Archives 2005

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Track Roadster Panel Discussion-NHRA Museum Event

2005 Newport Concours dlElegance

California Screamin-An expose on So Cal people and their cars.

Return of the Angry Wasp- Two Stroke Extravaganza

2005 Moto GP-A weekend of experiance

Brunch with Wally-NHRA Museum news

From Behind the Goggles: A Vintage Racers Perspective

Don Francisco, Hot Rod Pioneer-Biography

PT Barnum Reincarnate? Scottsdale Auctions 2005 Auction Coverage

A Passion of Engines and Speed NHRA Panel Discussion, Edelbrock Jan 2005

Kicking Off 2005 Just Like Car Guys Should! 2nd Annual Tour d’Orange, story, pictures, and a movie!

NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum Panel Discussion “Track Roadsters”

Wednesday November 23rd, the NHRA Motorsports Museum played host to many of the living legends from the racing period that preceded Sprint and Midget racing. The Track Roadsters were multipurpose cars that could serve triple duty. Street car, lakes racer, and dirt track menace. Names like Jim Rathmann, Rosie Roussel, Walt James, and Chuck Hulce headlined the event lead by Indy 500 commentator Bob Jenkins. It’s nearly impossible to relate the fascinating and sometimes humorous stories from these guys. Suffering 9 skull fractures in 10 years or tying cans of beans to the tailpipe to heat dinner and bathing in a lake on the way to the next driving event, these guys lived though an era that could never again happen. Rathmann told of heading east for bigger purses. Racing sometimes 7 days a week and earning $40-$70 thousand dollars a year in the late forties. He had so much money he actually had $100 dollar bills blowing out of his pocket during a race but couldn’t stop because the race had a $7K purse. Claims he was $900 short after that one. Consummate promoter Andy Granatelli (see News for pics from his recent tribute at the Petersen) instructing drivers involved in car wrecks to lay still and let the emergency attendants load them into the waiting ambulance for the full effect. They even claimed he had the rear door of the ambulance rigged so that occasionally it would come open and dump the gurney and driver back onto the track “you should have heard the gasp from the crowd” said Rathmann.  Walt James beamed when sharing his memories with the appreciative and educated crowd. Jenkins and JC Aggegenian Jr. giggled when posing with NHRA legend Wally Parks,” wow, this is the picture I really want to have” said Jr.. A very cool diorama of two race cars sliding on the dirt is part of the new exhibit and the display cases full of programs and pictures should not be missed. Find time to see this exhibit which runs until January 16th, which should be around the time of the NHRA Winternationals 2006 edition. Join the museum and receive personal invitations to unforgettable events like this one.

2005 Newport Concours d’Elegance By Charles Rollins

On Sunday October 2nd, 2005 the 23rd Annual Newport Concours d’Elegance, benefiting the Assessment and Treatment Services Center (ATSC), was held at Strawberry Farms Golf Club in Irvine, CA.  Over 200 carefully selected vehicles were displayed in the pastoral grass valley adjacent to the clubhouse.  After driving along the ½ mile entry road to the venue, event attendees were greeted by Strawberry Farms signature windmill and scores of pleasant volunteers, willing to make everyone’s day the memorable one it turned out to be.

 The select group of cars was carefully placed around the field by 9AM and the gates opened to the eager public promptly at 10AM.  The featured marque of Ferrari was represented with over 45 examples presented and the special display of Microcars was a big crowd pleaser. After a brief greeting by event chairman and ATSC Board President Dick Waitnight, the crowd quickly snapped to attention while The Star Spangled Banner was played.  A specially installed flagpole and American flag was intensely in everyone’s focus while the anthem was played and the crowds respect and utter silence during the ceremony was noted and made for an unscripted moment that made us all proud.

Morning event Emcee, KABC’s Dave Kunz, wove through the crowd, singling out cars, owners, and special guests for series of entertaining and educational live interviews. Enlightened onlookers learned of a two year effort to carefully remove the layers of paint from a 1906 Panhard Levassor Demi-Limousine (meaning removable fixed top) so that the car now wears the original paint and pin striping from ‘06, a detailed description of the 1 hour+ procedure for starting a Ferrari Formula 1 engine, the local history of a1909 Buick racecar (the second vehicle registered in the County of Orange), the allure of an Ex-Steve McQueen Ferrari, and the story behind the display of toy like Microcars.

 The large field of over 200 cars was judged by a distinguished group of 70 class judges and 25 honorary judges.  The class judges are each qualified by national car clubs and organizations specific to the area of expertise.  Using a 100-point scale, the cars are graded and points deducted for inaccuracies and inconsistencies with accepted standards.  Validation by these judges of correct and accurate restorations adds to the value of the car and helps interested car owners to correct deficient features.  A “First in Class” puts the car into the “winners circle” and into competition for “Best of Show”.  The Honorary Judges are an amazing group of artists, engineers, and designers normally with extensive resumes from the world’s car manufacturers and independent design studios.  Since Southern California is host to basically every major automotive design studio, the list is quite impressive and long. Honorary judges work in teams to help select the 10 honorary awards.  A complete list of the honorary judges with brief bios is printed in the event program.

 A spacious tent sponsored by Bauer Aston Martin, housed the Automotive Fine Arts Display featuring the original painting by Hector Luis Bergandi which was used for the Concours program cover and event ticket.  Mr. Bergandi was present and offered a poster signing opportunity and posed for pictures during the presentation of his artwork to Concours poster sponsor and Corona Del Mar resident Jack Croul.  Jack is the owner of the 1952 Ferrari 340 America featured in the painting. Eleven artists displayed their paintings and automotive inspired sculptures including display chairman William Motta, currently the premier exhibitor on the just opened Petersen Automotive Museum’s “Art Wall”.  Director of sales Brian Wright displayed the all new Aston Martin DB9 and a 2005 Aston Martin Vanquish.

 Visitors, whose ticket purchase was a direct donation to ATSC, had several opportunities to visit the gracious event vendors including the Chopard Boutique with a tantalizing sample of their high premium watches, fine jewelry, and furnishings from their South Coast Plaza Store and a huge selection of car care products and specialized detailing items from Meguiars.  Newport Auto Center displayed several cars including the ultra exclusive Porsche Carrera GT. The latest Bentley and Audi cars were also featured. Premier Financial Services offered leasing and financing options for Classic and Exotic cars and US Racing Club offered classes to learn how to handle such cars.  Brabus of North America, a tuner of Mercedes Benz vehicles, was present for aficionados that demand something much more in personal transportation.  The OC Pavilion, a beautiful performing arts theatre in Santa Ana, shared their event schedule and Lindora Medical Weight Control gave hope for fitting into those glamorous evening gowns and tailor maid tuxedos.  Several people took advantage of Grand Prix Tours presence and explored options in attending upcoming racing events with travel packages offered to all F1 races, the Indy 500, and some NASCAR race dates.

 Over in the much desired “Front Row Seats” were the hospitality tents.  On board for the last several years, Autoweek and Coast Magazine entertained their VIP’s and also provided valuable pre-event advertisement for the Concours.  Patrons Dick Messer, Kent and Carol Wilken, and Dick and Sandy Waitneight hosted friends and visitors from the Petersen’s Checkered Flag 200 support group.  Union Bank and Ferrari and Maserati of Orange County took this opportunity to recruit potential customers and Chopards contribution to the trophy presentation was featured front and center

 On a slightly elevated hill overlooking the entire field and winners circle was the elegantly appointed Patron and VIP tent.  A sumptuous lunch was offered to visitors that had chosen to join the ranks of “Patron” by purchase of a patron ticket package offered though the Newport Concours ticket sales.  This tent remained the place to be and be seen throughout the day especially when the winning cars paraded past the tent on the way to receive their trophies.

 12 noon was loudly punctuated by an aerobatic flyover by a Grumman built WWII era F8F Bearcat.  The deep bellow of the piston engine and the large front propeller were easily heard and seen by the crowd as it made several tight passes directly over the crowd.  Quite a spectacle.  The pilot, out of the Chino Hills Planes of Fame Museum, liked what he saw from the air so much that he returned the plane to a local airport and drove back to Irvine to see the show from ground level.  Next, the Microcars were paraded past the trophy tent followed by the presentation of awards for this special display class.  Shortly thereafter, the one and a half hour preparations were completed and the 1997 Michael Schumacher Ferrari F1 V12 was cranked and fired. It’s 700+ horsepower engine; capable of over 17,500 revs was run for a few minutes followed by a standing ovation for car owner Jim Busby and his crew who worked so hard to put this demonstration together.  Jim is a local resident and an ex-professional racecar driver. His long and successful career, which included wins at the legendary 24-hour endurance race of Le Mans, continues still by competing in vintage races.  Note: Jim’s unrestored Packard was a class winner at the Concours!

