Every Spring even as early as January there are car shows everywhere. For instance, the Portland Roadster Show which has been running continuously every year for 61 years, but wait that’s not all.
Rich Wilson of Better Car Shows LLC. In Central Point, Oregon (Medford) puts together a terrific show every spring. One of my traveling buddy’s Bill Nelson and I have made the trek a few times now and we are never disappointed. I don’t know where Rich finds them but every year he fills up four buildings and outdoor spillage with show cars, hot rods, super nice drivers, vendors, and other auto related stuff. I guess it’s true that the old car hobby is alive and thriving everywhere in America.
Have you ever displayed your car in a multi-day show? Me too. After the set up you didn’t have much to do except run the duster over your pride and joy once in a while. Then hang out with the other participants and swap car stories. All good fun but it can get tiresome ‘Standing’ around, especially when you get to be my age.
Rich has come up with an idea that’s just spectacular, that helps solve this problem. He brings in comfy overstuffed chairs. Occasional tables. Sofas etc. and sets them up in a private anti-room near the main display area for the participants to use to take a much needed rest during the show. What a great idea. He also recruits helpers who cook off site and bring in meals around noon and later and he supplies beverages, coffee, soft drinks etc. for the participants. Only VIPs have access to this space with their “participant” lanyard. Everyone seems to love it. I commented to Rich that I’d never heard of doing this but that I thought it was such a good idea. His reaction was a humble shrug and a comment that he wanted to show his appreciation to the car owners for coming out.
Next spring look for their AD in Roddin’ & Racin’ for the Medford Rod and Custom show. It’s worth it even if you have to drive 350 miles. I recommend Holiday Inn Express. They had the best beds I’ve ever experienced in a Hotel/Motel.
40 years ago when the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) decided to abandon their fledgling Formula 5000 series and resurrect the Can Am, most everyone was caught off guard. The decision was made in November of 1976 with a start date seven months later. The predominant chassis in F5000 was Lola and the manufacturer agreed to produce a fendered conversion kit that could easily retrofit the existing cars for the new series. Racer Doug Schulz had a different idea…and he knew precisely who could bring his concept to fruition.
Enter Bob McKee of Palantine, Illinois. McKee had been building quality competitive race cars since 1962 but in small numbers. He had constructed cars for the original Can Am series and is credited with fielding the first successful turbo charged sports racer. He also wasn’t afraid to think outside the box; consider his McKee Mark 14 which featured a twin turbo charged Oldsmobile engine, Ferguson four wheel drive and a pop-up air brake!
Schulz and McKee blended their ideas to create the “Schkee DB-1”, a swoopy semi-closed cockpit sports car built on the Lola platform. To some the car resembled the Batmobile; all agreed that its profile was striking. Thanks to McKee’s vast experience, the Schkee’s shape worked aerodynamically even without wind tunnel testing. Meanwhile Lola factory’s body kit was made available (imagine a blanket draped over the open wheeler from end to end) but unfortunately there was little time for fine tuning. When the season opened June 12th at St. Jovite (Canada) veteran driver Brian Redman promptly flipped his car over backward! Sadly this wasn’t an isolated occurrence as club racer Elliot Forbes-Robinson also accomplished a 360 degree blow over in his Lola conversion. Miraculously “EFR” emerged unscathed and actually had his car repaired in time to race on Sunday. Redman’s injuries kept him sidelined the entire season.
While the rest of the Lola contingent scrambled for more downforce, the Schkee in the capable hands of Tom Klauser qualified on pole. In the race itself, Klauser was off like a shot, building up an insurmountable lead. He spun off course at one point and pit to change rubber. Due to complications removing the tire skirts, the swap took a full four minutes and he STILL won the event by a large margin. Little did anyone know that St. Jovite would be the Schkee’s only moment of glory.
Stop number two on the tour was Laguna Seca where Klauser again set fast time then barfed the engine in warm ups. Unfortunately the Schkee was forced to scratch from Sunday’s race as no spare was available. Round three Watkins Glen and with a fresh power plant, Klauser qualified second. In the race he was scored a dismal fifteenth. A second Schkee was completed for Schulz to pilot in the fourth and fifth rounds. His results were less impressive. The fact was, their cars handled beautifully but their engines had no reliability. And without significant sponsorship, an engine program was out of the question.
Klauser’s only other finish of note was at the season finale at Riverside. In his final appearance in the Schkee he qualified thirteenth and finished ninth. Broke and without prospects for the future, Schulz sold the team at season’s end to Tom Spaulding.
