The Rivalry: The Bluebird & The Polar Bear

0
4288
Mike Eddy at Winchester Speedway in 1973. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)
Mike Eddy at Winchester Speedway in 1973. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)

Despite their low-key nature the two men became the face of ASA. Longtime spectators still revel in the stories of Senneker and Eddy and the ASA contingent, battling to the end at Winchester or Berlin or Milwaukee or Indianapolis Raceway Park.

From 1974 to the late 1990s, it was a rare day indeed if one of the two wasn’t in contention to win, and many races came down to the No. 84 or the No. 88.

Yet, despite the intense nature of the sport, the rivalry never took on a nasty or dark tone.

“We got along just fine off the track,” Eddy said, offering a tactful chuckle. “But some days were harder than others.”

“It’s hard sometimes but you try to be fair with the guys you race against,” said Senneker. “It doesn’t always happen to be fair but it’s part of racing. Some of it is accident, some of it isn’t.

“But we learned to live with it all. I’m still fond of all the races Mike and I had together. It made it interesting.”

Senneker made his final ASA start a memorable day, winning the season finale at Southern National Speedway on Sept. 26, 1998. He then retired to his shop in Michigan, where he continues to manufacture various racing parts and pieces.

Fans don’t often see the Bluebird at the race track.

“About once a year I’ll go to Berlin to see my nephew (Terry Senneker Jr.) race,” he said. “He’s doing really well. But when I quit I totally got away from it as far as going to the races. I’m not interested in being a spectator.”

Eddy’s final series victory came at LaCrosse Fair­grounds Speedway on Aug. 8, 1999, and he continued to race with ASA until the series ceased to exist in 2004. He then raced locally until his final start in 2007.

“I raced all my life, so when I stopped it was hard on me,” he said. “It was just like quitting any other bad habit, it took a long time to get over it. One of the reasons I quit was that I got a couple of really bad cases of vertigo and finally figured out it was coming from the race car. I think I’d still like to race today, but I know my head can’t take it.

“I’m still living in the same place, that hasn’t changed,” he said of his current life. “My son Travis races, we have a modified and a CRA car. So I’m still at the track some.”

Both admit they look back fondly on their ASA years and their place in history.

“I don’t regret a thing,” insisted Senneker. “I spent 35 years at it, good years. I finally got tired there at the end, but I’m glad I went in that direction.”

“What Rex (Robbins) created was something special,” said Eddy. “It started out as the Circuit of Champions, and that’s what it was. It was the best drivers from the Midwest and they put on a show. It was just a great series and it’s very sad that it went away.”

Robbins smiles wistfully when he thinks of the Bluebird and the Polar Bear and those memorable afternoons and nights.

“I thought a lot of both of those guys, I really did,” he said. “That was a very special time and they were very special people, both of them.

“When it comes right down to it the only thing you can say is that each man was just a hell of a racer. That’s all there is to it.”