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Land Speed Racing Newsletter #390

Land Speed Racing Newsletter #390


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)
     In regards to the photographs that you sent me I know a bunch of them especially the 13 shots taken off the American Hot Rod Foundation site.  They were taken without permission and the AHRF logo was cropped off on some of the shots.  Staff at the AHRF spent a lot of money getting them and promised the people who donated the shots that they would get photo credit.  Now we look like liars.  The Herbert's Drive-In shot was actually a Roberts Drive-In that I spent a great deal of time cloning the sign and cars together for.  About 2 1/2 hours work was taken from our DVD "Slingshot."  Could you pass on to those who got these photographs that all of these shots were taken from some previously published works, some of which are copyrighted.
STAFF EDITORIAL, by Richard Parks.
     Jim Miller, our Society’s President, has good reason to be offended.  Over the years it has become common usage to simply “borrow” what we want without asking permission.  I do it and I need to break this bad habit.  But I am also guilty of “giving my work” away for free and encouraging others to just take what they want.  In this case I am perpetuating a bad habit.  If someone takes a photograph or writes an article then they OWN that creative object.  You can’t take, borrow, or steal the photo or article under any circumstances and claim that it is yours.  Not even if the original person is dead and there are no heirs.  Created material ALWAYS belongs to the creator and his/her estate unless they sell you the article or cede it to you in a legal manner.
     This does not mean that you can’t copy something for your own use and pleasure.  If you buy a magazine, book or movie you are using someone else’s creative idea and in effect, you are leasing or renting that work.  But you DON’T OWN IT, and you never will.  I receive comments all the time stating, “But he gave it to me, or I pulled it out of the trashcan, or he wasn’t using it any longer, or finders, keepers.”  NO, NO, NO.  You can have POSSESSION of an object but that doesn’t imply ownership.  Those believing in “possession is nine-tenths of the law” are basically thieves.  Plain and simple, if you have something in your possession that you didn’t create and you have no deed conveying property rights to you then you are a CARETAKER only; not the owner.
     Now this offends those who believe what is yours is mine and what other people have ought to be shared with all of us, but legally and morally the answer is always the same; if you did not create the object you can NEVER, EVER own it, though you can use it for your own pleasure.  Do not reproduce, replicate, copy or in any way presume to sell or convey property that is not yours or that you did not create.  You can sell YOUR copy that you purchased, but you cannot copy and sell the copies as your own.  The amount of material taken from my father, brother and me over the years has been voluminous.  There is material on the open market right now that has been lifted from our estates.  It is stolen property and we are still losing property from people who believe once we are dead it is alright to take it and to claim ownership.  If I find out that you have done so and made a profit from it I will prosecute you both civilly and criminally wherever possible.
     Property is the basis of all trust.  You would not think of philandering with your friend’s wife; so don’t covet his property.  He trusts you and your integrity is on the line; so don’t take his property and claim it for yourself.  You can copy for personal use with permission of the creator of the property.  You can pass that along to your children or friends in your estate.  You just cannot copy and avoid royalties and legal rights.  We are not the Chinese government that promotes theft of people’s creative ideas.  We are civilized and we are hotrodders.  This also applies to engine parts, tools and supplies.  Your neighbor’s garage is not the local food bank and you are not entitled to take things just because you are poor or have bad habits.  If you absolutely must OWN an object then negotiate with the owner and creator, pay him what he asks and both of you sign a legal document, record it, that you have passed property from the original owner to the second owner.  I have discussed this before and yet the word doesn’t seem to get out.  If it doesn’t belong to you keep your hands off.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Burly Burlile wrote: “SEMA has issued a press release informing the public that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is aiming to make it illegal to convert automobiles originally designed for on-road use into racecars, even though such conversions have been done for decades.  Under the EPA’s proposed rule, it would also be illegal to sell any performance-related products for those cars.  The EPA’s proposal would have a devastating impact on motorsports since many types of racing rely on production vehicles that have been modified for use strictly at the track. Ask the EPA to withdraw its proposal now request opposition for this regulation by using the following SAN website link for an overview and link to sign the White House Petition.”
     “ … on changing the Unlimited LSR rules ... you knew we would respond.  It is so far off the mark it's … we are preparing a more thought full response to this …”
     This is just hogwash.  What about all of the past records?  This is a terrible idea to a problem that does not need fixing.
     I look forward to your statements on the proposed, purported and unsubstantiated changes in LSR rules (by an outside group) and will gladly give you the Guest Columnist spot.  In the meantime, chill out and watch your language since we are all adults on the SLSRH.
     Is the EPA seeking to make car-to-race-car modifications illegal, or are those modifications ALREADY illegal? That’s the question the industry is suddenly facing just days after SEMA issued a successful White House petition opposing recent rules proposed by the EPA.  The EPA’s rule-making language called into question by SEMA says: “EPA is proposing…to clarify that the Clean Air Act does not allow any person to disable, remove, or render inoperative (i.e., tamper with) emission controls on a certified motor vehicle for purposes of competition.”
     The purpose of the EPA’s latest action, according to the agency, comes in response to “the President’s directive on February 18, 2014, to develop new standards that will take us well into the next decade."  The White House petition opposing this proposal, launched on Feb. 9 by SEMA, earned over 100,000 signatures in the first 24 hours after going live. It’s currently pushing toward 135,000 signatures.  The petition may be the industry’s only hope in appealing to the EPA rule makers before they finalize the new set of rules later this year. The public’s allotted time slot to comment on the agency’s latest proposals closed on Sept. 11.
     EPA Response.  Laura Allen, an EPA spokeswoman, issued a Feb. 9 statement on behalf of the agency in response to SEMA’s objection, saying: “People may use EPA-certified motor vehicles for competition, but to protect public health from air pollution, the Clean Air Act has—since its inception—specifically prohibited tampering with or defeating the emission control systems on those vehicles. The proposed regulation that SEMA has commented on does not change this long-standing law, or approach.  “Instead, the proposed language in the Heavy-Duty Greenhouse Gas rulemaking simply clarifies the distinction between motor vehicles and non-road vehicles such as dirt bikes and snowmobiles. Unlike motor vehicles—which include cars, light trucks, and highway motorcycles—non-road vehicles may, under certain circumstances, be modified for use in competitive events in ways that would otherwise be prohibited by the Clean Air Act.  “EPA is now reviewing public comments on this proposal.”
     Later on Feb. 9, Allen issued a follow-up statement in response to an inquiry from Road & Track magazine: “This clarification does not affect EPA's enforcement authority. It is still illegal to tamper with or defeat the emission control systems of motor vehicles. In the course of selecting cases for enforcement, the EPA has and will continue to consider whether the tampered vehicle is used exclusively for competition. The EPA remains primarily concerned with cases where the tampered vehicle is used on public roads, and more specifically with aftermarket manufacturers who sell devices that defeat emission control systems on vehicles used on public roads.”
