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Old 03-12-2008
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JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

At Chowder yesterday, Friends of Fitch made it known that John is being steamrollered by CT DEP.
He discovered that his 80 year old oil tanks (he bought the house in 1958) were leaking and duly reported same. Now heís liable for excavating, incinerating and transporting more than 3000 tons (so far) of dirt plus testing of wells in the area (upstream ones as well).
He thought he was doing the right thing. The state has a donít ask donít tell policy and if he had just replaced the tanks all would be well.
Cost of all this is upwards of $350,000 so far and could get worse, not to mention condemning the entire property and evicting him. He mentioned that having lived there for 49 years, raising a family and being 91 years old was an indicator that the area isnít that unhealthy.
Add the fact that his wife Elizabeth is in a private pay nursing home and itís easy to see that his resources will last only a very short time. There are vague rumors of legislative relief but nothing concrete and certainly nothing imminent.

Iím spreading the word as best I can.

Friends of Fitch
179 West Main Street
Norwalk, Ohio 44857
419-668-8563
Contact: Carl Goodwin
attlastt@frontier.net
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Old 03-12-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Thanks to Oldred for letting us know about this troubling news.

Being over 90 years old and having outlived all of his contemporaries, many arenít aware of his achievements as a racer and safety advocate.

He's an amazing and unassuming legend.

One of my prized possessions is a Lime Rock Park Vintage festival poster signed by John Fitch and Phil Hill.

Here's a link to a site that shows his involvement with automotive safety...

John Fitch Racing Safety website

...John's Wikipedia page makes for impressive reading as well.

The John Fitch Wikipedia page

From Crashnet.com... on John Fitch.

With just two Grand Prix races recorded against his name, the uninitiated may be given the false impression that John Fitch was just another insignificant run-of-the-mill driver - far from it.

Born into a wealthy family, and with a motoring background courtesy of his step-father, Fitch served as a fighter pilot during World War II, and was held as a POW after being shot down. In poor physical condition upon his release, he did not turn to motor racing until 1949, but was soon a major name in SCCA circles. In March 1951, on his first racing trip overseas, he won the Peron Grand Prix, a sports car race in Buenos Aires, driving an Allard-Cadillac. This victory brought him to the attention of millionaire racer and entrant Briggs Cunningham, who took him into his sports car team, which was attempting to win Le Mans and other long-distance events. John won the Sebring 12 Hours, and finished third in the Cunningham at Le Mans in 1953, a season which also saw him dip his toe into single-seater racing with HWM in the Italian GP and finish fourth at Aix-les-Bains in a Cooper-Bristol, attempt to qualify for Indianapolis, and take part in the Monte Carlo and Alpine Rallies . . .

Having impressed Neubauer during a test in a 300SL Mercedes in 1952, Fitch finally got the call from the great man and found himself in the factory sports car team for 1955, and reserve driver (not used) at a couple of Grands Prix. Unfortunately this was the year of the Le Mans disaster, and Fitch's co-driver 'Levegh' was a central figure in the tragedy. John did, however, have the satisfaction of sharing the winning Mercedes with Moss at Dundrod later in the year before the Stuttgart team withdrew from racing.

Fitch then returned to the States, initially to help Chevrolet's sports car effort, which limited his racing somewhat, but nothing was allowed to get in the way of his annual pilgrimage to Sebring which lasted until 1964 - by which time he was fully involved in the management of the Lime Rock circuit, which was used for both racing and the testing of road cars.

Caught him arriving in the paddock at Lime Rock Park last year in the roadster he designed decades ago.
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

This sucks, Fitch is a national treasure as far as I am concerned, service to country, state, safety, racing, etc. He is getting hosed as many have with buried oil tanks, this is madness.

DEP / EPA are bad news, they have more power than IRS, God, etc and they are brutal. I am investiagting State laws on this (via my brother who has had a lot of dealings with CT DEP).

I think Skip, Posey, Paul Newman, Letterman, Leno, etc might be good wallets to hit, any ideas how?





more pics
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

There are lots of questions that would need to be answered first.

While the communication expresses grave concern it is all in hypotheticals. There doesn't seem to be a specific order of removal or threat to condemn yet... Just a concern that these things could happen.

What you'd first want is the best lawyer you could find who deals in these kinds of problems and knows the players at CT DEP and how they operate.

There may be a number of reasonable remedies that aren't known or haven't been explored yet.

Also, do we know John doesn't have the resources to retain a lawyer and deal with this?

