The Dan Gurney 200 INDY Comes to S.I.R.

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Fifteen years before the first Indy car race at Portland International Raceway, Seattle hosted an event called The Dan Gurney 200.

This came about through the efforts of a man named William Doner, then newly hired General Manager of S.I.R. Doner became acquainted with Gurney years earlier while acting as Sports Editor for a newspaper published in Gurney’s hometown (Costa Mesa, CA). Doner was a huge fan and the pair became friends. Once given the opportunity to run a racetrack, Doner jumped at the chance to bring the USAC Championship Cars to the Pacific Northwest.

The year was 1969 and the profile of professional auto racing looked very different than it does today. Nationally, Indy car racing was more popular than NASCAR and USAC itself was much more diverse. The Indy car series consisted of twenty four events. There were races on ovals and road courses. There were races on dirt tracks in which upright, front engined cars competed. Even the Pikes Peak hill climb was included in the schedule and awarded points toward the championship. Doner had taken a chance booking his race in late October but in all fairness, he probably didn’t have a choice. The season began on March 30th in Arizona and concluded at Riverside (So. CA) on December 7th.

In all, twenty two cars arrived to do battle on the 2¼ mile road course. A.J. Foyt and Gordon Johncock had taken a pass but most of the big names were there. Of particular interest to spectators, many of the entries had a Northwest connection. Jerry Grant, who had cut his teeth racing sporty cars at S.I.R., was there on behalf of Webster Racing. Oregonian Art Pollard was there piloting a stock block Plymouth powered Gerhardt for Andy Granatelli. “Barefoot” Bob Gregg had procured a Portland built Vollstedt and dropped in a Chevrolet. Max Dudley hailing from nearby Auburn, WA wasn’t quick enough to make the show at Indy but was assured a starting berth here. Bardahl Manufacturing of Seattle had supported Indy car racing for twenty years. They finally had a race in their own backyard and 1968 Indy winner Bobby Unser was their chauffeur. If there was a dark horse in the field however,  it had to be Rolla Vollstedt’s current entry with underrated John Cannon at the controls. Cannon was the current track record holder and in fact, had proven his prowess at foul weather racing the year prior at Laguna Seca. In a veritable downpour, amidst a field of international stars, Cannon had rocketed from mid-pack to a convincing win.

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#6 A.J. Foyt salutes race winner Mario Andretti after his 1969 Indy victory. The pair qualified first and second fastest and battled for the win until Foyt pit to replace his turbocharger. (Jay Koch Collection)

The weatherman cooperated on Saturday during qualifications. First defending Indy champion and point leader, Mario Andretti shattered Cannon’s track record. Andretti, also racing for Granatelli, was driving the same Brawner Hawk he’d used to win four other races so far that season. Next Albuquerque’s Al Unser bested Andretti’s mark in a Lola Ford entered by Parnelli Jones. Finally in storybook fashion, the race’s namesake Gurney cut the quickest lap at 1:14.1 and garnered the pole position. Much to his credit, Gurney drove a car of his own design and manufacture- an Eagle/Westlake Ford. Bobby Unser qualified fifth in the Bardahl entry, Cannon was seventh, Grant was tenth, Pollard was fourteenth, Dudley was sixteenth and Gregg would tag the field after experiencing engine problems.

Sunday’s race was held in two 100 mile heats.  Heat one started in the dry but it didn’t hold for long. Andretti blasted away from Gurney and led flag to flag over Al Unser. Gurney finished third one lap down ahead of a surprising Sam Posey in a third Granatelli entry.  Interestingly Posey’s mount was a 4WD Lotus formerly powered by a turbine engine (now Plymouth). Cannon was fifth, Dudley tenth, Gregg rebounded for eleventh, Grant nine laps off the pace in thirteenth. Both Bobby Unser and Pollard crashed out. One writer report that everyone got off course at least once! I believe that everyone starting with Gurney, probably did.

