|A West Virginia Dirt Track |
Ivan "Red" Frederick
by Jimmy Henry
Taken from an August 2006 interview.
When I was a kid growing up in Morgantown, WV many of my friends heroes
were Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Larry Bird, Pete Rose, etc...to them,
their heroes were images on t.v. or a picture on a trading card.
I was very fortunate. My heroes came to my hometown every saturday night.
I knew them and they knew me by name. They were kind enough to take the
time to talk to me even though I was surely getting in the way or asking too
many questions, as young kids do.
For this, I will be forever grateful.
I hope this writing doesn't become too sentimental or too focused on me and
my personal memories instead of the legend being interviewed. Actually, I'm
not comfortable with the term "interview". Chat is probably more accurate a
Dirt racing has been my passion since early childhood. My father would take
me to Morgantown (WV) Speedway at age 3 in 1969 and from that point on, I
I knew that when the race car haulers started going by the house late
saturday afternoon, it was time to get ready to go to the track. I couldn't wait.
Heck, monday afternoon at school I would be daydreaming of watching
Bood Lodge, LJ Dennis, Red Frederick, Frank Lewis, Denny Chamberlain
and others sideways coming off turn #4 heading toward flagman Frank
Bakers' waving checkered flag. The anticipation was sometimes unbearable.
Would Bob Wearing show up?
Can anybody beat Mike Cole this week?
As a race fan I can tell you the difference between a great racer and a legend
is, a legend takes the time to interact with his fans...no matter the fans age.
Dirt racing legend Red Frederick is no exception. When I was a child he
always took the time to speak with me. Later in life, we camped at the track
almost weekly and talked racing until very late in the night.
How many guys get to know their heroes personally?
Is it any wonder racing has such a fond place in my heart?
Ok. I should clarify I am not bragging. I say these things to illustrate the
kindness shown to me and the impact it has had on me, not only as a race fan
but life in general.
Hearing Red being interviewed by Elkins Speedway announcer Jeff Yost last
year brought back a flood of memories. I quickly went to the announcers
booth and Jeff was kind enough to let me in. After talking with Red for
awhile, I decided I would like to capture some of his memories and share
them with other race fans. Well, this is my attempt to do so, however lame it
When I pulled into Red's Mt. Lake Park, Maryland driveway, it was a quick
reminder of reality. Red's son, "Chip" was allegedly involved in the Abu
Ghraib prison scandal. A large yellow ribbon and a supportive banner adorn
the front of the Frederick home. Two lawn chairs were sat comfortably under
a large shade tree. It didn't take long to realize Red was a local celebrity.
Just about every car that passed honked or waved in support of his son,
Chip, who continues to fight a prison sentence from a Fort Levinworth,
Kansas cell. It also didn't take long to realize the ordeal was taking its' toll
Bestowed upon Red the title, "Racing's Goodwill Ambassador" by Vern
Spencer, owner of the old Tri-State Auto Racing News, Red could also be
accurately dubbed "Life's Goodwill Ambassador" and few, if any would
The conversation immediately turned to Chip and how unfairly he felt,
different ranks in the military are treated. When the cool breeze stopped, we
decided to go inside where it was a bit more comfortable.
Once inside his home, I was immediately struck by the lack of racing trophies
and memorabilia displayed. I'm not sure what I was expecting but I assumed
most racers with his past winnings and accomplishments would be eager to
show the world.
Not so with Red.
Pictures of his wife, children and grandchildren hung proudly on walls and sat
neatly on tables everywhere. It's no secret where his heart is. Don't get me
wrong, he's proud of his wins and seemed eager to share old pictures...but I
had to ask first.
Alot of our "interview" was spent looking at old pictures and recalling details
about the race car or the people in them. One of the first photos brought out
was one of him in victory lane at Elkins (WV) Speedway, circa 1982. The
photo clearly shows a legion of his fans encircling him as he barely had
enough room to raise the checkered flag. It was obvious from the photo he
was a fan favorite and they loved him.
|Red: Yeah, I had a favorite driver...a hero when I first started racing. You |
ever hear of Chet Moody?
