Weedsport, NY — May 23, 2008 – By Gary Spaid, Northeast Modified Hall of Fame Selection Committee
Zelda Reakes joins Marilyn Toal as a co-recipient of the seventh annual Gater Racing News “Outstanding Woman in Racing” award during the 2008 NorthEast Modified Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies Sunday, May 25 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds held in conjunction with the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series event at the adjacent speedway.
This special award was initiated in 2002 to recognize outstanding contributions made by women in auto racing during a customary time of tribute to the legendary male drivers in our sport.
Zelda might best be known as the wife of Sammy Reakes, who dominated the dirt at Waterloo, Rolling Wheels and Weedsport and also raced on the asphalt at Fulton. Sammy was inducted into the Northeast Modified Modified Hall of Fame in 1994 yet it is Zelda who holds our attention today.
Zelda was not an official, nor was she a driver although she did help out as Sammy’s individual scorer when needed. She was the one person that all racing people came to that needed care for their family when they were racing. Zelda did it all. She cooked for her “extended family” and provided care for them all. “And her food was not bologna sandwiches either,” stated one of her long-time friends. “She served meatballs, or lasagna or some other dish. It was important to her that nothing be served on a paper plate.”
Zelda had a real hang-up over paper plates. One time on the road they stopped at a road side diner to get breakfast. The restaurant served their eggs on paper plates. She refused to eat there and made everyone go down the road to another restaurant for breakfast.
“She might be best known as the Super-Mom of Racing,” commented one of the ex-children in her care. “So when the Reakes family moved to Illinois, I just stopped going to the races.”
She had that much of an impact on peoples’ lives.
Sammy and Zelda both worked for General Electric in Syracuse and were transferred to Rockford, Illinois. One of Sammy’s friends was Gater News founder Norm Patrick, who contacted Rockford Speedway promoter Hugh Deery about Sammy and his racing ability. Hugh helped Sammy line up a late model ride at his track.
When the Reakes returned to Central New York, Sammy’s racing career was slowing down. He raced some, but Zelda remained active helping those who needed her services.
Zelda lost her voice box to cancer, so she can no longer speak. It really doesn’t matter as she would still be there to help everyone in need.
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series for Big-Block Modifieds is brought to fans across the Northeast by several sponsors and partners, including series sponsors Advance Auto Parts and Hoosier Racing Tire. Rite Aid Corporation is a promotional partner and the contingency sponsors are Bars Leaks, Bert Transmission, Bicknell Racing Products, Bilstein Shocks, Brodix Cylinder Heads, Crane Cams, Dig Safely New York, Holley HP Carburetors, Integra Shocks, Intercomp, KSE Racing Products, Motorsports Safety Systems, Penske Shocks, Rislone Oil Stabilizer and Wrisco Industries.