Nonie Loads the Pick Up
We went to a pick up truck to tow our VW. The paint scheme was the same again only I had Hills Roofing for my main sponsor. That was my uncle this time who would help us out. Nonie packs the truck as we get ready for a trip to Cayuga that would be a night mare.
The Incredible Journey…Talk About Dedicated
The Incredible Journey It was about 4 PM on a hot Friday night in July 1971, that Gary and Nonie Elliott left Toronto to race their Mini Stock at Cayuga Speedway. This was Gary’s 3rd year in racing and they finally had their own tow vehicle a 1960 Ford one ton pick up. The Volkswagon was hauled along by tow bar. All was well as they cruised along the QEW in rush hour hoping to get to the track for pre race practice. That wouldn’t happen. Half way up the Skyway Bridge in Burlington things went wrong However, without this incident we don’t have a story. Suddenly the right rear tire blew on the pick up. Stuck in bumper to bumper traffic at 50 mph, the two kept going over the bridge and stopped at the bottom where the toll booths were located. Gary used a pay phone to call local gas stations for a tire. No one had a tire and besides “we are closing, it’s 5:pm” was the response. Frustrated with no help Gary suggested they drive to highway 20 and find a gas station on Centennial Parkway. Gary was surprised, that even with the tire flapping the VW was hanging onto the hitch. Thirty minutes later they finally got off the highway to the safety of much slower city traffic. They would discover very soon there were no gas stations or car dealers opened. They pressed south on Highway 20, thrashing through the gauntlet of home bound drivers and those walking or standing at bus stops. Each red light someone would point out the flat tire smoking on the rear of the pick up. They made it to the bottom of the escarpment. Pulling into an open Sunoco Station on the south west corner, relief set in as the anticipation of getting a tire seemed ineviatble. The tire, by now, was very much tattered. Disappointment set in quickly when the attendant stated “we can’t change tires that big, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Besides we don’t carry tires that size”. Okay said Gary, but “how do I get to Cayuga Speedway”, we have to be there in an hour?” “Forget it”!! said the attendant your tire is almost off the rim. So at that point, after driving for 7 miles on the flat tire, Gary had no other option but to do what die hard racers do and that’s continue. What a night mare going up the escarpment. The truck was vibrating, Nonie was bouncing up and down. The truck at times would fish tail out into the passing lane as cars passed on the left side. “If we can make it to the top we’ll have overcome the worst” Gary reasoned. We forgot to mention that Nonie was 51/2 months pregnant. Suddenly during the racket and banging the windshield cracked. No time to stop we got to keep up the momentum. Finally at the top the worst seemed over. That is until the tire started to separate, making a louder noise and shaking the truck even more. Just ahead on the left hand side was, what normal people would have considered as freedom and deliverance. Speedway Park, one of Ontario’s best 1/3 mile dirt tracks. This was a blessing in so many ways. The track ran the Mini Stock division, it was only 8PM and Gary could race and stop this dedicated mayhem. But one thing it wasn’t…it wasn’t Cayuga Speedway. Gary pulled over and called Cayuga to tell them he was at Speedway Park but was heading to Cayuga anyway. That’s where his heart was. It was a paved track and all his buddies were there waiting. The track voice, Wayne Conroy, receiving such a call could only respond, “Gary be careful”! Somewhere on highway 56, between Binbrook and highway 3, the noise and shaking stopped. The tire had totally separated from the rim. Perhaps going forward was the right thing to do, reasoned Gary. After all, with the shaking gone, he could now get up to 30 and 40 mph. It was 9:15 when the two pulled into the town of Cayuga and new problems were occuring. Besides the drivers door panel coming off, there was a howling nose from the rear end that was never there before. Gary again called Cayuga and let them know he was 6 miles, but 20 mintues away. They promised to hold the Mini Stock feature until he arrived, but 10:PM was the deadline. The rear end noise got worse each minute. It was dark and the road lit up from the array of sparks, hidden earlier by the daylight, streaming behind the tilted pick up. Gary pulled over again and checked out the wheel and to his surprise the rim was gone, ground down by the pavement. All that remained was the 8 bolts and the center section of the rim molded around the brake drum. Gary and Nonie pulled into Cayuga just as the Mini Stock feature was lined up on the back straight. The staff helped him unhook the VW and Gary immediately jumped in and made the race. Victory was achieved for the die-hard couple that night just by starting the race. They camped over at the track . In the morning Bob Slack took them to the local auto wreckers on highway 6 and Gary bought a used tire and rim for $8. The moral of this story? If you’re not sure you want to go racing, don’t hang out with Gary or Nonie.
First Ever Stock Car Feature Win
It was a night to remember. We won the heat and then the feature. It’s always exciting to win a heat race, but the feature is totally different. I had led many features over the years, some for only a lap or so and some for more. This night we took both and never stopped talking all the way back to Toronto. At the end of this season we would have our first child. Nonie gave birth to David on October 10th 1971…during this time I always admired and loved the Hobby’s. From the time I use to watched them at the CNE and Flamboro. I tried to buy a membership for the Hobby’s in 68′ but there was no more numbers available. All 125 numbers were taken. Perhaps my greatest memories were how great of a person Bob Slack was. I could have raced a few places the night I had the flat tire, but because of Bob and my racing buddies I wanted to go to Cayuga. The 3 year run in Mini’s was fun and we did it in a back yard. Special thanks to Nonie’s Harry and Dora for allowing me to get started and using their home, but mostly for their daughter Nonie.
Confusion At Cayuga
First Road Course Race At Cayuga For Mini Stock
I remember this day, my Uncle George Linklater towed Nonie and I out to Cayuga for this Sunday afternoon show. It was weird for sure. I couldn’t set my car up to turn left on the oval, so we figured, with no set up for this road course, I’d be okay. I can’t tell in this picture if I was leading or stopping for directions. It seems that a few of us were in trouble. Harry Cooper #38 is going one way and me the other. I may have been leading and didn’t know which way to turn on this home made road course. A few of us got twisted and it didn’t take long to be out of contention, I think one lap and we were done, but it was a fun race on a beautiful day. I have no idea where I finished, but somewhere at the back I’m guessing…..actually maybe I won if going the opposite direction was allowed. The Mini Stock boys were a great bunch. Larry Anthony, Billy Schlit, Harry Cooper, Art Bird, Bill Held, Jim Dunham, Doug Sutton and Bill Daniels to name a few. If anyone has pictures, please let me know and I will add more to our Mini history.