not forgotten . . .

Ed Bellinger Sr.

Fulton, NY
27.May.1927 - 8.Sept.2002


Hall of Fame stock-car driver left a championship legacy

Four decades and two years ago tonight, a personable young man pulled his modified 1937 Ford coupe to a stop on the front stretch at Oswego Speedway, acknowledged loud cheers from the grandstand, and posed for a victory photo. He had just won the season's final feature race and secured his third track championship in four years. It was Saturday, Sept. 17, 1960, and the yellow number 3 driven by "Smiling Ed Bellinger" had come out on top again.

This and other memories of one of Fulton's most successful sports figures were being recalled this week following the passing of Ed Bellinger Sr. at the age of 75 Sunday, Sept. 8. A respected and highly popular racer during Oswego Speedway's stock-car era of the 1950's and early 60s, he was also a respected Fulton-area businessman, operating Bel linger's Auto Service for 24 years until his retirement in 1983.

A three-time Oswego Speedway track champion, he amassed a total of 33 feature-race victories there between his first win July 4, 1956 and his last June 3, 1961. One of the dominant drivers at Oswego during its first decade, the track paid him its highest honor in 1998 when he was inducted as a charter member of the newly created Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame.

Although Bellinger drove very little after a racing accident destroyed his car in August of 1961, he did show up for the 1963 International Classic with an innovative race car that turned out to be the first rear-engine supermodified car ever to compete at Oswego. He got back into the sport more fully in the mid-70's assisting his son, Ed Bellinger Jr., who began his own successful racing career in 1973.

Bellinger began racing stock cars in 1949 and was in competition at Oswego Speedway the first day it opened in August of 1951. Fellow competitors included his close personal friend Dick Jerrett Sr. of Mexico, as well as fellow hall-of-famers "Irish" Jack Murphy, Nolan Swift, and Lee Bliss. Among Bel linger's numerous accomplishments in the late 50's, he was the fastest qualifier and earned the pole position to start Oswego Speedway's first International Classic race in 1957. Commenting on the dangers of the sport in an interview for the Valley News Classic Weekend section in 1989, Bellinger stated, "To tell you the truth, I always felt safer in there than I would on Route 11 on a Saturday night!" Taking everything in stride that way, in an easy-going manner and generally with a smile, is how he is remembered by those who knew him in the racing community as well as the local community at large. As one of Fulton's most famous sports figures, it is generally acknowledged that his championship style transcended the sport in which he excelled.

  . . . source, The Valley news (Fulton)

End of the line for the little yellow coupe

Eddie Bellinger Sr had spent the greater part of the first week in August, 1961 completely rebuilding his flat top modified coupe, in time for the Aug.5th double point midsummer championship, and in hopes of stopping the current Swift domination. Arriving at the Speedway after the heats, meant he would have to run the consi, which he won. The rebuild appeared to have garnered more speed and the sparking that occurred during the consi proved to be only an exhaust header rubbing on the track. Bellinger would have his work cut out for him as on Championship night back then, the point leaders started in the front, but consi qualifiers started in the rear. Swift would have an 18 car advantage over Bellinger from the outset.

At the drop of the green, Bellinger began his charge to the front As Eddie ripped up through the field, it appeared that he had correctly made the necessary changes on the yellow No.3 to run with the 10 pins.

Bellinger made an inside move under the 14 of Bobby Baker coming down the front straightaway and Baker, unaware the 3 car was under him, moved down. Bellinger caught a wheel and catapulted high into the air, the car seemed to be airborne for an incredibly long period of time and when it finally did land, it did several rol1s and slammed into the steel wall with such force that it went partially through the fence. Bellinger was extricated from the car and taken to the Oswego hospital with only a slight concussion, but his newly rebuilt car was just a twisted mass of metal. It was probably the most vicious crash recorded at the Speedway up to that point.

from George Caruso Jr's, "Oswego Speedway, The first 50 Years"





image contributed by Joseph Oleyourryk

image contributed by Joseph Oleyourryk

Gordie Dodge was a mechanic on the #3 for many years.
contributed by Joe Oleyourryk


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