In Memoriam

On this page we will be paying tribute to the friends we've lost along our journey.   We will share our memories and stories of our adventures.    We count ourselves fortunate in having been able to share life with so many wonderful folks, more than my  fair share for sure, and to have had the privilege of caring for so many adoring pets.

As time permits, I will be adding stories of my memories of my special friends.  

George Sanderson.   "Sandy" as we all  knew him.   Sandy was my best friend, my brother, my father, my uncle and my mentor, all rolled into one.   Although Sandy had many interests, he and I shared a passion for motor racing and railroading, both scale model as well as full size.   Sandy and I shared many rail fan excursions and train chases.   He introduced me to the area model  railroader community.   He was the entrant for the experience of my life, competing in the Sebring 12 hour Grand Prix of endurance.     My life is very much different than it might have been fut for having known George "Sandy" Sanderson.

 

Dave Hayhurst, whom I met while I was working in a hobby shop in Dale City Va when we first moved south.   Dave and I hit is off right away.   Despite our very different backgrounds, Dave was the brother I never had.

Roy Flury.  Roy was my pit crew, close friend and companion during my SCCA racing years.   Roy was there as crew at nearly all the events I entered.     Driving through the night, Roy still managed to have breakfast ready in the morning regardless of the circumstances.  Sleeping in the car, a tent or a motel, hung over or not, Roy made breakfast (on a Colman stove) put the car through tech and kept all in order so I cold concentrate on racing.

Bryan Warfield:   Bryan stopped by one day, having noticed our collection of old Volvo's around our garage.   From then on Bryan was a fixture in our lives.   He became one of the family and an uncle to our youngest son Alex.   An  immensely knowledgeable individual, Bryan's loss was an immeasurable loss.     His freindship was trasured by all of us, his absence is felt every day.

Our pets have been very much a part of our lives too.  Last winter Dotti and I lost two of our oldest and dearest little friends.   Chicane, our old race track cat and Kiva, our only tortoise shell, both passed away within months of each other.  Chicane was somewhere around 19 years old and Kive a year or two less.   Both therir passings left an empty place in our household.

Over the years we have had many wonderful pets.   My once in a lifetime dog Big Boy.   My red cat whom I had when Dotti and I first got together.   Ernie, my little deaf cat.   Max, our bit "tuxedo" Tom from Dale city.   Crisco and Warrior from my Farm in NY.   All the small furry creatures that became so much a part of our lives.

                                                                   Memories of my friend Mike Terr

 

I no longer recall when Mike and I first met. We were both members of the British Sports Car Owners Association so it must have been sometime in the mid 1960's. We likely had a few mutual friends and therefore gravitated to the same crowd within the club.

 

The last time that crowd was together was a memorial dinner for our friend George Sanderson. As a group in the late 1960's, we used to meet for dinner on Friday evenings at Alfiero's restaurant in White Plains N.Y.. Mike, myself, Mike's good friend Tex Oest, Roy Flury, George Sanderson, John Hanrahan, John Leggettte, teenage brotheres Joe & Tony Carpenzano and others. Good friends and motor sport aficionado's all.

 

It was at that memorial dinner, which was also the last time I saw Mike, that Mike paid me a wonderful compliment. Mike introduced me to his lovely wife Paula as, “the man who is responsible for two of the best years of my life”. What an amazing compliment.

 

That remark stemmed from an incident that took place at a gathering in the yard behind the apartment building where Mike and several of the other members of the group maintained apartments. Regarding that apartment house, one of the great regrets of my life is that I did not take up the invitation of Mike, John, Sandy and others to join them in renting an apartment there. The place became a sort of club house for the race car crowd. The building had a yard behind it where crew held gatherings and cook outs. I spent a great deal of time there and should have joined my friends by renting an apartment of my own.

 

On Halloween they would all get together and stage a “house of horrors” in the basement for the neighborhood kids. That was always great fun. Everyone would come up with an exhibit. It was possible to enter the basement from the street and exit into the back yard. For the little kids we'd go easy but for the teenagers we'd turn up the wick. I can still hear some of the girls screaming as they fled the basement into the back yard.

 

I remember too,when Mike first moved in. The building was being renovated by the owner. An old woman had been living in the apartment Mike was going to take over. The old coal cooking stove that she had been using was still there. Mike asked me if I'd like to have it. It was a real antique and the fact that it had been in use till recently made it all the more interesting. Mike and I had a hell of a time dismantling it and dragging it down the fire escape to the yard below. Unfortunately the old stove didn't fare to well over the years. I had kept it in the kitchen as a display in the farm house my first wife and I had. After the divorce it spent a good many years in storage and wasn't in very good shape when I retrieved it. I still have the remains however.

