The American Legion, Post 83, in Eugene hosted their Hot Rods For Heros Car Show this past September 8th. An overcast and threatening Sunday scared away some, but only the brave and intrepid shrugged it off as just another September squall. Some sprinkles—just enough to wet the cars – fell around mid morning. As soon as most of the participants had dried their vehicles, another bigger cloud opened up and washed them down again.
I must admit I did take partial shelter under a spreading tree. The brief rain found me, along with some car owners, my wife Patty and our dog April. The skies cleared again and back out came my camera. I was able to shoot the ladies from ‘’Oregon Pin Ups For A Cause’’ with a Willis Jeep done up in olive drab, along with another truck they admired. I got to dream about owning a ‘39 Ford that was for sale, and then a beautiful 95 point station wagon that too, was looking for a new owner. Stock colors, detailed engine, lots of glass won me over. The 1955 Pontiac Safari is a long stretch from bumper to bumper. Current owner Larry Krause told me has bocu-bucks into the green and ivory land yacht but that the time has come for a new custodian of the gorgeous gargantuan. He’s happy with his bright red pick up that he’s keeping. (His son drove the wagon to the show.)
Whilst under that tree I mentioned a while back, I ran into Jack Tillery who is the proud owner and builder of a completely modified Ford Starliner. His 1960 bright yellow two-door custom is off the wall. The flat pan, bumper-less rear of the car is the only added metal on the ride. The wings and marriage of Ford sheet metal and custom treatments are done in fiberglass. Always great to see a Ford in a Ford, Jack’s creation sports a Dearborn 428.
How about a Pontiac in a Pontiac? Simon and Diane Carranza built their ‘52 Pontiac Chieftain and stuffed it with a 400 cubic inch from a 1971. Backed up with a turbo 400 it sports 272 cruisin gears. Headlights are frenched in. So are the tail lights.
I did enjoy The Survivors band that played some pretty good tunes. We had a pressing family commitment on our calendar and was sorry I couldn’t stay the full day.
One last thing I need to add; fellow car nut and photographer Jim Wray was there with his 50’s Dodge truck. Jim always seemed to be able to attend multiple shows in a weekend. What we did not know that this was to be his final car show. I learned only two days after, that Jim was felled by a heart attack. His photos (on Facebook) will keep his memory alive for a lot of us. RIP my friend.
Several friends of mine made the annual trek to Central Oregon to attend the Oregon High Desert Swap Meet and car show in Redmond Oregon. These folks load up their travel trailers and piles of no longer needed but very useful parts and etc. (you know, treasures,) and drag them to the Deschutes County Fairgrounds & Expo Center. Jim Estes shared some pictures (seen here) of the festivities, well not all the festivities, there aren’t any pics where Whiskey was involved. After all, this a family paper, ya know.
By the way. This is a pretty good little meet, often with great cars and parts. Plus, it’s a great place to take your camping apparatus and make a weekend of it. Good times.
On the eve of May 21st, 1951 my older brother grabbed my arm and asked me to come with him. I was just 13 and lived in the shadows of my older brother. Harper could do no wrong. He was known for his athletic abilities, he was not only Class President, but was also the Prom King. Girls wanted to date him, guys wanted to be him. To me, he was just my older brother. I knew him for how he and Dad would knock heads how he hated yard work. That his fears of spiders lead to pranks I’d do on him. With all of his accolades the one thing I really felt in awe was the ’31 Model A sedan he had. Harp had drug it out of the hills and Dad was so angry he had done so. Soon after there was a ’32 Ford frame, then running gear from a wrecked ’42 Mercury. As the sedan was chopped, then placed upon the frame and the front and rear axles bolted in place, a set of big ‘n little’s on Ford steelies were bolted in place too. The clincher came when Harp learned of a near new Cadillac had been wrecked badly and he had made a deal and drug home a 331 OHV mill. His senior year was a blur of school activities, his job and building that sedan. He did them all. Not only did he drive the sedan to his graduation, but he graduated with honors and a scholarship. Then there was me. 13 years old and not one interested in sports at all, a band student and a writer too. Cars fascinated me, but I did not have the same keen abilities that my older brother did. I was a shadow in everything Harper would do, but I loved him so much. He always made time for me and would brag about my stories, how I excelled in band class.
