Things I Miss: Events Canceled Due To The Corona Crap

If you are a car guy or girl, you probably feel the same way I do-lost! Missing car shows, cruise-ins, and races. This is not about what you see on TV. You can watch races on TV and that is just about the only thing that is getting me through this pandemic crap.

I am talking about going out and entering your hot rod, muscle car or classic in a real live car show or cruise-in. You know, a chance to show off your pride and joy. When I would go to shows I had a chance to talk to people and show what I have done to my car and how we built it. You could go with friends and show your cars together. You can’t with the pandemic crap. You would sit around under the pop-up shade tent and shoot the bull, then walk around the show to see if there is anything new or maybe someone has done something new to their ride. Not with this pandemic crap. I know that there have been cancellations of cruises and shows, but, there have been shows that have been put on with a drive- through theme. You can, at least, see the cars this way.

Locally, the biggest race, the Portland Grand Prix Indy car race was scheduled for September 11-13. They canceled it back in July. I hope the race comes back in 2021 if this plague is over with by then. I was really looking forward to seeing that race.

Some of the local dirt tracks are racing, but with no spectators. You can buy a pit pass and walk through the pits and watch the races from the pit stands. You can at least get your racing fix that way, through the pandemic crap.

In case you have not noticed in the story is I really do not like this pandemic crap. Now, don’t get me wrong, I obey the new rules and I wear a mask faithfully. I appropriately do the social distancing- 6 feet apart. I know it’s a really serious disease and not a hoax and it could be fatal to me if I were to get it. BUT- I don’t have to like this pandemic crap.

One last thing that I really miss is the swap meets that I would go to and participate in. I love walking through swap meets and seeing what people have for sale- cars, car parts, posters, books, clothing. Like I have said before if you are looking for something you could probably find it at a swap meet, whether you are a buyer or seller. You have time to chat, see friends, make a new friend and, again, shoot the bull. Pandemic crap! I guess I am just a car guy and a people person. I like talking to people especially about cars and racing, not pandemic crap! So, let’s get together, mask up, wash your hands (especially after working on your car!), and keep 6 feet apart so we can beat this pandemic crap and get back to the stuff we love!

Cutsforth’s Cruise

One of those one day cruise-ins that I try to attend annually is the Cutsforth Cruise-in the park, in Canby Oregon. The park is right in the middle of town, it’s small and people park along both sides of the streets surrounding the park and adjacent blocks. It’s usually held in August so the weather cooperates most years, it’s relaxed and picturesque.

A very small number of promoters and organizers were able to figure out a way to allow their annual show to continue for this year, and we’re lucky they figured it out.

This year of the Chinese Virus, it wasn’t going to happen as usual. They came up with a new plan, new venue, still in Canby, but they moved it to the county fairgrounds and changed it to a “drive thru” show. It worked out pretty well too. I’m not sure how many cars showed up but there were quite a few and from the smiles and friendly conversations I saw and heard it was a success.

Some of our annual events are for charity. Some are for profit and those organizers have relied on that once a year paycheck to get them through the winter months. Still others, like participants, have waited sometime a whole year to be able to show off their latest or newest creation in pursuit of that trophy they wanted to add to their collection of trophies or maybe just get their first trophy.

Others just want to be able to get out and enjoy the summer, friends, looking at cars, swapping parts for the project that’s underway in the garage. The year of 2020 had a different idea!

Hopefully in the coming months we’ll be able to resume planning for 2021 events. At present though the Virus has been winning. I’m hoping that by early spring we might have a vaccine and we can get back to normal. I for one am tired of this lock-down stuff and i’m crossing my fingers that 2021 will be different and some where close to normal.
Photos by Dave Jothen

Hot Rodders Keep on Keepin’ On

As we attempt to navigate our way through  2020 it has been a tough time for all. It has certainly hit the Motorsports industry hard and continues to do so. As we have previously mentioned even the SEMA show canceled. In lieu of that they have developed the SEMA 360 which will be an entire virtual show. I dunno, there is nothing like the SEMA show up close and personal.