 

But I digress, to return to my story, I had known Mike for awhile by then. At the racing events sponsored by BSCOA, Mike often worked flagging and communication as well as other positions necessary to the running of the event. I was a driver. I raced my Volvo PV-544 in class B/Sedan at the club races.

 

For some reason, known only to himself, over time Mike began to criticize those of us who drove race cars. “You should do this” or “you should do that” or “Why don't you” whatever. To the point that it eventually became somewhat irritating.

 

At one of the evening social events in the yard behind the apt. house, Mike once again started in on me. Since Mike did not engage in competition himself, I found his criticism particularly annoying. This time I cut him off and told him to get himself a race car, go racing and then if he was still inclined to offer his opinions I might be interested in listening. Short of that, I'd appreciate it if he'd just shut up.

 

To his everlasting credit, Mike did shut up. He also went out and bought himself a race car. He took it to a drivers school, earned himself a competition license and went racing. He also stopped criticizing.

 

Over the next two years Mike showed what he was really made of. I remember a tag team relay race at Lime Rock. Liverpool Motor Club sponsored these events. Individual teams were made up of several cars and drivers. Each driver had to tag off every 15 laps to a team member. Mike and Bob Theall co-drove the Quantum Saab race car Mike had purchased from Bob. During the race, the other cars on their team dropped out one by one. That left Mike and Bob to carry on alone tagging off to each other on Mike's car.

 

When his Quantum Saab race car began to disintegrate from the pounding of the five hour event. Mike and his co-driver Bob, in the best racing tradition, patched and repaired on the fly as best they could and kept it running to the finish. Mike was no quitter.

 

One evening Mike was working with several friends to prepare the Quantum Saab for a race weekend. The car was in a garage belonging to one of our friends as Mike had no facility of his own in which to work on the car. Mike had been experiencing a problem with the shift linkage. The Quantum Saab was a single seat race car. The engine and transmission were located behind the driver. The shift linkage was in the open alongside the drivers seat. One of our friends concluded that all the linkage needed was a quick, sharp rap with a ball peen hammer to realign it. Mike said no. he wanted to wait till Bob Theall arrived. Bob was the professional mechanic and he'd know what to do. Mike was sure it had to be more complicated than that and wasn't too keen on taking a hammer to his precious race car. Bob arrived in good time. Mike explained the problem. Bob asked for a hammer and gave the linkage a healthy, well placed whack, then turned to Mike and said, “there, try it now”.

 

At Bridgehampton Mike had to tie his car down on its trailer in a pouring rain. I recall him poking his head in the window of my van, where several of us were sheltering, asking how he was doing (in regard to being a racer). He looked like a drowned rat but he was obviously (and justifiably) quite proud of himself.

 

Mike confined his competition to the small club races, BSCOA, Liverpool Motor Club and later EMRA. I moved on to racing with the SCCA, the national racing organization. As I began to travel ever farther afield with my racing, Mike often accompanied me.

 

Over time Mike became an indispensable part of my racing entourage. He traveled with me to races from New York to Florida and often took a turn driving the tow car.

 

One amusing incident that comes to mind took place when we were towing to a race late at night. For some unknown reason, we usually arrived at any given track in the wee hours of the morning. John Hanrahan joked that it seemed not to matter where we were headed, Bridgehampton (2 hours away), Watkins Glen (5 hours away), or VIR (7 hours away), we invariably arrived at 5:00 am.

 

My tow car back then was a well worn 1956 Mercury two door sedan. Among the car's other eccentricities was a worn out headlight switch. Every once in awhile, the badly worn switch would suddenly break contact and the headlights would go out. It only required a touch of the knob to reestablish contact.

 

Mike, being a somewhat nervous sort, was easily excited. He often reminded me of the TV characters Wally Peepers or Don Knotts. When the headlights suddenly disappeared at probably 60 mph, Mike panicked. He screamed and tore the light switch knob from the dash board. My bad actually, as I should have warned him beforehand.

 

Another adventure took place in Florida when we were attending the “American Road Race of Champions” at Daytona Speedway. Mike came south with us driving his brand new Volvo 142S. A story on that later.

 

In practice we found that my PV-544 Volvo was hitting peak rpm in top gear by the end of the long back straight. This left the north banking and the tri oval to be negotiated at a sustained 7200 rpm. Bob Theall and I felt this was a bit much to ask of an already tired engine. We thought that if we could change the rear axle ratio from 4:56 to a 4:1 we might lower the revs without sacrificing top speed.

 

We managed to locate an auto scrap yard in Jacksonville that had an axle from a 122S with the 4:1 ratio. Bob and I made the run to Jacksonville to pick up the axle.

 

That evening we acquired one of the garages and made the swap. Bob had brought his big mechanics tool chest in the little Dodge camper he had borrowed from his father and had towed the trailer with. While jacking up the car, Bob asked if a few of us could move the tool chest closer to where he was working.

