Monday, January 30, 2017

William Clay Ford's midget race car
2016 photo courtesy of Hyman Ltd.
by enlarging you can see that this car
had a rear nerf bar - very unusual for the period
William Clay ‘Bill’ Ford, the youngest son of Edsel Ford, received this hand-built midget race car from his father and grandfather on the occasion of his 11th birthday on March 25 1936. The little car was powered not by a Ford flathead V8-60 engine as used in many racing midget cars of the era but by a 71-½ cubic inch side-valve inline four-cylinder engine fitted with a single downdraft carburetor from an English Ford Model C Ten. The little car was apparently driven periodically by Bill Ford on the roads around Edsel’s estate in Grosse Pointe Shores on the shore of Lake St. Clair and never was actually entered in racing competition.  

William Clay Ford served in the United States Navy Air Corps during World War II and when he returned home he married Martha Firestone. Ford attended Yale University and after graduation he was appointed to the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors in 1949. Bill Ford served as the chairman of the design committee for 32 years and briefly ran the Lincoln division where was responsible for shepherding the spectacular 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II into production.  
Bill Ford served as the Chairman of the Board of The Henry Ford Museum (now known as the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation) founded by his grandfather in 1929 and held that position for 38 years, from 1951 to 1989 and was the largest individual donor in the history of that institution.  The author did not uncover any evidence that William Clay Ford ever owned any other race cars besides his childhood midget, but he drove the Pace Car for the start of the Indianapolis 500-mile race on two occasions.

The pace lap of the 1953 Indianapolis 500
with William Clay Ford driving the 1953 Ford Crestline Pace Car
courtesy of the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
Indianapolis Motor Speedway collection

Hollywood actress Jane Greer posed with the 1953 Ford Crestline Pace Car
courtesy of the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
Indianapolis Motor Speedway collection

Bill drove the flathead-powered sungate ivory 1953 Ford Crestline Pace Car equipped with a “Continental” rear spare tire for the start of the 1953 race with Hollywood actress Jane Greer and Speedway President Wilbur Shaw as his passengers.

William Clay Ford with Wilbur Shaw and "999" in 1953
courtesy of the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
Indianapolis Motor Speedway collection

William Clay Ford prepares to pull away from the pit area
 for a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in "999" in 1953
courtesy of the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
Indianapolis Motor Speedway collection


In 1953, Ford Motor Company was celebrating its 50th anniversary and the company arranged to have Henry Ford’s original race car “the 999” at the track and Bill took a few laps around the Speedway in the 1155 cubic inch four-cylinder  wooden-frame “999.”  It is believed that Bill drove the original “999” since Ford Motor Company did not commission a replica until 1966.

The 1968 Ford Fairlane Torino Pace Car
driven by William Clay Ford leads the starting field on the pace lap
courtesy of the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies
Indianapolis Motor Speedway collection

In 1968 Bill Ford returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and drove the Wimbledon white with blue trim Ford Fairlane Torino GT Pace Car, accompanied by Tony Hulman and Dennis “Duke” Nalon. At the time Torino was not a separate Ford nameplate, rather it was the highest trim level available for the Fairlane model which took its name from Henry Ford’s mansion. For the 1970 model year, that situation was reversed as the Fairlane became a sub-series model of the Ford Torino nameplate.   

Most sports fans not fans of auto racing history are more familiar with Bill Ford through his ownership of the Detroit Lions National Football League (NFL) franchise. Ford purchased the franchise in November 1963 and he remained an active NFL owner until March 9, 2014 when he passed away at age 88. Bill's widow Martha Firestone Ford is now the chairman of the team.

The first time the author saw the William Clay Ford midget was in 2008 when it was then owned by Ronald 'Bud' Melby and on display in his Museum of Mechanical Arts in Washington State.  ‘Bud’ Melby who founded and ran Metal Form Incorporated in Kent Washington for more than forty years, collected classic cars and his collection included 20 or more cars, most built before World War Two.

‘Bud’ also owned another midget race car, an un-assembled Solar kit, and was a member of Golden Wheels a Seattle-based vintage auto racing club. Bud also collected motorcycles, slot machines, gold pocket watches, antique firearms and silver dollars. All of his priceless collections were displayed at Melby’s seven-acre estate in Riversdale Washington which was also the site of the Museum of Mechanical Art.

Bud Melby with the WC Ford midget on the left- his Solar midget is on the right
2008 photo by George Hespe of Lake Stevens, WA
 The English Ford 4-cylinder engine in the WC Ford midget
2008 photo by George Hespe of Lake Stevens, WA
In 2008, the William Clay Ford midget race car was painted dark red and carried #11, but a recent photograph of the midget part of a 2016 holiday e-mail from Hyman Ltd. collector cars shows the car in black with no numbers. After purchasing the car from Melby’s family, the Hyman’s restoration department staff reported uncovered the car’s original livery and restored it to that appearance.

What remains untold is the story of the car’s history between the time William Clay Ford last drove it until ‘Bud’ Melby purchased the car; if our readers have any information about the ownership history of this  unique car, please contact the author.

Please visit the website of the current owners of the William Clay Ford midget race car at

Many thanks to the members of the Yahoo! Racing History Group for their assistance in researching this article. You too can join the group by visiting

Thursday, January 26, 2017

They called him “Lucky”
Part one- the 1935 & 1936 seasons

William Lloyd Logan was born in Oakland California in 1912 and by 1932 he raced a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 1/5-mile flat track races. In November 1935 Logan raced a midget car in a series of Sunday afternoon races at San Francisco Stadium located near Bayshore Boulevard at the end of Jerrold Avenue in the city’s Butchertown neighborhood.

Many of the other drivers that raced at the Stadium became Bay Area midget racing legends, a list that included Fred Agabashian, Lynn Deister, Neil Grady, Al Stein, ‘Skeet’ Jones, Newell ‘Dutch’ Van Tassel, and Dave Oliver, and they raced under Charlie Baker’s Midget Auto Racing Association (MARA) banner.  


The 1/5-mile Stadium flat dirt track introduced midget auto racing to San Francisco with an 11-race program on Saturday evening September 21 also hosted motorcycle races on Thursday nights.  Charley Baker advertised as the “1934 champion”  won the first three evening 30-lap features held on September 21, 28, and October 5 behind the wheel of the #21 Ted Brenneman Special.