Jimmy: Absolutely. He was before my day but I have a lot of Elkins
Speedway history and he's in it. I think I have a few pictures of him too.
Red: Chet told me, you never want to lose your temper at the race track. You
lose your temper and you tend to overdrive yourself. You never wanna drink
and race...that's false courage.
Jimmy: You were probably one of the few who didn't drink and race back
Red: Chet didn't either. Another thing he told me was, you always wanna
treat them kids good, because if the kids like you, mom and dad will like you.
Jimmy: Speaking of that, my dad wanted to make sure I told you hi for him!
After looking at a few pictures of Randy McCartney, Red's car owner from
'78-84, it reminded me.
|Jimmy: You know, Randy was always joking around and having fun, but he |
was always kind to me and my family. I remember you guys won a big
semi-late race at I-79 (WV) Speedway ,oh, I guess it was in '80 or '81 and he
invited me and my family to celebrate at Twin Oaks Restaurant in
Clarksburg (WV) after the races. We really didn't have the money to afford
it but Randy said "No, my treat!" or something like that. I was probably 13
or 14 then. Randy paid for everybody.
Red: Randy's just like that. He's still like that.
Jimmy: Do you guys still keep in touch?
Red: Oh yeah. We sometimes go to Martinsville (Va) together. I'm out there
(Randy's Body Shop) 3 or 4 times a week. He's one of my best friends.
Jimmy: If I remember right, Randy himself started racing semi lates in 1978?
Red: Randy's first race car was one of (former late model racer) Buzz
Foreman's old cars.
Jimmy: If I remember right again, Randy smacked the wall coming off turn
#4 at Morgantown Speedway...I mean he hit it hard! Was that when Randy
quit driving and you took over?
Red: No. He wasn't done after that wreck. He drove for a little while but was
after me to drive for him. I was still recovering from (kidney) surgery and the
doctor said to stay out of them race cars. Well, I think it was right before the
4th of July in 1978, it might have been July 3rd, Randy had just won his heat
race and I came to him and said, "I believe I'm ready to drive your car
tonight, I feel pretty good." Randy took his uniform off and I jumped in the
car , pulled a hanky up over my nose...heck, we won the feature! The car just
drove real easy. The first night I drove Randy's car, I didn't want anyone to
know it because my wife (ex-wife Joanne) was glad I got out of racing. But it
came out in the racing newspaper "Red Frederick Returns to the Speedway!"
Jimmy: That didn't go over too good, did it? (laughs)
Red: (laughs) No, it didn't! Anyway, I drove it a few more times and it was an
easy car to drive. He (Randy) said he wanted me to drive it steady for
him..."I'll give ya half!" (money winnings) he said. So I drove for him from
'79 clear up to '84. It just started getting too many horsepower for our
budget. We tried building one of those 400 cubic inch engines and each time
that we went to Elkins, we'd be leading a race and the engine would cut loose.
I think that happened 3 times in '84. First time it was the engine. Next race
we were leading and the quick change went out. Then it was the engine again
and that's when Randy quit. Randy told me the most money he ever made
racing was when he sold his $50,000 race car for $7,000!
Jimmy: I know exactly what he is talking about!
Red: I don't know how these guys these days do it. I mean, maybe back then
we could get a hundred dollars here or a hundred dollars (sponsorship) there.
We had a guy sponsor us, I believe it was 1979, he said he would give us 5
cases of beer every time we won a feature. Well, we won 13 features that
Jimmy: That's ALOT of beer!
Red: Yeah. We about gave it all away. 'Bout 65 cases!
We continued looking at and talking about old photos we came across.
Red: There's an old picture of Chuck Harper, back when he had some hair!
Jimmy: Chuck's a good guy.
Red: I was at Elkins Speedway about a month ago and I guess Chuck's
mother called him on his cell phone or something and Chuck was in the pits of
course. His mother musta told him I was over in the stands, so Chuck came
over and asked me if I wanted to drive his car and I said not unless you're
looking for a younger driver! Chuck won the feature that night.
