Some of you will remember the great races Ed and I had when he was driving his GT4 Datsun 510, and we had the EP Volvo. That 510 was previously owned by Dave Carkoff (probably not spelled right), and I think it was the last 510 to win the GT4 national championship. Those of you who didn’t know him through racing may remember when he and Lynn allowed me to bring their Ferrari 250 PF Coupe to one of our backyard cars and friends gatherings.
Ed and Lynn both worked for NOAA, and Ed was a well-respected marine biologist, with a specialty in estuarine sedimentation. They loved Hawaii, and to our mutual surprise we once ran into them at the hotel we often stayed at in Kona. It turned out that they had gone to that same place for many years, and so several times after that we coordinated our trips. It was amazing to go into tide pools, or to snorkel over coral reefs with Ed… just like having your own private naturalist guide.
He will be missed.
Larry Curtis Bergman, 70, died on Friday, January 6, 2017 near his Sellwood home.
Larry was born November 14, 1946 in Eugene, Oregon to his parents Herman and Freda. He grew up in Canby, Oregon in a home built by his father, where he lived with his parents and his younger brother Bruce. Growing up, Larry frequented the Canby Southern Pacific train station, where he discovered his love of trains and machinery.
He was “employed” at an early age gluing labels on freight for Dad in the depot. Cub Scouts and Zoar Lutheran Church activities framed his early years. When he graduated from Canby Union High School in 1964, Larry was active in band and basketball and was an Eagle Scout. In 1968, he graduated with a BS in Engineering from Oregon State University, where he also earned his private pilot’s license.
Quickly, he was then drafted into the Army and eventually sent to Vietnam as an E-6 Airborne Ranger. After only a few months, he was dropped from a helicopter into a pit of poisoned punji sticks, one of which punctured his lower leg. He came home via combat hospitals in Vietnam, Japan, and Tacoma, completing his military service as a mountaineering instructor at West Point.
After his service, Larry found employment starting up steel mills in Morocco and Argentina. In 1975 he returned to Oregon where he joined forces with his brother Bruce to start Bergman Photographic Services, which later became GeoTerra, Inc. The first airplane of many to serve the Bergman brothers was a 1939 Piper Cub. Larry’s piloting career spanned 50 full years with no accidents, accumulating 14,267.9 logged hours in the air.He helped launch many pilots into airline careers.
Larry and Bruce were avid gear heads and spent ten years racing classic cars at Portland International Raceway. He also loved boats, from canoes and kayaks to his restored 1962 Tollycraft, Dora Mae. Alongside his beloved partner Elizabeth Nugent, he enjoyed good food and beer, music, and gatherings with friends. Larry and Elizabeth loved spending weekends and holidays in their newly purchased home on Puget Island, which was to become their retirement haven. Larry is survived by his brother Bruce, sister-in-law Barbara, two nephews Matt and Jeff, along with their wives Rosie and Kim and growing families.
Larry left us too soon, and we will all miss him.
When we hold the grand re-opening of PIR on February 23 of this year, we should have a moment of
silence in honor of Neil Swanson. Or maybe a moment of complete cacophony as hundreds of racing
engines are revved up together to celebrate the life of a man who did as much as anyone to preserve and
protect our race track. Neil would appreciate the subtle humor of the action either way.
Most of us knew Neil as the sound judge at PIR. Some of us have cursed his name unjustly when we
pegged the sound meter and he called us on it. But no one ever said that Neil Swanson didn’t know his
business, or that he wasn’t fair in his judgments - not anyone who actually met him, anyway.
On many occasions, I saw Neil spend his lunch hour conferring with drivers not just about the basic facts
of their car’s noise levels, but also about how to reduce their noise to avoid future black flags. Neil would
meet with neighborhood representatives and City Hall officials and every one of those people came away
with a better understanding of what we’re doing about noise, and with confidence that Neil knew what he
was talking about. It may have felt like he was in our way sometimes, but there never was a more
dedicated guardian of our sport.
Beyond his work at PIR, Neil served as the National Administrator of Sound Control for SCCA. In this
capacity he was the front line of defense not just for our track, but for tracks across America that face the
same challenges. Neil was a dedicated worker at the Runoffs, working under tremendous pressure there.
Neil also gave his time at the NORPAC and SCCA conventions each year, standing up and explaining -
always patiently - the science of sound control. People always finished a conversation with Neil holding
more information than they had at the start.
I worked closely with Neil for years. I saw his commitment to fairness at every event. If Neil said the
equipment was calibrated, you knew it was correct to the last whisper. If he said a car was too loud, it was
because he had three clear readings and no doubt about it. Sound control is a thankless, often tedious,
and completely necessary job. Neil accepted those conditions cheerfully, and so has his wife, Margie.
Together, Neil and Margie have given thousands of hours to Oregon and Northwest Regions, Cascade
Sports Car Club, and virtually every other racing event that has ever come to the Northwest. It’s fair to say
that the tens of thousands of dollars contributed to the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital over the years
would never have benefited so many kids if it weren’t for Margie and Neil’s steadfast work.
As I sat down to write today, I was struck by how little I really know about Neil. I know he used to be a
police officer at one time, I know he loved Margie deeply, and I know he was as reliable as the Earth. I
know he always had a pleasant word for people, and I know he loved his time at the track. This picture
says it all. There’s Neil, with more years of “Race Worker” patches than his jacket will hold, cruising
around at the Runoffs with a friend and a grin. That’s how I plan to remember him.