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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 304 -  January 20 , 2014
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;   Richard Parks,    Joan Meyer,  Bud Meyer, Jon Wennerberg, John McCombe, Morise Wade, Grand National Roadster Show  Landspeed Exhibit ! 

I would like to invite you to the Southern California Timing Association's Annual Awards Banquet. This is a special night for the SCTA where we honor and thank all the record breakers, volunteers, and sponsors, who make our racing events possible.   
We are fortunate to have your continued commitment and devotion to Land Speed Racing so we are able to continue to organize such amazing events and reach new heights in our sport.
We would also be grateful for any donation of your products or services towards our special year-end raffle, as it will add enjoyment and recognition of your company to our members and guests.  Your company will recognized with an announcement for each prize.  Any leftover, out of stock item, or toy, bicycle, T-Shirts, jacket or white elephant that’s been gathering dust would be appreciated. 
The Annual SCTA Awards Banquet will be held on Saturday January 25, 2014 at the Rose Center Theatre 14140 All American Way in Westminster, CA.  In the event you cannot attend Call 818 523-7005 and I can help to arrange to have any prize donations picked up and delivered to the banquet. 
Please accept in advance the heartfelt thanks of everyone in the association for your gracious support of yet another fantastic year of SCTA Land Speed Racing. 

Sincerely,
Scott Andrews
President
Southern California Timing Association


This year the Grand National Roadster Show has a very special exhibit building....   Land Speed Racing will be featured in Building 9, with many great historical vehicles as well as many current contenders. Ron Main sent a layout for the floorplan of Bldg 9 at the upcoming Grand National Roadster Show. This will be nearly a once in a lifetime experience for land speed racers to see all their favorite cars, many of which are historical.   Click here to download the floorplan showing all of the vehicles that will be there.  Don’t Miss this great exhibit.

 


This new exhibition book by David Fetherston and Ron Main covers the collective history of Bonneville racing in a massive 302 pages. Created to celebrate 100 years of Bonneville racing, the book covers the root of land speed racing in 1898 in France and sweeps to America with an overview of the Florida Speed Trials and the first known racing on the beach in 1914. The history, stats, and photos continue onward to the current season.

Interspersed in the history and stories are over 600 photos of the great Bonneville champions, including Mickey Thompson, Donald Campbell, John Cobb, Ab Jenkins, the Burkeland family, the Lattins, the Lindsleys, Les Leggitt, Al Teague, Scott Guthrie and the Burklands. You will

close this book in awe at the wonderful historic collection of LSR streamliners, roadsters, coupes, production cars, and bikes.

Bonneville - A Century of Speed tells the tale dating from 1914, when a bunch of racers loaded a train in Salt Lake City with cars and spectators, and headed to the dry lake to see who could go the fastest. The historic details move on to relate the record- breaking events of every year of the National Speed Trials, which later turned into Speed Week.

David Fetherston is a historian, journalist and photographer, specializing in automotive subjects for magazines and books. He has been a prolific author and publisher with over 35 titles to his credit, including 1999 Automotive Book of the Year. Given access to seven major photo libraries, David Fetherston has been able to pick rare images that have not been published before or certainly haven't been seen in years, so you can look forward to seeing some great photos in this special 1st edition book.

Preview the Book: www.bonnevillecenturyofspeed.com


STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:
     I received a nice letter from one of our readers who responded to the standard “Remove” request that is normally added to group email lists.  The writer said, “I would never want to be removed from your list.  I love hearing from you and all the events you've either found or researched.  The websites are amazing.”   I post a standard “removal” response on email lists that go out to a large number of people to give some a chance to opt out of receiving messages on group lists.  If you receive such a notice at the bottom of an email I am not asking you to leave, but to tell me if being on a group list is annoying to you.  I also try and make messages to groups of people short and to the point.  It’s always better for emails to be honest and likewise for those receiving emails to be honest in return.  If you are simply placing my messages on spam blocks, or deleting the messages unread, then please let me know.  This is a common courtesy among historians and researchers to let others know that we will remove your name if you so request it and to save us unnecessary work if you don’t want to have them sent to you.
     We want to wish you a Happy New Year from the staff of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter.  Here are some other notices you may find interesting.
     Joan Denver Meyer, Bud's widow, is going to hold a Celebration of Life for Bud at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum on March 1, 2014, from 11 AM until 2 PM.  Further details will be published at
www.landspeedracing.com as we hear about them.  Bud Meyer was the nephew of Indy 500 three-time winner Louie Meyer.  Bud was also a champion boat racer.
     Harry Pallenberg and Harold Osmer have produced a video called WHERE THEY RACED, about racing venues in Southern California.  You can see it at
www.wheretheyraced.com.  I'm in the drag racing portion, but I won't win any Oscars.
     THE BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS: Two Decades of Photography by Peter Vincent has been reviewed on
www.hotrodhotline.com.  It is an amazing work of black and white, plus color photographs of the Salt Flats.
     A trailer for the movie SNAKE AND MONGOO$E on the lives of Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen can be seen at
http://snakeandmongoosemovie.com/about
     The SANTA ANA AIRPORT DRAGSTRIP (1950-1959) Reunion is held twice a year in April and October at Santiago Creek Park in Orange, California.
     The GRAND NATIONAL ROADSTER SHOW will be held on January 24-26, 2014 at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, California.
     CRUISIN' FOR A CURE is held at the Orange County Fairgrounds, in Costa Mesa, California on the last Saturday in September of each year and is the largest one day event in the area.
     Autobooks/Aerobooks (818-845-0707) and the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum (909-622-2133) carry the movies, books and videos mentioned.
     For reviews on the books and movies listed go to
www.hotrodhotline.com, Guest Columnist, Richard Parks and Roger Rohrdanz.
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     I called and talked with Dolly Granatelli yesterday.  Andy wanted no service.  He wanted people to remember him as he was.  I told her what a wonderful life Andy had and I was proud to write his story. I was surprised she answered the phone.  Dick Martin
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     It was with great sadness that I read that Bud Meyer passed away.  If you could be so kind would you please email me if and when there might be any kind of memorial for Bud.  What a mechanic/racer.  I had the privilege of driving 2 of Bud's boats for the season in the late 1960's maybe the early ‘70's. Two things stand out from that experience one was how to shake/turn the steering wheel back and forth to add drag.  That would allow you to drive into the corner just a little deeper than the guy besides you.  In these days we ran on a lot of short courses which required slowly down to make the tight single pin turns.  I had told Bud I needed a brake so I could stop at the turn. In typical Bud fashion he thought for a while and said, "hell just turn the wheel back and forth that will make a great brake" (rudder drag). I'm sure that one lesson saved me from several blow-overs during the rest of my boat driving career. As the boat started to fly I always shook the wheel to lay the nose back down. The second thing was to think about things and see if you couldn't make do with what you had.  As an example he made a dry sump system for the boat engine by taking two Chevrolet oil pumps and a couple of pieces of aluminum.  Then using the pump in the engine for a rear scavenge pump and the other two external pumps, one as a second scavenge pump and the other as a pressure pump.  You now had a dry sump system for almost no money.  I'm feeling the age old thought how one should stay in touch.  I guess I never thought he wouldn't always be around.  Ron Armstrong
    
RON: Joan Denver Meyer told me that the Celebration of Life for Bud will be at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum on March 1, 2014.  There is a lot of work left to be done so check www.landspeedracing for any updates and additional information.  I will try and get out a notice to my address book and you are on it.  I'm not sure about the time though.
 


