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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 315 - March 24 , 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:
James Drew,  Tex Smith,  Tom Medley, Bill Carroll, Bud Meye rTom Luce

GUEST COLUMNIST, by SLSRH Photographic Editor Roger Rohrdanz.   
     On March 11, 2014 James Drew passed away.  At the March Meet on Sunday I knew that something was not right with James.  James had suffered with his diabetes for quite some time, which took a major toll on his life, and he was dealing with the health of both his aging parents.  I will remember the good times.  James Drew was my friend.  Drag Racing has lost a great talent, and there was not a more dedicated photographer to the sport of Drag Racing.  My heart goes out to his parents, Jim and Kim, his daughter Jessica and to his granddaughter and his many friends.  On Saturday, March 15, 2014, from 2-4 PM there will be a Viewing.  Then from 4-5 PM there will be a Service at McKenzie Mortuary
, 3843 E. Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804.
     EDITOR; There will be more on James Drew in Issue #316.
 

IMG_3700Drew
JAMES N TIM A

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STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks: 
     From time to time I receive humorous and serious emails about what it takes to go land speed racing.  One writer said that it was time that we add motor scooters and those elderly little scooters you see people like me driving around in at the car shows.  I can tell you for a fact that it’s very hard to beat Blackie Gejeian in his scooter.  One man even got his little lawn mower scooter up to 70 mph on ice.  Another reader wrote in to say that we should have a division for airplane prop motors and said the speeds have gotten quite high on those Florida swamp boats.   I sort of think that when other forms of locomotion get up there around the 70 to 90 mph speeds of those 1930’s dry lake roadsters that maybe we are cheating ourselves by not letting these exotic types compete.
     The wet blanket comes from Jim Miller, our astute President and leader of the SLSRH, who informs us that it isn’t that these strange vehicles can’t go fast, but that the unpaid volunteers who must inspect and process the applications and do all the other chores are limited.  Perhaps, Jim says, if these owners of strange racing vehicles would form clubs and offer their help to the SCTA, BNI or other groups, that the timing associations would be more amenable to accepting a new class of “strange running vehicles.”  This is just what we needed from Jim; more responsible and sane thinking.  The problem with logical thought is that often the technological breakthroughs come not from the sane and practical but from the weird and strange thinking of men and women who think outside the box.
     That’s what sets land speed racing apart from drag, NASCAR, Road Course and other forms of racing.  In most auto racing leagues they find what works and everyone copies the formula, then the league mandates the rule book and you have one engine and one style of car.  This is team racing with cookie cutter cars and after a while no one cares who wins because the teams and cars are all interchangeable.  But not so with land speed racing where there is hardly any vehicle that looks like another vehicle.  Even the stock classes look different.  There are no two individuals or vehicles that appear to be alike.  It is this wild, out of control, weirdly satisfying gamut of people and machines that keep the average person fascinated.  And it does lead to innovation and innovation leads to speed, which leads to a good time on the dirt and salt.  Maybe we ought to bring in the “strange new vehicles,” but we also need to bring in the “strange owners and their strange crews” as well.
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     I read yesterday in our little weekly paper here in Raton, New Mexico that Bill Carroll (William J Carroll) had passed away at 98.  Bill being an automotive journalist I am sure you have this news already.  I got to know Bill after he settled here in Raton shortly after Ruth and I retired and returned to Raton.  Interesting story how he settled in Raton.  Wally and Barbara both spoke highly of him.  His photo display of working with Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jeane as he called her) was very popular to say the least.   Wayne McMurtry
     WAYNE: Bill Carroll was an early reporter, writer and photographer for many hot rodding magazines.  He also wrote several books, three of which I reviewed.  Bill was a character among characters.  When I first decided that I would like to research and write on early racing I was told to contact two people; Bill Carroll and Don Montgomery.  Both of them lived in northern San Diego County at the time and so I called and was invited to go and see them.  I went to Montgomery’s home in Fallbrook, California first and Don gave me a wealth of information and good advice.  He told me to concentrate on accuracy first and never print something unless it was authenticated.  Don reminds me very much of the careful research that Jim Miller is known for.  Then I drove a few miles south to visit with Bill Carroll, who turned out to be a very mysterious man.  If Don Montgomery is clear and lucid, Bill Carroll was opaque and careful about his past.  Bill told me that he did work for Petersen in the early days and then “disappeared” somewhere in South or Central America for the “government.”  Bill said, “If I tell you then I’ll have to kill you.” 
     I was never sure whether he was kidding me, since hot rodders are famous for tall tales and benchracing fables, or if he was serious.  He did go down to Central and South America and told his story in AVENTURA, ALASKA and BRASIL; Trip of a Lifetime.  He also wrote the book TWO WHEELS TO PANAMA.  He also wrote MUROC; WHEN THE HOT RODS RAN, which is a photographic tour de force of the very first SCTA meet, held at Muroc dry lake on May 15, 1938.  Carroll’s writing style, however, is not opaque, but honest and straightforward.  His book MUROC is a classic, though much of the text was added later in his life.  Carroll gave me just the opposite advice; write rapidly, get the volume out, enjoy the story and worry about total accuracy later.  He said, “If you wait until it is perfect you’ll never publish anything.”  I took the best from both of these men and hope that over time I will do them justice.  Bill and I kept in email contact for a few years after he moved to Raton, New Mexico.  I tried to get him to write his biography, but as my father told me, “This is our life and our story and we want to keep it for ourselves.”  I can understand that, for in trying to write a story or a biography I see just how intrusive I can become and how what I do may not always honor someone.  You see, sometimes people have parts of their lives that don’t always measure up to what they wished they had accomplished with their lives.  Carroll had a million stories and I will miss the retelling of them from one of the great storytellers of hot rodding.
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     William J. Carroll died unexpectedly at his home in McKinleyville, California on January 27, 2014.  He was born to Charles Carroll and Caroline Rebholz on August 26, 1915 in San Francisco, California.  Raised in Southern California, Bill was an intelligent, charismatic, mercurial and independent man.  He accomplished many things in his 98 years starting as chef, aircraft inspector, inventor and professional photographer - one of the first to use and process color film in California.  While building his photographic business, he used a new model, Norma Jeane Dougherty, for some advertising material.  She later became known as Marilyn Monroe.  His adventurous spirit inspired him to ride his motorcycle over the Pan-American Highway to Central American and the Panama Canal where he started his career in journalism.  Bill returned to California a couple of years later to continue writing and became well known as an automotive journalist, free-lance writer and publisher.  Later with the sponsorship of Ford Motor Company, he drove the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Brazil writing about his month odyssey in “Aventura – Alaska - Brasil.”  During the ensuing years, Bill became involved with various local public activities and moved from Southern California to New Mexico and Northern California.  He enjoyed hiking and traveling the world while continuing to write and publish numerous books and short stories.  He was a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and Mensa.  He was predeceased by his brother, Jimmy Pratt well known Big Band, Swing and Jazz drummer and his sister, Margaret Ann Lomax Bragdon of Escondido, California.  Mr. Carroll is survived by daughters Jeanne Collette (Raymond) of Orland, California, Sue Zann Carroll and Kim Kirchoff (Paul) of Washington, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.  No Services are planned.  Eureka-Times Standard, February 26, 2014.
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Bud Meyer - A Celebration of Life.   Story by Richard Parks with Ken Berg, photographs by Reece Moore, and photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  March 1, 2014.  Reprinted with permission by Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com.  For photographs go to www.hotrodhotline.com, guest columnist, Richard Parks.

