STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks.
Jim Ludiker and Bob Nichols dropped by to say hello. There is a bio on Bob and I am working on Jim’s. Listening to their stories it occurred to me that I raise a point here in the SLSRH. Because of the rich heritage of hot rodding and dry lakes racing in Southern California, we sometimes are so busy doing stories and biographies on local racers that we become a regional newsletter. We realize that this is dangerous as we fail to record history in other areas of the country as well as in foreign lands. I’m so busy on the computer that Roger and I rarely do field trip research any more. Roger does cover car shows in Southern California and together we cover reunions, celebrations of life and an occasional shop tour. We would like to do more of these “out in the field” stories, but to be honest, they take up an entire day and once we start its hard to finish the story and get out of the shop. I’ve learned that sitting at a computer and receiving information all day results in a lot of work that is finished, but it isn’t the same thing as getting “out and about.”
If we have trouble finding the time, and remember we are volunteers, then how can we travel to other regions and states around the country? About the only way we can do that is to watch the videos that are referred to us. The inability to go out and find stories all over the country and all around the world tends to make us a regional newsletter and that isn’t good. We do have a correspondent in Northern California in Spencer Simon and occasionally I hear from John Hutchinson in England and Burly Burlile in Utah. Others write in as well, but we lack enough correspondents and reporters to search all the areas where hot rodding and straight line racing occurs. This brings me back to Bob Nichols and Jim Ludiker and their visit. While here they bench raced and told me some fascinating stories. Bob told me about Admiral Chester Nimitz, General Curtis LeMay and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, and his small role in that act. The SLSRH is a society dedicated to all hot rodding and straight-line racing throughout the world and from the very beginning of the sport. It wasn’t intended to be regional. We need more volunteers to go into their area and find and record the history of that area and send it in to be published. Can you help?
Frank Genco wrote in to tell us that Bob Richardson has passed away. Does anyone have any history on Bob?
Thank you for the amazing blurb you did about my old pal, Art Bagnall. Back in the day when many of we old time Indy guys frequented the big race along with the lead in festivities, Art Bagnall, Dennis Johanson, Quin Epperly and myself could always be found in The Flag Room, the bar at The Indianapolis 500 Motel where I was booked into Room 225. Art was a good pal and I had the sad duty, when informed by Diane that Art was gone, to pass the news to Jack Martin of The Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Club that Art had "Crossed the Finish Line." Bob Falcon
Bob Nichols on Tinian, WWII. October 31, 2014. Written by Bob Nichols, with Belinda Nichols and edited by Richard Parks. Photographs are on the Bob Nichols website.
On a heavy tropical rainstorm night, another significant memory during war time occurs. I asked a friend who was a motorcycle rider from Ohio to come with me on a foray. Every day I would go by an Air Force motor pool and see a Harley Davison WLD 45 cu. in. motorcycle and I decided I wanted that motorcycle. They weren't using it after all. My friend the motorcycle hound went with me, out at midnight on this stormy night with my shop truck, to retrieve the bike. I had an A frame for pulling water well pipes around the island so I was equipped to pick up the bike. I climbed up on an A frame and had my friend climb over an 8 foot fence. Then he lowered the cable to me, where the motorcycle and tire were located. I pushed the motorcycle to the fence, wrapped cable that he lowered to me on the ground. I sat on the motorcycle, and then he pulled us back over the fence. We struggled to get motorcycle on the back of my truck.
The next morning when I went to breakfast, now that I had this "borrowed" military motorcycle, I needed to have a place to hide it. I saw a person who had been in the stockade, and I knew he'd be a candidate to help me. I went up and whispered in his ear, "˜I stole a motorcycle and need a place to hide it." He responded, "I have a perfect place for it, he whispered." It was a workshop (Quonset hut) that he worked in that had a l0 foot room with a single door. This is where I worked on the motorcycle, painted it white, made racing handle bars, and spent three weeks overhauling the engine, all in this "perfect hideaway."
In the meantime, while this is going on, we needed a race track, to practice on. Our company, which was an engineering group, had a captured Japanese motor pool with three platforms for the straightaway. We had a bulldozer, and a road grader to create a quarter mile racetrack. After we got the motorcycle running, and the racetrack built I took out the motorcycle for a practice. Word of mouth made it a very popular scene after 5:30 pm and the end of our normal shifts. The 20th US Army Air Force had B-29's which brought over many motorcycles, such as BSA, Royal Inn fields, Norton, Villiers rororob (they were brought from India to Tinian Island). We hopped up Jeeps to race too. We did this just for real fun, nothing was really organized, but it was the place to go after dinner. The numbers would vary between l0 and 50 dare-devils. So many people got injured the General ordered that no unauthorized vehicles would be allowed on the island. But that order was mainly due to racing injuries that were taking place on other parts of the island and not on my racetrack. My racetrack did last for at least 6 months of great recreation for the military men who had no other source of amusement.