Jimmy: You know, when you took over driving for Randy back in 1978, Mike
Cole was winning everything in the semi lates around here. It made it real
interesting when you started driving for him. I mean, Randy did good too, he
just lacked experience. Anyway, it seemed like, around here the semi lates
were the class to watch in the early 1980's. There was you, Mike Balzano
was coming down from Parkersburg, Bood (Lodge) was in Paul Wilmoth's
#GamB1er after Paul got hurt...Glen and Wayne Witt came up from Poca,
WV, Jim Adams, Steve Baker, Dave Wright became real competitive when
he got his new W.R.C. car. Of course Frank Wilson was always tough, too.
Red: Yeah, they were all tough. A lotta good drivers right there.
The topic switched from photo to photo. No doubt that even at his age, Red
had a better than average memory and shared some of them as the pictures
changed hands, commenting on each one. I had to ask an obvious question.
Jimmy: Do you miss it?...racing?
Red: Oh yeah! My mind says I can still race but my body says no.
I apologized to Red because I was aware that most of my questions of his
racing career were limited to the 1970 to 1984 era. Because of my age, that's
all I was familiar with.
Jimmy: You said all Randy's cars you drove were Howe chassis?
Red: Yeah. The first car, the one he got from Buzz Foreman was a Howe car.
The next one he got off WRC (Rodney Combs) which was a Howe and the
last car Randy picked up in Michigan.
|Jimmy: Did you like power steering in your race car?|
Red: I drove (competitor) Frank Lewis' car one night, the first car I ever
drove with power steering. Frank had to go to a class reunion or something
and he wanted to know if I would drive the car. One of the boys
(crewmember) had worked on the car all week and Frank hated not to have
the car at the track. Well, I got in it and we won the feature. He had power
steering on it but had a real big steering wheel and I couldn't keep that thing
straight going down the straightaways! The car kept darting back and forth
but we won. But Randy's cars had on a little steering wheel and man, that
thing drove like a road car! It really made a difference. Then, when Randy
and I went to late model, we put rack and pinion on it with manual
steering...that about broke my arms! (laughs)
The next picture we looked at was of local legendary car owner/mechanic
Willie Hoskins of Morgantown, WV...
Jimmy: Willie was a little before my time and he died, oh, around 1974, But
I've heard he's like MacGyver or something...Could fix anything with a stick
of gum and a paper clip.
Red: Yeah, he was quite a mechanic. He built the first #H-1 cars in Elkins
when the track first opened back in the '50s.
Jimmy: I didn't know he built those cars.
Red: Yeah. Keith Hamner (former racer and Elkins Speedway owner) drove
it. He drove the first #H-1 car. He only drove for 3 or 4 years. Alot of guys
get in it (racing) and drive for just a few years but I hung in there from '52 -
Jimmy: You know it (racing) gets to be a big part of your life and a way of
life. You meet these people at the races and get to become really good
friends with some of them.
Red: I was over at Roaring Knob (Pa) Raceway the other night and I was
walking to the bathroom and somebody hollered at me, "Are you Red
Frederick?" So I talked to him for awhile. Then I run into someone and they
said, "I remember you clear back in the Reedsville (WV) Speedway days!
Jimmy: That's a long-time race fan right there!
Red: I told him, I said, you are too old to be going to the races if you
Jimmy: When you were at Elkins Speedway a few weeks back, I came back
to my seat after seeing you in the announcers booth and the guy sitting next
to my wife said that the only reason he went to the races years ago was to
watch Red Frederick race. That's quite a compliment. Did you ever imagine
you would have such an impact on race fans?
Red: Well, I got a letter one time from a family in Elkins and it said I'm the
only reason they would go to the races.
Jimmy: I wonder how many dirt track racers get fan mail?
Red: I got a letter from Canada one time...I kept it...it's around here
someplace. Wanted to know if he could have some pictures of my race car, so
I sent them some pictures.
