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THE SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
 Newsletter
.  Issue #341.
October 16, 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, Them Back Fence Guys.   By Le Roi Tex Smith.  Reprinted by permission of Internet Brands, photos at www.hotrodhotline.com

     You hardly notice them. No fighting over main hall entrance parking, no posing for the cameras, no glitzy glamour or magazine covers. Just your run of the mill down home do-it-their-own-way sure nuff hot rodders.  We’re talking about those drive-‘em rodders who seem to be all over the map in hot rodding.  The ones who avoid too much attention, and even go out of their way to escape detection.  The Back Fence Boys.  And gals.
     They are everywhere in life, and they go largely unnoticed in a high-profile world of wanna-be’s and look at me’s.  My kind of guys and gals, the ones who know who they are, what they can do, and when to do it.  They are the real heroes of hot rodding.  I find them at every kind of activity.  At the ball games, at the surf, at the rodeos!  I find them extremely refreshing wherever they appear. 
     In street rodding, I even find them staying away from the must-do activities.  I wish I could extend to each of them my heartfelt thanks, and award them all Top Ten letter jackets, but they would probably never wear them!
     The first thing I do when I go to a modern street rod “run” is to do the registration thing.  Get that out of the way, then I go in search of the background bunch.  As ever, they will be way over there somewhere, away from the registration entrance, away from the commercial exhibits, away from all the adoring glances.  They find really good places to park, under an unappealing building overhang, maybe in the recently vacated (and smelling like it) horse shed, maybe around a great ancient shade tree…doesn’t matter much what the environs, for them they seek out a quiet spot out of the heavy pedestrian flow and stake their acreage.  And, as the weekend unfolds, they will follow the same routine throughout the surrounding communities. 
     These are the people who get out and locate the really neat haunts of the towns, those little old denizens where you find the good (but not five-star) eating places, the local and area parks and roadsides, the ramshackle sales emporiums so far away from the main street crowds.  These are the hot rodders who have discovered back road America and all the sheer pleasures that lay hidden off the interstate.
     Interestingly, this segregation of hot rodding into “them” and “us” is not about the money spent on the cars.  It is about the quality of the hot rodder.  You won’t find much bravado among the fence bunch, they don’t have to brag about doing stuff that the main entrance mob day dreams about doing.  And name slinging doesn’t count for much, either.  Alongside a nobody from East Overshoe will be a Somebody from Downtown, and they share mutual respect for each other’s efforts.  If there is an elitism involved, it reveals itself in how much a high profiler tends to blend with the crowd. 
     You might think that the Back Fence Mob parks well away from the TV presenters and unwashed magazine fops as a recognition that they do not own or drive cars worthy of consideration of Top Ten picks.  Not so, McGee.  Nope, by getting away from the rush to solicit Atta Boy’s from spectators and trophy judges, this group of fringe dwellers is focusing their attention on the difference between a Rod Run and a Car Show.  In short, this is the rag-tag element in hot rodding who already know that trophies are meaningless, and that the general  public haven’t the faintest idea of a sure nuff long legged highway leaper and a trailered and pampered buy-in that too often clogs the main artery of upscale street rodding.  You looking for me at a major rod trot, I’ll be over by the back gate.  Over where hot rodding is still real. Over where something that doesn’t really matter, doesn’t really matter!
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STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks:
     I receive emails and letters and where they merit discussion I place them in the Newsletter.  Sometimes those emails turn out to be potent points of discussion and I place them in the Guest Editorial column.  Bear in mind that you need to tell me if what you send in was meant to be private. Once you send that information it is public, even if the public is just you and me.  It is different if you state “personal and confidential,” or “this is off the record.”  At that point what you say to me or to any journalist on the SLSRH is privileged and confidential and a good reporter will respect that.  A bad reporter will break his word because, well, he is a discredit to his profession and a poor human being.  But the staff of the SLSRH will always respect your wishes; as long as you tell us to.  There is one exception here; when you are no longer in the world of the living.  Confidences, privacy, confidentiality is for the living.  Unfortunately, in law and common usage, the dead are treated abominably.  Of course we will be discreet, careful, cautious and kind, but secrets are no longer secrets upon a person’s passing, though we will respect the wishes of the heirs of the estate.
     This means that you need to be circumspect.  You need to relate only that which you feel you want to tell someone else and you need to give them explicit orders on what others can repeat and when.  You also need to be careful in whom you confide.  The SLSRH does not wish to harm anyone; ever.  Benchracing, bragging, bar-room chatter after too many libations have loosened the tongue and caused irreparable harm to one’s reputation later in life.  Other people’s gossip is also disparaging and damaging.  I have heard more than I want to hear.  I was told by my father that if you keep asking you will find out what you want to know and you may not like it.  There is a certain peace of mind being ignorant of certain facts, but unfortunately you cannot be a good historian if you live in ignorance.  But good reporters can also sift through the worst and best and come up with the truth and then write in such a way that the story can be told without sinking into the mire of meanness.
