John Saucier, of Midwest City, was a legend at the Ponca City Grand Prix, among the best to ever compete there in its more than 25 years.
Bill Stengle, of Enid, didn’t run at Ponca, but he did make build and drive midget racers, and he enjoyed motorcycles. He raised a son, however, who DID race at Ponca City.
I saw John race many times while growing up in Ponca. But it wasn’t until years later, when I returned to The Oklahoman, that we became friends, all because of one column I wrote recalling the PC Grand Prix. He thanked me “for the memories” and gave me an update on some of the drivers I had mentioned.
I never met Bill, but I saw his son, Jim, race a few times in Ponca City. Jim and I became close friends while I was living in Enid. We met through my association with others in the Sports Car Club of America and we both were members of the Enid A.M. Ambucs.
Jim was the only guy I ever knew who had a Corvette … in his attic. Disassembled, of course. I wouldn’t have believed it if his wife, Dixie, hadn’t gotten him to show me when my wife, Becky, and I visited them one night. Dang if it wasn’t true.
John died Jan. 25 at age 74, I’m sad to say. Scott Munn of The Oklahoman noted that John won 28 SCCA championships and was a member of the organization for 55 years. Scott said John was the only person to race in each of the 26 Ponca City Grand Prix events.
Jim’s dad, Bill, died Jan. 11 at age 95. His obituary included points about his innovative, mechanical abilities, such as this: “For extra income, he began drilling water wells with a rig he built himself.” That takes some skill, for sure.
Both men had served in the military, both men had loving families, both men were well respected and both were extremely talented.
I’m proud to say I knew John and I know Bill’s family. All because of shared interested in racing that has circled the track for many years.