NEWSLETTER 314 -  March 19 , 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

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Some Names To Look For In This Newsletter:
President's Corner; Editorials;   Tom Medley aka Stroker McGuirk,  Tex Smith,Ed Almquist

GUEST COLUMNISTMy Buddy is Gone - Tom Medley Remembered. By Le Roi Tex Smith and reprinted by permission of Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com
     Stroker is gone. What an empty hole that leaves in my life, a hole that was filled by one of the best friends I have ever been honored with.  Tom Medley, aka Stroker McGurk, passed away appropriately the day the Oscars were awarded.  For me, he had won such an accolade decades before.  For you, street rod enthusiasts everywhere in the world, he would simply have said, “Hey, it was my job.”  But the Tom Medley who, literally, gave you the first street rod oriented magazine, the first street rod nationals, the best hot rod cartoons, the very fabric of the street rod movement, one of the most deserving and least honored hot rodders in our history, that Tom Medley is likely never to be replaced.  Ever.  I met Tom Medley the very first day I went to work at Hot Rod Magazine, and we celebrated that friendship often, sometimes daily, for the next six decades.
     We became good friends through cars, but much better companions through our common love of trout fishing.  TMed was like a wonderful uncle to my four children, a brother to me and Pegge.  For you, hot rod enthusiast, he was your conduit to the world.  I called him TMed, or TM, or sometimes Stroker. I always called him when I had something exciting coming up.  And he was always up for an adventure on a trout stream or out bashing in the boondocks for vintage tin.  Tom’s enthusiasm was infectious, certainly when he cranked the car radio way up, playing l940’s swing music. He was an especially good jitterbug dancer, you know.  Now I have to close yet another chapter in the autobiography I am now finishing (doing the pix), and TMed plays a prominent role therein.  But, Medley is irreplaceable in my history, and I loved that dude very, very much.  It is more and more lonely.
STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:   
     Recently someone wrote in to me and in an effort to be kind and respectful used the term “… the great Richard Parks.”  That got me to thinking how we address each other in racing or in hot rodding.  I will fully admit that I am not the final authority on anything, much less in hot rodding and any number of you will tell me that.  According to Tex Smith I can’t even call myself a hot rodder since I don’t own a hot rod.  But that is the narrow term of the word and I use the term “hot rodder” in the generic sense of the word, which means, “someone who tries to improve on a product.”  Hot rodding is a state of mind and a hot rodder is someone who wants to live that life-style. 
     Part of being a hot rodder is curiosity about how things work and how to make improvements on things.  Another aspect of hot rodding is sacrifice and you see that in the service that hot rodders give to each other, even to their competitors who might need extra help.  The lack of concern when someone is about to take away your record is another aspect of a hot rodder.  Because you know that quality is based on competition and the harder others make you stretch the better product you can achieve.  Hot rodding is all about improvement and that goes beyond racing and a hot rod to other aspects of our lives.
     Among old-line hot rodders we never use an article like THE or A in front of an adjective or adverb.  When we do that it is like a double negative and means the opposite.  So the term; "... the great Richard Parks…," means something like, "... Richard Parks the wannabe."  It is a putdown.  If on the other hand there are two hot rodders who know themselves well and are of equal fame, then they will speak like this to each other.  The way that we address ourselves is by our names (or nicknames) and that is also how we refer to each other.  There is no rank in hot rodding.  We are all equals and we bridle at the thought that one is greater than the other.  We do show respect; i.e. if the person is older, has done something none of us has done, or raced at an event that is long over and thus he has emeritus ranking. 
     Hot rodders don't apologize, except for saying something like, "Darn, blew that big time."  And then they get on with their lives.  Hot rodders are interested in value, not style points.  Thus the phrase, "All flash and no cash," or "All show and no go," represents our way of saying the other guy is worthless to us.  The over-riding view of all true hot rodders is, "What can they bring to the table," not, "What can they get from us."  But the last thing about hot rodders is that if you do make a mistake just let it go and don't fixate on it, because hot rodders care only about one thing and that's the underlying success of what they are working on and your project that you are working on right now is what we all want to see becoming a success.
     On another note, I would like to let everyone know that there are two very important members of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians who will be celebrating birthdays soon.  David Parks, my brother and Jim Miller, the President of our Society, will be a year older on March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day.  I won’t tell you their ages; only that they are younger than me.  My brother has been storing and protecting the records and historical objects that we inherited upon our father’s death.  It’s a treasure trove of early dry lakes and drag racing history and we are trying to scan and make copies of everything.  Jim is not only the president of the SLSRH, but also the archivist and director of the American Hot Rod Foundation.  He researches and finds material on our early history in straight line racing and has become the first to go to when there is a question that needs to be answered.  I am indebted to the work of both David and Jim and wish them a very happy birthday.
     The famous hot-rod cartoonist Tom Medley, creator of "Stroker McGurk" cartoon character died.  He would have been 94 on March 20th.  See video at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hg2ZTAWF4k.   Ron Main
STAFF NOTES; Reprinted with permission from HOT ROD PIONEERS, by Ed Almquist.
     Tom Medley, who did the early photo shoots for HOT ROD magazine and blaring Bonneville movies with a sound bite taken from a microphone attached to a tanker, gained fame as the creator of the cartoon character Stroker McGurk in the early years of HOT ROD magazine.  Everyone loved Stroker, who was the hot rodders’ alter ego because he was always in dire predicaments similar to those of hot rodders trying to wring more speed from their rods. 
     As editor of ROD & CUSTOM, Tom who had already visited hot rodders’ working environments that were often “little hole-in-the-wall shops” and backyard garages, noticed the contagious spirit of hot rodding spreading nationwide when Wally Parks started the NHRA.  “At the time,” said Tom, “we began to make the sport a lot more visible.”  Mega-brain Tom was born in 1920 in Oregon.  By the late 1930’s he had heard about the speed secrets and the lore filtering on the “highway of information” from Seattle to Los Angeles.
