View Full Version : Top 10 Figure 8 Drivers of ALL TIME.

Teds Race Tours
05-15-2007, 12:33 PM
I was chatting with my buds in Turn 2 last week during the Figure 8 Feature, and we got around to "Who was the best ever" So, we'd like your top 10 Figure 8 drivers ever. If you can't think of 10, just post what you have in the order of Top to Bottom. Lets have some fun with this one. I'll post mine in a day or so.

W. J.
05-15-2007, 12:42 PM
In no particular order: Ernie Maynor, Roger Maynor, Joe Biondolillo Jr., Tommy Ryan, Tom Kraft, Tommy Rogers Jr., Joe Hlatky, Doug Huber, RJ Faveau, Jerry Bowers. I could add more, but really should stop at 10, since that's what's asked for here. :)

Okay, here's more: Clay Walston, Fred Lamac, Fred Dunlop, Chris Young, 'Downtown' George Brown, Quinn Vollgraff, Bill Stockert

Teds Race Tours
05-15-2007, 02:23 PM
Heck, go to 20 if you want. No real rules apply. FYI, my top 10 has 5 of the same drivers as yours.

05-15-2007, 03:29 PM
Wow thanks WJ... lol I assume you prob meant my dad... My top 10 I'm going Riverhead only, since that was all I was alive for...

1. TK... I'm biased...

without including him...

1. John Fortin
2. Joey Jr.
3. Tom Rogers Jr.
4. Roger Maynor
5. Bill Steen
6. George Sprague
7. Chuck Hlatky
8. Ralph Tasso
9. Tommy Ryan
10 Kenny Hyde

Yeah, Fred, sorry about that error, I did mean your Dad. - WJ

The Bullfather
05-15-2007, 04:21 PM
Roger Maynor
Joe Biondolillo Jr.
R.J. Faveau
Chuck Hlacky
Luigi Tirripicchio
Tom Kraft
John Fortin
Tommy Ryan
'Downtown' George Brown
George Sprague

05-15-2007, 06:23 PM
We're forgetting World Champion, Bobby Lane.
Then there was Quinn Vollgraff
Old School Leslie Wagner
Down Town George Brown
Slim Brown from back in the early 60s
Ernie "The wrench" Maynor
Chris Young
Any many already mentioned.

Teds Race Tours
05-16-2007, 01:48 PM
With due respect to guys like Taylor, Faveau, + Voelker, I just didn't see enough of their careers to put them here, This is my top 10.

Honorable Mention #1 Dan Avondet. Career was too short, but won the 1980 Islip Championship against a great field of cars.

Honorable Mention #2 Bill Steen. Bill beat every driver on this list at one time or another, and that alone deserves some credit.

10 Tommy Kraft. Might have been higher, but the main part of his career he was running against 12-15 car fields.

9 Quinn Volgraff. If his career occurred right now, he might be trading wins with Roger.

8 Jerry Bowers. Hailed from Upstate Cairo, NY, as BF used to say every week. "The Rabbit" was great, especially when he bought Chris Young's #49.

7 Ernie Maynor. It's hard going generation vs generation. Ernie may have been better than his son. Back when "The Wrench" raced, 30-35 car field were the norm. Making the feature was an accomplishment. Ernie won his share, but was never the DOMINANT driver of his day. Having said that, if he raced today, he may well have been the dominant driver of the 90's and 00's.

6. John Fortin. You know when John Fortin is number 6, the top 5 is very talented. I know he probably deserves top 5 status. Really, throw a dart to anybody #2-6 and they could be anywhere from 2nd to 6th. To me, John is a Much better Mod driver, and I guess that hurts him when I remember his Fig 8 days.


5 Downtown George Brown. I disliked DTGB as much as any driver ever, In any division. But you cannot deny the talent and desire he had in anything he raced. His figure 8 battles over the years were fierce with anybody who was trying to beat him. It's funny that I also could have just described Tony Stewart, yet I am a big fan of his. George Brown was an awesome Fig 8 Driver.

4 Roger Maynor. Roger, like his father, is hard to rank. He's been there forever. He's won in every generation, and been dominant at times. It would have been great to see the main part of his career in 1977 to 1984 at Islip, and that might move him up of down some notches. I put him at number 4, but he could easily be number 2.

3 Joe Biondillio Jr. Another guy I was not a fan of. When he was at the top of his game, the race was his to lose. He had the best move off of turn 2 I have ever seen. He left us way too early. No stretch to put him at number 2 either.

