SOCIETY OF LANDSPEED RACING HISTORIANS Newsletter #24. Websites posting the newsletter are:
President's Corner: By Jim Miller.
1) Thank you for the warm welcome. I wouldn't have known about this group if it wasn't for my great
friend Landspeed Louise Noeth. Paula Murphy
2) Editor's notes: Reminder to our members. Doug Stokes is looking for photos of Shav Glick for a video
being created by Howie Zechner. If you can help Doug, he is at Stokes28@earthlink.net. "Howie Zechener
is doing the tribute film for Shav's Memorial and needs photos of the man...anyone out there got any?"
3) Thatcher Darwin sent me your emailed newsletters. Please add me to the list. I set the XF/VOT record
with Thatch's boat tailed special, called the Darwin Beetle in 2000 at Bonneville. Much to the chagrin of
the tech inspectors I went 118 mph. They were going to let me run the 'jalopy' because they thought it
would do about 70 mph. With wood floorboards and wood covered firewall they asked me not to bring
it back to the salt. I don't want to change the car to keep running there, so we just road race it. Dave
Seely Dave: Welcome to the group. Our main function is to write, photograph, research, conserve, preserve
and find museums for the collection of material on Land Speed Racing history and heritage. If you know of
museums in your area that would maintain an archives, please let us know.
4) Thank you for adding me to the list. I really appreciate the opportunity to be part of anything pertaining
to the history of land speed racing. I am only 25 years old, so I am a bit too young to have been a part of
all of this when it originated. But I have a strong interest and study every bit of information I can get my
hands on. Not only does it bring me great joy to read and learn of the past but it also helps me when
building cars, to make them as period correct and era specific as i can. I'm looking forward to reading the
newsletters and hopefully I'll have something to contribute somewhere along the line. Zach Suhr Zach:
We're delighted to have you as a member. We are a working group. Some of us research and write on the history
and heritage of land speed racing and its heritage. Some are photographers, publishers, editors and collectors.
You build cars. Some, like my brother are racers. Each and every person in our group adds knowledge that the
rest of us lack and so we build up a body of information that we can pass on. We are loosely affiliated with a lot
of groups and websites and in mentioning them and in turn, they mention us, we find strength. Our goal is to rescue
artifacts and store them in collections and museums. Then we can do the necessary research to photograph and
write and extend our knowledge.
Editorial: The Newsletter is scheduled to come out once a week on Wednesday, but sometimes the news,
research and submissions by our members neccessitates that I send it out more than once a week to keep the
backlog of material down to a minimum, or to expedite time sensitive news, like an obituary notice. I am learning
and adapting to my new computer system with the help of Roger Rohrdanz and others who graciously spend their
time to help me learn. Please understand that my skills with the computer go about as far as sending out emails,
though I am learning. We have 6 fine websites that post our newsletter. Please link them to your favorites and
encourage your friends and associates to do the same. If you have any ads to post in order to buy or sell some
merchandise, please consider these websites. Website operators often work on a shoestring budget and if they
meet expenses they are happy. They store our material and make it available to the general public and therefore
expand our outreach. From what I have seen, these websites offer ad rates way below that which the print
magazines offer and can be a real bargain. We also encourage you to use the print magazines where they can
help you, but the on-line websites offer us a great outlet. I think that I might be able to handle photos again.
Until then, scan and send your photos to our president, Jim Miller, who is very adept at recognizing and making
captions. It is imperative that we begin our Photo Project as soon as possible and get them on-line, or at least
make them available to our members so that we can identify everyone, plus the cars. It is vital that we do this,
because we are the last living generation that can possibly identify those that raced in the '30's, '40's and '50's.
There are very few left who can do that. Before my father died, I asked him about every photo I could find.