     What I mean to say about all of this is that we have a duty as writers, photographers and historians to gather the facts and write the story, but we don’t have any right whatsoever to harm people.  As historians we have been given a duty to record the present and the past with grace, accuracy and thoughtfulness.  Those who give us their knowledge to help us along in our task should also carefully make sure that they tell us what, when and where we can use their added facts and knowledge.  The SLSRH reporters, editors and researchers promise to abide by your wishes.     
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     Bob McCoy, a local San Diego celebrity in the hot rod and racing community passes away.   
http://www.rodauthority.com/news/the-real-mccoy-famed-hot-rod-artist-bob-mccoy-passes-away.  Scrub Hansen
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     Bud Evans is in the VA Hospital in Loma Linda.  Bud was an announcer at Colton drag strip and then hired by Wally Parks to do the announcing and PR for the 1954-55 Safety Safari (Drag Safari) sent out to organize clubs around America into drag racing timing associations.  Evans, Bud Coons, Chic Cannon and Eric “Rick” Rickman spent two years on the road creating the organizations throughout America that would create the sport of drag racing as we know it today.
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     Bob Barnes told me the date for Jack Stewart's Celebration of Life and that a flyer was on the LA Roadsters site.  I have included the flyer for you to post.  I will be there with roadster and camera in hand.  Here's a shot of my son Michael McHenry, Ed Iskenderian, and myself at Isky's party.  Doug McHenry
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     Here's a great resource for folks looking to get banners for shows, events or their drag racing pits, etc. Mark "Dr Flames" Jones located in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He did the pit banners for our teams and the Howard Cams team among others.  He also does wraps and window treatments; tell him Anna Marco sent you.  Mark Jones is at
markncindy@earthlink.net, or call 702-768-5101.
     ANNA: Can you send a photo of your banner?  All photographs come to me AND to Roger Rohrdanz at
beachtruck@juno.com.  Copy both of us.  Roger processes the photos and I assign an ISSUE #.
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     Thanks so much for the good get together on Saturday (Santa Ana Drags and Main Street Malt Shop Reunion).  I really enjoyed the time with all of those folks.  
 I had a long talk with Al Teague (at the Santa Ana Drags Reunion) as I have known him and his wife for a long time.  I helped Lynn Yakel make the wind tunnel model that ended up as Al's car.  I wish I had met Bob Falcon as it seems we have a lot in common.  Great group. Lots of stories.  Bench racing is neat.  Keep up the good work.  Kay Kimes
     READERS: Kay Kimes is a ‘49’er.  That means that he ran his car at the very first Bonneville Speed Week in 1949.  Those are very special people in our sport.  It's a small reunion and we always get someone new to attend.  It is low maintenance to run and I really like all the people.  Bob Falcon is a volunteer at
www.landspeedracing.com and always helps me out with info.  Read it weekly and be a contributor. 
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     Ron Phelps grew up in Southern California and was introduced to drag racing in the 1950’s and '60’s.  He served in the U.S. Navy as a Machinist Mate First class and was honorably discharged at the end of his enlistment in 1975.   Ron began a career as a Power Plant operator with the County of Los Angeles.  His interest in fast cars remained and when the opportunity presented itself in 1996, Ron purchased a 1953 Studebaker with a history of running at both Bonneville and at the Dry Lakes.  In 1998 Ron joined the SCTA and soon had his Studebaker back at the Dry Lakes.  As a current member of the Gear Grinders, he remains active in the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).  He recently retired from the County of Los Angeles and is now able to spend his time helping his son with MRP Motor Sports, which sells lubricants, racing fuels, and car care products to the racing community.  To see the history on the Studebaker go to his website at
www.mrpmotorsports.net
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     Sidewinders 2014 picnic, free admission! (with one door prize per sidewinder family).  Non-Sidewinders will be $10 each and a door prize. YOU MUST RSVP!  Monster BBQ—Giant chicken breasts, 1/3 pound Burgers, FUN, FOOD, Games, Jumbo Hebrew National Hot Dogs done with all the fix’ns.  Horseshoes, Baseball field, Fun and Games.  All you can drink—Lemonade, Soda Pop & Ice Tea.  Full “No Host Bar”—Provided by the DAV Prizes.  The Sidewinder’s Famous “Pot Luck”— Add to our party.  Bring a casserole, salad or desert.  Chili Cook off—Cook up your vittles and win a big prize.   And our course, our fabulous door prizes.  No Dogs or pets allowed.  No alcoholic beverages will be allowed in the park.  Alcohol will only be available from the DVA “No Host Bar” at special rates for our club party members.  Picnic Hours: 11:30 AM to 5 PM, Lunch @ 12 Noon.   Directions; Take the 101 freeway—exit Tampa, go North to Victory Blvd, turn Left on Victory, right on Corbin to the Park.  6543 Corbin Ave, Woodland Hills, Ca 91367.   Ron Main (818) 998-7848,
rmain@canogarebar.com.   
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Speed Demon 370 mph Crash.  I've seen this car run 400+ so many times and it always ran fast and true with never any indication that there might be even the slightest ill handling.  The fact that it was a walk away at 370 mph is a miracle in itself.  If you are able to see the video from the cockpit, watch the shower of salt kick into George's face as the car rolls on its side.  Good thing he had a full face helmet on.  Doug McHenry