     “In our minds, there was not a lot of difference between a custom and a rod,” said Tom, about the men who made cars their lifeblood.  “Many years later, we separated the two building ideas.  But I’ll tell you one thing.  Those early guys were real craftsmen.  They did it the hard way, without all the fancy stuff that they have around today.”  After serving in World War II, Tom, who was in the Battle of the Bulge, majored in advertising design at the Los Angeles Art Center in Southern California.  In his spare time, he would hang out at Don Blair’s Speed Shop in Pasadena.  “I started drawing ‘toons and putting them up on Blair’s bulletin board,” explained Tom.  “One day, Pete (Robert E. Petersen of Petersen Publishing Company) came into Don’s shop peddling HOT ROD magazine, saw my artwork and liked it.”  Tom later concentrated on hyping street rodding for ROD & CUSTOM, which helped create the National Street Rod Association (NSRA). 
     Tom worked for Petersen Publishing for 37 years and retired in 1986 to resume his car hobby.  He will go down in history for masterminding hot rodders’ mentor, Stroker McGurk, who was “the first cool guy to use a drag chute.”  Tom Medley, who skipped elementary school on Fridays because he had hitchhiked the preceding night to watch midget racing in Portland, has always been similar to science fiction; bordering on reality and way head of the times.

STAFF NOTES: Here is an article about the recent Celebration of Life for Bud Meyer that was held on March 1, 2014.  Reprinted courtesy of Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com.   For photographs go to www.hotrodhotline.com, guest columnist, Richard Parks.
Gone Racin’…To say Goodbye to Bud Meyer.  Story by Richard Parks with additions by Ken Berg, photographs by Reece Moore, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  March 1, 2014.

     California is a nice place for auto racing.  No one knew that better than the Meyer racing family.  Louie Meyer won the Indianapolis 500 three times.  His older brother was Eddie Meyer and they worked out of the shop in Redlands, California to build some great Model-T racers.  Eddie and his son Bud went racing out on the dry lakes of Southern California.  Together they built their own line of Ford V8 manifolds and heads.   Bud drove his father’s car and set the roadster record in 1939 and held it until Vic Edelbrock Sr took the record away in 1940.  Bud later went into boat racing and held numerous records and championships, surviving a crash that almost tore off his arm.  When they weren’t boat or land speed racing you could find the Meyer family on the oval tracks of America or winning at Indy.   The Meyer V8-60's were consistent winners on the water and on the midget tracks.  When Bud passed away the family decided on holding a Celebration of Life for him at the Auto Club of Southern California Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California.  It hadn’t rained in months and the winter was unexpectedly warm and dry.  Who would have guessed that an immense storm was headed our way on that March day in 2014?  Friday the storm hit with a vengeance and we wondered if Bud’s event would even occur.  The next day my wife and I set out for the hour drive to the museum and the weather was perfect.  Racers simply weren’t going to let the impending weather spoil a good party.
     Bud’s widow, Joan Denver Meyer, asked Doug Clem and Debbie Baker to help organize the party and they did a wonderful job.  The museum staff set up round tables and chairs in a section surrounded by racing artifacts.  Doug Clem came from northern Nevada and was the emcee for the party.  He was a long-time friend of the family and created his own museum honoring Bud, which he called the Eddie Meyer Museum in Sparks, Nevada.  Debbie handled negotiations with the museum and catered the food.  She is also the organizer of the Cruisin’ for a Cure car show that is held every September at the Orange County Fairgrounds, in Costa Mesa, California.  Debbie and a group of her friends organized this car show to raise funds for prostate cancer research when she found out that her husband was stricken by the disease.  Sadly, he passed away, but Debbie still continues to keep the car show going and to raise funds to find a cure for this deadly disease among men.  Anyone who knew Bud was welcome to attend the party; the food was delicious, there was no cost to attend and anyone who wished could grab the microphone and pay their respects to Bud.
     Friends of the family who came to show their support were; Brad Hartsung, Russ Faulkentz, Steven Housman, Randy Dubb, Bill Hollingsworth, Doug and Char Clem, Richard and Epi Parks, Debbie Baker, Linda and Jack Streckewald, Ed Warnock, Dewayne Lacy, Scott Cunningham, Herb Deeks, Laurence Deutsch, Susan and Hayden Harris, Eric Hatfield, Bob and Margie Leonhardt, Michael Michelek, Bruce Huntley, Tim Smith, Mark and Sandra Ketenjian, Lance Baumberger, Stan Chersky, Dennis Lockwood, Marisa Rendall, Paul Brodsky, Doc Halvorsen, and Dick Messer.  Those who came from the boat racers were: Harlan and Mary Orrin, John and Betty Sherin, and Ron Armstrong.  Those who came representing the dry lakes racers in the SCTA were; Jim Miller, Jerry Cornelison, Reece Moore, Bill Harris, Reese Adam, and Jack Masson.  Those who came representing the auto racers were; Tom Grueser, Chet Knox, Lou Senter, Bob Leggio, Ed Iskenderian, Ed Pink, Dave Martin, Doug Stokes, Harry Hibler, Don Weaver, and Vic Enyart.  Family represented were; Rick Denver (stepson), Renee and Tim Denver (stepson), Peyton Reese Denver (stepgranddaughter), Madison Denver (stepgranddaughter), Jim Denver (stepson), Joan Denver Meyer (Bud’s wife), Madeline Patterson (niece), and Mark and Pam (Meyer) Iungerich (daughter and son-in-law).
     Ron Armstrong drove some of the boats for Bud and came all the way from Utah to be at the party.  Ron was also a drag racer and developed Race-Pak for use in racing.  Ed Pink built great engines and for a long time there were few racers who could win against his motors.  Ed Iskenderian is the dean of cam grinders and one of the first to heavily promote racing equipment in the old “advertising wars” of the 1940’s and ‘50’s.  Louie Senter created Ansen Equipment, ran Saugus drag strip and was a force in post WWII racing in Southern California.  Harry Hibler was an editor for many old racing magazines.  Doug Stokes is a PR man, promoter and one-time Go-Kart leader.  Dick Messer was the director at the Petersen Automotive Museum for many years.  Chet Knox owned Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank for many years.  Jim Miller is the director and curator of the American Hot Rod Foundation and the President of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians.  Herb Deeks is an artist who helped Joan Denver Meyer on her publication Automotive Calendar of Events-Miss Information.  Laurence Deutsch is the editor of the WRA Newsletter.
