NEWSLETTER 202 - April 29, 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, Memorial Services for Dana Wilson will be held this Thursday April 28, A new film is out called The Boys of Bonneville and will be shown at the Newport Beach Movie Festival on May 4 2011 at 6pm in Costa Mesa California, The following obituary was sent in by Glen Barrett, I just received word from Dana's daughter that at 3:25 pm today Dana Wilson passed away, I will be at the Santa Ana Drags reunion and will bring Larry Deutsch with me, I will be in Bakersfield for the NSRA Street Rod event, THANK YOU for informing all of us regarding the Main Street Malt Shop and Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion coming up on Saturday May 7th and I am hoping to be able to attend, Here is a guy I met through my work, Spencer: If you want to write your biography I will help you edit it, The Main Street Malt Shop and Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion is set for Saturday May 7 2011 in Santiago Park, Richard and Spencer: That is a lot more complicated than what I thought, Jim Calzia is a Research Geologist (now Emeritus) with the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park CA, Did you see that we have added Tex Smith as a bi-monthly contributor in the guest columnist section, LeRoi Tex Smith has been involved with the hot rod hobby since the age of 8 when family in-laws were outlaws running whiskey into Oklahoma, The following is a book review courtesy of www.hotrodhotline.com - 1320 Maybe not what you think, The NHRA has reviewed the Western Motorcycle Drag Racing Association (WMDRA) Rulebook and finds that safety criteria follows that of the NHRA, The following site was sent in by Ron Main, Norman "Norm" Thatcher or “Grampa Norm” supposedly a Dodge dealer from Van Nuys California, Greetings from Texas I have moved here permanently since the 1st of April and have been working hard to get all my belongings unpacked and put away, Sounds like a great event... not sure I'll be able to rearrange my schedule to make it, Some of my Bonneville buddies here in Colorado Springs informed me that you were looking for some short stories about Willie Buchta, It is the travel that is the stopper I always look forward to messages from all racing venues, Groups form coalition in effort to replenish the Bonneville Salt Flats By MICHELLE KOUEITER on 4/25/2011, I am from Whittier California and found this in my pictures, Editor’s notes: The following was sent to us by Charles Rollins, A new film "The Boys of Bonneville - Racing on a Ribbon of Salt" is being screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Wednesday May 4 2011 at 6:00 PM, Editor: The following was sent in by Ron Main and pertains to the cast and crew of the new movie Boys of Bonneville, Editor’s Notes: Here is a continuation of the interviews conducted by Sam Hawley for his book - Speed Duel, Doug King Pictures Sent in by Spencer Simon


President's Corner:  
   I spent last Saturday over in Vegas at the Viva Las Vegas Car Show. I'm guessing there were over 1,000 cars of every type and description and for the most part they were all home-builts. That got me thinking about our favorite pastime, Land Speed Racing and how its evolved.  Most of the early lakes cars were put together from parts scrounged from wrecking yards or traded for from friends. Today’s Ratsters are built pretty much the same way. All this adds up to really innovative ways to cobble parts together to make for really unique rides. This way of thinking and building works so-so if you're only putting around the streets or parking lots of shows but becomes a nightmare for us inspector types at Bonneville when vehicles built this way show up. We get calls all the time from folks building cars to race and after talking with them about thirty seconds you automatically raise the red flag in your mind that this one's going to be trouble. There's the old adage, “with age comes experience.” I can tell you right now that this old saying just doesn't hold water when it comes to most racers. These days our rulebook has about 240 plus pages in it. When you throw out all the fluff like ads, speed records, etc that leaves about 83 pages for the car guys and 125 pages for the bike guys to read and understand. It all sounds simple but it's not since the rules are basically the same as they were decades ago. Impound Guru Dan Warner likes to say, "same rules, more words," since as we all know it's our job as racers to find and exploit every area that's gray to its fullest advantage.
   Some guys are still drawing chalk lines on the floor as guides for their rides. Others use a chassis jig. None of this really matters as long as you get some basic things right. It's a known fact that cars like to spin out at Bonneville, and some more than others. Sometimes when you talk to the owners and builders about the problem they usually don't know the reason. In 9 out of 10 instances a tape measure will give you the answer in about 30 seconds. Measure the right side wheelbase and then the left side wheelbase. You don't know how many times we've found them to be different. I've seen some 3/4" out on a 100" wheelbase car. It all boils down to sweating the details.
After looking at cars for a few years you can spot the good ones from the bad right off the bat. My favorite deal is to ask the owner if he would let his daughter drive the car. Most of the time they'll say yes so that's when demos work best. I then have the daughter get in the car just like she's going to drive it and show the owner that that little gap in the door net he wasn't concerned about, now allows his daughter’s leg extend about a foot outside the cage. Houston we have a problem! The great thing is that a lot of the inspectors have seen it all before and have the fixes already figured out before they give you the bad news. They want you out there racing as much as you want to be out there.  We're not trying to be the bad guys, we just want you to be safe and come back for the next fifty years. On May 14, 2011 the fun begins at El Mirage for the 73rd year, don't miss it.


