NEWSLETTER 229 - January 6, 2012
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, FULTON "SHORTY" L. RICHARDS, sent in by Larry Richards; Memorial/Celebration of Life for Burke LeSage; Rudolph Weir had a shop in Los Angeles, California called Weir Motors in the thirties; The 80th Anniversary of the iconic 1932 Ford Deuce will be celebrated at the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show, co-presented by The Roadsters of Los Angeles and Flowmaster - The Exhaust Technology Company; This is a interesting read and maybe something you can use as a fill in, though it is not related to LSR as there are a few circle track racers on the great site; I am a Finnish journalist preparing an article covering the amazing achievements of California hot rodders Mickey Thompson and Summers brothers; An Oval Track Racer Doing Record Setting Straight Line Racing, 26 December 2011; Editor’s notes: The recent issue of the online retro hot rodding e-zine, Blacktop magazine, has the following subjects; Mooneyes X-mas Party, Chopperfest, Blacktop Bettys, and more from the SEMA Show; Editor’s notes: With the passing of Burke LeSage I felt it was appropriate to bring to you a little history about Burke; Just received a phone call tonight from my dear friends Junior and Anita Thompson. JR Thompson’s “original” Opel Kadett AA/GS is now being prepared to leave JR’s garage and enter a museum; World's Oldest Running Car Fetches $4.62 Million


President's Corner:  
   Let’s start the new year with a cover shot of Speed Age Magazine from back in 1953 that represented ‘out with the old and in with the new.’  Seems the year 2012 brings us the same thing but this time it’s a little closer to home in that all our racing heroes that we grew up with as kids are now, how should I say it, older. And with that it also means a lot of them are leaving us for the big racetrack in the sky. Over the last few years we've lost a lot of them. Some we know a lot about and some not so much but it again brings up our favorite subject; we're not leaving any history on ourselves for the next generation of racers to read about. The bottom line is if you are over 50 and are a certified car nut and have played with any kind of fast machine you should write it down and leave it to posterity. 
   Almost to a man every car guy I've ever talked to that grew up in the '50's says it was the best time of their life, the street racing, the cars, the gals; everything, yet it's all being lost. To illustrate the point take someone famous like an Earl Evans, a Phil Weiand, a Howard Johansen or even Isky and do a search on the net. You'll be amazed at what you don't come up with. You might find a sentence here or a line there. But nothing that is really concrete and complete. What a shame that is. I was going through some old pre WWII shots a few weeks ago and ran across a great Log Manifold built by Tommy Davis. Tom who, you might ask? That was at least a decade before Bruce Crower invented his U-Fab intakes that made him famous. A few of you might know that Tom started Aviaid making oil pans and then dry sump systems for cars. But how many of you know he use to work for Tommy Lee or raced boats or built replica WWI aircraft.  Every car, boat or bike guy has a gazillion great stories and we should all be working toward saving them. Your help is needed. Oh yeah, Happy New Year.


   Roger Rohrdanz, our photographic editor, has been hounding me to include more biographies and stories that we have written or collected over the years. That seemed like a good idea so I went back and reviewed some of the 400 stories and forgot that I had even written most of them. Roger is right; there are some good things there. If you haven’t seen these stories, articles, reviews and biographies they are available at www.hotrodhotline.com, Guest Columnist/Richard Parks and Roger Rohrdanz. In addition there are car shows by Roger with his great photos. Roger must have written and photographed a thousand or more drag races and car shows by now. Besides what Roger and I have done there are other guest columnists on this website and each of them writes from a different perspective. Of course, I have to mention Tex Smith, who has a column here. Tex is a great writer and editor, but his grammar, spelling and punctuation is deliberately downplayed. I think that he does this simply to irritate other writers and editors that he has worked for in the past, like Dick Wells and Wally Parks. I’ve known Tex since the 1950’s and what a history and life he has lived. He’s the kind of hot rodder we all want to be like. He’s the big kid in the crowd that all the rest of us look up to with our mouths gaping open.  Hopefully one of these days we can get him to write his bio and publish it here.
   Another one of my favorite writers on Hotrodhotline is Tim Kennedy. He writes on oval racing and is one of the under appreciated writers in motorsports. Tim doesn’t waste adjectives needlessly, but what he does is cover a subject thoroughly. When you get through reading his race results you feel as if you had been at that race with him and actually saw the events unfolding. The only reason Tim isn’t picked up by a newspaper or magazine is that he is one of the shyest and unassuming men that I have met. Sooner or later he will be discovered and his writing more appreciated. A young lady by the name of Jessica Clark will post her racing updates on the site as well. Jessica is a high school student who has been oval track racing and is doing very well, winning two western division classes this past year. She wants to go on to race open wheel cars in the future and this is your chance to follow her career as it gets off the ground. Another writer is Mitzi Valenzuela and she is not only a skilled photographer but a successful businesswoman as well. Martin Squires writes on races, shows and events in the U.K. and Europe and brings us a continental viewpoint. Soon we hope to have a representative of the car and land speed racing events down under in Australia. I am interested to see if the LSR guys in Australia have managed to reopen racing on Lake Gairdner.


