Duck Waddle has been a fixture at Road America and other Midwest race tracks since the 1960s. His home was in Kansas, but for several decades he kept his motorhome at Road America during the summer, where he raced his H-modified sports racers in vintage events, and was an instructor at the Skip Barber Racing School. That’s where I met him in 1991 when I took the three-day Barber racing course in a Formula Ford. We bonded quickly as his little sports racer was powered by a Saab three-cylinder, two-stroke engine, and I was there to research a story for NINES, The Saab Club magazine.
I ran into Duck several times in the ensuing years, and we always had a good chat. At a ChumpCar race at RA in 2015, I recorded an interview with Duck about one of his favorite races, the 1965 Pan American Enduro, a six-hour race. Some time in the 1990s, Duck had some posters reprinted that promoted the Saab victory, so many Saab Club members were able to purchase that bit of Saab history. Dick Catron, who owned Saab Denver and who was the western distributor for Saab in the early 1960s, put together a four SAAB 96 Monte Carlo team for that race.
Gordon C. “Duck” Waddle passed away on March 18th, 2019.
– Tim Winker
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Below you will find an audio interview Tim had with Duck Waddle, transcribed into text for reading in this article.
“I was racing an H-modified sports racer built by Ed Alsbury of Kansas City in the early 1960s. [I dug up a photo of this car, now driven in the UK at vintage festivals -editor] It was powered by a SAAB 3-cylinder, two-stroke engine. Dick Catron, who was the SAAB distributor for the western part of the U. S. based out of Denver, got in touch with me and said if I would put ‘Powered by SAAB’ on the car that he’d give me a deal on parts. That was easy because instead of paying retail price for parts, I was getting them at dealer cost.
The Pan Am race in Texas was a 6-hour enduro. Catron had four SAAB 96 Monte Carlos prepared for the race at their shop in Denver. We drove them to the track, and by the time we got to Green Valley, Texas, where the race was held, three of the cars had blown engines because they were tuned for the altitude of Denver. Green Valley is a whole lot closer to sea level, so the carbs were not correct. We had two spare engines, so we were one short for the four cars.
There was a team meeting the night before the race. Dave Dooley from Oklahoma City and I were teamed up in our car, and we drew the short straw so we didn’t have an engine. Well Dick Catron had driven his personal 96 to the race, so Dave and I set about taking that engine. Just pull out the radiator and the drive shafts, about ten bolts and it was out.
Before we went to Green Valley [raceway] I asked Dick if I should bring my tool box, and he said no, we shouldn’t need it. I had a pickup with a slide in camper at the time and I never went anywhere without my tool box. So it was lucky that I had my tools when we had to swap the engines.
Dave was racing against a Mini in his stint and he used up the brake pads. Carter-Maxwell out of Oklahoma City provided a support crew and they hadn’t practiced replacing the brake pads. It took some time to change the pads, then I got in and was able to hold our position for the rest of the race. We ended up third in the class, with our SAAB team finishing 1, 2, 3, 4. We had a great time.
The SAAB guys had a poster made to promote our victory, and I happened to be the driver in the photo that they used. You can see a little duck symbol on the driver’s helmet and another one on the left rear fender.”
We hope this short story will help the memory of Gordon C. “Duck” Waddle and Green Valley Raceway live on. With Waddle now passed away and Green Valley Raceway existing only with one fragment still visible from google maps…It’s easy for stories like this to be lost to time. Special thanks to Tim Winker for making this available for us. -Adam G, eEuroparts