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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS
NEWSLETTER 232 - January 25, 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, Jim Lytle, the creator of everything Allison-powered including the legendary "BIG AL" '34 Ford 2-door sedan, passed away December 8, 2011, at Lahaina on the island of Maui where he had lived for over 20 years; I just learned of a car show being held in Santa Rosa, California on March 9-11, 2012; The Wally Bell Show is produced and broadcast worldwide by the Zeus Radio Network for Racers Reunion Radio; Introduction to a New Column for this Newsletter By Bob Falcon; Anne Lindsley was awarded the Vera Aldrich Award at the SCTA banquet that was held in Westminster, California, on January 21, 2012; The Sam Auxier Jr Show www.TheSamAuxierJrShow.com; Thanks for the info about Burke LeSage; The Lions Last Drag Race Reunion; The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is pleased to host a new exhibit celebrating the history of one of American motorsports most iconic brands; Mooneyes; Tom Medley, creator of the "Stroker McGurk" cartoon character that appeared in Hot Rod magazine in the 1950’s, once joked he would have liked to own a flamed '40 Coupe; Don Garlits is celebrating his 80th birthday; Congratulations to the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame and 2012 Legends of the Autorama Inductees; I am still plugging away at WHERE THEY RACED, trying to secure a corporate sponsor (in talks with Ford, Mazda, GM, Toyota, BP and more) for finishing money for final editing, sound and legal; Gone Racin’…Burke LeSage Memorial Article by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz; Gone Racin'...With Burke LeSage  Written by Burke LeSage, edited by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz; Happy New Year to you and please keep the newsletters and updates coming;

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President's Corner:  
   This last Saturday the S.C.T.A. held its annual banquet, or as it was billed "Social Event of the Year," down in Westminster, California. This party brings together the runners from the previous season and a who's who of racing personalities that like to call the "dirt" home. During the season when you're at the lakes it's had to take time and tell lies to your friends so the party is a perfect place to catch up on doing so. I was lucky enough to sit at the same table as Marion Deist and Louie Senter. Across the way was Wayne Jesel and the world’s fastest roadster shoe Dave Davidson. Across from him was our pal ‘Freud’ the photographer whose real name is Glenn Freudenberger and use to shoot for Hot Rod magazine. These are just a few of the players one gets to chat with and catch up on what one missed during the year and what's in the works for next.
   That leads me to the sticky part and some Special Award. The Gear Grinders and the S.C.T.A. both presented awards to my pal Julian Doty. The only problem was he couldn't be there to receive them due to health problems. The next day he was feeling better so John Kilgore and I presented them to him and he couldn't believe it. And yes, he had a big smile on his face and was very thankful to his peers in racing for honoring him.  Julian just turned 90. He started going to the lakes as a kid in 1934 and never left. He's related many stories and historical details about our sport and its forming, and its continued growth through today. It will all be our loss when he departs to the great race track in the sky in the future. That said, it's time for me to beat up on you a little and ask you to follow suit with what Julian has been doing for us the last few years, and that is telling us (or your family) or writing down those stories before they get lost to history. Thanks, from Richard and me.