2. Chris Young. Was it the driver, or the car? That number 49 would probably be winning today. Chris once went an entire year that he won every heat race at Islip. EVERY ONE. Put him #6, put him #2. My gut says 2.

1 Doug Huber. Another of my non-favorites. Doug ran the number 19 Nova. Doug was a multi-time World Champion, and won the final 4 Figure 8 Championships at Islip, in what I consider the toughtest weekly competition in the 34 years I have been attending races. No doubt, as I think about it, that Doug was head and shoulders above the rest.

Golf Guy
05-17-2007, 07:18 AM
My picks are a combination of accomplishment and who I like. My time frame to judge is 71-84 at Islip and 98-06 at Riverhead.
10- Sammy Atkins- my first year at Islip and he was the man.
9- Bobby Lane- My early favorite, loved to watch him race.
8- Tom Kraft- tough as nails, a true fig 8 driver.
7- Doug Huber- 4 straight championships and the last at Islip.
6- Tommy Rogers jr.- dominant in a short time.
5- John Fortin- Only saw a few races, but he was awesome!
4- Roger Maynor- still going strong, a true professional, the best ever at RH.
3-Joe Biondolillo Jr. - Before I got back to RH only saw a few of his races, but you cannot ignore the win total.
2-George Sprague- My man!
1- Young- Probably the best I ever seen and a really cool car.

Teds Race Tours
05-17-2007, 10:38 AM
I'd pay to watch that Feature Jim. Now where is Steve's list?

05-17-2007, 01:53 PM
Ok Ted, that was fun last Saturday

10. Tommy Ryan
9. Ernie Maynor
8. Ralph Tasso
7. Gerry Bowers
6. Tommy Kraft
5. Doug Huber
4. George Brown
3. Roger Maynor
2. Joe Biondillo Jr.
1. John Fortin - Because no matter what you put him in he won. Hell he even won a World Figure Championship race in Papa Joe's car one year. All great drivers and could be #1 on any given day.

The Bullfather
05-17-2007, 02:57 PM
either way you pick em' everyone mentioned, except Freddie Kraft lol could win against each other. I think everyone picked so far could pull off a win against each other. Wish it could happen, but wishing is about much as it could happen. lol

Tower Man
05-20-2007, 11:02 AM
10 - Clay Walston - nobody worked harder
9 - Bobby Lane - an innovator, well ahead of his time
8- Luigi Teriphichio - a fans driver
7 - Ralph Tasso - nice cars, tough competitor
6 - Tommy Rogers - Exciting to watch
5 - Ernie Maynor - No comments necessary
4 - Roger Maynor - 22 winning seasons speak for itself
3 - Bill Steen - Brought class to the division with great looking cars
2 - John Fortin - Told me how to race Figure 8's. I should have listened
#1 - "T K" Tom Kraft, my Uncle and my friend. He could win in a wheel barrow. Forget the part about 12 and 13 car fields, he can still run with and beat the best of them, and has for over 30 years.

05-20-2007, 02:43 PM
Tower Man Did You Pick Clay Walston Over John Rigney And Jerry Bowers, I Guess You DIDN'T WATCH ANY FIG. 8'S AT ISLIP.

05-21-2007, 09:27 AM
Ever hah??
I'm not sure I could rank them the way some have, but the ones that impressed me for smooth style and or innovative ideas:
Sam Atkins, Jerry Bowers, Bobby Lane, R.J. Faveau, Ernie Maynor, Chris Young, John Fortin, and Manny Buss. Mind you, I missed quite a few of the years you all considered.
Based on winning percentages, I believe Bobby Taylor was tops there.
Based on "balls", Ol' Downtown.
Of the "touring/travelling" guys I met, Sonny Eaton was one of the craftiest thinkers (the nickname "cheatin' Eaton" may have been well deserved), very smooth behind the wheel as well.

Tower Man
05-23-2007, 06:11 PM
Hey Racenut, yeah I did, but the difference with Clay was he was basically a one man show, limited funds and still managed to finish second in the points back in 1979. He built my first car also.

Not taking away from Rigney or Bowers or Sammy. they were great as well. But it's my top 10 and I'm proud of 'em.

BTW, I've been watching Figure 8's since 1968. Almost 40 years, maybe my memory is fading at my age.

