James Raymond Garvey, Sr., became a Carnegie hero for pulling a man 50 years his junior from a crashed and burning sport-utility vehicle in November 2016.
But the 78-year-old retiree, better known as “Bud” to his friends and family, had already made a name for himself in his hometown of Osceola Mills, Pa., as the “Bud” in Bud’s Vintage Race Car Museum, the shrine to his life-long passion.
“He should run for president,” said Ryan Hindinger, who was 26 when Garvey pulled him from his wrecked vehicle along Interstate 99. “This guy is so beloved by this community. He’s been able to bring so many people together based on one interest, and he’s held it together.”
Garvey raced cars on dirt and smaller tracks throughout Pennsylvania, and spent decades befriending fellow drivers and enthusiasts, whose stories reverberate in the mementos, photos, memorabilia, and 35 race cars displayed in and around his museum. Decades before he was a Carnegie hero, Garvey was known for pulling at least one race car driver from a burning vehicle.
This year’s edition of the Cruise-In on July 28 drew more than 500 hot rods and enough fans to easily triple the town’s population of roughly 1,100.
Garvey was born in a brick home about 400 yards from his museum. When he was 18, he bought a modest ranch home (which he’s since sold), before eventually opening his race car museum next door.
“I’m the kind of guy, I just like to see the people,” said Garvey, beaming amidst the crowd. “I bet you thought I was (kidding) you,” he added, gesturing to the crowd it drew.
The party, like the museum, is self-funded. Guests were invited to drop money in a donation box as they stood in line for free hamburgers, hot dogs, and other treats. And “every penny” will be used to fund next year’s party, which Garvey said costs several thousand dollars annually.
The half-mile-long dead-end where Garvey’s museum sits is also home to a half-dozen or so homes, all of whose owners cooperate with the party. Some homeowners are classic car owners, or have friends who are, and open their porches and yards to vehicles and visitors.
Ken Lowery, 62, used to work with Garvey at a mine owned by PBS Coals. He brought his father, 82-year-old Bob Lowery, up from Cumberland, Md., to see the cars including a green 1934 Nash LaFayette race car, nicknamed the 308 Hornet, one of the most unique in Garvey’s collection.
“I’ve got my own cars and used to race dirt track a few years ago,” Ken Lowery said. His father raced on a half-mile banked blacktop track at the Beltsville (Md.) Speedway, which closed 40 years ago.
Ryan Hindinger, the man Garvey saved, wasn’t able to attend last year’s Cruise-In, which was hampered by rain. He was still recovering from his crash injuries, which required speech and physical therapy, but was happy to bring his children, Aiden, 8, and Laiken 2, with him to this year’s festivities.
Hindinger lost his manufacturing job due to his injuries, but he’s since found another job, and still shakes his head at the bits and pieces he remembers of Garvey working feverishly to pull him from through the driver’s side window of his burning SUV. Hindinger, who weighed about 300 pounds then – about 50 more than he does now – still marvels at Garvey’s feat.
“In my head, he seemed younger and in much better shape,” Hindinger said. “It’s like one of those ‘mom lifts a car off a baby’ scenarios.”
“It took a while, but I made a full recovery,” Hindinger said. “My car insurance went up, but that’s about it.”