     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 Chai 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 dccdeuce@charter.net
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM

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Tom Medley 1920-2014.  By Mark Vaughn on 3/09/2014.  Reprinted courtesy of Autoweek.  For photographs go to www.autoweek.com.  
     Tom Medley, best known as the creator of the hapless and humorous hot rod hero Stroker McGurk, passed away March 2 of natural causes in Los Angeles at the age of 93.  While Medley was best known for his McGurk character, he was part of the media empire that was Hot Rod magazine from just after its inception until his retirement 37 years later. Medley was a photographer as well as a cartoonist, covering the first Bonneville speed week and the Indy 500 from 1950 to 1964. He was also a publisher at Petersen during the height of the "Mad Men" era.  But it was as a cartoonist that Medley will likely be best remembered. 
     Stroker McGurk first appeared as a single-panel cartoon in the second edition of Hot Rod magazine in March 1948. Penned by hot-rodder Medley, the strip would appear on and off for 17 more years, chronicling the fast fun and foibles of its namesake racer in a way that connected a generation of rodders across the country.  How he came to cartooning fame involved a bit of serendipity.  Medley was a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and would tack up his humorous drawings on the bulletin board of the local Pasadena hot rod builder, Blair's Speed Shop. It was in Blair's that a young publishing entrepreneur named Robert E. “Pete” Petersen saw Medley's work and brought him on board at Hot Rod as the humor and cartoon editor.
     Medley also created a motorcycle cartoon for Cycle magazine called “Flat Out Snodgrass.”  Medley's son Gary recalled this quote from a profile of his father that he wrote for Goodguys Gazette: “The idea,” Medley explained in the "Best of Hot Rod" book published in 1981, ''was to create a character who would become the reader's friend, one they could relate to through his trials and tribulations of just being a hot-rodder.” 
     Medley was born March 20, 1920 in Lebanon, Oregon, from where he sometimes hitchhiked 65 miles to watch the dirt-track races in Portland.  When the war came he marched across Europe with the 78th Infantry Division, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and crossing the Bridge at Remagen.  After the war, he and his bride Rosemary settled in Los Angeles where Medley enrolled at Art Center.  It was during that time that his two-dimensional musings first appeared in print. 
     Gary Medley credits his dad's thriving imagination with a number of racing innovations.  “Stroker's -- or Medley's -- inspired genius came up with a host of crazy ideas that appeared impractical at first, but were later adopted by everyday car builders and racers.  Multi-engine dragsters, wheelie bars, and drag chutes all sprung from Stroker's fertile mind before they were embraced in the real world.”  The character of McGurk was retired when Medley became publisher of Rod & Custom, where, among many other things, he founded the Street Rod Nationals and coined the phrase “Street is Neat.” 
     Medley retired from Petersen in 1985 and spent many happy and active years cruising in his 1940 Coupe, racing go karts with Gary, and being involved with Goodguys events, most notably presenting the “Stroker McGurk” trophy at the Goodguys West Coast National for “The Most Bitchin' Highboy Roadster.”  But there was still more to him.  “For all his professional accomplishments, he was an even better father,” Gary Medley told us.  “He was always my best friend.  I will miss him so very much.”  Tom Medley had said that for his generation, those who survived the war, everything after that was “an added bonus.”  Not only did he enjoy that bonus, but he enjoyed sharing it throughout his life with so many others.  

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     I picked this up from Jim McCombes' FaceBook site. I did not know Lon, but had probably met him at a CAL-NEVA Timing Association gathering in Richmond about 3 years ago. There is a Ron Rountree obituary posted on the LSR website but I am not sure if they are related.  Bob Choisser
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     Lon Rountree was a former Baylands, then later Sears Point racer.  Lon was fatally injured on Saturday night in an automobile accident.  Georgia Seipel called me yesterday to inform me of the tragedy that claimed the popular driver his life.  Details of the accident were not given.  Lon raced an Austin Healey mainly in the ET Brackets and was a familiar sight along with his former wife Elaine who drove a 1967 Camaro and competed at tracks like Sacramento, Redding and Samoa.  Lon was a former resident of Alameda, California and he later remarried and moved to Tracy where he was residing at the time of his death.  Jim McCombe
                                                  
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From the Tracy (California) Press newspaper. 
     The California Highway Patrol said that Lon Rountree, a 77-year-old man from Tracy, was killed when his 1988 Jeep was struck twice at the intersection of Highway 33 and Linne Road around 3:35 p.m. Friday.  According to the CHP, Rountree was traveling alone when he stopped in the southbound lane of the highway, which is also Ahern Road at that location, preparing to make a left turn onto Linne Road. He was hit from behind by a southbound 2011 Dodge Durango driven by a 31-year-old Tracy man with three children as passengers.  The Durango pushed the Jeep into northbound traffic, where it collided with a 2007 Chevrolet Impala driven by a 55-year-old woman from Modesto.  Officers reported that Rountree’s Jeep rolled onto its roof and came to rest on the east shoulder of the highway. Rescue crews got him out of the car but were not able to save his life, pronouncing him dead at the scene.  See;
http://www.tracypress.com/view/full_story/24645767/article-Separate-weekend-crashes-take-two-lives.  Jim McCombe
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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.
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SLSRH Photographic Editor Roger Rohrdanz sent in the following;
     “A new museum called the World of Speed in Portland, Oregon has an interesting newsletter.  You can access it by emailing and requesting your email address be added to their mailing list.  The World of Speed’s director is Tony Thacker, who held the same position at the Auto Club of Southern Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.  World of Speed’s email address is
info@worldofspeed.org, and their website is www.worldofspeed.org.”
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     Just read your article (Charlie Gilmore
http://www.hotrodhotline.com/feature) from back in 2009 and you mentioned Jack Kulp.  I know that Jack moved his shop from Pendel to Bristol around 1959 but not positive.  I used to hang there and went to several races with Jack and his crew.  I recall we went to Vineland for a Saturday evening race with the dragster then drove all night to Sanford, Maine for a Sunday race.  Just wondering if you know what happened to Jack, hopefully he is still alive.  John Hansbury, Titusville, New Jersey.
    