Spaulding appeared to do better in the sponsorship department and campaigned the car through much of the 1978 season with Vetter Motorcycle Fairings (now defunct) and Sony Electronics logos. He managed four top ten finishes but never within the top five. The quality and quantity of the competition was improving and Spaulding was at best, a solid mid-pack runner.
The last appearance of the Schkee in Can Am competition was the ’79 Laguna Seca race. In a one off deal with Spaulding, French Formula One ace Patrick Gaillard qualified the car thirteenth and brought it home a respectable eleventh. In its final race the Schkee was utilized as a camera car and this Can Am video can be viewed on the internet.
By the following year Lola had introduced an all new T530 and the conversions were relegated to the back of the grid. A Schkee “DB-3” was entered in the first few Can Ams of 1980 with Klauser listed as the driver but apparently this effort never materialized.
At least one of the Schkees exists to this day. The unique one race wonder was offered for sale in “as raced” condition for a paltry $189,500.
The dictionary might describe this sweet and clean little 1940 Pontiac as free from imperfections or defects!
I would describe it as extravagantly beautiful! Mr. Steve Walls from the little town of Estacada, Oregon took a rusted out ‘40 Pontiac Coupe, that was headed to the recycle crushing machine, and turned it into a piece of artistic vehicular wonderment. In a little over 995 days (three years) Steve worked day and night on a total rebuild. Every inch of this vehicle needed attention. From a fresh new chassis sporting a 350 Chevy for power to a 350 tranny and a ten bolt rear-end. 100 percent of this rebuild was performed by Mr. Walls, including the gorgeous Viper Blue Pearl exterior paint and the delicious all black-on-black leather interior including a real Banjo brand classic steering wheel.
To keep her a little safer running down the highway he added a Camaro front clip and disc brakes on all four corners. To enhance the stance he went with 550/15” rubber up front and 850/15”out back over Tork-Thrust American chromed mag wheels. From the all stock ’40 Pontiac, including bumpers up front to the smooth and clean shaved and filled rear deck lid. This little Pontiac is one fine ride. Steve added a set of Ford tear drop tail-lights, removed the rear bumper, plus rolled the gravel pan under creating a true custom work of art. She is “SO PONTIAC” with all the little chrome pieces here and there upfront in the hood area, to the flawless clean and neat rear-end. Steve attended Estacada High School back in the 60s and was an active member in the Road Runners custom car club. Estacada High didn’t offer any auto shop programs back then, but that didn’t keep Mr. Walls from building his share of custom rides. His self-taught body and fender work and his love for cars are still with him today. We at R&R NW Publication are proud to make your 1940 custom Pontiac Coupe our featured ride for the month of June 2017.
We start off this month’s column with some breaking news—the AVs are coming to Portland. That’s right autonomous vehicles will soon be driving on Portland streets. The mayor of wonderfully weird Portland has sent out an open invitation to all of the AV experimenters. They are invited to come and practice on Portland streets. We are to understand that their travels will be on only selected streets but it is as yet unclear on exactly where that might take place.This will be called the Smart Autonomous Vehicle Initiative.
So, heads up Gearheads guess you might want to keep an eye out.
In fact more and more people are learning they need to keep an eye out for Tesla cars as well, as more and more of them continue to crash, some fatal the lawsuits continue. In fact the latest is the class action suit against Tesla Model S and Model X. This one involves safety defects and enhanced autopilot AP 2.0. they are saying that owners have become essentially beta testers of half-baked programming. Numerous crashes have insued.
Here is an interesting factoid about Tesla. They are said to be the biggest player in the AV and EV fields. However they are currently losing somewhere around $16,000 per vehicle on every sale. They expect that to change drastically soon.
So there is a little something more for all of you Gearheads to chew on. And remember that SEMA continues the battle with the RPM bill. I expect the RPM bill is the 1st of many more major battles to come as regards the rest of our cars.
This year has certainly been an interesting one for me. Interesting doesn’t mean all good or all bad… just different. I’m the oldest of all my cousins born in the younger generation of our family. My Mom has several sisters and brothers spanning several generations. My first cousin Linda (our Mom are sisters) was born in March 1950, I was born in August 1949, so I was just almost seven months older.
Her brother Jerry, whom we refer to each other as, “… my brother from another mother,” haven’t always been “buds” but we have grown closer in the last 15 years. He and his lovely wife Donna live in Phoenix, AZ. He and his wife publish “Roddin’ & Racin’” in Arizona and have for the last 26 plus years. They are single handedly responsible for the paper you are reading right now. Jerry bugged me for years to start a paper here in Oregon.
