Late in 1960 Ray Miles had a date that would alter the course of his life, his date Linda lived near Pleasantville Speedway in New Jersey, as Ray heard the roar of the track his curiosity was aroused and they ended up going there on their first date. Ray was hooked immediately and never missed a race after that and Linda soon decided her future lie elsewhere.
Working for a Ford dealer, Ray found a ride in the 6 cylinder #52 Plymouth Coupe owned by Pete Hearon of Goshen NJ, running at Vineland on Friday nights. Ray finished the 1962 season which he describes as a ‘learning experience’.
Vineland closed down at the end of 1962 so Ray headed back to Pleasantville known locally as P’ville and bought a ’39 Chevy Coupe for $400 from Harry McConnell. The car had a 4,277 cc / 261 cui 6 cylinder Chevy motor hooked up to a 1 ton International rear axle from a postal truck, as Ray says “nuttin’ fancy” .
Ray painted the car school bus yellow and put the #27 on. In 1966 Ray Bartling from the Sears Automotive Centre In Cardiff NJ where both Rays were working got involved with the #27 and became crew chief. The two Rays stuck together from 1966 through to 1975 when Ray hung up his helmet.
In 1967 P’ville was a NASCAR sanctioned track where Ray finished 3rd in points, 11th in the State of New Jersey.
Running on a tight budget if the team did not win enough money they would either make or borrow the parts needed to get to the next race. Eventually the chassis was replaced with a used one purchased from the legendary and much missed Tom Skinner this chassis was eventually fitted with a stock 5,276 cc / 322 cui Buick wrapped up with Rays original #27 Chevy Coupe body.
Towards the end of his driving career Ray drove several other vehicles including the Ed Browns #14 which Ray describes as a “fast mammy jammy!”
Today Ray has retired with his wife Suzy, and 5 Cats to Palm Springs where he has learned to play boogie woogie piano.
Keeping in touch with his racing buddies and keeping the memory of many others alive he started running the excellent Limited Sportsman Racers website where there is a wealth of information on the whole P’ville scene including the drivers, crews cars and some rare video footage. Look out for Bobby Isaacs doing a demonstration at P’ville in his #71 K&K; Insurance Dodge Charger Daytona with the 23 inch wing on the back !
Ray goes to reunions with his friends from P’ville at Harry Flemmings Pumpkin Run in Egg Harbour Township which comes highly recommended during the first weekend of November.
Slightly Off Topic
I’d like to wish David Piper who played an important role in the making of the film Le Mans subject of Sundays blog and in the building of the Ferrari 330 P4 # 0900 subject of yesterdays blog a belated Happy Birthday he turned 80 yesterday.
Hope you have enjoyed todays Saturday Night Racer blog and that you’ll join me tomorrow with another racer of a very different kind of vehicle based in New Jersey. Don’t forget to come back now !