GREAT FALLS — Legends never die. In this case, Charley Miesmer will live forever. At the Electric City Speedway on Saturday night, a family number with #98 circled the track - a number that hasn’t driven the dirt track in many years.
Charley Miesmer passed away February 13, 2022; his grandson is paying tribute with a new stock car.
Miesmer was a stock car champion for nearly three decades. He is well-known for a 1966 crash that cost him a limb. That crash didn’t deter Charley from getting back on the track three months after his injury. The legend goes, if you couldn’t beat Charley with two arms, he was going to beat you with one.
“Running 98 is very exciting for me tonight,” explained Patrick Harvie, Miesmer’s grandson.
Patrick has been out of the racing community for over three years. Racing is a financially straining sport, but more importantly because he has been working on a new project.
“It’s a Chevrolet, that’s all he’d care about…it’s a Monte Carlo frame with a Buick body…” said Harvie.
Although there are differences in both vehicles, Patrick and his team stuck with fiery orange flames across the front end, the eyes, and of course, the iconic number 98.
Although Charley passed earlier in the year, an old competitor to Miesmer still races, Frank Pearson in the number 82, a 1957 Chevy.
“He’s no better than anyone else.” Pearson chuckled when asked about facing Miesmer’s Grandson.
He did recall the competitive nature of the original number 98 driver.
“He was a pusher I mean; he'd push his limit and push his way through everything…”
A racing family to the core, the major portion of the Miesmer family was in attendance, including Charley’s son Mickey.
“I think that it's nice that he has the love for his grandpa that he does, you know, and that he wants to get out and do that and keep his memory living.” said Mickey Miesmer.
Before the race, Patrick said, “I’m really honored to be able to drive a number for my grandpa… We have a big racing family. I'm just thrilled to be able to carry on in my grandpa’s footsteps.”
The sun set and the harvest moon rose over the Highwood mountains, the main stock car event was set to begin.
Harvie spun out in his first heat placing him in the back of the pack.
The green flag waved, and Patrick was on a mission. Working from dead last to the middle of the pack. Those who once watched Grandpa Charley race saw a glimpse into the past as Pearson and Harvie battled it out all night.
The number 98 car and Patrick gave a great effort all night until a final caution flag warning led to Patrick being sent to the pits.
His night ended early.
Patrick didn’t lean on the bad, only the fact that with a new car, he needs to work out the kinks.
“My grandpa used to tell me that you can’t win the race in the first lap…”
Putting his nose to the grindstone and getting in the garage is a major life lesson given from “Grampa.”
“I think we have a future with the number 98. I’m going to stick with it until we get a win.” Told Patrick.
Harvie shared after the race that this car saved, he and his Crew Chiefs life. The two weren’t in the garage working for the next race, rather closing the bar down every night. Admitting they both were on the wrong path, the angel in the passenger seat, Grandpa Charley, nudged them to do better.
“…I feel like my battle is not done until I can sit up there in victory lane… And, you know, I feel like that would make him happy. He was a winner. So, we want to be winners as well.”
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