Memories Of The California Jalopy Association By Thomas D. Luce

Memories Of The California Jalopy Association By Thomas D. Luce
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Thomas D. Luce Publishing has produced a new book, Memories of the California Jalopy Association. A 288 glossy-page 8 1/2x11 inch format, with 1550 photographs documenting Southern California Jalopy Racing from 1938 through 1969. It has early Ascot coverage of Figure 8's during the 1960's.

The photos are captioned in an easy to read style, and there is an adequate amount of textual background that gives the history of the sport as it existed in California.

Review: By Richard Parks

A new book, Memories of the California Jalopy Association, by Thomas D. Luce Publishing is now available. Luce spent more than a decade compiling oral histories and collecting photographs of a sport that was wildly popular from the 1940’s through the 1960’s. Jalopy racing was a perfect fit for the new medium of Television, with its thrills and spills, and anyone growing up could not help but tune in to the exciting races. Jalopies were old, inexpensive beat-up cars with souped-up motors that raced at dirt tracks. Many jalopy racers would learn the trade of car racing and go on to success in other areas. Chief among them is Parnelli Jones, winner of the 1963 Indianapolis 500, who wrote the forward to this book.

Memories of the California Jalopy Association has 288 pages, with over 1550 photographs. It is printed on glossy, high quality paper, in a soft-cover format. The photos are captioned in an easy to read style, and there is an adequate amount of textual background that gives the history of the sport as it existed in California. Included in the book are cartoons, charts, lists, acknowledgements, and other tables that help to give the reader a well-rounded view of jalopy racing. It is not only an interesting book on a subject that has been neglected, but it has merit as a work of historical value. The only thing we found lacking was a comprehensive index, making it difficult to do research.

There are 20 chapters, a forward by Parnelli Jones, an epilogue, a list of the tracks that were raced on, a Hall of Fame section, and a list of acknowledgements. Four pages are dedicated to the period prior to World War II, and if Luce decides to do another book, this period would be fascinating to know about. The 1940’s cover another 10 pages, and is sparse due to the lack of racing caused by the war. The era of the 1950’s sees the full blooming of motorsports in general, and the book uses 154 pages to show how jalopy racing reached its full potential. Jalopy racing achieved its greatest success in the 1960’s and Luce devotes 102 pages to this era, but the population growth in California doomed the tracks, and they began to close, to make way for housing tracts. 

Luce does a great job of explaining the sport, and tells about the inner workings of the Association with a gentle and professional touch. The competitive nature of the racers and promoters created a fertile ground for fights and divisions, but Luce explains them in a manner that shows how the sport evolved without making it sound gossipy. Luce tells the story in a warm and caring way. He tells us about the women’s Powder Puff league, and the Lady Leadfoots. The list of racers is exhaustive, and includes Jimmie Oskie, Parnelli Jones, Bob Hogle, Ron Hornaday, Nick Valenta, Jim Wood, Rex Shendley, Don Noel, Rip Erikson, Bill Cantrell, Billy Wilkerson, Vallie Engelauf, Danny Letner, Jay East, Bob Forster, Bob Ross, Marvin Porter, Hila Paulson, Edith Klessig, Rocky Stoner and many more.

From the Book

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