There are many new projects going on concerning movie makers who have told more of our history. First of course is Faith Granger’s Deuce of Spades, a motion picture that ranks right up there in my eyes as an equal to American Graffiti as a movie that explains the hot rodding experience. This film can be purchased on CD and makes a wonderful Holiday gift for those who love hot rodding, drag and land speed racing and hot cars. On May 4, 2011 at 6pm they are screening The Boys of Bonneville at the Triangle Movie Theater, screen #7, in Costa Mesa, California. This movie documentary shows the extraordinary talents of Ab Jenkins and his son Marvin, who rightfully are the men who made it possible to raise land speed racing to great heights at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Another worthy film project is Harry Pallenberg and Harold Osmer’s television epic, Where They Raced. This show has not yet been completed and a set time and sponsor has yet to be worked out. Google and check out the website; www.wheretheyraced.com. Pallenberg and Osmer hope to turn this into the definitive history of auto racing in Southern California. Besides movies and television serials there are fine videos that have been done for YouTube on the internet. My brother and I inherited a small amount of film from our father and we will be attempting to make copies of that material as well. Because film, video, CDs and other forms of audio/visual works have a limited lifespan it is important to preserve it. If you have any film, videos or other formats, please think about upgrading it to the most modern methods so that they won’t become lost to us. If you don’t want to go to the expense and time of doing this yourself, talk to our President, Jim Miller. He does this all the time and gives you back your originals and a modern copy or two for your use. We will then archive it at www.AHRF.com or www.landspeedracing.com
  In this column we have often talked about ownership rights. This is important to us because we want to make sure that the original owner retains those rights until such time as he/she turns those rights over to another. So often we find that the original owner lends or gives photographs and memorabilia to another and then an argument arises as to whether it was a gift or a loan. Even when Jim and I have interceded as a third party to try and help resolve this conflict; matters only seem to get worse. We advise all of our readers and all fans of land speed racing to get into the habit of drawing up an ownership transfer document. It doesn’t have to be wordy or even crafted by a lawyer, but it should be something that clearly tells us who the owner is. You need to stipulate when it was transferred and by whom, and who will be the new owner. Also state whether it is a gift or a purchase. A gift connotes that no exchange of valuables has taken place. A purchase shows what was given for the photographs or memorabilia. Most hot rodders simply assume that a handshake and an oral agreement are sufficient. In almost every situation like this it leads to hurt feelings and the charge of theft. Now in some cases we know that valuable artifacts have been stolen. We also know that some people have a reputation for outright theft. But since the “lender” hasn’t taken the time to get a transfer document in writing there is no recourse but the courts. 
  Most hot rodders simply do not trust the courts and so write off the whole incident as a huge mistake. In some cases the giver truly did tell the receiver that it was a gift and later forgets that he gave the material to another. In many cases it was only a loan that became a gift when the giver died. But the estate still owns the artifacts and keeping the memorabilia from the estate and heirs is an act of theft. My brother and I have been victims of such theft, but it is unlikely that we will ever see the “borrowed” objects again. Those in possession of borrowed objects are most likely not going to return them and in many cases they may not even know what they borrowed or where it is. In one case I contacted a man who was supposed to have purloined a lot of photographs only to find out that he was trying to return them, but the lenders never put a caption and accreditation on the back of the photographs or kept a record of the objects. This man was confused and though he was willing to return the borrowed objects, couldn’t find the original owners. The photographs, he told me, were just sitting in a box and he felt bad that he couldn’t return them all.
  This shows all of us that lending requires a process and the lender as well as the receiver of the loaned material must document what has been lent. While the onus is on the borrower, it is just as important for the lender to keep good records. Most people are honest, though often tempted, but we have a large number of people in the sport who have sticky fingers. Sometimes, long after the theft has occurred, we have forgotten the pain and it becomes humorous in a way; but hardly ever to the person who lost the object. I remember going to a man’s funeral once and the stories about him. He was given the task of driving the supply truck to the Indy 500 every year with the spare engines, tires, tools and parts. From phone calls made by the truck driver the owners deduced that he went from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, then to Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Memphis, Louisville and finally reached Indianapolis with fewer tires, tools, parts and engines than when he set out. Fellow racers knew just where all the houses of ill repute, gambling meccas and other points of interest lay along this rather snaky route. I asked Danny Oakes about the man and he told me that this guy “borrowed” his midget in Indy, sold it in Milwaukee and never saw Danny again. I hate to tell you this, but there are many among us that we should never trust with our possessions, nor invite them into our homes and garages. When they are accused they simply state that the materials were given to them and since there are no lending documents it is impossible to dispute these dishonest people. The old saying still goes; “Get it in writing.”


Memorial Services for Dana Wilson will be held this Thursday, April 28 @ 2:00 p.m.
Cornerstone Community Church, 34570 Monte Vista Drive, Wildomar, CA 92595. 951-674-8661. www.go2cornerstone.com.  Reception immediately following at the house,
30076 Silver Saddle Court, Canyon Lake, CA. 951-244-6656.
   04/23/11: Dana Wilson lost his battle with cancer and passed away peacefully on Friday April 22, 2011 with his family by his side. Dana began his Land Speed racing career about 1989 when he and partner Mike Waters bought a running D/Gas Roadster. After a rebuild, they ran it for a few years setting several records. In 1995, Dana, Mike and son Greg built a new state of the art Roadster (Wilson and Waters #369). At one time they held all the Gas and Fuel records in classes B,C,D and E at both Bonneville and El Mirage plus a few at the Muroc Dry Lake. Dana served as treasurer for both the SCTA and BNI organizations. He used his business knowledge and fiscal sense to make them the fiscally solvent operations they are today. Dana served on the board of directors for both organizations from 1995 through 2006, and was a major player in the success of both Bonneville and El Mirage events. He was a member of the Bonneville and El Mirage 200MPH clubs. Dana has been honored with the SCTA Wheels of Fame, the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame and the Bob Higbee award. Dana retired from the Los Angeles County Fire Department as a Captain after serving for 30 plus years. Dana is survived by his wife Jackie, Daughters (3) and Grandchildren (5). God Speed Dana, gone but certainly not forgotten. We will miss you. Condolences can be sent to: Jackie Wilson, 30076 Silver Saddle Court, Canyon Lake, CA 92587. Sent in by Jim Dunn and Glen Barrett


A new film is out called The Boys of Bonneville and will be shown at the Newport Beach Movie Festival on May 4, 2011 at 6pm in Costa Mesa, California. Full-screen Triangle Square #7, 1870 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-5022.


The following obituary was sent in by Glen Barrett. Our condolences to his family and friends. Spencer looks a bit like Gold Coast R&R former member Will Scott.
Richard E. Spencer 1931 ~ 2011. A well known area man has passed away after a short illness. Richard E. Spencer, 80, passed away April 18, 2011 at his home in Garland, Utah with his loved ones by his side. He was born March 11, 1931 in Garland, Utah to Ernest Richard and Cleopha Alberta Peterson Spencer. Richard served in the Korean War with his area friends and fellow soldiers. Always saying it was pure boredom with moments of pure terror. After returning from the war, the real Dick Spencer came alive with a passion for racing dragsters, funny cars, Salt Flats cars and some of the hottest street rods around for the day. From building racing cars of all kinds to airplanes, he had a passion for fast. "It can never be fast enough," was his motto. Dick was a Teamster (truck driver) by profession. He drove for many area companies before going to work for CF Motor Freight out of Salt Lake. He retired February 1, 1993 with a two million mile safe driving award. After being retired for six months he went back to work for Miller Brothers Express for another 1/2 million miles and went to every state but two. Dick is survived by his wife Tracy, children: Gary, Joette, Julie, Kyle and Brandon; step-children Buffy, Adrian and Johnna; 20 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and two sisters Barbara and Mickey. Funeral Services will be held Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 12:00 Noon in the Garland Tabernacle, 140 West Factory Street, Garland, Utah. Friends may call Friday, April 22, 2011 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Rogers and Taylor Funeral Home, 111 North 100 East, Tremonton Utah and Saturday from 10:30-11:40 a.m. at the Tabernacle prior to the service. Interment will follow in the Garland Cemetery where military honors will be accorded. Online condolences may be expressed at www.rogersandtaylor.com. This obituary was published in the Salt Lake Tribune on April 21, 2011.


I just received word from Dana's daughter that at 3:25 pm today Dana Wilson passed away. Thanks to all of you for prayers. Dana passed peacefully with his family at his side. More info on services when I get them.    Mike Waters
    Mike Waters and Glen Barrett: I am very sorry to hear of Dana Wilson's passing.  He was a fine gentleman and a credit to land speed racing.  It is a shock to lose him and one more reason why I want all of you guys to write your bios before it is too late and the story cannot be written.  If you have any obituaries or notices, please send them to me to post in the newsletter.