     What’s the Actual Law?  Neither of Allen’s statements seem to come across as discernibly clear as the EPA’s proposed rule opposing car-to-race-car modifications. And as Stephen McDonald, SEMA vice president of government affairs, tells Yahoo! Tech: “The EPA has never implemented a policy making it illegal for certified vehicles to become competition-use only vehicles.”  Clearly, something has been lost in translation.  The issue gets even more complicated once you tackle the 629-page EPA document proposing its latest rules for motor vehicles. The document is titled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2.” Phase 1 of the EPA’s proposals concerned light-duty vehicles and has already been proposed and finalized by the agency.
     The Phase 2 document states on page 2 that it is meant to cover "the categories of heavy-duty vehicles," such as combination tractors; trailers used in combination with those tractors; heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans; and vocational vehicles. However, the portion opposed by SEMA regarding car-to-race-car modifications comes on page 403.  The reason this issue requires substantially more clarification from the EPA is found on page 391 of the EPA’s Phase 2 document. Here, it seems the agency readily admits the unclear nature of the rules regarding modified racing vehicles, versus “competition vehicles.” As such, it states: “The existing prohibitions and exemptions…related to competition engines and vehicles need to be amended to account for differing policies for non-road and motor vehicle applications. In particular, we generally consider non-road engines and vehicles to be 'used solely for competition' based on usage characteristics. This allows EPA to set up an administrative process to approve competition exemptions, and to create an exemption from the tampering prohibition for products that are modified for competition purposes. There is no comparable allowance for motor vehicles.”
     “There is no prohibition against actual use of certified motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines for competition purposes; however, it is not permissible to remove a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine from its certified configuration regardless of the purpose for doing so.”  Now What?  THE SHOP is currently seeking its own response from the EPA. Its statements on this issue thus far seem to indicate the industry may have been out of compliance with federal rules for quite some time.  We’re also looking forward to speaking with SEMA regarding these topics and more, such as the association’s next steps in clarifying and possibly nullifying the EPA’s proposals regarding car-to-race-car modifications.
     In the meantime, we sure are witnessing a substantial movement in support of the modification aftermarket.  “My social media page is just blowing up with the issue,” Tracie Nunez, president of PWA, told THE SHOP.  “It’s kind of crazy how fast that’s happening.”    Anthony Bowe
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sent in by Raymond Harstad.
     Debunking the Myths: EPA Proposal to Prohibit Conversion of Vehicles Into Racecars By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff SEMA eNews, February 11, 2016
     1 EPA Proposed Regulation:  Under the EPA proposed regulation, certified motor vehicles and engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition.  Violators would be subject to the fines and penalties included in the tampering prohibitions.
     2 SEMA’s Understanding of Proposal as Confirmed by the EPA: SEMA representatives met with EPA officials on January 20, 2016 to confirm the association’s understanding of the proposed regulation.  The EPA officials confirmed that the regulation would make it illegal to convert a certified motor vehicle into a vehicle to be used solely for competition.  The EPA officials claimed that this had always been their interpretation of the Clean Air Act. 
     3 Myth: This proposal is not changing current law. Congress never intended the Clean Air Act to be interpreted as giving the EPA the authority to regulate vehicles used solely for competition, regardless of whether the vehicles were once emissions-certified road vehicles.  Once a vehicle is taken out of use as a road vehicle and dedicated solely to racing, it is beyond the laws which apply to road vehicles.  The EPA and SEMA fundamentally disagree on this point.  SEMA has cited the statutory text, legislative history, and congressional intent of the Clean Air Act, as well as 46 years of history whereby vehicles have been converted from certified road status to status as race vehicles without any objection from EPA. 
     4 Myth: The EPA is merely clarifying the law as it relates to motor vehicles and non-road vehicles, and its proposal only affects vehicles driven on the streets. The EPA is adding new language to the regulations.  This new language states that a motor vehicle can never be modified, even if it is used solely for competition and never again used on public roads.  The EPA is seeking to prohibit modifications affecting any emissions-related component, such as engines, engine control modules, intakes, exhaust systems, etc.
     5 Myth: The EPA’s proposal only affects medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The EPA inserted the problematic language into a rulemaking that focuses on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; however, the rulemaking also includes a section entitled “Miscellaneous EPA Amendments.”  The language affecting “vehicles used solely for competition” (i.e., racecars) was a “miscellaneous EPA amendment” and would, in fact, affect all light-duty vehicles, not just trucks. 
     6 Myth: SEMA is overreacting, this will never get passed. The EPA has issued a proposed regulation.  Regulations are issued by federal agencies and not voted on by elected representatives.  If the language becomes final (EPA is expected to issue a final regulation in July), then it will have the force of law and can only be challenged in federal court or overturned by Congress. 
     7 Myth: The EPA could not enforce this proposal. The proposal would give the EPA the power to enforce against any vehicle owner that converts his or her emissions-controlled motor vehicle into a vehicle to be used solely for competition.  Whether or not the EPA chooses to enforce, it would be illegal for an individual to convert their motor vehicle.  Additionally, the EPA has stated that it will enforce against aftermarket companies that sell parts for use on the converted vehicles, which will limit racers’ access to parts. 
     8 Myth: The EPA’s proposal would not affect vehicles that have already been converted into racecars.   It is the EPA’s position that they will be able to enforce against vehicles that have already been converted in the past.  While the EPA has indicated that it does not currently plan on enforcing against individuals, it does plan on going after the companies supplying parts for vehicles that have already been converted.  So, if you have a racecar that began life as a street car, this regulation would affect your access to parts, and leave you open to enforcement if the agency so chooses.  
     9 Fact: The EPA’s proposal would not affect racecars with original emissions controls. The EPA notes that race vehicles with original, unmodified emission controls, including the original engine configuration, engine control module, intake and exhaust components, do not violate the law.  The issue is that very few competition race vehicles have been left unmodified and in a certified configuration.  
     10 Fact: The EPA’s proposal would not affect purpose-built racecars, such as sprint cars, open-wheel dragsters and the cars that currently compete in NASCAR. The EPA agrees that vehicles that were originally manufactured for racing are excluded from regulation under the Clean Air Act.  However, the EPA believes this exclusion extends only to vehicles that were never certified for on-road use or issued a VIN. 
     11 Fact: The EPA’s proposal will not affect the exemption for “non-road vehicles,” such as dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and boats used solely for competition. The EPA has indicated that it will continue to allow “non-road vehicles” (dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, boats) to be exempted from certain emissions regulations if they are used solely for competition.  Distinct from its stance on motor vehicles, however, the EPA’s current position on non-road vehicles allows emissions-certified non-road vehicles to be converted into vehicles used solely for competition.