     I see you've included the GNRS on your list of coming attractions. Nancy and I intend to be at the show to represent www.landracing.com, hoping to garner a base of long-term support for the website.  We'll be, of course, with the land speed cars and bikes on display in building 9 (I think).  Please feel free to stop by for a visit if you're at the show.  Regards -- Jon (a/k/a Seldom Seen Slim) Wennerberg
    
READERS: If you haven’t already signed up to enjoy Jon and Nancy Wennerberg’s fine LSR website at www.landracing.com, go there today and check it out.  The SLSRH is mostly historical, and Wennerberg’s website goes into a lot of detail on current events in LSR and is worth adding to your list of favorites.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Richard, are you the one who has the original Tom Medley cartoon that appeared on Blair's speed shop way back when?  I saw it framed at the NHRA tribute to my dad a couple years ago.  I would very much like to get a hi-res scan of that image or a high-quality copy photography.  We are working on a book and would like to include that image.  Thank you very much, Gary Medley
 
    GARY: I've seen it at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, but I don't know who owns it.  Most likely it was at the Tom Medley Party at the museum, hosted by Dick Martin.  I will put this in our land speed newsletter to see if anyone knows where you can find the cartoon.  Some other people have suggested a book on cartoons, as my father, Eldon Snapp and Pete Millar also created car cartoon art.  It would be an interesting project.
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     My name is Linda Wade.  My husband, Morise Wade, and his first wife, Addie Wade, used to race at the old Santa Ana Drag Strip in Orange County, California (what is now the John Wayne Airport).  Years ago I thought I saw on the internet that Addie Wade held the speed record for women's stock car (I think) when the track closed.  I have been unable to find that information since and I would love to find that record (if it is true) and give her a copy of it - or whatever document might exist with that info.  I contacted the NHRA and also their museum but neither seems to have any records from back then.  If you can help me, either with the information or perhaps providing me with a contact of someone you think might be able to help me find it, I would be so very appreciative.  Thank you so much for taking the time to help me in this search.  Linda Wade
     LINDA
: The man to talk to is Leslie Long, who has been researching and looking for times, records, photographs and stories from the Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip and who runs the reunions at Santiago Creek Park each April and October.  There were various timing associations, including two that are still in operation today (NHRA and IHRA), but none of them kept old records.  Another man who has been researching drag racing times is Bob Frey, but he is only collecting NHRA National events and there were none of these races at Santa Ana.  Don Tuttle (now deceased) and Leslie Long copied reports from the Orange County Register newspaper and created a booklet called EVERY SUNDAY DRAG RACES ORANGE COUNTY AIRPORT SANTA ANA.  There is no index in the booklet and there are a lot of races and racers listed.  You can ask Leslie if he has any more copies for sale.  You would also need to know if Addie raced under Addie Wade, a maiden name or an alias, for many racers used aliases to avoid detection by their parents.  Researchers and historians find records in the strangest places.  Sometimes they are in newspaper clippings and sometimes when we visit people they show us timing slips and tags and we take down that information and add it to our archives.  In some cases we can't find any records, but we do find people who corroborate a racer and an approximation of the times and speed.  Invite Addie and Morise to the reunions that we hold.  We would like to see all of you.

 


Bob Painton sent us a link to an old 1940 Ford Commercial with some interesting cartooning and some very easy to understand mechanical explanations.  See  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEqa_7lsm6A
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     Below is a story that appeared the other day on the front page of one of our local newspapers, the Fairfield Daily Republic. There were some errors in reporting and Jim McCombe has corrected them so that it is now historically accurate and can be published in the Land Speed newsletter.  I hope this turns out to be a really big event; I live only about 2 miles from the old track location.  Bob Choisser, Vacaville, CA.
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Fairfield Daily Republic, Vacaville, California.  (The following article has been amended and rewritten based on the notes from Jim McCombe).
     At one time, race car drivers from as far away as England came to Vacaville to race.  At its height in 1965 and 1966, the Sports Car Club of America held part of its national championship series at the Vaca Valley Raceway, while the roaring thunder of dragsters was a common sound on the weekends, according to race announcer and later co-lessee Jim McCombe.  "We were the first track In Northern California to use the Christmas Tree starting lights (for drag racing), but we never got the recognition for it," McCombe said.  The idea to build a raceway east of Vacaville goes all the way back to late 1946, according to research done by local historian and Vacaville Heritage Council member Doug Rodgers, who wrote a history of the raceway in the 2011 Solano Historian.  The track was located on vacant land on the northwest corner of Lewis and Weber Road just south of what was then Highway 40.
     Rodgers described what remains of the raceway now as little more than "a ghost track" with little more than patches of weed-dominated asphalt, a lonely power pole and a decrepit entry gate.  "It just crumbled away," Rodgers said, adding that almost all of the track was disked under after it was closed to keep local kids from sneaking their cars onto the track for impromptu races.  One has to take to the air or use Google satellite maps to see the discernible outline of the oval track and the drag strip.  The aerial view makes it easy to understand why the drag race organizers had their dragsters race north to south.  McCombe said that if they ran the drag races the other direction, there was a good chance that racers who failed to slow down quickly enough would end up tearing down eastbound Highway 40/I-80, much to the chagrin of more sedate commuters.  The Dragstrip only ran 1 year (1958) in a South to North direction before reverting back to the traditional North to South configuration
     McCombe had been working at the track when he was offered the job for $35 "and I was told you could race your own car," McCombe said.  Its promoters in the 1950's said it was the second track in the state to be built for sports car racing and designed in cooperation with the Sport Car Club of America for maximum driver and spectator safety, according to Rodgers.  The track was built by Royce Ratterman, a Richmond contractor, and Harry Burge, a Concord businessman, as an Indy-style 2.1-mile, seven-turn race track which also incorporated a 1.25-mile interior oval with banked turns and a 4,500-foot drag strip on the east side.  It was reputed to be one of the first such tracks to have all three in one location.  Everything from Indianapolis-style cars, sprint cars and midgets, to dragsters, motorcycles and sports cars from Fords to Ferraris completed at the raceways that also boasted grandstand seating, concession areas and parking for 15,000.
     Racing, at least drag racing, was held in the area before the Vaca Valley Raceways was opened, according to Rodgers' research.  Dragsters from as far away as San Diego came up to an abandoned gliderport runways called the Vacaville Drag Strip, where locals raced their drag cars in the 1950's.  Vaca Valley Raceways opened on Labor Day in September, 1956 on land owned by Durham Jones with two days of sports car road races sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and the ribbon cut by then-Mayor Albert Porter.  An opening-day flier described it as "the greatest competition center in the west."  McCombe was there, towing one of the first cars to race at the track.  It was a 1936 Chevy six-cylinder Coupe brought from his home in San Pablo.  The Chevy was owned by Jerry and Claude Washburn of San Pablo along with partner Charlie McCullough of Hayward.  McCombe towed the Chevy to the dragstrip with a '49 Olds 98 that he raced in the D/Stock class.
     Opening day had a good crowd, but also had the first death on the drag strip, when a driver lost control of his dragster.  "The next thing I saw was a cloud of dust. The car did a series of barrel rolls and the driver was ejected," said McCombe.  The car that crashed on opening day was taken away.  "There is a car that is still a heap on the property today but that is a 1960 Mercury Comet that claimed the life of a Woodland, California driver in 1972," McCombe added.  Racers were made of pretty stern stuff.  McCombe remembers one driver who McCombe told should chain down the hood of his 1956 Chevy, only to be ignored.  The Chevy took off in the subsequent race only to have the hood fly up, causing the driver to careen off the track and over a berm, snapping his seat belt and ejecting him from the car.  Joe Murdaca went looking for the driver and told me this story; "We went and looked for him.  I heard a moan and it was the driver, Walt Bumgarner," said Murdaca.  "He had lost his seat belt, his helmet and got ejected.  He broke a thigh bone, but still continued to race (after he healed)," Murdaca told McCombe.
     Races drew some of that era's big names, because the raceway's operators offered purses up to $1,000; good racing money then.  It became a favorite venue for drivers from throughout the state, according to McCombe.  It was also leased out for testing, driver schools and regional/national road racing events, according to Rodgers.  An idea that did not go over so well was running four dragsters side-by-side, which McCombe remembered as popular with the crowds and "created a lot of smoke."  It also generated an angry next-day call from the group that sanctioned dragster events, telling them to knock that off.  "The track's biggest show was as 8-car Funny Car event in 1968 that brought notables in the sport from all over the county," McCombe said.  "Orange County Raceway in Southern California was known for its 54 car events," McCombe continued.      The track's longest show involved a car whose engine exploded halfway through the series.  Because some of the engine parts were made of magnesium, the Dixon Fire Department declared that they would simply have to let the car burn itself out.  "We didn't finish that show until 3 a.m.," said McCombe with a chuckle.  Allen Finley remembers another race involving the funny car called THE MAN FROM S.M.O.K.E., which burned so much rubber that the haze drifted out over Highway 40 and drivers thought it came from a grass fire.  The raceway was the first track in Northern California to run a jet-propelled race car called THE UNTOUCHABLE, according to Bill Taggart Jr, the son of Bill Taggart, who took over running the track from Jones in 1968.  It was also the first track in the nation to break the 12-second stock car barrier, when Tommy Grove of Oakland fired his MELROSE MISSILE #1 across the finish line in 11.99 seconds.  Though Grove did run the first sub 12 second run for a Super Stocker at Vacaville, he bettered that time a week later at Fremont, California, which got most of the recognition.  Taggart Jr liked his father's business and racing so much that one day the youngster, not even 10, hopped into the '38 Buick owned and driven by his parents, Bill and Evelyn Taggart and started driving down the track.  His father spotted the young driver and the subsequent punishment gave a new meaning to the old racing phrase "spanking the competition."
     Vacaville restaurant owner Joe Murdaca was one of the many locals who raced at the Raceway with his 1966 Chevelle.  He joined other local racers such as Jimmy Utz, Gary Pena and Bill Bradshaw.  "I was just a young kid who was interested in racing.  I had a lot of fun doing it," said Murdaca, who added that his family's restaurant would stay open a little late to allow one of the out-of-down drivers to stop by after the races to pick up a pizza.  Neighbors weren't annoyed by the noise because the raceways were so far out of town.  The track was doomed by the deteriorating condition of the track asphalt that was never fully refurbished.  One of the original builders, Burge, had a habit of taking all the profits from the track and spending them on building a nightclub on Concord, according to McCombe.  
     When McCombe and Taggart took over the track as a partnership, "it was like a washboard at the finish line," McCombe said of the track conditions.  "We needed to completely redo it and we didn't have the money.  We ran small events, but we didn't run any fast cars," McCombe said.  "By the beginning of the 1970's, we knew the end was near because better tracks were coming along, and Sears Point was the coup de gras," McCombe continued.  Vaca Valley Raceways finally closed in 1972, with both McCombe and Taggart going to work at Sears Point, where McCombe still does announcing for races.  There has been talk since then of bringing back the race track, but nothing has come of it.  The Vacaville Heritage Council and some of the racers are in the process of organizing a reunion in the spring or summer for all those who worked or raced at the raceway, as well as some of the cars.  "You would not believe how many cars that were out at the raceways that are still out there," McCombe concluded.  For more information about the Vacaville Heritage Council, call 447-0518 or go to
www.vacavilleheritagecouncil.org.


