"When their was Thunder"
Thunder Bay Racing Reunion weekend
#LSN_Outdoors Thunde Bay Racing Reunion weekend 2017
On Friday October 13th 2017, the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition, along with a small enthusiastic group of local racing fans are hosting a very important and historic event to celebrate over 100 years of racing here in our home town of Thunder Bay.
“When There Was Thunder” consists of a social evening on Friday at the CLE Coliseum building, including stories from former drivers and pit crews, a few historic and current race cars on display and a time to re-connect with some of your racing friends from years back. All generations of racers from the Murillo days, The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition track, Riverview Raceways and Mosquito Speedway will be on hand, including their pit crews (the unsung heroes) and fans. The last racing reunion was held in 1985 with a $5.00 admission. We have held the admission to that same 1985 price, 32 years later at $5.00. Door prizes will be given.
Food and Drink will also be available at an extra cost. Advance tickets are available at the CLE office at 807-622-6473 or from myself, or anyone on the committee.
On Saturday October 14th, there will be self-guided tours to the Russ Wanzuk racing collection from 10:00 ‘til Noon, then to the Duke Hunt Museum’s racing collection on Rosslyn Road from 1:30 to 4:30 which now hosts the famous “King’s Ford Special”. Door prizes will also be given away at the Duke Hunt museum.
Everyone is welcome…be sure to attend this historic event in your home town.
The Kings Special
In the first half of auto racing’s first century,the race car’s were almost as well known as the driver’s themselves. Locally,here in the Lakehead during the 1920 & 30’s the "Kings Special" was the “star“ car of the CLE and Murillo track’s. Built by brother’s Arthur and Arnold King in a chicken coup at their home on Algonquin St. in Port Arthur ,it was a true state of the art speed machine in its day. Based on a Ford Model T frame ,the car was narrowed to a width of 14”, sported a trick set of Dayton race wheel's ,featured an overhead camshaft cylinder head built by Robert Roof of Indiana. Roof head’s were affordable and worked very well. The car also featured twin Winfield carburetors ,a Scintilla high tension magneto ,full pressure lubrication ,worm gear steering , a geared water pump ,and a counter balanced crankshaft.
Art King started and ended his racing career the same day at Murillo in 1924,a rough rollover introduction convinced Art that he really didn't want to be a race driver and he could be content as an owner and mechanic. King replaced himself first with Ernie Boffa and Pat Bryan spending time behind the wheel, before settling on Frank Colosimo as the permanent driver. Colosimo was already an established winner, winning race’s at the CLE and Murillo ,as well as in Winnipeg in George Dolcetti’s Essex. The legend of the Kings Special and driver Frank Colosimo would grow with each race win. A colorful figure ,Colosimo would drive in front of the grandstand waving money at the crowd daring them to bet against him, Colosimo would usually disappoint those that did bet against him and please those that betted on him to win. The 1920’s racing would often feature “match races” to answer a challenge, each driver would put up the money with the local sports editor usually holding the bet. Sometimes these bet’s were anything but small change ,usually $50 or $100 but also as high as $500 and $1000,that is how much today? Race’s were usually on holiday weekend’s though the 1921 match race for $1000 between Colosimo in the Essex and Cunningham in his Ford was run on November 12 with snow flurries threatening the race. After winning that race Colosimo planned to retire from the local track's ,and venture out east to race though those plans didn’t fall into place. Colosimo, would win the lion's share of races he'd run ,but also had some bad race’s too ,such as the day he charged the corner too hard and took out the ticket office. Art King would claim Colosimo only lost two race’s in seven year’s ,from 1925 to 1931 behind the wheel of the “Kings Special“. Upon retiring as a driver in 1931 ,Colosimo became the flagman ,then coming out of retirement for one race in October 1933 and year's later played host to the founding meeting in August 1952 of the Lakehead Stock Car Club at Uncle Frank’s Supper Club on Hwy 61.
The racing career of the Kings Special speedster ended in the mid/late 1930’s. The Kings Special was traded in on a new car then sold and passed through several hands.Red Marsonet owned the car after WWII, dismantling it, keeping the motor and speed parts. He sold the body/chassis to someone in Murillo,then it moved on to someone in Rosslyn. The car was last known to be owned by local racing legend Barry Kettering in a different form, powered by a regular T Ford motor, in 1950 he would informally race it against another 1920’s race car, “The Hudson“, then owned by Tom Dow. While the fate of the “Kings Special” remain’s a mystery,an important piece of it has survived the years. The motor and transmission were obtained in trade for a Model T touring car in running condition ,by Alan Cronk of Wyoming ON. A “T” frame was obtained from Russ Wanzuk in Murillo ,and a re-creation of the Kings Special has been completed. Meticulous research to ensure accuracy was conducted, and the result’s are beautiful and a piece of the Lakehead’s racing history has been resurrected. The new “Kings Special” is permanately housed at the Duke Hunt Museum in Rosslyn Village.
Owner Art King & Driver Frank Colosimo
by Jeff Caldwel