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Fireball
Racing Legend



Post Number: 2298

Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 7:29 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


(Ron Rigby photo)

“As the Wheel Turns”
A tribute to friend and racer Dave London

By Dan Hall and Tom Fecteau

There is no doubt that Dave London loved racing. He was around it his whole life. The passion began when David became a fan of Jim Shampine and his “8 ball” race cars, especially the Ford Mustang. He would watch his hero race as often as possible. David would go to Spencer or Fulton, even when his dad “suggested” a young man should be doing more important things with his time and money. In the “off season”, David raced model “slot cars” at Seneca Raceway, creating a replica of his inspiration, the “8 ball” Mustang and letting everyone know that “soon, I am going to be a racer too.” And in 1969, at the age of 20, he did.

Shirley, Dave’s sister, remembers when Dave built his first race car. “They kept it up at the family cottage in Sodus and he was constantly commuting from Rochester to work on it. One time, I witnessed something which I never forgot. Dave was driving the car around the dirt access road while somebody was riding on the front fender. The guy on the fender was trying to adjust the carburetor. Believe me, it was quite a spectacle.” That wasn’t the only spectacle that Shirley witnessed. She continued, “There was a time at Fulton where on the first lap, the tire and wheel sheared right off. Dave didn’t even complete one lap before he was done. I asked him what happened; did you forget to tighten something? He just laughed and put the car back together. The next week, he was right back at it. He loved racing.”



(Ron Rigby photo)

David’s early racing didn’t meet with a lot of success but you could see his determination to learn and improve. An eye injury temporarily ended Dave’s driving but not his urge to race. In 1972 he decided that even if the Late Model class was being phased out at asphalt tracks, he would take his equipment and growing group of friends and go attack the local dirt tracks. First with Dave Hocking and later with Erin “Doc” Smith as his drivers, they helped the “London Engineering Ford” become a force to be dealt with at tracks like Weedsport and Rolling Wheels. Dave’s first full season back as a driver was 1976. He had prepared a 1970 Ford Fairlane to compete at Spencer Speedway. Dave remembers, “1976 was quite a year for me. I started racing the #89 at Spencer Speedway in the Strictly Stock class. The one race that really stands out was my first feature win. The way it came about was not on the track.” Dave went on to explain, “Tom Forgione was the first to take the checkers. He, Tim Dippel, Dean Beh, and Don Scott were all disqualified by NERA officials. This relegated me the winner. Well, later that year, I actually won one on the track and received many congratulations from these same folks.”

A few years later, another significant thing happened in Dave’s life. He got married to Vicki Lee. Dave said, “We met through some friends that knew we both loved racing. She was only four and half feet tall. I use to always kid her about having the “short genes.” We got married in 1978 and she became my pit crew.” By the mid eighties, Dave and Vicki Lee started hosting the yearly Spencer Speedway banquet. Jody London, Dave’s son, remembers: “I’ve heard many stories about how involved they were with the banquet for a number of years. Mom and Dad were very successful at organizing those events. They were even asked by the NASCAR Modified series to put together a banquet. That year the banquet was a combination of Spencer Speedway and NASCAR Modifieds. My folks loved every aspect of racing.” In addition to the banquet Dave and Vicki Lee later penned a column for the GATER Racing News titled “As the Wheel Turns”. They always wanted readers to know what was going on “behind the scenes and in the garages of their local heroes”. They even maintained a Program for Spencer Speedway for a couple seasons. David and Vicki Lee truly loved every aspect of racing.


(Ron Rigby photo)

The race career of Dave London spanned approximately thirty years. He raced against many competitors including Buck Catalano, Jan Leaty, Scott Merz, and Jack Nichols. Dave said, “I use to kid people by stating: you know when you’re getting old when your fellow competitor’s kids start working on the cars or racing against you.” The #89 racer went on to compete at many of the area tracks including Spencer, Fulton, Shangri-La, Cayuga, and Perry. He also made several trips to Pocono to compete in the Race of Champions Street Stock race. Dave’s perseverance paid off when he captured the Street Stock championship at Wyoming County International Speedway in 1998. There were a number of factors on how the championship came to be. Jody remembers, “In the early nineties, my dad was not racing and it didn’t look like he was going to get involved again as his priority was taking care of his family. A friend of Dad’s kept pestering him for help building a car and so my dad agreed. When they completed the car, the friend raced it a few times, with some success, and then it sat idle.” Jody continued, “I started bugging Dad about racing again. To my delight he bought the car and started racing again at Apple Valley (Spencer Speedway). At the end of that season (1994), he started building another car. The 1979 Ford Granada was ready for the 1996 race season. Unfortunately, dad broke his foot and was out for the season. I was really anxious about what was going to happen next.” Dave did return to racing in 1997 and won the last feature of that year at Spencer. In 1998, he decided to try racing at the Perry bullring. The speedway had just changed back to asphalt and Dave, like many times before, was up for a new challenge. Jody remembers, “Dad won the very first Street Stock feature and led the points for the entire season. He had built a winning race car and all of his hard work paid off with a championship.”