 

John Leggette, always ready when muscle was required, snatched Mike (of all people) and told him to grab the handle on the other end of the chest. Knowing what that chest probably weighed, Mike screamed in protest but it was too late. John was already on his way with his end of the chest. Seeing that the chest was going to drop off the edge of the camper floor, Mike made a dive for the handle.

 

Too far away to provide assistance, I watched as Mike all but burst from the strain. He looked as if he were about to pop a blood vessel but he didn't drop the chest. In a pinch, Mike always came through.

 

As an example of what one might expect from John Leggette, one evening during one of the back yard gatherings behind the apt. house. Mike and I were talking when suddenly Mike hollered to John, who had just pulled a bottle of ale from one of the ice filled barrels located around the yard. As John removed the cap from the bottle he said, “yes Mike”. Mike replied, “never mind”, then said to me, “that wasn't a twist off cap on that bottle”.

 

To go back to the story on Mike's new Volvo, Mike wanted to change the oil and filter before heading to Florida. He stopped by at Overseas Auto Repair in Dobbs Ferry NY where Bob Theall worked. Shop owner Silvano Bianchi allowed us use the shop after hours to maintain the race car. Mike asked if he could do his own oil change while we were there. No problem. Mike took one of the floor jacks, placed it under the front cross member and began to pump the lever. Shortly after the front wheels were clear of the ground, there was a lurch and a bang. The car had slipped off the jack and landed on the oil pan. A quick test with the starter showed that the pan was indeed dented to the point that it was in contact with the crankshaft.

 

There was nothing left to do at that point but drop the front cross member to allow access to the pan bolts. The pan had to come off to in order to straighten the dent. Mike had a wonderful way of resigning himself when things like this happened. A simple task that should have been completed in half an hour became an all evening major undertaking. Mike never complained. He stoically set about repairing the damage with coaching from Bob and then drove his car to Florida.

 

That was in the fall of 1969. The following season I retired my PV-544 and went Trans-Am racing with a Volvo 122S I purchased in partnership with John Hanrahan. Our first event was a six hour race at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia. We towed down with my old Mercury which was on the road once again.

 

We camped out at the track with Roy Flury as our cook and chief bottle washer. John as usual supplied his six man tent. During the weekend we had to make a run to nearby Berryville for supplies. The road from the track to Berryville is a fun road for anyone who enjoys driving. On the return trip I completely forgot about Mike in the back seat holding two bags of groceries including a couple of egg cartons.

 

Nothing is more fun for a gear head than jumping a car. The road from Berryville to Summit Point had several nice crests over which one could easily 'fly' a car. Completely forgetting that Mike was in the back seat, I put the pedal down on the old Mercury and proceeded to loft it over one of the crests.

 

A scream from the back seat and a glance in the mirror found Mike airborne over the rear seat still clutching the grocery bags. The eggs survived thanks to Mike (and no thanks to me).

 

Mike was with me on the return trip from Summit Point when my trailer unhooked itself on the Major Deegan Expressway. Fortunately Mike was not behind the wheel when that happened.

 

Apparently the nut holding the ball on the draw bar had come loose and fallen off. I believe this happened at the toll booth on the west side for the GW bridge. I recall hearing something make a metallic sound behind the car as if metal had hit the road. All was well till we hit an especially bad bump among the many bumps on Major Deegan Expressway. The trailer tongue lifted just enough to disengage from the draw bar and fall to the pavement.

 

Fortunately the crank post on the trailer tongue came in contact with the rear bumper and I was able to nudge the trailer over to the shoulder. Mike stayed with me while we waited for assistance. Then he accompanied me while I procured a replacement hitch ball and retrieved the trailer and race car from the storage area where it had been towed.

 

Mike was a good friend. Although we'd been out of touch for many years, the reunion in honor of our mutual friend George “Sandy” Sanderson brought us together again. Mike and I kept up an irregular correspondence in the years afterward. I remember Mike writing on the occasion of his 62nd Birthday. “Sucks to turn 62, but it beats the alternative”. So true.

 

Mike and I attempted to share our experiences over the intervening years since the BSCOA days. Unfortunately Mike lost a long e-mail he'd written through a computer glitche and couldn't get it back. I'd hoped he'd take another stab at it but apparently he didn't have the heart to write it over again. I wish I had that story today.

 

As the years went by Mike's health deteriorated. I regret now that I didn't make a greater effort to visit Mike in his confinement. I'd hoped he'd be able to make it to Lime Rock and join me on my return to that track with my old PV-544 Volvo as restored by my son Nick. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to introduce my son to Mike. In the end, it was not to be. I was much saddened to receive the e-mail from his wife Paula informing me that my friend had passed away peacefully in his sleep.

 

Mike was very much a part of my life and he will not be forgotten.