USS Indianapolis, memory of the ship during WW2. By Bob Nichols, with Belinda Nichols, and editing by Richard Parks. October 2014. Photographs can be seen on the Bob Nichols website.
I was driving my truck along a plateau overlooking the harbor on the island of Tinian and I saw a cruiser that was 610 feet long, which was the USS INDIANAPOLIS. It had just delivered the Atomic bomb to us several days before it was to be dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. The USS Indianapolis had just set a record going from San Francisco to the island of Tinian in four days. It was a heavy cruiser, almost as big as a battleship and it was maneuvering in our very small harbor getting ready to leave.
I heard later that a Japanese submarine sunk this ship with a torpedo on the last day of the war. It left a deep personal meaning in my life. Of the 1996 men on the ship, some 300 died when the ship sank. My cousin, Henry Lee was on that ship. The ship sustained two torpedo hits on her starboard bow by Type 95 torpedoes from the Japanese submarine I-58, under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto. The explosions caused massive damage. The Indianapolis took on a heavy list, and settled by the head. Twelve minutes later, she rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and she plunged down. Many of the remaining sailors formed great rings of men, holding hands in the water and waiting for rescue ships. Shark attacks killed many more.
Old Tucson Dragway Hot Rod Reunion. By Tim “TTA host volunteer” Holt. Photos by John Saltsman Jr & Sean Lukowski. Special Thanks: Anna Marco, John Saltsman & Weechie.
The Tucson Timing Association celebrated Cinco de Mayo in gearhead fashion with their Hot Rod Reunion celebrating a fifty-year recognition of the Old Tucson Dragway.
The weekend started with an Open House on Friday at the Southwestern International Dragway with a preview of what was going to be happenin’ on Saturday. The crowds were awestruck with many of the Top Fuel cars lighting ‘em up in the pits with fuelin’ flames and ground shakin’ sounds and a test ‘n tune on the strip. The pre-party guaranteed a great crowd the next day.
Saturday AM the cars and crowds poured in to see what drag racing used to be, back in the day. Over two hundred vehicles checked in for Show’ & Shine, and nearly another half-hundred dragsters came to make hot rod history and renew friendships of days gone by. The drag racing started off with classic 1/8th mile heads-up racing featuring flagman starts with local and nearly famous Hot Rod Huggins dressing the part. Tony whipped the starter flag and the crowds into a frenzy as he got the rods off the line in historic fashion.
Back in the pits the Fuel Cars made their debut. Red Greth warmed up the Speedsport Old Noisy with Jon Rowley and the Arfon’s Green Monster Allison (with its dual slicks) go head to head in a match race not seen since the fifties. Many other exhibition runs were made throughout the day by vintage dragsters. It was exciting to see the Stone, Woods and Cook nitro snorting Mustang Funny Car piloted by Mike Cook ripping the strip. Wayne Ludington rocked the grandstands with his straight-eight
Buick Dragster along with Rocky Phillips (of Eaglefield fame) and his freshly restored Twin SBC Dragster smoking through half-track like the good old days.
Some real hot rod heroes made a number of runs such as the Sievers, Weisner & Owens AA/Gasser along with Paul Henderson and the Steinegger and Eshenbaugh K-88 car. A really hot match race took place with the excitingly beautiful Anaconda Top Fuel Dragster going up against the Old Timers T/F car. The noise and thrill of seeing these two go at it was memorable cool. And they did it a number of times throughout the day; push starting around the pits and return road, keeping those in attendance favorably entertained.
There were a number of cackle cars making fun in the pits. The historic Bud King Arrow Funny Car and the Sean Dale Shakey Situation F/C got some noise going with crowds hanging around these two most of the day. Jake Burris took to the track in his debut with the restored Incognito Altered owned by local Don Toia (Don’s Hot Rod Shop). That was a kickin’ good old drag race. At the end of the day, the Tucson Timing Association celebrated a number of inductions into the Southern Arizona Drag Racing Hall of Fame. A permanent stone kiosk display names racers who made hot rod history these past few years. Following the ceremony, an exciting day came to an end with over a dozen nitro and alcohol cars lined up at the starting line cackling away for the now famous “Nitro Blast” reassuring us that this won’t be the last reunion. Look for more excitement in 2013 as they do it again. A BIG Thanks to Paula Roth, Walter Nash, Dan Owens, Paul Smith, Tom Koenen, Jon Bradford, & the SIR staff. Contact: TucsonReunion@msn.com or Merle’s Southwest International Raceway, 12000 S. Tucson Road, Tucson, AZ.
