"The Flying Dutchman"
MILES “WHITEY” GORSUCH
Thank you Lila and Dee Dee for sharing your information
(After reading this article you may wish to go to the Photo Album; CLICK HERE )
Submitted by William A. Greene - 2005
This is a brief story of Miles “Whitey Gorsuch. He was born in Altoona, Pa. on December 6, 1924. At some point in time the family moved to Andover, N.Y. While in school Whitey played just about every sport and was good at it. He once said that he never played a sport he didn’t like.
In his senior year of high school (1943) he quit and joined the Marines to do his part for Uncle Sam. After the war he would graduate from high school.
While in the service he worked on the flight line, serving in Guam, Saipan and Hawaii. He took up boxing to pass the time and ended up boxing more than working. He was discharged in 1946 from the Marines but boxed a few more years in Hornell.
In 1948 he married Lila Childs and to them were born Kathy and Diane (Dee Dee).
Whitey never gave up the thrill of participating in sports. He was an avid bowler and was on many winning teams, some becoming state champion. He played softball for over 25 years and was again on many of the championship teams. He also played on many basketball teams, which were winners. He loved the competition and being in the thick of things.
Whitey was once in the Andover Fire Department, but only for a few years. On March 12, 1952 a very tragic event happened. Three-year-old John Edward Sootheran was playing along the icy banks of the East Valley Creek and fell into the swollen stream at the bridge near the school athletic field.
His body was discovered floating in the stream near the Main Street Bridge by a young lady, who gave the alarm. Police, firemen and citizens immediately responded and searched the stream. Whitey is the one that found the floating body and jumped into the ice-swollen stream risking his own life, but was unable to retrieve the body. So he got out and chased it until he was able to try again. He did this four times before he finally retrieved the life-less boy, never thinking of his own safety during the whole ordeal. He had gone almost 2 miles in his chase.
Whitey and Warren Dolan administered first aid until the firemen arrived with a resuscitator, which was operated for about an hour but with no response. Very little is written about this, but a friend of Whitey’s wanted to make sure it was remembered. He doesn’t know why Whitey didn’t drown or freeze to death. Whitey was never recognized for this either.
But what Whitey is really known for is his association with stock car racing. Long before NASCAR was ever thought of. Long before books full of rules and regulations. Back when racing was fun
Whitey took up racing in 1947 running the number 13. He ran at Wellsville, Cuba Lake, Naples and a couple of other local racetracks, and there were quite a few. Many are long gone now. Whitey was a do anything driver. In some of the articles written it is said that they thought he had a jet engine in his car. He could and would win races when he wanted to, but if it was a boring race, he would flip or roll a car on purpose just to make it a little more exciting. It is written that he totaled three cars in one season. He became known as “The Flying Dutchman”. When he was around, there was never a dull moment. In 1951 he quit driving racecars and began what was to make him a legend all around western New York and northern Pennsylvania. Racetracks, he became a starter.
Whitey took the job of being a starter at local tracks in 1952 and kept it up until 1969. He was neither like any starter back then nor of today. Whitey had his own style. Whitey would stand in the middle of the track and when he started the race he would run down the inside of the track waving the green starting flag.
It was a crowd pleaser. This had serious side effects though. He was hit three times, at Olean, Wellsville and, the worst one, at Hunt Raceway. He always came back; there was no way to keep Whitey down.
During his career as starter he was starter at 11 different racetracks around the area. The drivers liked him as much as the crowd did as he had been on the driver’s side too. It was nothing to see Whitey stop a race and see him crawl inside a racecar and make his point clear to a driver and he usually got his point across. I think we should have a few more Whitey’s out there today.
Lila went with Whitey whenever he went racing. Lila ended up being a scorekeeper. She kept score three nights a week at Angelica, Holland and Perry. Imagine raising a family, keeping score three nights a week and having a husband like Whitey. It takes a special woman and Lila was that lady.
An Angelica Raceway program had this to say about Whitey: “ He has been manning the flags at many area tracks since 1954 when he began flagging at the old Cuba Lake Raceway and the McKean County Fair Grounds at Smethport, Pa. Prior to that time, Whitey helped pack in the crowds at such raceways as Wellsville, Bath, Naples and Addison, where his wild style of driving and familiar white hair gained him the name of the “Flying Dutchman.” Whitey is currently flagging at Holland Raceway, Perry Raceway in addition to Angelica.”
Here are some excerpts written by Dan Hall about Whitey.
