Date of Birth: 1922-03-20
Club: Road Runners; Sidewinders
At the age of 16, Ray Brown began the construction of a 32 roadster that would become as legendary as the man himself. While still in high school Ray got a job with Eddie Meyer in West Hollywood. Along side Eddie’s son Bud and flathead legend Tom Sparks, Ray acquired the engineering skills that would see him amass 11 timing tags with this roaster known as 99C.
At the age of 21 Ray opened his own Speed Shop. He was a pioneer in the use of the Chrysler Hemi and in 1953 his sleek fiberglass sports car, the Mabee Drilling Co., set the Class D record with a 353-ci fuel injected Chrysler at Bonneville. At the same time, Ray had built another Hemi for the famed Shadoff Special. The engine was a destroked from 331 (factory standard) to a 302-ci. The Shadoff went an astounding 236.36 and broke the International record, much to the consternation of “professional” land speed racers. The streamliner was designed by Dean Batchelor, chassis built by Carl Fleishmann and built by Ray and driver Mal Hooper.
The following year the Shadoff returned to Bonneville to get another record of 252.80 MPH. There was no doubt that the young California hot rodders were now competing on the world stage.
Ray’s relationship with the Mabee family resulted in a partnership in a Jaguar dealership in Midland Texas. More importantly, Ray went on to pioneer the use of the seat belts in cars and eventually went from hot rodding to seat belt manufacturing. After he sold that company in the 60’s Ray joined Superior Industries until his retirement in 1998.
Ray is on the advisory board of The American Hot Rod Foundation