Championship winning Crew Chief Clint Brawner said of Ed Elisian: “I always liked him. He worked hard and had a great, if uncontrolled, desire to be a race car driver.” Author Ross R. Olney referred to him as: “Another Vukie…Almost. He only lacked a little of the skill and judgment of the great Bill Vukovich.” And Vukie himself had sung the praises of his fellow driver before Elisian arrived in the Midwest. He may in fact, have set the bar too high.
Elisian was born in Oakland, CA and began his racing career in the late 1940’s. He drove Hardtops at Contra Costa Stadium and rapidly found his way into the popular Midgets. In 1951 he won Bay Cities Racing Association features in the indoor series driving for Bob Marchel and in ’52 finished fourth in BCRA points. It was during this time that Elisian became acquainted with Bill Vukovich whom had nearly won Indianapolis in his sophomore appearance. The two became fast friends in the Midget ranks and Vukie did his best to contact Elisian with Big Car rides.
In 1953 Elisian made his first Big Car start at high banked Dayton, Ohio while Vukovich dominated the Indy 500. Driving a state-of- the- art Kurtis roadster, Vukie qualified on the pole and led all but five laps of the hottest race on record. Finally, the following year, Elisian was able to join his mentor in Indianapolis. Vukie would again pilot the ’53 winning car while Elisian secured a ride in a solid Stevens’s dirt car owned by H.A. Chapman. Vukovich struggled in qualifying and didn’t make the race until the third day. He would start from the nineteenth slot while his protégé stormed from the final row. In the race Vukovich paced himself, finally taking over the lead at the halfway point and won going away. Rookie Elisian did a respectable job, bringing his mount home eighteenth, and six laps behind the leader. Away from the Speedway, Elisian was making a decent living. He won a Big Car race at Terre Haute and finished ninth in AAA Midwest points.
1955 was looking promising for the duo; defending Champion Vukovich had a new Kurtis roadster for the 500 which he qualified fifth while Elisian switched teams and put his Kurtis in the twenty ninth position. When the starter’s flag dropped, Vukovich forged his way into the lead and appeared to be on his way to an unprecedented third victory. Then on the fifty seventh lap some back markers got together and tagged Vukie as he attempted to squeak by. The contact put him into and over the guardrail, crashing in flames. Seeing this Elisian intentionally spun his car, unbuckled and attempted to save his friend from the burning wreck. Sadly his actions were in vain as Vukovich had fractured his skull in the initial impact. Elisian was led from crash scene sobbing and was too distraught to resume racing.
With the demise of his closest friend, Elisian became a bit of a lost soul. The sullen driver soldiered on in 1956 qualifying his first proper roadster fourteenth at Indy but was out at 160 laps. He fared better in the short track events, finishing sixth in AAA standings. In ’57 he procured his best ride to date driving for Lee Elkins and put the McNamara Special seventh on the grid but broke a timing gear at fifty one laps. On the short tracks he improved by one position in the AAA (now USAC) rankings and again was victorious at Terre Haute.
In 1958 it appeared that Elisian’s period of mourning had ended. He secured the seat in Jack Zink’s new roadster and a rivalry developed between him and Dick Rathmann who had taken over the McNamara ride. Fast lap of the month was passed back and forth between the two with Rathmann ultimately claiming the pole. The feud continued after the drop of the green flag as neither driver was willing to lift at the end of the back straightaway. This resulted in a collision that started a chain reaction involving more than half the field. In the end, Elisian, Rathmann and six other cars were eliminated and crowd favorite Pat O’Conner was dead.
Though Elisian wasn’t any more responsible than Rathmann, the incident was more or less pinned on him. The fact that he was unpopular among his fellow drivers certainly didn’t help. Without his advocate Vukovich to defend him, Elisian’s life began to spiral downward. He continued to perform well on short tracks but missed the ’59 500 over a suspension that involved gambling debts and bad checks.
