Header__ARTICLEShorter
line12
slsrh-logo1

THE SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
 Newsletter
.  Issue #333.August 24
, 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;

GUEST EDITORIAL, by Tom Condran.

     Climate change is not responsible for the deterioration of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Man is.  Intrepid Potash - Bonneville had been siphoning off brine from the Bonneville salt pan since 1963 to extract potash, a fertilizer.  You may remember that Craig Breedlove's 500 mph record run tore off his chute and killed his brakes, and his jet car finally crashed into a brine dike.  Their mining activity reduced the area of salt from 96,000 acres then to 30,000 acres today.  In 1998 the Bureau of Land Management mandated that Intrepid Potash abide by a Salt Reclamation project, whereby no brine would be extracted from north of I-80 (officially designated as Bonneville Salt Flats), and that brine extracted from unprotected areas south of I-80 be pumped over onto the flats. Their efforts have not restored the flats, but have mainly halted further deterioration. Today the salt is only as thick at the center of the pan as it was in 1988, two feet. Around the fringes in the paddock area, I found the salt only two inches deep. It is considered poor form to spin your wheels and dig up salt.

     I understand a bit of geology. On my first visit to Bonneville I noticed a curiosity I had never heard mentioned by racers.  On the hills surrounding the flats are a series of flat terraces, now high above the salt.  These mark ancient shorelines of the Pleistocene Lake Bonneville, which at its largest covered over half of northern Utah.  The lake was held by the surrounding hills and by huge ice dams at its northern end.  These dams partially broke, repeatedly, somewhat lowering the lake for a time.  Then dams reformed, after which the lake slowly rose off glacial melt from the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Each lake level cut new beaches, now left behind as terraces on surrounding hills.  The last time the ice dam broke it failed catastrophically.  Almost the entire ancient lake emptied in a couple of weeks.  Such humongous outflow cut the Snake River Canyon.  The last remnant of Lake Bonneville is the Great Salt Lake.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GUEST EDITORIAL, by Dyno Don Batyi. 

     I have had several hobbyists (car culture) ask me about the forthcoming tax increase that will increase the price of gas and take place on January 1, 2015.  It really isn't a gas tax it is a penalty the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is planning to put on the oil industry under the Cap & Trade Program.  (Don't get me started on Cap & Trade nonsense, even the Federal Government voted it out.)  Estimates are from .30 cents to .70 cents per gallon at the pump.  My guess is it will be higher, the government always underestimates on taxes & fee's to try and look good.  I was going to write another report on this when I read an article in the Riverside Press Enterprise written by Assemblyman Brian Nestande-R 42nd District, Palm Desert.  Mr Nestande did an excellent job and I have posted the link:
http://www.pe.com/articles/tax-698154-gas-prices.html.   I urge all to read the article and contact the Governor's office as the Honorable Assemblyman suggests.  Here is the link with Mr Brown's contact info: https://govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:

     Editorials are often opinion columns, but with a purpose.  The SLSRH also invites our members and friends to submit GUEST editorials.  They can be on any subject related to straight-line racing, hot rodding, early drag racing and land speed subjects.  If it is really interesting we will take editorials on any other type of car and oval track racing.  Hey, we’ll even take road course and sports car racing.  But sometimes our members see me in person or call on the phone and they come up with some great editorial material.  The problem is getting them to put it down in an email and send it to me.  I get around that by listening to them and then trying to be as accurate as I can in rephrasing their thoughts.  Ron Main, Jerry Cornelison, Jim Miller, Roger Rohrdanz, Burly Burlile and many others fall into that category.  They also send me emails for the projects they are working on.
     Ron Main for example is working on many projects to bring back the salt to the Bonneville Salt Flats.  There is the salt lay down project, the special roller equipment to keep the salt flat and get rid of the ridges and a project to get rid of the PVC pipe and replace it with bendable nerf black banners at Bonneville.  Some of the drivers, like George Poteet, are going really fast at Bonneville.  Hitting a PVC pipe holding a black banner can really do some damage.  Jim says the front windows are getting so small that it wouldn’t matter if there were banners showing where the course was or not.  It was even suggested that one doesn’t even need a window at all if the car had an electronic GPS system on board and a transponder at the end of the lakebed.  Could it be that soon all we’ll see is enclosed capsules rocketing a driver down the salt?  And why have a man in the car at all; don’t we have drone technology today?  The old guard wants to keep things as they were, but the world changes around us and often doesn’t allow us to be what we were in the past.
     Jim Miller telephones around midnight and we talk about safety rules and equipment and how sometimes Bonneville racers bend the rules or don’t follow sensible protocols.  For example, Jim mentioned that in the NHRA there are standards such as getting a health check-up before you are licensed for that year’s racing.  I haven’t checked with the NHRA so the best that I can surmise is that the NHRA “probably” does have such a rule, but for “sure” you can bet on the owners and sponsors demanding their drivers get a physical.  In LSR racing the average age has to be somewhere between 50 and 60.  The laws of probability imply that sooner or later it won’t be the malfunctioning of car parts or the cars themselves; it will be the driver who is at fault.  What if a driver who looks perfectly healthy has a stroke or a heart attack just as he launches his car down the track?  Who has seen a one ton vehicle smash into objects at 100, 200 or even 450 miles per hour?
     What about the FIA rules, aren’t they outdated as well.  Take turn-around time of one hour to make a run in an opposite direction in order to establish a world record under their rules.  It was one thing to require a car going 150 miles an hour to make the return run within one hour of their first run.  But that was when cars were less complicated and drag chutes weren’t being used.  Even with a huge crew of trained car and aviation experts it is very difficult to turn around these cars going over 700 miles per hour.  An error by the crew could cost the driver his life.  And what about the fairness issue?  Suppose the crew did all that they could and the car was inspected and said to be safe and just as the car was about to take off a yahoo in a jeep raced out on the course to whoop and holler and force the car to wait and miss his one hour return run rule as the security crews were chasing the idiot down and getting him off the lakebed. 
     Burly Burlile sends us material about the smaller VW racing and it is fascinating to see the results that they achieve with what they have to work with.  Another member asked why we couldn’t make up classes for more esoteric vehicles powered by airplane propellers or steam engines.  I’ve seen racers at Bonneville race go-karts and some with engines that can fit in the palm of one’s hand.  Before the LSR community scoffs, just remember that most of the world thinks LSR is strange and useless.  Every person to their own poison they say.  The important thing here is that no matter how ridiculous an idea sounds at the time, there may be something of value in it.  There is no better way than to bring it up at a club meeting or send me your thoughts for a Guest Editorial in the SLSRH.  It’s better to solve a problem before a fatality, than to solve it after.
     On another issue it has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions that the newsletter comes out on an irregular basis and it is hard for people to keep track of when to look for a new issue.  The reason for that is that the “staff” is really a group of dedicated volunteers who love the sport of land speed and drag racing and the hot rod culture and our duties are secondary to other things in our lives; like wives, husbands and grandchildren.  Oh, yes, full time jobs too, but the grandkids always seem to command most of our time and attention.  A few years ago our publisher, Jack and Mary Ann Lawford owned a business, which they have since sold, but at the time they had their staff work on the newsletter. 
     Since the sale of their business it has put added pressure on them to continue to publish the newsletter on their website, but they give their best and we appreciate every bit of their time and effort.  It is a task that I wouldn’t want to take on.  So the newsletter gets published, sometimes several issues at one time and sometimes two or more weeks apart.  I promised to send an issue into the publisher every seven days and for the most part have kept to that schedule, but exactly when the newsletter goes on line I cannot say; it is up to the time limitations and other problems the publisher faces.  Remember; we are all volunteers and there is no paid staff or reimbursements for the cost of keeping the newsletter on-line.  Whatever expenses we incur we each pay out of our own pockets.  It is minimal in expenses, but very time consuming to do the research, writing, photographing, editing and publishing.  Even so, I am amazed at the people who are willing to work on this great task.  My thanks to all of them.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Subject: Local Bay area drag racing.  Bob Brown lives in Santa Barbara, grew up in Turlock, and has been a long time friend of the GKW group.  
http://wediditforlove.com/NoCal.html. Tim Love and Anna Marco.  
                                               -----------------------------
     I did help Steve Justice write the article on NorCal drag racing for WDIFL.com for which the link is shown above.  I also supplied photos for the article that I had taken at Fremont, along with photos taken by my friend Gary Soderstrom of Turlock.  Let me know if I can be of any further help.  Regards, Bob Brown
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Starting on
www.BangShift.com today is the story of the beginnings of Bonneville racing.  This documentary was produced by Bret Kepner to learn more about our treasured history.  Below is a link: http://bangshift.com/general-news/event-coverage/land-speed-races/starting-tomorrow-salt-flats-salduro-incredible-series-documenting-first-racing-bonneville-100-years-ago.     
     Sent in by Burly Burlile, VW 36hp & BB Challenge,
burlybug@comcast.net, www.facebook.com/groups/36hpvw.challenge, Freelance Photo Journalist, Society of Land Speed Racing Historian (SLSRH)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

