DryLakes Hall of Fame
President's Corner: By Jim Miller.
The lakes are a funny place. You could really call it, an equalizer. What I'm getting at is if you're a racer, you're a racer period. Nothing else matters. Who cares if you've got a million bucks or ten cents to your name, the common bond is the cars and going fast. This also goes for ethnicity. Back in the thirties and forties the world was a different place and lines were drawn everywhere except for maybe us weirdos. The first conversation I had on the subject was with the magnificent author Robert Genat. We were chatting about WWII and what happened to the Japanese, especially in Southern California and then we got into the Nisei racers at the lakes like Danny Sakai and Frank Morimoto. We then segwayed into Black racers and all we could think of was Mel Leighton's name. The first time I found his name was back in May '37, running a Riley 4-Port and that was before there was an S.C.T.A. Seems he was on the S.C.T.A. Contest board in '40, in charge of the Hospital fund in '41 and after the war, Treasurer in '42, '45 and '46. He also raced roundy-round cars. I had a simular conversation with Richard Parks later, on about the lack of photos of minorities, especially blacks in our sport. So guess what, fellow Sidewinder, Phil Dally came over this last weekend to do some bench racing and brought over some pictures he had just gotten and bam, there's a shot of a black Roadrunner named "Si" Westbrook. He's in a Class C Roadster stuffed with a Merc V8 and equipped with Edelbrock go fast parts and a Winfield cam. Seems on July 6, 1947 he turned 115.83 mph in his #120 '32, and he got photographed. The photo attached shows Si and his crew behind '46 Champ Randy Shinn in his #1 car. To his right is Ak Miller's Deuce #115. I also just got this great pre-war shot of Howard Wilson of the Low Flyers. He is seen sitting on the front wheel of his Cragar-headed Gow Job on June 15, 1941. The car ran 88.23 mph on that day. On his right, in the white t-shirts are supposedly Jack Ingle and Phil Remington. Is the man on the left in the captain's hat Mel Leighton? If you don't know, Howard was the man who drove Stu Hilborn's lakester to a record speed of 150 mph in 1948. Next to last but not least is an e-mail I got this weekend with a story about the Fageol "SuperSonic" Dream Car displayed at the 1949 Indy '500.' Seems it started life in the Joel Thorne/Art Sparks race car shop in about '39 that created the Big and Little sixes that raced at Indy. It was originally built to capture land speed records at Bonneville. Sometime in late '40 Thorne sold the almost finished car without Sparks knowledge for $2,500 because he had overspent his allowance and needed some quick pocket money to spend on the girls. Go figure. The lucky buyer was Lou Fageol. It showed at Indy in '49 and then it was gone again. See http://www.fageolsupersonic.com/virtual/fageolsupersonic/Default.aspx, for more of the story. Last is a little teaser. We aren't the only ones interested in LSR cars. The East Germans built some racers in the early '50 and called them EMW's after taking over a BMW plant in Eisenach. I've enclosed a shot of one of their little cars to drool at. The company later changed its name and produced a car that some of you might have heard of, the Wartburg.
Editor: Many of those mentioned by our President are prominent fixtures in the early SCTA, including Leighton, Sakai and Hilborn. Dad's book on the early days will be out as soon as David and I can edit it and get it to the printer. Sakai died in a crash and his funeral service was huge, as he was well loved. Another Japanese/American racing family were the Oka brothers. Yam Oka went back to Detroit to work in the defense plants during the war. The internment camps along the West Coast were intended to house non-citizens of Japanese, German and Italian origins, although the government gave up trying to separate the groups on the East Coast after seeing how difficult that was on the West Coast. Some areas developed a great deal of resentment and outright hatred towards the Issei, Nisei, Italians and Germans living in the United States during the war. However, I never heard anything but compliments from my parents. During the Great Depression and then World War II, Black/Americans suffered from prejudice as they left the South and found jobs in the North and West. The bias was not always about their skin color, sometimes it was due to the fear that people had about losing their jobs to people who would work cheaper. There were large groups of Russians, Jews, Armenians and other ethnic immigrants living in Los Angeles and they came in for their share of torment. Mel Leighton was African/American and very active in the SCTA. Dad and Mel Leighton were very close friends. Mel had a very salty tongue and his jokes and humor, especially about women, took some getting used to, according to my mother. But Mel was everybody's friend and one of the most trustworthy and loyal person that you could ever meet. He had a presence that made the other SCTA members respect him. The SCTA elected and re-elected Mel to the office of Treasurer for nearly a decade and his accounting was never called into question. One of Leighton's main achievements was the creation and continuation of the Hospital Fund. He nagged and pleaded with the members to support the fund and protected the assets in the Hospital Fund when the General Fund was depleted and hungry eyes looked at the Hospital Fund as a way to get out of trouble. My mother told me a story about Mel. My father and Mel had been out conducting SCTA business in 1946 and stopped by the house afterwards. My aunt Virginia was visiting my mother and my father said, "let's get a bite to eat and then we'll take Virginia home." They stopped in at a favorite diner and the four of them ordered from the menu. Some of the patrons began to glare at a black man sitting next to a white woman (my aunt), while my father and mother were sitting together on the other side of the booth. One man got up and exclaimed in a loud voice that "it ain't right for whites and ******* to associate together." My mother says that my father got up, towered over the man and told him to go back to his seat and leave them alone. That was about the closest my father ever got to being threatening to anyone. It certainly was not as bad on the West Coast as it was in the rest of the country. Part of the reason is that the area attracted a lot of new people and they were learning that it was more important to judge a person on what they accomplished than what they looked like. Mel was one of those early pioneers that have been largely forgotten, like the Cannon brothers, Art Tilton, Ed Adams, Thatcher Darwin, Randy Shinn, Nick DeFabrity, Bozzie Willis, Tiny Tyler and many more. We have a great deal of work before us to bring these men and women back from the darkness of obscurity and show the world how important they were to our very existence. The photos sent by Jim Miller can be seen at www.hotrodhotline.com.