A slate of Sunday afternoon races began on November 2; we were unable to find results from the earliest races, but the races on November 17 at the Stadium featured “spinning and crashing almost every other minute” according to an article in the San Mateo Times. Stadium General Manager Sterling Price, told the Times he had been “connected with auto racing for many years, and I’ve never seen so many crashes. Those boys drive like mad.”

During the November 17 30-lap feature won by Skeet Jones, Logan was eliminated when his #74 car ran into the side of Art Armstrong’s #99 and both were eliminated.  November 17 also marked the debut at the Stadium of 17-year old Berkeley driver “Sonny” Rogers billed as the youngest driver on the Pacific Coast.  

A new season of racing began at San Francisco Stadium on Saturday night April 18 1936 and by late April a three-track touring schedule had emerged which already included tracks in Emeryville and Hughes Stadium in Sacramento, and after an April 23 meeting possibly a track in Fresno. Two drivers, Dave Oliver and Bill Larzalere had obtained “screaming new outboard motors” from Wisconsin and Oliver claimed to have “spurned” an offer to race at Indianapolis and chose instead to race the new midget circuit.   
On Saturday night May 2, Price’s crew which had been “building over the track to create the fastest 1/5 mile flat track in the world” had their efforts were rewarded as Lynn Deister set a new track record of one minute and 25 ½ seconds during his 5-lap heat race.  Deister than watched as his record was broken in the next race by Al Stein, the 1935 champion, who covered the same distance 1/10 of a second faster. “Bad boy” Van Tassel, who reportedly weighed just 116 pounds, won his second consecutive 30-lap feature in the Ernie Lauck midget.
The restored Lauck midget

The next week it was announced in the San Mateo Times that “in response to popular demand from followers of the sport” the midget race shifted to Friday nights as midget fans found it “impossible to take weekend trips and attend the races.” A tragedy was averted during the season’s first Friday night race on May 8 when 10-year old Allen Berlin jumped over the inside railing and attempted to run across the track and was struck by Lynn Deister’s machine but fortunately suffered only a broken leg.
The evening’s 30-lap feature was highlighted by a duel for the lead between Stein and Van Tassel. As reported in the San Mateo Times, Stein repeatedly bumped the tail of Van Tassel’s machine over the last seven laps but could not get past and the Fresno ‘bad boy’ posted his third consecutive win at San Francisco Stadium.

The following week’s races at San Francisco Stadium boasted a 44-car entry list with the late addition of an entry by Art Armstrong who came off recent ‘big car’ wins at Oakland and San Jose Speedways. Lloyd Logan recorded a 5-lap heat race victory, but  Les Dreisbach of Berkeley won the feature over Stein with Van Tassel third with the 30 laps completed in eight minutes and 47 ½ seconds.   

On May 29, a crowd of 3000 fans watched as track records fell at the Stadium. First Van Tassel broke the 8-lap track record only to see Deister reset the record at 2 minutes and 13 ½ seconds, while Al Stein lowered the five-lap track record to one minute and 25 seconds.
Dave Oliver, who earlier passed on his chance to race at Indianapolis, found victory lane for the first time in 1936 as he won by feature race by ten feet over Dreisbach, followed by Van Tassel, Agabashian, and Armstrong. The following day at Fresno, the 1936 champion Al Stein broke through for his first feature win of the season.  

On Thursday evening July 25 1936 the San Francisco Stadium added a 25-lap “old timer” race limited to cars built before 1910 with drivers at least 50 years old, to the regular midget racing program.  The fourteen entries included a 1901 Oldsmobile, a 1905 Reo, a 1907 Maxwell, a 1909 Hupmobile, a 1906 Ford, a 1907 Packard and a 1910 Buick.  65-year old George Hoadley in his 1904 Buick was installed as the pre-race favorite as he won a similar race held during the Golden Gate Citizen’s Celebration the year before.  

The most unusual entry in the July “old timers’ derby” was the 1895 Crestomobile, built by the Crest Motor Company in Cambridge Massachusetts, powered by a single-cylinder 3-1/2 horsepower air-cooled engine that drove the front wheels. The spindly 400 pound carriage-style machine was driven by Ed Shapiro of San Francisco, who according to the Oakland Tribune was “the only man living who knows how to run it.”

The “old timer” race driver lineup included an actual veteran race car driver, Eddie Hearne, the winner of 20- and 40-lap races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September 1910 and a participant in the first International 500-mile Sweepstakes in 1911. Hearne who had retired from open wheel racing in 1927 with eleven AAA race wins to his credit, but still drove a Studebaker factory entry  in stock car races drove a 1908 Hupmobile despite being technically ineligible as he had turned 49 years old five months earlier.          

The August 2 1936 issue of the Oakland Tribune
featured this photograph of George Hoadley

As expected, Hoadley an employee of the Oakland Buick dealer, the Howard Automobile Company and his riding mechanic Bill Reichert romped to victory at an average speed of 30 miles per hour and won by half a lap over the Ford and the Packard. Later in the evening, Van Tassel won his fourth consecutive midget car feature at the Stadium over Deister.

Lloyd Logan was entered in the Sunday August 16 1936 40-lap ‘big car’ race at the one-mile oiled dirt Oakland Speedway sanctioned by the American Racing Association, a group run by Oakland track owner Charlie Curryer. Other notable drivers entered at Oakland Speedway that day  a track actually located in an unincorporated section of Alameda County south of the City of Oakland included Fred Agabashian, ‘Bud’ Rose, Jack McNamara, ‘Herk’ Edwards, Ed Haddad, and Duane Carter. Logan’s #26 “Fitoil Special”  ‘big car’ was fitted with a pair of very unusual features for the day; a roll bar above the nose of the car and a taller roll bar behind the driver.

During pre-race practice on Saturday evening Jack McNamara of San Francisco a racer since 1933, crashed to his death in the red #18 machine.  Around sunset at 7 PM as he exited the unlit fourth turn, McNamara’s car got into the outer wooden guardrail and cartwheeled down the straightaway and came to rest in front of the grandstand. McNamara, 28, was pronounced dead upon arrival at Fairmount Hospital which led Alameda County Deputy Coroner Walter Flierl to recommend that night driving at the unlighted Oakland Speedway be discontinued.  