     Thanks for the updates, besides getting some ink in Peter's book; we will be in the "land speed racers" pavilion with Target 550 at the GNRS.  Marlo Treit
    
READERS: The Grand National Roadster Show in January will have a building set aside for land speed vehicles.  Come see Marlo and the other racers there.
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STAFF NOTES: The following correspondence is private, but it is an interesting question, so part of the question and answer is reprinted here.
    "I bought an old racing trophy. The brass name plate was missing so I didn't know where this trophy was from or who it was given to back in the day.  My best guess is it is from the mid-1950's.  Even though it didn't have a name plate, I thought it was a great looking old racing trophy.  I purchased it for my collection and it sat on top of my bookcase with the other old racing trophies I have.  I noticed on the bottom it is written Santa Ana.  It was written in pencil and at first wasn't easy to read, but it does say SANTA ANA.  This trophy is 6 1/2 inches tall, has a wood base, a round marble ball with a metal modified chop top drag or LSR style coupe on top.  This little trophy is very heavy, almost 2 pounds.  Do you think this could be a trophy for the Santa Ana Drags?"
    
READERS: Race tracks and drag strips often offered winners a choice between a trophy, a war bond, cash, a track jacket or some other prize in addition to any purses won.  Winners often chose war bonds, but in many cases they took the trophy or it was mandatory.  There are a lot of trophies and plaques coming on the market as the old racers die off and heirs receive them in the estate.  Many trophies are simply tossed in the trash can, which is a huge loss.  Others are sold at garage, estate and yard sales or at swap meets.  These trophies range from rather cheap materials to sterling silver cups and trophies.  Because so many trophies were lost there is a growing market for them and the value fluctuates wildly.  They are valuable artifacts and if they have a history and provenance their intrinsic dollar value increases. 
     In this case the owner of the trophy has a reunion that he can attend and a few people who are still around from the period of June 1950 to the end of 1959 when the drag strip closed.  That is the best source to find out the authenticity of an object; attend the reunions.  The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum holds reunions from time to time and you should check their website to find out what they are doing.  The Santa Ana Airport Dragstrip Reunion is held in Orange, California twice a year, in April and October and I will post the date, time and place in this newsletter.  Other sources are Jim Miller, Bob Frey, Greg Sharp and Leslie Long. Don't forget to go to the Grand National Roadster Show, the L. A. Roadster Show and other car shows in your area and take the trophy with you to show off and see if anyone recognizes it.
     When you are finished and have gathered as much information as you can type out the WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHERE on a sheet of paper and keep it with the trophy.  Every bit of history that you can find will enhance the material value and the personal value of the object.  We appreciate all of you who rescue these treasures and keep them safe and secure for the next generation.  Anyone who has photographs and text material on a historical object (car, timing tag, time slip, trophy, plaque, etc) may send me that data to post in the newsletter to see if the objects can be better identified.
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     I ventured out through axle breaking country side to visit Two Brothers Junk yard.  It is a small, but more importantly, the only junk yard in Pahrump (Nevada).  I went to just look around for a cruise control servo of a particular number and I was pointed to different areas of the yard where such might be found.  So, off I wandered.  Could not find what I wanted although some came close.  Then I spotted some rarities.  There were 2, yes two, AMC Pacers sitting there, just behind a Nash Rambler.  And there was one of the MG Midgets, with the big fat American bumpers (must be a late 1960's early '70's?), 3 Jag sedans, a BMW of the same vintage of the Jags, circa 1988, and 3 Mercedes, which I didn't look at.  Then Sergio, one of the brothers, showed me a front clip of a late '90's Ford truck and there was my servo, with the connector.  I have been looking in my catalog, eBay, and had seen prices for just the servo coming in around 100 bucks and another possible 50 bucks for the connector.  I got it all for 20 bucks and I did not even have to get my tools out.  If any of you think you might be interested in the odd ball cars, I can send you the phone number.  Their English is not necessarily good.   Larry Mayfield,
drmayf@mayfco.com
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     Happy New Year to you and thanks for the latest update of events and things to check out.  I’m just back from the Coventry Museum of Transport which houses Thrust2, ThrustSSC and the Pit Trailer.  It’s about to begin a bit of a revamp which will mean both displays being moved so that should be interesting.  While Richard Noble continues to drive forward the BloodhoundSSC project towards its goal of 1,000mph, the reason for the visit was to join others for his wedding celebration to Jo Finch. Naturally the only place for that to happen was where the cars are displayed.  As you can see from one of the photographs this must be the world’s fastest wedding carRobin Richardson
     READERS
: Robin Richardson was a volunteer on the ThrustSSC car owned by Sir Richard Noble and driven by Andrew Green at Black Rock Desert in 1997.  That was the year that Jack Mendenhall led a group of Gold Coast R&R club members to the playa to volunteer to help as security for Noble and for Craig Breedlove in the Spirit of America LSR car as they attempted to break the unlimited land speed record.  I went with Jack and Dave Marquez and in our group was Evelyn Roth, Don Edwards and another ten or so volunteers.  We really enjoyed the comradeship of the Brits.  They were real racers and friends.  Craig never could overcome problems to the SOA, even though the crew tried so hard.  That’s one of the exasperating things about land speed racing; you can have a great crew, parts and a concept of design, but that doesn’t mean that you can go fast.  It takes trial and error; lots of trial and error.  The British team managed by Noble went through plenty of trials too and at times they felt that they wouldn’t get the record.  Then after six weeks of trying everything fell into place and they set the record at 714 and then re-set it again at 763 MPH.
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EDITOR’S NOTES: The following history of Elmer Snyder was sent to us by Stormy Byrd, Anna Marco and Tim Love.  They gave us permission to reprint their work and photographs.
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The (continuing) Legend of Elmer “Unsprung” Snyder.  By Stormy Byrd, Anna Marco & Tim Love, © 2012 Photos Courtesy Elmer Snyder & Tim Love.