In the midst of a pandemic most of the larger Motorsport shows have been shut down – but not all. I mean let’s face it, unlike other major sports, Motorsports has always been about participation. When it comes to hot rodding, that is especially so. Hot rodding has always been about high spirited American Patriots getting together and sharing their motoring experiences and innovations. And then, well there might be some competition.

This writer took a peek at what the Good Guys were up to. He didn’t have to look far to see their latest innovation. I must say that when I look at what these guys do it kind of reminds me of the reason behind why Congress set aside that special holiday for all of us. It comes around on the second Friday of July every year. National Collector Car Appreciation Day. Hopefully most of you know this.

Congress recognizes all of us who have kept the spirit of the automobile alive throughout the past century. It was those of us who brought the fun of the automobile into the world. And we certainly deserve recognition for that.

And this writer will say that the Good Guys have been good at that sort of thing for quite a few years. They bring the fun and good times into the American automobile. Once upon a time, this writer was running the Women of Motorsports modeling team. And he has never forgotten how the Meadors family welcomed us with open arms. Because it was not always that way for us.

So, this brings me to the good old American Drive-In Cruise that they recently did. Judging from all the pics that were available on their site, It looks like a lot of hot rodders had a rocking good time. Evidently, they set the limit at 400 cars. Imagine a drive-in movie theater filled up with 400 hot rods. Nothing like putting on an event that is Covid correct and socially distanced … and Bitchin’.

In other news, it has been a different kind of year for NHRA. It seems that they are suing Coca-Cola over their Mellow Yellow series. It seems that Coke pulled out on them mid-series. Remaining October races are unsure.

Then we have NASCAR changing up their schedule for next season. They are going to run their Indy race along with the Indy Cars on the same weekend. Then they have scheduled the Bristol race to be run on dirt!

Special Vehicle Engineering has introduced their 2021 Yenko/SC Stage II Camaro. Only 50 copies will be available of this 1050 HP beast. And it looks like Ford is making available 2021 Mustang Bodies in White that include NHRA legal cages.

Now let’s wrap this up with news from the electrical vehicle world. We can’t forget them, cuz they won’t let us. It looks like the Lucid EV has recently run a 9.24 ET. Yup, that’s way fast for a factory production street car. Also, lately the Lucid and the Tesla “Plaid” have been in hot competition at the Laguna Seca Raceway. When last checked, Tesla was in the lead on that one. And that’s that.
’nuff said,Chuck Fasst  #GearHeadsWorld

Jack’s Specialty Parts

If you’ve attended an automotive swap meet in the last thirty years, you’ve seen this guy. He stands about five foot nothing, dresses in a navy blue shop coat and wears his hair in a crew cut. Generally he slouches; hands deep in the pockets of his jacket and in front of him are a train of six foot tables. On the table are boxes containing new old stock; carburetors, distributors, starters, generators and what have you.

Lately, there haven’t been too many swap meets but that doesn’t keep Jack Corley from going to work. Five days a week (though he is pushing ninety) he patrols the long aisles of his Gresham warehouse. There are thousands upon thousands of parts here- mostly stuff for older domestics. He doesn’t have to check the computer to know whether or not he has your part. Actually, there is no computer…the inventory list is in his head.

Corley started in parts business working for a Kaiser dealership. As the last Kaiser rolled off the assembly line in 1955; that was just a few years back. He bounced around some; his longest stint was with Niehoff Ignition Company (almost twenty years). He also ventured into auto racing and became a distributor for numerous high performance lines.

Yeah, Corley’s bread and butter is NOS auto parts but if you’ve never been to his warehouse, you owe it to yourself to go. He still owns the Offenhauser Midget he raced in the sixties and the steel bodied ’32 with the Hemi engine he used to terrorize the streets of Portland back in the day. Walking into his warehouse is like stepping into a time machine. There is an extensive assortment of oil cans, race car toys, car club plaques, old calendars, posters, pennants and automotive displays. There are walls in the office covered with framed 8 x 10 racing photos. It is truly one of the most impressive collections of automobilia in the Pacific Northwest.