                                                     --------------------
     On the first run on the year on 9/12, Speed Demon got a little sideways and rolled several times near the 3-mile mark on the course.  This run was as part of what was supposed to be Mike Cook's Shootout, but was changed to a test and tune session with no official times due to standing water at the end of the long course and surface issues near the beginning.
     George walked away from the car and was taken by ambulance to Salt Lake City for observation.  The data loggers showed the crash happened near 370 mph and the strength and integrity of the car/frame was simply amazing, given the forces the car saw during the crash.  Everyone who participated in designing, fabricating and maintaining the car over the years can be proud of the fact that George walked away with only bumps and bruises.
     George was grateful to everyone who has worked on the car over the years.  The outpouring of support and concern was truly overwhelming.  George is looking forward to bringing Speed Demon back to set new records in 2015.  Dave McCain
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     I received a message from Richard Parks that Faith Granger, the director/producer of the hot rod movie DEUCE OF SPADES was in my area with her 53 foot RV and trailer.  She was going to the Monterey car show for a few days and time was short.  I remembered seeing her when she had opened her premier down south.  I called to see what I could do to help.  I made space available for her RV at my place for her to stay.        Faith was going to show her movie at the Good Guys car show in Pleasanton, California.  The Good Guys was only about 10 minutes from my house and I went over on Sunday to see her.   When I got to the Good Guys show, I couldn't resist seeing the swap meets, car corals, and Hot Rod vendors.  They always know how to put on a great show.
     Faith Granger was talking to a lot of people and getting them acquainted with her film.  She was just as glamorous as she ever was.  I told her that if she needed my help that she can park at my place.   It was an experience watching Faith handle the RV by herself and I admire her for that.  Her trailer carries her Deuce roadster that she used for the film.  She actually drives the roadster around town and does some exploring.  My wife and she got along well.  Faith did some other visiting and came back a few days each week.  My wife and I enjoyed touring San Francisco with her.  That was a great day and we all had fun. There were a lot of shops and great people.   Spencer Simon
     SPENCER: Thank you for opening your home to Faith.  She is doing us all a great service by filming our hot rodding culture and we hope she will do more movies about us in the future.  It is very nice to extend help to a fellow hot rodder and we thank you for your hospitality.
     READERS: The holidays are coming up soon and a video of DEUCE OF SPADES is a good gift to give to your family and friends and very inexpensive.  Those viewing the movie will have a feel-good feeling as they watch an excellent movie with loved ones and friends.  Google DEUCE OF SPADES and there will be instructions on how to purchase a movie, or see Faith at any of the major car shows that she attends.
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     The story about Harry "Chip" Payne is still with Harry.  He was a Top Fueler and surfer.  He is working on it and when it is ready I will send it in.   I would like to start out with his photos that he was able to send me.  Spencer Simon
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     Gene Winfield's annual get together is Saturday, October 11, 2014.  I go every year.  It is fun and entertaining.  Usually some big names wander around and blend in.  I'll be there with my roadster along with a friend and his '47 Chevy sedan delivery.  We always park in the far south end of his lot in front of the last garage.  Doug McHenry
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Impound Insights - September 14, 2014.  By Dan Warner.
     Once again hot temps greeted us when tech inspection began on Saturday morning.  Always the first order of business at a meet the tech crew pushed approximately 86 vehicles through.  There was one new El Mirage 200 MPH Club member.  Keith Black drove the Black Racing A/GS streamliner to a new record running 212.6 on the 210 minimum.   In addition to Keith's new record the car impound had four more records.  Bill Lattin and crew put the 44" wide front axle back in the Bantam coupe and ran a record speed of 164.775 in the XF/VFCC class.  John Beck, aka Boom Boom, continues to raise the C/AIR record.  In September he pushed the bar up to 168.2 mph.  Steve Toller once again drove the Salt Toy U/MDT Toyota to a class record of 178.8 mph.  This is the best season ever for this vehicle.  I hope I didn't just jinx the team.  Jim Hoogerhyde was running just his second event with his Jack Costella built I/GL.  This month he moved the record to 190+.  Two bike records were set, the first by Alp Sungurtekin on the 650-A-PG Triumph.  Alp's own shop, Alp Racing & Design, built the bike which has proven to be successful this season.  Ralph Hudson took top speed for bikes while setting the 1000-APS-BF record on his Suzuki at a speed of 232.6 mph.  The next El Mirage meet is on the weekend of October 18-19.  All are hoping for a safe and fast meet with track surface we can all race on.

