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Paul Sterrett, 1954-2017


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#1 Keith Tanaka

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 02:22 PM

Very sad news that Paul Sterrett passed away Saturday (2/11/17). 

 

Paul battled cancer for the last several years. His condition worsened significantly recently.

Paul had a passion for slot car racing as he did for 1/1 racing. In the '60s, he was very interested in the SoCal slot car racing scene as many of the top slot car racers competed in the Los Angeles area in those days.

 

In the '60s, he was not old enough to drive a car and lived too far away (Sacramento) to join in the fun going on in SoCal in the mid-'60s. He raced slot cars as a youth at Hagginwood Raceway in Sacramento. As an adult, he raced 1/1 SCCA on the west coast, becoming one of the leading independent racers driving his Datsun sedan. He later moved to the Irvine area and began racing slot cars at BPR (not sure of the year). 
 

For those who are not familiar with Paul, he was very passionate about our hobby. He was a regular at Buena Park Raceway for many years forming a friendship with Chris Gallegos (former owner of BPR). Paul helped out many racers through the years showing them how to build/set-up/race slot cars. 

For many years Paul tried to get other racers involved with scratchbuilding as it was popular in the '60s/'70s. Not much interest in scratchbuilding in the '90s, early 2000s. He raced and supported USRA Div. 2 racing (scale racing) while supporting Div. 1 wing racing at BPR. Paul would always help others, especially wing racers even though he did not race wing cars himself.

 

While racing TSRF (PdL's RTR) cars at BPR in the mid-2000s, Paul met Mike Steube (through TSRF and PdL) and they raced TSRF cars for a few years on the old BPR hillclimb track. Paul was a big fan of Mike Steube as well as many other top racers of the golden years of slot car racing (1966-1968).

In 2005, Paul talked Mike into joining him and a few others in starting a scratchbuilding/racing class at BPR they co-founded in 2006 called D3 Retro Racing. The "D3" represented Div. 3 within USRA. USRA accepted this new racing class but it never became official since some racers did not care for USRA. Anyway, the "D3" name remained. This new racing class consisted of building/racing scratchbuilt 1/24 Lexan-bodied cars (Can-Am class initially, later F1, Coupe, NASCAR, Jail Door, and 1/32) similar to those that were raced in 1966-67 in SoCal. Mike liked Paul's idea of scratchbuilding cars similar to those built/raced during the Rod and Custom magazine race series in 1966/67. These were "inline" cars, except Mike and Paul agreed to use a sealed motor (Falcon type motor) rather than a rewound 16D type motor to focus on chassis building and racing. 

 

Over the next several years, D3 Retro Racing flourished at BPR and even in some other areas of the US and World (Britain, Europe, Japan, etc.). Not long after D3 Retro Racing became popular at BPR, another Retro racing group formed back east, called IRRA. This new Retro racing organization was originally based on D3 retro racing rules with some exceptions, mainly type of motors used.

 

Since 2006, Retro racing has become the fastest growing slot car racing format in the US as well as in some other countries. The original basic idea of D3 slot car racing has endured although now through SCRRA racing at BPR. Even to this day, the original Checkpoint Cup race (which Paul created) held every January at BPR since 2009 (now under SCRRA rules) remains one of the major Retro races held each year in America.

In 2007-8, Paul and a few others started D3 Hardbody racing at BPR. This new racing class utilizes 1/24, 1/25 model car kit bodies along with scratchbuilt chassis. This racing class was an extension of hardbody NASCAR racing at BPR which in the beginning used 36D motors. A few years later, D3 Hardbody racing allowed sealed Falcon type motors along with modified 36D motors. This change resulted in many different hardbody racing classes since the sealed Falcon motors were much smaller and yet more reliable than the old 36D motor. To this day, D3 Hardbody racing at Buena Park Raceway continues to provide "fun" racing for many. 

 

Paul moved back to the Sacramento area several years ago but continued to participate in the annual D3 Hardbody Nats and Enduro races at BPR each year.

Thanks to Paul Sterrett's vision, guidance, and support, Retro and Hardbody slot car racing has continued to be very popular at BPR. Many slot racers and BPR over the years benefited from Paul's passion for his favorite hobby. 

RIP, Paul.

Keith


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#2 Cheater

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 02:35 PM

Thanks for posting this terribly sad info, Keith.

 

Paul was a terrifically talented builder and racer. I wouldn't consider him a real close friend, but we ran into each fairly often at USRA Scale Nats events and always enjoyed each other's company.


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#3 Keith Tanaka

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 02:55 PM

Greg, you're right about Paul. He was an excellent builder and racer.

