not forgotten . . .

Bob Stelter

Syracuse, NY
13.Jun.1943 - 27.Nov.2007

Robert J. "Bobby" Stelter, 64, of Hickory, NC, passed away at his home on November 27, 2007. Bob was born and raised in Syracuse. NY. He worked for Merchant Parcel Service and Onongaga Co. Facilities Management. At a young age, Bob joined the Syracuse Speed Skating Club, where he developed his taste for fast-paced competition. This led to his passion, automobile racing. Bob purchased his first race car in 1965. Bob quickly became a local icon, winning many races at Oswego Speedway, his home track, in addition to many wins at other racetracks throughout the northeast. He won the hearts of many fans with his "dirt track" style of driving and his desire to win.

He is survived by his brothers, Bill and Jim (Kathy) of Syracuse, NY; his nephews Mike, Neal and Bradley; and his niece Jennifer.

. . . Published in the Syracuse Post Standard on 1/6/2008
some memories . . .
    I received this from Mike Thornton . . .

Jake, As you know I go back to 1969 with Bobby. I first met him when John Pallotta and Jimmy Delucia decided to buy a super. Bob knew that Kenny Bartholomew was selling the "Wood-shed" car and got the deal rolling. This was when Bob was on medical "leave" from racing after backing Bob Graf's ex-Nolan Swift 10 Pins, the 80 car ( the one Swifty won all the 60's races in) into the rail at Pocono in a U.R.C/super-mod show injuring his head and neck as well as other internal injuries, early in 1969. In the 1969 opener at Oswego , Bob finished 3rd in the feature in that car! In mid-summer, I rode out to Kenny Bartholomew's shop in Chagrin Falls Ohio with John and Bob to pick up the Woodshed. John paid $1000.00 for the roller, I thought that was a ton of cash, I guess it was to a 15 year old in 1969! They freshened it up, dropped the small block fuelie from their drag car in it and went to Oswego! They won their first feature in 1969. Bob won his first and last Oswego features driving a Solvay Automotive 04. The first being on September 6th 1969, a Pocono qualifier, he finished 3rd at Pocono that year in September and the last on May 17th 1980, The Russ Gray Memorial race.

Bartholomew's woodshed

Bob's first Oswego win

...a popular victory!

The first time I went into the pits at Oswego , Bobby snuck me in inside the back of the Solvay Automotive pick-up! I was in heaven man! Bobby was my hero that's for sure. It was really cool hanging out with these wild ass dudes... Bobby, Louie Dabrowski, Joe Bianchi, Skip Cardin , Billy and Jimmy Stelter... What a crew! For a 15 year old,I grew up fast! About this time, my 12 year old cousin, Tom Bliss started going to Oswego. We used to ride up with John Pallotta towing the 04 until I got my license to drive at night- and we went every week. Tom built a very strong friendship with Bob, a relationship that lasted until Bob's passing. Tom gave Bob his last ride at Oswego. I first saw Bob race at Oswego in 1966 in the blue 85 sprinter. I used to watch him at Brewerton in 67-68 when it was paved-he drove Billy Williamsons sharp blue # 0 flathead. I saw him win a feature there. I'll never forget the sound of those flatheads... they screamed!


I was at Lancaster in '69 when Bob went over the fence in turn two while going for the lead, I felt so bad, I had lined up a trailer from Whitey Simpson for John Pallotta to use as there was some issue with John's trailer. When I told Bob how I felt he said "forget it Mike, we almost won!" From that point on, I realized what racing was really all about for Bobby... It was about winning. I used to go and hang out at Louie Dabroski's garage on Chemung street in Syracuse. Lou was building his wedge car at the time, one cool car. Before that, Louie would let me sit in his first super, The ex-Todd Gibson Flintstone Flyer! Lou actually bought the car from Irish Jack Murphy. This car was the first roadster to ever win at Oswego when Todd beat Ron Lux in 1965. The West end of Syracuse and Solvay had a few race shops and Bobby knew everybody. Nolan Swift's garage was on Belden Ave. Lee Bray's on Marcellus St. Mike Rizzo's on Grand Ave. Louie Dabrowski's on Chemung Street, Solvay Automotive on Milton Ave. and Cookie Caloia's on West Genesee were all active in local racing. Bob based his racing out of Camillus and Elbridge for years, until he moved to North Carolina. I guess like a lot of people, I could go on and on about Bobby but let's just say we all have a ton of memories and we will miss him terribly. Looking forward to sharing some stories at Bob's memorial get-together.

  . . . written by Mike Thornton

Bobby was the definition of hell on wheels. He could take any super, manhandle it, and get every ounce out of it. There weren’t too many drivers that got more out of the machines they drove than Bobby Stelter. He lived up to the nickname that legendary announcer Jack Burgess tagged him with “Helter” Stelter.

Bobby picked up his first Oswego supermodified win in 1969, and followed that up with five more career wins at the Big O. He was a master helmet carrier in the day, and Bobby Stelter goes into the supermodified record books as not only a colorful character, but one of the top all time drivers ever in the supermodified class.

  . . . written by Danny Johnson

Bob Stelter made whatever he was driving twice the car it would ordinarily be. What a loss this is to the supermodified/racing community. He started driving sometime in the mid-sixties and continued into the eighties with rides that included the Austin Bros. #71, Solvay Auto. #04, Ron Buckner's #36, the #99 owned by himself and his brother (the 'Helter Stelter' car), and the Al Aroneck #26 (also driven by Jerry O'Neil).