For the second heat Andretti elected to stay on slick tires while Al Unser started on treads. After the flag dropped and the rain returned, Unser passed Andretti and won by a sixty six second margin. Unser was awarded with the overall win (for some unknown reason) and due to another stellar drive in round two, Posey was credited with third (he would comment years later that his performance in the Gurney 200 was perhaps the best drive of his career). Gurney himself wound up with fourth place money, after hasty repairs Bobby Unser was fifth.

At the press conference that followed the race, runner up Andretti was asked about their decision not to start the second heat on rain tires. “After you win a race you get over confident,” he shrugged. “You are afraid to make any changes.” In the big scheme of things, it didn’t really matter. Mathematically Andretti already had the ’69 Championship won- even with two events remaining.

After the races Doner announced that he was he was going to try to reschedule “The Gurney” for mid-summer in 1970…but it didn’t happen. Unfortunately sometimes all you get is one shot.

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Andretti prepares for another ride in the Brawner hawk. Builder Clint Brawner is in the straw hat with his arms akimbo. Mechanic Jim McGee eyeballs the photographer. (Jay Koch Collection)

Albany Indoor Swap Meet

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The phrase “Swap Meet,” gets the brain thinking. What do I need/want?  What new project can I find? Anything else I need for my current project?

The Albany Indoor Swap Meet has been going on since 1978. At first it was held at the Linn County Fairground, just west of I-5, where Costco is located now. Nineteen years later, the swap meet relocated to the “new” Linn County Expo Center and has been going strong ever since. For those who haven’t been there before, it is one of the largest swap meets in the State of Oregon. Four large buildings plus many outdoor stalls. At the Albany Swap Meet you can find just about anything from turnkey cars, rusty sheet metal, engines, carbs, to wheels and tires. Anything you need to get started on a project or finish the one you have.

When I first started my hot rod project, I went to several swap meets to gather up parts and pieces for my car. This included the Albany Indoor Swap Meet. I usually found something that I needed and continue to find things I can use. Even on the rare occasion I don’t find anything, it is great just to look around shoot the bull with friends.
Martin Harding is one the original members of the Enduring A’s Chapter MAFCA. He and the group have been organizing and running the swap meet since day one. Along with the Enduring A’s, the Linn County Sheriff’s Posse, Linn County Sheriffs Reserve and the Linn County search and Rescue donate their time to make sure the swap meet goes smoothly. This is a fundraiser that is put on by the Enduring A’s and is the only one they do annually. The money is designated to help the Linn County Sheriff’s Reserve, the Posse and Search and Rescue, as well as scholarships to LBCC Auto Program and various other charities.

If you plan on attending the 2016 Albany Indoor Swap Meet, plan on coming early. The meet is usually the 3rd Saturday in November, with the gates opening at 8am and the parking is FREE. For any questions or information call 541-928-1218 or go to albanyswapmeet@comcast.net

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6th Annual Cruise to Downtown Oregon City

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Toward the end of the 2015 car show/cruise-in season Trick ‘n Racy Car Club held their 6th Annual Cruise to Historic Downtown Oregon City.

The weather couldn’t have been better with warm sun and a light breeze, it was just a beautiful day.  The turn-out was terrific as well, with nearly 400 cars for the second year in a row.

The Club teams up with the Downtown Oregon City Association to put this show together annually and it just seems to be getting bigger and better every year.

Just in case you didn’t know… the “Historic” part of the title relates to the fact that Oregon City was the first Capital of the Oregon Territory back in the 1800s, before Oregon became a State in 1859. Which also makes Oregon City an old town. The buildings and streets have changed over the years but are still layed out the same as they were 150 years ago. It’s a quaint little downtown area and it works out great for an open air car show.
Incedently, for two years in a row the show has filled up entirely and some potential entrants had to be turned away.  The show in 2016 will be held Saturday, September 17th. The organizers have decided to expand the car display area. All the details haven’t been worked out but they are working on plans to have enough room for as many as 800 cars and more vendor booths. Mark this one on your must go to list.

Jon Mannila’s 1972 Stepside Chevy

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Imagine if you could travel back in time to 1972 and order a brand new truck assembled exactly how you wanted!

