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Land Speed Racing Newsletter #386

Land Speed Racing Newsletter #386


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Mary Ann Lawford,   
PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY: Jim Miller, 1-818-846-5139
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Richard Parks, [email protected]  
PHOTOGRAPHIC Editor of the Society: Roger Rohrdanz, [email protected]
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA REPORTER: Spencer Simon, [email protected]
FIELD REPORTER/HISTORIAN: Bob Falcon, [email protected]
HISTORIANS: Anna Marco, Dick Martin, Burly Burlile, Jerry Cornelison, Robin Millar, Ora Mae Millar
IN MEMORIAM: Wally Parks, Tex Smith, Tom Medley, Lee Blaisdell, Eric ‘Rick’ Rickman (editors and photographers)
     The main focus of Jeff Burk's article was the pay of NHRA executives, which is certainly an issue, but, because I've been reading his articles for several years, I know that this is only a part of what he takes an exception to.  True, while Jeff Burk felt that Tom Compton and his staff were in the habit of "over-reimbursing" themselves, he also gave credit where it was due, and was generally complimentary in his comments towards them, but overall, he pulled no punches.  One of the places where he was tough in his observations of NHRA's current management style was his criticism of how Sportsman racers were treated, something that he and I were in complete agreement on.
      Who is right and who is wrong is an issue that could be debated from here to kingdom come, and all parties would walk away feeling that they got the short end of the stick.  Personally, my feeling is that the racers all need each other, maybe to varying degrees, but if the truth were known, and I can tell you from first-hand knowledge, that if you were to do a poll of all the speed equipment manufacturers, not just a few, but all of them, I think that you would find that they are all still in business because of guys like Sportsman racers, mostly due to the fact that the average successful Pro racer doesn't pay for much, if anything at all, and that is a fact.  I was a Sportsman racer, and I didn't pay for anything other than hotel rooms, and we had everything that a Pro team has in the way of parts, as you become successful, sponsors have a way of finding you, and you don't have to look for them.  Without Sportsman racers, just based on entries alone to an NHRA National Event, who's left to pay the bills?  Sixteen Top Fuel Teams, sixteen Funny Car Teams, sixteen Pro Stock teams, and sixteen Pro Stock Bike teams make up sixty four entries, even I can figure that one out, and I'm not good at math. Try and put on a National event with 64 entries, and let me know how it works out, because it won't.
     As I have said before, NHRA class structures need a complete overhaul from top to bottom, because the whole thing has become something unrecognizable.  If (the original leaders) were still with us, I don't think it would have reached the point that it is at now, because (those founders) wouldn't have let it.  What NHRA needs at this point in time is someone like Wally Parks with the ability to see a long way down the road, instead of a boatload of people with all short term goals of their own in mind, and nothing else.
       I'm glad I had the opportunity to be a racer when I did, it was a great time, a great experience, and I would not trade it for all the tea in China, but I'm glad I am not a racer today.  At this point in my life, I could easily afford it, even with no sponsorship whatsoever, but with virtually no drag strips in Southern California anymore, so just testing would be a challenge, plus if I was going to be a racer, I would still be a Sportsman racer, because that's where my heart is, and where my interest is.  I know that the Pro racers and the current management at NHRA would not and could not believe such a thing, but here's a news flash; not everyone on the planet is just breathless with anticipation to race in Top Fuel or Funny Car Eliminator.  Disappointing news to the average Fuel racer, I know.
     I've been around long enough to remember who one of the first touring pro racers was, and no, it wasn't a Fuel car, either (Don Nicholson in a '61 409 Chevy that he won the first Winternationals with in 1961, I know that for a fact, because I was there). Probably the very first touring Pro would be Don Garlits, running a dragster, but it's for sure that Nicholson got a lot more ink.  I have an uncomfortable feeling that you may be right, in that nothing lives forever, and that may include the NHRA.  I guess we'll see.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks. 
     Please notice that guest editorials are run as often as I receive them.  I do edit slightly, but keep the gist of the content as the writer intended it to be.  All editorials are the opinions of the writer and there are times when we agree and other times when we disagree.  I wouldn’t run an editorial if I didn’t think that it would bring up important ideas or solve valid questions.  In this issue you will see three editorials; one by Bob Small, one by me and one by my father from 1948.  I really enjoy seeing articles from the past because they tell me how much we have changed.  In some situations it is eerie to see how little we have changed.  Change can be good, bad or indifferent.  One thing that I noticed is that my father’s article went 1400 words, which are two and a half pages in a magazine.  Later in life he limited articles to 600 words.  We have letters where the original went barely two pages and then his finished letter was only one page.  He was a stickler for short and to the point and the sports writer that he admired most was Shav Glick, who never went over the allotted limit and always stuck to facts.  I’ll never be the editor he was, I ramble too much.  But then I enjoy my work and if it goes longer than what it should be, it’s my decision.
     Another article in this issue is the interview with George Callaway.  I cannot understand why there isn’t a line of writers outside George’s house in El Mirage asking for more stories from this national land speed treasure.  But then we have a plethora of national land speed treasures and Jim Miller and I try to interview them whenever we can.  Please help us out by doing your own interviews before we lose them.  Speaking of losses, I’m sorry to say that Jim Murphy’s wife Sharon has passed away and a funeral was recently held.  Next April we will try and have a short Celebration of Life for Sharon at the Santa Ana Drags Reunion; maybe we will include some others who we must not forget.  It isn’t that we are lax in researching and interviewing people.  Jim and I often have to wait for people to “Finish their Project” before they have time for us.  The end result is that we NEVER get their interview.  I can’t tell you how often I nag people about their bios.  People ask me, “Won’t that nagging cause people to dislike you?”  Yes, probably it does, but being quiet and waiting leads to one result; NO interview in this lifetime.  I don’t know how many times I bugged my father for his life story and his answer was always the same, “Soon, Richard, soon.”  Soon came too late for him.
     Chic Cannon wrote a great little book on his life and the NHRA Safety Safari.  He asked me what I thought of it.  “Too short,” I told him, but otherwise it was brilliant.  He has a longer version and maybe someday he will come out with an expanded book.  I have some projects in the works too, but they always seem to run into problems.  Let me know if you hear of anyone who is, or who wants to write their life’s story so I can keep track of their progress and help them.  Happy Holidays to all,
The editor
     I am so saddened to hear about Bill Burke’s passing.  I worked with him when he had his tenure at McMullen Publishing.  Those days were always filled with lots of hot rod talk and, of course, how fast or not so fast he and the others were going at Bonneville.  But the best of times with Bill were spent working out.  Yes, there was a time when I would go to the gym six days a weeks, jog, and do all sorts of other painful physical activity. But it was Bill who would be there with me and he would be pumping iron or we would go for a jog and he was always upbeat and enthusiastic about our workouts.  I used to marvel at his commitment and strength but then again it is that type of commitment that allowed him to be a pioneer, avid racer, and a truly great hot rodder.  As is always the case I wish I could have had one more day to swap stories, jump in my roadster with Bill and ride over to the SCAR clinic to have one last workout.  I know who I will dedicate my next bike ride to and I hope I make him proud.  Yes, I am saddened by our loss but I am thoroughly filled with joy to have known the man, called him my friend (and I hope he thought so of me!), and enjoyed all of those great workouts.  Brian Brennan
John Hume the man who built Europe’s first dragster.  By Brian Taylor.
     We were sad to hear of the passing of John Hume on December 23rd 2015. A former Cooper Cars Chief Mechanic, John joined Sydney Allard as Chief Engineer in the 1950s and few of today’s drag racing enthusiasts will know of the crucial role he played in European drag racing history. As well as tuning and maintaining Sydney’s team cars, along with Sydney’s Designer David Hooper he was heavily involved in developing and operating Europe’s first dragster, the 1961 blown 354 cubic inch Hemi engined Allard Chrysler and the blown 1500 cc Ford engined Allard Dragon dragsters that followed.
     Ill health has prevented him being involved with the Allard Chrysler restoration but his family has kept him informed. The dragster is now owned by the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu and on display as a restored and working exhibit. The family members are rightly proud of his achievements and our thoughts are with them at this time. The photo shows John (left) with David Hooper and Sydney Allard early in 1961.
     The funeral will be at Newick church (East Sussex) on January 4th at 11am. The wake will be at The Bluebell Railway, Sheffield Park following the funeral. Those who knew John or his work are very welcome to attend either event. It would be great to have an Allard or two present.
Brian Taylor – Chairman, Allard Chrysler Action Group.
     To the family of Gary Meadors I would like to send my condolences to them.  I've gone to all of his car shows at Pleasanton, California.   I’ve been to many Goodguys swap meets, car corral, exotic custom hot rods, customs and much more.  I remember Chip Foose was there once as well - always a fan of the Wounded Warriors project. They have great Shelby Cobras for the raffles.  Gary Meadors always has the place set up right - for those who are members and cherish the pride of bringing their cars to the club.   I remember him and I talked to Gary; he had an awesome hand-built Jack Hagerman (Sr) built nose on his yellow ‘29 Ford.  He was always smiling - everyone who has shown up to the Goodguys show was always curious to see what's new.  It was a good guarantee that you'll never get bored.  I remember my son, who was 8 at the time, having a chance shot at throwing the bean bag at the bulls-eye on the West Coast Customs big rig and he hit the mark; the pretty gal got dunked into the water tank. I would like to say thanks to Gary for giving us happy memories.  Spencer Simon
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------EDITOR: The following obituary is from and is granted to us by Internet Brands. 
     Founder and Chairman of the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, Gary Meadors, passed away Sunday of natural causes at the age of 76. Meadors spent his life expressing his passion for family, hot rods, cool cars, and good people. Meadors founded Goodguys in 1983 in Northern California with his wife of over 50 years, Marilyn, standing by his side. After founding Goodguys, he then branched out to stage a national series of hot rod and custom car events beginning in 1987 that still run today. Meadors started Goodguys as a passion-based idea, and it has turned into an association with a worldwide membership of over 70,000 people. Goodguys promotes 21 hot rod and custom car events that attract millions of visitors each year. In addition, the official magazine of Goodguys, The Goodguys Gazette, was first published by Meadors in 1989.
     Meadors began his life in California's Central Valley in the small town of Dinuba. It was there that he discovered his love of classic cars when he tricked out his first rod: a 1947 Plymouth when he was just 16 years old. He had a few requirements for his first project. The first was that it had to sit way down low. To get it to sit just where he wanted it, he "cut the coils" and removed a few inches from the factory coil suspension springs, which was common in the 1950 era hot rodding. This was just the first of many hot rods and custom cars Meadors spent his life building and collecting, the most recognized of which was his bright yellow 1932 Ford Tudor. This custom hot rod has served as the centerpiece of the Goodguys logo since 1987.
     Meadors spent much of his time dreaming up ways to spread his passion for hot rods. In 1973, the Nor-Cal Early Iron Car Club - a club Meadors helped create in Fremont, CA - organized the first "Street Rod Mini Nationals" at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds. The event attracted more than 500 hot rods, and Meadors saw this as his chance to continue as a promoter. Meadors later developed the Western Nationals in Merced, California into the West's signature event for vintage street rods and customs while working as a regional event director for the NSRA.  After Meadors and his wife Marilyn quit their day jobs and launched Goodguys in 1987, the Western Nationals became the Goodguys West Coast nationals and was moved to its current location, the Pleasanton Fairgrounds. This event will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next August. 
     As Goodguys grew as an association with popular events in cities such as Pleasanton, San Diego, Des Moines, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio, and Scottsdale, Arizona, Meadors successfully developed and sanctioned vintage drag racing events in California and Indiana, adding them to the Goodguys event tour.  Meadors, a speed demon, gained membership to the Bonneville 200mph club in 1994 when he drove the Dozier & Hegarty Chrysler powered streamliner to a top speed of 223mph.  Later on, in 2008, AutoCross regained prominence under the direction of Meadors and Goodguys. AutoCross racing competitions began to take place at select events, and today, AutoCross is held at 16 Goodguys national events.