1) Art Evans, 800 South Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, California 90277, 310-540-8068, Fax 310-373-5988, email@example.com. December 5, 2007. Dear Friend: At this time of year, many of us are looking for last-minute presents to give a relative or special friend. May I suggest an autographed copy of one of my books? I'll personalize my autograph to your recipient, include a card and if you wish, mail it directly. My earlier books are out of print. But seven are still available. Racing With Mercedes is by John Fitch; I am a co-author along with Don Klein. This book will be sent with all three autographs. I hope we may run into one another during the coming year; perhaps at Monterey. At any rate, I look forward to seeing you in the future. With warmest regards and best holiday wishes to you and yours, Art Evans
2) BOOKS IN PRINT BY ART EVANS (Distributed by Iconografix, Inc, PO Box 446, Hudson, WI, 800-289-3504). All books are soft cover, perfect bound, in 8= x 11-inch format and printed on high-quality paper. Torrey Pines Remembered ($19.95) Torrey Pines was one of those fabled venues where road racing took place on public streets and roads during the late forties and early fifties. In addition to Torrey Pines, sports car competitions were held at Watkins Glen, Bridgehampton, Elkhart Lake, Pebble Beach and Golden Gate Park. This book constitutes a history of the eight events held at Torrey Pines starting in 1951 and ending in 1956. Included are each program cover, lists of officials, entrants and results. Torrey Pines Remembered is illustrated with more than 150 archival photographs,
many of which have never been previously printed. A highlight is remembrances contributed by a number of those who drove, were officials or spectators. Each race meeting is described by reprints of articles from various publications. Torrey Pines Remembered is essentially a scrapbook and is labeled as such on the cover. A few ads from programs add considerable interest. One even features Lucille Ball helping to promote a Singer (not a sewing machine) sports car roadster. (Notice: There are fewer than 100 copies left; this book will soon go out of print and no longer be available.) Ken Miles ($34.95) is a biography of the subject. It follows his life from the early days in England to his tragic death at Riverside Raceway in 1966. The book format is somewhat different from others. It is essentially a scrapbook. More than 130 photographs are included. Many are from private collections and have never before been published. A fascinating feature is remembrances written by some who knew Miles best, like Carroll Shelby, Augie Pabst, John Morton, Bill Pollack and Ken's son, Peter. Miles himself was an accomplished writer and a few articles he wrote are reprinted. The book starts off with a complete chronology from birth to death and ends with the eulogy delivered by the author's father and a never-before
assembled race record. Miles second-place finish at the 1966 Le Mans was mired in controversy. This book goes some distance toward clarification. Interspersed throughout are articles from period publications. The scrapbook is held together with text by the author, a close friend of Miles and his family. Pebble Beach Remembered ( $34.95). Starting in 1950 and ending in 1956, the events at Pebble Beach were the premier road racing events on the U.S. West Coast. This is a scrapbook that reproduces every program and every race report from the Sports Car Club of America official magazine, Sports Car. Every entrant and the results of each race are included. The book is illustrated with more than 500 period photographs. The death of Ernie McAfee is recounted in some detail. After the Pebble Beach course was abandoned, a purpose-built track was built on what was then part of nearby Fort Ord. The first event at Laguna Seca was billed as the '8th Annual Pebble Beach National Championship Sports Car Road Races.' This event is also detailed plus the very first vintage races, held on August 10, 1974, at Laguna Seca. Creator Steve Earle billed it the '1st Annual Monterey Historic Automobile Races.' A highlight of the book is remembrances of a number of those who raced there including winners Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Jack McAfee, Bill Pollack and Pete Lovely. Paramount Ranch Remembered ($34.95) is a collection of race reports, results, driver biographies and contemporary reportage. The material is interspersed with participants' memories of the events which provide historical perspective. Paramount Ranch is one of several locations in Southern California where westerns and other movies were shot, starting in silent days. A developer purchased it and a road course was built that opened in 1956. From the beginning, it was a source of some great racing and great controversy. For a generation of racers raised mostly on forgiving airport venues, Paramount's width and elevation changes were a challenge and accidents were common. After a weekend in December 1957, which resulted in two fatalities and