NEWSLETTER 320 - April 27 , 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;  California Legacy Plates,   Tex Smith,  Evil Twins

GUEST EDITORIAL, by “Dyno” Don Batyi.  
     Here is the current order count on each Legacy Plate, along with the DMV Instructions and Application links. Each plate must receive 7500 orders to go into effect. I think these are a pretty good selection. If you have a street rod, the 50's gold plate would still look pretty good on a 30's car.     If you would like one or more, I urge you to apply before the end of the year.  “Dyno” Don Batyi                                                                 ----------------------
     Legislation introduced the California Legacy License Plate program offering vehicle owners the opportunity to purchase replicas of California license plates similar to those issued in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's.  In order for the program to be implemented, at least one of the three styles must receive 7,500 orders before January 1, 2015.  Legacy License plates can be ordered for any year model automobile, commercial vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer.  The Legacy License Plate Program will not replace the current Year of Manufacture (YOM) license plate program.  The DMV is accepting pre-orders until January 1, 2015.  A pre-order form California Legacy License Plate Pre-Order Form (REG 17L) (PDF) is available for these plates.  The completed form and $50 payment must be mailed to the address provided on the form.  Payment can only be made by check, money order, or cashier's check made payable to Department of Motor Vehicles.  Pre-orders will NOT be processed at DMV Field offices or Auto Club offices. 
     California Legacy Plate Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  California Legacy Plate Pre-Order Form (REG 17L) (PDF).  PAYMENT: Check, Money Order, or Cashier's Check ONLY.  Payable to: DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES.  Mail REG 17L WITH a $50 PAYMENT to: Department of Motor Vehicles Legacy License Plates Customer Service/Operations Support, MS H203 PO Box 825393 Sacramento, CA 94232-5393.  PRE-ORDERS WILL NOT BE PROCESSED AT DMV OFFICES or AUTO CLUB OFFICES.  REFUNDS: Your payment will be refunded shortly after January 2015 if this plate program is not implemented, or if your desired personal plate configuration is not available and you did not request a sequential plate substitution. 
     To cancel your PRE-ORDER, mail an Application for Refund (ADM 399) to the address shown above. The refund request must clearly indicate that the refund is for a pre-ordered Legacy License plate and include the personalized configuration ordered, or state if a sequential plate was ordered.  Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number in case we need to contact you.  NO REFUND will be issued after the program begins and your plate number reservation has been made.


STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks: 
     Don’t forget the Santa Ana Drags Reunion on April 26, 2014 at Santiago Creek Park in the city of Orange, California.  Everyone is welcome and there is no charge for attending.  We always have great weather and interesting company.
  If you can come be sure to thank Leslie Long for keeping this group event going.  Also thank Gene Mitchell for providing the food, chairs and tents.  Gene does this out of the kindness for old time racers and never charges us a penny for his efforts.  He’s a great guy.  He also owns and operates his own garage, so if you are in the Anaheim area and need a good mechanic go see Gene.
     William H. “Bill” Stebbins Sr, 71, passed away Saturday, April 12, 2014.   He was the owner of Stebbins Aviation Inc.  He was a NHRA Hall of Fame Inductee, a Kentucky Colonel and a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church.  Bill was preceded in death by his father, George W. Stebbins; brother, Mike Stebbins; and granddaughter, Mikayla Rae.   He is survived by his loving wife of 45 years, Mary Jo Herm Stebbins; children, Melissa, Bill Jr. (Samantha) and Chris (Tressya); mother, Wilma M. Stebbins; grandchildren, Hailee, Brianna, Miranda, Abigaile and Benjamin; and brothers, Jim, Greg, Fred and Jeff Stebbins.  His celebration of life Mass will be held Wednesday 10 am at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 7335 Southside Dr. with burial in St. Michael’s Cemetery.  Obituary notices are run in the SLSRH Newsletter because they contain a great deal of information for future researchers and historians and to also let people know of the passing of their friends.
“A night at the movies with Alex Xydias.”  The HOT ROD STORY; Director’s cut.  Saturday, June 14, 2014, at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center, 601 W. McKinley Avenue, Pomona, California.  Cocktails and silent auction begins at 6pm, dinner and live auction begins at 7pm.  Tickets are $100 (portion is tax deductible).  For more information contact 909-865-4209.
     The book about Rex Burnett is a biography about his life, artist and will present all of his published, and some not before published cutaway illustrations.  We also have a rich gallery of really nice photographs of Rex's family all the way back to 1890 and up until his last years.  It will also contain excerpts of Rex's own writings, and his autobiography.  Rex was a great writer and storyteller.  John Simon Burnett and his brother Brian Burnett have been working on their father's biography, and I've been writing about his art and cutaway technique, for quite some time now.  I'm also designing the book as I've worked as an illustrator and Art Director for most of my life.
     We are interested in the stories and memories people might have that met or worked with Rex. Especially the 1940's and early 50's are interesting, when he first worked for Lockheed and then started working as a cutaway artist for Hot Rod magazine and other motor magazines.  So, anyone who has stories or photographs of Rex to share are welcome to contact John Simon Burnett, or me, Hans Lundholm here:
hans@halustudio.se, simonursula@mindspring.com.  Best regards, Hans Lundholm and John Simon Burnett
READERS: If you have any information that you can share with John or Hans concerning Rex Burnett would you please help them.
     My dad and his father owned a garage called Spence & Frye in South Pasadena in the 1940's and '50's.  My dad was a member of the SCTA and owned a few Hot Rods and raced "out in the desert on the flats."  Doug Spence was his name.  He later became an Episcopal priest in Philadelphia and Chicago.  I will pull together as much of the history as I can.   He may have known Wally Parks.  Paul Spence
READERS: Jim Miller, this applies to you too, can you provide more help on the history of Spence and Frye.  I believe the Frye in question was an old dry lakes and Bonneville racer.
     I am glad to help and am honored that even one of my pictures might be considered for publication (Tom Medley Celebration of Life).  As a long time photographer, I'm thrilled.  Thank you so much for thinking that my pictures were worthy of use.  I was really humbled to see my name in print too!  I do really feel honored to help.  Doug McHenry
DOUG: Thank you for your photographs.  We will publish all photos and stories submitted to us on the subject of hot rodding and straight-line racing.  Today I'm going to finish editing Issue #320 of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter which is at www.landspeedracing.com.  I will refer our readership to go to the other website at www.hotrodhotline.com to see your photos.  You did an excellent job.  You can sign up for membership in the SLSRH by simply logging into the website or by adding the website address to your list of favorites and checking the websites about every week to two weeks for a new issue.  We accept articles, stories, bios and photographs (captioned) from our members on any subject that covers racing and hot rodding.  These are the subjects that Wally Parks and his friends loved so dearly and so we try and find out as much as we can and include it in our newsletter.  We welcome any photos and text that you might wish to contribute, even reviews of movies, books and magazines.  There is no charge to belong and all historical research is donated to the cause of furthering our knowledge.  Everyone at the landspeedracing.com site is a volunteer.  We hope you will join and feel free to contribute your knowledge as you wish.

Gone Racin’…Tom Medley’s Celebration of Life.  Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Doug McHenry.  April 12, 2014.   Republished with permission of Internet Brands and
www.hotrodhotline.com.  To see the photos please go to www.hotrodhotline.com

     I never thought that I would see the day when we would lose Tom Medley, the iconic cartoonist who created Stroker McGurk.  But then I never thought we would lose Wally Parks, Robert E. “Pete” Petersen, Eric “Rick” Rickman, Ak Miller and a host of other hot rodders.  In their place we have their memories and those memories burn brightly.  It was only four years ago that Dick Martin held a special party for Tom in the same building; the Auto Club of Southern California Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Fairplex.  There have been so many other remarkable men and women who have passed on recently.  They were the first generation of the hot rodding movement.  Their ideas, ideals, creations and idiomatic speech and slang created the culture that we live in today.  We tweak it a bit here and there, but what these men and women did in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s is what we admire and emulate nearly a century later.  These early hot rodders came from the Great Depression Era and World War II.  They had very little in the way of material things and they had to make do with what they could find and improve on.  Nearly every community had a junk yard where someone’s refuse could be recycled and reused; old and yet new.  An inoperable car could be bought for five dollars and a running Model T for fifteen.  All that it took to put wheels under a young man was a few dollars and lots of elbow grease, some friends and a great deal of tinkering.

     Tom Medley was born in Oregon, in 1920.  His father went to the University of Oregon just like Tom’s only granddaughter, Sarah, did.  Though Tom took classes at the Art Center of Los Angeles, he was always an Oregonian.  He was fond of fishing, Oregon basketball and touring the back roads of America in his beloved 1940 Ford coupe with the deep maroon paint job.  He joined the military in World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge, cold, lonely, desperate and deadly.  Ak Miller was there too, along with Johnny Ryan and Nellie Taylor.  Medley survived and returned home to Southern California and the car culture that he loved.  He also loved Rosemary, his wife and together they brought Gary, their son into the world.  Gary would bring Sarah, Tom’s only grandchild into his life and he loved his family dearly.  Tom also loved photography and drawing and bragged how wonderful life was; that he could make a living doing the things that he loved.  Medley was a land speed guy too and in the late 1930’s and ‘40’s he was out at the dry lakes with Lee Blaisdell, Rick Rickman, Ak Miller, Wally Parks, Pete Petersen and a host of other well-known hot rodding personalities.  Medley was part and parcel of those who created the hot rodding culture.  He drew cartoons that mildly poked fun at hot rodders.  Then one day he drew a personality based on him, the smart-alecky, fun-loving, try anything young kid who was bigger than his britches and named him Stroker McGurk.

     Stroker became Medley’s alter-ego and defined Tom Medley forever.  He could never separate himself from his cartoon character.  Medley was much more than Stroker was and yet Stroker McGurk was very flexible and fluid; elastic in a way.  Stroker was all of us rolled up in one.  Forever pushing the boundaries, stretching the limits of adult patience, stepping over the abyss and looking disaster in the face.  To some Stroker was just a cartoon character, but that’s false; Stroker McGurk was a real person if you look around and see hot rodders just like him.  Who did Tom Medley see in Stroker?  Was it himself, or Ak Miller or Joaquin Arnett and the Bean Bandits?  Medley never really told me or anyone else who he modeled Stroker on.  I don’t know that it matters because the personality of Stroker McGurk is exactly like every other hot rodder I have ever known, including Tom Medley himself.  Stroker could be young, foolish, brash, quick to make a judgment, idealistic and extremely creative.  Rules existed for Stroker to find a way around, not to follow.  Stroker lived life to the fullest, laughed until his belly rolled, felt chagrin and embarrassment for his faults and in the end we simply loved him.  He was us and we were him.  Medley had created the iconic character that defined an age and no other cartoonist had quite done that.  Comic characters allow our fantasies to thrive and the world would be a dreary and unlivable place if all we had was realism.  But comic book characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman have their limitations.  With them we can fly and bend steel with our bare hands, but we know that they are just fascinations of the mind.  Stroker McGurk was real, because in essence he was us, in fantasy and in reality.

     Tom Medley was chained to Stroker McGurk as his creation, but where some people resent their famous characters, Medley accepted his ties to his creation with ease and with amiable acceptance.  Tom would go on to work with the hot rodding culture as a writer, editor and co-founder of the Street Rod Nationals.  More than that he would become a National Treasure; sought after and emulated by those who loved the car culture as much as Tom did.  With Tex Smith and Ron Ceridono, Tom would write many books and tour the nation as a hot rodding ambassador.  He would hold court with the likes of Pete Petersen, Wally Parks, Alex Xydias, Pete Chapouris and hundreds more.  Tom would court other sports as well.  He was active in Karting and car shows and car clubs.  If it had wheels or a motor then Tom would photograph it and write on it or cartoon it.  Tom was the first person to conceive of using parachutes to slow down a car and when he drew that famous Stroker cartoon with the ‘chutes out the entire nation thought Stroker was nuts.  But after a few reflections people started to wonder, maybe that guy isn’t so crazy after all.  Today parachutes are standard equipment for cars going over 200 mph.

     My wife, Epi and I got to the museum around 1 pm on April 12, 2014 and in the parking lot there were dozens of hot rods just like Tom loved.  Inside the museum Larry Fisher and his staff helped Gary Medley set up the chairs and welcome the guests to his father’s Celebration of Life.  I met Dick Martin, Jim Miller, Ora Mae Millar, Robert Williams and his wife Suzanne, Pete Chapouris, Randy Clark and his staff, Greg Sharp, Doug McHenry, Sarah Medley (granddaughter), Gary Medley (son), Gary Meadors, Jack Chisenhall, Brian Brennan, David Freiburger, Bruce Bereiter, Darrell Mayabb, Ronny Hampshire, Don Zabel, Robin Medley (niece), Tom Otis, Fay Pearson, Irma and Steve Babagin, Kurt Gustafson, Pat Ganahl, Eric Pinn, Jim Travis, Jeff Smith, Carlo, Shannon, Addison and Colin Lofredo.  Tex Smith and Alex Xydias sent letters, and Jay Leno was on tape.  The program began at 1 pm sharp, with introductions and remarks by Gary and Sarah Medley, a slide show and the screening of the “Stroker” documentary.  The featured speakers were; Greg Sharp, Gary Meadors, Jack Chisenhall, Brian Brennan, Bruce Bereiter and Darrell Mayabb.  Following the speakers an open mike was passed around by Greg Sharp and many in the audience rose to offer their memories of Tom.  Then we were all treated to burgers, fries and milkshakes served by the Burger House from Pomona, California.  Tom’s favorite food was burgers, fries and ice cream. 

     Gary Medley spoke about his father. “My father was born in Lebanon, Oregon on March 20, 1920.  His father was working at a job for $5 a day and everyone worked in those days to put food on the table.  Everyone picked fruits and vegetables to can for the kitchen larder.  As a boy he was hooked on cars and soap box derbies.  My dad loved basketball and auto racing.  He went to high school in Salem and every Thursday he would hitchhike to see the midget races and he missed every Friday at school.  Dad played in four sports in college.  He met my mother Rosemary at a USO dance when he was in the military; 78th Infantry Division and she became the love of his life.  It was so crowded that he waited for the young ladies to exit the dance and met her outside.  He was a wonderful dancer.  His unit fought in the Battle of the Bulge where it was freezing and they burnt beautiful old furniture to stay warm.  The 78th Infantry was the first to cross the Rhine River into Germany during World War II.  He wrote passionately to Rosemary while he was overseas in the military during World War II.  He even included cartoons.  He loved to draw cartoons and his famous character was Stroker McGurk.  One cartoon of Stroker was the first to show a car being stopped by a parachute.  Pete Petersen saw his cartoons after the war and asked around to see who drew them.  He gave dad a job at Hot Rod magazine as a photographer and cartoonist.  He loved this job and it paid him to do what he loved doing.  He later worked with Tex Smith and Ron Ceridono at the Tex Smith Libraries.  A few years ago his beloved 1940 Ford coupe caught fire and burned in garage.  His personal papers were saved from the fire in trunks, but the car was ruined.  Randy Clark of Hot Rods and Customs in Escondido restored the car and hundreds of people sent in donations.  Tom said, ‘I have more friends than I thought.’  No one thought the car could be saved but Randy and his crew did an excellent job,” Gary concluded.

     Sarah Medley, Tom’s only grandchild, spoke about her love for her grandfather.  “My grandpa drew me in his cartoons as a child.  He was a source of light and happiness to everyone around him,” she told us.  Greg Sharp addressed the audience and welcomed us to the museum.  He told us what a great place the museum is to celebrate the history of hot rodding and people like Tom Medley.  We have photos here that Tom took over the years.  In 2004 we honored Tom at the California Hot Rod Reunion in Famoso, California.  Tom rarely ever got mad, but one time he and Eric Rickman were trying to explain to an editor who Sam Hanks was.  ‘You don’t know who Sam Hanks was?’ Medley yelled at this man.  ‘What kind of editor are you,’ Medley raged.  Tom was very protective of the hot rodding history and heritage.  It was my honor to be his friend,” Sharp ended.  Gary Meadors from GoodGuys was the next to speak.  “I’m not the GoodGuy your father was,” Meadors told Gary Medley.  “When I was a kid Stroker McGurk was my icon.  I was Stroker.  I cruised around like Stroker.  I want to thank Tom and Tex Smith for creating the first Street Rod Nationals.  Tex and Tom were my mentors.  When I formed GoodGuys I asked Tom if I could take the Stroker McGurk plaque from the NSRA with me to GoodGuys in Tom’s honor and he graciously agreed.  Tom is my icon,” Meadors said. 

     Jack Chisenhall was the next to speak and said, “Tom Medley was a great story teller and made friends everywhere.”  Jack went on, “Tom had a great time at everything he did and with everyone he met.  I want to thank Gary Meadors for keeping Tom involved in street rodding,” Chisenhall added.   “What people don’t know is that Tom was more than just a photographer and cartoonist.  He made advertisements for everyone in the trade.  Tom loved taking photos, big band music of the 1940’s, ice cream, college basketball, meeting people and so much more.  When Tom’s friends went into the military, he followed them.  He got into Go-Karting big time.  Another love of Tom’s was road tripping around the country and I went with him.  He was always prepared with lots of tools in case of a breakdown.  Tom was very close to Tex Smith and Ron Ceridono.  If anyone proposed a hot rod trip Tom was eager to go too.  Four years ago Dick Martin held a special party to honor Tom at this museum that we are in today.  Tom covered Karting, road races, dry lakes, oval track racing and much more for the magazines.  He made so many friends that when his beloved 1940 Ford coupe was destroyed that friends rallied to help him restore his car and Randy Clark and his crew from Escondido completely rebuilt the car.  What many people don’t know is that Tom wrote hot rod songs and had them recorded in 1951.  Scatman Carruthers sang the lyrics to ‘Drag it out,’ but Tom thought he left out a lot of the words.  He could remember the words and sing it whenever anyone asked him to,” Chisenhall reminisced. 

     Long-time editor, writer and photographer Brian Brennan was the next guest speaker.  “I would like to read a letter from Tom’s former boss and always friend, Tex Smith, who is in Australia and couldn’t be here today,” Brennan said.  “Tom and I were fishing buddies and I loved that guy.  He will always be my buddy first and foremost,” Tex said in his letter.  They first met back in the early 1950’s and were close friends and associates in the Street Rod Nationals, publishing, road trips, fishing and the car culture.  Bruce Bereiter spoke next.  “I knew Tom from the Ford Club and we were friends for many years.  I loved Stroker McGurk from Hot Rod magazine.  Tom was my hero and I was so grateful for the chance to hang around with him over the years.  He had lots of friends because he was able to give to people.  He just knew what to say to people to pick them up.  He was also a man of many words and the stories just flew out of his mouth with little to no prodding.  I never heard him say anything bad about anyone.  Tom had no pretenses; he was in person exactly what he was in his private life, open and honest.  He felt an obligation to his public and would come to a show early and stay late, signing autographs for everyone who asked him.  He personalized each photograph and signature, making it out to the person’s name and what was important to that person.  It made me tired just watching him.  He gave his time equally to everybody without playing favorites.  He felt he had a job to do to represent his sponsors and the car culture and he was serious about upholding his end.  He cared for all people.  When we went on road trips we always had to stop for ice cream.  That was his weakness.  Tom enjoyed road trips and singing along with the radio all the old 1940’s swing music played by the big bands,” Bereiter ended.

     Darrell Mayabb was an artist who was influenced by Tom Medley.  “In the early 1970’s I worked at Hot Rod magazine where I met Tom.  I knew his reputation and I was literally shaking.  He made me feel like I was the most important person at the magazine and put me at ease.  He told me to work and develop my talent at cartooning.  He really pumped me up and got me going in cartooning and told me that I listened well and was a good student.  When I got a commission for serious art the buyer found out that I was a cartooner and told me that he wouldn’t buy art from any cartoonist.  I created an alter-ego called C. Cruz, because I loved to see cruising.  That became my alias for my cartooning work and when I told Tom he laughed and told me that I was a fast learner.  I want to thank Randy Clark for restoring Tom’s 1940 Ford coupe after the fire.  Saving Tom’s car actually saved Tom’s life too and gave him a reason for going on,” Mayabb told the crowd.  Gary Medley read a letter from Alex Xydias who couldn’t be in attendance this day.  “If you want to know what Tom Medley was like just listen to his answering machine, which was like the military with name, rank and serial number.  Tom was no-nonsense.  When I left a message it was my name, phone number, message and YES SIR,” said old time friend Xydias.  “You may not know this but when I worked at Hot Rod magazine in the early days it was Tom Medley and Wally Parks who pulled all the pranks on the office staff.  Wherever Tom worked he put together a great staff under him and the list of great writers, photographers, editors was endless and their success well-known,” Xydias concluded in his letter.

     Robin Medley, Tom’s niece, spoke about the personal Tom Medley.  “We always loved seeing the family together.  All Medleys had to play and watch basketball or go fishing.  At Thanksgiving we would play Win, Lose or Draw and we would all cheat, but that never stopped my uncle from trying to beat us,” Robin laughed.  Tommy Otis, a pinstriper and friend said, “He was a fine man who loved his wife and family.  He was everybody’s granddad.  He made me feel so special.”  Faye Pearson said, “He was active in go-karting from the 1950’s and continued on faithfully in that sport.  I remember the time he called me up and said, ‘we’re going to Quincy, Illinois, get ready.’  I will miss him so much.”  Irma Babagin told us, “I was an assistant to Tom at Rod & Custom and worked on the Street Rod Nationals with him.  It was great to get away from the other editors and staff and work for Tom.”  Long-time friend Kurt Gustafson said, “He was my close friend and we spent many hours together playing with slot-cars and watching college basketball games.  He had a unique sense of humor and he was full of life.”  Magazine editor David Freiburger told us, “All my life I looked up to Tom, Wally Parks, Pete Petersen and my other icons.  Bob D’Olivo started up the Hot Rod magazine archives in 1955 to save a lot of the early work at the magazine and we can be thankful that he did that.  I met Tom at Rod & Custom magazine.  He was my hero.  I’d see him often, but Tom would never talk about the past; he was a man living in the present.”  Ora Mae Millar, Pete Millar’s widow, told me a story about Tom, “When my husband was first getting started as a cartoonist Medley told him, ‘Don’t quit your day job.’  We bought our first house with Pete’s cartoon earnings,” Ora Mae laughed.  Robert Williams, well-known hot rod artist, told me that Tom Medley was an inspiration to all cartoonists.  Williams said that he would never use an alias for his cartoon drawings, “Before Tom Medley cartooning was not held in the high esteem that it is held today.”
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
Tom Medley Shindig at the museum…Story by Richard Parks.  Photographs by Dave Wallace Jr.  Photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.   8 October 2010.  Republished with permission from
www.hotrodhotline.com and Internet Brands.  To see the photos go to www.hotrodhotline.com

     Dick and Beverly Martin hosted and presented the Tom Medley Shindig at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum on October 5, 2010.  Around seventy of Tom’s friends and family gathered for this celebration of Tom’s life and his alter ego, Stroker McGurk.  Tom Medley was one of the original cartoonists at Hot Rod magazine from around the fourth issue on.  His portrayal of a young teenage hot rodder struck a nerve in young people in the 1940’s and even today for those who see these cartoons.  In a way, Stroker McGurk as the character is named, is the alter ego of Tom Medley.  He drew Stroker as a young man trying to make sense of his world and cars in general.  The cartoons were simple drawings, lacking the detail that you might see in the work of Tom Fritz or James Ibusuki.  Yet Medley could capture the nuances of meaning and depth of soul as few other cartoonist.  He often cited Pete Millar as the cartoonist with the greatest depth of detail and spirit, but Pete would have told you that in the simplistic way that Medley drew his characters, both were equal.  Another strength that Medley possessed was his short and wicked sense of humor.  He didn’t need a lot of canvas or words to express what young hot rodders were feeling.  Medley also had an inventive mind.  He probably would have thought that his cartoons represented the impossible and the bizarre, but over time he proved to be quite prescient.  When the first cartoon came out showing a parachute slowing down a dry lakes car the world of racing was astounded by the idea and today parachutes are standard and required equipment on drag and land speed cars running over 150 mph.  His cartoon of the Christmas tree was also ahead of its time.  Stroker McGurk, the cartoon character, was always looking for an edge and more often than not he found that it backfired on him.  Or Stroker’s actions set the prim and proper on their keisters.  That’s a lot like the genius behind Stroker; Medley is another maverick who believes in stretching the possible and proving the impossible can be achieved.

     Dick Martin has been planning this occasion for years.  It’s not easy getting everyone together in a venue site as nice as the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California.  It takes a lot of work to make up the guest list and contact everyone.  It takes more work to find a schedule where people can attend.  It takes a great deal of time and effort to find sponsors and helpers.  But Martin prevailed and the celebration of Tom Medley’s life was well worth the patience and the wait.  Here is a partial list of the people invited to the event; Robin Millar, Orah Mae Millar, Burke LeSage, Gale Banks, Keith Allen, Richard Parks, Chuck and Natalie Darielli, Billy Belmont, Walt Diederick, Rob Fortier, Tim Foss, Tom Fritz, Kent Fuller, Mike Rickman, Brian Brennan, Bud Bryan, Ron Ceridono, Pete Chapouris, David Cordier, Tom Daniel, Mark and Debbi Davis, Pat Ganahl, Jim Hemminghaus, Joe Henning, Harry Hibler, Darold Kohout, Randy Holt, Paul Koehier, Deke Houlgate, Ed Justice Jr and John Julis.  Orah Mae Millar is the widow of famed cartoonist Pete Millar.  Robin Millar is Pete’s daughter and continues to produce cartoons from her late father’s archives.  Pete Millar was an iconoclast with his artwork and had a way of lampooning the high and mighty, but in a soft and loving way.  His cartoons showing the “Gawdfather and the Camfather” were hilarious.  Men and women that we admire and love in drag racing were pilloried in fun and mischief.  To a certain degree, Medley mirrored that mad mayhem in his cartoons.  Keith Allen is a land speed racer at both the dry lakes and Bonneville.  Tom Fritz is one of the preeminent hot rod artists today, in the same category as Kenny Youngblood.  Pat Ganahl and Harry Hibler are longtime journalists, writers and photographers.  Mike Rickman is the son of legendary photographer Eric ‘Rick’ Rickman, the wildman of early motorsports journalism.  Pete Chapouris heads up the SoCal Speed Shop and his own custom and vintage car shop.  Some of the best cars are built or restored in his shop in Pomona, California.  Ed Justice Jr is the president of Justice Brothers Car Care Products, located in Duarte, California and a huge sponsor of all sorts of auto racing.  Ed is also an accomplished magician as we were about to witness.

     The guest list continued with Dave and Louise McClelland, Arin Millar, Cee Millar, Tommy Pierson, Billy Reese, Lou Senter, Mark Morton, Adam Neverez, Bill Newman, Jerry Pitt, Rose Pohorely, Colin Resse, Paul Stemrich, Jim Shaw, Steve Shaw, Mark Shepard, Jeff Smith, Bob Leggio, Thom Taylor, Rick Titus, Jay Storer, Jack Chisenhall, Darrell Mayabb, Jon and Faye Pierson, Bruce Bereiter, Steve Vannatta, Bill Akin, Rick and Mona Sturgeon, Joe Klinkhardt, Dick ‘Mr Magoo’ and Lois Megugorac.  Dave McClelland is a sports announcer who got his start and met his wife at a radio station in the Louisiana/Texas border area.  He went on to a storied career in drag and oval track racing.  Louise McClelland creates some of the most beautiful handmade quilts and blankets, many hanging in the museum in Pomona.   Lou Senter just turned 90 years old.  This pioneer of SEMA, speed shops and auto racing helped to support nearly every major project, including Hot Rod magazine, in his productive lifetime.  His Ansen Speed Shop was famous worldwide for having just about everything that a hot rodder could possibly ever need.  Bob Leggio works in the insurance business and sees to it that we have the best possible coverage to be safe while we hold car races, cruises and car shows.  Jon and Faye Pierson led a large contingent of vintage karting racers including Tom Medley’s son, Gary.  Tom is a supporter and fan of his son and promotes karting wherever he goes.

     Other guests to be invited were Bob and Leanne Kleiner, Bob and Ardrene Smith, Jerry and Frances Geisen, Gary Medley, Spencer Murray, Rick Love, Curtis Gustafson, Holly Barela, Alex Xydias, Dave Wallace Jr and his wife Dana Guadagni, Jack Matson, Randy Lorentzen, Chuck Meschter, Dave Patterson, Chuck Nippress, Dave Patterson, John Bjorkman, Jane Barrett, Don and Claire Montgomery, Carolyn Murray.  The following people represented the museum; Tony Thacker, Sheri Watson, Greg Sharp, Wayne Phillips, Rose Dickinson and Monique Valadez.  Robby and Linda Robison provided the food and drinks through their catering business, Legends of Speed motor sports barbecue.  The food was excellent and they cater lots of reunions at the museum throughout the year.  Their phone number is 626-446-3431.  Jack Matson made balloon art for the guests at the party and his hats and animals were a big hit.  His primary job was working in his father’s radiator shop, but today he makes more money working as a balloonist for the art world and parties.  Spencer Murray was one of the first editors at Petersen Publishing Company and told us about the old days as Medley and the others got their start in journalism.  Alex Xydias was the founder of the SoCal Speed Shop that had a short but spectacular history as a place that influenced the early southern California car culture.  One of the logos that he used was that of a cow, drawn for him by his good friend, Wally Parks, who would go on to fame as the founder of the National Hot Rod Foundation.  A decade or so ago, Pete Chapouris came to Alex and asked him if he could revive the SoCal Speed Shop name and Alex gave his approval.  Xydias did not trust just anyone, but Chapouris has a great reputation and a strong charisma about him and thus the SoCal brand is back in business.  Dave Wallace Jr is the son of Dave Wallace Sr and both of these excellent hot rodders and photographers are members of the Hall of Fame at the California Hot Rod Reunion.  Randy Lorentzen is the director of photography at Source Interlink, which now owns the Petersen Publishing empire.  John Bjorkman is a well-known land speed racer.  Don Montgomery has written eight books on hot rodding and racing from the 1930’s up to the present.  Over 40,000 books have been sold so far and they remain key archive for the fan and historian of hot rodding.  Tony Thacker is the director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and Greg Sharp is the curator of the facility.  Sheri Watson is in charge of internet sales and the front desk and always greets us with a smile.