     Meadors let his passion lead him to do many important things, including encouraging young hot rod builders and helping them launch their own careers. In 2000, Meadors and Goodguys worked hard on the development of the Trendsetter award - a perpetual honor presented at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas to rising young hot rod craftsmen.  More recently in 2009, Gary and his wife stepped back from the day-to-day operation of Goodguys, appointing their youngest son, Marc, as company president. Gary was finally able to get back to what he enjoyed most - taking a cool car out on the open road. With Marilyn riding shotgun and their dog Whitewall hanging his face out the window, they have circled America dozens of times in just the past few years, stopping along the way to meet new friends and live out their dream.
     Gary's life was enriched with deep personal relationships and hot rodding milestones, and he will be missed by all those that he touched throughout his lifetime. He is enshrined in the Street Rod Market Alliance Hall of Fame, Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) Hall of Fame, and is a recipient of both STREET RODDER Magazine and the HRIA's "Lifetime Achievement" awards. In 2014, he received the International Show Car Association's "Legends of Hot Rodding" award.  Gary Meadors achieved what he had hoped for, to share his love and passion of hot rodding with others and bring people together around the industry.  He is survived by his wife Marilyn, Brother Craig, sons Marc and Marty, grandchildren Breann, Grant, Grace, Reece, and Rory.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Gone Racin’… to see the Meadors.  Story by Richard Parks, Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.  3 November 2006.

     A highlight of the recent Goodguys Rod & Custom Association 6th Del Mar Nationals Show ‘N Shine event held on March 31-April 2, 2006, was the chance to meet the Meadors family.  Gary and Marilyn Meadors turned out to be regular hot rodders just like the rest of us.  Warm, friendly and at ease with the throngs of well-wishers who come to their events, it was an interesting interview.  Gary Meadors is the founder of the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, and the promoter of all those great shows that attract zealous hot rodders and their fantastic cars.  The Meadors really enjoy their work, and when I asked Gary if running an organization as large as his was hard on his wife, he shook his head and told me, “she loves it.”  That is not always true in the car show milieu, where a guy’s fascination with automobiles has often led to divorce.  But not only was Marilyn Meadors enjoying the constant travel and car show work, but the whole Meadors family was involved. 
     “I still own the 1947 Plymouth that I used to take Marilyn out on dates,” said Gary, who attended Dinuba High School, while Marilyn went to Reedley High School in the San Joaquin Valley.  “American Graffiti, the movie, accurately portrayed how we lived and what we believed in,” he said.  Gary’s Grandfather, a Mennonite preacher, married them.  They spent two years at Junior College and then Gary went to work for Gillette Corporation in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960’s.  For a while Gary and Marilyn were out of the car club culture, having enough to do working and raising a family.  But in the late 1960’s, the call of the hot rodding culture brought them home and Gary bought one of Andy Brizzio’s “Instant T” hot rod kit cars.  With 5 other friends, he started the Nor Cal Early Iron Club, which grew to become the biggest car club in Northern California.  The hot rod car clubs had been very popular in high schools everywhere from the Great Depression of the 1930’s up through the early ‘50’s.  Then World War II, the Korean Conflict and a shifting and swirling population moved the hot rodders around.  Finally, a new sport, called drag racing, drew many car club members to its ranks.  By the 1970’s, these young men and women had raised their families and the siren call of the hot rod beckoned them back. 
     In 1973 the Nor Cal Early Iron Club promoted the West Coast Mini Nationals at Lodi, California for cars 1949 or older, and 566 cars showed up, signaling a new trend in hot rod car shows.  Gary was still working as a traveling salesman, but began to use his skills to promote shows, with his friend, Bruce Olson, and they called themselves “Gary Goodguy and Deuce Bruce.”  They also wrote How To articles and books featuring customizing.  He incorporated Goodguys in 1985, and worked with the NSRA.  A year or two later, in 1987, the concept took off and he separated Goodguys from NSRA.  Gary and Marilyn drive to all of their events, sometimes leaving a car at a certain destination for later use.  They now promote 22 events and they love to get out on the road and meet with sponsors, friends, businesses and other fans of hot rodding.  Even at the Goodguy events, they are out watching the cars and talking to their friends.  They sincerely enjoy what they are doing and it is a husband and wife team.  You could see the look of love that they have for each other and for the sport that they have built around the concept of the Goodguys car shows.  Their son Marc walked by, bringing his wife JessAnn, and their two small children, Grace and Grant.  Gary and Marilyn walked away, talking to the spectators and thoroughly enjoying the sunny day at Del Mar.
     Marc Meadors is in charge of running the day to day operations of Goodguys, with the title of Chief Operating Officer.  Gary is the President, Marilyn is the Vice President, JessAnn is in the Sales Department and her daughter Breann works in the sales booth, when she is not in high school.  Gary and Marilyn’s other son, Marty, is married to Michell Meadors and they have a son, Reece, age two.  Marty works for C&C Machine Company in El Dorado, California.  Marc promoted his own import shows for three years and was quite good at it but the stress of long hours working alone made his company unpleasant and the family struggled.  This prompted him to return to the family business where he has thrived ever since.  “Our whole family is involved with Goodguys, in one way or another,” Marc said, “if the children wish to follow our footsteps, they will be welcomed into the company, but if they want to be doctors, teachers or lawyers, that is all right too.”  Marc employs 36 full time employees and lives and operates out of Danville, California.  “One of the perks of the job is that my family can come to the events with us,” he said, “my wife works in the sales department, but can bring the children with us on the road.”  Marc and JessAnn have been married for 10 years, and they create a happy and positive environment for the kids to grow up in, and even join the business if they choose to someday. 