FULTON "SHORTY" L. RICHARDS, sent in by Larry Richards.
     "Shorty" Richards, age 60, of Riverside, California,  passed away just after midnight on Sunday, January 1, 2012, at Loma Linda Acute Rehabilitation Center.  "Shorty" is survived by his loving wife Mary (nee Johnson), his daughter Christi Terral (Kevin), son Michael Richards (Jennifer) and 5 grandchildren whom he adored: Raymond, Kaylee, Selyna, Cody and Isabella.   Also surviving are his brothers: Thomas "Rick" Richards (Lynn) of Mississippi, Glenn Richards (Susan) of Florida, and Larry Richards (Randi) of Virginia, his sisters: Sheila Hawkins (Rick) of Texas, and Terri Ingle (Robert) of Mississippi.  He had many wonderful nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews who live in Mississippi, Texas, Virginia, and Florida. He was predeceased by his parents, Thomas Richards, of Mississippi, and Myrtle Richards Bowman (nee Garrard), also of Mississippi.  "Shorty" was born in Mississippi on June 29, 1951, and moved to Rowland Heights, California, with his family when he was a young child.  Growing up in southern California, Shorty and his brothers developed a love of cars and racing.  Beginning in the 1970’s the Richards Brothers, with Shorty at the wheel, could be found at El Mirage Dry Lake or Bonneville, racing "The Family Feud," their AA Altered land speed racer. 
     Shorty also loved NASCAR racing and was thrilled when his wife, Mary, gave him the gift of a week at the NASCAR Racing School.  Shorty worked for many years on off-shore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, that was preceded by several years aboard the Hughes Glomar Explorer and while on board he was involved with deep sea recovery operations.  The last 20+ years, Shorty has been a truck driver and diesel mechanic for the PTI Sand & Gravel Co. in Ontario, California.  It was here he met his wonderful wife, Mary.  They were married on October 10, 1992.  Shorty continued to be involved in motor sports throughout his life.  He and Mary also enjoyed the time spent on their boat near Lake Havasu, were they had a weekend place and spent many happy weekends with family and friends enjoying "The Lake."  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to UCLA Center for Esophageal Disorders.  The Visitation & Memorial is scheduled for this Friday, January 6, 1:30-4:00 pm internment private.  Family requests casual attire.  Cortner Chapel, 221 Brookside Avenue, Redlands, California 92327.  Re-sent to us from Jerry Cornelison  


Memorial/Celebration of Life for Burke LeSage.  I am trying to get the word out to as many folks as possible. Please help in any way you can. If you have a web site, know of a web site, know friends and/or associates of his and you have a way of contacting them please assist me and the family.  Friday, January 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM at The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, 1101 West McKinley Avenue, Bldg 3A  Pomona, California 91768.  If you have photos, or anything you'd like to share please bring anything and everything.  Larry and I are assisting the family and organizing the program. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.  Anne Lindsley, [email protected], 909-240-0868 (cell).
    This message was re-sent by Jerry Cornelison, Road Runners - SCTA (est 1937) http://www.ussarcherfish.com/roadrunners.


Rudolph Weir had a shop in Los Angeles, California called Weir Motors in the thirties.  He had patents in 1929 and 1930 for his ideas.  He made an attempt to qualify at Indy in 1930 in a partnership with Ralph de Palma who drove his Indy car with a Weir 8 cylinder motor in it from LA to Indy, with his wife, but failed to qualify.  Weir attempted to qualify at Indy as late as 1935 but never made it.  The motor I am working on matches the 1929 patent and the block bolts up to a Miller crankcase and is gear train driven.  That is all the info I have other than this motor was purchased from the Weir estate.  My design for a racing rotary valve motor is based on a 4 cylinder Lotus sister motor to the DOHC  in Dave Martins G Gas Lakester.  The fourth design is in the works and is scheduled to debut in 2013 at El Mirage if I last that long.  Vic Enyart