I will be at the Santa Ana Drags reunion and will bring Larry Deutsch with me.  I will also attend the Gas-Up Party on the 30th of April.  Vic Enyart


I will be in Bakersfield for the NSRA Street Rod event. If you are going to attend the Reunion let me know if there are any interesting subjects for a story. I would attend if I could.  Dick Martin


THANK YOU for informing all of us regarding the Main Street Malt Shop and Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip Reunion coming up on Saturday May 7th and I am hoping to be able to attend.  This was one great group of pioneering racers who did play a very important role in the development of drag racing and many of which went on to be champions. Steve Lewis


Here is a guy I met through my work. When I met him by happenstance I saw his racing trailer and he had a nice Porsche in his garage that look like it means business. My first thought was Jack Haggeman flashback. I remember that I was just as crazy as he was when I went three times the speed limit and the cops sent me for a visit in the cooler when I was a teenager. At one time I thought someone was following me when I was driving in my Audi, not knowing that it was the cops. I took him for a ride. It was a great slalom course in the country side. He couldn't catch up. When I came to a stop sign I went to a normal speed. There back in my rear view mirror I saw a cop car screeching around the corner almost losing it (actually he did lose it). By the time the officer caught up with me, he pulled up to me politely as he approached me and he said, “Did you think someone was following you?” I said neahhh (no). It was too embarrassing to express my guilt. He said, “What did you do to this thing that made it handle so well?” “I only put new shocks on it,” I said. He didn't believe it. Anyways you'll like this guy; he is great and his name is James Calzia.  Spencer Simon
   Jim and Spencer: Thank you for doing this project, but I need to explain what it is that we are doing and how to do it.  There are three components to the research projects that we are encouraging all car guys to do; Biographies, Stories and Photo Captioning.   The reason for this is to save our racing heritage before it is lost.  Let's discuss Bios first. 
   A biography should be around 2000 words and give a chronological list of facts.  So you might start with your parents or grandparents and tell us where and when they were born, their names, where they lived, what they did, their siblings and children.  Next the bio asks all that of the person writing his/her biography and goes on to tell the readers where you grew up, what schools you went to, your interests and if you served in the military.  Next comes your automotive career and hobbies; and if you raced.  Then tell us about your employment, family, grandchildren and what you are planning to do today.  Bios teach us what you have done and accomplished.
   Stories are a little different.  A story is an event or a series of events and descriptions.  It could be about a race you were in or a person that you knew.  Stories are what make for good bench racing.  Some are sad, some are happy and some stories take on a life of their own.  Stories can be truthful or not.  They tell us about the character of a person.
   We all need to caption our photographs, because most uncaptioned photos become worthless over time and take a huge amount of our time as historians to track down the who, what, where and when.
   Finally, the reason that we should all do our bios is; first for our families and secondarily for friends and the interested public.  What you have sent to me is what I'm going to call a skeleton to use to start on your bio and that includes Spencer too, who has been putting me off in doing his.  I am intense on this issue, since my father refused to seriously write his own bio and my brother and I now have to go back through thousands of publications and sources to try and do a job that will never come close to what he could have done. 
   I would prefer if you did this just as an email and not put it into Word, Adobe, etc.  I'm not that smart when it comes to anything other than an email and it's also easier and quicker for me to cut and paste from email to email or just forward and work on what you send me.  I only publish what people want me to publish.  The smallest bio was 600 words and the largest was 77,000 words.  You can see what we do by going to www.hotrodhotline.com, Guest columnist, Richard Parks, Biographies.  Don't forget to share with Art Evans, a road course racing legend that has his own newsletter for the sport.  Spencer, I want you to do your own bio so that I can train you.  The better that you get the faster we can work and we only have another 10 million race fans and racers to go before we're done.


Spencer: If you want to write your biography I will help you edit it.  Here's an outline:
1) Your grandparents and parents; names, places and dates of birth, what they did, where they lived.
2) Your name, date and place of birth and where you grew up.
3) Where you went to school, your school friends, siblings, family.
4) Your hobbies, school jobs, interests.  Did you go to college or serve in the military?
5) Your jobs after you graduated
6) People that you knew, marriage, family, etc
7) What you are planning for the future.
     The important thing is to answer the questions as quickly as you can; say in about 20 minutes or so.  If you want me to help you edit it then send me the first draft and I will do the editing and then send it back to you to answer more questions.  This shouldn't take more than an hour or two if you write fast and let me do the editing.  The average bio runs 2000 words.  The biggest bio was 77,000 words.  They are very fun to do.  All the very best, Richard Parks, editor www.landspeedracing.com


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


Richard and Spencer: That is a lot more complicated than what I thought. Sounds interesting, but not something I have time to do for the foreseeable future (I'm already writing one book!). I'll work on it, we'll stay in touch, and eventually I'll send you something more to your liking.   Jim Calzia
   Jim: When you are able to write your bio, just get in touch with Spencer or with me.  The system that I have devised calls for speed.  I don't want any person to spend more than twenty minutes on a bio.  I do the editing, so it's just names and events as fast as one can type.  When the alarm goes off and the 20 minutes is up, the writer sends me the bio in a simple email with no photographs.  I edit the bio, see if there are any questions that need to be answered and send it back in BOLD DARK CAPITALIZED LETTERS.  The writer answers, using only 20 minutes, also in BOLD DARK CAPITALIZED LETTERS.  It usually takes three such revisions to get to 1500 to 2000 words and the bio is done.  Once it is finished the writer determines whether the bio will be published in my newsletter, or simply given out to family and friends, but at least we have that person's history. 


Jim Calzia is a Research Geologist (now Emeritus) with the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, CA; owned and raced Porsches since 1970, including a 1962 S-90, a lightweight 911S (featured in the May 2001 issue of Excellence magazine), and a tribute to the Martini Porsche RSR that won the 1973 Targa Florio (photographed in the July/August 2007 issue of Vintage Motorsport), in Porsche Club of America’s  time trial and club racing series as well as NASA, SCCA, and most recently Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA) and General Racing vintage events such as the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (formally the Monterey Historics) and Sonoma Historic Motorsport Festival (formally the Wine Country Classic).  Calzia does most of the work himself, although he admits he is “a lousy welder”! In fact, while building his lightweight 911S, he weighed each and every part that came off and went on his car, the object being that if a part didn’t make the car faster, it didn’t go on the car. The result was a racing Porsche with a curb weight (including five gallons of gas) of 1850 lbs! Couple that with a 300+ hp race motor and the thing is a ROCKET that turns both left and right!! His list of parts and what they weigh are available on the early 911S Registry website.  He is currently writing a book, Production to Prototype: The Porsche Carrera RSR and the 1973 World Championship of Makes, with Norbert Singer, Porsche race engineer from 1970 to 2005, and a member of the Motorsport’s Hall of Fame. Two excerpts from their book are published in The Esses, the official magazine of the Early 911S Registry. Calzia has entered his 1973 Martini Porsche RSR in the June 3-5, 2011 at the Sonoma Historic Motorsport Festival at Infineon Raceway. If in the area, please stop by and say hi; he loves to talk cars!  From Spencer Simon


Did you see that we have added Tex Smith as a bi-monthly contributor in the guest  columnist  section?  He's an interesting guy; our next story has to do with a trip through some junk yards with your Dad. Mary Ann Lawford at www.Hotrodhotline.com
     Mary Ann: I know Tex Smith well.  He was a very close friend of my parents.  Glad to see that he has joined.  You are turning HRHL into a first class on-line magazine. 