In no way am I suggesting John shouldn't be properly taken care of... Just that the first step should be determining the facts of what is needed and finding the right person or people who can remedy it. This may have already beeen done but before we strike up the band to raise money lets make sure the right people are leading the charge.
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Just basing this on what Paul heard at Chowder Soc. meeting. Of course wouldn't do anything without going through Friends of Fitch. They would obviously know the status.
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Someone at Skippy should be able to get in touch with Skip, ie senior instructor, etc. Anyone have contacts in the motoring press? A story that gets picked up nationally could generate interest.
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowhands View Post
Someone at Skippy should be able to get in touch with Skip, ie senior instructor, etc. Anyone have contacts in the motoring press? A story that gets picked up nationally could generate interest.
I can forward friends of fitch info to Dutch Mandel at AutoWeek, yes? no?
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

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Originally Posted by cdh View Post
I can forward friends of fitch info to Dutch Mandel at AutoWeek, yes? no?
-----Yes!--------
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slowhands View Post
-----Yes!--------
as DD said, best to ascertain facts first, should probably talk to F.O.F. Oldred, you had any contact with them?
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Old 03-13-2008
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Post Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

OK, here are three articles from the local paper, The Lakeville Journal, about Fitch, his property, and who is helping him out:

Mountains of soil, and bills, for man trying to do the right thing
By TERRY COWGILL January, 03, 2008

State needs to reconsider tank law
Lakeville Journal Editorial January, 10, 2008

Car club to help Fitch with cleanup
By TERRY COWGILL January, 31, 2008
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Thanks Ali

I created an account, if you are asked for a user id & pw for the Fitch articles use

tjr1

wwwtjr

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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Yeah, I was wondering if they'd ask you for your name/password. I already have an account, so it wasn't an issue for me.
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Old 03-13-2008
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Videos Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

No prob Ali, thanks again.

I shot this video at LRP last summer (when DD got his pic). Will forward link to Friends of Fitch, see what I can find out.

John Fitch at LRP - 90 sec
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Wow... hair raising.

So the tanks are out but the contaminated earth remains the problem.

I know Andrew Roraback and if anyone can get the legislation passed it would be him. Smart, knowledgable and kind. I'll give him a shout and put in another good word for John though I'm sure he's gotten an ear full already.

The numbers ($) mentioned in the articles to dispose of the dirt are about half what was mentioned in the initial appeal but either way this should not fall solely on John's back.

Good to read he now has a lawyer along with all the car club folk, us included, who want to help him.

Thanks for the links Ali.
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Old 03-13-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Let me know what What I can DO !!
I live in OH. About 2 hrs away. I have plenty of lawyer friends, politicians and better yet I have a friend who owns and excavation company.
I will speak to my lawyer friend in the AM. I have him right where I want him.(staying in my condo in FL for free).

Lets get the facts and the estimates and see what we can DO.

WE ARE TEAM JUICY ,WE CAN FIX ANYTHING!

(except crash damage)
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Old 03-14-2008
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Thumbs up Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

small update:

Some small hope of legistation protecting homeowners

John is surprised by the number of people who already know about the situation. (and delighted)

Rumor has it that John Gorsline of insurance fame is organizing a kart race at Sebring to benefit John.
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Last edited by oldredracer; 03-15-2008 at 03:30 AM. Reason: lousy spelling
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Old 03-14-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Here is a reply from FOF

Doug -

Thanks for your interest. I hope you can help too. The draft of a press release is now over with Tom Armstrong of Reid & Riege, Hartford attorneys. John is also running it by some other people including VSCCA and Salisbury Bank & Trust, where any help-out-Fitch funds would be directed.

I will let you know when the release is OK to go, and send you a copy. I write for Vintage Motorsport and five other magazines so I will send to the automotive magazines that know John. In a second mailing I will try to reach more general publications and broadcast outlets.

Any additional distribution that you can make will be all to the good. There is no harm in sending multiple news releases to the same editorial contact.

I looked at the thread about John on the Skip Barber site (that's tjr - cdh) and it is great to see this interest in John. I am confident we can all help him.

One more thing. I got a call this morning from John Gorsline, the racing insurance man, who is at Sebring. He's going to put on a go-kart race with the proceeds going to help Fitch.

Best wishes,
Carl Goodwin

Friends of Fitch
179 W. Main St.
Norwalk, OH 44857
(419)668-2563
attlastt@frontier.net

****
That assoc. of my brother might be able to help. He has dealt with the DEP extensively in the development / rehabilitation / cleanup of a property in CT. I have forwarded him all I have on the subject, he will let me know if his contacts in the DEP can help. We'll see what happens.

So nice to see this kind of good will for someone who is not even known to many of these people.
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Old 03-26-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

More from Friends Of Fitch - Press Release. I forwarded to my builder contact, no reply yet.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FROM: Friends of Fitch CONTACT: Carl Goodwin
179 W. Main St. (419) 668 Ė2563
Norwalk, OH 44857 attlastt@frontier.net

The State Of Connecticut Is Punishing A 90 Year Old WWll Veteran For Doing The Right Thing.