Before ever having reached his full potential as a driver, Elisian crashed to his death on the Milwaukie Mile on August 30th 1959. He was thirty two years old and had never married. Unfortunately other than his immediate family, there were few to mourn him.
Clem lie there in his twin bed restless. The dealership had gone all out in hopes to crack the flat line sales they had experienced as of late. He had a house payment, his oldest was soon to graduate and was looking to attend school in upstate. Mama was still driving a ’48 and Clem knew it was on borrowed time. As a top tier salesman for Hope Chevrolet, Clem had hoped his time was now. Mama murmured and rolled onto her side.
The Motorola clock radio’s minute hand swept around softly, chasing seconds, turning minutes into hours. Clem sat up. The harvest of 1956 had come and went and the 1957’s waited hidden behind soaped windows and tarpaulin drop cloths. Every year it had seemed that the competing manufacturers had rolled back when the new models were introduced. Maybe this was what had advanced the grey at Clem’s temples. But everything felt different at Hope Chevrolet. The new hardtop had these incredible rear fins. The 283 V8 engine had options to make even the Nomad wagon a hot ticket on the street. The 2 seater Corvette was ready to attack the Euro class on American tracks and across the pond. On the economy front the tried and true 6 soldiered on in both trucks and cars.
A hot shower and shave. Clem picked out a navy blue suit and a tie that was hand painted with a spring theme to it. His shirt was bright white, ironed and crisp. Dark blue nylon socks and his wing tips were spit shined and polished to what his sarge would approve of.
Behind the wheel of his ’55 210 business coupe, Clem made his way across town and reveled in the early hours of this new spring day. Birds had started to chirp and exchange songs. Somewhere a rooster let go with a morning crow. The sky was dark with hints of the encroaching sunrise. Clem approached Norman in his Divco dairy truck and was making a pass when he saw Norman wave his hand out of the delivery trucks window. Clem slowed down, reached across and lowered the passenger’s side door window. Norman leaned down and in his down home way shot out a question.
“Gosh, Clem, I do not mean to pry, but, this hour of morning usually finds you just rising. Heck, I pass by and I can tell by the lights in your home you are just getting ready. Is there something special maybe the town should know about?”
Clem smiled. He took a quick glance and noticed that the morning clouds had begun to break up. A sliver of white on the horizon teased of a cloudless day.
“Norman, it is our launch of the new 1957 Chevrolet. The car is beautiful. Think of a car that captures the mystique of fighter jets, of rocket ships. Available in so many colors.”
Norman just nodded and smiled with visions of Buck Rogers danced in his head. Clem nodded and dropped his ’55 into gear and drove away. The dawn was fast approaching.
Before Clem would even knew it, the new cars were revealed. The soaped windows were washed away and the colors of the new 1957 Chevrolet was then revealed to crowds waiting to catch a glimpse of the future. Clem stood outside and the sky was cloudless. The air was alive. Behind him, freshly detailed was a bright red Bel Air with the 270 horsepwer engine option. Clem pulled out his pack of Lucky’s. Fired up his Zippo and smiled.
“Time to sell.” he whispered, and he did.
Hey it’s May—time to tiptoe through the tulips and all of that jazz. And by the time you read the next issue it will be time for the Wednesday night Beaches Cruise Ins at PIR. Last issue I waxed nostalgic about hot rodding in the good ole days. As I wander through the world of GearHeads, I get quite a few great stories. Maybe we will bring some here? Any input?
OK GearHeads, let’s get back to business. What does our future hold? Hooboy—What a loaded question, gulp! Alrighty then, let’s get on to the MuskFather. Elon Musk has been busy with his Teslas and all manner of other things. Lately, he has acquired an outfit called Maxwell Technologies.
They make dry cell batteries and supercapacitors. These things are like superchargers for your EV. And they may end up being used in planes! Oh by the way, the new buzzword for those electrical cars is now E-Machines. I haven’t figgered out exactly what I want to call them yet.