     Mary and Harlan Orrin and John and Betty Sherin, assisted me in running the Boat Racers Reunion.  John and his brother Ron raced crackerbox boats; those fast and sleek little boats that packed plenty of fun and danger in their handling.  Harlan worked for his uncle at Mandela Boats and then built beautiful wood boats with that soft, wide Mandela look.  He still builds and repairs them at his Fallbrook, California home.  Don Weaver was an owner in many auto racing leagues and created and ran the Legends of Ascot Reunion.  It’s always fun to listen to the stories that Vic Enyart has to tell about Bud and Enyart’s own stories about his time working in the Panama Canal Zone.  Stan Chersky has a collection of car club plaques that exceeds 6000 different designs and he is one of the few experts in this interesting field.  Stan was the person who directed Joan Denver Meyer to purchase Automotive Calendar of Events.  Bob Leggio is the insurance agent for the SCTA and other racing groups.  Without Bob we would have a difficult time in holding dry lakes races.  Jerry Cornelison is the historian for the Road Runners car club in the SCTA.  He is one of the members in the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians groups and keeps the history and heritage of the club alive.
     Bud had three children; Randy who was the oldest, Pamela Meyer Iungerich and Melinda (Lindy) Meyer, who was the youngest by Bud and his first wife.   Pamela is the last one of Bud’s children.  Randy passed away just two weeks before Bud did and was a big shock for the family.  I enjoy hearing the stories that Pamela and the other guests tell about Bud.  Pam mentioned that Bud was involved in a boat accident that almost tore off her father’s arm and he lost most of his blood.  Bud was a fighter and very stubborn and he willed himself back to health.  He was also a very devoted father and husband and cared for his first wife.  When she passed away Bud was lost.  As the story goes, he went to the very last Gilmore Roars Reunion held at the Petersen Automotive Museum.  Stan Chersky invited Joan Denver to come to the event with him to see all the cars and meet some of the people.  As the guests started to eat there was an earthquake that shook the building and Joan didn’t want to go back inside.  She asked me if I would introduce her to some of the racers so that she wouldn’t feel so isolated.  The first person I introduced Joan to was Bud and his eyes lit up right away.  After about five minutes I asked Joan if she was through talking to Bud and if she wanted to meet some other people.  Bud raised his fist (jokingly) and said, “Go away kid, I’m not through.”  He wasn’t through and took her home after the event and proposed not long after that.
     I always liked Bud.  He was a teaser though and a man who would do anything for a friend.  I teased him back and told him he “owed me a matchmaker’s fee” for introducing him to Joan and the fee was he had to take me back to the Indy 500 with him someday.  We never made it, but knowing Bud he’ll have a reunion ready for me in the hereafter when I get there.  Ed Iskenderian and Vic Enyart had many stories to tell about Bud.  They told us about the drivers who raced Miller cars including “Bullet” Joe Garson and Manny Ayulo.  There were stories about Bud in his Avenger series 135 C.I. race boats.  “Bud used to come to my shop and buy my cams,” Iskenderian said.  “I would ask Eddie and Bud about what it was like when they ran the big cars at Legion Ascot, but Bud wasn’t about history, he was always about the present and what he could accomplish,” Isky continued.  Lou Meyer and Dale Drake bought Fred Offenhauser's engine shop in 1945, forming the Meyer & Drake Engineering Company.  Their Offy engines won at Indy and other USAC tracks for the next twenty years.  Eddie, Louie, Sonny and Bud were fixtures in the racing world for a long time and the stories and history that they compiled was extraordinary.  Doug Clem maintains a wonderful museum on the Eddie Meyer Racing Engines shop and if you want to visit him and see the artifacts at his place in northern Nevada you can reach him at
Gone Racin’ is at

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.
     Here’s something that just came out.  I had the honor and pleasure to work with a friend of mine, Robert Angelo, who is an Emmy award winner and used to produce all of the content for Jay Leno on his website about cars. Robert just posted a beautifully produced piece on me and my family!  Get ready to hear some great old 1940’s music.  I really love my old ’39 Ford. The car really gets along.  Here’s the link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BExUnyTQdj4.  Here’s the main site for www.roadsandrides.com.      Ed Justice, Jr. 2734 Huntington Drive, Duarte, California 91010 USA.  www.edjusticejr.com.
STAFF NOTES; Here’s another book from Veloce Publishing.  FAST LADIES-FEMALE RACING DRIVERS 1888 TO 1970, by Jean-François Bouzanquet (£7.49).  Contact Veloce at newsletter@veloce.co.uk if you are interested in their catalog of books.
The Start of It All.  By Le Roi Tex Smith. Republished by courtesy of www.hotrodhotline.com and the parent company Internet Brands.

     In the beginning, there was everything.  And there was nothing.  A few cared, a precious few had visions.  Most had no conception, or even cared about what might be, what might become.  And it was rather biblical.  Desolate, severe, uncomfortable.  But it was all car guys had to work with, and it had to start somewhere.  Sounds fairly dramatic, but the birth of American, and by extension, the world of hot rodding was much more mundane.  I’m retelling you all this because from my perusal of contemporary missives, it is apparent that all them whut has been borned of late have little, more often no, understanding how all of this hot rodding stuff came about.  I’m talking about all of hot rodding here, bucko.  The assumption is more and more that the hobby/sport has always been around, and will always be.  It just popped into being, and it needs no support or protection.  Just remember, He who alloweth can also un-alloweth!  Them being the Big Bosses of Politik.