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Editorial:   
   A recent letter was received by a reader for whom I wrote a movie review on his video. He pointed out some errors that he found in them. Below is my response;
   “Mistakes are sometimes made, but the word that you used (misstatements) gives the impression that the person reviewing the work has a negative reason to hold up the work for ridicule.  Avoid using negative terms.  I do reviews to help authors, writers, photographers, etal reach a wider base. I don't tell internet readers what to buy; only what's available and what it is.  It benefits everyone if a writer and researcher is successful. What I do is free.  I am not remunerated.  You want to be cautious about the wording that you use, as I (like many others who write and edit for websites for free) can be cranky about criticism.  My policy is to always make corrections and apologies where it is needed.  If you see something, tell me, that is the only way that I will learn.  The benefit of doing this on a website is that I can go back and make changes, whereas the print media magazines, books and newspapers cannot make corrections.  However, I will only change facts that are mistaken; viewpoints, which are my own, are not altered, otherwise the authors themselves should write reviews of their own work.  Yes, go through the review and send me a list of errors that you find.  I have no problem with that and I encourage you to do so.  Do it once and be thorough, because otherwise if you send me repeated emails then I am making multiple corrections over time and causing the owner of the website to revise the articles over and over again and this takes up their busy time.” 
   Jim Miller, Spencer Simon, Roger Rohrdanz and I take a risk when we create a newsletter for the straight-line racing community. What we write on, research, state as fact, photograph or relate to you may please many and anger others. We don’t mean to cause grief to people, but when history is brought up it isn’t always pleasant. We write and report on what we find and sometimes that history can bring back old wounds or dredge up controversy. We try and portray what happened in a truthful, fair and unbiased way; and we try and attempt to be caring and positive in bringing the story to you. Sometimes we are going to get complaints and we deal with them in this manner; we check out your concerns, make the necessary corrections and issue a public apology. Our goal is truth, but truth expressed in a positive way. On a few occasions we run into people who are unpleasant; which is extremely rare. In fact, every one of those situations has been resolved amicably. The land speed and straight-line racing community is a very cooperative group of people and they work with us as we work with them to make sure that feathers are not ruffled. We also don’t change our efforts to be fair and honest in our reporting. We will shut down the newsletter rather than go back on what we believe in. But I will not tolerate abuse towards our volunteer staff. If we are wrong, expect an apology. Honest disagreements among our members are perfectly fine and I encourage an open and fair dialogue. Realize though, that the SLSRH is not a blog or one of those argumentative websites. We believe that we are setting a higher standard of research and scholarship here. 
   While we are on the subject of errata (errors in a manuscript), here is another series of mistakes that I have made when doing an article; “
I corrected Birdy to Bindy.  I corrected Trans Dep to Trans Dapt.  I changed the letter to read that you gave the letter to Tanis to read.  I changed the "over an invocation," to "offer an invocation."  It is strange how my spell-check on the computer betrays me.  Do you see any spelling errors on the other names of the attendees?” The important issue here is that we are willing to ask others to review our work, and if for some reason it gets past the twelve other people that help me preview the newsletter, that we will correct the mistakes whenever it is brought to our attention. As anyone knows who does research and writes articles, it is impossible to be error free. One of my techniques is to look at the guest book and copy down the names of the people in attendance. Yet sometimes I really struggle to make out poor handwriting. If you want to get on my good side you will have a signature that is cursive and yet printed.
   On other subjects, I am running two stories on Burke LeSage in this issue. He was a very important figure in land speed and other racing events in Southern California and the rest of the country since the 1950’s. The Grand National Roadster Show is set for this weekend, the 27th through the 29th. It’s an event that you should put on your calendar each year and we should all be grateful that it is here in our area. John Buck is the promoter of the show and he has put a lot of effort into broadening the show to include groups that in the past have been shunned. The GNRS incorporates all the facets of hot rodding. There is a great deal to choose from and this year Buck has rented an 8th building and will use the ample outdoor space to show off even more. Last year I couldn’t even make it to all of the buildings, the show was so vast. This will be the 80th anniversary of the ’32 Ford Deuce and an exhibit will be on display along with the cars. Another major event is the GNRS Hall of Fame honoring two of our own; Art Chrisman and Dennis Varni. The Www.hotrodhotline.com website has a Parts Section in their classified.  What's unique is that the website ads are FREE.  So if you have a garage full of spare parts that you need to find a home for, or your wife has given you an ultimatum to make room for her car, then contact the website at 1-877-700-2468 and find out how you can submit photos and a description of the parts.  You list it just as you would an ad in a newspaper.  Whether your parts sell or not the ad is still FREE. 

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Jim Lytle, the creator of everything Allison-powered including the legendary "BIG AL" '34 Ford 2-door sedan, passed away December 8, 2011, at Lahaina on the island of Maui where he had lived for over 20 years. Lytle pioneered many engineering ideas into the BIG AL cars well before they became standard Funny Car features, such as one-piece lift-off or front-hinged body and multi-disc clutch for smokeless runs. Former DRO contributor Dave Wallace Jr. wrote about Lytle in several of his Now and Then articles, including a three-part series. See www.dragracingonline.com.

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I just learned of a car show being held in Santa Rosa, California on March 9-11, 2012. Before my time (involved with old cars) apparently there were three big shows in Northern California; Oakland, Sacramento & Santa Rosa.  Well, they are reviving the Santa Rosa Custom Auto Show and it's an invite only, non-judged event.  I'm told that they already have enough hot rods but are looking for high quality customs and low riders.  Since we are really short on high quality indoor shows in Northern California I think this is one that we might all try to support; either by displaying our cars, or as spectators.  Contact Mike Chase to learn more about the selection process.  His e-mail is: [email protected].   From Bob Painton
     Bob: Thank you for the heads up.  I will post this in www.landspeedracing.com.  Also, any pre-show PR, media releases, articles, photographs, etc can be sent directly to www.hotrodhotline.com by the group's Media people and the website will be glad to post what you send for free.  Change PR notices to articles though.  Most people will not stop and read a Publicity notice.  In fact, photographs and a short story on the event is perfect.  What the Santa Rosa Custom Auto Show needs to do though is to send in constant notices to the website.  I recommend one per month from a year in advance to once a week in the last month or two before the show.  With hundreds of shows around the country every weekend, it is imperative that a Media/PR approach be overwhelming in order to get the message across.  Good luck on your event and I hope it is successful.

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The Wally Bell Show is produced and broadcast worldwide by the Zeus Radio Network for Racers Reunion Radio.  Live internet radio on Wednesday's 8 to 9 pm Eastern Time www.zeusradio.com.  Or www.dragracersreunion.ning.com, click Radio.  Call in number 877-500-9387.  Away from your computer call to listen 1-347-884-9756.   Join Gordy Foust, Jeff Gilder, Greg Zyla, George Nye and Wally Bell.