     12 Get the facts for yourself:  Greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium - and heavy-duty engines and vehicles--Phase 2, 80 Fed. Reg. 40,138 (July 13, 2015), docket number. EPA–HQ–OAR–2014–0827: Please use the search function to locate this provision within the proposed regulation: PART 86--CONTROL OF EMISSIONS FROM NEW AND IN-USE HIGHWAY VEHICLES AND ENGINES
     I'm researching the old Fontana Drag City and read on-line (for what that's worth) that Wally Parks operated the track there in the early days before M/T took it over. However, I can't find anything to substantiate that; any ideas? Tony Thacker
Here's what I found. I can't substantiate the 2nd paragraph. Richard can tell us when Barbara married Wally. Jim Miller
     This is an interesting question and I will try to be brief.  My father and mother Mary divorced in 1960 at the request of my future step-mother, Barbara Livingston Parks, who wished to see my parents’ marriage last 25 years so that my mother could receive Social Security at age 65.  Wally Parks met Barbara sometime around 1950 when Barbara was hired into the steno pool from a modeling agency.  It wasn't necessarily Barbara's glamour that caused my father to select her for the position of his secretary while at Petersen Publishing, but her loyalty, hard work, incredible secretarial skills and commitment to her assigned tasks. 
     My father wasn't interested in running a dragstrip, or any large enterprise requiring a time commitment.  He would have looked around and found a willing and dedicated person and delegated such an assignment to them.  If he was involved with Fontana in 1950 or '51 it would have come out in his Hot Rod magazine editorials.  His efforts at Fontana can then be said to be encouragement, delegation, advice and sanctioning.  The concept of the NHRA had formed some time before March of 1951, in response to illegal street racing and as a way to bring SCTA principles to young people who had relatively little idea of what earlier dry lakes racing time trials were all about.
     The first years of the NHRA were confined to recreating the CAR CLUB and similar hot rodding culture, but by 1953 it was obvious that concept was dying out and the need for sanctioning races became a more practical idea.  So Barbara would have worked for Petersen Publishing and in off hours would help my father on the newly formed NHRA, all the officials at first being ex-SCTA people (Wally Parks, Ak Miller and Marvin Lee).
     The response was immediate and overwhelming and Wally and Barbara worked far into the night on the new NHRA, as well as dinner appointments and parties at which they not only entertained sponsors, backers, officials and racers, but also promoted the safety concepts of the new NHRA.  They simply would not have had time to devote to being operators of a drag strip, but I have no doubt at all that they would have supported the managers and staff in whatever ways that they could.  Nor have I yet found any records in his files or heard him mention this subject in person.
     The statement that the C. J. Hart operated Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip is the first venue at which cars were "raced in a straight line," is partly true only with some background explanation.  Drag racing is a derivation of the much earlier straight-line land speed time trials, with the effort to establish the highest speed, and much later the elapsed time between point A and B, with the size of the course depending on many factors in the early days.  Since land speed time trials are ancient we can say that road course and land speed time trials are the earliest form of land motor racing, though motorized water racing is older.  Airplane racing is only a few short years later than road course and land speed time trials.
     Jim Miller and I consider the Santa Ana Airport Drag Strip to be the first commercial, professional, legal and regularly scheduled drag strip racing in the world.  Goleta drag races apparently were irregular, non-commercial, but somewhat legal and professionally run.  Racing on city streets goes back into the 1920's and earlier and was sometimes commercial in the sense of betting, somewhat regular based on how quickly the police forgot to check on the area, somewhat professional in the sense that many of the racers also raced on the dry lakes in organized car clubs, but they were not legal, sanctioned or approved by officials. 
     There are records of drag racing in England a decade before WWII, and often the police were "unofficially involved" by putting up barricades, betting on the outcome or accepting a cut of the gaming and then removing the barricades when the "race" was over.  Quarter horse vs hot rod racing was quite common as a form of irregular gambling.  Drag racing on county roads, city streets, abandoned parking lots and airport runways are part of the lore of old time racing.
     My father, being older than most of the earlier racers and first observing dry lakes racing in 1931, was often looked up to by the generation that came after WWI.  Many times he would get a call from a desk sergeant to come and vouch for some young street racer.  He would go down to the station, listen patiently as the sergeant berated the young man and then let my father take the young man home on Dad's recognizance that he would get the young hoodlum back for his court date.  Once out of sight my father would gun the engine and race away at great speed.  All these younger men looked up to my father; so when he would ask them to work to create a drag strip or a timing association they gladly followed him.  That is my answer to his possible participation at Fontana, Colton and any other drag strip until such time as the NHRA had the financial ability to own and operate their own drag strips and that was somewhere in the 1960's.    Richard Parks
INTERNET SOURCE #1 (The following internet articles were submitted by Jim Miller without attribution or authentification of the material and must be used with other sources and references as there may be errors in them.  They are reprinted as received with no comment by the SLSRH or its editor/publisher.)
     Long before the late Wally Parks created the National Hot Rod Association in 1951, Southern California was defined by its relationship with cars, speed, competition and the quarter-mile. In fact, previous to Parks founding the sanctioning body that helped moved the sport from the streets to safer tracks, Parks and wife Barbara actually conducted races on an abandoned air field in north Fontana.  (EDITOR-probably not true)
     Gilfilan Field was never a major drag strip of the day, but it played a major role in establishing a discipline still running strong 65 years thereafter. That was the first drag racing venue and competition in Fontana. The more famous of the two was Fontana Drag City, located just east of the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and East Avenue. It’s the first quarter-mile that had lights and conducted night racing on a narrow asphalt strip that ran southwest to northeast, uphill to boot, from 1955 until 1972. It was also known as Mickey Thompson International Dragway.