So here we were, out in the garage standing beside that hot rod he had built. He walked me around to the passenger’s side front and I could tell something was amiss. He was nervous and kind of shifted his weight from side to side. He closed his eyes and then set a hand on my shoulder and one on the cowl of the sedan. “Look Benji, I need you to do something for me. See, I signed up and will be leaving within a week to Korea. “His words hit me like a brick. I gasped. He shook his head, “Now come on man, I will be a part of the US Army. We just saved the world from those nasty Nazis, so, how hard can it be for us to defeat those commies?” I nodded and bit the insides of my cheeks. No way was I going to shed tears in front of my brother. I just nodded and stared at the engine in the sedan. “Now, take care of it while I am away.” Then we sprung into action. We jacked the sedan up and carefully placed cinder blocks under the drive train front and rear. We drained the antifreeze, popped the plugs and squirted oil into the cylinder holes. The gas tank was bone dry so we then pulled out some old tarpaulins and covered the sedan. And there she sat. Looking like some crazy canvas ghost in the garage. We headed for the door and again, Harper turned to me and said, “Take care of it while I am away.”
He left the very next week. Harper was everything and more the Army could have hoped for. He was a skilled marksman, had leadership qualities and no fear. Then in August, he was gone. In WWII in our home town, we were always informed of anything that our boys were fighting for. But, when our soldiers were sent to Korea, silence. We never heard anything about Harper and that became the end of my parents. Mother shut down and would spend her days in silence. Father, well, he quit his job and became an over the road truck driver. He spent days away from us. I grew up now out of the shadows Harper cast. I wrote, played drums and watched over the sedan.
Why? Well, Harper wanted me too.
I became the owner of the home I grew up in. My folks passed but I carried on. Bess and I married and we kept the old home up and always in the garage, under those heavy canvas tarps, Harper’s sedan sat waiting. My nightly routine would involve myself sitting in my studio out in the garage and practicing on my kit. Slow rolls, poly rhythms. Anything to challenge my mind. It was toward the end of October one night when Bess came out to may space, excited! The door opened and there she was, lovely as always standing in the door way. She was just beaming. “Ben, I just saw on a report from the BBC that a cache of bones from lost American soldiers has been discovered! Dog Tags too!” I set my sticks down and then, before I could respond, the tarps that had sat covering the Model A fell to the floor. The car my brother had built and had asked me to watch over and I had, vanished.
Bess and I looked at each other. Then, outside, we heard the loud crackle of pipes.
I raced across the garage and threw open the doors. With Bess at my side we looked out into the darkness and beneath the street lights, there was the sedan with Harper behind the wheel. He blipped the throttle and that Caddy mill cackled into the night, fire shot from the straight pipes.
I had walked in a daze from the garage and was within an arm’s reach of the old Model A hot rod, I saw Harper. Young. Alive. That crazy grin of his. We locked eyes and I lost it. Tears washed across my gaze. “You took care of it while I was away! Thanks Benji!”
Harper nailed the throttle and the ‘31 powered by that Cadillac V8 and my brother raced away.
Bess sauntered up to me. She wrapped an arm around me. My shoulders shook as tears washed away memories of Harper and his Model A.
I kept my word and safe guarded my brother’s hot rod because somehow, I knew, he would return.
Thanks to Gary Campesi and his amazing artwork.
No doubt, some of you are wondering why there is a pic of a couple of dudes holding up fish in a car paper. Let me explain that recently myself and my brother-in-law, Bill spent an entire week on the water out at buoy 10 in a drift boat. Now, any of you GearHeads that do fish and I hope there are quite a few of you, know that there is a little bit of lunacy going on here. A drift boat puttering around the Columbia River bar? We won’t be doing that again.
My point is that we did have occasion to interact with a number of fishing guides out there. And by and large, these guys were millennials. Now, last month I mentioned the hot rodder millennials and how they seem to have a lot more going on than many of their counterparts.
I couldn’t help but notice the same things with these fishing guides. They are working in close concert with the bounty that mother Earth offers up out here in the great Pacific Northwest. They are very dedicated to their craft, paying close attention to the details at hand as they go about their work. If only many other millennials out in the cities were so dedicated.
