The weather’s been yucky around here and my nose has been running a 440-yard dash of late so that’s a good excuse to crank up the heat and do some scannin’. We dug out some Don Cox B&W negs from the late ’40s and had at it.
First up for this week we see the Ace Oher and down the road a bit “Jazzy” Jim Nelson entry at El Mirage in July 1948 (DCC_693). The Carlsbad Oilers members ran a 240″ ’41 Merc under the hood of their Class B Roadster fitted with Edelbrock heads, a Meyer intake, a Bertrand cam, and Sp. She ran 112.92 mph and finished way out of the top 20 class entries. To the car’s right is Road Runners member Harvel Haller’s yellow Class B Roadster. The low slung number 9 behind the Oilers entry with the bump on the hood to hide the blower is Tom Beatty’s Class B Roadster. Behind it is either Don Neary’s number 177 or Dick McManus’s number 277 Class B roadsters. Following up this group is the number 200 Class C Roadster of Kenny Parks, Wally’s brother. Every car had a different look and ignition. She ran 112.92 mph and finished way out of the top 20 class entries. To the car’s right is Road Runners member Harvey Haller’s yellow Class B Roadster. The low slung number 9 behind the Oilers entry with the bump on the hood to hide the blower is Tom Beatty’s Class B Roadster. Behind it is either Don Neary’s number 177 or Dick McManus’s number 277 Class B roadsters. Following up this group is the number 200 Class C Roadster of Kenny Parks, Wally’s brother. Every car had a different look and build quality as the once street machines turned into racing cars.
So you like the good old days, do you? Trekking to the dry lakes during the racing season was not an easy deal. In the West, stock and souped-up Ford products were notorious for overheating, especially when pulling a load up a nice grade like seen in this shot. Back in the day, it was a rule that when you went on a road trip, you took along a water bag for just such an occasion. Then again it might be another problem since we don’t see the obligatory water bag anywhere in sight of our ‘40 Mercury Fordor Town Sedan Model 09A-73 of which they made 37,178 of. The car in tow is a Carlsbad Oilers ride on its way to a Russetta meet at El Mirage sometime in 1951 (DCC_698). It carries the number 354 B on the side along with Masters Auto Supply Special #2. Over the door, it says Donaldo Inside. We don’t have a program to verify our assumption but we think it’s photographer Don Cox’s own modified ’34 Ford 5-Window Coupe Model 40-770. They made 47,643 Standard models and 26,882 Deluxe models so you can take your pick.
This week Steve Moal called to say Merry Christmas. We usually end up bench racing forever and got into a conversation about his old ‘57 Ranchero that we just happened to have a picture of that we got from Bonneville racer Gary Hartsock (GHC_235). So, welcome to the 1966 Grand National Roadster Show and a pix of his all-black beauty. It features ‘57 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon side trim and Mag wheels. Under the hood was a 312″ power plant that fed a 4-speed. Pushing the envelope as he does, this one featured a 1/4 elliptic sprung rear end held in place by 7′ traction bars. Wonder how long his back tires lasted doing burnouts? The interior was black with a white headliner. Too bad it’s long gone.
After the Ford talk, our conversation turned to inspiration for his great grills. Yep, old race cars are the source. We printed out a few dozen inspirations and sent them off in the post. Here is one to that’s a little different (CKC_1669). Lou Moore of Blue Crown Spark Plug Special fame (his cars won the 500 in ’38, ‘41, ‘47, ‘48 and ‘49) is seen at Oakland Speedway (not far from Steve’s present shop) in 1931 in his one-off single seater with a short wheelbase, the Boyle Valve Special Miller. The cream, black and red car was owned by Chicagoan Mike Boyle (his cars ’won the 500 in 34, ‘39 and ‘40). Power was provided by a newly designed inline 8 that started life at 230″ and ended up with 248″. Note the unique lower grill shell shaped to miss the front axle. Number 7 was Lou’s Pacific Coast car number.