JOHN; I never met Kulp or Gilmore so I couldn't tell you what happened to him or if he is still around.  I help racers complete their biographies all on computer and then post them on two websites; www.hotrodhotline.com and www.landspeedracing.com But I will post your email to our newsletter to see if anyone knows your answer.  If you want your email address to show up please write back and give me your permission to use it.  I will also send your message on to Jeff Foulk who drove the FINAGLER.  He might know the answer to your question. 
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     I since found a Facebook site that I believe belongs to Jack Kulp's daughter.  Apparently Jack Passed away back in 2000
Thanks again, John Hansbury
    
JOHN: If you want to add your memories of the events that you attended with Kulp or any of the other drag racers I will be glad to post that to our newsletter at www.landspeedracing.com We are a historical forum, there are no fees or duties to join us and we accumulate as many bios and stories as we can find. 
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     STAFF NOTES; The following is from SLSRH member Tina Van Curen.  There will be a book signing by Mike Martin, author of USRRC; United States Road Racing Championship 1963-1968, on Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 10 AM to 2 PM at AUTOBOOKS-AEROBOOKS, 2900 W. MAGNOLIA BLVD., BURBANK, CA 91505.  See WWW.AUTOBOOKS-AEROBOOKS.COM for more information.  manager@autobooks-aerobooks.com.
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STAFF NOTES; Our president Jim Miller sent this in.  “Just happened to run across a copy of the September 1950 issue of Cycle Magazine. At that time it was part of the Motor Trend Publishing aka Trend aka Peterson Publishing. Our friend Tom Medley was listed in the magazine as one of its photographers, but he did more than that at the magazine. We all know about Stroker McGurk but how many of you remember his character Snodgrass. Tom was indeed a multi-talented guy.”  To see the cartoon created by Tom Medley go to www.hotrodhotline.com
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     STAFF NOTES; Reprinted courtesy of www.hotrodhotline.com.  Race Report - Guest columnist Tim Kennedy has the latest race report from Irwindale Speedway's Night of Champions.  To see the entire article go to the hotrodhotline.com website.
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     I hope you have been looking at the Snake and Mongoose Facebook Page.  Under "Recent Posts by Others" you can see lots of wonderful reviews of the film!  Our IMDBPro User Ratings are not reflecting this almost universal love of the film.  If you have a moment and have IMDBPro (not regular IMDB), please go to Snake and Mongoose on IMDBPro, go to the tab line under the title, click "Opinion" - the pull down menu will show you "User Ratings" - click on that and then scroll down and click "VOTE."  Then please vote 9 or 10 for the film. This should help get our rating up to where it should be.  Thank you very much for your cooperation in this matter.  Warmly, Robin Rosenzweig (movie producer)
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Stormy Byrd's Revelation.  Story by Anna “Octane” Marco, with additional race shots by Mike Basso.  Reprinted by permission of the author.  Photographs can be seen at Ol’ Skool Rodz (http://www.olskoolrodz.com). 

