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Noted auto racing enthusiast, Van L. Blankenship, 55, died Dec. 26, 1998, in a Waukegan, Ill., hospital after a battle with cancer.

Born in Ogden, Utah, Blankenship moved to Western New York in his youth. He was a 1961 graduate of North Tonawanda High School who attended Culver Stockton College in Canton, Mo. for one year before transferring to the University at Buffalo, where he studied English.

Blankenship lived in Western New York for 35 years before moving to Waukegan in the fall of 1990.

While in Buffalo, he operated the Comet Garage auto repair shop at 46 Comet St. for many years where he worked on small foreign and vintage sports automobiles.

Blankenship was remembered for his love of racing sports cars. He was an early member of the Western New York division of the Sports Car Club of America and several other racing organizations.

He is survived by a brother, Vernon of Lexington, Ky., and his fiance, Sandra Vrabel of Waukegan, Ill.

A graveside burial and service will be held in Wilmore, Ky., in the spring.

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