RPW Column: It Was An Honor To Race With George Marcus: On Or Off Track, One Of The Greatest…Ever!

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – NEW LEBANON, NY – I learned so much from him…probably more than even he realized.

As a driver, I idolized his abilities.  As a person, I adored my friendship with him, and now, I’ll forever miss him.

On Sunday morning, July 4th, 2021, the world lost one of the best racers I ever had the chance to compete against.  Honestly, our world lost a champion in every sense of the word.

Multi-time Lebanon Valley Speedway titlist George Marcus passed away after a courageous battle against Cancer.  However, that dreadful disease will not be what defines who he was.  To say he left an undeletable mark on many in our sport, both on and off the track, would be an understatement.

Now, I could sit here and tell you about the list of accolades he’s achieved as a driver, but we’d be here for hours…plus, many of them are listed at the end of this column.  I’d rather talk to you about what it was like to race against George.  Better yet, what it was like to know him.

When I came into the sport in 1995, George Marcus was one of the kingpins.  He had just won his first Sportsman championship at the Valley the year prior and was part of the old guard…the veterans…you could say.  I was a 16-year-old kid…the rookie…in the class, but he never made me feel like it.

George and his brother, Robbie, didn’t care that I only had a handful of laps around the legendary 5/8-mile track.  They gave me advice, and direction, from the moment I walked into the pits for the first time and it was appreciated.

George’s wisdom wasn’t necessarily about how to get my car through turns one and two.  It wasn’t just about holding my line or the best time to make a pass.  He also talked about things like hard work, dedication, and preparation.

This man told me to always be working on my stuff and remember, “show don’t make it go.”   The Marcus Bros. machine may have entered the race track on an open trailer with a simple truck pulling it while enclosed trailers had started to become the norm.  However, their car was always set up to win.  It was pristine and ready to go with amazing power from “Motor Man Mike,” Mike Petrucci, under the hood.

If you wanted to win, you knew you had to beat the driver from Brookfield, CT.

The coolest part about George, however, wasn’t just the advice he gave.  It was racing with him…wheel-to-wheel at times…and trying to soak up as much knowledge as I could with my very own eyes.  Trying to be as successful as driver 91M on track was no easy feat.  Honestly, very few even came close.

I truly loved racing with George.  To this day, I can remember plenty of times where I dreaded the sight of that red and white Troyer in my peripheral line of sight.  I can tell you guys like Art Collins, Chris Kokosa, Bobby Hackel and Todd Wilkinson were probably the same way.  If they tell you different, they’re lying.

While I learned from his advice and those on-track lessons, his success forced me to study each week.  Okay, he didn’t actually make me study, but if I wanted to get better and have a shot to beat him, I had to do my homework.

George just always seemed to be there…battling up front…when it mattered most.  Now, I’m going to date myself.  I use to buy the VHS tapes of the previous week’s action.  Yes, I said VHS.  This was long before DVD’s or even PPV.  I’d watched them over and over and over, trying to learn what my competitors were doing and how they were so successful.

Ironically, the camera was focused on George’s car…a lot…so I got to learn from one of the best.

I can remember one night in particular.  It was 1998, and I actually used one of George’s patented moves against him.  I finished second and he came home third.  Both he and his brother weren’t happy with me at the time.  However, years later, when George and I reminisced about racing together, he told me that he was honored I was trying to be like him.  I told him no, I was trying to beat him.

We both laughed, but now, it’s those types of conversations that I’ll cherish forever.

George and I stopped racing against each other when I left the class at the end of 1998, but we always seemed to find ways to talk away from the track.  He was at my surprise 30th birthday party and even attended my wedding.

On both of these days, like so many others, we conversed about our battles on track while sharing stories about life off of it.  He always seemed to treat me with respect, even if we rubbed a little paint with each other.  I hope he realized my respect for him was mutual.

My heart truly aches for George’s family right now.  He was one of the best, and someone I was honored to race against.  No…scratch that.  He was someone I was honored to know, and even more so, call a friend.

Once I learned of his passing, it took me several days just to come up with any semblance of thought to best describe what George meant to me.  He is someone that will always be in the record books, but not just for his driving ability.

He’ll be a legend to so many that knew him, but I think, if you knew the real George Marcus, you were very lucky one.  He was one of the best!

Until we rub nerf bars again, Driver 91M.

Resume Stats Courtesy of Brian Bedell

  • Four-Time Lebanon Valley Speedway Sportsman Champion (1994, 1996, 1997, 2000)
  • 44 Total Small Block Wins At Lebanon Valley (Limited Sportsman, Sportsman, Small Block Modified)
    • Limited Sportsman (4)
    • Small Block Modified (2)
    • Lebanon Valley Sportsman (38)
  • Most Wins In A Single Sportsman Season At Lebanon Valley (Eight In 1997 – Tied with John St. Germain – 1988)
  • Most Consecutive Wins (Four-In-A-Row – 1997)
  • Most Consecutive Seasons With A Victory (14 Straight From 1987 – 2000)
  • New York State Stock Car Association Hall Of Fame Inductee (2002)
  • Lebanon Valley Speedway Hall Of Fame Inductee (2004 With Bother Robbie)
  • First Career Sportsman Win – May 23, 1981 (Then won next two events on 5/24/81 & 6/6/81)
  • First Small Block Modified Win – August 7, 1982

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