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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 217 - August 26, 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, That was very nice of Don Montgomery to take the picture and sent it and the history as he recalls it; I will be sending you some research on Tucker and his car in the next day or two; Editor's notes: The California Racers Reunion is back and will be held on October 22, 2011 at the Riverside International Automotive Museum; Recent postings on the Road Runners News/Special Events webpage: (posted Aug 18, 2011); In 1950 Kenny Bigelow's 1937 Chevy, with 298 cu. in. GMC power - bored out 270" - was gaining a reputation in the southern Los Angeles area as a very fast car; The following email came in from the family of the late Danny Oakes; Some More About Engines. By LeRoi Tex Smith; Bench-Racing has been enjoying the foggy weather at Monterey "Car Week" for the last couple of days and as we move into the big weekend I thought I would invite those of you that are not here to enjoy some of the images that make this huge event the amazing car event that it is; This is the "Don't Miss" car of the year...we will have both dragsters and both Indy cars on display at the Firestone Complete Auto Care booth next to the main stage; I am interested in the Santa Ana Drags reunion breakfast that seems to be held in October; Here is a link they can go to and I just added some drag racing stuff on the IRL page; 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  The world’s rarest and most beautiful automobiles will be at Pebble Beach Golf Links this Sunday, August 21, 2011; I wanted to let you know that I have finished my new Custom Cars Annual; Taylor & Tori Thompson will be performing on Center Stage at this year's Cruzin' for Life; Bonneville Speed Week 2011 Speed Demon's Record Run & Video.

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President's Corner:  
   Jim Miller has been on assignment at the Bonneville Salt Flats and may be wandering aimlessly looking for a way home. If found, bring him back.

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Editorial:   
   Here is a response to an email that I received about when to caption photographs. “You should always try and get as much captioning information as possible.  Make it a habit.  Always caption a photo before sending it to anyone else.  Sometimes you can't and when that happens you simply state it like this:
   CAPTION: No information is available for this photograph.  Photographer/owner unknown.  (John Doe)
     This does several things.  It asks the question of others; "Do you know anything?"  It also lets people know that you tried, but couldn't find out anything about the photograph or the owner of the photo.  The last thing is that it tells the public that you are the sender of the photo, but not the owner of it.”

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That was very nice of Don Montgomery to take the picture and sent it and the history as he recalls it.  Thank you for forwarding it to me.  Apparently Don was the last winner of the trophy.  Hopefully I will be able to see it in person some time.  I found Marybelle Bigelow's obituary in the Sign On San Diego archives.  It says she was married to Kenny less than 2 months before he died.  I also have found pictures of her on the internet.  But still no pictures of Kenny.  I received an email from Nick Arias' daughter Carmen today.  She was answering for her father who is out of town.  She will contact him regarding stories and/or pictures and call me on the phone when she has some info.  This is so exciting!  Thank you again.  Marilyn Walcher
     Marilyn: We will keep researching.  Let us know what you find out.  We'll pool our resources and hopefully create a nice biography for Kenny.  
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Marybelle Schmidt Bigelow, 79, died, July 15, 2003 at a local hospital. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St Dunstan's Episcopal Church in San Diego. Marybelle was born in La Mesa on July 18, 1923 to Julius and Olive Schmidt. She lived with her family in La Mesa, Brawley, Los Angeles, and San Fernando, before graduating from San Fernando High School. She attended UCLA and received her Bachelor of Arts in 1945 and a Master of Fine Arts in 1947. She won Vogue Magazine's Prix de Paris for fashion design and illustration and worked briefly at Vogue's New York City offices. She married Kenneth G. Bigelow in 1952, but was widowed by a tragic racing accident less than two months later. In 1956, Marybelle joined the faculty of San Diego State University, eventually becoming a full professor of art. During her tenure, she published "Alphabets & Design" and "History of Costume," a textbook still in print. She retired from SDSU in 1980, awarded the title of Professor Emerita. Marybelle is survived by sister-in-law Flora May and Conrad Kinstad, and niece Nancy Kinstad, of Woodland Hills; and by her godsons and beloved friends. Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on July 17, 2003

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I will be sending you some research on Tucker and his car in the next day or two. Need to contact Norm Timbs son to see if he has any information. Norm was an engineering consultant on the Tucker Design staff.   Bob Falcon
     Bob: Did we ever start on a bio of Norm Timbs life?  Seems like we should.

