Ken Shoemaker
Hammer for Hire

Courtesy of Pascal Cote
This shot appears in the biography of Shoemaker.

     Many of our region's best - known earlier stock car drivers came right out of a post - WWII Capital District, New York [or very close thereof]. This is where we got Steve Danish, Jeep Herbert, Pete Corey, Howie Westervelt, Doug Garrison, Link Pettit, and dozens more. One such man was a young Pete Corey's bosom buddy, and one who actually started out supposedly sharing one crude stock with the fiery driver of Lebanese descent. That would be one Kenny Shoemaker.
            Most likely, at some point way in the early family history, the family name was Schumacher - which very well could have been from rthe region's strong Dutch heritage. Shoemaker would not ever become a car owner of any note - much unlike his pal, Pete. Instead, Ken would turn out [along with the likes of Donny Wayman, Jim Luke, Jeep Herbert, and others] to be one of the best drivers - for - hire in the history of northeast stock car racing.
            Besides a fierce competitive streak, what set Shoemaker aside from the crowd was his utterly pugnacious disposition. Not particularly impressive at first glance, with his chubby physique and short stature, Shoemaker was ready, on a moment's notice, to start throwing punches at the slightest perceived aggression against him. This was interesting because the old phrase "The Shoe never lifts." refers to his own hard -charging, rough driving style.
            Given he didn't take very good care of owners' precious cars and he wasn't exactly a picture of physical fitness, Ken Shoemaker had a career longer than almost any other of his contemporaries except maybe for Cyclone Forrette. The portly truck driver finally did retire and was around for a few years of signing autographs at special shows at Fonda - after he had tried owning and promoting his own track for a short while. He has since passed away.


Courtesy of Dan Ody
A very young Ken
with an unknown crew

Courtesy of Fonda Book
Supposedly, the car
Ken shared with his
pal, Pete Corey.

Vogel Family Photo
Young Ken enjoys
baby Bonnie Vogel,
when he drove for
Ted Vogel, Sr.

Vogel Family Photo
With Vogel's LVJr.
at Pico Raceway.

Vogel Family Photo
Ken sometimes had
a team car with Vogel.
One looks more like a Chevy.


Les King Photo
Vogel Family Collection

With Vogel's LVJr.

Vogel Family Photo
With what looks like
a new Vogel car in 1952.

Vogel Family Photo
The more familiar
Vogel number, 95.
This was after 1952.

Source Unknown
Shoemaker with the
Vogel 95 - a short-lived
coupe with the 95

Vogel Family Photos
Shoemaker puts an
end to the Vogel coupe
at Fonda. After this
it was usually sedans.


Courtesy of Dan Ody
Here, Red Knoblauch's
venerable 13 got a run
for its money it may
have never seen before.

From Shoemaker Book

Source Unknown
Ken had a short stint
in the Sam Kitler/
Gibby Wolfe 37

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham

A Fonda win for
the Kitler / Wolfe 37.

From the Shoemaker Book

Ed Mudd Photo
Most of the top
brass at Fonda,
circa 1960. Just
Danish and Lou
Lazzaro aren't there.


Vintage Modifieds Site
Shoemaker poses
sometime around
From the Shoemaker Book
A Fonda win with AC Caprara's
well-used Ford. He is with two

From the Shoemaker Book
Driving for A. C. Caprara [right].
In Vic Lane with AC and ace
mechanic Eddie Pieniazek [2nd
from right].


Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham

The Henry Caputo 111,
When first built.

From the Shoemaker Book
The Henry Caputo 111,
with the roof flaps, the
brake light, and a new
radio antenna.

Courtesy of Mike Watts
A very new - looking
111 at Airborne.

From the Shoemaker Book
Another win for the
Caputo 111 at Fonda.

From the Shoemaker Book
Proudly showing  the
lethal new Caputo 111
at Fonda.

From the Shoemaker Book
The Henry Caputo 111,
wins another. That's Chet
Hames handing off the flag.
I judge this to be a Caputo
because the roof was still
clean of alterations.



Courtesy of Dan Ody
Ken, with arguable the
best car he drove for
Chris Drellos. I think this
one came from the Henry
Caputo stable.

Source Unknown
A victory in one of
the 111's. It looks
a lot the one at left.

Courtesy of Ed Mudd
Corey and Shoemaker
lined up with the
Drellos cars.

Courtesy of CJ Richards
Ken and Drellos about
owned the track in Vergennes,
VT in its NASCAR days.

John Grady Photo
This looks like a
different 111.


Source Unknown
Vogel Family Collection

Posing with the first
Drellos backup car - the
three window that Jeep
usually got stuck with.

Lew Boyd Photo Coll.
That second 111, as
it caught fire while
refueling during the
first long distance Fonda
race around 1963.

Courtesy of Ed Fabian
When Otter Creek
held a special NASCAR
sportsman race after the
track had dropped the sanction,
Drellos brought the 111. That's Ken standing in the middle for intros.

Ladabouche Photo
The original 111
leaving Otter Creek
Speedway after another

Ladabouche Collection
A januty Shoemaker in
Victory Lane  at Fonda.
He has his best 111.


Source Unknown
To add to the Drellos 111
mystery. Here, Ken sits at
left with one 5 window
coupe and Paul Marshall
has another, at right.

From the Shoemaker Book
Ken leading in the Drellos 11. I
don't know if this is the one Corey
ended up driving, but it looks
like it.


