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   The Chrome Horn - News



- February 9, 2010 -
by Denise DuPont

What is the living Legends of Auto Racing (LLOA)?

The Living Legends of Auto Racing organization was founded in 1993 when a mother, Zetta Baker, wanted to answer of her son’s questions.. Being a third generation of auto racers, Zetta’s three sons wanted to know more about the life and career of their grandfather, the late Bob “Cannonball” Baker. On November 2, 1941, Cannonball’s auto racing career was cut short due to an unfortunate crippling accident at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia. Cannonball was driving Lloyd Seay’s racecar in a special memorial race that was dedicated to Lloyd, a very popular driver of the time that had been killed while racing.

During the course of her research, Zetta contacted several individuals that had known Cannonball. After hearing often, “How did you find me? I did not know anyone remembered that I raced on the beach-road course in Daytona”, Zetta decided to get drivers, mechanics, car owners and reporters together. With a news reporter who has been helping her with her research, Zetta spoke of a BBQ for the forgotten pioneers of auto racing. The reporter suggested to her the idea of organizing a reunion banquet with the help from family and friends in 1993. From there the tradition of the annual parade on the beach was founded.

Living Legends of Auto Racing Parade on the Beach

On Tuesday, February 9, 2010, the seventeenth annual Living Legend’s “Parade on the Beach” took place at Daytona Beach. The parade of cars started at South Daytona Beach Dunlawton Bridge and headed north on the beach for about one mile. Classic and vintage racecars first assembled for a fan participation session on the beach. After fan time completed, all the cars participated in a one-mile parade. The event climaxed with a short sprint on the beach with a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. It was really good to see all the cars and fans from all over the United States and Canada united in the parade.

Video Clip by Jim DuPont

Now on to some of the Living Legends:

Russ Truelove brought his famous 226 car to the event.
What is Truelove’s most memorable racing event?
“Probably the second race I ever drove in a half mile race car at Thompson, CT in June of 1948. This was the first time I able to go around the track in my own race car. Thompson Speedway was the second paved track in the United States before the War (WWII). I think that I finished sixth my first race.”

“Mad” Marion MacDonald brought 1965 #14 numbered Ford to the parade.
What is MacDonald’s most memorable racing event in his career?
“I can’t think of any special one. One time I grabbed a hamburger out of one of my pit crew’s hand and then still continued to drive making the turn on the track. That is where I got my name “Mad” Marion. At that time, we had the pit crew on the beach”

But the racing legend stories did not stop there. “There is also the story where I had the knife taped to the car dashboard, a car with no seat belts. I used the knife to cut the rope off because we used a rope as a seat belt. I had to take the tape off of it (the knife) and cut myself loose. So that is one the best things about racing I remember.”

MacDonald’s thoughts on today’s safety and harness equipment:
“The other day it showed in the paper about Danica Patrick how every now and then she would tighten her seat belt to keep the seat belt tight. My rope was so tight it was uncomfortable. It was not one of those that automatically come off, like the new seat belts are.”

MacDonald’s thoughts on today’s racing speed, accidents and injuries:
“We did (drove) a hundred or so on the beach backstretch. I wanted to go on the main track out here (Daytona Speedway) but they will not let you go until you go to training for it. But I drove it before they had all those rules and regulations. But I never did race on it, I just drove on it. They showed me that anything under a hundred the back end had a tendency to slide down. You had to keep the power to the back wheels to keep it up. You had to go over a hundred on the turns.“

“Racing is just like flying,” said MacDonald comparing two of his life’s passions “You never forget how to fly. Flying has helped me a lot. You feel what the car can do when it gets ready to go out of control. So, I think that flying has a lot to do with driving a race car.”

MacDonald’s thoughts on the future of racing:
“It is getting bigger, better and faster all the time. But a hundred is fast enough, you still have good control Driving two and a half is just too risky for me to even think about.”

Was racing as competitive in the beginning of the sport?
“No racing is really very competitive now. In those days just about anybody could drive one-hundred miles an hour on the beach. I mean I never got a scratch on my car. No one ever even got close to the car.”

MacDonald along with other racers made do with what they had and created things when they did not have it.