Tucson Dragway Reunion captions
JS=John Saltsman photos
SL= Sean Lukowski photos
JS0158—Arfon’s Green Monster Allison with dual slicks
The car is a mid-60’s George Britting, chassis updated by Dave Tuttle. It has a 189 inch wheelbase; the engine is a gas powered single carb small block Chevy. The SBC started its life as a 350 but it is bored and stroked to a 383 CID. The carb is a Holley 750 double pumper on a Victor JR manifold. The cam is a 4-7 swap cam. The transmission is a power glide, the rear-end is an 8 3/4 Chrysler. It has no electronics with the exception of a tranny brake. The lettering on the car is actually painted not stickers. Geet Faulkner did all the lettering including a Rat Fink on the fuel tank. The car is set up to run the NHRA Heritage class of Nostalgia Eliminator 11. She runs 8.60 seconds at 165 miles an hour. The miraculous thing is that Paula Roth is deaf and drag races anyway.
JS0617--Flag starter Tony “hotrod” Huggins
JS0621-Tony Huggins & Paula Roth
JS0673-Marvin Schwartz Anaconda
SL3157 Rocky Phillips Evil Twin dragster, twin engine SBC
SL3338 Weechie and The Termite, 1964 Ford Falcon
This car is a piece of the 60’s Nostalgic Drag Racing History. This car was sponsored by: DREW FORD in La Mesa, Ca. and raced at Orange County International Raceway. Original Owner / Driver / Builder was Johnny Hawkins.
AHRA Winter National Record Holder 1969
AHRA Divisional Point Record Holder 1969
National Record Holder 1973
THE TERMITE Graphics were painted by California legend Bob Mc Coy. This car is the real deal time capsule – not a clone. It is now street legal and now has a streetable drive-train: 302 bored 30/over, C4 / shift kit, 9 inch 350 Posi. 31 spline, 3 inch exhaust with cut-outs. Just in case I would like to go Nostalgic Drag Racing someday I still have the original 13 ½ to 1 compression 289 racing motor with tunnel ram and Mike Jones built Holley 2x4’s, Art Carr built C4 with manual shift, 9 inch Detroit Locker with 411 Posi with 31 spline, Line Lock, and Stinger Ignition/Coil. Most of these racing parts are period perfect from the 60’s. I also have a copy of the certified document from the Bee Line Dragstrip dated 1/24/69 as the AHRA Winter National Record Holder in class F-3 H/S. I’m still trying to find more history on the car and Johnny Hawkins.
THE TERMITE. Written by Anna “Octane” Marco, photographs by Belgium Lion.
THE TERMITE is a true survivor of the 1960’s Nostalgic Drag Racing History. Once upon a time, a 1964 Ford Falcon two-door sedan named THE TERMITE was built and driven by Johnny Hawkins. The car was sponsored by Drew Ford in La Mesa, CA, raced at Orange County International Raceway and was the 1969 AHRA Winter- national Record Holder and 1969 AHRA Divisional Point Record Holder. It also became a National Record Holder in 1973. This car is the real deal time capsule – not a clone. It is street legal and now has a street worthy drive train, 302 bored 30/over, C4 / shift kit, 9 inch 350 Posi. 31 spline, and 3-inch exhaust with cutouts. THE TERMITE graphics were painted by California legend Bob Mc Coy.
In case current owner, Weechie, would like to go Nostalgic Drag Racing someday, he still owns the original 13 ½ to 1 compression 289 racing motor with dual quad tunnel ram and Mike Jones built Holley 2x4’s, Art Carr built C4 with manual shift, 9-inch Detroit Locker with 411 Posi/ 31 spline, Line Lock, and Stinger Ignition/Coil. Woohoo! Most of these racing parts are period perfect from the 1960’s. He also retains a copy of the certified document from the BeeLine Drag strip dated 1/24/69 as the AHRA Winternational Record Holder in class F-3 H/S. We are still trying to find more history on the car and Johnny Hawkins. If you know something we don’t please write us and tell us.