 

His long time dream as a youth growing up in the Sacramento area was to someday race against some of the slot car legends of the golden years of slot car racing. His dream came true in the mid-2000s when he met Mike Steube at BPR and they together started the Retro racing format which continues to be popular today.

 

Because of D3 Retro Racing at BPR, Paul was able to race against some of the legends of our hobby, i.e., Steube, John Cukras, Howie Ursaner, Terry Schmid, John Tore Anderson, Bryan Warmack, Lee Hines, Pete Zimmerman, and even some former Team Russkit members, Mike Morrissey and Fred (Ken) Larimer, and can't leave out PdL. 

 

Keith


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#4 MSwiss

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 02:55 PM

How sad to hear.

May Paul rest in peace.

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#5 JerseyJohn

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 03:22 PM

My sympathies ro Paul's family and those that knew him.

 

RIP, Paul... Say hello to Jay and Bob!!!


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#6 Mike K

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 03:25 PM

Sad news. Godspeed, Paul.

 

Nice sentiments on his life and background in slots. Many thanks, Keith.


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#7 Gary Donahoe

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 03:32 PM

I’m very sad to learn of Paul’s passing. He was a big part of my return to slot racing in 2008. His kindness and guidance was very much appreciated. He had a big heart. 

 

My condolences go out to his close friends and family. 

 

May he rest in peace.

 

Gary Donahoe


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#8 Neckcheese

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 03:44 PM

We need a "don't like at all" button to comment on info like this.  :-(

 

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#9 slotbaker

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 04:38 PM

RIP, Mr Retro.


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#10 usadar

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 04:45 PM

In Tokyo it's 6:30 in the morning.

 

Waking up to hear this very sad news, I cannot help crying.

 

I met Paul and Keith at the 2010 Checkpoint Cup, my first experience to see D3 Retro racing. They made me start racing Retro in Tokyo as Tokyo D3.

 

Please rest in peace, Paul.

 

Good racing in the heaven,

 

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#11 Bryan Warmack

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:01 PM

Very sad news indeed.

 

I remember him on many occasions not only helping the Retro racers but many newbies at BPR just getting started with a rental car. He always had time for everyone.

 

Rest in Peace, Paul.


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#12 Cap Henry

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:07 PM

Rest In peace, Paul.


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#13 Gil Gundersen

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:11 PM

Very sad to hear this. Paul was a great friend and a former Boola sportsmanship award recipient. He always helped me when I raced G7 wings.

 

Miss him already.


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#14 Tex

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 05:34 PM

So sorry to hear this. Paul and the SoCal bunch were instrumental in getting Retro racing going in SoCal and, by extension, Retro racing in Texas.

 

RIP, Paul.


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#15 Mark Wampler

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 06:25 PM

Very sad news. 

 

Paul successfully revived much of the glory days of the mid-'60s in bringing back many of the major players of the day.  Having founded Division 3 and at least five classes of SoCal Retro racing with the most important doctrine of chassis building, set-up, and driving skill. Minimizing the importance of the motor made Retro what it is today.

 

Regards to Paul's family,

 

=Mark=


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#16 Dallas Racer

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 06:48 PM

RIP, Paul.

 

He always had a big smile on his face in Keith's race reports pics.


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#17 Tim Neja

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 07:39 PM

RIP, Paul. God bless you and your family!!

 

A great racer – and a great builder! 


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#18 rvec

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 07:39 PM

I met Paul in 2004-05 slot car conventions – one in Las Vegas, the other in Chandler Arizona at Crusin'.

 

A consummate builder who loved the hobby and a nice fella to boot. He will be missed.


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#19 slotbaker

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:21 PM

Grassroots D3.

 

THE first D3 race, May 27, 2006.

 

Thanks, Paul, with the help from some of the greats.


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#20 Kim Lander

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:40 PM

Sad to hear, a great ambasador of our sport and hobby.



#21 John Gorski

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:49 PM

Thanks for posting, Keith...

 

RIP, Paul... Grandfather of Retro racing. Thank, Paul, for getting scratchbuilding started up again in 2005 in

West Coast California with D3 Retro racing. Also Paul was one of the founders of the Checkpoint Cup Championship.

 

Thanks for all your kindness and support during my trips to LA... Peace...

 

Below is a picture of one of Pauls first Retro Can-Am cars in 2006.

 

GorskiNameOnThe CheckpointCup1stCanAm2010.jpg

 

Sterrettcan-am-7-15-06-38.jpg


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#22 Noose

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 08:53 PM

RIP, Paul. Sad news.


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#23 Phil Nyland

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:02 PM

Very sad to hear.    

 

Even though Paul battled cancer for so long he was still upbeat and optimistic about the fight on his hands, and continued to enjoy the hobby he loved .

