NEWSLETTER 311 -  March 3 , 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: Joshua Placa,   Santa Ana Drag Strip Reunion, E. T. Nagamatsu, Nick Conklin, Little Eddie Ostwick

GUEST EDITORIAL, by J. Joshua Placa.     
     An end is in sight for potentially engine damaging E15 ethanol blend fuels.  The President has signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, which effectively relieves the worries of some 22 million motorcyclists and ATV enthusiasts.  Mounting evidence indicated gasoline fuels made with 15 percent ethanol by volume causes small engine failure.   The Agricultural Act includes a rider that prohibits the Rural Energy for America Program’s grant money from being used to purchase or distribute E15 fuels at the pump.  The fuel often creates confusion at gas stops, where motorists sometimes accidentally use the controversial fuel, which can void owner vehicle warranties.  The farm bill runs through 2018.  The alcohol in E15 is made mainly from corn, which has also been blamed for rising food prices.  Alcohol contains less energy than gasoline, which at an additive level of 15 percent, may be the cause of small engine failure.
     Reportedly, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack intended to use REAP funding to install 10,000 blender pumps by 2016.  Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, said, “It is gratifying to see our efforts on behalf of U.S. motorcyclists and ATV riders achieve this level of success.  We plan to continue to monitor the E15 issue, including the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce the 2014 requirements under its Renewable Fuel Standard.”   Although the EPA has approved E15 use in 2001-and-newer light-duty vehicles, which include cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles, the agency has not approved its use in motorcycles or ATVs, according to the AMA.  U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced H.R. 1462, the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act.  The bipartisan bill, in part, eliminates corn-based ethanol requirements and caps the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent.  If passed, it would rescind the EPA’s E15 waivers and cap the amount of ethanol content in gasoline at E10, or 10 percent.
STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks.
     This is a favorite topic of mine.  You might even call it a favorite sermon.  It’s about honoring people.  I’m a big proponent of honoring people; all people and not just the rich and famous or the previously honored class.  I learned the value of honoring people when I was volunteering in the Cub Scouts, first as a parent and then as a cub-master.  I noticed how the previous cub-masters made up little plaques of wood with various garage objects glued to them.  One was a wooden plaque with a hex nut on it and the inscription said, “To the hardest working father in the cub scout program.  We are NUTS about you.”  Just about any object we could find while cleaning out our homes and garages were turned into honoring gifts.  I found that you could give just about anything away as long as you reached out and shook a volunteers hand and explained how important he was to your program.  You put the “gift” in their hand and thanked them sincerely.  Years later I saw that “gift” hung in a place of honor on a wall or on their desk.  Whatever it was that you gave to them became a treasured memory of their service to the organization. 
     It isn’t the monetary value of a trophy, plaque, tray, crystal or other object that means so much to the receiver.  The value is rarely in the object.  The value comes from the heart and from the members of the organization.  It doesn’t cost all that much to manufacture a WALLY (a trophy from the NHRA).  You can buy them on the internet for just about any price.  The value comes from the fact that many famous race drivers earned or won a WALLY and now you’ve won one as well.  It is the fact that 80,000 members of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) back up the trophy with their membership and with their love of the sport of drag racing.  A Wally isn’t made of gold and if you melted down the metals in it the value wouldn’t buy you a cup of coffee.  The same is true with the wooden plaque with the nut or the bolt on it.  The value of such a cub scouting award is that it was given out by all the mothers, fathers, scout leaders and other people who supported the scouting program.
     A gag gift meant in jest and merriment isn’t all that far away from a plaque or trophy from a group.  I remember the time when Tex Smith and his friends gathered up the remnants of a drag car that had crashed on a course and welded the parts together, inserted an electric cord and turned it into a nifty lamp.  A very heavy lamp as it took two big men to carry it into my father’s home in Sherman Oaks some fifty years ago.  I think that lamp is now on display at the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California should anyone like to check on it.  Again, it’s the meaning behind the gift, award or honor that’s important and the people who are presenting it.  It’s also the person who receives the award that makes that honor worth something.
     When I created the Boat Racers Reunion with Don Edwards in 2000 we thought about using that event to honor some old boat racers that we felt needed to be recognized.  I came up with a three step program.  First we asked people to nominate people or boats and to explain why they should be honored, if it wasn’t obvious to us.  Secondly we got together a committee of anyone who wanted to participate either in person or by email.  This committee would vote as to whom we should honor and why.  Then we elected a board of directors; I think there were five of us.  We then made the final decision as to whom we should honor and I had wooden plaques made up with some sort of metal plate and the Boat Racers Reunion logo.  The plaques were made up of pressed wood, with a veneer coating and a thin metal plate that was etched with the name of the organization, the person honored, the date and any sponsor who paid for the plaque.  It was simple and inexpensive.  It wasn’t the value of the plaque that was important, but who the people and group were that gave out the honor and of course the person receiving the award.
     I later did the same thing in another organization that was created to further genealogical research along a family surname.  In this case I was the sponsor and the presenter, but I also had a committee to nominate and another close friend to help me make the final selection based on what the committee recommended.  I used the same plaque maker, the same construction, but with a different group name and honoree’s name.  At first the plaque seemed to be a bit confusing for a year or two and since then it was (and is today) an annual event and the word began to spread.  Today the award is eagerly anticipated because people have come to know that it is a way that we honor those who have invested a lifetime in helping other people.  It is relatively inexpensive and yet it is very much appreciated. 
     Presenting awards is not unique.  I marvel at all the awards and honors that my local Trophy guy creates for hundreds of other groups.  He makes it very easy, and in the past he also made the timing tags for the SCTA.  There are many trophy companies around and they have a wide variety of materials, designs and prices.  They can make one trophy or hundreds; it just depends on what your needs are.
     It also doesn’t matter whether you purchase a nice looking trophy, make one up in your garage or just give someone a heartfelt card or pat on the back.  What is important is that you start to look at all the people around you who have volunteered to make it easy for others, whether as a friend or as a member of an organization.  Or it could be that special person who crewed on your race team and spent his time and money to see that you had a vehicle that could go after a record.  Sometimes all that is required is for others to see that you noticed them or cared about them.  Making up a special plaque or trophy with your own hands is just as good as buying a professionally made award.  It is the gleam in your eye and the sincerity in your voice as you hand them “their special award” that makes it special to them.  I am always amazed at the car guys who make up these awards and of the men and women who hang these special gifts on their walls.  Sometimes it is only a framed photograph, signed and dated, with the words, “To a very special person who made my job easier.”  I’ve given away hundreds of those awards and feel that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all those people who have made my life so wonderful.

The Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion will be held on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 10 AM until 2 PM at Santiago Creek Park just off Lawson Drive in the city of Orange.  The cross streets are Main and East Memory Lane.  Go East on East Memory Lane for about half a mile until you come to a signal on Lawson Drive, then turn into the paved creek bed parking lot.  We are right above the parking lot.  Food will be catered by Gene Mitchell.  There is no fee to attend or for parking either.  The Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip started in the summer of 1950 and closed in 1959.  Bring tape recorders, cameras, pen, notepad, etc to record the event.  If you bring photos and books please watch them or bring duplicates.
     It is only because of Max Balchowsky and the Ak Miller’s and Kurtis and on and on that has given us the opportunity to enjoy motorsports to this day.   We just ride the coat tails of the icons of the past like your dad and others gathering around the bon fires in the dark early mornings at El Mirage
, testing a new manifold or camshaft.  In Australia it was a land of home built specials as real race cars did not come in until the late 1950’s, so the DNA of the paint chips are the same with the Old Yeller II and the Australian Specials.  I will talk about our icons that paved the way for one of the most innovative periods of engine development and the piece I wrote about our heroes.  Ernie Nagamatsu  
Howling on Runways and Temporary Circuits.  Commentary by E. T. Nagamatsu (with apologies to Allen Ginsberg)         
     I saw some of the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, the fuel starved hysterical rich dragging themselves to the hollow showrooms at dawn looking for the ˜just delivered” exotic foreign imports from the docks. 
     Ascot wrapped nouveau-road racers with their best Italian deer skin driving gloves and shoes, burning for the heavenly road track lightning to jump start their joyless collection of hopes, who hollow-eyed and caffeine charged, sat up many a Saturday night wiring and re-wiring a crappy Lucas system
     Whispering the bone-cold litany of Jaguar, Maserati and Ferrari, fearing those who cowered and whispered in shadowless galvanized steel pocket garages reeking the smell of carburetor cleaner, listening for the ashcan rantings of Sporty Car Club scrutinizers leering at cobbled-up looking pot-luck road racing Specials.
     Denying entry to their hallowed hall of selected competition, ratcheting up the standards of competition under the guise of safety reasons, for these mongrel pound dog vehicles called race-cars, who with their drivers quickly vanished down the roadways, after the races, into the night, after putting on the mufflers and driving their cars home before the exotic perfumed teams could load their imported Sporty Cars on their rigs
     Leaving disillusioned card carrying racers of the exotics who fell on their knees in golden cathedrals of cash peering into the sparse showrooms of the imported, awed and trembling before the lunge of Detroit iron of raw unadulterated beastly power, hands empty of trophies, whisked away by the faceless, now fearless, who were wenches during the week and builders of those roaring thunderous Jamaican Steel Band sounding things called Specials
     Innovators who cut their teeth street racing, raced at the Drags to check torque without taking the trophies and parched their throats dry with the swirling dust from the dry lakes of Muroc.
     It was lessons learned from the dirt pans of the desert with Parks, Rufi, Winfield, Burke and Shinn knowing how to go to point 'b' the quickest.  What Sphinx of Sporty Car organizations, that would permeate the air of competition with amateur and professional commandments and for a moment, they peered into their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination- nightmare of Mammon.
     Their wild eyes on fire with the emblazoned words of Weber, Girling, Lucas, Nardi, Connley, Bosch, Raydyot and Abarth protected with their 4 panel Italian Racing Goggles and Sala-Sport Driving suits, screaming at the Dealer of Imports-Showrooms and sobbing in the hallways for the latest 4.5
     While the constructors of Specials and Modifieds many a time had stenciled U.S. ARMY on their racing apparel and using a truck radiator or even foreign parts was not unholy, as seeking the Holy Grail of speed was to walk miles over dark smelly-oil permeated dirt fields combing through every Junk and salvage yard for the right fitting.
     With ungodly monikers to go with this rag tag cadre of engineers and with a fearless can do credo armed with a Sea Bee attitude from far away foreign military campaigns, they broke the backs of competition, lifting the outer limits of performance above the catatonic clouds!
     They saw it all!  The wild eyes!  The wild generation and merchants of speed and performance!  Troutman & Barnes, Remington; I am with you on the tracks.  Ak Miller, Balchowsky and Sadler-your bullishness infects me with fire as I stand and salute you at turn 6.  Iskenderian, Winfield we lift your camshafts to the skies.
     Just the sound of names like Cunningham, Kurtis, Stroppe, Hilborn, Traco, Halibrand, and Offenhauser makes my eyes bulge like a Big Daddy cartoon and those legends with ardent visions engulfs me, a starry-spangled shock of the future arriving today on our very doorsteps.
     I am with you and fire your engines with the mystical fuel of innovation and courage, as you have brought us Chariots of Fire in our day.      