EARLY HOT ROD HERO
     In this day of 320 mph dragsters, lives one of the true original hot rodders.  He’s some 85 year old young kid named Elmer “Unsprung” Snyder, living up in Newman, CA.  After his duty as a Navy Aviation mechanic up north in Alameda County (1943-46), like most young men, he got bit by the Hot Rod bug.  Around ’52, Elmer built his first race car (named “Ol’ Gal”) in his backyard and he’s still driving it today. Then, it was T rails welded to a ‘37 Ford RR, currently with an Ed Houtz 296 Flathead-Navarro intake w/ 3 -97’s, Sharp heads, Harmon & Collins Mag, shifting through a Ford side shift gearbox modified to use Cad LaSalle gears.  Since there was no tig or mig in those days, he hand bent the aluminum tubing for the steering wheel and GAS welded it and the hub together.  He made the gas tank from aluminum pipe as follows, “took a flat aluminum sheet and put it between 2 plow discs and ran a tractor over them to get the dish in them for the ends.  Then gas welded the tank together.  Also since there were no shelf stroker cranks in those days, you had to take a stick welder and weld up the crank journals yourself and have them ground.  Cranks lasted maybe 15 runs or so…” 
Fascinating isn’t it?  Makes one appreciate all the parts we can now buy off the shelf!!
     What made this car infamous was that Elmer bolted the front axle to the chassis (as is with all NHRA dragsters today). It was one of the first few slingshot dragsters ever built and the first “unsprung” car and is historical in that it is recognized as part of the evolution of rail dragsters (after “The Bug”). Besides, Snyder was naturally gifted with a quick reflex time off the line.  Literally, Elmer still is ahead of his time.

UNSPRUNG TERROR
     During the mid-50’s, "Unsprung" was a terror in C/Gas Dragster at Fremont-Kingdon-Bakersfield-Salinas-Lions-Henderson etc. etc; Tracks running 11’s @124+.  By the 1959 March Meet, Elmer had installed a 263 overhead valve Chevy with Algon Injection, in the “ol gal,” however he didn’t have a crew & wanted to race, so he made the trek on his own.  Finding help upon arrival, that being Jay Cheetham’s son (to drive the push truck), Elmer easily won the C/GD class & then won against a B/GD thus sending him to the finals!  During eliminations, Jay Cheetham had a fatal accident & Elmer was alone to face Tommy Ivo for the Gas Dragster title.  Nonetheless, he pushed off to face Ivo and as they left the line, Ivo went into a huge wheel stand & all but gave up.  Meantime, Elmer was hauling ass into history when his car died.  In all of the confusion with Cheetham’s death, Elmer had forgot to top off the gas allowing Ivo to come from behind to claim the 1st March Meet Gas Dragster title & the $100 prize. Damn shame that’s but part of this fine tale.

TRUE FORERUNNER OF DRAG RACING
      Elmer also ran Bellico Drag Strip, which was an independent as most tracks were at the time.  Wally Parks who was working on insurance arranged it so independent strips would have to get insurance through NHRA.  Elmer didn’t care for this at all and let it be known.  He was also “beating up big time on the Magazine cars” when Wally Parks was editor at Hot Rod & it wasn’t looking good seeing this home-built car whoopin’ ass on the “Pro Cars” running mid 9’s @ 155+.  He was running a 283 stroked to a 327.  Even when Elmer won a big title, he couldn’t get ink; they were giving it to the So-Cal boys not the Nor Cal ones.  In ’62, Wally’s right hand man, Bernie Partridge, set forth the edict that Elmer’s car was illegal due to “no front suspension.” How ironic: Elmer was actually ahead on the bell curve with his solid suspension.  He ran a Willys Gasser for a few years after the “Unsprung Ol Gal” was outlawed.
     Then he built a lightweight tube frame dragster chassis and installed a 283 stroked to 327 with a blower, on gas.  Snyder was ahead of his time always building the lightest weight car possible, knowing that light weight equals speed.  Additionally, Elmer Snyder was one of the early pilots to try a “Drag-chute,” a 17’ cargo unit that kept breaking the tether lines until they solved that issue; then the thing yanked the car’s rear end 3’ in the air!  As Elmer recalls, “Real exciting!”   In 1968, Elmer moved to Hawaii to run Jim Pflueger’s “Speed Center” machine shop.  Meanwhile, he told his son, Dick, to throw the 1953 slingshot away, but Dick doesn’t throw anything away and put it in the barn instead.


INSTANT JUNK - JUST ADD GAS
     Elmer sold the small block Chevy and took the chassis to Hawaii and built a blown big block 396 stroked to 480.  In Hawaii, Snyder’s new dragster was named “Instant Junk - Just add Gas” and won plenty at Hawaii Raceway Park running 7’s @ 200 mph. Elmer also established Snyder Machine works on the island, which is still in business today.  He raced “Instant Junk” blown until the early ‘70’s when nitro became the rage and NHRA killed the “Top Eliminator“ class that it once had nurtured.  Some folks still say, “This is when they (NHRA) sold/leased their souls to the Nitro gods (corporations).” Elmer eventually sold the “Instant Junk” racecar, retired, and didn’t relocate back to California until the 1990’s.  However, in the mid-80’s, the Nostalgia craze began, so Elmer along with friends Tim Love, Ed Houtz, “MO” Williamson, Bob Keith  & Carl Frandsen took “Old Gal” off the wall, cleaned her up & stuffed a Flathead back between the rails.  "Unsprung" & his lady were a team again.  Many thanks to Dick Snyder for saving the ’53.

THE 2010 HOT ROD GATHERING
     Watching Elmer over the years at various Nostalgia events from Fremont to Fontana, it was only at matter of time before he & Stormy Byrd met to do battle.  The event was The Eagle Field Drags hosted by promoter Rocky Phillips & Joe Davis (owner of Eagle Field 1/8th mile drags in Dos Palos, CA).  Elmer & Stormy had the top times of the day. “Unsprung“ came over & asked Stormy “if he would like to have a run off for top dog.” Byrd agreed and would give Snyder a four car jump at the flag as Stormy’s “Revelation” was running 1000 horses of blown Chevy against Snyder’s Unsprung 3- deuce 296 Flatty on gas….it was only fair, right?