On Board Racing Camera: “I was the first car with a camera in it. I took pictures during the race right through the windshield with my antenna and everything in front of me. I took pictures while I was driving. I had just a plain old box camera.”

Bumper Guards: “I started a lot of inventions if you look at these model A’s that I had they were high. Daddy had a low car and I took a spring from a Model A. I had plenty. And I made a bumper guard. I bolted that to my back bumper so my daddy could push me off. In those days the battery was always dead. Or at least it seemed like it. So I invented that bumper guard but I just never followed through with it.”

Summarizing his racing career, “Mad” Marion smiled and looked at all the old race cars around him. “I have been racing for a long time and it has been fun but I have had my fun now. The fun that I have now is showing my cars and sharing my experiences. Actually how good a car runs is also important. In those days you could not get one to run right.

MacDonald proceeded to start his 1965 Ford which had just over 100,000 miles and ran just over 600 RPM. He had placed a fake dashboard in the car so he could have some instruments in the car. The other dashboard with the radio and all the original instruments are still in it. “Cars now days with everything that you have on them you can not get to idle down this low. That is 600 RPM a minute and it was turning really too slow. The car is a Ford and there really is nothing else that is good for racing.”

The living legend proceeded to tighten the rope across his lap and drove off on to the beach for his ride on the sand where his fond memories remain.

Vicki Woods, the most Memorable race event for legendary female racer:
“The most memorable thing was the 150 miles on the beach run, on the sand of all places to run that fast. There was a lot of other memorabilia’s too like racing with the men, racing with the girls, and going into the mobile gas run from California to Minneapolis.”

Did men when Woods raced give her a hard time and make her come up to the challenge?
“No they were the ones that talked me into racing with the men in Flatrock, Michigan. I did very well. In fact they taught me a little bit more on how to run the track, the turns and how to let up and all that kind of stuff. Then after a while I started to beat them. Then a couple of the boys would say: ‘How would you like to go to work and have somebody say I thought you were a race driver? How come you let that women run rings around you’. So he said they were going to go out on strike. It was not the top drivers but the also rans. They are the ones that said they would quit if I did not quit. Or go out on strike.”

Did she finally quit racing?
“Yes, I had my fun. I had ten years of it. And I was getting up there in years too.”

When did Woods start her racing career and where?
“ I was in my late thirties when I started racing. First time I drove was in 1953 on a quarter mile track in Detroit, Michigan and 1963 was the last year I drove. It was nice it was fun. In fact I had never been in a car (race car) before. I had never been on the track before. I was the poorest qualifier that they ever had. Because I had never been in a car as I said. I have never been on a track before and they put me out there. Then they put me in a race with twenty-five girls. So I started in the back of the pack, because my qualifying was so bad. And I finished ninth in that race in that first race. Then we went to Clements. Michigan the next day and I won that race.”

“Then I just kept winning. I had a total of forty-eight trophies. But I do not have them any more because they started to turn and my grandsons and grandchildren all asked “Can we have a trophy?” So I gave most of them away. I made some lamps out of some of them. I took the little race car off the top of them and drilled a hole in them and put a lampshade over it to make some trophies usable.”

What was the fastest that your drove?
Standing next to the David Pearson #3 car, Woods eyes lit up as she stepped back and looked at the car. “I ended up driving about 121 MPH because I was afraid to open it (car) up. It was my first time driving it and I kept thinking if anything happened to that car I‘d would be named mud. That was the first time I sat in that car and the first time I drove it on a track. That was in the David Pearson #3 Pontiac car. “

If you were to compete today and receive some of today’s purses?
“I would be in seventh heaven. The first race I ever won I got one dollar. And I still have that dollar in a picture frame. Race teams are very greedy now days for money. It is no fun. It use to be a lot of fun.”

Your thoughts about this year’s ARCA race sixth place finisher?
“Danica Patrick is a good driver and a nice person too. The men I think kind of give her a hard time every once and a while. Well they do all women as far as that goes, but you have to expect that.”

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We have been attending the “Parade at the Beach” since the beginning and would recommend if you have the opportunity to come to Florida during race week that you go to the “Race on the Beach” in South Daytona on Race Week Tuesday.

Source: Denise DuPont /
Posted: February 26, 2010

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