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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 306 -  February 4 , 2014
Editors-in-Chief: Jack & 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:
Tex Smith,  Anna Marcos,  Leslie Long, Gene Mitchell, Bud Meyer, Erik and Ruth Hansson, Weiss & Larkin Dragster

GUEST EDITORIAL, by Dyno Don Batyi.   
     I received an alert from a friend and felt it needed to passed on.  Ethanol is a definite danger to our hobby.  The higher the content, the worse corrosion will be.  What is so politically erroneous is the need for alcohol in our fuel tanks at all.  Since 2000, autos and light trucks have been putting out zero emissions.  I just smogged my 2001 and it is still putting out zero emissions.  There is no shortage of oil in the USA.  Canada, the United States and Mexico have oil reserves 5 times greater than the Middle East and Africa.  Let’s not forget we have a complete transportation structure from the oil well to the refinery, complete with pipelines and distribution.  I can't even imagine how many miles of roads, highways, and Interstate roads are out there being used at will.  Inflation in the grocery store is something else we don't need.  Corn has more bi-products than you can shake a stick at. If you haven't noticed the price of meat has gone up dramatically.  Corn is feed for cattle, chicken, pigs, and lambs.  I urge all Hobbyists to send a letter to the EPA.  Clubs should use their letter heads and include how many members you have.  Feel free to use the information above and anything else you have concerns about.  
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     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule proposal to reduce the total amount of ethanol required in transportation fuel nationwide in 2014.  The AMA supports this proposal because it could slow the introduction of E15, a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume, into the marketplace. The AMA opposes E15 because it can cause engine and fuel system damage to your motorcycle or ATV.  However, the EPA needs to hear from you to make changes to the ethanol mandate, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, a reality.  The EPA is seeking public comments now on the rule proposal.  You can tell them how this proposal will help protect 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles in America -- and the riders who depend on their safe operation -- from inadvertent misfueling.  The deadline for comments is January 28.  Act today to ensure your voice is heard.  For the latest information on the American Motorcyclist Association’s efforts to protect your access to safe fuels, go to
http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/news/rightsnews/13-11-15/Introduction_of_E15_fuel_into _the_U_S_marketplace_may_stall_in_2014.aspx.   The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.  Now more than ever, it is crucial that you and your riding friends become members of the AMA or ATVA to help protect our riding freedoms.  More members mean more clout against the opponents of motorcycling and ATV riding.  That support will help fight for your rights on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government.  If you are a motorcycle rider, join the AMA at www.AmericanMotorcyclist.com/membership/join.   If you are an ATV rider, join ATVA at www.atvaonline.com.
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STAFF EDITORIAL, by Assistant Editor Richard Parks   
       The SLSRH Newsletter attempts to correct the misuse of blogs, threads and open chat rooms by screening what comes in.  If I don’t know the answer I pass the information to 15 other experts who review the latest issue before it goes to the publisher.  Jim Miller is one of those who review the newsletter.  This does not mean that we are perfect and other websites are not.  But unedited blogs can do a great deal of harm because if they repeat enough mistakes then people start to believe that the erroneous information is correct.  We are historians, either amateur or professional and so we take what we do seriously.  Many people on blogs are simply trying to get attention and so they blurt out what they think is true, because it makes them sound important and knowledgeable. 
     What is the difference between a BLOG and a HISTORICAL JOURNAL?  A blog can be right or wrong and nobody except a future commentator cares.  A historical journal such as the SLSRH can also be right or wrong, but when we find out that we are mistaken we take great pains to correct the mistake and purge mistakes from our record.  We also are apologetic.  For example, I once did a story on Karl and Veda Orr from what other sources told me of their lives.  Then another source corrected me on several points and I realized that not only was I mistaken, but so were my sources.  These sources were solid and upstanding men in hot rodding and not given to falsifying records.  They were sources that I trusted and still trust today, but they were wrong as I found out and so I corrected the record. 
     Blogs on the other hand never bother to correct a falsehood and so they repeat the same mistakes over and over again.  Here’s another example; people write articles about my father, Wally Parks, being a Cherokee Indian because he had been born in Oklahoma and his skin was coppery colored and he had jet black hair.  I’ve done the genealogy on our family back to 1420 and there isn’t a single instance of a Cherokee ancestor in the family line.  So every time I see this in writing I cringe, because the story got started somewhere before the 1930’s, most likely as a joke and continued down to this day.  In fact, I heard my father and my uncle Kenny repeat this story.  Hot rodders loved to joke and to pull pranks on people.  For historians this makes our jobs more difficult, but for the reading public such errors probably make the stories we hear from hot rodders much more interesting.
    People see my three sons and remark, “They have black hair, tanned looks and brown eyes and look just like native American Indians.”  They got their good looks from their mother, my wife Epi, who is Polynesian and far removed from any Cherokee ancestry.  Looks can be deceiving and when blogs spread rumors instead of proven facts then it is devilishly hard to undo the damage done.  We are friends with other websites and we want our members to go to these sites and use them.  At the same time we need to caution people as to the damage to the truth that unedited blogs can do.  I’ve made my fair share of guesses and wrong reporting, but when I find out I try to set it right.  That’s all that any good historian can do.
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     I have a quick question: How come no one has ever been able to run faster than the SoCal Special's 198.340 mph run at Bonneville in 1951?  Change of regulations or classes?  From what I've read by Stan Black there's been no gas unblown flathead lakester over 200, but that the unblown fuel record is 207+.  Hans Lundholm
    
HANS: (Reply to Hans from our President and Historian Jim Miller)
There was no SoCal Special entered at Bonneville in 1951.  The car's official entry name in 1951 was Xydias and DeLangton and they entered their Lakester at Bonneville in two classes.  The car was sponsored by the So-Cal Speed Shop.  For Class A Lakester it was powered by a 156" V8 60 and in Class C Lakester it was powered by a 296" Mercury.  They qualified the A lakester at 145.395 mph for a first in class.  They also set the class record at 147.0106 mph.  They qualified the C lakester at a speed of 178.217 mph for a second in class behind Earl Evans at 183.299 mph.  Evans ended up with the record that year at 180.6848 mph.  At no time in '51 did the Xydias and DeLangton tank run the speed you have noted.
     In 1952 they were back at Bonneville with the same Lakester entered as Sturdy & Xydias.  It was entered in three classes, Class A Lakester powered by a 156" V8 60, Class B Lakester with a 259" Mercury and Class C Lakester with a 296" Mercury.  In Class A the car qualified with a speed of 148.82 mph and went home with a record at 152.43 mph.  There were no other entries in that class.  In class B the car qualified at a speed of 179.55 mph for a first in class and went home with a record at 181.085 mph.  In Class C the car qualified at a speed of 198.34 mph for a first in class ahead of Brown & Hooper at 197.80 mph in second.  Brown and Hooper ended up setting the class record at 197.88 mph.
     In 1953 the Lakester was back once again as the Sturdy-Xydias entry but was now owned by Clyde Sturdy and sponsored by Associated Gear.  It ran the same three classes as the year before with the same displacement engines.  In Class A Lakester the best the car could do was a 135.13 mph run for a third in class.  Vesco-Dinkins qualified at 161.00 mph and went home with the record at 156.956 mph.  It ran a 180" Ford-4.  In Class B Lakester Sturdy-Xydias ran 181.17 mph for a second in class against Scotty's Muffler tank with a 196.50 mph qualifying run.  Scotty's tank went home with the record at 201.015 mph.  In class C Sturdy-Xydias qualified at 195.97 mph for a second in class against Buck-Yashida at 196.39 mph.  The record wasn't broken.
     For reference in '54 First in Class A was Baldwin & Sommerfeld with a B-motor at 162.74.  First in Class B was Scotty's tank at 187.89 and first in Class C Lakester was Leroy Neumayer driving the Reed Tank that qualified at 215.18 mph and set a new class record at 205.71 mph.  The flathead benchmark was when Scotty's unblown tank ran 201 with the smaller B Motor in '53.  Don't know if you know but the engines in the Xydias tanks were all built by Bobby Meeks at Edelbrock and they all ran on Nitro.  There were no gas, fuel or blown and unblown classes in the early days.
     In '55 the Reed Brothers tank in Class B qualified at 202.93 mph with an Ardun-Merc.  In C Beatty qualified at 211.14 with a blown flattie Ford, with Holder & Case with a Merc at 210.28, and Reed Bros with a Ford at 203.98.  As of now the fuel Lakester class at Bonneville with an unblown flattie stands at 207.150.  The unblown gas record is 196.557.  The blown flat motor record on fuel is 229.670 mph and the blown flat motor on gas is 214.371 mph.  At El Mirage the fuel Lakester class with an unblown flattie stands at 195.650.  The unblown gas record is 175.011.  The blown flat motor record on fuel is 214.616 mph and the blown flat motor on gas is 203.059.  Jim Miller
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     I looked it up in "SO-CAL Speed Shop: The Fast Tale," and just as Jim says 198.34 refers to the first in class C of 1952. I got the numbers from a thread at
www.Landracing.com (http://www.landracing.com/forum/index.php?topic=5953.0), where the question is if a flathead in a Bellytank ever has done over 200mph.  The reason I asked is that I've read so many times, in different articles, that the So-Cal Belly Tank record still stands, that I started thinking it somehow could be true, although I couldn't understand how.  Last time in an article by John LeBlanc, MSN Autos, about Hot Rods at Pebble Beach, mentioned "...a one-way speed of 319.20 km/h - still the fastest one-way speed a non-force-inducted flathead has ever gone."  http://autos.ca.msn.com/photos/gallery.aspx?cp-documentid=25280873&page=9.  I recently found an original 315 gallons P-38 tank myself. Something I never thought would happen. Here's a 3D-illustration of what I hope it will look like someday; probably when I'm retired.  Hans Lundholm
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When is the next Santa Ana Drag Strip reunion?  I raced my motorcycle at Santa Ana Airport in 1957.  I held my class record there until I retired from racing at the end of 1957.  I was a member of Drag Racers Inc., in 1957.   Joe Arce
    