I must say that scientists have been tearing into his various Tesla models and they are finding some pretty befuddling things during their deconstructions. Gotta give the man credit for gettin’ r done!
F’rinstance, there is this thing called Hallback Effect. Something to do with an array of magnets glued together in a certain way. They seem to be made of some kind of magic grain or something. The Eggheads are still trying to figger it all out. In other news, drivers are saying this about the Tesla 3 – once you drive it you don’t go back! And word has it that they are next coming out with pickups and the Model Y.
Then we have the Japanese. They are coming out with an E- Machine that is built in Italy! They tell me it is damn fast and good looking. I guess GM will be introducing a fancy new E-Bike.
Oh and did anybody hear about Elon Musk’s alliance with PewDiePie? Yeah, uh … OK, I’m not even going there.
Let’s get back to GM. I am hearing something about them teaming up with Amazon to invest in Rivian. Now, at press time we have more news on GM. They have lobbied the Senate for a new EV credits bill. It seems that they along with Tesla have used up their 200k allotment for EV credits. Early adopters were receiving something like a $7,000 credit on their purchase. They are now lobbying for some 400k more credits. Let the games begin.
Oh, and I didn’t want to forget to mention a fella by the name of Jesse James. He is a hot rod builder up north of rural Vancouver. Seems his shop burned down along with all of his projects inside. It seems the fire was of mysterious origin. Jesse is not the kind of dude to ask for help. But any good Intel would be muchly appreciated.
OK GearHeads, got to wrap this up purty quick. Anybody hear about this year’s Indy pace car. Gonna be an AV. They say the chairman of GM will be driving again. Jus’ kiddin’ … I think? Lol, (get it?)
So here is another fancy E-Machine coming down the pike. The Pininfarina Battista was introduced at the New York Auto show. The supercar features 4 electric motors with 1900 horsepower. 0 to 60 in under 2 seconds along with a 300 mile range. And the price is what you would expect—only $2.5 Million.
Alrighty then, let’s end this with this: let us not forget the lowly RNG. Renewable Natural Gas comes from methane gas extracted from garbage. It can be used in the pipeline and it has a negative CO2 rating, that is to say that it’s carbon footprint actually leaves Mother Earth cleaner!
—Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld
❺ Proud as a peacock
Only one TV/ sports partnership has lasted longer: CBS and the Masters (since 1956). For 54 years ABC had been the exclusive broadcaster for the largest single day sporting event in the world. Until now. Before the 2018 season NBC Universal partners dropped a couple Million dollars to take over the reigns for the entire IndyCar schedule, but their eyes were set mainly on the crowning jewel of it all: The Indy500. As part of NBC’s exclusivity deal, fans can utilize the NBC Sports GOLD package to stream all practice sessions during the month – produced to full show quality and complete with a fleet of commentators (see next point.) The two-day qualifying shows May 18th and 19th have been overhauled as well to accommodate more interviews and more action. The main event itself will be on prime time NBC and will include the most comprehensive pre and post race coverage that NBC can muster. Keep a sharp eye out for revamping old traditions and staring new ones.
❹ Commentary, shaken—not stirred
The Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever bit worked well enough over the years but as the sport constantly evolves, so should the additional elements of the show. NBC plans to throw everything and the kitchen sink at their new baby including an unprecedented 14-broadcaster lineup. Why? Because NBC will do something that has never been done in motorsports broadcast history. They plan to be ‘on-air’ from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in some capacity or another for 99% of the days in May. In addition to Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, and Paul Tracy, NBC is clearing the NBC NASCAR and the NBC IMSA benches as well. Krista Voda, Rutledge Wood, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick are only part of the dizzying lineup. So many points of view can only create a cocktail of commentary never been seen before around the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
❸ Fernando fever
If you keep up with motorsports news, you have undoubtedly heard about Fernando Alsonso’s return to IndyCar. After an extensive career in Formula 1, Fernando and McLaren team owner Zac Brown have decided to dip their toes in the IndyCar pool. A couple of years ago Fernando shocked the Formula 1 community by bowing out of the Monaco Grand Prix to race in the Indy500 for Andretti Autosport. Such a daring statement was clear: IndyCar is where the party is. A clandestine engine failure took out the contender, but not without an impressive surge to the front. Alonso was met with overwhelming excitement from fans and the Spaniard vowed to return.
