When your facing thousands of scans just waiting to be done the best thing to do is go for a ride and get even more stuff. That shows how stupid we are, but it’s also a good excuse to get off one’s rear and get away from the computer for awhile.
One of those rides was over to our bud Fred’s bookstore yet again to see what new old stuff we could uncover. After years of scrounging you think you’ve seen just about everything when WHAP, another I’ve never seen this one hits you in the face and says take me home. That’s exactly what we did with JMC_4828. This racing album was put together by Mel Steiner out of San Pedro, California and covers such racing venue’s as Big Cars, Midgets (not the circus kind), Hot Rods, Stock Cars, and Motorcycles. It great because there are tons of pictures, bios and racing stats for each type of vehicle. It’s also really helpful when we’re trying to figure out who that car is in the old shot we just received. You could have picked this thing up at SSSSpot Enterprises for a buck twenty-five about a mile from where I lived back then. But then again who had that kind of money or smarts enough to get one when you were only four.
The hot rods in the above got me all jazzed so we checked out some of our Johnny MacDonald Collection track roadsters to see if we could maybe ID some. We came up with a goose egg but not for long. Earlier I mentioned the piles of stuff waiting to be scanned, well the pile right in front of el nose was made up of old race programs and guess what was about three down, our next image, CKC_1040. It’s an Orange Show Program from August 19, 1947, that just so happened to be on C.R.A. Track Roadsters just like our in our attached MacDonald shot (MAC_001). It shows Chuck “Satan” Leighton grinning and or hanging on for dear life before taking a ride in Paul Cantarano’s Ford 4-banger powered track job. We count 89 California Roadster Association events in ‘47 with only three taking place at the Orange Show track. That makes this program pretty. rare. Old “Satan’s“ not listed as ever winning a race in ‘47 but he did cop two of 50 run in ‘48.
We like to keep everybody on their toes a little so our next shot just happens to show somebody that was also listed in the above program. His name was John James “Jack” McGrath. Jack was driving his own roadster that was powered by a flattie. He ended up winning the Trophy dash and finishing second in his qualifying heat and the main at Orange that night. As a side note he had won the first CRA (California Roadster Association) championship in 1946 and was dubbed “King of the Hot Rods”.
In the Frank Smith taken photo (CKC_874) we see him in the ” City of Tacoma” Special, but Houston, we have a problem! The first time we know of this car is at Indy in ’48 wearing number 63 on the side. It was entered and driven by Hal Cole to a sixth place finish and was painted creme with brown. We also know it was powered by a 247″ Offy. Anyhow, after Indy the car showed at Milwaukee where Cole finished sixth. It then went to Langhorne where Cole was a DNQ. It then missed Milwaukee, Springfield, Milwaukee, DuQuoin, Atlanta, Springfield, and DuQuoin, or as they say the rest of the ‘48 season races. For ’49 the first time we see a “CIty of Tacoma” car it’s at Indy with McGrath as the driver but it’s now painted solid maroon carrying the number 33. Does all this mean that McGrath was at a dirt race in ’48 and just happened to sit in the car and have his picture taken? Jack was born in Los Angeles on October 8, 1919, and grew up in South Pasadena, California. He went on to sit on the pole at Indy in ‘54 after setting a new track record and then crash to his death in the final race of the 1955 season in Phoenix, Arizona.
Our next image, taken 579 shots after the McGrath shot above by Frank Smith again, we see Duane Carter in J. C. Agajanian’s 98 Jr. The location is the Arlington Downs, Texas dirt oval and the date is April 30, 1950, just before a AAA non-championship event. The race was called the MGM Swed the MGM Sw MGM Sweepstakes and was filmed and parts of it used in the MGM picture To Please a Lady starring Clark Gable. Duane started third and came home first in the 30 lap race ahead of Bill Schindler, Jimmy Davies, Andy Linden, Bud Rose, Spec Frieden, Bob Sweikert, Chuck Leighton, Fletcher Pierce, Johnnie Parsons, Jud Larson, Jimmy Campbell, and Cecil Green. Fifth place finisher Bud Rose looked exactly like Gable so it’s he you see in the movie doing the driving as the “King”. Manny Ayulo, Jack McGrath’s racing partner at the time, used his track roadster as a camera car to capture the on track sequences.
We like to do research around here so here’s a little dirt on shooter Frank Smith. He lived in Mildred Park New Jersey and ran his photo business from there. He had one of the largest collections of auto racing negatives that covered most of the east coast. He was also a staff shooter for National Speed Sport News among others. He retailed his shots to collectors throughout the U.S. They would later end up in the collection of Bruce Craig who continued selling prints, all be it cropped more than a little to eliminate Frank’s name. They’re all great shots and you can’t mistake his hand wrighting and we love the numbers.
Our Carter shot featured a ride owned by a character that went by the name of J.C. Agajanian. Our next shot (JMC_2516) was only taken 23 years after it and was owned by the same Mr. A. so I guess we can call him a real car nut. We see Mike Mosley’s Turbo-Offy Eagle being towed to the starting grid at Ontario Motor Speedway for the Californian 500 back on September 2, 1973. Mike had qualified the Aggie entered, Loadstar sponsored car in 10th spot. At the end of the 200 lap race, he finished in a commendable third place behind winner Wally Dallenback and Mario Andretti. He also took home 700 points toward the championship that he would eventually finish sixth in.
