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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 316 - 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:
President's Corner; Editorials;   James Drew, Gary Bettenhausen, Anna Marcos, Don Johnson, Ron Main

PRESIDENT’S CORNER, by Jim Miller:       
     In regards to your questions, I don't have much on the Cal-Neva Timing Association except that they raced at what is now Reno-Stead Airport, where the Reno Air Races are held.  I have no documentation on anything that took place up there.  There are some folks in the Bay Area that have info on some of it and there was a newsletter or program, but I've only seen a copy of the cover.
     Ray Ingram was the timer at pre-WWII Russetta club meets.  The earliest information that I have found on the Russetta club's pre-war history is on page 8 of the June 1941 issue of Throttle magazine when the club ran at El Mirage.  Ray also carried on that task after the war.   Russetta the car club became Russetta the Timing Association after WWII and held their first official meet on May 2, 1948.  I have no information on anything before that date.  Russetta lasted into the early 1960's before merging with the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).
     The "Pacemakers," not the Pace Setters were a pre-WWII S.C.T.A. club.  The program that I've found on the Pace Setters car club mentioned in the August 1952 meet program where seven entries ran under their name.  There was a points roster in the program that said the club received points in July.  It also said "previous" without a date so it could have been June or earlier, but I have no documentation.  The earliest program I have is October 1949 and the Pace Setters aren't listed as being in existence in it.
     EDITOR’s comments: Jim, I have a business card left to me by my father that read; “K. L. Ingram, Technical Representative, War Products Service Dept, Cadillac Motor Car Division, General Motors Corporation, Detroit.  Is it possible that Ray Ingram and K. L. Ingram are related?  The business card must have been printed between 1941 and 1945.
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STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:      
     James Drew, a friend and sometimes partner on some of my articles, passed away recently.  I only knew him briefly and therefore I can’t give you a lot of details on his life.  Someone else will have to tell you those particulars.  I
usually met Drew at a race or at car shows or car events.  I knew that he was in the military and served in Viet Nam.  I was in the Army about the same time, but I never saw action in Nam.  James apparently suffered from the war, just how I’m not sure.  He was on a lot of pain medications and there were times when he couldn’t stand up or walk and for a photographer that has to be a certain kind of hell the rest of us can’t possibly understand.  There were times that Roger Rohrdanz and I thought that he wouldn’t make it, but James would bounce back and show up, full of life.  He had a personality that you either loved or hated, depending on the time of day or how Drew felt.
     For a time he was a member of my POBB newsletter.  POBB stands for Political Opinion Bulletin Board, though people said that it wasn’t a Bulletin Board and the political opinions stank.  He wrote his opinions under the pseudonym THE SARGE and he was a hell-bent-for leather, died-in-the-wool, traditional conservative.  It didn’t take Drew long to antagonize every liberal on the POBB and to offer to “meet the ****** ******* in a nearby parking lot.  That was one reason why I insisted that every POBBer have an alias and that no one should ever know the identities of the opiners on the newsletter.  Drew would have taken on the whole lot of them if he had known who they were.  His language was peppered with military jargon and bad language.  He was unapologetic about his views and what he believed in.  The red in the flag was the  blood that he and his comrades shed for our nation, the blue was his loyalty to God and Country.  The white was his honesty and forthrightness in the traditional liberties of our nation.
     To call James Drew frenetic is slightly incorrect.  Frenetic means active to a fault and he was “way past that.”  He had so much nervous energy that he must have lived three lifetimes in the space of one life span.  He was constantly on the go and never at rest.  He was a great photographer who never quite got the credit that he was due.  He had some great shots and was famous for not only leaning over the rail, but so far inside the rail that his only defense to the track operator was, “But my toe was still on the rail.”  Drew, or James or JD or “that *******” had no use for rules.  He followed them if you were looking, but found rules and regulations to be simply a way for the untalented to mess with his mind.  He wanted that great shot, then another and another and about the only thing that quieted him down and sent him home was darkness or physical exhaustion.
     I worked a story or two with him.  I’m a writer and while I can shoot film and write too I find that I can’t do them both very well.  I need a good photographer who can read my mind and know what I’m doing and have the photos and captions ready when I need them.  Most photographers feel just the opposite; they want the great photos and they don’t want to bother running after people, getting the captions and writing down the story as it happens.  But pairing a good photographer with a good writer is more than just taking two people and asking them to work together.  One of my favorite phrases is, “I hate photographers,” though I say that lovingly, because I need them.  A writer gets in and gets the story and gets out.  A photographer starts before dawn and finishes somewhere around the next dawn.   Photographers to me are simply masochists; enjoying pain way too much.  My photographic partner in the Gone Racin’ byline, Roger Rohrdanz has the exact opposite philosophy; “writers are the pain in the neck.”
     I remember the time when Roger couldn’t go with me to cover the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix in April.  I drove up to Long Beach and picked up Drew and he gave me directions.  Drew knew every entrance and how to talk to the security guards.  He walked me to death that day, never standing still or in a few places.  I’m not sure how many people he offended either.  He simply didn’t know that you can’t say certain things to certain people.  He was just an effusive, outgoing, friendly, gregarious, stubborn, opinionated, bouncy, frenetic, likable, unlikable, warm, pushy, bubbly, and forever moving person.  From the moment he met someone they either loved him or disliked him; James was that sort of guy.  He was transparent and open; you knew exactly what he believed in and what he stood for.  It was impossible for Drew to lie to anyone, nor would he even want to.  If what he believed wasn’t what you wanted to hear then move on and leave him to his demons.
     I covered another Grand Prix with another photographer after that, since Roger is not a Grand Prix kind of guy.  Same results and so that was the last time I covered the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix.  A writer has to work with a photographer and vice versa and a good team is hard to find.  But on his own, Drew was something else.  He has covered drag racing, car shows and other events for over forty years and his collection of photos is huge.  Drew must have a collection at least twice the size that Roger has accumulated.  What does a man do with a hundred thousand photographs?  After he has gone, what does his family do with them?  I hope Drew’s family can find a good home for his collection of a life-time.  It is a pictorial history of some of the greatest drag cars, people and races in our sport and something that needs to be saved.  As irritating as Drew could be and as difficult, I will miss him dearly.  What he did was open up your heart and mind.  After spending a day with Drew at the track we would come back mentally revitalized and energized, though physically exhausted.  The projects that we put off we suddenly had enthusiasm to tackle anew.  James had that effect on all of us.  We lost a great photographer and friend when he left us.
