NEWSLETTER 313 -  March 9 , 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:
President's Corner; Editorials; Ben Jordan, AB Jenkins,   Petersen Publishing, Jim Hill, Tom Medley, Bud Meyer,  Santa Ana Drag Strip Reunion, Tex Smith,

Source Interlink, publishing owner of the former Petersen Publishing performance automotive magazine titles (Hot Rod, Car Craft, etc.) made another major financial announcement Monday.  Three weeks ago Source fired a number of staff editors, including Jeff Smith, ex-Hot Rod editor and current Car Craft editor along with approximately 15 others in the California offices.  They followed that up a week later with another blood-bath in the firm's Tampa offices, with more than a dozen more staffers let go.  My son Patrick Hill, who loved his job and worked above-and-beyond for eight years to produce, was one of the victims in the Tampa office.
     For some time speculation has been that Source management has been feeling heavy pressure from parent owners, primarily financials such as GE Cap, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan, to maybe sell off the titles and publishing operation.  Source Interlink, a magazine distribution/circulation firm, bought the publishing business and has been watching it decline for several years.  This is yet another example of how NYC/Wall Street financial people can grab a company and utilizing their lack of knowledge of the market or its customer base, take a profitable operation and shove it into financial ruin. Another victory for corporate America!  (information taken from the New York Post)
STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:  
     Jim Hill sent us word about a mass firing at Source Interlink, a company that purchased the assets of the old Petersen Publishing empire.  My father was the first professional editor of the first Petersen magazine.  There’s a lot of history in this company and a great many men and women whom I knew and considered my friends.  It is sad to see this old publishing giant suffer and to see many of my friends put out of work.  Maybe you’ll forgive me for a short period of reminiscing.  Also I may be a bit redundant as I’ve told this story before and perhaps not quite as well as ha
ve others in the field.
     Robert Petersen, or as I always knew him as “Pete” Petersen, was a young hot rodder who came up the hard way during the Great Depression.  But that’s like saying the sky over Beijing is gray, since most everyone at that time struggled.  Pete had an uncanny ability to see the larger picture and he was smart.  He was also a self-made man who developed his talents, worked hard and studied people and the situations they found themselves in.  He was also adept at taking a calculated risk when he felt that it was needed, while prudently avoiding unnecessary problems.  He was a great problem solver, which endeared him to actors and actresses in Hollywood.  That was one of the jobs he always loved, working in the public relations office at a movie studio.  I don’t know if he ever wrote down all the stories that he knew; but if he did then they would be priceless.  What I heard is that he was one of those PR guys who not only put out the official stories to the media, but was also called upon to get some of Hollywood’s finest out of jams that they found themselves in, or to rewrite the news so that what was bad news was seen in the light of day as “publicity.” 
     When the war ended and the soldiers returned by the millions, their jobs were returned to them and those working at the home front were let go.  Pete and a number of other PR men who lost their jobs formed a group called Hollywood Associates and went looking for business.  If they found a client they reaped the commission and since Pete was a hot rodder and a member of the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) he approached Wally Parks, my father.  Dad had been an original member of the SCTA and had served in a number of functions.  In 1946 he was elected to be the President of the group just as it reached its greatest size and prestige.  In 1947 Parks chose not to run for re-election, but supported his good friend, Ak Miller, who was elected.  The reason that Dad chose not to run was that he wanted to be chosen as the first General Manager of the SCTA.  The General Manager would not only be a paid position, but held most of the power over the day to day workings of the group.  He had worked hard to convince the hard-headed hot rodders that the SCTA needed to be run on a more professional manner.
     For the next three years the SCTA was led by Ak or others who were close friends of my father and who looked up to him as one of the older members of the group.  Parks wanted to expand the outreach of the SCTA and make it more than just a group of Southern California hot rodders and land speed racers.  He wanted to show the public that there were distinct differences between the SCTA and the riffraff on the streets who were killing people due to illegal street racing.  One of his goals was to hold a hot rod exposition in Los Angeles and show off the SCTA cars to the general public and to do this he needed someone he could trust and who could provide the needed publicity.
     That’s where Pete Petersen came into the picture, and I don’t know whether Parks went looking for Petersen or it was the other way around.  Knowing how both men were talented at finding capable and competent personnel to run their organizations, my feeling is that the idea struck both of them very soon after the concept was thought of.  Petersen and Bob Lindsay created a little flyer, a legal sized pamphlet that would become HOT ROD magazine.  It didn’t take long before the idea took root in Petersen’s mind that this pamphlet could become a magazine.  It had been tried before, during the year 1941 when Jack Peters (not his real name) created a magazine called THROTTLE that did quite well with the racing community.  However, World War II ended racing and many young hot rodders went into the service and THROTTLE was shut down.  Petersen was aware of THROTTLE and the two inch red banner across the top of the magazine.  HOT ROD followed the same format when it came out in 1948.  The stories abound how Petersen went around to speed shops, garages and car club meetings selling his pamphlet/magazine, which would grow to include material other than that hyping the Hot Rod Exposition scheduled for 1948.  Parks submitted articles and gave Petersen some tips, including SCTA membership rolls.  Dad was also listed after a while as a technical director, but just how much he contributed under aliases to the new magazine will have to come from other sources. 
     The Hot Rod Exposition was a success in large part to the growth and success of HOT ROD magazine, but Petersen and Parks were not done.  In 1948 they traveled up to Salt Lake City, Utah with Lee Ryan, another Hollywood Associate member, to gain access to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the SCTA.  Ryan was an older man and well respected by both Parks and Petersen.  Ryan set a professional example that created an aura surrounding both Petersen Publishing and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).  One of their decisions was to hire models from a modeling
agency to work at the two companies.  The three men stressed that the models should be impeccably dressed, with proper diction and manners so that when people walked into the offices they would be impressed.  If Petersen was hired (contracted) by Parks and the SCTA Board led by Ak Miller, then it wasn’t long before Parks was hired by Petersen to take over as the first professional editor of HOT ROD magazine.  Bob Lindsay and Petersen did most of the work and Lindsay was getting bored.  Petersen first offered to sell a third interest in the magazine to my father for $10,000, but this only brought howls of laughter from my mother, who pointed out that no one had two nickels to rub together, much less that kind of money. 