This car originally came out of California before it made its way into Arizona in 1997. The first owner in Arizona was Tim Warfield who owned the car from 1997-2010. Tim raced it off and on for 2 years at the local Tucson drag strip (Southwestern International Raceway). It was friend Tony Huggins who told Weechie that this car had come up for sale in 2010. Tim got the call and said, “Come over and take a look it. When I fire it up and you hear it run you’re going to buy it.”
Weechie recalled, “Sure enough, when Tony and I got there, Tim took us into the garage where it had been sitting for the last 11 years, and it still had the 10-inch slicks and open headers on it. I looked it over from top to bottom then asked Tim to fire it up. The cam was so rumpty-rump and sounded so awesome. It was just like he told me on the phone, I said, “I’ll take it.” We loaded it on a trailer and brought it home. I tried to run it on the street just like that for a short while. But, the racing drive train was too radical for what I wanted to do which was drive the car on the highway to car shows and have fun with it. So, my friend John Runyon (an old drag racer) took out the racing drive train and installed a street version. I put 550 miles on it going to a car show in Pinetop, Az. (Run To The Pines) and lots of other shows too. I have had the car at The L.A. Roadster Show and Grand National Roadster Show where lots of people remembered THE TERMITE from its racing days in California.”
Meanwhile back in Arizona circa 1963, Beeline Dragway had just been built by a group of investors who sunk $125,000 into a paved fun zone in the middle of Indian territory. It was the toast of the local drag racing community. A write-up in the November 1963 Drag News touted the strip as a jewel in the desert, “Located just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix, and adjacent to the west’s most western city, Scottsdale” is the all new and sanitary BeeLine Dragway. BeeLine, on account of its ideally located central area (for winter racing) has been given the keys to the 4th annual AHRA Winternationals. The strip is 60 feet wide and over ¾ miles long, with over an additional quarter mile of safety road for those who can’t quite make it (no hazards.)
It’s located in the very heart of the Valley area between Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, and Scottsdale, the track features a tower, concessions, and running water throughout the pits. Good-looking young college girls were working everywhere. It had telephone connections to insure proper management and co-ordinations, plenty of P. A. systems so everyone is assured of hearing. A three-foot wall in front of the spectators eliminates the possibility of spectator damage or spectators wandering. One of the finest safety advantages of the strips is if per chance your chute fails to open or you are unable to stop, there is nothing you can hit except maybe Lake Saguaro located only 10 minutes away.
Always on duty will be two ambulances and for those who may run into some unfortunate trouble, a tow truck. For those of you who may be contemplating a venture to BeeLine, there are motels and some of Arizona’s finest vacation resorts located within 15 minutes of the strip. Tempe’s Arizona State University is but another 15 minutes away and there is always plenty of night action in the Valley. Keep tuned to Drag News for full listing of prizes and awards to be awarded at the 1964 AHRA Winternationals the best yet!”
The track was in business for 10 years but today is closed and little remains except a graffiti covered timing tower. However, with an alluring promotional write-up like this it’s no wonder THE TERMITE pounded asphalt and made a beeline for the finish line there. Musta been the college girls. Sounds like a good time doesn’t it? Yes indeed, these old cars do talk and they sure tell us some cool stories! Zoom!
Resource: Jim & Nancy Shaut, firstname.lastname@example.org. See: http://arizonaracinghistory.com.
Motorcycle History: Board Track Racing, by John Gunnell. Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, for photos go to www.bikerhotline.com.
The high-banked wooden tracks of bicycle velodromes allowed racers to attain speeds they could never dream of touching in a race on a flat road. Recognizing the potential of such “saucer tracks” to draw racing fans, event promoters across the country built larger, steeply-banked board tracks for motorcycle racing. Automobiles were also raced on board tracks in some cities. Motorcyclists racing in the new motordromes achieved previously unheard of speeds, but the banked tracks took their toll in horrendous—and often fatal—crashes. Board tracks—especially short ones—had built-in dangers. Fans sat on the top looking down at the racers. If a rider lost control, G-forces could whip his bike into the crowd. In 1913, the championship motorcycle races moved onto dirt.
Motorcycle racing on board tracks less than a mile was banned in 1919. Motordromes were made of 2 x 4-inch wooden planks. They lasted 30 years or so in America. In that time, board-track racing made major motorsports contributions that continue today. The Motordromes proved that banking increased G-forces, allowing higher speeds. They showed that wide track surfaces increased racing excitement by permitting one bike to slowly overtake another. The construction influenced the design of grandstands at all racetracks. Motordromes caught on because they were easy to build with then-cheap lumber. The tracks had up to 45-60 degrees of banking.
By 1931 there were 24 operating board tracks in places such as Playa del Ray, CA, Culver City, CA, Beverly Hills, CA, Brooklyn, N.Y., Atlantic City, N.J. and Tipton (Altoona), Pa. Fans turned out by the tens of thousands to watch the spectacles and wait for the accidents to happen. Board track racing was arguably one of the most popular spectator sports in America during the Teens and early 1920s. Brooklyn’s Sheephead Bay board track could seat as many as 200,000 people. That was more than five times the capacity of the Polo Grounds, New York City’s premier baseball stadium of that era. Board track racing declined in the 1930s. In addition to the dangers, the wooden racing surfaces were expensive to maintain. New boards were needed about every five years. Repairs also had to be done while racing was going on. Historical photos of motordromes and board tracks as displayed in the Harley-Davidson Museum, (www.h-dmuseum.com) Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Bonneville: A Century of Speed, written by LandSpeed Louise Ann Noeth.
If you are waiting for the epic motorsports update of my Bonneville Salt Flats history book first published in 1999, please know it is a year behind. I wanted to include the full 100 years of land speed racing, not just sell a book during the 100th year. Bonneville: A Century of Speed published by the University of Utah Press will, hopefully, be available for sale sometime next year. I have been working on this massive chronicle for many years. It will contain several hundred thousand words and upwards of 1,000 photos.
Hundreds of interviews were conducted with world and national record-setters, sanctioning authorities, engine builders, high performance parts suppliers as well as hundreds of crew members. Thousands of images are being collected from public and private archives as well as directly from racers, families and friends. Original art has been drawn, or contributed by skilled, expressive artists including the work of Robert Seabeck, Tom Medley, Robert Rampton, Rex Burnett, Connor Lock and Stacy Becker. The point is to reflect an in-depth land speed racing historical narrative that is (pardon me, Mr. Lincoln) “of the racer, by the racer and for the reader.” Information is also being culled from articles I wrote for the New York Times, London Daily Telegraph, Chicago Tribune, dozens of automotive magazines and of course my Goodguys Gazette column “Fuel For Thought” that has appeared monthly for the past 12 years dedicated to telling the story of land speed racing.
Because I’ve had numerous people contact me about another project scheduled to debut at the upcoming Grand National Roadster Show in Southern California, I must state that I have nothing whatsoever to do with this venture. I am not part of, nor have I contributed to the Save-the-Salt fundraising project that sold pages to racers, promoters and parts suppliers. Please be aware that although similarly entitled, my book and the fund-raising project are not in competition with one another. One cannot buy pages in my book. This is a significant, historical retrospect that will be professionally edited and fact-checked by the university press staff, editors and distinguished reviewers. For a preview of what to expect, the Goodguys Gazette recently published my quick-study Bonneville summary in the October 2013 issue.
Sent in by Ron Main:
SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff. Visit the “Save the Salt” booth in the Central Hall (#24099) of the Las Vegas Convention Center to see the Triumph Castrol Rocket. Slated to compete for world’s fastest motorcycle at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2015, the “Rocket” incorporates all of the ingenuity and racing prowess of the Triumph-powered land-speed record vehicles of the ’50s and ’60s, plus the best of today’s technology in engineering, aerodynamics, safety and powerplant performance. The 25.5-ft. long, 2-ft. wide and 3-ft. tall streamliner has the potential to exceed 400 mph.
The Save the Salt Coalition has been spearheading a fundraising initiative to replenish the salt at Bonneville. The Coalition organized a 2,000-ton dry salt laydown last summer at the end of the access road to the Salt Flats. The Coalition is now seeking approval from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for direct dry salt repairs on portions of the various race tracks commencing in 2015. To finance the repairs and in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of land-speed racing at Bonneville, the Coalition is promoting “A Century of Speed,” a comprehensive history of racing at the flats. The book has already garnered more than $40,000 in donations for salt replenishment activities, and will be available at the SEMA Show’s Save the Salt booth. For more information, visit www.savethesalt.org.
Gone Racin’…TROMPERS OF EAGLE ROCK; COMMEMORATIVE ANTHOLOGY. Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz. October 6, 2014. Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, for photos go to www.hotrodhotline.com.