On Sunday Art Armstrong equaled his lap record in qualifying with a lap of 28.2 seconds and then won the “fast heat” while Logan won the other 10-lap heat race.  Before the start of the feature, Lloyd Logan was selected by his fellow drivers to carry the checkered flag during a tribute lap in McNamara’s memory.

Moments later, at the start of the nine-car feature as the field entered turn one, Carter’s #15 car got into the back of Logan’s machine which sent Logan’s #26 car flipping wildly. During the series of end-over-end flips, Logan was thrown from his machine and Lloyd unconscious landed face down on the track. Carter narrowly avoided the prone Logan, crashed his car through the outer fence and ran to Logan’s aid. 
The Oakland Tribune carried these photos of the 1936 Logan-Carter crash

Logan was loaded into an ambulance headed to the Fairmount Hospital, and unbelievably while enroute the ambulance was involved in a traffic accident. The driver of the car was cited and both a passenger in the other car and Logan were transported to the hospital. Upon arrival Logan was found to be bruised and scraped but miraculously otherwise uninjured and was transferred to the East Oakland Hospital where he remained overnight.   Once the battered ambulance returned to the Speedway, the seven remaining cars re-started the feature race which was won in dominant fashion by Art Armstrong.   

McNamara a single man who lived with his mother was laid to rest on Tuesday August 18, and the August 20 issue of the Oakland Tribune carried an emotional article written by Alan Ward. He wrote that “McNamara raced for fun, he didn’t need the money. He had a job that paid more than $300 a month” (equal to $5000 today) and noted sadly that “in a little while McNamara will be forgotten by the great majority like Bryan Saulpaugh, Bob Carey, Stubby Stubblefield, Ernie Triplett and a lot more.” Ward closed his article with a personal note - “there is a reason we don’t get pally any more with these fool kids who race around Oakland or any other Speedway. It’s a hard job writing the obituary of a friend.”

With a new nickname “Lucky” Lloyd Logan returned to race at Oakland Speedway two weeks later though Alan Ward wrote in the Tribune that Logan “still walked with a limp and can’t travel faster than a slow walk.” Logan drove the same car which had been in the August 16 accident which looked a little worse for wear and missing the hood, but no longer did fans and other driver mock Logan’s “safety car” as the sturdy roll hoop stood up through the multiple flips and likely saved Logan’s life.

In the next chapter we will examine Lloyd “Lucky” Logan’s increasingly successful racing career.   

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A look at Kenny Tremont Jr.’s modified with a brief history of East Coast modified racing

Prior to the 2016 Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Indianapolis, the author had never seen an East Coast dirt modified car up close. Performance Friction (PFC) brakes used Kenny Tremont Jr.’s Troyer built modified to showcase their brake package and it was eye-opening to see the level of detail involved in these machines.   
A restored early modified stock car

After World War two a typical East Coast modified race car was simply an automobile with all the glass removed, a roll bar installed to protect the driver, and a ‘hopped up’ production engine.  As the decade of 1960s progressed changes became visibly apparent as competitors began to channel and lower the bodies of the cars as front fenders disappeared forever Car builders started mixing and matching components such as pairing a Chevrolet racing engine with a Ford body and chassis. All these changes together created lower, leaner and faster racing machines.

A restored mid-1970's modified stock car

Dick “Toby” Tobias a racer and speed shop owner  from Pennsylvania revolutionized the chassis of the Eastern modified stock car in the early 1970s when he mass produced an entire tubular steel chassis of which the roll cage was an integral part which teams covered with stretched AMC Gremlin, Chevrolet Vega or Ford Pinto bodies. Not only were the tube framed cars fasters and more predictable they were safer.    
In 1980 driver Gary Balough, car builder Kenny Weld and fabricator Don Brown revolutionized East Coast modified stock car racing with their #112 'Batmobile' entry. On Syracuse’s Moody Mile the car alleged based on a Lincoln Continental  proved that the race car’s body could do more than cover the mechanical elements it could be used to generate aerodynamic forces and increase cornering speeds.  

The 'Batmobile' modified

The large, high roof on #112 acted as a huge wing while wide side pods that flanked the center driver’s compartment created more downforce while the front of the car the “grille” was designed to act as forced air induction system. The car exploited every loophole in the rulebook, qualified two full seconds faster than the existing track record and won the famed Syracuse race handily. The ‘Batmobile’ modified  was eventually legislated out of existence but its ground-breaking  innovations still apply to modern dirt track modified race cars.
photos of Kenny Tremont Jr.'s Troyer modified by the author
The driver of this #115,  Kenny Tremont Jr. is a legend in East Coast Modified racing. The 55 year old driver from West Sand Lake New York has notched 341 race wins in his career and won a race every one of the last 34 years. In 2016, Tremont scored 16 wins in 62 starts.
Detail of the PFC ZR24 front brake caliper on the Tremont modified
Photo by the author
Detail of the rear suspension and PFC ZR94 rear brake caliper
on the Tremont modified. Photo by the author

To learn more about Performance Friction Brakes racing applications visit

Monday, January 16, 2017

Roadster racer Don Kolb’s 1949 season

Don Kolb's 1948 photograph from the Oakland Tribune

When we last visited the story of Oakland roadster racer Don Kolb, he was a newlywed and finished third in the 1948 season points for Racing Roadsters Incorporated (RRI). In this installment we look at Kolb’s 1949 season.

To begin the 1949 season apparently there was a cease fire between RRI and the rival Northern California Racing Roadster Association (NCRRA).  The NCRRA sanctioned races in the San Joaquin Valley, east of the Bay Area, with Stockton’99’ Speedway as the group’s home track while RRI, with whom Kolb raced, sanctioned most of its 1949 races at Oakland Stadium. As an added attraction, several RRI races were paired with the new automotive ‘fad,’ demolition derbies, which began on the West Coast during 1947 at Carrell Speedway.

The Racing Roadsters Inc. 1949 season opened on Sunday night April 24 1949 at Contra Costa Speedway, a banked 1/4-mile dirt oval located near Buchanan Airfield on Pacheco Road four miles north of Walnut Creek California. The roadsters scheduled a full program that featured time trials, a trophy dash, four heat races, two semi-main races and a 25-lap feature race.  