     Marc was called away and JessAnn was the next to tell her story.   “It’s much easier for us because we have family helping family,” she said.  “My mother, Joann Lares, stays home and takes care of a lot of the burden.  We take our younger children, who are too small for school, with us everywhere we go.  We have been to all of the states and gone to places that kids like,” she said.  JessAnn mentioned factories, aquariums, zoos, parks, museums, toyshops and more.  “It’s a great life and a great job all rolled into one,” she said, “it beats looking for a real job.”  I asked her what it was like to have your husband and children with you all the time.  “It can get frantic at times and the kids have a lot of energy, but we find fun things for them to do and they know more about geography and things from their travels than most kids.”  When things get too out of hand they visit the souvenir booth or local toy stores where Grant likes to buy Hot Wheels and Grace opts for pink dolls or pink Cadillac toy cars.  JessAnn’s oldest daughter, Breann, has worked in the sales booth since she was 8 years old.  Breann is now 14 and is in high school, but she works the booth during the summers.  “She’s a great salesgirl,” says JessAnn.  “She knows how to get the crowd to buy the slower moving merchandise.” 
     JessAnn would like to see the children carry on the family business.  She loves to write, and the company and her family give her a lot to do.  JessAnn says that one of these days she just might write a book on the travels of her family.  They lead a happy, exciting life, and when I asked the family what event and what part of the country they loved the most, they replied in unison, “everywhere.”  “Every site and place has something special and lovely, and it never gets old,” Marilyn told us.  It’s a thrill to travel throughout America to get to the Goodguy events, to visit people on the way, and then to see our fans and friends at the events.”  JessAnn said goodbye, and walked away with Grant and Grace, and arm in arm with Marc, they went back to work being a family, and a business.
Gone Racin’ is at [email protected]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gary “Goodguy” Meadors – August 18, 1939 - December 27, 2015.  For the full story go to Goodguys Gazette.  Submitted by Jim Clark and Bob Small. 
     Gary Meadors, founder and chairman of the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, died Sunday of natural causes. He was 76.  Driven by his passion for family, hot rods, cool cars and good people, Meadors touched the lives of millions of car enthusiasts with his vision and enthusiasm for all things automotive. With his high school sweetheart and wife of over 50 years Marilyn riding shotgun, Meadors founded Goodguys in 1983 in Northern California then branched out to stage a national series of hot rod and custom car events beginning in 1987. What started as a passion-based idea blossomed into one of America’s premier automotive event production companies in Goodguys. Today, Goodguys Rod & Custom Association has a worldwide membership of over 70,000 people, and promotes 21 hot rod and custom car events that attract millions of visitors each year. The Goodguys Gazette, the official magazine of Goodguys was first published by Meadors in 1989. 
     A son of a farmer, Gary grew up in California’s Central Valley in the tiny town of Dinuba. It was there he discovered his love of custom cars, tricking out his first rod; a 1947 Plymouth when he was just 16 years old. The first requirement was that it sit way down low – a Meadors calling card. To get it to sit just right, he “cut the coils” removing a few inches from the factory coil suspension springs – a common practice in 1950s era hot rodding. It was the very first in a long line of hot rods and custom cars Meadors built and collected, the most recognized of which was his bright yellow 1932 Ford Tudor. The popular Ford hi-boy sedan, as drawn by artist Thom Taylor, has served as the centerpiece of the Goodguys logo since 1987. 
     While his professional life as a traveling salesman in the 1970s and ‘80s consumed his days, Meadors spent his spare time dreaming up ways to have fun with cars and to spread his love and passion for hot rods. In 1973, the Nor-Cal Early Iron Car Club — a club Meadors helped create in Fremont, California — organized the first “Street Rod Mini Nationals” at the Lodi Grape Festival Grounds. More than 500 hot rods attended, and it inspired Meadors to move forward as a promoter. Just a few years later while working as a regional event director for the National Street Rod Association, Meadors would develop the Western Nationals in Merced, California, into the West’s signature event for vintage street rods and customs attracting thousands of them with the rallying cry “Motate to Merced.” 
     When Gary and Marilyn quit their day jobs and launched Goodguys as their own association in 1987, the Western Nationals became the Goodguys West Coast Nationals and was moved to its current location at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds. The event will celebrate its 30th anniversary in Pleasanton next August and is known as the “Crown Jewel” of all Goodguys events nationwide due to its propensity to attract the top cars and personalities in contemporary hot rodding. The Danville Dukes, a car club Meadors co-founded with Tom Walsh and the late Bill Burnham in the early ‘80s, has played a pivotal role in the West Coast Nationals. 
     As Goodguys grew as an association with popular events anchored in cities such as Pleasanton, San Diego, Des Moines, Iowa, Columbus, Ohio and Scottsdale, Arizona Meadors successfully developed and sanctioned vintage drag racing events in California and Indiana, adding them to the Goodguys event tour. Historic events like Bakersfield’s March Meet were resurrected to flourish under Goodguys’ direction and care. A speed demon himself, Meadors gained membership to the prestigious Bonneville 200mph club in 1994, when he drove the Dozier & Hegarty Chrysler powered streamliner to a top speed of 223mph. 
     Like the vintage drag races, AutoCross regained prominence under the direction of Meadors and Goodguys. In 2008, Goodguys began staging AutoCross racing competitions at select events, giving event participants the opportunity to “flog” their hot cars and street machines on a timed course, offering a thunderous sizzle to the shows. Today, AutoCross is held at 16 Goodguys national events offering five classes of competition, a season-long points series and year end Championships. 