Perry Speedway held an “Old Timers” reunion race on August 27, 1989. The event featured veteran drivers Eddie Anchor, Art Clark, Dick Flaig, Devere Bliss, Ed Almeter, Bill Brainard, Roger Ott, and many others. The special starter for the two-segment race was Whitey Gorsuch. Despite serious health issues, Whitey took his position in the starter stand. Dee Wallace, Whitey’s daughter, recalls that day fondly. “He had not been involved with racing since he retired in 1969. Despite his illness, he looked forward to seeing everyone again. We were down in the pits and went over to talk to Art Clark. It had been twenty years since Art had seen my dad. Dad had put on a lot of weight and Art didn’t recognize him at first. When Art realized who my dad was he said, “Whitey, you won’t be running between the cars this time.” Art was making reference to the early days when Whitey started the field down the track. During the parade lap, Whitey would march between the two rows of cars. The next lap, Whitey would start the race with his trademark routine. He would run towards the cars and leap into the air with the green flag waving. Art Clark remembers, “When Whitey came down to the pits, I did not recognize him. He came up and said, “Hey Art, you haven’t change at all in twenty years. His daughter, Dee, immediately said “That’s more than we can say for you dad.” This event was the last time Whitey would start a race.
Whitey’s racing career began at the fairgrounds in Wellsville. The number 13 was a crowd pleaser. Every week he would flip his car in front of the grandstand. The name “Flying Dutchman” evolved from Whitey’s aerobatic maneuvers. A close friend, John Gostley remembers the first time he saw Whitey race. “I believe it was in 1948 when I first saw Whitey race. The track was over in Naples, New York. Whitey was driving the #13 and flew right off the track. He ended up hitting the grader that was off the third turn. The car was history but that never bothered Whitey.” John recalled another story. “We were going to the races down at Smethport. Whitey’s last car was wrecked and he needed another. He goes to one of the local used car dealers and asked to try one out. Just before the race started, Whitey shows up in this car. I asked him where his racecar was and he just smiled. Whitey drove the “borrowed” car in the race and it was definitely used at the end. We passed him on the highway going back home. He was pulled over to the side of the road. There was a lot of steam coming out of the engine compartment. Whitey returned the car to the Used Car lot and said no thanks. I believed he wrecked all the cars he drove. He did not like the corners.”
The crowds continued to be entertained by Whitey’s flipping the cars. The track owner asked Whitey if he would like to be a starter. Whitey decided to give it a try and retired from driving. Whitey was the starter at Wellsville, Cuba Lake, Olean, Angelica, Hornell, Hunt, Smethport, Perry, North Collins, and Holland Speedways.
Art Clark said; “Whitey and Lila worked at North Collins for me. He was a real good starter and kept the show moving. One thing for sure is he didn’t take any crap.”
Whitey’s influence on racing can still be seen today. Steve Ott, Wyoming County Speedway starter said: “When my dad (Roger) was racing there were some very talented starters. The one who had a lot of influence on me was Whitey. Whitey would start the field right on the track. He had a lot of flair and enthusiasm.” Larry Woodruff, starter at Lancaster Motor Sports Park remembers: “I was a small boy when I watched Whitey flag at Olean, Angelica and Cuba Lake Raceways. All I remember is he was flashy, flamboyant and charismatic. He was the thing that I remember the most about my childhood racing experiences.”
TRIBUTE TO MILES “WHITEY” GORSUCH
BY LARRY DYE - 1996
The Western N.Y. auto racing scene lost one of its’ more colorful personalities on Sunday December 1, 1996, when “Whitey” Gorsuch passed away. After a short career as a driver where he earned the nickname of “The Flying Dutchman”, he then became the official starter at many local speedways over a quarter century span. The nickname carried on as Whitey developed a race starting style of positioning himself on the inside of the racing surface and then running toward the approaching pack of cars and leaping high in the air as he unfurled the green flag. He would then run to the outside of the track and climb to the starting stand which in the fifties and early sixties was often carved out of the dirt banking right on the racing surface. Whitey manned the flags at Holland, Perry, Angelica and North Collins with the Eastern Racing Circuit of America. He also was the official starter at tracks of the past such as Cuba Lake, Olean, Wellsville and Hornell. The gentleman who waved the checkered flag over hundreds of drivers during a thrilling career has now received his final checkered flag.