 While the judge’s scores were tallied and lunch was eaten, ATSC’s Clinical Director Paul Gerhardt spoke for the children and families that are served by the hosting charity. Gifts were presented to Chief Judges Ken Gooding and Mark Tuttle and Chairman Dick Waitneight expressed thanks on behalf of the committee.

 Promptly at 2 O’clock the parade of class winners was started as knowledgeable Emcees Jim Freiburger and Dave Kunz read the names of the winning owners and chatted up the amazing parade representing the best of an already select group of automobiles. The blue 1934 Duesenberg Walker Le Grande J534 Convertible displayed by Lyon Classic Auto was the recipient of this years “Best of Show” award and Chopard Mille Miglia watch.  The scale and styling of this car is the definition of an elegant American classic car from the period of great American cars, classic designs, and never again seen custom coachbuilding.  The complete list of Class and Honorary Award winners along with several photos is posted at www.atscconcours.com or www.bench-racing.com.

 Preceding the Sunday Concours, an elegant Patron Party was held at a private residence in Coto De Caza, an exclusive “Private Garage Tour” was offered through Grand Prix Tours (pictures also on Bench-Racing web site), and a fun Exhibiter Party and Art Tent preview was held at Strawberry farms and hosted by Bauer Aston Martin and Chopard. Chopard supplied over five thousand dollars worth of prizes and provided models and jewelry to add to the excitement and entertainment of this party.  Exceptional lodging at a preferred rate was provided by Crowne Plaza Hotel in Irvine.

 The organizers and volunteers that saw their 12 months of effort come to a wonderful reality on Sunday would like to thank all of the Sponsors, Patrons, Advertisers, Exhibiters, and the over 3500 in attendance for their financial contributions and continued support of the Newport Concours d’Elegance and ATSC.  Next years event date has been set for Sunday October 1, 2006, featured marque TBA.

 Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities for next years show is available.  If you did not get a chance to purchase an event poster, there are a very limited number of posters still available for purchase.  For both these items, contact Christy Netro at 714 730-6529

 www.atscconcours.com                                  www.chopard.com

www.bauerastonmartin.com                              www.meguiars.com

www.newportautocenter.com                           www.fmsocal.com

www.premierfinancialservices.com                  www.uboc.com


California Scream’n (from a newspaper in the UK)

There are few things more formidable in life than a Californian mother behind the wheel of a Hummer H2 on the school run. From the schoolyard you stare in morbid fascination at what appears to be a pair of very small white knuckles frantically see-sawing at the wheel, while deep inside the black, bellowing behemoth there are children bouncing around in the back in a true twilight zone of tinted windows and chrome. It is, as they say over here, like totally awesome.

Never mind Disneyland. Orange County, southern California, is the motoring world's equivalent of virtual reality. This is automotive heaven or automotive hell, depending on your viewpoint. It's a place where big is never big enough and petrol prices in recent months have rocketed to an unprecedented $3 a gallon - £2.12 a UK gallon.

Everyone complains for a few days but they still carry on driving vehicles that return at best 12mpg, while the Toyota and Honda hybrid drivers shake their heads smugly as they all sit together on the ever-congested freeways, where it can take as long as an hour to travel the 10 miles to work.

America has had a long love affair with the automobile - and nowhere has it been more passionate than in California. But as an interested bystander, you might now wonder, with the spiralling fuel costs, unbelievable traffic jams and increasing pressure from the environmentalists, whether Californians have become a little jaded about the motor car.

Then an immense, 15ft-high monster truck guns past you on the freeway with its V8 engine snorting and its nose pointing in the air, and all is right with the world again. The love affair is back on. It was just a blip and we can get back to normal.

You can get your driving licence at the age of 16, then drive to the mall or the beach in your mother's pick-up truck. But Californian law demands that any new residents have to take a driving test. No matter how long you have been driving. No matter who you are.

The test is less about ability and more about your skill at answering 20 totally ambiguous multiple-choice questions that include such posers as: "When would you not restrain a four-year-old child in the back of a vehicle?" A: If restraints are not fitted. B: If the child does not want to be restrained. C: If the child weighs over 60lb.

The answer is of course C, but if you are unfortunate enough to have a toddler of such immense proportions in the back of your car, you face the prospect of a bomb going off every time you are forced to brake hard anyway.

The practical test is a little less arduous, provided your examiner, who looks more like a surfer earning some spare cash, can find you somewhere to parallel-park. Could we find a line of cars with a parking space in between? Could we heck.

"Pretend you have cars in front and cars behind and reverse 20 yards into the space," drawled surfer dude. It's even easier if you're only ever good at turning left. Turning right was never needed on this test, which makes you wonder if there is a group of people living in California who only go round in ever-decreasing circles, unable to turn right.

It's also best to ignore the recent random shootings on Highway 5, which the LAPD put down to people having a bad day. A brief spate of morning gunfire merely focuses people's attention on more courteous driving that afternoon.

When people are shooting each other because of road rage, eye contact is strictly forbidden with your fellow motorists. You have to live in a world where the guy in the car alongside you could at, any moment, shoot out your tyres, windows or brains just because, in a moment of outrageously crass stupidity, you forgot to use your indicator when turning left.

 Instead, on days like these, the best thing to do is clamp your mobile phone to your head and ask your wife what sort of day she has had, what's for supper, and why the guy next to you is reaching into his glovebox.

A few days later, it's all forgotten. It's back to normal and you can shout Spanish obscenities with the best of them or flip the finger at your fellow motorists without worrying. Until the next time.

Early mornings bring their own unique hazards, such as the ubiquitous mobile chicane of ageing Toyota pick-ups driven by tough-looking Mexicans, always equipped with the compulsory heavy-duty garden machinery rolling around in the back.

 They are always on a serious mission to mow somebody's lawn to within an inch of its life. And just like the Orange County school moms, they too have developed serious peripheral-vision problems and are incapable of knowing that anything or anyone could be beside them or behind them.

They just concentrate on the road ahead, perhaps dreaming of the day when they too can have a purple Cadillac Escalade on massive wheels. But not with those chrome spinners. Those things that make dogs go dizzy just looking at them, even when they're standing still. Those are so passé, so last year.

The new trick on the street is to have precious stones embedded in your hand-polished chrome rims, complete with tailored skins from rare and no doubt endangered reptile species.

Back on the school run, it has become even more intense. Drive-by shootings in South Central LA pale into insignificance compared with the ferocity of an Orange County mom if you get between her and her desire to get her kids to school on time. White hands gripping the steering wheel of a massive SUV.

Perfect white teeth and blonde hair that never seems to move. This is a woman not to be messed with. And when she gets to her destination there are hundreds of other OC moms identical to her - same hair, same teeth, same massive pick-up truck queueing to deposit children or pick them up again.

It's organised chaos as each mom is beckoned forward in her vehicle so her children do not have to walk too far and can disembark just outside the school's front gate. For a moment you imagine the children must need rope ladders to climb down out of these massive trucks.

 Some moms are so keen to get their kids to school they barely stop their vehicle and the children tip out of the back, near enough doing gymnastic rolls as they hit the ground. Then the Hummer or the Expedition disappears in a cloud of dust and school books to high-pitched goodbyes and love-yas.

Every Saturday morning without fail there is a muscle-car meeting in Costa Mesa, in a slightly down-at-heel parking lot next to a coffee and doughnut bar. This is where the words of Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run come to life. The girls truly do comb their hair in rear-view mirrors and the boys really do try to look so hard. But you can't be entirely sure as it's all held in the dark.

This is the working man's celebration of American iron, which starts at 5am on a Saturday. Pontiacs, Chevrolets, Fords, beautifully customised Impalas and classic 1950s Cadillacs gather in the dark. It's a guy thing and you have to talk about cars and know the correct part number for a '67 Camaro side fender to join in.

Clearly you can talk about girls a bit. "She's fine," said a man to his friend as an attractive girl walked past. "But looks like she's got a lot of junk in her trunk." In Californian-speak, she was a good-looking woman but her rear end was a little on the large side. It was dark, man - how on earth did you know? Or was it a safe assumption?