This time is a little different. With the Andretti stable full, team McLaren sought support from Carlin Racing to field an entry. This also raises eyebrows, as Carlin is a Chevrolet team where Fernando has a long-standing relationship with top-competitor, Honda. Think of it like Michael Jordan suddenly appearing on an Adidas commercial after building an empire with Nike. Carlin is also an interesting choice as they are pretty fresh on the IndyCar scene themselves and have struggled with consistent finishes. Regardless, this will be a strong point of interest throughout the entire month.
❷ This ride is about to get bumpy
In case you didn’t know, only 33 cars can start the Indy500. It has pretty much been that way since the beginning. With the exception of some odd years in the 1910s and 20s, the historic 11 rows of 3 have stood the test of time. That was deemed to be a ‘safe’ number of cars to fit on the impressive 2.5-mile oval and is a strong tradition still carried on today. Through the 40s, 50s and 60s simply being fast enough to start in one of those 33 sports was a huge accomplishment. In that era, literally hundreds of drivers would flock to the speedway for a chance to make a qualifying run. On qualifying weekend, that pool would be narrowed down to the fastest guys—‘bumping’ the rest out of the field.
As the sport progressed and it became more expensive to race, people with deep enough pockets to fund these rides became scarce. Prior to 2017, it was a stretch to fill the field; therefore no one was ‘bumped’ out. Last year drama ensued when one of the regulars of the IndyCar field, James Hinchcliffe did not go fast enough to make the race, and therefore missed his chance to finish well in the points championship at the end of the season.
At this moment, numerous drivers have announced ‘one- off’ entries to stack ontop of the 24 IndyCar season regulars. Only 38 engines are available to use (19 Honda and 19 Chevy) and so far 34 have been spoken for including Conor Daly steeping into Andretti Autosport’s 5th car, Pippa Mann for Clauson/Marshall Racing, Fernando for Carlin, Sage Karam for Dreyer and Reinbold, and more. There are rumors that we will reach the full 38, but that is dependent on sponsorship dollars. There is always an abundance of drivers waiting in the wings to take their shot at the most prestigious crown in racing.
❶ It’s the *@&¤¥§£ Indy500
The sight, the sound the spectacle. The on track competition has never been tighter or more dynamic. This era of drivers hang it out on the line and have proven their talent, courage and luck lap after lap and year after year. If you are a consistent 500 viewer, this year will be a treat. If you have stopped watching over the years—no matter the reason— its time to come Back Home Again. Need I say more?
As tradition would have it, car shows in early April are held in the rain. I have been to this particular show for several years. Some years there is beautiful weather, some years there is not. This year, even in the rain, it was a great show with a great variety of cars, trucks, muscle machines and hot rods.
The car show is a fundraiser for South Albany High School’s class of 2019 drug and alcohol free graduation party. Inside the school we were able to stay dry in the cafeteria with chances to win raffle prizes, and or buy hot drinks and snacks available to anyone who wanted to join in.
Several Mustangs were there. Julene Michell Clark brought her daily driver, a 2017 blue Mustang convertible. On the other side of the variety of vehicles was Terry Thompson’s 1951 Chevy rat rod, a licence plate-ladened pickup. The bed of the pickup truck is covered with license plates. Unique, right? The only car under cover was Anne Clark’s 1956 Nash Metro. Also, Chuck Barr brought his beautiful satin black, green flamed Mercury custom chopped 2-door.
Several car clubs were represented by their members. Beaver State Corvette Club, Rollin’ Oldies and a club new to me was the C3 Car Club out of Portland are just a sample of the clubs that were there.