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Gary Bettenhausen remembered by Robin Miller.  Sunday, 16 March 2014.  Reprinted courtesy of Racer magazine.  To see the photographs go to http://racer.com//index.php/more/viewpoints/item/101965-gary-bettenhausen-remembered-obituary-1941-2014-by-robin-miller
     If he hadn't been so hard-headed he might have won the Indianapolis 500 three or four times. But, if he hadn't been so determined, so stubborn, so original, so maddening and so sure of himself, he wouldn't have been such a treasure.  Or such a success.  As it was, Gary Bettenhausen, who died suddenly Sunday evening at the age of 72, made himself a winning race driver, a champion and a pillar of perseverance.  "I didn't always agree with everything he did, but I never doubted he could do it," said Merle Bettenhausen of his older brother.  "Nobody ever had more determination than Gary."  It's not an exaggeration to say the oldest of Melvin "Tony" Bettenhausen's three sons made himself a race driver.  He didn't have the natural talent of his pal, Bill Vukovich, or a father figure to help chart his course like the Unsers.  All he had was desire and grit, yet he parlayed those into a hell of a career that netted 82 USAC wins and four championships in five divisions.  After cutting his teeth in USAC stock cars, Gary moved up to USAC sprints and instantly became a force in Willie Davis' car. 
     From 1968 to '71 he and Larry Dickson swapped the title and staged stirring duels from Eldora to Winchester to Terre Haute.  The Larry and Gary Show, plus his impressive runs for Fred Gerhardt in Indy cars with a pair of victories, got the attention of Roger Penske.  He won Trenton in his second start with The Captain and had the 1972 Indy 500 in the bag before breaking down with 18 laps left.  That relationship should have blossomed into riches but it was over by the summer of 1974 after Bettenhausen's left arm was rendered useless in a violent dirt car accident at Syracuse, N.Y.  Despite Penske's pleas to stop racing sprints, midgets and dirt cars, Gary refused, citing his popular phrase: "If it was good enough for my old man, it's good enough for me."  He got fired in his hospital bed.  The Son of Cementhead (that was Tony's nickname) never got another Indy ride like that and we always kidded him about how Rick Mears would have never been heard of if Gary hadn't been so bull-headed.  But he still managed to create his own magic during the next two decades.
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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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     I can’t tell you a lot about the Pacesetters but will put you in touch with Jim Price, my dear and goofy racing friend.  He was Vice President back in the day and has a better memory than mine!  I can tell you that Russetta was formed by two local Fontana guys, Dudley (“Uncle Dud”) Stauffacher and John Bartfay, who also raced a sprint car years ago.  Uncle Dud died about 6 or 7 years ago, really nice guy.   In the “small world” department, I saw the unusual Stauffacher name about 10 years ago as a clerical worker with our department and sent her an email asking if she was related.  Dudley was her father-in-law (she’s married to one of his sons) and Dudley’s widow, Maryann Stauffacher, still lives in a mobile home on her son and daughter–in-law’s property in Victorville or nearby.
     John Bartfay lived about 4 blocks from me and his son and family live across the street from John’s widow. John died just last year, another really great guy.  Short story about Jim Price: When it was announced there would be a Muroc Reunion, which turned into several, Price had a fabric banner made that covered the windshield of his pickup truck.  Not while driving, of course.  Anyway it read “Pacesetters” and “Russetta Time Association” and the SCTA logo in red and he placed it on his parked truck.  By and by, many surviving Pacesetters signed it, including yours truly, who used to type their minutes of the meetings at Uncle Dud’s bar in Fontana.  No one else could (or would) type, is why.  This is probably more than you need to know about my limited knowledge of the Pacesetters.  Also, I never knew whether Russetta is a misspelling of Rosetta or just what “Russetta” means.  Do you?  Jean Perry
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JEAN; Please send me all the email addresses or phone numbers of past Russetta members so that I can ask their history.  I would like to get as much Russetta history as possible.  Here's what I know about their history.
     The young men who started the Russetta car club and later after the war the Russetta Timing Association had lived through the Great Depression and World War II eras.  Two things that motivated young people were auto racing and Hollywood movies.  One of the greatest films ever made was the 1925 MGM movie BEN HUR.  While the 1959 Charlton Heston BEN HUR movie is better known, the original 1925 version starring Ramón Novarro, Francis X. Bushman, May McAvoy and Betty Bronson truly defined an age.  MGM lavished untold amounts of money on it and the Coliseum chariot racing sequence has never been equaled. 
     Because of losses on the first showing of the movie in 1925, MGM decided to bring the movie back in 1931 and it was this reshowing of the movie that had an effect on those who would name their timing association Russetta.  In the movie the Red chariot team is called Russetta (or another variant of the spelling) and the White chariot racing team is called Albata.  A club formed in the late 1930's and called themselves the Albata and had a major impact in land speed racing on the dry lakes.  Shortly after that the founding members of the Russetta car club chose their name after the Red chariot team in the original 1925 BEN HUR movie.  The Russetta car club also held timed meets on the dry lakes for their members and guests.  After the end of the Second World War, the members of the Russetta car club formed their own official Russetta Timing Association and invited other car clubs to join them. 
     The reason that Russetta was so popular was that they welcomed coupes as well as roadsters and their times were sometimes even better than their older and larger rival in the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).  In the 1960’s the Russetta Timing Association merged into the SCTA.  Over time the names Albata and Russetta have faded away as people who saw the BEN HUR movie in 1925 and 1931 passed away.  It is still considered a classic and a national treasure and though the scenes seem simple to us today, it was a technological marvel of a movie back then.  You can buy the video on DVD.  I've seen bits and pieces of it and I like it even better than the 1959 and later versions.
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     I never met Jack Kulp, and may have him confused with someone else.  The guy I am thinking of was somewhat of an engine guru, who never made his presence widely known.  The guy I'm thinking of had a small shop in the middle of Silverdale, Pennsylvania; the quintessential one horse town.  One of his customers was Harry Hall, who ran A/GS and BB/FC.  If he is still around your inquisitor might try to reach Harry, and see if he can shed any light.   We are dying out fast.  Jeff Foulk
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STAFF NOTES: The following is courtesy of http://www.radx.ca/ website and was sent to us by Ron Main.  To see the photographs go to the website.  Here is the written text that was sent to us.
1) Speed Demon.  Is it a plane; A rocket?  No it’s a car called “Speed Demon.  We follow them over the course of the week, through mechanical breakdowns and driver mistakes.  And eventually ride along as they reach 430 mph.  That’s almost 700 kilometres an hour.            
 2) Maro Special (Bobby Moore); Bobby is a retired Marine.  He works hard, but right from day one it’s obvious this is going to be a tough week.  He struggles with his parachute; twice it pulls the car up off the ground and spins it around.  Trial and error with a new system at 350 mph is a nerve wracking process.   
