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THE SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
 Newsletter
.  Issue #340.
October 5, 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, Burly Burlile, Jerry Cornelison

 

Click On All Images / Link For more Info / Images

GUEST EDITORIAL, by Bob Falcon:  

 
     CJ Hart created a Jalopy Class at his Santa Ana Drag Races because a bunch of us who raced at Culver City Speedway in the TV events broadcast on Channel 5 (or 11) each Sunday would show up at the Santa Ana airport.  As it turns out whenever the division that preceded NASCAR out here on the left coast occasionally took the normal Jalopy event at the speedway with their Hardtops on random Sundays a group of Jalopy guys would drive to Santa Ana to run the Drag Races.  I won a few of CJ's fast time class trophies.  See all of you at the Santa Ana Drags reunion on October 4, from 10 AM to 10 PM at Santiago Creek Park, Lawson Way and East Memory Lane, in Orange, California.
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GUEST EDITORIAL, by Bob Choisser

     To all motor sports photographer: please know what is going on at the event you are shooting.  Know who is in first place; who is in second place and so on.  Know who is doing well in the event; know what race it is.  Even if some racers are new, not well known or don't have a fancy appearing car.  Try to shoot EVERY CAR.  I know it's difficult, but if you try to do that, you'll be sought after and praised and the possibility of making some real good money for your work will be much greater.
     When you tell some racer ''I can't shoot every car,'' it is not true and everyone knows it.  Your attempt to side step the fact that you just didn't do your job very well, might have worked 40 years ago when there were just 12, 24 and 36 exposures on a "roll" of film.  But today's digital photography and video has blunted that excuse and every racer knows it.  For some racers, it may be the last time they race for whatever the reasons might be.
     If you can't get an action shot, try to get a shot of that car after the race or in the pits during a lull in the action.  And please don't spend all your time shooting the ''prettiest'' car there with 20 or 30 shots of what you think is the best looking car at the event.  That does not make for good ''coverage'' of any event. Remember, all those shots of the same car is for just that one person.  Two or three good shots will accomplish that task quite well.
     Last, when you miss shooting a car at an event and later the racer asks you why, please don't give them that phony ''BS'' answer, just apologize and tell them you just plain missed it; their feelings are already hurt, don't make them feel worse by insulting their intelligence.
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STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:
     Larry Lindsley has passed away.  Below is an article that I wrote at the passing of his father, Jim Lindsley.  I’m trying to put together a history on Larry.  In his own right, Larry was an accomplished land speed racer and official in the SCTA and in his Gear Grinders club.  Look for a story on Larry in the next issue of the SLSRH.
     On another issue; not all writers, editors, photographers and historians do their jobs perfectly each and every time.  Case in point is the drag racer who spent his time, money and effort to go racing in the sportsman series and who hoped that his success in his category would warrant inclusion in a racing publication or in private photographs that he could buy from the track authorized photographer.  Then he learns that the photographer bypassed him and the racing publication neglected to mention his feats and include him in the publication.  That has to hurt whether it was negligence or by mistake.  I know that I would be offended if that happened to me.  I know that if it was me that made the error that I would feel that I had cheated the other fellow.  My inclination would be to offer a sincere apology and do better in the future.

     This is one reason that I write to the staff, all volunteers, of the SLSRH and tell them repeatedly that our reputation is on the line constantly and that we have to go the extra mile to make sure that what we do is respectful, thorough and factual.  In 340 issues we have had TWO complaints, for which we apologized and retracted the offending material and did extensive efforts to find out why we erred and to keep it from happening again.  Our publisher told us on both occasions that we had no legal obligation to do so based on the protections of our Constitutional Amendment rights, but we looked at it as a higher obligation to the straight-line racing community.  If we caused a problem we responded to a problem and corrected it, just like all the hot rodders who finding a problem then fixes that problem.  That’s what hot rodders do, they don’t quibble about who’s at fault; they fix it.
     I’m not sure that we can fix another racing organization or make their photographers better at their trade.  That group in question is huge and powerful and I have been on the receiving end of their anger when they had malice in their hearts towards me.  They’re a big and powerful group and they tend to do what they want to do and they don’t often consider the feelings of those who are not part of their administrative group.  This group has sometimes shown great consideration and kindness and at other times they have disregarded the feelings of others as if we don’t exist.  The sportsman category in any group of racers is an important segment of racing.  In fact, the sportsman category is the most important group, because they represent the largest section of racers and fans and their support is critical to the continued success of auto, boat and bike racing.
     Perhaps the offending photographer was tired and exhausted.  Or maybe that photographer thought, “Why bother with that class, there is no money in it for me.”  There might have been many reasons why he took so many photos and then overlooked one of the racers.  Maybe the photographer was not aware of his mistake or omission and then it is up to the sportsman racer to point out the oversight.  But the photographer is a professional, assigned by the track and the Division Director to cover the meet and as such the final responsibility for failure ALWAYS resides with him.  The DD has a lot going on in a meet and can’t possibly know everything, even weeks after the event.  But the professional ought to know, it is his job and his livelihood and to ignore a request, willfully or accidentally, does not look good on him personally.  I would hope that the professional would make an attempt to do reparations and a better job in the future.
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Gone Racin’… To say goodbye to Jim Lindsley.  Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz. October 31, 2006.   Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, photographs can be seen at
www.hotrodhotline.com.   