The C3 Car Club is a club for modern muscle Camaros, Chargers and Challengers. Talking to the C3 Club president, “Rasta”, said it’s a new club that is about two years old. The club has 50 members and is a very family oriented club. C3 is one chapter of the over 40 chapters throughout the US and Germany. Can you picture modern muscle cars made in the USA on the Autobahn. This club travels to car shows all over. The farthest they have gone is a 14 hour trip to North Hollywood, California. This day they arrived in Albany with 12 beautiful cars. They looked beautiful, even in the rain. Among my favorite cars is one you don’t see too often. It’s an outstanding 1974 VW Karmann Ghia convertible owned by Dennis Tomlinson. Last, but not least, C3 member, Steve Vanverhoof brought his 2017 Dodge Charger. It’s center strip was a light blue that was scalloped. Very unique!
If you go to car shows, go even in the rain. The South Albany High School show is one that provides money for a good cause and you may be surprised at who shows up!
It’s really quite amazing that 2019 marks the 63 year that the Portland Roadster Show has graced one venue or another here in Portland Oregon. This show is one of the longest running shows in the USA, Yep! Right here in Portland. This year’s show was again at the Portland Expo Event Center. It filled up hall C, D and E to the brim with customs, street rods, hot rods, rat rods, cars of all shapes and sizes, even Optimus Prime, a giant diesel rig famous for its role in the Movies.
There was a fleet of famous old customs from the 50’s and 60’s, some brand new over the top builds built by local car builders as well as nationally famous builds being shown all over the US at shows like Portland’s Roadster Show.
I heard that the attendance was down this year, someone said it was likely because the weather was really quite nice, for the first time in quite a while, but it looked to me like there were a lot of spectators strolling through the show each time I was there, which was all three days plus set up day, Thursday. And the quality of the cars was off the chart. My friend Bill Nelson had the same opinion as I had on the quality of the cars this year. They were first class.
I think every nearby builder was there in force with cars as well as booths to talk about what their shops do for their clients. Steve’s Auto Restoration had a large display again this year and of course several of the fantastic cars they have built in the last couple years. Maybe some year I’ll have a car worthy of showing at the PRS. I hope so.
With 63 years of history and the super high quality displayed this year I’m guessing next year will be a repeat of 2019, but with new and different displays, cars, vendors and fun to be had by all you car guys and gals out there. PRS 2020 will be back for the 64th in March next spring. Plan to be there, you’ll be glad you did.
The late standup comic, George Carlin used to practice what he called “Observational Humor.” If he observed something that bugged him, he might call our attention to it and proclaim that it needed to cease. One example was bald guys that grew their hair out in the back and wore it in a ponytail. It bugged Carlin. He said it was” something we didn’t need “and wasn’t going to be tolerated any longer.
In the spirit of George Carlin and with the swap meet, car show and cruise in season back upon us, here is my version of 5 Things We Don’t Need.
Baseball caps have always been part of car culture and it makes sense to protect your noggin if you’re planning to spend your day out of doors. What doesn’t make sense is to wear a visor with a prickly wig attached. When did these things first show up-more than a decade ago? I’m trying to remember if the first one I saw evoked a smile. I’m quite certain that the second one, did not. I get that they’re a goof, meant to be humorous but it’s a joke that is only funny the first time you see it. By now we’ve all seen it. I think Carlin would agree that visors with prickly wigs attached should go away. It’s a joke that lost its punch years ago.
Muscle shirts, tanks or any form fitting shirts without sleeves seem to be popular with car guys. Unfortunately, I don’t think most guys know whether they look good in them or not. In a recent Melissa McCarthy movie the joke was made: “Only guys with muscles should wear muscle shirts” and I think she may be on to something. A burly guy I called “Big Dog” used to wear them to the races all the time. When I bought a sleeveless shirt that had vintage sprint cars on it, my daughter called me “Little Dog” every time I wore it. Eventually I got the message. If you want an honest assessment of how you look in your muscle shirt, ask your teenage daughter.