     I had posed this same question to the Fuller family.  After asking, I tracked down Harold Johansen and had a very informative chat with him.  Harold remembered the car well and was a great guy to talk to.  I've been researching Norm Thatcher's 300D for about 3 years and have been casting a very wide net. So far it has yielded 3 binders of history, but I'm still finding out new info every few days.  Either about the car or about Norm.  If you ever think of any possible leads please let me know.   Josh Ackerman, josh@hyfire.com
     JOSH: You will notice that I edited your email and the reason for that is that I want to publish it in our newsletter, the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians at
www.landspeedracing.com.  Notice also that I am enclosing your email but not your phone number because that seems to be less intrusive. 
     Here's what I want you to do, because every person doing any research is a benefit to all of us who want to uncover history.  Send me emails of what you have uncovered that you want to share as general information.  You don't have to divulge anything that is privileged or that you don't want to.  Make sure it is peppered with nouns; people, places and events.  Make a request for more information.  Send this email to all the websites you can find, such as
www.landracing.com, Wendy Jeffries, etal.  Include your email address and/or your phone number, whichever you prefer.  And do this on a regular basis, say two weeks apart.  A person might tell you that they don't know anything and then you ask the same question, but mention a new name and bingo, you've hit the jackpot.  Memories are strange things.  When you think our memories are empty or gone, or someone has dementia, they can remember if you hit that one key code word that is there in the back of their minds waiting to be unleashed.
     The reason is that you want your request out there in the general public, which will pass it around as hot rodders congregate.  One email to one publication is often forgotten, so you want to make sure there are multiple groups giving you space at least twice a month.  Secondarily, and just as important, you want to call people on a constant schedule.  Try to make at least five calls a day.  After you have spoken to someone ask them for a phone number of a few people they know whom you could call.  The person you are talking to might say, "but I don't know anyone and the phone numbers that I would give you would be worthless."  Don't give in and tell him to give you whatever phone numbers he has to offer.  WHY?  Two-fold, the first is that he, or you, don't know what others might know and two, you want as much buzz out there as you can.  Here's the typical bench racing scuttlebutt that I hear at Jack's Garage, "Do you know that so and so is looking for Doc Eyre?  I've never heard of the guy."  Nineteen older hot rodders shake their head in agreement, but one rouses himself awake and says, "He's my neighbor," and that's how you find out the strangest information on people.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
     Our Event Summary is on the 2014 Simeone Museum "Mustang Racing Legends" seminar in Philadelphia, PA.   The coverage is located here, should you have a problem seeing it, cut and paste the address into your browser, failing that let us know and we will get to you another way:    
https://picasaweb.google.com/113152123752682863493/2014SimeoneMuseumMustangRacingLegends?authkey=Gv1sRgCJiD3-n1ueLHkgE#.   Marty Schorr was kind enough to feature our coverage on his site Car Guy Chronicles http://www.carguychronicles.com/, the link is:     http://www.carguychronicles.com/2014/07/mustang-racing-legends-night-at-museum.html.   If you are interested in more information, here are the links for the Simeone Museum and on Greg Kolasa's book, "The Definitive Shelby Mustang Guide 1965-1970."  http://simeonemuseum.org/http://www.cartechbooks.com/the-definitive-shelby-mustang-guide-1965-70.html.   We are almost caught up on this Summer's car events.  We still have to get out our Event Summary on last weekend's Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and then we are off to Monterey in a couple of weeks.  This Summer has been very busy!  Take care, Maureen & Mike Matune
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------UNREWARDED GENIUS: The Dave West Story.  Written by Robert "Bob" Falcon, July 21, 2014.  Copyright 2014 The Robert Falcon Family Trust-All Rights Reserved.  Reprinted by permission of the author.    