LeRoi Tex Smith has been involved with the hot rod hobby since the age of 8, when family in-laws were outlaws running whiskey into Oklahoma. He is a mixed blood Cherokee from Oklahoma, who went to California at a young age and began a life in hot rodding prior to World War Two. He has been active in dry lakes racing, roundy rounds on early dirt tracks, and sports car competition in Europe.  No one has contributed more to hot rodding than Tex Smith.  His impact has certainly been felt in our hobby. Tex has written A collection of customizing & hot rodding books, some of the best How-To- books ever written.  Tex also wrote a few general interest books such as We Came In Peace (sold over 4 million) about first moon landing.  He has been an editor and contributor to most American car magazines, written several national best sellers, created TV shows, played professional baseball, and was an air force jet fighter among other things. He was also one of the originators of the National Street Rod Association and was at what became the first NSRA Nationals.  Tex has a new book that is about to be released shortly that is reader specific and will appeal to all ages. This time it’s a Novel called “1320, Maybe Not What You Think.”  Tex now lives down under in Australia 8-9 months a year (during best weather) and then comes back to Idaho for the summer and Bonneville.   Provided courtesy of www.hotrodhotline.com.


The following is a book review courtesy of www.hotrodhotline.com.
1320 Maybe not what you think. By Le Roi Tex Smith.
   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 Felsen) 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 first 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.”


The NHRA has reviewed the Western Motorcycle Drag Racing Association (WMDRA) Rulebook and finds that safety criteria follows that of the NHRA, thus approving them as an NHRA Alternative Sanctioning Organization (ASO). According to VP of Racing Administration Josh Peterson, the NHRA ASO program is designed to enable independent sanctioning organizations to conduct drag racing programs not offered by the NHRA. Tracks. http://www.nhra.com/nhra101/alternativesanctionorgs.aspx.


The following site was sent in by Ron Main.
U.S. Air Force Museum    (Full name:  National Museum of the U. S. Air Force) Dayton, Ohio.  Click on the MAP in the upper right hand corner to bring down a visual menu of the different sites within the museum, then click on a dot within that site to view the exhibits from that camera angle and then follow (click on) the arrows.  You can run your mouse over the aircraft and it can tell you what it is and in some cases you can click it and find out even more on the plane.   Clicking the button with 4 arrows coming in from the corners puts you into full screen mode.  "Esc" will bring you back.  http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/virtualtour/index.asp


Norman "Norm" Thatcher or “Grampa Norm” supposedly a Dodge dealer from Van Nuys, California. The internet says that he set a record at Bonneville in 1959 at 156.387 in a Chrysler 300D (that would be a 1958 car). I have  seen a good B/W  picture  of  the 1959  Dodge w/old  hemi  and  six carbs  thru  the hood. Sometimes adv (sic) of a 1960 Dart (no info, color of car, etc. I have seen a picture of the 1962 Dodge (white car w/dark blue hood, no info on car). I have seen a picture of the 1964 Plymouth (white car w/dark blue hood, no info on car). I just bought a December 1963 Motor Trend magazine, and on page 66 there is a picture and a story that has his picture; the story says that he set a record 172 w/1963 Plymouth (no photo of the car). I do not know if he ran after 1964 and do not know DOD (date of death). I know he was in HOT ROD magazine back in this time period. I also know Barney Navarro and Norman built a Ram manifold from Chrysler w/4 AFB's instead of the normal 2; but I don't know if this worked at Bonneville or not. Chrysler has denied any knowledge!  Thanks, Dennis Goggin
   Dennis: I will be glad to publish your request in the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter, which is at
www.landspeedracing.com. I would suggest that you attend some of the cruises at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California. They hold them on the first Wednesday of the month from April through December. While there ask for Greg Sharp. He is the curator and a very knowledgeable man. You should also join landracing.com, H.A.M.B. and google other fine land speed and early drag racing websites and share this request with them. The more sites that you use, the better the chances that you will find someone who might happen to have the visual and textual information that you are seeking. You will find our president’s contact information on this website. He is a very knowledgeable person. The SCTA has not kept old records that have since been broken, or the times from their many meets. This seems strange, since they are a TIMING association. Most historians have to piece together from lengthy research the few times that we can find in books, magazines, newspapers, timing tags and programs. If any of our readers know the answers to your questions they will send it to the SLSRH. Log in each week and read the most current newsletters to see if Norman is mentioned. The more often that you write in the better your chances are that you will jog some of our member’s memories.


Greetings from Texas; I have moved here permanently since the 1st of April and have been working hard to get all my belongings unpacked and put away.  I was hitting it hard just before I left with an all day interview at the Petersen Museum for a Movie/video tape that Harry Pallenberg is putting out soon on Wednesday the 23rd of March.  I finished packing and saw the van off with ALL my belongings leave Huntington Beach on the 26th, drove up to Riverside for an appearance there for the big three-day "Legends of Racing" affair for Parnelli Jones (all day affair from 8:00 am tl 11:00 pm on Saturday). Then flew out the next morning for Texas!  The whole two weeks activity liked to have killed me!  I turned my Reunion over to the people at the Riverside Museum and they are having one the 23rd of June and if you can assist them in any way they will certainly be grateful.  Call the museum and talk to Norma Jordan who is in charge.  She also is going to honor me in November and you wrote a pretty good bio on me for one of the reunions that she would love to get her hands on for the program for that event.  Take care of yourself and if I am up to it I will try to be there for the California Racers reunion the 23rd of June!  Hila Sweet
     Hila: We are sorry to see you move, but Texas has a lot of space and lots of racing activity and we know you will love it there.  I called Norma Jordan at Riverside International Museum and they are going to send me flyers to announce the California Racers Reunion in June.  Hope to see you then.


Sounds like a great event... not sure I'll be able to rearrange my schedule to make it. FYI - have you been on the website lately?  Lots of new interviews: Rick Rawlins aka Ed Winfield at Legion Ascot. Vic Edelbrock Jr. & Hank Hilty at Gilmore.... are the latest.  Check the NEWS page for recent updates.  Next week we'll be filming on the Santa Monica Road Race with Brian Blain's National!  Buckle up!  Harry Pallenberg, www.wheretheyraced.com.


