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SOCIETY OF LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS NEWSLETTER #37. Websites posting the newsletter are:
 www.oilstick.com, www.landspeedproductions.biz, http://www.landracing.com, www.speedrecordclub.com, http://www.ahrf.com/video.php,
www.hotrodhotline.com, www.landspeedracing.com.
(To see the photos that accompany the
newsletter go to www.Landspeedracing.com )

President's Corner: By Jim Miller.

I think outside the box most of the time and especially when it comes to digging for car info. In one of my past lives I used to go to Paper shows, you know old magazines, posters that kind of thing. It also led to stamp and postcard shows. You don't find many car guys at places like these so the pickings were pretty good plus it was before computers and e-bay so you could see what you were getting and do a little haggling.
 A case in point are some English cigarette cards from a 1938 series titled "Speed" that included some land speed racers. I've attached them for you to look at. Captions were on the back describing the cars and it makes for interesting reading. I've also included one featuring a Mercedes-Benz W125 Grand Prix Car since its chassis was used with a streamlined body for runs on the Autobahnenat with speeds up to 248 mph. Card 16 of the set titled "Flying Spray" reads- Captain Eyston is a great believer in the future of the heavy-oil engine and demonstrated on Flying Spray the potential of this type. In 1936 he beat the World speed record for Diesel-engined cars with a mean speed over the flying kilometer of 159.1 mph and over the flying start mile at 158.87 mph.

His visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1937 was remarkable for the fact that he took two cars with him and successfully attacked different records with both of them, thus completing the speed "hat trick." In appearance the car is very like his famous long distance record breaker,
Speed of the Wind. The driver sits well back behind the big bonnet which houses the 17-litre engine. Card 18 of the set titled "Mormon Meteor" reads; During a 24-hour run on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, Mormon Meteor driven by the American, Ab Jenkins, averaged 157.27 mph thus beating 14 World long distance records and 115 class records. The car is equipped with a 12-cylinder air-cooled engine of 720 h.p. and weighs 2 1/2 tons.

Streamlining is obtained by cowling, but apart from the tiny cowl in front of the driver's face, there is very little protection and Jenkins has to wear a very tight-fitting helmet to prevent the wind "clawing." Ab Jenkins is credited with very valuable knowledge of the dried-up lake at Bonneville, now reguarded as the World's premier speed track. He is usually on the spot to challenge any British driver who essays to beat his long-distance records. Card 22 of the set titled "Mercedes-Benz" reads; With the possible exception of Tazio Nuvalari, his great Italian rival, Rudolf Caracciola is the best known of all road racing motorists. For years he has been the accepted leader of the triumphant German team, whose successful entry into the racing game he initated by winning the Royal Automobile Club's Tourist Trophy Race in Northern Ireland, September, 1929.

 His car, strikingly eloquent of power, with its workmanlike body and 6,000 c.c. engine, has a remarkable record of achievement behind it. In 1937 he won the Italian Grand Prix averaging an astounding speed of 81.95 mph, and in the same year he won the German and Swiss Grand Prix races and the German Mountain Championship. Next up is an old postcard from before WWI showing four cars in a match race at Oramond/Daytona Beach (Ormond Beach ?). I have no clue to the exact date or who the racers are.

 It is we historians who have to find the answers. Back-tracking a little, here's something to go with the Jenkins card. It's a drawing for the techies and model builders from a '34 first edition Curtis-Wright Conqueror Aviation Engine instruction book of the front of the engine that powered the Duesenberg built record car. To end my ramblings for this issue I'll touch on another facet of land speed racing. Roundy round track records. I look back at the AAA and they sanctioned all kinds of speed events on circle tracks in the states and the FIA did the same in Europe. From one lap to driving in circles for days. Here's a newspaper clipping from my collection with a date of June 14, 1928.

It relates the story of one George Stewart, aka Leon Duray who took his front drive Miller 91, the sixth one made, to the Packard Motor Company's just finished proving grounds outside Utica, Michigan for the track's inauguration. He proceded to set a new World closed circuit record of 148 mph that stood until 1934 when an Auto Union broke it at the new Avus track near Berlin. Leon had set a new track record at Indy two weeks earlier with the 91 at 122 mph and it wasn't beaten until 1937. The car went on to gain more fame as the Packard cable Special but that's another story. Have some bubbly and a Happy New Year.  

