NEWSLETTER 302 -  January 8 , 2014
Editors-in-Chief: Jack and 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;   Spencer Simon,   Richard Parks,    Stu Hilborn,  Otis King, Bonneville Northwest Reunion, Tony Lloyd, Ralph Haun, Tex Smith, Hotrodhotline, Art Bagnall, Dean Batchelor

GUEST EDITORIAL, by Spencer Simon:   
     When I joined the Society of Land Speed Racing Historian Newsletter I have gotten acquainted with some great people.  Stu Hilborn's family was one of them.  I got to know the Hilborn's from my friend Jimmy Correia.  Jimmy was with Stu at the time the famous picture was taken with Stu, Bill Vukovich Sr, AJ Agajanian, and other racers.  Hilborn led a very interesting and adventurous life.  He was on Howard Keck's racing team and his expertise on building fuel injections back then for racers was amazing.  He was very successful at making a machine accelerate beyond its wildest dreams.  Stu was a very reassuring man.  When I heard the story about the time he confronted the hardheaded, and notorious Enzo Ferrari overseas, I had to laugh. 
     Hilborn's story about his meeting with Jules Goux was so inspirational.  Stu has been around the racing world all his life and impressed all of us with his great skills; he made a permane

nt mark in the racing world.  I have done some research with my friend Jimmy Correia, and I had found another picture that Stu or Jimmy has ever seen.  Both of them were at the victory dinner table at the winner's meeting.  I was glad to find something original and unique which made it all worthwhile.  I guess I kind of kept in touch with them because of my interest in speed and that my dad's name is Stu also.  It was unusual that I suddenly thought about Stu during my flathead build-up with Jimmy.  May Stu Hilborn's name live long in our racing history.  Spencer Simon
EDITORIAL, by Assistant Editor Richard Parks
     Gordie Bonin has passed away.  He was a Canadian drag racer and hot rodder, born in 1948 and passed away on November 29, 2013 at the age of 65.  I met Gordie a few times in the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and I also carried on an email correspondence with him.  He was an avid and committed drag racer and though I only knew him from a distance, I considered him my friend.  I should have spent more time getting his story, but he was a younger racer in his early 60’s and there were so many other racers who were in their 80’s and 90’s and so I redirected my energies there.  This should be a wake-up call to finish our favorite projects because we never know how long or how short our lives will be.  But I can tell you this, your favorite car rebuild can be finished by others, but your stories and biography can only be completed in full by you.  Please don’t put off this vital project that your children and grandchildren will be blessed to have. 
Stu Hilborn passes away, by Brian Lohnes.  Courtesy of
     Stu Hilborn’s fascination with fuel injection and adapting it for use by hot rodders had a massive impact on the racing and rodding scene that continues to be felt today. Hilborn died Monday December 16, 2013 at the age of 96 years old. During the 1940s as a dry lakes racer, the Canadian born Hilborn became fascinated with speed and how to make more of it. During his time in the Army Air Corps he began mulling the idea of using mechanical fuel injection on automotive engines to increase horsepower. After the war he put his ideas into practice like so many of his motivated generation and everything he thought about mechanical fuel injection on the engine of a hot rod pretty much proved to be true. He wheeled his injected lakes racer to 150mph, becoming the first guy in the history of racing on the lakes to do such a thing. That was a huge deal and it provided a spring board for his ideas and ultimately a spot in a 1948 issue of Hot Rod Magazine.   (Editor; for the full article go to Bangshift.com.)
     Otis King passed away December 13, 2013 at his home.  There was no service, as that is how Otis wanted it.  Otis was a long time Cal-Rod until health problems took him out of the driver's seat.  Still, he often attended his favorite events, the monthly displays at Brackett Airport, and the Twilight Cruises at the NHRA museum.  Those who knew him can remember a real good easy going guy who will be missed.  Tom Bruner, Bud and Lynne Rasmus
     The Bonneville Northwest Reunion 2014 (see
www.bonnevillenwreunion.com) is scheduled for February 22, 2014, at the Shilo Inn, Portland Airport Location, Oregon.  The doors open at 5 PM.  The ticket price is $48 per person.  Send check or money order to Glenn Freudenberger at 11113 37th Drive SE, Everett, Washington  98208.  There will be no tickets available at the door so you must preregister.  The speaker will be Dan Warner, who has 50 years of Bonneville stories to tell us.  Glenn Freudenberger
     John Buck wrote in with the dates of his two shows.  The Grand National Roadster Show will be on January 24-26, 2014 at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona and the Sacramento Autorama will be held on February 14-16, 2014.  For more information write to
News reportage by Roger Rohrdanz.  Courtesy of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.
     On November 23, 2013, a reunion was held at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by the Auto Club of Southern California. The reunion recalled the special moments from Orange County International Raceway.  Operating between August 5, 1967 with “The Last Race” on October 30, 1983, “The County” raised the bar for all racing facilities.  Located near where the Golden State and the 405 freeways cross, it is generally under what is now The Spectrum in North Orange County, CA.
