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'
(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