3) The Vesco family has decades and generations of experience on the salt.  While other teams have professional crews; the Vesco team is made up of volunteers and family.  First, Driver Dave Spangler takes the wheel pursuing a record of 344 mph.  After he fails, they swap out the engine and Eric Ritter goes after a 321 mph record in a different class.  7 days, three transmissions, two carburetors later: they don’t have any records.  Midway through the week, while his own team is scrambling, family patriarch Rick Vesco strolls around the pits offering advice and providing insight for other teams.  Proof that they aren’t competing against each other, they are competing against the Salt.        
4) Chad and Kae.  Kae is a nurse at a hospital in Salt Lake.  She has never raced. She has never even had a speeding ticket.  She has never worn a helmet and doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift.  But in just three days she goes from a giggling novice, to taking a shot at the world record of 167 mph in a Hot Rod built by her husband Chad.  Chad and his dad built this purple roadster.  The engine is from an old Ford Pinto.  His Dad spent 11 years racing at the salt trying to set a record.  Chad’s dad died last year.  So this time Chad has brought his wife; they just got married last year.  And he is putting her into the driver’s seat.          
5) Tom Racz is from Calgary.  It’s a rookie car and a rookie driver.  On his first day at Bonneville Tom finds out just how much he has to learn.  We go shopping for some proper safety gear, follow him through rookie orientation, and eventually take this car, (built out of the fuel tank of a F33 fighter plane) for a drive down the salt.  He is “Living the Dream.”   
6) Setting an “Open Record” with Bob Dally.  Bob’s car is a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda with a 170 cubic inch 'slant 6' motor.  The record in his class is 'open', meaning no one has ever entered a car in that class, so all he has to do is run down the course successfully two times and the record will be his.  But nothing is easy at Bonneville.  He goes through Tech Inspection and is told he has to make some safety adjustments. With a hacksaw and a socket set he brings the car up to code.  He makes his first run at 112 mph.  Now all he has to do is do it again tomorrow and he is the new World Record holder, but wait, what’s that sound coming from the engine?  Bob has blown out a cylinder and the car won’t run. 
7) North of 49 Racing; Ted Allan is from Standard, Alberta.  He has been racing his whole life, but never gotten into the 200mph club.  You see, to join the club, you don’t just have to go 200, you have to set a record over 200 mph.  At one point mid week it looks like it is all over.  His transmission is in pieces.  But they get a part delivered from Florida, install it, and they are back to racing.  On the final day of the event, Ted goes 251 mph and breaks the record; earning himself a red baseball hat and membership into the 200mph club.  As a tribute, Ted goes for a ride with the ashes of his former mentor stuffed into his parachute.   
8) Kiwis can Fly; This team brought a Corvette and two engines.  They use the shipping container as their garage.  When the first engine struggles, they swap it for a bigger one and enter a different class.  This time they break the record and celebrate.  But in the post race tech inspection it is discovered that their radiator is unduly modified, meaning they are stripped of their record. 
9) The Aussies brought a Taxi Cab, a muscle car and a lakester using a specially designed double-decker shipping container  and got all three cars over 200 mph.   
10) A French team brought four motorbikes, including an electric bike powered by a huge solar panel.   
11) Meet your hosts Seldom Seen Slim from
www.LandSpeed.com Racing.  Husband and wife who have been coming for years; he is the guy that sets out all the porta-potties.  She works the souvenir booth selling hats and t-shirts.  But their plans for racing are derailed early.  On her first run of the week Nancy spins out on her Kawasaki ZX14.  She breaks a collar bone and fractures two ribs.  This brings the Grandmother of three to the realization that her racing career might be over.   
12) “Save the Salt.”  Why do these people come here?  Because of the salt of course. But the salt is disappearing.  We talk to the people working to preserve this essential part of the flats.  And see how they groom and maintain the course.  
13) Katie Schellenger is a Playboy Model.  She also loves motorcycles.  She has driven motorcross before, but the bumps and bruises aren’t good for someone in her profession.  She’s come to Bonneville to try her hand at land speed racing on a Honda Goldwing.   She knows that she is usually dismissed as a piece of fluff hanging around the track.  But everyone has to re-think their opinions when Katie puts her name in the record books beside the greatest racers of all time.   
14) Ken Coe is a rocket scientist; literally.  He works for Boeing, designing fighter jets for the US air force.  He is also working on his Master’s Thesis in Systems Architecture and Engineering from USC; to do that he built a 1934 Ford street roadster to race at Bonneville.   He is trying to figure out how to take a car designed to go 85 MPH and make it go 200 MPH.  There are two approaches; better aerodynamics, or more horsepower.  He tries them both.   
15) Gord Driedger has the prettiest car at the show.  He’s from Calgary and he drives a 1953 Studebaker.  Gord spends as much time cleaning and detailing the car as he does racing it.  But he does find time to get it up to 150 mph.   
16) Target 550 began racing in 1998.  Marlo Treit insists his car will go 550 mph.     
17) The Hudson Boys (Father and Daughter).  This is not a family by blood or by DNA; they are united by their passion for racing on the Salt.  It started in the 1960’s.  Richard Thompson was teaching auto shop at the local high school.  As a class project every year he would bring a bunch of students down to Bonneville where they would get to race a car they had been working on all year.  This year he is brought four cars to the flats.  But getting them all to run is a monumental struggle.  His most reliable performer is a Geo Metro that sets a new record every day of the week.  At the center of it all is Richard’s daughter Janel.  She is the administrative and logistical hub of this team (think Radar O’Reilly from MASH: nothing happens without her) and at the end of the week Janel gets to hop in and go for a drive.  
18) Brother and Sister; Ali Youngblood is the current world record holder for the fastest speed ever recorded in the 'H' class Street Roadster (H/STR) division of World Land Speed Racing.  That’s a motorcycle engine inside an old hot rod.  Ali is the mother of three children and has degrees in Chemistry and Microbiology.  She is the older sister of racer J. D. Youngblood.  This brother-sister duo are tearing up the record books with incredible ease.  Their only real competition is each other.  This year in the midst of racing and setting records she gets a call from her daughter, who wants her to come home.  Ali has to decide between family and her passion for racing.   
19) NZ Bike Brothers; just a couple of boys from New Zealand with a bike.  They are so focused on racing; they don’t even have a pit.  They fix, tweak and tune their bike in the back of a rental van as they wait in line for their next run.  They came to set a series of records, but as the sun comes up on the final morning they haven’t set any records.  They have one final run to get it done.  
20) Valerie Thompson is going after the world record for the fastest speed on a production class motorcycle (1000 cc).  Valerie will try and break it on a BMW. 
21) Jerry Winter, from Chicago is a completely new competitor, grass roots limited budget racer, coming to the salt to fulfill a dream.  Jerry sleeps in his tent at the KOA eating hotdogs.  But on his very first attempt his 1981 Harley Davidson Shovelhead breaks down demanding desperate repairs and a sleepless night brings us to the next morning and more heart break.   
