Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz
Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, Memories From The Past is the 8th book in a series written by Fallbrook, California author, Don Montgomery. He has created a special market with his books. His readers avidly collect his books on Southern California hot rodding history. He self-publishes his own books and does the writing as well. They are high quality works, the photographs are clear and finely reproduced and the story is well researched and accurate. In fact, his readers know Montgomery’s penchant for scholarship and look very hard to see if they can spot an error. No book is above errors, but finding an error in his books has proven very difficult. Why does the author insist on such meticulous attention to detail? He gave me the answer once, “when mistakes get into print they become Gospel truth and they’re very hard to root out.” Montgomery has the science of book writing and publishing down to an art form. Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, Memories From The Past follows the same pattern as his previous seven books. The book measures 8 ¾ inches in width by 11 ¼ inches in height and has 192 pages. The size allows him to reproduce full-page photographs without any degradation in quality and the page length makes it easy for the printer to print the book in 48 page folios, which allows for the least wastage of paper and time. Everything about the author’s work is first class. The book is a hardcover edition and the pages are high quality, heavy bond, waxed paper for the maximum quality in photographic transfers. The pages are bound to the spine of the book and not glued in. The dust cover jacket is his trademark red, white and black design and is absolutely brilliant. He has an uncomplicated but thorough method in his styling and in his writing. He’s one of the best creating hot rod books.
Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, Memories From The Past is a work that crosses over into several categories. It is a fine coffee table masterpiece, a historical and a pictorial work on the history of hot rodding. His sources for pictures and text represent the famous and the normal hot rodder. His pipeline never runs out of ideas, suggestions or photographs. Montgomery is also his number one resource, since he was a hot rodder, land speed and drag racer. If his enthusiasm doesn’t wane, he can keep publishing these fine works of his for years to come. A special bit of praise needs to go to his wife, Claire Montgomery, for she not only encourages her husband to create these books, she helps him in the process. You can find Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, Memories From The Past at bookstores or at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California. Call the gift shop at 909-622-2133 and order the book by phone. The ISBN number is 978-0-9626454-7-1. There are no color photographs, but there are 591 exquisite black and white photos, one cartoon and 4 timing tag illustrations. The quality of the paper in the book brings these old photographs to life. The captions are well done and informative. History simply jumps out of the pages in Old Hot Rods Scrapbook, Memories From The Past. I keep waiting for Montgomery to say, “that’s it, there are no more photos and there’s nothing more to say.” But that never happens, as he just keeps astounding his readers with new photographs and material, most of it never published before.
The book contains a dedication, introduction, table of contents, acknowledgments, five chapters and a brief biography of the author and his background. Alas, there is no index for the historian to work with. The only thing that stops these books from being truly great and outstanding is the lack of an index. The scenes at the dry lakes and on the early day dragstrips of Southern California are fantastic. Bill Freeman provided photos from the Riverside area and Norm Gruden lent his photos from the Pomona dragstrip. Others who provided photos and history include; Don Blair, Bernie Couch, Bob DeBisschop, Blackie Gold, Ray Hess, Keith Landrigan, Buff Marquand, Dave Marquez, Dode Martin, Bob Morton, Don Purdy, Joe Reath, Bob Rounthwaite, John Ryan, Mort Smith, Bud Van Maanen, John Wolf, Don Zable and many more true hot rodders. Many names are still recognizable to hot rodders, landspeed and drag racers after half a century or more. Buff Marquand, Bill Freeman and Dave Marquez were members of the Bean Bandits, a legendary San Diego landspeed and drag racing team led by Joaquin Arnett. The greatest praise that Marquez could give was, “(Bleep) kid.” When he recognized you, then you had to be someone special. Marquez would win the first two NHRA Nationals in his roadster class. Johnny Ryan and Nellie Taylor had the top engine building shop in the Southland. Their flathead engines ruled the dry lakes. Don Blair and Blackie Gold are historic names in hot rodding. Without this book your library is incomplete.
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS2@JUNO.COM.
Montgomery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
From the Book