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Henry's Hobbies in Tempe, AZ


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#26 Jesse Gonzales

Jesse Gonzales

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Posted 08 April 2018 - 03:27 PM

Thanks Brian, we may have had some previous conversation or there was someone else that had many of the same recollections that you do. The American Orange that Rick bought from Jack Higgins (passed from cancer many years ago) was taken to Oliver Smith's dad's barn in Sunnyslope in the 13th Street & Cave Creek Road area. I had attempted to use Rick as a buyer for me as I wanted the track but Jack and I had a falling out that resulted in Dave Fortner and I being banned from the track for not paying him 40% of our sales of chassis and armatures away from his track. Anyhow Jack sold it to Rick for $100 with the condition it not come to me otherwise that price was $1500. I visited the track at the barn once but never raced there as my fiance had drowned at Rocky Point in April of 1973, needless to say I didn't do much except work and sip single malt scotch for a while.

 

 

I had met Mike Marquez at ASCR (owned by Al & Carlad Boardman) while trying to reengage in racing, Mike had just won the I-15 national championship and was very quick with a 15 and later 27's. We became pretty good friends and had talked about opening a track, we drove all over town looking for a good spot finally settling on Cave Creek & Greenway. Mike meeded investors so his dad and I along with some smaller dollars helped get the track funded. I kept Mike at arms length from my assets as I had seen too many track owners have shopping center owners go after their assets. To this end as far as the owner knew Mike was the "General Partner" and us others were silent partners, all we lost when the track closed was money, I believe the shopping center owner went after Mike but as he had noting in his portfolio the court ordered some small payment per month. Mike, Gary, Jerry and the rest of us that raced at Mike's had a great track to race on for a while. The last race was the JJJ memorial race that Jerry J Johnson sponsored, fun race, I loaned Jerry a 12 and a box stock 15 and everyone will tell you that while my cars were not very fast they won a lot of races. Jerry and I finished 1 & 2 in both events, just good driving.

 

Speaking of Jerry, I first met him at G&L raceway in west Phoenix where I raced for while as a teen due to there being a set of bleachers that was always filled with girls coming to watch the teen guys stomp on most of the older guys with some exceptions. Jerry used to have long blond hair and a mustache that the girls swooned over so he had his share of followers too. Les Hornback had cautioned me that Jerry was a good driver and I'd best not underestimate him. We had a lot of good races together at G&L. I had been accepted as one of the guys by the older crew that drove around town to race so I got a lot more tacks to race on than Jerry did. Including the one in Tucson where we caught the LA gang coming back from San Antonio's Hemisfair race. We got our heads handed to us as none of us had ever seen a track with straights that long, I was the only guy in our crew that wound his own arms and the others used Mura or Cobra. I blew 10 motors on that track that night, Kenny Wallace the driver hit a skunk in his wifes new Mustang so it wasa bad night for us all.

 

Gary Mayeda, Mr TQ, it seemed like Gary had all the new stuff from PK to Camen all in pursuit of TQ. He traveled a lot to races out of state and interviewed everyone he could that had any slot history. Gary's old job in film developing came to an end with Digital Camera's so he didn't travel as much after that but he also developed some health issues that eventually took him.

 

Many more AZ racing personalities and tracks to come.


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