     STAFF NOTES; Nick Conklin wrote in, "I have a copy of an email found in your newsletter.  I own Julian Doty and George Duvall's Bug Eye Sprite and would love to have more information on this race.  Is any available? Thank You, Nick Conklin."
     Nick was referring to this statement; "All I know now is it was at El Mirage Dry Lakes 1974 and it was in a 1961 Bug Eye Sprint all I have is the dash plaque that they must have given him.   Greg Tope
     Jim Miller added the following comment; "Greg, this is not a dash plaque.  It's been taken off a performance trophy.  The event was at El Mirage on November 3, 1974. In H GT there were two entries.  Gear Grinders member Aronson in his number 1000 car ran 91.00 mph.  The other runner in the class was Julian Doty of the Sidewinders at 72.69 mph.  The class record at the time was 93.55 mph.  There was no such thing as a Bug Eye Sprint.  There was a car called an Austin-Healey Sprite that went by the name of a Bug Eye."
     NICK: Call Jim Miller at 818-846-5139.  He knew Duvall and Doty.  Miller can refer you to those LSR guys who are still around that raced with Duvall and Doty. 

     I just stumbled onto an article on your website regarding a search for a midget. My cousin, Claudia Lahaie, sent a request for information on my dad, Eddie Ostwick's, midget.  A man named Jay Thompson knew where it was in Utah. I don't remember thanking Jay personally.  I finally went to Utah to see the midget October 2013.  I sat in it; and it was a real experience.  Dan Ostwick 
DAN: Here’s something I found on the internet concerning your father.
News Release May 1940: "Little Eddie Ostwick, heavy-footed daredevil of the speedways and 1939 (Michigan State Midget) racing champion has positively assured W. R. Caine, operator of Bigelow Field (a Grand Rapids, Michigan baseball stadium turned into a midget racing track) that he will be on hand with his new midget for the opening race.  During 1939 Eddie did not have his own car but was driving a midget racer owned by Dick Harroun, son of the man (Ray Harroun) who won the first Indianapolis (500 mile) race back in 1911.  Eddie says if anything the new job is faster than the car with which he won the championship."

     Bob Choisser sent this in; The Redding Drag Strip reopens.  First race is set for April 12, 2014.  One group sent in a response to the RFP that was sent out at the end of last year by the city of Redding, California. This group is trying to negotiate a fair license agreement with the City.  The group is made up of business owners and drag racers. They will become a 501C3 non-profit, so any money made will be put back into the track. Board members cannot be paid. The board members are creating this group purely out of the love for the sport.
     The chance to get back on the track after a long winter and the added incentive of a free entry bonus are expected to draw a large field of bracket cars to Rockingham Dragway for the annual Racer Appreciation ET Shootout, Feb. 22-23, 2014.  “After almost three months, our racers are ready to get back into a routine and so are we,” Earwood said.  “The sound of race motors at The Rock is one of the first signs of spring.  I can’t wait to get started.   I think we’ve got an exciting schedule and, as usual, we’ve tried to throw in a little something to everyone.”  Among those “little somethings” is a comprehensive bracket racing schedule that includes 11 points races that will determine Rockingham track championships and those eligible to compete track in the IHRA Summit Super Series finals.  The first of those events will be contested in conjunction with the Racer Appreciation opener, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.             
     The February opener will pay $2,000 to Top ET winners on both Saturday and Sunday; $1,000 to the Footbrake winners and $150 to the champions in the increasingly competitive Jr. Dragster division.  Although the competitive portion of the event will be restricted to Saturday and Sunday, the track actually will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21, for parking and tech inspection. Two-day adult admission is $25 per person.  Sunday only admission is $15.  As usual, children under six are free when accompanied by a ticketed adult and parking also is free in Rockingham Dragway’s main lot.  Among those expected to take advantage of the early season event are 2013 Rockingham track champions Dave Lowe of Raeford (Top ET), Wesley Roberts of Benson (Footbrake) and Nicholas Rabon of Florence, S.C. (Jr. Dragster).  Roberts, a member of the potent Ronnie Roberts Racing effort, is expected to wage another season-long battle for track bragging rights with teammate Eric Aman of Mt. Olive, the 2012 Footbrake champ.  In addition to the Summit Super Series events, Rockingham’s bracket racing schedule will include the Southern Jr. Dragster Spring Nationals on March 15-16; a Hoosier Tires Carolina Coalition bracket race on March 29-30; and the annual Big John Memorial Weekend Iron Man Bracket Championships, May 23-26.
www.rockinghamdragway.com.   Steve Earwood