     As we start the 2005 racing season, full of expectations and hopes for new records and new stars to emerge, we should stop for a moment and think about all those stars in the racing firmament that have left us. These are men and women who made a great impact on American Motorsports, and whose absence will make our sport just a bit poorer for their passing. We mourn the passing of James L. Lindsley. Jim was born in 1917, in Santa Monica, California, and grew up during the depression. Contracting polio, Jim forced himself by sheer will power to overcome that dreaded disease and walk, though his legs always remained weak. Fathers of that era had a difficult time finding work to support their families, and children often earned as much as the parents. Jim was very creative and worked as a paperboy and gardener. Hobos and desperate men of that era would target paperboys, who had a pocketful of nickels, enough to feed a man for a week. Jim was no pushover. He would fill a sock with ball bearings and tie the sock around his wrist. Anyone trying to rob him of those precious nickels would receive an arm-breaking blow. He would knock on a neighbor’s door and ask if he could mow the lawn. With a leg in a metal brace and a wheelchair nearby, the neighbors would feel great emotion for him and offer to pay him extra, wondering how he would manage to do the job. Jim had hired other boys in the neighborhood to do the work. His job was to find them the work and split the money with them. His inventiveness and drive spilled over into his future vocation as an electrician, and as a land speed racer.
     Since the 1930’s, Jim Lindsley’s passion was going to the Dry Lakes in Southern California, and later to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, to race land speed cars. Jim showed me his car plaques that he had received for each time that he went racing, and these thin metal tags filled two shoeboxes. Jim was a dynamic man, but he also had a dynamic family. His wife Phyllis volunteered to handle the records for the SCTA, or the Southern California Timing Association, and faithfully did so for many decades. Jim also volunteered to work in the SCTA, in whatever capacity he was asked to do. Many times he would stop by and ask Ak Miller, Bozzy Willis, Wally Parks and other officials if they needed help, especially with the electrical work, lights or timing equipment. Jim’s land speed racing and volunteerism earned him the respect of the racing community, many awards and induction into the Dry Lakes Racers Hall of Fame, at the Gas-Up Party held at Jack Mendenhall’s Gas Pump Museum, in Buellton, California. Burke LeSage organized and spoke at the funeral service. LeSage, a protégé and self-appointed adopted son of Jim, spoke with deep respect for the man he always called his mentor. LeSage said that Jim always strove for excellence, and was a person of class, as was his wife Phyllis. LeSage called others up to the podium to speak. Les Leggitt lauded Lindsley for his hard work, honesty and knowledge. “If you want something done,” said Leggitt, “ask Jim.”
     John Helash came to the podium and told the congregation that you could trust Jim’s word in all things. Both Helash and Leggitt are past presidents of SCTA, as was Lindsley. Al Teague said that a person may not like what Lindsley said at the time, but it was frank and honest advice. Jim treated Teague like his own son. Jim’s granddaughter, Heather, said that the Lindsley family helps each other, a legacy from her grandfather. Neil Thompson added that if you needed help, there was no one better to turn to than Jim Lindsley. Jim Travis told us how much time and effort Jim put into the SCTA.  Without Jim, and his sons, Larry, Gary and Fred, and his wife Phyllis, there wouldn’t have been a Bonneville Nationals in 1952. Travis restarted the Gear Grinders club after many of the original members had left.  He went to Jim, who gave him all the records and a great deal of encouragement. Travis said there is no family in racing as efficient in getting a car ready to run as the Lindsley’s. They function like clockwork. Travis said that Phyllis Lindsley needs to be recognized by the car clubs as well, for whatever Jim achieved, his love of his life was there at his side, working just as hard for their family, land speed racing and the SCTA.
     LeSage brought the service to an end by commenting how Jim would always stop and help other people. Once Jim stopped and helped a young Alex Xydias change a flat tire, beginning a friendship with the man who would go on to found the famous So-Cal Speed Shop. “Jim Lindsley,” said LeSage, “is equal to Unser, Petty, Foyt and others in the racing world, and three generations of the family have been involved in the SCTA.” Wally Parks, an original member of the Road Runners car club, SCTA, and President of the SCTA in 1946, could not make the services, but said that there was no one in the organization that was more trustworthy and hardworking that Jim Lindsley, or more honest. Jim received many honors from the organization. He was a member of the 200 MPH (Mile per Hour) club, and twice selected as the Man of the Year in that club. For all of his achievements and accolades, the greatest honor to the man was the respect shown by those who came to pay their last respects and by the family that he left behind, who will continue to race in that unique sport of land speed racing.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM.   
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     Gran Prix e-magazine by Joe Saward and David Tremayne has an excellent article on Mike Cook's Shootout meet and George Poteet's crash at Bonneville.  There is also news of other racing teams.  See granprixplus.com.  Ron Main
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     Congrats to Roger Rohrdanz for getting honorable mention in WESTWAYS magazine.  Anna Marco
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20140924_153757

     I'm building a 1930 model a coupe and I'm making it into a traditional hotrod/salt flats racer.  I'm looking for information on car numbering and classes?  It's the original body with a 2 inch chop, original frame (boxed) with a early 283 Chevy with 2x4 carb set up, 1956 Chevy rear end and 4 speed transmission.  I'm looking for what numbers would have been used back in the 1950's for a car built similar to mine, so I can letter the era correct class and numbering.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.
     STAFF NOTES: Is this a car that once ran on the dry lakes or at Bonneville?  Was it a street car once or are you building a clone car?  Also, you need to give us your name and if you are an SCTA, USFRA or other LSR member.  I need to know where to refer you to and the first question that my resources will ask is who you are.  I will also print your letter in our newsletter so that others who can help you will be able to answer you.  Let me know if it is okay to give out your email address, or if you prefer not to, then check the next few newsletters at
www.landspeedracing.com for answers.  In the meantime I will ask around and see who can help you.
                                                         
