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Weird interview with Oscar Koveleski of Auto World


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#1 ravajack

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 02:37 PM

At the end of the slot car racing boom, Oscar Koveleski, creator of legendary Auto World, was the subject for a four-page interview in one of the very last issues of the Model Car Science magazine (#107 of 110, april 1972). A bit weird but quite entertaining and amusing reading. (Transcript following the pictures below).

 

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Inside-Outside Oscar

By Marshall Spiegel

He has a sense of humor, that Oscar Koveleski. His eyes twinkle and his mouth twists into a grin at the mention of anything the least bit funny. I interviewed him recently for this issue of Model Car Science. He met me in New York City after he spent two hours on a bus from his home base in Scranton.

 

"Last time I drove into New York." explained the experienced racer, modeler, and promoter, "it took me three hours to park my car. By that time, I'd forgotten what I came for. Then, when I claimed my car at the parking garage, it was so banged up, I hardly recognized it! The bus is much easier, and a whole lot safer.

 

Our meeting began with a discussion of the Polish Race Drivers' Association (PRDA), the organization which Oscar helped form and of which he is president.

"The PRDA has been a lot of fun," he smiled. "And it's been beneficial to Polish people everywhere who are interested in racing. They find it very helpful."

 

"How?" I asked.

"President Nixon is a member, you know," replied Oscar. "Tony Adamowicz, our star driver-member, was at the White House a while back for a reception for the racing business, and he offered Nixon membership.

 

"His security people checked our organization out thoroughly," continued Oscar, "and we were cleared. We don't destroy anything; we don't cause any trouble. We just motor along..."

 

"Is that how?" I asked again.

"Is that how what?" he retorted.

"Is that how the PRDA is helpful to Polish people?" I offered.

"President Nixon is our highest official member," replied Oscar.

"Oh," I responded with an intelligent and understanding glance.

"Why was the PRDA formed?" I asked next.

 

"Polish people find it very helpful because of many reasons," he said with a smile.

"What are some of those reasons?" I pursued the point.

"Nobody really knows why it was formed," he replied. "Three guys of Polish ancestry, Tony Adamowicz, Brad Niemcek, and myself started it at the New York Auto Show in 1970."

 

"About the reasons why the PRDA is helpful to Polish people," I pushed.

"We'll be having our third annual meeting at this year's Auto Show in New York," he responded.

 

I tried again. "You mentioned that people of Polish backgrounds find the PRDA helpful. Can you give me some reasons for that?"

"You know, I tell most of the Polish jokes," he pointed out. "I think I should stop telling them."

 

"That's nice," I answered, "but I'm really interested in the benefits of your organization to Polish people."

"There's this Polish guy in the frozen food business," continued Oscar undaunted, "who has offered half a million bucks to stop people from telling Polish jokes. Someone suggested that he send that money to me. If I stopped, he'd eliminate most of them."

 

"I did not want to discuss your attitude toward Polish jokes that are presently sweeping the country," I declared, "but I am interested in knowing the benefits of the PRDA to Polish folks."

 

"You know, the country really needs fun," laughed Oscar. "Everything's so serious these days. And Polish jokes are the best jokes in the world."

"I'm sure they are," I grinned. "Do you think that your organization of Polish racing drivers has given people of Polish extraction a reason to be proud of your involvement in racing?"

"My favorite one  is about why you need three Polacks to go ice fishing," he smiled.

 

"Why?" I cooperated.

"One to cut the hole in the ice and the other two to shove the boat under the water!" he laughed mischievously.

"That's great!" I laughed. "Now about the pride of the Polish folks in the PRDA..."

"What pride?" he asked.

Ah, his attention to the question, at last.

 

 

"You know, the reasons why Polish people find the PRDA helpful," I continued.

"Then there's the one about the Polish hunter who threw his bird dog into the air a couple of times," he insisted, "and finally shot him 'cause he wouldn't fly!"

"That's a good one too," I admitted. "If the Polish people in this country didn't have the PRDA, what ..."

 

"I must admit that auto racing is the one aspect of my business involvement that excites me most," allowed Oscar. "Business is a long haul. In racing, you make or break in an hour or two. You get results right away.

"My hobby business is the most profitable aspect of my business ventures," he declared. "We're so involved with kids and cars. We want to put them in a hobby, and keep them in it. We try to offer service after they first buy from us. Not like skiing. The dealer sells you the skis, and if you go break a leg, that's your problem."

 

"Does that have anything to do with the Polish people?" I asked in discouragement.

"You heard about the Polish parachute, didn't you?" asked Oscar. "Opens on impact!"

 

"Mr. Koveleski!" I announced firmly. "I think this interview would benefit greatly from your views on the effects of the PRDA on the Polish people."