It has to be one of the world's best pre-dawn motor shows. A gathering of headlights, exhaust notes, coffee and doughnuts. You have a feeling that James Dean could at any moment step out of the shadows ready to blast his Porsche Spyder back to a film lot in Hollywood.

To look at the cars, you have to get up very, very close - but, as they say over here, this one's for real. These guys have to meet early as they have to be at work by 8am to pay for their beloved automobiles.

As the sun comes up, the parking lot empties in an unforgettable explosion of V8 exhausts and they're gone, leaving empty coffee cups and a bemused bystander wondering if they were ever there at all.

Just as one door closes, another opens on a Californian Saturday morning. High on a headland, overlooking the most beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, lies Crystal Cove. The name itself conjures up images of sea, sand, the Beach Boys, surf and lazy summer days.

But in fact it's a very modern and very expensive shopping mall, where the Orange County mega-rich gather to show off their cars. It's willy waving gone mad.

Where on this planet can you see three Ferrari Enzos parked alongside each other with a '68 Pontiac GTO lined up next to them? How did four Porsche GT Carreras all in identical silver end up together, and who owns them?

Isn't that a very rare 1950s Maserati and what about that Vincent Rapide motorcycle? How many Lamborghini Gallardos do you need to see in one day? It's an automotive feast way beyond the dreams of even the most rabid petrolhead.

 It makes my head hurt. Some of the best and most historically significant cars in the world are sitting in a shopping centre car park for a few hours while their rich - and in some cases very famous - owners swap stories, drink coffee and talk cars, cars, cars.

As the sky becomes even bluer and the California sunshine even brighter, you realise all is right with the world. The automobile is alive and well. In California, at least, rumours of its death are greatly exaggerated.

A little later you pull up at the traffic lights on Pacific Coastal Highway 1 alongside another massive, chrome-bedecked truck and peer up at the angry, red-faced man behind the wheel.

He is gesticulating wildly and for a split second he looks like he is a brandishing a firearm directly at you, but then you realise he's merely talking on his mobile. California dreamin'? More like California screamin'. . .


Submitted by Dick Wells, Senior Writer

Second Installment May 10th 2005

Were early-days racers heavy smokers? No, not necessarily, but most of them chomped on a cigar while driving in races. Because of the rigid chassis of early racecars, and due to the rough surfaces of the tracks (the “Brickyard” in Indianapolis among them), drivers bit down on a cigar to avoid chipping their teeth while driving in races.

Barney Oldfield was one of the most successful early drivers. A bicycle racer from 1894, Oldfield was hired in 1902 as a chief mechanic for Henry Ford’s racing team; he soon became the driver. Barney (Berna Eli Oldfield was his birth name) achieved fame by driving the famous Ford 999. In 1903, at Indianapolis, he accomplished the first mile-a-minute performance in a car (59.6 seconds). In August 1903 he drove 5 miles in 4 minutes 55 seconds. At Daytona in 1910, he set a world speed record of 131.724 mph. And always with the trademark cigar clenched between his teeth.

Chevyland USA, near Elm Creek, Nebraska, is the only museum dedicated exclusively to a single line of cars.

Once the techniques of mass production were developed and put into operation, the Ford factory in Dearborn turned out a newly built Model T every 24 seconds. That’s but one reason the Model Ts were very inexpensive, the other being Henry Ford’s vision and business savvy. Under his direction, Ford bought, owned and operated various sources of raw materials to build cars: forests for timber, mines (coal and iron ore mines), and a glassworks were among them, and he also owned his own railroad and a fleet of Great Lakes freighters that transported iron ore from his Lake Superior mines to the huge River Rouge plant in Michigan.

Ford Motor Company was successful from the [third] beginning, but just 5 weeks after its incorporation, the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers threatened to put it out of business because Ford was not a licensed manufacturer. The association claimed that a patent existed that applied to all gasoline-powered automobiles. The patent was granted in 1895 to George Baldwin Selden, a patent lawyer in Rochester, N.Y. It took 6 years for Ford to win against the multimillion-dollar association, but win he did and made him a popular hero among all Americans.

The Dodge Brothers, whose company once supplied chassis and engine castings to Ford, were manufacturing their own car while holding Ford stock. The brothers sued Ford for what they claimed was reckless expansion and for reducing prices of the company’s products, thereby diverting money from stockholders’ dividends. Ford lost to the Dodge Brothers.

Ford built the Henry Ford Museum and adjacent Greenfield Village in the 1920s; they operate today and are ranked as being among the most popular tourist attractions in the Detroit area.

Henry Ford died in 1947, exactly 100 years after his father left Ireland for Michigan.The birth of the Ford Model T was in 1908. In the 19 years of production, Ford sold 15,500,000 cars in the U.S., about 1,000,000 in Canada, and 250,000 in Great Britain. The production amounted to half the auto output of the world.In America, due in large part to the Model T, the horse disappeared so rapidly that the transfer of acreage from hay to other crops caused an agricultural revolution.

Automotive inventors Charles Edgar, Frank Duryea, Elwood Haynes, Hiram Percy Maxim and Charles Brady King all had built self-powered vehicles before Ford built his “Quadricycle,” so-called because the chassis of the 4-hp vehicle was a buggy frame mounted on four bicycle wheels.

But Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler claimed to have built the first automobile. Benz built his first car, a single-cylinder, in 1885 and began selling cars in 1887. Daimler designed a series of gasoline-powered cars in 1883 and received a German patent on a three-wheeled vehicle in 1885. In 1901 Daimler sold the first Mercedes, which was equipped with a four-cylinder engine. One of the investors in the company suggested that the line be named after Daimler’s daughter Mercedes because he feared the German-sounding Daimler name would not sell well in France. After the merger of the two rival companies in 1926, the “S” series Mercedes was designed. Daimler-Benz was the first company to use diesel engines in passenger cars; the diesel-equipped Mercedes-Benz became available in 1936. A Mercedes diesel recorded the highest mileage known: More than 1 million miles without any major engine repair.

The words 'racecar' and 'kayak' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left.

The cruise liner QE2 moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

If you are an average American, in your whole life you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

American car horns beep in the tone of F.


If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.

If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle.

If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Why is it that when you transport something by car, it's called shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it's called cargo?

Why do we drive on parkways when we park on driveways?


Some will argue the explanation, but reliable sources tell us that the word "jeep" has an interesting history. It goes back to World War II. The Army commissioned automakers to build a General Purpose Vehicle. As we now know, Willys and Ford stepped up with the best designs. The car became known as a G-P-V in military parlance, and was eventually reduced to G-P. That, of course, became "Jeep," now a registered trademark of DaimlerChrysler.

The first trade show produced under the guise of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (in those days it was the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association, but always SEMA) for the speed and performance industry was in 1967. The SEMA trade show was held under the grandstands of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. There were 98 booths. The SEMA Show today occupies the entire Las Vegas Convention Center and spans 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space...about a 7-mile walk to see the entire display of performance parts and every conceivable accessory. Sorry. It's not open to the public; trade only.

Wally Parks has amassed so many credits during his career it's impossible to list them all. But of importance to all Motorsports enthusiasts is his dedication to hot rodding and drag racing. Wally not only started the National Hot Rod Association in 1951, but prior to that he was a force in the Southern California Timing Association, the group that held speed trials on the dry lakes outside Los Angeles...as early as the late 1930s. Wally was also the first editor of Hot Rod magazine, founded by Bob Petersen in 1948.

It's true. Mr. Petersen borrowed $400 to start Hot Rod and he peddled the earliest copies out of the back of his hot rod, a roadster. Single copies were sold at car shows and other automotive events. Over the years dozens of titles were added to the lineup: Motor Trend, Sports Car Graphic, Car Craft, Rod & Custom, Teen, Guns & Ammo, and many more. Petersen grew to become the largest publishing company west of the Mississippi; it is now owned by PriMedia Corp.

Huh-uh. It wasn't Ford that came up with the idea of a production line, although Henry gets credit for it. Mr. Ford did refine the process, but it was Ransom Olds who first produced cars on an assembly line. Prior to that, cars were built using the craft method: one at a time, workers assembled the cars from the frame up. Problem: Many difficulties with interchangeability of parts, since some were "modified" to "fit" in the process. Mass production solved the problem. Cars were rolled along and parts were installed as they passed through a work station.