JOE: Leslie Long and Gene Mitchell hold the Santa Ana Drag Strip and Main Street Malt Shop Reunions twice a year in April and October.  They usually notify me about a month or two in advance and that is usually the second week in those months, and I send out an announcement to people to let them know.  To be safe, mark on your calendar in the months of April and October this: "EMAIL RICHARD PARKS AT Rnparks1@juno.com, or go to www.landspeedracing.com and read the newsletters around March and September for news of the reunion.  We hope you can come and bring all your friends that raced at the Santa Ana Airport Drags.  The reunion is free of charge, parking is convenient and Gene caters all the food to us free of charge.  Usually the weather is perfect and we all have a great time. 
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     Just a note to say thank you again for all the help with the Celebration of Life for Bud (Meyer).  I have been trying to notify everyone that I have information on.  I know your newsletter has really spread the word quickly to everyone.  The time has been set for 11 am - 2 pm on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.  Joan Denver-Meyer
    
JOAN: I'll post this again in the newsletter.  Send me periodic updates on the Celebration of Life and I'll post those as well.  The more that news circulates the better the chance that those who knew and want to attend will hear of this and will show up. 
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Hey, Didja Know?  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted courtesy of the author and
www.hotrodhotline.com, a subsidiary of Internet Brands.

     I get this question in spades, especially after some kind of incident or situation that involves hot rodders.  This time, it has been "Didja know Paul Walker?"  Actually, I go way back with that family, clear to the time I went to church with Paul Walker number uno.  We were in a church ward in Sunland, which is a small foothill community at the east end of San Fernando Valley.  It is a kind of Horsey Set place, not economically but in space.  There was a lot of extra space there, with some old houses, just right for people who needed room for a horse or two, and that, in turn, lured quite a few Hollywood stunt people, etc.  I don’t think the Walkers were into horses.
     Paul senior was a few years older than me, smaller too, but rock hard of body.  He had been a professional boxer, and I always considered him a man’s man.  Then, a few years later when I had started TRM Publishing for Tom and Rose McMullen, I was looking for a young guy to train into journalism for our motorcycle and soon-to-be hot rod magazine, when young Paul Walker II wandered by.  In no time he was a staffer, with the ilk of Brian Brennan, who now is the honcho at Street Rodder magazine.   Of course, shortly after launching SRM, I left the company with Brian Brennan in tow to start Rod Action magazine with Ray Brock.  So, I lost immediate contact with Walker II.
     And I was a bit surprised when I found that Walker III had surfaced as a Hollywood actor in the first Fast & Furious movie.  But only a tiny bit surprised.  Because so many other of those Valley acquaintances were in the motion picture or TV industry.  However, of the two or so dozen friends who worked in the movies or TV, virtually all were doing stunts, or supplying vehicles or horses, etc.  Only Norm Grabowski was doing any acting.  So, Paul Walker was a sperm bug about the time I was creating Rod Action, and that would be the only connection I would have with him.  Big Whoopi Do!  Even so, number three’s demise left a kind of emptiness inside me.  Somehow, some part of a memory was torn away.  I hate that.
     But all the rest of that memory of Lakeview Terrace lingers.  Especially about all those people I knew who worked in the entertainment industry.  You already know about Grabowski, the Great Polak!  Maybe something more on him at another time.  You probably have never heard of Glen Necessary.  Glen was one of those nameless outsiders that appeared quite unexpectedly.  He came to my attention via the Carlyle Fulton (Honey Bunny) timeline.  He began to date Carlyle’s daughter Cindy.  Cindy was the daughter every father wants.  She was pretty, she was very intelligent, and she could out-hike and out-climb her male peers quite easily.  Since Carlyle was worthy of an epistle alone, Cindy had more than her share of intense and unforgettable experiences before Glen came along.
     Whatever, Glen was also a hot rodder, and later he would come to me with the information that, while in the military up in Colorado, he had discovered the corner of a Model T body cowl sticking out of the sand in a dry and sandy creek bed.  He started with a shovel, and ended up with a rather pristine l923 Model T phaeton body.  From that lowly start, he pieced together a real hot rod, started a business, a family with Cindy, and started to supply vehicles to the Motion Picture people.  And that, eventually led to him doing some bit player appearances on the screen.  Did I mention that Glen was also very handsome?  Or that he appeared several time later in my life with cars he was running at Bonneville?  
     And, there was this other church member who did some really serious stunt work, and during the filming of one western epic he ended up with a genuine arrow in his eye.  And this other guy, also nicknamed Tex, who supplied vehicles to the picture folks, as well as liaison between the LA Roadsters members and picture folks looking to rent rods.  And the list just goes on.  All because we lived in our own little hot rod world in the San Fernando Valley.  So it is that, yeah, I knew Paul Walker.  The front one, the middle one, and sort of the third one.  Wanna make something of it?
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SOME MORE ABOUT ENGINES.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission of www.hotrodhotline.com, a subsidiary of Internet Brands