     A true visionary, Meadors was instrumental in encouraging and publicizing young hot rod builders, often helping them launch their careers. In 2000, Meadors and Goodguys spearheaded the development of the Trendsetter award – a perpetual honor presented at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas to rising young hot rod craftsmen. Chip Foose was the first recipient. Other recipients have included Troy Trepanier, The Ringbrothers, Troy Ladd, Dave Kindig and many others. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------SATURDAY JANUARY 16  10:00AM - 2:00 PM  GENE WINFIELD signing his new book  Autobooks-Aerobooks 2900 W. Magnolia Blvd. Burbank, CA 91505
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------George Callaway - Part One.  By John Gunnell "Gunner"  

     Hot Rod Hotline had the pleasure of spending time with George Callaway at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis the second week in December. Callaway is the Mayor of El Mirage, California, a city that is one of the cradles of hot rodding.  Callaway, 83, became a hot rodder in the early 1950s and started racing at Bonneville in 1953.  We talked to George for about 22 minutes.  Part 1 of the interview covers about six minutes of hot rod history. 
     HRHL: Are you really the mayor of El Mirage or is that just a nickname? 
     GC: Yes, I really am the Mayor. I have been Mayor for 15 years. It's not easy today. We have financial problems like a lot of other cities, but the Southern California Timing Assoc. (SCTA) has six meets there a year and that helps. 
     HRHL: You were into drag racing? 
     GC: Yes, Tom Paxton and I had a rocket-powered drag car in the '70s. It's still hanging on the wall of the NHRA (National Hot Rod Assoc.) Museum in Pomona.
     HRHL: What about Bonneville? 
     GC: My involvement with Bonneville started in 1954. 
     HRHL: What made you go to the 1954 Bonneville meet?? 
     GC: Hot Rodding was a big deal. Burbank, where I grew up, was the hub of hot rodding back then. So, I got interested in cars. I was working at Lockheed and they brought in this new employee named Ted Worobieff. I was the lead man and I asked him what his work experience was. He said that he used to be a machinist and that he had just got back from Bonneville. I had read Hot Rod magazine and I knew about Bonneville and I asked him, "You just got back from Bonneville?" He said that he had gone there and it didn't hurt his car. He had a '32 Coupe with an Oldsmobile V-8 in it and he said, "Let's go drag racing." So, we'd go to Santa Ana every Sunday. On the way back, we'd talk a lot. One day, he said, "Let's build a comp coupe and go to Bonneville." So, that's when we built a '34 Ford. That was in '53 and we went to the Salt Flats for the first time in '54 with a '34 Ford running a blown Oldsmobile V-8. 
     HRHL: How fast did you go that time? 
     GC: I think we only went 138 mph, but we were just kids. What we did was put four (Stromberg) 97 carburetors and a blower in the car. With a blower we couldn't get enough fuel to it. So, we took the jet wells out and put in fittings for a secondary fuel system. After we got it going, I'd pump it up with a hand pump and open the valve - it was just a quarter turn valve - and it would "bubble" because it was rich. Then, as I got going down the course - I'd keep shutting the valve off until it cleaned itself out and ran. It didn't work for beans, but we were just kids and we didn't know any better. 
     HRHL: What other early hot rodders did you know? 
     GC: I knew most all of them, because we all grew up in Burbank. I knew a lot of the early Bonneville guys. Alex Xydias of So-Cal Speed Shop lived right around the corner from me. And so did Kent Enderley who does the injectors. I've known Kent for years. And Isky (Ed Iskenderian). Way back when SEMA started, I was going to the drag races every weekend. When I went to SEMA I would know somebody in every booth. They were the same people I saw at the drag races on the weekends. I knew a lot of people at SEMA back then. I know nobody at SEMA now. I went there seven years ago and Nick Arias was the only one I knew there. At PRI I know a few more people - some of my old friends and also land speed racing friends. 
     HRHL: What's the fastest you've ever gone? 
     GC: I did 191 at El Mirage and 218 at Bonneville. That was in a '69 Mustang with a blown 300-inch Chrysler V-8. The motor was set back to make the car look like a funny car. The motor was under the windshield. But, I haven't raced now in probably 30 years.
     HRHL: Tell me about racing at El Mirage in the old days. 
     GC: Before World War II, the hot rodders used to race at Muroc Dry Lake. In September of 1941 the Army Air Force said no to future racing. They were doing secret stuff there. (Note: It became a U.S. Government military aircraft test center and later became Edwards Air Force Base.) Then, World War II came along and there was no racing anywhere. After WWII ended, the hot rodders needed a place to go. They looked at Rosamond and Harper Dry Lake, but they wound up at El Mirage. 
     HRHL: Tell me about racing at El Mirage today. 
     GC: We still run a mile and a third the same as they did 60 years ago, so that all the records stay the same. We race six times a year there. We have a two-day meet in May and one-day meets in June and July. Then, we go to Bonneville - which is our Daytona or Indy 500 - in August. We have 550 entries there and have to run four tracks to accommodate everyone who wants to run. Then, we come back in September to El Mirage, before returning to Bonneville for the "World Finals" in October. Then, we run at El Mirage in October and November. 
     HRHL: What are the differences between Bonneville and El Mirage? 
     GC: Number one, El Mirage is dirt, and number two, the course there is only a mile and a third. At Bonneville, you have a two-mile approach, then three one-mile segments. So, at Bonneville, you basically run five miles.  (In Part 2 of this interview you'll hear what George thinks about the environmental problems at Bonneville today and learn more about the history of hot rodders on the Salt Flats.)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------SCTA STORY.   Written by Wally Parks, Executive Secretary, SCTA.  May 1948.  Wally Parks’s stories were requested by David Fetherston.  This article was provided due to the courtesy of Jim Miller, who also owns the photos listed at the end of the article.
     To most people of the West Coast, summertime is beach time; time to enjoy the relaxing coolness of the ocean, but to several thousands of Southern California speed fans, summertime is Dry Lakes time. Beginning in April or May, the enthusiasts make periodic trips up into the desert wastelands to a suitable location of the running of the automotive time trials.
     This all started around Los Angeles back in the late twenties when a small group of men and youths, who were then interested in the development of more speed from the versatile Model T, made the long dusty journey to Muroc Dry Lake for the purpose of safely testing their experimental accomplishments.
     At that time, little thought had to be given to technical regulations, or safety factors inasmuch as these were but a handful of cars in competition and they, even in their stripped-down condition, were by comparison safer than the general run of cars that were in constant use.