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     My article titled “Mustang A Born Winner” from the October issue of Vintage Racecar magazine is online; my thanks to Editor Casey Annis for publishing it.  The magazine is available by subscription or via the internet at
www.vintageracecar.com.   While I had the privilege of authoring this piece, it would never have come together without strong support from a number of people.  In this note I will try to say thanks to them all.  If I inadvertently overlook someone, be assured it is an oversight and in no way intended to diminish anyone’s contribution.  This article began at the 2013 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and was strangely enough inspired by a Porsche in the Concours’ celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 911. That car’s show card talked about it being the first 911 to win a race. That got me thinking about the Mustang’s 50th anniversary and wondering who the pioneers of Mustang racing may have been.      
     Bill Vansteenis, Bill Holbrook, J. Toney, Karol Miller, Dieter Kasgen, Paul Cooke, Ron Pellegrini, Dean McCann, Charlie Grey, Charlie Morris, Norm Goelzer and Don Kirkpatrick with Cliff Murray and his son Cliff helped bring the time alive by sharing their remembrances. Bill Bickham, Henry Mann, Mark & Garry Henderson, Ed & Steve Acton and Joe Bradley shared information and pictures from their families’ collections to help memorialize the contribution of those who have gone before.  From “Down Under” came support from Chad Parrish, Patrick Quinn and Mick O’Brien. They helped unravel the history associated with the Mustang in Australian Touring Car Racing.  On the European front, a thank you goes to Tony Dron (collaborator with Alan Mann on his autobiography “Alan Mann A Life of Chance”), Frank de Jong (
www.touringcarracing.net) and Wolfgang Kohrn (www.mustangclub.de) for their work on a number of issues surrounding the early Mustang racers in Europe.      
     In Canada, Ron Kielbiski furnished numerous pictures and race documentation to help fix the position of the Comstock Mustang in the story. Gary Magwood presented pictures and additional insight. Thanks, also has to go to the entire CMSHG (Canadian Motor Sports Historic Group) for their help in filling in detail.  Terry O’Neil who has literally written the book (The Bahamas Speed Weeks) on the subject opened his personal archives to contribute information on the Mustang’s record in the Bahamas.  For the Drag Racing portion of the article, a special thank you has to go to Bob Frey who spent an enormous amount of time searching his “National Dragster” archives to unearth information that was likely heretofore unknown. 
In addition Steve Magnante, Dave Heisey, Mike Goyda and Jeff Tinsley made their time and drag racing expertise available.  Wayne Zitkus, Karl Goering, Walt Kammer and Don Skinner were joined with what it seemed like were the entire rally communities of Wisconsin, Michigan and Virginia to tell the rally side of this story. Dick Matthews, Tom Robinson and Bart Van Valkenburgh were instrumental in providing insight on the role of Matthews Ford of Paoli, PA in the early Mustang rally effort.      
     Franz Estereicher did yeoman’s service in locating the Race Programs for Waterford Hills that served to fix the dates of early Mustang appearances there.  Louise Noeth, David Fetherston, Wendy Jeffries, Johnnie Rouse, Jon Wennerberg and Richard Parks all worked to bring the Bonneville portion of this story to life.  Howard Pardee, Chuck Cantwell and Greg Kolasa were most generous with their expertise and encouragement during the article’s development. Dennis Kolodziej contributed a couple of key pieces of information early on as this story was in its formative stages that helped advance our research.  Photos came from such noted period photographers as Ron Lathrop and John Durand; and from Ray Lutzo who contributed photos from his late Father John’s archives.  Jamie Myler from the Ford Archives provided numerous images promptly and efficiently.      
     Heidi Weir of the D.C. Region of the SCCA and her husband Scott spent a very cold, rainy Saturday morning with me combing the Region’s archives for a key piece of information on the Virginia Reel National Rally. Sue Roethel and Pete Van Der Vate spent time searching not only their own archives, but also querying their circle of contacts to furnish additional detail.  Holman Moody played an important role in all of Ford’s Total Performance programs; Lee Holman, John Wanderer and Robert Cumberford were very generous in sharing their recollections of those heady times.  And last, but hardly least, thanks to Maureen for her encouragement and support during this whole process; it wouldn't have happened without her.  Without the assistance of all those mentioned and, I am sure some I have missed, this article would not have been possible. While we have told the story, holes still remain. We are always interested in more detail, so please forward any information or leads you may have.  Mike Matune, Jr
mmatune@cox.net.    
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     It is another gearhead fun filled weekend all over the USA! This week’s HOT NEWS is loaded with fun from coast to coast. We have listings and flyers so check it all out!  Here in the Mid-South, one of our favorite shows takes place on Saturday in Bowling Green,
Kentucky. The VOODOO KINGS are hosting you at the VOODOO HOODOO #4.  We want to also give a shout out to the BATTLE FIELD AACA Club in Franklin TN. They will be holding their 25th Annual show at the Cool Springs Mall in Franklin TN. This show always has a great turnout of cool cars and trucks. 
     There are a WHOLE LOT OF other great events and cruise nights going on starting Thursday night and running right through the weekend. The only question is where do you want to go?  SAVE the date...Oct 11th. There will be a cruise-in / car show benefit fundraiser for Middle Tennessee Hot Rodder Shane Watkins that day. The flyer and all details are in this issue. Going to be fun as well as for a great cause. We have partnered up with HOT RODS & THREADS Full Service Hot Rod Shop to help Shane out.  Head over to our website at www.gearheadgazzete.com and click on the CAR SHOW button on the Home Page.               
     We have listed ALL 2014 shows and events that we had info sent to us on. If you don’t see yours, send it to us ASAP so we can get it listed right away. We are now accepting all 2015 CAR SHOW & EVENT info and 2015 Cruise Night Info. If you have your flyers ready...send them in today. Email info to
gearheadgazzette@gmail.com, http://www.gearheadgazzette.com/gg/category/hot_news/.       JIMMY Brandau, Phone: 615-300-2003 www.gearheadgazzette.com      
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STAFF NOTES: The following book review for MOTOR RACING HEROES; The Stories of 100 Greats, from Veloce Publishing.  For photographs google the publisher.

