 23rd
and 24th. Our upcoming race dates
include the Afton Spooktacular on Oct.
28th at Afton Speedway and Carl
Carpenter related to me that Afton may
have one more show in the offing for us,
we’ll have to wait and see. Well, it’s
Walnut Season again, so until next time
I see you at the track, I’ll be stooped
over picking the buggars up. I really
wish these dogs would do something
around here, hey wait a minute, that’s
not a walnut, I guess ol’ Belvedere does
do something around here after all,
yeecch! Jeff Ackerman 6256 State
Route 17c, Endicott, NY 13760.
Otto Graham Photo
Ace Garage Special of Bill Salamacha
Mike Newells Pink Panther looks great.
Jimmy Mott's Brooks Bar-B-Q Special.
The Mouseville Monster.
The Pierce P-13 Tommy Wilson drove.
Fits like a glove...Alan Tatich brought out the Latell Sprinter.
Bud Hinman tries out the Latell Special.
Bud Hinman won the 1969 Midstate Championship in this car.
John Mason and Mike Newells #197.
Bill Newell looks over Alan Weaver's #77 as Gene cole talks racing with John and Aaron Cross.
Leon Lobdell's # 111.
Everybody needs a hobby..
Russel Cards #15 Figure 8 car restored by Mike Newell.
Sharon & Richard Parry's #37 Jack Johnson Falcon.
Cliff Kotary poses with the car and trophy he won in 1963 @ the NYS Fair. Otto Graham Photo
Midsate Members recieve appreciation awards.
The hall fills up..
Stan Wetmore looks pleased. JIm Chase and Richard Parry look on.
Cliff Kotary gives thanks.
Chuck Akulis goes into the hall.
Russel Card accepts his award.
Simply a great day.
Sarah and Nikki.
Sarah, Nikki and Kay Chase.
Russle Card. Otto Graham Photo
Stanely Wetmore. Otto Graham Photo
Chuck Akulis. Otto Graham Photo
This ones a keeper, Otto Graham Photo
Inductees Chuck Akulis, Stan Wetmore and Russ Card. Otto Graham Photo
This is what it's all about, honoring your heroes. Otto Graham Photo