Fall in the Fifties

The 50s in the Fall Car Show in Lebanon has been put on by the Rollin’ Oldies Car Club for the past 27 years. The club was formed in 1990 by founding father Harry Carter. Today the club has over 120 members as well as several lifetime members. Those who are host cars do not compete for trophies. The show is open to all ages and groups of vehicles.
This year was one of the biggest shows with over 236 assorted vehicles. With that many cars it took up pretty much all of the space of the beautiful River Park which has been the site of the show since the beginning. The only exceptions were when the park was being revamped in some way.

With cars from all over we were treated with oldie, but goodie, sounds from Russ Strohmeyer of Stro’s DJ Service.
The Rollin’ Oldies Car Club is very active in Lebanon. The show has been at River Park from the start. With donations from the club, for example, there has been a new flagpole installed at the park.

Other donations are unique to the needs. Lebanon is home of COMP-Northwest Medical School. The club has purchased medical bags for the student doctors to help them out with expenses. Other moneys go to scholarships for LBCC Auto Shop students, different charities like soup kitchens and the Oregon Veterans Home, also in Lebanon.

Just about every car show has a raffle drawing. This show had some great prizes. The most unique prize I have ever seen was a case of toilet paper. The guy who won that was very happy!

“Rocketeer” Rich Bailey brought his blown alcohol dragster. Rich not only races the dragster, but he displays it at shows, too. This year, after a summer of racing he finished 5th in points, racing at tracks throughout the west coast. Between races he has shown the car at the state fair and several car shows throughout the state, which helps his sponsor Burgerville of Albany and Capital Auto Group of Salem. Not only does it look great, but it sounds great. “Let’s fire this beast up!” is something you always want to hear at a show. Rich and his crew did just that. He started the dragster and, yes, it did sound great!

“Ava”, a love story…After WWII a young man bought a new car, a 1946 Desoto coupe. He dated a young lady from Redmond. Back then to date a young lady you needed an escort, but this Desoto did not have a back seat. The escort had to follow in another car. So, there was more alone time for this young man and his young lady friend. You may think the young lady’s name is Ava, but the car’s name is Ava. Jim bought the car new in 1946 and drove it all the time until 1972. He married his lady friend and they lived together until Jim passed away from cancer. Before he died he put Ava in a heated garage, up on blocks for the next 42 years. In 2017, Jim’s wife passed and the family sold the car to Ray and Dianne Lancaster of Salem. Ava is all original. A 236 flathead six cylinder automatic top shift transmission.

Without the back seat the trunk is huge, big enough to sleep in. Only 531 were made. Now there is a new love story with Ray and Dianne Danny Petersdorf from Salem has owned his ‘59 Pontiac Catalina for over four years. The car is all original except the interior having been redone. Everything else done on the car is “age correct” including Danny’s hairstyle—a purple mohawk—cool! I know they had different hairstyles back then, including mohawks, but maybe not purple!

A true custom, Dan Pullen’s 1949 Chevy Fleetline. Back in the 50’s you built customs from parts of different cars. Dan did just that. He has owned the car since 1987. The car has been chopped, lowered with air bag suspension with a 4 bar rear end. He took parts from a ‘57 Chevy dash, ‘62 Cadillac taillights, ‘57 Chevy grill bar, and an Olds windshield. Dan did all the bodywork himself. He did a great job of splicing and dicing which turned out to be one of the smoothest bodies I’ve ever seen.

Founding father, Harry Carter, who is no longer with us, would be very proud of what the Rollin’ Oldies have done over the last 27 years and what is in store for the next 27 years and longer.



Petersen’s September Collector Car Auction

Oregon’s own Petersen Collector Car Auction held their auction in Salem in September and it was a great success. With 92 cars consigned to them they had a 42% sell through. That’s significant because their auctions ARE reserve auctions, meaning the car owner can put a minimum sale amount on their car. With a reserve on the car it can’t be sold for less than the reserve amount unless the owner lifts the reserve. Your car won’t be sold at a loss or for less than you wanted to take for it, but you, the owner can remove the reserve if the bid gets to an amount you are willing to take for your car.

Some auctions are ‘no reserve’ auctions meaning, your car simply sells for the highest bid, not at Petersen Auction. As the seller you “reserve” the right to not sell your car for less than you want to sell it for. I like it because I can remain in control. Consignments are being taken now. Call 541-689-6824 for more info. The next opportunity for you to buy or sell at a Petersen Auction will be February 3rd, again in Salem at the Fairgrounds. See you there!