22) Scott Oliver is a first timer with a Belly tank Lakester and no money but lots of heart.  Scott is a clever charming guy with a non-stop motor.  Through effort, desire and hard work Scott puts his name in the record books.     
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Looking Back Ahead.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission of www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.
     The more aheader we go the more behinder we get!  Like, how come what was once new and somehow got lost in the shuffle is all of a sudden the new NEW?  Take Land Speed Racing, fer instance.  Now, you know all about El Mirage and Bonneville, but have you heard of Pendine Sands, or that straight stretch of highway over in Belgium (I think it is there), or even the sandy beach at Daytona?  Or how about the Cal-Neva races up in central-west Nevada?  Or the Lake Eyre salt in Australia?  There are probably half a dozen more I haven’t heard about, and they all have to do with Land Speed Racing.  But not in the last fifty or so years.  Mostly, it has to do with space, which is what we have in spades at Bonneville and Lake Gairdner.  But not on lonely beaches.  Especially to the kinds of top speeds we now generate.
     Back in the early parts of last century, just getting to l00 mph was a major feat, indeed.  So no wonder that isolated and remote sand beaches were appealing.  But, here is the real kicker for us, the contemporary hot rod enthusiast, we can dial back to that long-ago time simply by dialing back our rides!  And, it is being done.  You want to feel like it was when hot rodding a four banger in l930s southern California?  Build a time warp Model A chassis and screw together a four cylinder Ford, then flat tow it out to Antelope Valley and do a modern lakes meet.  Same dirt, same sun burns, same effort to top that magic l00.  Or, just a few weeks ago, you build the same kind of car and go over to the Pendine Sands beach in western England (Wales).  Wait for the tide to go out, and blast away with the ghosts of Malcolm Campbell and the ilk.  Maybe look for that isolated straight piece of pavement in Holland, or figure how to get on the beaches of Daytona.
     It can be done, it doesn’t cost significant money, and the thrill is still there for the adventurous.  In fact, there are several venues for any car nut who wants to experience what it used to be like.  Model T and A club hill climbs come to mind.  It is all in your imagination, but you gotta be willing to lay aside all the speed parts catalogues and get on with doing your work with hand files and elbow grease.  And if you hear about the Pendine Sands, or maybe something in South America, you gotta book your flight.  Or air up the tires in your l936 Ford pick-up tow truck.  Be there, do that, get the T-shirt!  Just get out of that lounge chair and do something with your hot rod!
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Hangin’ with the Watch Fobs.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.
     It ain’t easy being primered. Take the incident with the Junkyard Dawg back nearly twenty years. I had the low dollar build roadster out for a join-up with Ron Ceridono, we were to meet up over near Sun Valley, that movie famous ski place tucked well away from anywhere in the mountains of south central Idaho.  I had left Ronoldo a few days earlier as he headed down to that infamous highway that snakes east-west across northern Nevada. He was going to scout ahead and pick up some rodders who had indicated an interest in joining Ron and I for a low-key amble up to the River of no Return, thence cross country to end at the West Yellowstone rod run.  Actually, we were going to have a real rod run before the start of the lawn chair rod run.
     Back in the mid to late ‘90s, we two had decided to host a very irregular thingie called the Teton Krooz, with our ramblings to be roundabout the northern Rocky Mountains. A highly undisciplined chance for a gaggle of Ne’er-do-wells masquerading as respectable hot rodders to scatter through the underbrush and terrorize all who stared. Normally, the group would consist of up to 30 or so scalawags gathered from across the nation in the belief that we, the organizers, would be organized. Piffle.
     So, anyway, there was a rod run happening in Wells, Nevada, a noticeably unnoticeable wide place on the freeway west of much better known Wendover. Ron would go down, gather in a contingent of Kroozers, and lead them through the wild wilds of unknown Nevada, to meet Pegge and me in Hailey, Idaho (which is another almost unnoticeable wide spot except for the small airport full of zillion dollar celebrity private jets).I should mention as an aside that Wells has one of those sporting establishments famous in Nevada, and the ladies in waiting of said establishment set up a tent at the rod run offering free tours of said establishment. Surprise: it was a hit with wives of the rod park.
     Took Pegge and me about 4 hours to jaunt over from our Teton mountain hideout, the Dawg performing flawlessly as always. I thought things were doing swell, especially when two young kids at the edge of Hailey yelled from their crotch cars, “Hey, nice car for an old guy!” The kids today.
     Anyway, the Dawg had a relatively fresh coat of light grey primer, and was humming under the overhead cam Pontiac inline six. Well over 20 MPG, thank you. So, next day we had prearranged to meet at a market parking lot in Hailey, easy to spot as it was on the main highway. Actually, the only highway, and it goes south to north, which was conveniently the direction we intended to go.
     Pegge and I had decided to go over a day early, motel it for the night, and be raring to meet our road tour crowd next day. I can report that there is absolutely no world class chili offering in Hailey, Idaho. Not even in famous Sun Valley, which is just up the road. In fact, now that I think of it, there doesn’t seem to be any world class chili on offering anywhere in Idaho.  Pity.  I’ll have to report this gross oversight to Carroll Shelby, which might result in Idaho being deregistered as a neat place to go, which in turn will possibly mean that all those offensively rich Californians will have to wrest sustenance elsewhere.  Which is what I am getting to anyway.
     So, Pegge and I have pulled up in the store parking lot, to meet the gang from Nevada shortly thereafter. I kind of wander around to see what kind of nefarious mongrels have shown, and Pegge ambles away to visit with the ladies.  Later, as we ready to head up through Sun Valley and over the spectacular mountain pass into Middle Fork of the Snake River country, Pegge says, “You know, that was kind of snobby.  I mean, back there this one lady in the group was looking at our car and she said she thought it was kind of cute, and she didn’t see why her husband said he wasn’t so sure he wanted to be seen in the company of our car!”  Boy, in hindsight, I’m sure glad that guy hadn’t said such a thing to Pegge, or she would have torn him a new one. Fierce when she got riled. Frankly I thought it was indeed a rare compliment.
     You see, the rodder in question epitomized to me what was happening to street rodding.  He was most assuredly a Buy-In Street Rodder, and not a hot rodder. All billet and polish and plastic spending habits and me-too.
     Whatever, over the hills and up the valleys we went for a few days, through some of the most magnificent driving scenery in the world, en route to West Yellowstone’s rod run.  We were taking the run to the run, our tent trailer in tow, and not one of the other runners seemed even the slightest bit embarrassed to be travelling with a primered hot rod.  Fortunately, as we arrived at the annual downtown park in West, I noticed that our superior minded canale was nowhere to be seen, perhaps consumed by a bear the night before.  Suited me fine, because I sure didn’t want to be seen travelling with his ilk.  Give me a bad reputation.
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Gone Racin’… American Sports Car Racing in the 1950’s, by Michael T. LynchBook review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.  Reprinted with permission of www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