The defending RRI champion Johnny Key won his heat race, one of the semi-main races and the feature, while Don Kolb won his heat race but his car dropped out during the feature. Other drivers at Contra Costa that night were Elmer George, Ed Andres, Al Slinker, Bill Grossi, former NCRRA regular Bob Schellenger (alternately spelled Schellinger) and a new driver to the Bay Area, young Bill Pettit originally from Salt Lake City Utah in his #222 roadster.

On Friday night May 6, the Racing Roadsters made their first appearance of the season at the freshly paved ¼-mile oval at Oakland Stadium, actually located at the intersection of 155th Avenue and East 14th Street in San Leandro. 4200 fans in the stands for the ‘Golden Gate Fields Sweepstakes’ meant that the RRI stars were racing for a purse of $2100. The 25-lap feature was captured by Sacramento’s Butler Rugaard who had started the race dead last. Second place went to Santa Cruz driver Lloyd Ragon followed by Don Kolb in third position with Pettit in fourth place in the race completed in just seven minutes and 36 seconds.

One week later, Kolb began the night’s races at Oakland Stadium in second place in RRI points behind Lloyd Ragon. Kolb beat Johnny Key to the stripe to win their heat race, but in the 25-lap feature later that evening, the finish was reversed as Key won a caution-filled race over Kolb and Slinker before what Oakland Tribune writer Rod Lee described as a small crowd.

Back at the Oakland Stadium on May 20 time trials, the trophy dash, and running of the heat races went smoothly, but the start of the evening’s 25-lap feature race was delayed for half an hour as drivers “squabbled over starting positions” according to a report in the next day’s Oakland Tribune. Once the feature began, Don Kolb took the lead on lap four and held on until lap nineteen when he gave way to Lloyd Ragon, the trophy dash winner. Ragon from Santa Cruz scored the victory over Kolb with Bob Schellenger third.

Based on his strong performances over the last two weeks Don Kolb entered the May 27 race at Oakland as the RRI point leader by eleven markers over Ragon. Kolb scored a clean sweep of the night’s racing as he won the trophy dash, his heat race, and the feature. Don took over the race lead from Schellenger on the nineteenth lap and won with a time of seven minutes and 32 seconds.

After the Oakland 5/8-mile track hosted the Western Racing Association (WRA) big cars on May 29, on Memorial Day the roadsters were back in action with twin 25-lap daytime features. Don Kolb won the trophy dash, but his name does not appear in the results of either feature. The first feature which honored flagman (and local new car salesman) Hank Mederios was won by Joe Perry, while the second race the ‘Memorial Day Sweepstakes’ was captured by Elmer George over his friend  and fellow Salinas resident Johnny Key.

At the next RRI race held on the ½-mile track in Watsonville on June 5, Don Kolb qualified third but had mechanical troubles during the evening and lost the RRI points lead to Ragon and Don would never again be in contention for the 1949 RRI drivers’ championship.  When the roadsters returned to Oakland on June 10, Kolb’s troubles continued as he and Schellenger tangled on lap 5 of the feature. Neither car finished while Ragon won again to pad his lead.

The following night, Kolb scored his second feature win of the 1949 season on the ¼-mile dirt track at Belmont City Stadium adjacent to the Bay Meadows thoroughbred track, Back at Oakland on Friday night June 17 for the ‘Captain Bolger Sweepstakes’ Kolb finished in third place behind Johnny  Key and  Stan Dean  in his trademark #33 roadster. Two days later in another Oakland Sunday daytime program, Key repeated as he won the 25-lap ‘Spike Jones Racing Roadster Handicap’ over Schellenger and tied the track record as he completed the 25 laps in seven minutes and six seconds at an average speed of over 52 miles per hour (MPH).

The following Friday night at Oakland after Ragon, Perry and Pettit crashed out on lap nine Johnny Key had victory in sight when his car blew a tire on the 22nd lap. With Key out of the running, Al Slinker inherited the win while Kolb finished in the fourth position.  Key returned to his winning ways at Oakland Stadium on July 1, but on Sunday July 10 for the “Radio Sweepstakes.” run on the 5/8-mile oval which featured a steeply banked third and fourth turn, the cars of Key, Kolb, Ragon and Slinker all broke down and did not start the 35-lap feature which was won by Stan Dean.

On Friday night July 15 the racing roadsters returned to the ¼-mile Oakland infield oval paired with the destruction derby. Al Slinker won the 5-car derby while Ragon won the 25-lap roadster main. The following night at Belmont, three spectators were injured after a wheel flew off Niles resident Chet Richards’ car and into the grandstand on the 33rd lap of the scheduled 35 lap feature. The rest of the race was cancelled with race leader Lloyd Ragon declared the winner.

Prior the start of the ‘hot rod’ race the next night July 16 at Contra Costa Speedway Ragon was listed as the RRI point leader, but after Johnny Key won the night’s feature race, Lloyd found himself trailing Johnny by seven points. Even though he won the trophy dash and finished second in the feature Don Kolb remained in fourth place in the RRI season standings behind Schellenger. Back at Oakland Stadium on Friday night July 22 1949 Don Kolb finished the 25-lap feature in third place behind winner Lloyd Ragon and runner-up Johnny Key.

During the following week, word reached the West Coast of the tragic death of 21- year old Bill Pettit in a July 23 crash in Iowa. The Salt Lake City native had moved to Oakland and raced with RRI from the start of the 1949 season through the July 1 race, after which young Pettit had married and traveled “back east” to race with the Hurricane Hot Rod Association a group run by Chicago speed shop owner Anthony Granatelli.

Before the fateful race, Pettit who turned 21 only eight days earlier, reportedly sold his roadster and told his bride of two weeks that he would quit racing. On the last lap of the Saturday night feature race at the Playland Park Speedway in Council Bluffs Iowa, Pettit tried to slice between two cars in their battle for second place. Pettit’s #222 hooked wheels, barrel rolled three times, and came to rest upright, but he suffered fatal head injuries.

The Council Bluffs track was part of an amusement park complex across the Missouri River from Omaha Nebraska owned by Abe and Lou Slusky. The ¼-mile dirt track was originally the site of the shuttered Dodge Park dog track allegedly owned by mobster Meyer Lansky. The race on July 23 was the third ‘hot rod’ race ever held there as the track usually hosted midget car racing.

