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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 198 - April 1, 2011
Editor: Richard Parks [email protected]
President's Corner: By Jim Miller (1-818-846-5139)
Photographic Editor of the Society: Roger Rohrdanz, [email protected]
Northern California Reporter: Spencer Simon

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Some Names To Look For In This Newsletter:
 President's Corner, Editorials, David E Davis journalist author magazine founder advertising executive raconteur and friend passed away Sunday March 27 2011, David E Davis Jr By STEVEN COLE SMITH on 3/28/2011, The March 24 2010 Newsletter stated that the year the Mojave Timing Association (MTA) started was 1946, Here are a couple of items that were cued by issue #197 on Jim Millers remarks concerning exotic fuels, I met Rich Fox about 16 years ago through California Bill Fisher and Twelve Port News of Inliners International, The Main Street Malt Shop and Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion is set for Saturday May 7 2011 in Santiago Park, To all writers and photographers from last year, Look at all the parts that come with it, READERS: This is an email that I received and my reply, The City Council of Banning California has upheld its revocation of a developer’s permit to build a drag strip near the local airport, Family Tradition by Scott Daloisio (Perris, CA, March 28, 2011) Sent in by Pattie Frost, ACAG WORKING PARTY SET OUT REMAINING RESTORATION TASKS, I would like to comment on the President's Corner article in the recent Newsletter #194, Tex Smith has a new book about to be released, Here is a continuation of the interviews conducted by Sam Hawley for his book "Speed Duel", The Choppers Hot Rod Association of Cleveland Ohio was started by a group of teenage hot rodders back in 1956, San Diego Steel Products CHENOWTH Indy Roadster, Rod Riders Annual banquet and awards party story

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President's Corner:  
   This week’s story is for all you book worms out there. When you get to hang around old cars all the time you usually want to know all about them and their histories. After a while you end up wanting to know everything about every car there ever was so you start reading. First it's the magazines. After a while you turn to soft bound books and then to the real thing, hardbound books. After you've kept this up for a few decades you basically run out of room with stuff stacked everywhere. Over the years your interests go from one form of racing to the next but you're still always on the lookout for that special piece of reading material on your favorite form of racer, and in my case that's land speed stuff. The Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame event will be here soon and one of the featured cars is supposed to be Ab Jenkins' Mormon Meteor so what better segue into some old reading material than showing you the second edition of "The Salt of the Earth" about Jenkins exploits on the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is great reading. For you serious collectors, this edition was published by Floyd Clymer in 1945. I'm also lucky enough to have a copy of first edition published back in 1939 that is signed by Ab and his son Marv and the third edition published in 1993, also signed by Marv. 
   Finding the old stuff is costly these days but sometimes fate brings us surprises in the form of friends. The next three covers are of books that were given to me. "
Bluebird and the Dead Lake" was published in England back in 1965 and covers the exploits of Donald Campbell's successful fight for the World Land Speed Record on Lake Eyre in 1964. The interesting thing about his Bluebird racer is that as far as I know it was the first racecar that used a composite structure as part of the chassis.  The second gifted book is called "Art Arfons fastest Man on Wheels" and again covers the exploits of a home grown mechanical wizard and was also published back in 1965. Besides the pictures it's great to read about history when it happened instead of 50 years later when the stories have been retold too many times and embellished a tad too much. Lastly is the book Speed on Sand written by William Tuthill. It covers racing on Ormond/Daytona Beach from 1902 to 1960 and was published by Ormond Beach Historical Trust. Inside are a bunch of great pictures and a tabulation of speed records from 1903 (Winton at 68.198 mph) to 1933 (Campbell at 273.432 mph). It's a must have book.
   "
Adventures in Speed" was published in 1974 and is another product of England. It covers Henry Ford on the Ice in Michigan to Gary Gabelich on the salt in Utah but the best part is typically British. There is a card stock model of Henry Segrave's Golden Arrow about 12" long waiting inside for me to glue together and then collect dust. John Thawley was a great scribe and he wrote "How to go Racing at Bonneville" back in 1980. It covers the salt's history from '49 and goes into detail about what it took to run back then. Again it's a must for the historian.
   Fast forward to 1995 and a "
Look inside Record Breakers." This one covers fast trains, boats, aircraft and more with cutaway drawings. This English book was probably meant for kids so I guess that's why I like it. "Beach Racer" was published in 2008 and again covers Ormond and Daytona beaches. There are pix and stories on all the cars that ran there from 1901 to 1910 and is the most detailed of all the books I've read on the subject; again it’s another great book. Last up is "Harrell Engines & Racing Equipment" written by Roger Harrell and family in 2009. It starts pre-WWI at the lakes with Jim White who was actually Jim Harrell and follows the family exploits into the '70's. His most famous ride was probably the Harrell-Borsch AA/Fuel Altered from the '60's that's still making laps and pleasing fans today at places like Famoso. It's fun to search out old and new LSR stuff and it won't cost you much so get out there and spend your money and bring home that find of the century for your bookshelf.

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Editorial:   
   Jim Miller and I talk often about what motivates us to keep doing what we do. It isn’t a job and it’s more than a hobby. It takes up a lot of time and we use our resources to keep it going. It’s more of an addiction really; the need to find out more about the world that we find ourselves in. I had the privilege of being invited to two events in the last two weeks; Don Prieto’s Taco Fest Party and the Rod Riders car club banquet and awards party. Many of the people who showed up at Don’s Party also came to the Rod Rider’s event. I missed the Gear Grinders and Sidewinders car club awards and banquet. I have no excuse except that I lost track of them somewhere. What impresses me about these events is that I am wandering around talking to people and then I realize that I know many of these men and women from the dry lakes of the 1940’s. They were teenagers at the time or maybe barely in their twenties and I was five or six years old. Here we are sixty years later and just as eager to share their experiences and their knowledge with the younger crowd. In fact, I can never get enough from the experiences that are out there. Every time I see Louie Senter, Julian Doty, Ed Iskenderian, Nick Arias and many other old timers I begin to remember the days when dry lakes racing was new and spirited. In a way it still is for those who join as new members each year.
   There’s also the thrill of finding out new things, some of which I may have once known but has since slipped my mind. Recently we have come upon a treasure trove of information about Karl and Veda Orr. I am astounded at how little I knew and how wrong I was about the Orr’s. It is equally interesting how wrong most of my sources were about Karl and Veda. The Coonan brothers and Thom Taylor did a story on Throttle magazine and I was surprised by how much I thought I knew and how little I really did know. Knowledge can be a powerful force to keep us committed to a job that takes a lot of time, but pays us nothing but satisfaction in return. This brings us to you; why do you read the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter and what does it mean to you? If you love finding out about the history of land speed racing as much as Jim and I do then come and join these parties and events. Some of them are free, like the Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip and Main Street Malt Shop Reunion. That comes up in May and every time that I’ve gone I’ve had a wonderful time. Other events charge a fee to cover their costs, but it is well worth it. It doesn’t matter if you are young and have no experience; someday you’ll be a grizzled old timer too. The point of it all is to get up and get out and meet these people while they are still here and to learn and enjoy a bit of hot rodding and racing.
   On another issue, I received an email from a party who said that he had just about exhausted all that he knew for his bio and that adding another 1000 words to his story would be difficult. That is just my standard suggestions to those writing their bios; to add as much as they can think of.  In some cases people just don't want to include family, some don't know much about their family and others don't think that is important.  The bios are for your use and if you want you can expand it as you think of new things to tell.  If you don't include much biographical information it becomes a "story" and stories of events are very important too.  So don't worry about what you don't know or what you don't want to include.  It is always up to you and I will publish future stories from you separately from this one that you have done.  The size of the bio/story is always up to the writer.  I like them long, but some people prefer them short.  I suggest that you ask your friends and have them read the story you wrote and get feedback.  That way you will know if you have left out anything.  I enjoyed it very much, but some of the incidents are so short that they are like journal entries and then it becomes hard to follow along.  If you add a bit of explanation to each event you will easily get another 1000 words or more.  Remember, not every reader understands land speed racing.  We are also trying to get newcomers to join the sport and so we sometimes have to explain terms that they might not understand.  Also, we might know who some of the people in the story are, but many of the readers will have no idea who these people are or know about other places and events.  So it helps to give a little background on each person you name.  That's very important, because when you explain who they are it prompts us to look them up and get their stories too. 

