View Full Version : Figure Eights

Dwight Clock
11-14-2006, 10:40 PM
I was thinking some today about the origins of the Figure Eight class at Islip. Through 1962 the second division at Islip had been the novice class. Pre WWII coupes and coaches with minimal modifications. Larry Mendohlson, ever seeking something new, decided to try the Figure Eights for the 1963 season. Most of the cars were 1949 and 1950 Chevies and Fords. All were powered by 6 cylinders. Car counts were good from the beginning and the class featured an array of colorful personalities. Bob Taylor, Bennie Giarraputo, Big Ed Nagel, Andy Noia, Carl "Whitey" Voelker, and Bobby Lane were some of the more memorable drivers in the beginning. Taylor, who was probably better at the X than anyone I ever saw, won the first championship in 1963. Wide World of Sports televising the World Championship from Islip did much to help the popularity of the class. Voelker and Lane were to become two of the most prolific winners over the years. Anyone else have any memories of this that they would like to share?

Tower Man
11-21-2006, 05:35 PM
I feel like a rookie. My first Figure 8 experience as a spectator was in 1969. They never announced the winner because it took a while to sort out. The winner was always "unofficial". But on demo nights they would announce the winner.

I remember a couple of cars with the driver's seat in the middle of the car, Luigi in the 74 with the Italian and American flags on the roof.

The old '56 Fords, Crown Victoria. The '57 Chevys. The big finned Plymouths. The fights on and off the track. Bobby Lane stretching the rules. Oh man what memories. It was fun back then.

11-21-2006, 06:23 PM
I remember Bobby Lane very well. His son Richie and I were very good friends and my wife and I were big Bobby fans. He later ventured into the modified ranks and ran the #6 Pinto. He ran down in Dover on the mile and had the best finish of all Long Island drivers with a 6th place, if I am not mistaken. That was the year that Geoff Bodine got into Troyer's modified and overcame a 6 lap deficit and won the race. It was a fantastic race.

I had a neighbor around the block from me that had a white 49/50 Ford two door sedan, his name was Leslie Wagner and he was one of the very first Figure 8 drivers. I know he didn't run too long, he passed on in an automobile accident a year or two later, maybe more. We are talking 43 years ago so the memory is a bit foggy.

07-17-2007, 01:41 AM
I missed this thread. Makes sense I'd miss one that's on figure8's. I guess it was around 69 or 70 when I started going to Islip on my own. I rode out with a friend each week as I was not driving yet. He had a relative who was on the crew of the X3 modified so the first couple of years I spent most of my time in the pits after the show was over by Jim's car. 1973 or 74 I started hanging out by Ernie Maynor and eventually helped with the car at the track and his garage. That was my beginnings with the division. I have so many memories from the Islip years. One was in, I think, 1980. For the younger people here, or maybe I should say the not so older people here, the figure8's only ran the feature on the 8 course back then. Warmups, heats, and consi's were on the oval. One week I let Joe Larsen take my car out for a warmup. He got around well for a number of laps then coming off turn four he spun and was sitting backwards right dead in the middle of the track. Everyone missed him, except, Tommy Kraft. Hit him head on, but it was pretty hard to hurt those cars. Joe told me he was hoping I didn't see it, then he looked at the fence and I was standing right there. I had walked down there to see what the car was doing as it came off the turn and he spun right in front of me, lol. Joe and I still joke about that day. Another memory, and I know this also was not on the figure8 course but it was in a figure8 car, was the night Billy Smith from the Islanders drove my car in a New York Islanders promotional race. I had no clue who he even was. The following year they won their first cup and I was like "Oh, THAT'S who it was". He was the goalie for all their cup seasons. He loved the race by the way.


07-17-2007, 08:50 AM
Figure 8 memories..... I could go on almost all day on that one, I will start with the field of cars, 60 - 80 Figure 8 cars would pull into the pits each Saturday night. The most exciting events would be the 2 Consi's. Like Rick pointed out, all heats and consi's were on the oval course. There would sometimes be 25 cars in each consi to qualify only 2 cars. Announcer Earl "Sonny" Grainger would holler out "here are the most exciting races of the night, The Figure 8 consi's". Speaking of Sonny, He sure made the races at Islip very colorful. He had nicknames for many of the drivers and his delivery was second to none. I remember him yelling during the driver lineups things like " And now driving car # 35 it's OOOOOLIE OOOOOLSON from OOOOOOAKDALE". Or "driving car # 36, the man thats won moreeeeeeeeeee Figure 8's than anyone else..... Bobbyyyyy Taylor". "In the 6 It's the Bearded one Carl "Whitey" Voelker". The cars would be coming out to line up for the feature and Sonny would say "Here come the warriors" while parade music played in the back ground. Like i said, I can go on all day with this, but i will give someone else a chance LOL.

