www.retroRockets.org Feature Page
The Bingo Cars
Assembling the Story

Excerpts from correspondence on the subject:

Ok, one thing bothering me is that first image on page 3 of Sam Sessions in the Bingo 15. Story goes that the Bingo 15 went to Oswego and came back with an additional "1" on the side (Michigan numbers often conflicted with NY numbers and it was common to see an extra duct-tape number on Michigan cars.) But look at the grill...the cross members run horizontal like the Dowker cars instead of vertical like EVRY OTHER image of a Bingo car!

From Terry Woodin: "Dan, I have a little more info on Pete Webster, and Nelson Ward. Bill Wiegand just left my house after helping him assemble this monster of a snowblower he bought.....got more parts than a supermodified!!!! According to Bill...his best recollection, Nellie did drive the Bingo 5 for Pete after he left Johnie G. It is the same car that Sam Drove after Nellie was killed at Shangri-la. As a matter of fact, Bill says that Nellie was almost one of the Webster family members, meaning that Pete and his wife cared for Nellie very much, and was totally devastated when he died. Pete almost got out of racing, but realized his investment and decided to put someone in the car. Norm Healy tried the car once, and didn't care for all that massive 4x4 smallblock power that Johnie provided for it. Sam Sessions took to the car right away and was sucessful. For all the people who insisted that Nellie drove for Pete...You are right, I stand corrected. Weigand thinks that the Bingo 5 that Chuck Neale and Jim Gresley drove was Johnie G's car that was vacated by Nellie when he left Gordenski. Also an interesting note is that Websters car became 151 after a trip to Oswego where they had to change from #15 to 151! Bill says that Websters car was raced as # 15, and #25 at one time or another. I do have film footage of John Logan in the Car at the Oswego classic....it's #25! John finished 3rd that day, behind Bentley Warren in the Purdy Deuce, and the winner...Nolan Swift in his 10 pins roadster. We think it's 1967 or 68. Another interesting point to make is that Bill Weigand say's that the Bingo 5 was Nellies idea for a car number all along. After changing the number from 15 to 151 that day at Oswego, Webster decided to keep that number realizing that probably he wouldn't have a registration number problem again. Bill seems to think that Nellies death isn't the reason for the number change, because the Bingo 5 was run after Nellies demise, by Jim Gresleys DAD....and car owner Cannonball. Bill also say's that he pretty sure that the Gresleys bought the car from Chuck Neale...and not the other way around. Bill agrees that Pete did have more than one 151 car at one time or another. He thinks that the 2nd car, that Logan drove, had a tad longer wheelbase, Sam also drove this car for a short time before bigger and better things awaited him in USAC. But Sam is most noted for more wins in the 1st car which also was driven by Art Bennett with very good success. It should be noted, that Nellie wasnt in the Webster car when he died. He doesn't remember whose car it was, but he said that Nellie agreed to drive it for just one evening! Art Bennett also told me about the same thing, that Nellie was just driving it that night...Art couldn't remember the car owners names either. By the way, it was Art Bennett that got to Nellie first and pulled him from the wreckage. Bill says that he thinks this info is correct..."as best as my 72 years will let me remember". Also Bill suprised me by saying he thinks he spotted one of his old chassis' setting on top of a scrap pile in Battle Creek at a well known wrecking yard. I'll check this out first thing Monday morning, and let everyone know. Bill says it looked like his last 111 car that owned!!!! Well I'm sure that we really are totally confused on the Bingo shuffle...all of us. If anyone can give us more info on this please let Dan or me know!
THANKS...Terry Woodin
From Pat York: "The bingo 5 and 151 I believe were 2 different cars. Similar but different. Look at the roll cages and the radius rods. I think I saw both these cars run in the same time period, but I was only 6 yrs old!! I remember seeing Nellie drive the 5 car but not the 151. Incidentally, Nellie was not killed in the Webster car at Shangri-La. Rather he lost his life in the Shullick brothers car. The throttle stuck and the car took off out of control off the track. Sad. He had quite a career. No telling where he might of went. I had a chance in 1983 to buy the former Bingo 5 for $300 trailer and all!!! Passed like a dumb-ass. I know it was that car by the grill that was in it and the gussets on the roll cage. It was in hundreds of pieces but all there. Too bad. ".
Discussions have pretty much determined that Dowkers had nothing to do with any of the Bingo cars. They were all built by the Gordenskis including the motors. Pete Webster maintained the motors on the cars that he owned and he was quite good at it. Evidently Pete owned two Bingo cars, but not at the same time. The picture of Logan is either the second car or the first car revamped. Pete sold a car to Burdette Bennett and that car appears in the Burdette Bennett feature page, but if that is a Bingo car, it had been heavily modified. The plot thickens...