     Dave West, as a mentor, taught me mechanical serendipity.  Working with Dave on many projects, various in nature, trained me in the ways to seek simple solutions dealing with complicated mechanical maladies.  Over the years, I have a feeling that our crossing of paths was somehow arranged by a higher power watching over me all of my life, placing me into many situations resembling tales straight out of a storybook. 
     On an early Friday morning, possibly 1946, as I approached my 1931 Ford roadster fitted with a Miller Schofield overhead valve cylinder head and a pair of Stromberg Model 97 carburetors, hoping against hope, there was enough energy remaining in the car’s battery to crank that temperamental “four banger” running for my daily drive to my classes at nearby Alexander Hamilton High School, when, suddenly, the early morning still was punctuated by the roar of a flat head Ford V8, with very loud pipes.  As I stood there mesmerized by the roar of the accelerating vehicle, my hand stretching to reach the roadster’s door latch, all the time facing the direction of the approaching sound waves when into view came a shiny new blue and white Ford station wagon, towing a double deck Midget Race Car trailer with two real race cars, painted to match the station wagon.  I had seen these same race cars performing at the previous nights, weekly, racing event at Gilmore Stadium.  The two cars, number 2 and number 20 were inscribed with simple script signage lettered on each of their cowlings declaring them to be from “John Balch Automotive-Vermont Avenue-Los Angeles.” 
     WOW!  Right here in my own neighborhood was someone involved in real, big time, Midget Auto Racing.  My heart and teen age racing ambitions directed to my mind that I must get to know the mystery driver of that station wagon, hook or by crook, in some manner!  Not long before that eventful morning, our family had just recently moved into this neighborhood.  My parents had purchased a small two-story, California Spanish style home that was located on the only vacant single piece of property on Arizona Avenue in Culver City, California that was not owned by the huge Metro Goldwin Meyer (MGM) movie studio that was headquartered in Culver City, not Hollywood as their film screen titling signature proclaimed.   Our two-story house was located at the extreme rear of the 110-foot deep property, adjacent to the MGM “Back Lot Number 2” where many of their outdoor movie scenes were filmed.  Arizona Avenue, an East-West Street, extended eastward one block where it jogged, and the name changed to Montana Avenue.  Our property location was one vacant lot east of Elenda Avenue, which ran from Washington Boulevard on the north to Culver Boulevard on the south. 
     The studio had erected a nearly eight foot high green board fence around all of their back lot, except for our property line location where state law, at that time, required that a solid fence, or wall, of that height was forbidden to block a neighbor’s view of the adjoining property.  This law was called “The California State Spite Fence Law.”  Earlier I had discovered that there must be another Hot Rod guy somewhere in the neighborhood because I could hear his car accelerating southbound on Elenda, usually near the end of the workday.  By the sound I figured this car was also a “four banger.”  Perhaps the “mystery” Balch Racing Team station wagon driver and the roadster driver might be related to each other?    
     Around the same time I was engaged evenings helping a local mechanic, whose shop was a block away on Elenda, up the road from our house, who was building a CRA style Track Roadster of the type that were becoming very popular at the time. I was in the closing semester of the tenth grade, at the time, and also had a job in a gas station working as the sole employee, after school.  I locked-up the station at 8PM when my shift ended when I would rush home for a quick bite of dinner with my understanding parents, then went up to Kelley’s Garage and helped John build his 1927 Model “T” bodied Track Roadster until the clock tolled the midnight hour.  This was the routine each weeknight except Thursday when I was in the grandstand at Gilmore Stadium.   One night the “mystery roadster” driver stopped by Kelley’s to check out our car building project and “Bingo,” we hit it off and became friends, possibly because we shared the same perplexing maladies with our transportation.  I learned his name was Wayne West and his older brother, Dave, was the chief mechanic for the John Balch Midget Racing Team.  The Mystery station wagon driver!    
     The Kelley Roadster project was near completed with our first race scheduled to be held at nearby Culver City Speedway in a few weeks.  Since I occasionally had some spare time, I began to visit the West residence from time to time and got to know Dave when he was not busy with the Balch Midgets.  The West home was on Charles Street, one block west of Elenda who’s back yard faced the west side of my parent’s home. The West’s north side next-door neighbor was the Postel family.  Mr. Postel was one of the two Culver City Motorcycle policemen who rode Indian in-line four cylinder motorcycles.  Culver City was a very small town in those days.  On the other side of the West home was the home of Wayne and Dave’s uncle Vern.  Vern and Mr. West worked as plasterers and tile setters and supervised those of us who were untalented in the home construction trades on the weekends when we all traveled up to Lake Elsinore to work at house building tasks assigned, and taught by Mr. West and Uncle Vern along with a little water skiing to wash off the construction grime.     
     Dave had a Cris-Craft mahogany hull speedboat parked in their family’s garage and he asked if I would mind helping with the maintenance of the boat and since the track roadster was completed and I now had the time, I agreed to help when I could.  Chris-Craft called it the Runabout Model.  It had seating for three in the front cockpit and an additional number of passengers in the other cockpit, aft of the engine compartment.  A Chrysler Marine six cylinder, flat head engine, supplied the power.  These engines ate the Chrysler Marine Division water-cooled cast iron intake and exhaust manifolds for breakfast.  The Manifold water jacket cracking happened as a result of the very cold lake water flowing through the extremely hot water jacket, under pressure as the boat accelerated after collecting another water skier.  The lake water was very cold in the hill country, at Lake Elsinore, where the West Family was building their vacation home.  Of course I was inquisitive about how Dave had landed that prestigious job with Balch and he related the following story.    
     During World War 2 he served in the US Navy as an Aviation Machinist Mate and near the war’s end his wing was stationed on Iwo Jima Island in the northwestern Pacific Ocean-quite near to Japan.  In his civilian life he was part of group of auto enthusiast high school kids known as “Hot Rodders” who conducted speed trials and races on the dry lake beds located in the Southern California deserts and illegal, impromptu, street races on the more remote and low traffic roads of Los Angeles.  The club he belonged to was “The Low Flyers” of Santa Monica, one of many that made up The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).   Prior to entering the Navy he had been employed by a company that manufactured custom automobile roadster bodies designed to fit on 1932 and 1933/1934 Ford frames. Dave had been assigned the task to assemble one of these modified cars, powered by a Ford Model A or B four cylinder motor fitted with a Cragar overhead valve cylinder head that was to become the personal car of the company owners’ son “Skip.”  The car was named “The Skipit.”    
     This hot rod background attracted a US Marine Corps (USMC) aircraft mechanic also based at the airfield whose name was Lindskog, with a moniker of “Swede,” who, in civilian life, was a notable California west coast racecar driver.  According to Dave, “Swede” mentioned to him that it appeared that the war would soon be over and that when he was discharged he was going back to Los Angeles and start driving racecars again.  Also, he added, that he was seriously out of practice with the skills needed for handling the short wheelbase high horsepower Midgets and he needed to get a practice program underway before he was sent back to the States.  So they agreed to craft a sort of Midget race car while they were serving their country, during a war, in a war zone, while based on a remote island fortress.  They made a list of the parts and materials they figured they would need and began to “Scrounge” materials and sift through the many post-battle scrap heaps that contained the spoils of war.  They found a workable Japanese motorcycle engine, clutch and gearbox assembly, which they repaired to operational status.  They built a frame out of welded steel material forms and added a Jeep rear axle assembly and fabricated a front axle and steering assembly of their own design.    
     One of Dave’s hot rod pals and a hot rod club member was Jimmy Travers who flew into Iwo regularly as a crewmember on a US Army Air Corps (USAAC) Cargo Aircraft and they provided him with a shopping list of some of the components they urgently needed that he might have more access to than they did.  At the top of the list was the notation “Bomb Cart Wheels and Tires” which Travers “liberated” and delivered to them on the next trip to the “Rock.”  They amassed this pile of usable parts and they proceeded to assemble the pieces into a workable product.  Swede began to hone his driving talent with a “Hot Laps” practice routine on a track they had carved on the airfield.   Dave was due to be the first of the “Iwo Jima Midget Racing Team” eligible to be returned to the States for discharge from military service.
     As Dave related to me, Swede had commented to him, “Dave, you’re really good at this Midget racecar stuff and I’m gonna give you a letter of introduction to John Balch, who owns a garage in LA on Vermont Avenue and who also owns, and races, an Offy Midget and he will give you a job working on that racer.”  Dave did visit The Balch Garage and met John Balch who in fact, hired him to maintain his racer.  In addition he also had the task to maintain another Offy Midget that was owned, and driven, by The Balch Body Shop manager, Bob Pankratz.  Dave now found himself maintaining and working as the pit crew at races for two cars, but he knew enough car guys, like himself, who would be thrilled to be working in the pits at these races.  And his brother Wayne was also due to be released from Naval service and would soon be back home in Culver City and would also be available to help out at the many racing events held in the Los Angeles area, most nights of the week.    
     Prior to Wayne’s return, and since his bedroom was available, Swede had received his discharge from The Marine Corps and he stayed with the West family for a period while getting established again in the Southern California racing community.  Swede won the feature race in one of his first races on his return to the states and Gilmore Stadium.  He drove Danny Hogan’s Flat Tail Offy.  Mrs. West was always amazed that Swede would win the main event at Gilmore on a Thursday evening, collecting huge prize money awards, and never even mention anything about the night’s events over breakfast on Friday morning.  Car builder Frank Kurtis had established a production line assembly routine at his Glendale/Burbank shop for a new design Midget that featured a lightweight and extremely rigid, welded tubular frame made of high strength aircraft grade steel tubing.  The orders were pouring into his shop and he decided to arrange a high volume production line system since midget racing was enjoying a huge draw of crowds all over the country.  As an example, Gilmore Stadium in Hollywood was designed in 1934 to place 18,000 “butts on seats” and in the post-war period the crowds numbered near 20,000 on most Thursday night events.  More and more new racing teams were cropping up all over the country because of the huge purses paid.
     John Balch purchased one of the early cars off the line and the team now numbered three cars and that was far too many for Dave to maintain and service at the events that then numbered four nights each week.  So he hired one of his old Hot Rod pals from the Low Flyers Club, Jim Travers who had helped gather parts for Dave and Swede to build their Iwo Jima practice car.  He didn’t know if Jim had any employment commitments so he drew up a list of other qualified and talented car guy candidates he could hire should Jim be unable to join the team.  But Jimmy accepted the offer so Dave gave him a responsibility to maintain and service the new Kurtis car that became the URA Blue Circuit #20 with the regular driver being Ed Haddad.  Dave remained as the Balch Team Chief Mechanic and Travers reported, and received work assignments from him, contrary to what you may have read, or heard, elsewhere.
     The Balch Team finished the season in first and third place in the United Racing Association (URA), Blue Circuit Championship Standings…and then Balch sold his team to Howard Keck, a Los Angeles Oil Man whose family company, “The Superior Oil Company,” was at that time, the highest priced stock on the New York Stock Exchange. As part of the deal, since Keck was a new player in Midget racing, the mechanics went with the team and Pankratz went elsewhere and tended to his Midget personally.  The team moved from The Balch Garage to a new location on Normandy Avenue in Harbor City on the grounds of a Superior Oil Company Field Office.  Prior to the next racing season, Frank Kurtis began to offer his assembly line Midgets equipped with torsion bar suspension systems, similar to those that were blooming on Indianapolis racecars, rather than the transverse, or cross spring style that had been the mainstay as a carryover from the Ford Model T days.  Keck purchased one of the first off the line requiring Dave to hire another helper and Phil Remington was the next name on his short list.  But Phil had broken his leg in a motorcycle accident and was in the hospital and Frank Coon became the next candidate he would call and Frank accepted.
     As they were pulling their talents in mesh on this team that now numbered three cars, their team owner, Howard Keck decided that he would like to go Indianapolis car racing.  And since he liked to utilize the “best of the best” in his endeavors, he retained the engineering and design services of one Norman Timbs, a local SoCal aviation engineer to design a totally new Indianapolis style racecar for his one car Indy team.  Timbs had designed the very successful Lou Moore Front Wheel Drive (FWD) cars that were sponsored by The Blue Crown Spark Plug Company and were victors in the 1947, ‘48 and ‘49 annual 500-mile races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).  In fact the cars finished in both first and second place in two of the three races; a feat that had never been accomplished since the event began in 1911.  The Keck FWD car was to be a “clean sheet of paper” design that was an upgrade of the highly successful Moore built “Blue Crown” cars.    
     When Wayne West returned home from Naval service he purchased a 1929 Ford roadster powered by a “killer” Winfield flat head engine.  He bought the car from, I seem to recall hearing, that he was a Low Flyers club member who held an SCTA class record at the dry lakes, perhaps in the 120 MPH range, a very fast speed for a four “banger.”  That cars’ Winfield camshaft had such a high lift that it was necessary to slot the camshaft bearings to permit the camshaft to be fitted into the engine.  Actually, I purchased this engine from Wayne after we had completed the installation of a flat head Ford V8 engine into his roadster that we later converted from typical Model A Ford mechanical brakes to a Ford 1939/1940 hydraulic brake system.  One of the problems inherent with this conversion was the fit of the 1939/40 brake backing plates to the installed Model A spindles. We solved it by using a standard bore 3.875-inch diameter Model A Ford piston compression ring as a shim then slotting the backing plate mounting holes to align the spindle bolts.    
     Now, back to the Keck FWD Indianapolis Car construction details.  Once the lofting and frame structure drawings were completed, checked and approved for construction, Emil Deidt, a gifted metal smith was hired to fabricate these components at his shop located near Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard in Downtown LA.  This building was an extremely large shop, possibly a three-bay former auto repair facility, located at the rear of a gasoline station.  Lugi Lesovsky, another gifted metal smith and car fabricator who specialized in building and repairing Midget race cars shared occupancy. Dave and his crew worked with Deidt as he formed the frame rails and hammered the body panels out of sheet aluminum.  He also fabricated the aluminum fuel and oil tanks.  Wayne and I were regular visitors to the shop car as the car was taking shape.  Our visits were in the evening hours since Wayne was working at a regular job, as an auto mechanic, and I continued to attend classes at Hamilton High School.  Words cannot describe the exuberance of my feelings upon reaching the lofty plateau that put me in close proximity to the crafting of a real, Honest to God, Indianapolis race car!    
     As a kid I had been close to racing, as a “toddler,” during the time my father was a racer competing on the dirt surface Fairground Half-Mile tracks of Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland driving his home built, Fronty Ford, single seat, Model T racer. Dad remained close to auto racing, in spite of a serious back injury that forced his retirement in 1930.  He was a big fan of the annual Indianapolis 500 radio broadcast and, through the years, the two of us were always within earshot of a radio when the race broadcast was in progress, eagerly listening so we would not miss one of the quarter hour updates.  These mini reports were broadcast at various intervals during the actual running of the race because of the length of time to complete the event would require nearly four hours of broadcast time.  After the frame and body were completed, and other components were fabricated at other job shops in the area, everything was transferred to the Keck Racing shop in Harbor City/Torrance and Dave, and his crew began doing the assembly and fitting.   Wayne and I were given the task of collecting all the final painted panels from Stan’s Auto Painting that was located adjacent to the Balch Garage on Vermont Avenue.  We drove my dad’s “shop car” that was a 1929 Model A Ford Sport Coupe, converted to a pickup truck with a fabricated truck bed installed in the Rumble Seat area.  Prior to departing the Keck shop we gathered every blanket and fender cover we could find to separate the panels so they wouldn’t bounce around and scratch the paint.    
     In early May, the completed car was transported to IMS for testing and preparation for the upcoming four lap qualification runs.  Jimmy Jackson was the assigned driver and he qualified fourth on the first day of the four days of qualification trials and finished tenth in the 500 mile race when a front spindle broke causing him to spin into the infield on the 193rd lap, seven laps short of the total 200 lap length of the race.  Jackson had a very good finishing record for the very few races when he competed at “The Speedway.”  He qualified for the big race for the first time in 1946 where he qualified in fifth and finished second in a car he himself owned and in 1947 he qualified in tenth position and finished fifth in a car owned by H. C. Henning.  All of these cars were FWD cars that were big and heavy cars that drove much better late in the race when the track became overly slick due to the castor oil based lubricants that came out of the exhaust pipe, as a cloud after it had burned in the engine cylinders and drifted down onto the racing groove of the 2.5 mile track.  But the odor of heated, and burning, racing grade castor oil exiting an engine will really get a real racers heart beating!  You betcha!    
     Dave related to me he felt the curtain was coming down on successful FWD cars at Indianapolis due to the advancement in lubricating oil refining and formulation technology that would move the process away from vegetable based materials towards different refining techniques and with new additives added to petroleum based lubrication products that would not spread the slippery residue of a blown engine all around a paved race track.  The Keck FWD car campaigned from 1948 to 1951 when it finished in 14th place due to a collapsed wire wheel on lap 126.  That year also pretty much spelled the end for FWD cars except for the Novi’s and very few remaining heavy old FWD Offys when the new Kurtis and Watson style Indy Roadsters came upon the scene.   That year 1951, also proved to be the ‘last’ for extensive use of wire wheels as Halibrand Cast Magnesium wheels rolled into the IMS Victory Lane for the first time under the light weight Murrell Belanger dirt car style Offy driven by Lee Wallard, the first of a series of nineteen other victors also shod with Halibrand cast magnesium alloy wheels.    
     Dave was on-site at IMS only for the first appearance of the Keck Car in 1948.  He had met, and married a member of the office staff at the Superior Oil Company Field Office where the team was based and as Mrs. David West she accompanied him to Indianapolis for that first race for the Keck entry.  History records that when Tony Hulman purchased the racing facility from WW1 Flying Ace, and former Indianapolis race driver, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, it was in a serious disrepair condition after sitting vacant, and unused, during the war years.  Clarence Cagle was an employee at The Hulman Farms in Terra Haute, Indiana at the time and Tony assigned him the task for getting the facility in shape for the first post WW2 race in 1946.  Clarence and his crews worked wonders to have it cleaned up and repaired to a condition that was suitable for this 1946 race but, at best, it was still a mid-1930’s racetrack with antiquated period style conveniences.    
     Dave’s new wife, who tended to lean towards snobbishness, was mortified at the condition of the whole facility that she so earnestly wanted to visit. She was crushed by the thought of how many days she was required to stay at that miserable place.  Since then Cagle, with the Hulman pocketbook, has worked wonders at the facility where it is now considered to be the world’s finest racing facility.  I can recall chatting over a cup of coffee with her on a Sunday morning soon after her return from IMS. I was at their home located on Messmer Street in a new housing tract built on the site of the old Culver City Airport.  It was a day we planned on working on the new boat and Dave was on an errand and Wayne was in route from his home. Eileen spared no punches relating how she disliked the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and how she was urging Dave to resign from his position with Howard Keck and get out of auto racing forever because she would not ever attend another automobile race…Never…period!  And she meant it!    