JUNKYARD BLUES.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.   Reprinted by permission of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.
     I love car junkyards. Or dismantlers, or used parts purveyors, or recycling centers, ad neauseum. For me, they were junkyards back in the Thirties, and they are junkyards in the new millenium.  To be precise, however, I must admit that a junkyard in l939 might be filled with as much corrugated sheet metal and wood trash as with old cars and trucks. However, then as now, it didn’t take long for a junkyard owner to figure out that an old car was worth heaps more than heaps of broken up 2 x 4s.      
     Still, it is a matter of perspective. Back then, a l932 Ford with a smashed front end (often the result of crappie out-of-adjustment mechanical brakes) might sell for no more than $25. A body only could be as low as $5. In fact, I was once looking through some old pre WWII SCTA club minutes and in reply to the question of letting closed cars run at the lakes, someone quipped, “Hell no! They can buy a roadster body for $5 at any junkyard.” That seemed to settle the question. For me, an automotive junkyard is a kind of place for mechanical reverie, where I can just wander at will (hopefully) and muse about the abstractions of mechanical interchangeability (or malleability). There can be long stretches of time without distractions, when I can wander about using this or that device for any imaginable project. I am lost in my head in a land of infinite possibilities. In a way, a junkyard is a kind of assembled hardware parts department. Those of you blessed with truly remarkable female companions understand the bliss of marriage to a woman who loves to cruise the aisle of the modern hardware emporium.  They are absolutely keepers. 
     Wally Parks was the same way about good wrecking yards, and oft times he would cruise by my house of a weekend to see if I was free to go play. Which usually meant a trip north to the San Joaquin Valley, which was festooned with old car graveyards up that Highway 99 life artery. In the late Fifties and well into the Seventies, it was still possible to stumble across a yard that dated to the Thirties, even back into the Nineteen Twenties. The old stuff we were interested in would be “out back”, with the front acreage reserved for the faster moving inventory of late model metal. Sometimes a yard easily accessible to the old main highway would be picked over, but get off into the myriad farm communities and treasures could be had. Goodguys head guy Gary will agree, since he comes from such environs. There was a time in the late Seventies when you could actually discover an old disheveled hot rod forlorn and dying in these yards. More often than not hosting a flat motor of doubtful condition. 
     When I moved into the mountain west communities of the Northern Rockies, it was like discovering a Lost Nation Of NonRust. By then, of course, I was long past any interest in early Ford engines and power
-trains. I needed only bodies and chassis; Which I found behind practically every old shed and barn.  Years later, I began to chronicle these treasure troves in magazine articles, most often heralded as Vintage Tin. Interestingly enough, when I retrace some obscure non-interstate in the American and Canadian west, I find much of this rust still around. And, in the arid west (which includes the snow country) the resultant rust is hardly even a skim coat. More destructive to western metal is the alkali pans. 
     Some of those original junkyards still exist, but most have been picked clean. Then, there are some “new” yards full of old cars, yards that have been created specifically to cater for the modern car crowds. Gallatin Gateway, which is west of Bozeman, Montana has such a yard, and it is way fun to wander through.  Used to be one in Salmon, Idaho and several over in the Dakotas. There are a dozen or so in Arizona and New Mexico, but only a couple of them advertise their wares in hobby publications.  You wanna find ‘em, you gotta get off your ass and go looking!  The modern “Hobby” yards are in plain view alongside major highways, but if you are willing to bounce over old and decaying roads throughout the west, you will still find interesting original.  Sometimes with original owners.  During the heyday of restored Model T and A Fords, some of these old yards got an extra decade or so of life from the restorers. But, with the demise of the early Ford restorers (yeah, I know there are still some out there, but let’s face facts here, Bucko.  The early Ford rebuilding era is on the wan), along with the advent of a good New Steel industry, vintage tin ain’t so in. 
     So, I now find myself wandering aimlessly through the modern car bone yard just looking to see what late model parts might be redirected to live on in contemporary hot rodding.  Mostly brackets and wiring and fluid tubing, etc., but it matters little because I am still caught up in the unyielding dream of what “Might work.”  I especially like to tape measure engines, musing just how a little four banger might be used in a T roadster (some of ‘em are putting out huge chunks of horsepower you know), or what about a modern V6?  And some of the modern independent front suspensions (there are still plenty of offshore rear wheel drive designs) look interesting.  As well as a whole spate of independent rears.  Far and away the most tantalizing are all the electronic engine controls now dime a dozen in bone yards.  That, in reality, is the magic of junkyards. 
Nuther One Gone; article by Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted by permission of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

     Chances are you have never heard of Frank Wylie.  Retired, but some years back he played a crucial role in the stocker wars on the nation's drag sites. In the battles between Ford and Chevy, he was the spoiler.  Frank Wylie was the head honcho at Dodge public relations.  He waved the flag for the Chrysler Products when people still thought of them as old farts in top hats.  Frank was, for us in the automotive media, the go-to guy for information and help.
     That was especially true of our projects at Hot Rod Magazine. Our front guy with Detroit was Ray Brock. Keep in mind that the late 1950s and much of the '60s were heady times for Detroit performance. All across America, and in nearly every Detroit automotive denizen, the Youth Market was all the rage. That meant drag racing, and in drag racing, that meant the Detroit stockers. Essentially, it meant Ford vs GM.  When I was running the NHRA quarter-mile program, I had instructed my guys on the event microphone to zero-in on any kind of competition that might arise, especially between the Ford and Chevy camps. I didn’t have to encourage any announcer excitement over any of the other makes. Actually, any of the MoPar racers.  
     You see, the Chrysler Corporation guys just kind of sat back in the pits and let the GM/Ford warriors spar it out, to the huge roars of approval from the grandstands. Then, when the dust had cleared, the MoPars would roll out of the staging lanes and mop up on whomever was left. Even so, the Chrysler entourage never really got a huge gaggle of supporters.  Which was where Frank Wylie came in. He was really the champion of the MoPar hemi, in whatever guise. In this he was joined in the West Coast office of Chrysler, Inc., by Jack McFarland.  Between them, we in the auto press were never without some kind of Chrysler brand to own or borrow. In fact, for over a decade, I always had something MoPar as a loaner, or a dirt cheap purchase. I think I owned 9 Dodge Darts in the first five years of the '60s. Plus a gaggle of other Detroit iron. All on a pauper’s pay.
     Wylie was a good friend with Ray Brock, and if you look into HRM and drag racing history, you will note that Ray was running a Dodge stocker at the big Drags, emblazoned with the HRM logo.  And Wylie had thousands of those in vogue vest pins flaunting the fact.  Then, in about ’64 or so, Ray was lured to run a Plymouth as the HRM banner dragger.  Instantly, Wylie shoveled out thousands of pins with the headline “Beat Brock.”  It was all a part of the great inter-agency rivalry between Dodge and the Chrysler engineers called the High And Mighty.  So, Chrysler couldn’t lose.  So, they didn’t.  Because, it is all about image, and the MoPar image was of top performance. They even had Don Garlits in tow at one point.  All because of a public relations guy who actually knew something about his target audience.  The guys at Ford caught the vision, GM never did catch up.  They are still groping!
Gone Racin’…POSITIVE LIVING WITH DR LOU GERHARDT; A TOUGH MINDED OPTIMIST.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.   Written 9 September 2011.  Reprinted by permission of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