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David E. Davis, journalist, author, magazine founder, advertising executive, raconteur and friend passed away Sunday, March 27, 2011 at age 80 after a complicated operation which he faced with courage and confidence.  With his passing the world of automotive journalism has lost one of its great legendary characters.  During his long productive life in the fast lane of cars and motorsports he made his mark in many fields, for me he will forever be the man who took over Car and Driver magazine in the early 60s and made it into a world-class irreverent journal off note. He launched the tongue in cheek "Gurney for President" campaign in 1964 which was an enormous success with American motorsports fans and is but one example of David's many fabulous PR ideas born out of enthusiasm and love for our sport at a time when the sport and we were young. He was a giant in his field and we will miss him.  Dan Gurney

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David E. Davis, Jr. By STEVEN COLE SMITH on 3/28/2011
   David E. Davis Jr., inarguably one of the deans of automotive journalism, died on Sunday, March 27, at age 80. Davis had been suffering from bladder cancer and underwent surgery a few days earlier. Even so, his passing was unexpected. He appeared to be in comparatively good health and was in reasonably good spirits at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in Florida just two weeks earlier. Davis was the founder of Automobile magazine, which just celebrated his 25th anniversary, and prior to that he was the editor of Car and Driver. He had returned to the pages of Car and Driver in the summer of 2009 to write a monthly column for the magazine's editor, Eddie Alterman, a graduate of Automobile magazine. “He was a man of enormous talent and presence, genteel most often, and scythe-like when he had to be,” said AutoWeek associate publisher and editorial director Dutch Mandel, whose late father and predecessor at AutoWeek, Leon, was one of the few in the business who could go toe-to-toe with Davis in both talent and occasional irascibility. “My father had great respect for David and still had the distinction of firing him from Car and Driver. David taught multiple generations what great automotive journalism looked like.”
  After leaving
Automobile, Davis took over the online magazine Winding Road before returning to the pages of Car and Driver in 2009. Davis was a lifelong car enthusiast and, early in his career, a racer, until a serious accident at age 24 nearly cost him his life and left him with severe facial injuries that required plastic surgery, though with his trademark beard, few would suspect. In 1955, he flipped his race car upside down during a national championship in California. He lost his left eyelid, the bridge of his nose, the roof of his mouth and all but a few of his teeth. “I was uglier than a mud fence,” he said in a commencement speech to 4,000 University of Michigan graduates in spring 2004. “I actually frightened children and sometimes caused their parents to call the police on me.” Following that, Davis said that he “understood with great clarity that nothing in life, except death itself, was ever going to kill me. No meeting could ever go that badly. No client would ever be that angry. No business error would ever bring me as close to the brink as I had already been.” That perhaps explains Davis's take-no-prisoners style of journalism, which he personally practiced as a writer and an editor. Though actually quite shy, Davis was a superb speaker but typically let his writing speak for him.
  Davis did not shy away from feuds and, in fact, started several, one of the most famous with writer Brock Yates. In 1991, Davis slammed Yates's book on Enzo Ferrari. The feud continued for years, with Yates adding his own wood to the fire: “To know him is to acknowledge his short fuse and his penchant for unpredictable, snorting charges at friendly targets.” The two did make up and, in fact, Davis was in the front row for a seminar at Amelia Island hosted by Yates on the history of the Cannonball Run. Among the literally hundreds of writers whom Davis influenced--including his own son, Matt, who has written for
AutoWeek and who remains a European correspondent for multiple publications--was Jean Jennings, plucked from her previous careers of driving a taxi and testing vehicles for Chrysler to become Davis's most visible protégé. Jennings left Car and Driver with Davis to start Automobile for the then-owner Rupert Murdoch, and while the two will forever be connected in journalism history, they had some battles of their own that were legendary and which led to periodic estrangement. As recently as 2009, Davis, in an interview with Autoline: Detroit, said he sometimes dreams “of a FedEx flight on its way to Memphis flying over Parma where she lives and a grand piano falling out of the airplane and whistling down through the air, this enormous object, and lands on her and makes the damnedest chord anybody has ever heard; this sound of music that has never been heard by the human ear. And the next morning all they can find are some shards of wood and a grease spot and no other trace of Mrs Jennings.”
  Still, in her story in the April issue of
Automobile on its 25th birthday, Jennings wrote of Davis as “the most interesting, most difficult, cleverest, darkest, most erudite, dandiest, and most inspirational, charismatic and all-around damnedest human being I will ever meet. I have loved him. I have seriously not loved him. But this isn't an obituary, so we don't have to get into any weepy crap here.” Unfortunately, now we do. “I worked for David E. in the magazine world and in the advertising business,” said William Jeanes, another contemporary of Davis and himself the former editor and publisher of Car and Driver, and publisher of Road & Track. “He never fired me. I always suspected that he just never got around to it, but it's nonetheless true. We were also competitors for a while, during which period he took a shot or two from time to time. But so did I; that's competition. Our relationship was never less than cordial, and it became quite close as the years went on. “Every one of us who ever picked up a pen, pencil, typewriter or word processor to write about cars owes David E. Davis Jr more than we will ever be able to repay. He made our writing better, and he saw to it that we were well paid. He did nothing less than change the paradigm for car magazines and raise the standards for all enthusiast magazines. In our orbit he stands unchallenged as the best storyteller that ever was. I only wish he'd told his own more completely. He was not always a gentle man, but he was forever a gentleman. We were already deficient in that category, and now we've lost one of the real ones.” Davis leaves behind his wife, Jeannie, a daughter and two sons. Services are pending. Read more at: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110328/CARNEWS/303289999#ixzz1HvY8uEXC

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The March 24, 2010 Newsletter stated that the year the Mojave Timing Association (MTA) started was 1946. It was actually 1947. I checked my collection and found that the Mojave Timing Association Articles of Incorporation were filed with the state of California on April 29, 1947. In addition I found the minutes from the first MTA meeting which was held on May 5, 1947.  Pat Swanson
     PAT: Can you scan some of that material and send to Jim Miller for inclusion into the newsletter?  Also, if you were there at the time could you write your bio or a story on the MTA?

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Here are a couple of items that were cued by issue #197 on Jim Millers remarks concerning exotic fuels. Back in the 1950s when we were racing an MG TD with a professional sports car group named Road Racing Register (RRR) we stumbled onto a really trick fuel additive that helped our efforts immensely. This group raced anywhere that would have us on paved and dirt ovals, purpose built race courses and temporary courses in fairgrounds. At a race in Saugus at Bonelli Speedway, a 1/3 mile, "pool table flat" asphalt oval track, not the best for the production MG TD that we raced in the under 1500 cc Class, the TD engine was 1.2 Liters. Our class had several Porsches and other 1.5 liter cars. RRR ran their programs similar to the Midget Racing organizations, first you qualify racing the clock on the track alone then we raced in a heat race with the fastest qualified cars in front. For our feature race in the mixed, the under 1500 production cars with the under 1500 modified cars; usually had a couple of Offy Specials.
   We qualified second fastest for the heat so we started on the outside of the front row next to a Porsche Speedster who was 0.100/second faster than our time. We won that heat, passing the Porsche on the last turn of the last lap, but we knew how to drive an oval. In the feature we were holding our own against the modified's until about midway when the car began to slow, so we opted to drop out. The next week I counseled with Bud Hand, a real expert on MG's and he diagnosed the problem as scuffing the piston heads, if we were running stock pistons from the factory. He said I could try to run some upper cylinder lubricant in the fuel. So I told the owner that if we were going to run the lubricant that degummed Castor Oil would make the little car smell just like a real racer!
   We went to an airplane model and boat racing shop a short distance from my dad's shop in Culver City and bought several cans of Outboard Motorboat Racing Oil and then went back to the shop and poured it into the fuel tank.  We fired the engine and left it idling as we busied ourselves with other stuff.  We had the idle adjusted for 500 RPM and pretty soon the idle speed began to climb towards 1000 RPM. We dug the empty cans out of the trash to read the label; “Francisco's Outboard Motorboat Racing Oil with Nitromethane cooling---Try our Supercharged Brand!” Our next race was at Willow Springs so we loaded it up with The Supercharged Brand. They had a speed trap set up in the back straight for that race and they caught our TD at over 125 MPH! My former opinion had been that an MG TD would not get up to 125 MPH going over the edge and into the Grand Canyon.
   Item 2. Charles Chenowth is trying to locate a copy of a Jerauld's Muffler ad that ran in CT News. David Scully may be able to help him.  David was involved with drag racing at Paradise Mesa.  Bob Falcon
   BOB: Thank you for the information.

