Hanging With Your Heroes

May 8, 2012

One of the coolest things about being a car guy is all the great people you get to meet over the years. It even cooler when you also get to hear and document your friends exploits and stories for a generation yet to come. On the flipside of that is all those guys that were your hero’s, and that you read about when you were young, and would eventually become your friends in later years are now way older than you. And the worse part is that many are packing up and heading off for the great Race Track in the Sky.

This week us dry lakes guys lost one that went by the name of Julian Doty. He first got interested in buzzing across old dry lakes back in 1934 at the ripe old age of 12 and has been there and everyplace else since then. It also helped that he was dealt a pretty good hand of cards in that his uncle was also a car guy that worked with Leonard De Bell at the old So California Plating Company and designed some of the best dress up parts to ever to appear on an automobile. Things like the Flipper Hubcaps and Hollywood Wheeldisks to name a few. Julian just called him Uncle George, be we all know him by the name George DuVall. With that background our man Doty was steeped in the L.A. car culture from before they invented the ground floor. All one has to do it read Al Drake’s book Flat Out published back in ‘94 to find that Julian was the man who showed Drake around the back doors of L. A.’s hop up shops.

For the past 17 years we’d bench race constantly and he was the unofficial AHRF’s historian behind the scene. Every time we’d get a new batch of the unknown Julian would always have some piece of the puzzle in his brain to help us sort it out. He was also one of the AHRF’s biggest supporters and has contributed-turned us on to close to 2,000 images. For today all the images are courtesy of the man.

First up today is the Schenck-Harstad Streamliner that was snapped at dusty El Mirage in 1946 (DOT_598). The car was powered by a ’25 Chevy 4-banger fitted with an Olds 3-port head. At the first meet of the year on April 28th the car ran 122.28 mph to finish second in class behind Stu Hilborn’s car at 139.75 mph. They were both chasing after Bob Rufi’s record of 140 mph set back in 1940. The car was entered at the second meet in June but it’s not known if it appeared as not speed was recorded at that meet. The car was a no show for the rest of the year. Note the three lovely lasses all decked out to turn some fellas heads.

About 12 hours from El Mirage was another playground for the boy’s toys and this time there is no dust (DOT_004). Lee Chapel first showed up at Bonneville in 1951 with this slick looking Streamliner but only managed to run a slow 174.418 mph. He came back in ’52 and the car set a Class C record 224.144 mph. In ’53 when this shot was taken Lee had some new mods on his liner. He had fitted smaller front wheels and reduced the size of the wheel humps for a swoopier more aerodynamic look. The car was powered by a ’48 Ford of 296″ fitted with Lee’s own heads called “Tornado” hence the car’s name. Driver Sonny Rogers shoed the Class C liner to a rapid 230.62 mph for second in class, only 1.04 mph slower than the class winning Shadoff Chrysler Special and then proceeded to wad the car up in a ball luckily escaping with only minor scratches. Seems the car took off like most of the other liners of the period because hot rodders were slow in discovering that their body shapes were basically wings.

A rare little flyer from the San Diego Timing Association (S.D.T.A.) touting their Paradise Drag Strip from around ‘53 (DOT_620). While all the up-north strips were getting all the glory the border town boys had built themselves what they called “The Strip of Many Firsts”. Local boy J. Otto Crocker was the timer and the strip was the first to record both ET and Speed on the “Smoothest Strip in the West”. Inside there was a listing of 49 “Certified” records by the S.D.T.A.. The NHRA would soon adopt the tracks way of doing things to establish National Records that could be recognized throughout the country. Looks like the logo was done by our favorite artist, Gus Maanum. Listed on the back were 12 car clubs that made up and ran the S.D.T.A. I’m still debating wether it would be cool to join the Shafters or the Hi-Way Haunts.

Meanwhile back at the salt, a 442″ Supercharged Chrysler lays pan side up after being removed from the Herda-Cagle Class B Streamliner during Speedweek in 1963 (DOT_569). The bottom end was fitted with a girdle (easy girls) but that didn’t prevent the rods from making some bumps in the pan. The team ran a quick 296.78 mph to take second in class behind the Hammon-McGrath-Whipp entry at 197.27 mph. The H-M-W team ended up bumping the record to 301.812 mph. The Herda designed car is the very same one that was inducted into the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame celebration last weekend. Note the team brought a mini-machine shop for repairs work.

Two interesting rides showed up at Bonneville in 1963 and are seen in our next shot (DOT_572). The first was Alan Richards’ little toy car called Claustrophobia that was powered by a little 2.8″ Garrelli engine. Alan ran 55.62 mph. It was shod with of all things bicycle rims and tires. To its left is the Bennett-Rochlitzer & Joehnck Class B Lakester that was powered by a 372″ Chevy. It ran a quick 240.16 mph against Tom Beatty’s Tank record set the year before at 243.438 mph but had to settle for a third in class. At the end of the week they had to regroup as the Johnson-Shipley team pushed the record even higher to a speed of 255.501 mph. Those funny looking things to the right of Richards car on the ground that look like refugees from a Target store sign are actually plywood wheels that the BR&J Team transported the car on.

Back in 1963 when this picture was taken and you wanted to get to the Salt Flats after leaving Wendover headed East toward Salt Lake on the old interstate (not seen) that paralleled the train tracks (seen) in the background on the other side of them. A few miles out of Wendover you would cross over the railroad tracks and a make-shift bridge and drop down on the salt to be greeted with this sign in the background that said you’d reached the entrance of the great Bonneville Speedway (DOT_578). At the time there was probably an unwritten rule that everybody had to pose with their vehicle in front of it or you trip wouldn’t be complete. It was also proof for your neighbors that you had indeed driven on a bed of salt.

For the 28 Annual Bonneville Speed Trials in 1976 the team of Hammond-Blunk & Gary out of Goleta, CA showed up with this slick looking Class G Lakester powered by a little 122″ Ford 4-banger (DOT_622). They were there for fun and also to set a record, as there wasn’t one established in the class they had chosen to run. Since they were the only ones running in it their task was simple, they went out and ran a 156.25 mph lap to qualify to set a record. Driver Seth Hammond made everyone proud and established a class record at 144.832 mph.

We’ve got a little history in the making in our last shot of the day with the number 76 Class B Lakester snapped at Bonneville in 1976 (DOT_621). The official entry name of the car was Teague, Bentley & Bisetti from San Gabriel, CA and the driver was Al Teague who got to sit in front of a little 361″ Turbocharged Chrysler. The team was after a record set in ’75 by Allen & Parker at 286.386 mph and they weren’t alone in that quest as The One Way Special driven by Tony Nancy and the Hoy-Geraurd-Les Leggitt ride shoed by H. Hoy were also in the race. At the end of the week Al grabbed first in class with a speed of 261.43 mph followed by Hoy at 251.92 mph and no time for Nancy. Needless to say they were all short of the existing record. For you trivia buffs the front bodywork was originally designed for a Dennis Manning motorcycle project before Al did his thing to it. Behind the fancy Ford Van is the Yamaha A-AF-125-6 entry of Peter Breede out of Bellflower, CA. The 125cc bike ran 105.164 mph on the old 103.659 mph record so Peter went home a happy camper.

Jim’s Hot Rodding News

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