By Kurt Bogerman
Photos by Rolf Hill
On September 10 & 11, 2021 the Northeast Region VKA reconvened at the Oreville Speedway in Mertztown, PA for the 6th Annual EAST COAST VINTAGE KART NATIONALS. This event, though only two days in duration, had lofty aspirations. Not only was this event a regularly scheduled celebration of vintage karting, but it also coincided with INTERNATIONAL GO KART DAY. Additionally, this gathering also hosted a FOX KART REUNION, with Dick Teal, of Fox Karts fame, who graciously accepted the invitation to be our special guest. Finally, it was lost on no one that this weekend also marked 20 years since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
The gates officially opened on Friday at 10AM, though when I arrived “late”, at 10:05, there were quite a few canopies already erected. I was expecting the pits to be muddy, given the heavy rains that had passed through with Ida just a week before. I observed ducks swimming in the still-flooded front yard of a nearby farmhouse, yet the speedway property was, in fact, quite dry and solid underfoot. The track opened for practice at 12:00, and the afternoon was spent testing and tuning until 5pm. Of course,there was a lot of catching up to do with friends old and new. In particular,if you weren’t completely captivated by Dick Teal’s detailed observations and anecdotes, from his unique point of view,you just weren’t paying attention.
As we’ve done before, arrangements were made to meet in the evening at the local restaurant Florence Italian Grille. Per previous norms, we were expecting a core group of about a dozen. Our poor server… Inexplicably, we found ourselves pulling more tables and chairs together and our party eventually expanded to about 24 guests! These are tough times for understaffed restaurants, and this was a perfect storm. This woman -running mascara and all -maintained her pleasant composure -even as she was also responsible for a wedding party in another, different room! Recognizing that this was an untenable scenario, Natalie Bogerman and Ginny Hunter stepped in and assisted with such tasks as distributing menus and silverware, as well as directing traffic when food began to arrive. The food was great,and the conversations were excellent.
Unique among our Northeast events, with it usually reserved for Friday night, the first order of business on Saturday morning at Oreville wasthe Kart Show. This show was, for good reason, flush with Fox karts. I mean, Fox is always well represented in Vintage, but there was definitely an influx of Fox products for this Fox Reunion. Oreville Kart Club reportedly has a robust vintage racing class, and those regulars love Fox karts, too. Another perfect storm, but in a good way! In celebration of the Fox marque, Dick Teal was not just our Special Guest, but he was also asked to evaluate this field of Foxes to present awards for the “Best Restored” and “Best Modified” Fox karts. John Wolkiewicz, Sr., Chris Gruber and I were the judges for the regular array of Kart Show awards, and as a result, we were privileged to stand side by side with Dick Tealand hear his insight regarding the many nuances that he saw in each Fox kart that he inspected. Steering wheels, road wheels, brakes, the yellowing of clear seat piping over time, -the very thread used in the stitching of the upholstery -He took all of this into consideration as he evaluated each kart. His firsthand, original source expertise was incredible. Eventually Ginny Hunter’s Fox, with its West Bend 580was awarded “Best Restored”,and Carl Haydt’s Mercury powered Fox was awarded “Best Modified”.
After the Kart Show, it was time to get to the heats. First, though, we remembered those who were lost during andas a result of the 9/11 attacks,as we heard our National Anthem and observed a moment of silence for the fallen.
The heats went off without incident! This track is short and fast, and this has led to a couple of hairy moments in years past. We were all very pleased with the good clean demonstrations of our vintage machinery and driving skill. Of course, the podium results will appear in a graphic somewhere nearby.
As always, I am grateful to the staff at Oreville Speedway. They have been professional and gracious in years past, and they seemed especially so this year. Alex Greenzweig and Kenny Denglermade sure to make us feel welcome, and the other staff members were quick to help in whatever ways they could. Thanks, too, to the folks who plan and negotiate and arrange these events, including Skip Owen, Karl Ginter, and Sal Palatucci. It was another (another!) great weekend of Vintage Karting Fun!