INTERNET SOURCE #2 Fontana Airport / Fontana Gilfillan Airport, Fontana, CA 34.13, -117.47 (West of San Bernardino, CA) The date of construction of Fontana Airport has not been determined. The earliest reference to the airfield which has been located was on the 1932 LA Sectional Chart (courtesy of Scott O'Donnell). It depicted an airfield at the site, labeled simply "LF" (Landing Field). The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airports Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo) listed a Department of Commerce Intermediate Field at Fontana, "Site 5, LA-Amarillo airway". It was described as having a triangular sand & gravel landing area, measuring 2,640' x 2,227'. Lane Leonard recalled, “Fontana Gilfilan... During WWII this airport was used as a night training field for the Cal Aero Cadets. The runways were lined with a small smudge pot type of device. Aircraft were BT & Stearman. I learned this through my Father who instructed there at Cal Aero at the start of WWII.” The earliest photo which has been located of Fontana Airport was a 1948 aerial view. It depicted the field as having 2 very wide but short, parallel, paved runways, along with what appeared to be a former unpaved crosswind runway. Several small buildings were located on the north side of the field, near which was visible a total of 5 single-engine aircraft. According to drag racing historian Bret Kepner, Fontana was used as a dragstrip in 1950-52, so it must have been barely active as an airfield at that time. In the 1950s, Fontana Airport became the site of radar testing flight operations for the Gilfillan Brothers, pioneers in the development of GCA radar. According to Donald Chantry (Gilfillan Brothers & ITT Gilfillan employee from 1954-91), "This Airport did not become a significant part of the Gilfillan Brothers activity until just a few years before my joining them in 1954."
     In the 1950s and ’60s Fontana was home to a famous drag racing strip that was a significant venue in the NHRA circuit. Known officially as Mickey Thompson’s Fontana International Drag way, it was also referred to as Fontana Drag City or just plain old Fontana Drag Strip. The original Fontana strip is long since defunct, but the owners of NASCAR’s new Auto Club Speedway opened a new NHRA-sanctioned drag strip in Fontana in mid-2006 to resurrect Fontana’s drag-racing heritage. Ro-Val’s automobile museum, located on Foothill Boulevard on the western outskirts between Fontana and Cucamonga, was for a while the home for many classic automobiles of the 1920s and ’30s, including a huge vehicle once owned by screen actor Fatty Arbuckle. When the Ro-Val museum closed, the vehicles were sold to Bill Harrah, a Nevada casino owner and automobile collector, who placed them on display in the museum located at his casino.
     From 1955 until 1972, Fontana was home to a famous drag racing strip that was a significant venue in the NHRA circuit. First SoCal strip to have lights and run night drags. Originally Fontana Drag City, then Mickey Thompson International Drag Way. Not far from my studio in Rancho Cucamonga the last few remains of what was once known as Fontana Drag City remains among the suburban housing tracks. I decided to take a trip out to the site and snap some photos of what few signs remain of Mickey Thompson's old track.
     Officially it was known as Mickey Thompson's Fontana International Dragway, from 1955-1972 it was a major stop on the NHRA circuit. The only thing left from the legendary drag strip is the shutdown area at the very end just before the turn off for the return road. There are also chucks of concrete from some of the walls and other buildings strewn about. The strip closed after several serous accidents and deaths, the NHRA deemed the track to short and narrow for safe racing.
INTERNET SOURCE #4 By George Klass (06-29-09)
     As I was driving home from the PSCA event in Las Vegas, I was thinking how nice it is that we have a great drag strip so close to Los Angeles.  For those of you that don't know, "The Strip" in Las Vegas is about 273 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.  And even closer to L.A. is California Dragway in Fontana.  Another fine facility and only 10 miles from where I live, and 49 miles from downtown L.A.  Two drag strips in my area, one almost next door and the other only about a three hour drive away.
     I would say I'm lucky except for one thing, and that is that I'm spoiled.  I can remember back when there were so many drag strips in Southern California that you could visit a different track every weekend for about three months, and still not see them all.  I know, you think I'm kidding.  Let me go back in time.  I turned sixteen in 1955, and immediately got a driver's license.  And a car.  A 1940 Ford Coupe (DeLuxe), flathead powered (what else?).  And of course, I went drag racing.  Let me fill you in on the drag strips in Southern California when I was a lad.  I'm going to give you a list, in the order that they were built (or opened) and where they were located in relation to downtown Los Angeles.  One more thing. I went to every one of these tracks at one time or the other.
     In the beginning, there was Santa Ana (opened 1950, closed 1959).  Technically the first drag strip. I know some old timers (older than me) have told me that they held drag races at the Santa Barbara Airport in Goleta before Santa Ana opened, but it was not really a drag strip, just a place that held races every now and then.  Santa Ana drag strip was where John Wayne Airport is located now.  In those days, the airport was used mostly by the Army Air Corps.  The old strip was just a taxiway when I raced there.  The "tower" was on the back of a flat bed truck.  But it was drag racing and it was a 1/4 mile long.  Santa Ana was 33 miles south of Los Angeles, and was the first drag strip I ever raced on.
     Just up the street from Santa Ana, there is the huge Navy blimp base, or that's what it was during WWII (the blimp hangers are still there).  This is Tustin, and they held drag races there in 1950.  They weren't 1/4 mile races but if I recall, they were longer than 1/8th mile.  Something in the middle maybe but who cares, it was another place to race.  I think that Tustin closed the same year it opened, 1950.
     Saugus was a small track 37 miles north of L.A.  It opened in 1951 and closed in 1957.  The first drag race I ever saw was at Saugus, my dad took me there one Sunday before I had a driver's license.  I was probably still in Junior High School.  I remember clearly the top eliminator car of the meet.  It was a fenderless 1934 Ford coupe and it went 114 mph.
     Pomona opened in 1951 too, and is still active today.  Pomona, the home of the NHRA Winternationals and World Finals, is located on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds and is 49 miles east of downtown L.A.
     In 1952, Fontana drag strip opened.  It was known as Drag City back then and is not to be confused with California Dragway, the new "Fontana" strip.  The original Drag City closed in 1969. 
     Another drag strip that opened in 1952 was Famoso drag strip, in McFarland, 135 miles north of L.A., just outside of Bakersfield.  At various times it was also called Bakersfield drag strip or the Smokers drag strip.  The Smokers were the car club in the area that promoted some very big events "back in the day."  Famoso is still an active track.
     A little further away, at the Inyokern Airport (144 miles north-east of L.A.) was a drag strip.  It was alternately called Inyokern or Ridgecrest.  It opened in 1954 and was active until 2005, or so I've been told. 
     In 1955, two new tracks opened in the L.A. area.  San Fernando and Lions.  San Fernando, located in "the valley" (23 miles from downtown L.A.) was the home of racer's like Tommy Ivo, Don Prudhomme, Tony Nancy and Dick Landy.  San Fernando was located next to the airport of the same name.  I think the track was an unused taxi way. Everyone called it "The Pond," why that is I never knew.  It closed for good in 1967.  It was hot and dusty on Sunday's, and I loved that place.