There is nothing more satisfying than to see an old group get back together again, whether it is a rock band or a car club. It brings back old memories and gets one out of the blahs and doldrums. It is also rather rare. We have had tens of thousands of car and social clubs in our nation’s history, most of them within the past eight decades and I would estimate that 90 percent of them disbanded after only a few years in existence. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s it was a rite of passage to belong to a group, mostly on a territorial basis. Your friends would meet at someone’s house or garage and eventually the group of neighborhood youths would coalesce into a club of sorts. In some cases the club was more of a gang and over time marriage and maturity would soften the group. No matter the reason, there was this immense desire to belong to a group, especially when all around you the country seemed to be unraveling and the family hard pressed to provide security. Car clubs offered young men a chance to feel accepted and equal, when equality was the fact of their existence. It was a male only environment; women stayed in the home at that time. The car clubs served a social function though. The guys would race on the streets or dry lakes; work on their cars or a club car, and bench race about their fondest hopes and dreams. Yet they had obligations to girl friends and wives and that led to dances, gymkhanas, road rallies, picnics and other outings. The car club was the cement for binding friendships that would last a lifetime.
World War II began the slow change in the car club culture. Young men were exposed to a wider world and when they came home they were not quite the same as when they went to war. By the 1950’s a new sport of drag racing grew up right before our eyes and oval track racing seemed so glamorous. The car clubs left the dry lakes and the streets and went racing on safe, sanctioned and organized dragstrips and race tracks all over the country. You could literally race 7 days a week, but taking 15 or 20 club members with you took a lot of effort, time and money to do. More efficient two and three man “partnerships” were the way to go. One guy owned the car, another was the driver, and maybe a third person did the set-up. Clubs began to lose members and break apart. By 1960 the neighborhood car club structure was nearly dead. Wally Parks, who had founded the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), felt that the car club culture still had merit and assigned Barbara Livingston Parks and Tex Smith to a division within the NHRA. This entity was called the ICCA and it worked with tremendous zeal to organize the remaining neighborhood and school car clubs into a strong organization. For a time it worked, but the car club culture had passed its heyday and eventually the NHRA realized they could not bring back the past.
There is something very reassuring and comfortable about looking back to the Great Depression and World War II eras. We do so at the risk of grave error. In today’s world with constant wars, mass murders, cutting off the heads of innocents, terrorism and the threat of new diseases and nuclear war, it is comforting to think of a simpler and kinder age when people treated each other with respect and love. But it really wasn’t like we imagine it to be. It was a tough and desperate time in the 1930’s and ‘40’s too. The Trompers of Eagle Rock and the book that they created to herald their history brings back this feeling of connection to the past and they do it brilliantly. Perhaps it is our desire to relive the past that makes their club history and book so appealing. The TROMPERS OF EAGLE ROCK; COMMEMORATIVE ANTHOLOGY is their effort to chronicle the history of a car club that like most car clubs, rose up, fell apart and then decades later found a reason to reunite and live in a modern era.
TROMPERS OF EAGLE ROCK; COMMEMORATIVE ANTHOLOGY is a paperback book, measuring 8 ¾ by 11 inches, with over 200 black and white photos (one color plate) in 128 pages. The backing is glued, not cloth bound and there is no dust cover jacket. The paper quality is very good and the pictures adequate to very good. The book has a prologue, introduction, but no indexing. Some of the photographs are captioned, but many are not, nor were the photographers mentioned, so it is difficult for the serious historian to do a great deal of research from this book. That is not a problem for the typical hot rodder or car fan and it is an easy read, though the text is sparse. The cost of the book is $20 and you can pick up a book from a Tromper’s member, from the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, or at Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, California. The book is divided roughly into chapters, though they blend into one another. I miss an index, wish the rest of the photos were captioned and if the club ever goes into a third reprinting, I hope they will add more historical text. Most of the text is accurate, but some of it has mistakes, easily made from so far into the past. Since one of their current members is Jim Miller, President of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historian and also the director of the American Hot Rod Foundation, I hope a new edition will be forthcoming that can correct a few of the mistakes in the book.
Overall it is a fine book. The Trompers hung around loosely as friends until they finally organized in 1946, joined the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and thrived around the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, but by 1952 they had largely broken up and moved on, much like all the other car clubs had. Many of the early members kept in touch and in the late 1990’s they were impressed by the interest that young men expressed in the post WWII era and in 2003 the club reformed. The older men became the stewards of the history and the younger men providing the leadership and energy that all clubs need to survive. The original members of the Trompers included John Gunderson (president), Chuck Rounds, Terry “Moe” Wilcox, Dave “The Toad” Bennett, Jim Ford, Bill Harnett, and Don “The Admiral” Zabel. It was never a large club, preferring to remain small and manageable and their best showing in the SCTA was a 14th place finish in club points, which was very respectable considering that the other clubs were much larger. During the seven years of their existence from 1945 to 1951 they managed to attract numerous members. Some of their members from this period included; Hub Anderson, Bob Ellsworth, Ted Colley, Jerome Fortman, Larry Shinoda, Phil Weiand, Ruy Whiting, Pat Hodge, Kay Speierman, Lolly Wiweke, Tom Condon, Freeman Hall, Bob Grider, Don Hammer, Tom Gregory, Phil Miller, John Adams, Arthur Killian, Burdette Sanders, Byron Shoop, Bob Ashline, Marvin Whiteman, Dale Naef, Merritt Tritch, Jack Karnes, Bill “Red” Hostetter, Robert Clark, John de Brauwere, Cal Drake, Ed Parsons, and Homer Albertsen.
