A Visit with Bob Webb

Biography by Bob Webb and Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

richardparks roger

Richard   &   Roger

Bob Webb joined the Gear Grinders car club in 1987. "I worked with Bill Hays in Midway City, California and we had a high school student, K. C. Payne, who worked with us. Payne was Les Leggett’s step-son and was into Land Speed Racing along with a customer, J. D. Tone, who ran a car at the lakes," Webb told me. The Gear Grinders car club is one of the oldest, largest and most supportive of the car clubs in the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA). Webb has an interesting pioneer heritage. His grandfather, Kibby G. Webb, was born on October 10, 1890 while on a wagon train trail, somewhere in Missouri. Kibby worked in many jobs from construction to working in the canneries in the San Fernando area. Bob's grandmother, Hattie P. Webb was born on April 12, 1895 in the unincorporated Territory of Oklahoma, before it was admitted as a state and after the famous Oklahoma land rush. Bob's father was Roy R. Webb, and he was born on July 8, 1914, in Oklahoma and supported his family as a journeyman electrician. 

Webb  001AA

The van was called the ‘Bonneville Beast’ and made only one trip to Bonneville, which occurred in 1978. The van made four runs that year with a top speed of 135 mph.

His grandfather on his mother’s side was Fielding P. Field, who was born on October 2, 1891 and raised in Texas, while his grandmother on his mother’s side was Mildred Jordan, who was born on March 31, 1894 and also raised in Texas. Fielding P. Field was in the California Assembly and was instrumental in enacting laws that made all schools safer in case of an earthquake in the middle 1930’s. His Fielding P. Field was also in the transportation of dry good with Field Transportation. This company was founded by Bob’s Great-Grandfather, Fielding B. Field, who owned and operated the company from 1920-1948. His mother was Audrey Field, and she was born in Los Angeles, California on July 12, 1920

Roy Webb married Audrey Field and they settled in California. Bob was born on June 10, 1940 in San Fernando, California and grew up in the North Hollywood and Canoga Park areas. He attended Laurel Hall, a private grammar and junior high, in North Hollywood and Canoga Park High School. He took mechanical drafting, metal shop, woodshop and art classes in high school. His family; Uncle Harry Field, Aunt Pat Field and his mother Audrey Webb were active in drag racing and they also did some land speed racing. They started the Throttle Queens car club with some of their high school friends. Bob also was a member of a local car club during high school, but the young men did not have a name for their group. 


Bob at home in Fountain valley, CA. (2008)

He worked on his own car and was always ready to help those who needed help. Bob was a crewman on his Uncle Harry’s drag car and they raced from 1952 through 1959. The car was mostly driven by the women in his family; Audrey, Aunt Pat and others. The family raced at dragstrips in San Fernando, Bakersfield, Santa Ana and Colton, California.
  During high school, Bob worked in two gas stations in Canoga Park, one was the Union station on Topanga Canyon Blvd and the other was the Texaco station on Sherman way and Derring Avenue. He remembers that cars meant just about everything to the kids during high school with a favorite cruising place at Bob's on Van Nuys Blvd, in Van Nuys.  He and his friends also enjoyed going to the various beaches in Southern California. Bob had decided in high school that he wanted to have a career in the Navy and joined up on June 15, 1958 and stayed in the service through June 20, 1977. He spent his time in the service as a member of an aircrew. He flew in and out of Vietnam from 1962 until the military withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975. He was assigned to the airlift of supplies during the Dominican Republic crisis of 1964. 
  Although he worked on his own cars and crewed for others, Bob never owned a race car due to his time in the service and the lack of money to build a race car. After his discharge from the Navy, he returned to Southern California and helped his uncle Harry prepare a Ford van to race at Bonneville. The van was called the ‘Bonneville Beast’ and made only one trip to Bonneville, which occurred in 1978. The van made four runs that year with a top speed measuring 135 mph, which was not near any records. Bob worked for his uncle Harry, doing van conversions. He continued to work in the automotive business after his discharge, working especially on stock and high performance clutches.  He worked for CLAVAL Industries, Midway Industries (Clutch), Autospecialty (Brakes and Clutch), TRW (Brakes and Clutch), and Northrop Grumman (Brakes and Clutch). He conducted seminars on clutches from theory to use, during the last few years of his work in the automotive business. He is still active in the SCTA, doing many jobs from timing to running the ERT team and trailer. "I will never get too far away from the sport as it is the driving force in my life. I was the Chief Timer for the SCTA from 2003 until 2007, the assistant timer from 1995-2003, and was a Vice President of the SCTA in 2007. Up until 2008, I was a part of the Gear Grinder board for a total of 20 years, serving as the President of the club for nine years. I received the Pete Dean award in 2004 with a SCTA lifetime membership," Bob told me.
  Bob was married twice. His first wife was Linda Eader and they we were married in the Lutheran church in Canoga Park, California. He married for a second time to Janice Sutton in Corpus Christie, Texas. He has nine children; Dempsey was born in 1957, Dewayne in 1958, Cheryl in 1960, Laurie in 1962, Rose in 1963, Cindy in 1963, Cathy in 1964, Mike in 1968 and Willa in 1980. He has been blessed with twenty-five grandchildren; Michelle, Leena, Matt, Jason, Chris, Desiree, Rachel, Ashley, Ryan, Josh, Joe, Shelia, Tara, Mike, Jake, Jessica, Serena, Tom (who has since passed away), Seth, Dylan, Andy, Jefferson, Caterina, Oceana and Bradley. Bob has six great-grandchildren; David, Christina, Tristan, Jason, Mikado and Thomas. Webb hopes that some of his family members will join him in his land speed racing activities. His grandson, Jefferson, he feels, will join him on the dry lakes someday.
Gone Racin' is at [email protected]
Updated 6-12-08

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