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In Their Words - Volume 9 - "Courtesy of Chateau Speedway History Facebook Group Page"

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September 21, 2019

                                                                      “In Their Words – Volume 9”  -  Dave Bjorge

    (* This article republished by permission of "Chateau Speedway History" Facebook Group Page and refers to pictdures that are published with article on that group page.)

 

In our latest “In Their Words” we visit with 2 time Chateau Speedway Track Champion and Track Hall of Fame Member Dave Bjorge.   Dave is quite the story teller as you will see and shared a lot of stories with us about not only Racing at Chateau but time spent with drivers away from the track as well as his many racing adventures elsewhere.  He took the time to credit and talk about several people who helped him along the way, as well as many others that were a part of his Racing Past.  He shared several pictures and articles with us as well, some of which you will find here.  He says he does not know how many Feature Wins he had in his career but one article puts it in excess of 300 at that time. He has an interesting story about Fair Races, the Steele County Fairgrounds and a comment made about him in a newspaper article and the final race at the Mower County Fairgrounds where he placed second..  Also pictures of his Hobby, his Street Rods and Articles about those.  Also we share pictures of several of his cars and haulers over the years.  We also share many pictures he had of those who helped on his cars as he obviously gives those people lots of credit for his success behind the wheel.    So settle in for lots of stories and a lengthy read as Dave Bjorge recaps his career in his words.

 

Webpage:  Let’s start at the beginning.  How did you get into this Racing Game?

Dave:  My first endeavor at racing was a long time ago.  Asphalt at Shakopee Raceway.   I moved to Southern Minnesota in like 1956 - 1957 somewhere right in there, 56 I guess it was, I got to know Dave Noble and I helped him.   Of course you get to know him and you get to know racing, he was pretty thick in that, for what it was in those days.  So I got around that you know.  Closest thing I got to behind the wheel than was one time he let me drive in a pitman race, probably Chateau.   Anyway….eventually I moved back by Minneapolis, worked at Minneapolis Moline, didn’t make enough money so I was scrounging all these junk yard parts you know and I put this ‘52 Olds together.   I was living in Shakopee, and a guy came by there from Raceway Park.  He stopped and seen what I was doing and said “where are you gonna run this”, … I told him down to Chateau by Austin, he says why don’t you run it here on the black top at Shakopee, I said well I could I suppose.  Well he said we got some deals for you.   To get me in the door, they’d get me in the pits, I didn’t have to pay, and he said I’ll guarantee you twenty bucks.  Pay for the gas probably you know.  So that’s how I got started there on the black top,   That didn’t last too long and then I moved to town here eventually and started at the Chateau, so its where I got my start in racing.

 

Webpage:  How did that first race go?

Dave:  Never forget the first day; it was the flagman, at Shakopee, Roy Snyder, big German guy.  We were starting the race, I was pole position in the Feature, Roy Snyder comes up smacks the top of my car with his flag “Dave Bjorge, you know who’s behind you” …. I’m sitting there kind of shaking you know…Ya Norm Setrum, Ron Olson, Shabrowski, the biggest shoes at that time on asphalt.  He said “Now if I were you I’d go into that corner at a nice speed and hang low, you know their gonna pass you” (laughs) Yep …anyway that was my first real race.  Never forget it

 

Webpage:  That the same car you brought to Lansing then?

Dave:  Ya, and that’s the same car I went to Waterloo with to Tunis Speedway, and that again it’s what started the Iowa invasion so to speak,’ cause I went down there and did good.  First time I won the Heat and won the Semi, but tore the drive shaft up in the Feature.  I made quite a bit of money for what we’d been making around here at the time.  But they had a packed house down there all the time

 

Webpage:  Few Guys were running back and forth with you.

Dave:   I was fishing with Verlin Eaker a few times this last year he said “Ya you’re the guy that got us started going down there…we were wondering where you went for a couple weeks,  Ya, its all your fault” (laughs).  I was down there in Iowa, well word got out I made good money so here they were (laughs) Verlin than Noble and Mert.

 

Webpage:  Verlin ended up moving down there.