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Introduction to a New Column for this Newsletter. By Bob Falcon  
   Your editor has requested that I publish a weekly human-interest column for this newsletter. The purpose of this short “blurb” is to introduce and inform you, the reader, the sort of information we will be passing to each of you. The editor of the SLSRH Newsletter thought it would be a nice touch to the publication based on the biography I submitted to him several years ago covering a variety of disciplines in automotive and aircraft fields. What can you expect from a soul who at 83 years old can boast of being involved in auto racing for over 80 years!  We do not intend for this to be a column about my personal accomplishments, but rather, about stuff that we can discuss with a different spin than what you may have heard elsewhere.  You can help!  We will welcome any comments from you and questions for clarification about technical things that are puzzling you. We have established an exclusive AOL mailbox for your comments and questions at this address: [email protected]. Please state the publication date (or number) of a story so we can direct readers accordingly. 
Many folks go into an industry and stay there on into retirement. Others, like myself, bounce all over the industrial map. My “post high school” life was the beginning of a great learning experience, and my memory is excellent.  While attending high school and learning about automobile technology by attempting to keep my 1931 Ford Roadster, powered by a Miller-Schofield, Model-A engine, operational I learned many tricks. The “bloody thing” kept me very busy for long hours in the family home garage. On the bright side for my parents, that probably kept me from close involvement with the long arm of the law in the post war JD days of LA. Somewhere along the line I became acquainted with an auto mechanic near our neighborhood that was in the process of   single handedly constructing a Hot Rod racecar to compete in one of the three-roadster racing sanctioning bodies at the time. These groups competed at various oval tracks around Los Angeles much the same as the Midget racers. Once we finished that car I became a pit crewman whenever and wherever we raced but our home track was Culver City Speedway just a few miles west of the race car garage. This was all free labor. Later I helped another guy build a car to race with The California Roadster Association (CRA) that called Carrell Speedway (Gardena) it’s home track.
  All of this activity took place when I was in tenth grade and also working an after school job at a gas station. Then along came an edict from my high school Grade Counselor, Mrs. Margaret Davis (a Physics Teacher) who developed a “Bonehead Physics Class.” All Hamilton High School students were required to pass the Physical Science class in order to move onward into the 12th grade and graduate. A light bulb illuminated over my head as I sat in class listening to Mrs Davis recite, and illustrate, all these formula that were precisely the sort of things I was employing doing the fabrication of those race cars and adjusting the chassis when we got to the race tracks.   My mind was made up! I would finish high school and join the US Navy, learn a trade that might help me become an expert fabricator and after serving my hitch, I would build a race car for myself and race it on all the LA tracks. After graduation I signed up with the Navy but it took a long time before I was called because they only accepted a few recruits each month from the West LA/Santa Monica bay area.
  So I found a job working in an auto parts store helping the machine shop guy, working the counter and delivering parts to the store’s auto repair shop customers. One of my duties was to drive the delivery truck (a WW2 Jeep) to the parts warehouses in downtown LA to collect our parts orders and take them back to the store. Most of the time this run was around lunch time so I would stop for a hot dog at a stand near Venice Boulevard and Georgia Street where I made the acquaintance of a very attractive brunette, about my age, who was studying to be a photographer’s model. We became good friends and went out on a few dates (one was to the Midget Races at Gilmore Stadium) then I received notice from the Recruiting Office that it was time to go. So I packed a bag and hopped onto the Venice Short Line streetcar to the Federal Building at Alameda and Temple streets to take my entrance physical. We were sworn into the service then marched two abreast up Alameda Street to Union Station, boarded a train and off we went to San Diego. By the way, the brunette’s name was Norma Jean Baker Daugherty …. does that “ring a bell?” Gotcha Hooked? We promise to pick up on this tale later, because it gets better. STAY TUNED

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Anne Lindsley was awarded the Vera Aldrich Award at the SCTA banquet that was held in Westminster, California, on January 21, 2012. This is a very deserving honor for Anne. Her mother-in-law, Phyl Lindsley also received such an honor. Anne put on the fine Celebration of Life for Burke LeSage the day before at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, in Pomona, California. The Lindsley family has served in the SCTA since the 1940’s.

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The Sam Auxier Jr Show www.TheSamAuxierJrShow.com. Call in number 1-877-711-5211. Email Questions [email protected] Shows are on Monday's from 7-9PM EST. NHRA 2 Nitro Valvoline/Aarons Funny Car Driver "Fast Jack Beckman," HipLink AF/D Dragster Bonneville Record Holder Driver Garrett Bateman, JC Auto Glass Top Alcohol Dragster Driver Jackie Fricke, The Latest News Electric Car Drag Racing with Ron Adamowicz. Interviewed By Kristin Moeser. John Jodauga's new book, "The Art of Drag Racing." Also, Kenny Youngblood, Tommy Ivo biography.