     Petersen eventually bought out Lindsay, but I can’t say for how much.  He asked Parks to become the first professional editor of the magazine and finally, my father accepted.  Parks did so because he too saw how HOT ROD magazine was revolutionizing the racing and hot rodding world.  Parks knew that he could use the magazine to lobby on behalf of his pet projects, including an idea that had been percolating among the land speed racers even prior to the war; short course land speed time trials or as we know it today; as drag racing.  Parks also wanted to take dry lakes and Bonneville style racing, car clubbing and hot rodding to a national scale.  In this he was frustrated by the local Southern California hot rodders even though he had effective control of the group through the Ak Miller and George Prussel presidencies.  The faster and farther he prodded the SCTA to move forward the more the member clubs dug in their heels and refused to budge.  Worse, drag racing was exploding in popularity and that was killing the old land speed racing on the dry lakes.  It was much easier to drag race on city streets and airport access roads than it was to go all the way out to the dry lakes once a month.
     The many dry lakes Timing Associations were merging together or simply disbanding and try as they might, Parks, Petersen, Miller and other SCTA leaders had to face the fact that drag racing was here to stay.  Petersen ran a tight ship, as long as he was around, but he was a family man and when it was time to go home he did to Margie and their two sons.  At that point the festive nature of the staff broke down into frenzied merrymaking and parties that are famous or infamous.  In early 1951 Parks wrote a letter under an assumed name and had a friend mail it to him, which stated that what the country needed was a National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).  After he ran the letter Parks wrote an editorial stating basically “good idea,” and he did just that; establish the NHRA with his old friend Ak Miller, with input from Petersen’s attorney, Bob Gottlieb.  That was the kind of freedom that Petersen allowed.  Whenever Pete saw an idea with potential he simply found the right man for the job and set him to the task of achieving it.  That is the difference between leaders of the 1940’s and today.  They knew what they wanted to do and they did it; they didn’t waste time researching it to death.
     The NHRA never started out as a drag racing association, otherwise they would have named it the National Drag Racing Association instead.  But early on both Parks, Petersen and Miller (NHRA vice president) saw that car clubbing, hot rodding and youth activities was not going to work.  However, they soon recognized that the need for legal, sanctioned, insured, and inspected drag racing was the sign of the future.  Parks and Miller used their skills from the SCTA as they morphed the talents of many young hot rodders into a professional drag racing organization, which was copied by many other groups around the country.  Petersen always felt that the NHRA belonged to him.  After all he had paid the staff who worked on his magazines and during and after the work day the staff worked on the business of the NHRA.  Petersen also gave a lot of space to the NHRA in the magazines he owned, sometimes excluding other drag racing groups altogether.  But Parks and Petersen were simply outgrowing each other.  Their flexibility was limited to working together as long as the relationship was symbiotic.  Friction built up and even their secretaries were feuding.  Finally Parks resigned as Editorial Director of the car magazine division and took his secretary, Barbara Livingston, with him to concentrate fully on the growing NHRA.
     Both men proved that they could be successful without the other, but that is not how they saw it.  Parks and Petersen could see the value in working together to achieve a series of goals and once their goals were completed they could go on to other things in life and remain amicable friends.  They feuded at times, but unless you looked very closely, you would miss the signs.  They never argued publicly and they helped each other out even after they split as employee/employer.  They truly respected each other, because that’s what Pete told me and exactly what my father told me.  I remember when the staffs at the magazines were huge and neither Pete nor my father took lightly firing someone.  Staff workers came and went, but it wasn’t at all like it is today, when 18 months on the job seems like forever.  I’m sorry to see the old Petersen Publishing empire break apart like it has and with staff members harboring so much anger towards the company.  Knowing what it was like way back then some sixty years ago and today does not make it any easier saying goodbye to friends on the current staff; or saying goodbye at the many funerals lately. 

     "We are sad to report that one of the cornerstones of HOT ROD Magazine, and hot rodding in general, passed away today.  Tom Medley was the first employee of Bob Petersen as HOT ROD's Cartoons and Humor Editor starting with the second issue of HOT ROD in 1948."   Read more:
http://blogs.hotrod.com/hot-rods-tom-medley-died-today-107341.html#ixzz2uwcQBQZj.   Follow us: @HotRodMagazine on Twitter, HotRodMag on Facebook.  Jim Miller
     The link below takes you to the Spring Issue of our on-line magazine ACAG Update and the attachment is a jpg of the front cover.  This issue brings you up to date with the work carried out on the dragster this year and brings you news about media awards and coverage along with exciting  events in 2014, which marks 50 years since Sydney Allard’s First British International Drag Festivals in 1964.    
http://drceurope.co.uk/acag/mar2014.  For more details and references about any of the stories contact as below.   Brian Taylor – Chairman  Allard Chrysler Action Group,     www.allardchrysler.org,   brian@allardchrysler.org.
     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.
    Bud Meyer was a product of the Greatest Generation, having come thru the hard times of the depression, served his country in WWII, and with his Dad Eddie, ran the Eddie Meyer Engineering Company.  Bud graduated from Hollywood High in 1936, and raced at the dry lakes before the war, holding the roadster record in 1939 and 1940.  (Editor; According to Jim Miller; Bud drove the car on October 15, 1939 to a time of 114.285 and set the roadster record in the SCTA.  His record lasted until Vic Edelbrock Sr went 119.44 mph on May 19, 1940 to take the roadster record from Bud and Eddie).
     Bud built the first rear engine roadster in 1940, and only raced it once, setting the record.  On May 19, 1940 with first mid-engine roadster, Bud turned 121.95 mph.   As a side note, Wally Parks and Bud designed the mid-engine concept on a napkin after a Throttlers Club meeting.  Wally told me this at Wendover, Utah in 1998, at the 50th anniversary of Bonneville Speedweek.  Bud verified the comment from Wally.  Bud said, “Yes, Wally and I designed it, but I was the one that went back to the shop and made it all work.  It had NO transmission, just a cut down transmission case, going directly into the banjo rear-end.” 