     Let me continue in the vein of engines, automotive ones, the kinds that hot rodders have historically gravitated to. For an automotive engine to have even a half-life in hot rodding, it must have two basic traits: it must have an intrinsic design that allows modifications for increased performance, and it must be inexpensive. The Ford Model T banger, and the ensuing four cylinders through l940, as well as the venerable flathead V8 had these elements in spades.  But they were not alone.  And it must be understood that hot rod engine-eering did not begin with the small block Chevrolet V8!    
     While the Model T four banger was widely used in racing, the Chevy four was arguably better, especially with an Olds head. The T banger was cheap all right, but it was nowhere the engine the Model A, or its successor the Models B and C were. And, because they fit the two basic needs for hot rodding engines, these engines were difficult to pry away from the records at the dry lakes, and even in circle track racing. It took quite a long time, in the years, for the Ford V8 to overcome the bangers.
     I remember vividly how the inline six engines would knock off any of these Ford favorites. Example, one weekend at East l4th Street race track in east Oakland (northern California) all the hot shoes were doing their normal efforts to put each other over the wall, when a six engine roadster flat towed in from southern California. Nothing special it appeared, until that flat six from Ford's nowhere land put everyone on the shelf with best lap times ever! Then came a string of Chevy sixes, and suddenly all the eight cylinder guys were looking for six bangers to build.  Just in time for another southern California dude to step in with a way hot GMC. It ran like stink, with tons of torque out of the corners, and the writing was on the wall: The flat motor Fords days were numbered. Which is about the time the new Olds and Cad V8''s showed, and from then on the blue oval was an afterthought. 
     As always, it was just a heartbeat from the race tracks to the street, and those same Olds and Cad ohv engines showed in everything, particularly 1949-54 Fords.  Even then, I got big respect for the Olds, using the nameplate regularly as rod material well into the Sixties. All the time, I played with oddball power, especially the inlines. In the southern states, those sixes reined over the V8, particularly in pickup trucks. Stump pulling torque was king with the good ol' boys. The V8's held court everywhere else. I suspect that, at least in street hot rod circles, the Smitty muffler was the reason. But, if you set up the exhaust of a six by splitting the header 2 and 4, you get a killer krackle that no V8 can muster. To go this split one better, do a 1 and 5 header. Rattle the rafters downtown, break a few storefront display glass panes, and put the local constable hot on your trail. 
     Plus, if you want to for sure get some up front bucks for road tests against the V8 crowd, just show with an inline six.  The inline eight’s don't do nearly as well, except maybe in a long pull. Too heavy, and face facts, those little 4 banger rice rockets are likely to dust us all.  That's why I wanted to put the Aussie hemi MoPar in the roadster. Talk about a toaster, what a combination.  Under one ton with way out torque and an overdrive automatic. Good mileage and enough pinto beans to flavor any sidebets on the side streets!
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132 at 229.81.  Story and photographs by Anna Marco, additional photographs by Mike Dorman.  Reprinted by permission of Anna Marco and Koolhouse Publishing.

     Erik & Ruth Hansson are two speedy Swedes!  Erik Hansson was born and raised in the Swedish west coast town of Stromstad.  At age 12 he built his first go-cart and by age 15 was building them for his friends. At 17, he acquired an Anglia and restored just in time to get his driver’s license at eighteen.  He’s restored and built rods ever since stating, “I went to college in Sweden where I studied science & biology and then cars took over so I dropped out to major in ‘32 Fords and I’ve been specializing in those for 30 years now.”  In 1980, he built his first roadster and he was the go-to-guy in Scandinavia if you wanted a street rod. By 1981, his Scandinavian Street Rod was an established shop. Throughout the 1980-90’s, he built all kinds of cars and many street rods with English made fiberglass replica bodies.
     Ruth Lundring got her exposure to cars from her brother.  She met Erik when she dropped into his shop to get work done on her brother’s 1949 convertible Merc. They’ve been married 20 years now.  She is a skilled nurse, not a tough gal, just a focused, multifaceted personality.  She likes being a mom and a housewife, paints in oil and watercolors and is a good cook.  The Hansson family includes two sons Carl (age 9) and Anders (age 20) and they all like to go camping and BBQ at the dry lakes.
     On one trip, Erik asked Ruth if she would like to try racing. She said, “Yes” and in 2009 did 124 mph at El Mirage. As a woman racer, Ruth has lots of friends and fans on the dirt—their Rod Riders, SCTA club is a supportive crowd but there’s no room for mistakes.  Her runs are short; it’s only 1.3 miles to the timing trap on the dry lake. Erik cautions, “Bonneville is a more forgiving length track.”
     Meanwhile a gal needs to learn to drive dry lakes.  The speed of G force pushes your head and neck back; you need to know how to use gears, not spin tires from the start of the motor pulling, and use a chute.  You need to have seat time and learn to “feel speed.” And you need dedication, focus, and concentration. Ruth’s licensing runs averaged 124,125,160,180,185 and once at 194 mph, she spun sideways but managed to stay upright. I saw it. Wasn’t her fault, the track was worn out by then and there was a big bump in it.  Five guys, including Gene Winfield, got sideways too that day. Thank God she didn’t flip.  Ruth’s timing slips now read about 199.511 on the dry lake. She is a bad ass.   The only other woman who does that on the silt sits in a 1980’s roadster.
     By the time the Hansson’s moved to California in 2002, Erik had built over 500 1932 frames. Their move to the United States was to facilitate reopening Scandinavian Street Rod (Huntington Beach, CA) and race the lakebeds.  Today, their 4500 sq. ft shop has roadster stacked 3 high, in various configurations of steel hi-boy or channeled bodies.  Here you can also order beefy 1932 Ford repro frames and all the goodies that go with it including all polished stainless steel ‘32-‘34 sway bars for either hairpin or 4-link set ups.
     In 1992, while in Sweden, Erik slowly collected parts for a drop tank racer.  It was an ongoing build but there was no land speed racing in Sweden so it was just a dream. A friend, Stefan Rudow, sold him an old drop body tank body (just shell and wheels) and shipped it to Sweden. Erik owned it for 10 years before cranking it out.  In Spring 2007, he made a full-scale model mockup of the racecar in wood to check all the measurements.  A cardboard outer bodyline was used to make sure everything was inside the body when the chassis was done on the jig. After six months of fitting himself in and out of the chassis, it was done and on wheels. Erik made a trick suspension setup of Ohlins coil over shocks and arms. He joked, “The hardest part was just a lot of work stuffing parts into the shell.  You have to push more into it than in the old days especially when it comes to steering and suspension.”
     The old blue 132 is a bonafide belly tanker from 1958. It’s a 1938-1942 P38 Lightening War Bird originally owned by Bob George (Redondo Beach CA) who was in a club called the Coupes and raced for years.  It ended up in Santa Monica, CA with Babler & Clark. In 1962-63, it raced Bonneville for two years then disappeared. Erik has some old timesheets and researched the car a little bit in old sets of magazines and photos. Popularity on the drop tanks ballooned 4-5 years ago but Erik got his before anyone wanted them.  The shell was in a Pomona garage for a few years and eventually ended up in a backyard in Azusa, CA full of leaves.
     Erik challenged himself to build the drop tank in 2006-2007. The build first began when Ruth and the kids went to Sweden to visit family for four weeks. He worked on it every night and weekend after work.  He knew nothing about belly tankers but since he’s a technical genius he just built everything brand new and squeezed it in. First fastest run was 104 mph (November, 2007, El Mirage). In 2008, he ran no blower and did 165 mph at Bonneville. In 2009, back at El Mirage with a blown motor, on the first run/ first pass he set a record in his class. He has since set six speed records and dryly remarks, “We have the fastest speed at Bonneville in our class, others are fuel and nitro; we are gas.” In October 2009, Erik hit 225.98 mph at Bonneville and got into the 200 MPH Club. Later at El Mirage, he clocked 203 mph. In August 2010, the Hansson’s set a new record at Bonneville BFL 229.670 mph and the best speed @ 229.810 mph. This year they are hoping to run a blown Model A motor.
     132 is not doing too bad for an old little flathead. Only 3 belly tankers have clocked over 200 mph at El Mirage. Future plans are to break records and do challenge classes…using the V8 and that new Model A flathead. Recently the drop tank was chosen as the official poster car for the Save the Salt!  See:
www.Savethesalt.org.   Contact: Erik Hansson, (714) 841-6181. See: www.scandinavianstreetrod.com for build pix and race photos.
TECH SHEET
Owner:  Erik & Ruth Hansson
Address: 17662 Sampson Lanes, Huntington Beach CA 92647, 714 841 6181. 
erik@scandanavianstreetrod.com
Car Club: Rod Riders, SCTA
Photographer: Anna Marco
Model: Ruth Hansson
Car Builder: Erik Hansson, Scandinavian Street Rod
Year – 1938-1942 P38 Lightening war bird belly tank