     If you weren’t there, you missed a great event.  The very lively audience included, Harry Hibler, Cory Lee, Jr and Tommy Thompson, Gas Ronda, Del and Chuck Worsham, Bob Muravez, Art Carr, Randy Walls, Bill Shrewsberry, Larry Bowers, Glen Menard and many more racers.
     Tony Lloyd invited me to see his streamliner that he raced with Barr back in the seventies which had a mercury engine.  The streamliner was small in size originally until Tony stretched it a few more feet.  The partners were able to do 150+ miles per hour and blew that motor up later.  Then they installed a McCullough engine.  They kept breaking the engines so they went to meet McCullough to see what they could do about this problem.  McCullough said that, "Well, I have been watching you guys and we have to tell you that we have been having the same problems ourselves.  Go on under that table and grab what's under there," he told us. Tony went and unraveled the blanket and out came a brilliant, shiny new crank shaft.  McCullough said that this was a high quality Chrome Moly crankshaft and you can use it.  When the crankshaft was replaced they made the run and hit 170+ miles per hour on just gas. 
     Before he ran the car Tony was in the Navy and was at Moffett field.  Luckily there was an aerodynamic wind tunnel there.  He asked permission to bring a small scale model that was built to specs to get tested there and they said absolutely.  Tony found out that the streamliner at a certain speed would have some up force.  When this was calculated they put a dot on the window for Bonneville to calculate the up-force movement as they watched the floating mountain.  When the mountain would disappear they had to back off the throttle to keep it lower than 3 degrees.  These pictures are of Tony Lloyd with the car just coming back from the painters.  The Canopy is on the bench being worked on.  The fin for the rear has not come in yet which bears McCullough's sponsored name on it.
      The previous owner wanted it restored and had Tony do the work.  The streamliner was in great need of work.  The tires were kept on and they are the original ones from 40+ years ago.  He was glad to bring it back to its prime with all the memories that came along with the streamliner.  Some of the greatest moments are from the past.  I took these pictures December 22, 2013 at Lloyd's house.   Spencer Simon
     The Grand National Roadster Show is honored to host the Ronald McDonald House as this year's official charity for the annual "Pinstriping Event and Charity Auction."   Bring the kids to meet Ronald McDonald on Saturday, January 25, at 3 pm for pictures and autographs.   Bring any items you would like to have pinstriped to building 4, where it can be striped by the best in the industry and stick around for our auction to bid on collectibles and highly sought after items.  Auction Times are Friday 7pm, Saturday 3pm and Sunday at 3pm.    John Buck,
     I have a comment about one of the photographs of the John Gerek modified roadster.  I Met John as a kid and my dad knew him well.  After Art died I got a call from the family wanting to sell the car and a garage full of parts for a really good price.  I called Bruce Meyer and told him about it but he wasn't interested. A few years later it showed up at the Flying A Museum in Winnemucca.  Art raced the car before the war so the information about it being a 1951 dry lakes racing roadster isn't totally correct.  Jim Miller
     I was wondering if you ever read about the “First Woman to circle the World in an Automobile?”  That was in 1922 at the age of 16 years old.  Her name was Aloha Wanderwell.   See
http://www.AlohaWanderwell.com.    Richard Diamond
     TO THE READERS: The caption to the book was very interesting and for those who like to see photographs of the cars and the world circa 1922 this should be an interesting book to add to one’s library.
     I would like the dates (for the 2014 schedules for Bonneville Speed Week in August).  Jack Theroux
     JACK: Here are the SCTA and BNI Events for El Mirage and the Bonneville Land Speed Racing Events courtesy of the SCTA/BNI website.
     El Mirage 2014 meets: May 17-18, June 22, July 13, September 14, October 19, and November 8-9.   The El Mirage season starts and ends with a two day event.  All events are held at the El Mirage Dry Lake in Southern California.
     Bonneville Salt Flats 2014 Speed Week; August 9-15, 2014.  Tech Inspection - August 7.
     Bonneville Salt Flats 2014 World Finals, September 30 - October 3, 2014.  Tech Inspection - September 29.  The BNI has two major events each year at the Bonneville Salt Flats outside of Wendover, Utah. 
     SCTA Board Meetings for 2014;
January 3          Arcadia, Santa Anita Bar and Grill, Santa Anita Golf Course.
February 7         Anaheim, Greenside Cafe, Dad Millers Golf Course.
March 7             Arcadia, Santa Anita Bar and Grill, Santa Anita Golf Course.
April 4                Anaheim, Greenside Cafe, Dad Millers Golf Course.
May 23               Arcadia, Santa Anita Bar and Grill, Santa Anita Golf Course.
June 27              Anaheim, Greenside Cafe, Dad Millers Golf Course.
July 18                Arcadia, Santa Anita Bar and Grill, Santa Anita Golf Course.
August 22           Anaheim, Greenside Cafe, Dad Millers Golf Course.
September 19    Arcadia, Santa Anita Bar and Grill, Santa Anita Golf Course.
October 24         Anaheim, Greenside Cafe, Dad Millers Golf Course.
November 14     Arcadia, Santa Anita Bar and Grill, Santa Anita Golf Course.
December 5       Anaheim, Greenside Cafe, Dad Millers Golf Course.

