2013 Tas Awards and Nostalgic Movie Nite
Thank you to everyone who supported this event.
With the Tasnady 44 courtesy of Joe Opitz and the Pauch 15 courtesy of the Fleming and Everitt families parked out front announcing our location, Flemington Speedway Historical Society (FSHS) hosted it's third annual Nostalgic Movie Nite and Tas Award ceremony. The Flemington Elks lodge, across Route 31 from the old fairgrounds, was the familiar venue.
About 210 old friends of the Flemington Speedway attended: drivers, owners, mechanics, photographers, officials, and all of us, fans. The Elks' banquet hall, which is fire code rated at 295 occupant capacity, was divided into two parts: The "theater" part of the hall with a stage for award presentations measured about 45' x 70' with seating for 160 and standing room for another 40 plus. The smaller room with bar adjacent, was about 55' by 35' in area. This dining and socializing area also had two HDTVs from which racing movies and video recordings of FSHS guest speakers were being broadcast.
A 13 foot screen topped the stage used for award presentations. FSHS hung three of our large banners at this end of the theater room. The movies were shown through a thirty thousand dollar, 7,000 lumens movie projector - and the clear sound came through equally awesome speakers and equipment. This, thanks — much thanks — to Matt Mahoney who donated his services for the day, as well as the use of projector, dvd players, laptop, HDTVs, speakers and many electronic things we didn't recognize. FSHS appreciates Jerry and John Fillimon taking much care in crafting a program to fit FSHS needs, and for graciously accommodating the last minute program additions we burdened them with. Area Auto Racing New's Earl Krause and Bobby Stull (the legendary flagman and announcer) called play-by-play on the Fillimon Brothers' historic racing videos, with Krause also serving as emcee. FSHS is grateful to them both, as each generously donated their time, and made their work look easy. It's not. Flemington Speedway Starter Warren Alston sat behind them, at times prompting from his own memories.
The night began with Earl Krause welcoming the audience, and then asking "all ladies and gentleman to please rise and remove your hats for the playing of our National Anthem." A slideshow immediately began playing, featuring Paul Kuhl and pace car(s) accompanied by the Star-Spangled banner. When it ended, Krause, summoning Bill Singer, familiarly requested, "close all gates around the speedway, please…" to much applause.
An hour into the Fillimon's show, and the house lights went up, as FSHS President Mark Harrington and Vice President David Garboski presented appreciation awards to several key members. Larry and Dan Fleming accepted for the Everitt and Fleming families, who have supported FSHS from its inception in a variety of ways, not the least of which is towing their 1976 restoration of Billy Pauch's 15 to many events. Then, Larry High was recognized as a faithful and loyal FSHS member who never fails to enthusiastically support our events with his own labor and friends he recruits. We're also grateful to Larry for inspiring and challenging us with ideas. Next to be called onstage was Diane Tracy, who diligently prepares press releases behind the scenes without complaint and with little recognition. Diane is another member with a mind for ideas, and through her example pushes FSHS to maintain and improve its professional image. Finally, Wyatt Jacobus Sr. was acknowledged for his undying dedication - as president Harrington said, "When there was no one to march in a parade, or no one to bring a car, my friend Wyatt was there. I could always count on him." Again, FSHS gives our sincere thanks to the Fleming and Everitt families, Larry High, Diane Tracy, and Wyatt Jacobus Sr.
After another block of movies was shown, Earl Krause introduced former Gater Racing News and FSHS Board Member Fred Voorhees, who took us back in time with his carefully crafted speech, presenting Billy Pauch with his Tas Award, which honors Flemington Speedway's Most Influential Persons. Pauch spoke at length, first about his admiration for the award's namesake Al Tasnady, then about his fond and vivid Flemington memories, and finally about the night's other Tas Award recipient, Flemington Promoter Paul Kuhl. Pauch's remarks were at times moving, always genuine, and of course, very well received.
Movies played again, until Earl Krause introduced former FSHS Vice President Steve Barrick, who entertainingly presented the Tas Award to Paul R. Kuhl. Barrick's key note perhaps was that Flemington Speedway, in Paul Kuhl's thirty years as promoter, was host to more than twice as many races than in its entire previous history - which was roughly twice as many years. Barrick also used his forum to call out paid attendees who had claimed never to have visited Flemington after it was paved, "You did. I saw you. I saw all of you there and most of you came more than once." Perhaps they did, but apparently not frequently enough to sustain the speedway. With Paul Kuhl at home in poor health, his son Rick Kuhl stepped to the podium. Kuhl's speech soon had everyone engrossed. He succinctly spoke about Tasnady, the innovations and temperament of his dad, and their shared sadness upon and after losing the speedway they loved. Then, he spoke at length about Billy Pauch, first citing specific defining moments of Pauch's career, then sharing with us how Pauch would often visit Paul Kuhl at home, after the speedway closed. Paraphrasing Kuhl, "Billy had no incentive to visit my dad, there was nothing for him, except that he respected Paul Kuhl. I respect and admire Billy Pauch for the champion driver that the is, but I also admire Billy Pauch for the person that he is." He continued, "Thank you again for remembering and honoring my dad, thank you for this night, and thank you for what you are doing with Flemington Speedway Historical Society." Kuhl left the stage to much applause, and it was well earned.
Chinese Auction winners were then announced. Sandy Bate worked hard at this, and FSHS is grateful to receive so many quality donations.
FSHS next acknowledged the work of some of the men most essential in preserving Flemington Speedway history: photographers. In what we expect will become an annual tribute, David S. Pratt, Jack Kromer, Mel Stettler, and Ace Lane Jr. were honored. Each had a slideshow of six images they had shared for this occasion, with captions and narration by the orally nimble Krause. Pratt and Lane were there to hear the enthusiastic applause. More movies, and one final slideshow, this one featuring 300 images from our Facebook page, set to music. Like any Saturday night, this one too then faded away, to become one more memory in the history of Flemington Speedway.