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Thanks for the info about Burke LeSage. He was a very special man. I'll always remember the help he give me the first year I ran at Bonneville in1961. I was 19 and had no idea what I was doing and the only racer that year from Utah.  I wish I could go to the Celebration but I can't make it.  We have moved back to Utah and I'm working on a special project for John Force.  I read your story on the Memorial for Rodger Ward which I did get to attend. Rodger was the team manager when I drove for Circus Circus and I spent many hours during down time hearing his Indy stories what a guy.  Thanks for all you do.  Regards, Ron Armstrong
     Ron: If you have time, google www.landspeedracing.com in a few days and go to Issue #232.  There will be two stories on Burke, one of which is his stories and biography and the other is on his memorial.  Burke often flew under the radar; he was a humble man that didn't like to blow his own horn and was content to boost other people up.  He constantly helped other people; that was what he lived for.  Burke was close to Jim Lindsley and therefore was often called upon to help Jim with the work in the Southern California Timing Association.  My father was very appreciative of all the hard work that Jim and Burke did for him in the early SCTA.  Burke went on to give that same dedication and loyalty to the SEMA organization in whatever capacity that they requested of him.  Burke was always looking out for others and offering them a helping hand.  He never received the name recognition that my father, Roy Richter and others got, but without Burke and others like him the SCTA, NHRA, SEMA and other groups would have had a much harder time becoming successful.  Thank you for your letter and comments, which I will post at www.landspeedracing.com.  I hope you will write your biography too and if you want my help I will get you started.  We had some very successful Boat Racers Reunions at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in the past.  I hope we can get more of the boat/car racers to write about their lives and experiences, because it was a golden age that deserves saving for future generations to learn about.

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The Lions Last Drag Race Reunion. Photographs and story by Roger Rohrdanz can be seen at www.hotrodhotline.com. 
     It all began in the early-1950’s with a Los Angeles Police officer named Gordon Browning.  Browning had formed the Police Advisory Council of Car Clubs, with officers from 25 Police Departments in the area.  He met Wally Parks, who was the editor of
Hot Rod magazine (HRM).  Gordon found some land at 223rd and Alameda Streets and got the Harbor Department to put in a drag strip for the kids to race on.  He then got the Lions Clubs in the Long Beach Harbor area to sponsor the track, which became known as the famous Lions Dragstrip in the mid-1950’s.   Thirty-nine years later, on December 3, 2011 at the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen hosted the “LIONS Last Drag Race Reunion.”. After the introduction by Museum Curator Greg Sharp, Hot Rod Deluxe Editor Dave Wallace did a masterful job of moderating the discussions. (The rest of the article and photos can be seen at www.hotrodhotline.com)

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The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is pleased to host a new exhibit celebrating the history of one of American motorsports most iconic brands; Mooneyes.  Mooneyes is one of the world’s most recognized logos right up there with the Nike Swish and Apple’s apple.  Dean Moon, the founder of Mooneyes, got his start right after WWII working on the oil rigs surrounding Pop Moon’s Café in Norwalk, California. Dean, his older brother Buzz and members of the “Hutters” car club built numerous primitive hot rods. Like his contemporaries he started racing a hot rod Deuce at the dry lakes and the Santa Ana drags.  His fledgling business was put on hold when he was drafted into the Korean War. The Air Force taught him photography which would prove to be an invaluable skill in his post-war business; Moon Automotive. The iconic logo came about while at college, with Dean saying, “When I typed my name, I’d hold the carriage off-center and put two periods in the OO’s.”  It was further developed when Dean sponsored Creighton Hunter’s drag car which was numbered 00; pupils were an obvious addition. In 1957, Dean had a Disney artist draw the eyes as we know them today.  Ever creative, Dean invented a string of automotive products starting with a fuel block which he crafted from billet aluminum in high school shop before sand casting the production version.
   There soon followed a steady stream of products including the ubiquitous Moon fuel tanks and, of course, his most iconic offering the Moon disc; all of which he photographed and marketed like a pro. Spun from aluminum, the discs found their way onto everything from lakes, drag and Indy cars to, well, the NASA Moon buggy. Back in the fifties, Dean was selling 10,000 a month and they can still be found on almost every land speed race car there is.  In 1962, Dean’s shop was used by good friend Carroll Shelby to assemble the very first Cobra, arguably America’s most famous sports car. In 1964, Dean became the second president of SEMA (then the Speed Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) and like so many back then helped build an international business along with an industry that now boasts sales of more than $37 billion, all without so much as an MBA.  A member of the SEMA Hall of Fame, Dean Moon was a self-taught automotive pioneer and his achievements will be honored with a new exhibit at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. The exhibit will open on Friday, January 27, 2012 in conjunction with the Grand National Roadster Show and will feature some of the famous Mooneyes race cars as well as artifacts, memorabilia and photography. For more information about this and other events at the Museum visit the website or call 909-622-2133. To learn more about Mooneyes visit www.mooneyes.com.  Visit our website at: www.Museum.NHRA.com.

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Tom Medley, creator of the "Stroker McGurk" cartoon character that appeared in Hot Rod magazine in the 1950’s, once joked he would have liked to own a flamed '40 Coupe.   But this isn't what he had in mind.  In mid-October, Medley suffered a hot rodder's most feared nightmare – a fire that destroyed nearly all the contents of his garage – tools, welders, sewing machines, car parts, memorabilia, etc. News of Medley's misfortune quickly spread through the hot rod community, triggering an outpouring of support that has been remarkable. Currently, the car is being rebuilt by car-builder Randy Clark and his talented staff at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff in Escondido, California.  Read more about efforts to help Tom with the restoration at www.hotrodhotline.com. 

