not forgotten . . .

Chuck Ely


Phoenix, NY
- dates?


Chuck Ely, Veteran from the History Books

In our first issue, the Veteran from the History Books spotlights one of auto racing's all time greats at Oswego. He's Chuck Ely of Phoenix, N.Y., certainly one of the most colorful men to ever compete at Oswego. Chuck and his wife Helen have three children, Harold, and Patricia Ann (who have married) and Carol who is still at home. Chuck is a very proud grandparent six times over. All his children were extremely interested in auto racing and it looks as if the grandchildren have the same interest.

It was 37 years ago when Chuck piloted the old 'Fronty Ford Sprinter' at the Waterloo Speedway. It was 1935 and Chuck's first experience behind a race car. To devote more time to his family and occupation, he retired from the sport for 12 years and finally got the racing bug again in 1948 and ran a Class B stocker at Brewerton, Sandy Creek Fair and Monroe County Fairgrounds. When Oswego opened in 1951, Chuck was here piloting the Charles Cossilman Special car number OhOh. How many of you veteran fans remember that? If you do, you'll most likely recall Chuck, Nolan Swift, Irish Jack Murphy, Ed Bellinger just to 'name a few) putting on one real hot show. It was always a battle royal when feature time came around.

In all his years of racing, Chuck never owned his own car. He was the type of guy who never had any problem picking up a ride. If he'd blow the engine in the heat, he'd qualify another car in the consi and then go out and finish the feature in the top five. He had the talent to jump into a new car and make it a top contender. That's why he always had himself a ride. In fact, Chuck claims that one year he raced over two-thirds of the regular cars in attendance at one time or another. His steady rides included the Bill Hathaway and George Campbell car 175 (which Chuck won his first trophy with at Oswego in 1952), Rick Molta's car 22, Bill Donaldson and Art Wagner's car 57, and both Nick and Sam Virgo's famous stock cars.

In 1962 Chuck piloted Sam's supermodified and was doing very well until he tangled with the wall at Spencer Speedway and tore the car into two pieces. After that accident (which hospitalized him for some time) he ran off and on with the supers and eventually retired from racing in 1963. Chuck makes it to the races every week and usually pulls for the boys (Swift, Murphy and Wallace) which he competed against himself. But he has a strong point of praise for Jim Shampine, saying he has a steady driving style and races very intelligently. When asked what his greatest moment in racing was, Chuck replied 'Every moment of my racing career was great. I enjoyed every race I was in.'

Employed by General Electric of Syracuse, Chuck finds himself manager of photography in the military department. Being a real active member of his community, Chuck has held several public posts. For 18 years he was a policeman in Phoenix and then rose to be Chief of Police for eight more years. After retirement from the police force, he was elected to two consecutive terms as mayor of Phoenix and has served as president of the Board of Education in the Phoenix Central School System for five years.

We'd like to wish Chuck, one of the finest citizens of Central New York and an equally talented race driver, the very best of luck in all he attempts in the future.

  . . . from the 1972 opening day race program

Ed Bellinger Sr. and Chuck

Chuck Ely stands beside the 57 while car owners Bill Donaldson and Art Wagner pose alongside the 51 team car driven by Billy Blum. This picture was taken back in 1951 when Oswego Speedway was dirt.

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