Vintage stock cars to race at fair

“Restore them, remember them, race them.”
Those three “R’s” will be well-represented in front of the grandstand on Saturday night when six vintage stock cars from Thunder Bay and two from Rainy River District take part in an exhibition of racing style as part of the Emo Fair festivities.
The show, slated to run from 6-6:30 p.m., will feature hot laps and other fun runs.
Russ Wanzuk, 61, of Thunder Bay, who spoke for the group calling itself the “Lakehead Vintage Stock Car Racers,” said anticipation for the event was high among club members.
“We are just a close-knit bunch with the same interest and passion, and that’s to restore and race vintage race cars,” he said Monday by telephone.
The Lakehead Vintage Stock Car Racers participate in fun events in Canada and the United States, including parades, car shows, and cruise nights. Two of the six even were featured in the Knoxville Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
The cars are, in fact, the only two vintage stock cars in Canada ever to be featured at that venue.
The Lakehead group previously was featured at the Emo Speedway in 2003 as part of the fair celebrations and the 100th anniversary of stock car racing in Ontario, and also last year for July 1 celebrations in Emo.
“We race for fun and we try to put on a show for the fans and ‘avoid trading paint,’” Wanzuk chuckled.
Spouses of the drivers also will make the trip to see the Emo fair.
“We try and stay close to each other [and] there is no pre-designated winner [of a fun race],” he noted. “Everybody has that competitive spirit and by the time the race is over, we are all gunning for the finish line.”
Wanzuk, who owns more than 40 vintage race cars (including four of the six coming to Emo from Thunder Bay), said the show will feature cars used on the racetrack in the 1920s -1970s.
Surprisingly, only one of six drivers from out-of-town ever actually raced stock cars. “Most of us are ‘wannabees’ and ‘were-nots,’” Wanzuk joked.
The vintage cars, which will be trailered to Emo, are as close to original as possible, with the same paint schemes and “same era” motors as in the old days.
“We do try to improve on safety, though, with new brakes, fuel cells, good tires, and seat belts,” added Wanzuk, who bought his first stock car from a wrecking yard in Minnesota years ago.
The Thunder Bay group includes “#3R,” a 1926 blue super-modified Ford Coupe owned and driven by Wanzuk, “#88,” a Chevy-powered home-built super-modified U.S. race car circa 1970 driven by Dennis White, “#V2,” a 1934 yellow modified Ford Coupe driven by Ray Dolph, “#2,” a red-and-white super-modified “Gremlin” driven by Neill Kossila, “#74,” a red “Vega” super-modified driven by Patrick Wilson, and “#4,” a red 1932 “Essex” (with newer modified chassis) driven by Barry Desjardine.
Local car enthusiast Wayne Salchert of Devlin will be driving “#5,” a 1934 yellow Chevy Coupe (Sportsmen’s class), with George Oltsher of Barwick in “#33,” a 1933 Chevy Coupe.
Oltsher also will have on hand “#2,” a 1940 Chevy Coupe.
Salchert last drove competitively with “#5” at the Emo Speedway in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

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