But don’t forget why you came! Whether you’re restoring a concourse vintage car or scabbing together a rat rod, Jack Corley is your man. Don’t look for him on the Interweb cause of course, he isn’t there. The physical address for his warehouse is: 909 NE Cleveland Ave., Gresham, OR 97030. The phone number for Jack’s Specialty Parts is: (503) 667-1725.


The last supermodified race at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Oregon Oct. 6, 2007

First, I must say that I am getting older and the memory is not what it used to be. This story is written from my memory, my photos, what I saw, what I heard and the Internet. We all know what’s on the Internet is the truth.

This race was advertised as SMRA Supermodified vs. Winged Sprint Cars. There were 14 race cars there. There were five winged sprints cars and nine offset supermodified cars. There were several veteran drivers plus one who seemed to be a very young man. This young man whom I didn’t know his age or his racing experience was Nick Tomlinson. It turns out he was 12 years old at the time of this race, driving a winged 360 sprint car. When I saw him on the track, it looked like he was driving by looking out the side of the car as if he could not see over the hood. He did seem a lot shorter than the other drivers. At the drivers’ meeting, it was determined that he would start in the back of the main event. As the leaders caught up with him, he was to pull off into the pits. That is what I overheard at the drivers’ meeting.

The heat races were excellent with a combo of supers and sprint cars. The main event was all set with SMRA rules that inverted the top eight qualifiers. This put Kyler Barraza, driver of a sprint car, on the pole. This was followed by top west coast super drivers Jim Birges, Troy Regier, Rick Veenstra, Martin McKeefery, Brian Ware among others like top sprint drivers Matt Hein, Andy Alberding, Gary Davis, and bringing up the rear, Nick Tomlinson for a total of 14 starters.

At the start Barraza took off with the rest of the supers and sprints. Battling in the pack, Regier and Veenstra moved up to 2nd and 3rd. On lap 25, Veenstra got loose and went for an off track excursion. There was a yellow flag, Barraza was leading and Regier was second. It was a battle for the lead. I watched Regier making moves on the inside, on the outside, trying his best. By the end of 40 laps, Kyler Barraza was the winner. This was only the fourth time that a sprint car has won this race in 20 years. Kyler was the first driver with a 360 engine to win. After all that great racing, I don’t remember seeing Tomlinson pulling into the pits, but he must have because I didn’t see him at all after the first few laps.

Some people say supermodified racing is dead on the west coast. I don’t think so. A few weeks ago, in Meridian, Idaho, there was the JP Memorial Classic Supermodified Reunion with cars and drivers from several west coast states. I would call that the drop of the green flag, the revival of supermodified racing on the west coast.

Coburg Cruise

As we all know, this year is different than other years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us plan our summers, particularly weekends, around attending car shows or other old car related events. Virtually every show and event this summer has been cancelled primarily because of the inability to comply with social distancing and other health restrictions designed to keep all of us safe.

The City of Coburg (just north of Eugene along I-5) has been holding an annual car show in their city park for the past 27 years. It is one of my favorite shows to attend. They pack about 200 cars into the park and people come to view the cars in droves. They also have a pancake breakfast and maybe the best barbequed chicken lunch of any car show in the area.

Coming up on their 28th show, the folks putting the show on were unwilling to simply cancel the show. So, they put together an alternative plan to hold a cruise rather than the traditional static display type of show. Arrangements were to stage vehicles at a local vineyards a couple of miles north of town. An estimated 200 or more cars showed up. A local DJ played music while drivers and their passengers awaiting the notice to depart for the cruise. Unlike many cruises, this one was not set up for cars to run back and forth on a closed course in a parade type of atmosphere. Bringing crowds together like that obviously makes social distancing impossible. For this event, cars were broken up into groups of about fifty cars and each group was led on the cruise course by a local public servant, either someone from the fire department of the police department. The course was laid out in such a way that it went through every section of the city. It even went over to the other side of I-5 and through the camp ground. Town residents has been advised of the cruise route well in advance. As we cruised, we encountered many, many small groups of friends and/or family watching from sidewalks, front yards and front porches. The format seemed to be very well accepted by the viewers.