The 80th Anniversary of the iconic 1932 Ford Deuce will be celebrated at the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show, co-presented by The Roadsters of Los Angeles and Flowmaster - The Exhaust Technology Company. 1932 is an important year in American history and culture. Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to office at the forefront of the Depression; Amelia Earhart became the first female to complete a solo transatlantic flight; the Yankees won their fourth straight World Series, and Ford Motor Company introduced the first affordable mass produced V-8 powered car - the 1932 Ford Model B also known as the "Deuce."  The Deuce is the quintessential car to modify into a hot rod. Its unique design and rarity have led to the construction of some of the most beautifully designed hot rods ever built.  1932 was the worst year in car sales history. Mainly due to the Depression, but also because Ford's Model-A had become obsolete. People wanted a more luxurious, sleeker, faster car, all the while being affordable to the average American.  Edsel, Henry Ford's only son, was the key designer of the Deuce. Edsel's design was a car for the masses. It was practical and aesthetically pleasing, making it a masterpiece of automotive design. 
   The Deuce was on sale for only six months, solidifying it as a prized commodity. The following year Ford introduced several design changes, while other car manufactures followed his example of affordable, fast luxury cars.  The Deuce marks the end of an era and sets the precedent of another.  In honor of the 80th Anniversary, there will be eighty driven Deuces on display beginning January 27 through the 29th, 2012 at the Grand National Roadster Show.  In addition to the 80 driven deuces, the following pedal car builders will be displaying their work in Building 9:  Gene Winfield-Rod & Custom, Rolling Bones-Hot Rod Shop, Steve's Auto Restorations, Hollywood Hot Rods, So-Cal Speed Shop, Rad Rides by Troy, Fastlane Rod Shop, McPherson College, H&H Flatheads, And 1 "stock" pedal car that will be signed by all special guests that attend the Pearson Automotive Deuce Week.   Doyle Gammell Coupe, Bob Kolmos Phaeton, Jerry Kugel Roadster, Lobeck/Coonan, Bauder/Meyer Roadster, McGee/Scritchfield Roadster, Bob Morris 'Nickel' Roadster, Andy Brizio Roadster, and Roy Brizio Roadster. 
   This year the Grand National Roadster Show's pinstriper event and charity auction will be raising money for the Gavin R. Stevens Foundation. Their mission is to raise awareness and increase funding for research that will lead to treatments, and hopefully a cure for Leber's Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a genetic disease that causes blindness at birth.  The auctions will take place on Friday at 7:00, Saturday at 3:00, and Sunday at 3:00 in building 4, where we will be auctioning off collectibles. These are always highly sought after items and this year's selection is even better! You can also bring your cell phones, laptops, or any other items, where it can be pinstriped by the best stripers in the industry. Your donations will help fund research and operations that will give a little boy or girl the chance to not live in darkness. Report from John Buck at the Grand National Roadster Show.


This is a interesting read and maybe something you can use as a fill in, though it is not related to LSR as there are a few circle track racers on the great site.  Happy New Year.   http://www.fireballroberts.com/Fish_Story.htm.  Glen Barrett


I am a Finnish journalist preparing an article covering the amazing achievements of California hot rodders Mickey Thompson and Summers brothers. My intention is to focus on their assaults on the land speed record with their 4 engine marvels, the Challenger 1 and the Goldenrod.  I have excellent technical information and cutaway pictures of the Goldenrod, but not the Challenger 1.  From the material I got, I have learned that they used supercharged Pontiac 414 cid (bored out 389's), but the most interesting part - the chassis and driveline - are left pretty misty in the material I have. In Mr Erik Arneson's recent book it states that the car had 4 clutches and four La Salle 3-speed transmissions, but I can't figure how the car could have been driven through totally separate drivelines to each wheel.  So I would be very grateful if you could help me out.  Any pictures, especially cutaway drawing of the car, would be extremely welcome.  Also all verified technical information, such as overall drive ratio, horsepower on the record run, make of the superchargers, transmissions, axles and wheels would be very important for me in order to get things right in my article.  Best regards, Jan Enqvist, Editor Mobilisti Classic Car Magazine, Helsinki, Finland.
     Jan: Steve Davis or Danny Thompson may be able to answer your questions and provide photographs for your article.  I will send your message on to them. 