RACE
     Stormy recounts the fateful day, “On the track peering through my goggles, I watched as flagman R.J. Bailey motioned us to the line.  This epic battle was on or so I thought.  At the quiver of R.J’s arm, I heard the rumble of Elmer’s flathead dumping the clutch & he was off with wheels in the air before the flag was knee-high.  Realizing that I just had my ass handed to me, “Unsprung” was 5 cars out already.  I hammered the throttle, blowing the tires into a fogbank.  If I lifted, they would say I gave it to him, so I kept it on the firewall as I saw him pull high gear, trying to reel him in, foot by foot.  At the stripe however, it was the gate-job.  The 85-year old youngster would be Top Eliminator again that day-57 years later with his lady.  How cool is that!  It was an honor to race this man, my hero.  We should all be as young as Elmer in our hearts & minds. As far as I’m concerned, I’m with you buddy.  I‘m hoping “Unsprung” and his “gal” will be around for a long time to come.”  Elmer quips, “When I grow up, I’ll knock this off.  I’m now 85 and I’ve been driving the same car for 60 years.  I got banned from the NHRA for being a badass and consistently whipping butt on their top drivers. (Word deleted by editor) You don’t stop playing because you get older; you get old when you stop playing.”  The legend continues…Special Thanks: Tim Love and Eagle Field Drag Strip.
                                               -----------------------------
CUSTOM or ROD TECH SHEET
Owner:  Elmer  “Unsprung” Snyder
Occupation: Retired Racer and engine builder
Builder: Elmer Snyder
Year: 1953
Make:  slingshot Dragster
Chop:  NA
Channel: narrowed Model T frame
Section:
Other Body Modifications: 90” wheelbase, 1100 lbs, Crosley front end
Grille/shell: NA
Paint Color:  aluminum
Paint Type: NA
Painter: NA
Custom Graphics: lettering
Engine: Ed Houtz, 296 Flathead Ford currently (had 283 & 327 Chevys in ‘50s)
Transmission:  Ford side-shift box with Cad LaSalle gears
Intake & Carb: Navarro intake – three 97 carbs
Ignition:   Harmon & Collins Magneto
Exhaust:  headers
Rear End:  1939 Ford
Suspension Front:   NONE – Unsprung
Suspension Rear:  None
Brakes, Front:  None
Brakes, Rear:  1939 Ford
Wheels/Size:  Fronts  14” Crosley, Rear  15” Ford
Tires/Size:
Seats: race bucket
Upholstery: NA
Dashboard: handmade
Steering Column:       Model A box 
Steering Wheel: homemade
Interior Extras: Elmer
Windows: none
Taillights: none
Club Affiliation:  Founding Member, West Side Auto Club  (Gustine, CA)
Anything Else:  drag chute, always run gasoline
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TAKE A DRAG HOLIDAY...IN HAWAII.  By Le Roi Tex Smith 
     So give in to the lady and book a flight to Hawaii...Kauai to be exact! The garden island, first of paradise to be populated, festooned with gorgeous birds and flowers, great beaches without the feel of Los Angeles, knockout drag racing...???  Yep, Hawaii is a wonderful place for hot rodders, dedicated drag racers and street rodders and custom nuts, this is a great place to lay on the beach. Or under a car. Try it, and you are going to be hooked.
     I first became acquainted with the island race scene when I was at Hot Rod Magazine, and we got plenty of photos from Honolulu concerning drag racing on airstrips. Wally Parks made several trips to the islands because of NHRA interest in the quarter-mile everywhere in the world, so we got first-hand reports on how the rod sport was progressing out in the mid-pacific. Quite well, thank you. Perfect weather (which drove so-Cal hot rodding during the Thirties and Forties), and plenty of early open Fords that had not yet succumbed to terminal rust. Add plenty of west coast rodders in the military cycling through, and you had an excellent breeding place for drag racing. 
     Today, there are drag strips on Kauai, the big island of Hawaii, Maui, and hopefully the most populated island of Oahu will regain a top fuel quarter again very soon. Street rods are everywhere, so are street rodders. Dick Scritchfield (originator of the LA Roadster Club) lives in Kailua-Kona on the big island, still with his iconic '32 touring rod). No rust because he keeps it clean and garaged.  Interestingly, the drag cars run the gamut of classes, but top fuelers are limited to certain strips, and sometimes only to exhibition runs. That will change as strips such as Kauai improve the surfaces. Even so, the racing is intense. Often there may be only two vehicles in a particular class, but they run nose to nose to the delight of the most laid back crowd you will ever see. 
     The night time races are best attended, of course, and because of the hibachi bar-b-cues plus the extended family atmosphere, it is all a kind of weekend pot-luck with cars.  Kauai is no exception. I have adopted this island as my place of dreams because the weather report is recorded once a year and played back by the TV and radio every day: temperature from the high 60s to mid-80s, trade winds to 15, showers possible. On the western sides of any island, the showers less likely. Kauai raceway is on the west, making in the westernmost drag strip in the United States. 
     It is located in the least populated area, separated from the ocean waves by a low line of sand dunes, and if you don't get stopped at the strip end, you have a further dozen or so miles of open beach to wind-down. The strip itself is right out of the 1950s, way low key, with ample pits on the water side. Opposite the north/south quarter is a raised spectator "platform" made with county participation: There was a plethora of used tires, so the strip guys got the county to pile them alongside the strip, and doze sand over the rubber. A kind of instant grandstands.  Of course, you can take a short stroll through the dunes to that long and uninhabited beach, but I wouldn't advise you swim there.  Being a haole newbie, maybe you sink out of sight, no more plenny racing for you! 
     Races are held monthly on Kauai, you check their schedule on Garding Island Racing Association. Same internet info for the other islands.  During the week, you wander around in a daze just doing incredible beaches, some mountain top hiking, snorkeling, diving, fishing, sailing, getting sunburned, superb food, and checking the occasional street rod. I'll meet you for fish and chips at Nawiliwili Harbor.....
 


Personal Best.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Republished by permission from www.hotrodhotline.com, Internet Brands and the author.

     Mine’s Bigger Than Yours.  Mine’s Better Than Yours.  When we were teenagers, these were vital words in our vocabulary.  In one case objective, in the other subjective. In one event, what we thought, in the other, what others thought.. And some of this was even about our cars. Eventually, we learned that neither was particularly important in world matters, especially when we discovered that there were two other words that really did matter: Personal Best.  I learned early on in sports that PB was the real goal of any effort. I might be very good at something, but there would always be someone come along who would be better. The real reward was in the trip, not in the crown!  That's the way I see it in hot rodding.
     There are no hard and fast rules in this hobby/sport. No unchanging guidelines guaranteed to produce undisputed superiority of either vehicle or owner/builder. We have but one measuring stick, and that is performance. The old Put Up or Shut Up dictum that is, often, the final law.  In racing, he who gets there first be the winner. Second place is only first loser! But that is not the case in street rodding.  Or old car restoration. Or show cars, or a host of other car thingies. If hot rodding is objective, we can proclaim a number one. At least for that moment in time. But not in he overwhelming car enthusiast field. There everything is subject to interpretation, to the viewpoint of he who makes the decision.
     Which is why the vast majority of automotive enthusiast activity should be accepted with a huge grain of salt. Winner of a major car show? To me, everyone who attends that gathering, as participant or spectator, is the winner. Grab the big trophy at some shindig or other? Who else but you really cares, therefore it only matters to you. Which is where the Personal Best comes in. Just making it cross-country to do a gig in Austin, or LA, or Indy may not mean a thing to most of the rodders present, but to the builder of a fresh ride, here is an accomplishment of major credit. And next time the achievement will be better, each time becoming a new personal best. All the applause in the stadium, all the chest inflation that comes with a magazine feature, all the back clapping in the world is secondary to personal knowledge of doing better and better.
     This is why I try to never criticize a person's efforts in building his own vehicle. If he does his best, that is. A half-assed attempt at anything shows immediately in the result, whether it be the New York Marathon or a first time attempt at restoring a model A Ford. I do not, ever, include a Personal Best salutation to anyone who merely writes a check for a result.  It is very easy for an old hand at anything to scoff at the efforts of a fresh face. It is equally easy to dismiss as unimportant the young guy or gal who wander into a hot rod gathering in something that is obviously early in the making, or hardly of a quality with other vehicles present. It is much more difficult to consider the vehicle, and the participants in light of their credentials. Rare, indeed, is the teenager who has all the talents to create masterpieces. Rarer, still, is the mature grey hair who turns his attention to a lifetime dream and tries to either build, or design the perfect ride. For them, whatever they accomplish is a personal best. That is all that matters, bucko. Put away the critique sheets and extend the hand of fellowship. That might just be your very own personal best.
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Gone Racin’…
When the Hot Rods Ran; May 15, 1938, by Bill CarrollBook review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

     How often do you hear someone say, “this is a must buy book.”  Well, this is one of those must have books for your hot rod library.  This is a statement that is placed at the beginning and not the end of a review and the reason is rather strange.  For this book has a lot of flaws, but it is one of those books that is a pace setter and the flaws are unimportant.  Why is this book so important? Because it is the first book of its kind, before any other was even thought about. It was written and published in 1991, but the photos and ideas came from the very first SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) land speed time trials.  That event occurred on May 15, 1938 and William Carroll was there to record it.  Strangely enough, Carroll was attracted to the event by all the excitement buzzing in the young hot rodding movement. He went to Muroc, which is now called Edwards Air Force Base, in the Mojave (pronounced Mo-ha-vay) Desert to see what this race was all about.  He never went back and his career progressed in other directions. There are many other books that have more text and photos and are indexed. But Carroll’s book is superior to them all because he was the first. The analogy is this; if you could have an expensive Bible, or go back in time and watch the first authors of the Bible write their books, which would you want?  Carroll’s book, written recently, still contains his thoughts, feelings and photos from that original event that transformed auto racing in the West. From that day, land speed and drag racing trace their roots. This is the book that starts your library.
     