While on the grill shell kick we found this one that Jim Rathman was elected to shoe (EMC_074). Wearing the number 68, the Pioneer Auto Special was entered by John Lorenz in the 1949 Indy 500. The black and red machine was built by Curly Wetteroth and powered by a 270″ Offy. Jim qualified the car down in 21st spot with a speed of 126.516 mph. He was flagged home after completing 175 laps for an 11th place finish. 11 years later he would pilot the Ken—Paul Watson to a win in the 500. In ’48 the car was driven for Lorenz by Mike Salay to a 30th place finish. We also have the car running the ’46 race with Billy DeVore finishing in 10th and back in ’41 it was shoed by Al Putnam to a 12th place finish.
Duane Carter was the driver of this Bellanger Special for the 1949 Indy 500 (EMC_033). The blue car with gold numbers was built by the fabled Myron Stevens. A 270″ Offy let Duane qualify the car in fifth spot with a speed of 128.233 mph as compared to pole sitter Duke Nalon’s in a Novi at 123.939 mph. Mr. Carter made it through the 182nd lap before he spun in the North-East corner to end his day in 14th place. Tony Bettenhausen drove the car in the ’48 race wearing number 6 and the reshaped nose you see here to finished 14th. Bettenhausen also drove it in the ’47 race as number 29 and finished 18th
These old cars are like Bonneville cars and the Energizer Bunny, they just kept going and going and going.
We dug out the next two shots while helping our friends solve some mysteries over the phone and the internet. We’ll stay mum for the time being on this but give you some details on the shots. First up is Fred Larsen posing next to his freshly painted by Ed Roth modified roadster in the alley behind his rented apartment in Culver City (FLC_220). The year is 1956 just before the first Rusetta Timing Association meet of the season. Fred purchased the car from Ak Miller and installed his hot Chrysler in it. Fred was a member of the Culver City Screwdrivers club and would eventually go on his head at Bonneville.
Here’s an interesting shot taken at Carroll Speedway (DCC_371). Pete Petersen and his boys gathered together some of So-Cal’s best rods for a look see and which one’s do they want to be on display at the Second Annual Hot Rod Expo they were putting on at the Los Angeles National Guard Armory on January 21-30, 1949. On the far left is Earl Bruce’s famous ‘40 that he had chopped fight off the showroom floor. The car almost dead center in the shot without paint is Norman Timbs’ rear-engined Buick powered sports-liner. After languishing for years it’s been restored by our pal Dave Crouse at Custom Auto in Colorado.
While researching the photos above we ran across another shot in our archives that we never got around to captioning, so it was time (RBC_044). All you have to do to find out more on Bob Dunker’s ’27 bodied track roadster is dig out a copy of the July 1951 issue of Hot Rod Magazine. If you don’t have one never fear. That’s a souped-up ’48 Mercury flat motor running Weiand heads, Offenhauser intake, and Winfield cam. Bob built the car at home as a hobby and went on to become ’48 high-points man in the Roadster Racing Association Washington State. The pic was taken by Tom Medley and used as a reference by illustrator Rex Burnette while doing one of his famous cutaways for the magazine.
This week we received our S.C.T.A. Racing news that covered the November 8-9 races held at El Mirage. Results are usually posted on the net but we like to have hard copies of the results. The news also goes into our archives for future reference. That said, our next shot shows Logan Davis, left of the canopy, who is the owner-builder of this Class XF Blown Fuel Streamliner (JMC_5295). He’s seen talking to Dennis Mariani in his blue “3” Club Bonneville hat while waiting in pre-stage. Sidewinder member Tom Evans, on the right in the cowboy hat, un-mothballed his supercharged flattie and lent it to Logan for the meet. Tom was invited to shoe the car that was running Super Fours colors and that he did. Tom put in a lap at 190.715 mph on the 238.937 record of Costella-Yacoucci-Pappas-Stevens set back in July 2010. Not bad for a first-time effort together.