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Editor's notes: The California Racers Reunion is back and will be held on October 22, 2011 at the Riverside International Automotive Museum.  You can't miss this reunion; it is worth making the effort to attend.

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Recent postings on the Road Runners News/Special Events webpage: (posted Aug 18, 2011) Speedweek Update. By Jerry Cornelison, Secretary/Webmaster Road Runners/SCTA (established 1937) http://www.ussarcherfish.com/roadrunners.
   Just got a call from Dale Wester. Harris and Wester backed up their 184 qualifier from yesterday with a 181 pass this morning. New record is 182.853, upping the old record of 169.212 set last year by Salt Cat Racing. Mission accomplished but they are still chasing tuning gremlins with the new blower set up. No doubt they will get that sorted out sooner rather than later. Really looking forward to seeing them run 200 at El Mirage! Congratulations guys! Buddy Walker had to make a hurried flight home because his daughter-in-law was about to deliver a baby. Happy to tell you that Buddy has a brand new grandson. Mother, baby and Grandpa all doing fine. Buddy had a good week - maiden run of his new Coupe at Bonneville and a new grandson. Congratulations Buddy! All Road Runners competing at Speedweek are finished running. I will post some "numbers" on our Results page as soon as they are available. (posted Aug 16, 2011)
   Speedweek Update: The following message is from a post on Facebook by Bill Anderson. Bill Anderson (‘Screwball’ Sidecar Motorcycle); “Finally able to get on line. It’s been a very busy week so far. I got the fuel pressure and supply issues sorted (sorta) and got it to run reliably but slow. The best quarter speed was 121. Got two records. 500 SC/PBG at 111.494 and the 500 SC/PBF at 112.717. Not great but I have no pride and will take what I can get. I spoke briefly to Bill Harris (Harris & Wester Camaro/GMC) on Sunday. Had run to 225 but some lights came on and we shut it down. I saw him in impound this morning but he didn't come back to impound. So I'll assume the lights came on again. Spoke briefly to Buddy (Walker) and saw the Flat Cad (Flat Cad Racing '38 Chevy Coupe) in line but no further news.” 

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In 1950 Kenny Bigelow's 1937 Chevy, with 298 cu. in. GMC power - bored out 270" - was gaining a reputation in the southern Los Angeles area as a very fast car. He was then working for, or with, Ed Iskenderian and running Isky cams. His "Jimmy" was surprising many of the V-8 guys. He joined the ARCs club to run at Russetta meets in 1950. His membership number was 473. I was running a straight 8 Buick at the time and at the suggestion of Joe Pisano I got Ed Iskenderian to grind a cam similar to Kenny's for my Buick. In 1951 Kenny switched to running Chet Herbert's roller cams. Chet ran ads highlighting Kenny's success with his roller cams, as had Ed previously with his cams. Kenny's lakes performances in 1950 won him competition no. 27 for the Russetta 1951 season. He died at the October, 1951 Russetta meet when his car crashed. Although I ran at that meet I did not see the crash. It was a two day meet and I had my runs in on Saturday and had gone home. Kenny's accident was on Sunday - Oct. 21, 1951. We lost a very talented guy.
     ARC club - My understanding is that ARC stood for American Racing Club. It was a Russetta club that was active for only a few years. Some of the members were Ed Pink, Lou Baney, Mike Schmader and Bill Walker. The Russetta B Coupe class (the class Kenny was competing in) record in 1951 was set by Ed Pink running Chet Herbert's GMC engine in his '36 Ford coupe. I believe that Kenny did not belong to any clubs in SCTA or Bell Timing. Attached is a photo of the Kenny Bigelow Memorial Trophy (Click for Image). The trophy is about 4 to 5 feet tall (my camera could not get it all in from the other side of the room). It was given each year from 1952 to about 1958. I did receive a nice note from Kenny's Mother after I received the trophy. I believe that she then was living in the San Francisco area. There were a number of accidents at El Mirage in the 1950 to 1953 period which indicated that perhaps lakes racing was unsafe.  However, since that time the improvements in the race cars, safety requirements and attention to the condition of the lake bed have resulted in an excellent safety record. I am happy to see Kenny's memory get the attention that it deserves.     Don Montgomery