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     I'm building a clone car, just want it to be era correct and not just put random letters and numbers on the side.  I'm not a member with any of those associations.  My name is Ken Gilbertson.
     KEN: The first thing that you should do is go to
www.AHRF.com, which is the American Hot Rod Foundation website and look up some of the photographs posted by Jim Miller, the archivist and director.  You can also email Jim, who is the President of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians, at Miller212.842@sbcglobal.net, or call him at 818-846-5139.  You can also see some of the biographies and photographs of well-known land speed racers at www.hotrodhotline.com, guest columnist Richard Parks.  And scan through some of our issues at www.landspeedracing.com.  There is also the H.A.M.B., or The Jalopy Journal at www.jalopyjournal.com.  There is also the Ohio based www.landracing.com, owned and operated by Jon and Nancy Wennerberg.  Wendy Jeffries' excellent site The Bonneville Racing News at http://www.wendyjeffries.com/BRN.htm.  The SCTA publishes the SCTA Racing News, at http://www.scta-bni.org/contact.html, and it is an excellent source.  Be sure to talk to Bobby Sykes Jr and Ed Safarik, the editor.
     Besides looking for a cool looking coupe, also consider copying the style of the drivers.  We have a wealth of information on the men and women who drove on the Salt Flats or on the dirt playas of Southern California.  Besides the numbering of the cars you should consider getting an old license plate and Jim Miller can tell you the styles of the time in the states you are interested in, especially California.  There are companies that specialize in making new plates with old state designs and some original license plates.  Be sure that you check with your local state DMV office to see if they will allow you to use that specific plate design. 
     You can also buy decals and dash plaques, but buy from reputable sellers who have the permission of the SCTA, Russetta, USFRA or other organizations who own the logos and trademarks.  The timing associations get very upset when their merchandise is pirated and sold without their permission.  If you get the urge to race your car there are timing associations in Maine, Ohio, Texas, Utah and California and you can run as an independent without belonging to a car club or the timing organization.  Each has their own rules so you should call and talk to their representatives and see what it would take for you to race at their events.  Good luck on your rebuild and send us some photographs when it is done so we can post them to our newsletter.
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     Need to post your vacation request early?  Hopefully this will be helpful.   2015 USFRA RACE DATES;
World of Speed 2015 September 12-15. 
2015 July Test-N-Tune July 8-13.      
     NOTE: The July Test-N-Tune will only be three (3) days of racing within the July 8-13 time frame.  Racing will end on Saturday or Sunday (to be determined at a later date) and racing will begin either Thursday or Friday.  Details with specific days will be posted closer to the event.  Also, all top speeds posted by Volkswagen racers at the Test-N-Tune qualify for 36hp and VW Challenge record consideration.  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)
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     The Speedway Motors Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska is a neat place to visit.  I squeaked in a visit this past Monday on our mid-west trip.  The museum is a separate facility from the speed equipment parts sales, and it's housed in a 3-story building.  Tours are daily at 2 PM, but the winter time schedule kicks in starting in October.  After October 1, they only have one tour per week, on Fridays, so check before you go, because it'd be a long empty-handed trip back to where you came from if that was the sole purpose of your visit and you missed out.

     Bill Smith, the founder of Speedway Motors died this year, but he amassed a life time collection of cars, speed equipment, pedal cars, engines, toys, and auto-related memorabilia.  You need to put this place on your automotive bucket list.  The tour was supposed to be about 2 hours long, but our guide was a talk-aholic (former salesman), so our tour lasted 3 1/2 hours, and I think the guy only quit then because we were all getting itchy feet as the exit door came into view.  Normally, I'd be all over the longer tour, but doggone it, there was lots of stuff I'd like to have seen or seen in greater detail.  You had to stay with the guide, but he'd get all tied up while standing at a less-interesting exhibit in some story about the time Bill got his tie caught in a drive shaft or some other blather, and we either skipped past a lot of more interesting stuff or just ran out of time. 
     Some of the stuff was just too interesting...like the Model T roadster truck with an old race car loaded on the back.  The race car was loaded on the truck in 1934, and it's never been off the truck since then.  Too many stories...to do it justice, you'll have to see it for yourselves, but for now, check out the pictures.  Craig Owens
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     We all have a segment of motorsports that interest us and we personally love the "Hot Rod" connection.  I remember Fred Vogel very well and he had a tiny, one room building selling real estate on the property where Max and Ina Balchowsky had Hollywood Motors and he sponsored the "Bu-Ford Special" as his name was on the programs.  Fred believed in Max and that he and Ina could slay the dragons of Sports Car Racing with the '32 Ford Roadster with the hot Buick engine.  Ernie Nagamatsu

rowe_1

Attached are a couple of pictures that I thought you might enjoy.  My valve covers are currently on the Pizza Truck.  I’d be eternally grateful if you can help me find another set or at least the original manufacturer (purchased new in the L.A. area in late 1962 or early 1963).  Worth noting that the pizza truck is for sale and the owner is asking $75,000.  The rest of the pictures are of my T bucket.  I was in the L.A. Roadsters at the time (charter member) and I had access to both the Ivo T and the Norm Grabowski T.  I took measurements from them and then scaled to achieve a balance between the two to best show off the little aluminum Buick.   Pictures 039 shows the body before I sectioned it.  Note the difference in engine to firewall relationship as compared with pictures 059.  Amazing what a jig saw and a little fiberglass and bondo can do for overall look.  Pictures were circa 1963.  Additional cast members are wife Suzi and son Steven.  That’s a 1/2 inch ratchet in his hand.  Steve is close to retirement.  Don Oaks
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     I posted a story about Don Oaks' T.  See
http://www.tbucketplans.com/1915-t-bucket-body/.  The info and pictures you provided were great and now I think your contribution to the world of T-buckets is properly recognized.  John Morehead
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Loved Them V-Rods.  By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted with permission from Internet Brands.  For photographs go to
www.hotrodhotline.com

     You can call them dune buggies till the cows come home, but to me a rear engine, flea-weight street rod makes ultimate sense. It was so when they appeared in 1965 and it is more so in 2012.  Let me bring you up to speed. If you were reading the hot rod magazines during the weird Sixties, you may recall that I did a lot of articles on off-roading in the sand dunes, and I was getting a lot of education from rodders who were making tons of progress with the VW floor pans/engine combinations. This was before street rodders got old and set in their ways.

     Still, there is a definite stigma attached to any mechanical contrivance in hot rodding that does not include a V8 engine of humongous displacement and a monstrous exhaust roar. Volks rods have neither. What the lack in brawn, however, they make up with unbridled joy!  Some history, dudes.  The Volkswagen (People’s Car) was mandated by Adolph Hitler in the 1930’s, and by the time I got to Germany via the US air force in the early 50’s it was a staple of German transportation. It was a brilliant, low-cost, go anywhere basic transportation. As bought through onshore-offshore salesmen, you could get a spanking new one for around 800 bucks. Stateside, the humble little beetle was a hit with the avant garde, but it didn’t take off with car guys at first. Limp little opposed 4 cylinder air cooled nothing engine lucky to get an actual l5 horses to the rear tires. 

     Until the hot rodders got into the pitch and suddenly there was some serious smoke showing up on southern California freeways. Which coincided with some serious sand dune vehicles, which were all water pumpers until a couple of bare bones VW chassis/engine combos appeared, with big rear tires. We all gawked at the little dingers that first weekend, but by the next sand weekend there were literally hundreds of stripped V-Dubs crawling over the dunes. Hot Rodders know a great thing when they see it! Water pumpers disappeared overnight, and it didn’t take long before the stock floor-pan VW’s grew into spider web tubing frames. 