Red: I was over at Ponderosa (steakhouse) with my wife a while back and the
waitress came up to me and said, "Are you Red Frederick?" and I said yes,
and she said, "I used to get suckers off you at Elkins Speedway when I was a
kid! Can I get your autograph?" It makes you feel good when that happens.
Jimmy: It should. See, this is why I think racing is different now, or maybe I
am looking at the past through rose-colored glasses but when I was a kid, for
some reason, you drivers always talked to me and I know I had to have been
a real pain in the ass! I mean, you guys were my heroes and I got to hang
out with you. That had a big impact on me.
Years ago at Morgantown and Elkins Speedways, the payoff windows were at
the general admission concession stands so I got to meet and talk to all the
drivers. You can bet that a kid or most any race fan will root for the driver
who spoke to them the week before. I think it kinda cements a bond between
a race fan and a driver when they talk. It kinda makes the driver more real,
not just some guy in a race car. Nowadays, the race cars are packed up and
heading home before the average fan can meet them. I think more local fans
would be more consistent in going their hometown track if the drivers were
more accessible and perhaps got to "rub elbows" with some of the drivers.
The late models are loaded in an enclosed trailer and down the road and most
fans have little to identify with.
Frank Lewis used to let me sit in his race car (on the trailer) and ride from
the pits to the payoff window at Morgantown Speedway. That was a big deal
for an 11 or 12 year old kid and probably one of the many reasons I have
been a 37 year race go-er.
Still flipping through old photos we started talking about different
experiences he had at different tracks. You can imagine that 30+ years of
racing, Red had a few stories.
Red: In our old #J-2 car, we were running a V-8 in it and we blew it up. We
got a alcohol carburetor for it and a guy took a V-6 motor out of his sisters
car and we raced it. This was at Brennan (I-79) Raceway in WV. Going down
the chute that engine blowed, the oil caught on fire and it came back through
the windshield! Burnt my eyebrows off, burned me a little on the cheek and
singed my hair. They said the fire came clear out the back window! Luckily
the fire went down real quick!
The first night I ever ran Brennan Raceway, they didn't have any guardrails
because you used to come in the pits that way. Somebody said, "Did you look
down over that turn when you came in?" I said no, I didn't pay any attention
to it, why? They said, "that's a hell of a drop off!" Well, I was going down
the backstraight, first race ever there, first lap...the throttle stuck! Well, I
started in the turn and just automatically instead of going over the dropoff
sideways, I turned it straight and cleared (jumped) the pit road and landed in
the swamp! The mud and the water came back over me...I couldn't see
nothin'! I had a white racing suit on and white shoes and I was mud from
head to toe! (Fellow racer) Gene Tallman took me over to the infield and
hosed me off. That was my first experience at Brennan.
We ended up winning quite a few races there over the years.
We also used to run up at Weston (WV) Raceway, I guess we started there
in '60. When they opened up for the season they raced on a Sunday
afternoon and Gene Tallman beat me in the #T-4 car. You couldn't run two
classes then, Supermodifieds and Stocks, or what ever, you had to stay in
one class. So Gene Tallman never come back more and after he left I won
every race I was in that summer! Features and heats!
Jimmy: Did you have a favorite track or a track you really looked forward to
racing at or a track you felt more comfortable at?
Red\: I always felt comfortable at Morgantown, and, well, I felt pretty
comfortable at about all the tracks we run, except Cumberland (Md). I could
never get a hold of Pennsboro, but I could never do any good at Cumberland.
'Course we never ran either track much. We run that Mustang for (car owner
Dick) Armstrong down there...(interrupted)
Jimmy: Now was that the Mustang that was team cars with L.J. (Dennis)?
Red: Yeah, and every so often the daggone engine would blow in it. He
(Armstrong) got a hold of a Moody engine. It was a 429 Boss Hemi and that
sucker really had the smoke! It was 825 horsepower at 5600 rpm. Of
course, Dick thought you had to turn it (the engine) 7000 rpm! All we would
do is sit there and spin coming off the corner. It
really had the torque up to about 5600 rpm then it kinda leveled off. You'd
be coming off the corner at 3000 rpm and by mid straight stretch it would be
at 5600. So we were running a hundred lapper at Elkins and I
Jimmy: That must have been around '73 when you were in the Rainbow 7 jr.