     Sports car racing fans are in for a real treat in a book called American Sports Car Racing in the 1950’s, written by Michael T. Lynch, William Edgar and Ron Parravano.  This is a hardcover, coffee table quality book, with an outstanding dust cover jacket.  The book is 10 inches by 10 inches in size with 172 pages on the finest quality, heavy bond glossy paper. The book has extra thread holding the paper to the spine and is a sign of superior craftsmanship. The dust cover jacket shows Masten Gregory and Carroll Shelby at Palm Springs in 1955.  Always keep your dust cover jackets as they enhance the value and quality of the books that you own. The publisher is MBI Publishing, 729 Prospect Avenue, Osceola, Wisconsin. There are 161 black and white photos, 51 color photos, three prints or drawings and four programs and posters.  Some of the photos are full page and very impressive. There are only 212 photos but they are very clear and they help to support the story. You will find the photos to be a major component of the book. The text is impressive and well researched and written.  There is a good index that is very accurate and historians will find it useful. The writers provide a comprehensive table of contents and an epilogue, which explains where all the main characters are today. There is also a very interesting and useful appendix where the race results are listed for the years 1947 through 1959. The appendix was compiled from the records of John von Neumann, John Edgar, Tony and Ron Parravano. Exactly how complete the appendix is cannot be determined but it is an interesting summation and I spent some time going over it to see who won at the various events over the years. 
     The appendix covers races at Palos Verdes, Van Nuys, Carrell Speedway, Tujunga, Goleta, Sandburg, Palm Springs, Carrera Panamericana Mexican Road race, Santa Ana, El Segundo, Pebble Beach, Buchanan Field, Reno, Torrey Pines, Golden Gate Park, Stockton, Elkhart Lake, Costa Mesa, Madera, Bergstrom, Phoenix, Bridgehampton, Offutt AFB, Chino, Moffitt, Nürburgring, Santa Barbara, Terminal Island, Stead AFB, March Field, Willow Springs, Bakersfield, Sebring, Supercortremaggiore, Santa Rosa, Seattle Seafair, Oulton Park, Salinas, Targa Florio, Sacramento, Caracas, Glendale, Nassau, Cumberland, Ft Worth, Pomona, Beverly, Santa Maria, Mt Washington, Giant’s Despair, Brynfan Tyddyn, San Diego, Braakneck, Paramount Ranch, Montgomery, Thompson, New Smyrna, Cuba, Avandaro, Hawaii, Hour Glass Field, Cotati, Eagle Mountain, Salt Lake, Lime Rock, Marlboro, Virginia, Gaisburg, La Forclaz, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Argentina 1000, Tracy, Vaca Valley, Minden, Del Mar, Watkins Glen, El Paso, Daytona 1000, Mexico City and Vacaville. The Foreword is written by Carroll Shelby. There are fourteen chapters, an epilogue and the interesting appendix. The first chapter is called Creation, Decline and Renewal and covers road course racing from 1894 through 1948. It is a short chapter of only 8 pages and I would have loved to see it expanded to about 20 pages to cover in more detail the history of road course racing in its formative years. Chapter Two is named Western Rumblings and discusses the post World War II period of 1945 through 1949, when road course racing was being re-established. Chapter Three is named Racing Takes Roots and covers the one-year period of 1949 through 1950. It is a short time but American road racing explodes in popularity and variety during this period. 
     Chapter Four is called
Racing for Fun and Profit and profiles John von Neumann.  John was instrumental in importing and selling fine European racecars and putting aspiring drivers in these fast cars. He hired Ken Miles to drive for him and was always the owner that racers aspired to drive for. Chapter 5 is titled A Professional Approach to an Amateur Sport and discusses the events and races in the year 1951. John Edgar hires a young Jack McAfee to race for him. John Fitch drives for team owner Briggs Cunningham. Other road course racers include Masten Gregory, Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Don Parkinson and Bill Pollack. Chapter Six is named Purpose-Built Racers take Center Stage and discusses the changes occurring in road racing and results in 1952. Chapter Seven is called The Whole Ball of Wax and discusses the impact that John Edgar had on road course racing in America. Edgar was born in 1902 and literally grew up with the automobile. He started out in boat racing and it was only due to the many serious accidents in that sport that convinced him to take up road course racing.  Jack McAfee drove his cars and Ernie McAfee, no relation to Jack, worked on the cars.  Edgar put money into the sport and gave his drivers the freedom they relished. Road racing was spectacular and attracted the Hollywood crowd. Chapter Eight is named The Air Force Comes to the Rescue and discusses the years 1953-1954. Road courses are set up at many Air Force bases around the country. Many drivers race in the Carrera Panamericana Mexican Road race. Chapter Nine is titled The Man with the Golden Screwdriver and discusses Tony Parravano. Passionate is the word to describe Tony Parravano. He goes to his first race and is born again to the sport of motorsports racing.  A salesman, businessman and avid sports fan, he buys the best cars and the best drivers. Jack McAfee and Parravano make an exciting team and then suddenly, Tony is gone, and there are rumors that he had been murdered by the Mafia. The energy that Parravano brought to road course racing would never be equaled. 
     A special color photo section is interspersed between chapter nine and ten.  Chapter Ten is called
Mid-Decade Momentum and details the events that occurred in 1955. Road course racing is reaching a maturity and acceptance in the American psyche.  Chapter Eleven is named Growing Pains and talks about the professional versus the amateur controversies. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) took the side of the amateurs and upheld rules that favored easy access. The professional racers wanted more say into how the races should be run, with more emphasis on prize money. Drivers like Masten Gregory were racing in Europe rather than in America, where they could earn a better living. Chapter Twelve is titled A Fast Texan and the Kingfish Engineer and discusses the years 1956-57. The Texan was Carroll Shelby and the Kingfish was none other than John Edgar. Their collaboration would prove to be very successful. Chapter Thirteen is called The Wave Crests - California is Triumphant and talks about the year 1958. Lance Reventlow and the Scarab cars burst onto the scene and California drivers and owners make their presence in road racing a reality.  Chapter Fourteen ends with the title The End of a Decade, the End of an Era and discusses the year 1959. While road racing continues on, the golden age of the sport from the end of World War II to the end of the Eisenhower administration had come to a close. James Dean, the Hollywood actor, had died in a crash on his way to a road course event. Parravano was gone and many of the racers had moved on to other automotive endeavors. Lynch, Edgar and Parravano have brought forth a book that gives us all a glimpse of a by-gone era in road racing that will never be matched. This is a fine book to compliment your racing library.
Gone Racin’ is at .  
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Gone Racin’…
Edelbrock, made in USA, by Tom Madigan.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz. August 28, 2007.  Reprinted with permission of
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

