Great Race of '49
Each gravity powered racecar, under the contest rules, was entirely built by the young man who would drive it. Each vehicle had to pass a safety inspection by the race committee, especially the brakes and steering systems !
In addition to the prestige of being the best engineer and fastest driver in town, there were serious prizes on the line. There were two beautiful gold trophies to be awarded to the divisional champions (9-11 year old and 12-15 year old divisions). The champions also received merchandise certificates from a local sporting goods store, awarded by the Belleville BPA. Medals were awarded to first, second and third place finishers in each race. Every participant received a racecar driver pin. In addition, four young lads, selected on the basis of good sportsmanship, would be escorted to a Yankees - Tigers game at Yankee Stadium.
It was now 1:00 pm, time to start. Races started on a raised ramp ensuring that maximum speed was reached as soon as possible. A pair of entrants were poised on the starting ramp, tense, eyes straight ahead. The green flag dropped ... go! They're off ! The crowd was silent, only the sound of chattering wheels and wind sweeping over the hand-made chassis' could be heard as they rushed by at a screaming 20 mph. The checkered flag dropped, and the winner is ...
Indianapolis may have its "Indy 500", but on this day, Belleville was the proud home of the "Greylock Two-Tenths". Two-tenths of a mile, that was the length of the raceway set out on perfectly hilly Greylock Parkway. The event was organized primarily by the Belleville Times - News however, many town businesses and citizens contributed to its success. It was a wonderful event. It was just one of the many reasons why post-war Belleville was such a really good place in which to grow-up.
A Note To Readers:
The new book, "A Dutch Christmas in Old Second River 1697" has finally arrived from the printer and is now available. Learn about holiday customs and traditions as they were practiced in our town more that 300 years ago. You can find a slideshow of sample pages and a description by clicking this link -
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