     Burke LeSage sent me a small paperback book that he enjoyed reading and asked me to do a book review.  The book in question, POSITIVE LIVING WITH DR LOU GERHARDT; A TOUGH MINDED OPTIMIST, is a self-help book and has nothing to do with hot rodding or car racing.  Well, at first glance it doesn’t, but as I read the little booklet there were gems of wisdom that the hot rodder would find of value.  There was also the way that the book was written and published that is an important enough reason to review it and to recommend it to you, the shade tree or garage mechanic.  The first thing to do is to give you some basics; the nuts and bolts of the book and I’ll explain later why that’s so important.  POSITIVE LIVING is a paperback book measuring 5 x 8 inches in size and has 157 pages on inexpensive bond paper.  There are two color and five black and white photographs in the book and the photo quality is average to good at best.  The text is double, if not triple, spaced and the column is very short.  The average line is only six words and the average page has about 20 lines and 120 words.  A speed reader would only have trouble turning the pages fast enough and a slowpoke reader like me, who reads word for word, would have no trouble reading the book in an hour or two.  I edit long stories and articles faster than that. 

     The title page is short and clear.  The dedication and acknowledgments is even shorter at half a paragraph or less.  There is no index; the entire book is but one chapter, but divided into subchapters or thoughts.  The Preface is three pages.  I couldn’t see a price listed and you will have to contact the author or the publisher to get a copy of the book.  POSITIVE LIVING was published by Magic Valley Publishers, 6390 E. Willow Street, Long Beach, California 90815.  The ISBN number is 978-0-9845275-2-6.  The cover design was created by Matt Gonzalez.  A special saying was incorporated into the cover by Judy Massey and is used by her permission.  Matt and Debra Gonzalez are the owners of Magic Valley Publishers and they have an on-line explanation of how they operate as a self-help, vanity publishing company at http://www.magicvalleypub.com/PublishingAgreement110110.pdf.  They publish anyway from a dozen books at a time up to thousands of copies.  You can also inquire directly to the author, Dr Gerhardt and see if he has copies for sale.  His contact information is 1-800-995-1620, 1-760-367-4627 or you can email him at res19mxc@verizon.net.

     The gist or core of POSITIVE LIVING is philosophical in nature and in a religious sense of the meaning.  Dr Gerhardt lists his credo as that of a stoical heretic and by that he means in the best sense of the words.  He is open to change and to new things and willing to accept life with a sense of pragmatic, logical and practical hope.  He does not believe that a Pollyannaish acceptance of facts and events are helpful.  So far he is no different than the average hot rodder, who understands that life takes a bit of tinkering and refinement; nothing is perfect to begin with.  The second subchapter is called Trust, which is the belief that what is positive may not necessarily be seen or understood, but it is still true and will sustain you.  Trust to a hot rodder is the knowledge that his crew and his car will not let him down as he attempts to set that high speed record.  Or as Werner Von Braun said, “All I have seen in this life encourages me to trust all that I have not seen.”  The author went on to stress that we should, “look to this day” and not borrow trouble and problem from the future.  He asks us to concentrate on the task at hand, the only problem that we can actually deal with and solve.  Too often we get bogged down with problems that we can’t solve and then nothing gets resolved. 

     The power to love is the greatest power on earth, but it means so many different things to so many people.  Do you inspire those around you with gratitude for what they do for you and your projects, or do you merely take your crew and family for granted?  Many of our failures can be traced right back to whether we love and care for those around us.  The one page subsection on the “child within us” hits home for the normal hot rodder.  How many times have I seen this sign in your garages; “I’m in my second childhood.”  Having the curiosity and playfulness of a little child is what keeps us young at heart.  “It’s never too late to enjoy your childhood,” is a great way to explain to your wife why you love to work on your car all day and show it off at the cruise on the weekends.  Especially if you take your loved one with you to your favorite drive-in dining spot.  Gerhardt extols the virtue that each of us is unique and that we must accept and rejoice in that special talent and ability that we possess.  Hot rodders understand this concept and we sense that we are outsiders and different.  It is represented in the vast variety of customization of our cars and of the things that we enjoy doing.  If what we do is different, then so be it.  The next section is about what it means to be at peace with ourselves and with the world.  Hot rodders are willing to accept the eccentricities in others as we ask the world to accept our individual quirks.  One of the hardest views to accept was the need to avoid being cynical.  As hot rodders we have strict views about how the universe around us works and we gain that knowledge from adjusting and readjusting parts and motors until we get the optimum performance out of our cars.  But as we watch the leaders of the world do the most idiotic and repetitive stupidities we are tempted to turn into cynical observers.