Dave:  Ya, lot more opportunities down there.  He was determined to do more than most of us you know I think, and he did.   Verlin, I think for the most part he was just a driver, I don’t know that he worked on the cars much , I don’t know this but that’s just what I saw but he was one of the best drivers, that’s what  I think anyway .  When he went down there he got hooked up with some good people, good cars, and he took care of them, didn’t bust them up. 

 

Webpage: Was you at the Fair when he brought up the World 100 car to the Mower County Fair Race?

Dave:  No I wasn’t.  I don’t know why I wouldn’t of been.  I don’t know why I would of missed it, (pauses) I can’t, like you said you lived all year for that race. 

 

Webpage:  You ran a lot of the other local tracks too like Albert Lea and Northwood.

Dave: Ya Northwood, we’d go down there and that was Smith too that run that and Albert Lea a few times.  I remember Ron Kester was there.   I had the Oldsmobile, I snagged Floyd Matter, I passed him on the inside and whether he come down or I come up, I spun and I don’t know why but the car quit or killed so I was sideways in the track at Albert Lea and here comes Smokey Campbell wide open, didn’t even see me I guess, smacked me right in the side,.  I don’t know if I went to the hospital, I think I got a bump on the head, of course even with a helmet that’s still quite a crash you know. 

 

Webpage: Ever roll over?

Dave: Never (pause) well I shouldn’t say that, Mason City I was driving for Duane Bridley, Bridley Auto Parts, his Coupe, he had a ‘35 Chevy Coupe and the right rear wheel broke just going into one, ba-boom, there again I bruised a kidney.   But that would be the only roll over I ever had.  Otherwise 24 years kept it on all four wheels (laughs).    I think of all the people I drove for, not only my own cars, you know there’s always times where things happen. Had that red and white Pontiac with that Chateau on the hood, down in Waterloo, it was Red Drosty and Schwansinger I was following them thru, we were going fast and all of a sudden one went to the left and one went to the right I stayed right in the middle, there was a car sitting there.  Head on, I folded that Pontiac up, ruined the whole frame you know. So I took the engine out of that and put it in Bridley’s coupe, it was a small block, it wasn’t very good.  So we ended up taking that to the Minnesota State Fair and that’s when it was Asphalt, we ended up getting third that year.  Shouldn’t of but we did, you know attrition and all.

 

Webpage: How much asphalt did you run?

Dave:  We run the State Fair, we run it when it was dirt and when it was asphalt, we run with that car and we also run at the Fair with one of our Mopar’s …I think it was the Road Runner.  Didn’t do that good there….we finished.

 

Webpage:  You there the year Mert won it?

Dave:  No, but as a matter of fact I ribbed him about that, I don’t remember where I seen him, the next race or whatever, I’d say “make good money up there”…he said “not for what I spent”.  (Laughs) That’s when I was running down to Tunis and I told him about the money I made there, almost what he said he made there for the Fair Race, which I can’t believe.  He had a nice car; well it wasn’t too long he chopped the front fenders off, took that same car and came down to Iowa.   That was that yellow ‘62 Pontiac or something like that. 

 

Webpage: You did a lot of traveling.

Dave:  Ya, well it seemed like to go down there to Waterloo it’s about a hundred miles,   Even back then at 55, than we raced Independence also.  That was about 61, 62 something like that.  Eventually I sold that car, than I build a Pontiac that winter, a 55 Pontiac.  We had a lot of good times at Independence and Waterloo.  Those were really my learning years.  Learn as you go, make improvements, eventually you get things better and better.  It was until like I’d say about ‘61, might me wrong might be ‘62, but my friend Roger Cooling, he said why don’t we take your car down to Waterloo, a friend of mines got a brother down there says thought you’d do good down there.  So that’s how we got stated on that and then you got use to traveling.  You couldn’t just use a tow bar anymore, I think Dave Noble still got that somewhere, it was just the most durable little thing, but you know you’re dragging two wheels.  I actually built a Ford Hauler and than in later years I built that Oldsmobile, like a little Wrecker.

 

Webpage:  As well as racing Lansing, Track Champion in 62, kept you busy.

Dave:  Ya back and forth.   It was really amazing, but again, Roger Cooling was helping me.  He was a big part of my racing, he was more, well he had a race car before I think.  But with Roger things just stated going a whole lot better , before that I was kind of a one man band like a lot of ‘em were at that time.  Again the more help you got, especially talented help like that, things went better.

