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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER  300 - Dec 1 , 2013
Editor-in-Chief: Mary Ann Lawford www.landspeedracing.com
President of the Society: Jim Miller, 1-818-846-5139.
Assistant Editor: Richard Parks, Rnparks1@Juno.com
Photographic Editor of the Society: Roger Rohrdanz, beachtruck@juno.com
Northern California Reporter:  Spencer Simon, sparklecraftspecial@yahoo.com
Field Reporter/Historian: Bob Falcon, RFalcon500@aol.com

Click On All Images / Link For more Info / Images

Some Names To Look For In This Newsletter:
President's Corner; Editorials;

GUEST EDITORIAL, by Burly Burlile and Mark Ortiz:   
     I received the email below from Mark Ortiz from Carson City, Nevada. Mark is building a turbo Ghia for the Big Block VW Challenge and wanted to share the video and photo below. Fortunately the driver walked away due to his safety equipment. Even though we race a speeds substantially below this, always follow the safety guidelines for the category you are running in, be it 130 or 150 Club, or full competition. And if you go an extra step or two and add additional safety steps, it will always be to your benefit. Thanks Mark for thinking of your fellow racers.  Burly Burlile
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     "Burly, I took my family down to the November SCTA El Mirage meet and we had a great time.  We were at the starting line when Brian Gillespie left for a 200+ run to set a record on Saturday.  This crash was on Sunday when he was trying to beat his own record.  I heard that his crash was at about 170mph.  I just wanted to pass this along to everyone that is on your Land Speed e-mail list.  I just want everybody to look at the picture and watch the video.  The driver was able to walk away from this horrific crash because of the massive attention to safety and probably a little luck.      
     Watching this has put a new emphasis on safety for me.  I think we all need to take the time to make our cars as safe as possible.  I know that this car was going faster than most of us are running, but I imagine crashing a Beetle or Ghia and having it roll even below 100 mph could leave one of us injured or even worse.  We all need to think about this so we can continue to return year after year and enjoy and grow this sport.
     Our focus is always on going as fast as possible, but we need to do so safely so we can return to our families and loved ones and enjoy our broken records. 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McJJeukIWSA#t=38.    An amazing video and he walked away.  Mark Ortiz.”
 

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STAFF EDITORIAL; by Richard Parks
     The other day I had the pleasure in talking to Jon Wennerberg, who with his wife
Nancy Wennerberg, owns
www.landracing.com.  Jon is a very affable and inquisitive person who takes great pleasure in his excellent website.  He also is known for putting on a fabulous picnic at the Salt Flats at Speed Week.  He and Nancy are coming to the Grand National Roadster Show in January, which we assume will have a dual purpose; to escape the snow and to visit all the land speed racers in sunny Southern California.  Jon and I discussed a lot of issues and we felt that perhaps the LSR community would like to weigh in with their opinions as well.  We were looking at ways to keep our history and heritage alive and healthy.  Here are a few suggestions we came up with.
     Jon's readership at
www.landracing.com and the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians (SLSRH) Newsletter on www.landspeedracing.com are probably one and the same.  Those that list one of the websites on their favorites are likely to list the other website as well.  It's hard to say exactly how many members we have, because not everyone signs in as members.  Some, like myself, simply put the website links into our favorites section on our computer.  But our websites share this in common, whether we have 1000 or 2000 members; our readers provide us with material to keep us going.  Probably 95% of our entire readership has stories, biographies, photographs, memorabilia or other knowledge that can fuel our pages with interesting themes and topics.  Not everyone shares their stories or photographs with us, but those that do have made our lives richer for it.
     The SLSRH has over 500 articles, biographies, stories, and book/magazine/movie reviews in its archives.  This will be our 300th issue of the SLSRH Newsletter on
www.landspeedracing.com, averaging about 8000 words per issue with innumerable captioned photographs, overseen by our incomparable photographic Editor Roger Rohrdanz.  None of what we do could be achieved, however without the constant material sent in by our members/readers on just about every subject on automotive racing known to man.  What we need are more field reporters to research what is out there and available.  Or, what is in the memories of our members.  We have five basic programs that we support; 1) Biographies, 2) Captioned photographs, 3) Stories, 4) Memorabilia provenance, and 5) Wills.  We start with biographies so that we can see what a person has done in his life.  We next encourage our members to caption their photographs with the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and maybe the WHY; because an uncaptioned photograph becomes a worthless one after a few generations.  We want stories, which are vastly different from biographies, and are often funny or sad.  We ask our members to leave a provenance or a record of what their valuables are so the next generation will not throw them away thinking these objects are worthless.  Lastly, we ask that you leave a will and pass on your prized possessions to those who will honor and cherish these objects that hold so much history in them.
     We have hundreds of biographies, yet there are tens of thousands more to do.  We need histories on race vehicles too.  And especially important are histories of race tracks.  We need field researchers who will go out and search to see what treasures are still around; film, photographs, records, newspaper articles, time slips, race ladders, timing association records, etc.  We need researchers who will photograph reunions and shows.  We need people who will write books, pamphlets and articles for us to publish.  We need young people to start up websites, handle movie cameras and create public access TV and radio programming.  We need people willing to create and promote reunions.  Just look at all of the racing tracks that have closed down but were once famous and each one of them could be the focal point for a reunion.  Jim Miller and I calculate that the two of us can probably do all of this work on our own, in roughly two million years.  Since we are on the downhill side of the mountain we could probably use a bit of help and that help starts with YOU.  Start on your lives, document all that you know and then work on your friends and neighbors in the racing community. 
     On another topic you may notice that there are three book reviews in this issue.  I’m going back into the archives and pulling out old articles and reviews that may not have run in the SLSRH.  Even though they are rather old these reviews and articles contain some great history.  Some of the books are out of print, but I want you to know something about them in case you see a copy on eBay or at a swap meet.  If you have a book that YOU would like to review, send it to me to publish.  If you would like me to review a book that you enjoy, contact me and we’ll see how we can get it done.  If you have a story, article, biography, photos or other material that you would like to see in the SLSRH be sure to send it to me.
 