     Dave had sold the Cris-Craft because he and Wayne decided that a boat style known, as a “Crackerbox” would better serve as a water ski craft than the heavy, mahogany plank hull used on a Chris-Craft.  The Crackerbox was a marine plywood hull with a single cockpit and a rear-mounted engine driving the propeller through a Vee-Drive transmission.  The brothers had purchased an assembled plywood hull kit while I was in Boot Camp in San Diego.  Just prior to my entering the US Navy, a decision based on recommendations from both of the West brothers that I could gain a lot of the necessary skill level required for race car fabrication and maintenance by learning a trade in the military service, especially the Navy.  Skills that would help me to enter the field on my return to civilian life.  This counseling was always a big part of the conversation as we worked together on projects in the West family garage workshop.  Of course they did not coach me on precisely how to get these Navy assignments leaving it up to the luck of the moment…but good luck really did prevail --- In Spades!  See Below.    
     When Dave returned and Wayne arrived and we began our work on the new Ski boat when Dave revealed to us that he had tendered his resignation to Keck and had a lead on another position in a test lab at Douglas El Segundo.  I was both surprised and crushed because I really enjoyed working with him and learning all the neat ways in which he handled difficult tasks.  He taught me how to think!   Within a week or two, I received my orders from the Navy and, at the ordered time of 0800 Hours, reported to the Federal Building in Downtown LA for my physical exam and if I passed, to take the oath for entry into the service.  Those of us so inducted then marched a few blocks up Alameda Street to Union Station and boarded the train for San Diego.  It was near 10:30 AM when we boarded the train.  We “Choo-Chooed” southbound through Santa Ana until a midway point through the 17-mile ocean frontage of USMC Camp Pendleton where we pulled onto a siding for several hours.  Finally, near 5PM we began a very slow “Chug” towards San Diego and we arrived at the station at 8 PM and since it was in early October, the eighth to be exact, it was the dark of night and eventually a bus arrived to deliver the raw recruits, both USN and USMC, to their respective Recruit Training facilities.    
     And so began our restricted quarantine period that kept us isolated in the quarantine camp location away from the more advanced recruits for a period of several weeks of the projected three month Boot Camp training schedule.  Once out of the quarantine encampment we moved into the advanced area and were permitted to, in Navy parlance “Hit The Beach” which permitted us to go “On Liberty” in San Diego a few nights a week and be able to venture to LA when we did not have weekend Watch Duty. On those occasions I would venture back to Culver City after Parade Duty on Saturday morning and return to San Diego on Sunday night via Greyhound Bus from the downtown LA terminal.  Our curfew was midnight.  Right after a short Christmas Leave I received my orders to report aboard the USS Dixie, AD14 moored in San Diego Bay at Buoy 21 and 22.  My duty station once I checked in with my new duty assignment with the Second Division, Deck Force.  The recruiting officer in Santa Monica had assured me I would be sent to submarine school to learn to maintain the Diesel engines used on subs in 1948.  Who knows what happened?  I was very disappointed to be working at a skill my own mother had taught me rather than one of the Skilled Workman trades that both West brothers had convinced me that I would learn in the US Navy.
      On top of that, the Dixie was scheduled to set sail for Tsingtao, China in a few weeks, and there was a civil war going on over there at the very moment we sailed out of port.  The very few skills that I did learn on the deck force were (a) how to be a work in the Fuse Setter position of a 5-inch/38 caliber gun crew; (b) A method to polish the teak wood planking of a 1940s style war ship termed Holy Stoning; (c) to never be in a front station of a mooring cable handlers line while tying up to a buoy, because when the others, behind you in the line, fail to grip the wire cable and it runs away, you could lose all your fingers when it curves through the Fairlead Chock!  The latter came within a few inches from happening.  But, on the bright side of the miserable existence I was suffering while steaming to China, by the grace of that Higher Power who had his sights on me, I stumbled into a situation that transferred me from the deck force to the Repair Department Pipe Shop on the style of ship in the Naval inventory that served as a Hot Rod shop for the fastest steam powered ships in the navy.  My work station in the Repair Pipe Shop was near The Blacksmith Shop, Shipfitters Shop (whose task was heavy steel plate repair), The Sheet Metal Shop, The Welding Shop (both of which are self explanatory), and next door to, believe it or not, The Foundry.
     When I left the Naval Service I was knowledgeable in all the above skills, plus several others, which followed the script presented to me by the West brothers.  And as I said before, In Spades!  I added self-taught drafting to the mix after we had visited Japan, when Mao ran us out of China, and where I purchased some drafting tools and templates.  The very first, clean sheet of paper, product I designed was a water-cooled, cast aluminum cylinder head for a member of the molding shop crew who owned a Model A Ford.  The design was finned and had the owners name inscribed in aluminum letters punched out in large type on an embosser.  Later we also did a downdraft single carb intake manifold.  The ship was in Japan and the vehicle was located in San Diego at that particular moment.  While on the Dixie and helping the West’s’ with their ski boat on the weekends when my assigned liberty party was permitted to leave the ship and when we were moored in San Diego we were restricted to a 150-mile radius of the mooring port.  Since Culver City was 125-miles distant from San Diego I was able to go up there and help the guys with their boat.  Dave had just purchased a prop shaft support and bearing but remarked that he thought the web on the prop shaft support seemed to be a little too thin to prevent the torque and propeller movement to distort the shaft and put a high side load on the prop bearing.  I offered to take the part back to the ship and that the next time they scheduled a “pour” of Admiralty Bronze I would make them a new part. I could beef-up the strut width by removing sand from the impression in the molding flasks. 
     When I returned to the ship I enquired from the foundry crew when the next bronze “pour” was scheduled and found that there was a small amount of parts to be cast of bronze in the next few days.  That would give me time to prepare the sample part to be used as the casting pattern, do the casting and clean up and complete the machining in time to transport the new part back to Wayne and Dave.  After casting I went to our huge machine shop, cashed a few of my credit chips I had with the crew, earned for the “G” jobs I did for them, and machined and drilled where necessary to duplicate the sample part.  Then I machined a prop bearing from a hunk of the, so-called “Iron Wood” used for ships propeller shaft bearings.  The wood is from a South American Jungle tree whose core is where Carnauba Wax, the absolute hardest wax, is produced.  The tree is named “lignum vitae.”  The new ski boat propeller shaft strut and bearing item was delivered.
     More Navy Cruise stuff.  After Dixie vacated Tsingtao, China when Mao’s rebels overran the city and while we were stationed in Hong Kong it was announced in the press that England devalued the Pound Sterling by 1/3rd and the price of a new Ariel Square Four plunged from near 1300 Pounds to 800 and I began attempting to discover how I could purchase a new Triumph Tiger 100 and transport it aboard Dixie to the US.  But, sadly, questioned many, to no avail.  When we did finally arrive back at our home port after touring all over the Pacific Rim, the decision was made to switch from auto transportation to motorcycles when I discovered a near new Ariel 500 cc Twin (actually one half of the square four engine) for a mere $400, which fit my budget. The Ariel had around 2500 miles on the odometer and was manufactured on one of their “Spring Frames” that was Ariel’s method to have a suspension system on the rear wheel wherein most other British Motorcycle builders were attempting to design rear suspension systems for their products to improve the riding qualities.  It appears to me that Ariel reverse engineered a system that Indian was using on their big bikes that proved to be very effective because many city motorcycle riding traffic police were riding the Indian in-line four cylinder bikes and were aboard their bikes for long hours.  A few years later when Dixie was ordered over to participate in the Korean War, I placed the Ariel into Wayne’s hands for transportation and safekeeping.  By that time it was a really neat looking cut-down British Bike and I had designed a paint scheme for the standard chrome plated tank with a small area painted area by the knee pads and Dave, I believe, delivered the sketch and tank to Stan’s Auto Painting on Vermont Avenue. Stan’s was the shop that painted many of the Gilmore Midgets.  Dave probably knew him from his days with John Balch.    
     In 1952 I crashed the Ariel and spent the next year as a patient at The US Naval Hospital at USMC Camp Pendleton.  I did not take a step for nearly a year.  After leaving the Navy I found a job with Airesearch Manufacturing Company located near LAX.  But also continued to lend a helping hand maintaining the ski boat but never attempted to water ski again because of my ankle injury.  We had many other race car things happening in Dave’s shop and Travers was a regular visitor.  Dave was working in the Ejection Seat lab at Douglas and was moonlighting by applying fiberglass to the outer aluminum surface of Indy Roadster fuel and oil tanks.  The fabricators would deliver their completed tank fabrications to Dave and he would apply the glass fabric that would help contain the liquids in the event of a wreck.    
     I was also present when Travers made a decision to give air intake Bell Mouth tubes a try on an Offy engine.  In order to maintain the secrecy of the welding task of joining the metal spun bell mouths to the adapter tubes which mated to the injector inlets he could not take the job to any welding shop because there was no control of onlookers. So he asked Dave if the job could be done in his home shop, and it was accomplished with just five people present…Travers, Dave, Wayne, myself and Dobbins, who was Dave’s extremely talented gas welder in his Douglas Lab.  “Dobbie” joined the bells to the tubes in a very quick time.  At the previous Indy 500, Kurtis had crafted a centerline Model 500A, as compared to the Keck aka “a Sidewinder” because it the engine tilted 10 degrees to place the driveline along the left frame rail tube structure and used an offset rear axle that placed the ring and pinion gear housing near the left side frame tubes.    
     The centerline car was sponsored by Chrysler Corporation and equipped with a Hemi V8 engine.  Chrysler Engineering had designed some fuel injector intake tubes with spun bell mouths to obtain a more direct airflow into the injectors figuring that the proximities of the tubes to each other may interrupt the clear airflow.  The owner had his intake tubes gold anodized and polished, once seen by the IMS Garage Area crews the car became known as “The Brass Band.”  Travers decided to give these bell mouths a try on the Keck Roadster and hide them from the watchful eyes of the Indy garage area “Rumor Mongers.”  The Chrysler equipped car did not make the starting field; consequently the other crews paid no attention to the Brass Band, or their development process.  In some manner Chrysler Engineering can always figure out some way to screw-up a perfectly good race car.  They did the same with one of our Halibrand Shrikes in 1965 when they “screwed” with the front suspension geometry attempting to modify the Roll Center.  Which seemed to work perfectly well for the five or six Halibrand “Shrikes” of the same design that made the starting field and had no major suspension design issues.    
     But back to the West Ski Boat design.  It was an incredible and well-behaved boat.  A flat head Ford six-cylinder engine fueled by three Zenith side draft carburetors powered it.  The Vee Drive transmission was a combination of several standard automotive components modified to do the job at hand, which was to disengage the propeller shaft gear, stop the propeller from turning and disengage the automotive style clutch plate and permit the shift lever to be moved from the forward position to reverse position and thereby using power settings to slow the boat to docking speed.  The power plant consisted of the engine, standard flywheel and clutch system and modified bell housing.   An extremely short drive shaft with two universal joints to maintain alignment between the clutch plate and the input shaft to the modified Ford column shift transmission that permitted the rotational power to go into the transmission through a sliding gear that moved from high gear to the low and reverse gear idler gear.  Attached to the very short drive shaft was a Chrysler Parking Brake of the type that, when energized, locked the vehicle’s drive shaft.  In this installation, a Hudson vacuum clutch actuator energized the brake in the same manner.  The gear shifting system as used by The Hudson Cars equipped with their Pre-Select gear shifting system as introduced on the Terraplane models in the mid-1930’s functioned as follows; when the driver selected the next gear he wanted the transmission to shift to, the shift did not occur until the driver depressed the clutch pedal then the electric gear selector was triggered and the transmission shifted to the selected gear. 
     The West boat application had a customized lever that disengaged the clutch and stopped the short drive shaft from rotating.  The vacuum powered release mechanism was operated by the boat pilot who needed only to depress a floor mounted push button electrical switch.  Another feature, alien to this boat, was the steering gear.  I cannot recall how this Franklin automobile 360-degree rotation steering gear found its way into my treasure trove of supplies for a car I planned to build in the future.  But since that future was so uncertain, I donated it to the ski boat project.  Dave fabricated a longer sector shaft that placed the Pittman arm adjacent to the portside (left) keel beam and fabricated a tubular steering link with aircraft grade Heim Monoball fittings on the ends of the long shaft that connected from the Pittman Arm to a Bell Crank near the Transom and utilized a short link to the rudder shaft Bell Crank.  Everything was fabricated from aircraft grade materials and when you moved the steering wheel one-half inch all the links moved in proportion.    
     Of course all the Chris-Craft problems with the cracking water manifolds at $40 each, when you could find them, pointed to another way to better manage the engine water temperature.  Dave devised a Keel Cooler, consisting of a long length of stainless steel tubing perhaps 1-1/2 inches in diameter with aircraft style threaded hose fitting on each end.  One end of the cooling tube was attached to the engine coolant outlet, normally that was routed to the radiator and the other end was attached to a stainless steel fabricated tank containing a standard automotive style coolant pressure cap.  The flow of the fresh water was from the engine (hot water) into the long stainless tube (functioning as the radiator) that was attached to the boats keel, then into the pressure tank.  The West Keel Cooler worked well.     
     Another Dave West innovation for this boat was a pair of glassed in metal tabs to control the hull angle during a high speed run.  The rear engine placement tended to create a stern heaviness in the hull-planing angle and the tabs that were adjusted by bending aluminum sheet metal formers to set up a drag that forced the nose down, these tabs were “tuned” during special runs at a small lake known as “The Puddle.” Many years later this lake became the northwest portion of the Marina del Rey marina.  Our runs took place at The Puddle in the early 1950’s when today’s large marina was made of waves floating through an architect’s brain.  When our tests were completed we trailered the craft back to Dave’s garage workshop where the engine was removed and we rolled the hull over to place the bottom upwards, and shaped some hardwood fairings to blend into the tabs that protruded from the transom.  Once finished and sanded smooth the fairings were covered with fiberglass and bonded to the bottom with resin and painted.    
     Not long after this test was when I crashed the Ariel, broke my ankle and finished my active Navy duty while a patient at the hospital.  The Navy placed me on the Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) and presented me orders directing me to return home, and paid me an amount equal to one-half of my base pay each month for nearly ten years.   At the age of 24 I was on retired status with the US Navy.  My first job after Naval service was at Airesearch Manufacturing Company at the LAX location.  My job was in the Actuator Assembly Department where the full Airesearch line of electro-hydraulic actuators for several different aircraft designs were assembled on an assembly line.  My first job required that the assembler handled the same simple task hour after hour.  The task assignment that made me consider finding another job was spending the full shift safety wiring the same two screws as a partially assembled actuator slid up to my station, continually, for eight solid swing shift hours.    
     My immediate supervisor, our Lead man, must have figured that I was about to bail out, so within a few days they shifted me to another department where we produced the actuator sub-assemblies.  These tasks were not assembly line endeavors but were individual job assignments where you would craft a number of the subassembly from a box of parts gathered and packaged as a “task” along with the necessary blueprints that specified the assembly clearances.  Much more challenging work when compared to the assembly line.   After a few months in that department I was then shifted to the actuator test lab where I assembled entire pre production actuator designs, and performed some of the tests.  The bonus for me was that I also disassembled and scrapped-out the failed units and had access to a huge scrap container of used aircraft grade hardware that I could search through on my down time and since it was scrap, my supervisor would give me Property Pass so I could carry my treasures home and put them to good use on a racecar I was building.   Of course the fiber lock nuts were not be reused on airplanes, however, I devised a system, and made the tools, to refresh the locking capability of the nuts.   
      One evening Dave and I were working on the ski boat and he began to “needle” me about my job at Airesearch claiming that I should be working with him in his lab at Douglas Aircraft.  He mentioned that he had a job opening and wondered if I might be interested in developing aircraft ejection seat systems, and I agreed.  The next evening he handed me a Douglas Employment Application and I completed it, right there in the shop, and the following night he told me that he spoke with the Personnel Manager who complimented him on the good find and figured that the approval would be back to him within a week, or two.  About a week later during a boat work session I noticed that Dave was a little standoffish and finally when we took our coffee break he said, “Sooner or later I have to tell you this.  The Personnel guy came to the lab today and told me that Douglas could not hire you for that lab job.  The reason is because Douglas Aircraft has an anti-piracy agreement with all the other “airframers” in the area and one of them is Airesearch.  The agreement states that an employee of Member Company cannot immediately switch from his employer company to another group member company. There must be a six month difference between the resignation date and the hire date.”
     Since I had already given my termination notice to Airesearch and my dad had planned to go on a geological mineral dig in Utah, I went to work in his Auto Wheel Alignment shop.  Jerry Bondio, who had married Wayne’s sister-in-law, got my job in Dave’s lab.  Jerry who was a few years younger than me, and who had worked for several hot rod parts manufacturers before he went to Shelby American as one of the Shelby Cobra racing teams fabricators and Chief Mechanic.  Jerry later toiled at “Vel’s - Parnelli Jones Racing” building their Indy Cars and then went to work at Wayne Guyer’s Racing Fabrication shop, and that’s when we crossed paths again because I worked at Halibrand Engineering and Guyer was one of Ted Halibrand’s tenants at the Torrance campus.  Jerry and I worked together on many projects one of which was the LIM Magnetic Powered Train Feasibility Study vehicle that was built by Halibrand for The US DoT.  We also had some Dry Lakes projects of our own that we labored on for a few years going, until he moved to his retirement home in Bullhead City where he “Crossed The Finish Line.”  Jerry was a good pal. 
     During one of our discussions, many were about Dave since Jerry thought very highly of him, as myself.  He mentioned that Dave had become interested in becoming an aviator.  He obtained the necessary training and gained his Private Pilots Certificate and purchased an early Aeronca “Champ” airplane, a model quite similar in appearance to a Piper “Cub.”  Dave took it apart and brought it to his home shop and totally reconditioned the airframe, wings and tail surfaces.  Reports are that, when Dave had finished the job, the “Champ” had the strength of a North American P-51 Mustang.  I believe it.  He also told me that Dave West had moved to Bullhead City and was building a home when he had an accident and fell off the roof of his two-story structure and eventually succumbed due to his injuries (aneurism).   Wayne passed away as the result of Parkinson’s and dementia in April 2014.
     The author hopes you enjoy this tale about a fellow hot rodder who was a tremendous influence on the work ethic I developed and the many successful projects I have handled through the years.  Dave taught me the personal pride that is to be gained by doing something a little differently that proves, in the long run, to be right.  Working alongside him on these many projects allowed me to witness, first hand, the Dave West “touch” that often proved to be a “wonder to behold.”  It was a great learning process.  It really pains the author when others “morph” themselves into becoming Dave West and claim the credit of all that he accomplished and falsely take credit for himself.  This egotism is the absolute lowest form of thievery. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Gone Racin’…Ab & Marvin Jenkins; The Studebaker Connection and the Mormon Meteors, by Gordon Eliot White.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Reprinted with permission from Internet Brands and www.hotrodhotline.com.  For a photograph of the book go to the website at www.hotrodhotline.com

