A dozen of midget racers, miniature racing vehicles, were on display at the Hinchliffe Stadium, a once great stadium behind School 5 in a state of disrepair, on Sunday morning, for the 4th annual Hinchliffe Stadium Racing Expo, an event that showcases the racing history of the stadium.
“We skipped two years because of the hurricane and with the politics,” said Keith Majka, the main organizer of the event. During the previous three years only one exhibition was held and two were skipped. However, the lack of consistency did not prevent folks from attending.
Racer 7, a 1913 Buick, which has a long history in Paterson – it was owned by the Hinchliffe Brewing company, then sold to a teenager from the city who raced it in various New Jersey racetracks, then subsequently sold again to a Patersonian, who used it as a personal vehicle — was put on display by Buz Korn. “A teenager bought the car, built the racecar body, and in 1914 he raced it in Ho Ho Kus and Singac,” said Korn.
Korn said, after “it won a lot of awards” the car was sold by the teenager to an African-American man, who drove it around the city, until 1947, when the car was stowed away in the “second story of his pool hole.” He continues, “The car was found in the late sixties, then it was taken out, and restored.”
“I just wanted an old racecar,” said Korn, when asked if he raced the car; but not all the cars at the exhibition were ancient with a long history.
Angela Caruso, 29, a professional racer from Phillipsburg, probably the only female racer at the event, brought her 2002 Stallard Chassis, and placed it on display. Jack Caruso, her father, said, when he took her to watch a race, she had a “smile” on her face, unlike the other kids who hated being there and were sporting frowns. The smile convinced him that she was interested in racing. He bought her a used car and got her started. Angela recalls being at the race, “I had a grin from ear to ear and dad said, ‘I know what that means.’”
In the 1930s and 1940s the stadium was one of the most prominent venues for racing. William Nash, 87, recalls returning from World War II, and coming to the stadium to watch a car race. “There was room for 10,000 people and 15,000 showed,” said Nash, who watched more than one midget race at the stadium. He remembers the large number of people who packed the stadium to watch the cars zoom pass them, he says, “It was the best damn race in the world.” The last race the stadium held was in 1951, according to Nash. “I’d love to see them have races here again.”
Many wish the stadium were restored, including, Brian LoPinto, 35, founder of the Friends of Hincliffe, a non-profit with the mission to restore the stadium; LoPinto’s organization has been pushing to bring the stadium back to life from its decrepit state. “It’s giving the public an opportunity to get inside the stadium.” Like the Racer 7 most wish for the restoration of the stadium.