The “Grand Finale” of Dave’s racing career would be just as exciting as the early years. 1999 would be his final full season as a driver. Dave returned to Spencer Speedway for some excitement and found it. Jody recalled: “It was the next to last feature of the year; my dad led every lap coming to the white flag. On the last lap, Wilbur Hebing got under him between three and four and Luke Cino was on the outside of him. They raced three wide to the checkers. After the officials reviewed the tape, Wilbur got the win. My dad finished second by an inch.” Dave’s final race came at the Fall Shootout at Perry in 1999. The #89 racer has been involved with racing most recently with his son, Jody. Jody runs the #89 SST Modified at Spencer Speedway.

A big part of Dave’s life was racing. He said, “I loved racing my whole life. The only thing I love more is my wife, Vicki Lee, my son, Jody, and daughter, Kim.” I asked Dave if he could change anything about his racing career, what it would be. He replied, “I wouldn’t change a thing. I was glad I had the chance to race. The championship was a long time coming. We came close a few times but it always slipped away. Then in 1998, it finally happened.” The perseverance Dave demonstrated for nearly thirty years, paid off. His hard work was not in vain. Dave never gave up on the dream of winning a championship. He is very proud of his achievements. His greatest pride though is his family. The love of his family will always take first place in Dave’s life.


Ron Rigby photo)
No74falcon
Rookie

Post Number: 3

Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 11:46 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Wow,I remeber Dave well from when I was a kid rooting for my dad, Al Clark. He was always someone that my father never had anything bad to say about and I remeber my father telling my mother and I what a nice guy he was and how he enjoyed racing against him. Oh what memories... I wished more stories were told about our racing heros that we grew up with.
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1255

Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

First I want to personally thank Dan Hall for his tremendous work on creating the above article.
As sometimes happens with racers, we are too busy doing it and not keeping good records. So I would ask any past crew, competitiors or fans to add to this story by posting here with their experiences with or about Dave. I'm currently working on an update from one of his past drivers that will expand on Dave's early years. Unfortunately we've lost Erin "Doc" Smith to add more color to Dave & Doc's dirt track days. Anyone from those days or any others would be greatly appreciated because I believe we will all enjoy remembering the good old days of racing as well as help complete the varied racing picture that was our friend Dave London.
Thanking you all in advance.
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1256

Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:31 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here is a pic of David's Championship winning Ford Granada

Mods1065
Veteran



Post Number: 196

Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:53 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My kudos also on a great story. Love looking at all those old pics.
Rearend
Winner



Post Number: 760

Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 7:42 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Once again Dan, you have done an outstanding job.
Dave and Vickie are looking down and smiling as each and everyone of us read this.

Thank you once again for sharing this with all of us.

These two are and will be missed by all of us!!!

Dawn Maynard
Fireball
Racing Legend



Post Number: 2334

Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 8:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dawn;
Tom really deserves the credit for this story. He provided a lot of information that made this a story worthy of Dave and Vicky. I also would like to acknowledge Ron Rigby for sharing the photos. Great teamwork for a great person.
Trivia69
Winner



Post Number: 676

Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 10:22 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Great tribute to truly great people. Thanks guys
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1259

Posted on Sunday, January 07, 2007 - 11:49 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


Here's a set of racing junkies at the Pocono ROC in 1982. I'm on the left, Ric Abbott has the cool cowboy hat (Ric still works for the Rochester Fire Dept in their maintenance group), Art Johnson and then David. Dave did well that year qualifying through the consi back in the day when over 100 Street Stocks/Super Stocks would show up. I believe Dave finished around 18th-20th after starting way in the back, which he considered a pretty good result and one of his more satisfying big event efforts. It was also one of many times Dave and I would debate race day set up and tire selection and we would walk away with "another lesson". The car was a Cougar.
Mark
Winner



Post Number: 982

Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 12:54 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dave finished 24th after starting 51st in the field of 53 at the 1982 Pocono R.o.C. Street Stock race.
They ran two consis and Dave snagged the last spot in his as only the top two finishers made the big race. 139 cars ran that year in heats meaning 86 went home without making the feature.


