Steve Danish

A Man Who  Influenced Vermont Racing as Much as Any Driver Ever Did


Courtesy of Phil Miller

 


Frank SImek Photo

        The racing world lost Steve Danish on August 12, 2003. For anyone who really knows about the roots of Northeast stock car racing, this should become one of the most important dates in racing history. Steve Danish was from the small eastern New York hamlet of Cropseyville, near Grandma Moses' town of Eagle Bridge and somewhat near Troy. Steve did not begin his racing career until 1949, when he was already 30. That was quite late in life, when compared to most race drivers.


Courtesy of Danish Family
The family kept good records of their participation in racing. This is one of Steve's very early outings - to Airport Speedway in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Courtesy of Danish Family
Note that even the pit pass from Poughkeepsie
 is carefully dated. That is how Steve did things.

 

danish_at_pico_orfairmont.jpg (112346 bytes)
Courtesy of Danish Family
Steve, family, and friends after the races - either at Rutland, VT's Pico Raceway, or at Fairmont Park Motor Speedway in Fair Haven, VT. I can't identify the car in the background. It isn't Steve's, as it is clearly a Ford.

 

     

         Being very near to the states of Massachusetts and Vermont, Danish was able to compete at such places as Bennington, Vermont's State Line Speedway, Rutland, Vermont's Pico Raceway, Granville, New York's Mettowee Speedway, and probably Fair Haven, Vermont's Fairmont Speedway, as well. It is during this time that he would have first exerted influence on the way racing was done in Vermont. That, in turn, would filter down to those who began at Catamount some sixteen years later.

         Danish was to become synonymous with the the Fonda Speedway, at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Fonda, New York. In the racing history book Fonda !, by Andy Fusco, Lew Boyd, and Jim Rigney, the second chapter is called "1953 and the Formative Years : The Steve Danish Era". Again, some of the first competitors and officials who started Catamount used to attend races at Fonda during its glory years in the very late 1950's and early 1960's. They would have beheld Steve Danish at his peak.

Danish Smile.jpg (18636 bytes)
Russ Bergh Photo
Every picture of Danish in victory lane
looks pretty much the same. He kept the same appearance, in dress and car, for his entire career.
Danish & Crew.JPG (199426 bytes)
Photographer Unknown
The Danish crew poses for a photo
around 1960 at Fonda or Stateline.

 

Danish & Car.jpg (30627 bytes)
Photograph from the Otto Graham Web Site.
Photo by Russ Bergh, and courtesy of Gene Strenkowski
Steve Danish poses for a photo around 1960 at Fonda. You can see what his cars all looked like. In those days the Fonda pits were in the infield.

 

 

Danish_Jacket_In_Case1.JPG (134106 bytes)
Photograph from the Saratoga Auto Museum
This display case at the museum shows the
famous Danish khaki jacket that was
part of the crew's uniforms.
Danish_Trophy_in_Case_Cropped.JPG (145575 bytes)
Photograph from the Saratoga Auto Museum
This is one of the hundreds of trophies won
by Steve Danish - shown next to a Fairmont Speedway promo poster. Ironically, Fairmont
may be the site of his final victory.

Danish_Ledger.JPG (256680 bytes)
Photograph from the Saratoga Auto Museum
Danish was one of the most efficient team owners in the history of racing. While some guys didn't know where all their spark plugs were, Danish knew where every penny went. Here is one of his expense ledgers.

         Steve Danish clearly was the first professional stock car driver in the Northeast, at least in as far as the way he went about his sport. Danish, himself, pointed out in the Fonda ! book : " I tried to set a standard in appearance and in everything else I did. Not only was I the first guy with a sponsor and the first guy with a uniform, but I was the first guy to haul my race car on a trailer."


Source Unknown - Probably Danish Family Photo
Steve did not back his way into life, but he did back up to win this one at Fonda.

         I never saw Danish when he was not uniformed in clean khaki work shirts and pants, nor when his car wasn't an immaculate cream tan #61, with exactly the same lettering and color scheme. His sponsor was Bumstead Chevrolet, of Troy, and he kept his crew dressed exactly the same as himself. Danish could beat the fields of Fonda V-8's with a Chevy six -and he did so frequently.

color_danish_crew.jpg (139265 bytes)
Russ Bergh Photo
Photograph from the
Coastal 181 Collection.
Some of the crew Danish had, at Fonda. Son John
is second from left. The sportsman of Jack DuBrul
can barely be seen through the windows of Steve's
car with the "Speed & Race Engineering" ad.
Danish_Straight_on.JPG (113039 bytes)
Russ Bergh Photo
Photograph from the
Coastal 181 Collection
The Danish crew fusses
around the 61 during a
break in the action. That
is son, John, leaning in
the window at right.
 