     Gerhardt would ask us to exercise tolerance of other people.  He explained how he came to know and like a man who was Gay.  We may not appreciate some of the things that people around us do, but being able to like the person, while tolerating their lifestyles teaches us maturity.  Sometimes the author goes to an extreme in defending the way people act and behave.  There is a lot of Dr Norman Vincent Peale in how Gerhardt responds to the world.  He is positive to a fault and sometimes that can be a fault.  There is a sub-branch in philosophy and psychiatry that says that if you have a negative dysfunction that harms you and those around you, that you can trade that negative fault for a positive one.  Gerhardt sometimes seems to me to have taken that rule to heart.  He has replaced all of his negative feelings for positive ones.  It seems, on the surface to be admirable, but let’s look at this and push this philosophy to the extremes. Say that your better half is upset that you booze, smoke, gamble and ogle the ladies too much and she is exasperated with your conduct.  Replacing negative dysfunctions with positive ones, you decide to give up the booze, tobacco, ponies and girls and instead become a church-a-holic, service-a-holic, vegetarian and car nut.  You are no longer boozing and smoking in front of the TV watching porn and off-track betting events, but you are now gone from the home on weekdays and weekends.  Perhaps your wife is happy that you spend your weekends in church or at the local car cruises, but should you be there every moment?  Gerhardt tells us to be a practical optimist and to accept everyone, but there comes a time when we simply can’t do that, when our choices force us to deny certain human behavior. 

     Martin Luther King, Jr had many fine attributes, but there were incidents in his life that he and others would not want us to copy or emulate.  Norman Vincent Peale’s POSITIVE THINKING and Dr Gerhardt’s POSITIVE LIVING have much to offer all of us, but there are limits even with positive thoughts and actions.  I love chocolate ice cream and a small cup of it is a real treat, but eating five gallons of it at one time spoils anything that I find positive about the dessert.  I suppose we can agree to disagree.  The author does admit that sometimes even the experts can be wrong and now he and I begin to agree.  He does say that when we knock our leaders off a pedestal and demean them that we demean society as well.  I would argue that in knocking our leaders where they deserve to be knocked that we are not demeaning them but making them human and fallible, like the rest of us.  Where a leader needs to be knocked; he should be, otherwise they tend to stay around too long.  Serve and let the next generation have a chance is my motto.  We have no need of kings or Gods in the hot rodding world.  I suppose that we could say, “Love the sinner and hate the sin.”  As hot rodders we know that sometimes brilliant ideas about car design and speed can come from some pretty nasty people.  We accept them for who and what they are, realizing that good can indeed come from some unsavory individuals.  Dr Gerhardt continues and promotes the value of family. 

     POSITIVE LIVING has many more theosophical and philosophical sayings of value; some more valuable than others.  But it is time to discuss the real value in this book and that is the way in which it was constructed.  It is simple, to the point, easy to read, with a few photographs that help the story along.  It is also cheap and easy to publish and distribute.  Why is this important?  Any one of you can do the same thing that Dr Gerhardt did and contact the publisher and or other such vanity publishers and present their own history and biography.  It isn’t that hard or that expensive to do.  It is a practical way to leave behind your history and heritage to your family and friends and something that they will treasure.  The publisher will provide as many services as you are willing to pay for and to print as many soft-cover books as your budget will allow.  You can put a budget on how much you want to spend and what you get will be a quality product.  It’s all very much like a speed shop that hot rodders are used to.  If you want to look flashy then the cost goes up.  If you want the standard equipment then the cost comes down.  A hundred copies might cost you around seven hundred dollars, but look at the impact that your life story or your opinions and beliefs would have on your family and friends.  And you get to become a “published writer.”  Dr Gerhardt’s book is worth buying for his views on life, some of which you may or may not accept, and as a model of what you can do in writing your story.  As POSITIVE LIVING does not relate to auto racing I am not giving it a rating, but I am advising you to look it over as a template for what you could achieve should you decide to publish your story.
Gone Racin’ is at

Gone Racin’…SO-CAL COUPE, by Ken Gross and Peter Harholdt.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Reprinted by permission of www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

     SO-CAL COUPE, by Ken Gross and Peter Harholdt is volume number 3 by Publisher Stance & Speed, from St Paul, Minnesota.   The publisher has come out with a series of books that may prove to be quite popular with automotive and racing fans.  Volume 3 in the monographic series is titled SO-CAL COUPE, by writer Ken Gross and photographer Peter Harholdt.   The book has a hardcover in black with colored photos on the front and back of this iconic coupe owned and driven by legendary hot rodder Alex Xydias.  The book measures 11 ¼ by 11 ¼ inches and has 32 pages.  The ISBN is 13: 978-0-9852009-5-4 and the listed price is $17.95.  If you can’t locate the book at your local book store then try Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California or the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California (909-622-2133). 

     There are eight black and white photographs, one magazine cover and 14 color photographs on high quality waxy photographic paper.  Both the color and black and white photographs are reproduced in excellent condition; Harholdt has done a very good job.  The pages are glued, not cloth bound to the spine of the book.  There is no dust cover jacket or sleeve with the book.  There is also no index, but there is an addendum at the back with basic statistics of the car.  Ken Gross is an excellent writer, historian and former Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.  The Foreword is by Alex Xydias.  The size of the book makes it hard to put on a typical shelf.  It was constructed with its impressive black boundary and striking color photo of the coupe to be displayed as a coffee table book.  That may create a bit of a problem as SO-CAL COUPE is part of a series.  It looks better on a table where it catches one’s eye, than in a bookcase where it is liable to be ignored due to its small spine.

