During a late night discussion with a long time racer the question of When (and why) did Old Fashioned as we now know it start? came up. Intrigued, I started poking around on the web and found an article in the Patchogue Advance from August 15th 1957. Per the article, the East Moriches Playboys had not run at all in 1957 "because of tighter state laws which require special racing equipment and put a heavy financial burden on small departments." It also says that "many departments have now given up their racing gear in favor of hand contests because of the increased restrictions regarding racing trucks." East Moriches was looking to set up "hand contest tourneys" for 1958. Another article from the Advance, Aug 7 1958, gives the results of the Sunrise and North Fork Associations' combined drill, which is described as an "old timers" contest. 8 events were run, including 2 ladder contests, a pumping contest, and buckets. Participants competed on foot and with manual equipment.
A quick web search shows that, beginning Jan 1st 1957, NYS for the first time required proof of insurance when a vehicle was registered. Was this the "tighter state law" referred too? Was there something else dealing with restrictions on what was street legal, making it harder to use actual fire trucks for racing? Maybe some of you guys who are more into hot rods then I am are aware of some other change in the law at that time.
Anyone know if this timeframe is correct for the start of Old Fashioned or am I way off?
Last Edit: Nov 8, 2014 9:49:58 GMT -5 by giants hat
"Was there something else dealing with restrictions on what was street legal, making it harder to use actual fire trucks for racing?"
From my research, my impression was that it wasn't so much a matter of "street legality" or other restrictions as it was the simple fact that the Class-A, front-line apparatus were getting the crap beat out of them during the tournaments (motors being pushed unusually hard, etc.), to the point where the departments (or, more likely, the fire districts) started frowning on it, as having to take a truck out of service not only for the tournament but then again afterwards for repairs started becoming counterproductive, and gradually separate, purpose-built trucks began showing up on the track.
As to the first question you raised, it was my impression that Old Fashioned tournaments never went away, even after motorized tournaments became the rage. Then, as now, not all FDs could afford to race motorized, so I'm almost sure there were smaller old-fashioned drills were being run concurrently with the more popular motorized ones. I can say for sure that the first-ever fully-motorized drill was held at the SCVFA's 36th Annual Drill in Bay Shore on August 27th, 1924, and the first-ever Old Fashioned NY State Drill (for state championship) was held in 1976 in Lindenhurst.
Your Patchogue Advance article is particularly interesting, since it shows that even back then - as now - teams were complaining about the high costs of competing!
according to one of the old time racing guys it pretty much went away for a number of years,,,,the teams dwindled to handful and then ceased for while...he cant remember exact years but said was mid to late 50s
That could very well be true...there's just no documentation of that. But, it makes sense: after the war, when motorized and hopped-up cars became the rage, it's easy to see how that could happen - and probably did.