     Recently, Ralph Haun, a Road Runners member from 1958-1961, rejoined our Club as an Associate Member.  He raced a B-C/GC an D/S at El Mirage and at the SCTA half-mile drags at Riverside International Raceway and a SCTA meet at Taft. He held a 142.40mph record at El Mirage and a 126mph record at Riverside.  Ralph's racing also included other drag racing venues.  He ran both Corvettes and Fords.  As a result of rejoining the Club, Ralph was able to reconnect with one of his best friends from "back in the day," Mel Weber, also a Road Runners Associate Member today.  I'm attaching Ralph's auto-biography and some pictures he recently sent me.   Jerry Cornelison, Road Runners - SCTA (established 1937)     
RALPH HAUN’S STORY, written by Ralph Haun.
      My interest in cars dates back to probably around age ten.  It was 1953 and a family friend was a “car guy” with a 1953 Ford Victoria that he had a modified Mercury flathead in.  I really looked up to him.  My mother also had a ’53 Ford two door coupe.  As a boy, I remember getting in trouble once after loading mother’s trunk with large rocks, with the plan of “lowering” the car.  I grew up mainly in Whittier, attending Whittier High School and later starting when I was around fifteen, I would hang out at Ak Miller’s Whittier garage.  It was before I had my driver’s license and I had to walk a couple miles thru a pretty bad part of town where roads were not even paved to get there but I didn’t mind.  Some famous racing types like the Unser brothers would often be there as well as lots of other not so famous types.  Ak’s shop manager Jack Lufkin had a very fast, modified ’56 Corvette.  I learned a lot. 
     After I started driving I would hang out at night with my friends at Nixon’s Drive-in (owned by Richard Nixon’s brother).  We would often clear out the drive-in at night and everyone would proceed thru the La Habra hills to race at a spot in the country called “Fifth Avenue” near what is now the city of La Puente.  We had the road marked with paint for the quarter mile and we would bring a starter with flags.  A lookout in the hills would flash his lights if the police approached and everyone would scatter.  We had some very fast cars there, occasionally even trailered.  My third car was a Fuel Injected 1958 Corvette, four speed, hardtop only.  I was the third owner.  I had three different rear ends which I could swap out in an hour or less, depending on the venue I wanted to race. 
     I managed a gas station, so had access to the rack which made that work easy.  I installed a roll bar, a scatter-shield, Traction Masters, and performance exhaust.  The car remained a 283 CI, but in my garage I removed the Duntov cam and replaced it with a Clay Smith cam.  I took the heads to Ak Miller where I had them ported and polished.  After a year or two, my friend Terry Haines (today a member of Bonneville’s 200 Mile Per Hour Club) and I painted the car in his home garage.  I should say Terry painted the twenty two coats of lacquer and Ralph hand rubbed the twenty two coats of lacquer.  We changed the color from Panama Yellow to a turquoise color and I had removed the hood louvers and trunk spears to make it look like a ’59 or ’60.  The car was a daily driver and weekend racer. 
     I had joined the Roadrunners/ Southern California Timing Association (still have my jacket), and raced the standing start mile at El Mirage – holding a record in 1961 at 142.40 MPH, the mile drags at Riverside and Taft – 126 MPH, as well as the mile.  I always tuned the car myself, but after good racing success I decided to take it to “Dyno Don” Nicholson, then famous for Chevy racing and tuning, to see if he could make it run even faster.  After tuning it on his chassis dyno, I went from his shop near Pasadena directly to El Mirage where it ran slower than when I tuned it.  It should be noted that in the photo at El Mirage the car has bias ply tires on the rear.  That was to achieve what I believed to be the proper tire diameter/gear ratio for the record attempt.  An unseen trick was to run 30 weight oil in the trans and differential instead of 90 weight to lessen friction.  Finally in the photo of myself being interviewed after setting the record, the caption below refers to the “Stock ’58 Corvette.”  That is untrue since it had stock displacement only.  I kept the car about four years, selling it to a friend when I got married.  While I have not actively raced since then, I have remained an avid car fan, especially a fan of fast cars.  The ’58 Corvette can be found today listed in the Registry of Corvette Race Cars at
     I obtained my Master’s Degree in Business and Industrial Management and in 1966 graduated as a Distinguished Graduate of the Army’s Infantry Officer Candidate School.  My service was mainly in the Central Highlands of Vietnam as a Rifle Platoon Leader, an Infantry Company Commander and as a Battalion Intelligence Officer, as well as sometimes a liaison with Vietnamese forces.  My civilian carrier began in the early 1970’s in the motorcycle parts industry.  Later I became a commercial real estate broker specializing in apartment buildings.  Also, I owned a successful restaurant (lots of work) for twenty two years, and have been married to my wife Diane for 50 years.  Diane was attracted to me as she was into cars and liked my ’58 Corvette.  Cars remain my passion and I have owned many over the years, having seven today.  These include two street rods, a ’32 Ford and a ’38 Chevy.  I also have restored a 1957 Fuel Injected Corvette to NCRS award winning standard, have a 2013 ZL1 Camaro and a 911 twin turbo Porsche.  Daily driver is a SRT Magnum.                 
     Author Lew Bracker will be at Autobooks/Aerobooks for a book signing and to discuss his new book on James Dean and sports car racing.  Saturday, December 21, 2013, from 10AM to 2PM.  Autobooks/Aerobooks is located at 2900 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank CA 91505. 