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Don Garlits is celebrating his 80th birthday. A special Don Garlits 80th birthday “Rat Roast” charity event will be held Saturday evening, February 11, 2012 at the Sheraton Fairplex, during the weekend of the 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries, February 9-12, 2012 at the historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The “Rat Roast” is being presented by NHRA, with proceeds to benefit the Quarter Mile Foundation, whose mission is to collect and archive the history of the sport of drag racing and related aspects of the high performance aftermarket. The Quarter Mile Foundation focuses on capturing the first person, oral histories of the greatest pioneers and legends of the sport. “There is a need to preserve and archive the history of drag racing through video and the Quarter Mile Foundation has been working diligently the last eighteen months to put these pioneers on video,” said Traci Hrudka, chairman of the Quarter Mile Foundation. “Proceeds raised will further the production of the PROJECT 1320 documentary centering around the history of the sport as told in the words of the pioneers.”
   The “Rat Roast” charity is sure to be a “can’t miss” event as the scheduled participants reads like a “Who’s Who” of drag racing’s past. Those scheduled to roast the legendary Garlits include Art Chrisman, Sid Waterman, “TV” Tommy Ivo, Ed Pink, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Carl Schiefer and Dave McClelland. The lineup of roasters is sure to bring out some never-heard stories and accounts of the early days of drag racing as well as many of “Big Daddy’s” most famous exploits. The event will be held at the Sheraton Fairplex, on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, home to the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals and include silent and live auctions including one-of-a-kind memorabilia items. Individual tickets for the Don Garlits 80th birthday “Rat Roast” are $80, with a limited number of 10-people VIP tables available for $2,500. To buy tables to the event, contact Rachelle Litwin at NHRA at [email protected] or call (626) 250-2269. For individual tickets, go to www.NHRATIX.com and click on the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals ticket page and scroll down to the Special Don Garlits 80th birthday “Rat Roast” charity event. The Quarter Mile Foundation is recognized as a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit educational charity organization and was formed in March, 2010. In that time, the foundation has captured over 100 interviews and 120 hours of the sports pioneers on video telling the stories of drag racing’s humble beginnings and the creation of what is today one of the largest motorsports in the world.

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Congratulations to the 2012 Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame and 2012 Legends of the Autorama Inductees.  Article by John Buck
     Hall of Fame honorees are:   Art Chrisman, racing legend and a land speed and drag racing innovator, Chrisman has greatly contributed to not only the racing industry, but also car building.   George Brancacio has judged over 300 shows during the past 42 years, and was named the Pacific Division Director of the ISCA in 1975, a position he proudly held thru 1994.  Kathy Livingston is a long-time volunteer of the Grand National Roadster Show, Sacramento Autorama, and numerous other car shows.  Her friendly face and warm smile became a show fixture over her years of selfless service, and remains one today for many car owners and attendees.  Dennis Varni is a successful racer and has earned numerous accomplishments at Bonneville and all over the world. In 2010 he set the record in the E-Blown Gas Class with a top speed of 330 mph.       
     Legends of the Autorama; Andy Brizio is known as the Rodfather, and is a hot rodding pioneer.  He has had great success both in the car industry and his own business, Andy's T's.  Roy Brizio is a prominent Northern California car builder, and has made numerous contributions to the modern industry of hot rodding.  Kathy Livingston is a long-time volunteer of the Grand National Roadster Show, Sacramento Autorama, and numerous other car shows.  Her friendly face and warm smile became a show fixture over her years of selfless service, and remains one today for many car owners and attendees.  Keeping with the tradition, we will induct the following 2011 winners.  Mario Colallilo is the winner of The King of Kustoms Award.     Mike Garner is the winner of the Joe Bailon Award.  Marc Henry is the winner of the Sam Barris Memorial Award.  Bill West is the winner of the Dick Bertolucci Automotive Excellence Award.  We also recognize current Legends of the Autorama members.  Robbie Azevedo is the 2011 Builder of the Year.  Doug Beattie is the winner of the Custom d'Elegance Award and the H.A. Bagdasarian World's Most Beautiful Custom.  The new members will be formally inducted and honored at this year's luncheons.  We appreciate their countless contributions and dedication to not only our shows, but this industry.  We invite you to visit our website www.rodshows.com, for show dates, show history and so much more.