For Jon Mannila of Eugene, Oregon that perfect combo would have been a black, big block, 4×4, Cheyenne Super 10 with a red houndstooth interior. Well, they haven’t invented a time machine yet, and Chevrolet never built such a combo. So Jon figured he was just going to have to build it himself.

A bare bones, original paint, one owner, step side ‘72 was traded in at Romania Chevrolet in Eugene in 1996 that Jon caught wind of. The well cared for truck had a severe motor knock after it was taken out by the owner’s grandson for a joy ride, so it was traded in for a new truck. Once in Jon’s possession he immediately began working on it, but as soon as his good friend Tony laid eyes on the unmolested truck, he was in love. So Jon agreed to sell it to him. Tony continued to make steady progress on the truck until Jon decided to part ways with his wicked ‘55 Chevy post car. As much as Tony loved the ‘72 truck project, he also had a deep affection for Jon’s 55, and it was a driver.  So another deal was struck between the friends, and Jon was once again the owner of the truck project.

At this point in Jon’s life his hobby of classic cars had grown into a successful business known as MetalWorks Classic Auto Restoration, so he had the shop take over the truck’s restoration. Tony had come to work for Jon, so the pair were both able to be involved in the balance of the truck’s build. The goal was to make the truck look totally factory, so great strides were taken to achieve that vision. A 402 was utilized, but pushed forward to ensure factory mounting locations for the transfer case. The big block was fully dressed with stock A/C, shroud, powering steering, etc, and backed by a turbo 400 transmission adapted to the factory 205 transfer case with an Advanced Adaptors kit. The truck’s factory wooden bed was replaced with a steel floor from a ¾ ton long box, but in a fashion that appears factory. It was then Line-X coated.

Once the entire truck was mocked up, it was blown apart and its body work tackled. As you can see in the photos, this is one amazingly arrow straight paint job, and the red houndstooth interior looks unbelievable paired against the deep black.

The truck was completed and ran as good as it looked, for a short while. You have to remember this was the early 2000s and engine oil was going through a transition period and it didn’t take long for the big block’s non roller cam to go flat with the lack of zinc protecting it. So with an expensive lesson learned that builders around the nation faced, Jon pulled the 402 and swapped it for a 454 that was once again detailed to factory perfection. In the end the truck was everything Jon dreamed it would be, and other than the 6” lift and WELD wheels this ‘72 appears bone stock—as the only factory example of a big block, 4×4, Cheyenne Super, stepside to leave the factory in 1972—or is it? Ha ha, Jon will never tell.

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What Do You Get When H2O Hits a 32° Day?

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This whole story began back in the month of December of 1958, in the small hamlet of Veradale, Washington.

Eastern Washington has a history of producing some pretty cold weather as the wind blows down with fury from the northern plains of Canada. From December to February or March, with the old outside thermometer hitting down into the teens and below, makes for a lot of snow and ice in Veradale. It was also an excellent time for a couple of buddies to pick up some easy money shoveling snow. No, I’m not talking about shoveling the old fashioned way, I’m talking about sitting in a nice warm ¾ ton Chevy pick-up with chains on all four corners, bags of sand in the back for a little extra traction and a fresh new fancy snow plow up front. This was a state-of-the-art snow plow complete with power hydraulics to lift the plow up at the end of the run. We talked Larry Schmedding’s dad into letting us operate this fine piece of engineering to help our fellow merchants in the area get rid of some of that snow that was piling up outside like there was not going to be any tomorrow, if we didn’t get out there and help out.

We filled our new ride up to the brim with petrol, checked the hydraulic fluid and were off to make some extra bucks. Our first stop was at the K-Mart next to the gas station where Larry and I worked part time. “Yes,” was the answer from the assistant manager—he’d pay us $25 to get that snow out of the parking lot and he was thankful we came along when we did, as he was out there freezing his you-know-what off, trying to just get the snow away from the big doors up front. Next we hit the Albertson’s grocery store with another big yes, then on to the post office with another positive yes, and on to the drugstore “for sure yes do it.” We had made a $100 and we hadn’t even started to shovel any snow yet. This was going to be a fantastic pay day!

