The other day I had the privilege of having lunch with a true hot rodder, Jim Lindsay. Jim has written two books: The Little Bastards and Swerve, book two of The Little Bastards series. Jim had a vision about writing a novel, backed by real life experiences about the hot rodding.
The Little Bastards is a story about car kid in a small town in Oregon, growing up from pedaling bikes to racing hot rods, all in the decade of the fifties. As a car guy I know what is was like back then- tee shirts, blue jeans, flat top haircuts with butch wax .
Jim has lived this life style as a true car guy. His dad had a fear for his boy, then in high school, unleashed, would become a hoodlum. So Jim hid his early cars in town behind a friend’s house. The first was a ‘47 Ford coupe and later a 1954 F100. His first car, he could park at home was a 289 powered Mustang, lowered and used hard.
Now this will make all you car guys cry. The price of gas back then (back in the mid ‘60’s) was about 28 cents a gallon. Food was priced similarly. Back then, in Albany, the place to stop for a snack, was Red’s Drive-In where you could get a burger, fries and a drink for about $0.50. Or, if you were a little short on money because you spent it all on gas, you could get hash browns and gravy for $0.25. Red’s Drive-In later became the T&M and then Westy’s.
This description was true in Southern Oregon where I grew up and spent most of my hard earned money on gas. I could cruise all night long. I think that was true no matter where you lived.
Jim’s passion for cars was fueled by witnessing kids of the 50s, with Elvis style hair, driving chopped down Fords with spinners and loud pipes. He was impressionable, being pre-teen, when these creatures wearing bomber jackets owned the streets with their girlfriends wearing lipstick and winks. Now, I have read The Little Bastards and I loved it. I can relate to getting a car, fixing it, cruising with the friends you make and the fun you have.
Talking to Jim, we discussed the trend of cars. In the ‘40’s and ‘50’s if you wanted a hot rod you had to either build one or buy one. Then came the factory cars and the world changed when the Beatles got off the plane. This was about the same time when old time rock and roll faded out and the trend of muscle cars started. Now you could go down to the dealer and get a Chevy, Ford or a Dodge already souped up and with a 4 speed. As Jim said “ the days of having to build a hot rod are over”. Today you can build a hot rod or buy a hot rod of your choice. There are also vintage muscle cars, modern muscle cars, kit cars or just take a car of your liking and fix it up the way you want. The possibilities are endless.
Jim has built and raced multiple types of cars beginning with a deuce roadster in the early ‘70s. He drove all over, even to Bonneville. Speaking of Bonneville, Jim is the proud owner of the “Red Hat.” A baseball cap is the badge worn by life members of the Bonneville 200 mph club- a prestigious group of about 600 men and women who have set a record at a SCTA sanctioned event at over 200 mph.
Jim set a record with the average speed of 218 mph last year. The racecar is a rear engine modified roadster built with the help of Marty Strode, a metal wizard from the Portland area. The roadster is powered by a blown ‘50 Mercury engine equipped with Ardun heads.
A mostly home built race car is his bright yellow ‘23 Ford roadster with an alcohol injected 341 DeSoto Hemi engine. Jim raced the Nostalgic Circuit at dragstrips up and down the west coast. In 2006 he became track champion at the Woodburn dragstrip.
As a young man, Jim saw Bob Duedall’s competition coupe dragster around town in Albany. Fifty years later he became owner of the car that he had worshipped as a young man. Once restored the Bob Duedall T-bodied comp coupe was on the prowl again. It was taken to the 2013 Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California, where it won best dragster. The car was then displayed for a year at the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville.
So lately after reading The Little Bastards, it reminded me of a cross between the movies American Graffiti and Stand By Me. Jim hit it right on the nose with his hot rodding knowledge and racing experience. I just started reading Swerve and it is just as great as The Little Bastards. I highly recommend both novels for any car guy.
Both books are available on Amazon or for signed copies send $20.00 for Swerve and $15.00 for Little Bastards or $35.00 for both to Stamper Press, 34339 Colorado Lake Dr., Corvallis, OR 97333. You’re going to love these stories.