 

Webpage:  You had a lot of guys on your pit crew over the years.

Dave: Ya I did,  Gerald Seavy and Ed Sayle use to be with Verlin Eaker when they first stated around town here, than Gerald Seavy come out to my place once and says “I got a Mopar for you”, a Dodge, and at that time I think I still had the Pontiac, and he said “you can have it”.  You know and he says “I’ll help you with the motor”.  So there again, he was a very talented guy motor wise. So he helped me with that Dodge, helped Roger and I with that Dodge,   Ed Sayle at that time he was involved with racing but he had been working down in Iowa for Bill Moyer Sr who was a race nut, a lot of money, so he stated helping us because he was familiar with Mopar stuff, the 440, then we eventually went to the Hemi.  That was quite a change you know from the Pontiac.  But we had a lot of good years with the Mopar.  Then came the Chevrolet Sanger cars.   Dick Trimble, as I recall he said I think we should go down and check Ed Sanger out, he’s got some cars for sale.  Well we drove down there, Barry Kasuvious – Oriental guy that worked for Dick - Roger, and Dick and I went down there.  Well were riding high as he had a limousine instead of a van because he had six kids you know.  So’s we went down there on a Sunday, the only afternoon Dick could get off, went down there and actually bought Ed’s Monte Carlo that he was going to run himself.  And that’s the car I won 29 features with that year….I won a lot bigger stuff but it was an exceptional car.   Again you get good stuff it seems, and like your crew…we acquired a couple other guys that helped with small stuff….it all helps

 

Webpage: How did the whole Trimble’s thing come about?

Dave:  Well you know I’d known Dick for years but I wasn’t one to sell myself, but it was Gerald Seavy again who was with me that day we talked to Dick, Dick loved racing, “Hey how about sponsoring Bjorge here” he says getting things going.   So anyway that put the bug in Dick’s ear, so it went on from there to being my good friend, and Father in law (Laughs) But ya once we got started he started telling me about his earlier days he use to go with Louie Auger and some of the guys that run Hot Rods back in those days in the 40s and probably early 50’s.  It was kind of like Sprint Car, but they were called Hot Rods, just any kind of a body, so he was involved with that some before me.  Anyway Dick was a good sponsor, a helper.  We was down there working on the car, he wouldn’t miss a minute, I mean he’d make sure someone else was taking care of business upstairs too.

 

Webpage: That car did a lot of advertising for Trimble’s.

Dave:  Ya, I was just thinking about that here, these guys I use to race with, they’d come up here and buy from Dick you know.  The racers would. 

 

Webpage:  Than there was O.B. Smock.

Dave: Ya when my first wife and I got separated that’s when O.B. and I kind of got to know each other, he was everybody’s friend.   Ya helped a lot, always there.  Than eventually in my earlier Chevy days I got hooked up with a farmer, Bob Brunner of Lime Springs Iowa, and he had me driver his Monte Carlo.  Again I don’t remember if this was before or after the Ed Sanger car, must have been after.  So there was some years it wasn’t all uphill, sometimes we had low spots.  Eventually than I went on to another car, I don’t remember which one it was , so that left the other car open so O.B. got to drive that a few times and he won with it.  Kind of a character, a prankster.

 

Webpage: You saw a lot of changes in the cars over the years, eventually fins and big bodies.

Dave:  I remember the early days you just made the best of what you got.  Early years it was junk yard everything, I mean that’s all you could afford; my first car was a 400 dollar car.  But you used the best of the junk yard parts you could, you know the strongest…and those cars were…well I knew from the start lighter is faster but it seemed like when you went to the big block, the 454 or the 427 you had a lot of weight up front and you had to add weight in the back to balance, to compensate, but then as time went on we got the small block Chevy’s working.   Had enough power, light weight car, you could run lighter all the way around.  The Gundaker car we bought out of St Louis Missouri we could run that car at 1900 pounds…so it was fast, even weight, just a light weight car.  But even back then I think there was weight rules, at most tracks we had to weigh up around 22, 24 hundred something like that.  If we didn’t have rules we could run that thing right around 2000 pounds.  So that was a big change (weight restrictions).   1980 I got together with Jerry Hanson,, he was a famer down from Mason City Iowa, and he had a car built and it was a terrible car.  I went through a couple years with him, he eventually sold those cars and he furnished us with engines.  And he had them built, he didn’t build them himself.  We had to pay him about a third but they were worth it, they were wonderful motors.

