|Photo ID #||I08.14.12_16J_HIL_FLM_0092S_1|
|Driver (s) :||Elton Hildreth|
|Location:||Vineland Historical Society's Museum|
|Photo provided by:||Russ Dodge|
Senior Moment From Russ Dodge:
The "Wild Man's" Last "Wild Man"
It is hard for me to believe it has been 20 years since this photo was taken at a Vineland Speedway presentation held at the Vineland Historical Society's Museum. What really makes me smile with joy is that the "Wild Man" Elton Hildreth, then a spry 74 years old, was still just a "spunky" when I last saw him in the Fall at Harry Fleming's Pumpkin Run!
This plaque holds the "Wild Man" from the front of the roof over the windshield, of the last orange and black 16-J car he owned and drove. I say this because historically the last 16-J was a red 3 window coupe built by Bob and Adam Schwegel from Millville, N.J. It ran once at Bridgeport Speedway when Elton was planning a "comeback". Fortunately or unfortunately, however you look at it, after a couple laps in warm-ups of being "blown-off", Elton pulled in and realized he wouldn't be competitive again and put is career on hiatus.
A post on the 3wide Message Board a couple weeks back titled "Things I have saved", proved to be interesting as readers shared their personal racing treasures. As a collector myself (former boarder line racing hoarder) I recognize that special items work their way into our possessions from many varied paths. These routes traveled could probably provide some interesting stories.
My special final "Wild Man" was given to me by my friend Earl Wilson. Earl was for lack of a better description an Elton Hildreth "groupie" hanging around with the garage crew when they worked on the "J" (as Elton" would call it).
As a result of a bad wreck at Nazareth Speedway, Elton had to spend some time in the hospital with a back injury. Ray, Elton' right hand man, was well aware of the fact that Elton had always raced with a back condition. Seeing Elton in the hospital injured in the back area again, he decided that it was "time" and told the "Wild Man" that was it. Naturally that wasn't in agreement with Elton's thoughts!
Simple solution. Ray cut the car up knowing that was the only way to stop him from getting it back together. Earl happened to be there that day and asked if he could have the "Wild Man" section of the roof. Years afterwards he gave it to me for my collection. I mounted it using the original bolt holes, added a photo and had a trophy shop make up the description.
One piece of "Wild Man" trivia, that name didn't appear on Elton's car until he bought the first 16-J coupe from John Reginak in 1957 and changed it's color from cream/red to orange and black. When the sign painter was lettering the car, the guys in the shop told him to paint "Wild Man" above the windshield'!
Thanks for listening.
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