With my share of the bucks I could already see a brand new set of white wall tires on the old model ”T” and maybe a new starter that would help me get her running. I had been pushing it to get her started for the last six months and this was getting a little old, not to mention a little awkward when I had to ask one of my dates if she could help out with the push start exercise.

We continued to sell our new snow removal business for the next hour and picked up an additional four parking lots. Wow! We were now at a cool $100  each and we hadn’t even applied for a business license yet. We were so busy selling that we hadn’t checked the amount of snow that was piling up. She was probably around 12” when we started our new venture and was hitting 30” now. Maybe it’s time we got to using that super, duper, power hydraulic snow plow.

One foot of snow plowing removal was a sure thing, but two and a half feet was a different story. We had to remove the snow in layers, and that meant it was going to take twice as long at each location than we had planned. This might be an all-night snow removal party we are attending. As the night moved on and we continued to move from lot to lot removing the amounts of snow that had fallen up to that time.

We were making some headway but I swear it was coming down faster than we could shovel it. We used up a full tank and 1/2 of gas and 10 hours later we finally finished the final parking lot at the US Post Office. We got them all done and even went back and shoveled a little more at the K-Mart to make it look like a fresh job had just been done.

We made it home with Mr. Schmedding’s truck just in time for him to hop in and head to work. Larry and I grabbed a bowl of Wheaties and were off on our way to school. Not sure about Larry, but I got a quick nap in during P.E. hiding in the john. That afternoon we made it by four of the snow removal jobs and  collected our bucks due. The K-Mart manager fizzled out on us as he hadn’t approved any snow removal activity, but he sure thanked us for our civic contribution. The remaining three was a nightmare to behold. Around twelve o’clock that night a Chinook wind coming up from down south brought some high warm wind into the whole area. The temperature shot up and all the fresh fallen snow melted like it had never been there at all, except the piles that we had so nicely placed at the ends of each row and by the light poles. You guessed it, two of the three would pay us our $25, but they wanted those big piles removed as they were taking up parking spaces they needed for their Christmas shoppers. Well the only way that was going to happen was by hand with snow shovels and we really earned our money on those two. The United States Post Office paid us by check. I think we received it by mail about six months later.

All in all our snow removal business turned out to be a moderately profitable little venture. I of course listed the income I made from this experience as unearned income on my next year’s tax return. I’m not sure how Larry handled his side of the profit, but it might be interesting to note that he is just one of the successful millionaires I’ve known to come out of that Spokane Valley from that time period. Who knows, maybe there is money to be made in snow removal, however, it still sounds like a snow job to me.

Feature Car of the Month

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This gorgeous ’37 Ford Cabriolet Convertible is more than ready to participate in the upcoming 60th Portland Roadster Show with winning style.

She features more bells and whistles on her than most brand new vehicles of today. She is the property of Mr. Jack Lindquist, from the Oak Grove area of Portland and we’re proud to make this our R&R NW featured car of the month.

This beautiful Fire Pearl Red colored rod features a 425 hp, 383 V-8 for power, a 700R4 w/electric adjustable lock up tranny and a 9” rear w/370 Posi-Trac mono-leaf spring. She has 4-wheel disc brakes with polished Willwood calipers, Mustang rack and pinion, power steering, power windows, power doors and trunk with 6-way power seats. Tilt wheel, Vintage Air with front runner serpentine system, Kenwood C/D player, Classic Instrument “wing” gauges, and Flow Master creating that awesome sound. She sports a delicious Ultra Tan all-leather interior and chrome billet wheels with TA rubber on all four corners. The flawless Gibbons body with a two inch chopped top covered in show class fabric makes this ride come alive and guaranteed to get a lot of thumbs up and happy smiles as you fly down the byway.

Jack attended Oregon City High back in the fifties and was a member of OCH winning football team. Graduating in 1960, he went on to running and then owning the well-known Chevron gas station at the top of the hill in OC back when gas was selling for 21 cents per gallon.
It didn’t take him long to realize there probably wasn’t a strong future in pumping gas, so he jumped at a chance and got into the grocery business. Thirty plus years later he retired from United Grocers right here in Portland. He is enjoying his retirement and about five years ago he purchased himself a little gift in the form of this freshly built fantastic 1937 Ford Cabriolet Convertible. He loves everything about this super rod and she’s won her share of trophies in the past few years.