     Ab & Marvin Jenkins; The Studebaker Connection and the Mormon Meteors, by Gordon Eliot White, is a paperback book on the history of American endurance racer, Ab Jenkins and his son MarvinThe book is published by Iconografix, Box 446, Hudson, Wisconsin 54016 and the ISBN# is 13-978-1-58388-173-6. Ab & Marvin Jenkins is 8 by 11 inches in size, with no dust cover jacket and the pages are glued to the spine of the book.  The cover graphics are impressive and the book can easily meet the criteria of being a nice looking coffee table book or a serious work of historical research into an American racing family that has long been overlooked.  Ab & Marvin Jenkins has a table of contents, acknowledgments, introduction, 11 chapters, a four page appendix of records set by the Jenkins,’ a one page epilogue, a two page index and the length of the book is 160 pages.  There are two color and 168 black and white photographs throughout the book.  In addition, the author has included an additional 41 assorted pictorials, including diagrams, maps, drawings and ads.  In the acknowledgments, White mentions that he has known the Jenkins and that he had been a correspondent for the Salt Lake City Deseret News for over three decades.   Gordon Eliot White is a serious historian, researcher and writer.  His method is to concentrate on the written records and personal interviews and to keep any biases in check.  The photographs are almost all in black and white, but they are of a high quality and most of them I have not seen before.  The text is about 40% of the work, but is written in a clear, concise and interesting manner.  White does not dawdle, but moves the story along and I never found my interest wane.  The index is a full two pages and appears to be very thorough.  Ab & Marvin Jenkins lacks a bibliography, but White covers this in his acknowledgments.
 
