Harold Herman Sonnenberg, was born on November 2nd, 1933. As a young man growing up in the small Ontario town of Dain City, Harold was a mere spectator at the local race tracks - Merritville, which opened in 1952 and Humberstone which John Puhl built and opened late in 1957.
After spectating awhile, he felt he may know enough about cars and racing to try his luck at the sport. There was no rule book, only word of mouth. He felt he needed to test his knowledge of cars and racing. He tried to gather pointers, as you were pretty much on your own - no books to mull over or website to peruse. He was not sure why some things were even on the car. He felt the least amount of parts on a race car were better. Why spend his time on broken or bent parts that really did not need to be on the car when he could be focusing on speed...and that is all she wrote, the rest is history. Harold, a.k.a., the 'Ole Master' mastered the speed, the driving and the sport.
Clean and Legal
Most fans and competitors admire(d) him for his clean and legal race style. Others felt he won too much, some felt he must be up to no good, never accepting that it was his drive to better himself through constant self-education and testing. Harold's thoughts on this subject are that one person can not please everyone and you'll never win with out determination and luck! He focused on running clean and legal, not making everyone happy. Rumor in the pits were that he hid it so well, not even the tech. man could find it. He relayed a story about a tech. man at Ransomville who tore him down often. He vowed that one day he would find 'IT'. The fellow retired, but not before shaking Harold's hand, as he realized, there was nothing to find - unless you consider ingenuity illegal! His driving philosophy is to put on a good race and do it well. Anybody can win being reckless and not respecting other drivers, he said.
What's Luck Got to do With It?
Lucky Coin The coin above is a 'Prosperity Good Luck Pocket Piece' that Harold purchased from a souvenir booth at Monroe County Fairgrounds in the sixties. He has had it in his pocket with out fail, ever since. There is also an aluminum shamrock mounted on the dash in his 'Cagle' coupe. Lucky Shirt See that 'blue plaid' shirt?(Okay, you're rightphoto is black and white - use your imagination!). Harold wore it to every race until firesuits arrived on the scene -he said it was a good thing because it was just about wore out by then! Original Firesuit The shirt, jeans, penny loafers and half helmet was the racing uniform of the day.
Life on the
At one time Harold had so many cars and drivers on the go, they were admirably dubbed the 'Donkey Ranch'. At one point, several of the cars had the same paint scheme. Apparently, on the track as they all headed up and through the pack - drivers didn't know who was coming at them. This lead to a new nick name - The Posse.
Classes Harold Competed In
Harold started his career in what was called the 'Jalopy' class. (See Black and White Dain City car). Years later the class would be renamed to 'B' Class, then to 'A' Class, Limited Sportsmen and finally to Sportsmen. The classes were named differently, but they were all six cylinders. Harold excelled in the six cylinder class and spent most of his racing career mastering it. Remember that wonderful sound? You may have been at the canteen or in the washroom - but you new when they came out on the track. The sound even told you who was driving a Ford and who was driving a Chevy! (Sound clip to come one day!) In the mid-seventies the sportsmen class fell on tough times. Some tracks even threw the class out. Harold and folks like Tom Mallory and Kirk Douglas weathered this storm by racing at Ransomville with the Late Models. In the early 80's, Harold tried his hand with the 320's. Remember those huge tires? It was a different site for his fans - pipes were coming out of both sides!