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I am still plugging away at WHERE THEY RACED, trying to secure a corporate sponsor (in talks with Ford, Mazda, GM, Toyota, BP and more) for finishing money for final editing, sound and legal.  I do have a letter of intent to air form PBS SoCal, and possible interest from some cable networks - but it is slow going.  If you know any CEO's of big companies that would like a 30 second funder credit on a PBS TV show let me know.  I got an email (see below) and thought you might be able to help him.  Buckle up!  Harry Pallenberg at www.wheretheyraced.com
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My father, who is still alive and can actually still remember, was one of the original 12 members of the “choppers of Pomona.”  I have been listening to his stories of the early years; irresponsibly racing around San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont and Pomona.  I have been trying to do my own digging to confirm these recollections and how they fit the complex puzzle that is the birth of organized drag racing.  I do have some cool photos, stories and actual heirlooms that you might get a kick out of.  As I research this subject, I have already come across several discrepancies amongst assorted articles written on this historical chain of events; namely how the “Choppers of Pomona” collaborated to start the Pomona drags and how this mutated into the NHRA enterprise we see today.  Most articles I see depict the “Choppers of Pomona” as a few local teen delinquents whose lives were spared by the visionary Wally Parks; the true genius behind the Pomona Drags.  After some research, it looks more like the NHRA stepped in and overtook the concept to capitalize on its popularity.  If you have detailed info on how these things really transpired, let me know.  Feel free to call me; might be interested in copies of some pictures I have or of the original "Choppers of Pomona" club plate I have from my dad.  My dad’s stories and recollections would make its own book or movie; and I think some refined accuracy is in order.
     Harry: You didn't include the name of the person who sent the email, but I am writing to him and will add his name and email address to my data base.  As for a sponsor, the economy has killed off many race teams and projects.  The high cost of racing was decimating race teams and other projects even before the recession, but today it is very hard.  You might try Tom McKernan at the Auto Club of Southern California as racing, car safety and history play a major part in what advertising the Auto Club does in this area.  In regards to the Choppers of Pomona my advice would be to attend the Twilight cruises at the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California because there are a lot of people there that go back to the original Pomona Valley Timing Association (PVTA) and would know the history of that group.  There are fine websites that try and understand the history of early drag racing;
www.landspeedracing.com (mine), American Hot Rod Foundation, Quarter Mile Foundation, H.A.M.B. and many others. 
   While my father is often credited as the founder of drag racing, he would be the first to tell you that there were many founders.  Drag racing after World War II was fluid and volatile and ideas were being thought up, tried and often discarded or accepted at a rapid rate.  Just who gets credit for what is always open for interpretation and revision by scholars in the field.  But it didn't take long before the sport began to take form and develop.  You will learn a wealth of knowledge by going to the museum and to the websites.  I also invite you to join them and to participate.  I would be glad to publish whatever you send me in the way of stories, biographies, photographs, etc.  We definitely want to record the history of a person and their club before it is too late and we lose them, so start on your father's bio, stories, caption his photographs and document
his prized memorabilia.  Come join us on Landspeedracing.com