     In l963 I built the first of the hot rod concept show rods, named the XR-6, for experimental roadster 6 cylinder. As radical as the thing ended up looking, it was built on a very simple rectangular tubing ladder frame with trailing link coil/shock rear-end and a VW front end. It was, and remains one of the most foolproof front suspensions possible. Upper and lower trailing arms connected directly to transverse torsion bars, tube shocks on pressed sheet stock mounts, and cross steering. Very basic, sturdy, and a lot of suspension travel. With a ride quite unknown to many street rods.  Simply put, it is easier to pull a wheel over bumps than to push it. For proof, try pulling a wheelbarrow over the same rough terrain rather than pushing it.

     Anyway, evolution of the VW sand rails eventuated in fiberglass bodies of the most basic caliber and the famed dune buggy was born. At the same time, the miniscule engine was getting some serious attention from the go-fast crowd. Power was coming on board by the ton, and there were some really interesting, and feasible, engine swaps showing up. The flat four gave way to lightweight aluminium V8s courtesy GM, great power from oddities such as the inline 5 cylinders, even small block Chevys appeared. Of course, it was only a matter of time until the VW transaxle was reversed to provide a mid-engine layout. There was far more hot rodding going on with off-road stuff than mainstream rod building.  It was into this climate that I introduced Tom Medley to a street rodding alternative.

     For a year or so, I had been following a build by legendary Kent Fuller at his then-current digs in the South San Francisco area. Always an innovator, Fuller was builder of top running dragsters, and he incorporated what he knew about tubing chassis into a street Volksrod. I saw this setting out front of his shop on one of my often visits to NorCal.  A couple months later, following an annual steelhead trout fishing trip to the deep river country of extreme northern California, with my best trout hunting buddies Tom Medley, I detoured on our return trip south via the south San Francisco area. I didn’t mention to Tom that I wanted him to see what Fuller was building, and when we pulled up curbside front of Kent’s shop, Medley came un-glued. “What’s that!,” he yelped and was out of our fishing-mobile instantly. Over and under the Kent car went Tom, all the time exclaiming “Damn, about time someone decided to make a street rod of the VW!!” He was even more excited when he discovered it was the work of long-time friend Kent Fuller.
     That was all it took, and Rod & Custom magazine immediately had a new rod project boiling.  At about this same time, the guys at Dragmaster had been coming to the sand dunes to try some sand drags, where they also discovered the exploding VW buggy craze. Then they heard of the street rod Fuller was building, and since Dragmaster already had a thriving business making Model T body/Chevy V8 street roadster kits, they knocked together a Volksrod virtually overnight.   Tom hardly had his Vrod cooling from the maiden run when he packed the little T-Model and headed out cross country to the rod nats.  Readers of R&C knew about his T, so it was received with acclamation at the Nationals. That early favorable acceptance was by street rodders more in tune with what I prefer to call “real rodding” than later enthusiasts who are little more than catalog shufflers. 

     So, taking a long and searching look at the current state of international affairs, especially the cost of fuels, I think it is time we uncover all those old issues of R&C to find out about building a Volksrod. Tom eventually built a full folding top and had some early style T fenders made for his machine. It went everywhere, and it was a maxi-giggle jiggle. Then, Tom began to lust for another l940 Ford coupe, so the V-rod was passed along to Billy Belmont, he of the Rhode Island speed emporium Belmont’s. Who has that iconic car to this day.  I can also report that Kent Fuller still drives his Volksrod, which I think now has a Porsche engine. And a folding top. But no sidecurtains, thank you. Back at the turn of the century, I was working on my Junkyard Dawg roadster out front of my eastern Idaho mountain shop, in a freak snowstorm, when I heard a long forgotten braaak-braaack on the main gravel road up from the state hard surface ribbon. I looked up just in time to see a vaguely familiar form zip behind the neighbor’s horse barn. In short order, Kent pulled to a stop in front of my car, murmuring “When you gonna bring that down so I can build a new hood for it?” He has been saying that for over 20 years now.

      “Hey, Fuller, whatcha doin here in the high lonesome?”  “Oh, in the neighborhood, so thought I would stop by on my way back to Northern California.”  “Where ya been?”

“Up in north Idaho.”  “You been way up there, and it is way out of your way to come by here. And in a snowstorm, with no side curtains or fenders.”  All of which I relate to show you how reliable a good V-rod is.  Fuller has put a jillion miles on his car, which is now way old. A legend, as it (he) should be. And Billy Belmont still irons out the road wrinkles in Medley’s T.   Maybe it is time for everybody to stand back and look at where we already been in street rodding, and maybe it is time to go there again.

     By the way, I got an e-mail from Burly Burlile from out Utah way recently. You may not know but Burly was one of a very select few real rodders who took to the back highways couple of decades back and followed up on some of my Vintage Tin stories from back-when R&C mags. And, in years recent he started an event called a Cruise-In at the annual Bonneville SpeedWeek, an activity aimed at getting street rodders out of their lawnchairs and on the roads---an activity that immediately led to street rodders discovering the salt flats, and  ultimately to the huge turnout of real hot rodders for the speed fest. Even so, Burly has always been a VW freak-a-zoid, so he couldn’t wait to share with some of us a recent find of his in a junkyard.  Yep, a genuine l932 Ford coupe body, duly modified to fit a VW floorpan and engine.  Sort of a V-RatRod…

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Gone Racin’…
The Hot Rod Story, by Alex Xydias.  Movie review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  16 January 2012. Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands.  For photographs go to www.hotrodhotline.com

     Alex Xydias collected old videos in his possession and created a tape which he called The Hot Rod Story.  It is an eclectic series of videos that tells the story of hot rodding in the traditional sense, from those who lived through the Great Depression and World War II.  Xydias narrates most of the movie himself, in a style reminiscent of those long ago hot rodders who believed in equality based on performance.  They had a rough wit about them and ability to coin words and phrases that seem distantly familiar to us today.  They had a nickname or a phrase for just about anything and though it seems old-fashioned to us today, they were the cut-ups of their day.  I reviewed the old VHS tape; but since then Xydias has had the tape transferred to DVD discs and they can be purchased at www.so-calspeedshop.com or at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum by calling 909-622-2133.  In addition to the tape, the DVD contains 7 additional minutes on how the film was made.  It is well worth the effort to obtain this DVD from Alex as it has some great footage that I have not seen before.  I learned a great deal and some of my beliefs have been changed upon seeing segments in the video.  The title page on the video box isn’t the clearest, or is the credits in the film, but here are the details.  The producer and narrator is Alex Xydias.  Dean Moon and Judy Thompson Creach assisted Alex in the creation of the movie and provided details.  Ron Van Matta, Bob Van Matta, Les Melmena, the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and the National Hot Rod Foundation (NHRA) provided assistance.  The film is dedicated to the late John Wenderski.  Alex Xydias also shot some of the original sequences.  Not stated, but most likely, Wally Parks, a close friend gave considerable encouragement to Alex in the production of this movie.