   Ab Jenkins and his son Marvin occupy a place in American racing that is truly pivotal.  There are a few people who deserve a chapter in the ‘great story never written’ on American motorsports racing, and Ab Jenkins is one of them.  Bill France in stock car racing, Wally Parks in drag racing, William K. Vanderbilt in early road course racing, the Unser, Foyt and Andretti family in open wheel racing have all earned a place in history.  The story of Ab and Marvin Jenkins is often lost among the welter of names that have made a huge impact.  Many people even forget that Henry Ford set a land speed record, on ice no less.  Ab Jenkins the best ever endurance racer in our time, and this isn’t something that I learned from White.  Danny Oakes and Johnny Klann told me that.  Ak Miller, who garnered recognition in many different automotive racing styles, said the same thing.  Few people ever got in a racecar and drove it hour after hour, day after day as consistently as Ab Jenkins did.  Car manufacturers paid famous race car drivers to test the endurance of their cars for their ad campaigns and usually 3 or 4 drivers would take six hour shifts.  Ab had a back-up driver and sometimes he let them in the car, but not for very long.  Those endurance records that Jenkins set have remained up there on a pedestal, because frankly, there aren’t many people who want to go 24, 48 and 72 hours straight in a racecar.  That kind of racing seems to have died out as the Great Depression waned.  If this is all that the Jenkins family is known for, it would be enough.  But it isn’t, of course, for a larger feat was in advertising to the world one of the greatest racing venues in the world, the Bonneville Salt Flats.
     The Europeans had traded the land speed record from one country to another until technology and speeds advanced beyond the sites they commonly used.  For a time the Americans entered the land speed race on the hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach, in Florida.  Jenkins, who knew that the Great Utah Salt Lake salt flats were a superior racing surface, labored long and hard to convince the Europeans land speed giants to come to America and use the Bonneville salt flats.  There are salt beds throughout the world.  Bolivia has a salt lake playa of immense size.  Australia has Lake Gairdner.  At the time the Utah salt flats seemed just as remote and unapproachable as any other place on earth.  But Utah had Ab Jenkins and the railroad, one to herald the greatest racing surface in the world and the other to supply the little town of Wendover with the necessities of life.  Roads would follow, then Sir Malcolm Campbell would accept Ab’s offer and the rest is history.  Other Europeans would follow, then in 1949, a group of Southern California hot rodders would ‘borrow the salt for a week,’ and do so well that more records have been set there than any other place on earth, except for El Mirage.  Ab Jenkins is the spiritual father of American land speed racing.  His pursuits were more concerned with his
Mormon Meteor race cars, his endurance racing and his promotion of the salt flats as a way to promote Utah, the state that he loved.  He and his son, deserve their place in history as one of the cornerstones of American racing giants.  Other books by White include; Lost Race Tracks, Kurtis-Kraft, The Marvelous Mechanical Designs of Harry A. Miller, and Indianapolis Racing Cars of Frank Kurtis 1941-1963.  Look for these and Ab & Marvin Jenkins in book stores or contact the author at gewhite@crosslink.net. 
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gone Racin'...In Shadow of the Devil; A Saga of Retaining Values in a World Gone Mad, by Lynn Wineland.  Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.   Reprinted with permission from Internet Brands and
www.hotrodhotline.com.  For a photograph of the book go to the website at www.hotrodhotline.com