     At 10:35 am today, Sunday, November 17, 2013, Bud Meyer passed away.  I have known Bud for 63 years and besides being my mentor he was a very good friend who played an important part in my life.  Look out you hydroplane racers in heaven, Bud has arrived with his latest Avenger and you do not stand a chance of beating him.  Bud Meyer's son, Randy Meyer, also a boat racer, died a couple of weeks ago.  Bud was able to attend the funeral with a lot of help and he went downhill from then on.   Vic Enyart
    
Vic: I am very sorry to hear about Randy and Bud.  My condolences to the family.  If anyone has a biography on Bud or Randy please send it to me to publish in the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter. 
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     Sorry to hear that.  Bobby Sykes Jr
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     Road Runners and friends - Sad news received from Vic Enyart today regarding Road Runners Life Member Bud Meyer. Jerry Cornelison - Secretary, Road Runners
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STAFF NOTES; the following comes from Ken Berg, a Southern California historian on the Meyer/Drake, Offy and Miller history.  The title is; MORE BOATS AND some CARS AND MIDGETS …EDDIE AND BUD (MEYER) GO TO SEA.  Photos courtesy of Ken Berg and the Meyer family. 
     In 1940 they built up a 225 cid engine for Dudley Valentine's #9F Miss Hollywood. He set a record at 70 mph at Newport.  Then they built engines for the Rockholt-built High Ball of Gene Crawford, raising the record to about 72 mph. Then the #2F Invader of Tommy Ince ran 77.486 mph at Lake Elsinore, beating the old record by 5 mph.  In 1941 Bud Meyer drove Paul Berry's #2F Firecracker, and Eddie Meyer rode as mechanic.  They got hooked on hydroplane racing.  So, in 1942 Bud bought #5A Dinah-Mite with the ubiquitous 135 CID V-8 60, set it up the Meyer way, and set a 73 mph record. Eddie then bought Jim Stack's #15A Bonnet Box, a Ventnor 135 and installed a full-race Eddie Meyer-built 135 CID V-8.  They reworked and lengthened the sponsons, copying the changes they had made to Dinah Mite. Both boats became prop riders and gained about 20 mph. Eddie's 1943 first run at Long Beach Marine Stadium was a 50 mile marathon.
     “I won a 50-mile marathon, and some other races. The boat had a linen (fabric and dope) skin and the committee boat punctured it.  And the boat sank, but was recovered later. A Champion spark plug ad has a picture of the boat 'flying' at Salton Sea in 1942 or '43.”  1948 Eddie, running midgets, did not drive his boats, the ear trouble was holding him down.  They won a Midget car Championship with Parsons, and Aggie (J.C. Agajanian) presented the cup.  1949 the bottom came out of the boat while running hard at Desert Beach, Salton Sea.  But they won a Pacific Coast midget car racing championship with Joe Garson in the 99 Jr Offy.  In 1950 an Eddie Meyer V-8 60 was put into Sterling Edwards custom-built sports car and was run in various sports car races at Palm Springs and at Monterey.  Louie Meyer was also interested in the sports car market and was building the supercharged 176 engines at about this time. 
     An Eddie Meyer engine was put in Rudy Stoessel's Coachcraft-built Mercury convertible for Stengel in about 1941. “Avenger III was a Ted Jones designed boat, personally built for my Dad. That boat was sold to someone in New York in about 1952 after many hours of work to increase its speed from 67 mph to 92 mph. Avenger IV was our first really fast boat. It set the 100 mph record in Seattle."  In 1943Tom Ince won in Bud's Dinah-Mite.  But in 1944, Eddie won the prestigious Hearst Championship in his #15A Avenger.
     In 1945 he won the Hearst Championship again, in Avenger.  In the first post-war runs at Salton Sea for the Pacific Motor Boat (PMB) Trophy with 225s, Eddie rode Miss Hollywood as Dud Valentine's mechanic and again, when he won 2nd at Newport. Eddie drove his prop-riding (surfacing prop) Avenger 135 at Salton Sea, threw a prop-blade through the hull in practice, repaired it overnight, and won the coveted PMB trophy which was contested by the bigger boats with the 225 engines.  In the same meet he came second to Bud in the 135 class.  But the next year at Newport the bigger boats won out as the California Kid motored past the smoking but unstoppable Eddie. The new boat, Avenger II was on fire from a broken manifold, but as Bud said, "it wasn't too bad as long as the wind and boat speed kept the flames down a little."  The next year they were back on the Salton Sea, but the bottom fell out of Eddie's boat this time.
     In 1951, Eddie in Avenger II was second at Yosemite, second again on July 29th, with Bud in Avenger III at the Hearst Regatta at Long Beach.  He got a first at San Diego, and was second to Bud, twice, again at Mission Bay in the Fall.  Sonny Meyer was in #99Y Lou-Kay, Eddie in #16A Avenger II, Bud in #99A Avenger III at the Hearst regatta. The next running of the 45 mile PMB race was in Seattle. Eddie won the 3-heat, 45 miler at Seattle in Avenger II and brought the cup and race back to California. He raced in the Seafair heats against the thunder boats. Ted Jones' Slo-Mo-Shun was running the course at 108 mph, but Eddie came in a respectable fourth.  Bud won a 25 mile marathon race in Dinah Mite while the deck was being pushed off by aerodynamic forces inside the boat.
     Then at the Salton Sea, in rough water, Eddie put on a spectacular show, circling the course at high speed, all alone.  The others gave up in the rough sea, and Eddie toughed out another win.  Pop at 81 years of age cheered Eddie and Bud and Louie's boy Sonny.  Pop visited the boat racers at the Salton Sea, south-east of Palm Springs. Eddie and Bud, Lou and Sonny.  The Avenger III, Avenger IV and the 99Y Lou-Kay with its Crosley engine.  Dale Drake and Johnnie ran an "A" outboard hydro at around the same time.

