Veteran racer is inspiring

By Jeffrey Fazio
DriveTime Columnist

Participating in the Pennsylvania Hillclimb series is a great way to meet some truly interesting and wonderful people. From the course workers to the drivers and from the officials to the fans, there is endless supply of really cool people at these events.

My first hillclimb race was the Pagoda event in 2004. At that event I made sure I got a chance to meet Alvey Ford. My initial reason for wanting to meet Alvey was simply that we were both racing Toyota MR2s and, as they say, "Birds of a feather, flock together."

So I went poking around the pits until I found the little red MR2 I saw racing up the hill and introduced myself. At the time, Alvey was 71 years old. Numbed by my own ignorance, I couldnít believe he was racing supercharged sports car up Duryea Drive at his age.

Needless to say, over the last two years Alvey and several of the other older drivers have opened my eyes in regards to my uninformed assumptions about age and racing. Itís really inspiring to see how fast these racers are. Their wisdom and experience shows as their race times get posted.

A few of our local racers that are over 50-years-old are featured in the Mature Living section of todayís Reading Eagle. They are all a great bunch of guys that are out there winning races and setting records.

This past weekend at the Weatherly Hillclimb I talking with Alvey and he recalled that he entered his first race in 1957. His first event was a drag race which is not too surprising as many of us start there.

To put the time element into perspective, in 1957 my mother was 5-years-old and not even Nostradamus could have predicted my existence.

Flash forward to 1979 and Alvey was entering his first hillclimb race. Like my mother in í57, I just happened to be 5-years-old at the time. It would be 11 more years until I got my driverís license and 25 years until I entered my first hillclimb and met Alvey Ford.

Itís amazing to think about how much racing Alvey has done in that time. I donít even want to think about how many tires he has had to buy.

Iíve really come to appreciate and respect the veteran drivers. They have quite literally "been there and done that" and have loads of good stuff to share. Their stories of past races won, records set or accidents that they walked away from are always entertaining.

Watching the now 73-year-old Alvey Ford suit up and race this past weekend, I couldnít help but ponder the "50-somethings" I know that complain about being "old." Anyone who has spoken to Alvey knows the last thing he feels is "old."

In fact, Alvey gives off such a flair of youth that the United States government even sent him papers last year requesting that he re-enlist in the military. Alvey, being Alvey, sent back a reply indicating that he would re-enlist. He even followed it up with a phone call or two to make sure they got it.

Thatís just one of the many great stories that Alvey likes to share. If you get a chance, stop by the Pagoda Hillclimb next weekend on Mount Penn and say hello to Alvey. Heíd probably be willing to fill you on the rest of his re-enlistment story.