     MOTOR RACING HEROES; The Stories of 100 Greats Covering the period from the first Grand Prix win in 1906, to Michael Schumacher’s 2006 retirement, this book is one man’s idea of the 20th century’s motor racing heroes.  The sport has attracted many men and women whose determination, raw courage, and skill at the wheel has driven them into that special, rarified atmosphere of heroism – this book tells the stories of 100 of these heroes.
     Synopsis:  Covering almost 100 years of motor racing history, humanity, not simple statistics, is revealed here as the true source of the subjects’ heroism. Take André Boillot; so tired at the end of the 1919 Targa Florio, he made a silly mistake, spinning his car backwards across the finish line – yet he still won. Or Grand Prix winners Robert Benoist, William Grover Williams and Jean-Pierre Wimille, all of whom became French resistance fighters during WWII. There’s David Purley’s valiant attempt at rescuing a trapped Roger Williamson by overturning Willamson’s blazing march with his bare hands during the 1973 Grand Prix of Holland. And Alessandro Zanardi, who lost both his legs in a CART accident, yet still came back to win races. The lighter side of motor sport is also here, with Giannino Marzotto, who won the 1950 Mille Miglia wearing an immaculate double-breasted suit. Or Giovanni Bracco, who won the 1952 Mille Miglia as he swigged from a bottle of red wine! There are so many heroes and heroines in this sport. This book is about 100 of them. 
     About the author  Born in Ashford, Kent, Robert Newman spent almost a decade in Melbourne Australia, where he avidly followed motor racing and, in particular, the careers of his personal heroes Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, who were to become major participants in his life many years later. On his return to the UK in 1955, Newman joined the Kentish Express in his home town as a reporter, later also acting as correspondent for The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, the Evening Standard and Southern TV and continued to be an avid fan of Fangio, Moss and motor racing in general. He graduated from the National Council for the Training of Journalists scheme in 1959 and in 1965 joined Pirelli Limited, the Italian firm’s British subsidiary, as their press officer, during which time he worked with some of the stars of motor racing and rallying. In 1979, Newman was asked to move to Milan, Italy, as Pirelli’s international PR manager and during his 13 years with the Italian headquarters he worked with many motor racing stars, including Fangio and Moss with whom he produced the book ‘Fangio: a Pirelli Album’ written by Doug Nye and Stirling Moss. Other stars with whom he worked include Gigi Villoresi, Phil Hill, Tony Brooks, José Froilán Gonzalez, Karl Kling, Giannino Marzotto, Jack Brabham, John Surtees Ronnie Peterson, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell plus world champion rally drivers Sandro Munari, Markku Alén, Bjorn Waldegard, Stig Blomqvist and others. In 1992, Newman became PR director of Pirelli’s United States subsidiary and continued his association with the stars of motor racing. He toured South Africa with Juan Manuel Fangio that same year, translating for the five times world champion at special events and on television. In 1996, Newman retired to Italy, where he translates motor sport books from Italian into English for Giorgio Nada Editore of Milan and writes a monthly column on motor racing drivers and famous cars for the American magazine Vintage Racecar Journal.
     eBook details ISBN: 978-1-845847-96-8  eV number: eV4796  Published: September 2014  Language: English  Digital edition: First Digital Edition. Base eBook price: £14.99 / $23.99 / €20.99 (vendors may set their own prices, so actual prices may vary).
     Original book info V4748  Hardback  21x14.8cm  £19.99  384 pages  pictures  ISBN: 978-1-845847-48-7  UPC: 6-36847-04748-1. Price subject to change, P&P extra.
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Ed with the E&B crew

.  Here's a shot of my son Michael McHenry, Ed Iskenderian, and myself at Isky's party.  Doug McHenry
 

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Gone Racin’…To see
The Steel Helmet, starring Gene Evans.  Movie Review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  20 February 2008. Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands.  For photographs go to www.hotrodhotline.com

   The Gone Racin’ column reviews movies, books and other cultural arts that pertain to hot rodding and automotive racing.  The Steel Helmet is a war movie set in Korea and the tie to the car culture is the star of the film, Gene Evans, who was the brother of Bud Evans.  The movie thus has two credentials, the two Evans brothers, and because it is a classic film of the 1950’s, one that we would have watched at a drive-in or as a second film to the main feature movie.  Bud Evans is one of the original drag racing announcers at the Colton drag strip and was chosen to go on the first NHRA Safety Safaris by my father, Wally Parks, as the group’s announcer.  The original members of the Safety Safari included Bud Coons, Eric Rickman, Chick Cannon and Bud Evans.  Coons had been a respected member of the Pomona Police department and worked diligently to get car clubs to use the new drag strips to race their cars rather than the streets.  Rickman was one of the best racing/action photographer.  Evans handled the announcing and Cannon was the chief inspector.  These four men traveled around the United States showing car clubs how to organize safe and sanctioned drag racing on quarter-mile courses.  Gene Evans has passed away, but his body of cinematic work remains as a testament to him.  He was the Vic Morrow of his era, a no-nonsense, grizzled man whose common sense and strength usually was called upon to save the day.  Evans was also superb as the villain, whether he was a sailor, cowboy or soldier.  His first movie was It Happened Every Spring in 1949 and his last movie role came in The Shadow Riders in 1982.  Evans acted in sixteen movies, but The Steel Helmet was his starring role and he was called upon to carry this movie, which he did admirably.  The Steel Helmet is 84 minutes long and was written, produced and directed by Samuel Fuller in 1951.  It co-starred Robert Fuller, Steve Brodie, James Edwards, Richard Loo, Sid Melton, Richard Monahan, William Chung, Harold Fong and Neyle Morrow.   The director of photography was Ernest Miller and the music was composed by Paul Dunlap.  The Steel Helmet was released by Robert L. Lippert and Weiss Global Enterprises.

   Samuel Fuller found the perfect actor to play the part of Zack, a sergeant whose platoon was wiped out during the chaos of the Korean War.  Fuller wrote and directed a cast that exemplified the darkness and horror of war.  There are few scenes that evoke hope.  But it is an honest film dedicated to the infantry soldier who has to bear the brunt of war, no matter what the outcome.  The North Korean and Chinese are perfectly evil and murderous.   Even the Americans have come to see death, killing and survival as the values that have any true meaning.  Zach is a grizzled and weather-beaten sergeant who has seen his share of battles in Europe and now in Korea.  He is the only survivor of his platoon and with the help of ‘short round,’ a young Korean boy, finds other units who are simply trying to survive.  The battle lines are hazy and the war has degenerated into survival at any cost.  The Steel Helmet shows a realism of war, racial stereotypes and cultural values far ahead of its time.  Zach and ‘short round’ find other men who have been cut off from their units and who need the leadership that he has learned.  Gradually a new platoon emerges with Zach and a young lieutenant, though the sergeant lets it be known that he has a low regard for officers and green recruits.  The ragged band of infantrymen fight their way into a Buddhist shrine where they capture an enemy soldier.  The North Korean major is more of a nuisance than an informer and attempts to drive wedges between the GIs, especially the black American Medic and the Japanese/American corporal.  The movie ends with the loss of men who have bonded together.  The remnants leave the shrine and trudge down the dusty road to fight another battle, in a never ending series of battles.

   Gene Evans is not your normal romantic lead.  He plays a specific part and he does it well.  Fuller is a director who insists that you look at the world as it really is and not as it is normally shown on the silver screen.  Fuller is the prototype of directors to come, such as Quentin Tarantino, Roman Polanski and Martin Scorsese, where a sense of bleakness shows us reality.  Tarantino brought us Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, both bloody and dark.  Polanski’s Chinatown seems to exude ugliness of the spirit.  Scorsese’s Taxi Driver shows the seaminess of life.  The Steel Helmet shows us what war is like, albeit in a cleanlier form, suitable to the tastes of the audiences in 1951.  No heads are lopped off, no limbs are blown away, no blood trickles into pools and yet there is an unsettling realization of hopelessness.  Gene Evans brings Zach to life.  He is your Ernie Pyle type of sergeant.  Zach is a man in the trenches, trying not to get too emotionally close to those he has to lead into battle.  He is a bearded, lonely man, full of demons of his own; giving allegiance to the God of Survival in a world that has gone mad.  Evans plays these flawed heroes and villains as well as any actor ever could.  It seems that Gene Evans is comfortable in the characters that he plays like a method actor.  Could it be that the real Gene Evans and the roles that he plays are one and the same?  The Steel Helmet is a movie that I would recommend for the guys who want to remember those days in the post WWII era when they were called to serve.  As a date movie with your significant other it probably would be too dark and dreary.  It isn’t the best war movie that I’ve ever seen, but it ranks up near the top.  Check with a movie rental store or go to www.hotrodmemories.com to see if they have this fine movie in their stock.  I rate The Steel Helmet a 6 out of a possible 8 spark plugs.
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM
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Gone Racin’… 2007 AMBR Awards.  Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.  January 29, 2007.  Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands.  For photographs go to
www.hotrodhotline.com. 

   The 2007 Grand National Roadster Show, owned and produced by John Buck, presented some of the most beautifully designed and built roadsters by the best car builders in America. This year the roadsters were all outstanding. I asked Don Prieto, a judge at the 2006 Pebble Beach Concourse, and he said “it will be darn hard to judge the cars this year.” The winner from last year, Ken Reister’s Impression, designed and built by Chip Foose, was on display, next to the AMBR (America’s Most Beautiful Roadster) Trophy. Also on display was the 2005 AMBR winner, Paul and Erik Hansen, of Pleasanton, California, and their ’32 Ford Roadster called Seduced. Steve Moal was the designer of this dark maroon with tan cloth-top roadster, and brown leather interior. Here are the contestants. Dennis De Camp from West Covina, California, was contestant 900. His ’32 Ford Roadster was designed and built by Barry’s Speed Shop, with a body by Marcel, and sporting a 427 c.i. Ford aluminum block engine. The paint scheme was a deep cherry red color with brown leather interior. Racecar headrests were built into the back of the driver, and it had sloping bucket seats. Entrant number 901 was a sporty ’32 Ford Roadster that was named the Spencer2, after the original Doane Spencer roadster. The owner is Dennis Higginbotham from Pomona, California. Exterior was jet black and the interior was brown leather.  

