Another Spectacle!

May 29, 2012

The great thing about the Internet is we get to share some of the cool stuff we get from our friends. It’s also great because when we screw up or don’t know something about an image one of our friends always comes through and enlightens us. So it was this week when our bud Kay Kimes sent an e-mail informing us that he was the chap sitting in the door of Lynn Yakel’s Mercedes Gullwing at Bonneville that was showed in last week’s story. How cool is that. Thanks Kay.

As a kind of thank you, we had just found three new shots of a car that ran at Bonneville in 1949 that just happened to be the Kimes-Gilcrest entry (yep it’s the same Kimes fellow). They were scanned, captions scribbled out and sent to Kay to see if we were in the ballpark on our info. We were pretty close and he came back with more info like who was driving etc. That’s what we call double cool.

Lets have a look at one of the shots (DOT_750) that is worth a thousand words. On the way to the first Bonneville Speedweek in 1949 a pickup truck was loaded beyond capacity and just couldn’t cut it when it came to making it up the then steep grades on old two-lane roads. The logical thing for the hot rodders in the truck to do was un-hook the racecar so the truck could make it. The next logical thing to do was have someone jump into the race car and drive it up the hill too. That’s exactly what the the team of Dave Ratliff, Kay Kimes and Julian Doty did with their Kimes-Gilcrest Class C Streamliner. Since the simple solution worked so well it was decided to just continue driving the racer since there were only about 500 or so more miles of mountains ahead of them. It was also a good excuse to run in the race motor as it had just been assembled and didn’t have any time on it. Being experts at avoiding trouble, when the racer approached a little backwater town the designated driver would shut her off and coast through, avoiding the uncorked motor from waking up any John Law that happened to be asleep at his post. By the time they reached the salt the Merc powered job was fully broken in. The location of the shot is north of Lone Pine in the Owens Valley.

Net up (DOT_752) is Dave Ratliff behind the wheel of Kimes & Gilcrest number 172 Class C Streamliner. Mr. R gives push truck driver and photographer Julian Doty a nod before he sets off on another run at the salt in ‘49. The car was powered by a Mercury flathead and turned 136.36 mph. The car could of run faster except they had transmission problems. In the team’s quest for speed they had modified the stock cluster gear by machining off the regular gear set and welding on new ones of a different size. The welds failed so they were out of business. Dave’s helmet displays the Union 76 Bonneville Speed Trial decal that was given out to anyone who wanted one.

Our next two shots are both pre-war and come to us thanks to Joel Jerauld. If we go back to ‘45-’46 we find family member Al Jerauld running a speed shop down San Diego way and definitely a fan of things racing on the dirt. Like most of us pack-rat car guys who through nothing away Joel found some of Al’s fantastic treasures that survived in the form of old negs and gladly shared them with us so we could share them with you. First up is AJC_005 that shows Bill Warth’s Streamliner captured near the S.C.T.A. Timing Stand in 1940 after having his speed annotated on a timing slip taped to the car. He ran it as car number 12 and was a member of the Pacemakers car club. Powered was supplied by a Ford banger fitted with a Winfield head. Since we can’t pinpoint the exact date here’s an overview of his runs that year. In May he turned 130.43, 125.34 and 131.57 mph and in August he turned 113.63 and 123.11 mph. The Model-A behind it is unknown. Not many people are aware of this but Bill worked his magic and somehow got the S.C.T.A. runners back on Muroc after they were kicked off by the U.S. Army. Bill kept the car until December 7, 1941 when he sold it to fellow Pacemaker and soon to be Low Flyer Stuart Hilborn.

Welcome to Harper Dry Lake and an S. C. T. A. meet sometime in 1940 (AJC_006). The unknown Ford with filled hood side panels looks like it’s a ’33 model. Its speed is about to be written on the timing slip taped on the cowl in front of the driver by the fellow in the right of the shot. It looks like there was a full house of spectators that day. One wonders if the film in the camera hanging around the neck of the man standing next to the passenger side door exists today.

As luck would have it another FedX package arrived this week from Randy Chenowth. If the name sounds familiar it should. The family ran a company called San Diego Steel Products and was heavily involved in the racing scene. Their best known for kick butt dune buggies but if one puts on their thinking cap and goes back to 1960 they will find one Charles Chenowth and Company on the entry list at the Indianopolis 500. Anyhow, Randy came across some pre-war negatives from Indy 500 racer Duane Carter’s estate and kindly lent them to us for your viewing pleasure. RCC_011 shows a young Carter captured in an unknown car and location. The car carries the number 4 on its tail and was taken sometime in 1937. The interesting thing about this car is that it has chrome plated front and rear roll over hoop to protect the beauty and its driver. This kind of stuff wasn’t mandated by the likes of USAC until the late ‘60’s.

Since it’s a special weekend lets continue on a Carter roll and go east with he and his midget to the Detroit area trying to make a little extra money (LSC_011). This Les Schlom Collection shot shows Duane at a place called Motor City Speedway. Research reveals the track was located at 13801 8 Mile Road near Shoenherr and was a 1/2 mile dirt oval from late ’32 to late ’38. A 1/4 mile dirt oval was then built inside of it and ran from ’36 to ’42. It was later paved and lasted until ’58 when it became a shopping center. We found another picture of the car with the same paint job taken in ‘42 so we’ll use that as a tentative date for this shot.

Our Carter voyage continues as Duane is captured at at Culver City in late ’46-early ’47 in his Offy powered rail job before he took delivery of a new Kurtis-Kraft Midge in this Louie Senter Collection shot (LSS_254). This is the same car seen in the picture above after its steering gear was relocated, and received a new nose, hood and side panels.

If you are a real car nut you probably spent earlier today watching the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” at the Brickyard like the rest of us. If we went back to those hallowed grounds 52 years ago or 1960, we would of me up with Duane Carter yet again as seen in his Official IMS Qualifying Photo from the Jack Underwood Collection. Carter drove the Offy powered Ensley & Murphy entered Thompson Industries Special that was built by Eddie Kuzma to a 142.631 mph four lap average to start the race down in 27th place. He brought her home after completing all 200 laps at an average speed of 131.882 mph down in 12th place.

There were about 15 of us fools that stared at the big screen at our host Chet Knox’s garage watching today’s race and seeing yet another last lap wall smacker, exciting but ouch. In between commercials there were hot dogs, beer and tons of bench racing and even some leads to yet more pictures. While on that subject, I returned some binders full of pictures that Chet had kindly lent the foundation to scan (so far that’s close to 1,500 to die for images). So while putting them back what does he do but lends us some more.

A special thank you is in order to all our supporters.

Jim’s Hot Rodding News

You can contact Jim Miller at (818) 846-5139.