Behind each of the
breathtaking events on the Hell Drivers' program lie years of careful
planning and varied experience by auto thrill show producer Jack
While still in his early
twenties he became one of the country's most successful auto racing
promoters, drawing featured Indianapolis Speedway drivers to his own
Hohokus Speedway, where he staged races that are still talked about
whenever speed drivers meet.
I guess you'd say I was
born with racing in my blood, "Kochman explains. The roar of
engines, the whine of tires, the sharp smell of exhaust - they've
always had a thrill for me. And I guess they always will."
Sparked by his love of
engines and speed, he acquired a motorcycle track circuit in the
eastern United States; attracted 50,000 fans to the Langhorn Speedway
in Philadelphia for 50-car, 100-mile midget auto races; and promoted
indoor midget racing during winter months at the Kingsbridge Armory in
New York City. But perhaps his greatest pre-war racing promotion
success took place at the Nutley Velodrome in New Jersey, where auto
pilots raced on the only banked board oval in the world.
"That track became the
tops in the country outside Indianapolis," Kochman recalls, "and it
was particularly satisfying to me because many auto racing experts had
told me the venture was bound to fail."
During World War ll, with
gasoline and tire rationed, Kochman went to work in a defense plant,
but even there another ingenious auto venture was planned.
I was all set to race on their rims, "he laughs, using the same
propane gas they use in cooking stoves."
"It would have worked,
too. In face, we tried it a couple of times. But the war
ended before we really got it underway, and I started up my present
Beginning with 19 cars,
among the first produced after the war, Kochman and his four original
drivers took over the state and county fair circuit formerly played by
the famed Lucky Teeter, who was killed in 1941, and currently perform
at more than 100 fairs and exhibitions throughout the country.
"This business of auto
thrill driving is not a new one," Kochman points out, "but it's
growing every year. We change our act each season, adding new
and more spectacular stunts, and fairs that we've played for a number
of years have larger attendance with each succeeding edition.
Jack Kochman's Hell Drivers Florida State Fair 1954
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