After selling out Oldsmobile to giant General Motors, Mr. Olds had a run-in with the "suits" running the large car company so he left to form a company to build trucks. Yep. He used his initials. Ransom E. Olds, and the Reo truck company came into being.

Ford was indeed a pioneer of the industry, but many don't know that his first two attempts at a car company failed. His third attempt was weak. He had no money. But he put together a car and raced it, winning the race at an impressive (for the day) speed. It is said investors lined up to help him form the Ford Motor Company for the third time after seeing the "high performance car" he built and ran.

Didja know that the Dodge Brothers cast the earliest Ford 4-banger engines? The Dodge Brothers hadn't become a part of the Chrysler Motors group in the early days.

Chrysler also takes credit for many important firsts in the auto industry. First with safety rim wheels (in the event of a blowout, the safety rims hold the tire on the wheel); first with hydraulic brakes; first with an automatic transmission (Fluid Drive); and as all good racers know, first with that terror of the tracks, the Hemi engine, now in it fifty-second year of production.

Dick Wells

Return of the Angry Wasp"  by Rex McAfee

Looking back on my elementary school days, I'll always remember this teenager from across the street that just loved to fire-up his dirt bike and take 5 minute "kamikaze runs" through our neighborhood leaving a trail of blue vapor and the scent of burnt oil.  I nick named his bike the "angry wasp" because that's what it sounded like!  About the time my parents or any neighbor were annoyed enough to call the police, he'd park it back in the garage and close the door. 

Twenty-five years later, he and his 2-stroke brethren have grown up, got jobs and families, and yes...still ride 2 stroke bikes.  Only now they're not just riding them, they're collecting and restoring them.  You see many of the 2-stroke bikes from yesteryear, especially street-bikes, are becoming collectibles.  Kawasaki's H1 and H2 air-cooled "triples" are very unique, and were class kings of the quarter-mile in their day.  For the canyons, the 79 Yamaha RD400 "Daytona Special" was only produced for one year, and embarrassed four-stroke bikes twice its displacement.

Just as an experienced rotary mechanic is golden to present-day RX-7 owners, so too are shops that specialize in 2-stroke bikes due to the finicky nature of their engines.  One such shop is Moto-Carrera in Burbank that enjoys a healthy business from customers needing specialty 2-stroke parts, service, and advice.  But in the case of Moto-Carrera, they go one step further and promote an annual gathering of these nearly extinct machines called the "2-stroke Extravaganza".  As in the past, the event is held at the Hanson Dam Recreational Area just off the 210 Freeway on the Eastern edge of the San Fernando Valley.

As the photos (see link) show, there was a wide variety of 2-stroke machines, including a few dirt and road-race models.  Motorcycle lubricant manufacture Motul was on hand promoting their products in addition to a raffle, BBQ, T-shirt sale and more.  Aside from inspecting all of the wonderful machines, I also enjoyed the parade lap where the air became filled with the sound of 2-strokes (imagine if you will 10 chain saws running at the same time) and a beautiful blue haze rich in carbon-monoxide nutrients. The setting is great for a small show like this, and thanks to the good organization by the folks at Moto-Carrera, I can tell this event will just keep growing with time.

Event Pictures HERE

2005 MotoGP at Laguna Seca

If you haven't heard already, the MotoGP US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca was nothing less than a true "pilgrimage" for American motorcycle race fans, who literally rode their bikes from all across the USA to see American hopeful Nicky Hayden battle world champion Valentino Rossi.  Never before had Laguna Seca Raceway been host to such a world class event with the paddock and stands filled with voices conversing in a myriad of languages.  Overseas shipping containers and million dollar motor homes lined the back of garage row, where F1 like secrecy kept us "less privileged" individuals from sneaking a peek at any of the 230 HP MotoGP bikes, let alone Valentino Rossi, a.k.a. "the doctor".

Three-day attendance for the event was reported at 150,000 fans, and due to its success, a 2006 date has already been scheduled.  The reasons for this event's incredible success is many fold.  First and foremost, MotoGP, the highest form of motorcycle road racing, hasn't been on US soil since 1994.  Back then, the bikes were 500 cc two-stroke monsters that had two speeds; "off" and "full afterburner"..  With the rising popularity of the World Superbike series(where riders race production based motorcycles), MotoGP fell by the wayside and only attracted 14,000 spectators during its last appearance in the US.

AMA National Champion Nicky Hayden joined MotoGP in 2003, and has developed a large US fan base that has been waiting ever so patiently to see their "Kentucky Kid" bring home a 1st place finish.  But Europe's tracks, and the MotoGP bikes, presented major learning curves for Nicky, just as they have for other Americans who have traveled across the pond in search of a higher reward.  Nonetheless, when all was said and done, not only did Nicky Hayden put his 5 cylinder RC211V Honda on the pole, he led every lap of the race from start to finish showing he had the right stuff to take it all the way to the finish not only in front of his home fans, but also to the rest of the world.

Enjoy the pics posted HERE, and see you next year at MotoGP!

Rex McAfee

Brunch with Wally

Saturday morning was another happy gathering of old friends at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. This event was simply titled “Brunch with Wally”.  With a large brunch buffet table, a carving station, and an omelet station some invitees were nervously wondering what they had gotten themselves into.  After all, there is no such thing as free brunch.  Simply put, the board of the museum has wisely decided to start asking for financial support in larger chunks, supplementing income raised by the reasonable $5 admission fee.

Wally Parks certainly has a great group of friends and supporters, apparent this day by the 100 plus in attendance. Names any good motorhead would recognize:” Snake’ Prudhomme , Art Chrisman, Alex Xydias, Tommy Ivo, Ed Justice, Tom Compton, and George Barris. Also some recognized by only the hardcore: Duncan Emmons, Louie Senter, Bud Coons, Dan Rackman, Blackie Gagegian, and Gas Rhonda

Several spokesman for the museum stood behind the podium and impressed upon those present the dream that has become the museum you see and enjoy today.  A fortuitous change in Fairplex management paved the way to occupancy of the current building.  Built in 1939 as a WPA project, many upgrades and improvements including lighting and fixtures were “seat of the pants” projects by museum staff members.

For Greg Sharp, current curator, he and others view the museum as their own living history.  Once sketching cars during class instead of paying attention or reading about the builder and driving hero’s on the pages of Hot Rod Magazine (hey, at least he was reading something). He now oversees historically significant race cars and gets to meet competitors and builders from the past. With only four full time employees, the museum has never purchased a single vehicle and has many valuable items for visitors to see. Little pieces of history “look, it’s right there!”.

Wally Parks took the microphone to welcome everyone. After negotiating the stairs up to the podium he quipped about having a “92 year frame with a 32 year old mind”. If you have ever met Wally, you will be impressed with his youthful spirit and wit.  He credited the current manager of the Fairplex Jim Henwood (ex-drag racer and car nut) with facilitating occupancy of the current building. He spoke a little of the past, leaving the Muroc dust on your hot rod after racing, working with the local law enforcement and comparing it to the present street legal drags and the youth program with support of the Auto Club.  Mentioning the three local area car museums: Justice Brothers, Petersen, and the NHRA, stating that they all have a different focus and are not in competition but all require funding.

Wally then told stories of his first paying jobs: a paper route and a laundry truck route which he prospered at but always was shy about collecting money. He proudly could “porch” the papers he delivered and he modified the exhaust on the laundry truck. He also left both jobs with a long list of accounts outstanding. He spoke of seeing grown men during the depression holding out a tin cup for donations, this day it is Wally holding out the cup for museum donations and with that said, he turned the microphone over to Sam Jackson, director of the museum.

Sam outlined the “Winners Circle” program. A three year pledge drive aimed at corporations and individuals wishing to make a substantial monetary commitment to the operating budget of the museum. The primary focus of this pledge drive is to fund Museum acquisitions, including vehicles and artifacts, enhance and expand programs and exhibitions, develop an archive research library and educational programs, and improve the Museum complex.  Sam recalled Ed Iskenderian spending 45 minutes inspecting Henry Fords “999” race car during the 100 years of Ford racing exhibit. Some visitors of the museum have never lost their passion for motorsports and it is important to keep this passion alive for future generations.