When the Hot Rods Ran; May 15, 1938, by William Carroll, is a softbound book on thick, non-glossy paper.  All the photos are in black and white, but the quality is superb and the lack of color does nothing to lessen their value.  The book is oddly shaped and is shorter and longer, which make it difficult to fit into your library shelves without sticking out.  The size is 8 inches tall and 11 inches long.  William Carroll is a free spirit and I sort of feel that he chose this shape so that you couldn’t avoid the book.  It has no index and you should know by now that a book without an index is very irritating for a reviewer and historians.  But since there is hardly any text and the captions are very general in nature, it does not impact this book as much as some others.  When the Hot Rods Ran; May 15, 1938 is 80 pages in length and has 113 black and white photos with an additional 22 miscellaneous charts, map and program inserts.  The book is small, the text is nearly non-existent, but what it lacks in size it makes up in originality.  The photos are stunning.  Carroll even flew in an airplane over the event and took aerial photos, which are breathtaking.  It would be nearly six decades before Ralph Foster would take to the air and replicate these photos with color photography of his own on the anniversary of the Muroc Reunion.  The author mentions very few of the participants on that historic day.  He names Nellie Taylor, who would start up the Taylor and Ryan Garage in Whittier.  Carroll follows Taylor from his home to the dry lakes and back, documenting the events of the weekend.  Others mentioned include Ernie McAfee, Johnny Junkin, Tom Dowlen, among other young racers.  He gives a brief history of the event, some of which he observed and some that he learned about later.
     The photos are rare and unique.  I’ve seen lots of photos from the early and late 1940’s, which are in other collections.  Photos from 1938 are much harder to come by and the period 1942 through 1945 is almost non-existent because of the elimination of auto racing because of World War II.  Carroll’s photographs are simply first class.  They are exceptional, rare and evocative.  He took photos from every angle and perspective imaginable.  These aren’t the run of the mill photos of a car standing alone.  He wasn’t interested in just the cars.  He was recording the people and the historicity of the event, although he may not have realized it at the time.  You will see photos of young men warming themselves by a bonfire and others sleeping under a car, just as I remember it as a boy.  The photos of the chill night air, the morning sunrise and the stirring of life as the racers embrace the day.  Carroll shows, through his photos and captions, the organization that the SCTA members developed so that they could race on the dry lakes of Southern California.  He shows photos of the timers, judges, starters and other officials.  Young men committed to a cause and a sport that is still going strong to this very day.  The faces of the men and women are fresh and full of anticipation.  This is their version of Woodstock and they will take this experience with them back to the towns that they came from and spread the word of this new form of auto racing.  Carroll paid a pilot $2.50 for a ten minute plane ride and the aerial photos are outstanding.  That sounds like very little in today’s currency, but in the 1930’s that amount would have purchased ten hamburgers, fries and malts for you and your friends.
When the Hot Rods Ran; May 15, 1938
is self-published by the author, William Carroll through Auto Book Press, and copies can be purchased directly from the author at  or P.O. Bin 71, Raton, New Mexico  87740.  $20 includes shipping within the United States.  Also on Amazon and Google Books.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…
A Teenage Experience, by John Chambard
Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

   John Chambard has created a wonderful little booklet called A Teenage Experience.  It isn’t a book, nor has it been published, and yet it is worth reviewing.  Chambard told me recently that he has made 35 of his booklets for his children, friends and interested parties, though he didn’t quite tell me how.  The question needs to be raised as to why I should even bother to review a book that few people will ever see or buy for their libraries.   The reason is simple.  John Chambard went about creating this book in a unique way and this is why I want you to read this review and consider adopting his methods.  A Teenage Experience measures 5 by 8 inches in size and is made with normal computer bond white paper.  The cover is heavier computer bond paper.  Chambard simply typed out his story on a normal piece of paper, copied it, used heavier bond paper for the front and back, cut the normal 8 by 11 inch computer paper in half, assembled the pages in sequence and put three heavy duty staples on the left hand margin to hold the book together.  Cost to make each book is estimated at two dollars, plus postage.  A Teenage Experience has 84 pages and is self-published by the author.   There are 52 black and white photographs, 19 color photos, 1 diagram, 1 letter, 14 chapters, an introduction, an epilogue and a section on new developments.  There is no table of contents and no index.  You cannot buy this book unless you contact John Chambard and he will most likely give you a copy.  The photographs are computer generated on normal bond paper and there is some degradation from the originals.  The writing style is straightforward and has a personal charm to it.  Chambard tells his story simply and factually as if you were bench racing with him.  A Teenage Experience is a story of a young man growing up in California and the car culture and friends that he makes.  It is an interesting story that is too short to make up into a book, but is refreshing and quick reading in a booklet format.
   Chambard lays the background for his book in Chapter one.  His father is an oilman who senses that the Great Depression is coming to an end and that war with Germany and Japan is imminent.  He sells his small holdings and invests in machinery in order to take advantage of military orders for parts that are sure to be placed as the government rebuilds the military that has been allowed to age.  The chapters are short, barely covering a single topic.   Chambard tells us about the local area that he grew up in and the origins of the Bung Holers club.  He tells us about the cars they owned and the experiences that he had at high school.  It is sometimes hard to follow the story line as it doesn’t always go in sequence, but each chapter holds the reader’s interest.  He tells us little about World War II itself, which had such a great impact on daily life in the early ‘40’s.  John’s dad, Lee Chambard had made all the right decisions right up to the end of the war.  Lee sold his machine shop in 1944 and tried to build parts for rockets, which fizzled.  A Savings and Loan and lumber business in Orange County, California, failed simply because he was ahead of the boom.  Lee’s business problems actually brought him closer to his son.  The father always wanted to own a Duesenberg.  Only 400 of these cars were ever made and the rich and powerful drove them around in opulence.  Lee purchased engine number J-157 and he and John built the car around this engine.   John would race this car at the dry lakes, turning a very respectable 125 mph in 1947.  John Chambard was a member of the Bung Holers car club and in turn, the club was a charter member of the new Mojave Timing Association.  John was a charter member of another car club, the Road Dusters, which divided from the Bung Holers.
   John met George Rubio and formed a lasting friendship that was to affect his entire life.  George introduced John to Esther Felix, who would become Chambard’s wife.  George was also older and influenced John to change his college major from business to engineering.   John was now the president of the Road Dusters and was involved with dry lakes land speed racing and club activities.  Rubio would meet Bob Morton and they would team up to set records in land speed racing, and Chambard would help crew for them.  Chambard was also a crewman on Doc Boycesmith’s track roadster and they raced at Saugus, Gardena, Huntington Beach and other oval race courses.  Boycesmith hired Don Freeland to drive his car and Chambard got to know other famous oval track race drivers of the era, including Manny Ayulo, Jack McGrath, Troy Ruttman and Pat Flaherty.  John’s first trip to Bonneville was in 1950, as a crewman on the Rubio/Morton team.  A Teenage Experience
is filled with wonderful remembrances of friends and events.  Chambard recalls PK Vawter and how this young man found school boring and so left classes to spend his time in the public libraries.  There are warm stories about the trips into the desert with his father and the deserted cars that they discovered.  Lee Chambard moved the family to New Mexico and John finished his college degree at the University of New Mexico.  John would go on to earn a pilot’s license, learn to sail a boat, work as an engineer for DuPont for thirty one years and write his memoirs.  He gives us a summary of what happened to his high school friends and racing buddies.  A Teenage Experience is easy to read and very interesting.  Chambard does an excellent job of recording events and making us want to care about the people that he knew.  More than just a memoir, A Teenage Experience is a template for you to copy as you write your own life’s story.  Every person has something of value to leave behind to their family and friends.  Every person has a story to tell.  Chambard simply does it in an engaging and interesting way.  You may not be able to get a copy of this booklet, but you can copy Chambard’s style and format to create your own work of art and storytelling.  This booklet is rated a 7 out of 8 sparkplugs for readability and interesting characterizations.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…
Deuce; Seventy-five of the finest 1932 Ford Hot Rods of all time, by the Editors of The Rodder’s Journal.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.

     The editors of The Rodder’s Journal have come up with a massive and impressive “Bible for the 1932 Deuce.”  Notice how reviewers can be led into an enthusiastic hyperbole with words like massive, impressive and Bible.  Sometimes critics and reviewers can overuse words to the point that they lose all meaning to the average reader.  What is it that we are trying to accomplish?  Well, for one thing reviewers enjoy reading and they love to possess their own unique library with books that they think should be the cornerstones of all readers.  That’s where we get such adjectives as “it has to be Webster’s.”  Or, “that’s the Bible of all books on hot rodding.”  Another favorite is, “it’s the Holy word on the sport that we love.”  That’s one reason that I go into so much detail about how a book is made, what it looks like, how it was put together, what’s it made of, what’s in the book, it’s size and the quality of the paper, binding, photographs, book jacket and other mundane things.  Just as a hot rodder wants to know about every part and process in building his hot rod, so should readers want to know what a book is like and something about the contents, before they spend their money to add that book to their library.  A library is a very important part of the hot rodding community.  It tells people what we like, what we are interested in and who we are.  All of us should have a library that drives us to achieve.  Just as we put photos, posters and paintings on our wall, a good library makes our lives better.  I will leave the superlatives to the end when I rate this book and for now I will simply give you the “nuts and bolts” of Deuce; Seventy-five of the finest 1932 Ford Hot Rods of all time.
    