Body Custom Fabrication – hot roddedColor –blue metallic circa 1958
Paint Type – original
Custom Graphics – same “132” from 1961
Engine – 1946 Ford flattie
Tranny – top loader Ford, late ‘60’s Mustang type
Exhaust – custom
Intake & Carb – homemade electronic fuel injection
Ignition – electronic
Rear End – Winters quick changes 263:1
Suspension Info – early, Ohlin’s coil over Formula 1 type
Brakes – Rear only, Wilwood disc
Wheels/Size – 18 R/ 16 F
Tires/Size -  Dunlop racing
Seats – homemade bomber bucket
Dashboard – custom w/ gauges
Steering Column – custom P38 airplane rack and pinion
Interior Extras – safety equipment: DJ harness, fire extinguisher
Garage-Built Stuff – Scandinavian Street Rod
Club Affiliation – Rod Riders, SCTA
Anything Else - safety chute----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bellytank on the Dry Lake at El Mirage

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Builder Erik Hanssonn working on the car at El Mirage

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Ruth Hansson, Erik’s wife also drives the racecar

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Superior Sizzler: Tom McIntyre’s 1969 Weiss and Larkin Dragster.  Story by Anna Marco.  Dedicated to Tommy Larkin (1950-2011).  Reprinted by permission of Anna Marco and Koolhouse Publishing.

     “
It’s always a good day when you can sit in an original blown 392 Hemi powered Dragster and feel 1000 horsepower right in front of you.”—Tom McIntyre

     Tom McIntyre’s childhood fantasy was racing cars. He loves all things automotive, is an avid collector of vintage steel especially unrestored racecars and is a guardian of historical hot rods.  He owns ACSCO Products (manufacturer of car badges) and has lots of great automotive stories to tell with great cars to go with them. Although he's a self-proclaimed "Ford guy," two of the most historic cars in his collection are Chevy’s: the Penske/Donohue 1968 Sunoco Trans-Am Camaro and Mickey Thompson's 1963 427 MKII "Mystery Motor" Corvette Stingray Z-06 that was driven by Junior Johnson at Daytona in a 200-mile NASCAR American Challenge Cup race.
     Hot Rod Guardian.  Notable vehicles in McIntyre’s collection include a factory black 1968 Mercury Cougar XR7-G, which he bought new, and a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster that used to be owned by the Williams Brothers, winner of the prestigious Bruce Meyer Hot Rod Preservation Award at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show and third place at Pebble Beach last year.  He also owns a ‘57 supercharged T-Bird like the one Chuck Daigh drove on Daytona Beach to record-setting speeds of 205 mph.  Some of his other Fords include Steve Saleen's Trans Am Mustang race car and the first 1985 Saleen Mustang production car.  a 1966 AC Cobra 427 (owned since the early '70s), a 1956 Lincoln Continental, a 1964 Galaxie 427 and the original "Goldenrod" streamliner built and raced by an engineer at Coors Beer who designed it.
     Tom has been lucky to find good old cars that were very original, authentic and top quality. His 1969 Weiss and Larkin Chrysler Hemi AA/GD Dragster (seen here) was named after the two owners of the car: “Lil Tommy” Larkin & Al Weiss who was the engine man. It is also known as the “Superior Sizzler” in honor of Superior Industries sponsorship. This car was raced in 1969, 1970, 1971 and then put away were it remained in storage until discovered in 1987.  Tom quips, “I am interested in all forms of racing cars. When I learned it was all original and not restored, my interest piqued.”
     Barn Find.  Speed Products Engineering built the car and H & H Racecraft built the aluminum body. Former owners of the racecar included the Porche Brothers who raced the car in Top Fuel as the Howard Cams Rattler, and Tommy Larkin of Weiss & Larkin. The dragster was discovered in a barn in Santa Rosa, California and was acquired as the owners had lost interest in racing it before they ever used it once.  As for restoration, Tom states, “Nothing cosmetic was required, but mechanical review and tech service was performed for safety.”  Work was performed by Derek Bower and Paul Schaller at Derek’s Hot Rods in Burbank, California and took six months. Performing mechanical restoration without disturbing the cosmetics of the car was the hardest part.  Tom reminds us that when undertaking a resto project, “It is important that the car remain in its original configuration for historical significance.”  The dragster retains its original luster with lacquer paint by Bill Carter and the original 392 Chrysler mill with 6-71 Bowers Blower & Hilborn Fuel Injection.
     Thrill Ride.  Although no awards came with this vehicle, we know it ran an ET of 7.48 seconds at 194 mph, which was quite respectable at the time. The car has since been featured in Hot Rod Magazine’s March 2009 “Barn Finds.” Today, The Weiss & Larkin Dragster attends the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield every year in October. That event boasts an amazing nighttime “cackle” display of old front-engine dragsters that is a favorite of diehard rodders and is not to be missed. Future plans for the dragster involve more NHRA Cacklefest Events and to display the car at historic racing gatherings.  Tom has thoroughly enjoyed ownership of this special car, “It’s so much fun.  Sitting in the cockpit with the engine running is real exciting. Letting out the clutch is even more thrilling.”
     See: www.littletommylarkin.com Wardrobe: Vintage Suits by Mary. Special Thanks: Tommy Larkin, Derek Bower, Peter Eastwood & Paul Schaller.  Weiss and Larkin Dragster TECH SHEET
Owner: Tom McIntyre
Builder: Speed Products Engineering, 1969 Dragster
Aluminum Body: H & H Racecraft
Paint Color: Black.  Paint Type: Lacquer.  Painter: Bill Carter
Custom Graphics: Bill Carter and Larry Glogy
Engine: 392 Chrysler.  Intake & Carb: 6-71 Bowers Blower with Hilborn Fuel Injection
Ignition: Vertex Magneto
Rear End: Pontiac/Oldsmobile combination.  Suspension Front: SPE
Brakes, Rear: Lockheed Girling.  Wheels/Size: 16 x 11 Rear 2 x 21 Front
Tires/Size: 12.00 x 16 M&H Racemaster Rear / 1.75 x 21 Goodyear Special Front
Seats: Aluminum.  Upholstery: Tony Nancy
Dashboard: Aluminum with one Oil Pressure Gauge
Steering Wheel: SPE Custom
Club Affiliation: NHRA
Anything Else: Car is all original and not restored.
 

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Gone Racin’…PORTLAND PICTORIAL; THE 1950’S, by Albert Drake.  Book Review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.