An Oval Track Racer Doing Record Setting Straight Line Racing, 26 December 2011.  Story and photographs by Bob Falcon. Edited by Richard Parks, photographic consultant is Roger Rohrdanz. 
     I have been involved in auto racing for all of my life.  At the time of my birth, just a year before the crash of the stock market that launched the good old USA into its worst financial depression, my father was an auto repair shop owner and a part time racecar owner-driver.   His racecar was a Model-T Ford based, single-seat, dirt-track home built affair. The engine was a Ford T with some of the aftermarket parts that were available by mail from the Chevrolet Brothers who were located at Indianapolis, Indiana. Dad’s car, at the time my eyes first opened, sported a Frontenac 8-valve cylinder head and an updraft Winfield (or Miller) racing carburetor. It also had a pair of Scintella magnetos. He raced on fairground dirt tracks around Southwest Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.  When he competed, he and his helpers, local neighborhood pals, would load the racer onto a flat-bed truck and then we would caravan to the racetrack. All the families who crewed on the racecar would ride in their respective family cars and would find a spot that provided a good view of the racetrack.  Jennerstown Speedway, located near Johnstown, Pennsylvania had an area where the track was carved and we could park on the hilltop overlooking the start of the back straight. The crew would remove the seats out of the family cars and we all sat on them to watch the races, which were the one-lap qualifications followed by a race 100 miles in distance. These old racers posted times of 30 seconds per lap; about twice the time of present day dirt track sprint cars. 
     It was in just this situation when I recall dad’s car veering to the right and hitting the dirt embankment below our seating area, flying into the air and dropping my father out of the seat onto the track in front of the rest of the car field that was chasing him. One of his crew vaulted out onto the track and dragged dad out of harm’s way to the safety of the infield.  What is amazing is the fact that the rescuer, Tony Fiesta, had one of his legs amputated earlier in his life. This accident occurred during Jennerstown Speedway’s Labor Day race in 1930.  Tony’s son, John and I were neighborhood chums during our early school days at Saint Rita’s School in Connellsville, Pennsylvania and we continue to be in touch with each other to this day.  With a background like this, and after our family migrated to Los Angeles in early 1942, I soon evolved into the car culture of the region.  While attending Hamilton High School in West Los Angeles, I became the owner of a 1931 Ford Roadster, equipped with a Miller-Schofield cylinder head. Yes it was a Miller because it suffered from the water jacket crack that spilled water out between number 2 and 3 cylinders.  The Four-Barrel readers all know about this infamous casting flaw. 
     While many of my high school car guy pals competed at the lakes (among other places) I only went there a couple of times as a spectator. Then while in tenth grade I became involved helping a neighbor build a track roadster. I worked with my neighbor after I locked up the gasoline station where I was employed after school until 8 PM. His name was John Kelley and we worked on his race car until midnight, every night.  John’s car was typical of the second-generation cars that were racing in the California Racing Association (CRA) that used Carrell Speedway as their home track. John had decided we would race his car with another group named California Sport Cars Racing Association (CSCRA) on the new, high banked and paved Culver City Speedway, which was their home track. The car was made from a Model-A Ford frame rails with dedicated cross members made of large diameter tubing with the engine moved rearward around 12 inches from the front spring mount. The firewall was 1/4 inch aluminum plate that also served as the rear motor mount and motor plate. A Ford transmission was used without the stock flywheel and clutch assembly opting for what was termed a “button flywheel,” this was a small flange arrangement that accepted the flywheel bearing that supported the transmission main shaft. With this set-up, the engine starting procedure was the same as used for Midgets equipped with quick change gearboxes.
     The starting procedure was a push truck start in neutral with the fuel and ignition off. Once speed is gained the brakes are locked and the gear lever is shifted into second gear. Then the brakes are released and as the engine rotates and the oil pressure is at operating pressure the fuel valve is opened and the pressurized fuel begins to flow. Then the ignition is switched on and the car pulls away from the push truck. The car really accelerates due to the lack of a flywheel and clutch.  I never had much of an opportunity to make the trip to the dry lakes since I was working on an oval track racing pit crew every Saturday night someplace in SoCal.  After we finished the Kelley racer I helped Sandy Belond build a track roadster that he raced with the CRA and also another track hot rod group, California Hot Rods (CHR) who had secured bookings at Gilmore Stadium and some other active Midget tracks. In 1992 I purchased a car that had caught my fancy, a Ford Taurus SHO. This car was incredibly fast right off the showroom floor.  The SHO is a four door standard size sedan powered by a tiny normally aspirated 183 cubic inch (3.0 Litre) V6 engine. The car is equipped with cylinder heads manufactured by Yamaha under contract from Ford. These heads are 24 valve DOHC with bucket style lifters like those used in the Offy motors. The plenum chambers are fitted with two sets of ports which make it possible to do the daily driving in an economy mode.
