SOCIETY OF LANDSPEED RACING HISTORIANS Newsletter #27. Websites posting the newsletter are:
President's Corner: By Jim Miller.
This is the second go-around with trying to put down a few words about our sport. I had a nice recap of the
November lakes meet and a few words about Ray Brown when I hit the wrong button and lost it all in computer
neverland. Oh well. I don't know how many knew that Ray Brown was on the board of directors of the AHRF
(American Hot Rod Foundation) and was instrumental in it growth in the early days. He was always ready to help
and lent us many of his shots and documents. He will be missed. Ray built his first real hot rod while working for
Eddie Meyer before he left to start his own business. The '32 he built was seen at the lakes and on magazine
covers and is now at the Petersen Automobile Museum. His next, a rear-engined '27 set records at the lakes and
had many unique design features that many people copied for years. He then got George Castera's bellytank at
a hot rod show auction for $75 and proceded to make the flathead "History" when he installed a Chrysler in it.
An epic duel between Ray and Alex Xydias at Bonneville caused the So-Cal founder to put a sign in the the rear
window of his pickup that said "The Flathead is Dead." Yep, Ray killed the flathead as a viable race motor. Next
up was more trouble from the man when he built a Chrysler for Guy Maybee's sports car. It went 203.10 mph in
'53. WOW! Ray was the seatbelt King before we even knew what they were and an aftermarket/OEM wheel
King to boot. He's touched us all and we don't know it. Thanks Ray! In the last newsletter a Mr. Suhr asked
about Duke Hallock windshields and thought his car had one originally. This may or may not be true. I'd like to
make an observation. I recently had a chance to look at some documents from a pre-WWII lakes racing club
and the thing that really struck me was the members ages. They were for the most part 16 to maybe 20 years
old. Yeah, there were a few old guys in their mid-20's and some even older but most were still in school. Sure,
George DuVall and Duke Hallock made some windshields but nobody really knows how many and there were
some good ones off boats too. But how many kids making 25-35 cents an hour working in a gas station could
go out and buy one of these new? Fast foreward to the promo shots taken for the first Hot Rod Expo in '48
with all the roadsters in it. Look closely and you will notice that all the windshields were different. Was that
because there was no speed equipment industry or many places to go to buy one even if they were produced?
No, most car crazy kids in the thirties until the early '50's grew up with a depression mentality. That means if
you wanted a chopped or special windshield you'd do it yourself or ask a friend for help. That's why junkyards
were invented. The photos show Ray Brown's tank on the mountain top courtesy AHRF/Mario Baffico, Rays
'27 in build stage courtesy AHRF/Ray Brown and a roadster with possibly a Hallock windshield with Dolphin
member and future racing legend Chuck Daigh, courtesy AHRF/Robert E. Petersen.
Editor's notes: We need a story and update on Ray Brown's funeral and on the recent SCTA El Mirage meet.
1) Just finished a great story about the lakes and Ray Brown and was attaching a picture when I hit the
wrong button and lost the whole thing. HELP! Here is another try at a story. Attached are three pictures.
I'm also sending the pix to Mary Ann for attachment if you can't. Jim Miller Jim: Notice that the editor
ruthlessly passes on all emails, even of an embarrassing nature? No, readers, he is not crass. I have done what
Jim has done so often that I no longer cuss at the machine. The purpose for running the letter is simply to remind
us all that mistakes are made and we are human, and to get right back on the keyboard and finish what we started.
Thanks, Jim, for being so patient. You make a great president. Also, thank you for sending the photos right on
to Mary Ann Lawford at www.hotrodhotline.com. Don't forget to send photos to Evelyn Roth's www.oilstick.com
and the other 4 websites that carry our Society's newsletter. Another reason why I printed this letter is to let the
readers know that the 6 websites listed on our letterhead exist to serve the public and you should ALL write to
them and encourage them. How we serve the websites is to furnish them with material and refer as many ads
as we can to them to help them offset their costs and perhaps make enough to stay in business. Websites are
our future as a Society, if we are to grow and prosper.
Editorial: Recently there were a few letters where the writers disagreed. I also respond back to those who
contribute to the newsletter, when I can, and we do discuss various topics. I have long conversations on the
phone with Jim Miller. We often find areas where our interpretations disagree. The SLSRH is supposed to be
a scholarly group. Each of you witnessed history, made history and are recording that history. Some of our
members are writers, photographers, racers, racing administrators, and journalists. All of us are fans of land
speed racing and hot rodding. Since our goals include the recording and preservation of artifacts and history, it
is imperative that we tell what we saw. There will be conflicts, because that is the nature of research in any field.
We all saw things in our own perspective and from different angles. Disagreement is the process by which we
work out what happened and why it happened. A few people have told me that such disagreements are divisive.
They are not. If all of us agree, without exception, then there is something fundamentally flawed in how we reach
the truth. We start with documents and eye-witness testimony and compile as much data as we can. Then we
look at where our facts agree and where they diverge and begin to try and make sense of it all. Slowly a
consensus forms around a particular belief and that becomes accepted. But we must always be willing to change
our views as new and more substantial evidence comes to light. There are some things that I have accepted since
childhood that I must now review and change because of new information. As the editor of the Newsletter, I will
prod and push each and every member to contribute. The editor must allow all points of view and opinion to air,
but to keep such discussions from becoming contentious. We are not a blog. It is perfectly acceptable to state
views and back them up with fact, but disagreements should be scholarly in tone, because what we are trying to
achieve is knowledge. The SLSRH cannot prosper if its members do not write in and share their experiences.
We have some great members who were there in the very beginnings of dry lakes and Bonneville racing and we
need their stories. There are plans afoot to create a library and printing arm of the society. It will be modest and
the intent is not to make profits, but to record histories. So go to your computers and start on your life stories.
2) I printed a copy of all the newsletters. I took them over to Jim Travis yesterday to share them with him.
I told him that I would give future copies to him also. That guy has a lot of stories in his head. Someday
we should get them from him. Regards and Happy Thanksgiving, Kay Kimes Kay: Thank you for doing
that. Travis is affectionately called THE ABO for Australian Aborigine when he went down to Australia for the
1995 Thunder Down Under. He has a long history in both circle and land speed racing and has restored a lot of
cars. His son Randy Travis and his dog Serena (sic) often accompany Jim on his trips and reunions. Travis has
a lot of history with a lot of people, including Mickey Thompson and his son Danny. He has restored at least two
Thompson cars and Dad's Suddenly for the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona. He recently
took Mickey Thompson's Pumpkin Seed and lengthened it by about 2 feet and it is able to race at Bonneville. I
have been nagging Travis to get a computer and join the modern era, but he flatly refuses to on the grounds that
it's too much work and that "they haven't perfected the darn thing yet." Who's to argue that with him?
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,
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, 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.