 

Webpage:  You always had the Image of being pretty cool in the car.

Dave:  I was always calm I thought, once you get going.  You know at first you look around you.   There were guys like, the good drivers…Larry Phillips, we traveled a lot. You knew these guys that had a lot of wins under ‘em.  There fast so you’d feel a little bit intimidated, but I tried not to let that get to me.  I just knew that I felt I had good stuff and got going.  But once again once you start racing, everything …that stuff is blacked out, you just got one thing in mind

 

Webpage: Any wins stand out

Dave: One of the biggest ones I had was that I got an invitation from the Weld Brothers to race down at I-70; you know that was a big win.  The Inaugural Dirt… I-70 was Black Top, than they brought a couple foot of dirt on it, it was high bank…so that was a big win.  We had the Gundaker car there, the lightweight car.  Rodney Combs and all, that was the cream of the crop down there,  Ed Sanger, Curt Hansen, Moyer, everybody,  it was a big purse and I happen to win it.  The car worked great I just run away there at the end, it was a 50 lapper I think.   So that was the one I really felt like I had a feather in my hat you know (laughs) but some of the big ones over to Fairmont, a couple of big shows, big purses.  There was one there where Jerry Holtcamp and I actually tied.  But they give the win to Jerry, which no big deal, there was somebody  who said no it was a tie, but they went the other way, they actually gave him the win but they paid me….paid us both, I don’t know how they did it but that was a big one, 3700 3800 dollars.  Back than that was good money.

 

Webpage: How did this starting in the back thing come about?

Dave: Well there again, especially at Mason City, I don’t know what I had there but I just, they had different promoters the one guy from town here, Floyd Lenoch, would challenge me, he was a good promoter.  He done that to me a couple times, he’d come along up to me say will you Start in the back I’ll give you an extra 100 dollars or something.  At that time I felt there was only a couple cars there that I thought I’d have trouble with, but the biggest one I think he doubled the win if I stated in the back.  And it took forever, you know you got friends out there, Ted Zieman he’s a good runner, and I knew I was faster than him.  I don’t, well I was never one to intimidate anybody by bumping ‘em like a lot of people I raced with, so I just had to wait and wait for him to almost make a slip or wait until the track got right so I could take him.  So Ted Zieman and I were side by side for I don’t know how many laps, and I had only 30 laps to do this – start at the back – get to the front…. I finally got by Ted , whether he bobbled or something I don’t know but I got by him, than I picked the others off that were ahead of him, I remember there was this guy, can’t think of his name, he had the heavy Chevy…he was leading and on the last lap going into one I passed him…I didn’t know if he had lifted up, was pretty confident he had it made but I just didn’t let up, I came that far I just had to do it.  Of course the crowd, the grandstand came down after that I’m sure it was quite a show.

 

Webpage: Fair races were real popular in those days.

Dave:  The Owatonna fair was real good to me,  back to back to back wins there…in fact one of the papers up there said it was getting to be the Dave Bjorge Benefit or something like that (laughs),  up in Faribault  it was the same thing, I won almost every year up there.  But again we run half miles all the time where a lot of the guys didn’t so I think we might have been a little better.  Not saying they weren’t fast or good.

 

Webpage:  I recall the Mower County Fair one year you rode the wall trying to chase down Richardson.

Dave:  There again, I think that was the Sanger car, I know I had the Monte Carlo…so it was amazing that car would stand on the wall, it was like a steel rail and ya I got up on that.  I kind of forgot about that.  It’s a wonder you live through some of those really. 

 

Webpage:  The Last Mower County Fair Race was a two day show, came from the back to win the first night but only got second from the back on day two.

Dave:  I got a story for that too, but it’s kind of an excuse really.  Again that’s when we had the Mopar. This guy had spark plugs, Champion spark plugs, he wanted to put a sticker on my car, you know , well one guys says give us a set of spark plugs and we’ll do that..well he says OK runs to his truck, gets a set of spark plugs , we put em in, fired the car up just before the Feature, didn’t realize it was only running on 7 cylinders, here one plug was a dud.  So 7 cylinders was all I had that day. (Got 2nd)  You know before that we’d never had an issue with putting in new plugs, well after that we actually stated testing them on a spark plug tester before we even run them.  This was just one of them things where you put new plugs in just before the race, ‘cause those Hemi’s were really hard on plugs, temperamental, cause we run a real cold plug.  But ya, that was still good racing,    I liked the Fair Ground Track, it was at home you might say.  It wasn’t always the best track, it didn’t get used enough you know.