The 5th Annual Gladstone Community Festival Car Show

 

Back on August 6th the small little hamlet of Gladstone, Oregon became a supersize community hosting the 5th annual Community Festival Car Show in downtown Gladstone. Several thousand families and guests witnessed the biggest and best car show ever in the area. From super street rods to custom pick-ups and fancy stock cars out of yesteryear, were on display. A record of over 200 registered vehicles, turned the little city into a rainbow of colorful rides in every, size, shape, and model. Over 85 sponsored trophies were awarded to these special dream machines including, a couple of bikes, some with engines and some with pedals. Every entry at this charitable fund-raising event, was a winner in the eyes of the car enthusiast. Half of the funds raised, twenty-five hundred dollars, was dedicated to the Gladstone Center for Children and Families. An additional 2,500 was earmarked for the Gladstone, Oak Grove Rotary to support their local community efforts. The KDCCP, Kiwanis Doernbecher Children’s Cancer Program were represented with a booth, raising funds selling raffle tickets on a brand new Ford Mustang, with 100% of the proceeds dedicated to Doernbecher and OHSU. Several hundred dollars was raised in a few hours.

14 local dedicated sponsors took part in this year’s activities.
Affordable Classics, Latus Motors, Hamilton Appliance, Stanley’s Corner, Colton Auto Body, Pioneer Auto Wholesale, Gladstone Mitsubishi, Auto Town, Lot 99, Mike Patterson Plumbing, Battery Factory, Ross Upholstery, Track Auto, Auto Shop NW, and Kim Sieckman.

Volunteers to run the show and award the trophies were from the Associated Fords of the Fifties Club, Affordable Classics Inc. and Kim Sieckman.

A special thank you goes out to all the local sponsors and the fantastic job well done, by all the volunteers. This was one of the nicest car shows ever, as witnessed by all the beautiful families that came out and enjoyed the day together. A special note of recognition to the local Gladstone Police and Fire Departments for their courteous handling of the large crowd on hand and the friendship and good will extended by all at the 2017 Gladstone Festival Car Show.

We at R&R NW Publication would also like to thank Juan and Judy Ruiz, from Affordable Classics Inc. for their assistants in putting this story copy together for the car show.

 

The Future of Motorcar Racing?

 

 

Gearheads, we have been devoting quite a few columns to emerging technology. That is because there is a lot going on in the automotive world and we need to remain aware of it – all of it. We have been focusing on autonomous vehicles (AVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). But there is plenty going on out there. Consider this engine… from what we know it is sort of half diesel and half gasoline, incorporating the best of both worlds – more power, more mileage. We won’t get into the stoichiometruc ratios here. For now, we will say that it is altered considerably inside the combustion chambers of this engine.

Now, we know that Volvo has announced that they are electrifying their entire lineup. They have run into a slight hitch however with their AVs Down Under. It seems like the kangaroos are driving their algorithm bonkers. It just can’t seem to figure them out when they are out on the roads. Oh well, all in due time.

Henrik Fisker is introducing their 2019 Fisker Emotion. It has a 400 mile range and can be recharged in 9 minutes. This rig includes a lot of bells and whistles. Next we have the Infiniti Prototype 9 EVwhich was introduced at Pebble Beach.

Aston Martin is shooting for 100% hybrids. They intend to manufacture their own batteries and Motors as well. In other news we are hearing that Renault – Nissan is partnering with China. Mercedes-Benz has cancelled their next Gen 5 class convertible. Audi has cancelled their next-gen A5 and A8 but are coming out with an “E” A8.

At press time we are hearing word about a new Electric GT Racing Series featuring a version of the P100D, Tesla Model S all in carbon fibre. It looks like they have tons of horsepower and tons of downforce. If this comes to fruition, it will be global. They are currently seeking investors. They are saying this, “We know the future of motorsports is electric.”

There is plenty more Gearheads but we have to end this at some point for this month. How about we leave you with this news from Autoline Daily — Corvette has closed their assembly line for 3 months. This could be for a number of reasons as most of us are aware of the rumors floating around about the Next-Gen Vette. But we will close with this, the latest numbers show that auto sales are down pretty much across the board worldwide. And that includes the sales of luxury cars to the wealthy.

Fire Breathing Monsters

As a journalist that has spent time around a lot of different forms of racing, I thoroughly enjoyed my maiden voyage into the realm of drag racing. I would best describe the tone of the NHRA Drag Race Nationals as amusingly eccentric.

The car/sponsor regalia is as loud as the cars themselves. The drivers openly make quips at each other during grid interviews and the announcers were at an impossibly high energy level all day long. No one takes themselves too seriously.

That is not to the disservice to the drivers or crews who are focused and working really hard, or to the fans that are passionate about this form of the sport. I mean to describe the feeling in the air. This event was fun. All of the fans – and there were a lot of them – had smiles on their faces and truly enjoyed every minute.