     I don't normally do reviews on historical novels or fiction, but Lynn Wineland deserves recognition.  Lynn was an editor, writer and reporter in the early days of hot rodding, drag and oval track racing.  He worked with and knew my father, Wally Parks, when car magazines were first getting their start and reaching out to future success.  Novels aren't a good seller among car guys, who would rather spend their money on a how-to book or a coffee table book with lots of pictures, limited text and appropriate captions.  Those pictorials are fascinating and from a historical sense, the reader can get maximum exposure to the hot rodding scene for a fair price.  But there was something very intriguing about Wineland's background and history and so I picked up his book and began to read.  In Shadow of the Devil had a catchy title, but the first thing that seemed odd was the lack of a second "the."  Shouldn't it have been In THE Shadow of the Devil?  Okay, I'm being cute, but this is a novel right and car guys have trouble with novels, right?  It's a pretty book, well crafted with lots of care.  It measures 6 1/2 by 9 1/4 inches in size and is 1 1/2 inches thick, or 558 pages. 
     The black and orange dust cover jacket is embossed and gives the book a stunning look.  Beneath the jacket is gold lettering on the front and spine of the book.  The paper is acid free, non-waxed and bound to the book by an excellent cloth binding.  In Shadow of the Devil is meant to outlast us all.  The book comes in a hardbound and softbound version, but I am reviewing the hardbound edition.  The publisher is Adventure Publishers and the printer is M. Squiggle Press.  Check with the printer at SquiggleAP@aol.com or at your local bookstore under the ISBN#0-9672907-0-8.  The listed price for the hardbound edition is $29.95.  Wineland adds some things you don't normally expect in a novel or a historical novel.  The Table of Contents lists each chapter and the dates that the chapter covers.  There is a background and biography on the author, an acknowledgement, disclaimer, introduction, foreword, prologue, epilog and 24 chapters.  But just to make sure that you get your money's worth he adds a glossary of terms, bibliography, index and ends with chronological notes.  This is a historical novel on steroids with Cliff Notes.
     It becomes obvious why he includes the glossary, because the book is filled with German terms, code words and anagrams.  This is a book that makes you think and ponder.  When you have read, studied and learned the lessons of the 1930's and World War II, the author gives you a bibliography to turn to other books and become an educated man.  It is time to leave the garage and your tools behind, for after reading this book the shade tree mechanic has a grasp of the world other than cars and machinery.  But including an index; isn't that overkill?  Not if you know Lynn Wineland, for he was passionate about his country and its place in the world and just because cars were a major part of his life does not mean that we can't be more than a mere car person.  However, I think the author's fatal mistake was to include the Chronology notes at the back of the book, for by reading these brief five pages of notes based on points of time in the book, Wineland gives the story away.  He should know that hot rodders don't like to waste time and will take the easiest and quickest approach. 
     After reading the notes I knew the story plot, but was that good enough to lay the book aside and go on to other tasks, or would the notes simply whet my appetite for reading all 558 pages in detail.  Another aspect was the testimonials and foreword written by the author's friends.  You see a short synopsis on the dust cover jacket and sometimes that will tell you whether you should buy the book or go on to another subject.  I decided to read these testimonials and see what they had to say first about the book and its author.  These men testifying to the worth of the book included Colonel Russell E. Schleeh, General Robert C. Oaks, Burt Misevic, a past president of the Porsche Club of America, Greg Sharp, the curator of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, Gordon Ryan, author of Dangerous Legacy, Colonel Carleton W. Rogers, John Nunes, English teacher, Colonel William G. Barnson, Wilma White, and Adina B. Kappius.  This was an eclectic group of people, all writing enthusiastic praises and each of them sound and responsible people.
     The book turns out to be a very historical work, yet Wineland uses a few fictional characters to explain what is going on.  The Great Depression followed World War I, a war that was started to end the debate on the fratricidal infighting among the nations of Europe.  Great empires died and new nations were formed after the war ended in 1918, but little was solved.  Russia imploded and became various small states, torn apart by the loss of life and the destruction of their economic viability.  The Bolshevik Communists would wage an unholy war, first against their socialistic brothers and then against every real and false perceived threat.  Germany would totter under war reparations that they could not pay and smarting from the loss of respect as former masters of Central Europe.  The Austro/Hungarian Empire split apart into fractious pieces.  England and France were exhausted both monetarily and from the loss of millions of young men.  European colonies desired their freedoms and saw how weak the strong men of Europe had become. 
     China and Japan were seething with hatred against each other.  Maybe a hundred million people had died in that war and its aftermath and yet for all the carnage nothing had been settled.  After the war the world simply slid into a malaise and finally into trade wars and unemployment.  Stock markets crashed, money supplies dwindled, deflation was everywhere and the Great Depression threw its huge cloak over the world.  Dictators arose in many countries around the world, but the worst were Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union, Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and the Japanese Imperial military in Japan.  World War II is the inevitable outcome to the mess that began at Sarajevo in 1914 and the outbreak of the First World War.  It actually begins in the depths of the depression with the invasion of China by Japan on July 7, 1937.  The world turns a deaf ear to the screams of war until Germany invades Poland on September 1, 1939 and Europe can no longer cover its eyes.  America averts it eyes, warily hoping to be spared, until Japan bombs our ships at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and finally, the entire world is at war with someone, someplace.
     The author uses this backdrop to begin his story, but he continues it decade by decade as he follows his fictional characters through a real historical record up to the year 1997, when he ends his narrative.  How much of the story is fiction and how much is autobiographical or related to people that the author knows can only be known by those closest to Wineland.  The name that he chooses for the family is Graham.  British born Belmonte Graham meets Hede von Schonfeld in Germany; they marry and immigrate to the United States, where their son, Clement is born in 1917.  The plot line is thick with all the great events that mark the Twentieth Century.  The author weaves in events like Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, the Long Beach earthquake of 1933.  Clement, or Clem as he is called, experiences the normal life of anyone who has lived during the post-WWI era.  He witnesses the stock market crash of October 1929.  Clem becomes an Eagle Boy Scout, enters the Soap Box Derby, works on his father's Packard, graduates from high school and enrolls at USC.  He restores the Packard and sells it to Gary Cooper, the well-known Hollywood actor.  Clem takes flying lessons and this tells us where the story is going to lead. 
     In 1936 he accompanies his parents to the Olympic Games in Berlin.  Clem will do everything that a normal young man would do who is raised in Southern California during the 1920's and '30's.  He will meet interesting people, become involved in events and intrigue, race cars on the dry lakes of the Mojave Desert and enter the Army Air Corp after the United States reluctantly enters World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Nothing will be simple for our hero.  He works and races with the Oka brothers who are Japanese Americans.  He will fly bombing missions against his mother's people in Germany.  Clem represents the American people at a crossroads, having to confront evil within and without.  As a people the world intruded on our idyllic lives and made us face the realities of life.  How would we respond and what kind of people would we become.  The plot twists and turns, a new generation is born, and the old one passes away.  Each generation is faced with new problems and new issues that tries our character and yet presents us with promise.  In Shadow of the Devil may not be your cup of tea, but I guarantee that all hot rodders will find names and characters that they know and understand.  Some of those characters will be real people from history, like Ed Winfield, Barney Navarro and the Oka Brothers.  Other characters will be fictional, but just as riveting and just as real.  For fans of historical novels, this is a 7 and a half sparkplugs out of an 8 rating.
Gone Racin' is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM. 

