Sunday, January 13, 2008

first post for an old friend

Don Radbruch's passing at the beginning of this year got me to thinking I better get something started on all this racing history I've been accumulating. So as a first post, here is a tribute to Don:

Don Radbruch -- racer and racing historian -- RIP

Don Radbruch passed away January 1, 2008 after a long battle with cancer. Don began as a fan of auto racing, then became a racer himself and finally a writer of auto racing history. A veteran of the Second World War he came back to his boyhood love: auto racing. He drove big cars (now known as sprint cars), midgets, track roadsters and even sports cars from the 1950s to the 1960s. He was 1951 American Speed Association (later known as the Northern Auto Racing Club) points champion.

His writing about motorsport also went back to the 1950s as he wrote various articles for Speed Age magazine. In recent decades Don contributed many historical articles and photos for The Alternate, Vintage Oval Racing, many newsletters and online websites, as well as a regular column for the weekly newspaper National Speed Sport News.

Originally from the San Francisco bay area of California Don lived his final years in Idaho with wife Naida. From that location he made world-wide contacts, first through the old-fashioned snail mail and telephone way and then via the internet. He had friends in Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand and no doubt even further afield than that.

He almost raced once in Canada but the required posting of a bond to get his racer across the border stopped him. In 1950 Don didn't have that sort of cash so he left his track roadster at a garage south of the 49th parallel and went up to Burnaby, BC to watch the races at Digney Speedway.

He would include Digney in his first Roaring Roadsters book and in the subsequent volume on the track roadsters more Canadian information, plus nations all around the world, was included. His international approach carried on to a book on Model T racing and his Dirt Track Auto Racing history of racing between the First and Second World Wars.

One of Don Radbruch's legacies was his unwavering love of auto racing from that early era -- let's just say most things past 1960 didn't grab him all that much. His focus unearthed new information as well as confirming or putting to rest as not being factual old stories. But he loved the good stories auto racing gave us and loved passing them on to others.

His enthusiasm will be missed. Rest in peace Don.

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Came across this by accident today and I want to Thank You. My name is Nancy Radbruch and Don was my Uncle. In the very early years my Dad, Les, also drove and then was part of Don's pit crew. Before I came along even my Mom, Harriett drove in the Powder Puff races. It's good to see that folks, such as your self continue to make sure that this vital piece of our history is not lost. I was helping Don with his research towards the end and his passion never wavered. Thank you again. Nancy