To see the photos that go with this newsletter go to www.Landspeedracing.com 


1) Although an LSR attempt was never made with Bill Frederick's Valkyrie J-46 jet car, the Valkyrie went on to have a long drag racing career under several owners, including Mickey Thompson. In 1962, the Valkyrie was driven at Long Beach by Gary Gabelich against Romeo Palamides' Untouchable in the first all jet drag race. In 1964 the car that broke Breedlove's 407 mph record was Walt Arfons' Wingfoot Express J-46 car. The attached black and white photos were shot in November 1974 at Orlando Speedworld. The color photos were taken at Lakeland in February 1977. Sincerely, Franklin Ratliff (sent in by Doug Stokes)


2) Please add Mike Bastian to your list. Mike is the GM of a heat treating concern located in South Gate and has been involved with a Vintage Drag Fueler running in the Nostalgia events. His shop provides heat treating service to many of people involved in racing from Thursday Night Door Slammers to Formula One. Thanks, Bob Falcon Bob and Mike: Welcome to the SLSRH Newsletter.

3) Attached are photos of the Valkyrie/U.S. 1 and another J-46 car, Doug Rose's Green Mamba, shot at the Bradenton dragstrip on December 1, 1985. So, 23 years after Gary Gabelich drove the Valkyrie at Long Beach in the first side-by-side jet race, here was Fred Sibley driving that same car in what was, in all probability, one of the last drag races between old school jet cars. Outside of Bob Motz J-79 truck, these two jets remain the most powerful cars I have ever seen. Sincerely, Franklin Ratliff


Editor's notes: Landspeed Louise Ann Noeth sent in a request to ask if it would be alright to discuss her book in the Newsletter. The policy of the Newsletter is to encourage everyone in land speed racing and hot rodding to contribute what they have done concerning the history and heritage of our sport. We are glad to give Louise some space here in the newsletter. I've written a book review on her book and it ranks as one of the best books ever done on land speed racing. It is one of those books that you start a library around it. The type of book that relates to all the other books out there on the market. The Society of Land Speed Racing Historians hopes to encourage all of you to write, photograph and leave your mark on our sport.

We are looking into ways to help you self-publish your own works on land speed racing and hot rodding. Many of our members are successful authors and have written many fine books and as we come across them we will do reviews for all of them. Don Montgomery has finished and self-published eight books so far and each one of them is crucial and central to our history. We will accept all books and reviews here in the Newsletter and give you all the publicity that we can, for a book that is unsold does us no good. A book in someone's library is what we are aiming for. There is a possibility that the society will have its own funding and be able to assist in finding publishers and printers who will take on your projects.

While Landspeed Louise is a professional writer and her works are of the highest caliber, that does not mean that we don't find value in your albums and artifacts. You can take what you have, your photographs, memories and scanned research collections and turn them into a book or booklet and we will help you find sources to assist you. Don't worry about whether you are a professional writer or photographer, it is the CONTENT that is important, not whether you are adept at writing skills. What you have to say is vitally important and the Society and its Newsletter stands behind your efforts to publish. The costs are not as high nor as threatening as you might think. It is the publicity and sales network that is difficult, but we have contacts and we will make them available to you.


4) Some time back, you asked for details on LSR books. I hesitated in responding because in the summer of 2007 Motorbooks International informed me that it would allow my book: Bonneville the Fastest Place on Earth to go out of print after 6 printings. No amount of negotiation could change their mind, so I opted to buy every blessed copy in their inventory over the new couple months. There must have been some magic in the buying strategy, because 1,500 copies were delivered to the warehouse in late November. That means the book has one last fling in this, its seventh printing since 1999.

 I am grateful for the reprieve but recognize that unless sales are brisk, the book will go out of print in 2008. When that happens, it is my intention to regain the copyright to all materials, update the book to include the last decade, add a DVD and republish on my own. Until than, I offer the following background on the book more for new folks coming into the sport, than the many august folks who have populated the sport for decades. No one is more stunned at the success of this book's appeal than I. That many, many thousands of copies are on shelves around the world still staggers my consciousness and humbles me to know so many appreciate the work, considering all I did was thread together a story of many people and events at one special place. Lucky me to have been given the chance to do so. There are two different books: hard cover and soft cover. Bonneville - The Fastest Place on Earth, Bonneville Salt Flats HARD COVER/SOLD OUT. Limited slipcase edition SOLD OUT. ISBN # 0-7603-1372-5, 156 pages/125 color and 50 b&w photos. James A. Valentine Award, 2002 Society of Automotive Historians, "Excellence in automotive Research." Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame, 2001 "Historian of the Year." International Automotive Journalism Conference 2000 Silver Medallion Award - Presented for "Excellence in Automotive Writing,

