The Packman’s have been around racing most of their lives. In 1963, they moved to Perry from Buffalo. Don remembers, “I began going to races back at the old Civic Stadium. Akron Speedway was another place I enjoyed watching races. The move to Perry resulted in my involvement with racing.” He continued, “I approached Perry owner, Don Butler, about working at the raceway. In the spring of 1964, he called me and I started selling pit entrance passes. I have been involved with racing continuously for forty two years.” Don has held most of the positions at western New York tracks. He has been a starter at Perry, Holland, Lancaster, and Genesee Speedways. Diana has been the main gate keeper at WCIS since 1997.
Don possesses a wealth of racing memories. His involvement with Doug Chapman (Perry owner, 1984-1996) produced a number of tales. Don remembers, “One night, I was on the starter stand and every time I touched the sides, I got a shock. I radioed Doug to fix the problem. He refused to do the repair. I got feed up and left the stand. Doug had to finish the remainder of the program as the starter.” Don had quite a few stories to share from the Chapman era. Don said, “Doug had not watered the track enough and the dust got real bad. I was the starter and could not see the cars. Finally, I called Doug but he wanted the show to continue.” Once again, Don left the starters stand. The difference of opinion resulted in Don quitting several times. Don explained, “I quit a few times and got fired on a number of occasions. The next morning, Doug would phone and asked if I was coming back. Doug and I didn’t always agree but he kept the speedway going.” In the sixties, Don told about a “New Car” event. He was the flagmen that day and witnessed a spectacular incident. “There were eighteen cars that started the New Car feature. They were all bunched up and a lot of contact. Somebody spun and that started a chain reaction. Fourteen of the cars were involved in the pile up. They were stacked up three high, said Don.” He continued, “I remember Richie Wrobel was on the top of the heap. He was tittering on top of both Hoctor cars. The Wrobel car was leaning to one side and I was sure he was going to end up going over the bank.” Don laughs when he recalls fending off Don Biederman with one of his flags. Don said, “I was the starter at Holland and had to black flag Don Bierderman. He threw a rock through the window of the Willie Watson car. Don stops the car down on the track and charges up to the starter stand. I had the flag in my hand and used it to keep him back. He finally retreated and the show continued.” The memories will continue in 2006. Don will be giving his grandson, Dakota Packman, a hand on his first race car. They will be competing in the four cylinder WASP class at Wyoming County Speedway.
Diana Packman became involved in racing in the eighties. She began by cleaning the track after an event. She said, “When Doug Chapman bought the track, I started working the concession stand. Doug had me running the concessions the next season. He finally assigned me the front gate. He said he needed someone that count accurate. I have been at the front gate for the past twenty years.” The front gate has allowed her to meet many race fans. Diana’s ability to make people feel welcome is a great asset to the track. She has also worked at Genesee Speedway. Both her and Don have combined for over fifty years of contributions to western New York racing. Their enthusiasm and commitment have resulted in being the 2005 “Wall of Fame” inductees.