     Gross acknowledges Alex Xydias, Jim Travis, Brad Hand, Donna Tribby, Bruce Canepa, Ole Erickson and Don Orosco.  Alex Xydias is considered a hot rodder, dry lakes and Bonneville racer, speed shop owner and editor; but he has a great sense of humor and timing and anyone who has heard him speak enjoys what he has to say.  Perhaps he got his sense of humor from good friends Ak Miller and Wally Parks and other land speed racers of the 1940’s.  The book is about the So-Cal Coupe, but how can we ignore Alex Xydias.  Ever story he tells, no matter how small, is music to a hot rodder’s ears.  He is given only a short two page Foreword to introduce Ken Gross and the book, but just like his friend LeRoi Tex Smith, he can tell a story short or long and in the hot rodders lingo.  He served in the Army Air Force during World War II and was discharged in 1946 at the same time his close friend Wally Parks came home from the Service.  He opened up a wildly successful So-Cal Speed Shop in 1946 and then closed it down to go into the publishing business fifteen years later.  Along the way he was editor of Car Craft magazine and then Hot Rod Industry News.  He formed SCORE with Mickey Thompson; drag raced and went to Bonneville with Dad, Ak Miller and the original ‘49ers.  Pete Chapouris brought back the old So-Cal Speed Shop branding and car building in 1997 and gave a new generation of hot rodders something to dream about.

     Ken Gross, automotive historian, writer, researcher and former Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum finished telling the story of Alex, the ’34 coupe and the So-Cal Speed Shop legend.  Gross tells us about Xydias’ time in the service, and then coming home to race on the dry lakes of Southern California with his friends.  These men had lived through the dreary Great Depression and World War II and they felt this unbridled energy and zest for life that couldn’t be controlled.  They literally exploded out into peacetime America with ideas and creative zeal.  The ’34 So-Cal Coupe followed other great looking coupes, such as the Pierson Brothers 2-D coupe, just as the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) relented on their coupe ban at the dry lakes and Bonneville.  Alex and his So-Cal Speed Shop employees built the coupe, several roadsters, a streamliner and a belly tank; all fast, sleek and graceful.  Today you can see some of his restored cars and some new cars built by Chapouris under the So-Cal Speed Shop banner at car shows around the country.

     Gross continues the story and brings in names that have helped build the coupe, raced against it, or was a part of its history.  Glorious names such as Chuck Potvin, Barney Navarro, Tom Beatty, the Pierson Brothers (Bob and Dick), Bobby Meeks, Wally Parks, Dawson Hadley, Frank Kurtis, Chrisman Brothers, Vic Edelbrock, Tom Cobb, and Buddy Fox.  The little coupe sent a Bonneville record in 1953 going 172.749 mph record in its class.  The coupe seamlessly made the transition from land speed racing to the early drag strips and had remarkable success.  Tragedy is often the ugly sister of success and a fatal accident in the coupe took the life of Xydias’ brother-in-law and driver.  Alex sold the coupe to John Moxley.  Gross continues the story of the coupe right up to the present day.  It’s a fascinating tale of a car, its builder and the men who followed as owners and their constant redesigning skills.  The book is short, but it is a little gem that deserves to be on the shelf or coffee table of any self-respecting hot rodder.  I rate this book a 7 out of a possible 8 spark plugs and recommend that you add it to your library.
Gone Racin’ is at
Gone Racin’… ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY, THE CARS AND PEOPLE THAT MADE ROCK AND ROLL, by Paul Grushkin.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.  Reprinted by permission of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

     ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY, THE CARS AND PEOPLE THAT MADE ROCK AND ROLL is a hardbound book suitable for music and car lovers and written by Paul Grushkin.  The book measures 11 inches wide and 12 inches in height and contains 240 pages on high quality, heavy bond, waxed paper.  Normally I take the time and break down all the photographs, posters, drawings and miscellaneous visual objects to let the reader know exactly what to expect.  But it was obvious that this was going to take all day to do that.  Grushkin has crafted a visibly stunning reference work on the music, mostly American; that was influenced by the car culture.  This is a lushly rich book full of interesting posters, film shots, music records, disks, labels, magazine covers, drawings, ticket stubs, black and white and color photographs.  Grushkin wrote THE ART OF ROCK, and then followed it up with THE ART OF MODERN ROCK.

     He then wrote THE GRATEFUL DEAD; THE OFFICIAL BOOK OF THE DEADHEADS and TREASURES OF THE HARD ROCK CAFÉ.  Grushkin has been around the music world for a long time and was an archivist and historian.  He owns his own line of apparel called Phantom Clothing.  His latest book merges the car culture and the songs and music that went hand in hand with young people and fast cars.  The dust cover jacket is impressive and adds a great deal to the book.  Rockin’ down the highway in a ‘50’s red convertible and holding a red and white guitar as the open road beckons is a masterful use of visual description to use on the cover.  Take very good care of the dust cover jacket because it is impressive.  ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY was published by Voyageur Press in 2006, located in St Paul, Minnesota.  The ISBN# is 13-978-0-7603-2292-5 and can be ordered through any bookstore or contact Autobooks/Aerobooks at 818-845-0707.