     In reality, hot rodding is just one element of competition that is rampant in the American Psyche.  Hot Rodding is a mechanical manifestation of this competition, and with the introduction of the second automobile contraption in the late 1800’s, competition was born.  One-upmanship took over, and those pioneers were instantly utilizing cut-and-try engineering (read: hot rodding) on everything automotive. Interestingly, formal engineering (like they teach in universities) has usually come after the fact of invention and innovation, seldom the other way around.
     But, as I am often reminded from those guys and gals who labor in racing’s obscurity (the midnight garages, the pits, the test ovals, the back lots), just because something is used in racing doesn’t mean it is ideally suited for the highway.  In racing, just as long as it finishes a race in the lead means much more than it being ready for re-use.  A three hour five minute lifetime is good enough for a three hour gig!
     I am reminded of a saying my old Air Force flight trainer said: “I am going to teach you how to get every bit of performance from your plane.  I am going to help you stay alive.  I don’t care how pretty your landing is, as long as you can walk away for another day!”  Very wise man.  If the original concept of an airplane was good, if the subsequent engineering was solid, the final test comes from ultimate use.  Now, if that experience can be applied to a mass utilized product, great; but it is not the be-all cure.  Racing may improve the breed from Detroit, but the user needs some improvement, as well.
     If we apply this to everyday street rod use, then it would behoove each rod owner to understand his ride.  Inside, outside, upside down.  Nothing makes me more nervous than climbing in the cockpit of a homemade airplane, going for a spin.  I don’t know that bird nearly well enough, and it is only as good as the worst weld.  Same for a race car, same for a street rod.
     Example: A few years back I ended up with a roadster that had been built by a recognized pro shop.  Well, supposedly recognized and professional.  One day I decided to pull the radiator and clean up the front end.  To my dismay, I found that the front cross-member (suicide type) was within a simple hard road bump of leaving the chassis rails.  There were no gussets anywhere, the metal used was substandard, and here was an accident narrowly averted.  Street rodding (and racing) only improves the breed when good common sense starts the game of play.  On this subject, I am reminded of what Boyd Coddington said when he came to Australia and discovered a person driving one of his highly publicized creations --- “You drive that car?  We didn’t build it to be driven!”  So much for the “professional” improving the breed.
Fixing Inner Tubes.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.    Reprinted courtesy of Internet Brands and
     I was fumbling around early of a morning here in Australia, flicked on the computer and looked to see who had sent me what on the e-mail. There was a longer than normal missive from Brian Brennan, head dude guy at Street Rodder magazine, including several photos.  I duly opened the pix to find something obviously dug out of Brian’s garbage basket.  There in living black and white were several photos I actually remember being taken, of Brian and me at our work desks long ago.  Very rare, since we both took great care to be well away from our typewriters much of every day.  Well, I took care, because Brennan couldn’t spell, couldn’t type, couldn’t write and pretty much studied up on becoming a front office type of magazine guy. 
     To the photos.  We both seem to have something growing atop our heads!  Lots of the stuff, and it is very dark. Perhaps that would be hair, unless someone has been loose with a black Marx-A-Lot. An aside; one time the leading sports car magazine of the day ran a photo of people gathered around a race car, and our (Hot Rod magazine) tech man Ray Brock was in the photo.
Nice compliment from a competing magazine, except someone had used a black pen to add a full head of hair to Brock, which he never had gained even from babyhood.  I digress.  Those pix from Brennan reminded me of an old Plymouth I once bought for $50, a 1938 four door only used on Saturdays by a little old lady to run hootch into Oklahoma.  It had mohair upholstery!  You may not remember mohair.  It was apparently from the famous mo animals of Mongolia, each follicle roughly the same as tines in a wire brush.  On a cold day, the hair would spindle your butt and back to increase blood circulation, thus adding warmth.  On a hot day, the same thing happened in order to create an itching rash impossible to erase.  Even with hootch. 
     I have absolutely no more information on mohair, which is to your advantage.  Except to add that when you find an old car with such upholstery, it seems to retain all of the dust from several centuries, and the odor from the original mo carcass.  Anyway, when Brennan had hair toward his forehead, it was long.  I think the excuse was that the extra length tended to cushion the football helmet.  Or something.  I recall seeing another photo taken at a rod nats basketball tournement, and that same hair was in his eyes.  Just as well, since he couldn’t shoot buckets either.  And that reminded me that old overstuffed chairs and sofas often used horsehair for the overage of stuffing, as did some antique cars.  That hair would also escape bondage to poke the posterior of restless young passengers.  Which reminded me, somehow, of that Model A coupe my stepdad had.  He and my mom both smoked early on, and I had to squeeze into the middle or stay home.  Despite all my pleadings, they would not allow me to sit by the window, although I promised to only crack it a tiney bit, just enough to get my nose into an airstream.  And that reminded me that in Oklahoma back then, the outside air usually smelled like drip gas, or casing head. 
     You see, when oil was pumped from the ground, it ran through pipes (that were everywhere!) to tanks (also everywhere).  Every so often, the pipes would have a sag in them, with a petcock on the bottom side from which a kind of raw gasoline could be drained from the oil.  Instant drip gas, which would work in a car engine.  But it smelled to high heaven.  Since everyone was stealing this gas, everyone’s car smelled.  Of course, there was a liquid available right at the pump where it exited the ground, what we called the casing head.  That was way more potent, and it smelled even stronger. Somewhere I have a belly button Brownie photo of a shirt tail relative draining off some casing head elixir, and he also has a full head of hair. 
     Could it be that hair grows better in gasoline fumes.  Which may be the cause of so much baldness in modern times.  Too many additives in contemporary motor fuels.  Or maybe we all need to shampoo with high octane, leaded pump gas.  Of course, we would then need to stay away from open flames, else we would have an instant de-hairing.  And, all of this blather has absolutely nothing to do with nowadays hot rodding, except to point out that roadster owners tend to have less hair than do closed car guys, for some obscure reason.  Maybe a theme for a college thesus.  And all this has nothing to do with fixing inner tubes, but perhaps you may run fingers through thinning or missing hair and remember how you usta need to get out the repair patch cannister to fix an injured inner tube.