   Albert Drake’s roots in hot rodding and drag racing go back to the early 1950’s.  He built his first hot rod, an A-V8 Roadster and joined the Columbia Timing Association (CTA) in 1951.  That same year he joined the brand new National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and has membership card number 4054.  He proudly asserts that he has joined no organization since then, affirming his status as an avowed hot rodder.  Drake has written 12 books, three on poetry, a novel and eight books on hot rodding.  The titles of his books on hot rodding are; Street was fun in ’51 (1982), The Big ‘Little GTO’ Book (1982), A 1950’s Rod & Custom Wish Book (1985), Herding Goats (1989), Hot Rodders From Lakes to Street (1993), Flat Out (1994), ‘Fifties Flashback (1998) and Portland Pictorial the 1950s (2006).  His style is simple, but effective and he covers the Portland, Oregon and the Northwestern, United States.  Portland Pictorial, The 1950s is a paperback book, published by Throttler Press.  The book measures 8 inches in width by 11 inches in height and is 128 pages in length.  The front and back have the only two color photographs and the typography for the covers was done by Griffin Drake.  The text is minimal and the captions under the black and white photographs tell the story.  The paper is light bond, matte quality, which gives the photographs a grainy look.  There are two color and 262 black and white photographs, with 1 movie poster, 3 drawings, 7 ads, 7 newspaper clippings, 20 business cards, 3 magazine covers and 3 miscellaneous posters in the book. Portland Pictorial, The 1950s has an introduction, but no chapters or index.  I couldn’t find a price listed, but the ISBN number is 0-936892-19-6.  Since it is a regional book, it is best to contact Throttler Press at P.O. Box 66874, Portland, Oregon 97290-6874 for a catalog or price list.
   The appeal of Portland Pictorial, The 1950s is in its regionalism.  The author may have included some material outside of the Pacific Northwest, but this book was compiled to show what hot rodding was like in the area that Drake grew up in.  The black and white photographs are somewhat grainy due to the matte bond paper, but still clear enough to make out details.  Drake uses captions as a way to identify the cars, people and events in the photographs, and that’s nearly all the story line that you will get.  But his desire to record and save the past will be appreciated by those with an interest in hot rodding in Oregon.  He began to write about the people and cars that he knew as a young man in the early 1980’s and his books have found a following among hot rodders around the country and in England, Australia, Europe and Japan, who are fascinated with that part of American culture.  Drake even has a following in Southern California, where hot rodding began, or so they like to think.  The writer did not put in an index and this is a serious flaw.  These kinds of books will always have a limited audience.  Historians need an index in order to write effectively.  People and their cars that are in the book will want to see their names in the index.  Besides the photos and the explanatory captions, there are miscellaneous inserts that help the reader to identify what it was like in the Portland area, over fifty years ago.  There is so much more that Portland Pictorial, The 1950s could tell us, such as a short history of the car clubs, local drag and street racing and more biographical details. 
   Don’t sell Portland Pictorial, The 1950s short though.  The photos and their captioned stories provide us with a great deal of history.  It’s just that the readers have to dig it out for themselves, bit by bit.  The format of Portland Pictorial, The 1950s is similar to bench racing with the gang on Saturday night, thumbing through the local hot rod club’s photo album and relishing the memories.  By itself, Portland Pictorial, The 1950s will be rather dry reading for people who have no attachments to the Pacific Northwest.  As an important piece of the history of hot rodding, this book will find a place in your library, especially on a regional basis.  Drake’s writing style is simple, informative and direct.  There were some great shots at the drag strip with interesting innovations and styling in cars.  Drake also shows a few popular drive-in restaurants and garages where the local kids hung out.  He shows us photos of the road trip that the Road Angels took in 1953 to the Oakland Roadster Show.  He mentions various car clubs; Dukes, Road Angels, Pacers, Ramblers, 49’ers, Gremlins, Shaundos, Slo Poks, Musketeers, Drifters, Kustoms, Half n Half, Kingpins, Mobileers, Leadfoots, Idlers, Dicers and more.  There’s a lot to recommend in Portland Pictorial, The 1950s and I just wish Drake had given us even more.
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Book Review…
Let ‘Em All Go! The Story of Auto Racing by the man who was there, by Chris Economaki, with Dave Argabright.  Review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

     Let ‘Em All Go, The Story of Auto Racing by the man who was there, is an inside view of motor racing by the acclaimed publisher, Chris Economaki, the foremost racing journalist of our time.  Let ‘Em All Go is a textual book, rather than a pictorially captioned book and is directed to those who have a true interest and love for motorsports.  The book was co-authored by Dave Argabright and the two writers fit their styles together seamlessly.  Chris is a legend as the journalist, editor and publisher of Speed Sport News, the magazine/newspaper that keeps motorsport racing fans aware of what’s happening in racing today.  Argabright is just as well known for his journalism, writing and broadcasting in auto racing.  Either one of the authors can weave a fascinating tale for racing enthusiasts, but together they have created a superb work. 
     Let ‘Em All Go is a hard-bound book, measuring 5 by 8 inches in size and is one inch thick, a perfect size for the bookcase or the coffee table.  There are 46 Black and White and 12 Color photographs throughout the book, with adequate captions.  There are no other graphs, charts or visual aids, but the book is the memoirs of Economaki and they go deep into our racing history.  Let ‘Em All Go contains an Acknowledgment, Table of Contents, Foreword, Introduction, Prologue, 31 chapters, Epilogue and an Index, covering 341 pages.  Roger Penske wrote the two-page Foreword.  Argabright penned the 6-page Introduction.  The Table of Contents is clear and concise and the Index is absolutely full and complete.  As a reviewer, I stress to writers to add an index, but rarely do I see one that is complete and thorough.  The Index covers 12 pages and sets this book apart as a serious effort to define this book as a complete journalistic work. 
     Let ‘Em All Go is published by Books by Dave Argabright, P.O. Box 84, Fishers, Indiana 46038, or contact the publisher at www.daveargabright.com.  The Printer is Print Communications, Inc, Indianapolis, Indiana.  The ISBN number is 0-9719639-3-2 and you can order this book at any large book store or through Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, California, or call 818-845-0707.  There is no dust jacket, but Let ‘Em All Go has photographs of Economaki emblazoned on the cover and is very well done.  The tell-all approach is fascinating.  I thumbed through the index and picked out favorite topics, then checked to see what Economaki had to say about them.  The author is a friendly and open guy, who admits to being a miser and a family man.  He tells each story with an honest and straightforward manner that is interesting and entrancing.  Economaki doesn’t mince words.  He lets the reader into his world of motorsports racing and the story action never wanders. 
     Chris is a consummate professional who knows how to interview others and find the important issues.  I found the book impossible to put down, even rereading chapters that I had read the day before.  Economaki covers the gamut of auto racing from the 1930’s to the present.  It is obvious that he loves car racing and openly admits that the stick and ball games hold no interest for him.  There’s more to Chris Economaki than his memoirs.  He’s very accessible and a friend to just about everyone in auto racing.  His recollection of the early days of TV broadcasting is spellbinding.  He tells us about Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, Reggie Jackson, Al Michaels, Chris Schenkel, Roone Arledge, Ken Squier and other broadcasters and his views are unabashedly forthright.
  
Let ‘Em All Go goes right to the heart of events in all kinds of auto racing.  The author tells of his experiences with stock car racing and the stars in NASCAR.  Bill France is a friend and mentor and helps Economaki land a job with ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  He covers road course racing, open wheel and drag racing.  He’s seen the infighting among race teams and racing leagues.  He has developed long and deep friendships with racers, owner, media personalities, mechanics and fans.  Economaki has rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous and dined in little Italian restaurants in the backwoods of North Carolina.  He remembers the days when race teams lived on a shoe string budget and built race cars under shade trees and beaten down garages.  He’s seen big sponsors like Winston revolutionize auto racing and infuse the sport with vast sums of money. 
     Let ‘Em All Go begins with Economaki’s boyhood in New York and his early participation in oval track racing as a crewman.  He served in the Army during World War II, rising to the rank of sergeant, and then returned home to marry his wife, Tommye.  On April 15, 1950, he was offered the job of editor at National Speed Sport News, a job he was destined to have.  Economaki has that special instinct for storytelling and the courage and moxie to meet people and win their friendship.  The men and women that he has met, interviewed and become friends with are far too numerous to name them all, but a few of them are; Bill France, Wally Parks, Parnelli Jones, Don Garlits, Jim McKay, A.J. Foyt, the Unser brothers, J.C. Agajanian, Andy Granatelli, John Force, Phil Hill, A.J. Watson, Roger Ward, Roger Penske, Eddie Sachs, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Smokey Yunick, Rex Mays, Bobbie Allison and many more.  Let ‘Em All Go is a book that racing fans everywhere will find impossible to put down.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…Drag Boats of the 1960’s, by Don Edwards with Barry McCown.  Text by Bob Silva and a foreword by Larry Schwabenland.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.