     A massive and well-crafted coffee table book on the first family of speed equipment is now available. Edelbrock, made in USA, is written by Tom Madigan and available through www.edelbrock.com or at Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, California.  The book measures 10 ½ by 11 ½ inches in size and is an inch thick.  It has a superb dust cover and is in a hardbound format with a fantastic blue/red/black color scheme that sets it apart on your coffee table. Edelbrock, made in USA has 324 pages, with 255 black and white photos, 141 color photos, 148 sepia tinted photos, and 99 posters, programs, ads, drawings and other interesting eye-catching displays.  The photos show a high degree of professionalism and blend from black and white into sepia brown and into color.  The visual displays break up the text so that there is a great deal of variety.  Edelbrock, made in USA has the feel of a hot rodders version of the National Geographic magazine style. The binding and paper are of the highest quality and the book jacket should be kept with the book at all times because it enhances the book.  Book jackets, or dust covers, are essential for book collectors so keep this one attached to your copy.  The paper is waxed and has a heavy bond to it, giving it a shiny and expensive look.  Edelbrock, made in USA is dedicated to Katie Higgins Edelbrock and Otis Victor Edelbrock Sr, by their son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  The Preface is by Vic Edelbrock Jr and the Foreword is by Benny Parsons.  The printer is Tehabi Books.  There is an introduction followed by extensive photo credits listing all the contributors.  There are 8 chapters, an epilogue, an index, acknowledgements and a source guide.  The index covers two pages and makes this book more than a coffee table book.  It is a bonafide history of the Edelbrock family and their achievements.  Madigan has done an excellent job of interviewing his sources and working with them to provide this outstanding book.  There is a full page dedicated to helping the serious hot rodder and car racer to find additional information.
     The Edelbrock family came from humble beginnings but their talent, drive and will to succeed is special among the hot rodding community.  They would be the first to tell you that they appreciate the support and encouragement of those in auto racing and speed equipment innovators.  Yet their success is due to their unique heritage and cohesiveness as a family.  The Introduction traces the family’s journey to Hollywood from Coffey County, Kansas.  Nelson and Margaret Edelbrock had three children; Ross, Carl and Otis Victor Edelbrock.  Otis was born in Kansas in 1913, just a few months and a few miles away from his long time friend and Road Runner club member, Wally Parks.  He dropped his first name and used Vic among his friends, later adding Sr when his son was born in 1936.  Vic Sr grew up on the farm and was skilled in many rural talents, especially as a hunter of wild game.  Like so many other families, the Edelbrocks’ came west to California in the 1930’s to look for a better life.  Chapter One is titled Palm Trees and Movie Stars and tells the story of Vic’s new life in California and the garage and service station that he built in Hollywood.  He met and married Katherine ‘Katie’ Collins and the photos show a very happy couple, especially after Vic Jr came into their family on August 23, 1936.  Vic Sr was only 23, but already he was forging ahead with plans that would make the name of Edelbrock synonymous with quality speed equipment.  The late 1930’s would find Vic Sr joining the Road Runners club and racing his car on the dry lakes of Southern California. 
     Chapter Two is titled Dark Clouds and Pain and discusses World War II and the impact that it had on the car guys in Southern California.  Vic Sr had many friends of Japanese/American ancestry who were interned in camps until after the war was over.  Many of his friends and fellow Road Runners Car club members ended up fighting overseas.  One of the saddest occasions happened when Katie’s brother, Wes Collins, committed suicide over the stresses caused by his time in the war.  Chapter Three is titled A Promise to Keep and discusses the discharge of the hot rodders after the war and their return to racing.  This was the Golden Age of automobile racing and the beginnings of new sports in drag racing, Bonneville time trials, Midget racing and other forms of car racing.  Chapter Four is called The Sweet Smell of Innocence and tells the story, among many, of the time the V8-60 took on the mighty Offy’s and won, with the use of the unknown nitromethane fuel.  Another story concerns the Wa-Wa I, a fast Flathead powered boat driven by Henry Lauterbach.  Chapter Five is named Passing the Torch and discusses the rising influence of young Vic Jr in the family business.  With a degree from USC, Vic Jr takes over and moves the Edelbrock Corporation from a small regional to a national business.  Vic Jr married Nancy Crook and they have three daughters, Camee, Christi and Carey.  On November 11, 1962, Vic Sr passed away from the ravages of cancer at the young age of 49.  The Edelbrock Corporation would now be firmly in the capable hands of Vic Jr. 
     Chapter Six is called Winds of Change and explains the rapid growth of the speed equipment industry and the Edelbrock Corporation.  Vic Jr and the company rapidly expand into sponsorships in stock car, open wheel and drag racing.  New products come pouring out of the minds of Edelbrock engineers and marketing and advertising play a bigger role in their expansion plans.  Testing of cars and products assumes an important part of the Edelbrock mystique.  Vic Sr and Jr prove to have an uncanny knack for finding and promoting the best talent and the loyalty of their employees adds to their quality in parts and service.  Edelbrock firmly supports the work of the SEMA organization to protect the rights of the speed Equipment manufacturers.  Chapter Seven is entitled The Fun Team and explains how the Edelbrock Corporation wants to make a job at the company more than just a paycheck.  The attitudes and hopes of the founder infuse a new spirit into all the members of the company.  A great part of this fun attitude was the sporting events that they attended and participated in.  Boat racing with Jerry Herbst was a great part of this fun attitude.  The family was expert horse riders as well.  For the Edelbrock’s, any activity that called for challenges, was readily supported by the Fun Team.  Chapter Eight is called In Sight of the Goal and describes the company today and the expectations for the future.  The product line is expanding and the philosophy founded by Vic Sr of quality is being maintained by the third generation of Edelbrock’s.  They believe in America and its ideals and they practice the slogan ‘made in America’ and mean it.  The Epilogue pays tribute to men and women who have molded the Edelbrock family.  This is a book that touches the lives of nearly every hot rodder who has ever lived and one you must include in your library.
Gone Racin’ is at
.  See www.edelbrock.com for information on Edelbrock, made in USA
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Gone Racin’… Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, by Tom Madigan.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.  Reprinted with permission from www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.