The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals held in Indianapolis are the biggest six days in the drag racing world. “This is our Super Bowl. This is our Daytona or Indy 500,” said a fan that drove from three states over for the weekend. “I come every year! We can tell you everything that y’all need to know.” In a thick southern drawl he did his best to explain the ins and outs of the event and series to me. Here is what we learned:

 

» The Mello Yello NHRA series includes a couple breeds of cars; Top Fuel, that are shaped long and skinny, and Funny Cars, that are shorter and are meant to resemble street cars. Both are considered the elite of the drag racing pyramid.

» Top Fuel cars and Funny Cars produce an estimated 10,000 horsepower each — which is more than ten current NASCAR Cup cars combined.

» Success is measured in absolute speed and how quick drivers can complete a ¼ of a mile. Both variations comfortably break 300 mph.

» Top Fuel and Funny Cars burn nitro methane, at roughly 11 gallons per second and produce G forces similar to a space shuttle launch. Bright flames shoot out the sides of the car. It’s visually spectacular.

» Lastly, and most importantly, always always always bring earplugs. The mere sound of the engines produce decibels so loud that they can only be measured on the Richter scale. That’s right, each run that these dragsters make are roughly equivalent to an earthquake. To further illustrate this point, my new drag racing friend told me to watch closely during the next drive by. About 100 yards from the racing surface, the unobstructed sound waves rattled his full beer cup about four inches across the metal table. I can see why people are hooked on this stuff.

 

 

“You know how you know the real fans?” he drawled. (I shook my head) “The Nitro eyes.” Evidently, it is a common practice for the more committed enthusiasts to rush up to the pit entrances when the teams fire the cars up. They then stare deep down the fiery throats of the beasts, the breath from the engine ripping the caps off their heads. A bluey haze burps and engulfs the fans, burning the air they are breathing. As the engine is cut and the roar dies, everybody coughs until their brains retract from the edge of asphyxiation. I tried it once. It was not my favorite aspect of the sport. The true diehards go from tent to tent performing this ritual until their cheeks are blistered, facial hair scorched and matted, and their eyes are a (Mello) yellow color.

The races themselves are run in short bursts, two cars at a time. The Nationals determine who is in the chase for the championship; so all teams aim to make a strong impression. After five rounds of qualifying, the eighteen Top Fuel competitors were matched up for the ‘elimination’ rounds. Each round narrowed the field; eight cars, four cars, two cars. The final showdown was between Steve Torrence in the CAPCO Contractors car in the left lane and Kebin Kinsley in the Road Rage Fuel Booster racer on the right. Off the line, Kinsley lost his grip and Torrence was crowned the weekend champion for the Top Fuel guys. “We have had a lot of success at Indy but have never been able to close the deal” said Torrence after. “It was one of the proudest days in my career.”

On the Funny Car side of things, fourteen competitors followed the same format. The last round of two starred J.R. Todd in the DHL car on the left and Ron Capps in the NAPA Auto Parts car on the right. They battled off the line and down the strip. Todd prevailed by .0297 seconds over Capps, equating to roughly 14 feet of victory. “I knew we were going to go out there and throw down,” said Todd. “I could not believe that win light came on.”

I went home from the event with my head in a daze and my ears ringing, trying to wrap my head around what I had just experienced. How could the family of motorsports have such variation from one discipline of racing to another? In debriefing my roommates (who are utterly unfamiliar with the racing world) of this event, they asked what the cars were like. The true description from the track announcers rang clear in my brain. “Well,” I said, “These cars are fire breathing monsters.”

 

Stuck on You

 

There was a time when STP stickers were affixed to virtually every race car at my local speedway. The little red ovals were placed at the highest point on the vehicle- the uppermost corner of the airfoil. Almost every car had one so you couldn’t help but notice. As an eleven-year-old fan, I didn’t understand the concept of a contingency program but STP marketing genius Andy Granatelli did.

No, Granatelli didn’t own the company nor did he invent the product or design the logo. He was hired by the Studebaker Automobile Corporation to market their “Scientifically Treated Petroleum” and that’s precisely what he did. He refined their trademark logo and promptly had a gazillion stickers made. Then he embarked on a nationwide campaign to distribute those stickers and soon they were everywhere. It was estimated in 1968 that Granatelli gave away two million stickers a month. Twenty-four million stickers a year is a ton of exposure. The STP logo became arguably the most recognizable graphic in America through the 1960’s.