From Terry Woodin: "Dan I dont know how much this will help, but here goes..according to Art Bennett, the bingo 151 cars, yes cars..there were two of them, that Pete Webster had built at different times in his career of owning race cars. Both Webster cars were built by John Grodenski . The cars were for Sam Sessions use. Webster didnt have two cars at the same time, Art believes Sam piled one of them up at Sandusky and Webster ordered car #2 from Johnie to keep Sam in the points running. NOW,
When Sam decided to go off midget or sprint car racing, Webster would have either John Logan, or Art Bennett drive the car for him. NOTE look at the picture of Logan in the 151 at Berlin...this 151 doesnt have the 3rd vertical roll bar behind the drivers head...this is Websters 2nd car. The car Art Bennett and Sam are in...in most of the pictures is 151 #1 and has the 3rd verticle roll bar behind the drivers head. Are WE confused yet!!! OK
Now on to Nellie Ward! Nellie drove most of his career for Johnnie G...in three different Bingo 5 cars at various times...he as far as anyone knows, never drove for Webster in the 151 car. Now!
Throw Jim Gresley behind the wheel of the Bingo 5 car after we lost Nellie. Jim shared duties with Chuck Neal and I believe that Chuck ended up purchasing the car later on. Dan check your Art Bennett pictures I sent, you will see Art in the 151 car and Gresley in the 5 car racing each other at Oswego in 1964. In the picture of the 151 car with Sam leaning against it, you will notice that in the left side of the picture the tall fella...Nolan Johncock! Wearing a hat! Now!
Do we want to discuss Ralph Bargo and the Bingo 5 car, yup he drove it when it was a full fledged un-modified coupe at Galesburg and BK. I believe that Bill Brown was the owner and had no real ties to Johnnie G. WE all must remember that these infamous cars whether Bingo 5 or 151 were the trendsetters of their time, personally I loved them both, as well as the men who piloted them, Gods Speed to them all!
I dont believe that there are any of the original bingo cars left except rumor has it that Wayne Landon has one of the original 5 cars in his possession

By the way, Terry is working on a replica of the Bingo 151!!! He is trying to get it ready so Art Bennet can drive it for the old timer's night at Kalamazoo this year. He's gonna keep us posted.

From Bob Douglas: "I along with Jack and Ralph Webster helped Pete with the early cars. In 1960, Pete Webster owned Bingo 5. At that time it was driven by Nelson Ward. After Nelson left Pete, two or three drivers were in the car until Sam Sessions took over. The car than became Bingo 151. Nelson did drive at Oswego, but I am not sure who owned the car.".

From Brent McDonald: "My folks live about a half mile from where Pete Webster's shop was (or should I say double stall garage) that was on Gull Lake near Richland, MI. I just had a conversation with my brother in law to confirm a few things and although a racing nut, I was only 11 to 13 during this time. So, these are his words with a little of what I remember thrown in. Nelson Ward and Pete had a falling out in 1962-3. Ward walked out on the ride and occasionally drove an offset upright that was owned or built by The Clockers.... a club that built an assortment of hot rods, dragsters etc.. He {Nelson} was warned by not only Pete and Jack but several drivers the car wasn't safe. There is a picture of Nelson driving this car in 1963 at Sandusky in the Michiana Vintage Race Cars link from the Retro Rocket site. Can't tell you exactly where it is because there's so many photos to plod thru here. Unfortunately, this prophecy came true as from what Jack Webster told my brother in law.... the throttle stuck, Nelson's wheel hopped a car and the seat and everything came out of it at Shangri-La. Pete bought what was to become the Bingo 5 from John Gredinsky... who built most of the Chevy engines that the majority of the guys were running in the Supers around here. Also, to the best of my brother in laws recollection, he says flatly the Bingo 5 and 151 are the same car.... different number. He said the only reason Pete changed it was because they were running so many different tracks..... usually four nights a week, that they always had to change the number to run so eventually it became permanent. The car was always Bingo 5 when it ran locally at Kalamazoo and Galesburg and as a matter of fact, I remember being disappointed when I saw the car at Galesburg in 1963 because it had two temporary ones next to the five and I never saw the car as 5 after that. The car was also a copper color for a while though there's no pictures I can find that show the car this way. Although quite a few guys aside from Nelson Ward drove this car including as you stated John Logan, from what we can remember Don Neale, Art Bennett, Jackie Lindhout and of course Sam Sessions...... primarily Sessions after Nelson Ward. Pete sold the car to Sam when he was looking to retire. My brother in law asked to find out where you saw the Oswego stats because we're both curious now.".