     And then there was Lions.  As far as I was concerned, Lions was the king of all drag strips.  Anyone that ever raced on a drag strip, that had a name that you ever heard of, raced at Lions.  When it opened it was called LADS, Lions Associated Drag Strip, and was operated by the local Lions Club in Long Beach.  After a while, the LADS name disappeared and we called it Lions, or just "The Beach."  I have been to maybe 100 different drag strips since I first went to Saugus, all around this country (and Hawaii), and there has NEVER been a drag strip like "The Beach."  The top eliminator shows sometimes had a 64-car field of top fuel dragsters, and 75 guys trying to make the cut.  It was fierce.  Even during the NHRA "fuel ban," Lions always ran a full fuel show EVERY WEEKEND, never less than 16 cars, many times 32 and 64 cars.  I was at the first event ever held at Lions (1955) and the last event (1972) and damn near every event in between, except when I was in the Army.  I met Garlits there.  I met Chris "The Greek" there.  I met Art and Walt Arfons there.  I met Arnie Beswick there.  I met EVERYBODY there.  And only 25 miles from downtown L.A.  I'm not going to talk about Lions anymore, I'm getting misty eyed..
      San Gabriel Valley drags opened in 1956 and closed in 1963.  We called it "San Gabe" and there were some big events held at that track.  It was only about 15 miles east of L.A.  Sometimes if Lions was holding a big event, guys that didn't make the cut scooted over to San Gabe or Irwindale and qualified there.  Did I tell you that most of these tracks were full, and they almost all ran events on the same weekends as one another?
     Colton was another "local" SoCal track.  I always thought it was kind of a dump.  It was located at a small local airport, Morrow Field, about 55 miles east of L.A.  Opened in 1956 and closed in 1960.
     Irwindale Raceway opened in 1957 and closed in 1973.  This was a first rate facility, located about 21 miles east of downtown L.A., under what is now the big Miller Brewery site at the intersection of the 210 Freeway and the 605 Freeway.  Miller bought the property and that was it, the track was gone.  I never drank another can or bottle of Miller beer again and I don't care who knows it.
     Riverside Drag Strip opened in 1959 and lasted until 1970.  It was located on the straight away of the famed road race course.  The straight away was long and because of that, they held 1/2 mile drag races there sometimes.  Hot Rod Magazine hosted some big events there (all running the 1/4 mile).  Riverside was 58 miles east of L.A. One of my best memories of Riverside was at one of the big Hot Rod Magazine meets.  It was in 1965 or 1966 I think.  My roommate was Connie Swingle, the guy that built many of Don Garlit's cars and who was a great dragster driver in his own right. 
     Anyway, Swingle and I were up at the Salt Flats working on Craig Breedlove's jet car, the Spirit of America.  It was windy and we were just hanging out and the phone rings.  It's famed engine builder Ed Pink, calling for Swingle.  "Hey Flash (Connie was called the Bixby Flash 'cause he was from Bixby, OK), can you come on down to Riverside tomorrow and drive my car ("The Old Master" Top Fuel Dragster).  My regular driver is sick" (or broke his leg or something).  Connie and I hopped into a car and high tail it down to Riverside.  About 650 miles if I recall, we got there in the morning.  Swingle has never even seen the car before, let alone drive it.  He's just in time for the final round of qualifying.  He rips off a run and he's qualified #1.  It's a 32 car top fuel field and he runs over everybody, and wins the event, picks up a check (I think it was $500) and we drive back to Wendover, UT and are ready to run the jet car in the morning.  Nothin' too it.
     Another drag strip that opened in 1959 was called Paradise Mesa (EDITOR, the Bean Bandits claim a date for Paradise Mesa very soon after Santa Ana and claim it is the second or third drag strip ever formed), in what is now called National City.  A lot of guys from the San Diego area ran there.  It was a long haul from L.A., about 125 miles. I don't think it was around too long and I don't remember when it closed down.
     Ramona was a small little track located at the Ramona Airport.  It opened in 1963 and didn't stick around very long, closed when the airport needed to use the runway full time on the weekends.
     In 1964, Palmdale opened.  Palmdale is about 50 miles north of L.A.  For a long time it was known as Los Angeles County Raceway or just LACR.  LACR stayed active until 2007.
     The big track in the San Diego area was Carlsbad.  Carlsbad opened in 1964 and stayed active until 2004.  They had some pretty good events down there, before they shortened the shut-off area making it impossible to run fuel dragsters.  Carlsbad was 121 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.
     The first of the "new style" tracks in the country was Orange County International Raceway, located in Irvine, 42 miles south of L.A.    OCIR had a "professional tower" with suites.  NHRA held their World Finals there for several years.  It was a high-class place, opened in 1967 and closed in 1983.  Like most of the Irvine and Newport Beach area, the land was leased from the Irvine Company and when a hotel chain decided to build next to the track, the game was over for OCIR. 
     So, what did we have?  We had more than a dozen drag strips that ran all year, pretty much every weekend, all within 50 miles or less from downtown Los Angeles.  There were probably about 100 fuel burning dragsters located in the SoCal area when I grew up.  There aren't a quarter that many in the entire world now.  Think about that for awhile. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------     The following message below is forwarded from the SCTA regarding the Utah House of Representatives vote urging the BLM to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats.   Just in case the message does not display properly, here is the direct link to the page:    Click on the box "Contact Lawmakers."  Put "UT Resolution (H.C.R. 8) - Restoration of Bonneville Salt Flats" in the subject line.   There are "talking points" you can cut and paste into your e-mail request for the Utah Lawmakers to support the Resolution.   Thank you.  Jerry Cornelison - Secretary, Road Runners   
Please see the forwarded message below regarding Utah House Resolution  H.C.R.8 urging  the BLM to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats.  This resolution will be considered by the Utah House Natural Resources Agriculture and Environment Committee tomorrow Friday, February 19th.  You can show support by following the link and contacting the committee members via email.  It just takes a few minutes.  Thanks!     Best Regards, Rick Head, SCTA Secretary/Save the Salt Rep.         stay up to date with legislative issues by signing up for SAN alerts.
Gone Racin’ … Stories of Tony and Ora Capanna.  Written by Michael Capanna, edited by Richard Parks, photographs by Michael Capanna, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz.  Written circa 2012.  Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, for photographs go to

My mother knows what little boys like
     Anthony 'Tony' Capanna married Ora Carter.  Ora was born and raised in a small town named Glenbar, Arizona.  My earliest memory of my mother is when I was around three years old and we were living in a place next to my grandparents’ store on 104th Street in Los Angeles.  Mom was in the kitchen at a big white stove.  There was a hot pad hanging on the side of it and the hot pad had a couple of red strawberries embroidered on it. I was walking behind her headed for the door to go outside with my big sister Antoinette, ‘Anto’ as she was called. I remember Mom as being cheerful and happy when she was taking care of us kids. Mom had an insight into what a little boy would like.  When I was a couple of years older, I remember one time being surprised when she came home with a small electric motor and a 1½ volt battery for me to play with. Mom was sitting on the couch and called me over to her and handed them to me. I was thrilled with it and asked her, “How did you know I would like it?” Mom just smiled and said, “Oh, I know what little boys like."  And she did.