     Bud and Eddie were racers, so they went boat racing for 40 years, holding many 135 c.i. records, and the first V8 60 powered hydro to get into the prestigious 100 MPH club.  Bud and his partner Ralph Brown, won the national, and international championship in 1984 and ‘85 with their 2 1/2 liter hydro. 
     The Meyer shop had two midgets after the war, one an Offy, the other a V8 60, using their speed equipment.  They won the 1948 Pacific Coast championship with the Offy with Bullet Joe Garson driving.  The drivers that drove the Meyer midgets is a who's who of drivers; Sam Hanks, Johnny Parsons, Manny Ayulo, Frank ‘Satan’ Brewer, ‘Bullet’ Joe Garson, and in the early 1960's, Bobby Unser.  Bud was the "hands on guy" in the shop, and many folks did a lap thru the shop before going on to being successful in their own business.  Some of the people were, Ray Brown, Lou Senter, Tommy Sparks, Ed Pink, Manny Ayulo, and Frank Brewer.  Bud closed down the Eddie Meyer shop in 2002, and retired at age 84.  Bud's Uncle was Lou Meyer, (Eddie's younger brother) who got his start racing in Eddie's Redlands Special in 1926, with a RAJO "T." Eddie broke Tommy Milton's 1 mile dirt track record in San Louis Obispo (1924) with his Rajo T, going around the track in 44 seconds.    Doug Clem
     Veloce Publishing has a new book out on “The Brighton Speed Trials.”  For information and to receive their newsletter send them an email at
     Elliott and I know the important role you played in the making of the film Snake and Mongoose and we sincerely appreciate all you did to help make the film something we can all be proud of.  We would love your help in spreading the word that the film is available tomorrow via On Demand and Digital Download and that the DVD/Blu-Ray Release Date is April 8th.  Please copy and paste this link (which tells the whole story and clicks through to Amazon for pre-orders) with whatever note you’d like to include into an email, a Facebook post, a Tweet, an Instagram or whatever you use to share information with your friends and family. 
https://www.facebook.com/snakeandmongoose/photos/a.395817810432478.107028.149865151694413/ 788183271195928/?type=1&theater.  Robin Broidy Rosenzweig
STAFF NOTES; Evelyn Roth recovered some of the old Boat Racers Reunion Newsletters and flyers from her www.oilstick.com website and sent them to me.  Please note that these are HISTORICAL flyers and there are no current plans to bring back the Boat Racers Reunions (at least the ones that I promoted) in the future.  Thanks to Evelyn for keeping this document all these years.  It brings back fond memories. 
     14 October 2000 NHRA Motorsports Museum, 1101 W. McKinley Avenue, Bldg. 3-A, Pomona, CA 91768.   Museum opens 10AM, Food served 11:30 - 2:30, Museum closes at 5 PM.   Photos of the reunion.   Return your check for $19.50 per person. Please have food selection and meal times to: Richard Parks.  Food Selection: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Veggie Burger, Chicken breast sandwich, tri tip steak sandwich.  Time you wish to Eat: 11:30 am, 12:01pm, 12:30pm, 1 pm, 1:30pm, 2 pm, or 2:30pm. Name, your guest name, your address, phone #.  Otherwise you may not get your ticket and none will be sold at the door.  1st Annual California Boat Racers Reunion ($19.50 per person).   For further questions and those wishing to help should call:  South Central California callers contact: Don Edwards.  S. CA Callers: Richard Parks, N CA call Fred Iaia (Sicilian Bandit). 
     Welcome to the first annual California boat racers reunion, to be held at the NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.  Don Edwards, 1965 thru 1968 drag boat champion (Golden Komotion), and Richard Parks, will be hosting this event for all boat racers, crew, fans and spectators, at the motorsports museum on October 14, 2000.  The museum features nearly 60 cars, and Don Edward's famed T-40 turbine engine, within 29,000 square feet, full of racing memorabilia.  Parking is free, and we are expecting 40 boats to be on display outside the museum.  The NHRA Motorsports Museum is located on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, in building 3-A, next door to the Sheraton Hotel on McKinley Ave. 
     We have a special arrangement with the Hampton Inns for a special NHRA business rate of $57.00 per night.  This motel offers a great continental breakfast, free local calls, suite-like rooms and coupons for a 20% discount at Marie Calendars and El Toritos restaurants.  Call, Hampton Inns on Restaurant Row (ask for Joan Erickson) 3145 E. Garvey, West Covina, CA 91791 at interstate 10 and Barranca off ramp, mention  Steve Gibbs and the NHRA business special (626-967-5800).  The Sheraton Hotel is also conveniently located next door to the museum and has a free shuttle service from Ontario Airport to the hotel for their guests.  The L.A. County Fairplex also operates a place to park motor homes on their premises.  We are encouraging boat owners to bring their boats, albums and memorabilia to display.  
     “This is a group of photographs taken of those happy faces that attended the event. Thank You for those smiles for the camera...Evey.”  We are a group of people who came together to honor and recognize the hard work, money, time and lives that were given so that the records could be set, better watercraft would be advanced, safety level improved, etc. To all of you, thank you each and every one. (and maybe just to turn money in to a loud noise?)  Don Edwards, Richard Parks, and Fred Iaia were the hosts.  Our sincere thank you for such a well run, happy, sunshine day in our lives.  
