We’re pretty bummed out around here as we learned Friday that our good friend Otto Ryssman had just passed away. Otto was one of the early drag and lakes racers that befriended the AHRF with photos and knowledge and everywhere we met is was like we were family. Our heart is with his family.
Our man Mr. Ryssman goes for a ride in Harold Post’s Class B Streamliner at El Mirage back in June 1952 (RYS_084). Otto drove the car through the traps at a speed of 162.16 mph to set a class record. The team would then take the car to Bonneville that year and Otto would qualify the car first in Class C Streamliner with a speed of 217.65 mph then go on to set a then-new Bonneville 200 mph Club record of 222.57 mph. Word has it that at El Mirage in ‘52 he backed the car way up to get a longer run going into the traps and became the first driver to pilot a car over the magical 200 mph mark there. Naturally, it wasn’t official.
Otto was also an innovator. Take for example his coupe that waw class record. The team would then take the car to Bonneville that year and Otto would qualify the car first in Class C Streamliner with a speed of 217.65 mph then go on to set a then-new Bonneville 200 mph Club record of 222.57 mph. Word has it that at El Mirage in ‘52 he backed the car way up to get a longer run going into the traps and became the first driver to pilot a car over the magical 200 mph mark there. Naturally, it wasn’t official.
Otto was also an innovator. Take for example his coupe that was holding a set of change gears. A tall Otto Ryssman (222.57mph) looks on as George Hill (230.16 mph) holds his smoke. These are the fastest five guys on the planet in cars and all members of the B-ville 2-Club.
IN ‘54 Otto was again behind the wheel of the Potvin-Hartelt liner to make headlines again but not the kind we like. An August 30 newspaper headline declares— Driver Survives Crash at 220 MPH. The story goes on to say a certain driver of the Bonneville National Speed Trials Monday evening survived a 220 mph mishap in which his streamlined car blew a tire, hurtled 100 feet through the air and skidded another 1,000 feet on its side over the concrete-like surface of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Otto told me the car didn’t have a rear panhard the axle moved sideways and the tire rubbed against the body causing the blowout. He was sure a calm cool customer.
The number 333 Class E Streamliner sits at the starting line at dusk during Speedweek in 1958. In a moment the Chet Herbert car will be pushed off off bar so the axle moved sideways and the tire rubbed against the body causing the blowout. He was sure a calm cool customer.
The number 333 Class E Streamliner sits at the starting line at dusk during Speedweek in 1958. In a moment the Chet Herbert car will be pushed off. This time the much-modified car was powered by two Chevy’s displacing 1,000″ and was after the Wynn’s Friction Proofing Special’s ’57 record of 266.204 mph (the Wynn’s ride was actually the Kenz & Leslie liner with a new paint job and now powered by three flatties displacing 912″). Anyway, everything was cool and the Herbert car ran a quick 272.93 mph. Only problem was that guy Mickey Thompson and Fritz Voigt showed up with their twin-engined streamlined dragster while on the way to the Nationals in Detroit. The car was powered by two Chrysler’s displacing 850″ so naturally it grabbed a first in class with a speed of 286.85 mph and then went on to set a new record of 266.866 mph. The two gents in the foreground are now perplexed as what to do. The hands in the rear pockets fellow is Doug Hartelt who was there with the Herda-Hartelt Class E liner powered by his just built supercharged 465″ Chrysler. Seems his car could only manage 259.36 mph and had to settle for third in class. Talking to Doug with his hands small route in Michigan. If you tweak it, it says Number 6 or No.VI or to us simpletons Novi.
Needless to say here is one of the new shots from Jerry (EMC_087). We see the mighty Novi at of all places Muroc back in 1947 doing some pre-500-mile race testing. That’s Bud behind the wheel being watched over by a bunch of Air Force types. At Indy, Cliff Bergere put one in the second starting position with a speed of 124.957 mph and his teammate Herb Ardinger put one in the fourth starting position. At the end of the race, Herb finished a solid fourth and cliff burned a piston to finish 21st.
We had received a bunch of shots some time back from Jerry of more rescued goodies so let’s have a look. We see Kenny Eaton’s car that couldn’t get out of its own way let alone into the 1949 Indy race (EMC_036). It was built by Luji Lesovsky and painted in black and white Bowes Seal Fast colors. His team-mate Mel Hansen had the same problem with his number 44 team built by Frank Kurtis and powered by a straight 8 like in his front pockets is our own Otto Ryssman who could only console his friend. Ah, the life of racers at B-ville.
God be with you our friend.