     Stormy Byrd’s journey began in 1964 when La Mirada, California fireman Bill Ehrel created his own epiphany by welding 135" of pipe and hanging a wild 1923 T body on it. Bill nestled a blown 300” Desoto hemi on fuel between the rails and set out to knock ‘em down.  Originally called the “Bell Auto Parts Spl” that name would change in ‘67 when fellow fireman/racer/tinman, Kenny Ellis, hand formed the aluminum ’Sharknose’ which still graces the car today.
     Bill renamed the car “The Rounders” after the addition of the Ellis tinwork.  The car was painted red, white and blue and was a local competitor at Lions, Irwindale, and Bakersfield winning more than its fair share in Competition Eliminator.  It set the Drag News C/Mod Fuel Roadster record in 1966 along with winning the 1966 Bakersfield Fuel and Gas Championships.  The car ran a best of 7.69 @ 203 at Lions shortly before it was retired in 1969.  The movie studios purchased the car years later for their up-coming film “More American Graffiti,” however, again it would sit for nearly a decade after not being used.
     Enter Stormy Byrd and his brother Tim.  The ad in the paper just stated “old dragster for sale,” and they found the car in early 1985 just miles from their house and with $650 in hand rescued the unmolested roller, complete with original Moon wire wheels.  Little did they know at the time, its rich history, and the fact they had watched the car run at Lions in 1967.  Stormy found nirvana decades earlier when Dad took the boys to Lions Drag Strip one night in ‘66.  Stormy always loved roadsters, even though he had raced door slammers at Irwindale Raceway.  Now his car was a piece of Lions history just waiting for new life.
     By June 1985, the car was safety up-dated; an injected Nitro small block sat between the rails and was re-christened “Revelation.”  Hauling his anachronism out to his home track, LACR, under the supervision of owner Bernie Longjohn, the car was re-born.  And so Stormy’s symbiotic relationship with this one fuel roadster began.  He states, “These cars were built when men gave their rides names and personalities, unlike the bland corporate billboards that are stuffed down your throat these days.”  Not having a NHRA class to compete in Stormy talked with his buddy Dennis Ankenbauer (his partner in “Strange Brew” a racecar previously purchased) and figured, “no class, no problem.”  They would turn “Revelation” into the Yin of “Strange Brew’s” Yang; Roadster vs. Coupe, to match-race from Carlsbad to Fremont and for 12 years they did.  Thus the “Strange Brew” modified fuel coupe was born, but that’s another story (Part 2).  In 1997, while match racing at LACR, two rods exited “Brew” destroying everything.  Dennis was broke and Stormy was beginning to assemble the blown motor for his racecar as he was barely qualifying.  They couldn’t afford to build a second engine for “Brew,” so she would sit for some years to come.
     What Stormy is known for at events are his big burn outs, dry hops, throwing the Victory sign and “Back Up Babes,” a name coined by longtime friend and NHRA announcer, Mike English.  His current stable includes Anna Octane and Eily Stafford. Stormy says, “I’m blessed to do this and have so many friends.  It’s all about putting a show on for the fans.”  Being the showman that he is, he has had help from very special people that provide him with the stuff that keeps him going.  His sponsors include:  Valley Head Service, Titan, Art Carr Transmission, M&H Tires, Route 66 Speed Shop, Dave’s Gaskets, Schneider Cams, Moon and DJ Safety.  The cars performance in the mile is 7.60 @ 184 on an easy tune up.  Stormy continues to match race his car and run the “Nostalgia Eliminator” class at the NHRA and ANRA Nostalgia series “as long as it stays fun,” with his crew chief Ken Lee, and rotating crew of assorted nuts and bolts.
     In 2012, Stormy was invited to attend the Summer Nationals and Nostalgia Nitro Nationals held in Taupo, New Zealand along with teammates Randy Walls, Randy Winkle (Famoso Mob), Nick Lanzaretta, Anna Octane and Army Armstrong as representatives of American Nostalgia Drag Racing.  It was a great honor for the entire team and Stormy placed first in the NE1 class.  In 2013, Stormy and Randy Winkle acted as tech consultants and appeared in the Snake & Mongoo$e bio picture of the famed drag racing legends.  Their match race between the “Green Go” and the “Revelation” is seen in the opening credits of the film.  Recently the Revelation won its Nostalgia class at the 2014 Grand National Roadster Show and ran a best time of 7.39 @ 179 in the first qualifying pass at the 2014 March Meet with Eric Christensen behind the wheel.  The “Strange Brew,” Stormy’s other NE1 race car, an AA Comp coupe, is shoed by Eily Stafford and participates in ANRA and the NHRA Hot Rod Heritage series.
     Stormy continues to participate in charity and nostalgia events and is a contributing columnist for Nostalgia Drag World (www.nostalgiadragworld.com) and occasionally writes for Ol Skool Rodz Magazine.  It has been his privilege to un-cork his racecar for fans the last 27 years because it is a rare vintage and needs to be shared, especially since it was raised on a special plot of terra firma at 223rd & Alameda long ago.  While the “Revelation” runs, Lions Dragstrip will continue to exist in the Universe; at least in Stormy’s Universe.
     Special Thanks: Randy Winkle, Marc McCaslin, Pam Conrad and Shafter Airport. Wardrobe: Vintage Suits by Mary and Pleaser USA boots. See: www.facebook/StormyByrd.  Model: Anna Octane
TECH SHEET
Owner: Robert “Stormy” Byrd (www.facebook/stormybyrd)
Car Club: House of Mouse/Famoso Mob Drag Masters/NHRA
photographer:  Anna Marco
Year – 1923 Make – Ford “T.”  Body Custom Fabrication – 1964 B/Fuel Modified Roadster --- Bill Ehrel Fiberglass T with a Kelison rear dragster section.  Car Builder: Bill Ehrel, Stormy, Dave Tuttle, California Chassis Engineering.
Color – Firemist Red w/ purple pearl in clearcoat. Paint Type – Urethane.  Painter – Tracy Terry – Terry Earth Moving
Custom Graphics – Bob Thompson lettering, Tom “Icthy” Ottis pin stripping
Engine –  377” Dart/Chevy
Tranny –  Powerglide by Art Carr California Performance Trans.
Exhaust –  Home built 36’ weedburners
Intake & Carb – Don Hampton 8-71 blower-“64” Enderle Injector scoop – Weiand manifold.  Ignition –  Mallory Sprint mag by Don Zig
Rear End –  9” ford – MW center w/ 3:50 gears & spool.  Suspension Info –  Solid rear – Torsion tube front.  Brakes – Wilwood disc brakes
Wheels/Size – 17 “front MOON wire wheels / 11 by 15 Magnesium 5 slot Halibrands
Tires/Size - 2.50 by 17 frt.  11.5 by 30 by 15 M&H Racemaster slicks
Seats – 1.  Upholstery – aluminum seat
Dashboard – none.  Steering Column – P&S.  Interior Extras – MOON Oil gauge
Garage-Built Stuff – everything.  Windows – windscreen.  Taillights – 39 Ford.
Club Affiliation – Flying Burrito Bros/House of Mouse.
Sponsors are Valley Head Service-Art Cart Transmission – Titan Speed Eng. M&H tires – Dave’s Gaskets – Route 66 Speed Shop – Betty’s Race Garage – Schneider Cams--DJ Safety.
     STAFF NOTES: Stormy sent in this message which indicates that a drag racer is never satisfied with his performance.  “You can update that performance ET as the car ran 7.46 & 7.39 at the March Meet. We tuned her up a tad too much.”
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Okies, Cars, and Awl Dayell By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission of www.hotrodhotline.com and the parent company Internet Brands.

     I don’t get my nickers in a bunch over stuff I find on the internet, but I still check it out casually most days. Which was how, on this Thursday last part of February, I run across a lead article in the New York Times 'bout my old stomping grounds of Oildale. If you was an Okie, you would know immediately where I am talking about. Since you probably aren’t, Oildale (pronounced Awl Dayell) was a really small community tucked against the Kern river right there north of Bakersfield. Nowdays it is way bigger, but you are getting the drift.  This story (with nine photos) was about country singer Merle Haggard, who came from Oklahoma too, and an old railroad boxcar house his dad fixed for the family there in Oildale. Right next to the train tracks. I read, and old long buried memories began to seep to the top of troubled waters.   See Article: From Boxcar to Landmark (via New York Times)   We made the trip west from Cherokee country in Oklahoma, mattress tied to the top of a ’34 Ford four door. But we came out on the southern route, starting west from Orange, Texas in 1939. That way, we came straight through to San Diego, then gradually worked our way north, my dad and uncle looking for work. I was taught by my dad to always look for work, not just a job. And no work was below me. I’ve kept that as a mantra always.