     The chairs were aligned in a semi-circle surrounding the podium and Dick Martin welcomed the crowd that came to honor Tom Medley and Stroker McGurk, his creation.  Martin is a journalist and photographer in his own right and he truly admires the career and influence that Medley has had on his profession.  Martin handed the microphone over to Dave McClelland who spoke about his friendship with Medley.  McClelland’s voice is recognizable in many types of racing, but especially in drag racing where he got his big breakthrough.  Barbara Parks was one of those who sat in judgment and pronounced that Dave’s voice was too regional, low and southernly for drag racers.  But the twinkle in McClelland’s eye and his charisma won her over and we are glad that McClelland got the job, for he has become a fan favorite among our announcers.  Medley then resumed emceeing the program.  Stroker McGurk style hats were presented to those in attendance courtesy of Vintage Air.  Darrell Koehout was thanked for helping to sponsor the event.  Robby and Linda Robison were mentioned for their fine food.  DeEtte Crow, former publisher of Road and Track magazine provided financial support for the festivities.  Another sponsor was Faye Pierson and K&P Manufacturing, makers of Bug Karts.  Jack Matson III was mentioned for coming and doing his fabulous balloon artwork.  Stroker McGurk for President magnets were handed out to those in attendance.  Ed Justice Jr was kind enough to show us his fascinating magic tricks.  Martin asked all the Hall of Famers to stand and take a bow.  It didn’t matter what Hall of Fame they were being honored by, all were noticed and welcomed.  Martin then played two tapes of phone conversations honoring Tom Medley by guests who couldn’t make it to the Shindig; they were Bob Bondurant and Jay Leno.

     The first speaker was Jack Chisenhall.  “I’ll bet that you didn’t know how athletic Tom Medley is,” said Jack.  “Tom Medley’s dad was a letterman in college.  Tom played basketball on a scholarship and later played on a team that competed against the Harlem Globetrotters.  In late 1944 Tom was on a troop ship bound for Normandy and he later fought in the Battle of the Bulge,” Chisenhall told us.  Ed Justice Jr then rose to speak and reminded us all how much we owe to Tom Medley and his influence on our lives.  Looking right at his friend, Ed said to Medley, “Tom, you influenced our lives,” Justice intoned.  Then Ed asked if we would like to see some of his magic tricks.  Most of us had never seen Ed Justice do his magic tricks, as it isn’t standard practice for a busy CEO and President of a large business to take the time to come to a hot rodder’s party and show us such entertainment.   But we thought, “Oh, well, it can’t take too long and then it will be over.”  Ed gave out some books, about 15 or so and asked a few people at random to pick a page.  Trying to trick the magician the invitees picked a page, then changed it, but Ed was ahead of them, “pick any word on the page,” he challenged us.  “Is the word that you picked a long one,” he asked as a statement rather than a question.  The lady said, “Why yes it is,” but how did you know.  Ed then guessed, “It starts with a c and has an o and an n in it,” then before the startled guest could answer, Justice gave the correct word.  Book after book, page after page, word after word, Ed Justice, the CEO read our minds.  To top it off he did a card trick and after the askee picked a card Ed walked over to the guest of honor and said, “Tom, do you have the secret envelope that I gave you.”  Medley produced the envelope, tore it opened and revealed the correct card.  As Justice bowed and gave that little smile that he has, we stood and applauded.  When he retires as an executive of a business firm there is a career waiting for him in entertainment.

     The next presentation was a video of an interview between Tom Medley and the late Eric ‘Rick’ Rickman, and narrated by Dick Martin.  These two men went back to the very beginnings of hot rodding and Hot Rod magazine.  Tom Fritz then spoke of his admiration for Medley and presented Tom with a painting entitled “Stroker McGurk painting Tom Medley,” in the old Norman Rockwell tradition.  There was the cartoon character Stroker McGurk painting a portrait of Tom Medley.  Medley remarked, “He painted me with my complete jaw, some of which as you will notice I have lost since my cancer operation.”   A short break in the action created a chance for DeEtte Crow to hold a raffle for some original pins made by Medley.  Then it was time to hear Tom Medley speak.  “I was nuts about cars from the very beginning.  In the 1930’s I was in one of the first Soap Box Derby races in Portland, Oregon.  I used to watch the midgets run on Thursdays, and then hitched a ride from Salem to Portland to watch more racing,” Medley exclaimed.  “I spent my whole life living my hobby,” Tom uttered.   He recalled how he received a phone call from a stranger once who said, “You’re the son-of-a-bitch who made me flunk out of Junior High School,” the caller said admiringly.  Many a young man spent more time on cartoons, stories and photographs and too little time on their studies.  “I’ve got a warped sense of humor, but that humor has made me a lot of friends over the years,” beamed Medley.  Alex Xydias was the next speaker.  “That was the most legendary staff ever assembled at Rod & Custom magazine,” said Alex.  “It included Tom Medley, Bud Lang, Dick Scritchfield, Bud Bryan and Jim Jacobs,” said Xydias with pride.  Medley responded to Alex with, “Our motto was I don’t care if he has one leg or one arm, he’s hired,” and the crowd roared their approval. 

     Darrell Mayabb presented Tom Medley with art work and a framed photograph.  Orah Mae Millar spoke next.  “When my husband, Pete Millar wanted to get into cartooning he went to see Tom whom he admired greatly.  Tom looked at Pete’s work and told him ‘don’t quit your day job.’  I’m sure that was said in jest,” said Orah Mae.  “That’s what I told him,” said Medley.  “Millar was so intricate and detailed, while I wasted little time or ink on the space I had to complete.  I miss him so much.  He used to call me up all the time and rattle my cage,” Medley said respectfully.  Orah Mae added, “I want to thank you Tom for all the help that you gave Pete; it really motivated him to be a better cartoonist.”  Martin read a letter and showed a photograph sent in by Tom Daniels.  “He called me Sir Tom and I called him Schmedley,” said Daniels in the letter.  Burke LeSage, one of the grand young men of land speed racing commented, “I was a sixteen year old kid driving a fast streamliner at Bonneville and I remember the cartoon and caption from Medley at the Salt Flats.”  Dick and Beverly Martin then presented Tom with a Stroker McGurk metal panel cut-out artwork.  The next speaker was venerable Spencer Murray, the original and first editor of Rod & Custom magazine.  “In 1953 Robert E. ‘Pete’ Petersen bought Rod & Custom and brought in Fred Waingrove to shape the place up.  Fred was a taskmaster and the first thing that he did was fire every other person regardless of their talent or worth to the company.  Pete was never a stern taskmaster and turned the duties of control over to Waingrove.  We all thought that he was a terrible guy, but Medley, Wally Parks, myself and many others managed to keep our jobs.  We lived in fear of Fred, but not Medley.  One day Waingrove called Tom and me up to his office for a meeting.  Fred had this ugly, green shag rug in his office to discuss which secretaries to hire.  Medley walked in and said to him, ‘Hey Fred, you don’t need a secretary, you need a gardener.’  That was Tom for you,” said an enthused Murray.  Robby Robison said, “Tom, we want to wish you a happy birthday on behalf of all the NHRA museum staff.”  Pat Ganahl, known for his editing skills and his tall height was the next speaker.  “I met Rickman and Medley at Hot Rod magazine in 1981 and I never dreamed that I would be working with them.  Medley never told me what to do.  He gave me room to work on my own,” Pat added.  Brian Brennan regaled the crowd with stories about Tex Smith, Bud Bryan and Tom Medley.

     Joe Klinkhardt came from Central Missouri to attend today’s event.  “Medley raced vintage karts.  He is truly a hot rod legend, but he don’t want to die, he wants to do this forever,” said Joe.  “I know two hot rod legends, Norm Grabowski and Tom Medley and one of them is a gentleman,” Klinkhardt joked and the crowd guessed at which one was the gentleman.  Another raffle was held and then DeEtte Crow announced that $780 had been raised to support the museum.  Faye Pierson told me that Medley was involved in Kart Vintage racing and supports his son, Gary, who is an active participant.  They are holding a race this weekend at Lancaster, California on a one mile course with hay bales defining the track on the local streets.  The Vintage Kart Association or VKA has been around since 2001 and is now in every part of the country.  They run on road courses and the website is www.streetsoflancaster.com or www.trickarters.com.  The festivities ended and the food and drinks eaten and it was time to end the program and start the bench racing.  Talking to many of the people who were pioneers in hot rodding is truly a perk to be able to attend these events.  A long line formed to get a special Tom Medley signature and Stroker McGurk art design and Tom took his time, making sure that everyone got that extra nice cartoon art on their hat.  Martin threw a great party for a great guy and he did it all on his own, charging the guests nothing to attend.  But we would have paid a price this day to see the great man of cartooning and hear the wonderful guest speakers assembled.
Gone Racin’ is at

Evil Twin.  Story by Stormy Byrd and Anna Marco, with photographs by Anna Marco.
     Rocky Phillips alter ego is a twin-engine dragster named the EVIL TWIN!  These Leviathans use to rule the drag strip during 1960’s NHRA’s nitro ban.  Normally a reserved and cautious person, Rocky Phillips, promoter of the Eagle Field Drags in Dos Palos, CA throws caution to the wind when he gets behind the wheel of “the TWIN” and does burnouts in places he shouldn’t. Rocky has had an interest in this type of racecar for a long time. The website Two To Go (twotogo.homestead.com) was a frequented site with an incredible amount of information. It is hard to build a Side by Side TWIN to satisfy NHRA and after starting the Eagle Field Runway Drags, Rocky realized he had a venue to run the creation that was in his head recalling, “The style and engineering came together from the Dragster's I've drooled over from my youth and a couple cars I have owned.”
     Rocky and his son Lee, using various parts from many sources, built this twin-engine dragster in 2010. A crucial component was an affordable reverse rotation cam that was finally found on eBay. The project was built from scratch as done in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Rocky first attached the engines; test ran them, put them on a homemade jig and started laying pipe around them. The TWIN is not a recreation or copy, it was built using many styles and building techniques from early Dragsters and is a “running tribute to a by gone era.”
     One night when struggling with plastic and glue on a scale model he had an epiphany, “Why do this when I have steel, skills, and the tools to create what I want?” That model car still sits unfinished and is totally different from the actual racecar. Plans are to continue the dragster build in 2014 with a Modified Roadster body and paint added. The TWIN is built with the engines side by side that many said it wouldn't work while stressing over current technologies.  What most didn't realize was that side by sides where common in the early days and when asked in-depth tech questions Rocky answers, “it's 1960 and I don't know any better.”  The biggest challenge was the "Pie Cuts" and fitting of the tubes where the frame rails come together at the front. “I had one shot, took my time and it all worked out. There were no difficult tasks, and no innovations.  I just studied the colorful history of Drag Racing and put my skills to the task.”
     Although the dragster was built in Rocky and son Lee in their garage (chassis, running gear, direct drive clutch, dual small block Chevy’s, clutch, interlocking flywheels, hand built twin “Three Deuce” manifolds)-they received help from many friends.  Carl Lembke fabricated the intake by building the "3x2 logs” and Tom helped with period pieces such as the fuel tank, throttle pedal and steering wheel. Additional assistance came from Jerry Turner at Turners Auto Wrecking (Fresno, CA), Stormy Byrd, John Mibelli, Greg Swanson, Jim and Art at Valley Friction (Fresno, CA), Jon Van Noy at Sieberts Oil (Fresno, CA), Pat Bachelor, Hurst Racing Tires, The Estranged Car Club (Portland, OR), Paul Scott, AJ Hupp, Kevin Sawyers at Sawyers Vintage Service (Clovis, CA), Joe Davis, Modesto's Bell & Gaines, Fresno's Go Fast Garage and HAMB Members Chris Lytle, Tim Jones and Derrick.
    Rocky Phillips need for speed began in the late 60’s in Easton CA. living 15 miles from the Fresno Dragways/Rasin City Drag Strip run by world renowned Blackie Gejeian that hosted 4 wide Top Fuel racing besides other events. Rocky’s passion you might say was born at Fresno’s Dragway. As a kid he'd ride his bike to the local Hot Rod shop to ck out the latest Hot Rod-Super Stock etc. By age 15, Rocky was racing a 66 Mustang at Famoso as soon as the ink on his license dried. From the Mustang he dropped a built 302 Ford between the rails of a front motor dragster that ran low 9’s @ 145+ and so the hook was set.  The 80’s would see Rocky raising a family however the racing gene was clearly seen in his son Lee as the two built a Mercury Comet that Lee drove to school. Then one night in 2003, Rocky found some rims & slicks in the family room. Lee had a job and "the bug” and there were no more excuses.  Racing first in the Goodguys series, Rocky & Lee turned to Butch Headrick’s ANRA series running E-Gas and proceeded to win three Championships in 2009, 2010 & 2011.
     In 2009, would see Rocky join the HAMB (Hokey Ass Message Board) with a goal of bringing “Old School” racing to the West coast. The Phillips family then got involved building & racing HAMB dragsters. The HAMB would lead Rocky back to thoughts of talking with Eddie Hill in 1991 about the twin engine car he ran in the 60's.  Rocky wanted to stage an event to showcase Traditional drag racing and while trying to secure backing, it was Rocky’s own boss, Henry Cerutti of Cerutti & Sons Transportation along with Lynn Hamond that would help Rocky see his dream come to fruition. Henry knew Joe Davis who owned Eagle Field in Dos Palos, CA, which is an old WWII air base that Joe had purchased and was restoring. Henry and Lynn encouraged Rocky to talk to Joe and The Eagle Field Drags was born. Sadly Lynn left us for another field of dreams in 2012 but not before seeing the dream become reality.
     Birth of Trustalgia Racing; after three meetings with Davis they agreed to hold a race in October 2009 with the support of Eagle Field Volunteers. The event insurance was paid with proceeds from a raffle with all profits made going toward the restoration of Eagle Field. Cerutti & Sons would haul the required "K-Rail" (for insurance purposes) hundreds of miles, gratis, with volunteers from everywhere helping out for the "Re-Birth" of Drag Racing. The October Race was a complete success with its old school flag starts and no times. Folks loved the old format and cars garaged for decades were dusted off & hauled out to run. With the success of the May & October events Rocky decided it was time to build his own twin engine dragster!
    The Evil Twins performance is not judged by ET or MPH but on the twin 8” black streaks it lays down wherever it goes and it is second to none when it comes to the badass factor! By the look of things, Eagle Field events show no signs of slowing at all. Last October's race saw 5 AA/Fuel Altereds, a Jet Dragster, Stormy Byrd’s Revelation and many others do battle on Joe Davis’s little piece of heaven. This last race was the biggest to date and the May meet looks be huge as people from all over the country want to relive the past on a remote field 30 miles North West of nowhere.  Twice a year, the Center of the Universe wormholes to a small airbase in Dos Palos that once trained the nation’s greatest generation. This piece of terra firma is dedicated to their legacy because of Joe Davis, Rocky Phillips and their combined dream to keep both of their passions alive. When folks say, "that won't work," do your homework and build your dream.









Owner:  Rocky Phillips.  Occupation: aspiring Drag Race promoter/Fleet Maintenance. Builder: Rocky & Lee Phillips.  Year: 2010.  Make: tribute dragster circa 1950-60s.

Body Modifications: donated damaged Aluminum by a friend off of a NASCAR Winston West Trailer he pulled for NASCAR. Plans are to convert into a Modified Roadster by 2014.
Frame: mild steel tubing.  Grille/shell: no.  Paint Color: no/aluminum.
Engine: 2 used stock 350 Chevrolets donated to the cause with the LH engine converted to rev rotation using a GM/Chris Craft cam reground by Clay Smith.
Engines are connected Flywheel to Flywheel using Billet Steel Flywheels with dual ring gears attached by welds, power is transferred to rear-end thru a 10,000-RPM Twin Disc Clutch off the RH Engine. Corvette valve covers/Offenhauser breathers.

Transmission: 1968 Ford 3-sp converted to an In & Out Box, High Gear only using 1 3/8" input, Tremec T150 shift top, Econoline van tail housing. Gold metal flake shift knob.
Intake & Carb: Log intake by Rocky Phillips, Lee Phillips, and Carl Lembke using 3 Stromberg’s on ea. engine.
Ignition: Pertronix electronic conversion in stock Chevy distributors.
Exhaust: 1 ¾” Zoomies using EMT Tubing on outer exhaust.

Rear End: Ford 9”, 4:11 gears.
Suspension Front: solid, built to look like early torsions suspension.
Suspension Rear: solid.

Brakes-Front: no.  Brakes-Rear: Ford drum/Deist parachute.
Wheels/Size: rear/15x7  5-spokes & front/ 19” spoke wheels.
Tires/Size: R/Hurst 8” racing slicks-F/ 3.25 x19 Michelins.
Seats: modified military seat back welded to folding chair bottom, RCI safety harness.
Upholstery: Cal Fast (Fresno, CA).  Dashboard: NA.

Steering Column: custom.  Steering Wheel: Superior wheel.
Club Affiliation: Eagle Field Runway Drags.
Anything Else: salvaged Moon tank w/tri-bar spinner cap, Glenwood foot pedal, Optima battery, Russell gauges.

Eily "Brew-Meister" Stafford.  Story by Anna Marco and Stormy Byrd, with photographs by Anna Marco.
     You’re either born with the racing gene, or not.  When Rick Stafford took his 12-year old daughter Eily to the Winternationals at Pomona, he had no idea what he started, but Eily knew. The San Diego, CA native found Nirvana and has never looked back. Many young ladies celebrate their “Sweet Sixteenth” with friends; Eily’s choice was Frank Hawley’s school of drag racing at Pomona in 2005 where she earned her first of seven NHRA licenses. It was Jack Beckman that would introduce Eily to the NHRA fuel teams for a summer job that would expose her to the “Big Show” world.  This also led to her first ride in Jim Sloan’s “Soul Train” Fuel Altered in 2005 and the world of Nostalgia racing.  Rick & Dee Stafford would help their daughter get her own 1969 vintage injected Jr Fuel dragster which she ran for a season & a half (and still runs) when she was approached by veteran racer Chuck Bayuk and partner Jim Jordan about driving their beautiful blown hemi NE1 dragster “Desperado.”  Eily drove Desperado for several years while earning two more NHRA licenses in long & short wheelbase cars. Eily would earn her Advanced ET license at the wheel of Steve Zimmerman’s “Killer Crower” 7.0 Pro dragster running a best of 6.90 at 195mph.
     In 2011, the “House of Mouse” NE1 team (Stormy Byrd & Joel Gruzen) fielding 4 cars, approached Eily about driving their team car “Strange Brew” in the ANRA series so it would not conflict with her driving Bayuk’s Desperado (who only raced the NHRA Heritage series.) They know talent when they see it and while driving Strange Brew, Eily was given the chance to not only drive another competitive car but was on her way to becoming the “Brew-Meister” with her long smoky burnouts & Stormy’s blessings doing dry hops which he quips, “is my specialty.”  How did Eily fair in “Brew”? In the first two 2011 ANRA races, she went to the semi’s and came in fourth in overall points while only competing in three of the four race series.
     Eily’s horsepower pal is the “Strange Brew” modified fuel coupe.  The car was conceived by Stormy Byrd and Dennis Ankenbauer as the “Yin” to Stormy's “Yang” na NE1 Roadster named Revelation (formerly known as the Bell Auto Parts Special and The Rounders that ran at Lions racetrack). The two cars matched raced for years against each at local southern California tracks.  In 1997, while racing at LACR, two rods exited “Brew” destroying everything. Dennis was broke & Stormy was beginning to assemble the blown motor for his own racecar as he was barley qualifying.  They couldn’t afford to build a second engine for Brew, so she would sit for some years until she was finally rebuilt.

     After leaving the “Desperado” team to drive “Strange Brew” full time for House of Mouse, Eily would take on the 2012 NHRA Heritage series. In 2012, she would start the season by taking out the 2011 NHRA champ on her way to the March Meet finals where she placed runner-up to veteran Steve Schoenfeld. Running the entire grueling Heritage series races from Sacramento-Nevada-Arizona to Bakersfield, Eily would finish the year out #4 in the super-competitive NE1 point’s chase! While racing the NHRA & ANRA series races, Eily also had her hand in the NHRA Big show cars with the help of her dear friend/ mentor / sponsor, the late Ralph “Clutch Meister” Freeman on Duane Shield’s A/Fuel dragster. It was Ralph who taught her the in & out’s of working the clutch of those fuel burning animals and lovable Ralph is dearly missed by all. Also, during the 2011-12 season, Eily had earned her AA degree in Automotive Technology from Miramar College with top honors. 
     What’s the future for Eily “Brew Meister” Stafford?  To move up into the alcohol ranks, then eventually into a Nitro ride. The winners circle for sure and anything this young lady sets her sights on. And why not the Big Show too?  With the support of her sponsors: Art Carr’s California Performance Transmission, Valley Head Service, Deering Industries, DJ Safety, Pioneer Paint Bakersfield, and her Dad, that just might happen. Until then, she’s making her mark on Nostalgia racing, taking names and having fun with Team Gruzen. Occasionally, you will find her at The Cruise-For-A-Cure charity event or doing a quick modeling job with her infectious smile, dazzling blue eyes and all American girl good looks. She was Miss Barona Drags two years in row and recently was driver for a music video featuring drag racing. She has plans to continue restoration of her rare tri pod Jr. Fuel car and maybe one day, build an old Ford coupe for the street.
     Famous last words: “When the helmets go on, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, all that matters is who gets that win light.  I do a lot of mental runs. Being a nostalgia drag racer, I’m living history of how drag racing was back in the golden days. I am the next generation and I get to carry this amazing history on. My Dad took me to my first race when I was 12, the Winternationals in Pomona, CA. I fell in love with the sound, the speed and the smell.”  Her advice to other women drivers or women in motorsports? “Don’t ever give up….there are a lot of people who try to bring you down, don’t listen to them and always stay classy.”  Eily Stafford has her own line of Strange Brew apparel & jewelry that can be found at www.facebook.com/EilyStafford. Check it out. Zoom!  Special Thanks to: Mom & Dad (Rick and Dee Stafford), Joel, Dee and Dave Gruzen, Marc and Carol McCaslin, John Brand and Ralph Freeman.







Story by James Calzia.  Submitted for publication by Northern California correspondent Spencer Simon.  Photographs courtesy of Spencer Simon.
     I am the owner, builder, mechanic and driver of my 1973 911 Porsche (car #107).  The car is built on a 1973 911's chassis and it is an early VIN #0080.  I have owned it  since 1988 and have been driving in the Porsche Club of America time trials since 1989.   I earned my way into the Porsche club racing, National Auto Speed Association (NASA) racing, and vintage car racing.  My car is built on a 1973 tub and '72 body work, because that's the way car #107 was raced in the 1973 world championship of makes (WCM). The car has a 3 liter RSR motor in it, type 911/74, twin plug ignition, high butterfly throttle bodies and mechanical fuel injection.  The engine produces 315+ horsepower at 8 grand rpm.  The transaxle is a 915 - Porsche 5 speed.  Suspensions are coil over shocks front and rear.  In the 1973 WCM racing season the Martini Porsche race team used the homologated torsion bar suspension with helper springs around the shock absorbers.  The Torsions were used because Group 4 (special GT) rules requires them.  When the 1973 season passed torsions were replaced with coil-over springs.  Herbert Muller, one of the Martini team drivers noticed that with the springs the RSR proved to be a racing car.          

     I bought the car in Santa Cruz, California in 1988 as a stock 1973 911S.  My car was featured in Excellence magazine in 2001.  There were some people who objected to my conversion of the 911S to a Martini race car.  I wanted to enjoy my car the way I want it, despite what people would say.  In 1994 at Thunder Hill Raceway in Willows, California the front of the car was badly damaged going through a fence in turn 1 and landing in a ditch.  I took that as a sign to say it was time to change the car.  I took out all of the heavy stuff; seats, body panels, carpet, and many other possible improvements to make a lightweight racer.  Now it weighs 1900 pounds with 5 gallons of gas.  I have crashed the car three times and it is now easy to replace the fiberglass due to its cost effectiveness as opposed to pounding out the steel.    

     I raced the car in NASA and SCCA Vintage events for several years.  I have gotten myself into a GT3 sandwich at a NASA race.  It nearly turned into a major wreck.  I've decided to do vintage racing.  I started out with my lightweight car and kept it at that form.  I had trouble joining Vintage Racing as it had no European history, but it had an American racing history.  There were some issues, but the Vintage Racing group felt it wasn't a rolling hazard and wouldn't cause any major problems.  HMSA (Historic Motor Sport Association) rules says if you restore a car to a point-in-time, it is HMSA eligible.   The rules state that the engine must be of original type and specs as homologated when the car was produced; as well as the wheel's type and size as were made available from the manufacturer at the time.   If the car accurately duplicates a point-in-time during the car's history, then it's HMSA eligible.        

     I have done exactly this and cloned the car that won the 1973 Targa Florio that duplicated on the 911S registry website (www.early911sregistry.org).  I had a great deal of fun with that car, but still by Vintage racers who complained that the car was not an authentic racer.  To keep everyone happy and stay within the Vintage racing rules I did research on a book for the 1973 RSR's.  I knew the Porsche team used a training car that was not a race car known as E42 by the race team.   I decided to duplicate the E42 training car from the Martini Porsche racing team.  E42 was taken to the 1972 Tour De Corsa as well as 1973 Nürburgring and Targa Florio.  It was not raced at Tour De Corsa or Nürburgring but it did race at the Targa Florio.

     A driver for the team wrecked two of the three race cars during practice for the Targa.  He totaled one by wrapping it around a tree, and the other was damaged but repaired.  As a result the team had three entries and only two race cars; so the E42 was pressed into service.  The day before the race the team pushed E42 into their garage (actually a barn that they rented) and replaced the 2.7L RS motor with the race engine from the totaled race car.  They also changed the already painted striped hood from the race car to the E42 which was obviously noticeable that the lines of the graphics did not follow on the body from the hood to the ducktail.  They could not paint out the training stripes because that they still had to keep their sponsors happy.  The sponsor stickers did not match very well due to the combination of the training car and the race car.  Even the racing number was not perfectly aligned.  They had to patch the stickers on very quickly in the barn.  Though the E42 wasn't intended to be a race car it finished sixth overall in the final Targa Florio.  That kind of proved the old adage, "All Porsches are race cars."

     I have made several other changes from the original E42.  The oil filter on the right rear fender was left on the car.  The oil tank is in the smuggler's box and the battery as well as the fire bottle is mounted on the passenger's floor.  I put all of that weight to balance out the car forward and opposite from me.  It's not nearly enough realistically, but it works really well.  The car has a 15 gallon fuel cell which is standard safety practice for Vintage Racing.  The wheels are 9x16 fronts and 11x16 rears; they are the early HRE wheels with Fuchs centers.  I think HRE used BBS rim halves to make their wheels.  There are 917 brakes on the car fronts and rears.  I use Goodyear slicks that are legal in my class.  They are 23.5/10.5x16 in front and 23.5/11.5x16 in rear.  They have a lot of meat on them, but can still get this car to slide.  There are a lot of 1974-75 RSR's here at the Rolex reunion.  I don't see them sliding much though they say my rear tires are the same as their front tires.  Maybe I need bigger tires.              

     One other thing, this car has a Martha Stuart Tail (named after a Scottish Queen because of her unique high collars).  It's made of sheet aluminum on an English wheel and is mounted directly to the chassis under the fiberglass fenders.  The race team mounted the original Mary Stuart Tail to the fender, but pushed it down on the fender, not the tub.  My way works very well.  If I were to take the winglets off I can certainly feel the difference.  The original E42 did not run with Mary Stuart Tails at the Targa Florio, but because my car is the training or test car I can do anything I like.  I use the Mary Stuart Tail at all Vintage races.  There is also a big difference in the handling with and without the tail.  There is a significant down force created from the tail which acts mainly on the rear of the car.  This upsets the aerodynamic balance of the car.  It gets light on the front end, but I can live with it.  I lose about 2 seconds without the Mary Stuart Tail.  It goes when I go!










The Nanny State.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Republished with permission from Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com

     Last summer I spent about 4 months in Idaho, rummaging through my files for photos that would help tell my history in hot rodding. I came across a written comment I had gotten in the mail, “What’s the difference between Aussie and American hot rodders?” It was in a note from a hot rodder down under.  The answer is that America is not nearly the nanny state that Australia is. Oh, the U.S. has more than an abundance of silly, some downright stupid, laws and traditions. But nothing like the restrictions placed on Australians by their own government. Sad comment is, they let all this happen with seldom more than a whimper.
     I have an acquaintance who calls this the result of living in a Convict mentality. You’re aware that Australia was settled by white people from England, the majority were prisoners of mother England, or now called POME’s as a reversal that Aussies call the English.
The assumption of the English (and many other European powers) was that the common man was too stupid to fend for themselves, and needed overseers for the most menial task. Too willing were the upper middle class to step in and become taskmasters. This happened in America too, as you historians know.
     Thus you get a Convict mentality. In America you get a Siege mentality, which has given rise to the Yankee penchant for guns. A way to protect against King George and the Red Coats. In one instance, you resist, in the other you submit. Apply this to something as simple as hot rodding, and you have the situation of today.  Aussies have a love-hate relationship with Americans.  They proclaim loudly how they dislike the American self-assurance, but secretly they admire it and want to emulate it. In hot rodding, you have a kind of free spirited cowboy culture, but the Government can’t allow this to go unchecked.  Thus the condition wherein the common man obviously is not smart as the government, not smart enough to make anything as sophisticated as a vehicle, without government approval at every stage of construction.
     You need a police state to keep a tight rein on the lawless mob, thus a system wherein the policeman is the sheriff, judge, jury, and hangman.  Which leads to some interesting scenarios.  In my family, the daughter lost control of her car where the pavement ended and gravel/dirt road continued.  She rolled the car, went to the hospital, and hours later the police showed up.  To issue her with a ticket for careless driving, give her deduction points on her license, and levy a fine (for payment on the spot, thank you).  No witnesses.  Only an interview with the driver.
     Taken to another extreme, a rodder was trailering his car to an event in a neighboring state.  At the border bridge, a policeman stopped him and demanded he unload the car.  When the car was on the pavement, the policeman issued a number or warrants for items on the car that he alone deemed unroadworthy, demanded payment of the fines, and sent the rodder along. Try that one in the states and the judge would still be laughing.  Or in my small town, where a driver decided he was too drunk to drive, parked in front of the police station and went in to ask if they would call a taxi. The policeman asked how he had gotten to the station, when he replied he had driven, he was immediately cited for DUI, fined, etc.
     So, I tell whoever asks that in Australia the citizen is unwilling to do anything without permission, because he is told at every avenue that the government always knows best. Whereas in America the citizen doesn’t ask permission, and then if some official objects, the Yankee just does it anyway.  Fortunately for the Aussies, some hot rodders have this same bull headed attitude.  Out there somewhere in the future, this is the independent attitude that just may pull the Aussies up by the bootstraps, and finally sunder them from Mother England.  (Now, I’ll just sit back and wait for the Gestapo to show up on the porch to inform me of my varied misdeeds!) THAT is the difference between American and Australian hot rodders.  In one case, the dog just rolls over to be kicked again, in the other the dog bites the foot doing the kicking.
The Fin Car.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Republished with permission from Internet Brands and