STAFF NOTES: We encourage our members to remember as far back as they can and write to us with their recollections.  Here is a letter than I received from George Forteville, who knew my father, Wally Parks, after the end of WWII.  If you have stories or memories of events please share them with us.  They are precious treasures of our heritage.
     I can remember when World War II had ended and your father was discharged from the military service.  He wanted to go back to work for General Motors, where he was employed with prior to entering the Army.  You can thank the Automakers Union; they were on strike at the time.  He was unemployed and had no income coming in, but he had the dry lakes Timing equipment in the yard where you were living.   He (and I forget his friend's name) got together and used the equipment out in the desert.  This was the best thing that could have happened to him.   The reason I remember this is that after the war one couldn't buy any new cars, but you could put your order in for one.  I wanted a Buick, so I put my order in for one at C.S. Howard Buick on Colorado Street in Pasadena.  To do so you had to give them a $100 deposit to show you were really interested in buying a new car
.   I kept waiting and waiting for one, and that was when I was dating Barbara Mant (your mother's first cousin), who later became my wife, Barbara Forteville.  I had a 1930 Model-A Ford, and the roof leaked every time it rained, and she said if I was going to marry her I would have to get a car with a roof that didn't leak.  I cancelled the order on the Buick, and bought a 1941 Ford with a steel top, and I didn't have any more problems. We were able to use the used Ford for our Honeymoon, and that's the story about your father and the strike.  You can thank the unions for his success in forming the National Hot Rod Association.  They did him a favor when they went out on STRIKE.   George Forteville
GEORGE: My father returned from the Pacific Theater of the war in late 1945, being discharged from the military.  He enlisted in the Army in May of 1943 and served in the Army Tank Corp in Bougainville, Guadalcanal and the Philippines.  He saw action and was wounded, but not badly.  He hopped up a jeep from the motor pool and an officer noticed and asked him to be his driver and my father was in the advance attack as the Army expanded south from Lingayen Gulf over the mountains and down into Manila fighting a desperately retreating Japanese Army.  He was in an advance unit that liberated a Japanese controlled prisoner of war camp.
     After the war he returned and lived with my grandmother (and my mother) at her home on Pine Street in South San Gabriel, California.  He had contacted malaria and was very ill at the time of the UAW strike at the General Motors plant where he worked before he went into the service.  I don’t remember any equipment in the back yard, though it is very possible that it was stored there as the yard was quite big.  Most of the time the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) equipment was under the control of Dad’s good friend Bozzie Willis of the San Diego Roadster Club.  It was Bozzie who built the enclosed trailer that stored all of the timing equipment, so if the equipment was at my grandmother’s home (Myrtle Mant), then it would have only been there for a short time until Bozzie could pick it up and take it back to wherever it was being stored. 
     Around the end of 1945 the SCTA held a special election to reconstitute the association, which had been officially and legally shut down for the duration of the war.  Bozzie Willis and G. Thatcher Darwin had been the custodians of the association during the war and even tried to hold LSR meets in late 1945, but without a legal foundation to do so.  The SCTA members who had deferments and those who had been released from the military gathered and elected my father to be the President of the SCTA for 1946.  Sick as he was with malaria and out of work due to the strike, he put his heart and soul into reorganizing the SCTA and filing the legal paperwork with the state.  I don’t believe my father ever returned to General Motors. 
     In 1947 the SCTA created a paid position called the General Manager of the SCTA and my father was chosen for the job.  It was a full-time job and they gave him a lump sum payment of $300 a month, but that included the expenses of running the organization.  I heard him tell me that he got $50 a month out of that as salary.  That seems small by today’s pay, but they were paying about $35 mortgage on a small house that he built in Downey, California at the time.  I remember my mother filling up a week’s groceries for $5 or less.  No one seemed wealthy in those days, but nobody seemed poor either. 
     Around 1948 he began sending articles and photographs to a new publication called HOT ROD magazine published by Bob Lindsay and Bob “Pete” Petersen.  In the same year he helped produce the first hot rod car show in the country at the Armory in Los Angeles.  The next year, in 1949 he went to work for the magazine as their first paid/professional editor.  In the same year he helped Ak Miller and the SCTA put on the first Bonneville Speed Week land speed racing time trials and was the first man to run down the course and the first racer to spin out. 
     In 1951 he formed the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and became its founder and first president, with Ak Miller as his vice president.  Around 1960 he founded the NATIONAL DRAGSTER magazine, which he owned and then later sold to the NHRA as their official news source.  He rose to become the Editorial Director for the car magazines published by TREND, Inc, which was a division of Petersen Publishing Company.  He resigned from TREND in the early 1960’s to work full time at NHRA.  He became the board chairman of the NHRA and relinquished his position as president in the 1970’s. 
     He never did retire and passed away on September 28, 2007 still busy promoting and serving the organization that he founded.  So you are right, a strike put my father on a new course in his life.  Many people can thank the UAW for calling that strike, for it is very likely that my father would never have done the things that he did if he had gone back to work at the General Motors plant in 1945.

     An original 1957 Chevy driven by an exceptional hotrodder.  See     http://www.youtube.com/v/QwcRG2aEi3s.   Ron Main
Paying the Piper, by Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission from
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.
     Several months back I introduced HotRodHotline readers to my current project: a too-long overdue autobiography. I pointed out the reason was I have come to grips with my fading years and equally fading health. To wit, chemo from now on and necessary blood top-ups. All sucky stuff, but such is the way of life and flat-motors.

    Whatever, I am half way through all the words, and there are a lot of them. This past summer I went up to Idaho to look through the tons of pix that have accumulated around my feet through the years, so I have what I may need in that arena sorted.  The result of this is that it looks like I’ll have everything ready for Maryanna at Graffitti by the end of January, which means that through the trickery of electronic publishing we expect to have a signed book to those who have pre-ordered (at 50 bucks a pop), almost on schedule this coming Springtime in the Rockies. Because I base in Australia now (much better health system for my condition), it means the Aussies will get their copies sooner than stateside. But, listen to this, because of the electronic state of things, I can simply fire off over the ether everything to a printer in the States and those copies will be wending via USPS shortly after.
     Meantime, I am starting a new service through Hot Rod Hotline of the kinds of editorial leader material I used to do when we were a’building the hot rod sport. I’m open for suggestions, kudos and karate chops at any time:
texsmith1@silverstar.com.   Down The Road, doods, and on to the editorial!