The present club formed after 2003 has over 60 members and they hold a wide ranging number of social events. This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It has a few errors, such as stating that Wally Parks brought out HOT ROD Magazine in 1948, whereas that honor goes to Robert “Pete” Petersen and Bob Lindsay, though I could say that Wally Parks did have a lot to do with the creation of the magazine. In 1947 Wally Parks was the General Manager of the SCTA and Pete Petersen was looking to find a client. Petersen was one of many publicists in the movie industry who were laid off after the end of World War II and these men formed a public relations company. Parks, always on the lookout for ways to establish a professional look for the SCTA, hired Petersen and Hollywood Publicity Associates. Petersen and Bob Lindsay created advertising for the SCTA Hot Rod Exposition in Los Angeles, and found a great groundswell of support for a “hot rodding” magazine. Parks even supplied articles and photographs for the fledgling magazine and then went to work for Petersen Publishing as the first full-time, professional editor in 1949. I recommend TROMPERS OF EAGLE ROCK; COMMEMORATIVE ANTHOLOGY, and suggest that you add it to your library. Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM.
Gone Racin’…Circle of Impact; The true life events of a brave action figure, by Lynn McCoy. Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz. 15 February 2010. Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, for photos go to www.hotrodhotline.com.
The author of Circle of Impact; The true life events of a brave action figure is Lynn McCoy and she has written a comprehensive biography of her husband Bob McCoy. I spoke with Lynn and she told me that Bob’s story was too riveting and special to go untold. She worked for years to find the photographs and stories to go with Bob’s history and Circle of Impact is the result of that effort. Bob McCoy is well-known today for his artwork and attends many car racing reunions where his work is prominently displayed on the programs. I also see Bob at car shows and racing events where his booth attracts racing fans from all spectrums of auto racing. Like so many other people, what I know about Bob McCoy is what I see and so my first impression is that he is a fine artist who loves car racing. Like most first impressions, I was very wrong. McCoy is truly a throwback to a previous era when men and women were very versatile and interested in so many different things. I learned that McCoy was a circle track veteran and quite successful. I also learned that McCoy tried his hand at rodeo riding and rode horses, the wild and unbroken kind. He also drove cars at El Mirage and Bonneville and is involved in hot rodding. That’s the problem that we have, we see only the current life of the people we admire and don’t see the whole story. Bob McCoy led a fascinating life and if the spirit moves him, will tackle another challenge just to see if he can master it. I have to admit that I like Lynn and Bob McCoy and always look for them whenever I’m at a major car show, like the L.A. Roadster Show, the Grand National Roadster Show or the Good Guys Show. I also see him at racing reunions and memorials for our racers who have passed on. The McCoy’s’ as the saying goes, are real and they have a large following of fans.
Circle of Impact is a first class, high quality, hard bound book with a cloth binding that should last a lifetime of use. The book has a high quality, glossy waxed paper for optimum showing of the photographs. It comes without a dust cover book jacket and I would recommend that the reader purchase a cover to keep the exterior from excessive wearing. Circle of Impact measures 11 ¼ by 8 ¾ inches in size and has 346 pages. It is suitable as a coffee table book, as a pictorial, as a biography and as a history of mid-twentieth century auto racing in the United States. The cover of Circle of Impact has McCoy’s artwork, which is highly prized by collectors and car racing fans. There are three drawings that give the essence of Bob McCoy; circle track racing, hot rodding and bronco busting. While I enjoy the photographs, seeing McCoy’s trademark style of drawing makes this an exceptional cover for the book. The only drawback is the lack of a suitable dust cover jacket to protect the book. Circle of Impact is a substantial book, measuring a full 1 ¼ inches in thickness and in the quality of the content and composition of materials. The price is a very reasonable $50 and compares very favorably to the books put out by Buzz Rose and Dick Wallen, two very talented authors and photographers. The publisher is Regent Publishing Services Ltd and this is the first printing. Lynn McCoy is the author and sells the books personally at car shows and from her home. You can contact Lynn at PO Box 1084, Lakeside, California 92040 or go on-line at www.BobMccoyArt.com to purchase a copy. Another way is to go to the major California car shows and look for Bob’s booth. Lynn will have some books on hand and she and Bob will be glad to sign them for you.