Early_Danish_MaybeStateline.JPG (182851 bytes)
Photograph from the
Coastal 181 Collection.  
Photographer - McDowell
Steve Danish poses for a photo around 1950 ,  at Stateline Speedway. The track wasn't very safe. It had few or no barriers.

Courtesy of the Danish Family
An apparently very early shot of the Danish
car leaving Langhorne Speedway. The hauler
 is earlier than anything I had seen before. The hospital sign says "Bucks County", which
is a dead giveaway to the location. 
Danish_oncar_Daytona.jpg (59950 bytes)
Courtesy of the Danish Family
Not too many people know of Steve's trip to
the Daytona Beach course in the 1950's. He had Frank Trinkaus, among others, along for the trip.
Danish_FeatureStart_711.JPG (271491 bytes)
Courtesy of the Danish Family
Starting a feature possibly at Victoria Speedway
 in Duanesburg, NY. Steve is behind the Trinkaus car
 and Paul Marshall in the Warren Daniels 7-11, out
of Alplaus, NY. Link Petit, Sr. trails Danish. 54 could be Willie Chest, but it pretty far for Chest to travel for a race.

         Even though he retired in the mid 1960's, Danish still ranks ninth in Fonda feature wins. Ironically, one of the last wins he recorded anywhere, was back in Vermont - at Fairmont Speedway. I was there. Danish was always one of my heroes, from when I first saw him somewhere in 1950 or 1951. In 1984, it was my lifelong thrill to finally meet Steve, courtesy of my friends - his daughter and son - in - law [Stephanie and Phil Miller]. I not only talked with Steve, but I went up with him in his private airplane. It didn't get any better than that. Lastly, I have struck up an email correspondence with Steve's son, John, the gangly kid in many of Steve's photos. John now operates the Danish garage, Pleasant Valley Garage in Cropseyville and he seems to know many people in the racing world.


Courtesy of Danish Family
One of the more interesting photos of Steve. He had subbed in the Frank Trinkhaus car the night Miss America was visiting the track. Guess who won ?

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham

Courtesy of Starin Family
Jeep Herbert's pit pass
the very night Steve won
the Miss American race.

 

Danish_John_onPole.JPG (204619 bytes)
Courtesy of Danish Family
John Danish stands on a pole near turn
four at Fonda to  see the action.

 

Danish_Fonda_Start_2.JPG (336450 bytes)
Courtesy of Danish Family
A typical Fonda heat starts with Steve sideways
into turn one chasing Utica's Jim Luke in the Floyd Wilcox #32. Pete Corey ins further back in the Tony Villano #37.

Courtesy of Danish Family
An early shot with some of his admirers at
Fairmont Park Motor Speedway in the early 1950's.
The tower in the background is noteworthy, but
I don't know much about it.
CJ_and_Danish.jpg (93619 bytes)
Rutland Herald Photo - 
One of the last victories [if not THE LAST]
was at Fairmont Speedway. Here Steve
poses with legendary CVRA promoter C.J. Richards.

 

Danish_SidebySide_non37Chev.JPG (355354 bytes)
Courtesy of Danish Family
A very rare shot of Danish racing on
pavement at Empire Speedway in Menands, NY.

 

 

 

rounds_101_mcdowell.jpg (137440 bytes)
Photo by McDowell
Source: vintagemodified.com
An early shot of Rhode Islander Don Rounds at Stateline Speedway. Danish is seen getting lined up for a race in the background.

Courtesy of Danish Family
Chief Mechanic John Danish - early 1950's 

 

Danish_Sedan_Sheppard.JPG (226052 bytes)        freddysheppard_bennettsfield_danishcar.jpg (20684 bytes)
Courtesy of Danish Family
Very early shot of a Danish car ready to leave the Pleasant Valley Garage. Freddy Sheppard won a race for Steve with this car, too - at the Bennetts Field track, in New York. Fred was the only
hired driver for Danish Chevrolet.

Courtesy of Ken Gypson

 


Courtesy of Danish Family
The 61 sits, ready to go,
outside the Pleasant Valley
Garage. Today, son John
operates the garage.

Photo by McDowell
Danish chases Stu Piper in
George Barber's first
number 46 coupe at Stateline.

 


Courtesy of Danish Family
The 61 is trailered and
ready to head out to the
race track du jour.

 


Courtesy of Danish Family
Another win at Stateline

 


Courtesy of Danish Family
The 61 sits on the pole at
a 1953 feature at
Stateline Speedway.

 


Courtesy of Danish Family
The start of a feature at Fonda.

       
McDowell Photo Courtesy of Dan Ody and Ken Gypson
Steve, in his characteristic Danish Chevrolet T-shirt, poses. Right - George Welch signs an autograph. Note the Clark 45 in the background.
Welch was admirer of Danish and modeled his style after Steve, including using "Welch Chevrolet".

STEVE AS A HIRED GUN

Even Steve got tired of the rat race at one point in the late 1950's and decided to run for other owners. He would end up driving for Peter Hollebrand, the central NY trucking
magnate with the B&M motered #53 red sportsman. I find no pictures of this gig. He also ran for Bill and Dick Clark of Fort Plain and for famed Frank Trinkhaus and his
Frank's Speed Shop out of Fly Creek, NY. By 1960, he was back with his own equipment.


Otto Graham Website
Danish, who rarely drove other peoples' cars, did manage to wreck Bill and Dave Clark's 45. He won with the car and
also did this to it.

Courtesy of Jo Towns via Otto Graham
Chuck Mahoney with the same car Steve drove
for Hollebrand.

 


Courtesy of Danish Family
One of Steve's high points with the Trinkhaus
ride was winning a race awarded by Miss
America 1958.

 


     Catamount was always run with a strong effort to be professional, to put on a good show, and to further the image of stock car racing. Some of this attitude, they got from Mr. Danish. Thanks for the memories, Steve.


Herbert Family Photo
Steve mixes it up
with Jeep Herbert,
Bob Mott, and Pete
Corey at a banquet.
 

Herbert Family Photo
Steve has Jeep Herbert
on the inside at
Stateline Speedway
in the 1950's.

Otto Pade Photo
via Black Jack  on
oldiesbutgoodies,com

Steve could get into
scrapes just like
everyone else.

Courtesy of Jo Towns
via Otto Graham
With an unusual trophy
at Fonda around 1960.

Paul Connors Photo
Steve loaded up
at Stateline in
1956.

Paul Connors Photo
A rare damaged
61 at Stateline in
1956.
 

 Courtesy of Mark LeFrancois
Steve at Fairmont, with
the 61Jr, around 1951.

Courtesy of Mark LeFrancois
Steve at what I believe to
be Mettawee Speedway
near Granville, NY.

Bob Mackey Photo
Courtesy of John Rock
Steve in early 1950's.
 

From Fonda Book
Steve poses in he first Fonda
Speedway promo photo,
along with Walt Roberts,
Herb Root, and Spence
Parkhurst.

Courtesy of Hackel Family
Steve with another
Stateline trophy, flanked
by Pete Corey and an
unknown driver.

Courtesy of Ted Vogel Family
An extremely rare shot
of Steve having dumped
the car at Fonda.

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Danish's 61 is out back
in this Fonda start. 25-
Nick Carter, 3 1/7 Chuck
Flihan, 44 Ronnie Nichols,
42 - Schooch Schoonmaker,
L8 - Bob Adams, 62 - Jeep
Herbert, Danish, and 4-Lou
Lazzaro.
 

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Danish's 61 and the
61Jr. backup car, that
was driven by such as Al
Danish and Hully Bunn -
as well as Steve.
 

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Danish's 61 rear views.

Courtesy of Herbert Family
 

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Steve poses for
some photographer.
   
Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Danish's 61 trails the
111NY of Ken Shoemaker
as Chet waves checkers.

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Steve, in Victory Lane
with Harry Peek [above]
and Lou Lazzaro. In the
bottom shot, I'm not sure
who's awarding whom.

 

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Two Fonda action shots.

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
In the west end of the
Fonda infield pit area.
The tarps that blocked
people from looking in from
Route 30A are seen in
the background.

Courtesy of Dan Ody
Danish and others pull
off at Victoria after a
heat race. Noted are
Wimble 33; Janoski 40;
and Lou Smith 87.

International Motorsport
News Clippings

Courtesy of Danish Family
via Otto Graham
Steve nips Howie
Westervelt in Cliff
Wright's 83. Note
Chet's flagstand is
on the opposite side
of the track from
most other shots.
 

Herbert Family Photo
Rare instance with
a numeral other than 61.
Probably at a big
race like Langhorne.
 

Herbert Family Photo
Frank Trinkhaus and Jeep talk
at Stateline
Speedway with the
Danish station wagon in the background.

Courtesy of Danish Family
Steve's 1952 season
winning record.

Oto Pade Photo
A Fonda Speedway mixup.
Gahan sandwiches Romano
between Steve and the
Gahan 50.
 

 


Courtesy of Herbert Family
Pete Corey clowns around near the Danish car. Steve is at far left.


Courtesy of John Grady
Steve, in the infield at Fonda Speedway.


Courtesy of Otto Graham
Onlookers marvel at two things: the typical Danish towing setup and the fact he is running only a six banger.

8MM FILM STILL PHOTOS OF STEVE FROM DAN ODY, BUD BROOKS AND OTHER DVD's


Courtesy of Bud Brooks
Steve leads Charlie Morse and George Rogers at
the
old Fairmont Motor Park Speedway.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve, on the pole at Stateline Speedway.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve walking in
pits at Stateline.
 

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Sliding into the
picture at Stateline.
 

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve's station wagon
often used as tow
vehicle in 1950's.

 

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve
on the gas out
of Four at Stateline.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Steve, in the lead at Stateline Speedway.

Courtesy of Bud Brooks
Steve, in a lineup at
the
old Fairmont Motor Park Speedway.
 

Courtesy of Bud Brooks
Steve, maybe at
Granville's Mettawee
Speedway.

Courtesy of Bud Brooks
Steve leads Charlie
Morse at the old
Fairmont Motor Park
Speedway.
   
           

 


Courtesy of Danish Family via Otto Graham
Steve evades trouble by leading this race at Stateline Speedway, near Bennington, VT. Others in the race are: 3, Pete Corey:
62, Joe Ciganenko; 37, Jeep Herbert; and 112, one of the Gerows.

JOE MCCARTY PHOTOS OF STEVE AT STATELINE IN THE LATE 1950's

  


Courtesy of Roger Liller
Steve poses with Dee Goodermotte at Stateline.

Courtesy of Roger Liller
Fred Sheppard, as hired driver for Danish
at Stateline Speedway.

Courtesy of Roger Liller
The best copy of the famous 3 abreast
start at Stateline.
CLICK TO SEE LARGER VIEW


Ladabouche Collection
My favorite Danish shot - I use it as my desktop wallpaper.


McDowell Photo
Courtesy of Ken Gtypson
or Phil Miller

Steve poses with an earlier 61Jr
at Fonda.

Frank Simek Photo
Courtesy of Frank Simek

Danish with the
"windshield wiper" innovation
at Fonda Speedway.

Russ Bergh Photo
Courtesy of
Int'l Motorsport News
One of Steve's last big
wins at Fonda. I was there.

 
Source Unknown
Steve's Car is seen on the grid on the Beach Course, behind this guy getting his helmet on.

Frank Simek Photo
Courtesy of Frank Simek

Danish with a pose
for Frank Simek.

Shany Lorenzet Photo
Courtesy of
Andy Fusco

Danish poses at Stafford
Springs Speedway for Shany.

Russ Bergh Photo
Courtesy of Dan Ody

This Fonda shot shows an early
Danish hauler back in the pits with their station wagon parked up near the judges' stand.

Frank Simek Photo
Courtesy of Frank Simek

Obviously Fonda action,
against an UNK Falcon.
Could be Corey prior to
the yellow paint job,

Rusds Bergh Photo
Ladabouche Collection

This was my first photo of
Steve. I had to wait until
our first trip to Fonda to get it.

Frank Simek Photo
Courtesy of Frank Simek

Danish in Victory Lane
with a delighted Carnegie
family as presenters.

Courtesy of John Danish

The beloved Danish airplane.

Walter Mateer Photo
via Joe Grossetti

Danish with the dolly he used in the latter years throughout NY.

Frank Simek Photo
Danish on a go-kart at the
track in Meco, NY.


Courtesy of John Danish
John Danish says this car, photographed at Victoria, was Steve's last. He says the other door was cut down so Steve could get in easier, something he wouldn't have stood for a few years before.

Frank Simek Photo
Steve Danish, with Paul
Marshall and  Frankie
Schneider.
 
Courtesy of John Danish
John Danish says this watch was
awarded to Steve as the 1953
NY Sportsman champion.
 
Courtesy of John Danish
John Danish says this watch was
awarded to Steve as the 1953
NY Sportsman champion.

Courtesy of Lou Lazarro Jr
Danish at Daytona in the early '50's.
 
Courtesy of the LaFond Familyr
Nice autographed photo.
 
Courtesy of Greg Rickes
Danish at Victoria in the that
last car around 1965.
 
Courtesy of Danish Collection
via the Fonda Book

Danish with 1953 NY State
Sportsman trophy.
 
Walter Mateer Photo Courtesy of Donna
Kreeber Mateer and Joe Grossetti

Danish holds court with admiring fans at Coxsackie in the early '50's.
 
Courtesy of John Snyder
Danish at Middletown in the '50's.
 
Courtesy of Ed Feuz Collection
via the Fonda Book

Danish tried a Buick engine
in thecar in the mid '50's. This wreck
happened then. Wrecks were rare with Steve.
 
Courtesy of Gater Racing News
Generations of Fonda greatness: Lazarro, Danish, and Lape.

Courtesy of John Danish
A Danish car on the beach at Daytonain the '50's. 
 
Courtesy of Speedway Illustrated
 Collection via the Fonda Book

Danish Christmas card announces Buick engine change in the mid '50's.
 
Courtesy of Ed Feuz Collection
via the Fonda Book

Steve in Victory Lane after the big
100 lap win around 1963.
 
Courtesy of Biitig Collection
via the Fonda Book

Steve and John looks less than
happy here in the final season. It was not up to Steve's standards, so he retired.
 
Russ Bergh Photo
Danish poses in early 1960's.
 
Courtesy of  Ken Gypson
A very early action shot.

Courtesy of Otto Graham
Steve, in Vic Lane with
Miss America, this time with
more dignitaries.

Lynch Photo
Talking to bystanders at
Langhorne in 1954.
 
Bob McDowell Photo
Courtesy of  Ken Gypson

A familiar posed shot.
 
From Ken Shomeaker Biography
Another early Fonda win.
     
Courtesy of  Pinterest
Another version of the
Miss America Vic Lane.

International Motorsports News
Russ Bergh Photo

Another version of the
100 lapper Vic Lane with
Carnegie and son.
 


Courtesy of Ken Gypson
A compelling shot of Steve avoiding a rolling competitor at Stateline Speedway in the early 1950's.


DANISH AT LANGHORNE

 
From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Al Danish and other crew
members pushing out a car
numbered 611 at Langhorne
Speedway.
 
From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Al Danish and other crew
members at the ready
trackside at Langhorne
Speedway.
 
From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
A rare late '30's coupe for Danish, seen at Langhorne Speedway.

 
Courtesy of Otto Graham Collection
This onlooker in the pits at
Langhorne had probably never seen
that two setup or a compeitive
6 banger in that racing class.
 
Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
Getting the car set on the grid at
Langhorne in 1954.


Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
At speed at
Langhorne in 1954.

Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
Hey ! That thing's gotta six !
Langhorne in 1954.

Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
Getting the car set on the grid at
Langhorne in 1954.

Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
Langhorne in 1954. Too much mud on the radiator or too much for the six cylinder motor.

Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
Danish pit area at
Langhorne in 1954.

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
Langhorne

 

From Dan Ody's 8MM DVD
R
are number change.
Likely Langhorne.
 

Courtesy of Mark Hobbs
Pit stop under yellow at
Langhorne in 1954.

Source Unknown
The car set on the grid at
Langhorne in 1951.
 


Courtesy of Nick Javarone

Steve's big win at Fonda in 1963.


Johbn Grady Photo Courtesy of Danish Family
A shot too special to reduce to a thumbnail. John is amusing his dad and another crew member before the races.

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