Fonda Speedway’s Pete Corey & Jeep Herbert

Fonda Speedway has always been a favorite destination of Capital Region stock car racing fans.  It is called the track of champions, and Pete Corey, and Jeep Herbert  are two good reasons why.  Corey in his yellow “3” was a top dirt track modified star of the 1950s and 1960s.  He was, perhaps, the most popular driver in modified racing’s early years.  He had a daredevil style of driving, and he was a fierce competitor.  Corey lost a leg in a 1959 crash at Fonda, but he made a comeback.  He even inserted a transistor radio into his prosthesis.  Three-wide passes on the racetrack were his trademark.  Corey’s success on the race track forced area sportswriters to get away from the popular round ball sports and give auto racing the publicity it deserved.  Corey’s last full season of racing was back in 1970, when he won back to back features at Albany-Saratoga Speedway on blacktop one night and at Fonda on the dirt the following night.  After retiring, he ran his own business, the Crecent Auto Shop.  Jeep Herbert had 25 wins at Fonda, with his first coming in 1953 and his last in 1963.  He was the track champion in 1959 and the New York State champion in 1956 and 1957.  Herbert got his nickname “Jeep” back in the mid-1940s, while he was working at Bill Kugler’s gas station in Schenectady.  One day, Herbert dropped the left side of a customer’s car into the pit, and Kugler shouted “Jeep”, referring to a never-do-well comic strip dalmation that was always in trouble.  Herbert passed away in November of 2002 at the age of 75.

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