Wheel Racing
05-23-2007, 07:10 PM
I could not limit the list to ten,nor could I place them in order. Here is a list of some of the drivers that made the most impact on me followed by a list of drivers whose stories and history did the same (although I don't recall watching them race.)

R.J. Faveau-My all time favorite as a kid
Chris Young-Innovator. Built a car that at least 4 people I know of won races in.
Ernie Maynor-Great guy and always fun to watch as a kid.
Bobby Lane-I still hear stories about cars he built and scratch my head
John Rigney-The Pickle Man
Jerry Bowers-Loved when he ran the 49 and the Ernie Maynor connection.
Roger Maynor-Top 3 driver any time he is in a race. Always been a friend and fan.
George Brown-Pure Entertainment. Never knew what was coming next with Downtown.
Tommy Ryan-He was always fast and smoothe in whatever he drove.
Tommy Kraft-Another natural. Tommy can drive any car and win in it. Great feel for the "X"
Joe Biondillilo Jr-Ahead of his time in many ways. Unbelievable career.
Ralph Tasso-Always had beautiful cars and was a natural. I remember when he alsmost won Championship day in Huber's car.
John Fortin-Another driver that knew how to get it done.
Quinn Vollgraff-Won races in many different cars.
Bill Steen -Truly the Dean. Always has clean cars and races the same way.
Doug Huber-All those championships and Championship Day wins. I actually hated him as a kid, but had to respect him.
Danny Avondet-See Doug Huber.
Fred Lamac-Seemed to win every Rained out feature run on an oval.
Tom Rogers Jr-Great Driver and was very dominant in a short time.
Johnny Zell-No matter what, he was always there.

Honorable mention to those I never watched race myself:

Benny Giaraputo
Bobby Taylor
Roy Deall
Sammy Atkins
Whitey Voelker

05-24-2007, 08:47 AM
Hey Racenut, yeah I did, but the difference with Clay was he was basically a one man show, limited funds and still managed to finish second in the points back in 1979. He built my first car also.

Not taking away from Rigney or Bowers or Sammy. they were great as well. But it's my top 10 and I'm proud of 'em.

BTW, I've been watching Figure 8's since 1968. Almost 40 years, maybe my memory is fading at my age.

Y'know, I almost forgot about Clay. He was as you mentioned, a one guy show (well him an' his wife) and a thinker. Case in point: He comes over by us one afternoon and tells me "I gotta see something". So I go over to his truck and he shows me the setup he built out of an A/C compressor and a tank to air up his tires. Now it may not seem like much and others probably may have done it first, but he did it on his own. I think back to stuff like that. Or watchin' Sam Atkins put jacking bolts in a car that had been running without em' in his driveway. Total tools: a piece of soapstone, a tape measure, a oxy-acetlyene torch and his arc welder. Yep, good times..........

Tower Man
05-28-2007, 06:17 PM
Hey Art, they sure were the good times. There were just so many drivers from back then. Bill Stockert and I were in my trailer this past Saturday talking about the old days.

Ah yes...the stuff we did with the little that we had.

06-02-2007, 02:17 AM
I hadn't said anything here because it's basically just too hard to do. There's too many to list. How do you decide what qualifies someone to be in the alltime top ten. Who rates higher, the person who won a handful of features and finished top 10 many many times back when there were over 50 cars trying to qualify for 24 spots in the features, or someone who had the best of everything in his car while the other 17 cars in a 20 car field didn't and won many many features and a number of championships. In my eyes it's a very rough call. I have lots of respect for so so many of the early drivers in our division. Back then it was a big accomplishment just to qualify. I feel sorry for the people who didn't get to see the show they put on back then. Four heats with 15 cars trying for 5 spots. Then two consi's with over 20 cars trying for two spots. Back in, I guess it was the early 90's, we had a few who dominated our division. I always gave Roger a ton of credit back then. He ran right with them and he didn't have the floater rear, two speed quick change tranny, aluminum driveshaft and a few other things that were eventually listed as illegal. Only the floater rears continued to be legal. The year Ralph Tasso won the championship he had a V8 with a multidisc. The following year the V8's were made to go with a stock clutch. So it's a real tossup. I'd have to say all of the above. All the drivers who people have mentioned here and probably some others. There's been some who I thought were real good drivers, just it never really showed results in the end or they didn't compete long enough. Chucky Hlatky could drive the wheels off a racecar, problem was he usually did. I know I would find it much much easier to name the ten alltime worst figure8 drivers, but we won't go there.