Larry Dye, Cuba, New York
A TRIBUTE TO DAD
BY WHITEY’S DAUGHTER - DEE GORSUCH WALLACE DEC. 5TH, 1996
My life has been a happy one, so cry no tears for me
There’s little that I haven’t done, and so little I’ve left to see
I never thought I’d live this long, a wild streak I had
But wouldn’t miss the joys I’ve known, being a husband and a dad
The years I’ve spent with my wife, 48 of them in all
Were filled with love, tear, and hope, too many to recall
When I was young, strong and tall, I really had no fears
I caused a lot of mischief, these stories will be told for years
My country was my greatest joy, for it I fought with pride
So many dreams and families lost, so many friends who died
Even though I hate to leave you all, my journeys not complete
For I have things left to do, my savior yet to meet.
He’ll know my trials, great or small he’ll count them one by one
He’ll judge me by my goodness; he’ll know my work is done
So now I must leave this earth, so cry no tears for me
For I am always with you, my love’s my legacy
ANOTHER TRIBUTE TO WHITEY
Taken from letter from Ford Easton
Submitted by William A. Greene
The FOAR (fans of auto racing) SCORE club in Buffalo has just announced the list of 2006 inductees in their December newsletter for their hall of fame. The FOAR SCORE club is the oldest organized club of its kind in the United States. 2006 will be their 58th year.
Being inducted into the FOAR SCORE hall of fame is a very important event and is reserved for the very best of the sport of auto racing from our part of the world. Seven racing icon’s will be inducted this year. Miles “Whitey” Gorsuch will be one of them.
Whitey started out as a driver but ended up being one of the greatest starters in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania that ever started a race back in the 50’s and 60’s.
Although Whitey passed away on Dec. 1st 1996 he is still talked about and remembered today as this tribute verifies. Those of us that had the honor to know him or see him in action are truly the lucky one’s as he was one of a kind.
Long live the legend and memory of Miles “Whitey” Gorsuch.
Obituary - Miles "Whitey" Gorsuch
Miles “Whitey” Gorsuch, 71, of Lever Hill, Andover, died Sunday (Dec. 1, 1996) in Lake Placid, Fla.
He was born Dec. 6, 1924, in Altoona, Pa. the son of William and Nellie Logan Gorsuch.
On Nov. 27, 1948, in Andover, he married the former Lila Childs, who survives him.
A graduate of Andover Central School, he served with the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II in the Asian Theater. He was employed as a welder at Worthington Corp. of Wellsville for 25 years, retiring in August 1987.
An avid hunter and golfer. Mr. Gorsuch enjoyed slow pitch softball. A stockcar enthusiast, he was both a driver and starter at many local tracks for over 25 years.
Mr. Gorsuch was a member of the Andover American Legion. Past Governor of the Wellsville Moose, Past Chefde-Gre of Forty & Eight, and a member of the Wellsville Elks and VFW Clubs.
Surviving besides his wife Lila, are two daughters, Kathryn (Phillip) Dodge of Atlanta, Ga. and Diane (David) Wallace of Andover, one son , Rodney Morris of Andover; two granddaughters; three step-grandsons; two brothers, Robert (Kay)Gorsuch of Deltona , Fla., and Erland Kailbourne of Wellsville, and nieces and nephews.
Friends are invited to call from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, in the Mulholland – Swan Funeral home, Inc. Andover. Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m., Thursday, in the funeral home. Rev. Osceola Wharton of Andover First Unite Methodist Church, officiating. Burial with full military honors will be at Hillside Cemetery in Andover.
The family suggest memorials be made to the Andover Volunteer Fire Department of the Andover Volunteer Rescue Squad.
To say Whitey was a mischief-maker is an understatement. He always pushed the limits. He was never without words and marched to his own drum. Whitey had a passion for racing. He had a bigger passion for life. His influence on racing still exists today. Whitey was and still is a big part of western New York racing history. He was a starter, a showman, a family man, and a good friend. Most of all, Whitey was the “Flying Dutchman.
Since Whitey’s passing, Kathy Dodge his daughter and Lila his wife have passed away.
Kathy was a fighter just like her father and wasn’t afraid to let you know where she stood. She fought her toughest fight with Lou Gehrig’s disease but never lost her fighting spirit. Kathy passed away on Sept. 12, 2001.
Lila will never be forgotten for her humor and great cooking. Many will remember her catering many clam bakes around the county, along with the many race fans and drivers that came to know her. Lila died on May 5, 2005.