Did I mention that Jack is one of the founding members of the “Silver Cruisers” car club here in Portland?  I’m not sure where they came up with that handle for a new car club but I think one of the prerequisites had something to do with older hair styles.

Jack now has his eyes on another ride out there in dream land, so it’s time to look for a new owner for the ’37. If you’re interested you can see her in person at Affordable Classics —located at 19895 SE McLoughlin Blvd. in Gladstone. The individual who jumps on the chance to own this ride, for a fraction of what all the parts cost, plus the build time to put it all together, is going to be one lucky person.

We hope to see you and your beautiful, creative, automobile work of artistic wonder at the Portland Roadster Show come March 18-20, 2016 at the Portland Expo.

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Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

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Probably truer words have never been spoken when it comes to the eye of the GearHeads of the world.

Those who build the hot rods of today are considered artisans in their own right – and for good reason. Thanks to reality shows on modern day TV, the general public has been given a bird’s eye view of the creations and the many characters that build them. Indeed, the viewing public comes to the awareness that some of these craftsmen prove to be quite a piece of work themselves – to gaze upon!

All one has to do is look back through the Deusenbergs of the days of yore to realize that art has been a part of the automobile from the beginning.  Why even as Henry Ford manufactured a million black, Model T Fords there could have been an artistic glint behind those bespectacled eyes … well, maybe not.  But fast forward to the present day and there is no question that there is art to behold in any man’s eye when it comes to current car creations. It’s just that … er, one man’s taste might vary a bit from the next man’s in some situations.
Behold The Valkyrian Steel.

As the average man gazes upon this 29 foot monstrosity, he might make the connection on how this might very well appeal to your average GearHead. Because one might naturally assume that, what with all them gears and such churning around inside the heads of these hot rodders, this would be totally acceptable. Then again … that might depend upon what one might consider “natural.”

One might be a bit taken aback to note most of the GearHeads unsteadily wandering off with a vacant look in their eyes. Trust me on this one – as one of the wanderers, I can attest to this.  However, if one is to delve deeper into the conundrum that is the Valkyrian Steel, one learns that this is indeed a commissioned work of art that was built for a specific purpose.

If one can just open one’s mind to a vision of a mighty warrior machine lumbering through a smoky, fiery wasteland on a mission to rescue a giant burning man from the Apocalypse.  One can then truly understand how this man made machine would fit right into the annual Burning Man trek into the desert. ‘nuff said.

But can we at least give the real eye candy a little love. There is no question the hordes of fantastic new builds to be seen at this year’s SEMA Show was the true car porn that all the GearHeads drool over.  We have been seeing them in many of the articles and shows that are coming out on this colossal show.

Alas we would be remiss if we did not wrap this up with that other art form that is the pearl of many a GearHead’s eye.  That would be the many and myriad parts and pieces that make up the whole. Whether they be hand formed, cad/cam, CNC, billet, plated, anodized, painted, water blasted or 3d printed.  The latest and greatest of man’s creations that are the parts that make the whole hot rod, are at this fabulous show – all lit up.  A satisfying array meant to placate all of those motorhead addicts—those reversely synergistic types who fully believe that it is, indeed the sum of the parts that is greater than the whole.  Go to #GearHeadsWorld for more on the Valkyrian Steel and many other SEMA cars.
So, what say you GearHeads, which is the purest art form?  Is it the whole car you see before you or is it the sum of all the man made pieces that make the whole?

Or might it be something more visceral like wrapping one hand around a wheel and the other on a gearshift?

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All for the Love of Classic Cars & Chopper Bikes

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The story, as remembered by one tall lanky dude with the name of Del, who hits the measuring tape at
6’ 8 ½”, recalls about 29 years ago this lovely young lady by the name of Grace happened to be in the right place at the right time, and he was lucky enough to be at the same place at the same time. The day he met her, his life started all over again. She was truly his special grace gift from heaven. At 5’ 9 ¾” the two of them became a tall hit where ever they went. In addition, she loves classic custom cars and chopper bikes.

