THE BERNIE'S LIQUOR SHOP CAR

 


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Dick Bennett, at his shop with a later 71. Not sure if he still had Bernie as sponsor then.

     The first time I ever got to visit the legendary Fonda Speedway was right around 1962. My uncle and I had gotten there really early, had watched every detail of the track preparation, and were getting a little sick of sitting there by the time warmups and practice laps were beginning. I had visions of Danish, Corey, Herbert, and Lazarro swimming in my head; and I had actually seen the likes of George Baumgardner and Dutch Reed performing in Vermont at the old Otter Creek Speedway earlier that year.
    The very first car to appear out on the track, however, was an unfamiliar red and white 1937 Ford coupe, being identified by announcer Mike Valchovic as "Leeeeeeee MILL -in - tunnn, from Palatine Bridge". Ever since I have a soft spot in my heart for that first Fonda car I ever saw. I have seen the sponsor's name spelled a number of different ways, but I will go with Bernie Myrusky [as told to me by Bill Kollar, son of one of the team's principal figuires].
    Apparently, the actual owner of the car was Dick Bennett. According to Kollar, Jr. Kollar, Sr. and Bill King [also a car owner sometimes] were the main wrenches on the car.

I just recently [March 2011] found a number of photos from Gerry LaVallee, which I am gratefully placing here. CLICK HERE for those.

 I am going to include here some of the comments sent to me by Bill Kollar, Jr. : "I thought I might offer you some general information about the 71. The 71 was owned by my uncle Dick and sponsored by Bernie Myrusky. Bernieís Liquor Shop in Gloversville, NY). Originally the car was stabled in a garage/barn on the Bill King Property in Gloversville. Bill and my uncle did 90% of the wrench work on the car at that time. Bill King is the father of Jim King (past Fonda announcer and at many other motor sports events in NYS and elsewhere). Jim is on Dirt Track Digest quite a bit in case you would like to contact him. I believe that this was the first car that Lou Lazzaro drove at Fonda. My most vivid memory of the Monk is him strapped in the car and it spinning slowly like a top on itís roof in the middle of Fondaís front stretch."
     
As things sometimes happen in life my uncle and Bill had a parting of the ways and my uncle removed the car from the property. He then rented another garage in Gloversville in which to house it. Whether he or King owned it at that time is probably debatable but my uncle ended up ended up with the car. Bill King continued on for quite a few years after that campaigning the 90 driven by Dutch Reed. Bernie stayed on with my uncle as the only sponsor to the 71. I believe that the car was actually housed in two other places in Gloversville. The first was above a Sunoco gas station on Main St. and then later in a small garage on N. Main St., behind a ESSO gas station, operated by the Neszick (?sp) family, where it survived a major fire. Later the car was moved to my uncleís garage behind his house on Wells St. in Johnstown, NY, where it finished out itís days as the 71 and where my uncle still lives.In your picture labeled "Dick Bennett and Mr. Kollar", the Mr. Kollar is my father. He helped my uncle for many, many years. His first name is Bill if you would care to change the label. I donít think I ever heard any one address him as mister though some probably did. My father made most of the racing jackets that started to show up in the pits in the early 60's in the cellar of our home in Johnstown. "


Ladabouche Collection Photo by Russ Bergh
Leeeee   MILL - ing- tunnn ! with that first car I ever saw on Fonda.

  


Source Unknown
Mr. Lee

 

From Otto Grahams Site
An earlier version of the
71 with Irv Taylor.

John Grady Photo
Lee, around 1962.

Gater Racing News Photo
Around 1964, with a
Chevy . Looks like a wreck
with Robbie Kotary.

Steve Judd Photo
Lee and that later Chevy
version of Bernie's car
 


Courtesy of Jo Towns via Otto Graham
Mr. Lee in a later coupe.

EARLIEST VERSIONS


Schenectady Collection, Otto Graham
Ken Jones, with a very early version.

Schenectady Collection, Otto Graham
Ken Jones, with a very early version.

GERRY LAVALLEE PHOTOS
[All From Jalopy Journal]


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington wins

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington with
the 1967 version.
 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington with
the Dick Bennett Valiant

 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington 1960's

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Robbie Kotary wins

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Ken Jones, with a
1950's version.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A rare Jim Luke
sighting in that car.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman, Berni Maruske,
Dick Bennett, as the Fonda
"Ford Champions".
 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Bennett, Maruske,
Wayman, and crewman.
 

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman wins
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A wreck that may have
caused the fire.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Looking for a fire in
the team's 1960's car.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Don Wayman and fans.
 
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
A fire inthe team's 1960's car
is apparently out.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Showing Jerry Cook
the way around Fonda.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Johnson, at speed.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Johnson wins

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington missing
some of the roof.

 


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Mr. Lee, in color.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Lee Millington, 1967.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Farquhar with
the Valiant.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Jack Farquhar with
the Valiant.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Another Wayman win at Fonda.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
1
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
2
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
3
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
4
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
5
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
6
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
7
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
8
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
9
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Fancy 1971 paint job
with the team posing
.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early team car photographed
and said to be with Debbie.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early team car photographed
and said to be with Debbie.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early '60's team car
at the shop.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
The team's 1967 car, under
the 148 of Robbie Kotary.
another picture of the wreck
is seen below.

Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
The crew looks over the mess.
 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
The crew in the Ken Jones era.
 
Courtesy of James King
A win for Jim Luke in his
brief tenure.
       

 
Courtesy ofJames King
The
Bennett 71 and The Bill King 5 at the local gas station many of the teams frequented.

 
Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
An early '60's team car at Victoria Speedway. Gerry says either Ken Jones or Jim Luke is driving.


Courtesy of Lew Boyd
My buddy Lew Boyd, with the car in the 70's. The three window coupe reminds me of one such
car that made the rounds among Gloversville area owners in the 1960's.


Gater Racing News Photo
Lee wads up one of Dick's 71's in a clash with the Ward Petit 148 of Robbie Kotary.


Gater Racing News Photo
Ken Shoemaker once briefly sat in Dick's 71's at Fonda [shown above] until Ed Pieniazek miraculously appeared with
a repaired AC Caprara 37. The 37 had been literally broken in half the night before at Montgomery County in Rochester.


Courtesy of Gerry LaVallee
Dick Bennett and loyal crewman Bill Kollar [who also sometimes ran his own K71 car].

THE KEN JONES FENCE JOB
Result of a Broken Suspension Part

 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
That was a hard hit. I think he"sustained minor injuries.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
A different angle.

Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
Another different angle.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
A different angle.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
Aftermath damage inspection.


Frank Simek Photo
A different angle
Track workers right the 71, then driven by Lee Millington.

A 1957 TRIP TO LANGHORNE
I Think Ken Jones Was the Driver (From Very Grainy 8MM Film)

 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
The matching team tow truck arrives.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
A man [I don't know who]
decides to dance for the camera.


Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
The team truck and car.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
One of the crew or the
driver talks with an unkown woman.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
The Bennett bunch, at Langhorne. Dangerous looking crew !
   
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
The team car is seen down
on the track behind Jeep Herbert
and ahead of Dink Widenhouse.
 
Courtesy of Gorge Kollar
The team car is seen down
on the track behind a young
member of the Bennett cheering
section.
   


Courtesy of Scott Belknap
The team apparently went back to Irv Taylor for a bit years after his first gig.

Return to the Main Page
Return to the Main News Page
Return to the All Links Page

Return to the New York Owners and Drivers Link Page