"I suppose if Iíd kept my mouth shut, none of this would have happened," says John Fitch, referring to the oil contamination nightmare that has plagued him since he advised the state of Connecticutís DEP five months ago that he suspected an old storage tank under his Litchfield County lawn might be leaking. But keeping mum when he suspects something is wrong simply isnít this manís style: John Fitch has devoted his life to "the greater good" for over half a century.

Forget that he is a decorated combat pilot who shot down one of Hitlerís dreaded Messerschmidt ME 262 jets. Forget that he was taken POW and received a Purple Heart. Forget that he is the inventor of the Fitch Inertial Barrier, those ubiquitous yellow sand-filled plastic barrels whose strategic placement on highways across America have saved countless thousands of lives. Forget that Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell herself declared April 21, 2006 "John Fitch Day" in honor of his contributions to highway safety. And forget that as a legendary racing car driver he is the very embodiment of a true hero, as his election to numerous Halls of Fame will testify. Forget all that, and just consider the facts of this case:

Last October, Fitch told the DEP that he suspected an oil leak. He also (at his own expense) hired a local environmental services company to test his well water. The results indicated a petroleum concentration of 1.5 milligrams per liter, but no one told him if that constituted a problem. Instead, the DEP ordered him to test all the wells within 500 feet of the tanks, again at his own expense. In November, the DEP advised him that although none of the wells was contaminated, he would have to remove the tanks and excavate the surrounding soil Ö again at his own expense. After excavating more than 3,000 tons of dirt (some of which was, in fact, contaminated), work had to be suspended because the resultant pit had filled with rainwater. Meanwhile, the contaminated soil, which was deposited in 15-foot high piles around Fitchís property, was subjected to the effects of run-off because of rain and snow, a hazard that the state - not Fitch - created. "And thereís no end in sight," laments the 90 year old. "In theory they can make me drain the pit and continue excavating. Whatís worse, they can force me to cart the soil off and pay for it to be treated."

To put that into perspective, Fitch has received estimates of $70 per ton to have this done, and that doesnít include the cost of the excavation itself, or the cost of filling in the pit with clean soil. One expert has estimated that the total bill could easily top $350,000. In the meanwhile, The Town of Salisbury mailed the Fitches a notice advising them of an $80,000 reduction in the assessed value of their home, with the words "Oil Contamination" overwritten across the page. "Iím completely bewildered by this," says Fitch. "In effect, they have condemned our family home, making it worthless."

But perhaps the most ironic Ė and frustrating - fact about the situation is that the Connecticut DEP itself has no firm protocol for cases such as this. According to Fitch, Patrick F. Bowe, Director of the DEPís Remedial Division, has advised the Fitches that it is up to them to work with a consultant to select the best alternatives, taking into consideration costs, permit requirements and potential risks to human health. "He is saying that either our consultant, whoever that may be, will know more about oil contamination remediation than the DEP does or, if the DEP knows more, it is not telling us!" says Fitch. And while all of this is going on, Fitchís wife, Elizabeth, requires nursing home care at a cost of $10,000 a month.

Outraged by the Stateís actions, John Fitchís friends have banded together to provide some financial relief for the couple. Notably, the Vintage Sports Car Club of America has graciously offered to help with legal expenses, and this week a fund was established to help pay for the excavation and soil cleaning costs. Checks payable to "The Friends of Fitch Homestead Fund" may be sent to the Salisbury Bank and Trust Company, P.O. Box 1868, Lakeville, CT 06039.

For additional information and documentation, please see the contact information at the top of this release.

State of Connecticut personnel involved with the Fitch case include Director Patrick F. Bowe, Remediation Division, and Camille Fontanella, Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection, at 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106-5127, tel.(860)424-3074. Other interested parties are K. Foley, (413) 734-3688; M. OíHandley, (425) 806-4875; State Senator Andrew Roraback, (860) 489-6880; and CT Governor Jodi Rell (860) 528-7347.

More additional information and documentation please see the contact information at the top of this release.

# # #
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Old 03-30-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdh View Post
No prob Ali, thanks again.

I shot this video at LRP last summer (when DD got his pic). Will forward link to Friends of Fitch, see what I can find out.