 

MOSTLY BOATS
     On June 15th 1952, while Bud was testing their new 99A Avenger IV it caught fire. The "gas" cap came off and methanol streamed back over the deck, from the tank, while Bud was speeding down Mission at Bay, San Diego and he found himself engulfed in flames. The boat burned to the water-line and Bud was taken to the hospital for treatment of second and third degree burns.  The boat was repaired, taken to Seattle, where Eddie ran 100 mph on August 11.  Theirs was the first 135 cid engine to break the century, officially.  The first leg was 100.418, the second 98.459, for an average of 99.4835 mph to join the 100 mph club, with Gar Wood, 'Wild' Bill Cantrell, Guy Lombardo and a selectively small handful of other intrepid water speedsters driving unlimited hydroplanes.  Their boats had giant aircraft engines.  The Allison displaced 1710 cubic inches, while the Rolls-Royce Merlin was slightly smaller at 1650 CID.  More than ten times bigger than the trusty little Ford V-8 60.  Eddie Meyer was first to reach 100 mph.  It was in Avenger IV with a V8-60 engine.  There were 10 of them (Avengers) built.
     In 1953 they won the Lions trophy 2nd Annual Belmont Shores Regatta, taking 1st place in the 135 hydro class.  Eddie raced Avenger II at Bakersfield and raced again at Salton Sea on October 17th and 18th.  On April 4th 1954, Eddie was in Avenger IV, Bud in Avenger II at Bakersfield.  Sonny was in Lou K and, Eddie in Avenger IV at Lake Tahoe on September 11th and 12th. In November Eddie was given an award as an Outstanding Sportsman for "going to the aid of a driver whose boat had disintegrated, abandoning his own chance of winning the 1954 Seattle Seafair Trophy Race." 
     Eddie ran a fast 100 mph leg down the Salton course but the return was upset by the  wash of an intruder on the course.  He got bruised up and his second wife Alberta suggested he swallow the anchor, and he pretty much did, with a few exceptions.  On August 6th 1955, Bud ran at Seattle.  On October 21st and 24th Bud ran 73.709 in Avenger IV on a 5-mile course on the Salton Sea, putting him in line for the Pop Cooper trophy.  On September 3, 1956, Bud's cousin, Sonny Meyer drove Avenger V in a race at Long Beach.
     Buds trophies;
2nd place, Evening Tribune Power Boat Regatta, 135 CID hydro
2nd heat, Shell Oil Trophy, Kelowna Regatta, 135 CID hydroplanes

1965 2nd place, Belmont Shores Memorial Day Regatta 150 hydro
1966 March 20, 2nd Crown Point Regatta 150 hydro
     April 17, Spring Regatta of Champions, 2nd 150 hydrofoil        
     April 30, 3rd place, Parker Regatta, 150 hydro              
1971 Labor Day Regatta, Pilot Club, 2nd place, 5 litre cc hydro
1975 May 16, Lions Memorial Day Regatta 5 litre cc 2nd place
     May 18, 27th Annual Long Beach Spring Regatta, Marine Stadium, 2nd place, Grand Prix Hydro Div. 1
1977 3rd Annual Castaic Regatta, March 20, 1st 2.5 hydro
no date West Long Beach Lions, Speedboat Regatta, 3rd place 150 cc
no date 2nd Annual Regatta, Hart Memorial Park, 3rd place, 135 CID

no date June 14 Lake Elsinore Regatta, 3rd place, 135 CID
no date Pacific Power Boat Club, May Day Regatta, 3rd place, 150 CID hydro
Bud got hurt and badly injured his arm when a boat he was driving flipped at 131 mph.
     THE NEXT GENERATION …Bud's son Randy raced, too ... “In 1961 he (Randy) started racing, and winning in a V-8 60 hydroplane.  In 1962 we put in a 4-cylinder Chevy II engine with a quick-change gear box and did well with it (Avenger VI).  In May of 1963 Randy set a world straight-away record at 110 mph, but that afternoon flipped and the boat broke in half.  We salvaged the engine and put it into a used 225 16 1/2 foot hydroplane.  We broke the competition course record three times, won the Western Divisional, National Championship, won the Region 12 high points, was voted 'All-around Driver of the Year.  It was a grand slam.  The boat (Avenger VII) was sold to Bud Weget sight-unseen after Randy's performance.
     In 1966 we built a 266 CID hydro (Avenger VIII) with a 6 cylinder Pontiac overhead cam with belt drive and won region 12 and many local races racing against V-8 450 hp Chevy engines between 1966 and 1970.  We built a new 150 class boat (Avenger IX) with a Chevy II engine in 1970 and raced it until 1980, winning the 1977 National Races at Castaic, California.  Avenger X, our last boat was sold in 1994 to Don Mashburn of Lafayette, Louisiana.  It won the Eastern Divisional Championship at Decatur, Illinois in 1995."

 