 

Webpage:  You liked the half mile tracks.

Dave:  It just seemed like a better way to race, I don’t know if it was as exciting, it was still fun to race on the small tracks too,  

 

Webpage: Have to make many changes for different size tracks?

Dave:  Back than there wasn’t a whole lot, usually depending on the track. How dry it got, gear ratio was the big thing.  The car would go around the corner; it was up to you to do the rest you know.   Like Sonny Morgan always said, you know some guys they had to get a car just perfect but a lot of times it had to be you that had to adjust, you know to the car, you just couldn’t have a car that was a hundred percent.  And that was so true you had to find a different way to go faster, whether you went in harder or take it easy coming out, you know try to find a different line,  some of the stuff people say sticks with you, makes sense you know.  Some cars you had to use the brake to set it.  Always remember our Mopar, both our Mopar’s; they’d work better if you just go in as hard as you could go otherwise the car would push.  You had to go in hard enough.  What it was we were too stiff or our sway bar was too tight, wouldn’t let the front end settle in and dig down, dig in.  Well that guy that just got killed, Bill Regner, he made a couple different sway bars on that car … it started getting technical, we had one that was 7/8 inch and one that was 5/8 or something like that.  Depending on the track you’d switch those sway bars just made a world of difference you know as far as handling.  Gears were a big thing of course, eventually everybody had a quick change you know it was just a matter of picking the right one.

 

Webpage: Two Championships at Lansing 1962 and 1970, sure you had some others.

Dave:  Fairmont I think I had two or three;   I think I had three but they had different promoters and they just didn’t have the sheets.   This guy over by Blue Earth he’s kind of the Historian on that track and he questioned me and said I know you got two but he said this one year it s just not clear because he didn’t have the records to clear it up.  He asked me if I did and I said no I don’t, I could look in my book and tell you if I won five or six features but that doesn’t mean someone else didn’t have many more seconds and could of done better.  And then down in Mason City I probably had three or four championships.  I really liked that track… a lot of different promoters, Vern Mondry, and there was this guy from Des Moines that came up there, and Floyd Lenoch.  At first the Fair Board run it all on their own, I think that’s when it cost like a dollar to get in back in the 60’s. But it got to where after awhile it didn’t really mean a whole lot to win a Championship, it was a feather in your hat, but it didn’t help in keeping the car running.  Ya it’s good to win ‘em, but like now in NASCAR if you win a Championship you’re a millionaire, back than it was nothing, so we got to thinking why don’t we just run where the big money is, more competition but that would sharpen you up.  So run where the money is, so that’s kind of what we did in the later years.  Like Fargo and Winnipeg that would have these specials you know, two - three night deals, big money, but a lot of travel, so that’s what we would do.  The furthest we went was Eerie Colorado, that was a real big show, that was one of the last ones I did.  Thunder Bay, over to Wisconsin    one time I won this Tri State, they called it a Tri State Championship.  That’s where you run Superior, Proctor, and Dupier I think it was.  So ya anyway we did a lot of traveling for being a working guy. Cause you still had to get back to work Monday morning.

 

Webpage: Any idea on Feature wins total?

Dave: I didn’t even try to keep track, like I say….one year I had 29,  again I really don’t know, wouldn’t even begin to guess.

 

Webpage:  What year did you finally hang it up?

Dave:  Well we sold …we had two cars in 1982…the Gundaker car and we had that Bob Harris house car which was a Howe Car, Howe Racing, we had those two cars …we didn’t really use the Gundaker car that much that year.  So ‘82 we sold both cars….actually gave one back to Bob Harris, and sold the Gundaker to a guy in Canada. Than after that I did drive for Willie Kraft a little, he sprained his wrist or something, I drove a couple races for him and I did race once for Leon Plank in Owatonna,   Don’t remember if that was the fair, his owner had two cars.  He asked me if I’d want to run one, I did.  We were doing all right than we had a flat right rear tire and that took care of that.  So that would be ‘83 and a bit of ‘84.  Oh than my son come to me, my son Scott, and another fella, they had a Modified, they asked me if I’d drive that a little bit.  So I did, we didn’t do that good with it, again low budget, of course a lot of the guys in the Modifieds than had some pretty nice stuff.