A funny story: Bob's best finish in the 'Classic' came in 1974 when he finished 2nd to the one and only Jimmy Shampine. Bob was passed by Jimmy on lap 182 and has related that " I was busy thinking about what kind of truck I was going to buy myself with the prize money when Bellinger came out of the pits right in front of me and Jimmy got me. I guess I should have been paying more attention!"
A true talent.
A true original.
RIP Bob.
Brian Lavoie (Eddiebin83)

  . . . written by Brian Lavoie (Eddiebin83)

I don't have any first-hand stories about Bobby, but I know people who knew him well. I am young and I didn't get obsessed with supermodifieds or Oswego until the late 1990's, so I never got to see him race at Oswego unfortunately. I have heard that he was a driver that should have gotten a ride at Indy because he was so good. His career and stories are of interest to me now because he is a product of the west side of Syracuse, the same part of town as my family, and I grew up very close to Solvay, the home of the Solvay Automotive team. As a kid that has grown up near his haunts, knows many of his peers, and wanted to be a winning driver on dirt and pavement all along, I have always strived to gain a reputation for extracting the most from my car like the stories say about Bob back in the day. It's a shame that our timing was off, because I would have liked to have witnessed him creating that reputation.

I'm kinda bummed that I came up in the racing era that I did. It seemed like Bobby's prime years were among the best for a working man to break into the sport. Now it doesn't seem like people have the kind of fun that they had back in the day. I remember the dirt scene being a lot better when I was a little kid than it is now. It's a shame, I hope it doesn't die or become too exclusive for average Joes to participate. I grew up on us torching and welding to make stuff work and building our own motors, so I'm not too excited about manufactured racecars. That is what really pushes me into the supers. I can only guess that Bobby Stelter was better suited for his era than this one because back then it must have been pretty tough to just buy your equipment ready-made and sorted out.

  . . . written by Peter Pazer

In memory of Bobby Stelter, I would like to start with the first time I went to Oswego speedway. I was 4 years old and I was told to pick a car that I liked and to cheer for that driver, that driver was Bobby Stelter, my all time supermodified driver. When I was 9 I went to my first international classic. To this day, it was the best classic ever, with 10 laps to go, Shampine and Stelter were duking it out. I used to love to watch the Buckner 36 dirt track through the corners at Oswego.

I believe at one time, Bobby wasn't happy with a decision from management and parked his super under the starters tower. I was pretty young at the time and referring this from memory, I think the flag man, Norm Bacon was signaling to the push truck to push Bobby's supermodified off, and I remember the push truck spinning it's tires because Bobby was holding down the brakes on his race car. Bobby wasn't ready to get pushed off until things got settled. Like i said, this is said from memory and if my memory holds true, that was awesome. I'm really gonna miss the man... the man they called helter Stelter.

  . . . written by John mazzoli of Ocala, Florida

Bob behind the wheel of the potent #36 owned by Ron Buckner (1974 photo)
another photo of Bob in this car at Salem...

Tom Bliss sent this image to me (from 1980, I believe). I said, wow!... what's the story? Tom had this to say:
Actually Bob did drive for Richie on a couple of occasions, one being at the O, They were the best of friends cut from the same cloth. Bob drove Richie's rig down to winston salem one time as a decoy, Richie had another one racing in the northeast. This was at a time when National points could be scored at several tracks on a given night. Richie and Jerry Cook would play this game with each other. Bob and I were planning a trip to Richie's shop but he suffered his fatal crash the previous weekend.

. . . written by Tom Bliss

Sep 7th 1968 (I think), in the Dave Kent #27.

The car was sidelined for the rest of the year. Bob finished the season back behind the wheel of the Austin Bros. #71.

September 1969

September 6, 1969

A great picture from that first win in '69, Bob, John Pallotta, Jimmy Delucia, Frank Pallotta and Louie Dabrowski. And looking over Bob's shoulder----Fred Gormley!

'69 Classic driver's meeting

from the 1969 Classic program


end of the line for the old woodshed
read race report

1971, the new woodshed

The Solvay Automotive team crammed a big MOPAR hemi between the rails! I believe this was 1971.




May 27 1972

May 27 1972

Ron Buckner and Bob team up. (June, 1973)

July 21st, 1973

September 8th 1973

September 8th 1973
Newspaper Story

June 22nd 1974

Bob was 9th quickest and finished second with the Buckner 36 in the '74 Classic

1974, fast company



May 29 1976 Spring 75 lapper

May 29 1976 Spring 75 lapper

May 1976





Bob Stelter leads a WoO show at NYS fairgrounds with the Tobin #21 in 1978.
He timed in quickest for this event.

The supers had 'em covered in this wingless show. Bob finished second to
the supermodified of Bentley Warren on this day.


May 17,1980 - Oswego Feature winner again!
Bob would finish 5th in points at season's end.

1980, a new start

May 17,1980

May 17,1980

June 19th, 1980 twin 35's

At Shangri-La with the Solvay offset, 1980
here is another shot from 1980, this time in action at Sandusky

1982 - 1983
Ron Ryan owned supermodified/sprint car, designed to compete at various types of tracks.

Bobby aboard the Al Aaroneck #26, 1987

Good friend Bob Stelter came up from North Carolina to offer support to the Tom Bliss supermodified team during the '04 Classic. Seen here talking to Pat Pontello in the Bliss/Howard Page pit.

aboard the Jack Tobin #21, around 1978
click image for larger picture

  • please links, stories or images so we can all remember Bob Stelter.

  Bobby Stelter stats
  • 6 feature wins at Oswego
  • 43 top 5's at Oswego (ranks 21st)
  • ranked 13th in all-time Oswego points
  • 1971 Fulton Speedway supermodified champion
  • 1974 winner of the Sandusky Hy-Miler Classic
  • 1974, second place in the Oswego Classic and fourth in points
  • 1979, Cheney/Stelter 2nd in ISMA owner points with the John Pallotta 04
  • 1980, 5th in ISMA points with the 04. Won at Shangri-La on 5/3/80.

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