Mustang and L.J. was in the Rainbow 7 Torino?
Red: That sounds about right. He (Armstrong) would never take my advice
on what gear to run and I always complained about too much power, too much
gear, ya know? Well, that day I came in after qualifying, we qualified 13th I
think, and I said, "It's got too much gear in it." Well, they put another gear
in it that never even moved the tach. In the hundred lapper we made it to the
front and caught up with Leroy (Vetter) and I was watching him as I was
catching him and he was running on the outside. So, I came off turn #4 and
made a dive to the inside on him and he came down, I guess to get out of my
way, and he crowded me over and there was Jewell (Carson) on the outside.
Well, I caught back up to him and going into turn #1 he got crossed up
sideways. Well, I got on the brakes to keep from hitting him. I came in the
pits after the race, we finished 2nd, and Gary McCauley said, "You dumb
son-of-a-bitch! You had him set up there!" (laughs) I got the most money I
ever made in 1 race that day...a thousand dollars. I think they paid $1,500 to
Then, we went out in the next race, they were having a rained out race or
something, and I went into turn #1 and the daggone steering wheel fell off!
Armstrong was hard to drive for but a nice guy.
Jimmy: I've heard he was hard to drive for.
Red: Well, I started in the (Lyle) Horton Ford car in Morgantown. When
they hired me, they were having a race at Cumberland, a hundred lapper or
something. Well, I was there in a pair of dress pants and dress shirt. I was
walking across the track to the pits and Terry came running out there. He
said, "How 'bout driving the car? We ain't got no driver?"
Red: Willie (Hoskins) boy.
Jimmy: Oh, Terry Hoskins. That's right, Willie was the mechanic for the
Horton Ford car.
Red: I told Terry I didn't have a uniform and Terry said I didn't need one
here. So I got in the car, and there wasn't a straight piece on it. We got up
there close to the front, I don't remember how far but I looked at the heat
gauge and the steam started pouring out, so I went in the pits and the
radiator fell off! They couldn't fix it at the track but asked me if I'd drive it
next year and I told 'em I'd think about it. So I drove for them the next
summer, up to the 4th of July, I think, and I don't know if the clutch exploded
but the bell housing broke and it buried the gear shift right in my knee and
blood was going all over! Anyway, after going to the hospital they fired
me...said I had it in the wrong gear! That was in the warm up laps. So they
put Alton Duley in the car and went to Pennsboro and he totalled that sucker!
So the next year they wanted me back again. Well, the next year we weren't
doing so good and Terry and a couple of other guys who worked on the car
said, "Red's getting too old to race." So finally I just quit driving for them.
Jimmy: That was in 1968? Geez! Little did they know you still had 20 years
of winning left in you!
Red: Well, then Armstrong hired me. I drove that Mustang and he got that
good engine, oh, 3/4 of the season was over, probably, and he (Armstrong)
said, "Next year we'll have you goin' so fast they won't even see you!..We're
getting a chassis!" Well, we got a,... a guy up in Bedford (Pa), I can't think of
his name built us one...(interrupted)
Jimmy: Martz? Gary Martz?
Red: Yeah. He brought it over to Morgantown (Speedway) on a Sunday
practice and I couldn't get it around the track. They would change things on
the car but I don't think they knew what to do. So Armstrong's nephews said,
"Red's too old to race." I told 'em I couldn't lead that car around the track
with a rope! So I quit racing for them.
Jimmy: Was that the maroon and white #01 camaro?
|Red: I think so. I have a picture of it at the old Mountaineer Mall show in |
Jimmy: That must have been 1976.
Red: They hired L.J. (Dennis) back and he couldn't do anything with it either.
So when I started racing for Randy I went over to Dick and said, "Well, I can
see it wasn't the driver that was the problem!" He said, "I don't know what's
wrong with that damned thing!" He would just change things and not really
know what to do. But he was a good fella. Always had the best of everything.
