happened to Dick Fleck? by
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.
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".
DVD WILL BE INSERTED WITH
PROCEEDS FROM MY TEE SHIRTS AND RACING BOOKS WILL GO TO KYLE & PATTIE PETTY'S
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BY WAY OF
THE LIVING LEGENDS OF
DICK FLECK'S ADDRESS
131 VILLAGE PARK DRIVE, # 102
DAYTONA BEACH, FL. 32114
56 STRAIGHT YEARS DAYTONA SPEEDWEEKS 1956
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
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
“Was he a . . . ‘star’ of
racing? Nope. He was just
one of those many salt of
the earth racers that have
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
woven the fabric of the
garment we call racing.
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
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
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
I have had the privilege of
including him with a web
page on my website,
Fleck helps define the word
legend and its spirit and
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.
THANKS SO MUCH MAYOR--I
SURE DO APPRECIATE THE KIND
Media tour at the Ponce Inlet Light house (from L):
Jim Dandiver, Raymond Fox,
Joe Mihalic, Russ Truelove, Dick Fleck, Jim
Parks, Johnny Allen, Junie Donleavy Marvin Panch, and Leo
NASCAR-CUP > Daytona 500, 2007-02-16 (Daytona International Speedway):
Image by Joe Jennings Motosport.com
Daytona legends recall good ol' days on beach
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
and listened to how it used to be.
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
used to be Mr. Daytona," one of them said of the former car
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.
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.
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."
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
The opinions expressed are solely of the writer.
Legends of Auto Racing live up to their name
By Anita Bevins
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.
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.
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
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
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."
Distinguished Service Award is not the former racer and
fighter pilot's first turn at recognition.
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."
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
information, call 386-763-4483 or visit
of the Daytona on Beach parades
Joe Epton, Dick Fleck, Bill Gazaway
More great Stories and Pictures -
Click to see
Nascar Nextel Cup Series Tickets
Copyright © 2003
by Roland Via. All rights reserved. Revised:
06/08/12 08:11:07 -0400.
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