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SOCIETY OF LANDSPEED RACING HISTORIANS Newsletter #31.  Websites posting the newsletter are:
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President's Corner: By Jim Miller. 
      The last couple of weeks I've been trying to put some of my toys on the road since the city doesn't like
  them in the back yard.  One in particular is a '40's-50's creation that gets me to thinking what how lucky
  the World is to have land speed racers on the planet.  The story starts in the mid to late '30.  At that time
  you could go out and get some junker Model-A for $25 and turn it into a real Gow Job with a little
  imagination.  At that time if you wanted parts for your car you would go down to Valley Boulevard near
  old Legion Ascot and scrounge the wrecking yards for parts.  They were full of Fords, Chevy's and tons
  of cars you've probably never heard of that were just ripe for the picking.  A Jowett oil pump, a Franklin
  steering box, a Chrysler front axle, a Star chassis, the list is long.  Some things you couldn't buy so you
  did the next best thing, you acquire new skills and made them yourself.  Some guys didn't have a lot of
  skills and some did and soon everybody was trading ideas and skills.  They call that networking today.
  Look at Bob Rufi for example, he needed some welding done on his land speed car chassis so he traded
  his woodworking skills for it.  Soon it was off to WWII and then back to civilization with newly acquired
  skills and a zillion ideas on how to make a car go faster.  This dare to be different story continues with
  a trip to Colorado Auto Salvage in Santa Monica to acquire a chassis for a new breed of rod called a
  sports car.  Two doner Studie chassis were soon cloned together with the back half flopped like an
  underslung.  All this is happening at the same time as Stu Hilborn's car is being rebuilt in the front yard
  after its crash and a second project called a streamliner, later known as a lakester was in the works
  under a tarp slung off the side of the house.  There were no speed parts for the Pontiac 6 engine that
  was to power the racer so it's off to night school at Santa Monica City College courtesy of the GI Bill to
  take pattern making and get the materials for free.  The racer got finished and a cover on Hot Rod so
  then it was back to the sporty car.  The engine picked for it was another flathead 6 this time from a
  Studebaker.  Hey, anybody could build a Ford flattie.  This time no pattern making school, it was all
  done in the garage mentality.  Grab some pine blocks, put a router bit in the drill press and you're
  making patterns and coreboxes.  There has to be something sicko about a land speed racer who takes
  his newly cast head and a spare engine block and saws them into little pieces to check for core shifts.
  It's early '53 now and the chassis, all aluminum body, engine etc. are almost finished when this English-
  man called Donald Healey unleashes his new production sports car.  It's as if some industrial spy had
  taken this homebuilt in the works for five years design and given it to the Brits to produce.  The car
  was sold in disgust but the engine wasn't part of the deal.  Meanwhile cars took a little backseat for a
  couple of years as our racer was outfitting the first Bell 500 copters with rockets and machine guns for
  Frank Pachmayer.  Before you know it the old hobby bug hit again and hot rod Gyrocopters were on
  tap.  Two were made and talks with Naval Air through Jimmy Doolittle were underway when a testing
  accident ended the deal.  It was time to rejoin the car world so after driving by the same car lot for
  weeks on end with one saying buy me a stop was finally made.  The dealer sadly explained that the car
  was almost new but there was something wrong with it and nobody would but it.  That something turned
  out to be a blown engine.  A deal was made and the Austin-Healey BN1 was bought for $500.  Needless
  to say it was Payback time and the car would morph into a kick-ass hot rod/custom.  That's where I come
  into the story.  It was my job to disassemble the low-mileage two year old car.  Not just take it apart to
  drop in the still on the bench Studie with the home-made head but to strip it down completely, every last
  nut and bolt.  Sand all traces of paint from he body.  Build it hot rod style.  Get rid of all that metric stuff.
  Five years later in '62 my high school buddy painted it metalic blue lacquer.  What a car!  It has over
  60,000 miles on her when it went through another rebuild starting in the mid-'80's.  It never really got
  finished again due to bad health and finally death in '97.  It's sat for ten years now and if I'm lucky it
  will be a driver in two more days.  Some of the car's features are: Cylinder head with eight water
  outlets on top that looks like something off an Offy, tubular intake manifold with three carbs with
  balance tubes, pancake carb scoops, two into one exhaust manifold, eight quart oil pan with internal
  baffles, three speed transmission with top mounted shift mechanism, double overdrive units giving nine
  foreward speeds, the nose of the car has been reworked to look Italian and has horizontal grill bars, side
  vents in front fenders with inserts that match grill, windshield posts made from Model-A wishbones,
  scratch built dashboard with recessed panel filled with eight Stewart-Warner gages, tuck and roll
  interior, roll-up windows, chrome side trim, '49 Chevy tailights, messaged deck lid with internal hinges
  and latch.  Yeah, it's a real hot rod built from the mind of a pre-war lakes racer that said if I can dream
  it, I can build it.
1) Brian Taylor is writing the history of British drag racing and will be published by Haynes Publishing
  in 2009 under the title Crazy Horses Ė British Drag Racingís Heritage.  The Foreword of the book will be
  written by none other than Don Garlits and the book will be available all over the world.  Please read
  The following American drag racers either raced/tuned cars/bikes at the Dragfests or Santa Pod Raceway. 