I’ll bet that most people have a cell phone… and as a result of cell phones being in common use these days with “free,” no charge long distance calling it’s a lot easier to stay in daily contact with our friends and relatives even went they aren’t living near us. Technologies are amazing, aren’t they?
Recently Jerry called me (we talk all the time) but didn’t sound like his usual upbeat self. The moment I answered and he responded, I instinctively responded, “What’s wrong?” His response was a shock. His sister Linda, my cousin, had been a passenger with her son-in-law in his car that was hit, head on, by a drunk driver. He had minor injuries, she had much more serious injuries, including broken bones and they were transported to a local hospital where treatments were administered but Linda’s internal injuries were so serious that she passed away within a few hours. Totally shocking and sad. RIP Linda, you’re home with God.
My low back has been giving me a lot of trouble… for years actually but now with the dreaded Arthritis setting in, it’s really been bothering me. An MRI reviewed by the best local area Orthopedic Surgeon revealed all kinds of bad going on. Obviously, I knew it, ‘cause I could hardly walk some days and the pain was increasing. Doctor Keenen is sought after for his expertise in back surgery so getting on the surgery schedule can be a challenge. As such I called his office to try and schedule my surgery and lucked out that he had a cancellation the following Monday. Linda’s Memorial was the week before surgery and after I got back on Friday I had planned to actually spend the weekend, Saturday and Sunday working on the 66 Biscayne. I had a lot I wanted to do before surgery because I knew I’d be out for a while and wouldn’t be able to work on any projects. Saturday morning, after a restless nights’ sleep I found that I couldn’t walk. My legs were so painful that I could barely get out of bed. I tried some stretching exercises which also caused pain and it only helped a little. I was down and couldn’t do anything, either day. I went upstairs to my office to work on the R&R NW but couldn’t walk down the stairs after doing a little work. This really isn’t going the way I envisioned it.
The beauty of “spinal decompression” surgery is that after the surgery, all that constant pain is gone! Of course, there is surgical pain, and in my case bone spur, calcification removal, (arthritis) so I wasn’t pain free but better for sure. They let me out after one night in the place of no sleep. Thanks goodness. They say they want to keep you overnight just to make sure us old people (my description) come out of the anesthetic fully and that everything is working. What that means I found out is that if you can’t tinkle… the word wasn’t scary before but it is NOW, CATHETER, and I’ll not bore you with the details because it ain’t pretty, but if you don’t know what I’m talking about I can only hope you never find out. My rules are don’t lift over five pounds, no stretching, bending, or twisting. Best thing for me is walking, with a cane, but hey at least I’m walking.
I visited my General Practitioner a few days after getting released because I was having some issues. Of course, there they always ask you a bunch of questions that you never ever thought you’d be having a conversation about… with anyone… but hey getting old ain’t for sissys. I didn’t know that a BM would be cause for a celebration but it surely was. The Doc and I got a big laugh out of that. His comment was, “Did you ever think you would be celebrating a BM?” No. No I didn’t but there is a first time for everything, and there was drinking and dancing and everything. Sorry if that’s TMI. I guess I’m just a sharer.
By the late sixties, his time had passed. I feel fortunate to have watched one of his last Feature wins (’69?) over arch nemesis Al Pombo and Everett Edlund. Once on the grid during driver introductions, I saw him lean out of his Modified, cup his hands around his mouth and hiss: “Booooo Pombo!” And sadly, I witnessed his final qualifying attempt (1972) in which his throttle stuck and he augered into the wall, ending his driving career. The colorful career of Marshall Sargent and his purple #7 was over…but man, what a ride!
Sargent was born in Arkansas in 1931 and relocated to Salinas (CA) while still a boy. He ran his first race on a converted baseball diamond at Fort Ord. By the time he joined the hardtop ranks at San Jose Speedway, he’d notched several wins in the Monterey area. Al “The Mombo Man” Pombo was a top contender and a natural rivalry developed between the two. Over the next twenty years each would amass over five hundred Feature victories, Sargent claimed his total was closer to one thousand. “My best season was eighteen Main Events at San Jose,” he told scribe Dusty Frazer in an ’81 interview. “That same year I won eleven out of sixteen races at Clovis and 16 out of 27 races at Fresno.” Sargent indeed was State of California Modified Champion in 1960 and won that year’s most prestigious race; The Johnny Key Classic. He captured the “Key Race” again in ’63 on his way to a second San Jose Speedway title.