     It should come as no surprise to anyone that I would own a fin car. A Mopar fin car, of course. I like them now, and I liked them back when they were new. Big. Lots of balls. Great ride. Marginal handling. Horrible brakes, Terrible gas mileage. Bad, bad, bad!  And totally unappreciated by the unwashed masses.
     I was working for a Chrysler agent in Idaho when the hemi engine debuted, and I was gobsmacked when Mopar introduced the big V8 in the smallest body style, think it was called the Saratoga or some such.  It was way fast, but wouldn’t corner and wouldn’t stop.  Perfect, and it blew the doors off Chevy’s and Fords. Fast forward a few years and I was working for Hot Rod Magazine when Chrysler dropped the huge rear fender fins they had chronicled as being aerodynamically stabilizing.  When was that, about 1962?  At the press conference the PR toady told us that the company had figured out how to get the same fin car performance with a much smaller reconfigured fin.  Translation: More power, same lousy brakes.
     Thus it was that when I was doing the Great American Race from down in Dallas and I saw an ad for a 1960 Chrysler hardtop up in Washington State, I burned up the phone to get the machine.  Turned out it had the hot 413 engine with pushbutton auto and a caved-in quarter panel.  Right there where a big fin lived.  The car was way up there, and I was way down there.  Solution was to have the owner drive the car over to a body shop owner friend in eastern Idaho.  So it was that Carl Brunson in Driggs, Idaho eventually got the car to: l-fix the fender whack and 2-paint the beast a Ferrari red.
    Which was why I got the phone call, “You sure you want this thing all bright red.” I assured Carl that he should take off a ton of chrome trim and paint it all.  “It sure is big”, he said.  He called in a couple of days to pronounce the deed done.  “It looks dynamite, and it helped to get rid of that extra chrome glitter.  You can come get it anytime!”  Which I did.  And promptly blew the doors off other mopar owners at a show in the Texas area.
     Upshot of it all is that the 413 engine was worn out, but it still ran like stink and the price of gas wasn’t too bad and I loved the donkey.  A year later and I had moved to eastern Idaho where Brunson had his shop.  The fin car was my daily driver and I discovered immediately that going over the Teton mountains pass to Jackson, Wyoming was an adventure in pucker-city trying to reduce the speed to something under l00. Lousy brakes.  Then, after building the Junkyard Dawg roadster and securing a late model Chevy suburban, I put Fin Car on car jacks for a total resurrection.  Which is where it has languished ever since.
     I learned immediately that all the burgeoning restoration industry which had been a’borning in years recent did not include Mopars made before l964.  My much loved 1948 Chrysler airport sedan didn’t need stuff, so it was a surprise to find that I couldn’t get anything for Fin Car.  It was square one in the rebuild, so the behemoth languished in the barn.  I replaced the entire rearend with a later model housing and 2.76 or so gears. I found that I could maybe replace the front suspension from an early 70s era Plymouth, which gave me disc brakes, and Fatman down south made me a set of 2-inch dropped spindles.  I found a Mopar bone yard up in Three Forks, Montana that was supplying older hemi’s to Garlits and his ilk, who had a late model 440 that was subject of a mislaid rebuild, while Gary Dagle was in Helena at the time doing transmission rebuilds.  All of this trickled down to me and I dutifully found time to muddle through a kind of project.
     Which is where the thing stalled in the late Nineties. I was busy with other things, as every rodder is wont to discover. Thus Fin Car has sat neglected in my storage hall since.  And which is why I have decided that my second most favorite hot rod of all time is out the door.  Yep!  Going to a new home.  The paint clear coat is disappearing, but I think a new coat of clear will save that great Brunson red.  The dash has failed, but I did find another pad at the same bone yard in Montana.  Upholstery is barely usable, one quarter window power unit has died, but the new tires are still good as mounted on police wheels.  In short, all the fixins are there.  You can haul it away for 5500.  If you jump into the project you can easily have it on the road in a year, maybe less.  Anyway, I love WPC Fin Car.  Call me a 808-634-1192 so that saga can continue.  I wouldn’t tarry, however.  Good fins are hard to come by it seems.
Gone Racin’…
Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days, by Don Montgomery.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Republished with permission from Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com

     Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days is the fifth book in the series by noted hot rod writer Don Montgomery.  The author has been compiling the history and heritage of hot rods for a lifetime.  He has developed friendships with a wide selection of hot rodders and racers and these friends lend him priceless photos and memories.  Montgomery’s books are well done, not fancy and priced reasonably.  This is the best way for a fan of hot rods to get a captioned album of the best hot rods with a bit of text and history thrown in.  Don does for hot rodders what Dick Wallen does for oval track racers, turn out pictorials and histories that record the rich story of their respective fields.  Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days is a hardbound red covered book, measuring 9 inches wide by 11 ½ inches in height.  The book has 208 pages and all 501 photographs are in black and white.  The book cover jacket is styled in the red, white and black color pattern that Montgomery favors.  Keep the jacket because it really enhances the look of this book.  There is quite a lot of story and text and the captions are excellent.  Montgomery doesn’t waste time or space.  He puts all the important information that he has into the story without any further embellishments and his research and thoroughness are well known. Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days is self-published by Don Montgomery and his books can be purchased through the author at 760-728-5557, or at Autobooks/Aerobooks at 818-845-0707.  The ISBN# is 0-962-6454-4-3 in case you want to look it up.  The author dedicates the book to all hot rodders, but it is we who should thank Don for his dedicated efforts to save our history.  There is a two-page introduction and a one-page acknowledgment, followed by five chapters.

     Montgomery doesn’t provide an index and this makes it harder to find a photo of your friends or family who may have raced at the dry lakes.  Of course, his main audience are dry lakes racers and they will instantly recognize faces and cars from that the 1940’s.  It does make it harder on the new fan of hot rodding and dry lakes racing, because they will have to painstakingly pour over each page and try and remember where it was that they saw something familiar.  The acknowledgments tell us just where the author found his photographs and source material.  Some of the men and one woman may not be as familiar to us, or might have simply been spectators at the events listed in Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days.  But others were part of the very movement of hot rodding and dry lakes racing and they have to be recognized.  Veda Orr is the one woman listed and there is a generation of men who went away to war in the early 1940’s who will recognize her name and her importance.  Veda Orr kept the racing newsletters flowing to our servicemen during World War II.  She was also one of the few females who raced at the dry lakes in the 1930’s and then after the war ended.  She was fast and the cars built by her husband Karl, set many records.  Montgomery gives special credit to Bart Bartoni of Modesto, who provided pictures throughout California showing great hot rods.  Ed Hagthrop is credited with providing pre-WWII photographs, which are rare and very valuable.  The photographs are generally outstanding in clarity and quality, although a few are very old and taken under difficult conditions and can be forgiven the graininess.  Overall, Montgomery has brought together a spectacular collection of photos and text that take us back to the heyday of dry lakes racing.

     Others mentioned are Dean Batchelor, George Bentley, Chic Cannon, Art Chrisman, Don Ferrara, Blackie Gold, Norm Grant, Fred Hadley, Holly Hedrich, ‘Racecar’ Kenny Howard, Charles ‘Kong’ Jackson, Bob Pierson, John Riley, Doane Spencer, Bud Van Maanen, Ken Walkey, Gene Winfield and many, many more.  The chapters are titled 1) Prewar Activities, 2) Postwar on the Streets, 3) Postwar Lakes Racing, 4) Early Fifties on the Streets, and Early Fifties Lakes Racing.  The book ends with a short two-page history on the author.  Montgomery has been around for some time and has raced against many of those listed in Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days.  Don raced on the dry lakes in the 1940’s, then went drag racing in the ‘50’s and back to street rodding in the 1970’s.  He has never left the sport and his knowledge of these days is imperative to the success of his books.  As important are the friendships he has made, which allows him to tap into a wealth of photo archives among his former racing buddies.  There is a large volume of photographs representing the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), which is the oldest and largest of the sanctioning dry lake groups.  The book also has a good selection of Russetta Timing Association (RTA) photographs, which we don’t always see much of.  The SCTA would allow only roadsters to race at their meets in the early years, while the RTA would accept coupes and motorcycles.  The SCTA believed that cars had to be made aerodynamic and weight had to be removed.  The RTA proved that full-fendered coupes could run times equal to the roadsters and eventually the SCTA accepted stock and altered cars into their organization.  Montgomery provides a wide range of classic hot rods, including coupes, in Authentic Hot Rods, the Real Good Old Days.  It’s a book that the serious hot rodder must have for his library.
Gone Racin’ is at

Gone Racin’…
Dragster and Funny Car Memories, Southern California in the Sixties, by Don Montgomery.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.   Republished with permission from Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com

   Number Seven in a series of excellent pictorial books by Don Montgomery is called Dragster and Funny Car Memories, Southern California in the Sixties.  It has the same high-quality style that the author’s other books contain.  Don began collecting photographs and history for books on the 1940’s and ‘50’s Southern California hot rod culture and in his last two books he has branched out to include fuel altered drag cars and now dragsters and funny cars.  Dragster and Funny Car Memories, Southern California in the Sixties is a hard cover book with 192 pages.  The pages are heavy bond, high quality, waxed paper, which makes the black and white photographs stand out.  The cover of the book is his standard red with gold lettering, but it is his red, white and black dust cover jackets that make the book visually stunning.  Keep the dust cover jacket and don’t abuse it or throw it away, because it gives the book that simple, but effective hot rod look.  Montgomery writes the text and self publishes his books, creating an assembly line of books from the copious amount of photographs that his friends lend him.  He also writes the captions to the photos in a clear, informative and tidy manner, which hot rodders like. Don has gathered 397 photographs, all in black and white and they are very clear and readable due to the high quality of the paper.  Dragster and Funny Car Memories, Southern California in the Sixties measures 8 ¾ inches in width by 11 ¼ inches in height.  The pages are woven into the spine of the book for extra durability.  The price is forty dollars plus shipping and handling and you can order directly from the author or from the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California.  Call the museum at 909-622-2133 and place your order by phone.  The ISBN# is 0-9626454-6-X.