     But if some guy in a BMW wants to “try you on” when that little engine opens the secondary ports in the plenum it will suck the windshield out of any “Beemer” on the road. Out of the box the big four door went from zero to 60 in less than six seconds and that was before I did any trick things to it.  FoMoCo advertised this model as being capable of 140 mph, but this was on a ten mile, parabolic banked test track which, at speed, is similar to driving down a very long straightaway.  This model was one of the very first cars that featured computer controlled direct fuel injection and an ignition system that did not contain a distributor. There were three ignition coils that were controlled by the vehicle’s computer that based the timing on information delivered by a trigger which locates TDC on the number one cylinder. This device is known as a Harden Trigger.  At a Sprint Car race at Ascot Speedway one evening I crossed paths with an old Culver City and Halibrand Engineering pal; Jerry Bondio. Jerry, who had worked in Shelby’s racing division as a fabricator, then moved to Vel’s-Parnelli Racing as a fabricator for the “Super Team” of the early 1970’s. He didn’t really work at Halibrand Engineering but rather was employed by Wayne Guyer who was a Halibrand tenant.  Jerry did much of the welding on the Mass Rapid Transit Magnetic powered vehicle that Halibrand built for AiResearch, which was under contract to the US Department of Transportation to test the feasibility of this unique method of propulsion. 
     Jerry had quit the race car game and was settled in as the fleet mechanic and fabricator for the Culver City school district. He had a pretty neat shop at their facility that was adjacent to the Culver City High School athletic field. Jerry had done a lot of dry lakes racing and was a former member of the Screwdrivers club.  At the time I was working in the engineering department at Sargent Fletcher, an aerospace company that produced aircraft external fuel tanks among other things that fly. This company was an extension of the old Fletcher Aviation, which also built a few types of airplanes and had the license to build the Porsche flat four rocker arm engine for industrial purposes. Fletcher also sponsored the Porsche 550 Spyder team that competed in the 1953 and 1954 Carrera Panamericana (aka the Mexican Road Race) that raced on the highway from the southern border of Mexico to the Texas border in a five-day race.  Since Jerry had a lot of dry lakes experience and he had lived through some fast rides in the SHO he suggested that we take a stab at a few runs at El Mirage Dry Lake. I didn’t know how to find the place but he knew the route and we experimented with smoother roads than that west entrance.  The first thing we did to the car was make an exhaust “cut-out” upstream from the catalytic converters and installed an aftermarket Hypertech electronic chip and a K&N high flow air filter element.
     George Bentley informed us when the next meet was scheduled and we filed a guest entry. While staged in the line for a run, I switched the air filter element from the stock unit to the K&N. I needed some grease to seal the cover so I asked the crew staged in front of us if they had any Lubriplate. The guy looked at me funny and he seemed familiar to me and he said, “Didn’t your dad own a wheel alignment shop in Culver City?” That’s when Bob Arner’s name popped into my memory.  George Bentley gave me some tips on how to read the track to find the best groove. Of course, I had a lot of skill in this field from reading all the dirt oval tracks I had driven racecars on but the dusty lakebed was a different story. We made about four runs that day with the fastest around 123 mph. While staging for a run another guy came up and chatted about the SHO. Turns out his wife owned an earlier model and he had made a few runs with it. He informed me that the best I could expect would be in the neighborhood of 125 mph.  Jerry and I joined the Milers club and kept working with the car. We finally got her up to 128.9 mph at El Mirage.
     When they announced the Muroc Reunion in 1996 we entered, but due to windy weather we only had a chance to make a single run on the course that intersected the lake bed runway on a 45 degree angle. So we got the opportunity to cross those raised-up black runway marker lines with each of the wheels in sequence. Kinda reminded me of some of the chewed up oval dirt tracks I raced on. Our speed for that run was 122.8 mph because the dumb driver became engaged in a conversation with an attractive lady official and forgot to turn off the air conditioning system!  The next year we again entered the Muroc Reunion and on this occasion we raced on a serviced dirt emergency runway on the southern edge of the base. This course was 1.5 miles in length. We made four or five runs and had a fuel check after each attempt and the final run was the confirmed Class F-Production Muroc Record of 137.709 mph.   This was in April 1997. The next Muroc Reunion was scheduled for April, but was cancelled. I feel that the base will not play host to any public racing events for a long, long time. It all depends on how the Base Commander and his superior’s feel about letting the public run around their High Security base in their private cars.  Our record has been in the books for nearly 15 years and there is a good chance it will be there long after I have fled this earth. 
     After composing the story regarding the establishment of the SCTA Muroc Class F-Production speed record I reassessed all my projects and now find that I will not have the time to bring that Taurus SHO back to running condition. So the vehicle is now for sale. I am the original owner of this car that has a full leather interior, Ford version of Recarro bucket seats and an air induction system that has been fabricated to direct incoming air over the radiator and into the side of the air filter box. An upgrade of this system is in the design stages and the dimensioned drawings will be part of the sale. New spare parts that will accompany the vehicle are four new CH Topping cross-drilled rotors and brake pads. The SCTA Log Book and all the earned dash tags go with the car.  The car is located in Rosemead, California and anyone who has questions can email me at [email protected], and I will respond immediately. The selling price is $12,000.00 FOB Rosemead.
Gone Racin' is at [email protected]. 