It was tiring for him and I wish I could have started years ago. Remember, the Society of Land Speed Racing
Historians was started to do research, preserve and store records and find a museum(s) to take artifacts donated
by the public. We have no problem with private collectors or those who buy and sell collectibles, as long as
they do it in a professional manner and document where they got the memorabilia, what it is and to whom they
sold it too. Our group was not formed to operate as an association of land speed racing memorabilia collectors.
Our goal is to preserve land speed racing and hot rod history and to promote that heritage. How well we do
that job will be reflected in how future generations think of us. Where we can we should make as many copies
of photos and written documents as possible and store them in different museums. We should donate materials
to museums where there is a professional curator on their payroll. One of our members, a man respected by
many, left our group because his interests were more in the collection and distribution and the writing of books.
It was his livelihood. We aren't against that. We don't want to strip you of your memorabilia. In fact, we
encourage our members to increase and protect their collections. What we are opposed to is the wide scale
loss of hot rodding and land speed memorabilia to the trash cans and dumps because widows and children
have no use for their father's or grandfather's prized possessions. We MUST give these families an alternative
option to simply throwing out precious artifacts in order to make room in their homes and garages. We also do
not want to discourage our members to only specialize in land speed racing or hot rodding. That is our stated
purpose, but many of you have participated in other types of racing and that is important too. You should keep
those sports alive in the same way that we protect and preserve land speed racing and hot rod history. We
do not want you to think that you have to do anything against your best interest, BUT we do want you to
understand that when we added HISTORIANS to our name that it implied that our purposes and goals are
serious and not frivolous. We are not benchracers with a desire to waste a Saturday afternoon reminiscing.
We have to be serious about what we do. That said, let me state again, that we have no dues, duties or any
particular responsibilities other than what each one of you decides to do. We are volunteers who love what
we are doing and that is why we exist.
5) As I understand it, Jim Miller continues to collect and archive photos for the (American Hot Rod)
foundation. I believe he will be doing interviews too. At present I am starting up a company called
Ironworks with David Steele. We're aiming to put on events, workshops and exhibitions as well as
tours for those interested in hot rod and racing culture. We are also looking to develop educational
automotive programs for kids around the country. At present we are developing the web site and
brand identity. Perhaps we can get together at the GNRS in January. Henry Astor Henry: Please
send us any news on your new company. It sounds very interesting. I plan to be at the Grand National
Roadster Show, at Pomona, in January. Hope to see you there.
6) (I've) been trying to remember that place's name. Could drive up to the door in a minute. Is it still there?
(There) used to be a favorite beer and brunch place in Victorville we used to habituate on El Mirage and
Rosamund trips. I think it's a convenience door run by unfriendly non-English speakers now! Cheers, Bob
Storck Bob: You bring up a good point. We concentrate on the cars and drivers, but forget the experiences
of the other facets of the dry lake and Bonneville trips, where we ate and lived while we were there. I remember
in 1949 that Dad and Mom took me to El Mirage and we went past miles of orange groves on a two lane road
through San Bernardino, which could have been the old route 66. We drove over the grapevine and just before
or after the turn-off to route 395, there was a gravel road that angled directly West. The highway to Las Vegas
was two lanes and narrow. Truckers wouldn't make it on that road. The gravel road was near the old highway
and the 395 highway and about 100 feet from the two highways there was an old wooden building that looked
like a small store and which may have sold sandwiches and drinks. I don't remember, but it could have sold gas
and oil there too. The gravel road lasted for about an eighth of a mile or less and became a dirt road. About a
mile later it became a rutted road, which gradually became a deeply rutted road and you could see where others
had left the road to make their own road across the sagebrush, which seemed risky to a five year old. We had
canvas bags for water and rope handles and they were draped across the old sedan that we were riding in. It
was hot and the evaporating water made the bags cool and fun to hold and play with. We would come across
desert tortoises quite frequently and many of the racers would take one home with them as pets and souvenirs.