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I met Rich Fox about 16 years ago through California Bill Fisher and Twelve Port News of Inliners International. Bill was #2, Rich was #9 and I was #1932. I also knew the group in the area back then of Jack Costella, Bob Anderson of Bob Anderson Motorsports and Al Liest of Al Liest Machine shop. Al Liest was into a very old hot rod club called the Jugglers. Rich Fox, when I met him was very cool and interesting person. I come by from time to time. He still has the great cars and still does his unusual homemade engine projects. I remember when he had 3 twin Cammer Tank Engines. Which were breathtaking due to their enormous sizes.  Thanks Rich for your input of your biography I know that it was your effort and time. I just could not see you not mention enough for what you have accomplished into Bonneville racing and much more. Thanks, Spencer Simon, Reporter of the North.
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   I first saw the salt in the late spring 1945; with my brother, mom, Dad and dog in the '39 Plymouth driving cross country. I was too young and don't remember the trip. My father never talked about what he did, but I understood he was supervising electrical work on Navy Ships. Except sometimes he would go off with Laurence Rad Lab people and be gone for a while. And one time he was called to the Pentagon and my Uncle Charlie who was an Air Force Colonel came and got him with a bomber. My brother and I thought that was pretty cool but my father had been looking forward to boozing it up in a Super Connie and was quite disappointed.  My dad died at '56 after retiring at 48 from his second heart attack. It seemed that all of his old friends from Philadelphia died at about the same age. Stress I guess.  My dad had been at the Philadelphia Navy Shipyard working with advanced Radar, Sonar and long wave radio used for anti-Submarine warfare; including some knowledge of the Philadelphia Experiment. Of which he only said "Something happened." 
  With the winding down of the war in Europe his group was disbanded and sent to Okinawa to assist with the repair of the invasion fleet, expected to receive catastrophic damage from Kamikaze aircraft from the main islands. Fortunately the Army Air Corp made that trip unnecessary so we ended up at the San Francisco Navy yard; where we stayed. In '51 we went back by train and my dad woke my brother and myself up to go and stand between the cars and see the salt by night as we passed by. I don't think he cared anything about LSR. But he thought the salt flats were a natural wonder that we should see. In 1955 I was at the grocery store with my dad getting the weeks supplies. He gave me my customary quarter to spend as I wished. Usually two comic books and a candy bar. This time I bought Rod & Custom Magazine. Dad was not happy I blew the whole thing on one book. But there was Bonneville coverage in there. The cars looked like nothing I had ever seen. There are big motors in little cars going just as fast as they could. What could ever be better than that? 
  A few years later and I’m selling the
San Francisco Call Bulletin to commuters getting off the train in Belmont. Across the street is Healey's Pharmacy. The soda jerk has a '32 Chevy, five window; red with black fenders. The doors in the hood are chrome. It has a still green, military surplus GMC engine. I am in love. After a few years he goes off to college and knowing how much I like that car, tries to sell it to me or my dad. But I'm about 13 by then and it's not going to happen. So I lost my true love.  A few more years pass and I'm in High School. I’m driving around in a series of Plymouth's, a ‘47 Chevy and a '33 Packard. But I have a '31 American Austin on a T frame. Olds rear-end that I am trying to build into an altered coup with a Cragar Ford. As it happens High School runs out before it gets anywhere near finished. And I realize that I don't have a clue about the rest of my life. So I join the Army to go to Pole Lineman School. Later I can get a job with PG&E or the phone company. But the Army sends me to mechanics school instead and I learn to service 302 GMCs among others. After the Army I come home to the Austin. The Cragar is gone never to be seen again. But I know a guy with a '53 Dodge 241 Hemi. We put them together and take it to Fremont. It’s a junky car, but what a good time. After a while I notice that the nice cars all seem to have some machine shop name lettered on the side. I need a better job. My next door neighbor tells me that United Air Lines is hiring machinist apprentices in San Francisco. I apply and they tell me that a 302 Mechanic is close enough to a DC6. Why not just hire on as a mechanic? I say No; I want to learn machining. So we do it.
  After the Army I had assembled and delivered for Lion Metals in Mt View. While delivering at United Technologies Sunnyvale Rocket Motor plant I noticed a Chrysler Hemi 331 laying in the parking lot. I asked if they cared if I took it. And they said "Please do." So I stock piled it. In March I found myself standing in front of an old Warner Swazy turret lathe. I was beginning my apprenticeship at United Air Lines in the Piston Engine Overhaul Machine shop. Another fellow had just finished his apprenticeship and was leaving to work for Boeing, who was ramping up for 727 production. He had a '32 Ford five window body and frame rails with the rear cross member and some other parts; for $75. I bought it. Larry and I decided to replace the Austin with the '32 and the Chrysler. Larry's wife did not agree. So it all went to the stock pile. Anyway at United I was expected to work 5 nights a week in the Machine shop and go to A&P school three days a week. That didn't really leave me with lots of spare time. Except in 1966 came the 5 airline strike. I wasn't doing anything so I jumped in my 4 cylinder Pontiac Tempest and headed for SpeedWeek. When I got there it was raining and people had mostly gone home. But I was at Bonneville. They gave me a '67 rule book to think about. After a while I did manage to get the Chrysler together and in a '59 Lark C/Alt car but again one of the partners in the Lark had family disagreements and I sold my Chrysler.
  After finishing the apprenticeship I decided I need a place with a garage to call my own. So I went to a Realtor and asked to see the cheapest place with a two car garage, within 15 miles of the airport and eligible for a GI no down loan. I found myself in an ex-rental on the San Mateo mud flats. It didn't take long to see that there was real money in buying these ex-rental houses. Cleaning them up and turning them. So I started doing that. After a while I didn't always have to sell one to buy one. I became a landlord.  Other people were doing the same thing and paying up to 15%  for short term money. I became a lender. It was like a license to print money. I had more free time and more cash so the ‘32 started to call me. In '76 and '77 I took two friends from the machine shop with me to observe Speedweek. One of them had never heard of it. But they were ready to sign on and we decided to build a XX/Alt coup using the '32 and a GMC to be acquired. I hit every junk yard around here and found a 270 in a dump truck that was sliding into the bay. My speed secret was to be two Corvair Turbo chargers that I had scrounged. By Speed Week '78 we were ready. Most people told me that the turbo charged Vintage motor had been tried and didn't work. What did I know? We qualified for record off the trailer. Got the Comp Coup record and was fast car in Altered when my $19 turbo gave it up. It was still not bad for the first time. We were hooked. In '79 we ran the same car with some upgrades as a result of our learning experience in '78. 
  When I started the car I thought the class was for Vintage bodies. But in '79 Jim Lattin and Elmo Gillette brought out their Capri with an Ardun in it. They bumped the record to 158 and change. So I went 158.917 to qualify on the new record. We had a lot of fun with Jim and Elmo fooling around that year. On record down yet another Corvair turbo went to its Nader. But we did trophy for fast one way run. In '80 we were back with the GMC in my Vega. It was built to take advantage of the later body rules. It went 177 one way and 168.814 for a record. There was more carnage in the turbo department. In '81 we tried an experimental fuel injection that a friend of Ted Gotelli had invented. The Gotellis had been helping me with parts up until that time. The injection couldn't keep up with the boost and kissed off several pistons. In '82 and '83 we were rained out. In '84 they brought back the Vintage body rule and I said, "Great. I'll put the engine back in the coup." So the definition of a supercharger was changed for Vintage Altered to exclude Turbochargers. Charlie Baker knew of a Howard 12 port head for sale in Pomona and I bought it. It was a reject casting from many years before, but with enough work it went on the motor and ran. The SCTA had reset the record to one set by Zeke Zaskerson at 97 mph. Due to this slow record when I ran the coup I bumped my record by the greatest amount of any record that year. This was announced over the radio and caused many people to come around and see this "Fast" car. I never knew why those people were there until years later when I read ‘Landspeed Louise’s' book and realized that 144mph can be made to sound fast. That was the end of the '32 on the salt.
  I was doing tooling for the Plasma Spray department at UAL at that time and one of the sprayers had a '69 Lincoln Continental that he totaled on his way home one night. Never much liked the guy, but he pulled the engine from the wreck and brought it in one night. I took it home and started wondering what a 460 inch motor would feel like in my Vega. So I invested $1100 in a PAW Master Rebuilders kit and bought a 125hp nitrous kit and ran it. It went 197 before dying and was quite a fun ride. About that time my Brother built a Pinto to run in G/GAlt. But it wouldn't start and he got mad at it. He pulled the engine and paid some wrecker to crush it. I brought the Pinto motor home and discovered the cam timing was off and all the valves bent. I hammered them straight and it ran. Al Holoway wanted to sell his roadster and I bought it. I put the Pinto in it and took it to Fremont where it went 98 mph in 14.26 with Bonneville gears and tires. Next day at El Mirage it went 128 with no changes. That was not bad, but it was no record. 