Hemmings celebrates 100 years of racing at Bonneville.  See the following website; http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/11/13/grand-national-roadster-show-to-celebrate-100-years-of-racing-at-bonneville/?refer=news.     Ron Main
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     The North East Hot Rod Association drag raced from 1972 to 1974 at Felton Dragstrip in Northumberland, Great Britain.  Within the last 7 days l met Willie Smith and Derek Hall, l left without asking for their contact details.  l would like the contact details of any member of the North East Hot Rod Association, please send them to me.  John Hutchinson
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STAFF NOTES; the following letter is edited down from the original.
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     I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Quarter Mile Foundation, which is interviewing the pioneers and legends of drag racing and the performance aftermarket to develop a documentary films series for television.  I wonder if you have been approached by the Foundation Chairman, Traci Hrudka (daughter of Mr Gasket co-founder Tom Hrudka, niece of Joe) to get your interview?  The Foundation has accumulated over 230 interviews to date, and will be doing more interviews in California in the near future.  We have hired John Mullin to direct/produce a pilot for the documentary. 
     I have been involved as a journalist and marketing communications specialist for most of my life, dealing with a variety of motorsports -- drag racing, road racing, professional rallying (briefly) and performance aftermarket companies. I am in Medina, Ohio, in the Cleveland-Akron area, and Traci Hrudka is in Parma, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.  One of the focus points for the interviews is to let the interviewee tell his/her story about their experiences in the sport or the aftermarket.  We ask some leading questions, and more often than not, the subject moves into the "story-telling" with little further prompting.  We feel they are their stories, and only if there has been conflicting information on the same subject does the interviewer seek clarification.
     Our intent is to create a Ken Burns-style feel to the documentary, with several people commenting on a subject using excerpts from their interviews.  The interviews do not run in their entirety.  The news about the Foundation's engagement of John Mullin (who produced the NHRA events for Diamond P Sports during the 1980s and 1990s) to produce the pilot was greeted with great enthusiasm during the SEMA Show.  I have attached the release and have added your name/email address into the distribution list.  Don Garlits is on our Board of Directors, and I do the publicity work for Don's International Drag Racing Hall of Fame installation banquet.  Steve Cole
 

IMPOUND INSIGHTS - November 2013.  By Dan Warner
     The November meet was one for the ages. Perfect weather, temps in the high 70s - low 80s and NO wind.  We won't talk about the low temps at night, it is the high desert in the fall after all.  The SCTA reports 150 entries. An average turnout these days. The end of the season tends to keep those not in contention for the Championship at home. The veteran dry lake racers will show up no matter what.
     The El Mirage 200 MPH Club welcomed three new members at the meet; Brian Gillespie driving the Hasport Hondata G/BGMS entry ran a great 200.9 record which got his club membership, and vaulted him into the points lead for the championship early on Saturday morning. More on Brian later. Keith Pederson got a turn at the wheel of the White Goose Bar Racing roadster. The Waters Manghelli Romero entry ran in F/BFR class this meet and Keith pedaled her down the track at 205 for a merlot colored hat. Keith's record means that all White Goose Bar principles who are driver types are now members of both clubs.
Ed Umland, who is familiar with readers of Hot Rod magazine ran his B/BFRMR at a touch over the 240 minimum, 240.481 to be exact. Congratulations to all three, this brings the total of new club members to six for the year. Not bad for a season which had two events cancelled due to wet course conditions.
     Other records set this meet include: Robert Sights Jr with his G/BFMR at 180.105. Dennis Mariani had his new, ex-Seth Hammond, ex Bob Button E/BGMR out this meet and set a new class record of 206. It was hard to find Dennis in the pits because the big hauler was missing. The roadster was on an open trailer, a couple of crew members and some beer - just like the rest of us do. Greg Waters had his chance in the WGB roadster on Sunday and bumped Keith's new record up to 207. Don Ferguson III, D 3, to most all of us ran in XXF/BFR this meet using the Ferguson Ardun heads and SCoT blower repop. D3 ran a great 180 record. The team also had the #76 streamliner out testing their new Hondata engine and driveline combo for some serious records next season. The very successful Youngblood family brought their G/BStR to California from the home in Utah. I have seen them run two roadsters to several records at both Speed Week and World of Speed. The car is tuned by son JD and driven by his sister, the lovely Ali Ercanbrack, noted as Hot Rod Ali on the side of the trailer. Chet Thomas from Northern California is running the 511 Street Roadster as campaigned by Cummins Beck Davidson Thornsberry recently.  Chet used John Beck power to set a new AA/StR record of 194 on Sat
urday. He was on a super 200 pass Sunday until the trans would not shift into top gear.  Good things to happen next year. Bob Jucweic continues to set records in the Cohn Jucweic Monza, this meet in the E/CGAlt class at 180+. Miriam Macmillan also continues to impress with yet another record in her H/BFCC entry, the Hondata CRX car, this time at 209.3.
     I mentioned Brian Gillespie before.  Brian set a 200+ record on Saturday, got club membership and moved into the points lead.  As the other contenders fell away Hasport Hondata was the champ on Saturday night.  Anticipation was as high as the sun on Sunday when it was the last chance to catch Brian and the points lead.  Early on Brian made a pass and lost control of his car. The resulting tumble destroyed the car and Brian was air lifted from the area. Good news, Brian has injuries that will heal and retained the season championship for cars.

     The motorcycle impound had four new records to close out the year. Cathy Butler rode the ACAT/Butler/Erion/Hobbs 650-P-P entry to a record of 171. Jeannie Pflum was on the Pflum and Wagner Racing 1000-A-F bike and upped the class record to 194. John Noonan was on the 1350-APS-BG entry of Big CC Turbo/Noonan and set the class record and Top Speed of the Year for bikes at 250.669.  Kenny Schaefer was on the Schaefer & Chambers 1650-A-PF entry and set the record at 182.
     This covers the final event of the season. Number one in points was Hasport Hondata as I mentioned.  Number one motorcycle is Ralph Hudson once again. Top speeds for car and bike were Dave Davidson in the 911 Blown Fuel highboy at 253.394 and John Noonan on the Big CC Turbo/Noonan Hayabusa at 250.669.  Both of these speeds were set at the November event.  Detailed results for the season can be found at: www.scta-bni.org.  Everyone have a great holiday season and put your thinking caps on so I can report on your successes next year.
 

