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AK Miller Tribute at the Wally Parks

AK Miller Tribute at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum
Pomona, CA
Pictures By Roger Rohrdanz
Story & Captions By Richard Parks

 

Ak Miller... by Richard Parks

Ak Miller is a legend among racers. Which means that he doesn't need to embellish his exploits, for we do that for him. Ak's done about everything a racer wants to do. He's raced the dry lakes, Bonneville Salt Flats, Pike's Peak Hill Climb and road races in Italy and Mexico. Elected President of the SCTA (Southern California Timing Association) and Vice President of the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association), and a member of the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame, Ak has his share and more of auto racing honors. Yet he is more than just an award winner, elected official or quick and speedy racer. It's the twinkle in his eye, entrancing smile, ready wit and charisma that gets you off balance and makes you fair game for this lively and charming fellow. Stories and tales surround him, and grow larger and more complex with the years. This has given rise to a colloquial expression, "that's Ak", meaning a story bunyunesque or too far fetched to be true. But those who say this are mistaken for he has never had to create a tale; he has lived a life many of us only dream of.


 
 
-Ak Miller, Johnny Ryan and Leslie Long. Ak is short for Akton. Ak was the president of the SCTA after WWII, and one time Vice President of NHRA. Ryan was the partner of Nelly Taylor in the famous Taylor and Ryan Machine shop and built race winning flathead engines for thousands of racers. Leslie Long is a historian and collector of memorabilia for the Dry Lakes racing era.   El Caballo de Hierro or The Iron Horse.  Famed Hot Rod created by Ak Miller to run in the 1950's Mexican Road race, or The Pan-Americana Road Race.  On his team was Doug Harrison, Rick Rickman, Ray Brock and others.
     
 
Don Zabel and Richard Parks   Bob Keller, Jon Meyer, Richard Parks
     
 
Mark Saxlond, Bruce Eikenberger, Richard Parks, and Duane McKinney   Richard Parks, Steve Shaw, and Richard Miazga. Miazga was representing the Eagle Rock Trompers, a 1946 SCTA Club that has just been reformed.
     
 
El Caballo de Hierro and Ak Miller. Ak said that the car did well in the twisting turns of the mountains and at altitude, but the bigger European and American cars would go faster on the straightaways.   El Caballo de Hierro and Ak Miller.
     
 
El Caballo de Hierro.   Boyd Harnell, Jim Moran and Ak Miller
     
 
Boyd Harnell, a racing photographer and was with Ak Miller in the Pan-Americana Road Race in the 1950's. Ak is holding Harnell's photo of the El Caballo de Hierro making a hairturn in the mountains of the Pan- Americana Mexican Road Race.   Don Zabel, Frank Morimoto, Richard Parks, and John McDowell. Morimoto raced at the lakes before WWII and then went into the service in the famed All-Japanese/American combat unit that won distinction for bravery in the ETO European front.
     
 
Frank Morimoto, Leslie Long and Eric "Rick" Rickman. Rickman was one of the first photographers for Hot Rod Magazine and then went on the first Safety Safari for the new NHRA in 1954, with Bud Coons, Bud Evans and Chic Cannon. He is a member of the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame and the Boat Racers Reunion Honorary Awards program.  

Richard Parks and Ron Moon.

     
 

Richard Parks, James and Earlene Smith.

  Michael Rickman and Richard Parks. Michael is the son of Eric Rickman.
     
 
George Callaway and Earl Wooden. George Callaway is called the Unofficial Mayor of El Mirage Dry Lake. He lives next to the lake bed and helps to make sure that the lake bed is maintained for land speed time trials every year. He was the SCTA 2004 points champion. Wooden's Crossley is the car that Ak Miller raced at Bonneville to get into the 200 MPH Club. A prestigious honor among the land speed fraternity that bestows the famous red cap. Wooden has helped many people achieve this honor in his car.   Steve Hope, Ron Hope, George Callaway, Richard Parks and David Parks. Steve and Ron Hope are brothers, as is Richard and David Parks. Ron Hope is the driver for the fuel altered Rat Trap drag car.
     
 
Doris Pierce, Richard Parks and Pete Pierce. Pete is a car and boat racer.   Mike Jones, Ak Miller, and Jim Travis. Mike Jones was the manager of Orange County International Raceway. Jim Travis has raced everywhere, as a landspeeder and oval track racer. He also builds and restores cars, including the Mickey Thompson landspeed cars and Wally Parks' Suddenly, which was also known as the Hot Rod Special driven by Wally Parks and Ray Brock.
     
 
David Parks, Richard Parks, Barbara Parks and Wally Parks. A family portrait. WP was a co-founder of the SCTA in 1937, President of the SCTA in 1946, secretary to Ak Miller in 1947, and the founder of NHRA in 1951. Ak Miller reversed roles and became Vice President of the NHRA in the early '50's.   Joey Graham, Doris Eames and Joann Brock. Joann is Ray Brock's widow, and Don Francisco's Sister-in-Law
     
 
Wally Parks and Dick Martin. Martin known as Turboguy, put on this wonderful day for Ak Miller.   Roger Rohrdanz, Wally Parks and Dick Martin. Rohrdanz is a photographer and the partner of Richard Parks in the by-line Gone Racin.'
     
 
Ron Benham and Stormin' Norman Benham. A father and son team. Ron Benham has build more landspeed cars than just about anyone, and dozens of people have made it into the 200 MPH Club because of him. Ron is a member of the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame. His son, Stormin' Norman is a landspeed racer in his own right.   Stormin' Norman Benham, Jim Miller, and Jon Meyer. Jim Miller, affectionately known as Ak Miller's illegitimate son is a landspeed racer and historian, who has done much to keep alive the history and heritage of the sport.
     
 
Vic Cunningham, Wally Parks. Pete and Doris Pierce in background.  Cunningham is a member of the Cal-Rods Car Club that hosts the Twi-Light Cruise Nights at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum on the first Wednesdays of each month.   Wally Parks and Ak Miller. Two of the greatest landspeed racers and administrators of all time. Landspeed racing would not have been what it is today without these two men.
     
 
The program begins. Jim Shaw, Jim "Jake" Jacobs, Barbara and Wally Parks, Ak Miller, Jon Meyer, Bob Keller, Ron Hope, Stormin' Norman Benham, Richard Miazga, and Dick Martin in front row seats.   Richard Parks and George Barris.
     
 
Nick Arias Jr and Richard Parks. Nick is well known for Arias Industries and his forged racing pistons.   Ed Iskenderian and Jim "Jake" Jacobs. Iskenderian is the well-known "Camfounder." He still can be found grinding camshafts.
     
 
Wally Parks, Ak Miller and Dick Martin.   Joann Brock. Joann is Ray Brock's widow.
     
 
Charles Rollins. Charles is Ray Brock's son-in-law.   Fred Carrillo. Carrillo founded Carrillo Connecting Rods.
     
 
George Barris.   Ed Iskenderian.
     
 
Ed Iskenderian, Ak Miller, Fred Carrillo and Wally Parks. How's that for a representation of Hot Rodders?  

Ron Benham.

     
 
Ron Benham, Jim Shaw, Ak Miller, Fred Carrillo, Ed Iskenderian, Jim "Jake"Jacobs, and Wally Parks.  

Jim Travis.

     
 
Sam Jackson. Jackson is the Director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.   Boyd Harnell showing a photo he took down in Mexico of Ak Driving the El Caballo in the Panamericana Road Race
     
 
Boyd Harnell, Ak Miller, Fred Carrillo, Ed Iskenderian, Jim "Jake" Jacobs, Wally Parks, Jon Meyer, Bob Keller, Ron Hope, Stormin' Norman Benham.   Ak Miller
     
 
Boyd Harnell, Ak Miller, Sam Jackson.  

Don Blair, Johnny Ryan and Wally Parks. Now there's 265 years of Hot Rodding experience. Don Blair and his brother raced at the dry lakes before WWII. Don opened the famous Blair's Speed Shop in L.A. Johnny Ryan was the partner of Nellie Taylor in the Taylor and Ryan Speedshop in Whittier, California. They turned out the engines that set records at the dry lakes, oval tracks and in boat racing.


 

Thank you Roger Rohrdanz for the great pictures and Richard Parks for the wonderful story on AK Miller.

 


Go to http://www.oilstick.com/rparks/akmiller.html for a complete story on AK Miller by Richard Parks.

 

The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona, Calif. . For further information call 909/622-2133 or visit http://museum.nhra.com.

                        

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