     The Hot Rod Story contains original footage of the first NHRA Nationals meet at Great Bend, Kansas, and the second NHRA Nationals at Kansas City, Kansas.  It also has footage of one of the greatest drag cars ever created, the 880 of Dave Marquez and the Motor Monarchs of Santa Paula.  Additionally there is footage of the Santa Maria, Santa Ana, Pomona and San Gabriel drag strips.  Xydias adds some very valuable historical scenes of boat drag racing at Marine Stadium in Long Beach, California.  Throughout the movie he adds scenes of hot rodding at the dry lakes in Southern California and the Salt Flats in Bonneville, located in western Utah.  He concludes with a half hour segment from a sports TV show on various high speed events.  The total running time of The Hot Rod Story comes to one hour and forty-four minutes.  There is no date as to the production of the movie, but it shows Al Teague’s run in 1991 and alludes to future land speed runs, so I would date the production time around the mid 1990’s.  The quality of the film runs anywhere from very good to below average and the taped from TV film is poor, but understandable.  The sound quality also rates between very good all the way down to below average, but I didn’t have a problem making out what was said.  A few times there was a humming noise that was distracting, but it never lasted more than a few minutes at any given time.  No matter what deficiencies there are in The Hot Rod Story, having Alex Xydias as the narrator makes this a must have video for one’s library.  Unfortunately, there were segments with no narration and that was a loss, especially during the 880/Motor Monarch’s section.

     The Hot Rod Story begins with a parade of roadsters on the road and then going through the famed Pasadena freeway tunnel.  The film starts off a little grainy and the sound quality isn’t quite up to par, but it improves as it goes along.  “Hot rod isn’t a term that we liked, we preferred the term roadster,” said Xydias.  But over time the pejorative word became accepted and liked.  “This is a story about a climb up the mountain of respectability, skill and creativity,” Alex continued.  “Hot rodding, he added, began in the 1930’s and ‘40’s in Southern California.  We tested our cars out in the Mojave Desert on dry lakes,” Alex said.  There were still photographs of Karl and Veda Orr, Chuck Potvin and many other early hot rodders of the era.  Along with some outstanding early video home movies, Xydias also had some early Hot Rod magazine movie footage.  He quickly and easily moved from one setting and scene to the next, showing how wide and varied the culture of hot rodding was back then.  There was Robert Petersen, also known as Bob, “Pete,” and the Boss, in his office at Trend Publications in Los Angeles.  Bob Green and Tom Medley showed up in the next scene and the feeling came to me, “Did Alex shoot these videos or were they rescued from the infamous dumpster dive at Petersen Publishing during one of the many sales of the company to outside publishers?”  Then it was back at the dry lakes for some really great quality taping of land speed racing.  Alex has a talent for explaining the most mundane point in an interesting way.  He went on to explain what was in the photographs and videos with an easy manner.  He pointed out the differences in car class; streamliners, roadsters and how war surplus airplane belly tanks morphed into the famous lakester class of cars.

     With an excitement that belied his 80 plus years, he explained how the sport of hot rodding found a new venue site to race on at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  He told us that he was one of the original racers at that fabled site during the first SCTA meet held there in 1949.  He was thorough and complete, mentioning little details that the average viewer would overlook or not think very important.  He listed a huge number of cars and people who were there at that time.  We could look right into the engine compartment and see what the racers were doing and the components and what may have gone wrong under speed.  Some of the names of the drivers that were there included; Ak Miller, Kenz/Leslie, Howard Johanson, Don Waite, Hill/Davis, Bob Herta, and the Summers Brothers.  There was a great amount of detail on Mickey Thompson’s attempts to break the unlimited land speed record and how Mickey finally was able to make a one-way run of 406 miles per hour, the first man to do so, though it wasn’t backed up with a second run in order to set an official record.  Xydias runs about 15 years of Bonneville footage into one segment, but does it effortlessly.  The next segment of the film shows how hot rodders helped to create a new sport, separate from illegal street racing and dry lakes land speed racing.  That sport was drag racing and for the fan of very early drags, this was perhaps the most interesting.  For Xydias, drag racing is equated with Wally Parks and the founding of the NHRA by Parks, Ak Miller and Marvin Lee in 1951.  Xydias and Parks were close friends and sometimes business partners, who formed a lifetime friendship after World War II that didn’t end until Parks’ death in 2007. 

     Xydias points out in the film that there were many individuals and organizations that created drag racing.  He shows footage of the first drag races at the airport just north of Santa Barbara in Goleta, California.  There is footage of C. J. Hart who founded the Santa Ana Airport drag strip in Orange County.  But it is the NHRA that focuses a wild and crazy new youth sport into a national mania that grows overnight into the biggest motorsport phenomenon in America.  There is lots of footage of the 1955 Nationals at Great Bend, Kansas.  Jim Nelson is shown inspecting cars while action on the rough track shows Mel Heath, Calvin Rice, Art Chrisman, Mickey Thompson, the Bean Bandits of San Diego and Dave Marquez in the 880.  The next segment is an un-narrated excerpt of drag racing at Santa Maria in the very early 1950’s, compiled by the Motor Monarch’s of Santa Paula.  Two clubs were very influential and set the example for other clubs to follow them.  One was the Bean Bandits of San Diego in their flashy yellow colors and hard to beat land and drag racing cars.  Joaquin Arnett was the leader of this group and they accepted everyone into their group even though they represented local Hispanics and were often looked as outcasts even in a sport full of outcasts.  But they were hard to beat and super-competitive.  The Bean Bandits established a drag strip in northern San Diego County at Paradise Mesa.