After Granatelli put Richard Petty under contract, he himself was able to fade from the limelight. Though STP has been sold numerous times since Studebaker failed in 1966, Petty remains under contract to this day. The original polymer product is no longer a top seller yet the STP logo is of such value that it is still used to market a variety of automotive products including battery chargers and octane booster.

Granatelli was famous for marching down pit lane in a jacket emblazoned with corporate logos but he may have borrowed that idea from Dean Moon. Moon was a contemporary of Granatelli’s that had also emerged from the automotive aftermarket. He designed his first fuel block while he was still in high school. Spun aluminum oil tanks, foot shaped gas pedals and finally flat disc wheel covers followed. Putting eyeballs in the double o’s was a no brainer but the “Moon Eyes” logo really took off when Moon had a cartoonist from Disney revamp it. He may have owned a logo covered blazer first but his time on earth was short compared to Andy’s. The company was sold to Japanese businessmen and remains relevant to hot rodders throughout the world. I displayed the Moon Eyes on my first performance car, a ’64 Austin Cooper- coincidently Moon’s first car was an Austin as well.

Cigar chomping Clay Smith was an engine tuner from Southern California. His contribution to racers was custom ground camshafts but his woodpecker logo had more duration. It was supposed to be a caricature of Smith himself though most would agree that it more closely resembles Walter Lantz’s Woody Woodpecker. Both characters appeared in the early 1940’s simultaneously and were allowed to coexist because the automotive aftermarket and the animation world are completely unrelated. Sadly, Smith was killed in a racetrack accident when he was only thirty-nine years old. The camshaft business lived on however, largely due to their iconic trademark. The menacing woodpecker has always represented racing to me. Miniature decals of it were highly sought after when I was a kid and I have worn embroidered patches of his likeness on every fire suit I’ve ever owned.

Though Gabriel’s hijacker rabbit didn’t appear until 1967, he deserves to be in the same conversation as the Moon Eyes and Clay Smith Cams Woodpecker. Like the Chrysler Super Bee or Plymouth Duster from roughly the same period, he possesses that mod, 70’s aesthetic. To a racer my daughter’s age named Ariel Biggs, the hijacker rabbit represent racing. She has a fond memory of her father wearing a windbreaker with this logo embroidered on it. Whether they were working on their quarter midget, heading to the track or celebrating at a pizza parlor afterwards, the hijacker rabbit was always part of her racing experience.

My final choice is purely subjective. It was not an image from my personal racing past. In fact, I don’t know that I ever saw this sticker on any one’s race car. AC spark plugs have been around as long as cars themselves. They’ve always been more of a passenger car brand than a performance brand. Unlike STP, the AC logo has changed over the years yet no variation of it has been particularly memorable… but the “Fire-Ring” variation is spectacular! It is six colors for one thing and a very complicated die cut for another. Those features combined make it the most expensive sticker to produce in this offering. And the cost explains why comparatively few of the AC Fire-Ring stickers are still around today.

 

 

Bert Oberlands’ 1967 Chevelle

Have you ever seen a car at a car show that you wished you could own? OK, that was probably a really dumb question. Pondering how we could own a car that has caught our eye at an event is likely a common practice with car enthusiast. In the case of Bert Oberland who spotted this 67 Chevelle at a car show back in the year 2000, it was a happy ending as he was actually able to purchase the car.

The Chevelle was in really nice condition Bert recalls, and was powered by a 1967 Corvette 427 backed by a Muncie 4 speed. Bert upgraded the Muncie to a TREMEC 5 speed which really changed the performance of the Chevelle. The next step on the 67 was a new coat of paint and to freshen the bright work, so Bert turned to the team a MetalWorks in Eugene, Oregon.

The team at MetalWorks stripped the paint inside and out and discovered an ultra solid body that was then massaged to perfection in body shop, and shot in coats of what we’ll refer to as “MetalWorks Red” paint. The 67’s suspension was upgraded to HEIDTS both front and rear, and Budnik wheels with Wilwood disc brakes were set on all 4 corners.
The finished product was spotted by photographer Chris Shelton at the Spokane Goodguys show and ended up on the cover of Chevy High Performance magazine. Bert still shows the 67 Chevelle sparingly, and drives it when the mood is right. Due to having a few other cars in his collection Bert has opted to have the guys at MetalWorks upgrade it to Holley fuel injection so it will not be affected by periods of sitting idle. No doubt the EFI upgrade will only take an amazing driving experience and make it even more incredible for many more years to come.

 

Cruise to Barton Church

As the Cruise-In season winds down nearly every weekend you could find sometimes as many as a dozen different events to choose from throughout the Northwest. Some small, some not so small but all fun just the same. I’ve tried to get out to as many as I could over time and this year I’ve tried to make it to some of the repeat events that I just couldn’t visit in past years.

