Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 26, 2012

Start your engines!

Walker runs in the fast lane with vintage car clubs

CROSSVILLE — Jerry Walker was introduced to racing as a sophomore in high school when he helped his grandmother’s tenant move a midget race car.

“He’d take me to the races with him,” Walker said. “My first race I went to with my dad was Indianapolis in 1947.”

He’s been hooked ever since.

“I worked there [Indianapolis Motor Speedway] and a lot of tracks,” he said.

He work in pit crews or help with track security or be a runner, helping out where he could.

“I’m not a racer,” Walker said. “I was never any good at it. I’m a show-off, but I’m not a racer.”

In the ‘40s and ‘50s, racing was growing in popularity, and Walker said race nights at some tracks would have 8,000 to 10,000 people in attendance where today they might draw 500.

“What a lot of people your age don’t realize is a lot of these race tracks have a lot of blood in them,” Walker told this reporter. “A lot of people got killed back then. These guys were coming back from the war. They’d been through hell and it didn’t scare them.”

He was drawn to the Sprint Cars. These powerful cars seat one person, rather snugly, in an open top vehicle. Race-ready Sprint Cars have powerful engines and large treaded tires. They are designed for running short oval dirt or paved tracks.

“When you get in one, you understand why it’s called a sprint car,” Walker said. “You wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time sitting in one of these.”

Walker and his wife, Dee, got their first Sprint Race Car in 1998. It’s a replica 1940s Ford FlatHead sprint car. Because it’s a replica, it’s street legal and it’s not too difficult to find parts for repairs, he said. It’s called The Walker Special.

“I like the single-seat, open top cars better than anything,” he said.

The car may be a replica, but it includes many of the details found on the original Sprint cars, including a replica hand-operated fuel pressure pump. There’s also a nickel welded heads up on the rear bumper, called the Nerf Bar. Superstition was that would keep the car right side up during races where rolling was a safety concern.

“It it helps, I’m all for it,” Walker said.

The car has participated in exhibition races in tracks in Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, including notable venues such as Winchester, Salem, Eldora and the Hoosier Hundred. The car has also been featured on national television programs “PowerBlock” and “Mother’s Car Products.”

He also has a 1968 Sprint Car, the Dominque Special built by Ron Ward. It was used in races from 1969 through 1982 and Walker has found memorabilia that includes the cars race history, including every race run, starting position, finish and what the driver won. He bought it a year ago and it was restored, but he has to search the Internet for tires and other hard-to-find parts.

Walker is a member of the Midwest Oldtimers Vintage Race Car Club, which offers owners, drivers and fans of the vintage race cars a chance to display their cars at “on track” events. There are several events held primarily in Indiana and the Illinois area, with dirt and pavement tracts ranging from quarter and half mile tracks to big mile dirt tracks.

“What I’ve tried to do is go to all these tracks I loved as a kid and run my car,” Walker explained. “I’ve pretty well done it.”

He’s raced at Winchester in Indiana, the Hoosier 100 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and his favorite, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Midwest Oldtimers are safety conscious. Drivers wear helmets, shoulder straps and fireproof suits. They have drivers meetings and all passing is done on the right to give drivers plenty of room.

“We’ll run close together, but we don’t run real fast close together,” Walker said. “If you get too wild, we’ll pitch you out of the club.

“One reason is that, when that car hits the race track, the insurance is null and void.”

Another race season is gearing up and Walker is currently deciding which races he’ll take part in this year. In the mean time, he’s keeping busy. He carried the flag at the opening night of Crossville Raceway’s season a few weeks ago and he often takes part in car shows and cruise-ins in the area. He’s also active with the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Cincinnati and the Cumberland Shrine Club.

Text Only
  • On_the_dragon.jpg Road Trip: Region offers challenges, rewards for two-wheeled motorists

    Spring is in the air, and on the road. As the temperatures have steadily risen, so have the number of motorcycles you can find on the road any given weekend, as riders take to two wheels to explore the twisting roads that wind through the region.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo 15 Stories 1 Link

  • Around the Town: Stars will be shining in county this weekend

    Regardless of the weather this weekend, the stars will be shining. Cumberland County High School and Stone Memorial High School will host Prom 2014 Saturday evening... the county’s own “Red Carpet.”

    April 24, 2014

  • FOL sets spring book sale

    The last winter seems to have left the Plateau, and flowers are blooming. Everyone hopes that spring is finally here and that means summer is right around the corner and the need to think about summer reading on the beach or the porch.

    April 24, 2014

  • Melling, Sounds of the Country at Hebbertsburg Community Center

    Jack Melling and Sounds of the Country will entertain at the Hebbertsburg Community Center on Saturday, May 3, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

    April 22, 2014

  • Marriage licenses (Published April 23, 2014)

    April 22, 2014

  • Pleasant Hill Ramblings CSA.jpg Pleasant Hill Ramblings: CSAs are a win-win situation

    Every Wednesday after 1 p.m. from May through October, there is a steady stream of people converging on the kitchen of Heritage Hall on Church St. in Pleasant Hill with baskets and bags. Inside the kitchen there is excited chatter as they discuss the array of vegetables, some varieties never tried before. Farmer Dave Myers and his helpers provide this largesse of vitamins to the members of the CSA.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • plateau gardening.jpg How to collect and submit soil sample

    Garry, a new resident in Crossville, emailed to ask how to gather a soil sample and where to take it to have testing done. Your local University of Tennessee Extension office is the place to go. Those in the Crossville area should call UT Extension Cumberland County at 484-6743. A staff person at the office can explain how to collect soil samples. (Those new in town who may not know where the Extension office is located may also call for driving directions.)

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 5-2 white cane days.jpg Lions Club White Cane Days returns May 2 & 3

    The Fairfield Glade and Crossville Lions Club members will hold their annual White Cane Days fundraiser Friday, May 2, and Saturday, May 3, at several locations. This is a major fundraiser throughout the state of Tennessee and many parts of the world to help assist blind, sight impaired and deaf individuals. This is an event that only happens once a year.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140412_110402.jpg Kids get creative at Youth Expo

    Cumberland Artisans for Creative Expression (CACE) held its annual Youth Expo Saturday, providing young people an opportunity to try their hand at a variety of artistic endeavors, from music and writing to painting and traditional crafts of weaving and spinning.

    April 17, 2014 4 Photos

  • AROUND THE TOWN: The Easter egg hunt that never was

    The Easter Bunny should be able to deliver his baskets in pretty nice weather this weekend. The Good Friday and Easter holiday weekend should feature much warmer temperatures than we had earlier this week when snow showers fell on Cumberland County. Cumberland County students were released Tuesday for spring break, but their last day of school for the week found snow and ice falling from the sky and temperatures in the 20s. Students will return to class on Monday.

    April 17, 2014