My mother was a good cook
     Mom could cook.  One of her favorite things to do was to read recipes.  One of our family’s favorites was cheese raviolis. Just two of them could cover your whole plate. Mom got the recipe from Josephine, Dad’s mother, who brought it with her on the boat from “the old country” (Italy).  Mom was also good at drawing simple pictures, usually of little girls and houses.  Those early years are blurry and segmented but sometimes they get clear and come together.  One time I was going away with my dad to Bonneville, Mom was pregnant and stayed home with my older sisters.  I can remember her getting me ready to go.  She was combing my hair and gave me an order, “Remember, tell your Dad to part your hair on the right side of your head.”  Funny, I don’t recall him ever combing my hair. I do remember that after the trip was over, we pulled up in the driveway and Mom came out to get me. I was in the back of the big truck getting my things when I saw her at the front door.  Mom said, “You’re home” and I called out to her, “Did anyone get any older and have a birthday while I was away?"  Mom smiled and laughed a little and said, “Well no, you have only been gone for a week." It sure seemed like forever to me.   Michael Capanna 3-18-2012

Racing mom to school.
     I attended West Athens Elementary School on West 120th Street in Los Angeles. Sometimes Mom would walk me there from our home on 125th Street.  Dad had our home built there from cinderblock construction. It was more fire resistant and dad knew from his time at the Pearl Harbor Ship Yards what fire could do.  School was not too far and we could talk. I remember telling her one day that I could run faster than she could.  She said, “Oh, I don’t think you can run faster than me.”  I decided to end the argument by proving it to her and started running. With a few fast strides with my legs and my little arms pumping their best, giggling as I went, I was sure I left Mom standing there. To my surprise I noticed something out the corner of my eye. It seemed that it was moving up on me, and it was laughing. A quick glance behind over my shoulder verified that Mom wasn’t just standing there dazzled with my blinding speed, but was a worthy competitor in this foot race.  With another few steps and a lot more giggling, Mom caught me under my arms picking me up off the ground and the race was over. I remember thinking to myself, "Gee, Mom is fast. I’d better remember that."   Michael Capanna 3-19-2012

Mom would giggle when she told this one
     Tony was a hard worker and he loved working in his shop or on someone else’s race project. Quite often, Dad would come home late from work. And sometimes he would come home late a few nights in a row. Tony’s Wife, Ora, told a story about one time when Tony was having one of those late nights and by the time he finally got home, everyone else in the house had long been asleep. Tony was tired and also very dirty. Tony decided that he should take a bath before he got into bed; he filled the bath tub with hot water and climbed in. Mom said that was where she found him the next morning, in the bathtub with the water now cold as ice and sound asleep. Then she would giggle.   Michael Capanna 3-20-2012

Mom spent half her life parked in the car
     One of Ora’s pet peeves was waiting in the car for Tony. I don’t know how many times us kids heard Mom say, “I’ve spent half my life waiting in the car for Tony.”  Before the family got too big, Mom would ride around with Dad while he was doing business or helping a friend with their race project. Sometimes it would take hours. Networking is what they would call it today. It all took time and Dad wasn’t in a hurry. Even with his whole family in the car, if someone on the side of the road had their hood up with car trouble, Dad would stop and help them fix it leaving us waiting in the car. That is just the way it was back then. People looked out for people.

The bump in the road in San Pedro
     Dad liked a good laugh. Whenever he heard or told a “good one,” he would laugh so hard that his voice would go high pitched. Sometimes his voice would fade to silence and his head would be bobbing up and down slightly until he recovered. That would have been a “good one.” One time he was in the mood and he told me this story. This happened in his younger years probably in the late 1930's. Dad had a good friend by the name of Johnny Junkin. They raced together at the dry lakes and had other similar interests. One night Dad drove to San Pedro to pick up Johnny so they could go joy riding in Dad’s car. Dad said at that time there was a bad dip there in the road at the bottom of a small hill for water runoff. Everyone knew it was there and you had to slow way down when you approached it or you would bounce hard when you hit it. On the way to Johnny’s house Dad forgot about the bump. But when he saw the familiar spot in the road, he suddenly remembered. It was too late to try to slow down so he pushed on the throttle and accelerated over it. As he passed over it, Dad expected to hear and feel a grueling thump but to his surprise he only heard a blip, blip and felt nothing. That is when Dad got the idea. Dad drove on to Johnny's and picked him up. They were headed to town and were back on the same road with the dreaded bump. Johnny knew about the bump and Dad knew that Johnny knew about the bump. As they approached the spot, Dad started to accelerate. Johnny’s eyes got big. Dad could tell because he was watching him out the corner of his eye. Dad continued to accelerate and Johnny started to crunch up. His head and neck was sliding down inside his jacket and he was hanging on to the arm rest on the door. Physically, Johnny had a small build much like Tony but by the time they hit the bump Johnny was about half his normal size, hunkered down as far as he could go and still be on the seat. As the car passed over the bump, Tony turned his head towards Johnny so that he could enjoy the moment. While Dad was looking down at Johnny and laughing as hard as he could, Johnny realized what Dad had done to him. Not moving any other part of his body, Johnny spun his head toward Dad, looking up at him with earnest eyes and said, “You son of a bitch.” Now that was a “good one.”   Michael Capanna 3-20-2012

Mama was a WOW
     Ora was 17 years old when she moved from Pima, Arizona to Los Angeles. WWII was raging by then and Mom took a job in a factory making munitions. Her task was to check large shell casings with gauges and other instruments to make sure that they were within specifications. Mom liked to be working and making her own money. After taking out for taxes and War Bonds it wasn’t much, but it was hers.  Mom would write letters home to her parents or to one of her brothers and explain her work with its particular tasks. These letters were detailed and some contained hand drawings of a shell casing with the names of the different points of it that she had to verify. I am sure her work made her feel important. And she was. Soon Mom was recognized for her good work ethics and was advanced to the position of supervisor over the area that she had been working. There was a new government organization just starting up called, Women Ordinance Workers, or “W.O.W.” and Mom joined. They had their own uniforms, posters and everything. Mom was one of the first ladies in her area that had one.  We only have one small photo of her in it. She was cute in her uniform, but she was cute anyway. Later, Mom was transferred to a different factory that made portable electric power generators. Mom’s job there was to make sure that the defective ones were repaired properly, and sent out. Mom told me that sometimes she had to send the same unit back several times to get it fixed. She also told me that she could trust one particular worker to fix it the first time every time.  He told Mom that he had three boys in the service and he was making sure they had good stuff. Today you can look up WWII Women Ordinance Workers on the internet. If you get a chance, it’s pretty cool.   Michael Capanna 3-21-2012

And mom grabbed the bike
     I can remember one time we were coming home from somewhere and Mom, Anto, Ethelyn and I were in our car. We had just pulled into our driveway and we saw the door from the house to the garage open.