By the time Grace and Del got to be introduced as a couple Grace had already graduated with honors from Portland State University with a degree in accounting, and a master’s in business. Good old Del had nailed up his shingle down on McLoughlin Blvd., introducing the world to Colton’s Auto Body. He has kept his nose to the grind stone and has produced some memorable rides in the past 30 years, and he has more than earned the new title of Colton’s Custom Rods. Del will be the first to admit his life really all came together the day the Lord introduced him to Grace. She has brought more to the marriage of two people than just standing eye-to-eye with her husband. She has brought her well-learned knowledge of accounting and business management to assist Del in his love of street rods and classic custom cars. Together they have developed a working partnership of trust and loyalty to their church, their customers, their community and their many friends. Del and Grace Colton are truly a beautiful 28 year build time of life in progress.

We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank both of you for sharing your story with us and our thousands of readers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. “All for the Love of Classic Custom Cars and Chopper Bikes.”

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1967 CHEVELLE Super Sport 2DR HT

For power she sports a Merlin 540 ci w/Canfield heads plus nitro injection, Turbo 400 tranny,  and a fantastic interior by D.L. Peters complete with roll bar.  She features a custom striped and vented hood that really makes this ride stand out in the crowd. The super tires and wheels finish off the look in style. She’s won her share of trophies all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
A fella by the name Steve Oviatt witnessed this fantastic automobile creative work of art at the Roadster Show last year, and he just had to have it. Under new ownership she’s still winning trophies, and a real crowd pleaser whereever she’s shown. Build time 2 ½  years.

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1964 CADILLAC COUPE DeVILLE Convertible

429 ci Cad for power,  Turbo 400 auto transmission and stock rear-end. The stance on this low and long (19’6 1/2 “) and sweet delicious creation is from Air Ride Technology by Ridetech, the gorgeous rich black leather interior and the fantastic black cloth top was stitched by D.L. Peters Upholstery.  The unbelievable deep pearlized paint makes this Cad Convertible come alive and the True Spoke Kelsey Hayes wire wheels and the w/w tires on all four corners finish this ride with class. Look forward to seeing this brand new  Colton’s Custom built rod creation at the 60th Portland Roadster Show on March 18/20, 2016 at the Portland Expo Center. Build time 1 year.

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2014 FORD RAPTOR F150 ½ Ton PU

Daily driver. For power a 6.2 L 405 h/p  w / 6 speed Auto trans and 4 WD.  This limited edition Ford features the custom all leather interior package with all the bells and whistles you can put on a parts truck for the office.  The candy maroon red color with black accented trim on that crew cab looks inviting for any two six and seven foot caretaker owners.

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2009 CHEV Z06 CORVETTE

Sporting a LS7 662 h/p dialed in up to 800 plus h/p. Featuring a carbon fiber wrapped custom top and front air foil, custom one off laser vented hood, a gorgeous Corvette Red finish on the body with a black-on-black rear spoiler.  She’s running D-2 forged 20” wheels on all four corners and this baby can get up and turn some numbers.  She’s won her share of trophies and it’s a true Colton Custom Rod as she is detailed spotless inside and out to perfection. Always a refined work in progress.

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2007 BIG BEAR CHOPPER

S&S 124 ci for power creates 124 h/p to the rear axle featuring Super Ride rubber 300mm wide  on the rear and 80mm up front giving this long (9’ 6”) and low chopper its on the ground stance.  The Rattlesnake Chopper color is highlighted with flamed out striping and graphics by world class pinstriper Mitch Kim of Portland, Oregon.  Keeping his Grace free from any harm, Del rides this on the ground chopper as a boy toy only. However I have been witness to the fact that Grace, on more than one occasion, has shown up at car and bike shows in her tricked out Corvette to haul home your boy toy chopper’s winning trophies. She’s is a beauty and your choppers not bad either! The choppers build time was about 3 months.