"I have attached pictures of Ward's Bingo 5, Neale's car, and a pic of the car that Sessions ran. As you can see the Sessions car and Neale's car are one in the same, but in fact Ward's car is much different as you can tell by the length of the roll cage and cockpit areas. As to the stats, well they come from two different sources. One is the Oswego Classic Yearbook, each year they run all the timetrial results and if you look in those early years of the supers at Oswego 61-63, you will indeed find both cars listed, as for two of those years it shows both Ward and Sessions, but for 63, as you know the year that Nelson was killed it lists Art Bennett in the 5 car. The other source are my eyes, as I am proud to say that I was there to see all those great drivers start their careers. Although I too was only 11-13 years old, I remember Nelson as clear as if it were yesterday. He let me sit in the car while the crew pushed the car onto the trailer. Now to a kid, that's just about the greatest thing that could happen, and of course Nelson Ward became my favorite driver from then on."

"Indeed the cars do look different and although I've seen these pictures before, it always looked to me like different sheet metal on the 151 car to accommodate a larger fuel tank. I do see what you mean about the cage though in the Ward-5 photo... it's certainly different. So.... a mystery. As you may know, Pete and his son Jack are both deceased but the brother in law I mentioned still knows a few of the old-timers. He says he'll try to find out more info on the mystery 5 so perhaps there's some additional info."

From Brent McDonald: "I perhaps may have solved the mystery. When you have a moment go to this site: http://www.angelfire.com/wv/racerjim/extra1.html This will take a few moments to load but when you're at the main page {Jimmies Oldtime Racing Photos}..... the menu at the left, click on "Old Super Modifieds". Then "Old Super Modifieds page #1" and scroll down to the seventh picture. Read the caption underneath. This looks to be the same car as the Ward/Bennett photo you sent me and this is obviously a different car then the 5/151 driven by Chuck Neal, Sessions etc.. Looks as if Pete owned the 5 car, sold it and bought another which would have also been the "new" 5 or 151 car. There was one thing I thought perplexing about the Ward/Bennett photo as well... It was my recollection that Nelson Ward didn't drive for Pete after 1962 and the Ward/Bennett caption said 6/15/63. There's one more interesting photo I ran across here. Try "Old Super Modifieds page #3" and scroll down to the fourth picture hehe........ in color even. This picture of Nelson Ward taken at Sandusky looks quite a bit like the original 5 car. Paint scheme is different as is the hood and grill but the actual roll cage and trunk look quite alike. Also, look at the number that's a little obscured by the flag...... 5. I never remember the car looking like this but....If the first picture and caption are correct, this probably answers no to the question of Jimmy Gresley's Grand Dad owning the 5 car. Ok.... I'll have to "one up" my brother in law :).Visit Michiana racing links if you haven't. ".

From Jim Liccardi: "Wow, this is interesting stuff and poses even more questions. I do know Max Dowker built many a machine but this question I can't answer. Gosh.... so many pictures but, somewhere amongst them there's a picture of John Gridensky with Sam Sessions in the car... The caption mentions this car later being purchased by Pete Webster. Unfortunately, I just can't get a vision in my mind of what this car looked like except it seems to me it had the #4 on it. Have you seen this picture Jim? As I said before, John built countless Chevy motors and it was my brother in law that also told me Pete had bought this car from Gridensky. Course now I'm so confused, I don't know which one. To the best of my knowledge, Pete bought cars.... didn't build them so with this said, any of these cars Max Dowker could have originally built. Pete obviously knew about setting a car up though... his car{s} were always fast...... Bingo, Bongo etc... Actually, Ralph Bargo who was another Richland MI resident had a Bingo 5. This was a coupe/mod and you've probably run across a pic of this car. Practically being neighbors, Pete could have had something to do with this car but don't know for sure being just a little before my time. Bongo 5 hehe, there was a Bongo 5 or two that used to run at Galesburg. If you run across that pic, please let me know where you saw it. It seems to me that car was driven by either Gordy Bisset or Gordy Boselle. These guys drove their own machines and as that darned Bingo car was so famous, the Bongo I figured was tongue-n-cheek.
An interesting story: In the early 60's, Nelson Ward had won 21 straight features between running at both the Olney owned speedways... Hastings Speedway on Friday and Galesburg on Saturday. Ward started near the rear for the 23rd and got black flagged for jumping the start. Course, rumor has it Nelson was a bit on the bull headed side and he didn't heed the black. He drove all the way to the front and actually won the 23 in a row. After the race, he asked the starter why he was black flagged. After listening to the starters explanation.... the starter started to walk away and Nelson cold-cocked the guy. Olney banned Ward for life from both places. Only place I saw him drive after that was at Kalamazoo and a time or two at hmmm Jackson or Toledo :)
That picture of Ward at Sandusky on the Jimmies site.......... The reason I thought it may be the same car as the Bingo..... the hood and grill look like temporary crash repairs to me.
But......... Over the next few weeks just for fun, I'm going to see if I can track down Ralph Webster. Ralph was Jack's older brother and although he didn't have much to do with the car, I figure he knows at least a little. It'd be fun to figure this out!