PAYING THE PIPER, by Le Roi Tex Smith.
     You can call it luck of the draw, or karma, or any number of names, but the fact remains that the American economy has been in the toilet for almost a decade.  And the hot rod sport/hobby is smelling very ripe as well.  So far, our end of things has escaped too much damage, meaning much of our industry has been only wounded, but not mortally. Not so anymore. The boat is leaking, head for shore.
     Our survival is a real question of just how much we are self protective, and how much self destructive. It all starts with admitting that we got trouble right here in river city.  And this admission is one that many in the hot rod parts industry refuse to pronounce, believing that to close eyes to the obvious is the best way to make it go away.  Much like a major hot rod player many years ago did not want to admit publically that some suspension parts were failing.
     Contrast this kind of myopic refusal logic with how some manufacturers and retailers are approaching the problems today. Let me give you a “fer-instance.”  In the last several months, there have been some imported suspension items that are readily identified as specific to hot rods involved in dramatic failures in New Zealand.  You haven’t seen anything of this in the American rod hobby press.
     One item was a dropped, forged front axle that snapped apart just outboard of the perch bolt. The supplier would just as soon that no one knew of the problem but in NZ the government required an immediate investigation, and correction, of the problem. Finally, the manufacturer announced that a small batch of the cast axles were made with inferior materials. The problem was traced to the actual axle maker not following correct procedures with casting steel.  Immediately one retailer, the Hoffman Group, searched out their processes to make absolutely certain no such problem could beset their product, which is similar in appearance.  What was released to the media, and the public, was a full report of their findings.
     More recently, metal fatigue and failure has occurred in American labeled tilt steering assemblies.  More than one, and again, in New Zealand.  Snake bitten the second time. Again, the Hoffman Group rushed their products to testing and evaluation, and as prior again came out with a clean sheet.  So, given this approach compared to one of denial, which will lead the consumer to optimum confidence?  And which approach will prompt the most government safety concern.
     You see, the manufacturer may simply fold its tent and steal away into the night, giving not a whit of care about the hot rod hobby or the participants therein. You, and I, are left holding an empty bag of enthusiasm.  I offer this example. Several years ago, a hot rod enthusiast from down Mexico way, whose family owned a large manufacturing firm (glass as I recall), decided that he would produce a turn-key ’32 Ford roadster completely made in Mexico.  Quite possible, given the presence of so many north-of-the-border automotive people in the south.
     A substantial amount of pre-production effort and fanfare went into the product, and it seemed the right product for the time, which was ahead of similar American efforts by several years. That person had done his homework, and duly hired a well known and respected American designer and artist from the Denver area to handle much of the advertising and public relations campaigns.  Rather than take a payment for services, the artist instead accepted the first production Deuce in recompense. In a stroke of fate, the Mexican national was visiting the artist in the Denver surrounds one day when disaster struck.
     The pair had decided to go somewhere and had taken the ’32 for a drive.  On the nearby freeway on-ramp, the dropped front axle let go, sending the car and occupants over the embankment.  Fortunately, neither was seriously injured.  Investigation revealed that the dropped axle had been cut and welded, and then the weld dressed neatly for appearance.  The manufacturer did not know of the problem, and the inexperienced workers thought that was a proper solution to a problem. That hot rod effort never made it further.  It could have had tragic consequences.   Unlike a major player in this hobby, who years ago would not allow one of my editorials such as this to appear for fear it would harm the hobby (read: sales), HotRodHotLine has chosen to become a leader in our hobby.  Hot damn, it’s about time.

I REGARD JUNK AS JUNK.  By Le Roi Tex Smith 
     Junk is junk.  Period.  No arguments.  No making excuses about costs and access.  I am referring pointedly to the so-called rat rod craze.  In the last three years there has been a massive clean-up of those cars, and for that a huge sigh of relief.  As presented a few years past, the entire rat rod thing was about lifestyle, not really about hot rods at all.  While some Americans think the entire thing was invented here, it actually started as a lifestyle/music thing in England.  It was way off the mark back then, and in the minds of too many would-be hot rodders, it is still far afield from any historical reality. 
     Back in the day, we called such abortions Shot Rods.  They were extremely rare, and held in such disdain that said vehicles (and the builders) quickly dissolved into the woodwork.  Back in those days, such cars weren’t built because of the lack of funds, since none of us seemed to have extra discretionary income.  We built good hot rods because we knew what was needed. 
     Oh, I can hear all the snide comments already, about how the “real rodders back then did things.”  I was there, and I was building, right alongside such people as Gene Winfield and Don Garlits and the wizards of Detroit, ad nauseum.  I hear rockabilly wanna-be’s today distort history by explaining how the old timers used to do things.  Bull hockey dude!  We did things with very little money, hard work, no aftermarket, gas welding, and perseverance. 
     These schlocky rat rods are exactly what the misinformed public thought hot rodding was about, back when.  And the entire emerging hot rod movement worked overtime trying to straighten out this image.  We worked hard, very hard, in behalf of the car sport, and we succeeded.  And we did it with loud music, slicked back ducktail hair, Levi’s and white T-shirts.  And we have carried it over into the world of today, no thanks to rust buckets.  
     It was because of this that I put together a book on Basic Hot Rods a year or so back.  A BASIC HOT ROD IS NOT A RAT ROD!  I cannot emphasize this enough, but somehow it is not penetrating the brains of all the wanna-be’s out there.  What many aspiring rodders mistake for basic is a pile or rusty junk that is immediately, on “completion”, simply a mobile pile of junk.  Am I getting my point across, bucko?  To help things along, I am discounting the book Basic Hot Rods a huge amount, just in time for Christmas.  For the next couple of months you can get this guide for just $ll.50, if ordered with any other available Tex Smith book.  To get in on the deal, ring my new distribution center out in Oregon, at 441-997-1802.  Or, send check/MO to Tex Smith Books, PO Box 11,000, Florence, OR  97439. 
     You’ll see immediately that the effort with this book is to appeal on a less sophisticated level to every kind of gearhead.  No glossy paper, no snazzy studio photos, no misleading ads.  Simple and straight forward.  While you have the crew on the phone, ask about the range of books still in print.  I see where the ongoing best seller “Hemi” is selling on Ebay for $75, which amazes me since we still sell it for under twenty five. 
     But, back to my harangue about contemporary rat rods.  As we predicted when these abominations began to appear in England, it would be a short lived fad.  Already, here in the States, the real hot rodders have taken the idea from the very conception and turned it rapidly on its head.  If such a car is necessary because of cost, consider this.  I built my personal transport for the past two decades from a pile of castaway mechanicals and an outlay of under $2000.  Lots of personal effort, but for me this is the very essence of hot rodding…adapting whatever is available, but doing it in a safe and sane way.  No effort to appease a perceived lifestyle that never existed.  In my book, I cover the building of this iconic roadster in one session, it appeared before only in Hot Rod Mechanix as a series. 
     Today, there is a full and well-guided movement of building basic hot rods.  These are cars that are well designed, well engineered, and thoughtfully built, even though they might appear from afar as rusty hulks of rat rods.  They are everywhere, some even coming from long-time professional street rod shops.  They are not crap, they are not dangerous, and they belie the belief that junk is where it is at in hot rodding.  They are basic hot rods, which is what BASIC HOT RODS is all about.  Call in your order right not, Linda Doreen and the crew in Oregon are standing by!  While you’re at it, order my new fiction novel, l320.  It makes a great gift for any gearhead, and it doesn’t refer to junk heaps anywhere…
Gone Racin’…
Roy Richter; Striving for Excellence, by Art BagnallReviewed by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