Gone Racin’…
Ack Attack; Record Breaking Motorcycle How Much Faster Can You Go?  By Dick Lague.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic editor Roger Rohrdanz.  December 3, 2010.  Reprinted courtesy of Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com.

     A very interesting book, in fact a cornerstone for motorcycle enthusiasts is Dick Lague’s Ack Attack; Record Breaking Motorcycle How Much Faster Can You Go?  It’s a book that has international interest as I found out by googling the internet; and a book that should be in the library of every person who follows motorcycle land speed racing.  My reviews are different from the artsy style of the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times.  I leave it up to the readers to decide what the psychological motives are of the Ack Attack team; my reviews go into the nuts and bolts of the book and what you can expect for your money.  There are a lot of great books out there to buy and build a home library around, but the typical hot rodder has only so much time and money to invest.  We can’t buy them all and we certainly can’t read all the books that have been written; nor should you buy a book merely because I tell you so.  A review should fit the style of the subject being discussed; so what you read here is the construction of the book and its contents. 
     Ack Attack was written and copyrighted in 2009, so it has been out a while.  It’s a quality hard bound book with a blue cover and silver lettering for the title on the spine.  The book jacket has three color photographs and a very nice styling to it with a bit of text on the back side.  I always remind you to take extra care of the book jacket or sleeve, because believe it or not, over time the value of a book is doubled by collectors who want both the book and the jacket.  Part of the problem is the rarity of the jackets, because they often do not survive rough handling and are discarded.  When I was young and foolish I often tossed out the worn and torn jackets and I regret that today; for the look diminishes rapidly when the jackets are worn or lost.  The same thing is true with toys; we save them and toss away the boxes that they came in, thus diminishing the overall value of the collectibles. 
     Some books have the pages pasted in and over time the glue gives way and the book falls apart.  Ack Attack has a high quality cloth binding that will hold the pages in and won’t let that happen.  You have to really bang up a cloth bound book to see the pages loosen and fall out; and no cloth bound book has ever done that in my library.  Ack Attack has the finest quality photographic waxed paper that shows off the plates to their fullest.  The book has 160 pages, with 119 color and 5 black and white photographs.  There are also 2 magazine covers and one poster, all of which are in color.  There are a few photographs that are grainy, due to age, but for the most part they are excellent reproductions of the original.  The author placed the photographs in such a way that there is one or two pictures on each page, in a sort of National Geographic layout that engages the eye and makes the reader follow along with the story.  Ack Attack is published by Parker House Publishing, Inc, in Stillwater, Minnesota with a copyright date of 2009.  The ISBN # is 978-1-935350-09-5, though I had no trouble finding copies on the internet by simply googling the title of the book. 
     The design concept for the book was done by Molly Lague and the design itself by Mandy Kimlinger.  The editors were John Stein and Adam Swenson.  There is a two page foreword by Sam Wheeler, followed by a two page prologue by the author.  There are nine chapters, a six page appendix and a three page index.  There was no price listed on the book jacket, which is only an estimated one anyway, so I checked the internet and found the book available in many places.  You can buy Ack Attack in India for 1310 Rupees, in Europe for 31 Euros, in England for 28 Pounds and finally a site in the United States for $40.  I only mention this to show that the interest in Ack Attack is international in scope.  The world loves our land speed racing teams.  One of the sites offered a free DVD with the book.  The DVD is a documentary and I will tell you about that later in this review.  Make sure that you find a seller willing to provide the DVD with the book as a set.
     I searched the internet to find out more about the author, Dick Lague, but he is very illusive.  He has a website called Ignition3 and you should check that out, though the only information I could find came from the book jacket.  Lague is a California resident who worked in the motorcycle industry and retired to found Ignition3 where he creates videos.  His interest in land speed racing and Bonneville racers was the basis for his work in creating Ack Attack.  Sam Wheeler on the other hand, who wrote the Foreword, is a well-known racer at the dry lakes and Bonneville.  I see his trailer around the area once in a while, hauling his E-Z Hook #999 motorcycle Streamliner to and from events.  Sam and I have talked about a motorcycle reunion at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California for some time.  We have yet to get it going, but it is an interesting project. 
     Wheeler is highly respected in land speed racing and his word carries a great deal of weight; so he was a natural for starting the book out with a foreword.  It’s important to read the forewords to any book, for they prepare you for what is to follow.  Besides, Wheeler knows a great deal and I wanted to read his remarks.  He nails the sentiment that land speed racers are both competitors and friends who help each other.  They want that record and are thrilled to see others rise to the occasion and challenge them.  For Sam, this is the greatest generation of motorcycle land speed racing.  Dick Lague’s prologue gives the story of the motorcycle land speed attempts from Glenn Curtiss in 1906 to the intense rivalry this past decade by Sam Wheeler, Denis Manning and Mike Akatiff (Rocky Robinson driving).  These three and other motorcycle racers are intent on regaining the land speed record and boosting it higher and higher.
     Chapter One is called “Sisyphus was punished.”  The content of this chapter describes how hard it is to set a record and how sometimes it takes a decade or more to do it.  The author describes Bonneville, the FIM organization in France and their record attaining requirements, and the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).  The story begins with the record runs of the Ack Attack team in late September, 2008.  Rocky Robinson was the first driver off the line in the Ack Attack and achieved a speed in the 342 mph range.  Sam Wheeler in the E-Z-Hook streamliner managed a one-way time of 352 mph.  Then came the run of Leo Hess, who crashed his streamliner and was hospitalized in serious condition.  The next day Robinson made a two-way average of 360.913 mph and the record now belonged to him and Ack Attack’s owner, Mike Akatiff.  Some of the photographs are supported by good captions, but some of the pictures had little or no captions.  In that situation the reader has to pay particular attention to the text in the book. 