Brownie Brown (former car owner) was a god guy to drive for. He didn't pay
much money, one of those 25% deals.
Most of the car owners back then paid 1/3.
Jimmy: Doesn't seem like there are too many car owners...I mean, car
owners that have someone else drive for them. You know, the Dick
Armstrong's, John Post's, Bud Doll's of the racing world.
Red: Remember Earl Hill?
Red: Well, he was driving for the Doll's (Bud and Marshall) who Gary
Dalton is driving for, and they only gave him 20%. Now, Earl Hill was a good
driver! One night he (Earl) came out in a new car and I said, "How come you
changed cars?" Earl said, "Oh. these guys are giving me 40%!" Well, about
three weeks went by and here he comes back in that Doll car. I said, "I
thought them guys were paying you 40%?" Earl said, "Yeah, but I figure it
this way. 20% of something is better than 40% of nothing!" (laughs) Then ol'
Earl took that chapstick out and he'd wet that ol' mustache and curl it up! I
really liked him. He was a nice guy.
Jimmy: Yeah. In fact I'd say he was a lot like you. He always took time for
the fans and I'll tell ya, that makes a difference. To me, that is the difference
between a driver who had a lot of checkmarks in the "win column" and a
racer who is considered a legend. Somebody people will remember. It may
not seem important to a driver at the time, but for me,...I can imagine a
driver in your position, older with the racing days behind him. But people
remember you. I mean, you go to the local restaurant and the waitress wants
your autograph 22 years after you have quit racing! To me, that's
Red: I always tried to take time for the fans. When I was driving I was
always one of the last to leave the track.
Jimmy: Was there a particular driver that you really enjoyed racing against,
really wanted to beat but enjoyed racing against?
Red: Yeah. Back in the coupe days Bill Vorbach was one of the best you
could ever run with. You could run side by side all night with him and never
worry about it.
Jimmy: He was from Morgantown, right?
Red: Yeah. He always run Sears-Roebuck engines. He'd buy his crank and
pistons from Sears-Roebuck! (laughs) People would ask him where he got his
parts and he'd say Sears-Roebuck! ...and that's where he got 'em!
Jimmy: My memory of you racing is limited to 1972 til 1984 when you
retired. For me, that period in racing was magical and seemed like the best
racing came from that era. Was there, for you, a particular time or era of
racing you most?
Red: I guess the last ten years or so I raced was pretty memorable. Seems
like I gained alot of fans in that period.
Jimmy: So how did racing begin for you?
Red: I remember they built a track at Reedsville (WV) and I was sitting up in
the stands and a guy I knew real well had a service station and he says, "You
oughtta try that!" And I said, "Nah...looks too rough for me!" So there was
a couple 'a truck drivers there and they were building a car and they said, "
How 'bout you driving that for us?" and I said ok. I went home and told
(ex-wife) Joanne and she said, "You're not driving for someone else...if you
want to race, build your own car!" So, I had a '42 Plymouth and a '50
Chevrolet. I traded the Plymouth for a '32 Ford and I made me a race car.
They all kept track of how much money I made that summer and I made
Jimmy: What year was that?
Jimmy: That was a lot of money back then, I imagine.
Red: It was!
Jimmy: Ok, Red. I want to play a word game. I know this is cheesy! (laughs)
I'll say a word or a name and you tell me what comes to mind, ok?
Red: (laughs) Sure.
Jimmy: umm...Dick Armstrong.
Red: Dick Armstrong. Good fella. Had a ton of money to spend on his race
cars. For me was hard to drive for but he treated me well.
Jimmy: You drove for him on different occasions, right?
Red: Yeah. He fired me once and I quit once.
Jimmy: From what I've heard, that was common.
Red: I told Gene Tallman once that even us good drivers get fired once in a
while! (laughs) I was surprised when he (Tallman) passed away. I didn't know
it til I read it in the paper. He was one of the guys who pulled Freddy Johnson
out of his sprint car when it was on fire at Morgantown.
