During racing activity on May 18 at Elegant Builders Raceway Park, Buffalo’s Harry Macy and Hal Lawrence conversed in the same manner that they had for years. The two close friends talked about many things. This time though the conversation came with a much different twist.
“Harry talked about the fact that he knew his time in life was growing short and that he felt that the race that night could possibly be his last ever,” said Lawrence, a veteran race official and Macy’s close friend. “Unfortunately I guess he was right.”
Following several months of ill health, Macy died Wednesday at age 84.
Macy was a local racing icon. For decades he was a driver, owner, mechanic, club official and promoter of auto racing involving Three-Quarter Midget race cars, which are smaller open-cockpit, open-wheel machines. He won numerous races and championships and he promoted TQ Midget racing outdoors and indoors.
To chronicle his career would take a book. In the last several seasons, after retiring as a driver, Macy continued to campaign his trademark No. 9 machine as an owner – most recently for driver Jonathan Reid.
“Last Saturday, Harry’s driver Jonathan Reid went to the nursing home where Harry was staying, picked him up with a wheel chair and brought him to Lancaster and then took him back there when the races were over,” said Lawrence. “Jonathan made it possible for Harry to see one last race.
“I got started in racing in 1965 with Harry at Lancaster and in 1972 he hired me to work for him with the Can-Am Midget Racing Club. Harry organized races everywhere and people knew him from upper Quebec right down to Florida. Everywhere we went, he was always involved with the racing people and he, in his very familiar way, would always greet people with those words of his, ‘hi brother, how are you?’ ”
This past Saturday night, the TQ Midgets gathered for the season opener at Holland Motorsports Complex. It was the first local TQ Midget event since Macy’s death and reminders of the fallen Macy were everywhere, particularly with those in the pit area.
“Harry had been coming to my shop every morning at 11 for coffee and I enjoyed his company,” said Vince Christiano Sr., a close friend, retired driver and car owner. “Harry was a true friend and a real racer. He never missed a race. We thought a lot alike because I like racing and he liked racing.
“Somewhere around 1959 we were racing Go-Karts together and it’s gone on from there all these years. I was happy for Harry when he won a race and he was happy for me to win. … I can think of so many stories of our experiences together that it would keep you here all day.”
Christiano shared a story from a time he and Macy were at a race in Windsor, Ont.
“We were at the motel and he had a Chevy pick-up truck with a big flat hood on it,” he said. “We wouldn’t break up the party until the whole hood was full of empty beer cans. We did it.”
Christiano’s No. 1 entry was victorious at Holland on Saturday with Dave Wollaber handling the driving. He was reflective in Victory Lane.
“I get emotional when I think about Harry,” said Wollaber. “When I think of the TQ Midgets, there’s two guys I think about first, Harry and Vinnie,” he said about Macy and Christiano.
Car owner Joe Barber paid tribute to Macy at Holland. When he heard Macy’s car wouldn’t be at Holland, Barber arranged through Macy’s family to put the No. 9 on the Barber team car driven by nephew Chris Barber.
Macy was a founding member and past president of the Can-Am Midget Racing Club. Current president Ken Lorenz said, “Brother Harry will be missed. This is a terrible loss for the Can-Am Midget Racing Club and all the TQ Midget racers of the Northeast.”
Over the last few years, Macy had both legs partially amputated due to circulation problems but that did not keep him from working on and fielding his beloved race car.
Through the use of a specially built scooter, Macy was able to get around his race shop and also around the tracks on race nights. His loss of those limbs never slowed him down.
The story of Macy’s career cannot be properly recounted without the mention of his wife Gloria and her invaluable contributions to the sport. She was always there with him as a race official, team supporter or serving in other roles. Where there was Harry, there was Gloria.
In the final summation of his racing life, Harry Macy should be remembered as having been the kind of outstanding ambassador that every sport loves to have. While he did so much specifically for the sport with all the intense involvement he had over many decades, it is that role as the great ambassador for auto racing as well as a loving family man that should be remembered most and be his life’s legacy.