LOVED THEM V-RODS.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted and republished by courtesy of www.hotrodhotline.com, a subsidiary of Internet Brands.   
     You can call them dune buggies till the cows come home, but to me a rear engine, flea-weight street rod makes ultimate sense. It was so when they appeared in 1965 and it is more so in 2012.  Let me bring you up to speed. If you were reading the hot rod magazines during the weird Sixties, you may recall that I did a lot of articles on off-roading in the sand dunes, and I was getting a lot of education from rodders who were making tons of progress with the VW floor pans/engine combinations. This was before street rodders got old and set in their ways.  Still, there is a definite stigma attached to any mechanical contrivance in hot rodding that does not include a V8 engine of humongous displacement and a monstrous exhaust roar. Volks rods have neither. What the lack in brawn, however, they make up with unbridled joy!  Some history, dudes. 
     The Volkswagen (People’s Car) was mandated by Adolph Hitler in the 1930’s, and by the time I got to Germany via the US air force in the early 50’s it was a staple of German transportation. It was a brilliant, low-cost, go anywhere basic transportation. As bought through onshore-offshore salesmen, you could get a spanking new one for around 800 bucks. Stateside, the humble little beetle was a hit with the avant garde, but it didn’t take off with car guys at first. Limp little opposed 4 cylinder air cooled nothing engine lucky to get an actual l5 horses to the rear tires. 
     Until the hot rodders got into the pitch and suddenly there was some serious smoke showing up on southern California freeways. Which coincided with some serious sand dune vehicles, which were all water pumpers until a couple of bare bones VW chassis/engine combos appeared, with big rear tires. We all gawked at the little dingers that first weekend, but by the next sand weekend there were literally hundreds of stripped V-Dubs crawling over the dunes. Hot Rodders know a great thing when they see it!  Water pumpers disappeared overnight, and it didn’t take long before the stock floorpan VW’s grew into spider web tubing frames. 
     In l963 I built the first of the hot rod concept show rods, named the XR-6, for experimental roadster 6 cylinder.  As radical as the thing ended up looking, it was built on a very simple rectangular tubing ladder frame with trailing link coil/shock rearend and…a VW front end.  It was, and remains one of the most foolproof front suspensions possible.  Upper and lower trailing arms connected directly to transverse torsion bars, tube shocks on pressed sheet stock mounts, and cross steering.  Very basic, sturdy, and a lot of suspension travel.  With a ride quite unknown to many street rods.  
     Simply put, it is easier to pull a wheel over bumps than to push it. For proof, try pulling a wheelbarrow over the same rough terrain rather than pushing it.  Anyway, evolution of the VW sand rails eventuated in fiberglass bodies of the most basic caliber and the famed dune buggy was born. At the same time, the miniscule engine was getting some serious attention from the go-fast crowd. Power was coming on board by the ton, and there were some really interesting, and feasible, engine swaps showing up. The flat four gave way to lightweight aluminum V8s courtesy GM, great power from oddities such as the inline 5 cylinders, even small block Chevys appeared. Of course, it was only a matter of time until the VW transaxle was reversed to provide a mid-engine layout. There was far more hot rodding going on with off-road stuff than mainstream rod building. 
     It was into this climate that I introduced Tom Medley to a street rodding alternative.  For a year or so, I had been following a build by legendary Kent Fuller at his then-current digs in the South San Francisco area.  Always an innovator, Fuller was a builder of top running dragsters, and he incorporated what he knew about tubing chassis into a street Volksrod. I saw this setting out front of his shop on one of my often visits to NorCal. 
     A couple months later, following an annual steelhead trout fishing trip to the deep river country of extreme northern California, with my best trout hunting buddy Tom Medley, I detoured on our return trip south via the south San Francisco area. I didn’t mention to Tom that I wanted him to see what Fuller was building, and when we pulled up curbside front of Kent’s shop, Medley came un-glued.  “What’s that!”, he yelped and was out of our fishingmobile instantly. Over and under the Kent car went Tom, all the time exclaiming, “Damn, about time someone decided to make a street rod of the VW!!” He was even more excited when he discovered it was the work of long-time friend Kent Fuller. 
     That was all it took, and Rod & Custom magazine immediately had a new rod project boiling.  At about this same time, the guys at Dragmaster had been coming to the sand dunes to try some sand drags, where they also discovered the exploding VW buggy craze. Then they heard of the street rod Fuller was building, and since Dragmaster already had a thriving business making Model T body/Chevy V8 street roadster kits, they knocked together a Volksrod virtually overnight.  Tom hardly had his V-rod cooling from the maiden run when he packed the little T-Model and headed out cross country to the rod nats. Readers of R&C knew about his T, so it was received with acclamation at the Nationals. That early favorable acceptance was by street rodders more in tune with what I prefer to call “real rodding” than later enthusiasts who are little more than catalog shufflers. 
     So, taking a long and searching look at the current state of international affairs, especially the cost of fuels, I think it is time we uncover all those old issues of R&C to find out about building a Volksrod. Tom eventually built a full folding top and had some early style T fenders made for his machine. It went everywhere, and it was a maxi-giggle jiggle. Then, Tom began to lust for another 1940 Ford coupe, so the V-rod was passed along to Billy Belmont, he of the Rhode Island speed emporium Belmont’s.  Who has that iconic car to this day. 
     I can also report that Kent Fuller still drives his Volksrod, which I think now has a Porsche engine.  And a folding top. But no sidecurtains, thank you.  Back at the turn of the century, I was working on my Junkyard Dawg roadster out front of my eastern Idaho mountain shop, in a freak snowstorm, when I heard a long forgotten braaak-braaack on the main gravel road up from the state hard surface ribbon. I looked up just in time to see a vaguely familiar form zip behind the neighbor’s horse barn. In short order, Kent pulled to a stop in front of my car, murmuring “When you gonna bring that down so I can build a new hood for it?”  He has been saying that for over 20 years now.  
     “Hey, Fuller, whatcha doin here in the high lonesome?”   “Oh, in the neighborhood, so thought I would stop by on my way back to Northern California.”  “Where ya been?”  “Up in north Idaho.”  “You been way up there, and it is way out of your way to come by here.  And in a snowstorm, with no side curtains or fenders.” 
     All of which I relate to show you how reliable a good V-rod is. Fuller has put a jillion miles on his car, which is now way old. A legend, as it (he) should be. And Billy Belmont still irons out the road wrinkles in Medley’s T.  Maybe it is time for everybody to stand back and look at where we already been in street rodding, and maybe it is time to go there again. 
     By the way, I got an e-mail from Burly Burlile from out Utah way recently. You may not know but Burly was one of a very select few real rodders who took to the back highways couple of decades back and followed up on some of my Vintage Tin stories from back-when R&C mags. And, in years recent he started an event called a Cruise-In at the annual Bonneville SpeedWeek, an activity aimed at getting street rodders out of their lawnchairs and on the roads---an activity that immediately led to street rodders discovering the salt flats, and  ultimately to the huge turnout of real hot rodders for the speed fest. Even so, Burly has always been a VW freak-a-zoid, so he couldn’t wait to share with some of us a recent find of his in a junkyard. Yep, a genuine l932 Ford coupe body, duly modified to fit a VW floorpan and engine. Sort of a V-RatRod…