     A nice compliment to drag boat racing history is the paperback book Drag Boats of the 1960’s, by Don Edwards with Barry McCown.  The quality of the paperback book is very high and makes a great coffee table book for the den or living room.  In fact, one of the objections to this book is that it wasn’t expanded and made into a hard bound edition as it is that good of a book.  It addresses a need to explore and record the history of the famous drag boat racing era of the 1960’s in the United States.  This was a period of time when boat racing was as good as or better than the same era in drag car racing, with men and women as adventurous and talented as any in automobile racing.  In fact, many of the boat racers were also into car racing and shared their talents in both fields.  A great advantage in the making of the book is that Don Edwards and Barry McCown have so many of the old boat guys still alive who are capable of sharing photographs, text, stories and their vivid memories.  Boat racing itself is a hazardous sport and a hall of fame list of great racers died or were seriously injured as they set records and won championships.  It is altogether a different kind of sport than car racing.  The novice can suppose that the only difference between drag boat racing and drag car racing is the surface to be run on and that the cars have wheels while the boats have hulls.  There are a lot of similarities between the mechanical abilities and engines, but the differences are startling.  The traction on land may be difficult and dangerous, but on water the drag boat racer faces a millisecond between making the right decision on the slippery and unpredictable water and possible death or serious injury. 
     I once asked Don Edwards if it took more courage to race on water than on land.  He didn’t answer right away, perhaps because courage isn’t quite the word he would have used.  There is a thrill and excitement that racing on water brings that is totally different than what a land racer might face.  He did tell me that his goal was to race for four or five years and then give it up, for as he said, “Boat racers often don’t survive much past that time.”  It isn’t that a boat racer is good or bad at his craft as the set of variables in boat racing is simply unbelievable.  Perfect water can still be fatal, as can wind, current and simply too much air under the hull.  Drag boats go faster when they are up out of the water, with only their prop and a bit of the rear of the boat “dragging” in the water.  Too much boat in the water creates too much friction and drag, while too much boat in the air can lead to speeds that will force air under the craft and send it airborne.  Drag boat racing is intense and fast.  The times are comparable to land drag car racing, but far more intense and dangerous.   Some boat racers have left drag boat racing and gone on to success in car drag racing; notably Eddie Hill and Jerry Toliver.  Fewer car drag racers have made the switch into boats.  Another interesting point is the rugged individualism of these zealous men and women who brave boat racing.  They are their own men and women.  They are not tolerant of being told what to do.  They readily take advice, but they refuse to be dictated to.  In a way, they are the rebels of our generation, skilled and talented to undertake a hobby that so many of us are loathe to follow.
    
Drag Boats of the 1960’s is a paperback book measuring 10 inches across by 8 inches in height, by 3/8 inches in thickness.  The front and back covers are on the highest quality waxed paper and quite appealing.  Drag Boats of the 1960’s has cross-over appeal with boat racing enthusiasts, as a coffee table book, as a historical work and for those interested in speed.  The interior pages are also on the highest quality waxed paper, capable of showing off the photographs to their finest degree.  Drag Boats of the 1960’s has 126 pages, with 52 color and 124 black and white photographs.  There are five posters and a three page list of the National Drag Boat Association (NDBA) 100 Mile per hour club members.  The photographs are of very good quality, though a few were taken from newspaper clippings or from a distance by non-professionals.  All of the photographs are part of the rich history and heritage of the NDBA and drag boat racing during the Golden Era of drag boat racing.  The captions are full and complete and stand alone in telling the story.  There is minimal text, which for a historian is a loss, for the more we can document an event with text and photographs, the better we understand the times we are studying.  There is a half page of acknowledgements and a half page about the authors of the book.  Larry Schwabenland wrote the two page foreword and Don Edwards wrote a two page introduction.  There is no list of contents, no chapters and no index.  In a pictorial the authors can get away without a table of contents or chapters, but without an index the serious reader or historian has to spend a lot of his or her time searching through the book looking for names, dates and places.  An index is a very valuable tool and so many authors overlook this part of a book.  An index will turn a good book into a great one and a so-so book into a very good book.  The binding is glued and not cloth bound, so be careful in how you open the book because glued bound books tend to come apart over time.
     The publisher is Iconografix and
Drag Boats of the 1960’s was printed in China.  The book retails for $30 and you can order the book directly from the authors.  The cover and book design is by Don Perry and the ISBN number is 13-978-1-58388-222-1, or 10-1-58388-222-7.  The only contact point that was listed was www.iconografixinc.com.  You can also try to Google the authors or contact a book store nearest you.  Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, California might have some of the books on hand.  The book itself is a serious attempt by Don Edwards to tell his story and the stories of his friends and to a great extent he succeeds admirably.  This is a book that should be in any serious admirer of motorized boat racing history.  It is well done; the photographs are very good and were chosen with care.  Some of the men and women who are mentioned include; Bones Noteboom, Mary Rife, Larry Schwabenland, Barry McCown, Rich Hallett Senior, Rudy Ramos, the Bale Brothers, Tommy Fults, Bob Ellis, Eddie Weinberg, Ray Caselli, Mickey Thompson, Jack Davidson, Gary Gabelich, Don Edwards, John Edmunds, Rene Andre Maddox, Tom Weeda, Louie Unser, Ted Phillips, Jean Jennewein, Ed Will, Buzz Coates, Eric Rickman, Bob Valenzuela and many more drag boat racers are in the photographs.   The engine builders that were mentioned included; Dave Zeuschel, Ed Pink, and Keith Black.  Some of the photographers in the book were; Clyde Parkhurst, Bob Foley, Chris Blevins, Mary and Roger Squire, Jack Cool, Leo Wildman, Harlan Orrin, Marshall Lewis, Dick Castillo, Bob Senior, Don Edwards.  Larry Lee painted some of the boats of the era.  Chuck Stearns is mentioned as a champion water skier.  Lee Taylor is mentioned for his water speed record attempts.  This is a fine book and I give it a 6 out of 8 spark plugs.  Add this one to your library.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM

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The Back Story: The Indy Car That Never Was.  Article and photographs by Bob Falcon.
 
