In 1947 a two year old Charlie Lindmar was taken by his Dad to the races at New Jersey bullrings that included Hinchcliffe and Dover. He claims not to remember anything about these events as around that time he fell out of a 2nd story window and landed on his head !
The flowing year his Dad built a race car up around a red ’37 Ford with yellow wheels on to which Charlie’s Mom painted the #69, it was around this time Charlie got into drawing race cars an activity he has continued to this day.
While the car was being prepared Charlie would sit in the seat making car noises and it was not long before the crew working on the car gave Charlie the “Little Hotrod” nick name.
Charlie’s Dad, who worked at an oil terminal near Linden airport only raced the #69 once and after starting and finishing last he decided to enter the #69 for better drivers most often at Rupert Stadium where he once earned $140 after a particularly good meeting.
After moving the #69 had to take a back seat while Charlie’s dad was busy making a living, but even then Lindmars kept going to see the races. In 1953 Charlie’s Dad registered to enter his ’37 Ford as the #56 to race on the new 1 mile Old Bridge dirt oval, but he never did get around to taking the #56 car to the track, although the family regularly spectated at events there.
While a Senior at High school, where Charlie was especially good at art, he started drag racing a ’53 Mercury and working at a Sunoco gas station before taking a course in auto mechanics which got him a job at the Linden GM plant. By 1964 the 19 year old Charlie started building a race car up from a rough ’37 Chevy Coupé and like his Dad picked the #69 to go on the doors.
With a ’52 Ford, Bonus Built F1, Pick Up that ran on only seven cylinders to tow the car Charlie’s first couple of meetings were steep learning curve experiences. He broke a drive shaft first time at Wall Stadium and forgot to check the transmission fluid the second time at Weissglass Stadium on Staten Island in New York.
At Ft Dix Charlie finally made the races and eventually had a career best 2nd place finish in a semi feature there. One time Charlie arrived early at Ft Dix and his truck overheated while waiting for the pit boss to show up, when he did eventually show Charlie had to push the truck, which refused to start, into the garage area with his race car !
In 1965 Charlie took his #69 Chevy to the Garden State Classic at Wall Stadium where he started his heat from the front row, but was punted off when his motor would not pull cleanly on the green flag. Later in the summer Charlie had the most fun when he raced at East Windsor.
Last time out at East Windsor Charlie qualified for the 100 lap final, even though he had not taken any account of the centrifugal forces acting on a new fuel tank in the turns which resulted in the tank slipping through it’s longitudinal securing straps and on to the track. He retired from the race because he ran out of time to secure the fresh race battery properly.
When Uncle Sam called on Charlie he joined the US Marines and the #69 Chevy was sold after Charlie’s Dad insisted he would not look after it. Charlie became a tractor trailer instructor before his enlistment ended in 1969.
Charlie never got back behind the wheel of a racing car, but instead got into making a living driving tanker trucks, getting married and starting a family. Eventually Charlie took his son to Wall Stadium.
After retiring from long haul driving Charlie returned to drawing old race cars, after cleaning his truck while waiting for lab tests and paperwork during loading or unloading for short hauls.
One day he was at Racz’s Garage which had been home to Joe Racz’s yellow #41 cars that Charlie had seen as a kid. A friendship between Joe’s nephew, Tom Rhodes and Charlie ensued which led Tom to commission Charlie to make a drawing for the headstone of his Uncle Joe’s grave many years later.
Charlie now has a web site for his art and his interest in drawing scenes from early stock car racing has led to him being invited to see the France, as in NASCAR dynasty, family archive.
In 2010 Charlie was reunited with his old #69 Chevy, which in his dreams he had never sold or stopped racing, at an Old Bridge reunion after it had been sold for a $1,000 to the good home of the Allen family, some of whom Charlie had met long before the sale.
Thanks for joining me on this “Drawin To It” edition of “Getting’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Ferrari Friday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !