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THE SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
 Newsletter
.  Issue #329.
July 18, 2014
Editor-in-Chief: Jack and 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, rfalcon279@aol.com
Historians: Anna Marco, Dick Martin, Tex Smith

Click On All Images / Link For more Info / Images

Some Names To Look For In This Newsletter:
President's Corner; Editorials;

STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:    
     Recently I received an email that told me that if I am willing to do book reviews that a publisher will send me books.  A number of publishers already have me on their list as a reviewer and occasionally they do send me books to review.  Here are some thoughts on the subject and also my policy for reviewing a book, movie, tape, magazine or other related material.  I am glad to do it, but I also realize that I cannot get hopes up that reviews will lead to a positive result; i.e. more sales.  This also goes for collectibles and artwork; I am glad to review such materials and give my reasoned opinion.  I have to be clear, there is no one source for such opinions and the market is the final arbiter of the value of an object.  Jim Miller and I thought about creating a free review section where we could establish a price on various objects and others could join us so that this would be a market where opinions would be averaged out.  When we tried to implement such a project it proved to be far beyond our abilities.  There is only one true value based system; buyer and seller haggle it out to both of their satisfaction.  We found that we would simply be in people’s way and most likely our views would obscure the true value of an object.
     I don't encourage publishers to send me books to review, although they often do.  The reason is that like my father I don't want to be beholden to them.  I know that I am doing them a favor and they are favoring me with their books.  But implicit in this arrangement is that my reviews do some good for the publishers and frankly reviews are not as valuable as they were in the past.  Professional reviewers are not as important as in the past, now that on-line services allow everyone to review a good or a service.  I go to
the internet quite often and though some of the reviews are suspect, I find it a good source of information.  I do reviews more as a historical story project, knowing full well that my value to a publisher is small.  I also feel that when a publisher sends me a book to review that he is expecting a good review and that a lot of my readers will buy the book.  If I give the book a poor review and no one buys his book then he attributes the poor sales result to me and not to the author.  I also accumulate a lot of books that I don't want and they just clutter up my library.  Or I end up reviewing books that just waste my time and I have no interest in. 
     I really want to help a publisher, writer or photographer, but the best way to do that and to take as little time away from me is to pick up a book at a bookshop, do a one-hour cursory count of photos, pages, index, text, etc and write the review at home.  I give publishers two alternatives if they are insistent on a review; 1) send me the book and a postage prepaid envelope to send the book back after I am finished reviewing the book, or 2) just send me the book without a return envelope, though I won’t pay the postage to send it back.  I don't fault any reviewer for keeping the book, or demanding a fee, as our time and effort are important to us too.  Personally I don’t ask for a fee, but some professional reviewers do.  Once I read a book I'd rather it go back to the publisher or author to sell so they can break even and make a profit.  For if they are profitable they will write more books and in the end I want them to be super successful and write and publish as much as they can.
     As much as I like the writer, photographer or publisher and want them to succeed, I can’t in good conscience give them a favorably high rating for a poor product.  As you notice in my reviews, I take the book apart and tell you everything that I can see, so there is no way I can give it an 8 out of 8 sparkplugs after I have shown you all the flaws in the book.  I have to be honest.  Sometimes I will take pity and say, “It’s worth a 5 or 6 sparkplugs.”  That may sound good, but think for a second how your car would run if two or three sparkplugs were misfiring?  So a book to be worth reading ought to be in the 7 to 8 rating category.  Anything less is a poorer rating.  However, just because I have given a book a 5 sparkplug rating does not mean that it is a bad book (movie or magazine). 
     I’d like to get rid of a rating system altogether, because it is the review, not the rating that should tell you whether this book is right for you.  Don’t listen to my OPINION and RATING of a book.  Instead look at what is IN the book and HOW it is constructed and WHAT the book is about.  My idea of an 8 may be your idea of a 5 and vice versa.  I want you to add to your library.  I want you to add movies, tapes, magazines, collectibles and art work to your collections.  To do that I do reviews.  The average hot rodder has a huge collection of materials at home or in his shop.  We at the SLSRH are simply here to help you find those materials that you want to add to your library.
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     I have been chosen by the Petersen Automotive Museum to be a tour guide for their vault collection.  This is a great honor for me and also means I will have access to legendary race cars to report on for our archive.  I will send you a list of what's available soon.  Thus far we have many one off cars; Indy cars, Can-Am cars, Factory race cars, Exotic supercars, Steve McQueen’s Jaguar, LSR electric bike record holder, Mercer racer, Race bikes, 1977 Dennis Baca top fuel dragster “Carpetbagger,” Ol’ Yeller Mark 3-1959 Balchowsky, ‘57 Bangert/Treverbaugh/Kirkland Bonneville racer, Soap Box race cars, Kurtis Midget racecars, and 1953 GT Bosley Mark 1.  We also have 1930’s era Bugattis that were sporty fast but used as luxury cars and historical cars for auto industry such as the first practical car, i.e. 1886 Benz Patent Wagon, 1903 Cadillac Model A runabout.  Anna Marco
    
EDITOR: We look forward to publishing your stories and histories on the cars and the people behind them in future issues.  The Petersen Automotive Museum (PAM) is a first class repository of important cars.  I’m hoping we can find a representative to do the same thing for the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) in Torrance and the Auto Club of Southern California Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.
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STAFF NOTES: the following was sent in by Ron Main.  For photos please go to
www.autoweek.com.
Portion of Bonneville Salt Flats resurfaced June 25, 2014.
     An estimated 2,000 tons of salt were successfully deposited on the mud surface at the end of the access road to the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was graded and then dried to a hard concrete-like racing surface.  Although modest in scope, the project demonstrates that it should be possible to deposit dry salt in targeted areas so as to help preserve the site where land-speed records have been set over the past 100 years.  The project took place over several days in mid-June.  It was organized by the Save the Salt Coalition in coordination with the Southern California Timing Association and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  Shelton Construction deposited the salt over the mud, an area once covered by salt.  The company has decades of experience working in and around Bonneville.  “The dry salt lay-down project marks a milestone event as we celebrate a century of racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats,” said Doug Evans, chairman of the Save the Salt Coalition.  “There has been a significant loss of salt in the area since the 1940s.  While millions of tons of salt brine have been pumped back in recent years, a supplemental dry salt program will focus on targeted areas such as the racetracks.”
     The Bonneville Salt Flats is a national landmark. For motorsports enthusiasts world-wide, it is hallowed ground. From the first speed record attempts in 1914 and through the present day, hundreds of records have been set and broken in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes.  The Save the Salt Coalition is comprised of a number of organizations and companies within the land-speed racing community with the mission of restoring the Bonneville Salt Flats.  The Coalition has been fund-raising to pay for equipment and transportation costs associated with the dry salt program.  “The coalition is now eager to take the next step this summer by laying down a 2-mile strip of salt the width of a racetrack,” said Ron Main, member of the Speed Demon team.  “Pending BLM approval, the test project will confirm that we can repair areas where it’s needed and help preserve and protect our national treasure -- the Bonneville Salt Flats -- for our future generations.”  Read more at Autoweek:
http://www.autoweek.com/article/20140625/motorsports/140629899#ixzz35iAp5bxy.
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STAFF NOTES: The following was sent in by SLSRH member LandSpeed Louise Ann Noeth.
     June 27, 2014 – Berkley, Michigan.  Winners of the 23rd International Automotive Media Awards were announced during a ceremony held at the Vinsetta Garage Restaurant.  IAMA's were presented at a joint event with the North American Concept Vehicle of the Year (NACVOTY) Awards.  The International Automotive Media Competition (IAMC), is a program to recognize and encourage excellence in all forms of automotive media.  Louise Ann Noeth submitted three works for review – all three were judged to be worthy of an award.
GOLD | The Demon’s Dozen | Book - published by LandSpeed Productions
SILVER | Counting Down to a Century of Speed | Magazine – Oct 2013 Goodguys Goodtimes Gazette
BRONZE | Counting Down to a Century of Speed | Magazine Graphics - Goodguys Goodtimes Gazette
     “I’ve taken part in the IAMA’s since its inception,” explained Noeth, “At first, only as a hopeful entrant, to find out how to improve my writing and photography storytelling skills.  Years later, the administrators asked me to judge some categories and I found the volunteer effort to be as rewarding as it was educational – we’ve got some dandy fine motoring media folks at work in the world! When asked to step into the Chief Judge position, after entering three pieces of my own, I accepted only after it was clear my entries would get a beating if they deserved it. That those works finished Gold, Silver and Bronze tells me honest, serious peer review was done. I‘m grateful.  As I see it, my readers are the REAL winners because I believe it critical to never stop tweaking the talents the good Lord saw fit to give me.”
     Noeth shares the Bronze award with Kevin Reynolds, Art Director at the Goodguys Goodtimes Gazette. Judging is by peers, to a standard; entries may earn up to 100 points.  The Medallion International Automotive Media Awards (IAMAs), Bronze (85 - 91), Silver (92 - 96) and Gold (97 - 100) medallions are presented for those works so qualified.  From among the highest - point (98 - 100) Gold awards are chosen the Best of Divisions, with Best of 2013 being chosen from the Best of Division awardees. Therefore, the Medallion IAMAs are a competition against a standard, whereas the Best of Divisions and Best of the Year IAMAs are a competition against other award - winning entries.  If no entry in a category meets the minimum standards no award will be made in that category.  Entries are judged by Category within their Division.  The works sent for judging were published or aired January 1 - December 31, 2013 The IAMC™ is administered, produced by and is a property of The International Society for VEHICLE Preservation, ©2014 all rights reserved. ISVP™ is a non - profit 501 (c) (3) educational organization.
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STAFF NOTES: The following is reprinted with permission by www.Autowriters.com  Newsletter, Glenn F. Campbell editor and publisher.  June 2014 newsletter  
     The road ahead looks bumpy.  A good deal of the pessimism is prompted not just by the 90 or more editorial jobs cut by Source Media International but by the 6,000 jobs it slashed by closing its once profitable Source Interlink Distribution operation.  Keith J. Kelly, writing in his New York Post Media Ink column, May 30, describes the truly drastic situation the magazine business is in.  He says, "magazine publishers end up shredding the bulk of the magazines, perhaps as much as 70 percent, produced for sale at retail outlets."  Richard Truesdell's Facebook posting takes off from Kelly's column to bemoan the broken business model of magazine publishing.  But it doesn't stop there.  "The buff-books are dying and the car blogs are right behind them," according to Bertil Schmitt in his Daily Kanban rant of May 30.  A veteran of decades in the automotive communications trenches, he is critical of just about every dimension of the auto-writing scene: the current crop of auto bloggers, their writing, their relevance and their pay or lack thereof.  He backs his opinions by citing rankings of major car blogs, that "mostly have been going sideways in 2013, a trend that could be observed for the last few years . . ." A trend he likens to drowning on the Internet.  The one exception to the trend he attributes to its eager catering to "an underage demographic where …. is a hot search word."  Schmitt predicts that car companies are already searching for ways to bypass the blogger middlemen and take their product messages directly to the public.                                                           -----------------------------
     The SEMA Garage Industry Innovations Center open house in Diamond Bar, California, on July 17 and celebrates the unique facility's ability to help manufacturers develop automotive parts and accessories from start to finish. Tools in the SEMA Garage include a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM), a 3D printer, digital race car scales, a dyno and emissions lab, a training center, and a photo cove stocked with an abundance of lights, strobe kits, umbrellas and more.               
.                                                        -----------------------------
     Jean Jennings, who rose to editor-in-chief and president of Automobile during her 29 years with the magazine was left or chose to stay behind when its parent company, Source Interlink Media, decided to move the magazines to its Los Angles offices.  Mike Floyd is now Automobile's editor-in-chief based in L.A. while deputy editor Joe DeMatio and a few other editorial staff remain in Detroit working out of Source's Motor City business office.  Because the Automobile relocation was part of a major contracting of Source's automobile titles, the new editorial lineups will be sought when the smoke clears. For those who have not read about the Source shake-up, try Source Interlink Media Rebrands as TEN: The Enthusiast Network from SEMA eNews for a concise listing of the new magazine lineup.   Glenn F. Campbell Publisher autowriters.com     
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If you can't get the Australian/New Zealand Drag Racing Series on your TV go to
http://www.youtube.com/user/andradragracing, also look at https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ANDRA+Drag+Racing+Series&rls=com.microsoft:en-GB:IE-Address&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7ADRA_enGB491&gfe_rd=cr&ei=cDyrU_GQLaTY8gfjwICwBg&gws_rd=ssl.  John Hutchinson
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How to Tell the State of the Hot Rod Parts Industry - Commentary 7.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission from Internet Brands and
www.hotrodhotline.com
     Those of us who watch our hobby/sport and related industry never fail to bewail the state of affairs anytime we gather.  One of the barometers I watch closely are the fiberglass parts people.  They are a direct indication of what is going on across the board.  As an example, for years I have watched the ads from Wescott. If they are advertising complete bodies, the hobby is doing well.  If Wescott is advertising parts, things are not so good out there in street rod land.
     I explained this one day to Dee, scion of the Wescott brand.  He replied that the bodies were (at that time) a really big ticket item, and that was why his company was at so many runs.  The customer would read about the bodies in magazines, but they would want to touch and feel and get an eyeful of the real thing.  They would then go home, think about the purchase, and finally after several months (or years), they would step up to the plate.
     When bucks would get tight, the waiting time would stretch by years rather than months.  Now, we are seeing some really high ticket items on the offer, and we are seeing some really shakey business deals going under.  Not because the products are of a lesser quality, but because the perception of value for money is playing a much bigger role in American hot rodding.  Add to this some poor quality products failing the user tests, and you get a skittish buyer waiting longer before making a leap of faith.  This is playing out on the swap meet fields as well.  It is now a buyer’s market, which to me seems what it should always be.
     Since I am several time zones removed from American shores, I get the advantage of monocular vision regards the hot rod industry.  Most of the haps have already gone down by the time I hear of action rumblings.  Amazingly, some of my U.S. sources of information are often well behind me in gaining insight into a problem area.
     Anyway, other than watching magazine and electronic media advertising, consider what happens at trade shows (such as SEMA) and at rod runs/drags where trade product alleys prevail.  Marginal bling takes a back row to hardcore mainline products as companies struggle to survive.  The purveyors are desperate for sales, any kind of sales, rather than rave reviews of big ticket items that are going to take years to repay investment.  Right now, those low-key services operations are where the dollars are flowing.  How long until there is the inevitable upswing?  Haven’t a clue.
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Gone Racin’…
Crazy Horses; the history of British drag racing, by Brian Taylor, with a foreword by Don Garlits.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.

     Brian Taylor has researched and written a wonderful book on British drag racing from the very beginning until the present.  The book is called Crazy Horses; the history of British drag racing, and is a hard bound book 224 pages in length and measuring 8 by 11 inches in size.  The paper is first class bond, but not as slick as some pictorial book use, still the photographs were clear and crisp.  The book is not bound at the spine, but glued in, so you need to take special care so as not to have any damage occur to the pages.  The dust cover jacket is well done and enhances the look of the book.  I have mentioned this to you before; over time the dust jacket will be worth half the cost of the book itself.  The dust cover jackets are often worn out, lost and discarded.  Always take excellent care of your dust cover jackets.  Crazy Horses; the history of British drag racing, contains introductions, acknowledgments, author and photographer information and a nice foreword by Don “Big Daddy” Garlits.  There is a very good index covering four comprehensive pages and an addendum for British Hall of Fame drag racing inductees.  There are 240 color and 49 black and white photographs.  I didn’t see any graphs, pie charts or other graphics other than the photographs.  Some of the photos were full page, a few covering two pages and some rather small, but the overall quantity and quality fit the text very well.  I would have loved to see more black and white photographs, indicating more age and history for the subject.  Roger Gorringe took most of the photographs and they are extremely good.  There is a substantial amount of text, and the captions are satisfactory.  The book has cross-over appeal.  It can be enjoyed as a coffee table book for its photographs and visual appeal, read for the interesting content, is a crisp historical reference and appeals to both an American and European audience.  It’s rare to hear about drag racing outside of the United States and thus Crazy Horses will peak our interest.

     Pay attention to the list of acknowledgments, because that will give you a clue as to how thorough the author was in doing his research.  All of the sources are excellent, but a few names jumped out, including; Gordie Bonin, Don Garlits, Tom Ivo, Paula Murphy, Carl Olson, and Steve Swaja.  Taylor used magazines, books, libraries, websites and newsletters as well in researching the roots of British drag racing and you can see his enthusiasm for his subject.  Don Garlits supplied the foreword and described the 1964 British Drag Festival and the participation of the American Drag Racing Team sent to England by Wally Parks and the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).  Garlits tells about the wonderful support the British racers and public extended to himself and the other American racers.  Garlits is now as fervid and committed to saving the history and heritage of drag racing as he was a ferocious and feared competitor on the dragstrips of yesteryear.  Taylor was wise to select Don Garlits to set the tone for the rest of the book.  Chapter One is called Roots and of course this is the author’s first effort to bring out the real history of drag racing in the British Isles.  Here Taylor starts out with a history of American hot rodding and time trials, morphing into modern drag racing.  That’s fine and important for a European audience, but I found it unnecessary.  Also, there were a few errors, very minor, but nonetheless easily picked up, such as the mention that Wally Parks was regularly winning on the dry lakes of southern California in the SCTA time trials in the 1930’s.  He was an official and administrator and we have few records of Parks running for time at the dry lakes.  Winning is the wrong word to use anyway, for it was the attempt to break and set records against the clock that time trials are known for.  Still, there weren’t many of these slip-ups and the story continued, this time discussing early British drag racing history.

     The author spends about a half of one page to describe British time trials, similar to timed land speed trials in the United States, covering six decades in a short space.  Even though this isn’t technically drag racing, I wished there had been more.  But Taylor is in a hurry to tell the whole story and British drag racing is rich in history and lore, though on a smaller scale than in the U.S.  Taylor states that the roots of British hot rodding and thus the beginnings of drag racing began in the 1950’s around London, about two or three decades after the development in America.  A decade later, on September 1, 1960 the British Hot Rod Association (BHRA) is formed, and the man who would be the icon of this new sport was Sydney Allard.  Besides his promotion of drag racing, Allard was also a car dealer, sports car manufacturer, oval and hill climb racer.  Early drag cars were every bit as innovative and sophisticated as American cars.  The Brits were proving to be every bit as original and tenacious in automotive racing as any other group of people.  A reorganization of the BHRA occurred in 1962.  Two years later the British Drag Racing Association (BDRA) formed to operate a series of races featuring the American racing teams on tour.  If some of the cars shown in the book seemed a bit strange, think back to the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s in the United States and you can equate that with the experimentation that the Brits were also doing.  Chapter Two tells of the American “Invasions” of the middle years of the 1960’s.  It was bound to happen.  England was becoming a European center for drag racing and Americans would have to travel there and find out for themselves how the sport was expanding.  Dante Van Dusen drove Dean Moon’s gas dragster in England.  Wally Parks urged SEMA to put up a trophy, Mickey Thompson and other American racers wanted in and the U.S. sent drag racers east to partially make up for the Brits sending the Beatles west.

     The name given to the tour was the 1964 British International Drag Festival.  Some good friends went on the tour and decades later they still talk about the people, races and hospitality that they received.  Men like Don Garlits, Tom Ivo, Tony Nancy, George Montgomery, K.S. Pittman, Sox and Martin, Strickler and Jenkins, and bike guys like Bill Woods and Don Hyland.  Years later my father, Wally Parks, told us many wonderful memories of that tour and the Brits who returned the favor and came to race in America.  A rich crosscurrent of cars went back and forth across “the pond.”  One of my father’s secretary’s, Shirley Bunce hailed from England and she always introduced me to British drag racers when they came to see the NHRA races.  Chapter Three tells us the story of the development of Santa Pod Raceway, at Podington Airfield in Northamptonshire.  This was the first permanent dragstrip and a place of historical pride for drag racing Brits.  I could never get an answer from the Brits as to why they used the name Santa Pod until I read the book and found out that they were honoring the old Santa Ana, California, drag strip the first professional drag racing facility in the world.  American racers continued to come to England on scheduled tours for several more years and the Brits quickly standardized their sport by observation and their own unique hot rodding talents.  A casual observer would be hard pressed to know whether he was watching a drag race in England or America, except for the accents of the people themselves.  By 1967 the BDRA and the BHRA merged to form a stronger association to promote and sanction drag racing.  At this point Taylor tells the story by year and the appeal of drag racing is growing.

     By the end of the 1960’s the Brits are touring Sweden and showing their cars to the Swedes.  The growing pains of the 1960’s were not always pleasant and many organizations rose up to contest for leadership.  Taylor states in Chapter Four that the 1970’s would be the decade of unprecedented growth with England becoming the focal point of drag racing in Europe.  Other countries would also develop their own forms of drag racing, rules and safety, but all would look back on this decade as the golden age of drag racing.  The Americans again sent a team to tour England in 1973 that included Paula Murphy, Don Schumacher, Tony Nancy and Danny Johnson (bike).  Paula has set drag racing, land speed, jet car and other records among women.  Murphy tells me stories to this very day about her tour of England.  Many other drag strips opened up throughout the British Isles.  The elapsed times and speeds were becoming very competitive and fast, with the first 5 second run in 1976.  Chapter Five tells of the development of drag racing throughout northern Europe, especially in Scandinavia, Britain and Holland and crowds at Santa Pod reaching 50,000 fans.  Don Garlits tours England in the mid-1970’s and won the July 1977 Internationals.  Santa Pod and British drag racing was squarely on the map.  European records continued to fall.  In 1979 Sammy Miller in his rocket powered funny car set a record of 4.2 ET at 307 mph.  The thrill of speed was just as infectious on the other side of the “pond” as it was in America.  They also have their unique brand of sex appeal as Paula Derbridge lines up Russ Carpenter’s dragster clad only in a very skimpy bikini.  Even our Jungle Pam Lieberman never wore a bikini outfit quite that revealing.  The enthusiasm for drag racing is as avid in England as it is anywhere.