     This group of photos are for your enjoyment.  I didn't know names but I knew the happy faces and beautiful machines - here they are for your enjoyment.  Many times I would start to take a photo and one of the group would remark, "I'm not a racer, these are the important people of the photo."  My reply to them and you is that everyone that attended was important.  The fan is very important and we honor you as well.  The mechanic, the wife who stood on the sidelines and watched, the fan, the machinist, safety engineers, timers, etc.  You are all part of this.  This is dedicated to you.  Evey Roth

     This is the 2nd Annual Boat Racers Reunion, open to all racers, family, crew, sponsors, owners, friends, officials, fans and enthusiasts of motorized boat racing.        Irvine Lake, just East of the towns of Orange and Tustin, CA     September 22, 2001 - Time 8 AM to 5 PM.  Pit passes are $22 for adults.  $11 for ages 5 - 11, 4yr and below is FREE.  Lodging  - No motor home hookups available at the lake, but for $15 a night, for up to 6 people you may park your motor home and use existing facilities on site.  4 motels  - no room for the boats and motor homes here so would have to leave them at the lake for the night.  1] Travelodge, 1302 W. Chapman Av. , Orange, CA 714-633-7720  $69 - 79.  12 miles west of the lake.   2] Days Inn, 279 S. Main St., Orange, 714-771-6704 , $69 - $79,  12 miles W of lake. 3] Orange Tustin Inn, 639 S. Tustin Av, Orange , 714-771-7460,  $69 -  $79, 10 miles W of the lake.  4] Key Inn, 1611 El Camino Real, Tustin, 714-832-3220, $36 - 51.  8 miles S of the lake off the 5 Freeway.  This is the only motel with pool, adjacent to freeway, in a new building and less than a mile from the Tustin/Irvine Market Place Shopping Mall and restaurants.  This motel has over 170 units, while all the others have 30 rooms or less.    
     Irvine Lake is located 8 miles E of 55 Freeway, in the town of Orange, CA.  There are several easy access routes to the lake.  Those coming from the W should take the 55 Freeway to the Chapman Ave off ramp and go east.  Chapman Ave becomes Santiago Canyon Road about 4 miles east of the 55 Freeway, just be careful to follow the signs and do not turn off on the Toll roads.  For those traveling from the S or E, take the 60, 10, 15 or 215 to the 91 Freeway and exit Toll road  241 at Yorba Linda, head S to Santiago Canyon Rd, then E 4 miles to the lake.  For those coming N from San Diego or S Orange County on the 5 Freeway, exit Jamboree and head 4 miles N to Santiago Canyon Rd, then 4 miles E to the lake.  All the roads are new, wide and lightly traveled.
     Lake Irvine will be closed to the general public and we will have it all to ourselves, courtesy of Dave Noyes and Yvonne Pedersen.   Restroom facilities and a store are adjacent to the park.  Weather should be clear, air clean and temps in the 80's.  Bring folding lawn chairs and pop-up tents so that you can follow the shade.     Please send Richard Parks: Pit Pass Names: Food you want: (chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and cheeseburgers, special order-veggie burger patties.  Sandwiches come with drinks and a side order.    
     Please give us name and descriptions of your boats, so we will know what boats are coming.  Send checks to Richard Parks.  If you arrive Friday night to park your motor home or boat trailer, do so before 9 PM as the attendant locks the gate at that time.      Thank you - and we look forward to seeing you at the 2nd Annual Fun Boat Racers Reunion.  (I've kept this a very basic page so that you may print it for your information while driving and mailing the checks to Richard)  If you have questions - you may email me but, I probably won't know the answer, but Richard Parks will.  Evey Roth
     In doing some on-line research about the Russetta & Pacific Coast Timing Associations, I found your website -
www.landspeedracing.com.   I am not sure if you can help me but I am trying to track down some information.  I recently acquired two timing tags from a driver named Don Everett driving a 1939 Ford Sedan.  One is from Russetta Timing Association and the second is from the Pacific Coast Timing Association.  The Russetta tag is dated 8/24/47 and the PCTA is dated 5/18/47.  Both events took place at El Mirage.  I believe the tags to be authentic but was hoping I could find some more information about these events as further authentication.  Can you recommend some additional resources or suggest where I might try?  I am not sure if programs for these events exist but I do check the auction sites.  Thank you for any help you can provide and I look forward to your response.  Jim Caputo, Harrisburg, NC jimc.list@yahoo.com
     JIM: The only resource known to exist is in private collections, programs and a few people who were associated with those groups.  Call Jim Miller at 818-846-5139 and he can give you a few places to look.  Few people are left from the late 1930's and '40's who can answer your question.  The value of the timing tags are dependent on the names of the people who earned them by racing their cars at the dry lakes.  Everett sounds familiar and I would think that maybe Miller can direct you to him if he is still alive or to his family.  Often when someone passes away their heirs unload these valuable relics.  I will publish this in the newsletter and maybe someone who knows Everett can contact you.  You have to give me permission to use your email address, otherwise I must remove it before the next newsletter goes to publication.  If you find out any information on Don Everett please share it with us because that way it triggers memories in some of our readers and the more you know the more valuable the objects are, both monetarily and historically.
     I saw your post mentioning about Chuck Wheeler’s “BET-CHU-TOO.”  I grew up on this boat.  My parents bought BET–CHU-TOO from Chuck Wheeler in the mid to late 70’s.  The Wheeler’s were family friends.  I was just wondering if you had any racing information on the boat from back in the day.  We no longer own the boat, but I am constantly looking for it in classified adds.  Thanks for your time.  Todd Barnes
     TODD: Don Edwards and I founded the Boat Racers Reunion in the Spring of 2000.  Don was a drag boat champion in the old National Drag Boat Association (NDBA) during the mid-1960's.  He often lamented how there were no activities and events for old boat racers, but a huge amount of events for car guys.  After listening to him for some time I asked him if he wanted to form a reunion and he said yes, provided I organize it.  He gave me the contacts and I called some 2000 people in a six month time span and in late 2000 we held our first Boat Racers Reunion at the Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Motorsports Museum, on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in Pomona, California.  We drew 30 vintage racing boats and 15 CRA/WRA vintage oval track roadsters, along with 450 guests. 