Some of my Bonneville buddies here in Colorado Springs informed me that you were looking for some short stories about Willie Buchta.  So here goes:              
     Willie Buchta, we only met him once but will never forget him!  Two years ago my friend Kris went to Bonneville for the first time.  He was only a spectator, but he was hooked on the Salt!  Upon returning he asked me to help put together a sidecar rig using his Ironhead Sportster.  I become his crew chief and we began the ominous job of building a side car platform, and all that goes with preparing a Bonneville bike.  We went to Bonneville last year with our rig.  After passing rookie school we started getting in passes down the track. About the third day we were there we heard that Willie had been over to our pits a couple of times to check out his sidecar competition, but we were never there when he stopped by.  So, we decided to locate his pit area and introduce ourselves.  I'll never forget the first thing he said to Kris and I after looking us both over.  He exclaimed, "Whew, for a minute I thought that somebody with money was chasing my record!"  We all laughed, then he sat us down, offered us a beer and we conversed like we had known each other for years, instead of just minutes.  We only went 115 mph that first year so Willie's record was not in jeopardy, but he offered us so much help and advice that you would never have known we were competitors.  He will surely be missed by all that knew him.   Super_Chief_LSR
    Super_Chief_LSR: Thank you for the short story.  It's not only Willie that I want stories and biographies on.  If you check out www.landspeedracing.com you will notice that I ask every person who was ever involved in LSR, or any motorsports, to write their biographies, caption their photographs and also write down their stories.  Our families and the racing community, should not have to lose these wonderful historical narratives of our racing heritage. 


It is the travel that is the stopper. I always look forward to messages from all racing venues.  Starting with the soap box derby as a pretty scared young driver, I have had a finger in and around the racing circuses ever since I was about 12 years old. (I will be 77 on my next birthday in September).  I am a long time race fan...having attended the 1946 Indy 500 (first race after WWII).  I've attended the 500 on numerous occasions since.  After moving to Phoenix back in 1963 became close friends with Clint Brawner who as you probably remember was a pretty successful chief racing mechanic.  Of course with drivers like Bobby Ball, Jimmy Bryan, A.J Foyt, and Mario to mention a few Clint was able to develop a pretty impressive record.  I became a "go for" on the Frostee Root Beer team with Al Loquasto behind the wheel. Since I have virtually no mechanical talent I just did the team scoring. In any case I have been hooked on racing for a long time.
     When Clint died, he willed me an old midget that he had sitting around the shop for years.  I had Clint's nephew completely restore the car and Joe Pittman (former chief mechanic for Parnelli) rebuilt the 110 Offy.  I had the car painted in the livery of Dean Van Lines, and dedicated it to the memory of Clint (with engine by Joe Pittman).   As a member of Western Racing Association I showed the car at vintage races around the country for a few years.  It was a blast.  I finally realized that I was too old to be "chasin racin"...and I sold the car to a Ferrari dealer in the Chicago land area.  As far as I know he still has it.  My wife and I have attended every Indy car race at Phoenix International Raceway starting with the Inaugural race in 1964 until the final one several years back.    With the decline in Indy car racing, (midgets and sprints as well) my wife and I have become NASCAR fans and have managed to get to every track around the country with the exception of Martinsville, VA.
     We have a lot of fond memories but that is about the extent of our racing history.  I should mention that I have managed to accumulate a fairly extensive racing library of several hundred books.  Even that is getting to be a concern. Since I have recently been diagnosed as being a couple of quarts low in the head. I am getting some pressure to sell the duplicates as well as thin out the library before I leave this earth.  Incidentally if you or if you know someone who might be into collecting racing books, or have been looking for a particular racing book, have them get in touch with me. Most of the books are hardback books however I do have a number of Clymer and Hungness Yearbooks and some racing programs from around the country from Indy to Ascot.  Walt Jorgensen
     Walt: Please make an index of what books that you have and would like to sell and send to me with a contact address and I will run it in the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter at www.landspeedracing.com.  We don't charge for this service.  Also, if you would like to run photographs of the books and memorabilia send us digital photos around 50KB to Roger Rohrdanz at [email protected].   Do you have any knowledge or stories on Bob Sweikert that you could share with us?  We need all the stories and bios that we can get for our archives.  Your observations would be of great value to us.


Groups form coalition in effort to replenish the Bonneville Salt Flats, By MICHELLE KOUEITER on 4/25/2011. 
     An effort to save the historic Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah is under way with a salt replenishment program to permanently preserve the land.  The national landmark is an essential piece of American motorsports heritage, as scores of world land-speed records have been set on the unique formation.  The densely packed expanse of land is the dried remnants of a huge prehistoric lake. The area is so flat, the curvature of the earth is actually visible.  The Bonneville Salt Flats has suffered slow erosion from an adjoining salt-mining operation. Originally 96,000 acres in size, it has been reduced to about 30,000 acres.  Between 1963 and 1982, about 11 million tons of salt was withdrawn. By the mid '90s, the historic raceway had lost more than 18 inches of salt crust.  The Bonneville Salt Flats has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.  ‘
The Save the Salt Coalition’ comprises organizations such as the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the Bonneville Nationals and the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association.  The coalition intends to protect the Bonneville Salt Flats while permitting continued mining. One possible fix is to pump brine water back onto the salt flats during the winter and spring, when water naturally covers the basin. The brine water will evaporate in the summer, leaving the salt flats thicker and harder and replenishing the underground aquifer supporting the salt crust.  A five-year test program launched in 1997 proved that the solution would work. The coalition hopes to find an equivalent, permanent program to save the flats.  Visit www.savethesalt.org to learn more about the Bonneville Salt Flats and the preservation effort.  See: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20110425/CARNEWS/110429905#ixzz1KekhKllf.  Courtesy of AutoWeek Magazine. Sent in by Ron Main.


I am from Whittier, California and found this in my pictures (Click To See Picture).  I’ll see if I can find out more about them Whittier Timers car club plaque.   “GRUMPY” AKA Jim Donoho       
     Jim: Do you have any history on the Whittier Timer's car club plaque, such as who were the members and when did they exist? 