Chick Safeel was invited by Wally to print tee shirts for the first national NHRA event. He was not in the souvenir business nor was he sure he wanted to be. After spending a couple thousand dollars to print shirts and decals, he set up shop in the safety safari trailer and sold out in two days, his business was born. Sport-Service Inc. founder Chick was pleased to present a check to the museum becoming one of the charter members of the “Winners Circle”.

Don “the Snake” Prudhomme joked that there was “more going on in that trailer then just selling shirts. You can kid the rest but not me!”. Snake remembered seeing “Gas” Rhonda’s “Clean Cars” and looking up to Art Chrisman, and growing up right along with the sport. He pointed out that some of the cars now in this museum were personally painted by him and he thanked Wally for getting it all started. Although currently very busy with running the team, they have recently finished restoring a couple of drag cars and he looks forward to the big Hotwheels event coming up at the Fairplex.

Well, judging from the paperwork being exchanged, several attendees were motivated to sign on with the “Winners Circle” program.  I think many of us enjoy the events, exhibits, and cruises organized by the NHRA museum yet we are essentially on a Free Ride. I am going to encourage all of you to at least become a museum member by joining the NHRA which will get you museum entry and notifications of upcoming events including panel discussions and exhibit openings.  We are lucky enough to have this museum/gathering spot in Southern California so don’t let this opportunity slip away.

Winners Circle information

NHRA Membership Information

From Behind the Goggles: A Vintage Racers Perspective A drivers account of the Fontana vintage races. By Bill Lyon

For all of you who weren't able to make it, I wanted to give you a quick recap of the race weekend. It wasn't entirely successful from a points or trophy perspective, but I had a lot of fun and left with a smile on my face which is what matters to me anyway.

Friday was a test day and I got about an hour and a half of track time to get acquainted with my new car, fresh from the paint booth. This 1957 Porsche Speedster has been raced extensively since at least the 70's, most recently by Bill Kreidler. The car proved to be very capable and fast.  It made my 912 feel like a Cadillac by comparison.  The shorter wheelbase on the 356 really lets you turn in quickly. 

By the end of the day Friday things were looking pretty good. I felt fairly comfortable in the new car and I was started to get my times down into the range of where I have had the 912 (the other Porsche in the pits).  The Speedster seemed geared perfectly for the oval and I was getting the hang of using the tall 1st gear which was a bit peculiar coming from the 912 and its 5 speed.

Pat McCabe was there Saturday to keep the 912 in action. The first session was to be a timed practice where the best lap time for each car would determine the starting grid for the Qualifying Race in the afternoon. Since Pat was new to the course I offered to lead him around a few laps to show him the line.  After that he was to be on his own so I could turn a fast qualifying lap.  I guess my center mirror needed some writing on it that said "Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear!" Apparently, I could have led Pat around much faster, but I kept thinking he was lagging behind.  Turned out he was staying as close as he dared, he just looked too tiny in my mirror.  Oh well, “mirror mirror on the fender, get any closer and I’ll change your gender”.

After about the third lap I decided to get the lead out and get moving.  I entered the oval at full speed and came around the banking as fast as I dared at that point.  When I went to shift from 4th to 3rd to 2nd to 1st for the 90 degree left turn, the clutch pedal went to the floor and never returned.  I finished my braking and drove off the track to a safe location to await the humiliating tow in as all of my friends sped by lap after lap. Needless to say that performance qualified me for dead last.  I like a challenge though, hopefully the car was fixable.

Turned out it was a broken clutch cable which broke right at the pedal assembly.  Unfortunately the added intrusion bars and roll cage on the car make it pretty tricky to get under the dash.  Bob Clucas though gets the Grease Monkey award and my gratitude for volunteering to be the one to crawl under the back of the car and slather grease on the new cable as he fed it through.  After a couple of hours and what seemed like endless people taking pictures of my rear end and legs hanging out of the car, the Speedster was ready for action again.  Just enough time to wash up and get suited up.

I started 16th of 17.  I don't know if 17 showed up late to the grid or what, but he was a fast 911.  I anticipated the green flag by ½ a second and when it dropped I was lucky enough to be in the sweet spot of the engine with more momentum than most of the cars in front of me.  I went to the outside and passed 10 cars by the time we made it around the banking to the first turn.  I spent the next several laps sticking my nose in on position 5, Mike Sweeney, and then Ron Harris in position 4.  I finally got by Ron and was having a real ball.  The car was hooked up, I wasn't making mistakes (a rarity), and I had put some distance on Ron.  I figured all I had to do was hold onto 3rd and I'd have a great position for the start of Sunday's race.  The white flag came out signaling the last lap and I figured I was about home free. I could just see Bob Clucas off in the distance and I thought chasing him would keep me from falling off the pace. I downshifted and entered Turn 4? Without incident, but when I tried to get back on the power, the tail end shudder left and then right. Then engine was surging like the clutch was being pushed in and then popped out.  I thought maybe I had the makings of another cable break. Then I began hearing a distinct clunking which rattled the car at every revolution.  I almost thought I had blown a tire.  At that point I realized I was not going to make it another 1.5 miles to the finish so I pulled off, again.

The verdict was that I had suffered some sort of major transmission failure, possibly a sheared ring and pinion bolt. After that race I was still smiling though.  Then it was onto how to salvage the weekend?  Boot Pat from the 912?  Sit in the stands in my helmet visualizing?  We quickly decided to leave Pat alone and that I would run in "Tubby", a 1961 Roadster that we are currently trying to sell (anyone interested?). To get Tubby ready we had to switch wheels and tires, move the transponder from the Speedster, reinstall the seat belts, and get the car inspected by officials.  With the help of Bob Clucas, Pat McCabe, and Mike Sweeney Jr. we got all done before sundown.

Sunday, I started 18th in Tubby and worked my way up to 6th by the checkered flag.  Tubby was set up a bit differently from the Speedster, and it took some time for me to get used to it, but it handled every bit as well if not more. Unfortunately, I think some people were looking for me in #57 which sat sadly in the pits.  They didn't know I was in the mystery car #78.

All in all, it was a great weekend despite the mechanical failures.  I appreciate all of the help I had getting both cars ready to run during the course of the weekend.  Hope to see you at the next race, the Monterey Historics August 19-21.  I'll be racing in Fontana again September 17-18.

Don Francisco, Hot Rod Pioneer.

Submitted by Charles Rollins, Editor Bench-Racing.com

 It wasn’t so long ago that a trip to El Mirage, Muroc, Pomona, Bonneville, or a special event night at the Petersen was invariably a reunion of family and friends.  As the 50 Year anniversaries started ticking off HRM, NHRA, Muroc, SCTA, Bonneville, etc. it actually meant more than one thing.  Firstly it meant that the birth of Hot Rodding was something to be acknowledged and celebrated.  Secondly it meant that it’s pioneers, if they survived the era, were also to be acknowledged and celebrated but it also meant they were at least 70+ years old.  The later is an unpleasant reality punctuated recently by the passing of 87 year old Don Francisco, the last of our families true Hot Rod Pioneers.

 Francisco, or “Cisco”, as he was known to the HRM staff, was one of the true Southern California Hot Rod Pioneers.  His practical engineering knowledge and undisputed engine building skill positioned Francisco in the middle of high performance vehicle development and advancement.  From a small gas station in Alhambra, Francisco started rebuilding and tuning engines for many fellow Road Runner’s (an early Southern California car club whose members included: Vic Edelbrock Sr., Wally Parks, Bill Burke, Ak Miller and brothers Zeke and Larry, Randy Shinn, Eddie Meyer Jr., Dean Batchelor, and Ray Brown).  Along with regular engine work and other Hot Rodders looking for good reliable engine work, this “side business” started taking precedence over his regular job at the Alhambra Fire Department.

 As Francisco’s reputation grew, helped along by the success of the “Burke/Francisco” Belly Tank featured on the cover of fledgling Hot Rod Magazine in August of 1949 and touted as the “Worlds Fastest Hot Rod” at 164.83 mph., opportunities presented themselves. Then HRM editor, Wally Parks talked Don into writing his first article for the magazine, “Know your ignition” and in February of 1950 Don became an HRM staff writer.  Soon he moved up to “Technical Editor” and continued on with Trend Publications (AKA Petersen Publishing now Primedia) until 1965. Besides Hot Rod Magazine, Francisco was a contributing editor at Motor Trend and was technical editor and reader forum “What’s Your Problem?” chief at Car Craft.  Collections of Don’s technical articles were bundled by Trend and reissued in the small format “Spotlite” magazines.  Don’s passions were performance, the dry lakes, Bonneville, and the Indianapolis 500.  His honest, unbiased, and thorough methods of reporting won him many loyal readers but is also rumored to have cost him his job.  Better that then his integrity.