     From 2000 to 2006 Don and I ran the Boat Racers Reunion and I also created the Boat Racers Reunion Newsletter that was sent by email to hundreds of boat racers and fans and then went up on Evelyn Roth's fine website at
www.oilstick.com.  In 2006, after our last reunion, a group of boat racers demanded that the Reunion needed new leadership and deposed the sitting Board of Directors.  At that point I lost all contact with the Reunion or their efforts to keep the event going.  For a time I continued to send out weekly newsletters on current and vintage racing in the United States, including rare and valuable photographs and documents that were sent to me. 
     Around 2008, with all my sources effectively closed to me I resigned as editor of the Boat Racers Reunion Newsletter and offered to turn over all the files for the past 400 issues of the Newsletter to the new leadership, but they weren't interested in running a newsletter and I couldn't find a new editor to take my place.  I didn't know that you could keep a back-up (I've learned how since then) and Evelyn decided not to store the Boat Racers Reunion Newsletter on her website if she, and I, were able to find sources to help us put out the newsletter.
     I wish I had known how to create a thumb-drive back-up of those precious issues, because there were millions of words of texts and stories compiled in the newsletters and unless someone has kept them on their computer over the years, that material is now lost forever.  As for the BET-CHU-TOO history I couldn't tell you from memory as I was never a boat racer and only attended one boat race prior to founding the Boat Racers Reunion and Newsletter.  There are people still around, such as Don Edwards, Bob Foley, Harlan Orrin, Donald W. Peterson and Doug Ford who might have some photographs and history on the race boat.
Me Mates Are Fair Dinkum.  Story by Le Roi Tex Smith; reprinted by permission from Internet Brands and

     So, I live most of the time down under. Australia, where it is either burning up or washing away in the rain. Where many of the roads are pre-historical, and the public perception of my favorite hobby is decidedly hostile. Well, not entirely, because the public will flock to any kind of automotive display. Kind of like people gather around to watch a deadly snake on the loose.  Morbid fascination. I think I should introduce you to some of me mates from around Castlemaine, the claimed center of Aussie street rodding.  My first contact with the Aussies were Eddie Ford and Peter Swift, of Castlemaine, and that was when they came by Hot Rod Magazine offices back in the early 1960s. They talked in a very strange language, sort of like English but not. They still do, so obviously the education they got from America did not take.
     After that, it was mostly by post, then at one of the Oklahoma City Street Rod Nationals I met Larry O’Toole. Out in a large parking lot, where I was taking photos for a magazine article. I was not then, and never became much of a photographer, but Larry had a background in the subject. So it was that when Pegge was still alive, we made a trip to Australia, and stayed with the O’Toole’s a couple of weeks. Later, when Pegge died, I escaped in my misery to Larry’s digs for solace.  Where I met Patricia, who became my number two wife.  And why I spend my waning years in OZ.  Larry is my kind of car nut. He does his own work at home in his “shed”, or what we call a home garage. He recycles perfectly good car parts, does his own mechanical and fabrication, and manages to produce his own line of rod books and a great magazine. He also likes classical music and going to museums and hanging out with his ilk in the Castlemaine Rods car club. But, I can actually mostly kinda sorta understand his language.
     Not so most of the other Castlemaine Rods members. There is Rod Hadfield, who I met first at an R&C sponsored rod run in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was doing the dog and pony thing with Hot Rod Mechanix and our Hot Rod Library books. I had the Junkyard Dawg parked at the curb directly in front of my booth, and this guy came by mumbling some sort of language, but I gathered he wondered if he might sign the Dawg hood? I replied that I really reserved that for folks who ran at the Bonneville Salt Flats. He responded that he was one of the fastest guys at Lake Gairdner in Australia. “You're Rod Hadfield,” I exclaimed. I knew him from reading the Aussie magazines. Of course he could sign the hood. I would be delighted. He runs a stock body car right under 300mph. So, Rodney has his place right here in Castlemaine and I get to visit with him often as the worn out bod will allow.
     Then, there is Big John, whose last moniker is Lynch, and who is one of the really fast guys at the down under salt flats. John built his own belly tank, using a honking Chrysler hemi. This thing looks like a kinda oversize P38 tank, sitting higher off the salt than our Yankee versions. But somehow that must work, because John reports it goes arrow straight. Good enough to make him the perennial top speed king at the annual down under salt trials. He has run over 300mph. Like Rod, John does most of his own work, at his own pace.  And, there is Graeme Robinson, or Robbo as he is called here. It seems everybody has a nickname. But often they don’t make sense. I mean, how do you get Bluey for a guy with red hair? Of course, when people call a distributor a Dizzy, you learn to make allowances. Whatever, Robbo is a great fabricator, with his own parts business and chassis jigs and paint stuff, and all the things every rodder would love.
     I went around to his place one day and we got to talking about model airplanes and it turned out Graeme had been a big fan of control line years ago. We talked about the models, and before I knew it he showed me an ARF (almost ready to fly) that he had just purchased. So, my enthusiasm was rekindled, as was his, and now Robbo has a dedicated model building room out front of his Rod Shed. When my ears have healed from the last session, I like to call around at Robbo’s to keep up with the Aussie model airplane scene.  Then, of course, there is Chappy (Chapman) who has a neat A roadster with flatmotor. And, who knows my Hico, Texas buddy WenDell. And, there is Justin, whose chopped Deuce coupe is everywhere in Australia at once, and on and on. Not in the club, but a big time player in hot rodding is Kelvin Waddington, who has a business making all-steel rod bodies (sold in the States) as well as creating some tantalizing custom work out of his factory.  So, you see, I may be way out here in exile, but I am still right in the midst of it all!!   
I’M BAAACK!  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted by permission of Internet Brands and
     And you thought you had seen the last of me. Good Riddance you probably thought, got that old fart out of our hair. You should be so lucky. I look around me and all my old pals are falling by the wayside. Without getting my permission, I should add. And I see so many simple errors in contemporary telling of hot rod history, a history that I have been a part of.  With the guys who have lived hot rod history leaving life, it is easy for history revisionists to hold sway.  Yep, I’m back and no doubt I’m gonna rub some fur the wrong way. Happens all the time, even at my age.  But, you know what, if I offend someone it is probably because they need to be offended!  Me included, of course. 