     A book review is expected to explain the merits and demerits of a book and to let the reader decide if that book is worth adding to his library. This case is different. If you are a serious hot rodder who loves racing, then you must add this book to your collection. It is what we call a seminal reference, or a book that truly sets the new course and direction.  Art Bagnall, the author, has simply researched and found the very roots of hot rodding in Southern California, and it centers around a place and a man that was pivotal to the hobby. If you want a reference book full of history then “Roy Richter; Striving for Excellence” must anchor your bookshelf. The book is quite impressive in size, scope, research and depth. It is a nice coffee table size at 9 by 11 inches with a hard cover, but lacking a book jacket. There are 15 chapters covering 379 pages, with a dedication and preface, followed by an acknowledgement to 117 people who helped Bagnall compile his masterpiece. Those acknowledged for their help and support comprise the very founders of the hot rodding movement in America.  Wally Parks provided the introduction to the book. An epilogue, photo credits and list of employees who worked for Roy Richter is complete and informative. The book ends with an adequate four-page index and a history of the author. The index should have been twice the size in order to note everyone listed in the work, and is the only weakness in this book. Otherwise, Bagnall has created a masterpiece. There are 597 black and white photos representing the very earliest days of Bell Auto Parts and continuing into the modern era. There are no color photos, but the black and white photos do an exceptional job of telling the story of Roy Richter. In addition, there are 96 other presentations, such as posters, letters, drawings, and invoice orders to give further detail to the story. “Roy Richter; Striving for Excellence,” is published and written by Art Bagnall Publishing.  Copies of the book are available from Jack Stewart, author of “The L.A. Roadsters, an Introspective.”

     The book concerns Roy Richter, who played a pivotal role in automotive racing and hot rodding in the Southern California area from the 1930’s on, until his death in 1983.  Richter is the theme for the book and the central character, but Richter would have been the first to tell you that he was fortunate to have the best hot rodders and racers around him from the beginning. Roy Richter purchased Bell Auto Parts from George Wight in the 1940’s. Wight was already an icon among street racers and those craving the action from their souped up gows and hot rods as far back as the 1920’s. Wight’s Bell Auto Parts store was one of the first places in the country where speed equipment was available. Wight teamed up with George Riley of the Riley 4-port fame to devise land speed racing events at Muroc Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert. These dry lake races were posted on a bulletin board at the shop on 3633 E. Gage Avenue, in Bell, California. If any place in the world can be called the mythic heart of hot rodding, Bell Auto Parts is that sacred spot. Richter, Roscoe Turner, Kenny Parks and others would work for this fabled speed equipment shop and go on to successes of their own. Wight and Riley would give up their land speed business, which would be absorbed by the SCTA (Southern California Timing Association). Other speed equipment shops would open to challenge the supremacy of Bell Auto Parts, such as Blair’s, So-Cal, Ansen and a host of speed equipment manufacturers. Wight would pass away in 1943 and Richter would buy the business and add Cragar Industries and Bell Helmets as subsidiaries. 


     Richter became the center for much of the racing and hot rodding in the 1940’s and ‘50’s. He was instrumental in the foundation of SEMA (Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association), which later changed their name to Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association. The list of the early founders is impressive. Louie Senter joined with his Ansen Automotive. Ed “The Camfather” Iskenderian and Jim Deist from Deist Drag Chutes, were original members. Dean Moon, Vic Edelbrock, George Hurst, Chuck Potvin, Carroll Shelby, Harry Weber, Phil Weiand and many more of the early automotive greats were founding members of SEMA. But the center and heart of this prestigious group of men and women was Roy Richter. Richter would serve either as president or vice-president of the organization from 1963 until 1971. SEMA named him the Senior Board Advisor in 1972, a position specifically created for him by the other members to show their respect for the man who had worked so hard to bring professionalism and cooperation into a business that could best be described as cut-throat. The book details a long list of racers who owe their success to Roy Richter and Bell Auto Parts. Like Wight and Riley, Roy was at the center of the new and burgeoning sports that took wing in the early part of the 20th Century. Richter built his own midget racecars and they are quite sought after today. Richter built a miniaturized model rail track racecar in the late 1930’s. The Richter Streamliner was tethered to a pole and set the world mile record of 68.38mph in 1940. A later version of these model-racing cars was called the Richter Bullet and is a very valuable collectible among collectors today. 