 In the early 50’s, Bill Stroppe and Clay Smith called upon Don’s talents as they prepared Lincolns for the Mexican Road Race, a five day border to border race along the newly completed Panamerican Highway.  The Lincolns dominated their class and gained the nickname “Road Race Lincoln”.  Don also participated successfully in the Mobil Economy Runs of the late 50’s and early 60’s.  The Mobil Economy Run was a competition to maximize fuel economy over a cross country route that was changed every year. The event lasted several days and covered more than one thousand miles, sometimes crossing the entire United States. These were a very popular and important event for competitors and manufacturers (winning was key to big advertising  campaigns). In the mid 60’s, he was independently contracted by Pontiac to run their factory team, preparing cars and choosing drivers for the Economy Run. A small side note, Don hired land speed record holder Art Arfons (jet powered Green Monster fame) to feather foot one of the Pontiacs in 1965.

 In 1963 and 1964, Don worked again with Bill Stoppe preparing and testing a team of Mercury Comets to be entered in the 1964 East Africa Safari, “The Worlds Toughest Race”. Don made two trips to Africa as team manager reporting directly to Fran Hernandez, the Lincoln Mercury Manager of Performance and Evaluation.  Don’s responsibilities were all encompassing.  They included: managing a $100,000 budget, vehicle production, ground and air transportation of vehicles and personnel, hiring and paying drivers, lodging, customs, procuring vehicle storage and workshop space in Kenya, and actual road testing of vehicles and tires.  A practical list of vehicle improvements and additional equipment needed for the effort was submitted by Francisco to Hernandez and Stroppe.  When an upper management decision was made concerning the choice of shock absorbers, contrary to Don’s recommendations, Don left the project before the March race. During the race, all Comets encountered broken rear shock mounts resulting in either lost time while repairs were made or actual retirement. 

 In the Late 50’s Don started “Don Francisco Publishing Company”.  He wrote, published, and sold several books on high performance.  Later, he teamed with Ed Pearlman and founded The National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) establishing the inaugural “Mexican 1000” in 1967.  Being a skilled airplane pilot, Don made many flights into Mexico, charting a viable racecourse and calculating needed service stop locations.  They established the first set of rules and classes for the sport of off road racing and they are both acknowledged by their induction into the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (www.offroadmotorsportshalloffame.com).  Control of the event was wrestled away from NORRA by Mickey Thompson and SCORE but Don and Ed continued in business together operating the Baja 500 Off Road Mart in Pasadena until the mid 80’s.

 Don passed away on January 29th, 2005. On Saturday February 26th, Don Francisco’s life was celebrated at a memorial service held at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona.  Over 150 people gathered to salute Don and share their thoughts and stories.  Son Gene Francisco, Nephews Michael Noval and Denis LaBonge, Friends: Wally Parks, Alex Xyidias, Bill Burke, and Jim Travis tried to put into words a lifetime of accomplishments and adventures.  Besides an excellent short compilation video (very funny and possibly soon posted on this web site) and several photos on display, there were trophies from the Mobil Economy Run, the trophy for the 1949 SCTA points winning Burke/Francisco Belly Tank, and his induction plaque to the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame.  Sunny Francisco’s 1957 Thunderbird (the topic of two 1963 HRM articles including swaping the Ford mill for a Pontiac with an early B&M Hydro transmission) and a re-creation of one of the 1964 Safari Comets were displayed at the entrance to the museum. It could not have been a better event.  A very heart felt thanks to all those that contributed to the event especially Wally Parks and the staff at the NHRA Museum.

 Don’s knowledge and writings will continue to be his legacy.  Original editions of Hot Rod Magazine, Motor Trend, and Car Craft, books Don personally published: Maximum Performance-Stockers for the Strip or Street, How to Modify Chevy V8 Engines, and the Trend “Spotlite” books: Ignition Systems, Exhaust Systems, Wiring Systems, Carburetion Systems, The Complete Book of Engines, Hot Rodding the Chevy V8, and Hot Rod Engine Swaps are the history books of Hot Rodding, containing his words and suggestions.   Wally Parks recounted traveling across the country with Francisco, once while they were having their gas tank refilled, somewhere in the midwest, they noticed a magazine open next to an engine being rebuilt in the service bay.  An article by Francisco was this sixteen year olds “how to” guide for the job. They had not realized how far reaching their writings actually were.

 From the dust in Baja, the dry lakes of El Mirage or Muroc, Race Tracks from Pomona to Indy, and on the salt at Bonneville, Francisco innovated and shared.

 Don Francisco 1918-2005

 “Let’s clean it up and take a look at it” A timeless quote furnished by Wally Parks

Pictures HERE


A case of Don Francisco’s book “Maximum Performance” has been found. Published in 1966 by Don Francisco Publishing Company. These are brand new books from the original printing.  “Step-By-Step instructions for maximum performance” Bumper to bumper information on how to prepare and tune your stock car for maximum speed and acceleration.  156 pages, soft cover with black and white photos.  Includes bonus tables for racing spark plug equivalent and heat range, decimal equivalents, millimeter to inch conversion table, and carb venturi area chart.  Not available anywhere else, limited supply, when there gone there gone!.

$12 a piece or 2 for $20 includes shipping and handling. $5 from each sale will go directly to the NHRA Museum! Buy one for yourself and one for a friend.

Send your name, address, and payment to:

Francisco Performance Book

385 E 22nd St.

Costa Mesa, CA 92627-1800

Payment by personal check (made payable to Charles Rollins) or send Paypal payment to our account, sblanket@pacbell.net (please indicate Francisco Performance Book Offer and include your mailing address

No credit cards, no drive up service, all books sent through the US Mail.

PT Barnum Reincarnate? Scottsdale Auctions 2005

Submitted by Charles Rollins

The tent, the huckster and his ring men working the crowd, and 3000 people firm in their seats watching the spectacle know as the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale.  The live coverage on Speed TV (it will always be Speedvision to me) used simulated Circus tent graphics on their commercials for their unprecedented 24 hours of live coverage. There was no effort to hide what the 2005 edition of the B-J Auction was again this year a circus.  Who are these people that show up every January with a credit limit of hundreds of thousands of dollars and proceed to pay way too much for cars? 

Let me start by saying that some of these cars are the most over the top restorations in the world and represent hundreds of man hours of work (it is very popular to advertise over 1000 man hours invested but isn’t it a little curious that 75% of car restorations take 1000 hours?) and are absolutely gorgeous and most likely the finest example of that certain make therefore justifying a higher price then normal. Other cars stretch the limits of the term Rare by stating one of 5 built.  Maybe actual production was 5500 but only 5 with white paint, blue interior, cruise control, and automatic transmission, and optional glove box illumination, OK that justifies the price. Well, put a ring man in someone’s face asking to bid “one more time”, turn on the television camera, get the crowd cheering for more, and point out the guy thirty feet away that is bidding against him (mine is bigger than yours) and off to the stratosphere go the prices. Now I know there aren’t any guns pointed to peoples heads and fundamental principles of economics explain supply and demand but really, is there secret gas pumped into that tent affecting bidders muscle control over their arm so it keeps shooting up or is this whole thing staged with actors for pure entertainment purposes?  Well I was there and I saw the winning bidders standing in line paying for their recent purchases so I know it isn’t staged, they even got a complementary B-J plastic license plate frame with their purchase to go with their new vanity plate reading “BENT OVR” or “PD 2 MUCH”. 

It makes for great television and it is certainly exciting to be there but it kills a couple of my favorite reasons for going to car auctions. Firstly, the chance to scoop up a deal that somehow was overlooked and secondly to play my favorite game of side betting with friends as to how much certain cars will go for. I spoke with one person that picked up a car on Wednesday (at well below restoration costs) and was consummating a deal to resell the car Saturday for a quick profit, good for him!  Also, did I mention that I felt the custom car called Chezoom was a $350K car (it achieved a $345K hammer price + commission, missed it by $5K) but who could guess $250*-$350K Hemi Cuda’s (*please see event pictures, Fridays $250K Cuda was bought back by the owner and was being resold for $300K). Over $1 billion dollars in deposits and bank letters of credit were posted by the 4286 registered bidders.