Editor’s notes: The recent issue of the online retro hot rodding e-zine, Blacktop magazine, has the following subjects; Mooneyes X-mas Party, Chopperfest, Blacktop Bettys, and more from the SEMA Show.   To get this free e-zine sent to you send an email to T Bone at [email protected].


Editor’s notes: With the passing of Burke LeSage I felt it was appropriate to bring to you a little history about Burke. He was quite a guy and the stories that he told cover an important era in land speed racing. But more than that he was my friend and the friend of many other LSR racers. We will truly miss him.
Gone Racin'...With Burke LeSage.  Written by Burke LeSage, edited by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz. 

     I appreciate your recap of the early days of the MTA, SCTA, Hot Rod Magazine, NHRA and the myriad founding people and pioneers. A document recording history, cheers!  One person that I have yet to notice in reference to the early NHRA was Dr. Nathan Ostich, MD.  I believe Dr. Ostich served as a director during the initial incorporation of NHRA.  In addition to his medical activity Dr. Ostich was also a dry lakes and Bonneville driver.  He had a Chrysler powered comp/coupe that was prepped by Ak Miller.  Next he built and drove the Flying Caduceus, a jet powered LSR vehicle in 1961 that went 360 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in an AAA sanctioned event.  Wally Parks and Ray Brock served as consultants, Road Runner and SCTA officer Bill Graham was the technician and pit crewman.  The machine was last seen in the Harrah's Car Museum in Reno Nevada.  As I type the word Nevada, I will let that serve as an introduction of my story.  I was born in Nevada in 1935, where my parents were living as a result of the unemployment in their home area of Los Angeles, California.  Thus my birth certificate states that I was born in Miner's Hospital, Tonopah, Nevada.  I was an offspring of the depression era generation.  I remember driving through Tonopah in 1951 going to Bonneville, with a racecar in tow.  
     I was at the home office for the SCTA in the summer of 1949, helping Wally Parks, Bozzy Willis and others transfer a couple hundred newly painted red and white traffic cones from the SCTA panel truck to a stake truck for shipment, preparatory to the inaugural Bonneville Speed Trials. The SCTA office at this time was at the East Los Angeles residence of Phyllis and Jim Lindsley.  Phyl Lindsley handled the Association's clerical file, keeping work that resulted from the efforts of Wally, Pete Petersen and the others that had made the 'presentation' to the controlling organization for Utah's Salt Flats, the Bonneville Speedway Association.  I have a letter dated February 20, 2005 from Wally Parks endorsing Phyl to be honored in the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame.  Jim and Phyl Lindsley handled administrative concerns with great dedication in the 1950's, while the others who had originated the early speed trials moved along to other hot rod, drags and motorsport action.  Yes, Adams, Karl and Veda Orr, Parks and the others laid the foundation, yet it is my belief that the Lindsleys' provided the connecting-link whereby the SCTA survived to become the oldest, longest standing automobile competition sanctioning body.
     From 1949 through 1988, with perhaps just two weekend exceptions, I have participated in every Lakes Meet including a 1951 try out at Evans Dry Lake as noted in the January, '52 issue of
Hot Rod Magazine.  A photo caption related the Lindsley & LeSage B/Coupe entry netted the SCTA '51 Season championship.  Editor Wally Parks was keen to note the 'driver' B. LeSage was just 16 years of age.  Later on when I was a parent, my two kids went along for an adventure with the SCTA in the sojourn to Laguna Salada, a less than suitable dry lake south of Calexico, in Baja California, Mexico.  Every summer from 1951 to 1988, in the month of August, most often with the family in tow, we would find ourselves in Utah.  My son was an excellent speed trials spectator, while my daughter for several seasons stayed in town and was able to enjoy horseback riding in the hills of Wendover.  One year she and one of the local girls rode all the way out to the Bonneville Pits at the edge of the Salt. In 1988 at a Utah Salt Flat Racers Association (USFRA) event, Robbie Cohn asked if I would like to see what it was like to drive his Chevy Monza coupe.  It was a good solid 'ride,' eight grand on tach thru the gears, 185 MPH in the timing lights, then over to the return-road back to the starting-line, when a subdued  'mystery-voice' whispered to me, "Racecar driving ain't fun no more."  As it worked out, life for me somewhat took a different direction.  I haven't been to many race events since then.
     Yet it is with great satisfaction for me to observe and reflect on more than three dozen men and women who contributed and made the more than thirty hot rods, Lakes and Bonneville machines available for me to drive.  The speed range went from 107 mph up to 265 mph.  I did just a bit of drag racing.  At the El Mirage Dry Lake in September, 1954, I made two early morning runs in the 130's mph range with my brother's hi-boy FH roadster.  George Bentley of the 200 MPH Club was scheduled to drive the
'Pierson Brothers Coupe' under the auspice of flat-head wizard Tom Cobb.  Bentley had an unexpected truck run to 'Frisco town and offered me the ride.  That was two runs in the 160 mph range.  Two other fellows, Roger and Walt were into hopping up Buick's.  They had a supercharged Buick V8 in a 1938 Buick Coupe.  In August on the Salt it had run a sluggish 135mph.  At El Mirage it became an ill-handling brute, both owners wanted another opinion.  I accepted the challenge.  According to Timing Stand reports the big coupe on the course was stirring up a lot of dust, and just before the Timing-traps, there was a sudden twist off course with a series of violent tumbles.  There was no roll-bar, but I had a war-surplus safety belt that failed immediately, and the spill left me in a crumpled mess and out cold.  The George Air Force base medical office in Victorville, California and the local hospital reported that the injury was too severe for their personnel, so the ambulance transported me to the Los Angeles area, where I awoke ten days later from my coma.  It took me a couple of weeks before I regained normalcy, coordination and health.  Somehow the zest known most by those who choose to live-in-harms-way was apparent. 
     Weeks later at the Santa Ana Drags, Tom Pollard of the L.A. Roadster Club threw me the keys to his Deuce Roadster saying, "