The participants in all seemed to be having a great time. There was a lot of visiting back and forth before the cruise and most everyone was smiling. It was a beautiful summer morning and people were anxious to get together with other car people, drive and show off their vehicles. It was almost as if everyone had just let out a huge sigh and said “at last”.

Usually you are required to register to enter a car show, the process this time was much less formal and no entry fees were charged although they did accept donations and it appeared that most drivers were in fact donating. The show historically is a fund raiser for no-profit programs in the city.

Drivers were encouraged to take advantage of local businesses and restaurants upon the conclusion of the cruise. It appeared that most did in fact hang around, many buying lunch and then heading to the city park in small groups to eat and talk cars.

All in all, a very nice event in a very difficult time.

2020… What a Year

We are certainly hoping all is well out there in hot rod land. No doubt there were quite a number of readers who were caught up in these fires. The publisher was in the line of fire and evacuated as well. If you are reading this, then we at least got some kind of an issue out. Just that, is an amazing accomplishment during these natural disasters and extreme declining economy.

It appears that it is the Covid condition that is doing the worst damage to the automotive industry. Motorsports will never be the same again. The electric vehicle industry is making major inroads during this time. It looks like we may be entering into a new era of shared ridership where fewer and fewer citizens will actually own their own car.

In the performance sector we are seeing more and more of these EVs running quarter mile ETs in the 9s and showing impressive performance on road courses and places like Pikes Peak. They are coming at us from every angle, that is for sure.

Along these lines, the guys over at Racing Junk have been making some noise about a leaked document from GM concerning the C8 Corvette. It speaks of a hybrid model coming out in 2023 that will feature what they call, eAWD for all-wheel drive. They are saying this one will be the fastest of all time when under full power!

In other news, you know it’s bad when shows like the SEMA show, PRI Show and Drag Week are cancelled. At press time however there is a second Rocky Mountain drag tour scheduled. This will be meant to take the place of the canceled Drag Week. The LS fest was also pulled off. This was a crazy event featuring all kinds of LS powered vehicles involved in all kinds of crazy merriment.

The LS Fest is featured prominently in the new eMagazine put out by Holley. Motor Life Digital Magazine will feature excerpts of the latest in car culture.

Well GearHeads as cool car season winds down, we are certainly wishing the best of luck to those of you who have been affected by this outrageous year of 2020. Sure am hoping there were not too many cool hot rods destroyed by these fires! Do your best to keep on keepin’ on—and stay free.

Recommended Reading

We are all spending more time alone these days and it is easy to slip into a funk. Perhaps what you need is a good read. Fortunately I have assembled my own library of hot rod and racing books to help me through these dark times. I have chosen five books to recommend that I found humorous as well as entertaining. Enjoy!

They Call Me Mister 500 by Andy Granatelli (1969). This is among the oldest books on my shelf and one of my favorites. It was given to me by my Aunt Ruthie who was very supportive and encouraged anything her nieces and nephews were passionate about. Interestingly, this book was published the year Granatelli won his first Indy 500 but ends at the conclusion of the ’68 racing season. So we learn all about the Granatelli brother’s early days; growing up in Chicago, opening a garage, becoming a distributor of speed equipment, promoting races and finally competing in the Indy 500. Would you believe they drove their first entry from Chicago to Indianapolis? The story of Andy attempting to qualify the racecar himself is an absolute classic- I still laugh about it. The chapters regarding his efforts to resurrect the Novi marque and revolutionize the sport with his turbine cars are very informative yet heart breaking. As corny as it sounds, this book changed my life in many ways. I recommend it to everyone.

