A Restored Race Car, A Salvaged Volkswagen Bus Toy, and Tons of Cars: A Quick Look Back at the Toledo Cheese Days Car Show


Among the many events going on last weekend was the Toledo Cheese Days Car Show. While this reporter didn’t get to spend as much time as he wished at the car show due to other assignments, he still managed to find some history at the show.

While it was the second smallest car at the the show, Don and Dee Dalgarno’s restored 1960 TQ Midget Racer stood out even next to cars that dwarfed it. The Dalgarnos have owned it since 1993. 

“Don and his brother found it in a chicken coop down in Tigard, Oregon. But we didn’t start restoring it until 2003 after he retired,” Dee said.

The race car, barely 8 feet long and 4 feet wide, was originally constructed in 1961 by Elmer Turner, who lived in Waterloo, Iowa. The tiny car had a 1950 Crosley motor in it and a top speed of just under 54 miles per hour. 

When the Dalgarnos found the car, it had photos of Turner competing in races, all dated and documented. 

“We contacted a paper in Waterloo and asked them if anybody knew anything about these people, and right away we heard back from a gal who said, ‘My dad drove that car,’” Dee said. 

While they couldn’t find out when exactly the car went from Iowa to Oregon, they guessed it probably happened sometime in the early 70s. Although it left Iowa in perfect condition, by the time Don and his brother found it in the chicken coop, 20-some years of neglect had taken a  toll on the tiny car. 

Once restoration began, Don did all the work himself, from metal and fiberglass fabrication to rebuilding the car’s body and frame, to faithfully repainting it to look as it did when Turner first built it and even rebuilding the engine. 

“It’s an overhead cam motor. It has no head on it. The head casting is the (engine) block, and the cylinders and assembly bolt on here,” Don said. 

He did have to improvise for some of the other replacement parts, like the engine air filter, which is originally from a 1939 Harley Davidson Knucklehead motorcycle. 

While he has taken it out to some tracks here in the Pacific Northwest, Don said he mainly just takes it to car shows now, where he lets anyone who wants to sit in the car do so. 

The only car smaller than the Midget Racer was Olivia Emery-Martin of Chehalis’ RC toy Volkswagen Bus. 

Olivia, who is barely a year old, was given the toy by her parents, Brandon and Megan Emery-Martin, who entered their own 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle in the car show along with their relatives, Jaimie and Jim Martin’s 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. 

“We had to salvage it. It was in pretty bad shape. I cleaned it up and got it working again though,” Brandon said. 

The family also had two other cars entered in the show, a classic Ford Mustang and modern Ford Maverick. Four generations of the family were in attendance as well, with Oliva’s grandparents, Jim and Becky Martin, in attendance along with her great-grandfather, Gary Cadwell. Olivia even won an award at the car show for her RC toy.