To honor their fallen comrade before the ‘July Sweepstakes’ feature on the 29th at Oakland, Lloyd Ragon carried a checkered flag on a memorial lap. Kolb’s car the evening’s fastest qualifier at 16.69 seconds, broke on the first lap of the feature and Don finished 12th in the 12-car field as Lloyd Ragon won and re-captured the RRI point lead by six points over Key.

In a sad postscript to the Pettit story, pioneering black roadster racer Curtis “Cyclone” Ross was killed at Playland Park on July 30 during the running of the ‘Bill Pettit Benefit Race.’ Ross, who had been one of the drivers involved in the Pettit fatal crash, died after his car ran over the back of another car and flipped end-over end several times.

Ross at 32 years old was much traveled as he had raced with the Midwestern-based Mutual and the California Roadster Associations. The ‘Pettit Benefit Race’ that brought in over $1300 for Bill’s young widow was the final ‘hot rod’ race at the Playland Park track which continued to race stock cars until 1977.

The roadster racing season moved into August 1949, and on the fifth newcomer Bob Gonzales won the 25-lap feature and set a new ¼-mile Oakland track record of seven minutes and six seconds for the distance. After the race card on the 11th was rained out on the 18th Don Kolb his won his third roadster feature of the 1949 season after an interesting series of events.  

During qualifying Johnny Key’s usual #5 entry broke a connecting rod and Key jumped into the seat of the #11 car. After the engine in the #5 car was repaired, Kolb took it over and won the 15-lap semi-main race to advance into the feature starting field.  During the 25-lap feature, Key in #11 moved up from his tenth starting position to take the lead on the fourth lap and maintained his lead until the engine failed in his #11 mount on the race’s 22nd lap. Kolb led the final three laps in the #5 “John Milton Special” to claim the win. Despite his three wins, by the end of the 1949 RRI season, Kolb finished the season in fifth place behind Johnny Key, Lloyd Ragon, Bob Schellenger and Stan Dean as reported at the March 2 1950 awards banquet.
A newspaper ad for A BCRA "hardtop" race 

During the fall of 1949 Don Kolb participated in several Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) “hardtop” and midget races. “Hardtops” were a relatively new phenomenon which the BCRA had debuted in August at Contra Costa Speedway followed by a slate of weekly races, often held in conjunction with BCRA midget races, as the “hardtops” quickly supplanted midget and roadster racing in popularity.

Later in August BCRA officials suspended midget point leader Jerry Piper for “conduct detrimental to the organization” after he and former BCRA business manager Bob Barkheimer founded their own “hardtop” sanctioning body, the California Stock Car Racing Association (CSCRA).  With Piper on the sidelines, Marvin Burke won the 1949 BCRA championship. In the coming years the CSCRA with Piper as its President grew to sanction races at more than 20 tracks in the state. 

Kolb described as one of the “new BCRA pilots” together with future BCRA Hall of Famers Bob Rushing and Cliff Roberts debuted at the BCRA “hardtop” race at Oakland Stadium on October 4. Kolb finished third behind BCRA “regulars” Johnny Soares and Bert Moreland in the 25-lap ‘Hayward Moose Sweepstakes.’ Kolb also was documented as an entry in the final BCRA “hardtop” race of the 1949 season held November 27 won by Ed Normi ahead of Bert Moreland and George Bignotti.   

Kolb was one of eighteen drivers entered in the annual BCRA midget “Invitational Classic’ scheduled for November 6 1949 on the Oakland Stadium 5/8-mile track. Other entries included Ed Elisian, Bob Veith, Walt Faulkner, Bill Vukovich, and Earl Motter. Bob Sweikert who had sold his own Kurtis-Kraft midget in February  after he captured the six-race 1949 inaugural BCRA indoor championship, returned to drive George Bignotti’ s #1, while three-time BCRA champion Fred Agabashian entered his Ford V-8 60 powered machine for rising BCRA star Larry Terra of Hayward.

The November 6 1949 event was rained out after time trials were completed and the entire program was rescheduled for November 13. Earl Motter was the fast qualifier on the 13th as he posted a best lap of 20.11 seconds which was nearly a tenth faster than the quick time he posted a week earlier. Kolb did not start the 25-lap feature, which was won by Bob Sweikert over Motter and Marvin Burke in a caution-filled race completed in 12 minutes and 39 seconds.   

In our next installment we will continue to follow Don Kolb’s career in the rapidly changing Bay Area racing environment in the early nineteen fifties.    

Monday, January 9, 2017

Fred Agabashian
bonus article

We are pleased to post a bonus article about Fred Agabashian written by noted racing historian and author Tom Motter, on our sister site, The Checkered Past 
you can reach the article by clicking on this link

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fred Agabashian
from the Bay Area to Indianapolis glory
Part three -1958 and a busy retirement 

Fred's 1958 IMS portrait in his
Champion Spark Plug 100 MPH club leather jacket
courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection
in the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies

Bignotti-Bowes Racing Associates entered their pair of Kurtis-Kraft 500G chassis for the 1958 Indianapolis '500' with Fred Agabashian and Johnnie Parsons set to return as the drivers, but in early April, they had to quickly find a driver. Agabashian resigned from the Bowes team in mid-April and accepted a large retainer from trucking magnate Pat Clancy to drive the "City of Memphis Special" another Kurtis Kraft 500G with Danny Quella as chief mechanic.  As Agabashian’s replacement Bowes and Bignotti chose his teammate from the 1956 Federal Engineering team, Bob Veith.

Agabashian came to Indianapolis in May 1958 fully expecting to start his 12th consecutive Indianapolis ‘500’ but the month proved to be a painful experience. Fred made an aborted qualifying attempt on May 17 the first day of qualifying. During a “test hop” in the “Helse Special” during practice on Wednesday May 21 he turned a lap at 143.9 MPH then spun and crashed in turn two.

This accident marked the first time in his twelve-year career that the 44-year old Agabashian crashed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Fred suffered minor injuries to his left leg and hand in the crash and he also complained of pain in his mid-section. Fred took a private car, not an ambulance, to Methodist Hospital where he stayed overnight. 