   Car number 902 was a ‘35 Ford Roadster owned by Kevin and Karen Alstott, from Fort Dodge, Iowa. The body was by Marcel’s Custom Metal, and was powered by a 408 c.i. Dodge Dart engine. It won at the first show that it entered, the 2006 Detroit Autorama’s Riddler Award for outstanding engineering. The body was a copper/gold hue with a deep copper brown top. The car had a wide, spacious trunk, and was full-fendered. The grill was curved which reflected the light into impressive chevrons. The interior was an orange/copper upholstery with movable bucket seats. Car number 903 was a ’32 Ford Roadster owned by Steve Barton, from Las Vegas, Nevada, called Xtreme Thunder. Body was by Marcel DeLey and his sons Marc and Luc. The engine was a 904 c.i, engine by Joe Schubeck. Color was lime green, with purple and cream white upholstery. The dash was upright; not side to side, and it had a removable purple hardtop. Contestant number 904 was a ’32 Ford Roadster owned by Jesse Greening of Cullman, Alabama. Exterior was a maroon red, with gray leather upholstery, built by Greening and powered by a 454 c.i. Chevy engine. The transmission, body and machine work was all done by Greening. It had a convertible cloth top, and the chrome plating was done by Advanced Plating of Nashville, Tennessee. Number 905 was a ’32 Ford Roadster owned by Troy Ladd of Burbank, California, and built by Hollywood Hot Rods. It had a Brookville body, and was powered by a 392 c.i. Chrysler Hemi engine. The exterior color was a deep copper, with light tan leather interior and deep copper/orange carpeting.  

   Entrant number 906 was a ’33 Willys Roadster owned by Bruce Cohn of Glen Ellen, California. The car was built by Ron Attebury and Matt Dodd, and the color is amethyst, with a hint of eggplant violet. This was Bruce’s first show and the car was completed just 36 hours prior to the show. Cohn was a bit nervous, but excited to be in the show. He plans to show the car for a year, “then drive the heck out of it,” he said. Bruce owns a winery in the Sonoma Valley in Northern California and the car will look great on the country roads. It was powered by a 502 c.i. fuel injected GM big block engine. The car is all metal, stretched an extra 6 inches, with a removable hard top, suicide doors and Budnik wheels. Car number 908 was a ’32 Ford Roadster owned by Ashley Marie Webb of Burton, Michigan. Named The Wicked Wedge, the car has a jet-black exterior, with orange leather seats and orange steel rims. It has a longer length, is slung lower to the ground and has a “wicked looking” black enameled engine compartment. Car number 909 is a ’35 Chevy Roadster and is owned by Carl Sprauge of Fullerton, California. It was built by Barry’s Speed Shop and has an orange/red exterior with a tan brown interior, Kugel suspension and Corvette dash. Car number 910 is a ’32 Ford Roadster owned by John Lawson of Fresno, California. The exterior is a British racing green with tan stripes and a tan cloth removable top. It has a Dearborn Deuce body and is powered by a 572 c.i. Chevy big block engine. Contestant number 911 was a ’32 Ford Roadster owned by Jerry Kugel of Whittier, California. Kugel, well known on the dry lakes and at Bonneville, drove his car to and from the show. The body is by Marcel and hand formed out of aluminum. Kugel built the chassis tube frame. The trunk is in the front under the hood, and the V8 Oldsmobile Aurora engine is in the rear. Both the exterior and interior of this sharp looking roadster is black, just as Henry Ford would have wanted it. Dan Weber was the upholsterer.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM

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Gone Racin’… 2008 AMBR Awards at the Grand National Roadster Show.  Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.  January 31, 2008.  Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands.  For photographs go to
www.hotrodhotline.com