From Tamara Webster: "> I am Percy "Pete" Webster's granddaughter. My dad, Ralph, and I looked at the sight tonight. The Bingo 5 later became the Bingo 151. They are the same car but, of course, don't look too similiar due to modifications over the years. A number of drivers drove the Bingo."

From Jim Carmichael: "Was just into your Retro-Rocket site and saw the feature on the Bingo 5 cars. I'll dig out an old photo (will try to get it to you tomorrow) I have here of the Bingo 5 car that appears (in the tangle with the Nolan Johncock car)...that Bingo 5 car came to Charleston, West Virginia around 1961...bought by a guy named Mr. Spencer of Spencer Produce in the capitol city. He had a driver named Paul Spencer (no relation) of Portsmouth, Ohio drive the pink and white racer at places like Portsmouth and Atomic in Ohio and Ohio Valley Speedway and Huntington Motor Speedway in West Virginia. I remember it being fast down the straight but couldn't get around the corners very well. It was also one of the first "fuel injected" cars in the area. Was just wondering if all the Bingo 5 cars were pink. And...I think Nellie Ward may have driven the newer version (later to become Bingo 151) of Bingo 5 to his death in '62. Only my thoughts.".

From Dave Ward: " I am David Ward, the son of Nelson Ward (Nellie). I was known at the track as "little Dean" which was painted on the "drivers side" of my fathers car. Okay he didn't own it; but he did drive it.
Actually there were two Bingo 5 cars that I remember. I wish I could say that I am an expert on the subject ... but I was around 5 years old; 8 when he died. On page 3 where the Bingo 5 is shown with Johnny and my dad; this was his first Bingo 5 car. It was pink. The picture under this is definitely the same car. I have a rememberance of this car as my dad brought it home and I remember being able to sit in it! I was so thrilled! I believe the next picture is the same car before it was painted. The story I was told was that my dad wanted to paint the car white and Johnny wanted it red. An argument ensued and my dad got mad and dumped the two paints together ... end result was the pink Bingo 5. The next picture shows the white Bingo 5.
This was his last Bingo 5. Notice the black stripe, the Champion sticker by the front cockpit strut, and if you look closely you can see where "little Dean" is painted behind the cockpit. The other side had my sister "little Kathy" painted on it. Johnny did build both of these cars. I asked my mom if they were in fact the same car rebuilt, and she wasn't sure. Based on some other pictures I don't think they were, as these other pictures look like the pink Bingo 5 only modified ... but this is only speculation.
Looking back at page 1. The second picture with the white Bingo 5 looks so much like my dad and his car. Again compare the black stripe and the Champion sticker. The helmet, shirt, and visor look so much like my dad that I would guess this is a picture of him. If we had a year for this picture we could be sure.

My dad did start the Bingo legacy. I wish I could pass on some photos ... I only have one left. All the others were sent in for display when my dad was inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame.


From Tamara Webster: "Hi Dan,

We appreciate all you and the Retrorockets folks do to keep the memory of our family's legacy in racing alive. Sadly, the last of the "original Bingo Owners" Ralph Webster passed away September 20th. Still, many of the "Young men" of the Battle Creek Engineering Club are still around and anxious to talk about the Golden Years of Supermodifieds.

Tamara Webster

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