Gone Racin’ … to the 15th Annual CHRR.  Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz, 8 October 2006.  Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, for photographs go to

   It’s hard to believe, but the 15th Annual NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California, took place on October 6-8, 2006.  The event grows bigger and bigger every year.  The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum thought that one reunion, to honor those racers from the early days of drag racing, would be enough.  Instead, the enthusiasm of hot rodders and drag racers throughout the country has made this an annual event.  Held at Auto Club Famoso Raceway, just north of Bakersfield, California, the three-day event began on Friday night, October 6th, with an awards program held at the Double Tree Hotel.  Dave McClelland was the emcee and in his mellifluous southern voice, introduced the guests of honor. 
   Roland Leong was the Grandmaster of this reunion.  His exploits and prowess as a car owner is legendary.  In the mid-1960’s, The Hawaiian plowed through the opposition with ease, first with Don Prudhomme at the wheel, and then Mike Snively.  Roland employed 22 drivers over his long tenure as one of drag racing’s most successful winners.  Larry Reyes was another of Leong’s drivers on hand to pay his respects.  Wally Parks, founder of the NHRA, spoke about how pleased he was with the turnout.  Steve “Big Hook” Gibbs, first director of the Museum, told the audience of over 300 people how honored he was to play a part in the reunion.  “No one thought it would ever grow like this,” said Gibbs, “but we have over 50 Cacklefest cars on hand and this event has helped to bring people back into the sport they once loved so much.”  Tony Thacker, present Museum director spoke about the growth of the reunion and how it has helped the Museum.  McClelland told the audience that Don Garlits got out of a sickbed to fly to the reunion from Florida, and brought Don to the podium to speak to the crowd. 
   Chris “The Greek” Karamesines came from Chicago to speak at the program.  “Kansas John” Wiebe came and brought his recently restored dragster, the Iron Horse.  The Golden Age Award was presented to Tommy Auger, a motorcycle racer from Orange County, California.  Auger raced in the early 1950’s at the original dragstrip, Santa Ana Airport, and beat not only the bikes, but any cars that challenged him.  His bike was painstakingly restored for this event.  Ed Justice Jr and “TV” Tom Ivo presented the Spotlight Award to Chris Karamesines, reported to be the first dragster driver to break the 200-mile per hour barrier.  McClelland asked, “Did you really go 200mph?”  The Greek replied, “You better believe it,” and the crowd roared their approval.  “I love the people here in California,” said Karamesines, “they called me the Leader of the Fleet.”  Karamesines’ car, The Chizler, was restored by Yan Johnson.  Kenny Youngblood was commissioned to paint “The Greek goes 204,” and was sponsored by Stage Engineering.
   Hershel “Junior” Conway was the next to be honored.  Junior started to paint and stripe cars at the age of 16 for George Barris.  Conway’s paint jobs can be seen on cars owned by Jay Leno, Joe MacPherson, Tony Nancy, Big John Mazmanian and many others.  Junior gives all the credit to Barris.  “Without George Barris, I wouldn’t have accomplished what I’ve done so far.”  Bill Crossley was honored as a driver, car owner and mechanic.  “We won the 1959 Smokers Meet in Bakersfield, which is now called the US National Fuel and Gas Championship,” said Crossley.  “We were considered outlaws in those days, but were very fortunate to have good sponsors.  We were very lucky in 1964, and we had a great crew and driver.”  Fred Crow was the next honoree.  He won the 1965 Winternationals, which was run in one day due to a rainout of the other 3 days of qualifying.  Fred worked for Mickey Thompson and Bill Simpson.  “I remember selling nitro to the Beach Boys Band members who used to put it in their VW Bug,” said Crow.  Don Enriquez was the next honoree.  He raced for car owner Gene Adams, then went to work for Stu Hilborn.  Don Hampton was honored as a driver.  Hampton drove Kenny Lindley’s car, then went into business making Hampton Superchargers.  Don won the Nationals at Indy, then retired in 1984, to concentrate on his blower business.  “I work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I love dragracing,” he said.

   Roland Leong was the last to speak, and he admitted he wasn’t a very good driver.  “I raced only once, but I picked some great drivers to race my cars,” he said.  Roland listed some of the drivers that raced his cars; Don Prudhomme, Danny Ongais, Mike Snively, Larry Arnold, Mike Sirokin, Leroy Chatterton, Butch Maas, Mike Dunn, Rich Dunn, Ron Capps, Jim Epler and many more.  “There were 22 drivers that raced my cars,” he said.  After The Hawaiian had won the 1965 Winternationals and Nationals, NHRA announcer Bernie Partridge told the crowd, “hey, here comes Roland Leong, the best Chinese racer.”  Roland Leong was one of the greatest racecar team owners in the sport of drag racing.  Leong praised Steve Carbone, Jack Williams, Sush Matsubara, Sam Harris, and Johnny Loper as those who set an example for him. 
Gone Racin’ is at [email protected]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Gone Racin’ … 16th Annual Auto Club of Southern California, California Hot Rod Reunion.   Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.  October 2007.  Reprinted with permission of Internet Brands, for photographs go to

   Sixteen years ago, a few guys and gals got together and said, "we ought to have a reunion before all the old timers are gone."  Those in on the planning included Wally and Barbara Parks, Steve Gibbs, Marilyn and Ron Lachman, Shirley Bunce, Bob and Eileen Daniels and dozens more.  The reunion was planned for Bakerfield’s historic Famoso Dragstrip made famous by the Smokers Car Club and renamed in honor of the Auto Club of Southern California for their support and sponsorship.  Right from the beginning it was a success.  The first reunion had a will of its own apart from the original group of organizers.  Nostalgia drag racing was in its infancy and men and women were restoring and rebuilding their old cars.  They asked if they could 'display the cars' on the track and take a slow run down the course for "old times sake."  The parade laps became more popular and there was no holding them back.  The "one-time-only" concept of the reunion became an annual event and the "let's just show our cars off" became a competitive and vital nostalgia race, one of the best in the country. We are 16 years into the concept of a reunion, a drag racing honorary program and nostalgia drag race with excitement in every run.  The event was so successful that some spectators were forced to park on the highway and walk to the track.