Tuesday night was one of two Sidewinders meeting a month held during the racing season. Fellow club member Jerry Cleland brought us a little present in the form of some rescued 8” x 10” pictures from a trash can. To set this up right let’s first have a look at Jerry’s car. Werner Schwartz fastens the hood of Jerry’s Class XO Street Roadster at El Mirage on October 26, 2008. What he’s restraining is really hotted up Buick Straight 8 that purrs the pedal is to the metal. Jerry jumped in and ran 144.817 mph against a 155 mph record in his “Eightinarowracing Special” (JMC_669). Now for the rest of the story. Jerry lives in La Crescenta and years ago his neighbor Ed Murman fished a bunch of shots out of a neighborhood trash can. Seems the house the trash was from was one Bud Winfield, you know the guy who brought us a funny car named after the sixth train station along and as actually a convertible resting on a Model A chassis (GGC_070). Who could forget his wild roadster that was featured in Hop Up Magazine back in May 1952 that rested on a set of ‘25 Chevy frame rails and was powered by a 296” Merc put together by his buds Doug Hartelt and Chuck Potvin (RYS_076)? We have him running 113.49, 120.95 and 121.5 in the thing.
If you think his roadster was spindly get a load of the lightweight he drove with a honkin’ Hartelt built Chrysler in it. This ride called for a couple of big you know what’s to drive (RYS_089).
Not just another shot at Bonneville in 1953. The Chet Herbert “Beast 4” serves as a backdrop for some real heavy hitters of the sport, Grant Bonneville 200 MPH Club members. From the left is Art Chrisman (235.91 mph) then Harvey Haller (209.480mph). He and the white-haired gentleman that goes by the name of Captain George Eyston (357.500mph) are holding a Halibrand rear end that was probably given by Bell Auto Parts as an award. Then there’s Willie Young (255.411 mph when the pedal is to the metal. Jerry jumped in and ran 144.817 mph against a 155 mph record in his “Eightinarowracing Special” (JMC_669). Now for the rest of the story. Jerry lives in La Crescenta and years ago his neighbor Ed Murman fished a bunch of shots out of a neighborhood trash can. Seems the house the trash was from was one Bud Winfield, you know the guy who brought us a funny car named after the sixth train station along with Jerry’s car, but it wasn’t a Buick, it was a real race motor built by Bud Winfield back in 1938. Note the front axle is a Ford unit. In ’50 a young kid by the name of Troy Ruttman drove the car to a 15th place finish. After a disastrous ‘48 season, Rex Mays who had first ran for the Bowes team in ‘37 up and quit to take a ride in a Novi of all things.
To switch gears a little here’s a shot of our bud Ray Swann. We see him and his Sprint Car that he usually runs up at Ventura Raceway showing off at the annual downtown Burbank Car Show held on August 1 of this year. Ray’s Uncle was pre-war midget owner Charlie Allen so his interest in cars that drive out of shape (sideways) goes back quite a few decades. His current driver is none other than Wally Pancratz, son of pre-war hot shoe and builder Bob Pancratz.
A couple of decades or so ago Ray bought the old Eaton driven car that was affectionately called the “Baby Bowes”. He said it was the most evil handlin’ car around as it had torsilastic (rubber) suspension. When you pitched it into a corner the car would take a set and be somewhat predictable and then all of a sudden un-set itself and be ready for a spin. Anyhow Ray whacked a foot or so out of the chassis to turn the champ car into a sprinter. It didn’t work in the short form either. Later he sold the car and the new owner concurred so he stretched it back and restored it to its original self. Bravo!
On a visit to his shop last week Ray lent us a scrapbook put together. Here’s a page out of it (RSC_003). Yep, it’s a mug drawing of the great Rex Mays. What’s special is that it’s naph appeared in the Wednesday, April 25, 1934 issue of the Hollywood Citizen-News about the Targa Floria race held at the famous Legion Ascot Speedway and shows yet another one of those funny Ford stock-cars of the day (JHC_1310). To quote the by-line from the story it said— Louis Meyer, national speedway champion, driving a Ford V-8 stock roadster, minus fenders and windshield, wheeled his way to victory Sunday in the most spectacular automobile race ever witnessed by the 23,000 customers who jammed the temporary stands and crowded the tops of the surrounding knolls at Ascot. So much for informative journalism. Ted Horn came is second only a few seconds behind followed by Al Gordon, Cliff Bergere, and Danny DePaolo. Twenty stockers started the 109 laps 150-mile grind and the first 10 home were all Ford products.
Digging through a few unsorted boxes of Henning materials we came across this original drawing of version two of The Roadster that could be built for a dollar a pound (JHC_1314). We couldn’t resist throwing in what the Roadster turned into when Joe and a cat named Roth got together, a coupe (JMC_2931), and then a bubble top (JMC_005). Then we ran across the un-Rothed version of the car in the real, model state that is, from 1962 when a publication called Rod & Custom Models was going full steam ahead (JHC_1313). If you think you’re confused, go back to the R&C Cover from October ‘55 and the beginning.