 

Paul was instrumental in making the slot car hobby better, and more enjoyable for so many. We all thought and hoped he would pull through. Paul enjoyed helping others as much as he did racing. A true gentleman and wonderful person.  

 

Rest in Peace, Paul.


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#24 Tom Eatherly

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:34 PM

Sad to hear about this.

 

I only met Paul once, very briefly when I was just getting restarted back into slot car racing. I really didn't know him, but, it sure sounds like he had a lot to do with getting Retro racing back on its feet again.

 

RIP, Mr Sterrett.


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#25 Jeff Easterly

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:40 PM

Was saddened to hear of the passing of Retro racing pioneer and scratchbuilding designer Paul Sterret...
 
Paul... Mike Steube... Keith Tanaka... Dennis Samson.... and myself helped organize the first four racing classes that started Retro racing in the Los Angeles area....
 
Paul had a dream of re-creating the inline cars of the late 1968 period, before the anglewinder invasion...
 
He stepped aside as SCRRA took over operation of the Los Angeles area Retro scene...
 
Visiting with him each year at the Hardbody Nationals was always a privilege...
 
A good friend, and a serious racer... he will be missed...
 
Goodbye, Paul... God be with you...  :cray:
 

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#26 9lives

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:45 PM

Jeff,

 

John Hegedus here. How are you? I miss you and your great satire on life... you helped me so much... fixing my cars... installing motors... adjusting bodies, etc. I would welcome a call from you at (562) 343-2186. You are exceptional...

 

I never met Mr. Sterrett, but I'm sure he was a fine man... after all, he was a slot car racer, and from what I can tell, he gave a lot to this sport...

 

John Hegedus 


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#27 9lives

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 10:49 PM

Haruki,

 

John Hegedus here. I wanna [sp/syntax] in Japan. Tell me how. Have you ever raced in the Fall Brawl? Please advise. I have a plan.

 

Donna extends her regards. 


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#28 86ed once again

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Posted 13 February 2017 - 11:30 PM

RIP, Paul.

 

Many of you guys remember Paul for starting D3, I remember him from SoCal USRA Div 2. He helped many of us kids in SoCal throughout the 2000s, myself, my brother, Ross Brothers, etc. Later on he helped create D3.

 

Then when I started racing wing cars, he was the go-to glue guy for everyone at Buena Park. In 2005 he was my glue guy for Spec 15 in which I took first. It wasn't an uncommon to watch him glue four racers in the same race at the Western States, Boola Bash, and Buena Park 500 races, and local BP monthly races.


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#29 Howie Ursaner

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 12:07 AM

I am extremely sad to hear this news. I met Paul when i started to race slot cars again due to his creation of Retro racing and the Checkpoint Cup. I owe a lot to Paul who was extremely passionate and giving.

 

I feel a great loss here, and he will be missed. 


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#30 Half Fast

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 12:20 AM

RIP to a pioneer of Retro slot car racing.

 

The chassis at the first Retro race, almost 11 years ago, would not look out of place today. That's a good thing.

 

You did well, Paul.  :hi:


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#31 Bryan Warmack

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 12:32 AM

Below is a picture of one of Pauls first Retro Can-Am Car in 2006.[/size]


John,

Paul's car that you pictured was the inspiration for the Warmack D3 Retro Can-Am kit that helped many racers get the Retro scratchbuilding bug!


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#32 usadar

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 03:13 AM

IMG_3687.JPG
 
Paul built this beautiful Jail Door car for me, when I started racing Retro at Buena Park Raceway in April, 2010.
 
RIP, Paul.

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#33 Jeff Buyer

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 07:39 AM

Paul was a key part of the success of the hardbody racing program that we started at BPR in 2003. He was always willing to help a fellow racer.

My condolences to his family and friends.
 
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#34 Mr Dynamic

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 09:43 AM

Sad news indeed.

 

Paul's racing was legendary. Odin will surely have a place for him in slot car Valhalla!

 

Here he is giving me the look... RIP.

 

Reno-3-1-07 030.jpg

 

Zombie Sterrett.JPG

 

slot car poster - Copy1.jpg

 

I will miss his company...

 

Jeff Bell


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#35 Cheater

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 09:53 AM

Yelled at the marshal again, huh, Jeff? LOL.

 

Thanks to Rich Vecchio for reminding me about the two 1/32 slot car conventions and that Paul was at both of them, as was I.

 

I then remembered In the TSRF race at Rad Trax (I think), where Paul and I battled for the win. He ended up slightly ahead of me on the track but on PdL's weight-based handicap formula, I was awarded the win. One of the few highlights of my racing career...