One such event is the Cruise to the Barton Church in Barton Oregon. Barton is a very small former stop on the Barlow Trail which dates back to the Oregon Trail times from the wagon train era. The church there hosts a small cruise in annually and it gets a pretty good turnout usually. I’m always glad when I go to a cruise-in and get to see cars that I’ve not seen before. This cruise didn’t disappoint in that regard.


Spirited Exhibition

South Sound Speedway is a tidy little 3/8ths mile paved oval, just south of Tacoma. I had been there twenty years ago to spectate. Around the same time, a Street Stock racer named Tom Curvat had given me the opportunity to try out his Olds on the now defunct Portland Speedway. That was the last time I had tested a car on an asphalt track anywhere.
Enter West Coast Vintage Racer Dick Nelson. Nelson purchased my Maxim Midget about four years ago. When he called with an offer to let me drive the car at South Sound, I jumped at the chance.

What an eclectic group of race cars! Six Midgets were on hand, three Volkswagens, my old Pontiac, a Chevy II and a Flathead. The big bore class was equally diverse; Sprint Cars and Super Modifieds from different eras, a dozen in all. Most were powered by small block Chevys but there was an inline six (GMC), at least one big block and the fabulous Ranger.
WCVR don’t race for a purse. They provide a show in exchange for track time. The club will generally arrive a day in advance to test and tune at leisure. Then on race night they join the regular program as an added attraction.

Nelson practiced in his powder blue ’72 Trostle Sprint Car on Friday, warmed up the Midget and even gave teenage Trista Churchill a try out. On Saturday unfortunately, the Pontiac fell ill. Nelson suspected it had dropped a cylinder and eventually it lost oil pressure all together. Apparently my disappointment was evident and that prompted Nelson to offer up his Sprint Car for one of the hot lap sessions.

Now this was a whole different deal. Nelson’s car is his baby and one of the most competitive in the club. I was thrilled to try it out but didn’t want to take a chance of hurting it. Even spinning it out might lead to disaster. I pushed off and was immediately impressed by how easily it steered. I was a bit tentative at first and left the bottom groove open for the faster drivers to pass. I tried to run a consistent line and not make any sudden moves. When no one dove in underneath me, I would edge to the inside and accelerate hard coming out of the turn. The car neither pushed toward the wall nor felt like it wanted to swap ends. The steering responded to the slightest movement. There was no wandering even under braking. On the straightaways, the car was an absolute rocket and kept pulling as long as I kept my foot in it. Too soon, the checkered flag appeared and I returned to Nelson’s pit. “Wow,” I told him, “what a sweetheart of a car!” Nelson smiled like a proud Papa. My face was etched in a smile as well; the adrenalin rush lasted into the night.

The club got to qualify individually and Nelson was fifth fast. In the heat race I was startled by how hard everyone drove. There were no strokers, these guys really race! Veteran Pat Bliss snatched the lead in Del McClure’s GMC. Behind him there was much brake smoke (even a little nudging) and jockeying for position. Fast Timer Glenn Walker in Marv Price’s “Eight ball” sliced through the pack like a hot knife through butter. Others like Kirt Rompain in Bart Smith’s beautifully restored Tipke offset roadster advanced his position as well but Bliss hung on for the win. Nelson held his own, crossing the line in the third position.

Bliss claimed the Trophy Dash also but scratched from Feature due to a leaky head gasket. On the initial start, Nelson charged past Jeff Kennedy to lead but Dave Craver spun the Ranger forcing a yellow. The restart was a carbon copy up front. Nelson took the Trostle high and wide, leading down the back straightaway. Rompain, who had worked on his mount right up until final call, would not be denied in this event however. Taking full advantage of his inside weight, stormed past Nelson and won the Feature going away. Nelson placed second and a relative newcomer named Milt Foster finished a position or two further back.

Foster is a typical WCVR participant. The son of a short track racer, Foster always had an interest but didn’t climb behind the wheel until age fifty five. “I married young,” he says, “and put two kids through college.” He found an old Super Modified that reminded him of the racing he observed as a kid and decided to restore it. Glenn Walker strolled up at his first race and offered to put a set up on the car. “So I wouldn’t kill myself,” Foster laughs. “That’s the best thing about the club, (the veteran’s) willingness to help out,” he says. That and the pre-race track time which afforded him the opportunity time to learn how to race.

After the Feature I was waiting in Nelson’s pit to congratulate him. “Man, you drove that thing harder than I would have,” I exclaimed. “I always drive like that!” Nelson grinned. Later this month he will celebrate his eightieth birthday. Spirited exhibition indeed.