Jimmy: I still see him around Morgantown once in a while.
Red: Last time I saw him was when Interstate 79 (WV) Speedway had their
Old Timers night.
Jimmy: I wish other tracks would do that every year. Tyler County does and
it seems to be a hit with the fans. Ok, next word...Morgantown Speedway.
Red: Oh, one of the greatest (tracks) I thought. I really hated to see it close
up. *(Morgantown closed in 1978) With the interstate there, it would have
been easy for a lot of fans to get to. (promoter) Jim (Crytser) had ideas of
making it a little bigger, maybe making a half mile track out of
Jimmy: I didn't know that.
Red: He (Jim) told me several times he'd like to expand it, put in more
grandstands but then the property owner, grandchildren or something,
thought they was gonna sell it for big money, and maybe they have now, I
don't know. But that was one of the best tracks...always smooth. Jim was real
good at taking care of it. Dust was minimum, always had a good crowd,
always kept his pit area nice. Couldn't do that today 'cause he used alot of oil!
Jimmy: Ok. This might embarass you, and you may not even admit to it, but
I've heard rumors of you letting off the gas while leading a race, just to make
it more interesting for the fans.
Red: Well, in the coupe days you could do that every once in a while 'cause
those old flathead fords would blow up and you didn't want to run them any
harder than you had to. You could get out to a good lead and you could
always look around the corner. Back then you could run a mirror, so you
could see if anyone was catching you. I guess in semi late and late model I've
done that a time or two.
|Jimmy: I was gonna say, I've heard it with my own ears more than a time or |
Red: Well, anytime you can relax your engine a little bit and not work it too
hard it'll last a little longer. I always figured a good, safe second place was
better than a hazardous first! (laughs) That's my philosophy.
Jimmy: Did you have any rivals?...not ill-will but a driver you just really
wanted to beat?
Red: Oh yeah! Gene Tallman was one of them. LJ Dennis was one of them.
Bood (Lodge) was one of them. There was alot I wanted to beat! Bob
Wearing, Herb Scott, Blackie Watt. Tallman and Chet Moody back in the
coupe days. Bill Dull out of Uniontown, Pa., Mel Minnick was a hard racer.
Bill Vorbach. Freddy Johnson used to run with us in the coupes. Boy, I've
lost track of alot of them guys. I'm probably slighting some of them and I
don't mean to. Gene Lodge was good...those Towson boys (Jim and Gene)
were good. I didn't get to race much against Paul Wilmoth 'cause he got burnt
but then Bood Lodge took over. Mike Cole was good competition. I tutored
him a little back then but that's when I was running late model and he was
semi late. Cole had a little better equipment than some of those guys back
|The conversation eventually turned back to his son Chip and all that's going |
on with the charges against him.
Red: I've learned the definition of two terms I didn't know before. One is the
Uniform Code of Military Justice. "Uniform" means that if you've got your
rank on your shoulders you get by with murder (referring to an incident
where an Abu Ghraib officer beat to death a prisoner and received a very
light punishment) with just a slap on the wrist. If you got your rank down on
your arm and you humiliate someone, you go to prison. My second one, I
would describe a Dishonorable Discharge as "stealing". Because that's what
they have done\ to Chip, they stole his pension. All them guys that’s done
wrong, they all draw their pension and will retire in comfort. Chip 's gonna
have to struggle 'cause he don't have no pension now. All these years he's
served his country...I got that theory about stealing when I was watching
Gary Cooper in a western one time and they were gonna put the railroad
through his land and he didn't want them to. So the sheriff was there to tell
him they was gonna take his land by "emminent domain". And Gary
Cooper's little boy in the movie said, "What's that mean, Paw?" And Gary
looked at his son and said, "That means stealin'!" But ol' Gary Cooper was
my favorite actor. I'd walk from Morgantown home after riding the bus out
from Gladesville (about 10 miles)...you know where Gladesville (WV) is?