     The other group of outstanding racers was the Motor Monarch’s of Santa Paula and though they were founded by Dave Marquez and other local Latinos, they accepted everyone and anyone in the Ventura area into their club who would uphold the true hot rodding experience.  Besides Marquez, the group included Ed and Ben Martinez, John Davison, Howard Clarkson, Robert Olinger and other Santa Paula hot rodders.  Dave was a high school track star who ran in the 440 and 880 yard events and so he named his two famous cars the 880 (roadster) and 440 (coupe).  The 880 simply was the most beautiful and deadly car in its class and won the B Roadster class at the NHRA Nationals in 1955 and 1956.  Marquez might have gone on to national recognition and acclaim except for a tragic accident that ended in a lawsuit.  The result was that Dave had to sell the car and distance himself from the sport that he loved.  The 880 had a detachable body that was secured by fasteners.  The team was arrayed in colorful uniforms and wowed the crowds of young people by quickly lifting the body off the frame, then going through the engine and making repairs quickly.  The paint scheme was a fluorescent orange and white, from a special paint “borrowed” from the military at Point Mugu.  The 880 was designed as one of the top 75 all-time best 1932 Ford built roadsters at the Grand National Roadster Show in 2007.  In my opinion, it is the most beautiful ’32 ever modified and lethal on the drag strip.  The car was sold to interests in the South and has not been seen for decades, but may still be around in a barn somewhere.

     A new segment follows and the voice of Xydias reestablished the history of drag racing as we listen in.  We see several drag strips and see drivers such as Thompson, Chrisman, Lakewood Muffler, the Bean Bandits, Bustle Bomb, Calvin Rice, and Mel Heath.  Now the action is back at Great Bend, which is rained out on the last day and the event had to be finished in Arizona at a later date.  We are shown some of the manufacturers of speed equipment and I liked the Bell Auto Parts segment and Roy Richter.  Among early manufacturers, Richter is often overlooked since he died so long ago, but his impact on all forms of hot rodding and racing and his leading of SEMA meant so much to our sport.  Xydias now takes us to footage of the 1963 U. S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Here we see scenes of Don Garlits, Jack Chrisman, Connie Kalitta, John Peters and others competing for the championship.  The next drag race is the famous Smokers Meet in Bakersfield, California and here we see Art Malone, Garlits, ‘Terrible’ Tommy Ivo, Petersen/Frank, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Gordon Collett and others in their fantastic old dragsters.  In a few short years since 1950 these machines have gone from ancient to modern.  From here we are taken to some boat drags footage at Marine Stadium in Long Beach, California in the mid-1960’s, the ‘Golden Age’ of boat racing.  There are racers such as Bob Ellis and Ed Olson.  Among the boats there are the White Mist, Witch, X-P and Golden Thing.  Some of the boats are wood and some are fiberglass hulls.  There are several crashes and we are left to wonder how in the world these drivers survived a crash at 140 mph.

     The Hot Rod Story now reverts back to more footage of later NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis, with a mix of old and new drivers.  There is an interesting view of the campers in their tents and cars.  A new invention, the Christmas Tree, is debuted and stops cheaters from leaving early before the flagman has dropped his flag.  The NHRA has brought in a man dressed as a Native American Indian to scare away the rain, but it isn’t always effective.  The drivers at this meet are Tony Nancy, Garlits, ‘Sneaky’ Pete Robinson, Kalitta, Ron Abbott, Don Montgomery and cars with expressive names like Bo Weevil, Lawman and Ramchargers.  Garlits beats Abbott for the championship.  To show that hot rodders can also do more than build and race cars, Xydias shows us some footage of hot rodder Don Waite and the space program at Cape Canaveral.  At this point there is some un-narrated footage of joyful hot rodders on the road, at the dry lakes or at local drag strips.  By breaking up the narrated and un-narrated sections it isn’t quite as irritating and the lack of narration only lasts for a short time.  Following this is the last segment of The Hot Rod Story; a taped television program called the “Fastest men on Earth.  The sound and picture quality suffers as it was taped from the TV set and the transfer doesn’t take very well.  But it is highly interesting, especially the historical footage of land speed record setting and the interviews with a young Donald Campbell and Richard Noble.  Others interviewed or on tape include Craig Breedlove, Malcolm Campbell, Al Teague and Stan Barrett.  There is footage of John Cobb and Gary Gabelich.  All considered this is an important and very fascinating movie and done quite well by Alex Xydias, one of the true hot rodders of all times.  I rate this a 7 spark plugs out of an 8 possible.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…
The Roaring Road.  Movie review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  13 August 2008.  Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands.  For photographs go to www.hotrodhotline.com

   The Roaring Road is a silent, black and white film made in 1919 and starring Wallace Reid, Ann Little and Theodore Roberts.  It was directed by James Cruze from the novel by Byron Morgan, and adapted for the screen by Marion Fairfax.  Frank Urson was the cameraman and chief photographer and the art director was Wilfred Buckland.  Cecil B DeMille is credited, but his career was just starting out and his part in the film is not clear.  DeMille is the one that we remember and by 1919 he had two other films to his credit; The Cheat (1915) and Why Let Her Go (1919).  The producer was Jesse L. Lasky and the film runs for 97 minutes.  The background is the original organ music used in the production and harkens back to the time when a real organist would play as he watched the movie, heightening the drama with his tones.  The plot is centered on Reid and Little, who are in love with each other, but there are complications.  There are always complications, that’s what makes them so endearing.  The black and white film is in relatively good shape, with a few scenes, especially at night that are difficult to make out.  The subtitles run the gamut from easily read and understood to grainy and unreadable.  The actors of those days were trained in using body language and facial movements that make it easier to understand the plot.  In fact, the second viewing, once you know the plot, is better if you don’t stare at the subtitles, but simply glance at them.  The Roaring Road ranks as a 5 out of an 8 on my spark plug rating scale and is quite interesting simply as a story in itself.  It has crossover appeal for those who are film buffs, movie historians, car and early racing fans.  It has a few scenes of the 1919 Santa Monica Road Race, one of the premier road races of the early twentieth century.  There are also some interesting scenes of Reid as he opens up the race car on the country roads.  The clothing, mannerisms and scenes of early Southern California also hold interest for those who love that early period in the automobile culture.