 

Webpage:  That had to be a big change from what you were use to

Dave:  Ya I guess it was, you’re a little more - well you just got a little piece of tin around you is about all it was.  I think there still a safe car but ya; I’ll just say I wasn’t comfortable in it.  I guess I thought after running the late models I really don’t want to do this

 

Webpage:  Thoughts on going into the Chateau Speedway Hall of Fame this Summer.

Dave:  It was quite an honor, quite an honor, all of us really thought it was a wonderful thing, it’s nice to be recognized and remembered in that way that you done something special I guess.  2015 I got inducted in to the Fairmont Hall of Fame.  So those two Hall of Fames that’s a pretty big accomplishment.

 

Webpage: A lot of good conversations that night?

Dave: I really enjoyed that, I really enjoyed whether it was Gerhard or LeRoy Scharkey, Verlin, and a lot of those guys that were there, owners or helpers, relatives, ya that was very special

 

Webpage:  You get out to much racing?

Dave:  No I don’t.  You got Grandkids now, you know it just seems like I don’t have the time.  I should have, I have nothing else going on but either you got something going on or the weather don’t look right.  I was talking to a friend of mine that was taking a friend of his to the Chateau ‘cause he likes cars, and he had had a stroke and I thought I should do that.   I don’t have anyone to take out there but just to go out there.  Well the night we were there they had a really good show that was a good race. 

 

Webpage: What was your favorite class to watch?

Dave: I’d rather watch the full body car, well it’s something I had, that I experienced.   Today’s racing the way the bodies jack up and the suspension, to me it kind of takes away from it a bit, that’s my thought.  They lift up like that.  All the years I raced, they probably weren’t as fast, I don’t know.  But I know these guys get terrific traction, but I just don’t particularly care for the way they do that

 

Webpage:  Not just the cars but you’ve seen the Track change over the years.

Dave:  That track was beautiful that night … I never seen it lay down like that, the concrete and the lights, I think Wally Bustad made a lot of changes out there…it really looked good .  I was telling one of my Grandsons who was sitting with me, I said we use to pit in the back, right alongside the river and if a guy got bumped coming out of two they’d come flying right down through the pit there….you better be watching your back (laughs)

 

Webpage: Ever end up in the river?

Dave:  No.  I just saw a guy, Ron Hofner, use to race, he ended up getting bumped, got his nose down in the river and I remember Trimble’s wrecker trying to pull him out.  Well the cars were kind of heavy and the wrecker was like a ¾ ton, was standing on its nose trying to get that car out of the river.  Took a long time.

 

Webpage:  Spend much time with other drives away from the track?

Dave: Ya, well Ole Brua and I, you know I never knew Ole for the first year or so, than eventually I don’t know what it was we got together, I don’t want to say we were good friends but we would have a beer together and he’d come over here we’d all have a beer on a Sunday and reminisce and talk about what’s going on.  And then Rex Garr there was another guy, I remember the first, well one of the first Features I won out there was in the Oldsmobile, and I won, but the car wasn’t working good because I was hotter than heck you know, a warm summer night, pulled in the pits, got out of the car, well Rex was parked right next to me …. This was after the races, after the feature and he says how about a cold beer Dave, he opened up that cooler, and tossed me a Miller High Life I think it was out of that crushed ice, I mean man that’s probably the best beer I ever had (laughs).  So any way Rex and me started going out, just associate with one another.  Ya a lot of good friends.  Dave Noble was another one really, all through the years, well I got to know him in ‘56 than, so, I helped him a lot at night working on his cars, so there’s another good relationship,

 

Webpage: I’m not sure fans always know how good of friends some of you guys are on the track.

