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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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May 2010 Issue
 
ARTICLE
Leader Card Racers - A Dynasty of Speed, Gordon Eliot White, 2009
Book review by Robert McLellan
 

In the early 1950s, as a child, I attended midget racing at a track in Hampton, Virginia. One evening, an old fellow sitting next to my father continuously wanted to discuss his racing days. My father, having little interest in racing, was there only for my benefit and was becoming irritated and dismissed him as a braggart.

At the end of the evening, this 'new friend' invited us to his house to see his stable of Indy race cars. My father smiled and said "sure", just to prove him a fraud. We followed him home and pulled up to a rundown house with a row of even more dilapidated sheds. In the dark with flash lights, we proceeded to the sheds and there we saw about ten old Indy race cars from the 1930s and 1940s. By midnight the cars were a glorious sight to me, all with interesting histories.

I don't remember much about the race but the cars are still in my head. I would bet that they all survived and are in some collections today. My interest in racing really took off after that, and 'Leader Card Racers' has brought back some of those memories.

Leader Card Racers is the remarkable story of one family’s four-generation passion for auto racing. Beginning with a team of midgets before WW II, successful paper manufacturer Bob Wilke, his son Ralph, and now his grandsons have owned and sponsored winning racing cars on the Championship trail, on dirt track, and currently with a successful return to midgets. With legendary mechanics A. J. Watson and Jud Phillips, the Wilke Family won the Indy '500' and the National Championship three times: twice with Roger Ward (1959 & 1962) and once with Bobby Unser (1968). Superbly chronicled by noted author Gordon White, the story of Leader Card Racers is a testament to the Wilke family’s devotion to motor sport and to the history of American oval track racing.

You will find Leader Card Racers to be a fresh look at American racing of the 1930s through the early 1990s. Well illustrated, it is more than a picture book. It is a very interesting history of the period involving the Wilke Agency, the Marchese brothers, Ferrari, A.J. Watson, Pat Flaherty, Roger Ward, A.J. Floyt, Don Branson, Bobby Unser and the list goes on. I hope you will like it as much as I did.

 

Gordon Eliot White is an authority on classic American racing history. His other books:

- Kurtis-Kraft: Masterworks of Speed and Style, 2001
- Lost Race Tracks: Treasures of Automobile Racing, 2003
- Offenhauser (Motorbooks Classic), 2004
- Marvelous Mechanical Designs of Harry A. Miller, 2004
- Ab & Marvin Jenkins: The Studebaker Connection and the Mormon Meteors, 2006

 
 

Leader Card Racers - A Dynasty of Speed, Gordon Eliot White

Book price: $55.00

 
Shipping / handling — $8.00 Media Mail, but our readers get a free upgrade to Priority mail (so that is $8.00 for 2-3 day shipment with confirmation). Further, 'Automotive Chronicles' readers have been offered 30% discount on any other titles available with Racemaker Press. Click here to check their website.

Please call Racemaker Press on 617 723-6533 and mention that you are an 'Automotive Chronicles' reader. You may also order via regular mail. Write to Racemaker Press, 39 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116.

If you have any questions, please contact the publishers
here.
 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, May 2010
 
 
 
 
 
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