     However, the safety problem was even as it is today, not with the cars in competition, but with the many spectators who inevitably were attracted to these desert events. When, in the early thirties, there were several casualties resulting from the wild uncontrolled recklessness of many who drove their cars onto the vast expanse of the open lake bed, it was decided by some of the more serious minded young men that steps must be taken to remedy the situation.
     So, in the 1937, a small group gathered in Los Angeles for the purpose of forming an organization to control the running of these time trials, so that they could provide a SAFE means of continuing with the sport.
     This newly formed group was composed of members of a few progressive local auto clubs and was appropriately named the Southern California Timing Association. Some of the earlier clubs were the Throttlers, Knight Riders, Sidewinders, 90 mph Club, Road Runners Idlers, Albata, Ramblers, Reas, and others. They drew up rules and by-laws which were not only to govern their activities while at the Lakes, but also at home and on the streets. Their No. 1 by-law was adopted as the California Vehicle Code in full.
     In May 1938, the organization was incorporated under the laws of the State of California as a non-profit corporation. Every effort was made to make the group and its activities a legitimate and respected development. By requiring each of the affiliated clubs to supply members for patrolling the lake bed and assigning committees for technical inspections of cars, course committees, clean-up crews, etc., the SCTA with cooperation of State and County law enforcement groups, has been able to provide a safe controlled course for the testing of their members’ cars.
     At first, the day’s events were concluded by several final heat races, in which the fastest cars in each class raced against each other. But when the hazard of too much dust became a menace to safety, the group voted unanimously to discontinue their competition heat races until a suitable course became available. That was back in 1938 and they are still waiting, and searching, for that suitable course.
     That the time trials are less interesting is easily understood, since all cars are run one at a time through the marked off straight-away course, but even this has not dampened the enthusiasm of the thousands of spectators who eagerly attend each meet.
     The regulation course is 200 feet wide, three and a half miles long, and formerly was marked off with rows of red flags along each side. This year, they are using flexible rubber cones, painted red and white, to replace the flags and increase safety. Half way through the course is a measured quarter-mile, over which the cars are electrically timed. This allows contestants one and five-eighths miles in which to build up speed before the times quarter, called the traps, and an equal distance in which to slow down. All official records must be established from an average of speeds traveled on two runs through the course in opposite directions.
     The timing device, which is guaranteed accurate to within several thousandths of a second, contains the very latest in photo-electric time recording developments. Official Timer is Mr. J. O. Crocker, who is also the timing authority for leading western power boat racing organizations.
     Most cars in competition are of the Roadster type, since many members cannot afford the luxury of having two cars and must make one serve the dual purpose of supplying every day transportation and being converted overnight into a car for time trials competition.
     There are many cars, however, which are never run on the street and must be transported on trailers or trucks to their trial runs locations. Many of these are small single-seaters with only a direct drive, several having been constructed from streamlined aircraft fuel tanks, and would be entirely unsuited to being driven in town.
     Body types are divided into Roadsters and Streamliners, with four classes in each. These are entered according to the total cubic-inch displacement of the engines used, which must be of standard American make in order to compete. Present records in the Roadster and Streamliner divisions are 136 and 139 mph respectively. These cars run in C class, which is 250 to 350ci in displacement.
     There are often as many as three hundred cars in the starting lineup, each of which is entitled to at least two times runs through the traps. Every car must be thoroughly inspected for safety of construction and operation, and each driver is required to show his operator’s license and his SCTA membership card. There are numerous safety regulations which must be complied with and it is the thankless task of several unpaid committees to see that they are enforced.
     And the rewards to winning contestants?
     Their greatest reward is in having the satisfaction of knowing that some little experimental change they may have made has improved the power output or performance of their entry. Of course, there are trophies, supplied by the Association, for the few who are at the top of each meet’s qualifiers, and the points toward the final seasonal trophies, but their greatest pleasure comes from the long hours of building, tuning, and tinkering with their cars.
     Most of the members are former service men, many of whom were a great asset to their country during the war due to their mechanical skill and ability developed while building lakes cars. The average age of Association members is about 26 years. Most teenagers usually lack the funds, initiative, or responsibility necessary to build their cars for safety and so they continue to create the nuisance and menace of street racing which has long been a problem to the Association, as well as to the police and the public.
     At the present time, there are movements under way to make available a strip of land on which organized trial runs could be made without the long, tiresome trip, and hazardous dust and heat conditions of the desert events.
     Proposals that offenses of street racing be made more punishable are readily endorsed by serious-minded SCTA members. However, in a time when the whole world hovers between peace and war, they can see no sound logic in the suggestions of some self-styled safety committees that this mechanically instructive hobby of sports car building be outlawed completely.
     It is a recognized fact that the number of accidents involving Hot Rods is so small in comparison with those of drunken drivers and wild drivers of standard band autos, that they are almost non-existent. However, with the badly misinformed public demanding that something be done to reduce traffic casualties, it is only natural for safety organizers to grasp at the most obvious straw…the roadsters.
     There is some consolation for the fellows who prefer to devote their leisure house to mechanical experimentation in the knowledge that not all the top ranking officials in State and City Administration are unaware of the values and advantages of such constructive recreation. There is still hope that a gradually increasing understanding between law enforcement authorities and progressive time trials enthusiasts may soon result in that long-looked-forward-to goal of a safe strip to test safety approved cars.
Billy Burke, the father of the belly tank, at the wheel of his 140 mph Merc-powered Streamliner.
Randy Shinn at the starting line in his Class D record holder for Roadsters. Speed 130.76 mph. Officials stand in the background.
Bert Letner’s dual ignition Mercury was clocked at 125 mph.
The Burke and Avakian bell-tank Merc. Jack Avakian at the wheel.
EDITOR: The following video link was sent in by Anna Marco.       
