One of the more interesting people I’ve been privileged to meet in my 50-plus years in this sport was the late Tiny Lund, the big affable guy originally from Iowa who simply loved to race – anywhere, anytime, any kind of car.
I first met him when he came to Salem (Ind.) Speedway to race in an ARCA event in 1973, when John Marcum was allowing the pony cars to compete. He brought the familiar No. 55 Camaro which at the time was owned by Charlie Blanton, and which I understand Tiny later purchased. Charlie had won the ARCA race at Daytona in that car, and Tiny won races at Selinsgrove, Lincoln and Mt. Clemens with it that season.
He didn’t win that race at Salem, but he made an impression.
I had a 350 Honda at the time, and had ridden it from Scottsburg to Salem, then left the key in the office for my buddy Steve Stubbs, who was managing Salem at the time, to use if he needed. Stubbs was an old friend of Tiny’s and was anxious for us to meet.
Our meeting was rather auspicious. After the race, I went back to the office and the motorcycle was gone. I rightly figured that Stubbs had taken it.
Try to get this picture – I hear the bike coming up the gravel drive, and turn around to see Tiny driving it and Stubbs behind him. I weighed about 240 at the time, Stubbs weighed about 210, and everybody knows how big Tiny was.
He hops off and says, “Hey, flagman, is this your bike?” When I answered that it was, he said, “This thing ain’t got no pep.”
Naturally, I explained that might have been because of the weight it was carrying. Then Steve introduced us.
We all decided to head for a restaurant on the edge of Salem, and Tiny asked me to show him the way. I dutifully waited until he was ready, and headed out.
On the way up the hill after my final turn toward the restaurant, I glanced in my mirrors and got a real shock. Tiny was so close behind me that all I saw in the left mirror was a “K.” In the right mirror was an “M.” As in “M A C K.”
I cranked the handlegrip over to get away from him and couldn’t. When we got to the restaurant, he said, “I told ya that thing didn’t have any pep!” I wanted to know how big an engine he had in the hauler, but he wouldn’t tell me.
A couple of years later, he brought the same car to the Anderson 400 when it was an ASA race and taught me something about how specific you had to be in explaining the rules.
The late Milt Hartlauf, our director of competition at the time and one of the best promoters I ever worked with, explained that each car had to make at least one pit stop, during which all four wheels had to come to a stop and had to take on fuel or water.
The pits were set up as they are for the Little 500 sprint car race, in the infield on the figure-8 course.
I was acting as a pit observer for that race, and I noticed with about 100 laps to go that Tiny was the only driver who hadn’t made a pit stop, and he was a couple of laps in the lead. I mentioned it to the tower, and Milt said, “That’s his problem, he heard the rule.”
A few laps later, Ol’ Slabfoot comes screaming into a completely empty pit area (no speed limits back then), locks up all four wheels and slides through his pit. As he slid through, the crew threw a bucket of water in the window at him, he dumped the clutch, and went back on the track still in the lead.
Then the crew chief comes over and says, “All four wheels stopped and he took on water!”
Tiny won the race, and Milt was very careful how he explained pit stop procedures from then on.
About the author
John has done it all in racing over the past half-century, filling every position from flagman, to track promoter, to award-winning newspaper editor all over the Midwest. Back with Frontstretch in 2014, John’s e-newsletter column Potts’ Shots appears every Thursday while he dips his toe in the site’s IndyCar coverage. John resides in Indianapolis.
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