Two observations made at this auction. These price levels are reached only once a year in Scottsdale and this insanity does not reoccur at the Palm Beach or California B-J auctions or for any other auction house. Secondly, you would think Craig Jackson is savvy enough not to stand up there with a shit eating grin on his face because he is getting 8% coming and 8% going (16% of $61 million in sales equals $9.87 in commissions) not to mention $350 for a bidding paddle (times 4,286 bidders equals $1.5 million right there). Did I forget to mention the tickets at $50 a copy just to watch (a crowd of 200,000 reported) or the fees one pays to just run your car through the auction ($2000+ times 800 cars) you do the math. I would think it in his best interest to stifle the disingenuous grin and congratulate the buyers instead of exchanging winks with the sellers.  Side note and question for discussion: Why is it called a “Shit Eating Grin”? I don’t think you’d be grinning if you just ate shit. Maybe it’s because you just watched someone eat the shit?  Discuss amongst yourselves and get back to me on this one. Highest hammer price achieved at this All No Reserve auction was $3 million for a 1954 Olds Concept Car, three cars sold in the $500K range, several cars in the $200-$300K range, and a couple dozen for $100K.  There were two car packages, a guy that kept changing jackets to match the color of the car, one car that included an $8K evening gown, and even a Saturday evening Camaro that included boob flashes from the co-driver (yah, I said BOOBS). Whatever happened to the original owners manual and tool kit as being a selling point? The poor buyers, seen live on TV so that there is no doubt who they are and how much they spent, I should have been outside the tent selling time share resort property.  I realize that none of these comments will ingratiate myself with Craig Jackson but that’s the way I saw it, at least I didn’t complain about the mud and I bought my own lunch. Full auction results are available at www.Barrett-Jackson.com

Across town at the Biltmore (a Frank Lloyd Wright designed property) the RM Auction company held their own share of the interest by offering just over 100 select automobiles with a more diverse assortment including some offerings for the European sports car crowd. This was a standard auction with most cars having a Reserve but some offered with No Reserve.  A coffee table quality catalog described the cars up for auction and the details and stories verbally woven on its pages could make one crave even a rusty tricycle. I missed bidding on one of my favorites, the Whizzer Motorbike, which RM had two available. Auction results are available online and several pictures of the event are posted HERE.  Note that only five cars did not sell, a solid performance given the glut of auction houses selling in the area during the same time period.  RM has held their ground and gave the crowd a much more refined atmosphere to admire and acquire. A close look at the results reveals some deals were had in spite of the hyped up atmosphere. www.rmauctions.com

Muscle Car prices were through the roof while European Sports Cars held onto current levels or increased in value.  American Classics, Antiques, and Brass Era Cars were not appreciated and were available at lower price levels.

A small warning and very important lesson for all collector car enthusiast. Buy what you want, pay what you will.  When and if the bubble bursts, at least you will have something that you truly enjoy.  Don’t entertain the idea of investment, it is not an investment, it is a hobby that sometimes you can profit from. Sometimes just breaking even is considered a victory.  Short term gains may be made but maintenance, storage, and insurance can eat up most profits.  At least if you bought what you really wanted, you can still wander out to the garage at any odd hour of the day (or night) and stare at your car enjoy the true passion that we all share for these rolling works of art and nostalgia time machines.

The Silver, Russo and Steele, and Kruse auctions were not visited during this trip.  A big thank you to George Brenner for providing transportation, food, and lodging during this trip.  He even threw in a vintage tractor collection tour!

This Saturday, February 5th is the opening of the Petersen Museum Exhibit on Muscle Cars. Members open house is this Friday the 4th. A brief review of this exhibit will follow.

A Passion of Engines and Speed

Submitted by Charles Rollins

On Saturday morning the 15th of January 2005, living legends gathered once more at the Wally Parks Motorsports Museum in Pomona.  Known to most as the NHRA Museum, this panel’s topic was the current featured exhibit at the museum “Edelbrock, a Performance Legacy” and included a general history of the Speed Equipment Industry.  This event was the first of three such events to be presented this year and the fourth since the panel discussion programs inception (others included 100 years of Ford Racing and Drag Strip Operators).  Dave McClelland served as panel moderator and started the discussion with the hypothetical question of “What would have happened if there had not been an Edelbrock”?  A question that would have many interesting answers but actually was never broached. The panel, consisting of Wally Parks (founder of the NHRA and 1st Hot Rod Magazine Editor), Alex Xydias (founder of SoCal Speed Shop, lakes racer, and historian), Vic Edelbrock Jr (Edelbrock Performance Products), Ed Pink (Engine Builder), and Ed Iskenderian (legendary Cam Grinder) spent the next hour and a half conveying their thoughts on the speed business and the era.

 The word “seminal” was tossed around all morning but with this group it was more then appropriate. This panel represented the roots of what is now known as the “Performance Aftermarket” and is responsible for a multibillion dollar industry and best represented to some by the SEMA organization which oversees manufacturers, monitors state and federal legislation, and puts on the biggest trade show currently in Las Vegas.   The overflow crowd of attendees soaked up every word and were treated to insight and story upon story from the panelists. Vic Jr. started off by explaining that “he had been such a handful for his parents that they only had one child”. He grew up involved in the business so much that he still bears a misshapen fingernail from stopping a bench grinder with his finger when he was only three.  He also recalled swapping cams in the then new small block Chevy (1955) and the subsequent poor performance on the dyno.  After changing ignition, carb jets, etc. someone asked Vic Jr. if he was sure he lined up the timing marks on the camshaft correctly? Vic’s response, “Timing marks, what timing marks”.  Vic Jr.also acknowledged that when his “conservative German father” died in 1962, which left him to run a business that had no debt and $250,000 in cash, there were plenty of side bets as to how long it would take Jr., then in his early 20’s, to “go to Vegas and blow it all”.  Well, that didn’t happen and today the third generation of Edelbrock’s is active in a business with over 600 employees and over 400,000 square feet of industrial space.  Vic Jr. recalled many stories and the early days crediting his talented father with only a 9th grade education but an engineers understanding and a pioneers desire to go faster.  Vic Sr. always believed in the philosophy of “Don’t let your customers do your testing”. Built it, test it, sell it.  Testing was done on flow benches, dynos (Edelbrock started with the beam scale Clayton Dynamometer), in vehicles, in race cars, and in racing boats.  It was not possible for Vic Sr. to imagine the modern day testing equipment that is now commonly available or the size and success that his company would enjoy.  I won’t leave out the credit Vic Jr. and all the other panel members gave to a life long employee of Edelbrock Corp. Bobby Meeks.  Well known in some circles, unknown to most, Bobby Meeks has his fingerprints all over the history books at Edelbrock. and deserves acknowledgment for his contributions.

 Ed Iskenderian admitted that he was never a member of a car club but he hung out with the “Bung Holers”. Vic Sr. and Wally Parks were Roadrunners and Xydias was a Sidewinder.  Ed would try to follow Vic Sr. at the dry lakes meets and use his times and techniques as a benchmark for their own effort.  Sometimes at modern day discussions like this, the “statute of limitations” on improprieties or missteps is long past and the truth comes out (like Jim Delamarter confessing to qualifying for Indy using nitromethane, as many had long suspected).  Ed Iskendarian admitted that the colorful names used on some of his camshafts through the years were totally made up for advertising purposes.  Cams like the “5 Cycle Cam”(inspired from a customers story about a race in Tripoli won with a 5 cycle motor) and the “404” (taken from the #4 Offy cam and named the 404 instead of the 400 because “it sounded better”).  Isky enjoyed a great relationship with Vic Sr. and set up his business across the street from Edelbrock so he could use their dyno and brainstorm with the guys in the Edelbrock shop.  More then one panelist recalled the after hours “Bench-Racing” sessions that took place over one, two, and sometimes three drinks.  These were tech sessions more then bull sessions where the progress of that day and what was being planned for the next day was discussed and ideas were freely thrown out for critique (whether it was taken or not).  This was an invaluable part of the workday and industry peers were always stopping in and often welcomed to sit in on the discussions (something you don’t see in today’s business atmosphere).  An Isky “Bigelow” cam performed the best out of six different cams for the small block Chevy and became the E2 and E4 cams ground by Iskenderian and sold by Edelbrock.  Ed admitted that he was not an “official engineer” but felt that lots of valuable inventions are made in someone’s backyard, “an engineer is someone that just puts a formula to it”.  Happily the Iskenderian legacy continues with his three boys running the business today.  www.iskycams.com