06-02-2007, 04:34 AM
Slick Rick Let Me Ask You This... and you have to answer a driver besides yourself... if someone gave you the best of the best figure8 equipment... and you had to pick ONE driver... who would it be??? I don't think he was mentioned in your answer below... haha... I only ask because how many times have we stood next to each other on the fence in shock of what he can do with a racecar. Yeah, I'm probably playing favorites.... but my old man gets in WHATEVER is laying around and gives them boys a RUN for their money....

06-03-2007, 03:42 AM
It can't be me? Damn. Well, we both know who I'd pick to drive anything I'd have. I'd love to see a Riverhead Figure8 Race of Champions Series. Take the ten most recent figure8 champions and run a ten race series. Each week each driver drives one of the other drivers cars. After ten weeks each driver has run a race in each car. I'd lay odds your dad would have the highest finishing percentage. Would really be interesting to see how everyone would do in each others cars.

Tower Man
06-03-2007, 04:31 PM
Rick, you hit the nail on the head. In 1979, I started 33rd in a consi and it wasn't Championship Day.

A Figure 8 Race of Champions. I love it. Can I play too?

W. J.
06-03-2007, 05:18 PM
A Figure-8 RoC? Sounds great. Let's set up some cones for a figure-8 course in the cookie company parking lot over in Islip, and bring it back to it's roots!!!

06-03-2007, 10:53 PM
Joe when you start that far back you sit there in the car at lineup and just think to yourself, look at this, there's no way, lol. I guess my biggest accomplishment in the figure8's was championship day 1981, I started 33rd and finished 6th. I mentioned in the earlier post how the people who were not around back then missed the shows that were put on. The real show was championship day with 33 cars running the 8. The crossing at the X was non-stop, and coming off the turns to find 8 cars and more stopped at the X in front of you was rather insane.

06-04-2007, 08:22 AM
33 cars and not all locals. Out of state champs were invited with a car "legal" at their home track. (or was it open comp by then?) The aforementioned Sonny Eaton, Chuck Hall, Bob Belz, and an assortment of other invaders. Plus, anyone they could convince to "take the trip". Rick, you, John and Tom were pretty friendly with the guys that ran at Sunshine Speedway (primary sponsor was the Mad Hatter Muffler Shop for a while). How many cars did those guys bring? (my brain says 4.) Plus, you could never count out guys from New England either. At the time, Figure Eight racing was still pretty popular across the country in at least 10 states I can think of. As I have said before, good times......

06-04-2007, 09:28 AM
W.J., definitely set that course in Islip for past champions. But, please, NO CONES!

W. J.
06-04-2007, 12:20 PM
W.J., definitely set that course in Islip for past champions. But, please, NO CONES!
No, you misunderstand the cones. It's only to show where the track will be in this "hit and run" parking lot layout, LOL. No penalties if you hit the cones, LOL!:lol:

06-09-2007, 05:49 AM
Art yes we were. I think you're about right. Bill Miller had his car and usually two or three others. There was usually one or two other drivers who made the trip too from Sunshine. It was tough when I ran Islip regular in 76 to 82, I can only imagine what it was like in the years earlier. It was really fun. It's still fun today, I love to drive, but it was different back then. You didn't need much to be competitive, and you only needed a little more to be a top runner, at least as far as the car was concerned. My first car came from Jerry Bowers so the motor had some good stuff done to it, but the design of the 223 ford sucked, my chevy motor came from Luigi, out of the last figure8 car Quinn drove. It was a stock 230 with a good cam and head. Championship Day was such a big deal back then. Practice all day on saturday and then the racing on sunday. Practice was fun. We used to swap cars and get to see what each others was like. I think it was a regular saturday show but ask Joe Larsen about the time he tried my car. I'll get more photos up here soon. I have some of the out of state cars.

Ken Resnick
06-19-2007, 07:58 AM
Its only fitting to mention the figure 8 race team owner Ray Theiss and his driver, Ken Resnick. From the late 70's through to the close of Islip, and before that in Freeport (bomber division) .
Car #'s : 777 Freeport bomber (1968 Ford Galaxy, center steering)
03 - Islip Figure 8 (owned by Ray Theiss, driven by Ken Resnick, later sold to John Zell)
20 - Islip Figure 8 (owned by Ray Theiss, driven by Ken Resnick)
z28 - Islip Figure 8 (same)
3 - Islip Figure 8 (same)