Well the 59th is now in the history books, but it was a great show. Isn’t it amazing that this show is one of the longest continuously running shows around? And in little ole Portland Oregon. When I worked in the corporate world I heard people say that Portland was kind of “like a suburb” of Seattle. Well I guess you could make a comparison like that but I disagree for the most part.
Portland established it’s Hot Rod identity more than 60 years ago with many famous cars being built there and then shown in the Portland Roadster Show starting in 1956 and continuing until today. As I create this paper every month, for almost 2 years now, I learn more and more about the hot rod/race car roots that are well rooted and have grown and flourished in Portland all these years.
I don’t want to take anything away from Seattle though and that’s partly my point. While both cities are here in the northwest, they each certainly have their own identity and uniqueness and after all, they are 160 miles apart. The distance between only accounts for a small amount of their differences but different from each other, they are.
The Portland Roadster Show has been a must see show for me for all the years I’ve lived in the Northwest. Next year will be the 60th Annual Portland Roadster Show, and I, for one, am really looking forward to it. Because it will be a milestone year I’m certain the promoters will do everything in their power to make that show really something to remember. What great fun for participants and spectators alike to be a part of it. As a participant, just imagine entering your pride and joy and taking home a coveted award from a show with such history. It makes me want to build a car to enter it myself. All you car guys and gals out there, start now and prepare for next March and the 60th Portland Roadster Show.
If you’ve been to one of the local bullrings in the last twenty years, you’ve probably seen Freya Smith. She’s no shrinking violet and openly admits to committing every summer since 1995 to either River City (St. Helens) or Sunset (Banks) Speedway.
It was none other than Gary (Meep! Meep!) Meyers that indoctrinated her: “I started out crewing for Gary,” she explains “and knew right away that I wasn’t going to be content on the sidelines. I’m not one to sit and muss with my hair!” She wanted to know how everything worked and Meyers was willing to teach her. “I remember him explaining “stagger” to me, rolling around a Solo cup!” Because of her hands on approach to the sport, it wasn’t long before she was being offered rides in the woman’s division. Freya believes she won her first race in ’96 driving somebody’s jalopy or low budget street stock. Clearly, it was no milestone in her book.
When Mike McCann took over Sunset Speedway, she left St. Helens and went to work for him. Freya occupied various posts at the clay oval but is probably best remembered for her work as Pit Steward. Ushering racers on and off the track in the heat of battle isn’t for the faint of heart. Freya was always easy to spot with her headset slammed down over her curly blonde locks, strutting about in Day-Glo pink sweat pants! She was content at this level of involvement for several years, but the desire to drive never left her.
Then when the right car at the right price became available, Freya couldn’t resist. It was a 1978 Camaro built for up and comer Colin Winebarger. In reality, the street stock had seen very little action as young Winebarger leap-frogged directly up to late models. Little needed to be done to prepare the Camaro for Freya other than relocating the seat. Green had become her trademark color and so her father Mike Batalgia blended something special and sponsor Mike Sweere gave it a good slathering. When Freya hit the track on opening day she had a racer that reflected her extroverted personality. It was neon lime with plum crazy purple scallops on the nose! On the flanks was #37- a tip of the hat to her mentor Meyers who runs #36 to this day.
The competition didn’t know what hit them. Between Freya’s experience and the fact that the Camaro was already sorted, no one could run with her. She won all but one event, effortlessly claiming the 2013 woman’s title. In retrospect, Freya downplays her accomplishment. “It was all in preparation to run with the (men) street stock class in 2014,” she says.
The following season started off well enough but an experience on Fan Appreciation Night changed everything. Freya invited a young terminally ill girl to sit in her car for a photograph. The next weekend prior to the races, the girl’s family came down to thank Freya again and inform her that the girl had passed away. They gave Freya the gift of a “Love Rock” which the emotional driver promptly tucked into the seat of her Camaro. That night she drove with new inspiration, starting in the back and charging forward. She won her first street stock feature and dedicated the win to her young fan. It was a special Fourth of July race weekend with another feature planned for the following night. For that event, Freya started on the pole and simply checked out. “I kept watching for the nose of another car,” she exclaimed afterward, “and I never saw one.” According to her crew, no one was even close. Freya finished out the season third in overall points.
Towards the end of last year Freya hauled her car to Willamette Speedway (Lebanon) and Grays Harbor (Elma, WA) to experience racing on a faster venue. At Elma she was looking at a top five finish until throwing a belt. Still she came away encouraged and wants to travel more.
Soon she and fiancé Mike Sweere will lay schedules from Banks, Willamette and Cottage Grove side by side and plot out their own schedule for 2015. Sweere runs an IMCA-type modified so they will go to tracks that feature street stocks and modifieds on the same card. Spending the summer at one racetrack or another…That’s what Freya has done for twenty years…Why would you change now?
The Showplex at the Washington State Fair Event Center in Puyallup was home to an amazing display of hot rods, cool rides, tricked out imports and more on March 28th & 29th at the Northwest Rodarama.
Much to the delight of the spectators, there’s something for everyone at Northwest Rodarama! It’s great to see a family come through the show where not only a grandson, father and grandfather find vehicles of interest to them, but mom and grandma too! During my 4 hour trip down memory lane, I took note of the many pictures being taken in front of the vintage motorized bicycle display, which was one of my favorites at the show.
A couple local celebrities, Lance Lambert of The Vintage Vehicle Show and David Dickinson, Editor of The Old Car Nut Book Series, were on hand throughout the weekend to sign autographs and books. There never seems to be a loss for words when guys get together to talk about old cars. Both bring a personal touch to the show and their presence was enjoyed by many.
If you’re building or restoring your own custom hot rod, there’s endless ideas that’s bound to get your creative juices going, with the vehicles on display, the automotive vendors, and the pin striping bash. If you weren’t able to attend this year’s show, be sure to check it out next year!
The year is 1948 and B.F. Goodrich has just introduced the first tubeless tire to the American Highway. Land introduces the Polaroid camera for instant photographs and the first microwave oven is introduced by Raytheon. The big news of the year was a little boy was born in Seattle Washington to the Emery family and his name would be Pete J. Emery. His formative years were spent in Everett Washington where he attended grade school and then on to Cascade high school where of all things they had an excellent auto shop class for young enthusiasts.
Pete didn’t bother as he had his own private Auto Shop class in his own back yard. That, being in the form of a fantastic uncle named Stan Baker. Thanks to Uncle Stan, the love for street rods and custom cars, seed was planted in young Pete and we at R&R NW Publications are excited to bring you six of the forty five plus cars Mr. Emery has created in the past sixty-seven years.
1932 Ford Roadster sporting a 383 ci Chevy for power with a 671 blower and dual 4’s on the intake. A 350 turbo tranny and a 9” Ford rear-end. She wears an orange pearl color on the top half of the body with a pearl black on the bottom and introducing some flamed out super colorful graphics in the middle, created by Mitch Kim and Richard Pruitt.
1936 Ford 3 Window Coupe. This all steel, all real, pretty much stock body runs a ‘48 Ford Flathead for power with dual 97’s. A three on the floor tranny for fun with a ’40 Ford rear-end. She sports a 2 ½” chop-Job on the top and that rear back window still rolls down. A super set of Smitty glass packs makes this ride sound and look classic old school.
1932 Ford 3 Window Coupe just freshly built running a 350 Chevy for power with dual fours and a 350 turbo tranny. Sporting a ’38 Ford old school banjo rear-end. This is a show street rod that comes alive with power windows, power trunk and door locks and A/C for a comfortable ride. She wears that black paint with style sporting a quality stitched red interior. The one piece custom hood and the fuel cell upfront, really turns some heads on this classic fender-less beauty.
1967 Cobra Super-Formance Body. She sports a 406 ci 580 h/p for power and a 5 speed on the floor tranny. Radiant Cobra Blue color with white comp stripes really shows this clean and neat ride off with style.
1928 Ford Model “A” P.U. She hauls with a 305 ci Chevy for power, 350 turbo tranny, and a 9” Ford rear-end. This original all steel body features a one off louvered firewall by Bitchin Products and an all steel box and fenders from Brookville Inc. Flat red on the body and flat black on the fenders create another fantastic ride from the house of Emery.
1936 Ford Phaeton all steel all custom 2 ½” sectioned body, 2” chopped custom one piece Carson top with Mercedes fabric. For power a 427 ci Ford with Kenslor Stack Injection and a Ford AOD tranny. She sports a Winters Quick-Change rear-end and a C-5 Corvette suspension and brakes. A world class delicious black paint job on a flawless straight body and see-n is believ-n with the Camel Leather Interior by Gabe Lopez. The Halibrand Wheels, on all four corners top this world class number one custom car and custom street rod off with style in any company. She has earned her share of first place trophies from coast to coast where-ever she shows.
Pete has a quality history of working with his hands and building not only world class street rods and custom cars, he has a history of creating some world class building material products. He also has over the years designed, developed, manufactured and marketed some of the finest skylight fixtures for both residential as well as commercial applications in the industry today.
I’m not surprised after knowing of his high standards in the building trades that he would design and create some of the finest custom show cars in the world. He is the first to admit his life really started all over again back in 1978 when he met a young lady in Milwaukie, Oregon by the name of Janet Forman. It took some selling on his part but by 1981 they were married and for the past 34 years they have enjoyed raising a combined total of three fantastic kids into adulthood and are now blessed with six super fantastic Grandchildren.
They make their home in Happy Valley Oregon where Pete has created a six car working garage and is in the process of another body off custom build as we speak. Pete agreed to our interview and the sharing of their story as long as we remembered the individuals, who along the way, played some big roles in the building of all these custom creations. First, Uncle Stan Baker, Dick Pruitt, Mitch Kim, Daryl Schroeder, Al Swedberg, Gabe Lopez and especially to Janet and the Family.
We at R&R NW Publications would like to thank Pete and Janet for sharing their fantastic story with us and our thousands of readers in the Pacific Northwest. “All for the Love of Street Rods and Custom Cars.”
The Fall of 1953,the second week of September, a time and date I will never soon forget as it was the week of my older brothers “B” Day. Now I was under the weather and kinda out of commission for a while and both my little sister and my big brother were a good foot to a foot and a half taller than me at this time in my life. Now I’m not complaining but having to eat lunch with the third graders and not with my buddy’s in the fifth grade was a bit hard to explain but I guess size was everything back then. Because of the fall weather my Mom and Dad had planned a very special birthday outing for my brother and as it turned out it included me also. My birthday is just 86 days later than brothers and it’s already winter by then and it was not uncommon for snow to be falling in eastern Washington by December. So as a giant super big surprise for our “B” days my parents rewarded both my brother and myself with brand spanking new Hawthorne Deluxe Bicycles complete with chrome suspension shocks, a big sealbeam light upfront, a deluxe horn and a set of hand brakes that really brought this new ride together in style. Now I was only twelve years old at the time and my dad in his wisdom suggested that maybe I should just ride my new wheels in the immediate neighborhood for a while until I got used to those new brakes plus see if we could make that seat go a little lower so as to accommodate my somewhat shorter than normal one foot long legs. This was a full size fancy super-duper “Schwinn” wanta be, a Hawthorne Deluxe big guys bike direct from the shelf at Montgomery Wards.