The new Helse Kuzma chassis was one of three built for 1958 with independent front suspension and was originally assigned to second-year team driver Jimmy Daywalt who left the team in frustration after suitable speed could not be found.  Apparently the handling problems were not traced to the front suspension, but rather the new one-piece fuel tank design. In retrospect, it appears as though the frame was too flexible.  

An article in the May 21 1958 issue of the Indianapolis Star revealed that “just about everything has been tried by builder Eddie Kuzma and the mechanics, even stuffing inner tubes in the fuel tanks and inflating them to keep the fuel from swishing around too much and finally even cutting off some of the fuel tanks,” In addition to cutting off the fuel tank, prior to Agajanian’s crash crew chief Bruce Crower and his crew “rebuilt the Helse car virtually from the ground up” according to the Star. 

Fred's 1958 '500' qualifying photo
Author's collection

Three days after the crash on May 24 the third day of time trials Fred spun in the southeast turn on the second lap of his second qualifying attempt and brushed the wall which damaged the car’s front axle. After repairs Fred qualified the ‘City of Memphis’ Kurtis Kraft 500G at a relatively slow 142.135 MPH which bumped Dempsey Wilson from the field and placed Fred at the tail of the field.

On the windy final day of time trials, Wilson climbed into the ‘Sorenson Special’ and bumped Agabashian from the starting field.  Fred completed a four-lap run into the Racing Associates “D-A Lubricants Special” Kuzma backup car but his four-lap average was not fast enough to bump back in and Agabashian’s string of consecutive Indianapolis ‘500’ starts ended at eleven.  

Agabashian and the "City of Memphis Special" wound up as the 34th fastest qualifier and won $500 from the Speedway as the first alternate. In the third turn of the first lap of the 1958 ‘500’ Ed Elisian and Jim Rathmann tangled as they foolishly fought to lead the first lap.

Bob Veith who had replaced Agabashian in the second Bowes KK 500G was run over by Pat O’Connor’s 'Sumar Special' which flipped and O’Connor was killed instantly. In reaction to this accident, for the 1959 season USAC required that all cars have roll bars behind the driver.  In an interview after the race, Freddie told news reporters that "he wasn't too upset to have been bumped" as he had had a premonition of disaster. 

Fred never officially announced his retirement as a race car driver, he simply moved on to the phase of his life for which he had preparing for years.  According to automobile racing historian Chris Economkai, “Agabashian was one of the first racers to realize the value of public relations” and Fred began making public speeches about racing around 1950.

Fred's image appeared in Champion Spark Plug ads like this one for years

 early in his racing career Fred worked in sales at Bob Phillipi’s Lincoln Mercury dealership in Oakland but at the time of his retirement from driving in 1958, Fred was the senior member of the Champion Spark Plug Highway Safety Team, a group of 100 MPH club members who toured the country to speak to high school students about driving safety.  Fred worked for the Champion Spark Plug Company until he retired 1978 and was succeeded by Jerry Grant.  

In 1959, Fred joined the Indianapolis Motor Speedway radio network as the driver expert on the annual 500-mile race broadcast hosted by Sid Collins, and Agabashian’s gravelly voice was heard nationwide providing expert insight on the Memorial Day broadcast through 1965, and again from 1973 to 1977.

Agabashian worked as an USAC observer and later the chief steward of the Mobilgas Economy Run in 1967 and 1968. In the final  Run held in 1968, Fred dropped the checkered flag on contestants as they crossed the finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the original finish in New York City was abandoned after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.  

Fred remained active and regularly visited local Bay Area tracks and was an annual visitor to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until he passed away in October 1989 at his home in Alamo California.  His daughter reportedly still lives in the home and his office  remains just as it was when Fred was alive.  
For his career accomplishments Fred Agabashian is an inductee into the Bay Cities Racing  Association (BCRA) Hall of Fame, the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) Hall of Fame and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Auto Racing Hall of Fame. 


Monday, January 2, 2017

Fred Agabashian
from the Bay Area to Indianapolis glory
Part two from 1952 to 1957 

Fred with his wife Mabel daughter Joanne and son Fred Junior posed in front of the 1949 Indianapolis 500 pace car. Photo appears courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection in the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies

In 1952, Fred Agabashian took on his ultimate “research and development” project as his drove the “Cummins Diesel Special.”  Rumors about the car began in November 1951 as news reports claimed that the Cummins Engine Company had invested over $150,000 (nearly $1-1/2 million today) on their entry which some reporters predicted “could revolutionize racing.” Don Cummins formally announced the entry in a press conference at company headquarters in Columbus Indiana on January 19. Later in the month, photographs emerged which showed Agabashian seated in the cockpit of the still-unpainted low-slung Kurtis chassis that was less than two feet high at the cowl.

Cummins press photo from the authors' collection

The Cummins entry powered by an Elliott turbocharged fuel-injected 6-cylinder 400-cubic inch ‘JBS’ diesel engine that was laid on its right side 5 degrees off horizontal in the chassis made its first practice laps at the Speedway on April 19 1952. While the ground-breaking engine configuration lowered the car’s center of gravity and provided less drag through the air, even with extensive use of aluminum and magnesium the car was heavy at over 2100 pounds, but with a factory claimed 380 horsepower on tap it proved fast. The Cummins machine featured dual shock absorbers and two brakes per wheel.

Agabashian admitted later that he “sandbagged” during practice runs early in the month of May, and on Pole Day, May 17, Fred shocked the crowd with a one–lap track record of 139.104 MPH and a four-lap average speed of 138.01 MPH.  Agabashian and the Cummins Diesel grabbed the pole position and the track record away from Andy Linden who had set a new four-lap record of 137.002 MPH earlier in the day.

By the end of the time trial run the Cummins’ overheated Firestone tires were beginning to shred their tread, which raised concerns about the race, but Fred’s startling record run and pole starting position made him and the Cummins Diesel nationally recognized names overnight. The following weekend, first Bill Vukovich in Howard Keck’s new Kurtis 500A roadster and then veteran Chet Miller in the front-wheel drive Novi supercharged V-8 eclipsed the Cummins’ record speed, as Miller finally set the new one-lap standard of 139.6 MPH.