********************************************************************************************

 

 

line12
[Email Land Speed Racing]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Members:

Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Gale Banks, Glen Barrett, Mike Bastian, Lee Blaisdell, Jim Bremner, Warren Bullis, Burly Burlile, George Callaway, Gary Carmichael, John Backus, John Chambard, Jerry Cornelison, G. Thatcher Darwin, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Bob Falcon, Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger, Don Garlits, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Andy Granatelli, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Ken Kelley, Mike Kelly, Bret Kepner, Kay Kimes, Jim Lattin, Mary Ann and Jack Lawford, Fred Lobello, Eric Loe, Dick Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin, Bob McMillian, Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Bob Morton, Mark Morton, Paula Murphy, Landspeed Louise Ann Noeth, Frank Oddo, David Parks, Richard Parks, Wally Parks (in memoriam), Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz, Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik, Frank Salzberg, Dave Seely, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, David Steele, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Zach Suhr, Maggie Summers, Gary Svoboda, Pat Swanson, Al Teague, JD Tone, Jim Travis, Randy Travis, Jack Underwood and Tina Van Curen, Richard Venza.
 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 1999 - 2014 Land Speed Racing Newsletter All Rights Reserved
No Portion May Be Used Without Our Written Permission
Contact Mary Ann Lawford: 208-362-1010
Email: maryann@lawfordmedia.com