|Society of Landspeed Racing Historians Newsletter #6 070918|
SOCIETY OF LANDSPEED RACING HISTORIANS Newsletter #6
The cool thing about being a Sherlock Holmes is finding unknown treasures. I recently came across a
bunch of photos from the '30's taken at the lakes and among them were some results. I checked Dean
Batchelor's American Hot Rod book as a cross referance on the event date and surprise, it wasn't listed.
I've found another piece of our missing history. There were 37 cars, the entrant's name, type of motor,
head used and speed listed. WOW! We now know Sam Hanks drove a Model A with a Riley C head to a
speed of 95.47 mph on June 30, 1935. Jim Miller
Art Sparks and Paul Weirick were roundy-round racers. They had this idea of building an Indy car to end all. In
the early '30's streamlineing was all the rage so Art and Paul had the body of their radical new racer designed by
students at Stanford University as a class project. A scale model was built and tested in the school's wind tunnel.
The car was finished just in time for the '32 500 but a little problem existed, finding a sponsor. Enter Earl B.
Gilmore. To get his sponsorship all they had to do was break the American four-cylinder speed record of 144.89
mph. They put a little Gilmore product in the caster oil and went to Muroc. The car ran 148.218 in the kilo and
147.355 in the mile on May 16. The car was now officially a land speed record holder so it got the money to go
to Indy. Called the Gilmore Special, the fish shaped car with its dorsal fin quickly got dubbed the "Catfish." The
story's not over. The car was a dog on the racetrack so Fred Frame came along and bought it for $6,500. He
then cut a deal with Union Oil to go after the World and International Class C records again at Muroc. So in
April '33 the car did just that by setting International records in the kilo, mile, five and ten mile. Driver Fred Frame
hit 151.1 for the flying mile. It also broke the World's record for 50 kilos and 50 miles. Back on the race tracks
the car was still a flop and was finally destroyed in a crash in '38 but you can't take away the fact that it set some
land speed records at Muroc.
Photo caption: Front view of the Sparks-Weirick "Catfish" freshly painted before leaving for Indy
around May 17, 1932 after setting speed records at Muroc on the 16th.
Editor's notes: The following email is condensed from the original and comes from Curt Rigney, who was the Ad-
vertising executive for DRIVE magazine, before it was sold to APG. I've asked Curt if he has a catalog yet, in
case he possesses some books of interest to the landspeed racing community.
1) I've purchased an online book business. I've acquired just around 17,000 books of all kinds. I have just
over 7100 listed through a listing program that then uploads my books to the likes of Amazon, Alibris and
Abe Books. They in turn list the books online, take the credit card payment, send me the order, I ship it
out, they deposit the monies into my account (including the shipping costs) and everyone (hopefully) is
happy. The other 10,000 or so, I need to go thru and see what can/should be listed. This is going to be a
rather large chore. But somebody has to do it. What I don't want I can donate to charities, jails, and
prisons. There is always someone out there that will take them. I find my books through auctions, yard/
estate sales, books my family and friends don't want anymore, etc. It's fun to see what's out there. I've got
rare books that date back to the 1800's. These sell a little differently, like on E-bay or something similar.
If you have any old automotive books you don't want, let me know. Curt Rigney
2) Is it too much trouble to resend the 2 and 3 newsletter in the email form? I notice that I don’t have it up
on the net – some weird things are happening on this computer since I did some different settings. Will be
going back and changing them again. I have set up a index page for members to go to to know where the
newsletters are. http://www.oilstick.com/sportsfans/site.htm Evelyn Roth Evelyn: They're on the way to
you. Thank you for making your website available to us.
3) Good Stuff. Keep it up. Name is Eric, not Erich. Thanks. Rick Rick: Correction made.
Editor's notes: One of the main purposes of the Newsletter is to encourage research and publication of books on
landspeed racing. Many of us have already written and published something. We would like to hear from you.
Send us a short description of your work and where we can purchase it. If you are a publisher or printer, let us
know that too. The newsletter is for just such a purpose.
4) Automobile Club of Southern California Annual California Hot Rod Reunion, Oct 12-14, 2007, Famoso, CA.
5) John Force Holiday Car Show benefiting the California Highway Patrol's "CHiP's For Kids" toy drive. Sunday,
Dec 2, 10am-4pm, bring a new $10 unwrapped toy for entrance. 850 hot rods/street machines on display. Top
NHRA drivers, Speed Freaks Radio personalities. See www.JohnForceRacing.com for details. (Craig Hoelzel)
6) Dan Gurney's Eagle Racing Cars; The Technical History of the Machines Designed and Built by All
American Racers. By John Zimmermann. 11x9 inches, 210 pages. See www.bullpublishing.com
7) Skip Gacksteter, passed away September 1, 2007. At Echlin, he formed a trackside group of Field Engineers
to support Accel racing activities all over the country. Services are pending. (from Bob Falcon)
8) Barney Navarro Celebration of Life, Oct 13, 2007, 11am at H&H Flatheads, 4451 Ramsdell Avenue, La
Crescenta, CA 91214. The memorial will be outdoors and informal. (Donna Navarro)
9) Cruisin' For a Cure - September 22nd at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa from 7 am to 5 pm.
More information at www.cruisinforacure.com or 714-803-9216. (Debbie Baker)
10) "Toyota: 50 Years in America – Motorsports Milestones," at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum,
Pomona, CA. Exhibit will continue through January, 2008. (Bill Groak)
11) An Evening with Carroll Shelby, at the Petersen Automotive Museum, L.A., CA. November 8, 2007, 6PM.
Dinner, film, interviews included in the annual Racing Tribute at the Petersen. Call Trena Pitchford at 323-964-
6306 for reservations. (Tom McIntyre)
12) Please add me to the email list for future newsletters. Jack Dolan forwarded the earlier ones to me.
Thank you. Mike Kelly Mike: Welcome to the Newsletter.
13) If you can, please send me the LAND SPEED RACING HISTORIANS NEWSLETTER. Haven't seen you
for quit awhile. Kind of laid up with bad leg and knee. I like to keep up with what you guys are doing.
When I worked for Computer Science corp, we made a history of Muroc racing. I gave your dad my copy
for him to copy and I am sure he did. Lots of good information on people and history of muroc racing
before WW2. If he can't find his, I have a copy I could loan you for research. Hope to hear from you
Willard Ritchie Willard: I've added you to the list and will send you back issues of the Newsletter. Welcome.
Members: Henry Astor, Glen Barrett, Warren Bullis, Gary Carmichael, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Robert Falcon,
Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Mike Kelly, Dick
Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin, Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Mark Morton,
Louise Ann Noeth, David Parks, Richard Parks, Wally Parks, Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz,
Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik, Frank Salzberg, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Al Teague,
JD Tone and Jack Underwood.