The mighty Cummins Diesel on display inside the company museum
Author's photo

On race day, the slow pace of the start allowed the field to get away from Agabashian before the diesel’s turbocharger built up boost pressure to allow maximum power. While running in fifth place the car began to trail black smoke, and a couple of long pit stops, the Cummins was retired with 71 laps completed without explanation, but company officials later claimed the car suffered a clogged turbocharger inlet which caused the engine to overheat. The following day Cummins officials announced that the car would not return for the 1953 ‘500’ but the attendant publicity paid dividends, as Cummins introduced the diesel fuel injection system tested on the race car in production models on July 1, 1954.  

Although the Cummins Diesel Special only held the Speedway track record for a week, and had a less-than stellar race performance in its only race, the unlikely story of a diesel engine car that won the pole at Indianapolis made the car (and its driver) an iconic part of Speedway history.   In January 1953, Fred Agabashian now nearly 40 years old was named by Chicago speed shop owner Anthony “Andy” Granatelli as the drive of a “special new” $25,000 Kurtis-Kraft 500B chassis.

Granatelli, one of Fred’s 1951 AAA season car owners, went the conventional route, as  the car sponsored by Martin Skok’s Elgin Piston Pin Company of Elgin Illinois was powered by a 270-cubic inch Offenhauser engine. The blue and red-trimmed #59 roadster was one of the fastest cars on track during practice early in the month, and Fred posted the second fastest average speed in qualifying, 137.546 MPH, and earned his third straight front row start in the Memorial Day Classic.   

The 1953 Indianapolis 500-mile race is frequently remembered for its intense heat, with the air temperature that reached 91 degrees Fahrenheit (at the time it tied with 1919 as the second hottest race on record) and the track temperature which reportedly topped 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat and humidity caused many drivers to request a relief driver. Six drivers required medical treatment but driver Carl Scarborough waited too long, collapsed after he climbed out of the ‘McNamara Special’ on lap 70 and later died in the infield hospital.

Fred Agabashian led his first lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when leader Bill Vukovich pitted on lap 49, but Vukovich retook the lead when Fred pitted the next lap. Agabashian requested relief during his pit stop on lap 105 and veteran midget driver Paul Russo whose own entry fell out earlier drove the #59 entry the rest of the way to the finish.  

At the drop of the checkered flag, the Elgin/Grancor Special was initially reported to have finished in second place behind winner Vukovich one of only two drivers who finished the race without relief. Reporter Harold McClelland wrote that late in the race the Granatelli crew believed their car was a lap ahead of Art Cross and ordered Russo to slow. The team later realized that Cross’ “Springfield Welding Special” was on the same lap as Russo apparently finished just a car length ahead of Cross.

Initial news reports stated that the Agabashian/Russo combination completed the 500-mile distance in 3:56:32.25 at an average speed of 126.830 MPH while Art Cross finished with an elapsed time of 3:56:32.56 to average 126.827 MPH. When the official results were posted by AAA officials the next day, after a “electric time recheck” by Clifford Rigsbee the director of timing and scoring the Elgin/Grancor Special dropped to fourth behind Cross and Sam Hanks.  Granatelli immediately protested the finish and this initial protest was denied.

The two-position change cost car owner Granatelli $14,350 who continued to contend that his car finished second, and he was granted an appeal hearing by “500-mile motor speedway officials” on June 11 with “a decision to announced later” according to a United Press (UP) wire report.   There was “no indication when a final decision would be reached” according to a report from the Associated Press (AP) which noted that “the mix-up resulted from the complicated system used in checking the number of laps made by each car.  During the 200 turns of the 2-1/2 mile track, a lap is sometimes missed by the checkers.” The author did not find any follow-up stories on the Granatelli protest, and the AAA historical records list Agabashian and Russo as the fourth place finishers.   

In the meantime Agabashian took part in a ten-week tour with the “Irish Horan Hell Drivers” automobile thrill show which began June 2. Fred performed primarily public relations work, although he also reportedly put on several “precision driving exhibitions.” 

For the 1954 Indianapolis ‘500’ Agabashian was nominated to drive the ‘Merz Engineering Special’ a brand new Kurtis Kraft 500C roadster with 270-cubic inches of Offenhauser power that was “tilted 36 degrees.” The car was owned by Indianapolis businessman and Democratic Party political boss Miklos Sperling. Several years earlier, Sperling purchased Merz Engineering from founder Fred Merz who drove at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the earliest day including four of the first six International 500-mile sweepstakes races.  The new maroon and white car arrived at Indianapolis late, only a few days before the first weekend of time trials, but while he waited Fred test-drove the Chinetti Ferrari V-12 assigned to Danny Oakes.

The Kurtis cars assigned to Fred and defending ‘500’ champion Bill Vukovich were not ready to qualify the first weekend, and after it arrived Agabashian called and asked his friend and former car owner George Bignotti to come to Indianapolis and help out the short-handed Sperling crew. This marked the beginning of Bignotti’s magical 29-year career at the Speedway that earned him seven ‘500’ wins.

Fred qualified the “Merz Engineering Special” on Sunday May 23rd with the fourth slowest average speed of 137.746 MPH and started from the 24th positon. Fred drove a smart race on Memorial Day and finished in sixth position, completing the 500 miles distance three and half minutes behind repeat winner Bill Vukovich. As he completed the entire 500-mile distance without relief with an average speed of 128.771 MPH, Fred Agabashian earned his membership in the exclusive Champion Spark Plug Company 100-MPH hour club and its treasured leather jacket.   After the race, mechanic Frankie DelRoy found the Kurtis chassis cracked in two places.

Once again the Indianapolis Motor Speedway suffered timing and scoring problems during the 500-mile race.  At the Victory banquet the night following the race Tony Hulman was unable to present the check for $500 to the driver with the fastest lap during the race because the “timing crew had not figured that one out in time.”

A Champion Spark Plug matchbook from the author's collection
shows Agabashian's 1955 entry

Agabashian drove in the 1955 and 1956 Indianapolis 500-mile races for car owner Dan Levine of Detroit in the ‘Federal Engineering Special’ named after the Levine family’s Detroit-based fixture and die-making company. The team was managed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway legend Russell Snowberger who been at the Speedway since 1927 as a driver, car builder, and mechanic, assisted by veteran mechanic and car builder Francis “Frank” Bardazon.