Dave:  Talking ‘bout friends, one of the first nights we went to Fairmont, I don’t remember the car we had but that track was known for rocks.  Well here we were out there time trialing or qualifying or hot lapping, I get a rock in the radiator before the races started.  So right alongside of us was Bob Shryock.  He says what’s going on. Well I got a rock in the radiator I told him.  He says what are you going to do…I said I don’t know, take it out and try to solder it.  He says I got something where you don’t need to do that.  Well it wasn’t a real stop leak it was some egg preserver, it wouldn’t plug the whole system up.  Well it was a whole lot easier than tearing the radiator out and probably not even fixing it.  And it worked and I went out and I won the feature.  Anyway him and I became good friends, we never done a lot together, but we always parked by one another, enjoyed each others company, the whole team.  So anyway there’s another good guy that died way too young you know.  But that was just another instance where you help one another.

 

Webpage: Family’s get to know each other as well.

Dave:  Ya, I think the closest was of course the Noble’s, than Rex Garr and his wife, ya we’d do things in the winter.  We’d have get together’s you know whether it’s a New Years Eve Party … back in those days, same with Zieman’s and Art Himold down in Mason City.  They would have events, like after the races, or sometimes other than a race night, a party more less, sweet corn get together and beer.  Gene Coons and his wife, great gal (Delores), he was a great guy, did this launch work up on Mile Lacs and I went out on this launch once that he built, a 44 footer with a Ford Motor in it.  We went out; there was a bunch of National Guard guys there from Camp Ripley fishing.  When he’d come in with that boat the dock guy had to take a big pole and swing it around because he always wanted to back into this long dock.  Well the dock boy wasn’t there so she (Delores) had to come out with this big pole, she’s a short little gal and naturally she couldn’t hold it, it pushed her off.   There she was down there bobbing, of course she had a dress on (laughing) she was more concerned about covering up her undie’s than saving her life, and these National Guard guys there just standing there, I said you guys going to help her.  I said get out of the way and I run over and I jump down on the dock and then got her out of the water.  She was still holding her dress and I said forget about that.  Anyway got her up high and dry.  She had that little café across from Usems, before they moved up there. (When Usems was downtown)    When you think of some of these guys that raced there, you know like Ernie Yentch and different people, great people

 

Webpage:  You worked a few different Jobs over the years; in fact you worked for Orv Snater.

Dave:  I did ya, that’s where I got to know Roger Cooling,   He would stop by, he was working at Fordtown, and he’d stop by on the way home.  Visit a little bit and that’s when he told me about again going down to Tunis Speedway,   After that I went to, actually worked for Fordtown for a bit, Dibble Pontiac, than I went to the Can Company.    When I went to work for the Can Company, I was on second shift, than racing was a little more difficult.  I remember we were running on a Wednesday night down in Independence and Pete Glenn, he got done early in the afternoon, got my car gassed up and ready to go.  We went down there, I won the feature, and well I said if I win, I buy steak.  Well on the way back home the steak house was closed up (laughs) so I got out of that one.  Some of those silly things like that you remember.   That was American Can Company and then eventually I went to Hormel’s.  Another Hormel story is I went up and won that first Silver 1000 at Proctor, that was on a Wednesday night as I recall, I win the race and it’s a big festivity afterwards, apparently they don’t think anyone has to go to work the next day, (laughs) but they bring the beer out, champagne even, for the first Silver 1000, They give me 1000 silver dollars, I still got that bowl.  Stainless silver bowl.  But the other guys had taken off so it was just Larry Gullickson and I to haul the car back.  Larry started out driving, this was probably midnight, I remember getting down to about Farnum and all of a sudden I’m just about falling asleep, he’s driving and we’re in the median.  Larry what’s going on I say, oh he says I can’t drive at night, (laughs). So I say pull over let me get behind the wheel. So about four o clock in the morning I pull into the Hormel parking lot, go upstairs, to my locker, tried to lay down  and get a little rest you know, I had to be on the line in the hog kill at seven o’clock,  I’m laying on this bench still feeling good, and about that time here’s the rest of the people coming in … welders, plumbers, they start about five, so there slamming locker doors …anyway I made it through the day, but about noon, Al Playbum,, you know I never got a call before when I was working on the gang there, Al comes over and says Dave, Dick Trimble wants you.    I’m thinking now what happened you know, so he got somebody to do my job for a little bit,   Dicks says come on over we got the TV crew here, they want to get a video of you with your silver dollars and your cup.  (Laughing) All I could think about was taking a nap; again you wonder how you made it through some of those sleepless nights.

