The road of life takes you on many highways and byways. Through nameless towns, over tranquil rivers and fields that go far beyond the range of sight and sound. But those journeys always lead you somewhere. It may not always be the route or to the destination you had in mind, but along the way you’ll see tremendous things and undoubtedly meet some people that will touch your life far longer than their time with you.
For those of us at Kettle Moraine Preservation & Restoration, one such individual that is still affecting our daily lives was Michael Reynolds Argetsinger. Mike graced this earth from July 12, 1944 to July 7, 2015, and impacted everyone he met- usually in a graceful, subtle manner that may have gone unnoticed at first. Yet the dignified, positive way Mike went about his life had a magnetic effect on those around him, drawing unlike people together in ways we have never seen.
Mike’s passion for the history of the motorsport led him to cross paths with us in 2005. We were fortunate to have him drive one of our SCCA Spec Miatas from time-to-time over the next few years and showcase some of our cars at the International Motor Racing Research Center, an archival and research facility he championed and helped manage in his hometown of Watkins Glen, New York.
We were slated to have Mike drive our 1977 All American Racers Eagle DGF from Road America into downtown Elkhart Lake for the Road & Track Concours d’Elegance in July 2015, but we lost Mike a few weeks prior. However, even in loss, you cannot lose a person. Our Eagle DGF driver, Jacques Dresang, still wears red socks whenever he races in memory of Mike. Whenever we don a sport coat, Ray-Ban sunglasses or share a word of kindness or camaraderie with another individual, Mike is there. Even our yearly ‘Holiday Shindig’ is rooted in a key element Mike shared- unity among people from all walks of life.
Thus, in the five years since his passing, we’ve tried to find a vintage Formula Ford that Mike may have owned and raced. Another effort to bring people together- bringing out a car that was raced by one of the most fullhearted people we have ever known. It hasn’t been easy. Most vintage FF’s do not have log books intact, nor do they have many identifiers attached to them that make them jump out and say who may have shoe’d them at some point.
However, a few weeks back, fellow Formula Ford legend Frank Del Vecchio posted a classified ad on Facebook for two Elden Formula Fords for sale. One was a rather rare Falconer-bodied Elden PH10A, but also, in the corner of the ad was a bare frame of some Elden origin. It had a few chassis modifications through the years, but it is an Elden. Outboard rear brakes, PH10 bodywork and curiously, a logbook number stamped into the roll hoop from the Watkins Glen SCCA Region, Mike’s home region.
Upon further review, we made some calls to Mike’s family and friends as well as some key individuals here in the United States and in in England who know Eldens. We shot away some emails and went over photos of Mike racing in Europe in 1973 where he raced and helped organize the American Express Formula Ford Cup. In that series, he raced an Elden of some origin with Mk10B bodywork and outboard rear brakes, and it just-so-happened that he exported the Elden to the US in early 1974.
If you know how stories are told, you’ll understand where this one is headed: we believe with considerable certainty that KMPR has just purchased Mike’s old Elden PH10. It’ll take some doing to get it back to race worthiness, but we intend on having it back running and sporting the ‘American Express Racing Team’ colors he ran in 1973 while stationed in Europe.
Yes, our marque of choice may be that of All American Racers; but our hearts are always with people- and when it comes to all of this car madness, Mike helped paved the way for us in many routes we cannot begin to explain. Thus, in tribute to one of the finest people we have ever had the pleasure of knowing, we will bring to life a sliver of Mike’s time on this earth to the track via a car most never saw compete with him aboard.
So let’s keep this journey going- red socks and all.
Special thanks to Frank Del Vecchio, Lee Green, Peter Argetsinger, Brian Brown, Joe Marcinski, Josh Ashby, Bill Green, the IMRRC, Paul Pfanner, Allen Brown, Larry Haynes and Tim Woelk for their efforts.
Round 1 of the 1973 American Express Formula Ford Cup took place May 5-6, 1973 at the Sembach Airfield for the 'Int. AvD/ISCC Flugplatz Rennen.'
Michael finished 10th out of 17 starters, while another Elden, driven by future Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, took home the win.
Round 2 of the American Express Formula Ford Cup took place May 19-20, 1973 at the Salzburgring in Plainfeld, Austria for the 'Int. ADAC Bavaria Rennen auf dem Salzburgring.' Mike's #1 American Express Racing Team Elden PH10 failed to finish and was classified 17th of the 26 starters. Gerhard Irsa of Austria took home the win with his Lotus.
The third round of the American Express Formula Ford Cup ventured to the Nivelles-Baulers circult. The event had 15 Formula Fords on-hand, with Tibor Meray taking the win with his Elden.
Michael took his #208 Elden home 8th in the final tally.
Round four of the American Express Formula Ford Cup took place June 9-10, 1973 at the newly-revamped Zolder Circuit, which had just had issues a few weeks prior when the fresh asphalt started to crumble for the Belgain Grand Prix. Concrete dust was still being used to limit adhesion less than a month later for the FF race, where Harve Regout took the win with his Holbay-powered Merlyn. Mike's #21 machine came home a fine fifth of 23 cars that started the race.
Round five of the American Express Formula Ford Cup took place at the Mainz Finthen Airport for the Internationales AvD/HMSC Flugplatz Rennen on June 30 and July 1, 1973. 19 cars took the green flag, with Tibor Meray taking home the win with his Elden. Michael retired early and was classified 18th.
Round six of the American Express Formula Ford Cup took the Formula Ford class to Niederstetten Airport for the Internationales Hohenloher ADAC Flugplatz Rennen, held July 7-8, 1973. Michael placed 8th with his #18 Elden in the 16-car field, with Arie Luyendyk taking home the win.
Round seven of the American Express Formula Ford Cup took place at Hockenheim's grand prix circuit, which attracted 19 Formula Fords to the grid. Future Formula 1 driver Hans Binder (shown following Michael) took the win with his Merlyn, while Michael placed 10th in his #73 Elden.
Michael braved the wet conditions of the Ulm/Laupheim ADAC event, which took place September 15-16, 1973 and was the ninth round of the championship. Michael drove his #115 Elden to a fine 6th-place finish of the 21 cars that took to the grid. Tibor Meray again took home the win with his Elden and also captured the '73 AmEx title.