We took one home once and Dad painted something on its shell. The neighborhood kids thought having a
16-inch tortoise a real treasure. Mom told me that the tortoise had dug its way under the fence and escaped and
I looked in the avocado fields for weeks, but couldn't find it. 30 years later my Dad and mom told me the truth.
The tortoise had dug under the concrete incinerator in the back yard and had been cooked after they burned their
trash one day. It's now illegal to remove desert tortoises from the desert as they are endangered, but back in the
1940's and '50's it was legal and quite common among the land speed racers and other spectators. Thousands
of tortoises were taken as pets and one can find a few of those tortoises today in back yards of racers who took
them decades ago. The road to El Mirage finally became so deeply rutted, about 8 to 12 inches or more that Dad
would veer off to the new roads being made and it seemed to take about 4 hours to reach the lakebed. We left
the Los Angeles area long before dawn and reached the El Cajon Pass just after daybreak. We probably reached
El Mirage around noon. Once we got to the lake Dad would open up and speed across the lake until we got
close to where the other cars were parked, in circles, all bunched up together in a tight formation. Everyone was
busy talking, working on cars, with a few practice runs and the ladies were in the wooden tower stands or making
food for the guys. That night it was cold and some people were sleeping in their cars, but they gave me a heavy
blanket and the trick was to roll up in it and put a rolled up jacket for a pillow. It was too cold for that and we
all wore jackets. Most people just had tshirts, jeans and jackets, but a few wore slacks and dress shirts. There
was no standard apparel. I was warned not to walk around at night and I could hear, but not see cars on the
lakebed. The stars were clear, sharp and in vast numbers. They literally lit up the sky. There were no buildings,
towns, houses or lights in the distance for as far as one could see. If there were buildings or roads, I did not see
them. We were as far from civilization as humanly possible. In the morning there was the smell of eggs, bacon
and coffee everywhere and just after dawn the cars started to race down the course. I hadn't noticed a lot of cars
on Saturday, but on Sunday there were huges lines of cars waiting to run and they went pretty quickly, one car
after another and it seemed to me that the cars were fast. In the afternoon, as the sun got terribly hot and people
barely moved, there was a hush, an eerie silence and then the men began running for their cars and took off down
the lake and the women put their hands over their mouths and look worried. One of them said that a roadster had
turned on its side or went completely over and the driver was dead. For some time there was no racing and I
can't remember whether they did any more racing after that. The whole attitude of the people changed. I remem-
ber the ride home, because my mother, who was usually cheerful, happy and talkative was very quiet and that was
unsettling. As long as we heard her we knew things were going well. Dad was almost always quiet and pensive
and spoke only if there was something to say. Mom was an expert whistler and on the way up she would some-
times whistle. I watched the ruts again and how Dad would ride the tops of them almost as if it was a game to
him. He found a tortoise and we stopped and picked it up and he turned it on its back and brought it home, the
one that baked in the pit years later. We also stopped at a friend's ranch in San Bernardino, who grew orange
trees and Dad got two small Eucalyptus trees in pots from him to replant at our Downey home. I never knew who
the man's name was that crashed (1949 I believe) or whether he died or pulled through. We got home long after
dark, for in those days the cars and roads weren't capable of going much faster than 45 mph, though I think Dad
was doing 50 mph. If that's the building you were thinking about, I saw it back then.
Members: Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Glen Barrett, Lee Blaisdell, Warren Bullis, Gary Carmichael,
Jerry Cornelison, G. Thatcher Darwin, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Robert Falcon, Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger,
Don Garlits, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Andy Granatelli, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Ken Kelley, Mike Kelly,
Jim Lattin, Mary Ann and Jack Lawford, Fred Lobello, Dick Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin,
Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Mark Morton, Paula Murphy, Louise Ann Noeth, David Parks, Richard
Parks, Wally Parks (in memoriam), Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz, Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik,
Frank Salzberg, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, David Steele, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Zach Suhr, Pat Swanson,
Al Teague, JD Tone and Jack Underwood.