The Fall of 1953, The fourth week of September and hadn’t I cruzed the immediate neighborhood enough? The seat was as low as it could go, I was getting somewhat comfortable with the braking system on this thing and the light and the horn worked fantastic. Now two of my buddies suggested we go and sell some of those fundraising cookies for our schools tumbling program and why didn’t we see how that new Hawthorne deluxe handled on the open highway. As luck would have it I knew my aunt would love to support our school program as she loved cookies and would probably buy several boxes or maybe even a whole case. Now the only problem was she lived on the other side of the tracks in a little town called Millwood. It was a bit of a push out of the neighborhood but a dare is a dare and never being one to use much common sense when it came to a good old fashion dare we each hoped on our rides and we were off. Wow! This new Hawthorne Deluxe was a sweetheart of a bike. Of course I had to let each of my buddies get a free ride on it to try it out, plus ride it over that one big up-hill climb to the top of the Pines Road, then it was time for me to take it back and on to Millwood and Aunties house. Well this bike really was a racing kids dream, I was so far ahead of those guys they said later they could hardly see me I was so far ahead. We passed the Drive-In Movie theatre on Trent Ave. and were just a few short blocks away and as I looked back those guys were a good three blocks behind so I thought why don’t I slow down and give those guys a chance to catch up . I proceeded to turn some circles in the middle of the road, even stood up on the peddles and was giving a good show as I was being applauded by my buddies as they were yelling and waving their arms with delight. Just then as I was turning around to see my aunt’s house coming up on the right, the man who lived across the street was pulling out of his driveway. I guess he didn’t bother looking for kids on brand new racing bikes as he smacked right into me and my beautiful Hawthorne Deluxe. I caught that 1938 Dodge 4 door sedan just about the middle of the running board and I went flying right on over that worn out old pile of sheet metal and landed about twenty feet away face down right on my Aunties front lawn. No broken bones, but had a little trouble getting up and walking. My brand new two week old birthday bike was a wipe out. The total front end was smashed, my beautiful chrome suspension springs were of no use anymore, the handlebars were now in a circle, the headlight was gone, the horn didn’t work and forget those crazy hand-brakes. As it turned out my buddies weren’t applauding my theatrical performance on my new bike they were trying to warn me of the guy pulling out. My aunt and uncle came to my rescue as we picked up the remains of my bike and they gave me a ride home. As it turned out the operator of the 1938 Dodge didn’t have a driver’s license and shouldn’t have been driving that old beater anyway. He reimbursed me for the loss of the bike a cool $39.95.
My brother Richard being a super guy didn’t tell dad about my mishap and took it upon himself to come to my rescue and got his friend Mr. Larsen to customize my Hawthorne Deluxe Bike. They installed a smaller wheel on the front creating a super dago rake, added conventional brakes, a fantastic new Schwinn seat complete with name and gave it a new paint job to match the seat. Best of all they replaced the handlebars with a Steering wheel out of an old 1926 Ford Model “T”. I almost forgot my Aunt Haddy, God Bless Her Soul, she did buy a whole case of cookies. All and All that birthday in 1953 was one of the best ever.
PS: It was several months later and well into the Spring of 1954 before my Dad made the connection that there wasn’t two fancy new Hawthorne bikes in the shed at his last check and where was the other ride? #@&?? I had him somewhat fooled as I would borrow brother Richards spotless, always clean and shiny new Hawthorne whenever Dad was in the yard and ride it like a pro, just like it was my own pride and joy “B” Day gift. The game was over when brother came riding in one day when Dad was home on that Dago-Raked, Steering Wheeled, no seal-beam headlight, no-horn, no fancy hand-brakes. What and where was the other bike my Dad inquired with some extra spirit in his voice? As I recall I let brother Richard try and talk his way out of this one as wasn’t it his buddy Mr. Larson who did the custom work on the other bike and wasn’t it Richard who was in proud possession of the other said bike in question as he rode it into the yard steering wheel in hand with his fancy paint job to match the fancy Schwinn seat and wasn’t he the purchaser of said Schwinn seat? Case closed! Dad always loved me best, I was always his go to, “Yes Sir PoP Your Right” kind of kid but Richard was still my favorite buddy brother of all time and still is today… End of story.