  The roadster had come with a turbocharged 258 SBC and I traded that to Bob Dalton for a Band saw, a mill and a Jensen Healey engine. Bob worked with the Chevy until it went 307 one way and 299 round trip putting him in the Two Club in his 'liner. With the Jensen in the roadster it went 141 and squeaked the record. This roadster set the B/FR record in 1958 at Bonneville and I happened to see it in the
Car Craft magazine I still had from then. I also had saved the program from the Half Moon bay Championship Drags in '58 in which the roadster is also pictured. That was pretty cool. When I was running the Austin I talked a lot to Dave Dozier, who was running a Fiberglas bantam roadster with his '39 Chrysler straight eight in it. At that time he mentioned having run a '32 Plymouth 4 cylinder with a Y block head. He said it ran but wasn't better than the flathead so they only ran it once. This bothered me.
  I located a Plymouth PB 4 cylinder engine and a Y block head and started to see how they would go together. That didn't turn out to be really all that hard to do as long as you were willing to be pretty accepting of less than optimum. But it ran and Dave who was running the Dozier and Hegarty Airflow by then was impressed. It went 135 at the lake and salt and 130 at Muroc which is the record. After a few years the deck surface pretty much separated from the rest of the block and I was done with it anyway. So I bought a big hunk of aluminum and made a flathead for it and at that time the V4F classes came into being so I had the record for a few months before anybody else got going. It ran 113.715 or so for a best as a flathead. Then Bill Smith bought all the Plymouth stuff for his Museum.  My old Austin partner had a '68 GTO that he had bought new and wanted to run on the salt. But he had a lot of gasket sealing and push rod bending problems. I thought he needed a little more care assembling his engine. So I put it together for him and we stuck it in the Vega to see what would happen. It ran 208 mph and was a fun ride. Then I gave it back to Larry and it still sits in his GTO in his driveway.  Jack Connolly has a boat dragging friend and he switched from iron 392’s to KBs. He gave me a block and crank.
  After a while I had enough parts to assemble an injected 392 so I put it in the ‘32 for Nostalgia drags. But the drags were nothing like I remembered and I didn't like it so I pulled the motor and put it in my Vega. It only went 175 mph and was a big disappointment. By that time I no longer drove and was not aware of how much my driver drank. Here recently he was telling me how much he liked driving the Chrysler and how powerful it was. I pointed out he had driven the 460 and it was faster. "Yes,” he said, "But I never put my foot in the Chrysler. I didn't want to hurt it." I fired him. Then I had some Packard V8 motors laying around and had never seen one in a Bonneville car so I put a 366 inch injected Packard in the Vega. By then, 2007, I didn't feel much like making the trip to Bonneville so I contacted a retired aircraft mechanic I knew and loaned him the car, trailer, and truck to take out and run it. It went 155. OK I guess. The whole thing is for sale now.
  Lately I have been working on a '26 Dodge Bros, V4 motor with a Morton & Brett OHV conversion for the roadster. It's taking longer than I expected. Like today I am way too stiff to do any work. But I do expect to get it running this year or next for sure. It won't be fast but how many have ever seen a Morton & Brett OHV Dodge?  I also have a ‘28 Chevy with a ‘25 Olds head I would like to run in something. A '56 Lincoln MK2 engine with Hilborn SBC injectors adapted that might be nice in my '52 Stude in Mod Pick up. And a Polly Plymouth 259 inch motor. I never have seen a Polly motor on the salt. Have to live pretty long for all of this. I kind of forgot running my 270 turbo motor with a Charlie Baker/Hourning 12-port head in Bob Dalton’s liner.  I went 202 mph and broke. There is only one of Charlie’s heads that ever ran in a race car I think. And once I drug home a 3 liter Nissan 6 that threw a rod from Bob Anderson’s shop.  I made a home done Hilborn rip-off and had Dema Elgin regrind the cams. We put it in Jack Costella’s 788 car. On the first run Jack failed to turn on the water pumps. I don't think that was good for it. On the second run it went 231 mph down. On the third run it died. I think it coasted through for a 221 record average. RIP Datson. 
   I used to say that if I knew you, you must work at United Air Lines or run at Bonneville. It's been 13 years since I went in to work at the airport and I have pretty much lost touch with those people. But I have been blessed to meet some of the people I know from LSR. My first partner in the Austin and owner of the 208 mph Pontiac engine in my Vega is Larry Climie. We were in the same car club when I was in high school. Larry and all the other guys had already graduated before I started. Larry owned a printing business and between the Austin and the GTO didn't get involved with cars. When we had the Austin I met Dave Dozier. Dave was truly well liked by everyone he ever met. I believe he worked as a machinist at Lockheed Sunnyvale and mostly ran race cars with a '39 Chrysler Straight eight. As I remember Dave won his class, D/GD, at the Winternationals once. I know the thing did well in the Airflow at Bonneville and went 250 in his 'liner. Dave was unfairly taken from us just after retiring. My dedicated pit crew with the '32 was Gary Williams and Jerry Szuter. Both machinists at United Air Lines who came to work after the Piston shop closed and we had moved into the Jet shop. They put lots of hours into that old Ford and Gary stayed around for the Vega build. Eventually Gary wanted to have his own car and ran a Monza with a 302 in Production and later with a 454 in Gas Coup. Gary retired to Florida. Jerry is still just up the road but has changed and pretty much stays inside. 
   When I was in High School the big local heroes were the Markley Bros. It tickled me that when Charlie came over to my pit to introduce himself; Gary said I did everything short of curtsying. I was impressed. Some years later, Charlie quietly told me that the GMCs and Pinto motors were OK, but Bonneville was really for people who run 200+. When I was pushing back from my first 200 mph run Charlie was there to give me a thumbs up. Again, sadly, Bob has passed. But it gets us all. Ted Gotelli and Al Liest both helped out with part prices and machine shop work. Ted is gone now but maybe Al and I will be at Speedweek in 2011. Jack Costella has been a very interesting guy to know. A genius I am sure. But that is fairly common on the salt. By the time I was 12 years old I knew what I wanted to do. See the pyramids. See the Coliseum and the Parthenon. Build and drive a car at Bonneville. Preferably with GMC power. And get laid. I had achieved all my goals by 35. Nothing has come up since then that seems better.  
So that is my story.  
   Of course when I was building the Turbocharged GMC for the '32, I read whatever I could find on turbos. Most of that seemed to be about what Gail Banks was doing. Once we had it on the salt and it worked, lots of people came by to look at it. One guy spent a fair amount of time looking and started asking Jerry Szuter questions about it. Jerry told him that it was mine and he would have to ask me. So the guy came over to me and said, "That is a nice looking set up." I said, "Thank you. It's not Gale Banks. But it is the best we could do." He and Jerry went back to talking and finally Jerry held out his hand and said, "My name is Jerry Szuter. What's yours?"  The guy answered, "Gale Banks." I enjoyed that.  Don Ferguson Sr was a big, gruff old guy. Plenty tough if you crossed him I bet. When I first got my Howard Head GMC running I was having some difficulty getting it to run good consistently. So Don, who I didn't know came to me and asked why I didn't run it on a dyno and try to sort it out. Money mostly was my answer. Don said he had a dyno and why didn't I come by next weekend with the motor and we would see what we could do. I didn't have to ask twice. Senior and Junior spent the entire weekend working with Gary and me trying to sort the GMC out. In the end Senior asked me to drag out a GMC he had stashed. Until then he had been running flatheads and Arduns. But he saw something he liked in the Jimmie and has pretty well rewritten the record book with his. 
   Don told me that he had wanted to run his flathead on a dyno and took it to Edelbrock but the price was too high so he went to Moon and the price was the same. So he bought his own and was loaning it to lots of people as his protest against high prices. Gary Williams had a daughter that was quite thin. Finally when she was 17 she started looking like a woman. Gary's girlfriend was almost as young as his daughter; 21 or 22. They went to Speedweek with us once and were wearing bathing suits and enjoying the attention they got. Don was looking at Karen and leaned over to Gary to say, "Look at that. You like that, don’t you? I would. Don't lie. You would too." Gary didn't know what to say and I said, "Uh, Don that's Gary's daughter and girlfriend." Don apologized and beat a retreat. The next morning all the racers were packed in the old Western Cafe getting breakfast and as we waited we were watching the waitress serving food and coffee. From across the room I heard Don’s gruff voice, "Hey, Williams, you know that's somebody’s daughter too." Don was a really good guy, which shows in Don 2 and 3. I miss him.
Rich Fox

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The Main Street Malt Shop and Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion is set for Saturday, May 7, 2011 in Santiago Park.  The event will start at 10 AM and end around 3 PM.  The park is located on the border of Santa Ana and the City of Orange.  Directions: From Main Street, go east on East Memory Lane for two street lights, or about 1000 feet.  At the second light, turn to your right and go down into the paved parking lot at the bottom of the creek.  The reunion is next to the parking lot in plain sight.  The reunion and parking are free.  This reunion celebrates the early drag racers and hot rodders who raced at the Santa Ana Airport drag strip in the 1950's.  Photographs and scrapbooks will be available to look at.  From Leslie Long

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To all writers and photographers from last year. We would like to have a short bio on you. Check out the web site. We already have started this on the contributors page. Thanks, aXe (Dennis Sylvia)    
     aXe: Are the biographies something that you are doing for your project or is this for www.landspeedracing.com?  If you are doing these for my publication (The Society of Land Speed Racing Historians) then please always include a brief description of why you need them, because bios are very personal.  For those, except Tim Kennedy who knows me, my name is Richard Parks and I'm the oldest son of Wally Parks.  The reason that we are stressing bios of about 2000 words is that they can be done in an hour or two and the impact is rather large.  We have done about 80 so far and they have been extremely important in saving the history and heritage of auto racing.  The next step after bios is the captioning of our photographs.  The third stage is the writing of our stories, which are different than bios.  Why is this so important?  I found that out when my brother David and I looked over our father's manuscript after he had passed away and found that he had only written his biography up to the year 1944.  We realized then that if we don't urge people to do their bios they will never get them done.  Once a bio is finished, and I will help you, then the writer can decide whether to publish with us or simply keep the record in the family.  Finally, I am continually amazed at the rich lives and histories of the people who have attempted this project and I hope all of you will start on your bios today.  I hate to get bios from newspapers when they have become obituaries.

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FOUND BEFORE POSTING THIS ISSUE- EDITOR’S NOTES: The following just received from Pat McSwain.
Greetings; Last night, "Wendy", a red 2006 GMC Crew cab Short bed 4x4 was stolen in Norco California.  It has large Duramax Diesels banners on the side and a black tonneau cover.  If you see it, call 911 and report it's location.  Thank you, Pat and Kat McSwain (Sent in by Jerry Cornelison, Road Runners)
     JERRY AND PAT: I will post this to the SLSRH Newsletter, but whenever a vehicle is stolen in the hot rodding community, contact Mary Ann Lawford at www.hotrodhotline.com and send her a description, photograph and details and she will run it on her weekly on-line website.  That site reaches hundreds of thousands of readers and they get some good results.  Hot rodders like to stick together and help each other and the Lawford's have been helping us for years.
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Here’s what I know.  It was stolen using a OEM key (we have our key, must have been generated?) at 3:21am by a single man on foot.  Caught on neighbor's video system. OnStar has now been disabled by the thief, and can't be tracked. Bright Red 2006 GMC 2500HD 4x4 Crew cab/Short bed Duramax/Allison. Has large "Duramax Diesels" artwork on both sides of bed.  CAL LIC #8D95254. It has aluminum M/T wheels with red color-matched beauty rings.  They are unusual. Any news about it will be posted in:  http://www.duramaxdiesels.com/forum/showthread.php?t=30627. The truck is used for Sled-Pulling Competitions and Drag racing, besides being a daily driver.  It has 540rwhp and an unmuffled 4" exhaust.  It was shown at the NHRA Museum in Pomona for a Duramax presentation a few months ago along with Casper (our LSR Duramax). Here's a picture attached. Pat McSwain

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Look at all the parts that come with it. It was on here before, but the price has been lowered and it's got a "Buy it now" price. The parts are worth the price. Ron Main
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Bonneville-Streamliner-Chassis-Body-All-New-Parts-/250794452228?pt=Race_Cars_Not_Street_Legal_&hash=item3a6483a504.

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READERS: This is an email that I received and my reply. Please remember that all photographs must be captioned, credited to the owner and sent to Roger Rohrdanz at [email protected]
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I will need to identify them for captions.  Thanks, Roger
    
ROGER: There were no captions in the original email so all that I can tell you is to label it "From the xxxx xxx Collection." 
    
READERS: I don't process the photographs.  I simply have no time to do them.  Any photographs that are intended for the SLSRH Newsletter goes to Roger Rohrdanz and they MUST have captions or he may not wish to spend the time digging up the captions from the article and simply delete the photos.  That is Roger's prerogative as the SLSRH Photographic Editor.  What you can do is resubmit the photos plus reasonable captions.  That would be about 30 words or so and include WHO is in the photos, WHERE it took place, WHEN it took place, WHAT took place and the name of the owner of the photographs so that they can be given photo credit.

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The City Council of Banning, California, has upheld its revocation of a developer’s permit to build a drag strip near the local airport. Drag City developer Andy Marocco initially got approval for a professional drag strip from the Banning City Council in 2001. In January 2008 some of the original investors in Drag City filed a lawsuit against Marocco and others. In March 2008, city officials said no meaningful construction had taken place on the site, which made the permit null and void. Marocco took the city to court, arguing that he had begun construction on a street leading to the strip. A Riverside County Superior Court judge recently directed the city to hold another hearing and to make proper findings (reasons) that support its decision. At the March 22, 2011, City Council meeting, council members directed the city’s lawyer to bring back a resolution that spells out why the city is revoking the permit. Marocco will be back in court on May 13, 2011 for the judge to consider the city’s new findings. Jim Partridge

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Family Tradition, by Scott Daloisio (Perris, CA, March 28, 2011).  Sent in by Pattie Frost.
     When the Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series returns to Perris Auto Speedway, the Southern California Home of Major League Sprint Car Racing, this Saturday night, April 2nd, Ronnie Gardner will climb into the bright blue #93 Sprint Car with a mission on his mind.  The grandson son of former Indianapolis 500 driver Ronnie Duman and a product of the famous Gardner racing family that has racing roots more than 80-years-old, he will be racing with his cousin Chet on his mind.   Christmas is normally a time of joy, but the Southern California open wheel racing community was hit hard on Christmas Eve.  Chet Gardner, 24, had dinner with his family and went out to do some last minute Christmas shopping.  In a store parking lot, the always smiling young man who was a friend of everyone in the pits, suffered a heart attack. He passed away the day after Christmas.   The tragic news devastated the Southern California racing community and was particularly tough on cousin Ronnie Gardner.  "He is sill with me when I race," Gardner said by telephone on Sunday night.  "Me and Rickie Gaunt (another driver who was very close to Chet) talked about it a lot the last couple of weeks.  I have dedicated this season to Chet and Rickie and I have come up with something cool on the wave lap (when the drivers wave to the fans on a pace lap while the fans stand and cheer them on).  Instead of waving, Rickie and I are making a "C" with our hand and hold it up for him.  "It (Chet's death) has kind of given me a whole new perspective on life," Gardner continued with a sigh.  "It has been tough and it has definitely changed me and my personality.  It makes me feel like I do not want to take time and life for granted.  I want to make sure I get everything out of every day of my life."    
   In a relatively short time, Gardner has come from racing go-carts in the backyard with Chet to getting  behind the wheel of a volatile 410 Sprint Car and he has accomplished a lot.  He started racing Sprint Cars on July 4, 2008.  At the 2010 Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma, much to his surprise he got the news that he had been named the 2009 National Traditional Sprint Car Rookie of the Year by the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.  "I did not expect that at all," he said with a laugh.  "I just got done with my practice session on Tuesday night and Dean Mills walks up to me and says, 'congratulations.'  I said, 'for what?'  He told me I won the National Hall of Fame Rookie of the Year Award.  I was totally stunned.  I did not believe him.  I thought he was playing a joke on me.  I walked over to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame booth and believe it or not, my name was up there."   Last year, Gardner won two main events in open competition action at Victorville.  However, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and the mains were not Gardner's toughest battles in racing.  In order to get to race, he had to get in shape.  The first car Gardner's dad (Jeff Gardner) built by himself was a car that Blake Miller drove.  "At that time I told my Dad I wanted to race," Gardner said.  "He said, 'right now you are a little over weight and that is probably not safe.'  I told him that if he promised to let me drive, I would lose weight.  In 2007 I weighed almost 285 pounds.  Last week when I weighed myself at the gym, I weighed 175."    
   Gardner commented on how losing that much weight is tough and it takes a lot of dedication, but it is well worth the effort.  "To be honest with you, it is probably the hardest thing I have done in my entire life.  If you are going to lose a lot of weight you cannot cheat at all. My confidence level in myself in everything has gone up because of that."   While Gardner does not claim to know a lot about his grandfather, Ronnie Duman, off the track, he does profess a vast knowledge of Duman's racing exploits.   "He was born in Michigan and he moved to Indy in 1964 when he was involved in that fire (the huge fire early in the Indianapolis 500 that proved fatal to Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald)," Gardner said.  "When he was in the hospital he bought a house on Georgetown Road in Speedway.  He won a lot of races including the Hut Hundred and the Little 500 and he raced in the Indy 500 from 1964 to 1968."  Duman's best ever finish at Indy was a sixth in 1968, but one week later he passed away in a violent crash in the Rex Mays 150 on the mile track in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   The Gardner side of the family has been around racing in California for a very long time.  "It probably goes back to the late 1920s or the early 1930s with my great uncle Chet," Gardner stated.  "Then my grandpa in the 1950s and my uncle in the 1970s.  I guess you could say it is a family tradition."

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ACAG WORKING PARTY SET OUT REMAINING RESTORATION TASKS
     March 17th saw an Allard Chrysler Action Group (ACAG) working party meet at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu to identify and detail the remaining tasks required to complete the restoration of Sydney Allard’s 1961 Allard Chrysler dragster. Those at the meeting were invited because they had previously indicated their interest in being involved in any such work and were Bob Roberts, Brian Taylor, Stuart Bradbury, Dave Davies, Chris Eames, Ed Wimble, Lloyd Allard, Andy Robinson, John Hunt and Syd Macdonald. David Hooper, Herb Andrews and Norm Wheeldon were unable to attend as they were in the USA. Representing the museum were Doug Hill and Ian Stanfield. The meeting was led by Clive Pappadakis who expertly led the group through a logical process of developing plans, keeping minds on the overall picture as well as providing a structured approach to capturing detail and costs.
     Clearly race commitments of some of the working group (Bob Roberts, Andy Robinson and Lloyd Allard in particular) limit the speed the work can be carried out, but tasks were prioritized with fitting of the engine to the chassis scheduled for early May and detailed sub-assembly plans being produced straight after. Work on these tasks would then be commenced in September when the museum can afford to have the car off display for a longer period without causing too much disappointment to visitors. ACAG Chairman Brian Taylor said, “Although not as quick as we had hoped, the time scale means that we have the space to raise the funds required for the work. This has proved to be very difficult over recent months. A combination of the poor economic climate, rising unemployment and people saving money for their Christmas spends (although we did manage to supply some Christmas gifts) has been joined by huge disasters like Christchurch in New Zealand, Japan and the awful humanitarian aspects associated with the UN operation in Libya. If people have extra money to donate then there are some very needy causes out there. So the current plan is very conservative and based on the ACAG having to continue to self-fund the restoration from donations and merchandise sales. Once the racing season starts this will become a little easier, but the charity arena will remain a tough environment. Unfortunately it means that the first fire-up is now more likely to be January 2012. Of course if corporate sponsorship is forth-coming then things could be speeded up because we would then be able to offer payment for the work required and several discussions are taking place”.
     The group spent some time with the car and engine and rough measurements indicate that mating the engine to the chassis should be achievable without too many problems. It means that the car could be available for display with the engine in situ from mid May 2011.  The restoration work was broken down into sub-assembly tasks and Task Leaders were appointed. These are Andy Robinson, Ian Stanfield (Beaulieu), Dave Davies, Chris Eames, Brian Taylor and Bob Roberts. Others will carry out work within these teams. Doug Hill (Beaulieu) remains the overall Project Manager and Bob Roberts takes on the role of Managing the work. Brian Taylor will continue to manage publicity, promotions, sponsorship and funding. More details about the work plan will appear on the ACAG website shortly – www.allardchrysler.org.  Anyone interested in helping out contact [email protected].  Ron McNeil’s video of the Allard Chrysler at Autosport International has now been posted on the ACAG website. Select videos from the menu and then Ally Blue 2011.  Sent in by Brian Taylor

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      I would like to comment on the President's Corner article in the recent Newsletter #194.  NHRA does have a problem.  A little research will show that there were 64 Top Fuel cars attending the Bakersfield March meet back in the mid 1960's.  Never having been to Southern California that there were probably more than 17 Top Fuel teams in L.A. alone back then and not humpty-dumpty guys either.  Most of them were all highly competitive and the shows for the spectators were of a higher standard, even if the cars only ran 8.0's and 198 mph.  I think it is a shame that a great motorsport has fallen on the sword of its own success.  While corporate sponsorship is the life blood of all motorsports, it does not also have to be the ruination of the sport it wishes to use as a vehicle for advertising their products.  The real culprits in all types of racing are the sanctioning bodies.  They are the ones who write the rules; they should be the ones to keep the "money beast" at bay.  It doesn't seem to me that the sport is better served by rules that drive most of the participants to the sidelines.  How does a car owner rationalize competing in a nitro class where if you won every race and the season championship you still would cover less than half your expenses?  How does NHRA justify paying a nitro class winner less than the 43rd place finisher gets at most NASCAR races?
      I realize the economics are different, in the two series, but the results are eerily similar. NASCAR's stifling rules have made everyone equal, which is not really what racing used to be about. If this so called racing is so riveting, why are they losing fans, both live and on TV? I think it is because fans are smart enough to figure out that a lot of this is hokey. As a driver my job was to beat the hell out of the opposition. In Petty, Pearson, and Yarborough's day, there was nothing wrong with winning by half a lap (especially amongst their fans). Now, if you managed to get that far ahead, there will inevitably be a yellow, for "phantom" debris. If you want green/white/checker finishes, just go drag racing!  NHRA nitro teams seem to always be "testing." What are they testing? Performance has been basically stagnant for the past decade. They really can't go any faster, because the tires are unsafe above 340 mph. Are new and improved (and more expensive) parts really needed to run the same times? They have shortened the course for "safety purposes," and people still continue to die, like Mark Niver in TAD last year. I saw that crash on TV and there is no way that should have been fatal.
      They should have clamped down on the rules in 1975-1980 to keep the fuel classes in the 5.50-280 mph range. That would have kept expenses reasonable, leading to more teams, equal racing, and the continued viability of match racing, which would still hold the interest of the fans. The sport would be far healthier. Sure I'm an old guy, lamenting the disappearance of the "good old days," but it made a lot more sense, when you could get a few partners together, build a competitive car, and actually make money. I see bracket guys today with more money in their tow rig than I had in my whole operation. That is fine if you've got the dough, but why spend all of that when you have absolutely no chance of covering expenses, let alone making a profit?  I have a whole lot more respect for land speed racers. Sure, big money still feeds the fastest cars, but it is not just about money. When I raced, I did it for as long as I could afford it, for one reason alone; it was what I did. It was who I was. Now, there are more talented drivers on the sidelines, who have been replaced by less capable people whose only real claim is bringing along a sponsor. I think that phenomenon is absolutely harmful.
      To me, there is no greater glory a person can repay to God, for the wonderful gift and opportunity of life, than to discover what it is in the world that they have the ability to do best and pursue it with all the dedication and relentless intensity they can bring to the task. I found mine behind the wheel of a funny car. Don Prudhomme has spoken in similar terms. Ask any racer if they thought that Mark Kelly would fly his shuttle mission, in the wake of the terrible tragedy he has had to endure. The answer would be a resounding "YES," because racers understand. That is what he does; who he is. Fortunately, he has a wife who understands that. The life stories of many racers, as well as professionals in other sports, are littered with the sad stories of broken families, and destroyed relationships, because the person had to do what it is he does. There is a tremendous emotional cost that this entails, but it does not change the fact.  All I can say is you have to have been there to appreciate the viewpoint. I would not trade my experiences for any new deal. At my age I would not hesitate to strap in and do it again if I could. I may not be as good as I once was, but I'm as good once, as I ever was! You can book that! 
   There is a certification situation that the present owner is having with my GT 40 nostalgia funny car.  NHRA won't certify the early wide cage Logghe chassis for quicker than 10.0 e.t., even though it is a chrome moly chassis.  They also won't let him run the Halibrand Bear Claw wheels. I can picture Bob Falcon shaking his head over that. I made countless high speed runs with those wheels as did hundreds of my contemporaries. The only problem we ever had with the wheels was that the air would leak out over the course of the week, between races. I always felt that the wide cage car was the safest one I ever drove. When you added the tight confines of the GT 40 body, it made a nice comfy drivers cockpit. I always liked the idea of having the cage a little further away from my body to deter the intrusion of nasty things like walls, guardrails and fences. I don't know what the big deal is. If you want to have a totally safe life, become a banker.  Jeff Foulk

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Tex Smith has a new book about to be released. This time it’s a novel we know that no one could fathom up a story about hot rodders better than Tex. He’s lived that life; big time! The book will be available for sale next month. LeRoi ‘Tex’ Smith has been involved with the hot rod hobby since the age of 8, when his in-laws were outlaws running whiskey into Oklahoma. He has been around California hot rodding since the age of 9, and has been a race car driver, air force fighter pilot, Bonneville racer, and was a founding member of the National Hot Rod Association, serving NHRA as Field Director and close associate of Wally Parks and Barbara Livingston. He has been in the publishing business since 1957, and currently resides in Idaho, Oregon, Hawaii, and Australia. 
   “I've been thinking of doing this book for the past 40 or so years. This book is designed to give the younger reader a lot of information about the hobby/sport/industry they might not get otherwise, but it is a fun read for all ages. I think a lot of fathers may want a copy for their young'un's. Years ago I became friends with Hank Felson (Henry Gregor Felson) who did the first paperback on rodding, titled Hot Rod. I got sidetracked with all the how-to books through the years, and a few general interest books such as We Came In Peace (sold over 4 million) about the 1st moon landing. Anyway, the idea has always been to do a book that would be reader specific and appeal to all ages. I have been doing this writing for about 2 years. The book will be printed in the states in September or October. I have released the book in Australia a couple months earlier, just to get a feel of acceptance; so far it has been very positive. I have been going to both Hawaii and Australia for years and married an Aussie woman 8 years ago, so now I live in Australia 8-9 months a year (during best weather) and then come back to Idaho for the summer and Bonneville. If my travel dates warrant, I'll be in Oregon to sign the first orders. Pre-press orders are signed by me. The Cost will be $25 which also includes Postage.” 
   There are two phone lines for pre-orders. The first is 1-800-513-8133 and the second is 241-997-1902, or you can order from Tex Smith Books, PO Box 11000, Florence, Oregon 97439.

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EDITOR’S NOTES: Here is a continuation of the interviews conducted by Sam Hawley for his book, Speed Duel. I am only printing half of the interviews so that you will have to go to Sam’s website to read the rest of it. I am doing it this way because Hawley’s website is worth visiting. For you history buffs who love more than cars you should see what Sam has written on. He has a very sharp and incisive mind and he is one of the best interviewers that I have read.
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INFINITY: VIC ELISCHER E-MAIL

Vic Elischer was one of the four co-owners of the "Infinity" land speed jet car, along with Romeo Palamides, Glenn Leasher and Harry Burdge. Of the four, he is the only one still alive. I initially got in touch with Vic by e-mail with a list of questions and he responded with the letter below. I subsequently interviewed him over the phone.

