About Roc’s

The Blackfront has always been the talk of the town. Years ago, The Blackfront was known far and wide as THE place to go for good food, friends, and fun. We still have that vintage feel plus amazing food and drink menus. We offer succulent steaks, mouth watering ribs, along with great sandwiches, and burgers you can stack as high as the sky! Our drink menu is the best and biggest in town, especially if you’re a Scotch lover!

Roc's History

The Hank O’Day Sprint Car

Hank O’Day was the owner of The Blackfront Tavern in the 1930’s. While he turned The Blackfront into a destination for gamblers from throughout the state, his real passion was the car racing game. He had the O’Day Offy sprint car built in 1938. Hank’s favorite driver, Joie Chitwood, drove the sprint car in races all around the country, winning championship cups all along the eastern seaboard and throughout the Midwest. The car itself was a sight to behold. Built by Louis “Curley” Wetteroth for the then princely sum of $25,000, the car had custom chromed wire wheels, frame, and running gear. The dash and grill were made of polished aluminum.

Pete Alberts, Mauri Roberts (who went on to win three Indy 500 titles), and Johnny McDowell also drove the O’Day Otty to victory.

Many thanks to Jeff Horn of Charleston, for his amazing research into the O’Day Otty…

Hank's Speed Car

History

The car was constructed in the winter of 1938 in Los Angeles, California, by Louis “Curley” Wetteroth, who was also a well known Indy 500 race car builder.

It was powered by an Offenhauser engine manufactured in Los Angeles.

The car had an unbelievable price tag of $25,000.00 and is thought to be the most expensive Sprint car ever built to date. The car had individually chromed wire wheels, frame and running gear. It also had a rare polished aluminum grill and dash. The car was in a league of its own; it was the talk of the racing community from coast to coast.

The car was driven by these drivers:

  • George (Joie) Chitwood became the main driver of the O’Day Offy. Joie went on to become an Indy 500 driver and the owner of the Joie Chitwood Auto Thrill Show. Joie also owned and operated a Chevrolet dealership in Zephyrhills, Florida. During his early racing years, race promoters of that time gave drivers nick names, making them seem larger than life to the race fans. In 1937, due to Joie’s natural dark skin, one announcer introduced him as Chief Wahoo, a full blooded Cherokee Indian from Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Joie was of no Indian descent and never lived in Oklahoma, but his new nick name “Chief Wahoo” would stay with him for the rest of his life. Joie passed away in January of 1988.
  • Pete Alberts
  • Mauri Rose, who went on to be a three-time Indy 500 winner.
  • Johnny McDowell

Race Organizations

The car competed in AAA (American Automobile Association) sanctioned races and in the Central States Racing Association, which included Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

First Race

The first race was in April of 1938 at Jungle Park, Indiana. The car was driven by Pete Alberts.

Hank's Speed Car

Tracks Where Features Were Won

  • Williams Grove, PA–before a record crowd of 34,209 fans
  • Union, NJ
  • Savannah, GA
  • Langhorne, PA
  • Trenton, NJ
  • Altamont, NY
  • Lebanon, PA
  • Williams Grove, PA
  • Reading, PA

Tracks Where the O’Day Car Competed

  • Hammond, IN
  • Lebanon, PA
  • Winchester, IN
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Trenton, NJ
  • Duquoin, IL
  • Dayton, OH
  • Tampa, FL
  • Altamont, NY
  • Sharon, PA
  • Greenville, OH
  • Langhorne, PA
  • Williams Grove, PA
  • Belleville, IL
  • Springfield, IL
  • Thompson, CT
  • Reading, PA
  • Wheeling, WV

Track Records

(Both records were set by Joie Chitwood)

A new 10 mile World Track Record was set at Savannah, Georgia on December 22, 1938 in the O’Day car driven by Joie Chitwood.

In August of 1939, a new track record was set on the Springfield Mile Track during the Illinois State Fair.

AAA Eastern Champion

In 1939, Joie Chitwood, driving the O’Day Special, won the AAA Eastern Championship.

Owners of the O’Day Special

1938-1941: Hank O’Day, Charleston, Illinois
1941-1943: Fred Peters, Paterson, New Jersey
1943-present: Ben Musick, Dallas, Texas (formerly of the Bonnie & Clyde gang).

Sponsors

Jack Story, announcer at most races, had a radio show sponsored by Montgomery Ward. Ward’s sold Riverside tires, which were used by most dirt track car racers. Jack was a close friend of Sam Nunis, the Montgomery Ward East Coast Representative. Through Jack, Sam and Joie became friends, which led to sponsorship that lasted several seasons.

This information came from Safe at Any Speed, written by Jim Russell and Ed Watson–a book about Joie Chitwood and other racing programs.

Research on the O’Day car was compiled by Jeff Horn, Charleston, Illinois (June 2000).