Do you know what a “Time Out” is? A Time Out is a homemade doll of a two or three-year-old standing with its face concealed in shame. I must believe that women make these…only an adoring mother would find anything cute about a pouting tot. But the bigger question is how did these dolls find their way to car shows and cruise ins to begin with? Somehow, they became a fairly common sight in years past but I believe they are now on the decline. I say let’s outlaw them altogether. Then the question becomes: “How do you dispose of one?” My answer: Goodwill!
According to Wikipedia, oversized dice originated during World War II. Pilots hung them in the cockpit of their fighter planes displaying “seven pips” before a “sortie mission.” At a time when the mortality rate was high, anything that a soldier perceived gave him good luck was justified. Though their history is solid, somehow over time, enlarged dice lost their dignity. Tell me, when you see a set of flocked dayglow green dice hanging from a rearview mirror, do you think about bravery? I think oversized dice have become a tacky metaphor for hot rodding or nostalgia in general. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about fuzzy dice in years…and then I came across a whole table full at the “Mild to Wild” Show. They are for sure something we don’t need.
Lastly, there is Betty Boof. The character was created in 1930 by a contemporary of Walt Disney’s named Max Fleischer. As popular as Betty was, she was retired after nine years as the star of her own cartoons that appeared in theatres prior to the featured attraction. People grew bored with Betty because besides being cute, she didn’t really have much going on and her cartoons mostly consisted of her being chased around. It has been the merchandising of her likeness on everything from greeting cards to coffee cups that has kept Betty in the public eye ever since. At some point someone rendered her as fifties style car shop with roller skates on her feet and a tray in her hand. For some reason that image really resonated with people and she has been typecast as a waitress ever since. Evidently it is Betty the Car Hop that will forever be linked to hot rodders but at eighty nine she is overdue for retirement. It is time to give Betty a rest.
Even before the sun had tickled the clouds pink, he stood there. The campfire had been waning since about four, but Jack had risen, stoked it with some dead wood and had a pot of coffee percolating before any of his buddies had even split an eye. Around him more fires were stoked. Be it the same campfire he had woken or what waited between the frame rails of the hop up the crew had brought.
Since being discharged and relocating to his new home, Jack had embraced the culture that his armed forces buddies had spoke of.
California. It never rains! It was May of 1947. Two months in but still, in the early morning in the high desert, Winter still breathed a chill across the dry lake. Minutes and the sunrise chased each other the sunrise gave light to El Mirage. Jack sipped from his tin cup, his team was soon awake and Cappy had a skillet over the coals, frying up some bacon and eggs for the team. As enticing as the pork belly smelled, Jack fired up the roadster then sat down on a stoop. He leaned in and with a flat blade screw driver set about his work on the trio of 97’s.
There were 9 members of the team. All were survivors from the B-17 bomber West Coast Doll.
As Jack sipped his coffee and listened as the heavily modified ’42 Merc mill sing her song, he thought of his lost tail gunner, Daryl. “We should have 10 of us here.” He whispered out loud. As much as he tried to bury the memory, to this day he can still feel the shudder as their plane took the hit at the tail section erasing Daryl’s life.
They were 1 mile out and headed in, but a renegade Focke-Wulf FW-190 came out of nowhere and riddled the tail section. Daryl never had a chance. If it were not for a pair of P-51’s that had been in the area, the loss of crew would have been deadlier. West Coast Doll came in and landed. Out of 39 missions she had survived and had returned home safely. The surviving crew decided then they would remember their fallen crew member by living out his dream of a hot rod racing wide open on the dry lakes. A pact was made. When the war was over, the remaining crew would converge on Daryl’s garage and finish his roadster and compete in his memory.