07-17-2007, 02:59 PM
How many recall the customized 57 Chevy Figure 8 car that Johnny Bush ran? Blue with fade away paint, #69? His mom ran freeport way back in the day.

Dwight Clock
07-17-2007, 07:41 PM
Another memory of those days is when they would run a rained out feature on the oval - 20 or 25 laps, I don't remember now. I seem to recall Ernie Maynor winning a big share of those races. Anyone else remember them?

07-17-2007, 07:44 PM
I do, next to the old coupe and coach modifies, the figure 8 heats, consi's and the make up races were the best. Real on the edge of the bleacher seat racing.

07-18-2007, 08:39 AM
They were 20 laps Dwight, I ran in my fair share of them.

07-21-2007, 04:26 AM
All these years and I have never had to run an oval makeup, but there are a couple rainouts that come right to mind. These were both pre weather radar. One, it was pouring around 3pm and they called the show. By 3:30 the rain had stopped and by 4pm the sun was shining, lol. Most of us were still in the pits and Ira Bromley was buying the famous Islip Speedway pizza by the stacks and passing out pies to everyone. Another time, same thing, pouring around 3pm, so they called the show and then the sun came out. They were on the phone trying to call as many people back as possible to uncall the show. Now it was a real mess. Some came back while many others still were wherever and had no clue. Soon after they made a rule no show would be called before the time the first heat race was supposed to be run.

Dwight Clock
07-21-2007, 08:54 AM
I remember one time when Larry Mendohlson was in the hospital for one of his many problems. His assistant, whose name I do not remember (not Dick Corbeil), was in charge. There was a brief shower around 11:30 a.m. and this guy called the show. The sun came out by noontime and it was a beautiful day. I think Larry got even sicker after that!

07-23-2007, 08:28 AM
Was the "assistant" in question Harry Hebenstriet (spelling)?

Dwight Clock
07-23-2007, 09:14 PM
Was the "assistant" in question Harry Hebenstriet (spelling)?No, it wasn't Harry. I knew Harry well. As a teenager he would take me to places like the Island Gardens, Old Bridge, and Trenton. The guy in question was "let go" by Larry as soon as he was out of the hospital.

Ken Resnick
07-23-2007, 10:31 PM
I was 2 cars behind Ernie on that horrible night of his fatal crash.

Ken Resnick
07-23-2007, 10:58 PM
Does anyone remember the white haired guy selling beer at Islip , he always pushed a shopping cart !

Dwight Clock
07-24-2007, 12:23 AM
Does anyone remember the white haired guy selling beer at Islip , he always pushed a shopping cart !His name was Ed as I remember. I worked with him from 1963-67. I was too young to sell beer. He was the only concession vendor who made more money than me!

07-25-2007, 02:51 AM
I remember him Ken. I was up front ahead of Ernie when the crash happened.

Ken Resnick
07-25-2007, 08:29 AM

I am trying to remember who you are . For the life of me I am drawing a blank. I'll blame it on that was 25 years ago , and my memory is not what it used to be.


07-31-2007, 09:16 PM
Hi Ken, I tend to have that memory thing too. We probably never met. In the race Ernie had the accident I was driving Johnny Kraft's Chevelle. As I remember, it was orange and had his number on it, 39. The years before that, I had the blue and white Mustang #2, which was built from my first car, the Jerry Bowers #2 that a couple drivers shared.


Hank Kramer
08-09-2007, 09:44 PM
I think his name was,BOB

W. J.
08-09-2007, 10:01 PM
MGD=Miller, Generally Disgusting!

Dwight Clock
08-09-2007, 10:03 PM
I don't remember the beer guy's name, but I do remember it was a 12oz can of BUD, and it only cost $1. Good beer, good price!

MGD=Miller, Generally Disgusting!In the beginning they were long necks that he poured in to a plastic cup.