     This is a massive and thorough book with excellent text and story development.  Yet it is the visual objects that Grushkin uses liberally in the book that draws the eye and keeps your attention riveted to the book.  It doesn’t take long before you are dreaming about the past and reliving all those exciting days from the 1940’s up through the present day.  Music, as Grushkin so readily shows us, is an integral part of our lives and the music in ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY was truly inspired by the car culture.  The price of the book is a very reasonable $40 and in a hardbound edition too.  Mike Ness writes the Foreword and Grushkin sets the tone with an introduction.  The book is broken down into eight substantial chapters.  There is a credits and acknowledgments page that is very informative as to where the author obtained much of his material.  Ending the book is a comprehensive and complete three-page index.  The photographs are superb, ranging from black and white to color, with off-tones that are exquisite.  Every style of music, except classical is represented and posters and artwork run the gamut from pinstripers to punk.  Each of the eight chapters chronicles the development of music and the car culture down through the decades to the present day.  The cars are hot, the music is nostalgic, the women are alluring and the men are masters of their domain, the way we always thought our youthful culture looked like.  There are photos of the local diner where the young guys and gals are hanging out.  The wild roadster barreling down the street with kids standing up and whooping.  Photos of Elvis just before he made it big with girlfriends Yvonne Lime and June Juanico.  It was an age of innocence and promise.

     ROCKIN’ DOWN THE HIGHWAY also portrays a darker side with an edge.  A car and music culture that also contained danger and death, speed and mayhem.  A world willing to push the envelope and take risks that often proved fatal.  This was a world where drug usage and alcohol addictions were combined with speed to create a lethal outcome.  Street racing became an outlaw culture.  Gradually organized drag racing made an impact and raised the standards of respectability.  The artwork of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth fills up several pages and points out the rising strength of the youthful counterculture in music and in the resistance to the Viet Nam conflict.  The Beach Boys, Annette and Fabian rivet the nation with the Southern California sun and sea culture.  There is Detroit and Motown and the music that would influence much of our language and culture and evolve into R&B and Rap.  Country, Western, Soul and balladeers would leave their mark.  Billy F. Gibbons and ZZ Top left a lasting impression with his music and his Cadzilla; a sleek, low and stylish Cadillac designed by Larry Erickson.  Probably one of the best lyrics is from “Big Red Rocket of Love,” and it goes like this
…”I got a red car with blue tail lights, shiny red seats with lining in white, Leopard Skin dash with a louvered hood, she goes ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-when she's running good.  Let's go ride into the mountains above, She's low, my big red rocket of love."   Grushkin has written a book that all hot rodders and car fans can appreciate.  It’s a book that shows how we lived and loved, our virtues and vices.  It brings back those memories that made us what we are.
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM


Here is some exciting news announcing how the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sydney Allards First British International Drag Racing Festival; the series of events that launched drag racing onto the unsuspecting British public. It is the BDRHoF’s first Gala Dinner and it will be held in the Great Hall of the Savill Court Hotel in Windsor Great Park on November 22nd. It will be the most ambitious social event ever organized in British drag racing.

Hall of fame logo




Paul Wright will keep everyone in order at the prestigious 2014 British Drag Racing Hall of Fame Gala Awards Gala Dinner in association with Beech Underwriting at the Savill Court Hotel on November 22nd 2014.


A professionally trained Master of Ceremonies and Toastmaster, Paul has travelled the world for over 22 years as a former Warrant Officer of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He caught the drag racing bug in 1976 at Santa Pod, the first race he saw being between Don Garlits and Pete Crane, not a bad introduction. These days he works on Santa Pod Raceway’s radio station Nitro FM 96.2 as the host of the breakfast show and the "down time extravaganza". He also assists his long-time friend Barry Bohannon to commentate at Shakespeare County Raceway.

The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame is sponsored by many businesses and associations. Without this support it could not exist. They are Beech Underwriting; U S Automotive; Power Race Graphics; Santa Pod Racers Club; Pennine Drag Racing Club; Eurodragster.com; Avon Park International Racing Association, Shakespeare County Raceway; Santa Pod Raceway; York Raceway.



Further Press Information from Robin Jackson RJProMod@aol.com

Tel 01933 222917


8.32 Trophy 31
Front with carriage
[Email Land Speed Racing]


Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Gale Banks, Glen Barrett, Mike Bastian, Lee Blaisdell, Jim Bremner, Warren Bullis, Burly Burlile, George Callaway, Gary Carmichael, John Backus, John Chambard, Jerry Cornelison, G. Thatcher Darwin, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Bob Falcon, Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger, Don Garlits, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Andy Granatelli, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Ken Kelley, Mike Kelly, Bret Kepner, Kay Kimes, Jim Lattin, Mary Ann and Jack Lawford, Fred Lobello, Eric Loe, Dick Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin, Bob McMillian, Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Bob Morton, Mark Morton, Paula Murphy, Landspeed Louise Ann Noeth, Frank Oddo, David Parks, Richard Parks, Wally Parks (in memoriam), Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz, Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik, Frank Salzberg, Dave Seely, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, David Steele, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Zach Suhr, Maggie Summers, Gary Svoboda, Pat Swanson, Al Teague, JD Tone, Jim Travis, Randy Travis, Jack Underwood and Tina Van Curen, Richard Venza.

Copyright 1999 - 2014 Land Speed Racing Newsletter All Rights Reserved
No Portion May Be Used Without Our Written Permission
Contact Mary Ann Lawford: 208-362-1010
Email: maryann@lawfordmedia.com