     Chapter Two, “Who is Mike Akatiff” discussed the drive and tenacity of Mike Akatiff to define a goal and set out to achieve it.  Akatiff’s early history is portrayed; his ability to teach himself mechanical skills, his drive and persistence and his focus on a project.  He went to work for Bob Chaves and later for Tom Sifton and later took up motorcycle racing.  Tall, at six foot three inches, Akatiff became a skilled motorcycle racer.  He was also a skilled mechanic and tuner and teamed with Jim Rice in AMA dirt bike racing.  Mike Akatiff’s mind was constantly probing new challenges and after leaving Sifton’s he went into partnership with a former boss of his, Bob Chaves, to produce engine parts.  He sold his position in the company and went into a partnership with Gene Rocchi of Rocky Cycle Corporation, forming Pacific Coast Cycle.  Five years later Mike bought out the company, then sold off the product line and tooling. 
     In 1981 Akatiff earned his pilot’s license and this led to a new challenge; designing and building an improved version of an altitude digitizer.  His partner in this enterprise was Jim Rice.  His E-01 Emergency Locator Transmitter became a main product of his company, ACK Technologies.  Akatiff also bought and developed real estate properties, buildings and infrastructure projects.  Chapter Three is titled “The Ack Attack” and tells how he got the idea of a land speed record at the annual Mountaineers Motorcycle Club Oktoberfest reunion.  Sam Wheeler couldn’t attend because he was running for a record at Bonneville and this gave Mike an idea.  If Wheeler could do it, so could he.  Akatiff had the skills, tenacity and drive, so why couldn’t he build a streamliner and go after the record.  The more that his club members kidded him, the more determined he was to try.  With Jim True, the project started two months later. 
     Chapter Three is the longest one in the book and describes the methodology and construction of the car.  Mike started with the tires and the power plant.  He used a Hayabusa motor for the power and endurance and Mickey Thompson tires.  At first MT couldn’t provide the team with tires as they had ceased production, and so the Ack Attack team put the project on hold.  Three years later the MT tire company resumed production and the team was back in operation on a viable project.  Special land speed tires are crucial when the speeds reach what they do at Bonneville.  But going fast creates all sorts of problems, not the least is weather.  The Ack Attack found conditions to be wet and difficult during the 2005 racing season at Bonneville and decided to ship the streamliner to Australia to see what the conditions would be like on Lake Gairdner in South Australia.  After a great deal of work they finally reached this huge salt bed only to find that normally arid Australia had been deluged by rain.  Sam Wheeler was the driver and could only manage a speed of 249 mph and the team shipped the bike back to the States.
     The 2006 season proved to be the opposite of 2005 and the various teams attempting to set the record succeeded in doing just that.  The record went back and forth with Chris Carr prevailing.  Carr’s record would last through the 2007 racing season, which had been a disappointment for the Ack Attack.  But that’s land speed racing, where success and failure wait for all.  Land speed racing cars and bikes are custom built based on designs and ideas that have to be tested on dry lakes or on salt flats.  Power plants, aerodynamics, braking, internal reinforcement are all skills demanded of the teams that go racing for records.  Various sanctioning bodies have rules to follow and the best minds try differing solutions.  The bikes look good in the shop, but only on the race course do the theories prove to be correct or not. 
     There are some interesting shop pictures showing the construction of the streamliner.  The frame was welded 4130 chrome-moly steel and the body was fabricated on a wooden lath.  The Ack Attack is twice as heavy as the BUB Seven and three times the weight of Wheeler’s E-Z Hook streamliner.  But the engines produce 1100 horsepower and make up for the weight differential.  Racing teams will always face the dilemma of whether to go lighter and use less horsepower or heavier and produce more power.  A bigger streamliner is also likely to be less aerodynamic.  Theories abound as to size, weight, shape and power, but that’s what makes land speed racing so unique and interesting.  The Ack Attack team chose to use turbocharging and make their own wheels.  They used Erc gasoline rated at 118 octane rather than methanol.
     Chapter Four was named “The Riders,” and tells us about the men who ride these streamlined motorcycles.  Lague goes back into the past and tells us about men such as Bob Leppan, Dave Campos, Cal Rayborn, Don Vesco, Chris Carr, Rocky Robinson, Sam Wheeler, Bert Munro, Jim Odom, and John Noonan.  There is a respect in the book that borders on reverence for these special men.  There were no preparatory schools to hone their skills; they were self-made men with a great talent for driving streamline bikes to record-breaking speeds.  Chapter Five is titled, “The Teams,” and list the people involved in bringing the record to the Ack Attack.  The team consisted of 19 people, including; aerodynamicist Ken Mort, Jim and Mary True, Buzz Muhlbach, crew chief Ken Puccio, chief machinist Frank Milgram, engine builder Jim Leale, owner Mike Akatiff, electronics technician Greg Akatiff, Chris Bullwinkle, Bob Miller, Jason Akatiff, and Rich Bonner.  Chapter Six is called; “Riding a Streamliner” presents the views of several racing teams and the thrill and dangers of the chase for the record.  Chapter Seven is dedicated to “Top 1 Oil and Ack Attack.” 
     Chapter Eight is entitled “The Aerodynamic Evolution.”  There is a fascinating photograph of Tommy Smith, date unknown, clad only in a bathing suit, shoes and a helmet, lying prone on his bike as he tried to reduce the resistance against motorcycle and rider.  I can only guess at what the SCTA/BNI and USFRA organizations would think of that today.  With the adoption of airplane fuel drop tanks and customized bodies, the art of aerodynamics vastly improved the speeds.  This is one of the more interesting chapters in the book.  Chapter Nine is called, “Nowhere near the Limit,” and describes what the author believes will happen next.  Several teams have held the record, with the Ack Attack being the latest, but redesigns and adaptations will increase the power, weight and aerodynamics of the bikes and new records will be achieved. 
