August 5, 2013

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 My Reflections and Remembrances of Ed Flemke

 

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Eddie teamed with Garuti Brother teammate Moe Gherzi in 1956 to one of his three Riverside 500 wins. Shany Lorenzet Photo

 
By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press

Photos Courtesy of Tom Ormsby,s SpeedwayLineReport.com
Dave Dykes' RacingThroughTime.com

If you have been around long enough and were a race fan in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, there are a countless number of stories that have been told about Eddie Flemke, Sr.

I remember as a young writer, going to the Race Works in East Hartford and watching in amazement the number of car owners, drivers and just fans come into the shop to see Eddie, get an autograph and just watch the new cars being built.

Eddie would always entertain the troops and tell stories from races gone by. Coffee was always on at the shop.

It was at the shop that I got to meet such drivers such as Wally Dallenbach, Sr., a veteran of many Indianapolis 500’s and his son, now TNT commenter and former Sprint Cup driver, Wally, Jr.

It was also there that a young New Jersey school teacher, named Tony Siscone would run a Race Works car in and around the Jersey shore and become one of the top drivers running a Flemke car.


Eddie in the Bob Judkins famous 2x.
Lloyd Burnham Photo

I remember back in 1977, when Flemke was still a top name and draw, but he was clearly at the back end of his career yet on two consecutive weekends, first starting with the Stafford Labor Day 200 Eddie won and then the following weekend captured his first and only Thompson 300 beating his son in law, Ronnie Bouchard.

Flemke did it the old fashion way, weighing that the dark clouds on the horizon that it was going to rain while the leaders all pitted believing it would be s quick shower and then back to racing. Flemke won using his head, he had nothing to lose.

In 1978, Flemke decided to hang up his helmet and just build race cars.

Everyone will tell you that if you were accepted into ‘the clan’, that one of the signs was that Eddie would come up behind you and grab the back of your leg in a joking manner. I was lucky enough to have been accepted into the elite club as were many others.

As Clyde McLeod said back a few weeks ago, “there will never be another Eddie.” How true and how sad but for the many of us lucky enough to have known Eddie we are forever honored.

NASCAR Television

If you haven’t heard by now, NASCAR is changing it television partners, once again, and back on board is NBC with a 10 year deal that will begin in 2015.

NBC will have the Chase for the Cup which will include the final 20 races of the season as well as the final 19 Nationwide Series events.

Many of these races including broadcast rights to the NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremony and season ending banquets as well as rights to certain NASCAR K&N Series, Whelen modified tour and the NASCAR Toyota series.

Now mind you, this is the same NBC network that couldn’t wait to get out of their last NASCAR contract as soon as the ink dried but they are back and ESPN and TNT are out.

When NASCAR was a nobody, ESPN took a gamble and began broadcasting their events from green to checker and that is one of the reasons that NASCAR became the hottest commodity in sports and helped NASCAR fill their stands in record numbers and record incredible television numbers.

NASCAR then dumped ESPN in favor of NBC, yet ESPN came back when the last contract was renewed and promoted their events on all of the ESPN networks and now ESPN is gone once again.

Many of the races will be on the NBC Sports Network as well as network television.

Last column

This will be my last column for the Herald and the Bristol Press. I have enjoyed the time spent with many of the racing personalities that I have interviewed and watched as I became first a race fan and then involved in racing in the media side and later on the television side with NESN.

When I was asked to write about racing back for the Herald, my career came full circle as it was in 1977 that I began as a ‘day old cub reporter.’

I have been lucky enough to have traveled around the country for races and even to a modified race in Canada covering races for the Herald and later, Area Auto Racing News. 

But it has become time to stop chasing racing. I will still do a few features but the weekly columns will become a thing of the past. I will though, continue to do some articles for Area Auto Racing News from time to time.

I hope that I have shared memories with many of you and I know that I have been lucky enough to meet and then know many of my childhood heroes’s including Eddie Flemke, Sr., George Lombardo and ‘The Reg’ Reggie Ruggiero. Thanks to everyone for your support.

NOTE: This will be Brian's last "Regular Column" on the SpeedwayLineReport.com. Brian may still write a column now and then and there will always be home for him here. I want to thank my friend Brian for his generous contributions to this web site and hopefully he will continue with his articles from time to time. As always, his columns here will continued to be archived and live on. Tom Ormsby

 

Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Editions" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.

 

Copyright © 2012-2013  Brian Danko & SpeedwayLineReport.com, New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.