     To fully understand this story we need to peek into the backgrounds of several of the people who were involved with “The Howard Keck Racing Team” and I have enclosed this title in quotation marks because it is the sort of term that was not used prior to World War 2. But that is where the participants began their respective auto racing careers.
  Dave West, Jim Travers, Frank Coon and Phil Remington were all members of the Low Flyers dry lakes racing club that considered Santa Monica CA as their home base. At the outbreak of hostilities West entered the US Navy and became an airplane mechanic.
     Toward the end of the war he was stationed on the island of Iwo Jima at the Naval Air Station. He made the acquaintance of a US Marine aircraft mechanic and since they both serviced naval aircraft it was a quick bond. In civilian life the marine had been a professional race car driver from the state of Washington, named Swede Lindskog. Since the professional drivers of the time were itinerant folks he became quite familiar with many of the racing folks who were involved in the sport in Los Angeles and Southern California.
     As told to me by Dave, the following is how he first met, and chatted with Swede. During a discussion about auto racing, while the two enjoyed a few beers in the PX one evening, that’s when Swede revealed to Dave some of the things about his racing career and that he felt he would need to sharpen his racing skills because he planned to return to the racetracks when the war ended. He suggested that he and Dave could work together and build a small vehicle like a midget race car so he could brush-up on his skill level while some time remained before the war’s end.
     So they set to work and soon had crafted a small, single seat race car powered by a two cylinder Japanese motorcycle engine and used a Jeep rear axle unit and bomb cart wheels. The frame they fabricated from metal pieces that abounded in the scrap bins inside the hangars. They surveyed and scavenged the piles of war spoils from both sides involved in the conflict. There were large piles of battle scarred components piled all over the island that they surveyed for needed.
As is often the case, when you are in the company of skilled craftsmen who have a lot of time on their hands, several will come forward to participate in the project and add their skills to the effort. I am certain that one of these volunteers crafted an aluminum nose piece that would have looked right on any car in a racing event…but I don’t believe that a tail piece was even attempted.
     Dave received his homeward bound separation orders before Lindskog received his. But Swede told Dave that he proved that he was highly skilled in the maintenance of real race cars and that, he was going to write a letter of introduction for Dave to meet a Los Angeles auto repair shop owner, John Balch, who owned a few Midgets and he was sure that Balch would hire Dave to maintain them.
When Dave returned to his parent’s home in Culver City he quickly drove to meet Balch at his shop located on Vermont Avenue, near Vernon Avenue, and was hired to service, not only the car owned by Balch, but also the car that belonged to the Balch body shop manager, Bob Pankratz. Midget racing had just resumed after many years of being shut down on a national level by US Government edict because of the materials that were needed by the military for use during the mobilization for World War 2. 
     There were two auto race tracks who were the first to turn their lights on again in the Los Angeles area.  One was Gilmore Stadium located in Hollywood who had a traditional schedule of racing each Thursday evening and Bonelli Stadium that was located on the Bonelli Ranch located several miles north in the desert community of Saugus. Bonelli did not have a lighting system at that time so their racing events were held on Sunday afternoon, at a facility that was also used for rodeos.
     A short while later a local big time racing promoter, who was also involved at the Indianapolis 500 as a car owner by the name of Bill White obtained permission from the LA County Board of Supervisors to stage events at the Los Angeles Coliseum on an asphalt paved-over 440 yard running track on Wednesday nights. This venue was followed by weekly events at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena who covered their cinder running track with plywood panels and thereby advertise their races were on a Board Speedway, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the large Board Speedways of the 1920s, that were scattered all around Los Angeles areas to attract buyers of home sites to the many small towns.
     Then later, Saturday night racing was presented at a new paved track erected on the site of the old Culver City Dog Track that never became operational due to pressure on the state gaming commission by the operators of the two area horse racing tracks, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park (which is really located in Inglewood). The new racing surface at the Culver City location was a purpose built, very high banked asphalt paved quarter mile oval. The banking was 30 feet high and at an angle of 33 degrees. Your writer can attest that a normal person could not walk to the top of the banking, in fact it was nearly impossible to get past the midpoint of the track on foot.
     All this was going on when, around the same time, Frank Kurtis had established a production assembly line where brand new, tubular frame Midgets were produced usually in about a week. Previously, Frank had functioned as a one man shop in the corner of an automobile upholstery shop near the downtown Los Angeles “Skid Row” but during the wartime splurge for aircraft factory sub contractors he changed his facility to a location in the Glendale/Burbank cities area where he could obtain specialized fabrication services contracts from Lockheed Aircraft and Vega Aircraft. Balch contracted with Kurtis for one of the first of these new racers that featured quarter elliptic front springing (an idea that never worked well) and now Dave had three cars to handle as the chief mechanic and  all the cars were raced several times each week and all were powered by high maintenance purpose built Offenhauser racing engines.
     Dave had a “bucket list” of helpers he could hire as helpers. The top name on his list was Jimmy Travers, another of his pals from the group of dry lakes racers in the Low Flyers Club.  As the 1946 AAA Los Angeles Midget Racing Circuit season roared to an end the Balch team finished first (Perry Grimm) and third (Ed Haddad). Perry piloted a Stevens built rail frame chassis and Haddad had the seat in the new Kurtis tube frame chassis car.  Then Balch sold the cars and the mechanics to Los Angeles oil man, Howard Keck and the team shifted their base to the Keck family’s Superior Oil Company Field Office facility in the South Bay area of Harbor City.

     Not long after the start of the new season Keck added a new Kurtis midget to his team. This car was one of the first of the production line Kurtis cars that featured torsion bar suspension systems. The Balch drivers, Grimm and Haddad, did not sign on with Keck but the team found it very easy to obtain the services of several experienced drivers for these vacant seats even on a single race basis. Now, as chief mechanic he had three cars for him and his helper to handle, so he went back to his “bucket list” and there was Phil Remington’s name at the top. Dave contacted Phil and discovered that he was laid up with a broken leg as the result of a motorcycle accident, which prevented Phil from accepting the job. Next on the list was Frank Coon who was available and the rest is history!
     Somewhere along the line Keck decided that he wanted to upgrade his participation in auto racing and move into the “Big League,” so to speak, and become an Indianapolis Car Owner.  He retained the services of Norman Timbs to design a new Indianapolis car similar to the then popular Front Wheel Drive cars he had designed that were named the “Blue Crown Spark Plug Specials” and campaigned by Lou Moore, a former Indianapolis race car driver. These Timbs designed cars finished the Indianapolis 500 in first and second place on two consecutive years in a row with his drivers, Mauri Rose (two wins) and Bill Holland, (one win) and two second place finishes. The “Blue Crowns” finished the annual 500 mile race in first place three years in a row, 1947, ‘48 and ’49.
     By then the smaller and lighter Indianapolis cars, many that raced on the one mile dirt tracks that made up The National Championship Trail, became the norm and the day of the front wheel drive cars started to come to an end. There are some who believe this transition was the result of the switch from the castor bean based engine oil that was then used in the engines of most racing cars to the newer chemically pure petroleum based lubricants. The supposition is that the heavy castor fumes settled in a downward path onto the racing groove surface which resulted in an extremely slick track surface that better suited the heavier weight biased front drive system wheels on the FWD cars. The track surface grip was improved in the racing groove with these new lubricants.
     Norman Timbs was an aeronautical engineer who made his design services available to anyone who was in the process of building a race car in the national racing community on a “free lance” basis. The Keck car he designed had many of the features of the Blue Crown cars except the body work lines were more streamlined and outstanding. The finished car had the same very sleek lines of the European Mercedes Benz Grand Prix cars of the era and coupled with the cars deep maroon metallic paint scheme drew crowds whenever it rolled out of the garage. The body and rail frame was crafted by Emil Deidt who previously had produced the one-off the body for Norman Timbs Personal Car of 1945. This beautifully streamlined vehicle featured a rear placed Buick in-line, eight cylinder engine and is now excellently restored and continues winning prestigious car show awards along with exceptional complementary car magazine coverage.  
     Keck switched his Indianapolis car from the now out of date FWD vehicle that had competed in four Indianapolis 500s to a new Kurtis model that which I reckon Timbs had contributed a certain measure of detail to the project.  There may be some former members of the Keck team who may dispute this fact, BUT for a few years in the 1960’s your writer and Timbs car-pooled together from the San Fernando Valley to the Halibrand facility in Torrance, a great distance each afternoon and our purpose was that we would be on site while the evening assembly crew was working.  We served as Halibrand’s engineering department and were completing the drawing package for the Shrike Indy cars and were available to interpret and address any of the questions the crew had about our drawings.
     The Shrike was to be a fully documented design with controlled spare parts manufacturing system to support the active racing teams. Long time race car fabricators at times get ahead of the engineering so when Norm and I were on the shop floor we watched the activity closely and if either of us spotted a fabricator who was making a bracket, or a simple strut, on his own without a drawing close by, we would request him to fabricate an additional unit so we could reverse engineer the part and have a drawing on file with which make future spares.
     During our drives that could last up to two hours in the Los Angeles drive time traffic we discussed many things.  Many were of the phone calls he received from car fabricators who needed some engineering calculations and one of the projects of his was calculations of his for the Howard Keck Kurtis 500A Indy Roadster where Frank needed some technical information. This new car was a radical departure that placed the engine on a slant of 36 degrees, and which placed the drive line components to the rear end, and all its weight, on the left side of the car, which is the correct location for this weight to make fast laps on an oval track.
     And that led to discussing his concept for the design he did for Howard Keck Racing for a streamlined envelope body Indianapolis race car. This aerodynamic vehicle was to be powered by a supercharged V8 engine, similar to the noted Winfield/ Welch Novi race car power package. Like the Novi this new engine would also use a centrifugal gear driven supercharger unit. He also related to me the results of the wind tunnel tests of his design that were performed at the Cal Tech University, Von Karmmen Laboratory wind tunnel. His description of the streamlined design explained how the bottom of the race car was designed in such a way where the skin’s aerodynamic boundary layer created an air flow low pressure area between the bottom of the car and the track surface.
     Norm’s words to me were, “It’s as if The Big Guy up above was holding his thumb on the top of the car as it raced around the track.” This phenomenon is now known as “Ground Effects.”  This car was designed on a schedule to permit it to compete in the 1955 Indianapolis 500 and the estimated target qualification speed was in excess of 150 MPH.  As a gauge, the Pole Winning speed in 1955 was Jerry Hoyt at 140.045 MPH and the 500 winner,’ Bob Sweikert qualified at 139.996 MPH.  I don’t think “Ground Effects” entered the Indy phrase book until the 1970s.  Many have asked just why didn’t Keck continue the development of this vehicle and race it when the engine design was completed.
     The answer to that question is quite simple. Bill Vukovich was Keck’s contracted driver and when the streamliner was not going to be finished in time for the 1955 race, Keck gave him permission to drive the Lindsey Hopkins car providing the Keck crew would be added to the Hopkins crew. So Travers and Coon joined with the Hopkins crew where Jack Beckley served as the Hopkins chief mechanic.  Ego wise it was probably a tough pill for Travers to swallow because he had become Keck’s chief on the FWD car due to Dave West’s resignation, at the insistence of his new wife due to the terrible, and unpleasant time she had endured while at Indy when they raced the FWD car in its first race there.
     The time frame for this race was not long after Tony Hulman had purchased the racing facility and the acreage had sat vacant during the war years and was in serious disrepair. Dave’s wife was totally disgusted with the toilet facilities and since I had many conversations with her, it seemed that this race, that I had been raised to believe, by my race driver father, was the biggest thing in the world, and she viewed as very low class and it was beneath her to be a participant.  Ailene was a bit of a “snob.”  She prevailed and Dave left Keck’s employ and landed a position in the ejection seat development laboratory at the Douglas Aircraft El Segundo facility. 
     Anyway when Vukie was killed as he was heading for three straight 500 victories, and as reported to me, the Keck Family lawyers met with Howard and advised him that he should cease his racing activities. Their reasoning was that it was lucky for the family that Vukie’s accident happened in the back straight and the wreckage came to rest in a track maintenance area, BUT if it would have occurred in the front straightaway and the wreckage flew into the sold out grandstand, the lawsuits would have caused the end of The Superior Oil Company, which at the time was one of the highest priced stocks on the “Big Board’ and totally owned by the family trusts.  The Howard Keck Auto Racing Team ceased to exist.