 

Webpage:  You had a few number changes over the years.

Dave: Well I started out with 8, than 81 cause we went somewhere with the 8 and there was already an 8 there, so it was easy to add a 1.  Than eventually you get to the 7, don’t you know somebody’s got another 7.  You know you run different tracks, it got to be where we had to add another 7.  Jerry Rosenthal painted up another 7 on another piece of tin and we’d screw it on.   Than we got to thinking what are we doing this for, (laughs) go 77 and be done with it. 

 

Webpage:  You had quite the Bus Hauler at one time, is that still around?

Dave:  Well I don’t know.  I know who bought it, guy from Webster City.  As a matter of fact I was having breakfast with this guy in Des Moines, and he puts it on Facebook right away that he’s having breakfast with me, the guy who actually bought it.

 

Webpage:  What kind of hobbies you into now  to keep you occupied?

Dave:  I got into building Street Rods.  Once I quit with the racing thing old man Trimble had bought a Model A.   I’m just spinning my wheels doing nothing; he says …you need something to do, why don’t you start building Street Rods.  I didn’t hardly know what they were you know (laughs).  So I built this ‘48 Cadillac.  Ever since than for about 20 years I’ve been doing stuff like this.  Some of it’s for other guys you know.    This Car here (pointing to the car in his garage, “34 Buick Victoria – see picture and article) has a Corvette type engine, LS, it’s a 5-7 LS Engine   The paint was done by Walt Wollenburg, Gerhard’s son at Usems.  Makes a lot of difference when you got a good paint booth and all that.  I still got another, a  57 that made Custom of the Year in the Minnesota Street Rods

 

Webpage: So you’ve made and sold a few.

Dave: Ya I had another one just like this that went to a guy down somewhere.

 

Webpage: Did you see the picture of the one Mert Williams is working on?

Dave: Ya, he’s an innovator too, that guy was.  You know he really put in a lot, in my opinion back when we started racing, because you couldn’t buy race parts, you had to make em, you know how it was, and he was so good at that.  He had all these ideas and they usually worked you know (laughs).  I was surprised to see - I was looking at something on a race paper,  I thought it said Mert had won a Championship in Waterloo, did you ever hear anything like that (No) I’m not so sure either, this gal worded it that she really enjoyed watching him and she said something about he won a Championship, they were talking about Tunis Speedway.  But she could have been talking about Rochester.  I knew he ran down there some.  But to win a Championship you had to be there every week.  You know everybody had to work.

 

Webpage: You must do” Back to the 50’s” up at the State Fairgrounds.

Dave: Ya, but this time, I could of went on Saturday, but I didn’t, you know we had the Hall of Fame on Friday night.   But that’s gotten to be so busy you know.  They said there was 14,000 cars and who knows how many people.  Normally the cars will drive around a little bit, couldn’t do it this year I guess there was so many.  You can’t see ‘em all, you got two - three days but people park in different spots, probably never get to see them if there in one spot on Saturday and another spot on Sunday.  I think we’re going to be selling this one and were going to be keeping the ‘57.  I don’t know, as you get older you think, do I need all these toys (laughs).   I keep the ‘57 stored over by the plant .  

 

Webpage:   Drive them much?

Dave: Ya,  the ‘57 actually, it was built ten years ago and we put 24,000 miles on it, so we do take that one out.  That car is updated too, all the latest stuff in it.  It’s such a nice driving car.  ‘

 

Webpage: Ever thought about rebuilding one of your old cars?

Dave:  No, people ask me about that, if I had any parts or pieces.  This friend of mine in Mason City Iowa, I wouldn’t doubt if he has one of my old cars yet.  I should say a car I drove for him, he’s the kind of guy if he has something he’ll never part with any pieces or whatever.  He’s still got quite a few of our race engines yet, they were, back in the day, 5-6 hundred horsepower, which now days I think they’re putting out more than that….some of ‘em are.  I said Jerry why don’t you sell these….he says, ya I know - don’t have to I guess….he’s a big farmer down there.   But really I’d rather just put my efforts into something like this, not that there worth much, but … you can only watch so much TV. 

 

Webpage:  Great talking with you Dave, Thanks for your time.