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Fireball
Winner

Post Number: 1006

Posted on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 10:06 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Art Beardsley 1960

One of a Kind, Art Beardsley
By Dan Hall

In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became part of the United States. The movie, “Some like it hot” was the picture of the year. A vocal group called the Chipmunks made their recording debut. This year was also when the construction of Perry Raceway began. The raceway was a dream of one man, Art Beardsley. He wanted to make his dream a reality. Art’s stepson, Bob Schiltz remembers, “My dad was a big fan of racing. He and my mom went to Angelica Raceway and Hunt Raceway often. Art wanted to be a part of racing and purchased twenty five acres from his father. The family started building the raceway in 1959.”

In the fifties, Art Beardsley had served in the Air Force. Upon the completion of his service, Art returned to Perry. He began working for a Batavia construction firm. Bob Schiltz said, “Once Dad bought the property, he got Joe Lowindowsky, a fellow construction worker, to bulldoze the land. He also bought a grader from the town of Hunt. We all were kept busy that year.” In 1960, the racing began on Sunday afternoons. Those drivers who Art use to watch from the stands were now competing on his track. The first year was very successful. In 1961, more competitors and spectators made Perry Raceway the place to be on Sunday. The beginning of the 1962 season brought about a new event called “Snap the whip”. The last car on each lap was eliminated until there was only one car. This brought about some fast and furious racing. One of the most successful drivers who competed at Perry was Dean Layfield. Dean entered a “Snap the whip” race in a borrowed car. He was coming out of the fourth turn when a stone struck him in the head. The car veered and went straight over the first turn bank. Bob Schiltz remembers, “He came out of the fourth turn and the car swerved. Dean drove right over the first turn bank. He just missed the ticket stand and the car did a couple of circles. We thought he was just showing off. Unfortunately, he wasn’t.” A few days later, Dean passed away. This tragedy was devastating to Art. Bob continued, “Dad became good friends with all the drivers. He and Dean were very good friends. The week before the accident, Art and mom had visited Dean at his home. My dad never got over this accident. This took all the fun out of his dream.” A few weeks later, Art sold the track to Roger Paddock, Don Butler, and Jerry Houghton. Art’s sister, Shirley McLaughlin said, “Art really loved racing. The accident that killed Dean took all the joy away. I don’t believe my brother ever got over that. A few weeks later he sold the track.” Art’s good friend and next door neighbor, Fred Bauer remembers, “We all helped Art at the track. In the beginning, we had a lot of good times. Everybody liked Art because he was so much fun. The death of Dean Layfield was the beginning of the end. Art was really upset and he sold the track.” One of the trio that bought the track was Roger Paddock. Roger remembers, “We stayed up most of the night to work out the deal for the Raceway. I know the accident had a lot to do with the sale. Art is a great guy.”

The realization of a dream sometimes has unexpected results. Art learned this the first year of raceway operations. Bob Schiltz said, “Dad learned business skills, soil management, and fortune telling that first year.” Bob went on to explain, “The clay surface of the track needed to be watered down before the race and at intermission. Art started experimenting with brine water from Morton Salt. He discovered that worked the best.” Another discovery Art made was about insurance. Lloyds of London was the only carrier who offered coverage. The insurance was not cheap. Once again, Bob remembers, “The insurance was five hundred dollars a week. That was a lot of money in 1960. If you canceled the race due to rain, you had to phone Lloyds and the coverage would be carried over till the next week. The call had to be made before noon on Sunday. One Sunday the skies were threatening and the forecast was for heavy rain. Art canceled the races and phoned Lloyds. I was coming back from work and heading for the track. The skies had cleared up and the sun was out. There were a huge number of cars on Oatka road. I stopped and asked what was going on. One guy told me they cancelled the races. I headed home and asked my mom where dad was. She told me he was on the couch and don’t bother him. Well, he took a lot of flack but that was part of the business. One thing for sure, there was never a dull moment with Art. Art will be my hero till the day I die.”