From the Shoemaker Book
Ken having a light moment
with Da Champ. Many of
their meetings were NOT
very light.




From the Shoemaker Book
Ken's first photo with his
new ride, the Wright/Zautner
Toll Gate Ice Cream 24
vacated by Don Wayman.

From the Shoemaker Book
Ken's first win with his
new W/Z car. That is
Cliff Wright in the

Courtesy of Dan Ody
Wright's crisp and
unbelievably fast 24.

Courtesy of Cliff Wright
Cliff Wright, the man
those fast 24's.

John Grady Photo
From Arnie Ainsworth

The even - faster
pavement version.
This is the one
Don MacTavish ended
up driving.


Courtesy of Ed Fabian
After running in an
All-Star show for CJ
Richards at Otter Creek,
Shoe appeared at
Fairmont with the 24.

John Grady Photo
Courtesy of Pascal Cote

The caption pretty much
tells the story of Cliff
Wright's best - ever car.

Courtesy of Cliff Wright
The first 24 - right after
Shoemaker took over
from Don Wayman. [Below]
Another Victoria win.

Courtesy of Dan Ody

Ladabouche Photo
Cliff Wright, in 2007
with his perpetual|
sponsor, Ron "Toll Gate
Ice Cream" Zautner at
his right.

Courtesy of Dan Ody
The same  januty  posein
Victory Lane at Fonda.
with the Wright 24, Just
before Cliff built the
new one.

From the Shoemaker Book
One of many wins in this car.

Courtesy of  Arnie Ainsworth
Ken, with arguably the
best car he drove for
anybody - Cliff Wright's
24. That isn't Cliff in
the background. This is
at Victoria Speedway.

Race Songs Site
Same car - but  at



HAMB Message Board Photo
Ken landed a ride
with free - spending Joe

Courtesy of Dan Ody
In Victory Lane
at Fonda with Joe

Courtesy of Arnie Ainsworth
With the Leto 50
Gremlin at the Valley.

Gater Racing News Photo
Joe Leto [left] and
equally flamboyant owner,
Vermont's Austin

Fred. Hendricks Photo
In Joe Leto's Pinto.

Ladabouche Photo
Leto Gremlins lined up at
Lebanon Valley. Quite
blurry. Supposedly a
Walt Schwinning chassis.

From the Shoemaker Book
At speed with one of the
Leto Gremlins.
From the Shoemaker Book
A Fonda win with one of the
Leto Pintos.

Cavalcade of Auto Racing Photo



Courtesy of Arnie Ainsworth
With Rich Maaz's Little
Susie Team out of Massachusetts.


Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham

In Victory Lane
at Fonda with Joe
Romano's 97x
backup car.

Courtesy of Dan Ody

John Grady Photo
One of the many
quality drivers who
worked for
Frank Trinkhaus.

From the Shoemaker Book
Driving for Trinkhaus with
an old friend - his former
Drellos 111 bought by


HAMB Message Board Photo
For old buddy, Pete
Corey at Langhorne.

Source Unknown

Source U nknown

At N azareth


HAMB Message Board Photo
Interesting shot. Ken is
in the Jay Broderick 40, and
his former Leto ride is in the
background, with fellow
tough guy Tommie Corellis.

Courtesy of Dan Ody
Jeff McWalker's car.

Courtesy of Mike Watts
Ken drove one of the"
last Bill Fowler 27Jrs.

From the Shoemaker Book
Ken took a Will Cagle
car and beat Wily Will
at Fonda with it - twice.

From the Shoemaker Book
Driving for Alan Kuglers in
the 24S Barrel Head Root
Beer Gremlin.

From the Shoemaker Book
Taking out Dick Bennett's
#71 Bernie's Liquor Shop
car. He ended up getting his own
Caprara car back by the

From the Shoemaker Book
Ken took John Lepore's
#63 coupe and had it
painted like a Leto car.
Not sure why, but John
was less than pleased.

From the Shoemaker Book
A brief stint with the potent
Russ Betz 59CT.

From the Shoemaker Book
Henry Natale's Greene
Electric - sponsored 24

From the Shoemaker Book
Ken took a win with the
Tony Villano Falcon also
driven by Jack Johnson
and Jerry Pennock.

From the Shoemaker Book
Ken had some good dirt
runs with the famed Bobby
Judkins 2X before the
2X group built their famed
Pinto and stayed with asphalt.




From Shoemaker Book
With Barb at home - mid career.


From Shoemaker Book
With Barb at NYSSCRA
Hall of Fame induction.
That's Cliff Wright behind.


From the Shoemaker Book
With friend, Pete Corey -
another Caprara driver
at times.

From the Shoemaker Book
With friends,Ken Tremont Sr -
and Marvelous Merv Treichler.


From the Shoemaker Book
Legendary Al Tasnady and HOF car
owner Dick Cozze employed
Ken to help them set up at
some Fonda shows.

From the Shoemaker Book
At one of his last Fonda feature
wins, Ken got to be congratulated
 by friend, Jim Luke.

From the Shoemaker Book
A nice autographed portait
for some fan during the Cliff
Wright era.


Ladabouche Photo

From Weedsport

From the Shoemaker Book
In Fonda Victory Lane with Will Cagle after he took a Cagle car and beat Will. He did it again the next time, but Will wasn't celebrating that one.

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