     Akatiff is very philosophical in this regard.  He sees the record as something that is lent to a team; it is never going to stay with the Ack Attack.  He respects and admires the other teams that are trying to take his record away from them and even hopes that they succeed.  For a record is best appreciated at the moment it is achieved; then it’s up to everyone else to break it, including the new, redesigned Ack Attack.  Following the chapters are an appendices and an index.  The first appendix concerns the specifications and dimensions of the Ack Attack.  Appendix two tells us about the venue sites that streamlined motorcycles can run on besides the Bonneville Salt Flats; they are Lake Gairdner in Australia, the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, El Mirage and Muroc in Southern California.  Appendix three lists the sources used in the book.  Appendix four describes the DVD “Landspeed Shootout.”  Make sure that when you buy the book that you also get the free DVD that comes with
Ack Attack; Record Breaking Motorcycle How Much Faster Can You Go? 
     The DVD provides a 50 minute feature, followed by a 30 video called “Riding the Ragged Edge.”  There are two shorter films totaling 11 minutes with the last one showing what the driver sees from the cockpit when he is going 360 mph.  Finally there is a three page index that is comprehensive and very useful.  I often find racing books where the author has decided to forgo using an index.  That lessens the value to readers.  Here Dick Lague has made the decision to give us important appendices and an index to make this a more valuable book.  Land speed motorcycle racing is an important component of timed trial racing.  I enjoyed the book and it is a fast read.  The text and photographs are not overwhelming in size, but they cover all the basic information for both the zealot and the average reader.  The design of the book is very good and Ack Attack at 9x10 ¼ inches is a perfect size for a coffee table book or as a major work on the subject of land speed motorcycle racing.  I give it a 7 out of a possible 8 spark plugs and recommend that you add it to your racing library.
Gone Racin’ is at

Gone Racin’…Drag Racing CollectiblesWritten by Cory Lee.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.  July 21, 2011.  Reprinted courtesy of Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com.

     Drag Racing Collectibles, by Cory Lee, is a much needed book on drag racing memorabilia and collecting.  The book measures 9 by 9 inches in size and comes in a paperback format containing 128 pages on high photographic quality paper.  The photographs are brilliant and exceptionally well done.  The publisher is Iconografix.  The binding is glued in and there is no dust cover jacket or sleeve.  The Library of Congress number is 2011923765 and the ISBN number is 13:978-1-58388-279-5.  You can purchase this book at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California.  I haven’t heard whether Drag Racing Collectibles is available at other book stores, but you can buy it direct from the author at www.dragfilms.com or call him at 714-812-9413.  Randy Haapala also has copies of the book for sale and you can reach him at www.randysdragracingmuseum.com or at 951-245-9355.  There is minimal text, but the captions are clear, concise, interesting and very informative.  There is no index at the back of the book to help you reference what you are looking for, but it does not take long to thumb through the book and see what you like.  Drag Racing Collectibles is not a price guide.  You won’t find prices for objects or even an estimate.  That shouldn’t be a problem right now as the collectibles market has been hammered by the recession and any prices listed would be purely guesswork.  It will be a few years before the collectibles market comes back to life with an even number of sellers and buyers.  Right now there are far more sellers than buyers and prices are depressed.
     I have suggested a buyer’s guide for years.  The best place for such a drag racing collectibles price guide is in the pages of the National Dragster, but my suggestions have not been heeded.  The magazine views a price guide as a valuable loss of space that could be better used for advertisements.  What they fail to recognize with this view is the interest of young people who are into collecting.  Drag Racing Collectibles is a snapshot of the collections belonging to Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Randy Haapala and other collectors.  It also shows some of the artifacts on display at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.  It gives beginners, as well as the serious collectors, an overview of what can be collected.  It should not be used by itself, but as a support for other books and price guides on the subject of drag racing collectibles.  The photography is outstanding and the images are sharp.  I haven’t counted all the photographs and given you a count as to which are black & white and how many are in color, because the entire book is a photographic treasure.  You are buying this book for the photographs and captions, not the text.  Cory Lee is a former drag racer and fan of drag racing.  There is a simple and clear one page Table of Contents.  There is a Foreword by Geoff Stunkard, who is the editor and publisher of Quarter Milestones magazine from 1992 through 1996.  Stunkard gives a two page history of collecting from the dawn of the car age up to the present.
     Following the Foreword is a one page acknowledgement to all those who have assisted the author with this book and that’s a mighty impressive list.  They are; The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, Tony Thacker, Greg Sharp, Sheri Watson, Rose Dickinson, Wayne Phillips, Don and Lynn Prudhomme, Donna Prudhomme, Bill “Willie” Wolter, Skip Allum, Tom McEwen, John “Rab” Kirchner, Prestige Hobbies, Randy and Julie Haapala, Geoff Stunkard, Nick Lacata, Pete Ward, John Durand, Linda Keene, Lou Hart, Mike Goyda, Iconografix, Dylan Frautschi, and inspiration from the many drag racers who inspired Cory.  The author then writes a one page Introduction and gives praise to Wally Parks and the new NHRA (in 1951) for helping to develop a sport that created the memorabilia that we collect today.  I only wish that I had kept all the collectibles from those early days.  Following the Introduction there are eleven chapters; Drag Racing Memorabilia the Early Years, the 1950’s, the 1960’s, the Collection of the NHRA Museum, the 1970’s, Collection of Don Prudhomme, the 1980’s, the Collection of Tom McEwen, the 1990’s, the 2000’s and the Collection of Randy Haapala.  I’ve seen the collection in the Motorsports Museum and Randy Haapala’s, so this is a great opportunity to see what the other collectors have amassed.  John Durand writes a one page text for the first chapter and submits his photographs.  Unfortunately there is no index or a page of credits for the photographers.  All accreditation for the photographers are included in the captions next to the pictures. 