Photography and Historical Accuracy." Classic & Sports Car Magazine 2000 "Book of the Month." Autographed soft cover copies are available for $37. Send check or money order to: LandSpeed Productions, 1761 Dwight Avenue, Camarillo, CA 93010. Allow 4 weeks for delivery. This book is the first of its kind to compile the 102-year racing history of the famed Bonneville Salt Flats. From 1896 to 1998, the book chronicles the efforts of straight-line and endurance record setting on the salt. Tracing the origins of land speed racing all the way back to when a couple horn-rimmed bicycle rallyists made their way over the 22-mile desolate stretch of salt pancake, to the blistering 409 mph world record laid out by a hand-crafted streamlined race car, the story is more than just a tribute to racing machines, it reveals a rich, utterly American slice of life. More than "The Right Stuff," salt racers are "The Real Stuff," people who you are glad to know and marvel at how much they accomplish with so little resources. Salt racers are a mechanized, modern day embodiment of the old west, a family affair where three generations routinely trip the timing lights over 200 mile-per-hour, a sport where age, money and status is relatively meaningless and going as fast as you can means everything! Testimonials: "Books about Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats are nothing new, until this one.

" Shave Glick, Motorsports Columnist, Los Angeles Times. "LandSpeed Louise has captured the essence of what is magical in the salt's many attractions for special breed of automotive experimenters . . .(we) are deeply indebted to author Noeth for her preservation of that awesome history." Wally Parks, founder and Chairman, National Hot Rod Association. "This is a great book, I really enjoyed it." Jay Leno, Tonight Show Host, NBC-TV. "The book does full justice to the little guys who invade Bonneville every August; it is rich in human stories . . ." Mick Walsh, Editor, Classic & Sports Car, UK. "Fascinating Reading . . ." Popular Mechanics Magazine. "The best book ever written about the salt . . . even if you are not a land speed fan, this book makes for great reading." Jeff Smith, Editor, Chevy High Performance. "Louise digs into the heart of the matter . . . a touch of magic." Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. "This new book makes up for what has been lacking; it is well-researched and beautifully printed, one you'll want to own." Albert Drake, Author and Reviewer, Old Cars Weekly. "Louise Ann Noeth has captured the unique flavor of this extreme edge of the motorsports world." RACER! Magazine, December 2000. "A masterful job of digging into the personalities and the amazing speed machines . . ." Edward R. Noble, Wheels Section Editor, The Oakland Press. "A labor of love, and could not be duplicated or matched by anyone. . . certainly a gift that you have given us all . . . lasting contributions to the automotive world." Dale Moreau, Street Rodder Magazine.


Editor's notes: Articles, comments and other written works should be sent to me here at the Newsletter. You can send photographs and scanned materials, but I haven't learned how to use my new system to send it on to the websites. You should send scanned documents and photographs directly to the websites. Please include captions along with the photos so that there is an explanation for the readers. Please remember to support our websites. They offer their services and help by giving us a forum to express our ideas, but they need sponsorship in the form of ads in order to pay their expenses and keep their sites on-air. If you have a business, please advertise with our website operators.


5) Gone Racin' with the Berardini Brothers. Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz

Pat and Tony Berardini raced in the early days of drag racing in the early 1950's, establishing a reputation for skill, speed and consistency. Their parents, Carlo and Philomena Berardini, emigrated from Italy before WWI and settled in Southwest Los Angeles near 80th Street and Avalon Boulevard where their children attended elementary school and then on to Fremont High School. Tony was born in 1915, Pat in 1927, followed by two more brothers and a sister. Carlo encouraged his sons to work hard and Pat began working for Pontrelli's Automotive at the age of 10, sweeping up floors and learning the trade. This was during the height of the Great Depression and any job was highly sought after. The neighborhood teens met over at the Clock Drive-In, in Huntington Park, where they swapped tales of fast hot rods and what was going on at the dry lakes and on the streets. Pat was already skilled at custom car work and auto painting when WWII broke out and was anxious to do his part.
He joined the Merchant Marines in 1945, when he turned 17. A young George Barris took the job he left behind at Jones' Body, Fender and Custom Shop. Pat recalls the trip to the Philippines, "we were anchored offshore at Leyte Gulf, unloading war cargo, when news of the Japanese surrender came, after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Everybody was so happy that night. All the ships anchored in the Leyte Gulf turned on their largest searchlights and some were also blinking in Morse code 'V' for victory with their lights. It was a sight to see. There were a lot of happy tears." He would never forget that night. Pat returned home and joined the Navy for two more years with a couple of his buddies. He went to San Diego for his training, and was then transferred to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, one of the roughest duties in the Navy. The weather was always bad and the seas were rough. He served aboard the USS SARSI ATF 111, a 205-foot fleet tug, and one of his favorite duties was steering the ship in and out of port. The USS SARSI towed ships, and did repair work on all types of Navy and cargo vessels. He was honorably discharged in December of 1947.
Pat dreamed about opening his own custom body and paint shop and drew a picture of that shop while he was in the Navy, which he still has hanging in his home. He opened his auto sales business in 1949 with his brother Tony in southwest Los Angeles, at 84th and Figueroa Streets. They specialized in early model Fords from 1932 through 1940. Pat did the repairing and painting and the business was a success from the start. When he was ten years old, his brother Tony had bought a '29 Ford Roadster, and painted flames in black and white, and the #3 on the doors. Remembering that car, Pat purchased a '32 Ford roadster and painted his '32 racecar to match Tony's earlier roadster. It had a 270 C.I. engine with two carburetors and turned times in the middle to high 90's. Howard Johansen, of Howard Cams, built his next engine in 1952.
Johansen increased the engine to 296 C.I. with 3 carburetors, and the speeds increased to 105 mph. In the latter part of 1953, Iskenderian came out with a new cam named the 404. He renamed his car the 404jr in honor of Isky's new cam and for his son Pat Jr. Pat got Nick Harrell of Harrell Speed Shop to build the engine for the 404jr. It had a 3/8 bore, 5/8 stroke billet crank, Harrell racing heads, Edelbrock 4 carburetor intake manifold, Harman/Collins magneto and a 314 cubic inch engine. They turned speeds in the 107 to 114 mph range, but the car was super quick and the set-up gave them a quicker ET (elapsed time). The 404jr raced very successfully in the street roadster gas class. Pat entered a big meet in 1954 at the Bakersfield Open Gas Roadster Meet, in the gas open-altered class. It was one of the biggest races ever up to that time in the gas class, and to be competitive, they stripped the fenders off to make it lighter and to improve wind resistance. Tony was the over-all winner against cars that were much lighter. Tony wanted his own racecar so he bought a '29 Ford roadster to race in the open altered gas class. He used the same size engine as Pat used for the 404jr and painted #7 on the doors, and the Berardini brothers now had two very fast drag roadsters. Dick Lenarz, Russ Lenarz, Vic Pollaccia and Al Pollaccia were their pit crew and close friends.

The Berardini Brothers raced for the thrill of racing. Almost every Sunday they raced at Santa Ana, Saugus or other drag strips, winning about 80 percent of their races. One competitor told them, "the only time we beat you was when you didn't show up." The Berardini brothers show up in the race results of the early 1950's, dominating their classes. They raced against Creighton Hunter, who had a very hot roadster and was always first off the line. In the hot fuel classes there were such names as Ollie Morris, the Bean Bandits, Chrisman Brothers, Dick Kraft, Otto Ryssman and Doug Hartelt. By the mid-1950's change was on the horizon. Don Bell, a good friend of the brothers, was fatally injured at El Mirage dry lake, using their 404jr engine. With their business booming and their families growing they sold their racecars and moved out of the Los Angeles area to Garden Grove, California. After 40 years in the business, Pat finally closed down Berardini Brothers Auto Sales in 1990.
They were honored at the 12th Annual California Hot Rod Reunion in October of 2003, with the very first NHRA Golden Age Award in recognition of their "dedication, innovation and achievement during the infancy of organized drag racing." Roger and Sissy Morrison, who restored and unveiled this famous car at the NHRA museum, in January 2005, now own Pat's beloved 404jr. The 404jr was awarded the prestigious Bruce Meyer Award at the Grand National Roadster Show. The 404jr was also picked to be one of Ford Motor Company's 75 Most Significant '32 Ford Hot Rods. "I was lucky I didn't get killed," said Pat. "Someone said I wasn't going fast enough, so I shoved my foot all the way into the plywood floorboard and it got stuck, and I was way past the finish line before I hit the kill switch." Tony has since passed away, but Pat is still active in the hot rodding community. Gone Racin' is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM (www.oilstick.com)


Members: Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Gale Banks, Glen Barrett, Mike Bastian, Lee Blaisdell, Jim Bremner, Warren Bullis, George Callaway, 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, Richard Venza.


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