(Message edited by Mark on January 08, 2007)
Let's Go Racing!

Captain History's www.NYRaceZone.com
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1260

Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 5:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ya just gotta love the man with the stats. Thanks Mark, it really helps brings back the thrill of that weekend.
Rearend
Winner



Post Number: 761

Posted on Monday, January 08, 2007 - 9:25 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Tom
Great picture...I can remember that car like it was yesterday. Pocono's was always a great time.
I am sure that Dave is comparing notes with all the other great drivers who are in heaven. I can see them all bench racing.
I should also "thank you", for your great information to provide us with a story that was long overdue. Thank you to Ron also for providing pictures that made it so enjoyable.

As Dan put it a team effort that should be given the best Atta Boys ever!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawn
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1262

Posted on Tuesday, January 09, 2007 - 12:06 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


Here's another pic of the Cougar from the next season, 1983. This is the same car as in the b&w photo above in the lead article where David is trying to dive in to the engine compartment. After that '82 ROC race it was a real long team meeting to convince David we should spend some money on paint and make the car a "looker". LOL
Unfortunately, we outsmarted our selves that winter and over-engineered the leaf spring update and that car was mucho evil all season. David never stopped trying to find a unique handling advantage to make up for his low buck motors. Sometimes our mad scientist approach was more "mad" than "science" but we learned lots from those efforts that eventually led to that Championship on a shoe string budget.
Rearend
Winner



Post Number: 767

Posted on Tuesday, January 09, 2007 - 5:24 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Another great picture...Hey Tom we haven't visited in sometime..email me at thirdturn@epix.net

Thank you for sharing all your great memories.
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1490

Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 3:54 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This is a repost of a msg from Rocket88, thanks.

Correction on Dave's bio..It was a 1967 Fairlane, not a 1970. Dave wasn't sure the unibody of the 1970 was the way to go. The 1967 had a frame. Here's the car in 1977....

www.evmotorsports.net
Epic Ventures Motorsports Group
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1491

Posted on Monday, October 08, 2007 - 3:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

This is a repost of a msg from 60Over, thanks.

I remember Dave's car well, he was an avid Star Wars fan and he called the car the Millenium Falcon. I can remember going to Dave and Vicky's during the off season as we often got together.. even their bathroom was decorated in the Star Wars theme.
When they were married, when they kneeled at the Alter, I think it was Bob Whalen who put the #89 on the bottom of Daves shoes lol.
www.evmotorsports.net
Epic Ventures Motorsports Group
Rocket88
Rookie

Post Number: 24

Posted on Wednesday, October 10, 2007 - 11:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I was on Dave's crew in 1977 and the photo was taken after we lettered it in Otto's barn.The car next to it is a Pinto bodied dirt small block modified.Upstairs was another street stock,a 1968 Caprice,that was turquoise and white.Otto's barn was in Ontario and I was told he owned the #77 late model that ran at Spencer in the late '6o's.
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1497

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 9:39 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Brian, David use to talk about the "Otto era" as his "years of misbehaving". I didn't get back in to Dave's racing crew until a couple years later. Thanks for adding more. And if you have any more photos from that era, any chance you could send them on to torpedo@twcny.rr.com ? Also, that stuff would be cool to add to the Spencer thread.

(Message edited by torpedotom on October 11, 2007)
www.evmotorsports.net
Epic Ventures Motorsports Group
Rocket88
Rookie

Post Number: 25

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 4:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Some of the photos I have are kind of fuzzy,but I'll try to get some to you.I also remember him talking about some guy named "Vern" all the time,and that he was in Florida.Ever here of "Vern"?
Torpedotom
Champion



Post Number: 1498

Posted on Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 5:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I knew that Vern guy, I had to call him Dad.
Kinda interesting that Dad and I seldom worked on David's cars at the same time. Although Dad and I talked often sharing what we were doing with "D&L" as we called him.
David & the Fecteau's originally met over "Slot car Racing at Seneca Raceways" in Rochester (approx 1968).
www.evmotorsports.net
Epic Ventures Motorsports Group

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