another major injury accident, the insurance was cancelled and the course became history. The book drills down to unearth information that makes it fascinating. The combination of hard facts plus their interpretation by personal remembrances is a potent brew that brings alive these long-ago events. Few sources evoke the times as well as this one. The book is a bonanza. Racing Sports Cars ($39.95) Back in the fifties, the definition of a sports car was one that could be not only used as a daily driver, but also raced in an organized event. Because sports car racing was in its infancy in the U.S. at that time, an organized event was often nothing more than a bunch of hay bales set out on an airport runway. Cars and drivers of all abilities took to the field, resulting in some wild and wooly wheel-to-wheel race action. It also resulted in some amazing photographs. Racing Sports Cars combines those photos, many of which are from private collections and have never before been published, with the first-hand accounts of more than 60 drivers, some of whom went on to become world famous. The book is composed of 50 chapters, each dedicated to a different marque. A full-page photographs and explanatory text describes each model - 74 in all - often with the driver who describes his personal experiences. Each chapter also includes a short biography of the individual most association with the creation of the marque: Enzo Ferrari, John Cooper, Sydney Allard and Ferry Porsche to site several. The book is illustrated with the logos of each mare plus more than 200 period photographs. The book amounts to a very personalized history of sports car racing during the 1950s. After reading it, Carroll Shelby remarked, "The fifties had some of the most exciting sports car racing ever. Art Evans has captured that excitement in this fabulous new book." The eminent British autosports journalist, Simon Taylor, wrote "I must say I find it very appealing. The format works well, the photography is all interesting and entertaining, the memories of the people who were involved at the time are delightful and poignant." Golden Gate Remembered ($32.95) is a collection of race reports, results, driver biographies and contemporary reportage. The material is interspersed with participants' memories of the events, which provide historical perspective. This book unearths littleknown information that makes it fascinating. The combination of hard facts plus their interpretation by personal remembrances is a potent brew that brings alive these long-ago events. The book is accurately labeled a 'scrapbook.' There's a section for each race meet starting with a reproduction of the program cover. This is followed by reproductions of the list of officials, entries, results and stories from various periodicals. There are some 300 period photographs and a selection of advertisements from programs. A number of those who were there then have contributed to this scrapbook. Printed on high-quality coated paper, the book is softbound with 240 pages in 8=x11-inch format. It was printed in a very limited quantity. Racing With Mercedes ($29.95) The Sports Car Club of America's first National Champion, John Fitch, has authored one of the most extraordinary accounts of open-road racing ever written. Fitch was the only American member of the famous fifties-era Mercedes-Benz team. Along with five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Peter Collins and Karl Kling among others, he confronted the most demanding and exciting races of the 20th Century. John's descriptions of the 1952 Mexican Road Races along with the 1955 season Mille Miglia, Le Mans, Tourist Trophy and the Targa Florio are fascinating. Fitch's prose is complimented with course diagrams, posters and a large number of photographs, many from the DaimlerChrysler archives. This introduction is by Juan Manuel Fangio. This is a must have for anyone interested in motor sports, the history of racing or Mercedes-Benz automobiles. By John Fitch, Art Evans and Don Klein.
Contact Art Evans at: 800 South Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach, California 90277, 310-540-8068, Fax 310-373-5988, firstname.lastname@example.org.
3) Just from what I have, you have lost almost nothing. Maybe I can even find the ones I have misplaced. Don't spend any money on data recovery. We will cover you. Send me an mailing address and I'll send you a CD with as many newsletters as I have and that's a good many. Letters #1 and 2. Logo, Burke Bantam Foto, Mystery Datona Photo, Ack Attack Crash, Wally Parks (1913-2007), Wally Parks Jan 23, 1913. Looks like I don't have 5, 8, 9, 10, 11. I will record the CD's Sunday, Dec 9, 2007. Glenn Freudenberger Glenn: I have retrieved everything and the newsletters are being displayed and shown at our websites, courtesy of the owners of the sites. I even have found the email addresses, so as soon as I learn the new systems, I hope to be back up and running. The look of the newsletters will be different. I'm hoping to even find out why some of you cannot read my newsletters.
