THE ANDY ROMANO COLLECTION
ANDY'S TURN AT THE WHEEL.
All the while Herb Dunleavy, Dutch Reed and Tom Kotary were driving the Romano racing machinery, our guy Andy was marking time and waiting for his dad Joe to give him the nod to get in behind the wheel. The nod came In 1963, and make no mistake, father Joe was a tough owner to drive for, Joe appreciated results. Joe the crew chief didn't let the fact that his son was driving for him change his routine of giving his drivers hell when the #97 didn't finish up toward the front. Father Joe's nickname was "Put", and if someone were to tell Put that his driver Andy wasn't cutting the mustard, that someone would most certainly have gotten a face full from the proud Romano patriarch.
Andy must have known that 1963 was a very tough time for a new driver to break into the racing game at Fonda Speedway (the name "Track of Champions" was right on the money at the time). Any Saturday night racer at Fonda could expect at least 3 NASCAR National Champions to be at the speedway, plus guys like Lou Lazzaro, Kenny Shoemaker, Pete Corey, Steve Danish, Jeep Herbert, Harry Peek, Ernie Gahan, Irv Taylor, Jerry Townley, Paul Marshall, Howie Westervelt, to name a few. The "Track of Champions" was a tough place in the mid-sixties, plus anyone could expect a visitor or two, like Dutch Hoag, Cliff Kotary, Ed Ortiz or Ken Meahl to make qualifying even more difficult.
Andy learned the racing game just like all the rest of us, the hard way, busting his butt racing with the best. For the next 15 years Joe and Andy would continue to be a force in modified racing, with all their technical ducks in a row they were on top of the game. They were among the first to have fuel injected big block engines, and became a successful road show, able to run on any surface, anywhere.
The photos below show the progression off most of the stock cars the Romano's towed down the hill from their Johnstown headquarters toward a race somewhere.
CLICK ON THE PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
Here he is race fans, confident and ready to take over the wheel.
The red #97 in the previous column was Andy's first car, but this one was put into service soon after the red 97 was worn out.
Fuel injected big blocks.
Something messed up the left side, headers busted, tin wadded up. I hope Andy had ear plugs in, those busted headers could cause a blinger of a head ache.
The start of a run of Mopars. This one was a copy (for dirt) of a trick edition that was purchased from Dutch Hoag, the master of the Langhorne mile. This also looked like the start of a run of sideburns.
It's a big event, it's asphalt, any idea where we are? I'm thinking Langhorne, inasmuch as the #97 car was bought from the king of the Langhorne mile. And, Andy won a Langhorne qualifier at Devils Bowl.
(L-R) Fred Volpp, Bob Trusaint, and Joe Losee.
Flagger Doug Fry, Joe, Andy, trophy queen, and Doug Austin.
The start of a run of Ford's. Lots more of Henry's Mustangs next issue, and I noticed at least one 37 slantback among the Romano race cars.
Recognize anyone? (click to enlarge)