     Starting with page ten the chapters all blend into one another and the only purpose that I could see for this was to differentiate who owns what.  It really isn’t a problem for the reader.  We can easily see from the Table of Contents who owns what and where it might be located.  A word of warning is warranted here.  The Motorsports Museum is accessible to everyone, but the other collections are private and you will have to get permission from the owners to tour their museums.  Roger Rohrdanz and I have toured many museums and written and photographed these fine institutions so that you will know that they exist.  Museums have docents and staff to watch over the collections and protect them, but private collections are often isolated and vulnerable to theft.  Therefore I don’t make it a policy to identify the locations of these private collections, but I will pass on your emails to those owners.  I have a personal bias for the most ancient of artifacts.  Cory Lee sees the advent of drag racing as the foundation of the NHRA in 1951 and I can’t disagree with him.  Wally Parks’ NHRA didn’t invent drag racing; instead it gave organization, rules and respect to a previously outlaw sport.  Drag racing was formed from the sport of land speed racing.  You can also add road course racing to the soup.  A dozen years or more after the beginnings of those two racing sports came the construction of oval track racing.  Drag racing can either be said to have begun in the late 1940’s or as early as the 1890’s when the first car owners challenged each other to impromptu races on the streets and roads of Europe and the United States.  Drag racing is an abbreviated version of time trial (land speed) racing.
Drag Racing Collectibles is important for another reason.  While the text is short, the captions and photographs are well done and each photo captures a historical fact.  In our collective memories we hold the history of a new sport; drag racing.  A photograph is a magical thing; it allows our imaginations to run wild as we recall our youthful memories.  Sometimes we elaborate what happened or at the very least we remember the event slightly different than other people.  The photograph brings back the memories, but they also sharpen our recall.  I have no trouble writing a large story, but I marvel at the way Roger tells the same tale in five or six photographs.  We write our articles together, for the most part, and together the text and the photographs make the story come alive.  That’s what Cory Lee and the group of photographers have done with Drag Racing Collectibles.  It isn’t a book that can be described as a history and yet it brought back many historical memories for me.  It isn’t a price guide, but it inspires the reader to go out and start their own collection with memorabilia that interests them.  Probably the best description of this book is that it is a pictorial or coffee table book.  You will want to keep it close at hand to spend a little time glancing through it and the square shape makes it difficult to file away on many book cases.  It’s a paperback book and often you don’t see soft covered books displayed as coffee table books.  Yet Drag Racing Collectibles is a very beautiful and well done book and it belongs out in the open for people to thumb through it and appreciate the many types of drag racing memorabilia that we can collect.  I liked this book and gave it a rating of 7 out of 8 sparkplugs. 
Gone Racin’ is at

Gone Racin’…
Bonneville Salt Flats, speed limit 1000 mph, by George D. Lepp
Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.   28 August 2007.   Reprinted courtesy of Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com.

     Sometimes the easiest books are the hardest to review.  With George D. Lepp’s Bonneville Salt Flats, Speed Limit 1000 mph, the task is easy.  It’s a pictorial book and the photographs are spectacular.  The text is very light to non-existent and there are no historical footnotes to explain what the book is all about.  You either know what the Bonneville Salt Flats are all about or the beautiful color photos will do that for you.  Lepp does provide a Table of Contents and that lists seven chapters, but there is no index and the idea of having chapters at all is rather strange.  Instead of adequate text and story, Lepp uses captions to tell his story.  The author did not explain his motives for writing this book or the year that he took the photographs and researched the material.  Digging through the book, there were references to the years 1986, ’87 and ’88, so all that we can be sure of is that Lepp was on the salt at Bonneville for at least one of those years and maybe all three.  It is likely that the author went to Bonneville and was enthralled by the scene and the action and afterwards sent in his photographs and story outline to Motorbooks International, a huge publisher of automotive and speed books in the United States.  Regardless of the intentions of the author, this book, while weak on dialogue and history, has some of the best photographs of Bonneville Land Speed Racing that has ever been put in a book format.  Strangely, it appears on the shelves of die hard land speed racing fans, even though there is little history in it.  One saving grace is that it has a great dust cover jacket.  The dust cover is readily recognized by land speed fans and racers and the book has a small cult following for appearance and its color photos. 
     Bonneville Salt Flats, Speed Limit 1000 mph is a hard-bound book that measures 9 ½ by 10 3/4 inches and is approximately 5/8 inch thick.  There are 128 high-gloss quality pages with a superior binding.  The dust cover jacket, as previously mentioned, should not be lost as it enhances the look and quality of the book.  There are 82 color prints and many of them are full page and breathtaking.  There are no black and white photos.  There is no index.  There are two pages where the rulebook is abbreviated and is the editor’s attempt to look like he is covering the subject matter.  There are no graphs, no maps, no charts or anything else to tell the story.  The captions and photographs are adequate and explains to the reader, who owns or drives the car and perhaps a bit about the engine or car. Bonneville Salt Flats, Speed Limit 1000 mph is just a pictorial, plain and simple.  There is nothing fancy about the book even when it tries to add some captions and limited text to appear to the reader that it has a story to tell.  But what a beautiful pictorial it is.  There is no need to go on about the deficiencies in the book, which are many.  The photographs rescue this effort at literature and even though it is only a year or two out of half a century of racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats, it is worth adding this book to your library.  If you are a land speed racing fanatic, then this book needs to be in your collection.  It isn’t anywhere as good as “Landspeed” Louise Ann Noeth’s epic on Bonneville, but buy it for its color photographs, which are excellent.  In fact, Bonneville Salt Flats, Speed Limit 1000 mph, has the best photographs of Bonneville yet, although the variety is limited.
Bonneville Salt Flats, Speed Limit 1000 mph was published in 1988 by Motorbooks International Publishers and Wholesalers, P.O. Box 2, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, Wisconsin 54020.  Borders, Barnes & Noble or any other bookstore should be able to punch up the author, title or ISBN #0-87938-306-2 and tell you if there is a copy.  I found my copy in a used bookstore.  Motorbooks is a large publisher and so there should be a lot of books on the market.  Check with Doug Stokes at Autobooks in Burbank, California at if you need extra help.  The full two page photos are really special and Lepp has aerial photographs of the course, which are rarely added to a book.  You can read other books on the Bonneville Salt Flats for a historical background, but add Bonneville Salt Flats, Speed Limit 1000 mph to your library simply for the photos. 
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