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Csaba "Chubba" Szekelyhidi, 1955-2013


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#1 MSwiss

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:28 AM

A local racer came in yesterday and confirmed what I had suspected/expected.

Csaba "Chubba" Szekelyhidi passed earlier this year, after a stay in a nursing home, after suffering a massive stroke outside his hi-performance car shop in the Chicago south suburbs.

Csaba and I had some epic battles, on and off the track, but I had nothing but the highest level of respect
 for his abilities in slot racing, especially for his knack to think outside the box.

In his Pro racing heyday I was always envious of his ability to operate at a very high level, with very little sleep.

In the middle of the week, he could stay up all night, hand cutting steel center sections, and building beautiful chassis, get 2 hours of sleep, and jump on the train to work at his job, in Downtown Chicago, as an architect.

He was a tireless promoter for Jerry Kulich and Grand Raceway, and highly instrumental in the design
and construction of the World class King tracks there.

Always a good friend of famous track builder Hasse Nilsson, Csaba convinced Hasse to get away from
double deck track construction, designing the single deck construction, with easily adjustable triangular legs, that is the standard today.

Anyone who has ever moved a large slot car track, can thank Csaba that it's not an even more back-breaking job than it already is.

Csaba, also known as Zeke, was a long time member of Team Camen, and wore the purple with pride.

He was the 1984 USRA Group 7 Champion and a two-time Group 7 King track single lap world record holder.

Like other great racers of his day, his accolades in slot racing were only cut short by drifting into other forms of motorsports racing.

Csaba's became a 1/1 racer, with his specialty being the modification of Fieros.

May Casba rest in peace.

csaba 2.jpg

csaba 1.jpg

Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
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Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
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#2 chaparrAL

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:48 AM

Damn.

 

Last ran into him at the Peabody in Memphis. He was drag racing his Fiero.

I remember he wanted so bad to be the first to qualify under three seconds and the weekend before Centerville he was down at the track at Momence reeling off 2.9, 2.9, 2.9...

He would turn in his car at tech with masking tape on the bottom to hide his latest design.

Lots of laughs with him, Mike Stephens, Bill Metros, George Teman, and Boyt Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Stu Koford.

 

RIP, Csaba.


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#3 Tom Thumb Hobbies

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 12:05 PM

Damn. What a shame. RIP.


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#4 Gator Bob

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 12:31 PM

I didn't know him but sad to hear it.

 

Nice shared memories, Mike and Al.

 

RIP.


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#5 S.O. Watt

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 12:34 PM

Csaba was a great teammate back when we were both racing for Camen. We talked many times about chassis and track wiring, I still have his wiring drawings for the 1st Grand Raceway track.

He was one of the most original thinkers that I ever had the pleasure to interact with, there was no "box" so to speak. His craftsmanship was second to none, as his hand-cut steel could be mistaken for an EDM piece.

I was somewhat sorry that his interests drifted away from slots, but knew that he was following his loves. I still remember he, his wife, and I cramming into his Fiero to dash to one of their favorite restaurants.

RIP, Zeke.
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#6 JohnnySlotcar

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:03 PM

He gave me a "ride" in one of his stage 5? Fieros at the IMCA Worlds around 1991 and we went out on the expressway. Unreal acceleration, but very light handling. I was mainly expecting to die under a semi!


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#7 idare2bdul

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:13 PM

His passing reminds us that most of us are out of warranty and that we need to appreciate our family and friends. He was one of the racers that defined our hobby.


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#8 Bernie

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:14 PM

I ran into him when I was racing SCCA. One look inside his IT Class Fiero and I was shaking my head. Wires literally EVERYWHERE! A tech inspector's nightmare. We talked slots on a few occasions. Ubber smart guy.

RIP.  :(


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#9 alainprost22

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:27 PM

Sorry to hear of his passing. I remember Csaba quite well. His slot building designs/way of thinking were quite similiar to what Ray Kallio was doing...


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#10 Tom Thumb Hobbies

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:57 PM

I don't know about his drag racing but I am pretty confident that he held the Chicago to Columbus speed record when coming to a race here. He shaved over an hour off the normal time.

 

And getting him to wear shoes...


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#11 jimht

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:36 PM

Too young, too soon.

 

I have fond memories of Csaba as a teenager in the early '70s hanging out at my shop... learning, asking questions, and watching me build chassis.

 

A great guy with many accomplishments both in slots and elsewhere.


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#12 TSR

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:04 PM

Never met him, but heard about him after he retired from racing. Way too young to die...  We are all a big family, we all have the same passion for our little racing cars.

 

To all who knew him personally, I grieve with you. :(


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#13 MSwiss

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 05:04 PM

Jim,

I think I mentioned to you before, when Csaba first moved here to Hinsdale (ironically, shortly after the famous Hinsdale Raceway closed), from Texas, he spoke of yourself, Robin Adair, and Cliff Horn with much admiration.

Mike Swiss
 
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Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
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#14 MantaRay

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:10 PM

My condolences to you, Mike... I know he was a good friend... I know you were trying to find him.


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#15 Phil Donaldson

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 08:51 PM

The first time I saw Csaba race was at a summer warm-up race for the 83' Nats in "Cinderville". We were all amazed at his chassis designs and how light they were.