The cowboy always gets back on the bronc that threw him."  I made a 100 mph pass; I was 'back in the saddle again.'  At Speed Week in 1955 I was in Gene Thurman's rear motor 27-T Coupe, going 175 mph and went into a 'spin' so many times that it was hard to count, and lasted for almost half a mile.   Two other incidents have occurred in a Corvette spin at the dry lakes and I had a run off into the dirt at an SCTA half mile drag.  That was a driver error.  At Riverside I had a mechanical failure with the brakes, and no chute.  Ron Benham provided me with three different belly tanks, one was a modified roadster, another was a chopped and channeled Karman Ghia, which was quite spooky, 'floating' from 140 to 160 mph.  I had a great appreciation for Benham.  Other cars were two blown, fuel burning Chrysler 'rides' in 1961, '62, and '63, yet it was Ron's 180 cid, 4 cylinder Pontiac lakester in 1963 that gave me a speed of 213.747 mph two-way average for the record and membership in the 200 MPH Club. I received my share of trophies.  About twenty years ago I sent all of my competition awards, faded and worn as they were, to a storage site.  I still have all my plaques, certificates, and mementos in my home office.  I was inducted into the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame and the SEMA Hall of Fame and given special rings. 
     One of my most cherished memories is a lapel pin that reads; SCTA-Gear Grinder President-1952.  Here I was still a sophomore in high school and yet I was elected an officer in a racing car club.  I was meeting with men who had full-race V8's, a V16 Cadillac roadster, a Model T powered by a Ranger aircraft engine.  They were guys who had served in the military during World War II, and here I was just a kid going to the SCTA Rep meetings at the Figueroa Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  I was associating with men who were big names in racing.  The Gear Grinders had a show committee helping with the hot rod set-up at the Armory near the L.A. Coliseum.  I recall having a dinner with Jim Lindsley and Wally Parks at
Julies, a fancy restaurant across from Exposition Park.  Lindsley and Bill Burke, as I recall, were both equipped with shoulder holsters acting as protectors of the gate receipts.  I was invited to have my Gear Grinders Club register with the new drag racing association, the NHRA, by a lady named Barbara Livingston, who would later become the wife of Wally Parks.  A person who was also there in the NHRA space was dry lakes great Ak Miller.  How was I to know that 30 years later I would be employed, working at Ak Miller's high performance turbocharger facility.
     One summer, while I was in high school, I went to work at Harry Weber's, polishing camshafts.  I also worked at Grant Piston Rings, and then went to work at Weiand's.  It was John Barlett of Grant's and Ed Elliott who together provided a life sustaining input for the 200 MPH Club during those formative seasons.  Each of these racecar dignitaries were also the ones of foresight in the formation of another performance group. Both were on the ground floor for the founding of the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA).  At first, SEMA had little to rely on, other than bits of scattered ideas from some of the volunteers and a few business-wise elected administrators.  As it attracted more professional help, it rapidly outgrew the original gratis secretarial assistance.  In the mid-1960's, at an early morning meeting in Mr. Bartlett's office, we had a lunch conference with Ed Elliott and I was sort of drafted to become the first employee of the rather newly formed hot rod equipment trade association SEMA.  Being acquainted with so many self-made, successful business people has been a rewarding experience. These people are generally balanced with a work ethic, the recognition of technical acumen, open to new thoughts, acceptable to change and to challenges.
    During the early years of World War II, my Mother was helping out with defense work. She ran a multi-spindle drill press, machining tiny holes for a gun mount on the P-38 Lockheed fighter plane.  In pre-war years the shop was somewhere on the west side of Los Angeles and they worked on racecars. When the war came the shop switched over to military contracts. In the backroom, stored away was the Sampson Special. As I recall it had run high speed record runs on the sands of Daytona Beach, and the driver's name was Frank Lockhart. Other Indy big car drivers stopped in at this shop during the war.  One triple-A driver was Ted Horn.  My Mother, in my younger days, seemed to be duly impressed with Ted Horn who she said often appeared wearing white dress pants. As a teenager, when I went to the weekly jalopy races at Carrell Speedway with Jim Lindsley, it was an unspoken code to wear whites.  Yet there I was at the dry lakes or on the Salt, even at 40 plus years of age still wearing whites.  Speaking of Jalopy races, I recall the Kenny Parks pink car.  Kenny and a couple of Bell Auto guys also raced a 1932 V12 Lincoln Sedan for a few races. Jim Lindsley and I were leaving the Gardena race track and Jim was using his work truck to pull his #44 jalopy race car, heading east on Rosecrans Blvd.  Wally Parks passed us on the right driving a '36 Ford pick-up with a full-race flat head. As he hit second-gear you could hear the rear tires breaking rubber. So yes, he was a street racer like all the guys. Now don't ask me anything about last week, yet I have a very clear recollection of that moment fifty years ago.  
      I received a letter from a lady seeking a driver for an LSR car on April 1, 1982.  It was a battery powered machine and the goal was to exceed 200 mph.  Dreisbach Electromotive Inc (DEMI), a firm out of Santa Barbara, California was developing a basic research effort into the potential of a marketable electric passenger car.  To have an official land speed record was an effort to ascertain the viability of a battery car.  I got to drive the car and enjoyed a number of months as test-driver.  My first time out was at the Santa Maria Airport.  Rather than for me to motor to Santa Maria the lady said to fly-up.  I called 2-Club friend Monte Wolfe, and they covered his expenses as well and we had a day of R & D and were home by dark.  On another occasion they secured the Orange County Raceway and the car covered the 1/4 mile trap times at 97 mph, with an elapsed time (ET) of 14.5 seconds.  We couldn't run the car at the August Speed Week due to a rain-out.  DEMI made contact with the Air Force and we were able to contract with the SCTA to set up kilo and 1/2 kilo clocks at Wendover Field.  A couple of days of FIA short course timing, a lot of time for me to be on stand-by. 
   As a U.S. history buff it was fascinating to visit the several USAF B-29 hangars that in 1944 had served in the preparation of the A-bomb, which helped to end World War II.  Stenciled into an I-beam pillar a GI had etched the "
Enola Gay was here."  A couple of months earlier the DEMI folks wanted a look at the Salt Flats.  On a Saturday morning Monte Wolfe, Gary Cagle and I were at the Ontario Airport.  The DEMI Citation jet flew in, off we went to Utah, a Wendover rental car to the Salt, then back to SoCal.  After many a dreary ride to Speed Week, such a refresher!  Breakfast coffee and donuts at Ontario, lunch at the Wendover Stateline and then an early dinner back in Ontario.  That was certainly a different experience for a trio of hardcore LSR guys.  My 2009 ambition is to have a campaign to have Jack Calori (1922-2008) and his award winning 1936 Coupe honored by the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame.   
Gone Racin' is at
[email protected]


