|John, in the Emig Mustang, 1974|
Those were special times back in the early '70s. Canfield was my "home" track, I was in high school, and I was just starting to do some writing on the sport. I became friends with John - and his wife Diane and some of their friends. Looking back, I think part of what made it special was that I was a kid making his first adult friendships. John was six years older than me and I was just getting out of high school, and I wasn't a kid anymore.
When Emig came calling in 1973, things kept rolling along. Not sure how many people know this - FASTRAK NE Co-Director Vicki Emig and I have known each other since she was in grade school and I was in high school. It was a heady time back then, with enough innocence around for everyone. In '73, John's rivalry with Jerry Rydarowicz heated up, and those Saturday nights at Canfield Speedway are legendary. We were all wrapped up in the moment, and I can really say it was magical.
But time marches on. Things change. And 1973 was the final year for Canfield Speedway. And Butler. And Heidelburg. And the changes continued as the Emig/Buzzard team made the move to Late Models in 1974.
Time was split between dirt and asphalt, eventually settling on an all dirt schedule. My brother and I started following the Ohio asphalt circuit more closely. I was seeing my friend John a little less.
Then came April of 1975. My favorite aunt passed away unexpectedly and John met his fate at Expo, all within a week of each other. Life was looking, suddenly, very different.
|My column in Mid-American Auto Racing News, May 9, 1975|