   Richter was also a master promoter and public relations talent. He understood the need to promote the different racing sports and was one of the first to subsidize racers with speed equipment. His own business was booming and he opened a MG/Morris/Austin foreign car import business with Thatcher Darwin in 1952. Bell Helmets would follow in 1954, and would prove to be a great part of the success that Richter enjoyed in the ’50’s. The helmets would find a ready market and prove to be a great safety factor in all motorsports racing. Cragar wheels crowned Richter’s business acumen. After Ak Miller’s stirring victory at the 1965 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, sales boomed. It is impossible to calculate the impact that Roy Richter and his companies had on hot rodding and motorsports racing over the decades. Open wheel racing, drag racing, stock car, midget and short track oval racing, Bonneville and land speed racing all owe Richter their gratitude for the constant sponsorship and help he has provided over the years. Art Bagnall has captured Roy Richter and his co-workers and friends with excellent photos and text. As you read this book you will come to understand just how much this man meant to all of us. Hot rodding is a sport created by thousands of men and women like Roy Richter. This is a book that will be the centerpiece of your library and one that you will consult often.


Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM


Gone Racin’…The American Hot Rod, by Dean Batchelor
Book Review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

   The American Hot Rod, by Dean Batchelor is a hard-bound book published by Motorbooks International.  Batchelor is a well-known and respected hot rodder who became a journalist, editor and writer.  Batchelor co-wrote the book Cunningham, with Albert Bochroch.  Dean also worked for Hop UP, Motor Life and Road and Track magazines from the 1950’s through the ‘70’s.  His background in hot rodding and motorsports is substantial.  The publisher is Motorbooks and they have a reputation for producing only first class and quality books on the car culture.  The American Hot Rod measures 10 by 10 inches in size and has a high-quality cloth binding down the spine of the book.  The dust cover jacket has a very appealing look to it and enhances the value of the book.  Always take excellent care of the jacket, because it not only protects the book, but make it stand out.  Otherwise the book’s cover is simply a solid blue and undistinguished.  The American Hot Rod has 192 high-quality waxed pages, suitable to show the photographs at their best.  There are 32 color photographs and another 243 in black and white and the variety and quality is excellent.  In addition to the photographs, there are; 8 ads, one map, two charts, 16 program covers, 7 car club plaques, 11 membership cards, 2 timing tags, 7 pit passes to various events, 13 magazine covers and 3 drawings in the book.  The book has a table of contents, a tribute to the author who passed away before the book could be published, a two page introduction, 13 chapters, a two page glossary of terms, a three page appendix and a two page index.  The index could have been a bit more substantial, but it was satisfactory.  The American Hot Rod was first published in 1995, but you might find copies at the Publisher or in book stores or on-line website outlets.  The ISBN # is 0-87938-982-6.  Motorbooks International is located at PO Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, Wisconsin, 54020 and originally retailed for $29.95.  Check eBay or Amazon.net to see if they have a used copy for sale.

   I borrowed this book from my brother who inherited it from our late father, Wally Parks.  Batchelor and our father were friends and I know that he valued this book as one of his prized possessions.  My brother David is a member of the 200 MPH club and he finally held on tighter to this book than I did.  He’s also bigger.  The American Hot Rod is the book that I wished I could have written.  Batchelor wrote from firsthand experience and he knew the people that are portrayed in this history of the early dry lakes, many of whom went on to other forms of motorsport racing.  The photographs are fantastic, but it is Batchelor’s captions that are thorough and complete.  Indexing and captioning are often weak spots with authors, but here you can see Batchelor’s experience from his many years in the media.  He brings to life the men and women who struggled to find their spot in land speed racing.  It was a difficult and exhausting sport, and just to get to the lakes and return home safely was a victory.  To make a run and earn a timing tag made a young man the talk of his neighborhood.  I always look for books that have a bit of the origins of the sport that they are chronicling, and just as often I am disappointed, for they will have just a short introductory chapter.  Landspeed Louise Ann Noeth and Robert Genat are two of my favorite authors on the subject of auto racing, especially land speed or straight-line racing.  They give you a great introduction on the subjects they are writing about.  Batchelor matches them easily and brings the past alive in a new way.  Perhaps it was because he knew the early days of land speed racing and the men and women who are just names to us today.  Names like Arnold Birner, Walter Nass and Orville “Snuffy” Welchel fill the book with people who are not household names today, but who were the movers and shakers of their generation.