Just received a phone call tonight from my dear friends Junior and Anita Thompson. JR Thompson’s “original” Opel Kadett AA/GS is now being prepared to leave JR’s garage and enter a museum. By the way JR sounded real good on the phone—I’m sure we’re all happy for that; Anita was her own perky self! With Matt Pilcher now in ownership of the Old Black Studebaker that Sonny and JR recreated--this Opel placement and new ownership bodes good news for the future. I propose a photo shoot & video pod cast at JR’s house the day the Opel leaves for the museum—we could all meet there for the shoot. (I have already preliminarily discuss this as a possibility with JR in our phone call this evening…) I also recommend that all involved parties begin to consider what different events each year where everyone and both cars could be featured, such as the Winters, Grand National Roadster Show, Gasser Reunion, CHRR 2012 and Indy Nats in 2012, etc. Let’s work together, get events promoters up to speed, notify magazine editors in advance and see what kind of plan we can come up with. With the help and sponsorship of Kustom Kool Web Design and the trademark “Lil Nitro” we can get this show on the road!!!— Everyone be sure to subscribe to N2O for updates. Don Burdge, USA Division Manager, Kustom Kool Web Design, www.kustomkoolwebdesign.com.




JR + Garlits w Opel 2007 Winternationals

Maz Shores Bones JR Garlits Montgomery Finders Hamilton 03 Thomp Dr

Papa CJ Hart + JR 1999


World's Oldest Running Car Fetches

$4.62 Million



Oldest Running Car Fetches $4.62M at RM Auction in Hershey, Pennsylvania

October 10 2011 at 10:05am
By Motoring Staff

This is the oldest motor vehicle car in the world that still runs.

It was built one year before Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler invented the internal combustion engine.

The world's oldest running motor vehicle has been sold at auction for an astonishing $4.62 million (R36.5-million), more than double the pre-sale estimate, as two bidders chased the price up in a three-minute bidding war.

The 1884 De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux Dos-a-Dos Steam Runabout drew a standing ovation as it was driven up onto the stage at Friday's RM Auction in Hershey, Pennsylvania - to prove that this 127-year-old car really does run! - and attracted a starting bid of $500 000, which was immediately doubled to $1 million.

Encouraged by the applauding crowd, the bidding went swiftly up to $4.2 million (R33 million) - 4.62 million (R36.5 million) including the 10 percent commission - before the car was knocked down to a unnamed buyer.

The Dos-a-Dos (Back-to-Back) Steam Runabout was built in 1884 by George Bouton and Charles-Armand Trepardoux for French entrepreneur Count de Dion, who named it 'La Marquise' after his mother.

In 1887, with De Dion at the tiller, it won the world's first ever motor race (it was the only entrant to make the start line!) covering the 32km from the Pont de Neuilly in Paris to Versailles and back in one hour and 14 minutes (an average of 25.9km/h) and, according to contemporary reports, hitting a breathtaking 60km/h on the straights!

La Marquise has only had four owners, remaining in one family for 81 years, and has been restored twice, once by the Doriol family and again by British collector Tom Moore in the early 1990's. Since then, it has taken part in fourLondon-to-Brighton runs and collected a double gold at the 1997 Pebble Beach

d'Elegance in California.

Count de Dion winning the first ever motor race.






















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