from the May 23rd, 1959 edition of the Elmira Star-Gazette.
Rather Race Stocks Than Eat---- Ernie June
By Bob Wilbur
It would take less than 30 seconds for you to discover that Ernie June is a real racing enthusiast. His type of racers, however, aren't of the animal variety found at Belmont or Jamacia - instead, they're the four- wheel, power-type at Chemung, Angelica or Olean Raceways.
"I'd rather race stocks than eat," said June, who once or twice has set aside the racing helmet to deal strictly with the mechanics of stock car racing. The temptation to get behind the wheel remains strong and, on occasion, June has taken the wheel for a practice run.
Percy Brown and Fred Brink handle the driving chores for June's newly modified models. "Keeping a car in tip-top shape is enough for one man to worry about without driving too," said June. "Percy and Fred have handled the job well and we've had fair luck on the circuit."
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When did this racing bug bite June? He was a spectator 14 years ago, got interested and teamed up with former area car-owner Henry Leister. "I had big ideas regarding a car of my own someday," June said. "It took me four years to build but I never did race it. Finally sold it and the last I heard it was in Canada."
Through 1948 and 1949, June raced cars but with a minimum of success. He was at the Corning Stadium in 1948 and at Owego in 1949 among other places. June remarked, "I raced at Addison four times one year and won twice. Hung up my helmet then and decided to go into business for myself. Bucky Dew, Ithaca, drove for awhile. Real great guy."
Ernie and his wife, Betty, now own and work on the 59x and 58x. The relaxing of the stock car standards has enabled June to modify his cars to a great extent. "Had the cars out on the track last week for the first run. You've got to get the bugs out before the start of the races."
When June said he spent quite a bit of time working on the cars, he wasn't kidding. Broken parts, squeals, squeeks, the sterring mechanism, etc., all have to be checked after every weekend. The midnight lamp is on throughout the week at the June garage.
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Last Year, June was the victim of one of those jarring experiences that happen to owner-mechanics. "The engine fell out of the old 59x in Olean," said June, "but we welded the block and had her ready for action again."
The other car had it's moments. The front end of the 58x was smashed in as a result of a pileup but once again the mechanic's touch put it back on the track.
June readily admits that racing has changed considerably since he raced sprint cars at Shangri-La near Owego. The track, incidentlly, was at one time considered one of the east's fastest 1/2 mile tracks. June even remembers when 18,000 fans were on hand to watch the races.
June remarked, "There's a lot of young blood in the game today. The opening weeks of the new season are constantly getting harder. Everybody's trying out new styles and you just don't know what's going to happen anymore. The competition has improved considerably."
The veteran also noted the percentage of Elmira drivers touring the western part of the state. "I was at Olean last week and I'd say 60 percent of the performers were from the Elmira area," said June.
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Talk of loose driving, smash-ups and the like haven't the slightest chance with June. "If a driver has good sense, he'll make it. Straight thinking and driving sense will keep you in the race."
The helmet on the wall may come off again this year since June is far from hiding his zeal for the sport. His last big effort came on the hard-top at Brewerton where he drove his wife's car in the Class-B New York State-Canadian 100-lap non-stop race.
June added, "It's a tough sport and there's not much of a gain, but it's in my blood and if it weren't for eating and sleeping, I'd be with the car's every minute."