On our work surface next to the pile we got the Orange Show program from stands an even bigger stack of programs that we got from good friend Jack Underwood who got them from Warren Bullis. It seems dry lakes racers have a thing about dabbling in all forms of motorsports. JUC_204 shows the cover of the 8th Santa Barbara Road Races held back at the end of August in 1957. These guys are invaluable in identifying old shots. On the cover of this one, we see one super rare Ferrari. To see another view of this beauty all you have to do is click on our next shot (PCC_066) from another dry lakes racer, Pat Campea. The Ferrari 2.0 500TRC belonged to Jack Nethercutt and was snapped at the Pomona Fairgrounds on March 8, 1959, before the Pomona Grand Prix. We also have a program for this race and yes, the main straight of the race track then is now repaved and serves as the NHRA’s home of the Winternationals and NHRA Finals. As or jack, he finished fifth in Class E and 12th overall in the 150-mile race. If his name is familiar it should be, he’s the heir to the Merle Norman Cosmetics empire and his Museum of great cars in Sylmar, CA is one of the best on the planet.
We started out talking about Santa Barbara and got a little sidetracked. Back on May 31, 1965 yours truly with his almost brand new Minolta SR7 just happened to be at the Goleta track shooting some pictures. JMC_2704 shows a ’64 Plymouth/Dodge Valiant that could be had with a 170″ or 225″ inline 6 or a 273″ V8. As luck would have it we don’t have a program for an owner/driver ID. We also couldn’t find any results for this particular race. It’s chasing a VW that marked as class B which means it has a hotted up and oversized motor for sure. The track was laid out to use the runways and service roads around the out-buildings. The original Goleta drag strip starting line where the first organized drag races were held 15 years earlier would be about 100 yards to the left of this turn and parallel the camera angle. Fortunately, no driver overcooked it to take out the spectators.
JMC_2743 shows a picture of Don Pike in the Hayward Motors ‘64 Falcon Futura originally powered by a 260” V8. A little back story is in order on this shot. Driver Don and his brother Gary just happened to work for a guy named Carroll Shelby. Since a Falcon running gear etc was the basis of the new Mustang, lots of Shelby’s GT350 parts bolted right on and could be used as an undercover testbed. Needless to say, it was hard to beat Don. My gut says they even might have had a 289” under the hood.
JMC_2511 is about five years down the road from the Goleta shoot and was taken at Riverside International Raceway during a Goodyear test session and also a shoot for a Road & Track Magazine article on the then-hot under two-liter Trans-Am rides. The cars are facing the exit of turn nine backward and you can see the track’s front straight. From the left, we see Don Pike (the guy driving the Falcon in the previous shot) with his Gregory Racing BMW 2002, Horst Queck with his Alfa-Romeo GTV and John Morton with his BRE Datsun 510.
At the time my livelihood on the BMW team with Don and Gerry Gregory as drivers and we got to travel all across the Stathe Statat was working on the BMW team with Don and Gerry Gregory as drivers and we got to travel all across the States and to Canada. Former hot rodder, lakes, and sports car driver Stu Haggart was the team manager and at the end of the ‘71 season folded the team but not the playing with cars. Toyota’s were next and we developed a line of after-market parts for the Corolla. Real work beckoned and two years down the road a guy called Chris Pook sold the city fathers at Long Beach a plan to hold a race on their city streets. One of the show biz events attached to it was a Celebrity Race with you guessed it, Toyota’s. Hello, free pit pass thanks to Stu. The first Long Beach Grand Prix was for USAC/SCCA Formula 5000 cars to certify the track for FIA and Formula 1 races. The date was September 28, 1975. 45 cars showed up to try and make the field of 28 cars that started the race. One of them was Brett Lunger in the Lola T330 Chevrolet seen here on his way onto the track during practice (JMC_2527). Brett was one of the unlucky that didn’t start the 50 lap street race. Brian Redman would go on to win $30,750 big ones.
Three years the Lola T330 Chevrolet seen here on his way onto the track during practice (JMC_2527). Brett was one of the unlucky that didn’t start the 50 lap street race. Brian Redman would go on to win $30,750 big ones.
Three years later I was still sneaking into the pits at Long Beach during real Formula 1 races. In art shot JMC_2551 we see a big number 7 on the side of John Watson’s Parlamat Racing Brabham BT46 during practice for the ‘78 United States Grand Prix West. John is seen in the car with his ever-present shades on. The ride was powered by an three-liter Alfa-Romeo flat 12 that was as they say a little on the fragile side as it could buzz to 12,000 rpm. For the race, Watson qualified the car in fifth spot on the grid and only made nine laps in the race before the oil tank gave up. Later in the year at the Swedish Grand Prix, the car was at the center of a giant controversy when designer Gordon Murray did a Jim Hall Chaparral trick and stuck a big cooling fan on the back of the car and made it a vacuum cleaner car. Watson’s teammate Niki Lauda won the race in his sucker car and then had it banned.
The above shot is a sneaky way to show you another Alfa in name only (JMC_2973). Rich Manchen built this beauty back in ‘95-’96 must’ve got over 100 programs scanned in toto with about a hundred more waiting at the moment. Anyone have some no-doze?
g a Julietta Sprint Veloce as a starting point. A tube chassis, a Chevy on nitrous and a ‘98 record of 251.261 mph at Bonneville and a 231.267 at El Mirage in ‘97 with Lee Kennedy driving are still in the book. Add to that a ‘97 S.C.T.A. Season Championship and Rich’s four El Mirage records in four different classes plus my ride into the El 2-Club back in ‘00 at 212.842 mph that are all still in the record book make this car indeed special. But wait, there’s more. Mike Cook bought it and continues to set records till this day with team-mate Wayne Jesel and Dodge powerplants. There are four in the book at Bonneville, the fastest being 254.399 in C Fuel Mod Sports. At El Mirage it’s ditto, Cook put “Captain Billy” Hodges behind the wheel in ‘01 for a record of 214.912 mph and Mike also has two. That’s 13 in all for an Italian. Wow!