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Gone Racin’…Burke LeSage Memorial. Article by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.
   On January 20, 2012 Roger and I attended the Burke LeSage Memorial and Celebration of Life held at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. The services were conducted by Reverend Lou Gerhardt and the Celebration of Life was hosted by Anne Lindsley and the LeSage family. As with all such gatherings to pay respect to those that have left us, it is the men and women who attend these events that tell us just how loved and important the deceased is to us. Burke LeSage was not a household name to most Americans; though among the racing community he was a man of stature. Burke was born on July 2, 1935, during the height of the Great Depression. He was a humble man and utterly dedicated to helping other people. That was the way for most people who lived in the 1930’s and ‘40’s; to help other people and to share what we had. Since that time America has become a land of great wealth and power, but Burke grew up when struggle and cooperation were the means of survival. Jim Lindsley was his hero, as were the other land speed racers of the time. He raced at Bonneville and at the dry lakes in his mid-teens, when he wasn’t supposed to, but he did anyway and with Jim on his side, set many records. Burke often referred to his short height to let us know that he was a humble man, but I never considered him to be small in any sense of the word. To me, Burke LeSage was a giant of a man in heart and soul and love. He never stopped working; often what he did was simply helping others. Burke hardly ever thought of his own wants, he was too busy thinking of other people.
   He was famous for sending out letters to people with his reasoning why this person or that person should be honored at some event. He constantly, without stopping, gave encouragement and advice to those who were struggling with a problem. He was quick to spot a need or a crisis and to pitch in to help. Burke didn’t limit himself to being a good Samaritan just to the racing community; he reached out to those around him and offered his help. He did so in a way that was courteous and kind; never banging his own drum or seeking the spotlight. Over the years he was honored by others for what he has done; but in his acceptance speeches he would give the honor to others. Burke was the glue that held us together. He was a man we could always count on to be there and to get the ball rolling. Burke was simply tenacious in his efforts to make life easier for all those around him. I never saw him lose his temper, swear or say a cruel word; though he had a talent for letting all of us vent our frustration and then easing us through the moment into the bigger picture. He was not only a gentleman, but a gentle man and his absence will make the world a bit rougher around the edges. Burke had no trouble leading men and in turn following others. He was one of the many who helped to make the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and SEMA into such successful organizations.
   Burke LeSage was probably one of the most successful five foot two men in the world. In our eyes he was at least two feet taller. For sixty years Burke was an active and faithful member of the Gear Grinders car club in the SCTA and a past president of the club. He drove at least forty different race cars at El Mirage dry lake and the salt flats at Bonneville. Burke set numerous land speed records and was a member of the prestigious 200 MPH clubs at both El Mirage and Bonneville. At Bonneville he was honored with the Grant Company’s Man of the Year Award. He received the Meb Healey, Gear Grinders Sportsman Award, SCTA Wheels of Fame Award and the Lindsley Family Award. These are awards given for meritorious service and racing achievements in the SCTA and the land speed racing community. He also was a great speaker and writer. He constantly took the message of land speed racing to outside groups. He wrote a column called LeSage’s Pages for the El Mirage Racing News. He was a true historian; researching and writing on the history of land speed racing. The ultimate reward for Burke’s lifetime of achievements came when he was inducted into the Dry Lakes Racers Hall of Fame at Buellton, California by a vote of the members of the SCTA and previous honorees. His peers elevated him to this well deserved honor. Burke was also an executive secretary for the SEMA organization and was inducted into their Hall of Fame.
   I counted about a hundred men and women who came to Burke’s Memorial and Celebration of Life. Among them were; Bob Webb, Skip Hendricks, Mike and Penny Cook, Jean Bixby, Patrick Bixby, Belinda ‘Bindy’ LeSage, Earl Nordstrand , Jamie LeSage, Manny LeSage, Julio LeSage, Jim Miller, Anne and Larry Lindsley, Gary Lindsley, Fred Lindsley, Glen and Carol Barrett, Frank Acosta, Ron Phelps, Dan and Joanie Warner, Mike Stewart, Jon Meyer, Tom Jandt, Diane Voorhees, Joanie Johnson, John Bjorkman, Jim Korhanen, Don Aitken, John Sprenger, Kenny Hoover, Jim Travis, David Parks, Rose Dickinson, Warren Bullis, Kay Kimes, George and Jan Callaway, Ed Iskenderian, Brandon Carter, Nick Arias Jr, Bobby Sykes Jr, Bob Leggio, Louie Senter, Tim Rochlitzer, Yolie and Ernie Norris, Jim and Alice Turner, Al Sanderson, John W. Salkins, Tom Evans, Tom and Margaret Bryant, Cindy and Kim Harding, Rick MacLean, Dan Chilson, Bob Chilson, Norm Adams, Richard Reed, Carl and Kathy Olson, Tanis Hammond, Tony Thacker, Greg Sharp, Sheri Watson, Bob and Judy Sights, Bob Spar, Miriam MacMillan, Les Leggitt, Phil Grisotti, Bill Watts, Stormin’ Norman Benham, Al and Jane Teague, Ron Hennessy, Bill Lewis, Charlotte Phelps Howard Phelps, Pamela Rogers, Ron Kato, and Jim Snyder
   Anne Lindsley put together this Celebration of Life and called the museum to get permission to hold the event there, and brought refreshments. The museum staff set up the chairs and podium. After letting the attendees meet old friends and renew acquaintances, Anne took the microphone and welcomed everyone to Burke’s Memorial. She then turned the event over to the Reverend Lou Gerhardt to conduct the meeting and over an invocation. Reverend Gerhardt is a close friend of Burke’s and the LeSage family and the author of
Positive Living. “As some of you may be aware of by now, I have eye problems that keep me from driving and Burke noticed that and drove me to events. He stopped what he was doing and drove me all over the place, wherever I needed to go. Burke was a man of goodwill. I collected newspaper articles on Burke and the papers would say that he was a ‘big little man.’ Burke liked that phrase and used it often. He had a good sense of humor and joked about his shortness of stature. He also appreciated what people did for him and was quick to show his gratitude. On February 11, we will dedicate a plaque to him in Yucca Valley, California. I never heard Burke ever utter a bad word and he was always kind, caring and a trusting gentleman,” Dr Gerhardt concluded. The reverend then turned the time over to the audience so that whoever wanted could speak of their feelings for Burke.
   Les Leggitt was the next one to speak. “I never heard anything negative from Burke,” Les said. “He was always positive and his words were good. I first met Burke in 1966 after I set a record over 200 miles per hour and he was the emcee at the banquet. He was very good at raising money for the SCTA and for SEMA. There were several nicknames that he had. He was called ‘the shoe,’ for his racing abilities. He was also called the ‘scribe,’ because he was so good at writing, but the favorite phrase that Burke used himself was, ‘the world’s tallest midget.’ He was always doing things for other people. He took me to see Wally Parks and Boyd Coddington and that was a real treat for me. Many people forget that Burke brought back the SCTA News and served as the editor and ‘do-it-all.’ He was a walking encyclopedia and I am going to miss his knowledge of the sport of land speed racing that he loved so much,” Les finished. Jim Travis made his way to the podium next. “I met Burke in 1956 at Jerry Eisert’s shop, where all the hot rod guys hung out. Burke was always in the middle of everything. He was the secretary for SEMA. He worked for Weiand, Grant, Ak Miller and other early manufacturers of speed equipment. He was honored in both the SEMA and the Dry Lakes Racers Hall of Fame. In 1954 he was injured in a serious accident and was hospitalized and was unconscious for ten days, but he was tough and pulled through,” Travis told the crowd. 
   Tanis Hammond came from Santa Barbara to read a message from Gail Phillips, who couldn’t make it due to a prior commitment. “I met Burke in 2003 and he was such a kind man. I was amazed that he put my accomplishments up there with his own. He truly supported women in racing and gave us constant encouragement. Burke always sent me charming notes in the mail. I will truly miss him,” Gail said in her letter. Tanis added, “He was always a kind and gentle man and gave great support to the women in racing and in the auxiliaries,” she concluded. Mike Cook recalled that he first met Burke when he was driving for Les Leggitt. “He took me under his wing and helped me along. Once you were his friend, you were in with him until the end. He sent me letters too and I will keep them as treasured mementos,” Cook stated. Mike Stewart spoke next, “On July, 1961 Burke joined the El Mirage Dirty Two Club after setting a record over 200 miles per hour. He was the sixth man ever to do so and recorded a time of 205.94 mph. He was very proud of his nickname, ‘the tallest short man.’ Burke was an integral part of dry lakes racing,” Stewart exclaimed. Stormin’ Norman Benham was the next speaker and he told the crowd how he has known Burke for fifty-five years. “He was a hell of a guy,” Benham exulted. Jon Meyer, the president of the El Mirage 200 MPH club told the crowd that Burke was a tireless worker.
   Carl Olson related a bit about Burke’s time at SEMA. “In the late 1960’s the president of Trans Dapt was leading SEMA and Burke was sent over from SEMA to work in the office of Trans Dapt in order to coordinate the plans and goals of the safety equipment manufacturers group. Burke literally ran the SEMA organization out of a small office at Trans Dapt. He was always involved with the Bonneville Salt Flats and was a great promoter of the SCTA. He talked me into going to Bonneville and after we got there he took me out to the fifth or sixth mile mark; about 200 yards off the course. We weren’t supposed to be there, but no one could see us that far from the official starting line. When the cars came by at over 300 miles per hour, faster than any drag car at the time, I got goose bumps. Burke loved land speed racing,” Carl said with emotion. Glen Barrett drove all the way down to the Memorial from St George, Utah. “Burke was an inspiration and an ambassador for everything having to do with racing. He was a spokesman for all of us. Whenever he got up to speak and stood up at the podium, someone in the crowd would shout out, ‘Stand up Burke,’ in reference to his short stature. But it wasn’t criticism; it was said out of respect. He was also a great and prolific writer. One of his columns was called LeSage’s Pages. Boy did he have a way with words. He gave me inspiration,” Barrett said with respect. Judy Sights told the crowd, “Burke sent many notes to the ladies auxiliary and was very supportive of the women drivers. He helped everyone. I’ll miss him,” Judy added.
   Jim Turner told the crowd how he had known Burke’s wife since high school days. “I was involved in sports car racing. He invited me to many car and racing events and gave me a real education. At these events he wouldn’t get very far before a crowd of people he knew would come up and talk to him for half an hour and then we would take a few steps and there were more people that he knew. He had more friends than God,” Turner exclaimed. John Sprenger told the crowd, “I was doing research on B&M Automotive and Burke helped me. I was impressed by how much he knew about motor racing. One of his goals was to find those early racers who had been overlooked over the years and promote them for the Dry Lakes Racers Hall of Fame. He worked diligently to get Jack Calori honored. Tim Rochlitzer also came from the Santa Barbara area and had the crowd in stitches. “Burke moved up to Santa Barbara and retired, but he opened up a little bookstore. We would come into the store and shout out to him and to the other customers, ‘Hey Burke, where’s the porno section.’ Burke was too much of a gentleman to have lurid things in his store,” Tim expounded. Ed Iskenderian goes back to those early SCTA days in the 1940’s and the mid-1960’s when he and Burke were members of SEMA. “I thought that Burke would always be there to write those letters of his to me,” said the grand man of cam grinders. Anne Lindsley thanked everyone for coming. Any donations she added would be used to buy a wall plaque at the museum to honor Burke’s name. Reverend Gerhardt closed the Celebration of Life and Memorial for Burke with a benediction. The crowd milled around, unwilling to leave, talking to each other about the wonderful memories they had of a great man in land speed racing.
Gone Racin’ is at
[email protected]