     So how was it that this very forward design gathered dust for all those years in a Harbor City CA warehouse?  To understand how this could happen you need to understand the vehicle building process that was introduced to the team by Dave West and it worked well with the construction on at least two Indy cars.  After the parts and pieces of the vehicle were fabricated and all the purchased components had been delivered the entire car was bolted together by using standard hardware store, commercial quality, -20 bolts and nuts.  Once this “bread boarding” was completed the vehicle was disassembled and all the pilot holes were drilled to the design diameters as specified on the engineering drawings.
     At that point all the fabricated pieces were sent to various facilities for the required processing, such as heat treating and electroplating.  A shopping list of aircraft quality fasteners was drafted and a person was dispatched to the various aircraft surplus stores located in Los Angeles, and there were many. Some were also owned and operated by the various airplane manufacturers. These factory stores were usually open to the public only one, or two days each week. But the shopping days set aside for company employees were several days, and hours, before the public days.  So it was in the best interests of a race car team to have friends that were employed at these factories.

     In the case of the Keck Streamliner, since the racing team ceased to exist the final step for the few team members was to package all the processed parts as they were delivered to the shop, mark the parts package contents and put the crates and boxes into warehouse storage. The same held true for all the delivered items manufactured by race car parts makers, some of which were modified to meet the specifications of the car’s designer.
     And there they sat in the warehouse for many years until Keck decided to dispose of all his auto racing equipment , that included three Midgets, the FWD Indianapolis car, a Ferrari Grand Prix car that was tested at Indy but never competed, the Kurtis Indy Roadster raced as “The Fuel Injection Special” (that was donated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) museum) and all the parts and pieces of the Indy Streamliner including the body sheet metal components. The V8 engine was never completed.
     The latter item was purchased by the owner/operator of The Dobbs Catering Company whose headquarters were in Tennessee. The purpose of the reassembly was so that the new owner could participate in Vintage Car Races around the US. Since the intended engine was not available the decision was made to install an out of date 270 cubic inch displacement (CID) Offenhauser that the restoration mechanic, Jim Robbins, just happened to have on hand. The 270 CID was no longer legal by the United States Auto Club (USAC) who served as the sanctioning body for the Indianapolis 500. The size limit for normally aspirated engines at the time of this restoration project was 255 CID and supercharged engines were limited to 161 CID.
     It turns out that Keck had released Timbs from his contract to design the streamliner at the insistence of his chief mechanic, Travers, because Travers was not pleased with some of the innovative equipment that Timbs had designed.  One of the items was a very light weight seat constructed of steel tubing and covered with a light weight material that form fitted the drivers body and cooled his back during the process of the race in the anticipated extreme heat and humidity of Indianapolis, Indiana in the summer months.
     Timbs had also designed an air conditioning system that was composed of a compartment that held a block of dry ice that was ducted to direct the airflow over the ice and into the tight fitting cockpit. During the 1953 race the ambient  temperature was in the 90’s while the track temperature climbed to 130 degrees and ten drivers dropped out for relief from the heat.  Carl Scarborough collapsed in the pits and later died of heat prostration at the IMS infield hospital.

     Travers and Coon were then employed by Peter De Paolo Racing that served as the NASCAR racing arm for The Ford Motor Company. In that role, when Ford traded some of their manufacturing production control techniques to the Mercedes Benz factory in exchange for one of their Grand Prix W series cars that featured a “desmodromic” valve actuation system. The car was going to be placed on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
     Ford Engineering staff removed the engine, secured the hood closed and the former Keck racing mechanics, Travers and Coon, reverse engineered the Mercedes valve system and conducted the dynamometer tests on their vision of the system. But as a result of the horrendous Le Mans Sports Car crash that took many spectator lives, US automakers, as a group, made a decision to withdraw all of their support of all auto racing.  The De Paolo facility was closed and Travers and Coon, with their desmodromic valve data notebooks in hand opened a racing engine rebuilding service, TRACO, on Jefferson Boulevard, near Hughes Aircraft Company.

     Timbs continued his free lance activity and eventually designed a mass rapid transit feasibility study vehicle that used a propulsion system driven by magnetic power that was termed as LIM for Liner Induction Motor. The vehicle which later fed the development of today’s Mag-Lev trains was constructed at the Halibrand Engineering race car shop in Torrance, California in 1968. This was a project funded by the US Department of Transportation (DoT).
 

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