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The following email came in from the family of the late Danny Oakes.  Danny was a great midget racer and mechanic and earned an Indy 500 ring for his work as a top mechanic.  His family is holding an auction of the memorabilia left to them and if you want to get in on the auction this is the perfect time to make a bid. 
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     "I am Danny's son-in-law and we are finally getting around to selling Danny's private collection of racing memorabilia.  We decided to let David Hester (from the Storage Wars TV show) handle the auction at his facility in Orange, CA.  I just wanted to let you know and ask if you wouldn't mind sending out a "blast" email to the followers on your mailing list.  The auction is going to be held on August 30th (next Tuesday) at Dave Hester Auctions, 1141 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA.  The auction will start at 6:00 p.m.  I am attaching a link to the preview gallery so that any interested parties can check out what will be sold at the auction."   Jeffrey A. DesRosier  
Auction Preview website http://www.estatesales.net/estate-sales/206400.aspx
Dave Hester Auctions. 
Phone: (714) 744-4743. 
http://www.davehesterauctions.com.
Address of Sale: 1141 W Katella Ave Orange, CA 92867
Sale Dates and Times: 8/30/2011 6:00 PM (Tuesday)

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Some More About Engines. By LeRoi Tex Smith   
   Let me continue in the vein of engines, automotive ones, the kinds that hot rodders have historically gravitated to. For an automotive engine to have even a half-life in hot rodding, it must have two basic traits: it must have an intrinsic design that allows modifications for increased performance, and it must be inexpensive. The Ford Model T banger, and the ensuing four cylinders through 1940, as well as the venerable flathead V8 had these elements in spades. But they were not alone. And it must be understood that hot rod engineering did not begin with the small block Chevrolet V8!  While the Model T four banger was widely used in racing, the Chevy four was arguably better, especially with an Olds head. The T banger was cheap. all right, but is was nowhere the engine the Model A, or its successor the Models B and C were. And, because they fit the two basic needs for hot rodding engines, these engines were difficult to pry away from the records at the dry lakes, and even in circle track racing. It took quite a long time, in the years, for the Ford V8 to overcome the bangers.  
   I remember vividly how the inline six engines would knock off any of these Ford favorites. Example, one weekend at East 14th Street race track in east Oakland (northern California) all the hot shoes were doing their normal efforts to put each other over the wall, when a six engine roadster flat towed in from southern California. Nothing special it appeared, until that flat six from Ford's nowhere land put everyone on the shelf with best lap times ever! Then came a string of Chevy sixes, and suddenly all the eight cylinder guys were looking for six bangers to build. Just in time for another southern California dude to step in with a way hot GMC. It ran like stink, with tons of torque out of the corners, and the writing was on the wall: The flat motor Fords days were numbered. Which is about the time the new Olds and Cad V8''s showed, and from then on the blue oval was an afterthought.  As always, it was just a heartbeat from the race tracks to the street, and those same Olds and Cad OVH engines showed in everything, particularly 49-54 Fords.  
   Even then, I got big respect for the Olds, using the nameplate regularly as rod material well into the Sixties. All the time, I played with oddball power, especially the in-lines. In the southern states, those sixes reined over the V8, particularly in pickup trucks. Stump pulling torque was king with the good ol' boys. The V8's held court everywhere else. I suspect that, at least in street hot rod circles, the Smitty muffler was the reason. But, if you set up the exhaust of a six by splitting the header 2 and 4, you get a killer krackle that no V8 can muster. To go this split one better, do a 1 and 5 header. Rattle the rafters downtown, break a few storefront display glass panes, and put the local constable hot on your trail. Plus, if you want to for sure get some up front bucks for road tests against the V8 crowd, just show with an inline six. The inline eight’s don't do nearly as well, except maybe in a long pull. Too heavy, and face facts, those little 4 banger rice rockets are likely to dust us all. That's why I wanted to put the Aussie hemi MoPar in the roadster. Talk about a toaster, what a combination... Under one ton with way out torque and an overdrive automatic. Good mileage and enough pinto beans to flavor any side bets on the side streets!

