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   The Chrome Horn - News



FEBRUARY 15, 2011
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. Cannonball’s auto racing career was cut short on November 2, 1941 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.

2011 Living Legends of Auto Racing Parade on the Beach

On Tuesday, February 15, 2011, the eighteenth annual Living Legend’s “Parade on the Beach” took place on Daytona Beach sands. The parade of cars started at South Daytona Beach Dunlawton Bridge and headed north on the beach for about one mile. This is known to be one of the original racing miles on the beach. Classic and vintage racecars first assembled for a fan greeting session on the beach. After fan time completed, the cars participated in a one-mile parade. The legend 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.

The sad part we noticed at the parade this year is that the number of actual Living Legends in the parade has dwindled dramatically over the years. “Mad” Marion MacDonald, female driver Vicky Woods and Russ Truelove were among the hand full of race history makers that were able to attend. So as the years go by it is becoming more apparent that our racing roots are being lost in the sands of time.

One of the Legends, Russ Truelove once again brought his famous #226 car to the event.  Under the hood of Truelove’s 1956 Mercury, one will find a 312 cubic-inch V8 motor, along with a 260 engine kit which included a set of heads, two 4-barrel carburetors, pushrods, and a cam. How many of us would love to see that under our car’s hood?

In February 1956, Russ Truelove took his same 1956 Mercury to the sands of Daytona Beach to race around with his friends for an early Spring Break at the 1956 NASCAR Grand National for stock cars on the four-mile beach course. Racers, like Truelove, Tim Flock, Fireball Roberts, and Lee Petty raced around in stock production cars with the only NASCAR safety requirement being a roll over bar. Other than fixing the doors so they would not fly open during the race, which was done with two I-bolts and a chain strung between the doors, Truelove raced this red rocket with everything intact from the factory including turn signals.

When Truelove raced on the beach his major sponsor was Mattutuck Motors. But the car now has a different sponsor on the rear quarter panels. What is the history of the car’s sponsorship change?

“When I was down in 1956 I was a service manager at Mattutuck Motors, a Lincoln Mercury Dealership. After the race I had this thing (car) and I needed work done on it. I moved back to Waterbury, CT and went to Murray Brother’s Garage. Andrew Murray is married to my niece so he said I will take care of the car for you if you place the name of the garage on there. So what did I care, Mattutuck Motors is gone, so I put another name on it (the car).”

Russ Truelove will be the next recipient of The Tim Sullivan Memorial of Excellence award from the Motor Racing Heritage Association. Truelove expressed the interest to speak about the man behind the award versus the award itself.

“Tim Sullivan spent his whole life around racing and a part of racing where he was involved with Richmond Speedway as a very young man. (He and I were about the same age.)”

“He worked his way up from teleprompting broadcasting, when that was an issue in the media. Then he became president of Motor Racing Network, which introduced NASCAR to big advertising and big money. Yes and that was all through the media. And that took over the sport of racing to make it a business rather than a sport.”

“Right now it is big business and money. The beginning of the sport does not count any more. It does not mean anything. It is amazing that it does not count it does not mean anything. There are a few every now and then when you are doing a commercial or advertisement that thank you for what you started but it does not mean all that much in the sport.”

“Why they chose me I do not know but I am very appreciative of it. I joined Motor Racing Heritage in 1995, and that was when Tim Sullivan took over as president. of Motor Racing Heritage., which by the way is a non-profit organization.”

“We (Motor Racing Heritage) are trying to raise money now so we can build a little replica of the Ormond Garage, which has burnt down. It has housed the two replica Pace cars from 1903. The town of Ormond paid for the two replica cars. We originally had them mounted up there in Ormond but after a couple of years they started to deteriorate. So we took them down and stored them in the Ormond Garage. Now we want to put them back out where people can see them. We are starting with an engineering concept of a garage that can go in the same place. It (garage plan) has been approved by the town of Ormond Beach. They said we can do this if we raise the money.”

If you had to do it all over again is there anything that you would change with your racing career?
“Probably not.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: February 19, 2011

©2011 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.