     Which is how we ended up in Bakersfield. Actually, right on up Highway 99 across the Kern River bridge to the second turnoff into Oildale. First thing was to find a dry place to sleep, which turned out to be a roadside cabin right next to the river (it had water in it back then). My aunt, mom, and I quick unloaded the car of our two suitcases, and the men went off looking for work. They were back in two hours, having found jobs as roustabouts at the flying red horse oil refinery west side of Bakersfield.  That horse was a signal for travelers for decades. The cabin cost us 1 dollar a day for the two families, but we couldn’t move in until we had smoked the bed springs. We built a fire in the dirt street and made a moderate bonfire, onto which we piled the bedsprings briefly. That was to kill any bedbugs the former residents may have (probably did have) left. Then we were off to get some groceries. Which was a potato patch alongside route 99, bout a mile out of town. My uncle pulled the Ford over, got out and asked the nearest field hand where the boss was. The hand straightened up, looked around, and pointed way across the field. My uncle said “thanks”, and hefted a full tow sack of spuds, threw them on the Ford fender, and off we went for home. Shopping was so much quicker them days.
     And next day mom signed me up for school. I don’t remember if it was Beardsley or the other school across the tracks, but I eventually went to both. I noticed some strip-downs running up and down the main dirt road, and dad said they were hot rods. Welcome, Tex Smith, to your new world.  I knew that kind of car, but under a different name in Oklahoma. Shortly thereafter, one of our various shirt-tail relatives showed up from Oklahoma. They were Choctaw, and suddenly I had someone I knew for school. That was Buddy Butler, his brother Fred, and way later, Buddy would father a son, Choctaw. I don’t think any of them are still around, but they made Oildale their home for life, mostly.  It was Buddy who introduced me to what would later be called Classic cars. Just great big honkers that drank gasoline and couldn’t hold a candle in the handling department as compared to the more nimble Chevys and Fords. But, Buddy discovered in 1945 that these huge old machines  (Caddy’s and a thing called a Deusey and big old Buicks) were selling used for between 10 and 15 bucks! The trick was to find one with good tires, and hopefully a gas tank nearly full. So, there was a succession of big old cars for budding hoons to tramp around the oil field roads, usually at well above anything considered a speed limit.  The local hot rodders held us in disdain, and for good reason. Our rides, which we could exchange every month or so, handled abomibly and couldn’t catch a jackrabbit on short, curving roads. Then, if we got up to a good rate of travel, we couldn’t negotiate the corners.
     What had happened was that during WWII, there were no everyman cars being produced. The big honkers were lurking in sheds where they had been stored  when gasoline got clear up to ll cents a gallon! With no new cars coming out of Detroit in ’44 and ’45, the Classics gave us wheels. That’s where I discovered that a 2-pound sledge worked exactly right as a body hammer.  We would run up the oil lease roads, but the most fun was out on Highway 99. Mostly, you would go over to Bakersfield, just over the river to the Circle (they call them traffic roundabouts here in Australia), keep right and head out toward Minter Field airport. You could always get a race there. And you could almost always get beaten within the first twenty feet. Still, something to do.  They were playing our kind of country music at the Blackboard honky tonk, or out southwest of town was Punkin’ Center. I stayed well away from those places, where getting your knob scobbed was everyday occurance. Day and night. And that is where Merle Haggard and Buck Owens got their shaping up. At that time I did not know Ernie Hashim, who would later own a speed shop in town. Wish I had. And that was long before drag races were held out at the abandoned WWII training airbase named Famosa.
     There has been a kind of resurgence in car stuff out of Bakersfield, and it can’t be due to the weather. The San Joquin Valley was/is/maybe will always be very hot in the summer, cold and foggy in the winter, and really a neat place in a roadster when the sun goes down. It has outstanding Mexican food around every corner and up every alley, and what you see is what you get out of life lived there. What you don’t want is Valley Fever.  Yes, Bakersfield, as with so much more of California, was shaped by Okies who were just looking for work. Just trying to survive. And they could certainly hop up a stock automobile. And they were dynamite drivers. A lot of that spirit remains in the San Joquin Valley. Even the ghosts of those big old straight eights can still be heard on a quiet nite. When gasoline is nearly 4 bucks a gallon!  I looked at the photos with that New York Times magazine article about Merle Haggard, and it was like seeing myself in a mirror. Running barefoot up a hot sandy road, or playing in the canal water, or wandering up back alleys near the grocery store, looking for Coke or Pepsi bottles to exchange for the one penny deposit, or remembering where peach trees might have ripe fruit. Yesterday can sometimes be painful, but ever so important. Places like Bakersfield and Awl Dayell see to that.
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Those Unforgettable Motel Parking Lots.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted by permission of Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com