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Bench-Racing has been enjoying the foggy weather at Monterey "Car Week" for the last couple of days and as we move into the big weekend I thought I would invite those of you that are not here to enjoy some of the images that make this huge event the amazing car event that it is. Please follow the link to our "News" page for the latest photos. We are off today to watch interviews with special guests Sterling Moss and John Surtees and then a trip to the "Concours d'Lemons" for the most amusing and comical car show anywhere. Enjoy! All the best, Charles Rollins Editor www.Bench-Racing.com

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This is the "Don't Miss" car of the year...we will have both dragsters and both Indy cars on display at the Firestone Complete Auto Care booth next to the main stage. Biggest one day car show in the country.  John Ewald ... http://www.cruisinforacure.com/

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I am interested in the Santa Ana Drags reunion breakfast that seems to be held in October.  Do have any information on that?  Steve Lee
     Steve: There were three Santa Ana Drags events in the past, two of which have faded out.  For years Creighton Hunter and his friends held an annual event called the Santa Ana Dragstrip Reunion at the Elks Club in Santa Ana across from the Zoo.  That event is no more as Creighton has passed on and there are too few left to keep that reunion going.  The second event was a weekly luncheon at the same facility and C. J. Hart and Creighton Hunter organized that, but both are now gone and I doubt anyone is keeping that activity going.  The third event is called the Santa Ana Airport Drags and Main Street Malt Shop Reunion.  For years the Jenkins family organized that event until they could no longer manage it.  In stepped Leslie Long, who raced at Santa Ana and is the official historian for the old drag strip.  He organizes a reunion twice a year along Santiago Creek on the border of Santa Ana and the city of Orange, along East Memory Lane.  I have heard rumors, not confirmed, that he is going to hold another reunion in October.  About thirty to forty people usually attend; drag racers that predate just about all other drag racers.  The history of this event is fascinating and when I hear more news I will try and post it in the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians Newsletter at www.landspeedracing.com.  Keep reading the newsletters for updates.  I have stories on the reunion posted at www.hotrodhotline.com, guest columnist/Richard Parks.

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Here is a link they can go to and I just added some drag racing stuff on the IRL page.   Ron Nelson  http://www.classicvintagemotorsports.com/index.html

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2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.  The world’s rarest and most beautiful automobiles will be at Pebble Beach Golf Links this Sunday, August 21, 2011.  Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is often said to be the world’s premier celebration of the automobile, bringing together elegant vintage vehicles that compete for Best of Show and other awards on the famed 18th fairway at Pebble Beach.  Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance also features nearly 20 futuristic concept cars on display at the practice putting green, many of which are on public display for the first time.  This year’s features include: Mercedes-Benz and 125 years of the Automobile, Stutz Centennial, Rolls-Royce Edwardian Silver Ghosts, Italian Motorcycles, 50th anniversary of Ferrari 250 GTO.   Pre-event news conference: Saturday, August 20 at 10:30 a.m., featuring John Surtees, OBE, the only man to win world racing championships in motorcycle racing and Formula 1; and racing great Sir Stirling Moss.  Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance: Sunday, August 21, 2011, Begins at 10:30 a.m.  Pebble Beach Golf Links.      Dan Smith   

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I wanted to let you know that I have finished my new Custom Cars Annual. I would like you to have one of them when they arrive.  I hope you enjoy it.  Thank you for your help, and if you have a chance to review it again on www.hotrodhotline.com or anywhere else, it would be most appreciated.  Thanks again, and if I can be any help to you, please let me know.  Sincerely, Justin Kudolla
   Justin: I would be glad to review your Annual.

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Taylor & Tori Thompson will be performing on Center Stage at this year's Cruzin' for Life. Performing with their band Injured Elbows, enjoy them for a one hour concert 10am Saturday, September 24th at the Santa Maria Fairpark.  www.cruzinforlife.net, Bob Labastida

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Bonneville Speed Week 2011 Speed Demon's Record Run & Video. The Speed Demon also earned the prestigious Hot Rod Magazine trophy for the fastest measured mile, at an astonishing 426 MPH, as seen in the video. Filmed with Replay XD1080. http://www.replayxd.com [Play video] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7tf6nGA1U4. It garnered top speed at SpeedWeek and the winner of the Hot Rod Magazine Trophy for the fastest mile at this year’s Bonneville SpeedWeek at 416.539 M.P.H. and a final speed of 426.910 M.P.H. This was the fastest record set this year at SpeedWeek. George Poteet drove the Speed Demon at Bonneville Speedweek 2011. The Speed Demon set the new Blown Fuel Streamliner record at 390.709 mph, breaking the old record of 366.043 mph. George Poteet has won the trophy three years in a row now. For more on the Speed Demon visit www.speeddemon.us   The Speed Demon Crew consists of: Aron Cranford, Kenny Duttweiler, David Main, Mark McCaw, Jim Miller, Greg Pyles, Russell Russ, AJ Smith, and Steve Watt. Special thanks to "Teen Angel" Vanessa!   Sent to us by Ron Main.

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

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

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