   The reunion seems to grow beyond its original scope every year.  The Reception and honorary awards takes place on Friday night at the Double Tree Hotel in North Bakersfield, after a full day of racing.  This year the announcer was the legendary Dave McClelland whose slight southern drawl is world famous.  A short tribute was given to the founder of the National Hot Rod Association, Wally Parks, who passed away on September 28, 2007 at the age of 94.  Then 'Mac' recognized many in the audience who came to the reunion.  The 1964 US Drag Team that went to England to introduce American Drag racing to Europeans were acknowledged.  Ed Justice Jr awarded the Justice Brother’s TV Tommy Ivo Reunion Spotlight Award to the entire US Drag Team for their efforts in spreading the message of drag racing to the world.  Nostalgia cars filled the hotel parking lot and sporadically fired off their engines, thrilling the crowds of spectators.  Inside, 'Mac' continued to honor those in attendance.  The Grand Marshal was Ed 'The Ace' McCulloch, who not only was a winning driver, but one of the top crew chiefs in all of drag racing. The honorees at this year's reunion were John Buttera, Childs & Albert (Rocky Childs and Jim Albert), Gary 'Red' Greth, Mike Jones and Kuhl & Olson (Mike Kuhl and Carl Olson).  Past Grand Marshall Linda Vaughn and honoree Louis Senter were also in attendance.  Jim Deist, Ed Iskenderian, Ed Pink, Nick Arias, Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen and many other of drag racing's illustrious past were also on hand.  The reunion owes its success to the hard working efforts of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsport Museum's staff, led by Tony Thacker and Greg Sharp, with support from Steve Gibbs.  The support of the Auto Club of Southern California and the Holley Corporation from Bowling Green, Kentucky made it financially able to succeed.
   The reunion consists of the efforts of thousands of drag racers and hot rodders.  The reunion wouldn't thrive without their efforts. Men and women from across the country and from foreign lands come to the reunion every year and display their restored cars and talk to the fans of the Golden Age of drag racing.  Don and Pat Garlits brought two of their famous Top Fuel dragsters, Swamp Rat number 3 and Swamp Rat number 8, from Florida.  They drove all the way and Pat said it was quite a trip.  Garlits put his stamp on drag racing.  He is one of those men who not only helped to create the sport of drag racing, but also by his persistence and hard work, changed it and made it what it is today.  Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins came from Ohio and he, like Garlits, is another man who is responsible for making the sport of drag racing a success.  The 1320 Club grows larger every year and they man the pits around the tree-lined area behind the grandstands called the Grove.  If you grew up reading and loving Doris Herbert's Drag News, then you have to join the 1320 Club's website and relive those glory years from 1957 through 1971.  TV Tommy Ivo, Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen were signing autographs among many other famous personalities.  Ivo's line of fans was the longest.  I spent some time with Eileen Daniels and we toured the pits and saw the swap meet, the traditional hot rodders (don't call them rat rodders) and the wide variety of cars and personalities that hot rodding has become.  Orah Mae and Robin Millar let me stay with them in their tent.  They are keeping the memory of Pete Millar alive.  Pete, you may recall, was the Drag CARtoonist, whose comic books and artistic drawings pilloried the famous and infamous among drag racing's elite from the 1950's through the '70's.  His style was close to that of Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth, Tom Medley and Robert Williams.
Gone Racin' is at [email protected]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Smokers Drag Racing, [email protected], 
     Smokers Reunion ticket sales are online.  Friday, March 4, 2016 Kern County Fairgrounds, 1421 P Street Main Gate Building 2, doors open at 5 PM, dinner at 7PM.  Special Guests are George 'Hut' Watkins, Smokers Founding Member Adam Sorokin, 2010 March Meet Champion, 2013 Nostalgia Top Fuel Champion Ed 'Ace' McCulloch, 6-Time U.S. National Winner.   Members $20, non-Members $25.  Advance reservations required, send check to: Smokers LLC, PO Box 22288, Bakersfield, CA 93390.  Non-member reunion tickets Info: 661-333-4583 or   Hot Rods, Street Rods, Race Cars, Works in Progress.  The Bakersfield Smokers are at,
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sent in by Dema Eligin:
     The Redwood Empire Classic Chevy Club toured nearby DenBeste Motorsports today.  They're located about 5 miles north of Santa Rosa in Windsor.  There was a good turn-out of members, with 30 or more classic Chevys showing up.  The perfect weather and the closeness of our destination undoubtedly played a big part.
     From a life-long interest in cars, Bill DenBeste opened DenBeste Motorsports in 2008, and has since become the world's largest Shelby Cobra dealer.  He took over the Carroll Shelby Engine Company in 2011, and they build Ford engines from all-aluminum 289's to aluminum 427 FE engines and beyond.  Using hemispherical heads, their 289's are producing over 750 horsepower.  Starting with raw aluminum block castings, they machine the engines in house, and they have a dyno facility for run-in and testing.  DenBeste has a collection of over 100 classic and performance vehicles, mostly Ford.  Most of the Cobras you'll see in the pictures are for sale.
     What about the cars, mostly Cobras, on shelves up on the wall?  I counted 48 of 'em up there on shelves, looking like so many model cars, and just about all of 'em are for sale if you have deep enough pockets.  A fiberglass-bodied example starts out at about $150,000 while the aluminum bodied Cobras start out round $250,000.  Those shiny aluminum, brass, and copper-colored Cobras?  That isn't paint, that's bare metal...either aluminum, bronze, or copper polished to a high luster.  The metal-bodies are hand built in an old Nazi-era aircraft plant in Poland.  I'll send a separate e mail with info on how the Cobras are constructed, including the building of the bodies.  
     If you're looking for more info, check out these two websites:  and  Craig Owens, Northern California
      Louise Ann Noeth, principal at LandSpeed Productions, has resigned as Chief Judge of the International Automotive Media Competition (IAMCA) effective immediately.  Noeth, who for 20 years served as a multi divisional and category judge, stepped into the Chief Judge role in 2014 at the behest of founder Elaine Haessner. “I’ve never been one to sugar coat anything,” explained Noeth.”   This competition has uplifted the entire craft through the years and personally, as a volunteer judge the process induced a sense of “give back” purpose, but now that is all done and it is down to irreconcilable creative differences.  The IAMC is going in a direction I don’t care to take.”
     Back in the 1980’s, Elaine and Walter Haessner created the International Society for Society for Vehicle Preservation (ISVP) to encourage recognition of, and appreciation for, the contributions of self-propelled vehicles.  Through ISVP, they undertook a media awards program to encourage accuracy in automotive media believing that, “What is news today is history tomorrow.”  The International Automotive Media Competition (IAMC), and its awards, the International Automotive Media Awards (IAMAs) program was designed to recognize excellence against a standard, not against one another. Each entry is judged on its own merit.  In 2007, IAMC partnered with Tom Kelley, Director of the North American Concept Vehicle Awards; Tom Kelley now administers both programs.