   Dragster and Funny Car Memories, Southern California in the Sixties is composed of a dedication, table of contents, introduction, acknowledgments, five chapters and a profile of the author, but no index.  Montgomery has not created an index for any of his books so far and it forces the reader to scan thoroughly to make sure nothing has been missed.  Even without an index, Montgomery’s books have been well received, often prompting an author’s delight, a second reprinting.  His books have a liberal amount of text to explain the story while the photographs are exceptional and wide ranging.  The author is often envied by other writers for his networking skills in finding collections of photos and background material. Montgomery is now well-known among Southern California hot rodders, many of whom have gone on to success in drag, land speed and oval track racing.  His list of acknowledgments reads like a who’s who of drag racing.  Some of his sources were participants, others were photographers and writers and he knows many that were track managers.  They include; Don Prieto, Bob McClurg, Bob Muravez, George Schreiber, Jim Nelson, Tom Hanna, Steve Gibbs, Frank Pisano, Doug Thorley, Holly Hedrich, Bob Spar, Ted Cyr, Art Chrisman, Don Blair, Ed Osepian, Dode Martin, Gene Adams, Roy Fjastad, Kent Fuller, Doug Kruse, Don Hampton and many more early drag racers, officials, photographers and writers.  But perhaps the best source for this book is Don Montgomery himself.  He was in the action from the very beginning and he knew the people whom he was writing about.  You get the feeling that Don could continue to write about what he knows and turn out a book a year into the foreseeable future.

   Drag racing may owe its origins to sunny Southern California, but it has become a national and worldwide sport.  Montgomery covers it from a local California perspective, but recognizes and applauds the competition, skill and quality of the drivers and race teams that ‘invaded’ California to do battle for the title of best in the sport.  His preliminary chapter is a short seven pages, but well done.  We are given a taste of what is to come as the author describes what led up to the frenzied racing in the 1960’s and the wars for local dominance among the racers and the sanctioning bodies.  He gives a brief overview of the famous Southern California drag strips, including Bakersfield.  Many of the racers had once raced on the dry lakes and at Bonneville and were now making a name for themselves on the paved quarter mile tracks. Dragsters and Funny cars were not uniform as they are today. Owners, builders, mechanics and drivers were experimenting with radical and wild designs to become more aerodynamical, lighter and to develop power and tire traction. A breakthrough by one team would spell constant success until other race teams copied or improved on the technology.  Growth in the sport came at a dizzying rate. Nothing stayed the same for very long.  Speeds got faster and faster and elapsed times became quicker and quicker.  Top fuel dragster drivers included Mickey Thompson, Don Garlits from Florida, Ted Cyr, Bobby Langley, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Chris Karamesines and many more.  Leland Kolb, Tommy Ivo, Eddie Hill and the Warren/Coburn team ruled in Top Gas.  Garlits retired after a long and lustrous career and opened up a drag racing museum in Florida, saving and restoring cars years before it became popular.  Hill won championships in drag boats and cars.  Thompson went on to success in motorcycle racing promotions until his life was taken in a hired assassination.  The Funny Cars were truly funny looking in those early days, but their speeds and times were anything but humorous.  They were built for speed.  Racers such as Randy Walls, Doug Thorley, Paula Murphy, Hayden Proffitt, Big John Mazmanian, Dyno Don Nicholson, Jungle Jim Lieberman with his sidekick, Jungle Pam in her hot pants on the line, thrilled the throngs of spectators.

   The names leap off the page as Montgomery tells their stories and the photographs take us back to the days when we were all young and anything and everything was possible.  The world of drag racing was fierce, but unusually friendly, as competitors would often help each other.  Many of these cars have been restored and are on display in museums, such as the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California, or the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.  Private collectors and old racers are finding their cars and restoring them for nostalgia racing or simply for car shows and cruises.  The reunions and numerous car shows are bringing back the old racers and their stories are beginning to be told by men such as Montgomery.  Sadly, many of the famous old dragstrips did not survive the transition into the 21st century and were torn down to pave way for housing tracts and malls.  A few race tracks have opened recently at Irwindale and Fontana, but the glory years of drag racing in dragsters and funny cars is over.  You can still taste the glory years at the NHRA races at Fontana and Pomona and in books, like Montgomery’s.  These men and women would set the stage for a prolific growth in Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Car for those to follow.  John Force, Joe Amato, Shirley Muldowney, Kenny Bernstein and other modern drivers would someday eclipse the records of those who came of age in the 1960’s, but never take away their achievements as pioneers of the sport of drag racing.
Gone Racin’ is at . 
Gone Racin’…
Hot Rod Memories Relived Again, by Don Montgomery.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  August 28, 2007.  Republished with permission from Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com

     Don Montgomery is a tireless compiler and publisher of hot rod photographs and history.  He has self published a series of hardbound books dealing with the car culture throughout the Southwest United States.  Hot Rod Memories Relived Again is a hardbound book measuring 8 ¾ inches wide by 11 ¼ inches in height with Montgomery’s normal red, white and black dust cover jacket.  Take precautions to protect the dust cover jacket as it enhances the overall look of the book. Hot Rod Memories Relived Again is a full 176 pages in length with 367 black and white photographs and ample text.  Some of the captions are very detailed, though many of the people are unknown.  There are no color photographs and there is no index.  Without an index it is hard to find out just who is portrayed in the book without reading every page.  The quality of the photographs ranges from fair to excellent.  The writing is crisp and well researched.  Montgomery has a large group of friends who raced at the dry lakes of Southern California and who were showing off their cars on the streets.  He is a master historian and voluminous publisher of hot rod books. Hot Rod Memories Relived Again was published in 1991 by Don Montgomery Publishing and you can contact the author to see if he has any copies.  His phone number is 760-728-5557.  You can also check at Autobooks/Aerobooks at 818-845-0707, or the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum bookstore at 909-622-2133, for copies of the book.  The ISBN# is 0-9626454-2-7.  Montgomery wrote the introduction, dedication and the six chapters.  His photographs came from his own collections and his friends; and seems inexhaustible. 

     Montgomery has a system for producing his books on hot rodding, but he likes to joke that when a book runs out of room he starts another book.  This has obvious merit, since it allows him to use up photo collections from various sources and get them on record before they are lost forever.  Montgomery deserves our gratitude for preserving the early history of hot rodding in all of its variety.  If you look at the people that he has access to, it becomes very apparent why his books are so popular and well received by the public.  In Hot Rod Memories Relived Again, he acknowledges help and photographs from the usual list of well-known suspects.  There is Don Waite, Bob Atol, Jim Carnahan, Bill Yates, Al Barnes, Bob Wright, Tony Baron, Jim Berger, George Bentley, Jim Gustafson, Roland Mays, Cal Tanaka, Doug Hartelt, Bill Phy, Fred Larson and many more.  Doug Hartelt spans the time between the dry lakes time trials and the first official drag strip at Santa Ana.  Gene Ohly and Barney Navarro are famous names from the past.  Barney is still working in his shop in Los Angeles.  Dave Marquez was a driver who made the roadster class famous in drag racing with his #880.  The car is one of the 75 all time greatest ’32 Ford Deuces, but no one has been able to find out where the car is and Dave has since passed away.  Joe Reath, Alex Xydias and Don Blair were famous for their speed shops.  Doane Spenser created what many feel was the most beautiful ’32 Ford Deuce roadster ever built.  When you have the quality of friends that Montgomery has, you can see why it is so easy for the author to make such high quality books.

     Chapter One is called Hot Rods on the Streets and discusses why the young hot rodders of the 1920’s and ‘30’s developed the hot rod culture.  They took old Fords and Chevy’s and turned them into works of art.  They cut, chopped, channeled and customized the cars to suit their tastes.  They revved up the engines and got more horsepower out of their cars than the police were able to get from the best stock cars from Detroit.  These young men and women developed their own language and culture and the hamburger stands became their special headquarters.  Montgomery breaks hot rodders in the 1940’s into three categories; racers, street rodders and street rod-racers.  Chapter Two is named Hot Rods and Street Racing.  Hot rodders were constantly being castigated by their local communities for using the public streets to go racing on.  More responsible hot rodders traveled to El Mirage dry lake, near Phelan, California in order to do their racing.  Eventually, drag strips closer to these young hot rodders would open up and take away the urge to go street racing.  Chapter Three is titled Clubs and Associations and discusses the groups that were involved in hot rodding.  Some of those groups, such as the Road Runners and Sidewinders, are still around today.  The group photographs are priceless but many young people are not named in the photo captions, which is a great loss.

     Chapter Four is called Speed Equipment Shops and talks about the places that were famous for speed equipment in the Southern California area.  Bell Auto Parts was the center of hot rodding and racing since the 1920’s, until Roy Richter passed away in the 1980’s.  Louie Senter’s speed shop; Ansen’s Automotive Engineering was another famous place.  Don Blair’s Speed Shop vied with Alex Xydias’ So-Cal Speed Shop.  Montgomery lists auto stores like House of Chrome, muffler shops like Smitty’s and machine shops like Cook Machine Shop as some of the places to find the best parts and service.  Some of the manufacturers of speed equipment were; Navarro, Webber, Moon, Pink, Donovan, Carrillo, Potvin, Evans, Schiefer, Thickstun and Iskenderian.  Chapter Five is titled How Fast Were They and tells the story of how early hot rodders souped up their cars and recorded fast times at the dry lakes.  Speeds and acceleration times in the 1940’s are equal or better than most of the modern stock automobiles of today, which means that the young men of that era really knew how to develop horsepower.  Chapter Six is named Street Rod of the ‘40’s and explains the terms used to customize and build up the stock cars of that time.  Montgomery explains the terms; Carson tops, lowering, De Soto bumpers, fender skirts, ripple disc hubcaps and much more.  Hot Rod Memories Relived Again is a delightful book and a must for any serious historian and lover of early hot rodding.
Gone Racin’ is at
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