     In years recent, I have begun to consider bits and pieces of things that might be interesting to contemporary hot rodders. Some of this is offensive, some is downright intrusive, so I evoke my privilege, as an always editor, to leave out names and identifying circumstances that might be a bit uncomfortable.  In an effort to protect the guilty. A lot of this remembering is being fostered by a someday book, and some of the stories, and opinions,   I pass along here are digested from that greater manuscript.       From this distance of time, I am appalled at what is coming to pass as legitimate hot rodding history. Much of this purported past seems to be a convolution of reality, second hand innuendo, and downright prevarication. In short, a bunch of bull shit!  Much of this disinformation is being registered with legitimacy by the insidious machinations of the internet.  The electronic gossip monger is not to be dismissed as a passing fad.   But this gossip and disinformation is nothing new…  
     You remember that movie American Graffiti? In a malt shop (drive in) scene there was an exchange that did not register with many viewers, but it did with me.  Because it was hitting home. The kids are gathered at a booth, talking and one of them is idling through an issue of Hot Rod Magazine. Something is said about a car, and another quips, “Well, if it ain’t in Hot Rod, it ain’t so!” Having filled many of those pages, I can point out unequivocally that there was definitely some information that was spurious and questionable, at best.  Just because something is in print doesn’t make it gospel! That goes triple for history on the internet. 
     “Local” historians of hot rodding abound across the world.  These same focal points often become the “go to” people for technical information, when in fact they only pass along what they think they may have read somewhere obscure in a fast being forgotten fast. Locally these guys generate an unsuspecting following and it must go to their heads. At least one of their heads, the other one seems firmly planted in the Y!      
     No where is the remembered past more suspect than in street rodding.  As buddy Ron Ceridono puts it, there is nothing to objectively judge street rodding by.  No measurements as in racing, or in judging show cars, or a salt flats timing tag.  Just speculation.   Therefore, if it is open territory for assault by so-called experts from east Podunk, then by damn it is open for a lambasting by neer-do-wells such as me. I hope to get you, dear reader, to step back from polishing that prized possession and do some honest thinking.   Let’s see now, where to start.
Gone Racin’… The Salt of the Earth – Ab Jenkins’ Own Story of SpeedBook review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.  Reprinted by permission of Internet Brands and

     The Salt of the Earth – Ab Jenkins’ Own Story of Speed, by Ab Jenkins and Wendell J. Ashton, is a small paperback book that has seen at least 3 printings.  For land speed racers and fans, this book is very special and has taken on a special meaning.  The book measures 5 inches in width by 7 inches in height, with 130 pages on high quality glossy paper.  There are 70 black and white photographs, but none in color, since the book precedes color photography.  The photographs are old and somewhat dull and grainy.  This doesn’t take away from the value of the book because of its historicity and originality.  There are three letters, three charts, one map and one drawing of Jenkins’ famous Mormon Meteor.  The book has a Prologue, Foreword by W. D. Rishel, Preface, 13 chapters and a first class Index with over five pages.  The Index is better than any that I’ve ever seen.  Rishel first saw the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1896 and is a legendary figure.  He wrote the Foreword in 1939, long before many land speed racers were even born. The Salt of the Earth – Ab Jenkins’ Own Story of Speed is not only a classic in the way that the Bible is revered among Jews and Christians, but it has a story to tell that is fascinating.  Or at least it is to those who love land speed racing.  The book is self-published by the late author and by his son, Marvin Jenkins of St George, Utah through the Dixie College Foundation.  Their address is 225 South 700 East, St George, Utah.  Or contact Autobooks/Aerobooks at 1-818-845-0707.
     The Salt of the Earth – Ab Jenkins’ Own Story of Speed tells the story of pioneers in the taming of the West and the taming of speed.  Those that grew up and knew Ab Jenkins and those that made the Salt Flats famous, marveled at their accomplishments.  These men were accepted as human, with frailties and talents, driven by a need to tame speed.  Today, we look back and can barely comprehend what those pioneers went through, because it seems so impossible a task for any man to accomplish.  The Bonneville Salt Flats was known for some time.  Pioneer scouts had seen the broad expanse of salt a decade or more prior to the trek of the ill-fated Donner Party in 1846.  The salt caused delays to the wagon train, which helped to put them behind schedule and thus face destruction in the snows of the Sierra Nevada’s that marked them for infamy.  Trails were blazed to the north and to the south of the barren wastes.  Rishel set out to cross the desert in 1896 to chart a course across the salt pans for an intercontinental bicycle race.  Rishel returned to the lakebed in 1907, this time in a Pierce Arrow.  Teddy Tetzlaff discovered for himself the unique qualities that the salt desert provided in his speed runs of 1914.  Rishel and Tetzlaff set the example that inspired Ab Jenkins to take his need for speed to the salt.  Jenkins was of Welsh descent, barrel-chested, square-jawed, powerful and optimistic.  He became a tireless promoter of the salt flats and of his native Utah and the pioneers who settled there. 
     The Salt of the Earth – Ab Jenkins’ Own Story of Speed relates Ab Jenkins life that was centered on the Bonneville Salt Flats.  He did far more than set long distance records and speed runs.  The book isn’t big enough to tell his entire story, but it’s a start and it will enthrall you.  I’ve seen the Mormon Meteor, or what is called car #3.  The car is huge and powerful, a roadster grown up on steroids.  But there is nothing ugly about this car.  Its engineering and design proved to be very aerodynamic and the records that Jenkins set over 70 years ago are still standing.  But perhaps it is the man himself that is unique.  Racecars can be designed and built today that will break old records, but can we also design and build men to equal what Ab did?  On oval courses at the salt flats, Ab would set records of one, three, six, twelve and twenty-four hours at a time.  He set records for 50 all the way up to 5000 Kilometers and from 50 to 3000 miles, all in one effort.  While endurance racing has been around for ages, LeMans and Sebring come to mind, they are team efforts.  Ab was the team.  Occasionally a driver such as Babe Stapp would take over for an hour, but Ab would usually drive the distance.  I’ve talked to big time endurance drivers and they tell me that there was no one like Ab Jenkins.  Danny Oakes, the famous Midget racer, told me how he used to hire out as a car company driver in endurance runs.  The big cars would usually break down long before the tests were over and the drivers would alternate after only a few hours.  Ab drove 24 hours or more, straight through, and the Mormon Meteors hardly ever gave him any trouble. 
