By Bill Hanson
The model T race of 1939 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds was run on the horse racing track in front of the grandstand. Harrison Finley Comstock 'Bunny' age 13, sat in the grandstand with his pals, they rode to the fairgrounds on their bikes that summer day.
The event was organized by a group of men who got the idea for a Tin Lizzy race. Among the organizers were Joe DiGrazia, who later built a race track north of town on his family property. They ran fast track hard tops and stock car races. Lex Murrey was another leader, his family had a farm where the Hidden Valley development is today. It was later speculated that there were so many Tin Lizzy's in various stages of decay that a big race would be just the ticket.
Bunny Comstock remembers; “18 or 20 were lined up to start the race, people were smiling and laughing at the silly old cars (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie, Leaping Lena, or Fiivver). The drivers revved their engines, also funny because they were wheezing, popping and the occasional pepper of misfire, a rifle-shot report. Off they went to loud cheers from the spectators in a growing cloud of dust. As the old Fords raced down the back stretch there was an accident about halfway through the final turn before the stretch. A cloud of dust got so big it covered the track, cars went in, but none came out. We couldn't see what was going on. As the noise subsided the dust began to settle, big Joe DiGrazia was throwing wrecked cars around like toys as he looked for his friend Lex Murrey. No one was killed, and I don't think anyone was seriously hurt but it ended the race. There were a lot of those Tin Lizzy's sent to the scrap heap that day.”
Young Bunny Comstock will be 92 next month.
The Redwood Empire Model T Club (REMTC) based in Forestville is hosting the Redwood Trees to the Pacific Seas 2018 National Tour that ends this Saturday. The Double Tree in Rohnert Park is the home base for the event. It might be worth your while to drive over and take a look at the graceful old workhorses, lovingly restored by their owners. For future activities visit the REMTC web site: www.redwoodempiremodeltclub.org
Salmon season is upon us
June 17 is the scheduled opener for ocean fishing for this favorite fish of many anglers and eaters. Charter boats, gear, the latest in equipment and baits are available at two exceptional sites; The Sportsmen’s’ Warehouse in Rohnert Park and Outdoor Pro the professional fishing stores for sport fishers.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a dedicated sportsman. He is the former president of the Mycological Society. Look for his column in the Community Voice each week.