   Reid plays Walter Thomas Walden, nicknamed Toodles, a car salesman in love with Dorothy Ward (Little).  Dorothy’s gruff and garrulous father J.D. Ward (Roberts) is called “The Bear” by his loyal employees.  The Bear owns Darco Motor Car Company and is involved in racing competition against his rival, Rexton Cars and other manufacturers for bragging rights as to who owns the fastest and best cars.  The Santa Monica Road Race is one race that Ward feels that he has to win to keep Darco’s image high in the public mind.  He is expecting three of his best race cars to arrive on the train from back east, but a derailment destroys them.  Toodles is a man obsessed with speed and Dorothy, his beloved, whom he feels is beyond his means and his reach.  He is also a street racer and constantly taunts the police as he outruns them.  Toodles buys the three crashed race cars and rebuilds them into a new race car that he calls his “3-in-1” and enters the car in the race.  Ward is livid that Toodles would do this, feeling he is embarrassing his company, but Toodles struggles mightily against the odds and wins the race.  The footage of the race is often re-shown, so the original scenes are few in number, but they are authentic and they are outstanding.  Ward and Walden go back and forth, first the Bear accepting the young man and then rejecting him.  Dorothy first obeys her father, then rebels and then changes her mind.  This is melodrama at its best.  Finally the father tells the young suitor that he will agree to his marriage proposal to his daughter, but they must wait five years.  Then he announces that he is leaving on the train for his offices in San Francisco the next day and will be gone forever.

   This is all a ploy by the older man to get Walden to enter a road race contest to set a new record.  The Rexton car had raced the train to San Francisco and the Bear was outraged, because they had done it without competition and a few days before the State had decided to outlaw such speed contests.  The Bear needed the best driver possible and one with the enthusiasm and urgency to win.  Unfortunately, Toodles in his recklessness had raced the police once too often and was in the county jail.  The Bear sends his chief mechanic to break Walden out of jail.  There is an interesting scene where the mechanic takes an acetylene torch and cuts through the bars without using eye goggles.  Perhaps in 1919, they didn’t know the dangers of using torches without protective eye gear.  Toodles is now free and with his riding mechanic he sets out to race the train to San Francisco and face the Bear and win his love.  The trek is difficult and daunting, but as dawn arises, there is the “3-in-1” car on the country roads, neck and neck with the train as the crew and the passengers hoot and holler and wave him on.  The Bear and Dorothy know what’s at stake, but Toodles knows only that he has to reach the depot before Ward and Dorothy arrive.  He and the riding mechanic break the record by a full hour and clean the mud and grime off them.  The Bear and Dorothy arrive, the plot is revealed, the couple is married and the Bear has what he wants, a new road course record. 

   I continued to play the tape after the movie had ended and found additional short addenda.  There were six commercials, in color, from the 1950’s through the ‘70’s.  They were ads for Alka-Seltzer, A-1 Steak Sauce with Boris Karloff as the narrator, Volkswagen, Shasta Orange Soda with Tom Bosley as the pitchman, Johnson Wax and Pledge and Lee Trevino touting Patio Foods’ Super Mex line of foods.  It was fascinating to see something that I thought was long gone.  Then “Wire Service,” a movie starring George Brent aired for a few minutes and then it ended abruptly.  There were several George Barris cars featured and a car chase where Brent has uncovered something that the ‘killer’ didn’t want to be made known.  There was a short film on a road race that appeared to have been done in the ‘60’s at Laguna Seca.  There weren’t a lot of racing, but the cars were worth the look.  You can purchase the disc containing The Roaring Road and the bits and snippets of the other interesting ads and films from Hot Rod Memories at www.hotrodmemories.com.   This disc won’t appeal to everybody, but it is a hidden gem that will add to your hot rodding library and I rate it a 5 out of a possible 8 spark plug rating.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’…The Salt Ghost; Return of the Nitro Express.  Movie review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.    21 September 2011. Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands.  For photographs go to www.hotrodhotline.com

     Wes White and Tyler Malinky have a story to tell in The Salt Ghost; Return of the Nitro Express.  The two men own motorcycle businesses and came across an old land speed racing bike that fired their interest.  Wes is the owner of Four Aces Cycle Supply and Tyler is the owner of Low Brow Customs.  The two friends couldn’t be more dissimilar in appearance and yet they share a love for bikes and land speed racing.  Standing side by side Tyler towers over Wes and seems ungainly on the racing bike that he rides, yet he masters the course and nearly sets a record.  Together they raised the money to have a video made on the Salt Ghost, a bike that Theo Ozen and Fritz Kott raced back in the late 1960’s through the early 1980’s.  The video is approximately an hour in length.  The executive producers are Wes White and Tyler Malinky, which means they came up with the cash to make it.  The list price for the DVD is $29.95 and you can go online to www.lowbrow.com to purchase the film.  The Director/Producer is Hugh Swingle.  Robert Erbeznik is the photographic director.  The editor is Todd Schroeder and the music score is by Christopher Hoag.  You are probably wondering why I mention all of this when most of you just want to know one thing; is the video any good?  Well the video is very good and on several levels.  But I like to give you as much information as I can and if the people doing the work do well or poorly, then you know their names.

     Wes and Tyler found the Ozen bike and knew that it was special right from the beginning.  Usually these finds of old racing bikes have a checkered past and it is very hard to figure out where they came from.  Sometimes the bikes are in such bad condition that they are simply scrapped or used simply for rough usage.  But Wes and Tyler know a good bike when they see one and there were tell-tale marks and a numbered plate on the rear fender.  They did some poking around with motorcycle clubs and the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and established that the bike was previously owned by Theo Ozen and that Fritz Kott helped him.  Ozen had moved away from the area and then he passed away in 2004; but Kott was still alive and they enlisted his help in learning more about the Salt Ghost.  The video is unscripted though White and Malinky have a very easy and pleasant manner about them.  They could almost be refined actors in how they react with each other.  Their bantering and conversations are so natural as they poke and prod at the bike, taking it apart and reassembling the pieces to learn how it was originally made.  I’m not a bike guy and it would be easy for the director to lead the two men into complicated jargon that gets lost in the translation; but the director and the two bike builders keep it simple and understandable.  The action was also deliberate; not slow, but with a pace that made it easy for the novice to keep up.  As the two friends pointed to parts and to problems they gave just enough information to keep the action moving along and to educate non-bike guys about the mechanics of the Triumph motorcycle. 