The team of 9 worked hard on the Model A Roadster. Daryl had her about 70% done, but not enough to be race ready. With all hands on deck, the car was race ready and ready for her debut in a month’s time. From faded black to bright red, Chipper even painted a near perfect match to the nose art on their bomber on the cowl sides. West Coast Doll was ready for her debut. Jack would drive her. From Golden, Co he had experience. Be it racing on dirt tracks, sprint cars, jalopies or hill climbs. Jack could drive anything, especially fast. Cappy was an engine savant. He and Jack took their time and made the Merc engine singing like the Andrews sisters. As the deadline drew nearer, the former bomber crew worked day and night on the roadster. Drong and Jose’ along with Von and Crow made it their job to weld and fab the frame and other chassis details. Gilbert was the extra hand and filled in to help bleed brakes, grab some grub or be an extra set of eyes and volunteered his ’40 Ford pick up to be the tow vehicle and push truck.
“Time is interesting isn’t it?” Jack mused to his buddies one evening. The sun had started to drop beneath the horizon and the finishing touches were being dealt with on the roadster. “As a kid, you lay around on, say, a June afternoon, bored, completely out of your mind. Nothing to do as the sun just strolls across the sky. As the grandfather clock in the foyer marks off seconds of the day, of your life.” Jack paused and took a pull off of the ice cold Acme beer in his calloused hands. “Summer break drives into school days then into winter break. Then school, then spring break. We do not notice Mom and her hair as it greys. Or Pop as his hair falls out and he starts to get weaker.” About this time his buddies had paused and turned their undivided attention to Jack. They noticed he had wet eyes and wiped an arm across his face. “Time is a gift and it is also a curse. I look back and wonder when it became so damned fast. How memories became a blur. My friends, all we have is now. Let’s make this trip one for the books and also, I have an idea.”
Jack climbed into The West Coast Doll. He hunkered down into the bomber seat. Von and Crow made sure his belts were tight as Drong checked the fluids. Cappy stood by and signaled Jack to fire the roadster up. Jose’ made one last walk around and checked tire pressures. Gilbert, Drong and Chipper climbed into the ’40 and eased up to the back of the roadster. The crew climbed into the bed of the pickup pushed Jack toward the starting line. The starter nodded and jack hit the go pedal. Gilbert nailed the throttle and gave The West Coast Doll a helluva a push. And just like time, Jack watched as the landscape raced by. He poured coals to the fire, feathering the throttle and kept steady on the wheel. A marker was set to locate 1 mile in and when Jack roared past he floored it. But, as he did so, he pulled a hidden lever inside the roadster and a secret valve opened up and at 130 MPH, the ashes of Daryl were released upon the race course.
The West Coast Doll did not set any records that day, but she did well in her class. And for the crew of that wounded B-17 bomber, they lay their friend to rest the best way they thought possible.
by Mark “Spooky” Karol-Chik
It took guts for promoter Steve Moore to move his successful swap meet from Albany to Salem. Not only did he move the venue but he rescheduled a bit later in the year. The new February date conflicted with Puyallup, Washington’s Early Bird Swap Meet which has a fifty year history and Skagit Speedway’s Northwest Racer’s Swap Meet held at Burlington (WA) High School. In spite of the competition, Moore report that this year’s edition of the Mild to Wild Motorsports Swap Meet was his second highest attended show in its thirteen year run. Beyond that, all vendor booths were sold out and a waiting list existed that included another thirty seven vendors that unfortunately could not be accommodated. Efforts will be made to include all that wish to participate next year.
Why the boost in interest? Pairing the gathering with other automotive events; The Salem Roadster Show and the Salem Indoor Dirt Track Races, likely had something to do with it. The Roadster Show in fact, pooled advertising dollars with Moore and they co-promoted their events happening simultaneously in adjacent buildings. But both benefited by the scheduling of the short track racing held on the grounds as well. We talked to people that planned to attend multiple events. One swapper was heading to the Roadster Show just as soon as he finished making his rounds. One family of racers was camped at fairgrounds for the weekend. Dad had a booth at the swap meet and the kids were racing on dirt oval that night!