Red: That's where I was born. We'd walk to Browns Chapel and catch a bus
into Morgantown on a Sunday afternoon. We'd go to the Morgan (theatre),
The Metropolitan and, what's the other? There was three (theatres), wasn't
Jimmy: Was the Warner Theatre open back then?
Red: Yeah, that's it. There was three. We'd go to one show, cost us like, 15
cents, matinee, then we'd go to another and the first thing you'd know is we
miss the bus home. So we'd start walkin'...(interrupted)
Jimmy: That's a long walk!
Red: I'm tellin you, it is! (laughs)
Jimmy: Any regrets?...I mean in racing?
Red: (quickly answers)--No. Wish I would've stayed with it a little longer.
Jimmy: You stayed with it pretty long. You were one of the few drivers who
stayed with it from the coupe era to late model That's not an easy thing to do.
Red: When I was 46 they were telling me I was too old. I went til I was 57 or
Jimmy: Have you ever wished racing locally would have led to more...
something bigger? Or are you content with the way things have turned out?
Red: I had a chance one time, a guy wanted to send me up to Langhorne
(Speedway) for one of them big races and get me into it, but I told him I have
a family and they like to eat! (laughs) You know, there have been so many
guys who have tried it and lost everything they had. That's why Randy
(McCartney) quit. It was getting more expensive
than what he could afford.
Jimmy: What's the biggest race you've won?
Red: I think it was called The West Virginia Championship. I think it was run
by Kenny Sirk (at I-79 Speedway) and I was driving for Brownie Brown. It
only paid like $500 to win. I always enjoyed winning all the races I could. One
(race) didn't mean much more than the other to me. I always had fun.
Jimmy: There have been alot of characters that went to the races...I mean, a
lot of fans that have been going a long time.
Red: You know Buck Phillips? He's about a year older than me and I seen
him at Elkins Speedway a few years back. Well, he was flagging one night...
Jimmy: Buck used to flag?
Red: No. Just a coupl'a times. I think it was when Ted Brennan had it (I-79
Speedway). Well, they were racing about 12 or 15 laps and someone said,
"Buck! Don't you know these are 10 lap heat races?" And he said, "Yeah,
but they were just runnin' so damn good and looked so good I wanted to see
them run a little longer!" (laughs)
Jimmy: That sounds like Buck! He's been around forever. When you go to
the races now, do you ever think, or I guess what I'm asking is, does it look
like it would be more fun now?
Red: I was talking to Frank Lewis...(interrupted)
Jimmy: Is he still around?
Red: Oh yeah. He almost died. He ended up in, I think, Cleveland Hospital
and something was wrong with his blood system or something and he lost a
lot of weight. Anyway, they took care of him and he looks good now.
Jimmy: He quit racing around '81 or '82 didn't he? When he quit for (Dick)
Armstrong he was pretty much done, wasn't he?
Red: He drove for (Danny) Isiminger a few times, he brought the car over
here and worked on it. I think that was the last he drove--'82 or '83. '82 I'd
Jimmy: He got on a pretty good roll there in the late '70s...
Red: He spent alot of money on his cars. I remember the first (Gary) Martz
car he bought for $1,200. I said, "My God, Frank! That's alot of money to
put in a car!" (laughs) 'Cause we'd been runnin' just regular frames.
He bought a 454 motor and had it redone. I liked those ol' big blocks...they
had a lot of torque. The first car I drove for Randy, we had mufflers on it.
You couldn't even hear it run!
Jimmy: I remember that.
Red: I really liked those big, long mufflers we had on there. If you like we
can go to Randy's shop...
Jimmy: I'd like to see him but I had better head back to Morgantown. I left
my dad by himself at work.
Red: Meet me up here at 9 some morning and I'll take you to breakfast at
my favorite place.
Jimmy: I definately will.
As we walked out the door, the first car to go by blew their horn and threw
their hand out the window to wave at Red. Red quickly returned the
Yeah...I believe most would agree with me when I say Red is "Life's
A true legend. Much like his heroes, Gary Cooper and Chet Moody.
Thanks for the memories Red.
Ivan "Red" Frederick's
Dirt Racing 101