By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- The passion that Ted Ferguson Jr., of Selinsgrove, had as a kid in attending races at Selinsgrove Speedway in the 1940s, still burns bright today.
His father, Ted Ferguson Sr., was president of the Penn Eastern Stock Car Racing Association from 1948 to 1953.
Along with running the family trucking business, his dad owned three race cars which were driven by Garth, Jay and Larue Ulshafer, that competed at the track.
"Larue was like an older brother to me," he said. "I was sitting with his wife when he got killed on Aug. 17, 1952."
As a kid on Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, along with Joe Crawford, Fred Bird Jr. and Wayne Boyer, Ferguson would race around tires that were laid out on the front stretch at the speedway during intermission in homemade cars. Each kid then received a checkered flag from flagman Lou Keller.
"It was dusty back then," he said of the race conditions in the 40s. "After every race, they had to go out and water the track because it wasn't clay, it was dirt and stones."
He recalled vividly the day L. Ulshafer was killed.
"He was going down the front stretch and his left front tire went over a guy's right rear tire and he shot up in the air and then he started to barrel-roll and he missed the fence altogether," he said.
Ferguson went on to say that Wilbur Reese, a four-time stock car track champion, was a very good driver and that he worked for the Sunshine Laundry in Bloomsburg when he wasn't racing.
"Dad never said why he got involved in racing," Ferguson noted.
Ferguson Jr. said that it is tough to compare different eras of racing at the track as racing was different over time.
"You have the late 40s and 50s with the Flathead engines and then the V-8s came along and Ford put in a 292-c.i. engine and that changed racing," he said. "Then they put the wings on the car and that changed racing and someone came along with fuel injection and that really changed the sport."
Ferguson still attends the track on a weekly basis.
"Racing back in the day was fun," Ferguson said. "It was fun up until the late 60s early 70s, then it wasn't fun anymore."
He's sits in the first-turn bleachers on Saturday nights.
"Back when Bud Grimm owned Ray Tilley's car, it was hard to keep a Ford Motor together and Tilley was blowing engines right and," he said. "Ray was a hell of a nice guy and Budd Grimm went up to the announcer's booth one night and told the people they we were going to take two weeks off and come back to the track and show these people how they could blow these Chevies off."
"Two or three weeks went by and Tilley had a Ford engine in the car. He had a 289-c.i. engine with fuel injection sitting on them and he was winning and winning and they started booing him since he was winning too many races."
Today, Ferguson's favorite driver is late model driver Scotty Haus.
"He's a gentleman, a scholar and a friend to everybody and he's a really nice guy."