 

Gone Racin’…The Bonneville Salt Flats; Two decades of photography by Peter Vincent.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Reissued and republished with consent from www.hotrodhotline.com, a subsidiary of Internet Brands and the author of the review.

     I loved this book.  I also broke the first commandment of reviewers and told you up front what I thought of the book.  I dislike reviewers who do this and yet the pictorial by Peter Vincent is just, well, breathtaking.  This puts me at odds with other great works of photography, which I have liked, but which I have refrained from lavishing praise on.  Some reviews go to great lengths to tell you what’s in the books and I have to ask myself if the reviewer is more inclined to spout his wisdom and intelligence than to simply give a description of the book.  Since I deal with hot rodding books, magazines and movies I know that the potential readers simply want to know what the book is like; its nuts and bolts so to speak.  Here it is.  The Bonneville Salt Flats is a coffee table book of extraordinary beauty with some cross-over value as a historical resource.  It is meant to sit prominently on a table as a centerpiece; to be opened up and gazed at as one enters the room.  But it is more than that; it’s also worthy to be picked up and looked at, read for its captions and for the mood that it sets.  It is an enticing book and it grows on the reader.  I found myself wanting to stop typing and go back to reading the captions and text and looking at the photographs. 
     Normally I give the readers a breakdown for the number of the color and black and white photographs, but Vincent does such a wonderful job of shading the colors from BW to color that I decided it was just too much work.  Suffice it to say that Vincent is as much an artist as he is a photographer and his skill is such that he can’t be easily quantified.  So I’ll just say this; there are a lot of photos and they are superb.  The waxy, high quality paper in the book brings out the superb quality in the photographs.  Beginning on page 64 there are two fold-out sections that are stunning.  Some photographs take up an entire page and even extending over into the next page, while some pages contain multiple small photographs.  Vincent keeps the captions brief so as not to take away from the visual effect of the photographs.  But to make up for this he adds a four page section in the back of the book called “About the photographs” to give the reader the necessary background.  He also includes a one page index that is inclusive and helpful.  Books that have accurate and complete indexes make it so much easier for historians and serious readers to find the information that they are looking for.  There will be a great temptation to cut out some of the photographs to mount in a picture frame.  Please resist this urge.  Prints that you want are available from the author/photographer; just go to his website at
www.petervincentphotographer.com, or pvincent49@hotmail.com
    
The Bonneville Salt Flats weighs a good five pounds, is 272 pages in length and the book measures 10 inches by 12 inches in width by an inch thick; a perfect size for that living room coffee table.  The size of the book also is visually appealing.  Do not remove the book dust jacket (or sleeve) from the book.  Too often the sleeves are damaged and thrown away and I have to repeat that a book without a cover loses half of its value and a good part of its visual appeal.  The jacket for The Bonneville Salt Flats is striking with its black background and a hauntingly beautiful sedan bounded by that Bonneville sky and mountains.  Minus the jacket the hardbound book is black in color with a cloth binding to give lasting wear.  Every aspect of the book is of excellent quality.  The publisher of The Bonneville Salt Flats is Stance & Speed and they are located in St Paul, Minnesota.  More information on the company and The Bonneville Salt Flats can be seen at www.stanceandspeed.com.  The ISBN code is 10:0-98520-0987.  The First Edition is August 2013 and there are three variations of a Limited Edition with varying prices and a regular hardbound edition ($85) which is the copy I am reviewing. 
     The Acknowledgment lists the sponsors who helped Vincent get his masterpiece published and they are well-known land speed racers and friends; including Al and Jane Teague, JoAnn and Greg Carlson, Ed Stuck, Fred Dannenfelzer and many more.  Others who supported this project included Michael Dobrin, Ron Jolliffe, Steve Moal, Tom Fritz, Darrell Mayabb, etal.  The pedigree of the supporters behind The Bonneville Salt Flats is impressive.  With the advice and support of these men and women in land speed racing, Vincent has created a great pictorial history to be proud of.  Al Teague’s record 409 MPH record run in the 1990’s is still remembered to this day.  Michael Dobrin and my father, Wally Parks, were close friends and strong supporters of Bonneville racing.   Steve Moal is a master hot rod and custom car builder.  JoAnn and Greg Carlson are not only LSR competitors, but officials who dedicate their lives to making the sport successful and popular.  Tom Fritz has reached that pinnacle of hot rod artistry that is only exceeded by the art work of Kenny Youngblood.  Darrell Mayabb is a cartoonist and artist of note.
     Some pictorials lack textual material and captions altogether, which I find annoying.  Vincent on the other hand provides just enough background material to suit the serious student of land speed racing as well as the newcomer to the sport.  There are informative introductions by Peter and Kimberly Vincent, Peter de Lory, Philip Linhares, Tom Fritz and Peter Bodensteiner.  On page 79 there is a five page interview of Dennis Varni by Michael Dobrin.  Varni has been a regular at Bonneville since the late 1950’s and is one of a few men to have set a record over 300 MPH and achieve the ‘Blue Hat.’  Varni has also won the prestigious Grand National Roadster Show’s America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) award.  This isn’t a complete biography of Dennis Varni and it tends to follow only his LSR career, but I enjoyed it anyway and hope to see a longer story on Varni in the future.  There is a spread of seven pages beginning on page 103 by Ron Jolliffe, who describes what it is like to be a hot rodder and a land speed racer.  Jolliffe is philosophical about the problems in this sport, the non-commercial aspects and the amateur status that it confers.  I have rarely read a shorter, more compelling and understandable description of land speed racing and what people must go through in order to indulge their desire for speed.
     One of the reasons why
The Bonneville Salt Flats is so enticing is these short narratives.  Normally there are introductions in all books, even in pictorials, but they are sort of required by convention. Yet I enjoyed reading these short explanations.  Kimberly Vincent, the author/photographer’s wife, explains how her husband goes about his work and how she and her son, Nathan, help out.  Photography, it seems, needs a crew just like the racers do.  The official Introduction is by Peter Vincent himself and is more biographical, which allowed me to see into this man’s soul.  Vincent has learned from the best and studied under Ansel Adams, Alfred Steiglitz and many more.  Perhaps you have one of their prints hanging on your wall.  Vincent melds his love of hot rodding and the car culture with his love of photography, although he readily admits that his camera takes precedence.  We can live with that.  We need all kinds of talented men and women in land speed racing.  Those that can write, paint and photograph and thus keep alive the history and heritage of land speed racing are always welcome.  Peter de Lory writes a short story on Walter Cotton who passed away in 2008.  Peter’s comments show the strong friendships that are forged at Bonneville and on the dry lakes.
     Philip Linhares followed up with a historical tribute to the people that made Bonneville famous.  He mentions Ab Jenkins, John Cobb and many more people who put Bonneville on the map.  For some reason he left out the first group of true hot rodders to establish the annual migration.  While I enjoyed this historical section I wondered why he mentioned Al Teague’s 405 mph mark in 2002 and not his record setting record of 409.986 in 1991, which was a record that stood for many years.  Tom Fritz followed with a two page discussion of what makes Peter Vincent such a tremendous artist.  I admire Fritz as an artist of the highest rank and it amuses me when the artist as creator tries to explain his talent; his inner muse.  Frankly, I think all artists (including writers and photographers) fail at explaining how they create.  It seems innate and something that simply comes out of them in an unexplainable way.  The purpose of the book isn’t the writings of the various individuals trying to capture the allure of Bonneville; although that is interesting.  The value of The Bonneville Salt Flats
is very simple; it is the photographs themselves.  Yes, the cars are centered and they are the stars, but with the cars is the pageantry that Peter Vincent manages to capture.  We see the grandeur of nature and the loneliness of the landscape.  Vincent brings out the happiness, sadness, triumph and despair.  There is emotion galore in his work.  But beyond all that and getting back to hot rod simplicity; they are just great to look at.

Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…SO-CAL COUPE, by Ken Gross and Peter Harholdt.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Reprinted and republished with consent from
www.hotrodhotline.com, a subsidiary of Internet Brands and the author of the review.

     SO-CAL COUPE, by Ken Gross and Peter Harholdt is volume number 3 by Publisher Stance & Speed, from St Paul, Minnesota.   The publisher has come out with a series of books that may prove to be quite popular with automotive and racing fans.  Volume 3 in the monographic series is titled SO-CAL COUPE, by writer Ken Gross and photographer Peter Harholdt.   The book has a hardcover in black with colored photos on the front and back of this iconic coupe owned and driven by legendary hot rodder Alex Xydias.  The book measures 11 by 11 inches and has 32 pages.  The ISBN is 13: 978-0-9852009-5-4 and the listed price is $17.95.  If you can’t locate the book at your local book store then try Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California or the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California (909-622-2133). 
     There are eight black and white photographs, one magazine cover and 14 color photographs on high quality waxy photographic paper.  Both the color and black and white photographs are reproduced in excellent condition; Harholdt has done a very good job.  The pages are glued, not cloth bound to the spine of the book.  There is no dust cover jacket or sleeve with the book.  There is also no index, but there is an addendum at the back with basic statistics of the car.  Ken Gross is an excellent writer, historian and former Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.  The Foreword is by Alex Xydias.  The size of the book makes it hard to put on a typical shelf.  It was constructed with its impressive black boundary and striking color photo of the coupe to be displayed as a coffee table book.  That may create a bit of a problem as SO-CAL COUPE is part of a series.  It looks better on a table where it catches one’s eye, than in a bookcase where it is liable to be ignored due to its small spine.
     Gross acknowledges Alex Xydias, Jim Travis, Brad Hand, Donna Tribby, Bruce Canepa, Ole Erickson and Don Orosco.  Alex Xydias is considered a hot rodder, dry lakes and Bonneville racer, speed shop owner and editor; but he has a great sense of humor and timing and anyone who has heard him speak enjoys what he has to say.  Perhaps he got his sense of humor from good friends Ak Miller and Wally Parks and other land speed racers of the 1940’s.  The book is about the So-Cal Coupe, but how can we ignore Alex Xydias.  Ever story he tells, no matter how small, is music to a hot rodder’s ears.  He is given only a short two page Foreword to introduce Ken Gross and the book, but just like his friend LeRoi Tex Smith, he can tell a story short or long and in the hot rodders lingo.  He served in the Army Air Force during World War II and was discharged in 1946 at the same time his close friend Wally Parks came home from the Service.  He opened up a wildly successful So-Cal Speed Shop in 1946 and then closed it down to go into the publishing business fifteen years later.  Along the way he was editor of Car Craft magazine and then Hot Rod Industry News.  He formed SCORE with Mickey Thompson; drag raced and went to Bonneville with Dad, Ak Miller and the original ‘49ers.  Pete Chapouris brought back the old So-Cal Speed Shop branding and car building in 1997 and gave a new generation of hot rodders something to dream about.
     Ken Gross, automotive historian, writer, researcher and former Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum finished telling the story of Alex, the ’34 coupe and the So-Cal Speed Shop legend.  Gross tells us about Xydias’ time in the service, and then coming home to race on the dry lakes of Southern California with his friends.  These men had lived through the dreary Great Depression and World War II and they felt this unbridled energy and zest for life that couldn’t be controlled.  They literally exploded out into peacetime America with ideas and creative zeal.  The ’34 So-Cal Coupe followed other great looking coupes, such as the Pierson Brothers 2-D coupe, just as the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) relented on their coupe ban at the dry lakes and Bonneville.  Alex and his So-Cal Speed Shop employees built the coupe, several roadsters, a streamliner and a belly tank; all fast, sleek and graceful.  Today you can see some of his restored cars and some new cars built by Chapouris under the So-Cal Speed Shop banner at car shows around the country.
     Gross continues the story and brings in names that have helped build the coupe, raced against it, or was a part of its history.  Glorious names such as Chuck Potvin, Barney Navarro, Tom Beatty, the Pierson Brothers (Bob and Dick), Bobby Meeks, Wally Parks, Dawson Hadley, Frank Kurtis, Chrisman Brothers, Vic Edelbrock, Tom Cobb, and Buddy Fox.  The little coupe sent a Bonneville record in 1953 going 172.749 mph record in its class.  The coupe seamlessly made the transition from land speed racing to the early drag strips and had remarkable success.  Tragedy is often the ugly sister of success and a fatal accident in the coupe took the life of Xydias’ brother-in-law and driver.  Alex sold the coupe to John Moxley.  Gross continues the story of the coupe right up to the present day.  It’s a fascinating tale of a car, its builder and the men who followed as owners and their constant redesigning skills.  The book is short, but it is a little gem that deserves to be on the shelf or coffee table of any self-respecting hot rodder.  I rate this book a 7 out of a possible 8 spark plugs and recommend that you add it to your library.

Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…
1964 Watson Sheraton Thompson Special, by Peter Harholdt and Donald Davidson.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Reprinted and republished with consent from www.hotrodhotline.com, a subsidiary of Internet Brands and the author of the review.

     Stance & Speed Publishers, located in St Paul, Minnesota has come out with a series of books that may prove to be quite popular with automotive and racing fans.  Volume 4 in the monographic series is titled
1964 Watson Sheraton Thompson Special, by Peter Harholdt and Donald Davidson.   The book has a hardcover in black with colored photos on the front and back of this Indy racer.  The book measures 11 by 11 inches and has 32 pages.  The ISBN is 978-0-9852009-7-8 and the listed price is $17.95.  If you can’t locate the book at your local book store then try Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California or the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California (909-622-2133).  There are six black and white photographs and 17 which are in color on high quality waxy photographic paper.  Both the color and black and white photographs are reproduced in excellent condition; Harholdt has done a very good job.  The pages are glued, not cloth bound to the spine of the book.  There is no dust cover jacket or sleeve with the book.  There is also no index, but there is an addendum at the back with basic statistics of the car.  Donald Davidson is an excellent writer and historian.  The Foreword is by Indy legend A. J. Foyt who drove this car to Victory Lane in 1964.
     Because the book is so short and is intended to be a part of a larger series the acknowledgments are squeezed in with other sections usually reserved for the publisher’s statement.  Davidson does acknowledge contributions to George Bignotti, A. J. Watson, Dean Jeffries and A. J. Foyt, etal. 1964 Watson Sheraton Thompson Special isn’t the only book done in a series, nor will it be the last.  Some readers love this Readers Digest format; it doesn’t require a lot of time to peruse and it is a perfect coffee table book.  On the other hand there will be those who have numerous books that fit this genre, but lack enough tables and desk space to display such books.  I will admit that the front cover is splendid.  The Indy roadster just explodes from the page.  I wouldn’t have any problems with leaving it around the house for others to see, pick up and thumb through.  But I expect that each and every book in the series has the same oomph to it and that means at some point I need to put it away into a book shelf and that’s a problem.  The thinness of the book means that it will be lost among my other books, though it is sure to “stick out.”  And just how many book shelves are 11 inches deep and 11 inches high?  In my opinion,
1964 Watson Sheraton Thompson Special
, and the other books in the series would make a better chapter in a larger and more complete volume on racing.
     There are easily a thousand race car drivers of note, and a thousand mechanics, car owners, sponsors and racing personalities and officials.  I would rather have a thicker book with more chapters, filling out 200 pages than a series of thinner books to keep track of.  But enough of wants and druthers; does the book that is now constituted deserve to be added to one’s library?  Indy fans will enjoy the Foreword by A. J. Foyt.  Though short, he gives a good idea of what that 1964 race meant to him and the respect that he had for Parnelli Jones, Rodger Ward, A. J. Watson, George Bignotti, Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald.  There is an amazing amount of text by Donald Davidson, even though it is double spaced.  Or maybe the reason is that Davidson is such a compelling writer and historian.  The photographs are crisp, clean and fascinating and the captions are thorough and precise.  The quality of the photography and writing equals that of
The Rodder’s Journal and the Smithsonian magazine.  If you love the old roadsters with their Offy engines that roared up and down the old brickyard you will love the history and narration that Davidson is known for.
     Other books will give you more details on what happened during that 1964 race when Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald lost their lives in a fiery crash, but for a quick study by the novice and a remembrance by old pros, this book will suffice and do so admirably.  The days of the roadsters and their distinctive Offy sound were coming to an end, though Foyt and Jones still had their doubts about the rear-engined cars that were becoming more popular.  For many people the brickyard and the Indy 500 lost much of its appeal after this race.  1965 would usher in a new era; one that lacked the grace and power of the old era.  I could read whatever Davidson writes all day long.  He tells the story beginning with the genius of Watson and the men who helped him build those magnificent roadsters.  Davidson goes on to tell us about the men and teams who competed against each other and then often went into partnership.  He gives us details about the construction of the
Watson Sheraton Thompson Special and the thrilling race in 1964.  As short as this book is it is thoroughly enjoyable and I give it a 6 out of 8 sparkplugs rating and suggest that you add it to your library.

Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM

 

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