The circuit ran seven days a week, weather permitting, from April to October. Flemke ate, spoke and thought racing. He sometimes went four days without a decent night's sleep. The urge to race kept him going. It was worth it, though, for in 1952 Flemke won his first Championship at Riverside Park.
It was also in 1952 that the U. S. Government tried to take Flemke away from racing. But nothing could keep Ed Flemke from racing. Not even the U. S. Army. He was drafted in 1952. But, he still managed to win that championship. Flemke admits that he was AWOL most of the time. In 1953 he was shipped to camp in Jackson, South Carolina. At the time Flemke raced at tracks in the immediate area. Later he was sent to Ft. Devins, N.J. He was AWOL when he broke a leg racing at Candlelight Stadium in Bridgeport.
When he returned from the hospital the Army locked him up. But, there was an of ficer who went to the races and knew the name Flemke. So, Flemke was given an other chance.
He was then sent to Ft. Dix, where he completed his basic training and went through automotive school.
Flemke made Riverside Park his home in the mid-fifties. He and Buddy Krebs won the Riverside 500 (a team race) in 1954. Flemke was on leave when he won the race. He came to the "Park that night, and luckily found that there was no driver for one of the cars in the Krebs team. The cars were already teamed, even though a driver had not been secured for the race.
In 1956 Ed was in close contention for the championship with Benny Germano. The point battle was so close that it went right up to the last race. In the last race, Flemke beat Germano across the line and won the championship. But, Flemke wasn't too happy about winning when he later learned that Germano was to retire. He would have liked to see the retiring ace re tire with a championship. To this day, Flemke wishes that he had only known. During the years 1955-58, Flemke drove the Garuti Bros. #28 from Ray's garage in Kensington, Ct. Ed and Richie Garuti had been friends since they were teenagers. At the time, only Moe Gherzi was driving for the "G-boys." Flemke needed a car for the 1955 season, so the Garuti Bros. built him one in a week. In 1956 Flemke and Moe Gherzi drove the Garuti Bros. team cars, the #14 and the #28, to victory in the Riverside 500. In 1957 Flemke was track champion again, driving the famous red and white #28.
In 1959 Ed left the "Park' to join NASCAR. He joined because he felt that NASCAR was a growing national organization. It offered many big races. He began in NASCAR by running the Norwood (Mass.) Arena, and Thompson (Ct.) Speedway in Benny Washburn's #15x from Bristol, Ct.
In 1960 Ed started off the season by entering in the Daytona modified stock car race. But he was out of the big race on the first lap when a massive pileup occurred.
Ed believes that the modified drivers who run short tracks are not used to the high speeds capable on the superspeedways of the South. He says that the drivers who run the big tracks every week wouldn't fare well on the smaller tracks common in the North. It seems that a driver will run best on what he is accustomed to; which is the type of track he runs on weekly. 'You can't expect a driver who ran a quarter-miler all his life to go and do well at Trenton on Langhorne. Just as someone who runs great at Langhorne can't be expected to run great at Riverside," said Flemke.
Eddie doesn't like to run the large tracks. He has run the short tracks most of his life and finds it hard to adapt to the larger circuits. He says it's like an athlete switching to another sport.
In 1961, Flemke bought the 21X, which Leo Cleary had previously driven. He won six races with that car. He kept his torrid pace up, but now expanded his racing to many of the NASCAR tracks in the South. It all happened when he made his first trip to Islip (LI.), and won the show. After that, he trekked to Old Bridge, N.J., and won the first show he entered there. The promoter from the Richmond, Va. track was there, and saw how well Flemke ran. He offered Flemke a good deal to run at his track. Flemke accepted, and ran at Richmond. He found he could run with the Southern modifieds easily. So, he kept going back every week.
"They were easier to beat. The Southern cars then had basic dirt chassis, but they had better motors than us. Their cars weighed around 3,000 lbs. Mine weighed 2100 lbs. There was no weight limit then," says Flemke.
In 1962 and 1963 the schedule was again getting full. slip ran on Wednesday, Fort Dix, N.J. ran on Thursday, Friday the action was at Richmond. Saturday Flemke ran at either Manassas or South Boston, Va.; Sunday at Marlboro, NC. in the afternoon and Old Bridge, N.J. at night.