 

A very fond memory of Paul, it is.


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#36 tonyp

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 10:47 AM

RIP, Paul.


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#37 Jay Guard

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 12:24 PM

I raced many times with Paul when I lived in California. He was a great racer/builder and an all-around good guy and was basically the father of Retro racing as we know it today.  

He will be missed by all that knew him.

RIP, Paul, at that great slot car track in the sky!
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#38 Mike Who?

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 02:05 PM

Very sad news...
 
Paul was so helpful. I personally owe a lot to the man for all his help and support. So many races where he was watching my boys, especially Gavin, while I raced. Gavin sleeping in his arms, etc.

Paul was the D1 glue man as stated by others and damn good at it. I can't recall him ever saying no, he just figured out a way to get everyone done in the time allotted.

Paul... So much too say but so damn sad.
 
RIP, Paul.
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Mike Aguirre


#39 Mark Wampler

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 05:56 PM

There are so many  stories of Paul's eagerness to help. That includes me. 

Early on in the D3 days, I was at Buena Park in the pit checking a gear mesh. As I was rotating the tires forward, he passed by and noticed. "Why are you turning your tires like that"? (??) "You spin the tires backward to check for gear mesh."  

Lesson learned. Thanks, Paul!
You can quote me.

-Mark

#40 eshorer

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 06:09 PM

No question that Paul was a big part of my getting back into racing ten years ago. He was always willing to lend a hand, eyeing my cars, and performing a magical tweak and twist here and there.

He will be missed.


Eddie
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#41 Dennis David

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 08:03 PM

This is really sad news. I never met Paul but of course knew of his many exploits and that at one time he seemed to be the man to beat in SoCal. His work in establishing Retro was invaluable and we all owe him and the others who were there at the beginning of our current Golden Age in commercial racing a big and lasting thank you. The numbers don't tell the whole store of what Retro has accomplished. Slot Car racing as a hobby may still die but not without a fight as Paul showed in his own life. We who love slot cars are richer because of him. 

 

May God Bless him and his family.


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Dennis David
    
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#42 Bryan Warmack

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Posted 14 February 2017 - 11:42 PM

I went back and checked out some old photos I had and came up with a couple of early Paul Sterrett pics... from May 2007, coming up on TEN YEARS!!  These pics are from Keith's BPR race reports.

 

IMGP0150.jpg

 

An early race on the Kingleman... Paul, Mike Kravitz, Doug Matthes, Mike Steube, Mike Brannian, Kyle Matthes, Bryan Warmack, Yoshio Akyama.

 

CIMG1168.jpg


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#43 Jim Lange

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 02:38 AM

Godspeed, Paul. RIP, my friend. 



#44 Cheater

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 08:52 AM

A video posted to YouTube by Nesta, with Paul and Mike Steube.

 

 

(Thanks to Nesta and Rob Hanson for pointing me to this video clip.)


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#45 Tom Eatherly

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 09:30 AM

Greg,

 

Thanks for putting that video up. What year Checkpoint was that?


Tom Eatherly

#46 Cheater

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 09:39 AM

Tom,

 

I don't know. It has to be a few years back, as I don't think Steube has been at the recent Checkpoints.

 

FWIW, Nesta has posted three other clips from this interview at whatever Checkpoint it was. Click HERE.


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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#47 Howie Ursaner

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:06 PM

This is one of my best moments in Retro racing. Paul was "The Man" and was behind the movement that made this all happen. These were magical times and there was a lot of love going around. It was amazing.

Thank you, Paul!

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Howie Ursaner

#48 smokie

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 03:33 PM

"Power's coming on... NOW!"

 

RIP, Paul...


Jeff Bigelow
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it's about how good you look for the concours judge"

#49 Ecurie Martini

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 04:11 PM

I'm going to apologize in advance if time and an aging memory has caused me to get this wrong but, recalling the last "Slot Car Convention" that I attended, Buena Park in '05 (?) - we had a pick up race on a small track at the back of the shop - for older 1/32 open wheel cars as I recall. 

Paul did not have a car so I loaned him one of mine - a 4CLT Maserati fitted with a hot black can FF 050 motor - he drove the wheels off it - far, far better than I could have done, and won the race handily. 

He said he would love to have the car - I'm sorry I didn't give it to him.  It has never been driven nearly so well since then.
 
EM
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#50 rvec

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 01:15 AM

Hey Greg,

You and Paul also battled it out in the 2005 1/24 TSRF race. Both of you were racing Lexan cars while I was racing a hard body Porsche 962. In the end it was Paul, you, and me for first through third respectively.
 
Here is the link LINK. Scroll down to the 1/24 TSRF race.

Those were some good times.

Rich

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