4) It seems that this newsletter is becoming quite a chore for you...we may be able to help with this by providing a way to add names to the newsletter list similar to what we do here at www.Hotrodhotline. We have software that allows us to send out the newsletter to over 40,000 people all in the click of a mouse and we can add or delete names easily as well. I may be able to set you up with the same deal...but would need you to send us the newsletter and then we could send it out for you. I will work on seeing if we can do that and get back with you. The only thing is that we would want it to be separate from Hotrodhotline so that it would be something specifically designated from Landspeed organization. We own the domain name www.landspeedracing.com and maybe could use that as a "base" for the Society and for sending out the newsletters. We are not using that domain name for anything now... If you want me to look into doing this we will be happy to do so. We feel strongly that it is very important to preserve this history and would be proud to help do so. Let me know your thoughts on us doing this for you.... Thanks, Mary Ann Lawford Mary Ann: I'm taking you up on your kind offer. I will probably send you the email addresses and then each week a Word Document. This will definitely save me a lot of work and I really appreciate it.
5) Frank Oddo's email address is email@example.com. And thank you for putting me on the mailing. Jim Bremner Jim and Frank: Welcome to the group.
6) Editor's notes: The following was received from Ugo Fadini. "At long last, here is a quick update on new models from me, Omicron and Tom. For different reasons, none of us was very active over the last year or more. While Omicron and Tom looks like they will be stalling for a while longer, I myself have decided to resume work on new models. As you probably guessed the main reason for the long pause was to figure out whether the competition from Chinese manufactured models would make it impossible to stay in business. Two recent facts have convinced me to give it another try. On one side some unexpected interest from new collectors, on the other the quality of the most recent LSR releases from China. As some of you may have noticed, while their building and finish level is unquestionably high for the price, some of their recent LSR releases were not up to the expectations in terms of accuracy (I mean the basic shape of the bodies: Goldenrod and Thrust 2 are fair examples). So perhaps there is still room for models of a better quality, which cost more not just because they are made in Europe, but also because they involve a lot more time and hard work to get them "right." Whether my guess is right, it will be up to you to decide! A revised release schedule will be posted soon on my web site, but while you wait you may give a thought to a couple of semi-new releases, whcih will be produced in very limited numers. NEW 19 Fiat-Abarth 750 Bertone, Salone di Torino 1956 1/43 scale handbuilt - Limited edition of 150 numbered - mounted on a signed white forex base Price 205.00 euros (free shipping if you order before January 15!). This is how the first Abarth record car looked, just out of the Bertone workshop, before Abarth and his team chopped and modified it for the sake of performance rather than beauty, much to the dislike of Nuccio Bertone! With a longer fin and higher wheel arches, without the "grilled" tail it looks much cleaner and sexier, slightly reminiscent of the BAT Alfas. Production of this model, which some of you might think unnecessary, was prompted by the disappointment (should I say disgust?) I felt when I saw a cheap model recently released, "based" on an older kit by a different manufacturer, that obviously tries to recreate this particular variations at zero cost, without any mold changes and just using a minimum of (wrong) decals. I love this little car, so I felt I had to put the things right! Read all about the Fiat-Abarth 750 Bertone, with photos and a list of records at http://ugofadini.com/abarthstory.html (page will be updated soon). NEW 16C Cooper streamliner, Avus 1953 F3 race, John Cooper winner, 1/43 scale handbuilt - Limited edition of 55 numbered - mounted on a signed white forex base
Price 232.00 euros. After setting records with at Montlhry and before it was sold to John Fox to run at Bonneville, the little Cooper streamliner "n.1" was also used in F3 racing a couple of times, with John Cooper himself st the wheel, and won! Read all about the Cooper streamliner, with photos and a list of records at http://ugofadini.com/cooperstory.html. Order yours now - direct orders take precedence! HAPPY COLLECTING! Ugo Fadini, Via G. Storlato 19, 35132 Padova, Italy, ph/fax +39.049.613755, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested in Land Speed Records? visit us at http://www.ugofadini.com
Members: Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Gale Banks, Glen Barrett, Lee Blaisdell, Jim Bremner, Warren Bullis, Gary Carmichael, John Chambard, Jerry Cornelison, G. Thatcher Darwin, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Bob Falcon, Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger, Don Garlits, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Andy Granatelli, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Ken Kelley, Mike Kelly, Bret Kepner, Kay Kimes, Jim Lattin, Mary Ann and Jack Lawford, Fred Lobello, Dick Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin, Bob McMillian, Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Bob Morton, Mark Morton, Paula Murphy, Louise Ann Noeth, Frank Oddo, David Parks, Richard Parks, Wally Parks (in memoriam), Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz, Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik, Frank Salzberg, Dave Seely, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, David Steele, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Zach Suhr, Pat Swanson, Al Teague, JD Tone, Jim Travis, Randy Travis, Jack Underwood and Tina Van Curen.