Stand On It by Stroker Ace (1973). Yeah, this was made into a bad Burt Reynolds movie but if you hold that against it, you’ll miss out. This fictional story (written by Bill Neely under an alias) is based on the true to life exploits of Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Linda Vaughn and others. It was a time when big money was just beginning to permeate the sport but political correctness didn’t yet exist. This book is raunchy and dated, but fun. It’s fiction but if you know the history, it isn’t much of a stretch.

Cannonball! by Brock Yates (2002). I know! Another bad Burt Reynolds movie! But the story of this cross country race is true and Yates was a participant. In fact, he won it in 1971 in a Ferrari Daytona partnered with professional racer Dan Gurney. Yates published the story of his maiden voyage in Car and Driver that year when I was a wee lad/subscriber. When I read his report, it blew my mind! I loved the story so much I gave a speech on it in my middle school English class. Yates raced again in ’72,’75 and in the final edition held in ’79. The book covers the entire history of the event and though it didn’t make me laugh out loud, I smiled throughout. Yates also wrote the screenplay for the original Cannonball! movie and to his credit wanted Steve McQueen to star. I think we can all agree that it would have been a different movie with McQueen rather than Reynolds at the controls.

Sunday Money by Jeff McGregor (2005). I wish I could remember who recommended this one to me because it made me laugh the hardest. McGregor is a racing outsider that purchased a motorhome and followed the NASCAR tour when it was at the peak of popularity. Obviously well-educated and highly literate McGregor takes it all in and shares his observations with the reader. Sometimes he is critical about what he sees but I think he is fair. He doesn’t simply slam your average, working class fan- he digs deeper. He seems to understand why people become passionate about auto racing. At times his musings are downright poetic.

Cages Are For Monkeys by Kevin Olson (2016). The title refers to a transition in Midget car racing for safety reasons. When Olson began racing Midgets only a simple roll bar (or hoop) behind the driver’s head was required; today’s drivers are completely surrounded by a roll cage and it’s changed the way they drive. My first exposure to Olson was in Open Wheel magazine. There was a photo of him published repeatedly in which he was dancing with a Christmas tree. Apparently it was taken at an awards banquet at which he got drunk and made a spectacle of himself. Years later he became a columnist for Sprint Car & Midget and I discovered that there was much more to him. His essays were sometimes nonsensical but other times serious and quite thoughtful. The book is the story of his life and it turns out that he is an accomplished racer…And he tells some funny stories. In the end, racing and family are the two things that matter most to Kevin Olson. I can hardly argue with that.

1000 Words

Everyone has heard the saying: “A picture is worth 1000 words.” More than ever, with cameras in everyone’s pocket and a fast and easy way to share, those words ring true. Positive or negative, the exposure and sheer mobility that a single photograph can have is staggering. This has always been true for as long as we had photographs, some just stick with us. A first image of the earth taken from the moon, Freddie Mercury playing the sold-out stadium of Live Aid, Muhammad Ali standing over the fallen Heavyweight World Champion, Sonny Liston, protesters on the streets of Selma, AL in 1964 or in Minneapolis, MN last month- these images leave a lasting impression because they are indicative of a special, and often important moment in time. This significance helps us understand and see. The language of photographs is not limited to sports, politics, news, or any one thing or any single emotion that is why each image is worth 1,000 words.

Motorsports is no exception. Through the decades of sanctioned automobile racing, there are some images that stick out. Yes there are moments, people and amazing feats that tell longer stories- but as far as single images—these speak volumes and stand the test of time as being iconic in their own right.

High Speeds and High Tempers
1979 — Daytona 500, Daytona Motor Speedway, Photograph by Ric Feld.

Arguably the most famous fistfight in motorsports history, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison wrestle on national television the afternoon of February 18th, 1979. The high drama and high emotions of racecar drivers are familiar to those who consume the sport, but this particular brawl was pumped into hundreds of thousands of homes across America—live for the first time. Ever. According to the L.A. Times, that particular race had a 10.5 rating, or a little over 15 million people watching. Yarborough and brother, Donnie Allison’s, duel for the win was thrilling enough before taking each other out on the last lap. Yeah, Richard Petty ended up taking the checkers, but Allisons v. Yarborough hooked a whole new slew of fans and helped put NASCAR on the trajectory they took right to the bank.