     65 years of HOT ROD MAGAZINE’S cover feature cars were found, and put ALL in one building! You won't be able to see this collection of hot rods - all in one place. There were over 300 of these cover cars found and brought in for this show. The question has always been - what happened to all these high performance beautiful cars from the past?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Impound Insights, by Dan Warner.  November 14-15, 2015.
     Beautiful Southern California weather greeted the racers on Friday for tech inspection. The downside of the weekend was the cold temperatures experienced by the overnight campers, some reported night time temps as low as 19 degrees, and the air did make for great horsepower.  By the end of Saturday over 195 entries had passed thru tech and made runs, I am told that it was the highest entry count ever for El Mirage. So many entries running on a top notch race course still could not complete round one before darkness began to fall and the course was moved for the following day's events. Highlight of Saturday was the ground pounding run of Dave Davidson in the Cummins Beck Davidson Thornsberry C/BFR at 277.657 mph. This is in a highboy roadster folks! The pits were still abuzz with the speed of the Ferguson Racing B/FS, Don Ferguson III driving, at 270 when Dave made his historic run.
     Five new members joined the El Mirage 200 MPH club at this meet. Mike Fitzmorris took a turn at the wheel of the McLeish Bracket Racing Triumph GT6 coupe. Running in the H/BFMS class Mike set a record of 201 MPH. Dean Kennedy had his run in the Kennedy Racing C/GT Corvette. Dean's dad Bill, June meet, and Brother Dave, Sept. meet, had made the club roster earlier this season. Dean's speed of 205.8 MPH lasted until the following day when Bill bumped the new record to 206.1. Dennis Mariani Jr. drove one of the many Mariani Farms cars this meet. This meet it was the B/GR '34 Ford roadster entry. Dennis knocked off a great run of 220 late Sunday afternoon just as the wind that shut the meet down came to visit. Chris Rivas was our motorcycle member this meet. Chris ran a fine 208 MPH lap on his Chris Rivas V-Twin Harley in the 3000-APS-PBF class.  All the way from Evansville, Indiana Steve Strupp handled the Jack Rogers Racing A/GC Camaro to a new record of 212 MPH. Speaking of Steve's trip, we had several entries from many far flung locations across the country for the two day meet. Thanks everyone for joining us.
     In addition to the four car and one motorcycle 200 Club qualified records we had 18 car and 4 motorcycle records set. The previously mentioned B/FS record of Ferguson Racing, Don Ferguson III up, of 270.7 MPH made the list. Ed Fenn set the C/GS streamliner record with the Brissette & Fenn lakester with fenders at 239. Greg Martinez came from San Francisco the set the V4F/BGL class record in the Disturbing Da Peace entry at 158 MPH. Costella/Hoogerhyde driver Jim Hoogerhyde continued his great year at El Mirage. This time the team entered the H/GL class and set the mark to 198.6 MPH. White Goose Bar Racing set another record with Greg Waters driving the Waters/Manghelli/Romero entry in the F/BFMR class. The Toyota 2JZ powered high boy with belly pan set the class record at 219+. SCTA President Bill Lattin, using his alter ego name of William Lattin drove the V4/BFRMR entry of Aardema Braun Lattin to a class standard of 186 MPH. The Kraut Bros., Santa Barbara, CA, did well with Willie Boelcke in the seat setting the C/BGRMR record to 218 MPH. In the Blown Gas Roadster classes the team of Eyres and Son, Eric Eyres driving, set the E/BGR record to 213. The new roadster built and driven by Erik Hansson set the XF/BGR record to 164+. Vintage Hot Rod brought out the 2014 season championship C/AIR roadster with John Beck at the wheel. John bumped up the class record to 179 MPH. Bill Lattin drove a second entry at the meet. The Lattin & Stevens XXF/VGCC set the record at 167. At the end of the day this entry walked off with a hard-won Season Championship.  Cohn Jucewic Monza returned to the impound with a C/CGC record of 205 driven by engine builder Bob Jucewic. The Notabusa I/FCC driving by Larry Foley Jr set a final season record of 135.3 MPH. Neil McAlister changed classes this meet and ran the BMR Ferguson Racing coupe in the XXF/BFAlt class with a record of 177+. Steve Hope brought the old H & H Motorsports coupe out of moth balls and set a G/BGC record with driver Jere Teepen at 176 MPH. At only his third meet ever Steve Tillack took the F/BGMS record in his bright red Datsun 240 type coupe using Toyota 2JZ power. Long time Bonneville racer Larry Lancaster came to visit with his '60s style Chevy pickup using GMC 302 power with a blower. The XO/BMP class entry Lilbit 'O Racing set the class record at 133, a well deserved reward at the end of a long road trip.
     Motorcycle impound had four more records in addition to Chris Rivas' 200 club run. Motorcycle Season Championship winner Ralph LeClercq set another record on his Team McLeish RS entry in the 125-APS-BG class. Ralph ended the season with a 129.2 record in the class. A very impressive Alp Sungurtekin set a 175 record on his pre-unit Triumph in the 650-A-PF class. Top Speed of the Meet for the two wheel group was set by Ralph Hudson on his 1000-APS-PF entry at 237.5 MPH. Finally, McLeish Bracket Racing had the Silver Rod 1350-SCS-F with Derek McLeish driving and setting the class record at 175.1 MPH.
     Top Speed of the Meet was the Vintage Hot Rod entry #911 driven by Dave Davidson on that fantastic run of 277.6 in the C/BFR class. This run also netted the team Top Speed of the Year. Top Speed of the Year for motorcycles is John 'Big Balls'(self named) Noonan at 250.514 in June. The Number one club for 2015 is the Milers.
     The lineups for 2016 are set, the rule changes have been published and the date is carved in stone. All that is missing is you and your entry. Good luck to everyone in the upcoming season.
     Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.   Joanie and I wish everyone the safest of holidays and look forward to seeing you in May at El Mirage.