More phone calls ensued this week in the form of gabfests with Ron Main. Partner George Poteet had decided he wants to do some more racing after totaling their racer at Bonneville this year so Ron is up to his usual and starting to ram-rod the project. Building a new car for the salt in 8-months is going to be a bear but the team will get-er-done. They will be using existing body molds to create a look-alike body covering a new chassis-running gear. Cool. We dug out a shot of Ron’s first Bonneville effort in the guise of The Phantom (RON_011). Ron is an expert at shaking up everyone who he comes in contact with and that included the S.C.T.A. He took the beloved flathead and engaged “Dandy” Dick Landy to soup one up for him. That he did with exhaust ports on the top of the block. C. Everett had owned the XF/STR record since ’71 at a speed of 135.287 mph until Ron came along in 1990 and bumped it to 151.493 mph. This hero card from ‘90 gives us a look at the car under its skin.
One of the reasons for the shakeup was what was done to the motor. Here’s a good look inside the Landy built flatmotor from Ron Main’s roadster (RON_009). Note the original intake ports are now the exhaust and tubes have been added to make new intake runners. Naturally, a new cam was in order to make this all work. More than a couple of dozen motors expired over the years getting the setup to work right before a blown version of the engine was dropped into his streamliner and made history when it became the first flathead powered ride to set a record over 300 mph. Rod did it in August 2003 with a speed of 302.674 mph. The record still stands as of 2014.
We couldn’t help showing you this shot from the April 5, 1947 issue of Colliers Magazine that we scanned from Ron (RON_076). It shows Howard Wilson in Bill Burke’s first Belly Tank Streamliner. The tail had been whacked off and Howard entered it as a modified at November 3, 1946 S.C.T.A. meet. He ran 140.40 mph for a first in class. Howard became the first to crack the magic 150 mph barrier driving Stu Hilborn’s car.
Next up in our eclectic mix this week is an illustration from the cover of the September 1951 issue of Popular Science showing two new American hot rod sports cars and a Brit (JMC_5186). In the upper right is the Muntz Jet, a Frank Kurtis creation modified by Earl “Mad Man” Muntz for production. Powered by a 336″ Lincoln V8, it was said to be good for 110 mph. On the left is the Nash-Healey. A collaboration by Nash and Donald Healey gave us this inline-6 Ambassador powered 125 mph ride. The red car was the competition, a Jaguar XK 120. With a DOHC inline 6, it was good for 125 mph. The Jag was the only one that survived and was the pick of magazine tester Wilbur Shaw on the bricks at Indy. The black lines indicate the edges of the magazine cover crop. We added what’s outside the lines.
While on voluptuous bodies get a load of our next shot captures at the Mooneyes Christmas Party at Irwindale Speedway (JMC_5368). It’s time for us to put on our thinking caps to figure out this beauty. At first glance, you say oh, it a Cadillac Model 62 from 1950 before undergoing the torch. As you look a little closer you begin to backtrack a little. Cad’s didn’t have radiused front wheel wells like this one does. Then you look at the roof, Cad’s and Buick’s and Olds’ use this roof so you’re back to square one. The crease along the fender says Cad but Chevy’s had it also in ’53. The headlights come from a ’56 Olds to complicate matters more. A look at the front bumper says ’53 Cad also. The real kicker though is the rear fenders. Note how the side bulges go into the doors. Those sweeping lines were used on ’49 Cad’s, ’49 through ’54 Chevy’, ’48 through ’50 Olds’ ’49 through ’54 Pontiacs. Confused yet? We’re guessing this great ride was originally a ’53 Cad. Photographed on 12-13-14, like the car these numbers won’t happen again in this century, and we’re not talking Buick.
Besides oozing customs and hot rods in the parking lot, Irwindale has a 1/8 mile Drag Strip and that’s where we snapped Edger Reyes putting some heat in his tires executing a burnout in his Bantam bodied digger. Could we say smokin hot?
Since we’re talking Christmas what better way to spread a little cheer than to do a little giving. Back in 1940, Henry Ford gave us the three on a tree shifting mechanism that spread like wildfire through the hot rod community. We also like the fact that your girl could now sit real close while watching it’s a wonderful Life at the Drive-In. We decided to one-up Henry and give you all a Tree on a Three for Christmas (JMC_5376).
The AHRF wishes all our friends a very Merry Christmas.