     The Golden age of drag racing came to a rather sudden end in the 1980’s as the racing clubs and sanctioning bodies began to argue and the world-wide economic turbulence took a toll.  Growth of drag racing throughout Europe grew faster than safety and sanity would suggest.  Perhaps this was simply a breather, waiting for another time in which the sport would thrive as it had in the ‘70’s.  Taylor presents sidebars from well-known and influential people; including land speed and drag racer Carl Olson, announcer John Price, British racer Dennis Priddle, Alan Allard and many more.  Though the book is broken down into chapters, Taylor gives us a year by year breakdown on the drag racing scene in Great Britain.  As we reach the end of the 1990’s the actual content starts to decline to half a page or less per year, hardly enough to whet our appetite.  However, the purpose of the book is to give a historical perspective of British drag racing and in this Taylor succeeds.  There is far more to drag racing in the British Isles than most of us have ever envisioned.  The speeds, competitiveness, desire and effort rival any other country or region.  The Brits have much to be proud of and I sense that Crazy Horses, part 2 would fill in many of the gaps in the story.  No history can tell it all.  Authors research and write on what they know and after the book reaches print they find other avenues that they wished that they could have explored and written about.   The same is true with Crazy Horses.  Taylor has penned a compelling history and he may not be finished yet.  We can only hope that part 2 is in his mind to do.  Crazy Horses; the history of British drag racing is a book that should be in the library of any drag racing fan who truly loves the history of the sport.  Hopefully we will see another history of drag racing throughout Europe, for that story needs to be told as well.  I rate this book a 7 out of 8 sparkplugs.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection, by Thom Taylor, Steve Coonan and the staff of The Rodder’s Journal.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.

     Most of my reviews are very simple.  I explain the size, shape, construction, content and then place a value on the book so that the reader can quickly determine whether it’s in their interest to look further into adding it to their library.  Sometimes my review of books out of print is merely an effort to let readers know that a gem of a book exists in case they should run across a copy at a swap meet or a garage sale.  On rare occasions I review a book that is a cornerstone addition; that is a book so valuable that it should be the beginning on which you build your collection.  Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection is one of those cornerstone books.  When Steve Coonan, Thom Taylor and Don Coonan mentioned that they were going to undertake this project and publish Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection, my expectations were very high.  It took them quite some time, effort and expense, but my hopes for this book were not disappointed.  Why is this book a masterpiece in my estimation?  Well, it is an interesting story of a man and a magazine that has riveted the attention of anyone who ever owned or read an old issue of Throttle magazine.  The story begins in the late 1930’s, a time when the Great Depression changed America forever, and a world war was looming in the dark future.  Young men in Southern California were developing their own brand of the car culture, which we call hot rodding today.  They usually were poor, lucky if they had a job or part-time work and most people lived with extended family in small homes.  Money was tight and that encouraged creativity and inventiveness.  Young men would scour the junk yards for old cars and parts and build their own version of a fast and beautiful car.  They raced their cars on the streets, at oval tracks, at the dry lakes in the Mojave Desert and anywhere they could find an opportunity to show them off. 

     It’s hard to describe the activity and local racing in the 1930’s to people today.  The size and scope of the car culture then was huge, compared to today.  During and just after the Great Depression and World War II, the freedom that cars, travel and racing gave to people was enormous.  We didn’t have the widespread use of television at that time.  There was no internet to occupy our attentions.  We had radio and it was a major part of our lives, though normally we only listened to it during the evenings, when the music and comedy shows came on.  There were oval track races every night of the week in one location or another.  A young man could take his roadster, coupe, jalopy, sprint car or midget to a track and race it on a constant basis and if he was a talented driver and his car was sturdy and well-built, he could win more money in a race than he could earn in a week.  I remember seeing my Uncle Vance Ziebarth’s check from the foundry.  He earned $17 a week and in those days you worked 10 hours or more a day.  A good driver might make that much or more in one night at the track, or sometimes win nothing and have to have his friends tow him home if he ran out of gas and money.  Another activity for young men and their cars at that time, and still going on, is the time trials in the deserts on dry lakes, where the object is to match man and machine against time itself.  It was a grueling trip out to the desert on roads that were primitive and sometimes non-existent.  Once there it took organization and control in order to bring the chaos of young men racing their cars in every direction at once.  George Wight and George Riley organized the Muroc Timing Association and ran it like a business, with help from young men and car clubs.

     By 1937 the two men had decided to get out of the business of dry lakes racing and seven car clubs organized the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) to carry on racing on the desert playas.  Once a month, from May through November, young men would make the long, slow and arduous trip out to the dry lakes of Southern California.  In between they would race on the oval tracks or arrange for informal races on isolated streets and highways.  Other groups would form to organize this boiling point of enthusiasm for young men and their lust to race their cars.  The Western Timing Association (WTA) formed with the goal of conducting safe and controlled land speed racing on the dry lakes.  The goal of the SCTA, WTA, Russetta Timing Association and oval track promoters and racing associations was to bring a measure of safety to car racing and to counter the public belief that auto racing was unsafe.  Many people wanted to see car racing banned on the oval tracks, at the dry lakes and particularly on the streets, where it was virtually unsupervised.  These groups would spend time and resources to counter the public perception that auto racing was dangerous, deadly and unnecessary.  Individuals would also speak out on the subject; men like Wally Parks, Ed Adams, Art Tilton, Thatcher Darwin, Ak Miller and Jack Peters.  Adams, Parks, Tilton, Darwin and Miller represented the SCTA and they were advocates of safe and sanctioned dry lakes racing.  Walt James, J.C. Agajanian and other promoters and racing leaders oversaw the safety of oval track racing.  However, there were hardly any publications devoted to promoting auto racing at the time and to be a voice for the interests of car guys and racers.  Into that void stepped Jack Peters, a young man who passionately believed in promoting the interests of the racing public.

     Jack Peters is actually an alias and if it hadn’t been for the great detective work by the people at The Rodder’s Journal, his story might never have been told.  He was born Jack E. Jerrils, but went by the name of Jack Peters while he was racing.  He had a striking and bubbly personality and you quickly noticed his piercing eyes, wide smile and big ears.  He had a presence about him and he was well liked.  For years people believed that Jack must have been a Throttler and that he went off to war and perished, for nothing was heard from him again after 1942.  Jack Peters founded Throttle magazine in late 1940 and the first issue came out in January of 1941.  He went everywhere with a bundle of magazines under his arm and how we came to know him was through his meetings with the SCTA Board of Director meetings.  Throttle magazine was an instant success with car guys in Southern California, though Peters had to work hard to convince the advertisers that his little magazine had staying power.  He produced 11 monthly issues and a special issue to honor and report on the biggest race of them all – the Indianapolis 500.  Peters scoured the racing landscape for stories and Throttle magazine was one of the first publications to give space to the dry lakes and land speed racers.  The quality of the magazine and its reporting accuracy was outstanding.  Over the years collectors and historians made every effort to find and add Throttle magazine to their collections.  The magazine grew in popularity, content and size to the point that in early December of 1941 Peters wrote in the editorial for that month that 1942 looks like his magazine will reach even greater reach and success.  It was not to be, for a few days after the editorial was written and the magazines were being mailed out, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and all forms of racing would cease until after the war. 

     Peters closed his publication and entered the service and after that no one ever heard from him again.  It was common for men to leave for the war and never return.  Over the years we collected Throttle magazine, read and reread the old stories from 1941 and dreamed about what would have happened if WWII had never occurred.  In 1948 Bob Lindsay and Robert “Pete” Petersen began to publish Hot Rod magazine and it was eerie how similar their publication was to Throttle magazine.  They had the same cover, red stripes on the top and bottom with a gray background in the middle with a photograph of a car or driver.  The headings, stories, titles and way of organizing the content were very similar and leads us to believe that Lindsay and Petersen copied the format of Throttle for their new racing magazine.  Perhaps most magazines of the day had a similar format.  I remember that Look, Life, Saturday Evening Post and other magazines often had similar outlines.  But the similarity between Throttle magazine in 1941 and Hot Rod magazine in 1948 is nearly identical.  Throttle magazine was forgotten for many years, until collectors began finding copies at swap meets, garage sales and on eBay.  Hot Rod magazine became iconic and well sought after, but Throttle became a rarity and seldom mentioned by most racing fans.  We knew that the magazine existed and I made a photo copy of Jack Underwood’s collection of Throttle magazine, which is good that I did, since someone stole his Throttle magazines.  That’s all that he and I have to work with while using Throttle magazine as a researching tool for pre-WWII auto racing.  The copied material is fine for that research, but no match for having the actual magazine in front of us.

     Then the Coonan brothers at The Rodder’s Journal talked to Thom Taylor and using Thom’s original collection of Throttle magazines, great detective work and the excellent quality of The Rodder’s Journal photography and printing, they brought us Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection.  The result is a book that even exceeds the earlier magazines themselves.  The sad part is that we only have one year, 1941, in which this magazine existed and reported on the racing scene.  We are so thankful that we have this one year, but we can’t help but think what a treasure was lost because Peters didn’t start until that year and WWII ended his dream of starting a national car racing publication.  If the war hadn’t interrupted Throttle magazine’s existence, it is highly probably and close to a near certainty that Lindsay and Petersen would never have created Hot Rod magazine.  We don’t know that for a fact and I don’t recall that anyone ever asked Lindsay and Petersen this question while they were alive.  Yet Throttle magazine began to thrive and grow rapidly and we can assume from the facts that if Peters had continued publishing Throttle magazine, that Hot Rod magazine would not have survived the competition.  Another point is that Hot Rod magazine was started as a tool to help Petersen promote the SCTA Hot Rod Show at the Armory in Los Angeles in 1948.  This show was put on for a major reason, to show the public that hot rodding was something to be appreciated and not feared.  The SCTA didn’t know whether it would be a commercial success or a failure.  The need to promote hot rodding as an organized sport was imperative and they were desperate to get the public on their side.  Pending legislation to end hot rodding was in the California Assembly and the public was clamoring for an end to street racing.  The SCTA and other groups had to act and the Hot Rod Show was the tool that the group was using to educate the public.

     If Throttle magazine had not closed and were still publishing, Petersen and the SCTA would certainly have used the publication for promoting the Hot Rod Show and Hot Rod magazine most likely would never have been created.  As for the book, Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection, it is up to the high standards of the old Throttle magazine and The Rodder’s Journal.  The book measures 8 x 10 inches in dimension and is about inch in thickness.  It is a hard cover edition and the binding is an extra quality cloth binding and not glued.  The book cover jacket is worth saving and is reminiscent of the covers on the old Throttle magazines.  Strange as it may seem, the book cover jacket which is meant to protect the book, is probably worth half the price of what the book is valued at, so you need to make sure that you protect the book cover jacket.  I stress this over and over again in all my reviews, for while a book cover jacket does not give any information as compared to the contents of the book itself, yet books lose a considerable amount of value when they are torn, tattered or lost.  This book cover jacket really enhances the appeal of the book, making Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection valuable as a coffee table book, a racing book and an encyclopedia of racing history.  The book has 185 pages, all of which are very high quality, waxed photographic paper, similar to that used by The Rodder’s Journal and making the photographs stand out in high detail.  It is as if they had taken 12 issues of Throttle magazine and bound them into a book.  The quality of the old magazine and that of the new book are equal.  This is a first class reproduction of a first class magazine of the day.  There is a one page introduction by Thom Taylor and Steve Coonan, terse, passionate and to the point.  Following that is a one page table of contents.  There are 13 chapters; one chapter for each monthly issue of the old Throttle magazine and an extra chapter on the history of Throttle magazine and Jack Peters, aka Jack E. Jerrils.  Finally there is a six page comprehensive index, which I always like to see in a book.  I often go first to the index to judge a book.  If an author creates a good index, that is an indication that the rest of the book will have content and detail as well.  Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection has a thorough and complete index and the historian and fans of racing will appreciate that little extra attention to detail.

     The photographs for the most part have come from the old Throttle magazines and thus the quality should be rated on what Jack Peters had to work with at the time.  Peters did a remarkable job with his photography, considering what he had available to him.  Steve Coonan did an excellent job of transferring the old photographs into the book without losing any more detail and clarity.  Coonan always does an excellent job.  The Rodder’s Journal has competitor in journalism that is superior.  At best there are a few magazines that can come close to equaling what Coonan does.  That does not mean that the photographs in Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection are always of high quality as you see in The Rodder’s Journal, but that is not Coonan’s fault, but the type of cameras that Peters was using back in 1941.  For most purposes the photographs are sufficient for the general public and auto racing historians to use and enjoy.  This was the best that they had back in 1941 and Coonan has faithfully kept whatever quality there was from degrading further.  Jack Peters wrote many of the columns and stories published in Throttle magazine, but he went out of his way to get others to contribute as well, so we have a well rounded view of racing in 1941.  Besides Peters, there were articles and by-lines by his brother, Dick Jerrils, Pop Myers, Wally Parks, George Rowell, Lou Senter, Howard Wilson, Barney Glazer, W. Blaine Patton, Art Tilton, Sid Senter, and Howard Langley.  Rowell and Lou Senter were the major columnists, but Jack Peters filled the majority of pages of Throttle magazine with his zealous reporting.  The words simply pack energy and reach out after nearly seven decades with a resonance of power.  Reading these old stories is like awakening from a long sleep and seeing familiar faces.  They are still alive today in our memories, these events, men and their machines.

     Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection is published by The Rodder’s Journal, 263 Wattis Way, South San Francisco, California 94080.  You can reach them at 1-650-246-8920 or 1-800-750-9550 and their website is www.roddersjournal.com.   No price or ISB number was listed, and at present the book can only be purchased through The Rodder’s Journal main office.  As for references, well I have one and that is my father, Wally Parks.  He kept and treasured The Rodder’s Journal as he received it monthly.  He left his copies to my brother and me and considered the magazine to be one of the finest that he has ever seen.  If he had lived to see Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection, he would have told you that it was a true masterpiece.  It is a masterpiece of work from Jack Peters that Steve Coonan and Thom Taylor have lovingly brought back to life so that all of us can share in owing a complete collection of the 12 issues of Throttle magazine.  So it is easy for me to simply say – BUY it.  I rate Throttle – 1941: The Complete Collection a complete and full 8 spark plugs out of a total of 8 possible.  It is that good a book.  I couldn’t find anything that I even faintly found lacking.  It’s readable, informative, fast and fun.  The book is chock full of details and history and the stories are as fresh today as when they were written.  The enthusiasm and zeal of that day comes through for me in an age seven decades removed from the Great Depression era.  It’s a book I pick up often and scan through and enjoy, just for a moment or for an hour.  It’s, after all, a cornerstone book for your hot rodding and car racing library.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…The Fast Lane; The History of NHRA Drag Racing, by Tehabi Books
Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

   There have been few books so reviled and maligned as The Fast Lane; The History of NHRA Drag Racing, by Tehabi Books.  Well, maybe the Bible is reviled by more atheists and communists and Mein Kampf is hardly loved at all by those of the Jewish faith, but The Fast Lane is undoubtedly the pariah of drag racers.  I looked at this book to see just what it was that inspires so much hatred and anger and found that it was political and not artistic among the drag racers themselves.  In a nutshell, the reason is that it ignores the exploits and career of one of drag racing’s most illustrious pioneer, or so people tell me.  But I’m a reviewer and my job is to grapple with the book and its construction and see what it tells me and not the book reading public, which holds all reviewers to be stuffy know-it-alls.  First, let’s look at the book itself and then we will consider the heated opinions of the public at large.  The Fast Lane is a well crafted book by Tehabi Books, but no author is listed.  We don’t really know whom to praise or blame as it seems a group effort.  Are they racers or simply publishers looking for a niche market in the auto racing world.  The Fast Lane is a hard-bound book, measuring 10 by 12 inches with 204 high quality waxed pages and outstanding photography.  Definitely it ranks as one of the best coffee table books by appearances only.  It’s meant to last as it has a high quality cloth binding and the dust cover jacket is excellent with its red and black dragster theme.  Save the dust cover jacket at all costs and it really enhances the look of the book.  There isn’t any table of contents and so one has to go through the book to locate the chapters, which are divided into short subjects.  There is a fine 6 page introduction by NHRA founder Wally Parks.  There is also an adequate, but not necessarily great index and a one page acknowledgment.   The ISBN# is 0-06-039-405-6 and is copyrighted by the NHRA, which indicates that this book was supposed to fill a marketing niche on the 50th anniversary of the NHRA.  Perhaps that is the start of the problem.  The price is $45, but you may have problems finding a copy of this book as it was recalled from general sales.  The photographs are excellent.  They are simply outstanding and warrant a closer look at this book.  The Fast Lane contains 2 sepia photos, 63 black and white photographs, 167 color prints, 4 drawings, 5 artwork or posters and 2 charts.