 

When he came to Tom Thumb Hobbies in '84 to one of our races he set the blue King world record in qualifying and the overall world lap record in the main. I remember helping Mike McMasters tech the cars and Csaba was very particular about where I engraved the chassis because of the flex points. Every time he raced at Tom Thumb I was in awe of how meticulously his equipment was prepared.

 

I have a few of my wing cars from that era but one of my favorites is a shuttle car designed by Csaba and built by Boyt.

 

RIP...


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#16 MG Brown

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:11 PM

Godspeed - please read the attached article.
 
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#17 MSwiss

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 10:45 AM

 And getting him to wear shoes...

 

LOL.

 

I almost forgot Csaba was a "shoes optional" guy.


Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
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Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
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mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#18 MSwiss

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 10:48 AM

He gave me a "ride" in one of his stage 5? Fieros at the IMCA Worlds around 1991 and we went out on the expressway. Unreal acceleration, but very light handling. I was mainly expecting to die under a semi!

 

John,

 

When Raisin stopped by last night and I told him the sad news, he mentioned how Csaba would always challenge me and my MR2 to a crappy mid-engine car drag race against one of his numerous Fieros.


Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#19 MSwiss

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 10:54 AM

 I know he was a good friend...

 

Ray,

 

Not exactly, but I had a ton of respect for his numerous talents.

 

He was a Renaissance man.

 

BTW, Jackie gets a real kick out of how guys can be wringing each other's necks one day, and be getting along fine, the next.

 

She says that never happens with women, citing a squabble with an old high school girl friend, in a trivial situation, even less important than slot racing. :)


Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#20 Mr. M

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 12:59 PM

Mike, what is the location and year of the picture of the drivers stand?
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#21 MSwiss

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 01:23 PM

Chris,

 

I have no idea.

I pulled it off the web.

There is a reference to Old Weird Herald, when I click on the pic.

Check with Kassens.


Mike Swiss
 
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Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
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Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#22 Dennis David

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 02:20 PM

"... even less important than slot car racing".

Is that even possible? LOL.


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#23 John Miller

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Posted 19 July 2013 - 02:46 PM

I always thought Mike Stevens was the shoes optional guy. LOL.

Csaba was always cool to be at races with.

RIP, Csaba.


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#24 NSwanberg

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 01:44 AM

Remember Csaba trying to provide color commentary on one of the local Chicago cable sports channels for a slot car race? Nats or Worlds or something important? I can't remember as it is all becoming a blur. That had to be a first; you could not even see the cars in motion on the screen.
 
Interesting person. If the first people to build slot car tracks had been architects instead of cabinet makers they might have come up with his much more efficient design in the first place. I think that is his greatest mark on our hobby/sport.
 
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#25 Phil Hackett

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Posted 20 July 2013 - 03:55 PM

Mike, what is the location and year of the picture of the drivers stand?

 
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#26 MSwiss

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Posted 22 July 2013 - 09:00 PM

"... even less important than slot car racing".

Is that even possible? LOL.


I throw lines like that in once in awhile, just to see if anyone is reading my posts.

Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#27 MSwiss

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 10:50 AM

Yesterday I received this nice email from Csaba's wonderful first wife, Catherine.

Csaba met Catherine while studying architecture in Paris.

Her parents and siblings put up the US slot racing contingent, at their various residences, during a J.P. Van Rossem event in Paris.

With her permission, I'm going to post it, to show Csaba's fight to very end.


Hello Mike,

I just read what you wrote on OWHs slot car Talk. This brought tears to my eyes and I wanted to let you know how grateful we are for what you wrote and for the response it got. The pictures on the site are great!

I am Csabas ex-wife, Catherine. Csabas slot car days were so long ago that it is unfortunate that I didnt reach and contact any of his slot car friends and most of all, we were all so overwhelmed by the stroke that we reached out for people who were immediately known to us and who had direct and constant contact with Csaba. Im so sorry I didnt let you or anyone in the slot car community know.

As you said, Csaba was a competitor. He was a fighter. Never in his life did he quit on anything, and after his devastating stroke, he didnt either. He fought for his life first, then he fought to get better. His stroke left him completely paralyzed on the right side, and unable to speak or swallow. For 15 months, he fought every second of the day: every gesture, every eye and hand movement, every movement of his lips was a struggle. I have never seen someone try so hard.

He had a second stroke in March of 2012 but kept coming back, in Csabas typical fashion. His daughters, Oriane and Csilla, and I all worked with him to help him regain some quality of life. Although we had been divorced for ten years, we kept in touch and after the stroke, I spent many hours with him at the nursing home, working with him, helping him to put twelve-piece puzzle together! Yes, he struggled to put together a twelve-piece puzzle. What a heartbreak when you know how brilliant a mind Csaba was.

In the end, his body was too exhausted and he could no longer stay with us. He passed away on February 15. I wish his slot car friends could have been there to help him along his very difficult fifteen months path.

Again, I'm so sorry and I am so grateful that you wrote something about him.

He leaves a very big hole in our lives.

Thank you again. When I return to Chicago, if you dont mind, I would like to stop by your shop and say hi.

Take care,
Catherine


Mike Swiss
 
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990)
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder (pointless era - LOL) 
17B West Ogden AveWestmont, IL 60559, ( 708) 203-8003
mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address) 
Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516
Make checks out to Chicagoland Woodworking, Inc.


#28 Dennis David

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 11:49 AM

That was nice. We all live such busy lives and it's too easy to lose contact with people we once knew. Something to be said for living life a little slower but enjoying it more.

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