Editor’s notes: The following was sent to us by Charles Rollins, owner/editor of www.bench-racing.com
As many of us have waited (4 years) to see what would happen regarding further support for the Petersen Automotive Museum in light of the passing of founder Robert E Petersen, the news has finally broken and it is great news. See attachment below. All the best, Charles Rollins www.bench-racing.com 
April 26, 2011, Steven E. Young, Chairman of the Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation's Board of Directors, announced today that the Museum Foundation has received a gift of approximately $100,000,000 from Margie Petersen and the Margie & Robert E. Petersen Foundation.  This donation is comprised of a substantial unrestricted financial gift, a matching challenge, the 300,000 square foot building that the Museum has occupied since it opened in 1994, and an important collection of cars assembled by the late Robert E. Petersen during his lifetime, all as part of the Museum's gift. This donation ensures that the Museum will continue to grow in importance as one of Los Angeles' premier museums, and the largest and most acclaimed automobile museum in the nation. "I am thrilled to make this gift which continues what Mr. Petersen and I began two decades ago, to build the most important automotive museum in the nation. My intent in doing this is to provide the Museum with the necessary resources to continue to enhance its collections, curatorial expertise and exhibitions so that generations to come will be able to forever know the history of the automobile and its role in the evolution of our nation's transportation system," said Margie Petersen. "I am fulfilling a vision that Mr. Petersen and I shared and planned to do someday. I am so happy that this day has come and that I can launch the Museum into a new era of growth and expansion. While I expect the resources of the Museum to be available to the world, this gift is especially designed to the benefit of the Los Angeles community where we made our lives together," stated Margie Petersen.  
   A program of special importance to Mrs. Petersen has been the Museum's Free School Bus Program. Since 2005, the Museum has funded transportation that has enabled approximately 8,000 students per year from the Los Angeles Unified School District, grades K through 12, to visit the Museum. Teachers use the automobile to inspire student thinking about science, art, design, engineering, fuel supply, transportation and urban planning. Many teachers have stated that without this program the children would not have the opportunity to explore learning outside the classroom at all during the school year. "The Petersen Automotive Museum Foundation Board is honored to acknowledge this gift as it launches a campaign to enlarge the Board and expand the reach of the Museum. We are committed to make the Petersen Automotive Museum the most important automobile venue in the world," said Board Chairman Steven Young.  "We are ecstatic to receive this extraordinary gift from Mrs. Petersen. The generosity that she and Mr. Petersen have shown has been legendary and the entire Museum staff is overjoyed by this gift," remarked Buddy Pepp, Executive Director of the Museum. More than 150,000 visitors a year tour the Petersen Automotive Museum which is located on Museum Row on Los Angeles's Miracle Mile. 
   In addition to the automobile and motorcycle collections of Margie and Robert E. Petersen and the Petersen Foundation collection, the Museum also displays important cars from many other car collectors who donate or loan their vehicles to the Museum.   Robert E. Petersen founded Hollywood Publicity Associates in 1947. His love of cars let him win a contract to publicize a hot rod show at the Los Angeles Armory. He quickly recognized the market for a publication about hot rods which he parlayed into the legendary Hot Rod Magazine launched in 1948. He grew his business into a publishing empire with more than 36 monthly magazines and over 50 annual publications and became a household name among car enthusiasts. In 1963 he married Margie McNally, a model and actress from New York. Together they built a life of business, collections and philanthropy as one of Los Angles' most prominent couples. The Petersen car collection is renowned as one of the largest and most diverse collections in the United States. The Petersen’s are also known for important collections of wildlife and western art. The couple's considerable philanthropic activities in Los Angeles include The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, The Margie and Robert E. Petersen Boys and Girls Club of Hollywood, The Music Center, The Thalians, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, St. John's Health Center and the John Wayne Cancer Institute among many others.


A new film "The Boys of Bonneville - Racing on a Ribbon of Salt," is being screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival on Wednesday May 4, 2011 at 6:00 PM. The film will be shown at the Triangle Square Theatre, 1870 Harbor Boulevard, Costa Mesa, California 92627.  Tickets are $12.00.  This is an excellent film about the happenings at Bonneville.   With an unshakable faith and integrity, Ab Jenkins set out to break every existing land speed record and then establish several endurance records of his own. In remarkable vintage footage shot on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Ab can be seen piloting his own car in 24-hour endurance runs. Although suffering exhaustion, hallucinations, and even injury, he never left the cockpit. His 24-hour records remain unchallenged. Seventy years later, the legacy lives on through his son, Marv, and his car - the now reconstructed 12-cylinder, 4800-pound “Meteor III.”  You can learn more about the film on the website http://www.boysofbonneville.com.   You can purchase tickets in advance at the festival web site - http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com. I recommend that you do this because the film has sold out at screenings at other festivals.  Please forward this e-mail to your club members. Thanks.  Elliott Estrine, Features Programmer Newport Beach Film Festival. 
I will be there and hope to see you.” Re-sent to us by Ron Main