   Tom Madigan has taken on a most Herculean task in writing about the beginnings of top fuel drag racing and the men and women who created this exciting sport.  Madigan writes with feeling and yet his style is non-confrontational.  He tries to stick to the facts and his interviews with legendary racers and track promoters provide the heart of this book.  Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, is hard to put down.  I found myself scanning the pages, looking at the photos and captions, reading some of the interviews, then putting the book down.  It wasn’t long before I picked up Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, and began scanning it again.  The writing style is easy and casual, as if the reader was listening in on the conversation that Madigan is having with our racing heroes. Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, is more than a nice coffee table book.  The author did his research and the book stands on its merits as a first class history of top fuel drag racing.  Madigan comes as close as anyone can get to writing the definitive story of this class.  He writes in a style that brings out the positives in the sport of drag racing, though the author doesn’t shy away from disputes.  Madigan is a mediator, a writer with tact, and his book is easy to read.  It is in his interviews with the early drag racers that the fire in their souls comes to the forefront.  The author handles interviews with a deft skill and brings the men and women of drag racing alive as they relate their stories. 
  
Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, is published by Motorbooks, an imprint of MBI Publishing Company, in St Paul, Minnesota.  Motorbooks is one of the largest publishers of automotive related subjects in the world.  They produce and sell in volume and they are picky about what they publish and distribute.  They choose quality works and publish and print only quality books.  Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, is a hardbound book measuring a robust 9 ¼ inches in width by 12 ½ inches in height.  The pages are high quality, heavy bond, waxed paper, which brings out the quality of the photographs in stunning detail.  This book is a historical work of art, a compelling story and a coffee table book, all in one.  The dust cover jacket is worth taking extra care of, since it greatly enhances the appearance of the book.  The design of the dust cover jacket is exceptional and very professionally done.  I’ve explained before how important the protective sleeve or jacket is to a book.  Keep it in good repair and don’t lose it, because a well-done dust cover invites the reader to pick up a book and read it.  Any collector of fine books will tell you how much a book is devalued when it has lost its jacket.  The author included a two-page index and I spent some time in testing the accuracy and found that Madigan did a good job of indexing the text and captions.  He didn’t index the posters, ads or supplements.  An index is time consuming but it is another sign of a well-researched book
   There are 66 color photographs with another 172 black and white photographs in the book.  There is an additional 8 posters, magazine covers, ads and displays to highlight events in the text.  The quality of the photographs is superb and they used the finest quality paper throughout.  While this isn’t a particularly large number of visual enhancements, the photographs and visual displays are placed throughout the book to add strength and emphasis to the textual writing.  The author chooses to use quality photographs rather than an abundance of photographic displays in order to tell the story and he does an admirable job.  The black and white photographs are every bit as beautiful as the color ones and much more nostalgic for the reader.  Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, is a top of the line book in its layout as well as its construction.  The pages are woven into a cloth binding along the spine of the book, giving a higher quality and endurance to the book.  Cheaper books have the pages glued to the spine and the glue may become brittle and allow the pages to work loose and fall out.  This book, like the entire Motorbooks label, will stand the test of time.  For all of this quality, size and detail to research, the price of the book is a very reasonable $50 ($62 Canadian), when one considers that paperback books are selling in the $29 to $35 price range.  All major bookstores carry the Motorbooks line, or they can order the book for you.  Give the bookstore the name of the book and author, or use the ISBN number 13:978-0-7603-2697-8.
   Now let us review the content.  There are 18 chapters, a foreword by Dave McClelland, a section on acknowledgments and the index.  Listening to or reading anything that McClelland says is worth half the book’s cost right there.  His golden voice sets the standards for announcers in any sporting event and drag racing is thankful that he chose to honor us with his wit and charm.  Next, look at the page on sources, references and acknowledgments.  This will quickly tell the reader if the author knows his topics or if it’s the chili beans talking from the food served at the concession stands.  Madigan not only lists the men and women he interviewed, but he has known them since he started writing about motorsports racing nearly five decades ago.  This doesn’t mean that he is perfect.  For example, he mentions Bob Petersen hitching a ride to the dry lakes in the 1940’s with a “teenaged Wally Parks.”  By this time my father was in his 30’s and a central figure in hot rodding, dry lakes and land speed racing.  On almost every point other than this, Madigan gets the story to the reader on an accurate and interesting level.  He knows who Bob Lindsay, Lee Blaisdell and Marvin Lee were and their importance to the rise of drag racing.  The early days of drag racing are thorough and precise.  The story on the first organized drag race at Goleta even brought out events that I had never heard.  Madigan tells the story of C. J. and Peggy Hart and their efforts to get street racers off the roads and onto a safe and sanctioned drag strip.  That led to the first ‘professionally’ organized drag strip in the nation that we know of.
   The following chapters detail the men and women of top fuel drag racing and some of the other classes in the sport.  The author mentions Joaquin Arnett and the Bean Bandits, the Pedregon family, Bob Muravez and his alter ego, Floyd J. Lippincotte Jr, Roland Leong, Don Prudhomme, Eric Rickman, Tom McEwen, Paul Pfaff, Ed Pink, Don Garlits, Ed Iskenderian and many more.  To us they are more than just names of famous people.  They are family and close friends and Madigan brings out that feeling.  Some of the top fuel racers, mechanics, owners and those associated with top fuel drag racing went on to great success and fortune.  Some, like Don Prudhomme are still at the top of the field, winning races and championships as owners after their racing days came to an end.  Others were forgotten, except by their fans that saw them race and never forgot the experience.  Many are still alive and come to the reunions, races and events.  The value of Madigan’s
Fuel & Guts, The Birth of Top Fuel Drag Racing, is in the history and background that it can give to the newcomer to drag racing and the feeling of nostalgia for those who grew up with top fuel drag racing.  It won’t tell you everything that happened at the birth of a new sport, but it is one of the best books on the subject and one that should be in every true drag racing fan’s library.
Gone Racin’ is at .  Motorbooks is at 1-800-826-6600 or www.motorbooks.com ********************************************************************************************