Leaping Lotuses
1966 — German Grand Prix, Nurburging, Photographer unknown.

Sir Jackie Stewart (front) with Graham Hill (behind)
If the idea of one or two tires leaving the ground is scary to you, try all four. In a spindly Lotus. In the 60’s. At high speeds. Every lap. At the one of the most dangerous and deadly race courses ever in history. Look no further for evidence of big balls than these guys. If there was ever an image to reference in an argument about the bravery needed in this sport, this would be a good one. Besides the cars, drivers, era, and track being iconic in their own right, this image captured the imagination of fans all over the world.

First Kiss
1969 — Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, photographer unknown.

It has been called a Cinderella Story. Driver, Mario Andretti (right) was already stirring buzz as a talented newcomer to the sport of auto racing. Car owner and president of STP, Andy Granatelli (left) helped revolutionalize the sport with never-before-seen marketing and sponsorship strategy for the ages. Both would become legends. Year after arduous year, Andy Granatelli and brothers fielded cars without a win at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the heat of victory, Granatelli’s overabundant excitement made him grab young Andretti’s face and kiss his cheek. This jubilation became immortalized in thousands of ads for Andy’s company and the car’s main sponsor, STP. Making sure that the image was available absolutely everywhere that money could buy for at least the following year, Granatelli did everything in his power to make STP and Mario a household name- both of which eventually happened. Andretti to this day admits that he is still embarrassed by that kiss, but he says it with a smile.

A Show of Force — 1966 LeMans 24 Hour Race, LeMans

It is an unbelievable story. Goliath vs. Goliath of the Ford Motor Company challenging the Ferrari for the crown of endurance racing in the 1960s. After a very dramatic battle, (one that has been recently depicted in the 2018 blockbuster Ford v Ferrari) Ford found themselves not only triumphant over the Ferrari team at the end of a grueling 24-hour race—but decisively so. Looking like a clear first-second-third victory, there was a request from a Ford executive for the team to cross the finish line together. This hammered in a very strong message to the motorsports world, saying ‘we are here, and we mean business.’ Cora Veltman

Magic Muffler
Photo by Ron Lahr. Taken years and years ago at a Southern California dragstrip. This famous photo is on display at the NHRA Museum in Pamona, California. Ron was not a professional photographer. Ed Gilbert

1929 Roadster Pickup

In December 2018, I bought a 29 Roadster Pickup, all stock, and taken apart.  Last December I started working on making a street/drag race Hot Rod out of it.

For the baseline, I bought a reproduction replica, of an original Model A frame, minus the rear section.  In between other projects, this is how far along it has come.  I have been collecting mainly 60s era speed parts, like the Halibrand Championship quick change, floater rear axle, and the Hilborn Fuel Injection.  My Brother Jerry gave me the engine out of his 32 Ford dirt tracker, over 15 years ago. The engine is a 355” Chevy, with 6” rods, JE pistons, Dart “Iron Eagle” heads, and it will run the injector, and a Vertex Magneto, making between 500 and 600 HP, backed up by a Ford Toploader 4 speed.

Between the fenders that came with the package, and the ones that I got from Jim Lindsay, the little truck has some pretty nice sheet metal, and I no plans to paint it very soon. The front axle is a genuine 32 Ford, and will sport Lincoln drum brakes. I built the ladder bars out of thin wall Chromoly tube, that was given to me, by a late friend. The center cross member is an important part of the chassis construction, as you want to limit the chassis flex, when dropping the clutch at 6500 to 7000 rpms.
I am sourcing some small bucket seats, and getting ready to mount the steering and pedals, along with building the headers. It will have a roll bar similar to the one’s shown above. The plan is to have a complete separate engine / trans package to drive it on the street.

With the current world crisis, we are dealing with, our events will get a late start this year but, I am pushing to get it ready for some action sometime this Summer. I hope all is well with you, and looking forward to seeing many of you, this Summer