Supercharged Gas Coupes Remembering the Sixties by Don Montgomery

Supercharged Gas Coupes Remembering the Sixties by Don Montgomery
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Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

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Supercharged Gas Coupes, Remembering the Sixties is another fine book by Don Montgomery Publishing, from Fallbrook, California. It is a hardbound book with 192 glossy-waxed high quality pages and measures 9 inches wide by 11 ¼ inches in height. There are 364 black and white photographs, but no color photos. The quality of the photos is very good. There are 12 additional inserts, from ads to letters and lists. The book cover jacket is in the red, white and black style that Montgomery uses for all of his books. Keep the jacket as it gives the book a unique look. Don Montgomery is the writer, editor and publisher of Supercharged Gas Coupes, Remembering the Sixties. The book was copyrighted in 1993 and the ISBN# is 0-9626454-3-5. The book is available from the author or at Autobooks/Aerobooks at 818-845-0707. The book is dedicated to those who competed in or enjoyed Supercharged Gas Coupe racing. Montgomery provides an introduction, acknowledgment, five chapters and a list of records. The author does not provide an index and this is an oversight that many writers make. Without an index it takes the reader a great deal longer to find a particular car or driver that they might be interested in. There is an adequate amount of text to explain the topic that Montgomery is covering. The captions are normally thorough and well done. In his introduction he pays special homage to the ‘Big Four’ of Supercharged Gas Coupe racers; K.S. Pittman, John Mazmanian, George Montgomery and Stone/Woods/Cook.  

Don Montgomery gives full credit to his legion of friends who provide him with the photographs and research that make his excellent hot rod books successful. Two people in particularly made this book possible. The first was Tom Chambliss who contacted his many friends and encouraged them to share their memories and photos with the author. The second person is Claire Montgomery, the editor’s wife who tirelessly helped her husband and gave him encouragement. Some of those who provided help included; Gene Adams, Brad Anderson, Bob Balogh, Rocky Childs, Doug Cook, Jeg Coughlin, Pat Dakin, Larry Dixon, Ernie Hashim, Mike Kuhl, Don Long, Sherm Porter, Don Prieto, Bob Spar, Junior Thompson and Steve Woods. Many other fans and racers also opened up their photo albums and memories to add to this history. The writing is crisp, straightforward and interesting. Supercharged Gas Coupes, Remembering the Sixties tells the story of a class of drag racing that captured the imagination and still does. The K.S. Pittman and Stone/Woods/Cook cars are presently in the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California. Don Montgomery usually produces book about streetcars and hot rods and was leery about writing on a subject slightly outside of his major field. He has captured the sounds, smells and feel of the golden age of Supercharged Gas Coupe racing and we can only hope that he decides to write more books on drag racing.

The first chapter is called Supercharged Classes – How and Why. He discusses how the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) set up this category in 1960. Prior to this time, drag racers had been slow to pick up on the technology of supercharging that had made the Miller and Duesenberg cars so formidable on oval tracks. The first drag racers to use supercharging were in the dragster class, but soon the coupes caught up to them. Chapter two is named The First Years and discusses the classifications and the competitors. There were A/GS, B/GS and C/GS categories established and some of the best drivers were George Montgomery and Curt Carroll in A/GS, K.S. Pittman and Junior Thompson in B/GS and K.S. Pittman and Doug Cook in C/GS. Burt Looney was regularly featured in advertisements by Isky Cams. Chapter three is titled The Great Gasser Wars and these events defined the mid-1960’s in drag racing in both the NHRA and AHRA. The big Chrysler Hemi engines led the way and the word on the track was “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Racetracks around the country began paying supercharged gas coupes to appear at their tracks and stage match races. Less expensive to run and just as exciting as the funny cars and dragsters, the supercharged gas coupes created profits for the promoters and fun for the fans. Chapter four is called Progress and Changes and follows the years 1967 through 1970. Prize money fueled competition, which in turn increased the expense to run cars in this class. The class was going through a change as the more professional and well-financed teams were putting tremendous pressure on other less funded racing teams. Chapter five is named The Last Years and discusses the years 1971 through 1975. A poor economy and recession put pressure on this class of drag racing. Many cars opted to race in other categories. The Funny car class exerted even more pressure on the Supercharged Gas Coupe classes. By the end of 1975 the age of the Supercharged Gas Coupes were over.

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