Sargent also achieved success when he ventured outside his home state. In 1959 he drove a Lola sports car to a class win in the Daytona 12-hour and finished sixth in the Atlanta 500 driving relief for Tommy Pistone. In 1963 Sargent was one of the first Americans to be invited to race his Modified in Australia during the off season. He had a huge impact there, even convincing the Aussies to race counter clockwise! Down under a small crowd for a weekend event was 15,000; one night he drew 55,000! “That had to be the ultimate feeling for me in my racing career,” Sargent told Frazer. “It was as big a thrill as if I had won the Indy 500.” There had been other offers to go big-time including an invitation from Elmer George to try out the HOW Special at Indianapolis but it was never the right offer. In most cases he was asked to leave his wife and three sons in California and that simply wasn’t an option.
Promoter Bob Barkhimer whose relationship with Sargent dates back to Salinas days, considered him one of the best drivers to ever emerge from Northern California. “He was in the mold of A.J. Foyt,” noted Barkhimer, “Burley, muscular, brave, loud, intimidating to the other drivers and smart. Marshall would have gobbled up A.J. in a Modified on one of the area tracks, Fresno, San Jose, both on and off the track.” The promoter also revealed decades after the fact that he used to pay Sargent today’s equivalent of over a $1,000 a week to “spice up the races with some added showmanship”. The agreement was that he couldn’t purposely crash a car, lose a race or start a fist fight but other than that, anything went.
A move Sargent was famous for was jumping out of his race car on a red flag and berating the Starter. Sometimes he’d grab a flag and break it and the crowd would go wild! If they booed him (which about 50% did) he’d take out his comb and slowly comb his hair. This for some reason really got the crowd excited! Barkhimer related one story about a race which Sargent clearly lost. He yelled so long and loud that the winner finally said: “Maybe you’re right, I didn’t win. Let’s pool first and second and split (the prize money).” At that point Sargent finally relented and smiled from ear to ear.
In 1967 the veteran experienced a near fatal accident at San Jose during qualifying and was sidelined for the next two seasons. The freakishly similar accident in ’72 forced him out of the cockpit for good at age thirty seven. Sargent spent the last twenty years of his life supporting his son’s racing efforts. A special Sprint Car race entitled “The Pombo/Sargent Classic” was established in 1986 to commemorate the duo’s epic battles and that annual event continues to this day.
I love hearing stories of vehicles that have been with a family for decades. The tales of multiple generations enjoying road trips and vacations, along with thousands of miles of cruising are golden. The story of the beautiful 1938 Oldsmobile you see gracing these pages is just such a tale.
Way back in 1938 Grover Stanton and his two sisters Ruby and Garnet traveled to Lansing, Michigan to take delivery of their brand new 1938 Oldsmobile Model F-38 4 door Touring Sedan. The sedan was driven cross country with Ruby doing all the driving while Grover rode shot gun, and Garnet handled all the navigation duties seated in between them. The 38 was enjoyed for decades, and then inherited by their cousin Willetta Pense of Scio, Oregon. Willetta immediately signed the Olds over to her son Bruce. Bruce enjoyed the sedan during the early 1960s until it quick working one day…as a result, it was parked.
The idle sedan sat outside for a short time, but was then moved inside the family’s barn where it would reside for several more decades. Barn storage can often preserve a vehicle very well, but in the case of this barn the 38 Olds was subjected to high water levels from the nearby Crab Tree Creek whose waters ran around and underneath it. Besides the wet conditions the Olds played host to squirrels, rats, mice, and hoards of yellow jackets, hornets, and spiders.
Flash forward to 2012 when family member Geoffrey Landis became the newes care taker of the family heirloom. Geoffrey wanted to see the 38 returned to its former glory, and got busy disassembling it. It took nearly a year to carefully take the Olds apart and bag all the components. Once Geoffrey took the sedan to the point where he no longer had the tools and expertise to finish the restoration, he turned to MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration to complete the build.
The team at MetalWorks sat down and discussed a direction for the restoration, and Geoffrey’s plans for the car once restored. Well the time for the Olds sitting idle was over, Geoffrey wanted to drive it. So with keeping an overall stock external appearance, the 38 was treated to many modern upgrades to assure trouble free enjoyment. The long list of upgrades includes a 430hp GM Performance LS3 engine, suspension by HEIDTS, and 4 wheel disc brakes by Wilwood. The restoration process was a long battle, but the 38 turned out gorgeous, and is a perfect blend of classic and modern.
To see the sedan’s full restoration, check
out its build gallery of MetalWorks’ website: