NEWSLETTER 199 - April 7, 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

Click On All Images / Link For more Info / Images

Some Names To Look For In This Newsletter:
 President's Corner, Editorials, I just received the following from Pat McSwain, I have good news about my search for Veda Orr's CT NEWS with the Jeraulds Muffler advertisement, Hello Road Runners Meeting reminder for our April meeting, I will be doing an article on the 10th Anniversary Henderson Event for Nancy Wilson including comments about my being nominated for the Wally Parks award this year, Dear friends crew supporters sponsors and land speed record enthusiasts, Sorry about the wrong date for start up of MTA, I had to comment on the item in your last Land Speed newsletter from Bob Falcon, The Main Street Malt Shop and Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion is set for Saturday May 7 2011 in Santiago Park, Editor’s notes: Evelyn Roth sent a warning that is important for all of us who have cell phones and use chargers to recharge the batteries on our cell phones, We got an email from SEMA today and it was an April fool’s joke gone bad, Hot Rod Artist Kenny Youngblood will be attending the 2011 SEMA Show for his ‘BLOOD DID IT 45th ANNIVERSARY WORLD TOUR, THE PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, APRIL THROUGH JULY 2011 EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS AT A GLANCE, I have just posted 2 new boats, Meadowvale International Raceways Preservation Association and Bob McKee will host an Open House on April 16 2011 from 11:00am to 3:00pm at his shop located at 805 Oakwood Road #H Lake Zurich, EDITOR’S NOTES: Here is a continuation of the interviews conducted by Sam Hawley for his book Speed Duel, Rich Fox 03-30-11 Photographs


President's Corner:  
   In our continued quest to find stuff on Land Speed Records we often miss what's right under our eyes. Pick up any car magazine and you'll see what I mean. I'm talking about Advertisements. Manufacturers usually tout the exploits of patrons using their parts and land speed racers used to be on the top of the list. I've included four examples today starting with one from the Motorcyclist magazine dated November 1950. It features a picture of Rollie Free zooming across the Salt Flats on his belly perched on the back of the John Edgar owned Vincent Motorcycle. Mobile was a big time player back in those days and almost every fast machine around had a Flying Red Horse stuck on the vehicle somewhere.  Next up is a page from the December 1951 issue of Hop Up magazine from Auto Accessories Company touting the exploits of one Tom Beatty in his Blown Flathead powered Tank. The picture of the car in the ad shows it with its first headrest design and not to pretty graphics painted on its side. This is perfect for the historian who's doing a timeline on the car to show its evolution. When you cross reference this with a spread in Hot Rod magazine and other articles over the years you get a good picture of the car's history.
   Our next ad is from the king of piston rings at the time Jerry Grant. The subject in the photo is also important as it shows Mickey Thompson with his four-engined Challenger I. This company goes back a ways in the land speed arena as Grant Rings were used in the first lakes car to go 150 mph, Stuart Hilborn's Howard Wilson driven Streamliner (Later this type of car was called a Lakester). For our last player today let’s look at a Champion Spark Plug Ad featuring the new Studebaker Avanti. If you start digging a little bit you'll find the Granatelli's and later Bill Burke and Craig Breedlove were behind some of the fastest American Motors Products on the planet.
   If you're noisy like I am take each of the Advertisers and do a little search on them. You'll find out a wealth of "other" information that will help you gain a bigger picture of their motorsports involvement. For example Mobile was behind the ‘City of Burbank’ liner becoming the first American hot rod to get an FIA record with Chet Herbert's "Beast" not far behind. Think of the Mobilgas Economy Run and putting along trying to get good gas mileage then look at some of the famous drivers that participated in it. Go back even farther and you'll discover Gilmore originated this event before it was taken over, and it was a big time player in the land speed arena before WWII. Grant was in on the ground floor with cast iron piston rings and discovering how the company evolved from the early days to making steering wheels today is great reading. How many of you know about Frenchman Albert Champion beyond his being the king of spark plugs? Did you know he made it possible for the Duesenberg Team to take three cars to France in 1921 and become the first American built car to win a Grand Prix Race? All this stuff and more wait to be discovered with the pushing of a few buttons on your keyboard. Have fun. This coming weekend the S.C.T.A. will be having their yearly Inspectors Meeting so stay tuned for more LSR info.
Mobile Ad from the Motorcyclist Magazine, November 1950. (CLICK HERE FOR IMAGE)
Auto Accessories Ad from Hop Up Magazine, December 1951. (CLICK HERE FOR IMAGE)
Grant Piston Ring Ad from December 1960 featuring Mickey Thompson. (CLICK HERE FOR IMAGE)
Champion Spark Plug Ad from Hot Rod, January 1964. (CLICK HERE FOR IMAGE)


   Your letters and bios have inspired me to sit down at the computer and work on my bio again. I’m up to 56,000 words now. I just want to let you all know that some of you ARE IN MY BIOGRAPHY. That means that if YOU want to be remembered by future generations that it will be MY BIO that defames you, UNLESS you write your own bios and share it with your friends and extended family. I am having a lot of fun doing it and believe me, I am trying to remember every person that I can, including YOU!  Send us more stories and your bio about your life and make sure that your children and grandchildren have copies too. I’ve found that the simplest way is to start a word document with years and then when the memory is working to fill in all the events that happened in that year. That way you can keep expanding your life’s story as old memories are rekindled. On another issue, here is a letter from Bob Falcon about the Literature Event. This is not the same as the Literature Faire put on for years by the Society of Automotive Historians (SAH). I will check to find out if the SAH will also hold their Faire this year or not. In the past this has been a real treat for those interested in the written word and collectibles. It is not a swap meet where you can find car parts. It was never intended to be. Instead this event specialized in books, magazines, newspapers, posters, flyers, race programs, small toy collectibles and anything that would interest a more serious collector of memorabilia. A lot of car restorers would come and look for photographs and documents that could help them in finishing their rebuilds or custom projects. Sometimes I would see Jay Leno there as well. While you can’t get car parts, you can get information from experts as to where you might look to find what you are looking for. It’s an event that you can’t miss for the serious collector.
   Exclusive to the Society of Land Speed Historians.  New Look Literature Event Announced; The Automobile Driving Museum.  “The Museum that takes you for a Ride” (ADM) announces their annual event catering to the literature collectors of Automobilia will be staged on June 26 at their facility located freeway close to all of Los Angeles in El Segundo.  This will be the second year that ADM has hosted such an event and this year it is destined to be bigger, and better, with the inclusion of aviation items in a separate gallery.  The event name has been changed to The Auto and Aviation History Expo.  In years gone by, this annual event has by-passed the important Hot Rod and Dry Lakes Racing community of Southern California because previous organizers were involved with old passenger vehicles.  ADM recognizes the importance the land speed community has contributed to the auto history of the region.  Los Angeles is where the science of improving the “As Built” technology of the motor car planted its roots and has become the central location in the Auto Capital of the World.  This event is a gathering where the auto writers clean out their research files and offer them for sale.  Visitors will find everything written, and printed that concerns automobiles and airplanes.  Technical manuals, sales brochures, owner’s handbooks and a plethora of out of print documentation.  It is not a "Swap Meet” where auto parts are sold but it is possible to discover a long sought after radiator cap or decorative emblem long out of production. 
   There will be food service in the form of a daylong BBQ and the path from one Vendor area to another passes through the Restoration Shop that will be staffed to answer questions about the project vehicles.  Many other features are in the process of being organized and will be announced, as they become fact.  The museum is located very close to LAX and is a mere two traffic lights south of Imperial Highway, the southern boundary of the airport at 600 & 610 Lairport Street.  Lairport is one block east of Sepulveda Boulevard.  Hours for the event will be from 10 AM to 2 PM.  Set-up time for vendors will begin at 8 AM.  Admission to the Expo is free and there is much on-street parking since the date falls on Sunday.  A small donation of $5 is requested to view the collection of nearly 100 “Show Room Condition” vehicles.  This donation will also allow you to register to be taken for a ride in one of the selected “Drive Cars” of that day.  Check the museum website for more information or to receive a Vendor Application at www.automobiledrivingmuseum.org.  Or contact Bob Falcon for more specific information.


I just received the following from Pat McSwain:
     "Lake Elsinore PD recovered the truck, and it's in a tow yard.  All we know is the wheels and the radio are missing, don't know the condition.   Since the thief still has the key, and our driveway is still torn up, we will have it towed to work and lock it down for now.   Again, thanks!   Pat and Kat McSwain."  Received from Jerry Cornelison, Road Runners - SCTA (est. 1937)
     JERRY: Thanks for the news.  Glad that Pat got his truck back nearly intact


I have good news about my search for Veda Orr's CT NEWS with the Jeraulds Muffler advertisement.  I don't have the actual magazine, but James Miller sent me a scan of the Jeraulds Ad.  To my surprise it is an ad for a lightweight flywheel exclusively sold by JERAULDS.  The flywheel was manufactured by AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING SERVICES (photo attached).   As we research Jeraulds we find new things every week, some time every day we find something new that leads us in a whole new direction. Maybe I should give a little history of JERAULDS, as I know it.  This might jog someone's memory and give us new information on JERAULDS.   Jeraulds was opened in the late 1940's after WWII by Al Jerauld and George Barber in National City, California (San Diego area). Jeraulds Muffler's is one of the names the shop was called over the years. It was called JERAULDS SPEED SHOP, JERAULDS SPEED EQUIPMENT, JERAULDS RACING EQUIPMENT, JERAULDS AUTOMOTIVE; those are the names that I have found  so far.   Al and George built and worked on many hot rods and motorcycles back in the day.  Many ended up on the drag strips, dry lakes and ovals in the west. They produced a little Y-manifold that bolted onto a stock 3 bolt manifold so 2 carbs could be run. We believe it pre-dates Vic Edelbrock’s Sling Shot?
   Jeraulds real claim to fame is the little red Belly Tank dry lakes car called ‘The BABY BOMB.'  It was featured in the September 1952 HOT ROD Magazine. They ran this little red tank at Bonneville in 1952 with a sleeved and de-stroked 1937 ford flathead at 88.7 cid in the O class. They set the O class record at 115.53 mph. They ran the BABY BOMB till 1956 when they ran in the A lakester class at 160.14 mph. From 1952 to 1956 it also ran at Muroc, El Mirage and Paradise Mesa Drag Strip. Over those years the look of the car changed very little, but the number and class changed from year to year.  In 1952 the number was #166 in the O Class, in 1953 the car was given #37 in the O Class, in 1954 it was given the number #45 in A Class and in 1955 and 1956 it was given the number #30 in A class.  Even though Al and George are gone now, the shop is still open and is still called JERAULDS MUFFLER.  It is in the same location at 2020 National Avenue in National City, California.  The reason I'm looking for ANYTHING related to JERAULDS MUFFLER shop in National City is that a good friend of mine by the name of Jacob Bagnell worked at Jeraulds when he was a teenager in the 1950's. Al Jerauld and George Barber, the owners of JERAULDS, sparked an interest in the mind of Jacob as a young boy by parking their little red Belly Tank car right in front of the shop.  Jacob would pass by Jeraulds with his mom as a child and that car caught his eye. That Belly Tank car was so different than anything Jacob had ever seen; he always looked forward to going by Jeraulds and seeing the Belly Tank sitting in front of the shop.
   One day Jacob walked in and asked Al Jerauld if he could shine up the Belly Tank car. Al and George kind of took Jacob under their wing and started having Jacob do cleanup work around the shop. Slowly Jacob started helping with muffler jobs and repair work on the many hot rods that used to cruise San Diego back in the day. The who's who in the racing world today used to stop in at Jeraulds back then. The  list include Vic Edelbrock Sr, Paul Schiefer, Bruce Crower, Dave Schneider, Clay Smith and Ed Iskenderian just to mention a few. Phil Weiand used to stop in and when he saw Jacob he would ask, “HEY KID, can you tune up my wheel chair.” Jacob would give it a once over, tighten all the nuts and bolts, and then give it a little oil on the wheels.  That led to Jacob going to college. He earned a degree in Automotive Technology and his teaching credentials. Jacob spent 38 years teaching high school auto shop, most of that time was at Santana High School in Santee California. He did a fair amount of racing on flat track motorcycles, drag bikes and drag cars. Jacob is pretty well-known in the San Diego area because of his many years of teaching high school auto shop. 
   One of the kids that went through Jacob's class was Marty Tripes who won the first Super Bowl of Motocross at the L.A. Coliseum.  Jacob's reputation as a top auto shop teacher led me to transfer my son Randy to Santana High School so he could be in Jacob's auto shop class. I spent 3 years as a volunteer teacher’s aide in the auto shop with Jacob. In 2010 the questionable wisdom of the school district led to the closing of the best auto shops in San Diego and forced Jacob to retire. They have shut down all the industrial arts programs except auto body and that is in danger of being shut down. That deal is a whole other story in itself so I won't get into that right now.   I welcome any and all information on Jerauld's and the BABY BOMB. We were looking for the BABY BOMB belly tank, but we have discovered it no longer exists. It was cannibalized by Nolan White to build the first SPIRIT OF AUTOPOWER Streamliner. Jacob is seriously thinking about building a repop of the belly tank car. Old info and photos will really help us. Also if you know of any parts that were on the BABY BOMB; please LET US KNOW.  Jacob really hates total repops; we have found the original Edelbrock 2 carb intake manifold, but the more original parts we have the better.  So please start looking in old shops, barns and over your neighbor’s fences. You never know what you will find.  FEEL FREE to contact me at [email protected] or [email protected] or call 619-994-8187.  Charles Chenowth


Hello Road Runners, Meeting reminder for our April meeting: We will meet at Pole Position Raceway, Corona, CA at 6:30pm on Tuesday, April 12. Pole Position Kart Track Website: http://www.polepositionraceway.com/corona. Directions and map to Pole Position: http://www.polepositionraceway.com/corona/directions-and-hours/. We will hold a very short business meeting and then begin the "Great Road Runners Coupe Guys vs Roadster Guys vs. Bike Guys Karting Challenge." Bring your own helmets if you like. Helmets are available from Pole Position if needed. Neck support collars are optional and available from Pole Position. We should be able to get at least two races run during the evening. Each race is 15 laps. Cost is $12.95 per race (special Club rate). I visited the track today and there is a brand new layout which looks very interesting. The course is 1/4mi, indoor, road course.  You can turn left and right here and not get a "Spin Sticker" stuck on your hotrod! This should be a GREAT evening of fun. See you there. For the Road Runners unable to attend, look for a "post race report" on the News Page on our website. Jerry Cornelison, Road Runners – SCTA (est. 1937), http://www.ussarcherfish.com/roadrunners.


I will be doing an article on the 10th Anniversary Henderson Event for Nancy Wilson including comments about my being nominated for the Wally Parks award this year.  I will forward a copy to you for your approval.  Thanks, Ernie Schorb
     ERNIE: Nancy Wilson told my brother and I that they were going to honor an east coast drag racer and asked us for any suggestions that we might have.  I listed as many names as I could think of who resided and raced in the East and your name was one of them.  Nancy wrote back and told me that her committee went back into session and thought about it again and decided to change their selection and to name you as their honoree at this year’s East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame.  I've since written to Nancy to tell her and the committee members that they have made an excellent choice.  Many people do not recognize your name because you were a major player in the very early history of the NHRA and that is unfortunate that your name is not as well-known as it should be.  I know, from day one and before, and so do you, just how much my father respected your hard work and dedication.  If he were here with us today he would nod his approval and agree with the committee for choosing you to be honored in his name.  As you know, I have forcefully put forth my view that this award should not be given solely to people with famous names.  My father wouldn't have wanted that.  What he would have wanted to see is that the men and women being honored where those individuals who gave their time and their hearts to the furthering of safety in the search of speed.  Those early drag racers and officials took an unsafe and illegal street racing activity and turned it into a safe and sanctioned sport to be admired.  That sort of individual is a person like you.  I want you to know how very proud I am of you.  The committee made a wise decision.  Ernie, I want your biography and all that you know and remember about my father and his life.  He didn't write his biography and now David and I have to do a lot of work to come up with something that will never be quite as good.  This has spurred me on to write my biography and I am up to the year 1956 and it is already 56,000 words.  So you have no excuses now.  Write a little each and every day and ask Gary Milligan to send it to me to edit and put into a finished form.  Just write for 20 minutes a day and send that to me.  If you do that we'll have a great bio for you in about two week’s time.  And thank Gary for being our intermediary.


Dear friends, crew, supporters, sponsors and land speed record enthusiasts: This month’s Aussie Invader 5R newsletter is now available to read online.  http://www.aussieinvader.com/newsletters/aussieinvader_apr11.pdf (510k - may take a few seconds to load).  To view more information about the project, please visit our website www.aussieinvader.com.  Best wishes, Rosco McGlashan


Sorry about the wrong date for start up of MTA.  If I would have checked my newest info I would have found the date.  Could you check with Pat Swanson and see if I could have his e-mail so I could get that info he has about my dads club “BUNGHOLERS HOLLYWOOD”.  Thank You for any help.  Jim “Grumpy" Donoho (BUNGHOLER)
     Jim: I copied Pat Swanson on this email.  We are very interested in getting all the history that we can about the Bungholers of Hollywood and the Mojave Timing Association.  In fact, we have tried to find the people involved in all the timing associations in order to get the history of each of them.  The SLSRH Newsletter has an unfortunate slant towards the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) because we have a great deal of records on them and they are still in operation and accessible.  But whenever we can we try and get the history of all the other associations.  Jim Miller and I mention these groups frequently and we try our best to get people to give us copies of the records of these associations, including old membership lists.  To date we have not been very successful, but we understand and appreciate the importance of all of the timing associations.  What you are doing is important and that is sending us emails and reminding us that there were many groups out there and not just the SCTA.  Don't stop what you are doing; in fact keep it up.  Every fact, photograph and memory that you find, send to us.  Keep the attention focused on the Bungholers and the MTA and other groups.  Write in about members of those other groups.  The worst thing for me is when the SLSRH members give up on a topic and just sit back and let Jim and I struggle on our own to track down this history.  We are two people only and the field is huge.  Without all the photographs, histories and memoirs of our members, Jim and I simply can't be effective. 


I had to comment on the item in your last Land Speed newsletter from Bob Falcon.  That model airplane shop mentioned had to be the Dooling Brothers; they were the source of the nitro fuel secrets.  I remember visiting them with Jack Andrews, who was then Lou Senter's partner at Ansen Automotive; it had to be in early 1949 or late '48.  Jack had picked up a rumble that they were the source of the exotic 'odors' wafting out the back door of Edelbrock's shop, when the dyno runs were going on, as well as the #27 midget at Gilmore Stadium on Thursday nights.  Vic Edelbrock Senior and Bobby Meeks had been there about a year or so ahead of us.   Bob Morton
     Bob: Vic Edelbrock Junior and Bobby Sykes Junior have told that story so many times and I think it is also in book form too.  But it is a historic tale and I encourage you and others to share your memories so that we can get a better perspective on the first uses of nitro and other exotic fuels in race cars.  I've also heard similar stories from Joaquin Arnett and the Bean Bandits and they were using Picric Acid and Nitro about a year later than what you mentioned.  The smart guys who didn't fail high school chemistry class were into any type of power enhancement that they could find.  I've also heard that much of the chemicals used were invented by German scientists for the war effort.  Is this true?


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


Editor’s notes: Evelyn Roth sent a warning that is important for all of us who have cell phones and use chargers to recharge the batteries on our cell phones.  You might receive a shock if you handle the cell phone and answer a call while the cell phone is still attached to the charger.  This can be tragic if you have little children and they reach for the phone and turn it on.  The electric charge might electrocute an individual.  Always put a charger in a room where the door can be locked and then UNPLUG the charger from the wall socket, then UNPLUG the cell phone from the charger and store the charger away.  Or follow the instructions from the manufacturer carefully.  This goes for all chargers for all electric appliances.  Also, be wary of buying batteries not suggested by the manufacturer.  Some counterfeit and pirated batteries have been known to explode causing burns to people and fires.
     As a further warning, when I worked at the hospital I personally interviewed a mother whose baby was in our burn ward.  She placed the child on her lap as she talked on the phone and the baby chewed on the phone cord and bit through to the wires.  The baby required three surgeries to repair her mouth which was severely burned.  Never allow a child near to or to play with any electric cords or wall sockets.  Buy wall socket protectors to keep children from sticking metal keys or utensils in the wall sockets.


We got an email from SEMA today and it was an April fool’s joke gone bad.  The Shelby American club sent it to some of their members and it went wild.   Anonymous
   READERS: This is in regards to a purported tax on all collector cars by a Politician from New York. I have to say that I believed it and was about to post it when I contacted one of the people that I have on the newsletter that checks all our work. It was a good thing that I checked or we would have been embarrassed.


Hot Rod Artist Kenny Youngblood will be attending the 2011 SEMA Show, for his ‘BLOOD DID IT 45th ANNIVERSARY WORLD TOUR.’ “SEMA is the premier showcase for the aftermarket, and a must for our anniversary celebration”, says the sixty-five year old designer, who is marking his forty-fifth year in racing. “It’s not only the industry’s biggest business meeting, but our annual ‘family reunion’ as well; it’s where we get to see old friends and make new ones”. Youngblood is currently scheduled to be featured once again, front and center, at the B&M/Hurst Performance booth, and the M/T Tires & Wheels display. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet the artist, and get one of his personalized artworks in the process. Highlight of Blood’s anniversary tour is a season-long tribute to his career, in the form of commemorative graphics on TJ Zizzo’s/Peak Performance Top Fuel Dragster. The unique wrap features vignettes of Youngblood’s creations, which will be changed for each of the team’s seven scheduled NHRA appearances. Additional SEMA exhibitors interested in having Kenny at their booth, can contact the artist at [email protected], or call 888-367-9830. “There’s no better place to cap off our anniversary tour than the 2011 SEMA Show; hope to see everyone there,” Kenny added.


April 2----Discovery Day: Finger Puppets
April 5----Curator's Tour: Supercars: When Too Much is Almost Enough
April 16--SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A Annual Check-Up at the Petersen
April 19--Panel Discussion- Safety at 300 M.P.H. (Rescheduled)
May 7----Discovery Day: Car Greeting Cards
June 4---Discovery Day: Wooden Supercars
June 18-NEW EXHIBIT- Scooters
June 28-Curator's Tour: Scooters
July 2----Discovery Day: Summer Road Trip Placemats
July 9----Scooters and Supercars Day
Through May 29-NHRA: Sixty Years of Thunder
Through Oct 16-Supercars: When Too Much Is Almost Enough

SUPERCARS: WHEN TOO MUCH IS ALMOST ENOUGH. Open through October 16, 2011 Grand Salon
Supercars have existed since the first decade of the twentieth century and while their mechanical and design specifications have evolved from era to era, they have always had in common immensely powerful engines, minimal passenger carrying capacity, adventurous mechanical specifications, and a commanding presence.  Like supermarkets, supermodels, and supercomputers, supercars represent an extreme.  More than mere transportation, they offer a bold and extroverted means to express oneself.
SCOOTERS Opens Saturday, June 18, 2011 Gordon R. Howard Gallery
With today's high fuel prices, growing traffic congestion, and environmental consciousness, people are looking for easier, cheaper and cleaner ways to get where they are going. The diminutive scooter has been popular for generations in other countries, yet until recently has remained but a footnote in American transportation culture. This exhibit will explore different types of scooters from around the world, how and why they differ, and the culture that surrounds them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 7:30 p.m. Grand Salon
Join Petersen Automotive Museum Curator Leslie Kendall as he guides you through Supercars: When Too Much is Almost Enough to explore the fastest-moving genre in the automotive world. Reservations recommended for all programs.  Call 323-964-6347, email [email protected]  for more information or to RSVP.

PANEL DISCUSSION- SAFETY AT 300 M.P.H. (updated penelists below)
RESCHEDULED TO : Tuesday, APRIL 19, 2011 7:30 p.m. Racing Corridor
The NHRA was founded to provide a safe and controlled environment in which hot rod enthusiasts could compete.  After sixty years of sanctioned racing, cars have advanced enough to regularly reach speeds of over 300 miles per hour in less than a quarter-mile.  To operate at those extreme levels, track preparation and safety technology must be the highest priority for any racer and track manager.  Panelist Steve Gibbs has been involved in drag racing since the 1960s, has managed drag strips, and was the NHRA Director of Competition until the late 1990s when he took a position as Vice President of the NHRA Motorsports Museum.  Also on the panel will be Don Irvin, a past drag racer and current Safety Supervisor with the NHRA Safety Safari—the front-line track preparation and driver safety crews at all NHRA events.  Joining Steve and Don will be Joe Hansen, founder of DJ Safety, a leading provider of safety equipment to professional racers. Call 323-964-6347, email [email protected]  for more information or to RSVP.

ONGOING EXHIBITIONS NHRA: SIXTY YEARS OF THUNDER. Through May 29, 2011 Gordon R. Howard Gallery
Explore the colorful and exciting history of one of America’s most popular motorsports. From the wild Gassers and Altereds, to nitro-burning top fuel dragsters and fabulous funny cars, the Petersen Automotive Museum will be filled with enough horsepower to change the Earth’s rotation!


 I have just posted 2 new boats. The 1953 Miss Great Lakes II driven by Danny Foster and the 2006 Miss Beacon Plumbing driven by Jean Theoret. A little old and new.   Thanks, Alan Ameel [email protected]
   ALAN: Your paintings and prints are very artistic. Any boat racers out there who like hydroplane racing should contact Alan for prices and quotes on his prints.


Meadowvale International Raceways Preservation Association and Bob McKee will host an Open House on April 16, 2011 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  at his shop located at 805 Oakwood Road #H, Lake Zurich.   Come on out and visit with the Chicago racing crowd.  $20.00 per person members - $30.00 per person non-members.  Lunch will be served.  Please forward your response with payment by April 8th to: MIRPA % Linda Daro.  Visit www.mirpa.org for more info.  Classic Cars on display; Shelby Indy Turbine 1968 car driven by Bruce McLaren #66, Engine GE T58 Turbine shaft drive 1325HP, 4 wheel drive.  Others at Bobs; McKee Howmet Turbine car, 1957 Bocar, McLaren 1979 M24B-3 Sneva Indy car, Revson M16-2 Team McLaren Indy car Pole winner and 2nd 1971, Revson M20-1 Team McLaren CanAm, 1950's Victress sports car.  McKeeMead  Fund raising  donation includes sandwiches, snacks and refreshments.  Please forward your reservation by April 8th to Linda Daro email [email protected].


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 www.samuelhawley.com 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.


Tom Fukuya was one of the main volunteers involved in the "Infinity" land speed jet car project--the only volunteer whose name was painted on the car along with co-owners Romeo Palamides, Glenn Leasher, Vic Elischer and Harry Burdge. He was particularly involved in the car's parachute system. Following our initial contact in June 2009, Tom sent me a series of e-mails recalling every detail and every incident he could about the project, a total of 30,000 words by the time we finished six months later. The opening few e-mails below are just a small portion of this correspondence.

*          *          *

From: Tom Fukuya
To: Sam Hawley
Date: Thu, Jun 25, 2009
Subject: Your phone call re Infinity
Hi Sam,
Thanks for your call the other day. I'm sorry I couldn't respond to your first call. I had a number of messages on my machine, and it stopped recording your call before you had left a phone number or email address. I think it ran out of memory space.

Yes, Vic Elischer told me that you had contacted him. I would be happy to relate to you my experiences with the Infinity team. Unfortunately, I did not keep a logbook or diary of events as they happened, nor did I take any photos. We were just too busy to do any of that....and all I remember are various episodes or vignettes as I experienced them...

The most efficient thing to do, I think, would be for me to answer any specific questions you might have to the best of my ability via email. I could also send you an email or a series of emails, just recounting events as I remember them..
Anyway, I hope I can be of service to you. Yours, Tom Fukuya

*          *          *

From: Sam Hawley
To: Tom Fukuya
Date: Thu, Jun 25, 2009
Subject: Your phone call re Infinity
Dear Tom,
Thanks very much for getting back to me, Tom. I got some great material from Vic, and would really like to hear your memories too. (I’ve also interviewed Tom Hanna, who was a friend of Glenn Leasher’s back in Kansas, and Bill Kaska, a friend of Glenn’s in San Francisco.)

The book I’m writing, by the way, is called “Speed Duel,” and focuses on the land speed record in the 1960s. Breedlove and Arfons are the main figures, but I’m covering the other LSR contenders as well, and am giving a whole chapter to Infinity and her crew. The book will be published by Firefly Books in Sept. 2010.

Communicating by e-mail would suit me fine. If you don’t mind, then, I’ll just hit you with a list of questions. Please feel free to answer any of them that you want, and to skip any that you want too.

When were you born? Could you give me a little background on yourself? Are you nisei or sansei Japanese-American?

When and how did you get involved in the Infinity jet car? What were you doing at the time? (Cal Tech engineering student, right?)

I’ve seen newspaper reports of the crash that say that Glenn Leasher had been married for six months, but no one I’ve talk to can remember if he was married or not. Can you recall? I’m wondering about any insights into the widow he left behind.

What do you recall of that first trip to the salt flats in August 1962, to test the car? Vic says the tests went well and you all left Bonneville feeling very confident. He also recalls running the car that first night in the moonlight.

What are your memories of Glenn Leasher as a driver?

Vic told me about some concerns he had about Glenn as the driver; that he wasn’t following the plan; that there was something of a split on the team with Vic and you on one side, wanting careful testing and incremental speed build-ups, and Glenn and Romeo on the other, who kind of didn’t like you university guys interfering in how the car was being run. What do you remember about this?

How were you feeling when you returned to the salt in Sept. 1962 to go for the record? Pretty confident that you were going to break it?

What are your memories about the crash itself? I gather you were following in the truck with Vic. What do you think caused the crash?

Do you know what became of Glenn’s remains? Where was he buried?

What did you go on to do?

Finally, I’d love to read about any other things that you might recall from those times, i.e. stories, interesting episodes, etc.

Thanks again, Tom!

Sam Hawley

*          *          *

From: Tom Fukuya
To: Sam Hawley
Date: Sun, Jun 28, 2009
Subject: Infinity first installment
Hi Sam,
I've been thinking and thinking about your 11 questions, and printed them out, in order to have them easily at hand......They evoke many memories, many good, some bad, all poignant...

I'll answer the easiest ones first, and tackle the tougher ones in their turn, later:

#1) "When were you born?.....". I was born on May 5th, 1940, in Honolulu, Hawaii. My father was issei, and my mother nisei, so I think the convention is that I would be sansei.

#9) "Do you know what became of Glenn's remains?". I do not know, for certain, what was done with them. (Just after the crash, we as a team offered to do a complete cleanup of the site, but were forbidden to touch anything, because of the impending accident investigation by the Utah Highway Patrol. The track officials seemed to want us away from the scene, urging us to leave for home as soon as possible. They weren't unfeeling or unkind, but definitely had a protocol they had to follow...). I remember asking the question some short time after our return to the Bay Area, receiving an answer, maybe, but can't reliably remember what it was.....(I'll approach this in the answer to #8, soon).....All of this is extremely painful, still....

#3) "...Glenn Leasher had been married for six months....". I don't know anything about this. The subject never came up, between Glenn and me...I assumed that she (I can't even recall her name, now, though I can picture her, if I close my eyes) was his girlfriend, but had no basis in fact to discriminate girlfriend/wife....

I remember that she was a nice person, undemanding, easy to be around...Just a pleasant person...She wasn't around the shop constantly, as I recall, but might have been, lending a hand...( I definitely have tunnel vision about this time period, mainly remembering things connected to my own tasks and responsibilities). Even after she later brought suit (or maybe just started the process - I don't know whether she actually carried through with it) against the remaining members of the Infinity partnership (Harry Burge, Vic Elischer, Romeo Palamides), none of us could feel any ill will toward her.....

The news media reports about Infinity were so full of errors of detail, that we gave up on even trying to correct them.....partly our fault, though we weren't being deliberately secretive - it's just that we were such a small team, so intensely busy, that we didn't have time to communicate with any outsiders....

I'll stop this first installment here.

I'd like to mention probably the most important idea about Infinity, though, that is central to an understanding of all that happened to her...

Infinity and Untouchable need to be thought of as "sister automobiles" (kind of like the way, say, aircraft carriers of the same specifications were built during WW2, and were thereafter considered to be "sister ships").

Untouchable was the older, the team learned many lessons from her (Romeo about chassis, wheels/tires, parachutes, Vic about controls, running the afterburner, etc.), and these lessons were incorporated into Infinity, the "younger, glamorous one". This is why Infinity was so utterly trouble-free and so easily reached the low-300mph area.

The team certainly had very significant experience at the time in routinely running near 300 mph with Untouchable on drag strips, weekend after weekend....

anyway, seeya, Sam! .....more soon...t.

*          *          *

From: Sam Hawley
To: Tom Fukuya
Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Subject: Re: Your phone call re Infinity....(First response from Tom F.)
Dear Tom,
Thanks very much for your e-mail, Tom. I really appreciate that you have taken the time respond so thoughtfully. There has been so much misinformation circulated about Infinity, as you say, and it's wonderful to get the real story straight from you and Vic, who know better than anyone what really happened.

I hadn't heard about the lawsuit that Glenn Leasher's widow filed or started to file.

A couple more questions, Tom, if I could: Were you a hot rodder before getting involved in the jet car project? And did Glenn's death change you in any way? (i.e. did it turn you off racing; did it lead to any career decisions; etc.)

Thanks again!  Sam

*          *          *

From: Tom Fukuya
To: Sam Hawley
Date: Thu, Jul 2, 2009
Subject: Infinity....(Second installment from Tom F.)
Hi Sam,
Thanks for responding to my first installment. (Good to confirm that this "email stuff" is in working order!)...

Here's my second installment:

Question # 2: "When and how did you get involved in the Infinity jet car? What were you doing at the time?...

Well, first about Caltech. I had gained admission there, but attended only a few months, then dropped out just before flunking out. I blame myself 95%, Caltech 5% (65% of my entering class dropped out before earning degrees there, though - today's retention rate is 90%+, so they probably made some changes in their teaching methods to go from 35% retained to 90%+!)....

So, I'm the farthest thing from a "Caltech engineer"...a "Longtime Car Enthusiast" is more like it....or maybe "A Science Groupie"!

I got involved with Untouchable first, then Infinity through my long-term friendship with Vic.

We had been friends ever since Jr. High school in Berkeley, were in the Boy Scouts together, in High School, and later, a bit in Jr. college....(Vic is the real thing, though - after passing-up college for a few years after high school, he dropped back in and did superbly at U.C. Berkeley. He had been working at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as a tech, and won maybe the most prestigious scholarship in the U.S. - the A.E.C.(Atomic Energy Commission) Scholarship, it is very large monetarily, and only one is awarded every year)...

Vic is probably not the most ultimately brilliant guy I've known (you run into multiple Nobelmen at places like Caltech and UC Berkeley), but no one can match his drive and work ethic, and his combination of brain, drive and toughness is just about unsurpassable......

Vic had been involved with the Untouchable team (Romeo, Harry Burge, and the then-driver, Archie Lederbrand) for some time, before he showed me what they were doing. Vic's role was to get the engine running reliably, including the afterburner, substituting mechanical car-type controls for the largely electronic controls in the F-86 aircraft. Lots of ex-military aircraft mechanics said it couldn't be done, especially the afterburner part....

The inspiration for this jet car partnership was due mainly to Romeo, and it was his dream to later go for the LSR. (The business plan was to eventually run Untouchable and Infinity (hopefully holding the LSR) on drag strips around the country).

Harry was the financier (he was a very successful businessman, and owned the Vaca Valley Raceway at the time).....He was an ideal guy in that role - even-tempered, unfailingly a nice person, generous and totally involved...

Archie was a quiet older guy, very competent, fast and tough, who drove Untouchable through the development and shakedown period and on the dragstrips to very fast times for that period.

One memory stands out, from my first contact with Romeo.

Vic and I went to his home on MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland, where the first thing that caught my attention was a sleek, fully-enclosed racer on the west side of his multicar garage. The body was raw aluminum but complete, the chassis was in rolling condition, and a nonfunctional engine was installed for mockup purposes.

When I asked about it, Romeo became very enthusiastic and said that he had shaped the body according to the coke-bottle forms of the latest American jet fighter planes. It was intended for racing at Bonneville, but he was selling it to help finance the jet car(s).

(Inwardly, I thought it was too messy a shape, and wouldn't work....Stupid me - the guys who bought it (Hammon, McGrath and Whipp) developed it, virtually unchanged in outward form, into maybe the most successful Bonneville racer of all time, "The Redhead", setting numerous records in many different classes. This car, which still exists today, is a living monument to Romeo's brilliance as a designer and fabricator).

It pleases me tremendously that Romeo lived to see his car do so well at Bonneville....

Anyway, Vic wanted me around as an unpaid volunteer (they picked-up expenses for meals, gas, etc.) and as a sounding board for ideas, for totally open criticisms, etc., etc. Kind of like his wingman....

Looking back, it amazes me that they were so accepting and tolerant as to even allow an unknown quantity like me anywhere near their projects.....but that was Harry and Romeo - nice guys, open, honest and accepting.....but probably very cannily watching my every move out of the corner of their eyes!  At least at the beginning....

There is more about this subject, but I'll return to it later....
seeya, Sam! 

Editor: The rest of the interview can be seen at www.samuelhawley.com


Rich Fox 03-30-11 Photographs

CLICK FOR IMAGE 0100 - An older picture of my roadster when it belonged to Al Holloway. In this picture Al Holloway is driving the roadster Bonneville. He is being pushed by his partner Jack Connolly with Jacks '29 Street Roadster, which Jack is still driving today. It's interesting that Al and Jack started out to build a '29 on '32 highboy and had the frame and running gear done when Al decided he liked this better. Jack wanted to stick to the original plan and it was only settled when Al told Jack that someone had stolen the '32 frame from Al's shop. Last summer I sold some banger parts to a guy in Belmont who told me he had the '32 frame and running gear in his backyard. Having bought it from Al but never done anything with it Also interesting is that this car is Ronnie Covel's first full project that started him in his career of panel beating. Before This car Ron had done air scoops and seats but never a full car. At the same time as building this roadster Al and Jack built a supercharged BSA Rocket Three with a dust bin faring for Bonneville. Jack rode the BSA but I don't know what speeds he got.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0101 - My 32 on the salt in '84 with the Howard 12 port head. 
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0104 - My roadster at El Mirage with Jerry Szuter driving it through the lights. 
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0105 - This is a picture of Jerry Szuter looking at the motor.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0106 - My car parked with a fellow UAL mechanics Cessna that he flew up to the salt. At some later date I heard he flew it into the ground but survived. I don't remember his name.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0108 - My '32 with turbo charged 270 in 1978. First day out of the garage.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0110 - My American Austin in '64.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0112 - The Lark in '69?  354, Algon, Winfield cam. People thought it was a funny car.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0114 - My Vega on course in the 80’s.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0115 - My Vega opened up in 2008.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0118 - 1932 Plymouth engines now at Speedway Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0119 - 1932 Plymouth engines now at Speedway Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0120 - 1932 Plymouth engines now at Speedway Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.
CLICK FOR IMAGE 0121 - 1932 Plymouth engines now at Speedway Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.







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