Editor: The following was sent in by Ron Main and pertains to the cast and crew of the new movie Boys of Bonneville.
   Patrick Dempsey; Narrator  Patrick Dempsey is one of today’s top television and film actors and stars in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy in addition to popular films such as Can’t Buy Me Love, Enchanted, Made of Honor and the upcoming Flypaper and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. In addition to his screen credits, Patrick is the lead driver and owner of Dempsey Racing and is in his fourth full season of GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT class competition in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT. He co-drives with teammate and Dempsey Racing business partner Joe Foster, with whom he has been racing seven years, ever since meeting Foster when he was Dempsey’s racing school series instructor. In January, Patrick and his team finished a career-best third in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. All four drivers led the race, including a career-high 28 laps led for Dempsey.  Patrick’s enthusiasm for this film led him to volunteer his voice and name to the project, bringing Ab Jenkins to life with his invaluable talent and energy. The entire Boys of Bonneville team is indebted to his generosity of time and spirit.
   Curt Wallin; Director  Passionate about telling stories of both the natural world and the history of humankind, Curt has spent the past twenty years filming and directing around the globe. Originally working in the scientific world as a biologist, Curt felt the need to teach beyond the classroom, finding the medium of film and television the best way to disperse information to the largest audience possible. As an accomplished director of photography, he has developed an eye for expressing the world’s stories with a unique approach. Whether shooting and producing for the Olympic broadcast or climbing the volcanoes of Central America, Curt will continue to meld the crafts of distinctive storytelling and exceptional cinematography. Over the years, filming, producing and directing documentaries has become Curt’s forte — making him one of today’s rising talents in the world of filmmaking.
   John Greene; Producer/Editor  John Greene’s introduction to his future profession really was a religious experience. When John was 12, his father – in charge of basic broadcasts of important services for the local church – assigned John to sit and make sure the locked down camera didn’t drift off the speakers during the long sermons. Showing great promise, he quickly moved on to slow zooms and pans. In the nearly four decades that have passed, John has written, directed, produced or edited nearly every kind of production for radio, television, advertising and film. He has spent nearly two decades serving as a Creative Director for television and advertising. His leadership and creative work for one major Salt Lake City television outlet earned the station a National Emmy Award for Public Service; and a subsequent nomination for the same honor. John’s spots, marketing campaigns and programs have also earned numerous regional Emmy’s; along with many other industry awards. His commercial projects have been recognized with Gold and Silver ADDY’s. Additionally, John has been the key creative contributor to four multi-faceted health and education public service campaigns that have seen nationwide syndication.  Recently, John has concentrated on producing, directing, and editing documentary film projects – as well as long-form projects for clients in the financial services and health and wellness industries.
   Michael Chandler; Consulting Editor/Writer  Michael Chandler is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, working in non-fiction and fiction film. His documentary Knee Deep, about a Maine farm boy who tried to kill his mother when she sold the family farm, aired on PBS Independent Lens and won four Best Documentary Awards, including the Maysles Brothers Award. Forgotten Fires, about the KKK burnings of Black churches, was broadcast on PBS and won a Golden Spire at the San Francisco Film Festival. Michael produced and directed the Frontline documentaries Blackout, The Future of War, and Secrets of the SAT. Michael’s feature editing includes Never Cry Wolf, Mishima, and Amadeus, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Michael served as consulting editor and co-writer on the Oscar-nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers and consulting editor on Trimpin, The Sound of Invention. He wrote and edited Freedom on My Mind (Academy Nomination, Sundance Grand Jury Prize), Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven (Emmy Award), and Can’t It Be Anyone Else? (Christopher Humanitarian Award) and edited Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey (Academy Nomination), The Squires of San Quentin (Academy Nomination), Xtreme: Sports to Die For (HBO) and Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi (Audience Award, Mill Valley FF.) Michael lives in Moab, Utah.
   Jennifer Jordan; Writer/Producer  Jennifer Jordan is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and screenwriter, with over twenty-five years as a working journalist, broadcast producer, radio and television news anchor, voice-over/narration talent, and motivational speaker. Her first book, Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2, won the 2005 National Outdoor Book Award and was selected as Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Book Review, and her first film, Women of K2, won five major film festivals and aired on National Geographic and PBS. Her second book, The Last Man on The Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2, became a bestseller only weeks after publication and received the 2011 National Outdoor Book Award.  In addition to Boys of Bonneville and Women of K2, she produced and wrote Kick Like a Girl, which won several international film festivals and aired on HBO. She frequently anchors “All Things Considered” for NPR in Salt Lake City, as well as addresses audiences across the country and internationally on various topics related to her adventures. 
   Geralyn White Dreyfous; Executive Producer  Geralyn Dreyfous has a wide background in the arts and philanthropy. She founded the Philanthropic Initiative in Boston, which guides families of wealth in strategic giving opportunities, and co-taught documentary writing at Harvard University. Geralyn’s executive producing and producing credits include Academy Award winning Born Into Brothels, Emmy nominated The Day My God Died, and multiple film festivals winners Kick Like A Girl, In A Dream, Dhamma Brothers, Project Kashmir, Miss Representation, Connected, and now, Boys of Bonneville. Her works in production include Wait For Me, Year of the Ambassador, One in a Billion, In Football We Trust, and Sugar Babies. She is the Board Chair of the SLC Film Center and Utah Coalition for Film and Media. In 2007, she co-founded IMPACT Partners Film Fund, which has financed over 25 films since its inception.
   John Price; Executive Producer  Mr. Price was United States ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles, and Comoros from 2002 to 2005. He was the former chairman and chief executive officer of JP Realty, Inc. in Salt Lake City, and a former director and member of the executive committee of Alta Industries Corp. Mr. Price served as a member of the University of Utah’s board of trustees from 1992 to 1999, and also served on the advisory board of the University’s David Eccles School of Business.  Mr. Price supports a variety of causes within the community, including the UMFA Marcia and John Price Museum Building at the University of Utah. He was a member of the management committee and board of trustees of the 2002 Winter Olympics, has served on the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution, and was a member of the Print committee of the Whitney Museum in New York City.  Mr. Price has a commitment and dedication to preserving the legacy of the Mormon Meteor III. He believes the famed racecar is an icon in endurance racing history and that the challenges Ab Jenkins faced on the Bonneville Salt Flats earned him the title “Man of Steel.” In a forgotten era in American history, the Meteor was Ab’s racing machine against time and made the champion an instant hero. Mr. Price is proud to be part of keeping that history alive, through the Meteor’s preservation, production of this film, and the new Price Museum of Speed vintage race car collection, opening soon in Salt Lake City.
   Gerald Hartley; Composer  Gerald Hartley is an award-winning musician and composer who is sought after for his ability to create, produce, and record music for a variety of mediums ranging from television commercials and radio spots, to corporate industrials and short films.  As a youth growing up in Alberta, Canada, Gerald received a strong musical foundation through years of training in classical piano and music theory in association with the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music. In high school he performed in a symphonic orchestra, while also playing guitar in a popular rock band. This diverse musical background, coupled with his ability to compose in a wide variety of styles, makes Gerald a unique talent as a film composer. He is able to seamlessly weave melody and texture from a traditional symphonic orchestral sound to a more contemporary electronica atmosphere, all while supporting and enhancing the emotion on screen.  Boys of Bonneville is Gerald’s first feature-length film score.
   Stephen Smith; Motion Graphics and Colorist.  In his role as motion graphics artist and colorist for Boys of Bonneville, Stephen M. Smith pulled from a wide range of experience to add to the film. He has done work on many different kinds of projects including a regional Emmy winning television commercial campaign.  In addition to that he is an internationally recognized editor that has written for major publications such as Videomaker magazine and CreativeCOW. He has also trained thousands of Final Cut Pro users and is the author of two Final Cut Studio training DVDs that have received wide acclaim.


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.

   Judy Creach was Mickey Thompson’s first wife. She was there on the salt flats for all his land speed attempts. They divorced in 1969. I interviewed her over the phone at her home in Huntington Beach, California on July 17, 2009.        

What name do you use now?

Judy Creach. I went by Thompson-Creach for a long time, but when my second husband passed away it was crazy, so I just started going by Judy Creach.

I understand that Mickey didn’t sleep much.

That’s right. Sometimes he slept, but he really didn’t sleep. Because I’d wake up in the morning and there’d be a [garbled] a mile long.

When he was at Bonneville running for the record, were there any particular tasks that you did?

We didn’t have fire suits or anything then, so he wore leather motorcycle pants and jacket and everything and they were loose at the bottom and the end. So I had to tape them all up. About the only thing I ever heard him say he was afraid of, and that was fire. Because he was so contained inside the cockpit of the Challenger that if it caught on fire he couldn’t get out. Because Fritz [Voigt] used to have to bang him on the head to get him in.

So you would tape the pants legs of those leather pants.

Yeah, the pants legs at the bottom. And his gloves would go over. If we had what we have now, you know, we wouldn’t have lost a driver at Indianapolis.

Because it was such a tight squeeze, could Mickey get out of the car by himself?

I think he could have gotten out. It was the helmet. The roll bar was made to fit him with his helmet on. That’s how they bent the material that went around the roll bar. I think he probably could have [gotten out], but it would have been awful hard. If he was on fire he probably would have been burned badly by the time he got out.

Could Mickey turn his head at all when his head was pushed back into that pocket?

No. He said all he had to see was that little square [of window] right in front of him. As long as he could see the black line he was okay. That’s about all he saw too.

In Mickey’s book it says that that windshield was only four inches square. Was it really that small?

Yes, it was. It was very small.

When you went to the salt flats did you usually take your kids along? 

No. We’d leave them with either Mickey’s folks or my folks. Usually Mickey’s folks because my folks passed away early. In fact, one time we were there so long that when I came back my youngest, a little girl, didn’t even know me. She was riding a tricycle at her grandparents house and I was so lonesome and I ran up to her and she looked at me like, “Huh?”

About when Mickey fell unconscious in 1959 because of the fumes. Do you have any memories of that?

Oh yeah. What had happened was his oxygen line had either come loose or was crimped. Anyway, he wasn’t getting any oxygen. And all of a sudden he veered off course. Fritz and I were always behind him, but needless to say he was a long ways ahead of us. I hate cell phones, but I think if we had cell phones in those days everything would have been so much easier. So once we pushed him off and he took off, of course he grew smaller and smaller to where we couldn’t even see him because of the curvature of the earth. So when we got to where we could see him, he had veered off course. No wreck. No violence. No anything, as I recall. And as I said, I did turn 80 last year and boy, my thinker isn’t real clear. Fritz, he’s 86 now, he’s still real clear on a lot of this stuff. But when Fritz got out and opened the canopy, he [Mickey] was unconscious. Fritz immediately checked the line and it was gone. But right then and there I couldn’t tell you what happened. Fritz pulled him out of the car, and maybe I helped.

So you were right there. You were in the vehicle with Fritz.

Yeah...I think. You know, sometimes you hear a story so long and then Fritz will say, “You weren’t there on that,” or I’ll say to him, “You weren’t there. It was just Mickey and I.” And we’ll go, “Oh yeah.” So when I’m questioned about it, because I knew the whole incident so well—sometimes I wonder if I was there. But if Fritz said I was or wasn’t, I would believe him.

[I ask about the sponsorship Mickey received. I mention the four engines from Pontiac, and the $10,000 from Goodyear.]

I think we got, besides the engines from Pontiac, it seems that was when we got a $10,000 check from them too. That was probably the extent of it. We didn’t have hardly any money at all.

So the sponsorship amounted to some equipment and ten-odd thousand dollars.

Yeah. Right. I mean, we were never given—if you think about what the guys are given now, it’s just astronomical. My son Danny wants to do it [go after the land speed record] so bad. He set the record at Bonneville last year for that new Mustang. He’s working with Ford right now and they’re trying for 300 this year in the Mustang...Mickey was building this second streamliner when he died, and Danny has that. And Danny’s big desire in life is to run that car at Bonneville. So he’s trying right now for sponsors. He was telling me the other day some figures. Just to bring the FIA over from Europe, it’s like $10,000 a day or something. It’s just ridiculous.

So we did what we did—I’m sure you’ve read about Donald Campbell. He just looked at us and he said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. You don’t have blueprints and designs?” And I looked at Donald and said, “Yeah we do. They’re all on the floor of the garage in El Monte.” And he said, “No, that’s impossible.” Because he came in with an entourage of, I don’t know, he must have had 25 or 30 people with him. So we didn’t have any money.

[I ask Judy about the story Mickey tells in his autobiography of running on the salt in 1960, when it is so rough, and he was getting shaken so badly that he emerges from the cockpit vomiting and in pain. I have found no corroboration of this in any other source. Does she have any recollection of it?]

I don’t remember that.

I wonder if that was an embellishment.

I don’t know. Griff Borgeson wrote that [book]. I really don’t remember that. But Fritz would.

Would you have been there, though?

Well yeah, I didn’t miss anything. But I don’t remember that at all.

After Mickey did his 406.6 mph in Sept. 1960, someone painted on the Bonneville sign, the one with Cobb’s record on it, “M. Thompson, 406.60 MPH.” Would someone in Mickey’s crew have done that by any chance?

That I don’t know. Fritz would probably know that too.

I have a number for Fritz’s shop on Slausen Avenue. Would he still visit that shop?

He goes every day, but he just goes to go....

His real name is Frederick, right?

Yeah, Frederick. But I never knew him as Frederick. He’s a wonderful guy....He remembers all that stuff. One time at Bonneville—they worked all night when we were at Bonneville—he [Fritz] got up out of his sleep and went over to the garage because he thought of something or other. Anyway, they’d put some gears in backwards. And he just basically just wanted to check those gears, and they were in the wrong way. It hit him in the middle of the night. He did that a lot, where somebody would be in charge of a certain part of the car and he would always check it.

Both Fritz and Mickey sound like real characters, real forceful guys. How did they get along? Were they sometimes cussing at each other?

Oh yeah. They called each other an SOB just as a matter of fact. [Laughs] In fact, Fritz has got a mouth like a truck driver.

There are some good quotes from Fritz in Arneson’s book. They’re quite earthy.

Well that’s him. Fritz was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in Osceola, Florida. And his wife now—and he said it when they gave him this honor—he said, “My wife said I should keep a bar of soap in the pocket of my suit so I could keep my mouth clean.” I don’t know if you know people like this, but there are people who swear and it sounds awful, and then there’s people that just talk that way. When Mickey and I first started going with Fritz and his first wife, or second wife or third wife or something, we would go to Las Vegas. And the first time we did it, we were in the hotel room that night and I said, “Mickey, I can’t stand the way he talks. He’s awful.” And Mickey says, “No, that’s just how he talks. He’s not even swearing.” I thought he was just terrible. Of course I ended up going with him for ten years and realized that that wasn’t what he was like.

What about Mickey? Was he pretty colorful in his language?

No. He was when he was with the guys, but he was very careful around me and the kids.

[I ask Judy why Mickey decided to announce his retirement from land speed competition in Sept. 1962.]

I’m not real sure on that. I think he was discouraged. Money was another thing. He kind of changed after Dave McDonald was killed. That was later, though [1964]. Because he was really hard on Danny, our boy. He didn’t want him to race.

Because of the danger?

Yeah. He did not want him to race.

Especially after the McDonald crash?

No, he was always that way with Danny. When we ran the drag strip Danny had a quarter midget and he raced over there. And one day there was an accident. I could see that because I worked in the tower. But I saw Mickey running through the pits and down there. Somebody had told him that somebody got hurt with a quarter midget, had broken their back, and he thought it was Danny. And he ran down there and he took Danny’s car away from him and wouldn’t let him race again. And it wasn’t Danny [who had crashed]. Danny always did what his dad said, but then he came to the point where he wanted to race. And Mickey said, “I don’t want you to race. I won’t support you or anything.” And Danny said, “That’s okay. I’m going to race anyway.”

What did Mickey think about Breedlove and the arrival of the jet cars at Bonneville, which really changed the land speed game?

He thought that was just fine. But he didn’t think, as all of us did, that jet cars should be in the same category as internal combustion [i.e. wheel-driven] cars. They’re like riding a bicycle and flying an airplane, they’re so different. He didn’t think they should be bunched in the same category. Him and Breedlove were friends and of course he knew all those guys, the Green Monster guy, I’m trying to think of his name...

Art Arfons.

Arfons, yeah. Those guys were all friends of ours and everything. That was their gig. They wanted to use those big jet engines and so forth. But that’s not what Mickey called racing. Because he was racing as a hot rodder. Not as any kind of engineer or anything like that. He was a plain old hot rodder, and he didn’t want that reputation changed.

In newspapers in Sept. 1960 Mickey is quoted as saying that plans were afoot to make a Hollywood movie about his life. I guess it never came off.

Yeah, it never did come off. Several people called him and approached him, but I think they were just talking through their hats. They did make one movie called “The Man in the Iron Cage.” But it was phony.

Was it a feature film or a documentary?

I have a copy of it. It was like a documentary. It did play here in Orange County. I never went to see it, but I did get a copy of it, and I couldn’t even look at the end of it, it was so bad.

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


Doug King Pictures Sent in by Spencer Simon


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