I counted the wealth stored in McCoy’s book, but so great was the material that I may have lost the exact count. There were 58 drawings and artwork by Bob McCoy, some of which were duplications, but many of which were original. There were 489 black and white photographs, some being small and part of a collage, while others were full page and spectacular. I found four posters, four cartoons and four more miscellaneous contributions. There were 58 color plates, many of which were full and half page in size. Finally there were 65 newspaper clippings. The wealth of information in the book was simply breathtaking. This is the kind of work that one reads and rereads over and over again, each time finding another jewel of knowledge. The one drawback to all this information is that the author did not create an index of names and places. There is absolutely no way for the serious historian to quickly and efficiently find names and places to do research. In effect, historians will have to create their own index if they wish to use this book as a serious historical work. While 99% of the public is uninterested in having an index, over time the serious reader who acquires this book will have problems finding a particular name or event. As a pictorial, Circle of Impact is an impressive book. As a tribute to a very important racer and artist, the book is simply superior. Its major lack is an index and no matter how much I rail on about authors who fail to add an index, few heed my advice. One other thing that is noteworthy is that while most of the photographs and other pictorials are nicely captioned, some are not, or barely have a brief mention of who is in the photographs. It’s very disconcerting to see a photograph that is under-captioned or without a caption. The rule of thumb for captions is that you should always cover who’s in the photos, where it was taken, when it was taken, what was happening, who took the photograph and sometimes a why and how as well. An under-captioned or non-captioned photograph is like an insider’s joke and most of the readers are outsiders, hoping to become “members of the club.”
Now these are smaller issues to the main issue of quality and content. Circle of Impact definitely is a quality book and it covers all facets of the life and times of Bob McCoy and those around him. The writing is easy to understand and non-technical as Lynn McCoy tries to make this readable for everyone and not just former race drivers. The photographs range from excellent to poor copies from the newspapers, but the high quality of the paper used in the books rescues even those photographs and makes them discernible. The artwork is pure McCoy and if you only bought Circle of Impact for Bob’s drawings, you will not be disappointed. McCoy is one of the great car racing artists and drawers of the age. He ranks up there with Kenny Youngblood, James Ibusuki, Tom Fritz and others and should be considered among the top artists in his field. McCoy has a style that combines subtle humor and a good bit of satire in his drawings. He’s not quite a “looking for Waldo” stylist, but there is always something hidden in his work that draws our curiosity. His style looks simple, but it is not. There is depth of detail to what he draws and paints. If McCoy’s work has not drawn a great audience and high prices yet, they certainly will in the future. Besides the artwork, I was really impressed with the abundance of newspaper clippings, which gave the book an air of being there when the action was taking place. The large number of photographs also put the reader in the time of the action. Many of the photographs were duplicates of the action, but about 250 of the photographs bound the story to the pictures. Lynn McCoy does a great job of telling the readers who Bob McCoy really is. This is what a biography should be. Bob McCoy’s story is told from the very beginning and without rancor or hiding some of the unpleasant details.
Normally I would give the readers a breakdown of the chapters and their contents, but a normal review is around 1000 words and Bob McCoy’s life is so fascinating that to attempt to do that I would need 3000 words to summarize his life. I’ll be brief; you’ll like this book if you like stories about an adventurous person who takes on the world on his or her terms. Bob did a bit of everything that interested him and he did it well. Perhaps he would have been better remembered as a rodeo star if he had concentrated simply on busting broncos. Or maybe he would have been a well known star of the oval track circuit if he had focused all his energies on racing and stayed out of the hospital. He could have been one of the more famous land speed racers if he had concentrated only on setting records and building faster and faster cars. If only he had spent all his life as an artist and devoted every second to that craft, maybe he would already be a household name outside of the motorsports world. But he isn’t that kind of man. He wants to live life, not simply be a name in any one field. He gave everything that he had to whatever it was that he was trying at the time and still spending time with his family, which meant so much to him. He was acquiring friends and experiencing life while he was conquering the loves of his life. Bob McCoy is famous in his own right and respected by his peers. His achievements in oval track racing, land speed time trials, rodeo and as an artist are already known by those who are a part of those worlds.