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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]

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Happy New Year to you and please keep the newsletters and updates coming. Your father and all the other hot rodders like Burke were a big inspiration to me when I was young and part of the reason I got involved in record breaking. Living on the “wrong” side of the pond meant that reading about their exploits in Hot Rod was the only way to stay connected. We take the Internet and Web for granted these days so I’m proud to have helped pioneer its use in motorsport with the ThrustSSC website back in 1995. 
Cheers Robin Richardson.   ps - thought you might like these pics of “Bonneville comes to Goodwood” from a few years back.
   Robin: Thank you for the photos and with your permission I will attribute them to you and post them at www.landspeedracing.com. You aren't on the "wrong" side of the pond, because land speed racing originated in Europe and we want to learn as much as we can about the early years of the sport as we can. Our newsletter seems to be biased, but that's only because the majority of our readers and those who write to us are located in the Southwestern United States. I am trying to broaden the perspective to include Aussies, Kiwis, Brits, Europeans and as many others as are interested in land speed racing. Even our reporting of Southern California land speed racing is tilted towards the SCTA and we hardly ever find news of the many other fine timing associations that flourished in the 1930's and '40's. So we have our work cut out for us to dig deeper and uncover all LSR events, records, people and cars. Please feel free to write in with news of LSR from the continent. It can be current or past historical events. Part of the reason we formed the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians was to provide an outlet for people to write in with what they know. Then we can archive all the history that we can, including biographies, stories, articles and captioned photographs. We also do book, movie, video, and magazine reviews and post them online. We are not the only website to do this or the only organization to attempt to save LSR history, and like these other great sites we make our material free to everyone who wants to read what we have accumulated. If you have any news on past or present LSR projects that you want us to post to our newsletter, please send them in to me. Articles don't have to be current; we love old stuff and print everything we receive. Happy Holidays to all the great LSR fans and racers in the old country.
Richard

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