John Fitch at LRP - 90 sec
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CDH is the man! So's John, of course. I have a picture of my granddaughter shaking hands with John as he sits in the Phoenix. The look on her face indicates that she has no idea who he is or why I asked her to do it. This video is the perfect complement to my pic by way of explanation to her but even better, it's a concise and respectful tribute to the man. Nice job.
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QUALIFICATIONS 1987: Davidson: "Sammy Swindell's car runs a normally aspirated stock-block engine with Pontiac heads. It was developed by John Buttera." Palmer: "Wow, yeah, he used to play the sax with Louis Prima." Davidson: "That was Sam Butera." Palmer: "Oh, yeah."
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Old 03-31-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Just this past Saturday I hapened upon a documentary about John Fitch and his run on the Bonneville Salt Flats a few years ago. He was 87 at the time and was trying to break a speed record for coupes. Sam Posey narated. He fell a few mph short but he was driving a 50 year old car that he drove in the Carrera Panamerica in 1955.
I saw this on Saturday and logged on today and saw the trouble he has with old fuel tanks.
This just goes to show you that No good deed goes unpunished.
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Old 03-31-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

that is an excellent film by Chris Szwedo (did LRP Secret Valley). He not only shot, edited and produced it, he also scored it, he's a very talented film maker, bravo. The final still in the 90 sec vid I posted is from that effort.

On the FoF front, the reply my bro gave me about the DEP rep dealing with this mess - he is a very tough inspector.

More as we hear it.

edit - just read LRP groundbreaking post, this would be an excellent opportunity to brainstorm. I wont be able to be there damn it, but I am sure others have had the same thought.....
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Old 03-31-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

If things in Conn. are anything like they are in NY, the type of fuel in the tanks can make a big difference.
We had 3 huge gasoline tanks removed from my dealership a couple of years ago and the SURPRISE ENCON inspection revealed that gasoline could be smelled at the scene. They said that all of the soil had to be removed to a hazardous disposal site at some hug $ figure. After further investigation I found that gasoline coated soil merely had to be left to the atmosphere and turned periodically to evaporate the fuel. HUGE savings. During the three days that ENCON left the huge gaping holes in our lot open, someone suggested that the hole was big enough for the ENCON truck and the driver.
Ummmmm. maybe the old saying "It is much easier to ask for forgivness, than to ask for permission," is the case in something like this.
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Old 04-05-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Quote:
Originally Posted by cdh View Post

edit - just read LRP groundbreaking post, this would be an excellent opportunity to brainstorm. I wont be able to be there damn it, but I am sure others have had the same thought.....
I'll be there. Good a time as any to get my 2009 credentials. Can't ride the bike (weather permitting) because my sonny boy is fraidy-scared to ride passenger. (anybody's passenger).
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QUALIFICATIONS 1987: Davidson: "Sammy Swindell's car runs a normally aspirated stock-block engine with Pontiac heads. It was developed by John Buttera." Palmer: "Wow, yeah, he used to play the sax with Louis Prima." Davidson: "That was Sam Butera." Palmer: "Oh, yeah."
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Old 04-12-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Nice piece on page 24 of the April 14 issue of AutoWeek by Don Klein titled 'That's What Friends Are For'.

Thanks, Dutch.
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QUALIFICATIONS 1987: Davidson: "Sammy Swindell's car runs a normally aspirated stock-block engine with Pontiac heads. It was developed by John Buttera." Palmer: "Wow, yeah, he used to play the sax with Louis Prima." Davidson: "That was Sam Butera." Palmer: "Oh, yeah."

Last edited by oldredracer; 04-12-2008 at 02:33 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-12-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

How was the LRP groundbreaking oldred?
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Old 04-12-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

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Originally Posted by dalyduo View Post
How was the LRP groundbreaking oldred?
Had to leave before any dirt actually moved, but the press conference didn't reveal any surprises. Grand plans for a new, very electronic and membrane-tented set of ticket gates...not till next year. An Imola curb at the downhill (read 'rumble strip) with an abrasive asphalt run-off area beyond that. The apex at the downhill will not be moved. Affirmation that there will be a 'classic Lime Rock' and an 'alternate Lime Rock'. Since all it takes is cones to change the configuration, there are several combinations of corners available. Guesstimate of 5 seconds per lap quicker for the 'classic' course after all the bumps are pounded out and the course is widened.
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QUALIFICATIONS 1987: Davidson: "Sammy Swindell's car runs a normally aspirated stock-block engine with Pontiac heads. It was developed by John Buttera." Palmer: "Wow, yeah, he used to play the sax with Louis Prima." Davidson: "That was Sam Butera." Palmer: "Oh, yeah."
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Old 04-14-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

[IMG]file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Paul/My%20Documents/My%20Pictures/Fitch_AutoWeek%20%28Medium%29.jpeg[/IMG]Click image for larger version

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QUALIFICATIONS 1987: Davidson: "Sammy Swindell's car runs a normally aspirated stock-block engine with Pontiac heads. It was developed by John Buttera." Palmer: "Wow, yeah, he used to play the sax with Louis Prima." Davidson: "That was Sam Butera." Palmer: "Oh, yeah."
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Old 04-14-2008
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Re: JOHN FITCH COULD USE SOME HELP

Another article on the John Fitch cleanup has sprouted up on the Winding Road web based magazine. This is Davis E Davis's new auto magazine. They did a nice article. They gave the address for the cleanup fund. It looks as though the word is getting out
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