"Oh, I agree," he smiled. "You know the PRDA sponsored a creeper race at Road Atlanta one year that was really great. The mechanics of the Can-Am teams were invited to compete and race their creepers. We even had the former Miss America as our race queen. The McLaren team showed up with a super creeper. Ball-bearing wheels and all. We even gave a trophy that was rigged to fall over every time someone tried to stand it up straight…"

 

"Do you get much mail from Polish people telling about their feelings on the PRDA?" I was determined.

"The highlight of my career personally was being elected to the presidency of the PRDA," he announced with grave seriousness.

"I'm sure you must be very proud," I responded. "As president, how do you think the Polish people feel about…"

 

"I think the model car business is going to hell," he responded firmly. "And it will if they don't do something about it. They, the manufacturers, have removed the creativity and they have no interest in sponsoring anything for the hobbyists. Why, idiots can put today's models together. They've been identifying the parts by number, rather than by part names. That's so more people can do less."

 

"I'd like to hold your comments on modeling for just a moment," I interrupted.

"Fine," he agreed. "If someone's building a car, they should know the names of the parts. By using numbers for the parts, they're not building model cars. They're putting puzzles together."

 

"In your talks with Polish people," I began, "what reactions do you get to the PRDA?"

"To the what?" he queried.

"To the PRDA," I answered.

 

"Oh, I plan to keep AUTO WORLD going strong," he offered. "I want to continue in the model car field and in auto sports of all kinds. We'll continue to handle good products. And we'd like to see more books on modeling as a hobby. Hobbyists need more available instruction like Model Car Science. We even published a couple of books ourselves on modeling and how to do it all. That kind of information is invaluable to people in this type of hobby."

 

"I'm sure it is," I agreed. "Tell me about AUTO WORLD and how it started."

"No one can deny that Polish people have found tho PRDA helpful," he announced suddenly.

"How is that?" I asked with delight.

 

"AUTO WORLD began officially in 1958. I started it so I could be more selective in the model car field. You know, handle the best products available. We first sold through a little catalogue. Our first car was a Monogram slingshot dragster. I'll never forget…"

"I hate to interrupt," I interrupted, "But I'd like to pursue that other point for just a moment."

 

"What other point?" he asked.

"You know, about the PRDA and the Polish people," I declared.

"We ran our first ad in hot Rod Magazine," said Oscar. "Then we got new catalogues and new products, and little by little we started to grow into a real business."

 

I was a bit sarcastic when I asked, "Were Polish people interested in forming a PRDA back in those days?"

"No, there was no PRDA in those days," he replied, "but there were lots of Polish people."

 

"Come on," I pleaded, "please give me your comments on the question of the PRDA and how it is helpful to Polish people?"

"I've been racing since 1950," he responded, "and I've been pitching AUTO WORLD and our products at every race I attended. We moved 6,000 catalogues at Elkhart Lake this year out of our truck. And I love meeting kids who order from us when I'm on the road. I ask them if they ever get the stuff they order...."

 

"In the PRDA," I began, "are there members who aren't Polish like the President?"

"I get a big kick out of it when those kids smile real wide and say 'YEAH! I get the stuff'," answered Oscar. "I like to see the kids happy."

 

Well, our time was up. Oscar and his companion, AUTO WORLD Vice President Pete Chisdock, had another appointment. I shook hands with both and thanked them warmly.


Bertil Berggren
Overseas Observer




#2 TSR

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 02:45 PM

Oscar will be 81 this year and still incredibly active, promoting, and selling his Kids Racers electric cars. I saw him earlier this year in Florida and in California and he won't stop talking...  :D

He also gave me lots of his personal memorabilia about full-size auto racing, which I cherish.

Philippe de Lespinay


#3 Cheater

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Posted 23 July 2013 - 02:56 PM

Sure wish you could get him posting here at Slotblog, P.

Gregory Wells

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


#4 Lone Wolf

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 09:21 AM

Oscar was here on L.I. and Bob interviewed him.

 

 


Joe Lupo


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Posted 24 July 2013 - 09:57 AM

Greg,

 

He is of a generation that does not use computers, he still does all his business on the telephone and by surface mail...


Philippe de Lespinay


#6 MG Brown

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Posted 24 July 2013 - 11:14 AM

Oscar was at Road America this past weekend for "The Hawk". He seemed perpetually surrounded by his admirers and I was busy with my own guests so I wasn't able to say hello.

 

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Oscar Koveleski, Tony Adamowicz, Brian Redman, David Hobbs at Victory Lane's autograph session at Road America 7/21/13.


That's thirty minutes away. I'll be there in ten.
 

 






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