   There really are no chapters, but there are divisions and within the divisions there are subjects.  The subjects tell us who the writers and group authors favored or thought were of importance.  It’s a long group of featured men, women, car classes and subjects, but it’s necessary to go through them for the answer to our quest lies in whom wasn’t included, not who was.  The Fast Lane subchapters start out with hot rodding, the NHRA Museum, Bonneville, Wally Parks, early division directors, Art Chrisman, Twin engine cars, slingshots, Bean Bandits and the Safety Safari.  Good, the beginnings of the sport have their own sections and full page photo layouts.  Then comes subchapters on top fuel dragsters, Don Prudhomme, Mickey Thompson, the Gasser Wars, Angelle Seeling, Terry Vance, Matt Hines, pro stock bikes, exhibitionists and the science of drag racing.  A bit of a jumble, and no, there are no nude ladies in the subchapter on exhibitionists.  After this comes subgroupings on Tony Schumacher, record charts, burnouts, Bill ‘Grumpy’ Jenkins, pro stockers, Lee Shepherd, Richie Stevens, Don Nicholson, Bob Glidden, Kenny Bernstein and Sox and Martin.  Following this is a group consisting of pro stock truck, John Lingenfelter, suits and chutes, Linda Vaughn, John Force, Dick and Kim La Haie, the aerodynamics of drag racing, Joe Amato and funny cars.  Each section has some text and a great photo layout, suggesting that The Fast Lane was meant to be a coffee table book and not an in-depth history of the sport of drag racing.  Another group consists of the following subtopics; Connie, Scott and Doug Kalitta, Shirley Muldowney, racing families, Warren, Arlene and Kurt Johnson, Jr Drag racing, Jim Yates and his family and the ‘strip.’  No, the ‘strip’ is not a burlesque, but the course that racers race on.  The last group of subjects discusses the shutdown, Scelzi/Johnson Racing, Big Jim Dunn, car classes, Darrell Gwynn, bracket racing, sportsmen, Super Gas, Super Comp, Super Street and Pat Austin.  The book concludes with an index and acknowledgments.  What do we have in The Fast Lane?  We have a well crafted, reasonably inexpensive, coffee table book with outstanding photographs and just enough text to just barely move it into the ‘historical’ category.  The flaws that are apparent are that it looks more like a PR Media handout of the stars racing in 2001, with a few past heroes thrown in.  From this viewpoint, it is a very good book, just not a great one, but worthy of adding to your library.

   Upon further research and discussion with many drag racers and fans, it isn’t what’s in the book than what was left out.  What was lacking was a section devoted to one of the greatest, if not the greatest drag racer of all time, Don Garlits.  Was the oversight intentional or unintentional?  There are a lot of great drag racers who were not mentioned, so is this meant as a snub or as an error?  Don Garlits is mentioned in the index on 8 occasions.  I checked each and every reference and there was no photograph to go with the quote or the reference to him.  It would be a silly brouhaha if the full title of the book was simply called The Fast Lane.  But the editors/writers add to that; The History of NHRA Drag Racing.   This has divided the drag racing community into the pro-Don Garlits faction versus the anti-Don Garlits faction and kept this book from reaching the public as the NHRA simply removed the book from circulation.  The pro-Don Garlits faction, or the pro-NHRA lobby are not that petty to let a feud over photographs destroy an otherwise fine book.  Not a great book, mind you, but a very good book, one that fills a need in the racing community.  The middle ground would have been to print up an insert and add it to the unsold books and have those inserts available to those that already purchased a copy.  Don Garlits has every right to question why a special subchapter with his photograph and that of his famous Wynn’s sponsored cars were not prominently displayed.  The publishing group has every right to publish a book in however format they choose to do so.  It is the public that will eventually say whether the one flaw in this book is fatal to the success of The Fast Lane.  But to spite all the other excellent stories of the men and women of drag racing seems to this reviewer to be overkill.  Perhaps it all comes down to the title of the book.  The Fast Lane; The History of NHRA Drag Racing really isn’t ‘the’ history of drag racing, but ‘a’ pictorial of NHRA drag racing.  I am rating the book 6 spark plugs out of a possible total score of 8 spark plugs and suggest that this book is a companion to, but not the exclusive story of NHRA drag racing.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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STAFF NOTES: Brian Taylor sent this to us.
      Lucas Oil Products UK has become the latest company to support the 2014 British Drag Racing Hall of Fame (BDRHoF) Gala Awards Dinner being held at the Savill Court Hotel, Windsor Great Park on November 22nd.  Lucas Oil Products was founded by Forrest Lucas and his wife Charlotte in 1989.  They started Lucas Oil Products with the simple philosophy of producing only the best line of lubricants and additives available anywhere. An innovative product research and development programme, along with aggressive marketing has helped to firmly establish Lucas as a prominent figure in the marketplace. The Lucas brand has long been directly involved in the American racing industry through multiple vehicle sponsorships and racing event promotions, at all levels. Seeing a need for better lubricants in this industry, the Lucas people went to work again. The end result is a line of high performance engine oils and gear oils that are second to none in the racing industry.  
      Les Downey is Managing Director and Director of European Operations for Lucas Oil Products UK that he established back in 1998. He has been associated with supporting UK drag racing for many years and at the Savill Court he is hosting the welcome drinks for guests as they arrive ready for the Awards Dinner. Commenting on his support of the BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner Les Downey said, “But as well as welcoming guests with a drop of bubbly we will also be involved in another aspect of the event to be announced on the night. It promises to be an evening to remember and set a new standard in hospitality that can only benefit the sport of drag racing over the next few years. It’s particularly rewarding to be involved in the event that also celebrates 50 years since Sydney Allard organized the First British International Drag Festival.”    
     Commercial and Marketing Manager for the BDRHoF Management Group Brian Taylor said,     “We have put a lot of effort to ensure this 50th Anniversary BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner will be a big success and fitting tribute to the sport’s pioneers. It is great to have Les and Lucas Oil Products on board as a supporter. They have become part of the drag racing family across the globe. Not many drag racing events are held without the Lucas Oil shield appearing somewhere and this BDRHoF Gala Awards Dinner will be no exception.”  The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame is sponsored by many businesses and associations. Without this support it could not exist. They are Beech Underwriting; U S Automotive; Power Race Graphics; Santa Pod Racers Club; Pennine Drag Racing Club; Eurodragster.com; Avon Park International Racing Association, Shakespeare County Raceway; Santa Pod Raceway; York Raceway; Allard Motor Company, Flint Insurance Group and Lucas Oil.    
     Further Press Information from Robin Jackson,
RJProMod@aol.com.   Telephone 01933-222917.
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