The life of Art Beardsley touched a lot of people. Art passed away on October 6, 2001. He was remembered by so many people at the wake. They all had funny stories to tell about Art. He took his dream and made it a reality. In the process, he provided a lot of humor and friendship. Art was inducted into the Wyoming County International Speedway “Wall of Fame” for his passion for racing and people. Art is the founder of Perry Raceway. He was also a father, a good friend to all, and a man who had a unique sense of humor. Art Beardsley is one of a kind.

aerial view of track 1959
Eddiebin83
Rookie

Post Number: 4

Posted on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 2:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks for a great story, Dan. Becoming aware of racing history and those who took the risks to make local short track racing successful is an incredible story and a great metaphor on life. While WCIS/Perry is not my home track, I have been there to see for myself what great racing it provides. Now, when I go back, I'll be thinking of the man who started it all. Also, thanks for the story about Tony Hanbury in the Jan. Gater.
Fireball
Champion

Post Number: 1007

Posted on Saturday, February 04, 2006 - 2:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Eddiebin83. I hope to see you in 2006 at WCIS. Tony will be defending the WCIS Modified Championship.
Trankracing
Rookie

Post Number: 41

Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 1:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wow, that was a great story, very interesting. Keep up the great history lessons. Thank You.
Fireball
Champion

Post Number: 1043

Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 11:58 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thank you Gordon. I hope your racing season is successful.
Nerfbar
Veteran

Post Number: 224

Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 8:20 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fireball what a story how many people have been to that track and did'nt know any of the history that goes along with it once again great job
Fireball
Champion

Post Number: 1061

Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 4:18 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Nerfbar. I had heard bits and pieces of the story over the last few years. Bob Schiltz really help me put this together.
Trivia69
Winner



Post Number: 318

Posted on Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 12:33 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fireball, Having seen Bucky Dew race in our area as a part of the old Finger Lakes Racing Association in the early 50's and trying to drive a super for the June's in the latter part of his career, this ride he is pictured with is new to me. Can you fill in some of the gaps on the car and owner and some of his adventures with the "bugs". BTW thanks for the history piece. I always love to learn about tracks I'm lacking in the history of.
Fireball
Champion

Post Number: 1064

Posted on Sunday, February 19, 2006 - 7:29 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Trivia69;
I do not have any information of Bucky. Art's son sent me the pic for the story. Hopefully, one of the raceny members can fill the gaps. Here is another pic from that first year (1960) and the B Bomb champion, Roger Ott.


Roger Ott Perry Raceway 1960


Bud Johnson Perry Raceway 1960
Walt28
Rookie

Post Number: 48

Posted on Monday, March 06, 2006 - 4:16 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

good afternoon

Yes, Art was truly a fine man, I can attest to that, my father Harold " Shifty " Sherwood raced at Perry during the short time that Art was running the track, and I too was at Perry the day that the great number 9/16 of the infamous Dean Layfield was stricken down. Dean and my father were teammates during those magical times at Perry and we would make the complete circle of races in the early 60's during weekends by running Angelica, Mills, Perry, and Hunt Raceways, a time that I truly enjoyed as a young race fan growing up around such famous names and drivers such as Dean and his recently deceased brother Bill, Bud Johnson, Jackie Soper, Eddie Anchor, Billy Rafter, Stroker McGurk, Devere Bliss, and a plethera of other great names.

Art enjoyed being around these drivers and the interaction that ensued every weekend when we all visited his great facility, those early days were, like I stated, magical times and Art provided us all with a great place to race and treated us all with fairness and respect and in return got back many great weekends that many like us can still remember, because I know I did, and always will ! Art was truly an innovator and he will always have my respect. It's good to see people still recall Art and the great track that he started on Oatka Road.

Walt Sherwood
Wellsville, NY
(585) 593-6107
Fastfredattnet
Rookie

Post Number: 1

Posted on Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - 10:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great story, I saw Bucky Dew at Oswego driving Ernie and Bob Junes rear engine car. I think he only drove it once. I was pretty young.
That is Ernie and (a very young) Bob June in the background of this picture taken at Perry. With the car being #60 you can bet it was of Ernie's creations.
My Dad told me that in the early days Bucky would smoke a cigar while driving and when he was really working to get by somebody there would be more smoke comeing out of the cockpit than there was from the engine!!
Fireball
Champion

Post Number: 1163

Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 11:49 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Fred for the information. I hope you can make it down to WCIS (Perry) this year.
Chuckle
Rookie

Post Number: 1

Posted on Friday, April 25, 2008 - 2:13 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I spend some time with Bucky Dew and his wife Hazel every spring at the Sun and Fun airshow in Lakeland FL. He is still living in New York. We are both volunteers at this airshow. I've known Bucky and Hazel for about 7 years.

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