Speaking of racetracks, three that I know of were represented at the swap. Michael Short and Joel Imamura of Bar-S Motorsports were manning a large booth and letting patrons know that they will be operating Willamette Speedway this season. When asked if they were still operating a retail store in Albany, I was told that the store had been relocated to the racetrack in Lebanon and was open five days a week. Heather Boice, who has managed Cottage Grove Speedway for numerous seasons, had a table at the far end of Columbia Hall. If you wanted information about her venue, the Head Honcho (Honcha?) was front and center. Even River City Speedway (Saint Helens) had Representative Darrin Rye on hand, passing out schedules and answering questions.
As far as the merchandise offered, this swap remains very Stock Car oriented. Mostly Late Model and Modified stuff but we did spy a Sprint Car or two. Regarding the quality of the used merch, it was all over the board (Why do people haul around used rubber?) or you could buy new- Besides Bar-S, Jeremy Shank of Left Coast Motorsportshad a boatload of stuff, William Drager of Drager Performance had a sizable booth and there were likely others.
As an added attraction, Moore sets up ramps and conducts valve cover races every year. He says people always show up with new entries but they’ve accumulated a pretty decent stable by now so anybody that wants to can play.
All in all, it’s a very upbeat gathering of enthusiasts and along with the swapping some hi-jinx and tom foolery ensues.
The 13th Annual Salem Roadster Show is in the books; with record attendance, a bunch of happy exhibitor’s, and over $5,800 raised for the Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Fund.
Attendees were treated to a new batch of vehicles again this year. Show Promoters Bob Symon and Greg Roach attend shows from British Columbia to Nevada, only inviting the “Best of the Best” to show one time in Salem.
This unique format show has no judging, but each exhibitor leaves with a beautiful jacket with Salem Roadster Show Award Winner embroidered across the back. These jackets have become very sought after in the hobby, and you see a lot of folks wearing them proudly at other shows and events.
One of the highlights of the show was the first Pacific NW appearance of an amazing 1940 Ford Pickup called 40 Shades, built in part by the team of show presenting sponsor Carolina Kustoms in Portland. Owners Chris and Angela Church were fresh off a Best in Class win at the Grand National Roadster Show, and a Best Truck at SEMA in Las Vegas, and headed off to Texas after the show for a run through many of the Goodguys events. There’s not much on this truck that has not been either massaged or hand built, and the hours, dollars, and dedication really show.
Trucks continued to show their growth in popularity, making up almost a quarter of the vehicles on display. One of those being an amazing 1958 Dodge D100 Sweptside Pickup. Less than 3000 of these trucks with 2 door station wagon quarter panels affixed to the box sides after the fenders were removed, were built over the 3 year period of production, and less than 900 were built in 1958. And for those who looked in the cab, you saw what just may have been the first radio in an overhead console, along with other unique options.
Along with displays from Presenting Sponsors Precision Auto Body & Paint, Weston Kia/Buick/GMC, Carolina Kustoms, and The Insurance Garage, there were enough vehicles and vendors to keep attendees of all kinds interested in the show.
One of the great aspects of this year’s show, was the fundraising effort for the Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Fund. Corporal Singh was killed in the line of duty December 26th in Newman, CA, leaving behind a wife and 5 month old son. Exhibitors and sponsors donated items that could be purchased at the show, or were raffled off at the exhibitor’s dinner, with all proceeds going to the fund. Over $5,800 was raised, and along with an amazing handmade quilt from exhibitor Susan Ainsworth-Smith, will be sent to the fund for distribution to Singh’s family.
Show Promoters Bob and Greg would like to thank all of the sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, and attendees for making this year’s show their best ever. Work is already taking place for next year’s show, and they promise some new attractions, and an even bigger show for all to see. You can check out an entire photo gallery of the show at www.pdxcarculture.com or their website at www.salem-roadstershow.com.