‘Classic Moments’ Countdown: #26 The Blum No. 90 Fire – 1960 International Classic

The Billy Blum No. 90 erupts in flames during the 1960 Oswego Speedway International Classic.

The Billy Blum No. 90 erupts in flames during the 1960 Oswego Speedway International Classic.

OSWEGO, NY – As the countdown officially begins toward the 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200 for Novelis Supermodifieds at Oswego Speedway on Sunday, August 31, we look back at the Top30 moments in International Classic history, with the assistance of George Caruso’s ’50 Most Memorable Moments of the International Classic.’

With 26 days remaining until the International Classic, the countdown continues with No. 26, looking back on the Billy Blum fire of the 1960 International Classic.

The Billy Blum No. 90 erupts in flames during the 1960 Oswego Speedway International Classic.
The Billy Blum No. 90 erupts in flames during the 1960 Oswego Speedway International Classic.

Blum, who finished second in the 1959 Classic, once again drove the George Adams bright orange No. 90 in 1960, but an early race jingle left him with a disabled front end.

Unable to steer the crippled racer, Blum came to a stop, high on the race track in between the first and second corners.

In those days the race was never interrupted for a stalled car.  Instead, the car was left on the Speedway until another more serious incident necessitated a red flag.

Stopped on the track, Blum exited the No. 90 and hopped over the outside fence to safety while the race continued on.

A few laps later Bill Greco came through the corner a little too wide and hit the rear end of the stopped No. 90.  The collision caused the fuel tank on Blum’s car to rupture.  The exhaust heat from another passing car then ignited the leaking fuel, and the entire car went up in flames.

At this point, the race was finally red flagged with track safety chief Charlie Hopkins and his crew hitting the scene, emptying all of the hand held fire extinguishers on site.  As a last resort, the safety crew began throwing shovels of dirt on the fire while the Oswego City Fire Department was called upon to assist the safety crew.

The fire eventually burned itself out just as the city fire department arrived on the scene.

From that day forward, whenever a car spun out or became disabled on the Speedway, the race was interrupted and the obstruction removed.

Oswego regular Nolan Swift would finally prevail in the Classic after three previous attempts, driving his 10pins to victory lane in 1960.

Swift took the lead on lap 67 from Bud Crotty in the Bowley J-5 and was never again challenged on the way to victory over Lee Bliss, Gene Bergin, Hugh Darrow, and Jack Murphy in the top five positions.

Hop Harrington, Mel Dodge, Bud Johnson, Ed Bellinger Sr., and Jack Sharpe completed the top ten positions.

A total of 57 cars were on hand for the ’60 Classic with Crotty setting fast time in the Bowley machine.

To purchase tickets for Budweiser International Classic Weekend and the 58th annual Budweiser International Classic 200, call the Speedway’s box office today at (315) 342-0646.

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