     Had Jenkins preferred to bask in the glory all by himself, there was no one to stop him.  But he was a man driven by a cause and that was to shout to the world about what a great place Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats were.  He wanted the world to know, especially the Europeans who were always looking for a better place to run their unlimited land speed cars.  Jenkins was elected the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah and used his position to promote the state of Utah as a place to visit.  His efforts paid off when Brits such as Sir Malcolm Campbell, Captain George E. T. Eyston and John Cobb came to the salt flats and set their records.  He was even prouder when the racers went back to Europe and told everyone what a special place the salt flats were.  A group of Southern California land speed racers from the dry lakes came to see him in 1948 to request the right to hold their racing events on the salt flats.  He encouraged them and in 1949 they conducted the very first Speed Week land speed race under the sanction of the SCTA (Southern California Timing Association)/BNI.  The Bonneville Salt Flats are now home to two organizations, the SCTA and the USFRA (Utah Salt Flats Racing Association) and a total of 4 events are held there annually.  The salt flats are also used for individual time trials and for movies and ads.  Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats have grown up and no one would be prouder than Ab Jenkins and his son Marvin.
Gone Racin’ is at
Gone Racin’…
Automobile Dictionary with Lagniappe, by Ben Jordan.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.  Reprinted by permission of Internet Brands and

     Ben Jordan has written a dictionary especially for the car enthusiast.  Driven by a love for all things automotive, Jordan has created a book that is fun to read and user friendly.  The complete name of the book is Ben Jordan’s Automotive Jargon for the Car Owner; from the Shade Tree Mechanic’s Automobile Dictionary with Lagniappe.  It is a soft cover 8 by 11 inch book with 416 pages and is a full one-inch thick.  The publisher is Windmill Jouster Books, in Denver, Colorado and it was printed by Clements Printing, copyrighted in 1995.  The Library of Congress number is 95-90447.  There are few photos, mostly on the covers, but there are some very fine drawings by Bill Ballas.  Jordan includes a lagniappe, which is an addendum built into the book, and he encourages readers of the book to send new automotive words and descriptions, as well as corrections, to the publisher to be added to future editions.  The dictionary is alphabetical, just like Webster’s, with the exception that Jordan adds an iconoclastic and decidedly conservative broadside every now and then.  He does not hold back from his deep-set convictions about the car culture and a government often at odds with it.  The dictionary covers terms used by all segments of the automotive world.  On page 279 for example are the words Quattoporte, quenching, quick change and quick charger.  There are many terms that I’ve never heard of and the dictionary that Jordan created will serve a need among mechanics and automotive enthusiasts.
     The author was born in 1916, in Georgia, and placed in an orphanage at age seven.  This toughened his resolve and he graduated from high school and went on to college, where he earned his degree in mechanical engineering at Clemson University.  He spent one year with Bucky Fuller on the Dymaxion automobile.  He began flying in 1932 and served in WWII as a pilot and spent the next 42 years in the Air Force on active and reserve status.  Jordan’s life has been dedicated to speed and his struggle has honed his strong opinions.  As an engineer he has advocated the use of hydrogen as a fuel for cars and for our space program.  He built his first hydrogen-powered engine in 1932, as a sixteen-year-old young man, the same year he learned to fly.  He flew a B-57 Canberra Jet hydrogen-powered bomber in 1956.  In 1981, Jordan converted a land speed car to hydrogen and is the first to drive such a car at the Bonneville Salt Flats, in Western Utah.  He converted a 1924 Model T Ford Depot Hack into a hydrogen- fueled, turbocharged driven car, before donating the car to the San Diego Automotive Museum in 1995.  He built his land speed streamliner, called the Bockscar, and set seven records at Bonneville.  Jordan is a proponent of educational literacy in our schools and believes that technology can solve our societal ills.  He also includes short histories and stories pertaining to the automobile. 
     One story explains that Otto Benz is not the inventor of the internal combustion engine and the father of the automobile in 1885.  He says that honor goes to a Swiss engineer, Isaac de Rivaz, whose patent in 1805 is duly recorded.  De Rivaz’s
Grand Char Mechanique reached speeds of 3 miles per hour and climbed a 12-degree hill on October 18, 1813.  Jordan also gives a little history on automotive engines, with the biggest engine over 6840 cubic inches and the smallest engine only one (1) cubic inch in size.  That one cubic inch engine powered a streamliner to a speed of 62 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  He devotes another page to the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and their influence on the automobile.  Jordan proposes a new way to tax fuel and automobile usage, based on the type of fuel used and its environmental impact.  He rails against government bureaucracy and policies that forestall the type of research needed to solve our energy crisis. 
     He views all fossil fuels as wasteful and inefficient and shows how much of the gasoline that we use is not burned in the engine but lost through the exhaust back into the atmosphere as pollution.  He is an unabashedly proud proponent of the hydrogen-powered vehicle.  He forecasts that eventually the automotive and fuel industries will have to evolve, pulling a stodgy and rebelling political structure along with it into the modern age of hydrogen power.  Jordan also rails against the term “accidents happen.”  He states there are no accidents and that government and the auto and gas industries are to blame for poor engineering of our highways and vehicles.  Whatever view you hold, one has to admire Ben Jordan for fighting for his beliefs.  There are no indexes or chapter headings, but that doesn’t detract from the book, because it is basically a dictionary with added sidelights.  The reader just has to hunt for these gems and find them.  Otherwise, the definitions are all in alphabetical order.  This is a fine book to add to the serious hot-rodders library.