Deuce
, for short, is a hardback book with a black cover and simple silver lettering.  It measures 10 inches across by 11 inches tall, and is 1 inches thick.  It weighs a substantial five pounds.  The pages are held in by a high quality cloth binding rather than simply being glued to the spine.  There are 468 pages on excellent photographic quality paper.  The book (dust) jacket or sleeve is a simple, yet effective design in black, with white, silver and a dash of blue, showing the grill on a ’32 Deuce.  In all my reviews I take a moment to tell the reader to respect the dust jacket and keep it in good condition.  There are good reasons for this admonition.  First, dust cover jackets always make any book look better.  Secondly, we remember what a book looks like when we see it by the jackets.  Thirdly, the value of a book drops in half when the jackets are badly torn or lost.  Why collectors place such a high value on the jackets is a good question, but if you have a nice library, keep those sleeves in good condition.  The jacket has some very interesting statistics on the 1932 Ford Deuce.  I should backtrack and say that Phaetons, Tudors, Victorias, pick-ups, Fordors and coupes are also part of the 75 Deuces that are being honored. The authors are the editors at The Rodder’s Journal and they have a reputation for quality work and for a real desire for great research.  I know this because I have worked with them and they always go much further than I do in finding out the real story.  Their photography work is just as detailed and professional as their textual research and writing.  If you have ever read the National Geographic, Arizona Highways, or the Smithsonian magazines you can compare their artistic excellence.  Frankly, The Rodder’s Journal is a step above these great magazines.  You can credit that to Steve Coonan and his brother Don. 
     With
Deuce the Coonan’s have a wealth of talent in the authors that they selected; Pat Ganahl, Greg Sharp, Ken Gross and Joe Kress.  The art director is Gabriel Kicks and the Associate Editor is Geoff Miles.  C. Meade Baldwin and Ray Bartlett are the Associate Publishers and Steve Coonan is the Editorial Director and Publisher.  Some of these men I know and all of them I trust with the researching, writing and photography.  The book was conceived from the display of the world’s most beautiful 1932 Ford Deuces, all the various makes of cars by Ford in ‘32, at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show.  This was the high point anniversary for the Ford Motor Company, just before the nation’s economy went into recession and pushed the famed automaker to the brink of disaster.  At the time this was one of the most looked forward to event on the hot rodding and car show calendar.  A panel of experts chose 75 Ford Deuces to be named the most beautiful Deuces in the world, but not all of these cars were on display.  Some were shown only in photographs as the original car is lost or destroyed, but 63 were on display.  My favorite Deuce is the #880 roadster raced by Dave Marquez, with the Berardini Brothers #404 tied for first.  There are 205 color and 221 black and white photographs.  There is also one map and one drawing.  The captions for the photographs are complete and extensive.  The text compliments the photographs and is adequate to tell the story without drawing attention away from the photos.
     As you can see there is almost an equal division between the color and black and white photographs.  A few of the very old photos are grainy, but that is to be expected of the cameras and film back in the 1930’s.  However, most of the photographs are of exceptional quality and even those that aren’t have been reproduced to show a clarity that wasn’t evident in the originals taken so many years ago.  The Rodder’s Journal has a reputation for providing the highest quality photos and they do not disappoint us in
Deuce
.  Like all of TRJ works, the editors stay focused on the subject.  There is a short editorial page, but no ISBN numbers are found, so this book will have to be purchased directly from The Rodder’s Journal at their offices; 263 Wattis Way, South San Francisco, California 94080-6715.  You can also call them at 1-650-246-8920 to order your copy.  In addition, you might be able to find copies at the book shops of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum or the Petersen Automotive Museum.  Search the internet for their contact information.   Another possible source is Autobooks/Aerobooks, which is located in Burbank, California.  I can’t tell you if some, most or all of the photographs have been seen before in print, but there were many that I had never seen before and I think are new to us.  One drawback for the historian and researcher is the lack of an index.  Deuce was created as a coffee table book.  Its size, weight and shape make it an excellent book to display.  It’s a little oversize to put into a book case as most shelves are around eight inches.  I make it a point to tell the readers of a review whether there is an index or not.  A comprehensive and accurate index is very important to zealous readers and researchers.  For most people it isn’t a problem as the cars are listed in an alphabetical order, except for a few like Pete Chapouris.
     The foreword was written by Steve Coonan and it is always a good idea to read this.  Yes, I know that probably all of you will open the book in the middle, for you have been conditioned to looking at the centerfolds.  It won’t matter here, for every car is capable of being a centerfold car.  But read the foreword by Coonan because he will tell you the purpose of the book in one page.  Pat Ganahl then has a four page article on why
The Rodder’s Journal chose to write a book on the 1932 Ford Deuce.  It’s called the Deuce because it came out in thirty-TWO and it was a remarkable car with a fantastic style to it that caught the attention of hot rodders who either bought the roadster, coupe or another ’32 Ford model.  Ganahl adds that the Deuce sounds so much like Deus, the Latin word for God, and for many hot rodders the Deuce was indeed deity.  Ganahl gives a very good historical lesson on the ’32 Ford Deuce in just the four pages that he is allotted.  The Rodder’s Journal always gives us a lot of detail, but in a very short space.  They like you to follow the story and not get bogged down in minutiae.  Ken Gross then tells us about “Edsel Ford’s Hot Rods,” in four more short pages.  Personally I would like to have had twice that many and more text, but this book was intended to divide the text equally with the visual story.  Edsel Ford’s boat tailed speedster had that Art Deco design to it that emitted power and speed.  What hot rodders did was to take the ’32 Deuce roadster, coupe or another ’32 model and chop and channel it until they too had a design that we know today and which emulated the powerful and racy speedster.  The two-page Table of Contents is clear and concise and useful for finding your favorite car.
     The sheer volume of the book makes it difficult to review it completely.  I’m going to leave a lot out in a review, but it’s important to give the readers a basic understanding of the book.  I’m not promoting the book; you’ll buy it if you love those awesome Deuces and if you’re into hot rodding.  Or maybe you won’t; though a good hot rodder looks for books as good as the
Deuce
.  I want you to add to your collections and buy the books that you want and need, and if it is this book, then you won’t be disappointed.  It also doesn’t mean that I won’t find something picky to dwell on, such as on page 206 where the caption says that the Henderson/Guldahl Deuce was the first roadster to beat a quarter horse in a race over a quarter mile standing start in 1944.  Is that true?  It might be, except that I’ve spoken to Ak, Dorothy and Zeke Miller and they told me that Ak beat a quarter horse in a race before World War II on Highway 39, in Southern California.  Actually, it was a very common occurrence at the time.  Gamblers would often tour the country during the Great Depression and afterwards and they would spot a nice looking hot rod and say rather nonchalantly to the owner, “Great looking car, but I don’t think it could beat a horse.”  That was enough to rile the local youth and they would take on the horse and of course gamble more money than they should.  The horse’s owner took bets on both sides and would leave town as soon as the race was over.  It was a common betting game, so I question this one caption.  But overall the research of the editors was near flawless.
     I also wish that I could tell you that there were cars and photographs that stood out over all the others.  Maybe the #880 to me was the most beautiful roadster ever made, but then I see a number of others and realize that beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, but also in the creative mind of the car customizer.  The Berardini Brothers #404 is also right up there with the Dave Marquez roadster.  I have to say that I will always hold the opinion that another roadster, which wasn’t a Deuce, will always be my favorite.  When my father used to drive my cousin and myself around in his fire station red roadster along those deserted back roads of Los Angeles County in the 1950’s, that car will always be my favorite.  But we are talking about the most beautiful Deuces and the judges chose 75 of them to honor the Deuce at the 75th Anniversary in 2007.  I was also intrigued with the cheesecake girls and trophy queen photographs and they were as pretty as the girls are today.  Cars and girls sort of define hot rodding as a culture.  There is so much history in this volume.  I would read it for awhile, put it down and then come right back to it and start reading through it again.  There are no official chapters, although I suppose you could say that there are 75 of them, one for each car and that takes up almost the entire book.  At the end of Deuce there is a two page interview with Larry Erickson and Dave Boule.  These men were instrumental in bringing together the concept for the 75th Anniversary of the Ford Deuce.  The last page of the book is an acknowledgements section and a list of the judges who selected the 75 most beautiful Deuces.  Most people ignore an acknowledgements page, but if you want to know where the editors got their material, this page is very informative.  Likewise, if you want to know who the men were that chose those 75 Deuces, then read this page.  I rate this book a 7 and sparkplugs out of a total of 8.  It’s an excellent book and one that you can build your library around.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
 


     Here are the most recent Volkswagen Top Speed Records as maintained in the VW Challenge History files. And for some winter entertainment, I have also posted a few links for you to click on and to keep you entertained over the next couple of cold months. Watch for another VW Challenge ENEWS coming in the next few days. It will contain some very special news about the coming USFRA World of Speed competition happening this September.  Burly Burlile
                                               ------------------------
http://www.saltflats.com/I30_Club_2009.html.  2013 USFRA 130 MPH Club link.
http://www.saltflats.com/36_HP.html.  2013 USFRA 36hp Challenge link.
http://web.mail.comcast.net/zimbra/mail?view=msg&id=302845#16.  Bonneville Rotational Photo (move mouse to rotate).
http://tinyurl.com/d623kkw.  Duncan Charlton's 1st Visit To Bonneville Video.
                                              ------------------------

BIG BLOCK, W/C & 36 hp RECORDS VW CHALLENGE.  Current as of January 3, 2014.