 

 

Sally

By Anna “SCTA Sweetie” Marco

Pix by Mike Basso and Mark Brazeau

Dedicated to Don Berg & Harvey Johnson

Special Thanks: Jim Wilson & SCTA

 

Sally is a on a first name basis only, but if she had a last name it would be Speed.

Sally Speed

She is named after Don Rich lyrics for Waylon Jennings song, “Sally Was A Good Ole Girl,” and known as the fastest ‘32 coupe to run Bonneville with a 6 cyl. GMC dump truck motor. Allen McAlister and Doug Robinson are proud of that. They and partner Don Berg built her out of their shop, BMR Racing, where she’s stabled alongside other high performance fillies.   Sally likes to set records in the 200 MPH Club because of her mystical charm. She wears the fuel filter from the Burk-Francisco belly tanker (first one to run Bonneville)Her fastest speed is 214 and has yet to be beat.

Good Ole Girl

In 1970, the 5-window coupe was found in a Pasadena, CA backyard. Kids played “hot rod” in it as it sat on the ground. The former owner, Don Herman, sold the body and frame to Allen for $300 who jokingly blames Larry Berford for starting it all, “ He’s my hero. He’s still racing salt flats in a roadster at age 85.  He let me sweep his shop mess at age 16. That’s when I got interested in Bonneville and started collecting parts.”  Sally was conceived in 1985, built in 1986, and right off the trailer on her maiden run in 1989, she broke a 141 mph record doing 151. The car’s speed line paint scheme is based on period correct criteria. Allen quips, “We passed out 11x14 photos to friends asking for paint designs in return for free t-shirts.”  The winner was one of Doug’s kids who based the idea on the fact that Doug’s car was yellow & Don’s was red. So we painted it yellow and red.”

Record Runs

The little yellow and red coupe holds a total of 28 records apropos to the song, “No matter what the request /She gave it her best /Sally was a good ole girl.”  It’s been the #1 SCTA car 3x, is in the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame, the dash plaques fill an entire wall in the trailer, sixteen awards are from El Mirage in Comp Coupe & Altered and the car runs the XX/0, X/0, XX/F classes, gas, fuel (blown & unblown). Additional accolades come from Muroc and Bonneville with certificates and timing tags to prove it. All Sally’s trophies are displayed at Berg Hardware in Pasadena, CA (partner Don Berg’s shop).  A little sidebar is Don was former partner in an El Mirage car before the Sally coupe and he never got to keep any of those trophies because the other guy got them. No regrets; Sally’s numerous trophies irritate that guy now. Sally was retired in 2005 but the boys changed their mind especially Doug who said, “ put an Ardun in it because there’s a whole lot of people we haven’t pissed off yet so we got to run the car.”

Partners in Time

How did three speed demons meet to create an award winning hot rod? Doug Robinson was involved in off road racing and meet Allen McAlister there.  Allen, a retired trucker, still owns his black, street legal, 1932 5w coupe with a blown Chrysler in it; the one he’s had since 1966. If you ever want to get him on the phone you have to wait until the Funny Car Finals on Ch. 144 are over.

Doug Robinson is a bonafide “racers racer.” He worked for Blair’s Speed Shop as a teen and has been racing since the 1950’s.  For the past fifty years, he has owned Bursch Exhaust/Horsepower Engineering. In Top Fuel drag racing, Doug was the 7th person to ever go 200 mph in 1966 (@ Fontana Raceway) and one of the first to put a 671 supercharger on a Chevy V8. He still owns the KRLA/Horsepower Engineering top fueler that’s one of the few cars that beat the Greer/Black/Prudomme team. Today, that vehicle is exhibited at his shop complete with its original paint.

Don Berg was a like-minded soul who has partnered and owned racecars since forever. He supplied hardware and safety equipment but didn’t turn a wrench. The BMR Race Team has stuck together since 1986 with $12,000 invested, split 3 ways, and won a record on their first race. One memorable story involves finding a valuable Proto screwdriver holding together the pack of a $5 Crossform chute found at the Long Beach swap meet, “We used that chute for 7 years & we still have it. It worked fine until we started going faster. We nickeled and dime’d every used part on the car over the years and it’s been good to us. Sally is our Cinderella of the dry lakes. Took 4 yrs to build the coupe and 10 years for our roadster. If you’re not breaking parts, you’re not on the edge. Gray Baskerville loved our car so much he put us in Hot Rod Magazine every chance he got. Former Circle Track Tech Editor, Wil Hansel drove the car at Muroc. Wil did 200 mph in it and broke a record. (See HRM 50th Anniversary issue.)”

Success out of the Box

This coupe was so fast and looked so good upon her debut on the lakebeds that haters got jealous. Not well liked in the beginning, Sally stepped up the game of what soon was to transpire on the dry and salt lakebeds and flipped the sport on its head. Lets face it, she had class, was innovative and pretty.  What’s next for her?  Allen says, “Our goal was 200 mph and we did it after 17 years. She will never be sold; she ‘s just too good.  One day we will just put her in the family room and watch TV with her.  We aren’t going to build another one like her. Doug has his roadster with the Keith Black motor he’s going to push to 300 mph at Bonneville. The fuel engine was gifted by Sally’s first driver, Jerry Darien, and has gone 291 thus far.  Overall, our only disappointment is Sally didn’t make the “Top 75 Most Influential 1932 Fords of All Time.” We hope we live long enough to see it in the Top 100.”  What? Balderdash! I give her  #1 right now. Zoom!

 

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     Don "the beachcomber" Johnson is selling these rare (only 25 were made) pewter funny cars.  If you’re interested let me know and I'll forward your info to Kathy Olson, who's managing the sale.  The price is $400 each.  Sherm Porter
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