Gone Racin’ is at
Gone Racin’…
Custom Cars 2009 Annual, a Trend Books publication, by Justin Kudolla.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  December 8, 2010.  Reprinted by permission of Internet Brands and

     Customs Cars 2009 Annual is a new publication from Trend Books.  The publisher is Justin Kudolla and he copyrighted Trend Books and Custom Cars book name after the legal rights to it had become available.  As far as I can tell Trend Books was not related to Trend magazine, published by the Petersen Publishing Company (known as PPC in the business world).  Trend Books was a viable publishing company in the 1950’s, but the history is murky after that.  Justin Kudolla lives and publishes the Customs Cars 2009 Annual as a paperback book under the Trend Books name and copyrighted this old company in 2008.  The 2009 paperback book is his first issue.  Kudolla has tried to emulate the style of the 1950’s in his new paperback.  Customs Cars 2009 Annual is 6 inches wide and 9 inches in height and has 128 pages.  The front and back cover has a highly polished, photographic sheen to it and is very eye-catching.  The pages are glued in and not stapled or cloth bound.  The pages within the book are not waxed and so the photographs are better than a newspaper version, but not as clear as they would with a photographic quality paper.  The photographs, however, are still sharp and clear and I did not have any problem with viewing the pictures. 
     The only color plates are on the inside and outside front and back covers; all the rest are in black and white.  I counted 306 b/w photographs, six drawings and 10 book and magazines covers.  The captions are more than adequate; in fact they are almost mini-chapters and except for the interviews take the place of story line text.  I liked the way Kudolla did this as it made it very easy reading.  There was a Table of Contents that was easy to use, but no index in the back to make it possible to find names, cars and events listed in the book.  The first chapter was titled “Thirty Two pages of featurettes.”  These pages contained about four cars and captions per page featuring all sorts of customized cars.  Chapter two was an interview with Ron Guidry from the old Renegades car club out of Long Beach, California.  I’ve met Guidry and some of the other founders and later club members and they were well known for their Motorama car show that ran for half a decade in the late 1950’s.  The Motorama was well thought of by the hot rodding community and made a considerable amount of money for the club, until the IRS sued them, forcing the car club and the Motorama to close down.  The Motorama was restarted in 2010 under new management, but the club lives on only in the memories of those who were a part of it, or who followed the club.
     Chapter three is called “The Top Ten Customs.”  These are the top ten customs picked out at car shows during 2009 by the book’s panel of experts.  One of my favorites is a bubbletop Ford that has ‘futuristic’ written all over it.  It is interesting to see that the styling created so many years ago is coming back into usage today.  Another favorite is an ’81 Cadillac Seville.  It has the round, soft customized styling that made the French famous in the 1930’s.  A 2001 Chrysler PT cruiser was redesigned and I believe brought out to full flower what the Chrysler engineers were aiming for, but missed.  A 1950 Ford convertible was lowered and streamlined into a beautiful version that might have swayed Henry Ford to change his mind about styling’s value.  A 1930 DeSoto Airflow was also customized to show the sleek curves of the French style.  For truck enthusiast there was a nifty 1950 Studebaker truck. 
     Chapter four was written by the Art Director for Trend Books, Ronald O’Neal, and called “Styling Studio.”  Sometimes a customizer creates a design purely in his head, but O’Neal shows us that artists create drawings that give inspiration to car customizers.  Between Chapters four and five is a one page book review featuring three books on customizing. 
Grease Machines, by the editors of Consumers Guide, was written in 1979.  It has 64 pages and is given a good rating by the staff at Trend Books.  Wild Lead Sleds was published by Osprey Publications in 1992 and has 128 pages.  The Big Book of Barris, by George Barris and David Fetherston was published by Motorbooks in 2003 and has 156 pages.  This book is recommended.  All three books are probably only available in used book stores, on the internet or at swap meets.
     Chapter five is entitled “Custom Cars Models, written and photographed by Bill Stillwagon.  There are 41 models created and then photographed by Stillwagon, who is known for his modeling.  Modeling allows a unique way to visualize what you want to achieve later on with your car.  It is also a great hobby in itself and a way to collect for a fraction of the cost.  These models are true works of art.  Chapter six is named “Feature Cars” and this section shows us five outstanding cars.  The first is a 1950 Ford owned by Mark Green of San Jose, California.  Green did away with the grill and the hood and this gives the car a powerful look to it.  Bay City Poncho is a ’64 Pontiac Catalina owned by Suzie Gambino out of Alex Gambino’s shop, Gambino’s Customs, in San Jose, California.  The grill on this car is spectacular.  Buick by Dean is owned by Doug Hall and pinstriped by Von Hot Rod of Norco, California.  Von Hot Rod is the promoter of the Pinstriper’s Reunion and the Pinstriper’s Circus, which is a group of pinstripers who travel to major car shows and put on an exhibition of their skills.  Then their work is auctioned off for a local charity.  Black Flake Beauty is a ’58 Dodge owned by Brad Clark of Las Vegas, Nevada. 
     The Best Flames Around is a ’50 Ford owned by Damien Smith of San Dimas, California and the flames were done by Todd Zimmerman.  Chapter seven is another interview, this time with Gerald Twamley, a former Renegades car club member.   Twamley was not an original Renegade, but his car was so admired and won so many trophies that the club asked him to join.  The Renegades might have had a name that indicated rebelliousness, but in truth they were highly respected by the other clubs in the Southern California region.  Where some clubs were little more than street thugs, the Renegades put on a classy car show and had some of the best cars.  It was an honor that Twamley could not pass up.  Following chapter seven is a pictorial commemorating Gerald Twamley and his car.  The photographs, both past and present, plus the interviews and captions are a feast for hot rodders and custom car guys and gals.  There is no index to refer back to the captions or stories, but in books and “enhanced magazines,” there rarely are indices.  I enjoyed reading Custom Cars 2009 Annual.  The price is $12.95 and you can find the publisher’s address and further information at
www.trendcustomcars.com.  I rate this book a five and a half out of a possible eight spark plugs.
Gone Racin’ is at


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