     Remember when we had fun with cars, worked on them for hours just so we could cruise for thirty minutes, poured all our spare change into shiny trinkets that did nothing for performance, and stayed up nearly all night at the Street Rod Nationals? I fondly remember that last bit.  Following on the tremendous blow-out that was the first Rod & Custom Street Rod Nationals, the gathering crowd of insatiable car nuts couldn’t get enough chrome and paint and way out cars during the day. In fact, it seemed there was triple the fairground crowd gathered at the city motels from 6pm through till at least 3am. Every night of the Nats, and we never tired of the carnival atmosphere. If it happened at those first dozen or more Rod Nats, chances are it was at the motels/hotels.
     You may have been there, or at least you may have had some “old timers” regale you with tales of what did (or maybe didn’t) happen. I’ll rehearse a few incidents to give you an idea of what was going on.  Take the case of the parking lot streaking in St. Paul that Saturday night for the first Twin Cities gala. The HQ hotel was truly a world class hotel, in stark contrast to that tiny motel at the initial Peoria Nats. It turned out that we unwashed masses of gearheads arrived at the hotel in concert with some kind of gown and tux celebration booked in the hotel ballroom well in advance of our rowdy arrival.
So it was that guests for the ballroom were treated to a huge parking lot overflowing with hot rods and excited car nuts. T-shirts and Levis overwhelmingly in the majority. Not an unruly crowd, but certainly not your tea and crumpet set. Cruising the various motel parking lots was essential for every Nats attendee, even in stockers, simply because if you weren’t cruising you might miss something. Which turned out to be quite true, as in the case of the streaking panel.
     You recall that bare-ass naked streaking was a popular pastime for awhile, at least while our somewhat young and nubile bodies were still nubile. Sort of. So, the HQ hotel parking lot was crammed to overflowing, and there was some interest when the first couple of streakers appeared. One well-endowed young damsel ascended her vehicle perch and removed her uppers, only to be totally crestfallen when no one paid any attention. At all. They were too busy cheering on the streakers.  What did capture our fancy was when a rod panel truck appeared, and well into the mix of bodies the rear door opened to feature a clothes-free rear portion adequately mooning the crowd. A giant roar of approval, which reached a crescendo when the driver nudged the throttle and the resulting lurch of said vehicle unperched the said exhibitionist to a position on the macadam. And the panel drove ahead. Ah, best laid plans and all.
     It was at this particular nats that I did not meet Ron Ceridono, erstwhile technical guru of Street Rodder magazine. Turns out we were both in the hotel lobby waiting for the elevator, the crowd being a mix of well-oiled car guys and older, very proper ballroom attendees. Finally the elevator door opened wide to reveal Sebastian Rubio clad entirely is his normal formal attire of Speedo and bare footage. He greeted us all with a robust, “Going up!!!” The evening gowned matron ahead of Pegge and me (and Ronnie, who apparently was also in the waiting throng) immediately swooned away into her escorts arms. All the hot rodders present immediately surged around the limp lady into Sebastian’s missile. Last I saw, the lady was still far away in la-la land. Sebastian had a way of effecting people that way. And I had to marvel at hot rodder civility to the downtrodden.
     But, boy was that a great night, and it did not wind down until after 4 am. I heard engines cough to life at around 6am, groggy street rod enthusiasts anxious to get a new day at the Nationals into gear. That kind of thing lasted until the early Eighties, and it disappeared almost overnight, in direct proportion to street rodders hairline. One time, Ceridono and I were wandering around the motel parking lot at a Goodguys Indy run, and it wasn’t yet eleven pm, when we met the only other person in the lot—Bob Klessig from Wisconsin. His moan, “Where the hell is everyone?” How long before I hear the same thing at an empty rod run venue?
     Which is why, in a way, that the zany parking lot magic at the old Stateline Hotel in Wendover during the annual Speedweek has quickly become a for real happening. It carries on well after midnight, there ain’t no rules (you can’t really rule the unruly, you know), and there is no rhyme nor reason for being there. Except for the fact that the lot is overflowing with honest to God doers of hot rodding fable. Guys who run the long black line mingling as equals with hot rodders of the highway line. You get a chance to join that crowd, jump and never look back. Already I’m hearing “old timers” from this marvellous experience telling young ‘uns about how it used to be (but still is) at the Stateline. Which is no longer the Stateline, but some other name (Nugget). And the gigosious neon cowboy is now over in Nevada.  For all of us elders, it will always be the Stateline. Just like the salt is always (almost) the same.
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Gone Racin’…
Road Trips, Head Trips, And Other CAR-Crazed Writings, edited by Jean Lindamood and introduced by P.J. O’Rourke.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Written 10 December 2010.

     Sometimes I come across a book that looks rather dull or at least forgettable and then find some real gems.  I wasn’t going to review Road Trips, Head Trips, And Other CAR-Crazed Writings at first.  In fact, when I first glanced through the book I read some really artsy, verbose and simply silly writing.  All authors have a dark side and I’m not excluded.  We sometimes fall in love with the sound of our words and fail to think if we are boring our readers.  When we are really into ourselves we write the most awful prose and think we are Shakespeare, or at least Mark Twain.  But there can also be real jewels mixed in with the mish-mash of other writings, so patience is called for before judgment is rendered.  Road Trips, Head Trips, And Other CAR-Crazed Writings is an anthology written by over thirty authors, each penning a chapter and sometimes sharing that chapter with another author. 
     All of the writers are well-known and respected in the field of journalism and fiction.  You will probably have heard of; John Steinbeck, P. J. O’Rourke, Dave Barry, Joyce Carol Oates, Ernest Hemingway, Allen Ginsberg, S. J. Perelman and Jack Kerouac.  They’re all in this book and each one of them has written something that is important to him that concerns the automobile.  A few of them wax poetic and others are simply acting cute; as if they were telling an inside joke and we are on the outside.  One chapter that I had overlooked at first caught my attention and it was that chapter than made all the difference.  Once I read that chapter I was going to do this book review and maybe read a few of the other chapters too.
    
Road Trips is a hard-bound book measuring 7 by 9 inches in size, with a red cover and cloth binding to hold the pages to the spine.  There are 258 pages on un-waxed paper with no photographs and only two drawings, which are on the dust cover jacket or sleeve.  The book is entirely prose and the topics are historical and narrative.  I counted 32 authors.  The dust cover jacket or sleeve is unremarkable, but sturdy and you should never lose the sleeve, which protects the book.  The sleeve also adds value and esthetics to the book.  For as plain as this sleeve is, it is much prettier than the book without the jacket.  Jean Lindamood writes a chapter and edits the book, bringing together a large number of writers, some dead and some living.  She actually does a very commendable job, and though she tells us that it is rare for a woman to be involved in automobile subjects, she knows cars and the people who love cars. 
     P. J. O’Rourke does the introduction.  Road Trips is published by The Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, NY.  The copyright and publishing date is 1996 and the book is out of print, but you can probably find a copy at your public library, at a used book store or on-line at eBay or other books outlets.  It isn’t a major work for the average land speed racer or hot rodder, but it is interesting and we could all stand to read a short story by writers outside the car world.  We might also broaden our image as car guys to quote some of these authors.  The ISBN # is 0-87113-654-6 for a reference point, but the title is clear and any dealer should be able to tell you if it can be located.  No price is listed on the book jacket, but expect to pay a used book rate.
     The chapter that drew me to this book was on Frank Lockhart and titled “Tragic superhero of American racing,” by Griffith Borgeson.   Lockhart was America’s darling in automotive racing during the mid to late 1920’s.  Borgeson writes in a style very similar to the late Jim Murray; almost like an odist would pen poems to an ancient and mythic hero.  Borgeson, however, cuts right to the facts of the legend surrounding Frank Lockhart; who stood only 5 foot three inches and weighed 135 pounds.  Frank loved everything mechanical and from the age of three, in 1906 in his native Ohio, he would watch the mechanics toil on that new invention; the motorcar.  Early in his life his father died and his mother took him and his brother Bob to California to live.  He was a loner and shunned relationships and school so that he could work on all things mechanical; words baffled him, but he understood mathematics well. 
     Lockhart had a charisma and a drive to him that was remarkable.  He could get people to assist him on projects and he didn’t hesitate to do so.  He rebelled in school, doodling and drawing streamlined cars during class and being chided constantly by his teachers; but he knew what he wanted to do and his will simply overpowered the opposition.  Strangely, he graduated to the relief of all parties.  His persistence paid off when he talked a man into giving him a Model T and he and his brother carried the parts from Boyle Heights to his home, twelve miles away.  He talked a man into giving him an engine to put in his car and rebuilt the engine at the age of sixteen.  Ray McDowell gave him a place to work on his car and Frank looked to this man as a father figure.  Lockhart raced at Ascot, winning a small purse here and there, but happy doing what he wanted to do in his life.  He was a moral man, eschewing vices as being wasteful and married the only girl that he ever dated.  He was demanding of those around him and his mother gave him literally all the money she had so that he could get the equipment to go racing.
     For a man who struggled in high school, Frank Lockhart excelled at math and was offered a spot at Cal Tech, but he had no money to attend school and he preferred to drive race cars instead.  He won a lot of races and hardly anyone ever beat him on these dirt tracks, but there was little money in those days.  He was noticed and when another big time driver took ill, Frank was given his car with a Miller engine in it.  He won the race in a rout and went to work for Harry Miller with master mechanic Ernie Olson as his crew chief.  Lockhart and Olson were mechanically gifted and re-engineered parts for greater efficiency.  In 1926 Lockhart won the Indy 500 and his name was known all across the country.  Frank pioneered the use of a locked rear end.  He started the trend toward truss rods.  He took the best designs and ideas from Miller, Duesenberg and other car builders and refined them further.  Lockhart was simply driven to improve everything that he touched, whether it was car parts or how a driver piloted the car around the track.  Frank and Zenas Weisel perfected the supercharger intercooler, based on Weisel’s design. 
     In 1927 Lockhart ran for a record 144.2 mph at the Culver City board track using the new technology he and Zenas had perfected.  He dominated the oval track racing that year.  That same year he came in second at the Indy 500 and he would have won that race as well except for a broken connecting rod.  He also set a record at Muroc dry lake, attaining a top speed of 171 mph and a two way average of 164.85 mph.  By the end of the year his winnings had made him a very wealthy man.  At the top of his fame there came a breach in his relationship with Ernie Olson.  Lockhart wanted to take the offer of Fred Moskovics and develop a record breaking land speed car, called the Stutz Black Hawk.  Olson preferred to have Frank enter the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.  When his mechanic left him, Frank turned to the Weisel brothers, Zenas and John and set about building the Black Hawk.  The car was light and aerodynamic, having made extensive use of wind tunnel testing and coming in at 2800 pounds, almost two-thirds lighter than Segrave’s monster Sunbeam, which weighed 8000 pounds.  Lockhart’s goal was to set a record around 225 mph, then wait for the record to be broken before going out and resetting another record.  All wind-tunnel testing indicated that he had a car with the potential to go as fast as 330 mph. 
     Lockhart knew that his run would have to be perfect, for testing had shown that a crash would have disastrous consequences based on the design.  The car was fast, but it was also fragile.  Moskovics had put up $35,000 for the project, but Frank was a perfectionist and spent somewhere in the area of $100,000 which took most of his winnings from the year before.  To ease his financial obligations, Lockhart switched from his tested Firestone tires and accepted $20,000 to run another company’s brand.  He was now ready to run, but it was early February, 1928 and the weather at Daytona Beach was terrible.  He managed to get the car to run over 220 miles when a tremendous roll-over crash occurred and the Black Hawk submerged in the water.  No one thought the car or the driver could survive, but Lockhart was only slightly hurt and the car was repairable.  In mid-April the car was back at Daytona and the weather was perfect.  Frank made three runs and the car responded as he hoped.  The fourth run saw the car reaching its potential until the tire blew and the car crashed, ending Lockhart’s life.  He had told others that the Achilles Heel was the tire and if it blew, it would probably take his life.  The story ends there and the author does not tell us what happened to Frank’s wife, mother, brother or other people in his life.  We are left to speculate what would have happened if Lockhart had set the record and lived to tell about it.  How many more Indy 500 races would he have won?  How many more land speed records would he have set?  How many additional inventions would he have made?  Would his name have become a household name instead of merely a footnote?  We are only given 11 pages on America’s tragic superhero and we wish there were more.
     As for the other stories; they sometimes struck an interesting note, but often they simply disappointed.  There was Jack Kerouac’s rambling story of a fag on a road trip, which really seemed to have no point to it.  P. J. O’Rourke recounted a road trip he took through Mexico with a beautiful blonde, who acted as his photographer.  The descriptive prose was first rate but the story could have been called ‘Road trip through Hell.’  John Steinbeck’s short story was called ‘Travels with Charley’ and it too was pleasant prose reading.  Charley by the way is a dog; Steinbeck’s traveling companion.  The writing was very descriptive, but in the end I didn’t remember much and Steinbeck is stingy with names, dates and places.  S. J. Perelman’s writing wasn’t much better than Steinbeck’s, but superior to Kerouac’s.  The best thing that Perelman did was confine his writings to two short pages.  Peter Egan wrote of his road trip through Europe and he did have a way with a sardonic word or two.  At least he gave us nouns that had names, dates and places to them and he seemed to hate the French.  Egan dropped plenty of names of road course racing greats and made the claim that no matter how much you hate the trip at the time you take it, if you live long enough you will come to enjoy going.  I’ll admit that some of the writing was funny.  Some of it was even charming.  But none of the short stories matched Borgeson’s story on Lockhart.  Is this a book worth finding and adding to your library when I can only recommend eleven short pages?  Yes, if the subject is about Frank Lockhart.  Besides, some of you hot rodders might also be ‘literary cats’ and dig that Kerouac.  
Road Trips deserves a 5 out of 8 sparkplugs.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’ to…Memories of the California Jalopy Association, by Thomas D. Luce.
Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Written 26 October 2009.

     A new book, Memories of the California Jalopy Association, by Thomas D. Luce Publishing is now available.  Luce spent more than a decade compiling oral histories and collecting photographs of a sport that was wildly popular from the 1940’s through the 1960’s.  Jalopy racing was a perfect fit for the new medium of Television, with its thrills and spills, and anyone growing up could not help but tune in to the exciting races.  Jalopies were old, inexpensive beat-up cars with souped-up motors that raced at dirt tracks.  Many jalopy racers would learn the trade of car racing and go on to success in other areas.  Chief among them is Parnelli Jones, winner of the 1963 Indy 500, who wrote the foreword to this book.
    
Memories of the California Jalopy Association has 288 pages, with over 1550 photographs.  It is printed on glossy, high quality paper, in a soft-cover format.  The photos are captioned in an easy to read style, and there is an adequate amount of textual background that gives the history of the sport as it existed in California.  Included in the book are cartoons, charts, lists, acknowledgements, and other tables that help to give the reader a well-rounded view of jalopy racing.  It is not only an interesting book on a subject that has been neglected, but it has merit as a work of historical value.  The book lacks a comprehensive index, making it difficult to do research. 
     There are 22 chapters, a foreword by Parnelli Jones, an epilogue, a list of the tracks that were raced on, a Hall of Fame section, and a list of acknowledgements.  Four pages are dedicated to the period prior to World War II, and if Luce decides to do another book, this period would be fascinating to know about.  The 1940’s cover another 10 pages, and is sparse due to the lack of racing caused by the war.  The era of the 1950’s sees the full blooming of motorsports in general, and the book uses 154 pages to show how jalopy racing reached its full potential.  Jalopy racing struggled to hang on during the 1960’s and Luce devotes 102 pages to this era, but the population growth in California caused racecourses to close, in order to make room for housing tracts.  The last one-third of the book discusses Figure-8 racing and how it influenced jalopy racing.
     Luce does a great job of explaining the sport, and tells about the inner workings of the Association with a gentle and professional touch.  The competitive nature of the racers and promoters created a fertile ground for fights and divisions, but Luce explains them in a manner that shows how the sport evolved without making it sound gossipy.  Luce tells the story in a warm and caring way.  He tells us about the women’s Powder Puff league, and the Lady Leadfoots.  The list of racers is exhaustive, and includes Jimmie Oskie, Parnelli Jones, Bob Hogle, Ron Hornaday, Nick Valenta, Jim Wood, Rex Shendley, Don Noel, Rip Erikson, Bill Cantrell, Billy Wilkerson, Vallie Engelauf, Danny Letner, Jay East, Bob Forster, Bob Ross, Marvin Porter, Hila Paulson, Edith Klessig, Rocky Stoner and many more. 
Memories of the California Jalopy Association can be purchased at Autobooks/Aerobooks in Glendale, or So-Cal Performance in Downey, both places are in California.
Gone Racin’ is at 
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Gone Racin’…
Legion Ascot Speedway, by John R. Lucero.  1982 Revised edition.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Written 28 August 2007.

     John Lucero has poured his heart and soul into a subject that existed for only 13 years.  Legion Ascot Speedway had a very short life as a racetrack.  Considered too fast and dangerous, it was closed in 1936, and eventually suffered the fate of most tracks, being converted into a housing development.  Yet, while it existed, its fame and notoriety equaled any racing venue and drew the best drivers in the country.  For the serious reader, historian and collector of this era, Lucero has put together a treasure trove of information.  The book jacket is outstanding.  The book has 248 pages, though they are not always numbered.  There are no color photos, but there are an outstanding 617 black and white prints, including 3 two-page plates.  The author uses a liberal amount of captions with the photos so that the reader is never at a loss as to who is in each picture.  The book measures 9x11 inches in size, contains five chapters and six with interviews.  There are 65 pages of interesting text with a lot of historical insight and poignant stories.  The index was a superb 5 pages.  The photos are remarkably clear and detailed for this time period.

     Chapter one describes the beginnings of the racecourse from 1924 through ’26.  Rajo’s, Fronty’s and Duesenberg’s were the powerplants of choice.  The Targo Florio road course was a fan favorite.  The track opened on January 20, 1924, east of Los Angeles.  DePalma protests Eddie Meyer’s win and demands a new race, and wins that handily.  Chapter two depicts the condition of the track, the fatalities and the need for improved cars and better safety equipment.  DePalma retires and Mel Kenealy takes the championship.  Chapter three outlines the fierce competition between Francis Quinn and Ernie Triplett.  The track is drawing the best Indy racers and cars in the country, along with huge crowds, while accidents, injuries and deaths are mounting.  Chapter four relates how Ernie Triplett breaks Quinn’s hold on Ascot and comes to dominate West Coast racing from 1931-1933.  Rex Mays arrives and Al Gordon sets a lap record that becomes an obsession for the other drivers to beat.  The racers are taking greater risks than ever before and officials are calling the course “too fast’’ for the cars and equipment that are competing.  Triplett wins the West Coast title over some of the great racers of the era, such as: Chet Gardner, Babe Stapp, Wild Bill Cummings, Kelly Petillo, Wilbur Shaw, Rex Mays, Shorty Cantlon, Ted Horn, and Stubby Stubblefield. 
     Harry Miller and Leo Gossen develop the Miller engine, later to become the “Offy,” and quickly overwhelm the other engine builders of the day.  Chapter five describes the last years of Ascot.  The track is now famous and attracts record crowds, drivers and celebrities.  However, the press and public officials are calling for the closure of the dangerous facility.  Al Gordon and Rex Mays come to dominate these last years at Ascot.  The American Legion withdrew its backing in 1935, and for awhile, it continues to operate under the AAA, and well-respected officials like Art Pillsbury and Eddie Rickenbacker.  The death knell for Ascot came on January 25, 1936, with 35,000 roaring fans in the stands.  Al Gordon and his riding mechanic, Spider Matlock, were killed in a crash on the south turn.  That was the last race at Ascot and eight months later, a mysterious fire swept through the grandstands and destroyed all hope of reopening the course.  Interviews and stories by Ed Winfield, Art Sparks, Paul Weirick, Mel Kenealy, Doug Boyd and Jack Mulhall are very informative.  Lucero also presents a mini-chapter on the stars, celebrities and movies filmed at Ascot and the importance of the movie industry on racing.  Serials like “
Burn ‘em up Barnes,” and movies like “The Crowd Roars,” with James Cagney and Joan Blondell, were filmed at Legion Ascot.
Gone Racin’ is at . ********************************************************************************************

 

 

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