  If you have their email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, etc could you please send them to me
  at nitromaniac@blueyonder.co.uk   I'II forward them to Brian Taylor.  Or send them directly to Brian at
  brian@petrolhead.vianw.co.uk, Thanks, John Hutchinson, Gateshead, England  (Al Ekstrand, Al Segrini, 
  Bill Jenkins, Bill Schultz, Bill Woods, Buddy Cortines, Danny Johnson, Don Hyland, Don Prudhomme,
  Doug Church, Kim LaHaie, K. S. Pittman, Larry Arnold, "Ohio" George Montgomery, Raymond Beadle,
  Tom Christansen, Tom Hoover)
   Readers: If anyone has an email address that they would like to share with
  John Hutchinson or Brian Taylor, please send them a response.  It should be a fascinating book to read.
2) Gone Raciní to the Arias Piston Company, Story by Richard Parks, photographs by Roger Rohrdanz
      Arias Piston Company is located in Gardena, California, and has a long and well-known reputation for
  quality and performance. We met with Fred Blanchard, who is the sales manager for Nick Arias Jr Racing
  Components, a separate research and development firm next door to the piston manufacturing plant.
  Fred is very outgoing and loves to talk about all the new engines and racing components that Nick Arias
  Jr and he are working on. He showed us around the shop and pointed to the work they are doing. The tour
  was fast and informative and we marveled at all the research. We finally met the man behind the name,
  Nick Arias Jr, as he was busy putting together a new engine. "A lot of the technology was done a long time
  ago," said Nick. "The internal combustion engine has seen a lot of new changes, but the concept is quite
  old." He then showed us some of his adaptations, and we struggled to keep up with him. Arias has a solid
  reputation in the speed performance industry for his innovative ideas and creativity. Not all of his ideas
  become big sellers as he admits, because the racing world is constantly creating new and better ways to
  enhance performance and by the time a block or parts make it to market, someone else has come up with
  a better way. But you can see that the competition to excel keeps both Nick and Fred enthusiastic for
  what they do. Nick calls himself a redesigner, and gets his ideas from the requests that his friends and
  clients bring to him. Shelf after shelf held engine parts that he has created to solve performance problems.
     Arias designed a hemispherical head to fit a Chevy block and in doing so brought the hemispherical
  performance to the Chevy racer, allowing them to compete successfully with the famous Hemi Chrysler
  engines. It is for this loyalty to the Chevy block that they call Arias "Mr Chevrolet," although he never
  did get the Detroit Automaker to back his ideas. The new 540 c.i. Arias Hemispherical-Chevy crate engine
  can be purchased in parts or as a finished engine and is comparable to other high performance crate
  engines in price. The engine uses a World Products block, Arias raised port manifold, Arias pistons, dual
  quad carburetors, Arias hemispherical cylinder heads, Milodon pan, Herbert cam, and Iskenderian lifters.
  The engine is 30" wide by 30" inches long. I got plenty of laughter when I asked for the height. Itís a new
  design, but ten engines have been sold, and Arias took two inquiries while we were there. He ran his
  fingers along the block and heads and explained more details than I could possibly write down. He then
  picked up some pistons and explained the forging process they go through. "We have always used forged
  pistons," he said. Blanchard added that the blanks that come from the foundries are sold to all of the
  pistons companies, "but it is the knowledge and experience in processing and milling them that create
  the quality, and separate us from our competitors."
      Fred took us over to the Piston Company, next door. There to meet us was Carmen, Nickís daughter,
  who was in charge of the piston business. She told us that the company is a mid-sized manufacturing
  company that is family owned and operated. Beeri Meza is the General Manager and rose from a machine
  operator to control of operations of the Piston manufacturing department. Carmen told us that the
  company has 40 employees and always has a backlog of orders to keep them constantly busy. She
  introduced me to Steve Montrelli, Domestic Piston Sales, Fuel and Alcohol Consultant of the Piston
  operations. Steve has known and worked with the Arias family since the heyday of early drag racing. It
  is the Montrelli Racing Engines that are the core of the Arias Performance parts division. Montrelliís
  engine building experience was a key reason why Carmen urged Montrelli to come out of retirement and
  rejoin the business. Montrelli encourages racers to call him with questions about the performance of their
  cars. He has the ability to diagnose the problem over the phone and loves that part of his job. Montrelli
  has worked with and for Johnny Wright, Dale Pulde, Danny Ongais Henry Harrison, Don Schumacher,
  Gene Conway, Tom Barrett, Pat Foster and others.
      The piston manufacturing plant has around 20 CNC machines, but was empty during lunch. Photos
  werenít allowed due to the proprietary nature of the techniques and methods that Arias Pistons employs
  in making their products. Carmen mentioned that their company is in the top 5 in performance piston
  products, and perhaps in the top 3 in sales, but they take a backseat to no one when it comes to quality.
  Their quality control, inventory and tracking usage is extraordinary. If you have the number stamped on
  the piston you can call the company and they can tell you everything about the piston and what the part
  was made for and what conditions it will tolerate. Blanchard added, "We are not a mass producer, we
  are a custom shop that makes high performance parts with the highest quality materials, with the highest
  degree of knowledge and skill." Nick added that they have a diversified market, receiving orders for
  tractor pulls, mud bog racers, sand drag racers, Go-Karts, Sprint cars, drag car, boat racing, motorcycle
  (Harley-Davidson) racers and outlaw drags. "They all have different needs and specifications and we fill
  those needs. They keep us very busy," he told us.                 Gone Raciní is at RNPARKS2@JUNO.COM
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Members: Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Gale Banks, Glen Barrett, Lee Blaisdell, Warren Bullis,
Gary Carmichael, John Chambard, 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, 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, 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 and Jack Underwood.