Dan Warner
Record Certification officer
     Looking for OHV-T engine, or just the OHV head for a T.  Someone maybe has something under the bench they are not using.  Keep me in mind, let me know.   Thank you, and have a Happy New Year.  Ken Walkey, [email protected]
      The Quarter Mile Foundation was fortunate to receive a donation from Geoff Stilwell of Beech Underwriting (Maidstone, Kent, UK) to allow the filming of interviews of British pioneers of drag racing and the performance aftermarket prior to the Installation Gala Dinner of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame on November 21, 2015. The interviews took place at the famed Savill Court Hotel in Windsor Great Park, Berkshire, UK.
     Interviewer John Price, long-time announcer at Santa Pod Raceway and presenter of many hot rod shows and drag racing related TV programs in the UK, drew out some of the early history of drag racing in Great Britain and how the racers from the United States and the aftermarket companies, influenced the sport and assisted the its transplantation into Britain and Europe. Price’s subjects included racers, track officials, and a warehouse distributor.
     The interviewees were (in alphabetical order): Stu Bradbury – Longtime Chief Starter (starting in 1967) at the famed Santa Pod Raceway (Wellingborough, Bedfordshire, UK), and serves as the current Chairman of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Russ Carpenter - Developed the Daimler hemi engine to run on nitro and ran it in a rear engined dragster. John Hobbs – A popular drag bike rider who competed in 1960s and 1970s on the “Olympus,” “Olympus 2” and “Hobbitt” bikes, capturing many wins and establishing many records. The popular “Olympus 2” and “Hobbitt” were radical twin-engined machines. Gary Page – A versatile racer who raced Altereds, Funny Cars and Top Fuel Dragsters from the 1970s to the present. Roy Phelps - Founder of Santa Pod Raceway, who took an old Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber base and converted it into a world-class dragstrip. He promoted many events at the track, and Europe, bringing in many big names from the U.S.
     Barry Sheavills – Another very talented and diversified racer in the Altered, Top Methanol Dragster and Top Fuel Dragster classes. He was the FIA European Champion in 1998 and first driver to break the four second barrier in the UK. He was also the first European racer to exceed 300 mph in the quarter mile. Andy Carter also ran 300mph in the other lane, but Sheavills was credited with being the first, since he was faster than Carter. Steve Trice - Director of US Automotive, is a major warehouse distributor for U.S. performance parts brands in the U.K. and the European continent. US Automotive is one of the major sponsors of the British Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
     The Foundation also received a digital recording of the bench racing session held later in the afternoon with a number of the U.S. contingent participating in front of a select audience. The participants were: Eileen Daniels - NHRA Nostalgia Series administrator, Ron Hope - Rat Trap Fuel Altered racer, Fred Larsen - the Sundance Kid team, Norway's first drag racing team, Bruce Larson - USA-1 Funny Car and 1989 NHRA/Winston Champion, now a Nostalgia Funny Car racer, 'Waterbed' Fred Miller of the Blue Max Funny Car team and Bob Muravez (aka Floyd Lippincote, Jr.) driver of the legendary twin-engined Freight Train Top Gas dragster.
     The stories which were told regaled the audience for nearly two hours, and set the tone for the Induction Gala to follow. The seven interviews added to the international history of the sport in the Foundation’s interview inventory. The inclusion of these seven interviews increased the total interviews collected to 240 interviews, before the addition of interviews done at the 2015 Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, Ind., and Detroit, Mich. in December.
     Traci Hrudka, Chairman of the Quarter Mile Foundation said, “The inclusion of these interviews, along with the ‘bench racing’ session is a significant step to expand the Foundation’s interview process to include the international aspect of the sport and industry outside of North America. The Foundation would like to extend its sincere thanks to Beech Underwriting, and its Managing Director, Geoff Stilwell, for the welcome contribution that allowed the interviews to be captured.
     The Quarter Mile Foundation is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit foundation, which is producing PROJECT 1320, a for-television documentary film series about the history of drag racing and the parallel growth of the performance automotive aftermarket. Please continue to help capture our Legends stories by donating to the Quarter Mile Foundation at  2015 was a year of great loss of legends in our industry. It is in our hands to make sure we reach our Legends so they can share the stories of their life that so enriched this sport and the growth of the automotive aftermarket. Our mailing address is: Quarter Mile Foundation 6210 Beverly Dr. Cleveland, Oh 44130.  Add us to your address book.  Tracy Hrudka
The Journey of Eddie Dominguez's 1939 Mercury.  Reprinted courtesy of Internet Brands and  Check out the whole story via  Photos Courtesy: Ronnie Lindblom, Kevan Sledge, Robert A. Radcliffe III.
      Eddie Dominguez of El Paso Texas purchased his 1939 Mercury in 1960. The vehicle was already a custom Merc’, which was a cool ride to have especially when you’ve just graduated high school. When Eddie got the Merc, it had been repainted Maroon, the top was chopped about 2 inches and it featured a custom red and white upholstery and a padded top. After owning the car for more than 40 years it was time for Eddie to let the car go. The new owner was Jorge Zaragoza, a successful rancher and businessman also from El Paso, Texas. Jorge only purchased the Merc’ as part of a package deal for a 3 window coupe. Jorge shipped the Merc’ to California in hopes of selling the car at the 2008 Los Angeles Roadster show, and he did. Ron Clapper who worked for Jorge at the time, and it was he who brought the car to the show, selling it for Jorge; "I took the Merc to LARS along with a Woodie to sell for my then boss. I'm recently retired," Ron told later owner Ronnie Lindblom in 2015. The new owner would be Shifters car club member Squeak, who purchased the car three days after he made his first offer. Squeek noticed small details of the car which indicated that it was customized in the past, including a sunken license plate. Squeak owned the car for about a year before being talked into selling it to fellow Shifters member, Kevan Sledge. Kevan stored the car for a couple of years before putting some work into in 2011. After a few years Kevan finally sold the car to Dusters member Ronnie Lindblom of Sweden. Ronnie plans to restore the car back to its former glory and has even commissioned Kevan to do some work as well. There’s a lot more to cars than an engine, paint, and metal. Every car has a history and it’s always great to see how some of these hot rods came to be.