     Wes and Tyler also have an infectious enthusiasm to go along with their patient mechanical knowledge.  Fritz Kott was a real find.  This long-bearded man really appreciated the love that the two mechanics put into the restoration of the Salt Ghost and he shined in his interviews.  “I was there in the 1960’s with Theo,” Kott said.  “The last time I saw the bike was in 1982 and I rode it with a good load of nitro in it.  The bike went over 140 miles per hour at El Mirage,” he told the two men.  Wes was the narrator and he has an unusual voice that commands our attention.  The early scenes of the dry lakes and Bonneville added a nice touch.  There were a few dry lakes guys that had speaking parts, but I didn’t get their names.  One that I know who was interviewed was Julian Doty and he goes back to at least 1937, and there are few men and women who can make that claim.  Julian can tell us about that early period in our land speed racing  history because he was just a young kid when his uncle dragged him to a meeting back in 1937 that established the SCTA.  The other thing that is remarkable about Doty is his clear and precise memory.  He is simply a delight to be around and to listen to.  “They run this bike for five years that I remember.  Ozen was a big tall fella who wore a protective suit that was black, with white stripes; kind of like a skunk.  I remember that was around 1970-71,” Doty said in his joking manner.  Then Kott added, “Theo was a very smart guy.  He always dressed kind of grubby, like land speed guys normally do on the dry lakes.  But when he went to the awards banquet he dressed up and looked very distinguished in a suit and tie.  We were heavy into nitro at the time,” Kott told the narrator.  “Theo was also president of the Rod Riders, which was affiliated with the SCTA as one of its member clubs,” Kott added

     The video’s director moved the action around from Wes and Tyler working on the bike to scenes of the dry lakes and interviews with Kott, Doty and others.  I really enjoyed the interviews and wished that they were longer and brought out the real humor of the men and women who raced so long ago.  That sort of humor is so delightfully barbed.  It represented an age created by the Great Depression and World War II when pomposity was set upon by wit and sardonic glee.  No man set himself up over others without risking serious ridicule.  But these men were also loyal and honest to a fault.  “We never locked up our tool box in those days.  We would lend our tools to complete strangers and we trusted everyone,” Doty beamed.  I wish that the director would have introduced some of the volunteers in the video that had speaking parts at El Mirage and Bonneville.  Perhaps the narrator did, but I may have missed it.  Most of the action occurred at the Inspection tent and Registration trailer.  As the narrator asked questions or spoke to the volunteers at the timing meet it seemed so natural.  Usually non-actors are tongue tied but that wasn’t the case here at all.  The conversation wasn’t rehearsed either, though I’m sure that the film’s editor probably left a lot of tape on the editing room’s floor.  I’ve reviewed other dry lake’s movies and I am amazed at how well the SCTA officials handle their speaking parts.  Perhaps they are natural born actors; good ones too.

     Kott continued with his interview, “Theo was injured in a racing accident and the last time that I saw him he was in a wheelchair.  He left his shop and moved away and it was as if he had disappeared from the face of the earth.”  The movie reverted from the dry lakes back to the motorcycle shop as the partners prepared for the trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats.  The photography was very good, almost excellent.  The background guitar music was soothing and didn’t get in the way of dialogue.  One of the most irritating things about some videos is the feeling by the producers that the music has to be loud and aggressive.  Yet if there is no musical background the viewers have a hard time focusing.  Here the music fit the topic and added to the tempo of the film.  The other plus was the way Tyler and Wes played off each other as if they had been acting in films all their lives.  I’m pleased to see a younger generation take over and promote the sport of land speed racing as Wes and Tyler are doing.  Finally the partners were ready for the road trip to Bonneville.  I timed the sequence of events from their shop to Bonneville and it lasted about a minute.  Too short for me as the desert, rolling hills and familiar landmarks brought back cherished memories of the trip that I had taken years ago.  Then the broad panorama of the Bonneville Salt Flats spread out before us.  My father was there in 1947 when Cobb ran for the unlimited land speed record.  He went back in 1948 to convince the Chamber of Commerce in Salt Lake City to let the SCTA lease the salt flats for timing trials.  In 1949 he was the first man to run down the course at the first SpeedWeek and the first to spin out.

     There were some nice photographs of Roland Free on his bike in that famous pose of his; laying horizontal with his legs straight out from the bike.  Free was aptly named, for he raced in shoes, swim suit and helmet back then.  That shows you how far the safety rules have changed at SpeedWeek since the 1950’s.  Burt Munro’s Indian motorcycle was also shown in old photographs.  His story is retold in The World’s Fastest Indian, a movie that deserved more attention than it received.  Ozen’s old Triumph is chain driven and Wes and Tyler discover a problem with a pushrod.  They run the bike up a ramp onto a platform and then show us what happened and how to repair it.  How easy it is to work on bikes instead of cars.  They also show the viewer how land speed racers adapt to problem way out on the lakebed with minimal tools and equipment.  Improvising is the key to success in racing.  With the Salt Ghost repaired the men make an official run down the course.  Tyler goes first and it is a funny sight to see this tall, gangly man get on this rather small bike.  It is as if he was going to overpower the bike and yet man and machine blend together.  The close up and zoom photography is very good and it doesn’t last long enough for me.  The run is aborted without going through the timing lights and the men are left without a standard to judge the bike.

     Most of the time there is a lively discussion between the two men as they try and overcome all the gremlins that get in their way, but on a few occasions their frustration boils over and some strong language comes through.  Such language is normal at the lakes and Bonneville and most will not find it offensive, but it does pose a problem if children and wives are viewing the video.  The second day Wes gets on the bike after the team has discovered the problems and worked on them.  Wes is shorter and stouter and looks more comfortable on the bike, but looks can be deceiving sometimes.  Tyler will bring out the best in the Salt Ghost on this trip to Bonneville.  Wes is unable to get the bike out of third gear and into fourth, but still manages to attain 85 mph and their first official timing slip.  They find and fix a problem with the carburetor.  There are always problems to face when racing.  Tyler takes the third turn on the Salt Ghost and the photography is excellent as he manages to up the speed to 119 mph, just a few miles off the record that they are trying to reach.  As long and gangly as Tyler is he has found a symbiotic relationship with the Salt Ghost and takes the fourth run as well, increasing the speed to 121 mph and just missing the record.  That’s it for this year and the partners head for home and will prepare the bike for the next SpeedWeek.  The camera ends the odyssey with a shot of Theo Ozen’s grave with the notation, “1926-2004, WWII Vet,” and then a close-up of Fritz Kott, who sadly passed away after the movie had been made.  Fritz was born in 1945 and passed away in 2011.  Somewhere, both of these pioneers are proud of the film and the restoration of the Salt Ghost.  I rate this a 6 ˝ spark plugs out of a total of 8 and recommend this film for your library. 
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM.  ********************************************************************************************

 

 

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