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Dick Fleck

 Whatever happened to Dick Fleck? by Earl Watson

Okay, it's not exactly a household name but Hatfield Speedway stock car fans will remember Dick Fleck. Dick won 13 of 16 features at Hatfield in 1957 and he was also track champion in 1957 although his 50-year involvement in auto racing has earned him other recognition, particularly for his role in pioneering Pocono International Raceway.

During Dick's racing career that spanned 15 years --minus three years he served in the Navy during the Korean war. Fleck drove everything from jalopies to USAC championship cars, winning a total 57 checkered flags.

Dick Fleck's career as a race driver ended in 1961 when he smashed his car in an end-over-end accident at Hatfield. That's when, George Marshman, Track owner, persuaded Fleck to join him in the front office, promoting the sport of racking on a full-time basis. In fact at the time, Hatfield was running drag racing year-round.

Racing came to end at Hatfield when Marshman sold the track in 1966 but new avenues had already opened up for Fleck at Pocono International Raceway.

He and Dave Montgomery, A building contractor started toying with the idea of building a super speedway in the Poconos as far back as 1958.

Ground breaking for the track was held in 1965. " The first phase was construction for the 3/4 mile oval. That was completed in two years.

Meanwhile, construction continued on the 2.5mile track and it was a scramble to ready the facility for the USAC's 500-mile opener on July 3, 1971.

Dick worked 18 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week without any time off for months on end, He said "It all seemed like a bad dream until opening day.

Dick resides in Collegeville Pa now with winter quarter is Daytona, which as Dick points out is "where the action is". He is active in a local club "The Living Legends Of Auto Racing".


Victory Junction GANG CAMP




CELL - 484-390-2048
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The Life and Career of Dick Fleck




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Flecky Book Review    by Roland Via 

Flecky asked me to review his book 'What The Fleck' and I consider it an honor. I think he knows I will give an honest assessment and not pull punches, so here it goes.  

It has taken me quite a while to figure it out. I often saw one man at just about every race function you could find in Daytona Beach. If there wasn’t a racing event, he’d damn sure make up one. A lunch here, a dinner there. He successfully negotiated more than one race club organization into examining and honoring racing history and it was always about recognizing those that made the sport what it is today. That man is Dick Fleck, one of the best “bench racers” who I often call the “Fleckster”.  

Flecky self promoting? An understatement. His truck is always adorned with signs about his racing past. I thought it was out of the thrill he got during his racing days and he didn’t want to let go of the past. Yes, he had a one good year in racing and yes, he did race promote and form the PROS organization that stood up to his demanding standards when others didn’t. Yes, he helped form a world class speedway in Pocono. He has always been right out front, boasting about his racing exploits. Was he a Petty, Earnhardt, Allison or any other “star” of racing? Nope. He was just one of those many salt of the earth racers that have woven the fabric of the garment we call racing. However, Flecky always wanted to be the brightest color thread

“Was he a . . . ‘star’ of racing? Nope. He was just        one of those many salt of the earth racers that have
woven the fabric of the garment we call racing.
           However, Flecky always wanted to be
                     the brightest color thread."

Personally it didn’t bother me how often he told his story because what would we know about it if he didn’t tell us? Not much. History books won’t be written about him and it had been nearly a half century since he made any racing headlines.  

The book intertwines the personal story of the man into that of the racer.

 I have to admit, I have a whole new perspective of respect for the man. Just consider his service to our Country. How many of us can say we were a F-9 jet fighter pilot and we got shot down and had to eject into the unknown and then was paralyzed for a long time? His interesting business exploits and his racing experiences make you think you are reading about more than one man. I’ve attended race oriented meetings where Flecky was brash, impatient, ready to call a spade-a-spade and very direct. Now that will rub a few people the wrong way but it never bothered me because I knew the good that he was doing. If he was asked to do something or volunteered, he simply got it done. He has no time for slackers, pretenders or those who don’t understand his passion for simply wanting to get things done. Yes, it was usually Flecky’s way and he didn’t need a committee to make up his mind. Underneath the blustery exterior is a heart of gold and he would simply do anything for you if you just asked him right. Sometimes he would just do it because he knew you needed it. 

As for the book name ‘What the Fleck?’, I was thinking that wasn’t very smart marketing because it certainly could be taken the wrong way. Which is exactly the point. The book was written so things wouldn’t be taken the wrong way. Deep down we all like to be liked and understood, but Flecky couldn’t stop and tell all of us his story one by one.

So hurrah for the book. This book connects the dots on a lot of people in racing and goes a long way in remembering the past and the significant racing knowledge and history in Flecky’s head. 

Author Godwin Kelly has once again taken a piece of racing history’s rough old piece of Pennsylvania coal and polished it long enough to make it into a diamond of information. Trust me, it wasn’t easy as I know the Fleckster was probably a demanding client. But when you think about it, all he ever demands is to get it right. This book does that in more ways than one. It is an interesting read and will get you to thinking about all the characters in racing. How one man could pack so much life into one lifetime is amazing. Thank goodness he has documented much through the camera lens that he so ably shares with his many friends. He still travels frequently and gets back to home in Pennsylvania often. When he’s gone from Daytona we miss him and I am sure it is the same for his Pennsylvania friends. He figured out the amazing connectivity of the internet and you are just not interested in racing unless you are receiving his emails.

I have had the privilege of including him with a web page on my website, LegendsofNascar.com. Dick Fleck helps define the word legend and its spirit and intent.  

You asked for it Fleckster, so you got it my friend. Thanks for telling us your story and we’ll be looking forward to helping you create future chapters.  



Media tour at the Ponce Inlet Light house (from L):
Jim Dandiver, Raymond Fox, Joe Mihalic, Russ Truelove, Dick Fleck, Jim Bray,
Raymond Parks, Johnny Allen,  Junie Donleavy Marvin Panch, and Leo Cleary
NASCAR-CUP > Daytona 500, 2007-02-16 (Daytona International Speedway):
Postcard Image by Joe Jennings  Motosport.com

Daytona legends recall good ol' days on beach
By Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM February 17, 2007

(Edited) . . . . . amid a bunch of classic old racecars, was a group of guys who used to work on and drive them. There was the No. 15 machine of "Wild Bill" Snowden, the "Florida Hurricane" and a couple of replicas of cars Fireball Roberts used to race. An old No. 42 Plymouth of Lee Petty was there, too, among others.

Having my own wheels meant I could stay as long as I pleased. So long after the last bus was loaded and gone, I sat with the likes of Marvin Panch and Raymond Parks and Ray Fox and Dick Fleck and listened to how it used to be.

"It was fun, a lot of fun," said Fox, who worked on a number of cars that won races on Daytona's beaches.

Parks, who is hard of hearing and smiles more than he speaks these days, had friends with him to interpret what he was feeling.

"He used to be Mr. Daytona," one of them said of the former car owner.

Panch, winner of the 1961 Daytona 500 after the race moved from the beach to the asphalt, fondly recalled running ocean-side before the current superspeedway opened, as did Fleck, who competed mostly in the Modified stock-car division and said he ran in the last three races ever staged on the sand.

You would get sand-blasted, and you couldn't see," Panch said. "We had tear-offs you could pull off, but that only lasted a short while. So some of us cut little round holes in the windshield, so we could reach over and kind of peek out. Either that or use a marker out of your driver's window."

That didn't always work, however, as Panch readily admitted.

"Johnny Beauchamp had a couple with some children sitting on a dune going into the North Turn, and he was using that for his shutoff point," Panch said. "Well, evidently they needed a Coke or something and they moved down the beach a little bit. Next time by, he missed the turn and almost went into downtown Daytona [because he drove deeper into the turn before braking]."

Downtown Daytona, for the record, was about 10 miles away. Panch laughed heartily as he told the story, and these guys who built racing have thousands more.

Fleck is full of them. He said racing on the beach is a part of NASCAR lore that never should be dismissed or forgotten.

"All I can say, really, is that it was a lot of fun. It was great fun. It was different," Fleck said.

"When I came down for the '56 race, I came down with my '35 Plymouth with a Hemi engine. I flat-towed it with a tow bar. It was quite an experience. We had to schedule our races, of course, according to the tide -- so we had a little bit of something to race on. We would let it drift out a little bit to run in the ocean a little to cool our tires off, so we could finish the races. Tires weren't engineered like they are today. Very skinny.

"And what I'm wearing now is what I raced in then. A short-sleeved shirt, white [thin] pants with a red stripe. Nothing was fireproofed. Our fireproof was the fire extinguisher we had in our car. Our ambulance was a hearse from the local funeral director -- and they only had one. So when someone got hurt, they tried to take care of him right there so they didn't have to take it to the hospital. If they took someone to the hospital, we had to stop the race until they got back.

"They had a first-aid kit with peroxide and Band-Aids. And eye wash, they had a lot of eye wash -- because you would get sand in your eyes. It was very tough to see. And once in a while you would pop off a seagull, too. It was a bloody mess when it hit your windshield. There was feathers and blood floating 'round."

Panch said that he and the other drivers memorized every inch of the old Daytona beach course, even though they oftentimes struggled with realizing exactly where they were.

"The biggest problem was not being able to see," he said. "And when you ran the beach, you always tried to run where it was kind of wet -- because it was hard. But the corners, there was no handling. It was like driving through a plowed field. And then coming down the pavement to get into the South Turn, there was a hump in the road. We'd bounce over that hump, and when it landed, we started putting the brake on. That was our shutoff point. You had to really concentrate on where you were."

The common denominator of all the story-tellers was that old-school racing on the beach was fun -- pure fun. . . . .

. . . . . "We're very proud of the progress the sport is making," Fleck said. "Of course it's more big business than it is sport today. It's almost like any sport. Any sport today is big business. And of course with it being more about business, it's not as much fun as it used to be."

He said it with a touch of sadness in his eyes. Or maybe it was sand.

The opinions expressed are solely of the writer.

Living Legends of Auto Racing live up to their name
By Anita Bevins Sports writer

When the Living Legends of Auto Racing gather on Valentine's Day, former driver, owner, car builder, track designer and promoter Dick Fleck will leave the Plaza Spa and Resort with more evidence of his commitment to the sport he helped pioneer. The LLOAR will honor the part-time Daytona resident with its Distinguished Service award during his 52nd consecutive SpeedWeeks.

"I have been in all angles of the sport, from driver and owner and builder of my own race cars. I was also with the original group that formed the Living Legends of Auto Racing. We started the banquets and the parades on the beach. I was in the beginning of NASCAR and I raced on the beach from 1956 to 1958, and I raced at the new speedway in '59 and '60 in the Sportsman race," Fleck said.

"My history says I have been around quite a bit. I've been in a lot of press rooms at different tracks, and I was in quite a few severe accidents, and I have a couple of fingers that don't work."

But Fleck still has a passion for racing, and he travels to Daytona for a few months each winter so that he can take part in SpeedWeeks activities and catch up with old racing friends.

"I have been here every year since 1956. In 1986, I had a colon cancer operation on Dec. 18. I wasn't quite up to snuff, but we came down here anyway for the races. I'm 74 years old now, and I'm still active. I still have motor oil in my blood. I enjoy all of the racing and talking about it, and letting the younger generation know where we came from."

The Distinguished Service Award is not the former racer and fighter pilot's first turn at recognition.

"Last year, I received an award from the Auto Racing Legends, the lifetime achievement award. The year before that was my 50th year down here, and a group from my old fan club gave me a portrait of myself on the beach. Then they gave me a gift certificate for a tattoo. I went all through the Navy with no tattoo, so on my left arm, I got a tattoo. It is a picture of me racing on the beach in 1956," Fleck said. "For my 50th anniversary, I celebrated by having a heart attack. I was dead for four and a half minutes. The ARL was having a meeting, and I zipped right out. I don't remember anything for five days. I got out of the hospital, and they had a parade in my honor in Ormond Beach."

Fleck will receive his latest honor during the LLOAR's 15th annual banquet Wednesday night. Racing legends Bobby and Donnie Allison, Rex White, Bobby Johns, Marvin Panch and Ernie Saxton will present the LLOAR awards beginning at 8 p.m.

Recipients include Paul Goldsmith, Distinguished Driver; Bill Wimble, Pioneer of Racing; Jimmy Mosteller, Russ Moyer Award; Speedy Spiers, Nuts and Bolts/Behind the Scenes; Frankie Schneider, Saturday Night Hero; Betty Skelton, Woman in Racing; Hurst Performance, The Allison Family Achievement Award.

For more information, call 386-763-4483 or visit www.livinglegendsofautoracing.com.


One of the Daytona on Beach parades

Joe Epton, Dick Fleck, Bill Gazaway



Joe Epton
Dick Fleck







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