In 1955 Agabashian was the replacement for Larry “Crash” Crockett was killed in an AAA Eastern Division ‘big car’ crash in March 1955 at Langhorne Pennsylvania.  Agabashian was assigned to drive the team’s new Kurtis 500D chassis while rookie Chuck Weyant drew the Kurtis 3000 upright chassis which had been driven to Stark-Wetzel Rookie-of-the-Year honors the previous year by former track roadster racer Crockett. At Snowberger’s direction, Kurtis-Kraft Inc. had built the 500D with a wheelbase four inches longer in the cockpit area to accommodate Crockett’s height.

On the second day of the 1955 time trials, Agabashian put the #14 yellow with blue trim Kurtis into the starting field on the inside of the second row. 1955 was the year that “Pole Day” was windy and the drivers allegedly agreed that no one would make a qualifying run, until Jerry Hoyt went out near closing time in the “Jim Robbins Special.” Tony Bettenhausen was the only other driver to complete his timed run on the first day.

With his own car in the field Fred turned to help his teammate. Fred was helpful to rookie drivers, as remembered by Rodger Ward in 1989. "He wouldn't force things on you, but if you asked him, he would always help you. His philosophy was: If you make a mistake on the race track, I might be behind you. He recognized it was a dangerous sport, and there was quite a transition in those days between what we normally raced and going to Indianapolis."

Rookie Weyant made his first qualifying attempt in the yellow and blue #41 on the third day of time trials and the second-year 32-year old rookie spun in the fourth turn on his fourth and final lap. The car spun several times but did not hit anything and came to a stop pointed the right direction, so Weyant drove into the pits, the crew changed the tires and he want back out and qualified 25th.  On Race Day 1955, Freddie spun two full revolutions and into the infield off the two turn in the oil dropped by the surprise pole siting car, the “Jim Robbins Special.” 

Fred's 1956 '500 qualifying photo  appears courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Collection in the IUPUI University Library Center for Digital Studies

In 1956, the environment was different at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the AAA Contest Board announced it would quit sanctioning races in August 1955 and had been replaced by a new organization, the United States Auto Club (USAC). Agabashian was joined on the 1956 Federal Engineering team by a driver he knew well; Speedway rookie and future BCRA champion Bob Veith, who had committed to drive the entire season for Federal Engineering and thus was assigned Levine’s newest car, a Kurtis 500E, the only one ever built by Kurtis-Kraft.

Fred easily qualified for the 1956 ‘500’ and started from the seventh position. Qualifying the first day freed Agabashian’s time so he could help Snowberger and Veith sort out the handling problems with the new car and Veith eventually qualified 23rd.  Freddie was in eighth place when he had to pit for the first time on lap 15, and he continued to make a number of pit stops for various mechanical problems and Agabashian lost four laps and he finished the 1956 ‘500 in twelfth place.     

For the 1957 Indianapolis 500-mile race Agabashian was reunited with his old midget car owner and friend George Bignotti with fellow Californian Johnny Boyd in a pair of new Kurtis-Kraft 500G models powered by 270-cubic inch Offenhauser engines sponsored by the Bowes Seal Fast Company of Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway facility much changed from the 1956 running of the ‘500,’ with a new concrete pit lane separated from the racing surface by a concrete wall, a new eight-story control tower that replaced the ancient Pagoda, and new grandstands. The track was completed paved with asphalt except for 650 yards of the main straightaway. With this new configuration the cars could be lighter as they did not have to be built as ruggedly as years past to withstand the pounding of the uneven track surfaces.

There was a new car at the Speedway in 1957 the Belond Exhaust Special built and owned by long-time crew chiefs George Salih and Howard Gilbert, who gambled everything they had on their new car, as they mortgaged their homes to get the money to complete the car and pay Quinn Epperly to build the aluminum body. Their new car used a design concept with which Agabashian was intimately familiar - its four-cylinder Offenhauser engine was laid nearly on its side only 18 degrees from horizontal.

Salih and Gilbert had closely studied the 1952 Cummins Diesel Special and together they worked out a way to get the oil to properly circulate in the Offenhauser engine in the nearly flat positon. Like the Cummins Diesel, the “laydown” engine lowered the car’s center of gravity and allowed a smaller profile to face the wind, but unlike the diesel, the “Belond sidewinder” was lightweight. 

After practically ruling the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the middle of the decade of the nineteen fifties, by 1957 Frank Kurtis’ latest designs faced competition from new lighter cars built by AJ Watson. The 500G was designed by Frank Kurtis as a “dual purpose” roadster that could be raced on the 2-1/2-mile oval in Indianapolis as well as the shorter one-mile paved and dirt ovals. As with most compromise designs the Kurtis 500G fell short of expectations. With the opening of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the design proved to be handful to drive and worse yet, not immediately fast. 

The Bowes Seal Fast team worked together and solved the Kurtis 500G’s handling quirks in time to qualify well on the first day of time trials   Freddie qualified fourth with a four-lap average of 142.557 MPH, while Johnny Boyd was just a tick slower at 142.102 MPH to start alongside Agabashian in the second row of the eleven rows of three.

On race day, apparently in an effort to focus attention on the new pit lane, the field started single file from pit lane, which created chaos. In the confusion, as Elmer George, the track owner’s son-in-law maneuvered through the field to reach his ninth starting sport, he rear-ended Eddie Russo’s car and knocked both cars from the race before the green flag flew. Once the race started, both the “Bowes Seal Fast Specials” ran near the front of the field until they both suffered problems in the pit area. 

Johnny Boyd ran in third place as he made his first pit stop, but the stop took over two minutes, which dropped him far back in the running order, although he was able to recover to sixth place by the time the checkered flag fell.  Freddie Agabashian likewise was scored in third place when he made a pit stop on lap 100 and a fire erupted.

The fire was extinguished, but the fuel tank had split from the sudden internal pressure and Fred’s car was eventually retired on lap 107. Veteran Sam Hanks in the radical “Belond Exhaust Special” took the race lead the first time on lap 36 and led a total of 136 laps including the last 65 to win the 1957 ‘500’ in dominant fashion.

Coming up in the final installment we will take a look at the last year of Fred Agabashian’s Indianapolis career and his busy retirement.