 Ed Pink’s relationship with Edelbrock stemmed from his tutelage under Bobby Meeks.  Meeks, known for being blunt but sincere, was “better then my school teachers, he never hit me on the hands with a ruler…he just had a way of telling you Hey dummy, you’re doin’ it wrong”.  Pink recalled other Edelbrock employees Don Towle and Ed Toro contributing to the after hour tech sessions and that Meeks was the president of the “Coupes” car club known for running all Edelbrock equipment so unofficially the Edelbrock club.  Ed reminisced fondly about putting together a bowling team once. He said it really was an Edelbrock team even though they bowled under Pink’s name.  They drank beer, made noise, had a good time, and “they enjoyed each others company”.  Ed said they “let their hair down” although the other teams in the league were serious bowlers to which Wally Parks quickly quipped “Not too many of us can let our hair down”.  In the end they won the league championship and were not invited back the next year.  Ed gave a brief timeline of his engine exploits.  From the Ford Flat head, to the Hemi, to the Supercharged Hemi, the 968 Porsche Turbo with 800 Hp, and the Turbo V6 for Indy with 1000 hp.  Currently Ed Pink is building Ford engines for Midgets and Chrysler Hemis for Drag Racing.  www.edpink.com

 Wally Parks remembered sleeping under Roadsters up at the Dry Lakes when he and fellow Roadrunner Vic Sr. were racing.  After spinning out, Wally’s racing days were over but working for Hot Rod Magazine, SCTA, and NHRA kept him in the mix.  The magazine would always cover projects and developments going on at the Edelbrock shop and HRM made sure Edelbrock was supplied with vehicles and engines to develop. An ever-evolving Camero HRM project car is part of the Edelbrock exhibit currently featured at the museum.  Wally recanted running a Curtis built Muntz with a Bobby Meeks engine and achieving 120+ mph on the first run.  What Wally didn’t realize was that he had never engaged the overdrive and might have over-revved the engine.  On the next pass, the engine held together and he upped the speed to 138 mph using the overdrive.  He was relived that Meeks wasn’t going to “kill him”.  Wally’s kind words directed at Vic Sr. included “an icon in my life, honorable in everything, and always held in high esteem”. Words anyone’s family would love to hear spoken, now forty plus years after Vic’s premature death at age 41. http://museum.nhra.com

 Alex Xydias credits a visit to the Edelbrock shop during a furlough as his motivation for entering the speed equipment business.  The development of the “Super Manifold” excited Alex and he shared his enthusiasm with his fellow soldiers when he returned to duty.  With the west coast guys sharing pictures of their “Hot Rods” and stories of racing on the dry lakes with other soldiers from the midwest and the east coast, Alex figured the Speed Business was really going to take off after the war.  He was dead on.  He showed Vic Sr. his California Resale Certificate, “which made me a bone fide retailer”, and promptly asked Vic for a discount.  “In those days you could make $20 from selling a pair of Edelbrock heads, and that was good money”.  Even though Edelbrocks expansion and move to the Jefferson location wrecked Alex’s “back door” warehouse situation, Vic Sr. was his mentor and SoCal was always loyal to Edelbrock products.  Alex acknowledged Edelbrock increasing their discount to 30%, which was huge to Speed Shops, and credits Edelbrock with constantly being innovative.  Alex emphasized the part Midget’s played in speed equipment development and called on Bobby Meeks and the Edelbrock shop to build his engines for the 1952 Bonneville meet.  “We could have built those engines in our shop but I wanted to go fast really quick” Alex recalls, “We knew that success at Bonneville would give us the publicity we needed at the SoCal shop”.  Alex looks upon that week at Bonneville when they dueled and exchanged records with Racer Brown as “Magnificent” but realized it marked the end of the Flathead era.  www.so-calspeedshop.com

 Before the raffle prizes were handed out and the lines formed for the autograph session, Vic Jr. closed with some parting recollections.  Vic Jr. “drank more Coke then any other 15 year old” to give the older guys room to mix in some VO, and it was these older guys that supported him and guided him even though he didn’t always listen.  His dad’s creativity and genius lead him to push the SK racing boat engine past its apparent limits of 400 hp up to 435 hp to beat everyone at Long Beach Marine Stadium.  Vic Sr. watched from a pickup truck, physically limited by his battle with cancer, but able to witness to his efforts, he died a couple weeks later. Vic’s mother, Cammy and Christy’s grandmother is still alive at 91 years old.  And there is a new book coming in April documenting the Edelbrock Performance Dynasty and advance certificates were available for sale.  For more history on Edelbrock, go to www.edelbrock.com/company_index.html

 Keep checking the NHRA/Wally Parks Motorsports Museum’s schedule for the next panel discussion (see our links page), I have not missed one of them and they are some of the best programs I have attended.  Edelbrock, A Performance Legacy continues through February 14th (not many days left), the goodies in the display cases is worth the trip along with the SoCal Belly Tank and other Edelbrock cars never displayed before!

PICTURES HERE and Pictures Here

Kicking Off 2005 Just Like Car Guys Should!

The usual crowd at the Saturday morning Crystal Cove Promenade car show is starting to leave by 8:30 AM. At 9:00 AM on January 1st, the crowd was still there and in no apparent hurry to leave. That is until they had their route map and turn by turn directions tightly in their hands.  The second annual Tour d’Orange was about to begin (9:15 departure) and it was great to see all of those that participated in the mood for some Southern California driving enjoyment. You can call this event several things: A Tour, A Rally, A Fun Run, or just a Drive but don’t get too involved in naming it anything. It is what it is, a freebee driving event with no requirements and no rules. With those guidelines, everyone that participated should be complimented on their courtesy and sense of group fun and entertainment, it was a spirited event! Around 120 sets of maps and directions were handed out, equaling last years total. Participating vehicles ranged from 1939-2005/50-500+ horsepower and represented German, Japanese, Italian, English, and American manufacturers.  While for some, New Years might mean the sounds of marching bands or “Auld Lang Sine”, this group choose the “V12 Serenade” with tops and windows down. 

Although several cars were capable of outpacing the pack, everyone stayed in a large group during the first half of the route and eventually split up into three smaller groups by the time they reached In and Out Burger. Check out the video link listed below for a great shot of the pack of cars on Irvine Blvd..  What was a sketchy week of weather (rain) gave way for the 2 1/2 hours we needed to pull off the complete route and the food at the end was a good addition.  Two cars deserve special mention, firstly the 1802 Touring BMW hatchback coupe with Alpina trim, and secondly the ‘67 Honda S800 Roadster (2X2BBL Carbs and 800cc’s).  For those of us that think we have seen everything, here were two to add to that list!  I enjoyed driving TJ’s “Herbie the Love Bug” while he shot video out the sunroof. This was my first experience driving the classic VW Bug. I can now fully appreciate all of the Beetle devotees and this car has to be one of the top ten cars of all time.  Affordable and reliable transportation even after being on the road for 40 years (Herbie was a ‘63 with Ragtop Sunroof). I also have to add that maybe on paper this icon shares some bits and principles  with the Porsche 356 but there is a reason Beetles were $700 and 356’s were $4000, i.e. I won’t be selling my 356 anytime soon.  There were no speeding tickets and plenty of thumbs up and smiles during the drive. Some got so preoccupied with looking at the other cars that they failed to read the map and missed some turns. Nothing a little U turn couldn’t fix.  The employees at In and Out Burger found the lamest excuses for going outside to check out the cars (I saw one employee with a broom and dustpan sweeping the parking lot) while the participants ate lunch and did some Bench-Racing with other drivers.

I would like to thank all of you that helped spread the word on club message boards and E-mails. Without your effort we would not have the cars and enthusiastic drivers needed for a successful event. I would also like to thank all participants for having the right attitude and staying out of trouble. Keep an eye open for our midyear tour, tentatively scheduled for July 5th (we will see which day most people are off of work). 

Please note: This day was the only day without rain for a 15 day period. Many of the roads we drove have since closed from storm damage, some have yet to reopen.  Lucky us !

These links have event pictures posted (send any additional links to eventinfo@bench-racing.com

Tour 2005 Movie I suggest a high speed connection and some patience, highly recommended.

Herbie Pics