 

FASTEST 4 CYLINDER VW

2012  Dewey Potter         212.922mph          00 Passat     2000cc        BV

 

AIR COOLED

BUG/SUPER BEETLE (without Aero)

1991  Lorenzo Hicks       132.100mph          61 Bug        2234cc        BV

 

BUG/SUPER BEETLE (with Aero)

1988  Hans Dahlback      174.705mph          55 Bug        __?__cc        SW

 

BAJA BUG

2009  Cody Johnson        100.509mph          61 Bug        2180cc        BV

 

VOLKSROD

2011  Richard Luna         119.207mph          67 Bug        2275cc        BV

 

KARMANN GHIA

1987  Larry Monreal        167.480mph          68 Ghia       1875cc        BV

 

TYPE 2

2013  Stephen Muller       117.878mph          57 Kombi    2700cc        AU

 

SS36BUG

2013  Bryan Houston       88.4mph                65 Bug        1192cc        MM

 

SS36GHIA

2011  Bill Smith               73.572mph            56 Ghia       1192cc        BV

 

SS36BUS

2010  Todd Penn            56.233mph            60 Single Cab1192cc     BV

 

SSS36BUG

2010  Justin McAllister     99.370mph            74 Bug        1621cc        BV

 

SSS36GHIA

2012  Craig Wilson         72.225mph            67 Ghia       1192cc        BV

 

SSS36BUS

2012  Greg Urritia           55.411mph            63 Kombi    1192cc        BV

 

DSS36BUG

2012  Bill Hatfield           114.909mph          99 Bug        1602cc        BV

 

DSS36GHIA

2012  Tom Bruch            108.186mph          69 Ghia       1602cc        BV

 

DSS36BUS

2012  Ronnie Feitlesen     86.664mph          60 SingleCab1482cc      BV

 

K36BUG

1961  Dick Beith             101.296mph          56 Bug        1282cc        BV

 

K36GHIA

Open - no record

 

K36BUS

Open - no record

 

NA36BUG

2011  Tom Bruch             126.236mph          66 Bug        1378cc        BV

 

NA36GHIA

2013  Tom Bruch             128.9398mph        69 Ghia       1378cc        OH

 

NA36BUS

Open - no record

 

WW36 Bug

2010  Kim Slaughter        70.914mph            58 Bug        1192cc        BV

 

WW36 Ghia

2010  Dave Manobla       79.093mph            63 Ghia       1192cc        BV

 

WW36 Bus

2011  Ronnie Feitelsen    68.851mph            60 SingleCab1192cc      BV

 

SS1600BB

2013 Rudy Bahnsen        95.0972mph          70 Bug        1585cc        OH

 

SSSBB

2012  Jan Atkinson          111.124mph          72 Super      1776cc        BV

 

TYPE 3

2013  Jon Findlay            75.800mph            70 Fastback__?__cc        AU

 

TYPE 4

OPEN-No Record

 

BUGGY

2012  Brad Humenny       121.253mph          62 Buggy     2332cc        BV

         

SANDRAIL

1977  Mark Gyzebyk       152.780mph          Grizzly        1999cc        BV

 

KIT CAR/CUSTOM VW

1971  Ken Lowry             160.470mph          60 Amante   1500cc        BV

 

TRIKE

OPEN-No Record

 

MOTORCYCLE

OPEN-No Record

 

LAKESTER/FORMULA VEE

1985  Jared Collier          189.786cc            Frameworks2800cc        BV

 

STREAMLINER

1990 Skip Moore            161.870mph          Streamliner   1776c         EM

 

WATER COOLED GAS (4 cyl)

BEETLE/NEW BEETLE

2010  Greg Hogue          128.500mph          00 NB                   2000cc        TX

 

RABBIT/GOLF/PICK UP/JETTA

2011  Keith Pedersen      195.582mph          80 Pick-Up  2000cc        BV

 

SCIRROCO/CORRADO

2011  Rene Berger           145.96mph            ?_ Corrado   2000cc        DE

 

PASSAT/CC

2012  Dewey Potter         212.922mph          00 Passat     2000cc        BV

 

VANAGON/EUROVAN/5

OPEN-No Record

 

LAKESTER/FORMULA VEE

2007  Dan Chilson           212.610mph          Frameworks2153cc        BV

 

WATER COOLED GAS(6 CYL)

GOLF/JETTA/RABBIT/PICK-UP

2010  Jeremy Freedman   208.100mph          97 Golf        2981cc VR6TX

 

WATER COOLED DIESEL

PRODUCTION

2012  Ele Sullivan            125.096mph          11 Touareg  2967cc V6  ME

2007  Kevin Winder         116.546mph          83 Pick-Up  1497cc 4     BV

2006  Frank Deinbacher  124.300mph          ?_ T5 MH     __?__cc        DE

 

STREAMLINER

2012  Doug Adler            203.561mph          Flatfire         5000cc V10BV

1980  Keke Rosberg        224.990mph          Volkswagen2400cc 5     IT

2011  Kevin Winder         149.182mph          Winder        2000cc 4     BV

 

HYBRID (VW Engine or Body or Production VW Hybrid)

2012  Carlos Lago           187.147mph          13 Jetta        1400cc 4     BV

2009  Jim Bradshaw        165.714mph          70 Ghia       1497cc 4     BV

2009  Jacob Staub           97.740mph           00 Honda    1200cc 3     BV

 

FASTEST VW CHRONOLOGY (4 cylinder)

2012      Dewey Potter       212.922 mph        Bonneville Passat           2.0 Turbo WC

2007      Dan Chilson         212.610mph         Bonneville Lakester        2.0 Turbo WC

1987      Jared Collier        199.902mph         Bonneville Lakester        2.0 Turbo WC

1985      Jared Collier        189.786mph         Bonneville Lakester        2.8 Carb AC

1979      Burke LeSage     160.740mph (tie)  Bonneville Belly Tank     1.5 F.I. AC

1971      Ken Lowry            160.740mph (tie) Bonneville Kit Car            2.0 Carb AC

1970      Ken Lowry            157.898mph        Bonneville Kit Car            2.0 Carb AC

1969      Bob Newmire       134.930mph         Bonneville Lakester        1.7 Carb AC

1967      Bob Newmire       130.620mph         Bonneville Lakester        1.7 Carb AC

1963      Dick Beith             129.680mph         Bonneville Belly Tank    1.3 Supchg AC

1961      Dick Beith             101.696mph         Bonneville Bug               1.3 Supchg AC

1960      Dick Beith               80.874mph         Bonneville Bug               1.2 Carb AC

1959      Phil Freudiger        67.560mph          Bonneville Bug               1.2 Carb AC

1954      Dick Katayanagi     61.21mph            Sacramento CA Bug     1.2 Carb AC

1949      Otto Matthe          120.110mph          Autobahn DE Type 64   1.1 Carb AC

1939      _____?_____        86.991mph           Autobahn DE Type 64   1.0 Carb AC

SPECIAL MENTION                             

1901      Ferdinand Porsche 37.00mph          Austria  Lohner-Porsche Mixte (Hybrid)

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rackemann

"Don Rackemann, manager of Riverside International Drag Strip."

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[Email Land Speed Racing]

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