   The 59th Annual Grand National Roadster Show was held on January 25-27, 2008 at the Los Angeles County Fairplex, in Pomona, California.  The reason for the Show is the overwhelming array of fantastic cars, motorcycles, trucks and other vehicles.  It is a show that presents a well rounded view of the motoring world, but the crown jewel is and has always been, the AMBR Award for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster.  John and Annika Buck are the owners and producers of the show and they have scoured the land in an effort to bring us beautiful vehicles.  The Los Angeles County Fairplex has seven spacious buildings in which to show off these wondrous machines.  The grounds have been manicured with care and the facilities, with their 1930’s Art Deco look, make the perfect setting for this prestigious event.  The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Detroit’s Autorama featuring the Ridler Award claim to be the premier auto shows in America, but anyone who has seen the Grand National Roadster Show knows better.  Every year the show improves, the problems ease and the cars seem to reach new heights of design and craftsmanship.  Even the cars that are not entered in the AMBR category are works of amazing artistry and imagination.
   There were fourteen roadsters entered in this year’s AMBR category and they ranged in design from standard roadsters of the 1930’s to sleek and sporty looks.  Sam Magarino, from Sparta, New Jersey, entered a ’32 Ford Roadster.  Sam was in the hospital and missed the show.  He sent Rich and Paige Udell and their miniature Doberman, Hoochiemama, to show the car, which was first seen at the Detroit Autorama in 2007, vying for the Ridler Award.  Although the Ridler went to a coupe, Magarino’s car was judged the best roadster of that event.  Robbie Azevedo debuted a ’29 Model-A Ford Roadster with wood paneling in the rear and a squared off look, resembling a “woodie” version of a roadster and a traditional deep brown upholstery.  Robbie comes from American Canyon, California and owns Pacific Coast Customs.  He’s a young man, in his twenties, with a lot of talent.  He produces about one car a year and only cars built from 1972 and prior.  “Kyle Martin is the painter and pinstriper and the woodwork was done by two of my high school woodshop teachers, Bill Newton and Armond Patrino at Napa High School,” said Azevedo.  John and Jane Kisiel, Jaymie O’Day and Kyle made a very energetic and youthful crew.  Kyle has been a painter for thirteen years.  “We finished the car at 2:30 am, the night before the show’s move-in time.  Dan Most did all of the upholstery work in only a day and a half.  We’ve worked on this car for 3 years, and I’m going to keep the car,” he continued.  Expect more from Robbie and his crew in the future.
   George Prajin from Huntington Beach, California, exhibited a ’32 Ford Roadster with a tan colored soft convertible top.  The car was painted a deep solid copper, chromed wheels and engine, with cocoa brown upholstery.  Bill Williams came from West Valley, Utah, with his ’32 Ford Roadster on a lengthened chassis, rear slick tires, chromed engines and wheels, red interior upholstery, dragster style chromed headers and a really sleek modern look to the normal ‘32’s.  Donald Orosco, from Monterey, California, brought his ’32 Ford Roadster Hi Boy.  The paint scheme was Henry Ford black, with light brown upholstery, a touch of chrome and the classic looks of a 1930’s body and engine.  It was original in a very restrained and pleasing way.  Rick Dore, from Glendale, Arizona, showed his ’36 Ford Roadster, fully-fendered, white convertible top, painted a deep cherry red.  Rudy Necoechea, from Sherman Oaks, California, was a very busy man with his popular entry, The ‘Joker.’  I attempted to interview him, but there were too many people.  His display of a huge roulette table was as brilliant as the design of the car, a ’32 Ford Roadster, with a hard convertible top and seats built into the metal body of the car.  The back rests were but slight pads for comfort and contoured to fit the curvature of the spine.  The paint was a champagne color and the interior was all metal.
   John Mumford hails from South San Francisco not far from the original area where the Grand National Roadster Show was founded in Oakland, California.  His car was the Ala Kart, a former two-time AMBR winner, restored and questing for a third win.  The car is a ’29 Ford Roadster Pick-up painted white with gold and purple trim and pinstriping, with a soft, white convertible top, running board and racecar style grill.  Dean Jeffries did the original pinstriping on the car.  Dennis Higginbotham, from nearby Pomona, California, brought his ’32 Ford Roadster, called “The Doane Spencer 2.”  The car has that rakish, black color paint scheme, brown upholstery and traditional look that has been called the “quintessential American Hot Rod look.”  The original Doane Spencer roadster is owned by Bruce Meyer and has won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, in the hot rod category.  Doug Jerger came from Mesa, Arizona with his ’32 Ford Roadster, with a convertible hard top, and a two toned paint job.  The color was a two- toned cream and candy apple red extending to the grill and hood and red interior upholstery.  John St Germain brought his ’36 Ford Roadster from Goodwood, Ontario, Canada.  The color was solid black with a soft convertible top, full-fendered with running boards and a sloped rear end.  The interior had an Ivory white dashboard and dark brown upholstery.  This is the kind of car Henry Ford would have relished building.
   Michael Chetcuti, from Livonia, Michigan, came almost as far as did St Germain.  He exhibited a ’27 Ford Roadster, solid black color, bucket seats, a more modern streamlined engine compartment, extended and lowered body and a ‘40’s rounded, racecar style windshield.  The engineering melded elements of the traditional hot rod style with those of the aerodynamic Bonneville roadster look.  Another racecar looking roadster came from Hamilton, Ohio.  Scott Whitaker showed off his ’32 Ford Roadster with extra large ‘30’s racing tires, knock-off wheel nuts and wire spokes.  The car had a two-toned paint scheme with black and white and a green racing stripe.  The interior was green paint on metal and chrome bucket seats, with a racing sports car headrest behind the driver.  Whitaker’s shop is Dyna Sport, with help from the Speed Kings of Cincinnati, Ohio.  “My idea was to build a roadster with a mid-century sports car look.  I used Coker tires, sizes 19x5’s in the front and 20x5’s in the rear,” Whitaker added.  This was his first year as an AMBR car contestant.  All of the cars were outstanding this year.  Some kept to a traditional hot rodding style, while others pushed the boundary of imagination, design and craftsmanship.
Gone Racin’ is at
RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM.

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