   I found the text so interesting that I had to pick up the book and reread it.  Like a National Geographic magazine, the first thing I looked at was the photographs and captions, but then I found myself reading the text.  Back and forth, first to the photos and then reading the text; the book was simply hypnotic.  I began to go through and find all the names and faces of people who I knew as a youngster.  The list went on and on and the reading brought back old memories of a time long gone.   There is crossover appeal for The American Hot Rod.  Its beautiful design, size and cover make it a lustrous coffee table book.  The detailed history and style of its writing make it a very comfortable history.  Then there is the racing, or more properly the time trials.  The book also appeals simply to the hot rodder in all of us, the desire to tinker, work and improve on something, or to create something altogether new.  Many of the photographs were new to me and I never thought that I would find pictures of people that I had only heard about or seen in a program.  Ak Miller used to spin his irrepressible stories and drop names and nicknames in a quick, staccato fashion.  Here’s a book that you can read that will bring to light the history of the dry lakes from the 1930’s through the ‘50’s, the heyday of land speed racing.  Dean Batchelor’s The American Hot Rod is a book that needs to be in your library, along with the works of Genat, Noeth, Art Bagnall, Don Montgomery and other writers.  I don’t use the word “best” to describe a book in comparison with other books.  But, I will say that The American Hot Rod is not surpassed by any other book on the subject, not even Bagnall’s book on Roy Richter

Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM


Gone Racin’…Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970, by Harold W. Pace and Mark R. Brinker.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

   Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 is a hard-cover book by Harold W. Pace and Mark R. Brinker, published by Motorbooks International, an MBI imprint company, based in St Paul, Minnesota.  The publication date is 2004 and the ISBN number is 0-7603-1783-6.  Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 is another excellent book from Motorbooks, which has a reputation as a publisher for putting out works that are of high quality.  This book is no exception to their rule.  Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 measures 10 by 10 and is an excellent reference book on road racing as well as a fine coffee table book.  Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 has 304 pages, on heavy waxed paper, a cloth spine binding and an attractive dust cover jacket.  The book is bound and not glued and the acid-free, waxed paper should last several lifetimes.  The dust cover jacket is eye-catching and enhances the value of the book.  You should always take care of the jacket, because the value of any book diminishes when they are torn or lost.  There are 242 black and white photographs, 200 color photographs and 308 additional aids, including maps, insets, diagrams, ads, programs and drawings.  The photographs and miscellaneous aids are outstanding for the most part, though some of the photos are old.  The captions are clear, but short and you need to read the text to fully understand the intent of the photographs.  There are insets which give specific details on each type of car.  Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 has a table of contents, acknowledgments, introduction, seven chapters, a five part appendix, bibliography and an index.  The appendix was very helpful and gave a breakdown of the cars by year, constructor, body builder, powerplant and racing class.  The bibliography was informative, thorough and complete.  The five page index was accurate and complete and makes this book a serious historical and encyclopedic work. 

   The first chapter is entitled The Way We Were and gives a short history of amateur road racing in the United States from 1950 through 1970, the heyday of American road racing.  Road racing in Europe began in the 1890’s or a little thereafter.  Americans were quick to enter road racing and imported European cars to compete against some of the early domestic cars.  The Vanderbilt Cup, Indy 500, Corona and Santa Monica road races all began prior to World War I.  Hill climbs, road courses, rallies, time trials and road races were well entrenched and favorite sports of Americans after WWI ended, but the heyday of road course racing occurred after the end of World War II in 1945.  GIs returned from the Eastern Theatre of War with a love of English, French, Italian, German and other European sports cars and with our currency strong and vibrant, brought many cars with them.  Road racing had an air of excitement and charm.  Many of the drivers were rich, or aspired to be, and the parties after the races were sometimes lavish.  The authors describe the racing categories and the associations that sanctioned the races.  In Chapter Two, the authors break down each and every car that they could find that raced from 1950-70 by manufacturers.  Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 is encyclopedic in nature and the index and table of contents make it quite easy to find what you are looking for.  This book would be a great addition on American road racing in conjunction with those books written by Art Evans and Michael Lynch.   The list of manufacturers is alphabetized, in fact everything is alphabetized and very easy to find.  The insets give the names, addresses and breakdown of the various makers.

   Chapter Three is called American Specials and contains about one-third of the book.  These are the cars that were individually built by hot rodders, racers and mechanics.  They represent some of the most famous race cars, such as Ak Miller’s El Caballo de Hierro and Thatcher Darwin’s Beetle.  Miller’s car is on display at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California.  Darwin’s car has been restored and is still in use as a road course racer.  Some of the most unique and interesting sports cars are listed in this chapter.  Max Balchowsky’s Old Yeller is placed in another chapter, but if there is a car anywhere that can claim the title, ‘Junkyard Dog,’ it was the Old Yellers.  Max would claim that his cars were the throwaway parts that no one wanted, yet his racing cars had the ferocious bite on the road courses similar to the bite of those dogs that patrolled the junkyard premises.  Chapter Four is named Engine Swap Specials and lists all those cars with recognizable chassis and bodies, but whose owners swapped out the engines for ones that they felt gave them more power and control.  Chapter Five is titled American Kit Car Manufacturers and lists firms like Ambro, Bocar, Byers, Devin, Kurtis, Glasspar, Victress and others.  These manufacturers would sell you a good looking fiberglass body, chassis and other parts.  Chapter six is called American Racing Engines and tells us about the motors that were available.  The usual Detroit engines were sold, such as Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Cadillac and Ford.  But there were other engines available, such as Crosley, McAfee, Meyer & Drake, Taylor Super Sport and others.  The Crosley was popular in boats as well and the clones of the old Miller and Offenhauser engines were very strong up through the early 1960’s.  Chapter Seven is named Racing Classes and gives an overview of the classes that cars raced in under different Associations.   Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 closes with five appendices and a great index.  Each of the appendices holds a great deal of information.  If you are newcomer to road racing and would like to learn more, or a seasoned veteran who just wants to have some information at hand, Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950-1970 will fit the bill.  I give this book a 7.5 out of a possible 8 sparkplugs and heartily recommend it.

Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM

STAFF NOTES: The following message comes from Jessica Clark, a young racer with lots of potential.
I'm currently taking finals and working on the final Newsletter of 2013.  I thought you might enjoy seeing a Jessica Clark Racing Promotional video recently made, courtesy of Third Point Productions.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQERxoKbsq4.  Jessica Clark,


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