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Date: Thursday, May 21, 2009
From: Victor P. Elischer
To: Sam Hawley
I will call you and we can talk and if you are interested I have 10-15 8mm movies of our two jet cars—car #1 the “Untouchable” drag racer, and car #2 the “Infinity” Bonneville racer—and I can get you in touch with a couple of other people as well who worked with me on the car. We accomplished a lot with very little money and minor tire sponsorship. Our earliest and most sincere sponsor was Security Parachute who designed and built our drag chutes. The drag chutes were essential to stop a 4800 [pound] missile moving at 300 mph at the end of a 1 mile run. And Firestone provided the tires. I don’t recall receiving any money from any sponsor.
The story on how we financed and built the cars is a quintessential story of a small self-funded American enterprise. No big dollar sponsors and no attempt to get them. Harry Burdge, who owned the Vacaville Drag Strip had the Jet Drag Car Spectacle promotional vision and provided the initial money to build the “Untouchable” ~$1500 to buy the first jet engine which unknown to him at the time there was missing crucial parts. He was the primary startup funder. He initially partnered with Romeo Palamides who was a drag car builder and knew all the drivers in that early drag era. But Romeo had no money, he lived month to month building race engines and cars for others. And Glenn Leasher, Romeo’s second jet drag car driver, had no money either. He was paid from race earnings and by Harry Burdge. Harry knew they needed technical help so Harry located me through Benny Hubbard of Hubbard Racing Cams where I worked as a race car builder.  I contributed the jet engine knowledge, technical design, custom machine work, engine electronic control system design, and engine mechanical assembly expertise. Romeo was a great chassis designer and a superb welder and built the chassis for the “Untouchable” and later the “Infinity”. He did not understand suspension design, although he would not admit it and he knew absolutely nothing about jet engines or engine control electronics although he was quite familiar with Chrysler-Hemi internal combustion engines.
I spent countless design, research and labor hours locating the missing jet engine parts I needed for the first “Untouchable” jet engine from Montham AFB in Tucson. Getting the parts was quite a saga and technically not legal because these military jet engines with afterburners were sold only for scrap and were rendered inoperable by withholding crucial parts—like the turbine ring, and the four-gallon-per-second air pressure driven afterburner fuel pump. The US did not want unauthorized people to get running military jet engines with afterburners. So the Untouchable’s engine assembly and initial in-chassis test was a huge milestone event for our little team. It was conducted at the old Oakland Airport at the end of the taxi strip. I was in the cockpit at the controls and everybody else stood at a safe distance. But our first trial was very successful and very confidence building.
I also have a great story to tell about locating the F-86D in Medford, Oregon with only 40 flying hours of flight time after a complete airframe and engine maintenance overhaul.  The Medford City Council received the plane for free if they would mount it in a public place as a monument to the Air National Guard. We convinced them it would be easier and less expensive to build a mounting pedestal for the F-86D monument with the 2-ton. engine removed. They agreed and with that discovery we broke the code on how to get a million-dollar, freshly overhauled engine for under a thousand dollars legally. We bought that General Electric J47-GE-33 engine from the Medford City Council for $750 and we removed the engine from the plane with a cherry picker boom hoist we rented for $75 for the day. We then re-assembled the plane and the Medford City Council built the monument and we had a newly overhauled engine for the “Infinity.”
I was the head designer for the “Infinity” land speed record car #2, with crucial help from Tom Fukuya and a superb airframe body builder in Seattle. Many airframe builders in Seattle were out of work at the time because of a prolonged business downturn at Boeing. Unemployment was at 17% in the area so we got premier expertise at a bargain price. We built the Infinity airframe with the best airframe builders in the country for $10,000. Romeo again built the Infinity chassis, and I designed the suspension. I also designed the body with help from Tom Fukuya the Boeing airframe builder. The Infinity’s design and construction was funded through “Untouchable” appearance fees from drag strips all over the country in 1960-61. We were running the “Untouchable” jet drag car to fund the construction of the Infinity land speed jet car. We had the only jet-powered drag racer with full afterburner in the country, so we were a big attraction. We were a one-of-a-kind pre-promoted novelty/spectacle everywhere we appeared for a drag run and the car attracted huge crowds. We go an appearance fee of around $2500 and a portion of each gate. So we made good money—good enough to occasionally rent a private plane to fly several of us to drag venues and back to Seattle to build “Infinity.” We attained ¼ mile terminal speeds of near 278 mph in around 6 seconds in Untouchable, a 4800 lb. car with a huge flame behind it as it shot off the starting line. This was a big deal in 1960-61. The dragsters were doing their best at around 160-170 mph in 7 to 8 seconds. Cook and Garlits were the two big ¼ mile champs in that era.
I worked for Hubbard Racing Cams as well as the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory during this period. I built race cars, race engines for Hubbard and designed instrumentation and measurement systems for high-energy physics experiment at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. I was an electronics engineer/machinist/mechanic and loved conceiving and developing ideas into a practical working real physics experimental device, car or product.
I have about 20 8mm movies showing drag car runs of the “Untouchable” at various California and Washington State drag race venues. I also have movies from a camera mounted in the cockpit of the Untouchable showing gauges reading out turbine engine temperature, turbine engine RPM, car speed and also car accelerometer readout. I still have the camera and the mount I made for it and a spare accelerometer of the type I used to measure the acceleration G-forces as the car moved down the track. I need to carefully convert them to DVD movies but have had no time or funding to do so.
I have two or three movies, 8mm and 16mm movies, of several runs of the “Infinity,” and somewhere I have the design drawings for the car. And I can tell you about our design approach and the lack of a tail fin. Not unlike others at the time.
We went up to Bonneville with “Infinity” twice by design. We decided to first get some Bonneville run experience without media fanfare and without official timers to see what we really had. We did not want to pay for the official timers without knowing that we could seriously challenge the land speed record of 394 mph. We ran for the first time under a full moon in the still of the night on this first trip to Bonneville. And given that experience I would recommend running at night. It is beautiful at night under a full moon at Bonneville. It is hard to describe the surreal feeling we all had. I personally felt like we were all alone on another planet. It was very bright even at night and very comfortable. After several runs on this first trip we absolutely knew we could shatter the world speed record. We easily ran over 360 mph on our speed indictor with a 5/8 mile startup and no afterburner. We left Bonneville after this first trip euphoric from our experience. We knew we had the record in the bag and were ready to call the official land speed record timers and pay for an official timed run on a second scheduled trip to Bonneville. There was never anything wrong with the car after our first trip and I don’t know where you got that information. We had a deliberate plan to take two trips.
Editor: The rest of the interview can be seen at
www.samuelhawley.com

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  The Choppers Hot Rod Association of Cleveland, Ohio was started by a group of teenage hot rodders back in 1956. The club has met weekly ever since. Known previously as the Road Phantoms, the name was changed to "Choppers". This was less offensive to the masses in a time when hot rodders were perceived to be a public nuisance. Many city leaders wanted to pass legislation that prevented hot rodding. To help improve this negative image, the original members created a club constitution. This constitution dictated that they conduct themselves in a manner above and beyond that of a typical law abiding citizen. With sponsorship from the Cleveland Police Department, they hosted and started the first Cleveland Autorama. Countless stranded motorists were helped by these young hot rodders and were given a "courtesy card" stating that they had just been assisted by a member of the Choppers Hot Rod Association. In time, these actions that were being carried out by car clubs all over the country would help preserve the "hot rod lifestyle" and make hot rodding what it is today. By the late 50's, the Choppers had a number of top notch rods and customs, but drag racing was quickly becoming the direction of the club. Because they had their own club house, equipped with stalls and a machine shop for working on their cars, a few of the members built dragsters. Many of the members raced regularly at drag strips across the country. Some still do today. Members have won countless trophies and awards over the years, not only for racing, but for shows and workmanship as well. Choppers' cars have continuously filled the pages of hot rod related magazines over the decades. The club still hosts an indoor car show each spring, bringing in the finest rods and customs found. Some members of the club have been in since the 50's and 60's making it a very diverse group with ages ranging from 30 to 70+. The cars also have quite a range - from the Model A to the most modern 6 second dragster. The Choppers Hot Rod Association emerged during an historical era and continues to contribute to the preservation and lifestyle of a time gone by as well as firmly establish themselves in the future of hot rodding.
Greetings Richard,
I found this pic (Click Here For Image) in the photo gallery toolbar for the Chopper Hot Rod Association http://choppershotrodassociation.com in the vintage racing section. You might have this one but I thought you would like to see it.

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San Diego Steel Products CHENOWTH Indy Roadster (Click Here For Image)
Here is a link to the cars web page
http://sdsproadster.com/SDSP/SDSP%20Roadster.html

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Rod Riders Annual banquet and awards party story (Click Here For Story and Pictures)

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Land Speed Racing Websites:
www.hotrodhotline.com, www.landspeedracing.com

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Members:

Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Gale Banks, Glen Barrett, Mike Bastian, Lee Blaisdell, Jim Bremner, Warren Bullis, Burly Burlile, George Callaway, Gary Carmichael, John Backus, John Chambard, Jerry Cornelison, G. Thatcher Darwin, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Bob Falcon, Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger, Don Garlits, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Andy Granatelli, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Ken Kelley, Mike Kelly, Bret Kepner, Kay Kimes, Jim Lattin, Mary Ann and Jack Lawford, Fred Lobello, Eric Loe, Dick Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin, Bob McMillian, Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Bob Morton, Mark Morton, Paula Murphy, Landspeed Louise Ann Noeth, Frank Oddo, David Parks, Richard Parks, Wally Parks (in memoriam), Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz, Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik, Frank Salzberg, Dave Seely, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, David Steele, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Zach Suhr, Maggie Summers, Gary Svoboda, Pat Swanson, Al Teague, JD Tone, Jim Travis, Randy Travis, Jack Underwood and Tina Van Curen, Richard Venza.

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