One guide was David Klistoff who was camped near us along with his young son, Jacob. He has this cool boat that he and his grandpa built. He took us out for free on our final day there. Good times.
Now I must pause here for a moment to honor one of our latest, Jessi Combs. If you were watching the news last month, you saw it. She died in her quest to be the fastest woman on Earth. It all happened here in Oregon. I remember watching her when she was the GearHead girl, TV host. I think it might have been called PowerBlock back then.
And now for some bits and pieces from the car world. Let’s start with Hot Rod Drag Week, which is currently in progress at press time. Who will end up being the fastest street car in the world? This event is way cool because we have guys like David Freiburger and Brian Lohnes giving us blow-by-blow reporting in a live feed through Motor Trend, everyday.
When it comes to track announcing I think these guys got it all over NHRA. With their easy back-and-forth banter, they share intimate knowledge of the goings-on down in the pits. Instead of focusing in on the heroes. They make sure that every single racer is mentioned. There are many stories from the road as all of these racers make their way along the streets between these race tracks back East.
One thing they make clear is how racers help other racers throughout this event. I much prefer this over what I’ve seen amongst certain bracket racers. This seems to be reflected among their sponsors as well. Their long line of sponsors seems to be strictly committed to hardcore, aftermarket suppliers. No big Pepsi or Camping World sponsors to be seen here. We see things like the NOS nitrous company hanging back in the pits refilling all of the racers’ NOS bottles for free! Can you beat that?
This event is really wild. Consider that the cap for the car count of this racing event is set at 400 cars. If I got this right, that number was hit earlier this year 7 minutes after entries were opened! And then … 700 more cars end up on the waiting list! Are you firking kidding me?
With that said, I look around at PIR on Wednesday nights. I see all of the bracket racing going on at the track. And the huge Beaches hot rod Cruise taking place back in the trees, throughout the summer. And I see something unique unlike anything else that is happening out in the nation. But what else I see, is tremendous opportunity. I can see all kinds of ways of combining these two events with a kind of interaction between hot rodders and racers never-before-seen. Perhaps making Portland the envy of many others out there and having more fun than the law allows.
But this sort of thing requires innovation and forward thinkers. Something Portland has lacked for as long as I can remember in the Motorsports world. Better to just leave everything just as it is, year after year.
Everybody has heard of the Detroit Auto show, right? It is the big one where all the newest of cars are introduced. Evidently they have been having problems with big car companies pulling out due to lack of interest. They are having to revamp their whole business plan. Evidently they will be incorporating much more festive events to liven up an old tradition. I’m curious to see what they come to the table with.
Wow, there sure is a bunch of rumbling going on amongst the UAW, isn’t there? All of those top Union officials getting busted. They be walking the perp walk. And here they are right in the middle of an impending strike. It appears that the UAW has chosen GM to strike first. Some kind of talked about the Arlington plant.
A couple of interesting factoids about GM: they have the highest labor costs. They also pay the highest wages, the average being $140k/yr. Then they have a 12% AWOL workforce. This is considered to be a quite high absentee rate for union workers.
Anyway, here is something they had to say over at Autoline concerning the Arlington plant. Evidently the Arlington plant has been working on max overtime for a hella long time, say about a decade! They figure these workers are pretty weary and could use a break. So if they decide to strike … Well, GM has amassed quite an inventory. Apparently GM can keep going for some time…
Now for news from the other side of the world. The big time Auto Show over on that side is the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany. Evidently there is some group over there calling themselves “Rocks in the Gearbox”. They attack the cars in the show with rocks and hammers and such. They have inflicted serious damage and there are talks of a riot. Huh?
’nuff said, Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld
It has been said before that almost every weekend in the Portland and Willamette Valley area there will be a car show. This is a story about one that I have never been to: Portland Cars and Coffee. This is held at World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville every Saturday morning throughout the summer.
With a great variety of cars, mostly high dollar exotic cars, the show was very different than shows in the Albany area. Cars such as Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, Cobras, Masseratis, Vipers, Corvettes, Audis, and an imported Ultima GRT. The turn out of cars was great.
When you stand there admiring cars and taking photos you get to listen to owners talk about their cars. Michael Pierce from Portland came to the show in his 1967 Corvette Stingray. He has owned the car since 1980, and has kept it all original except the vintage mag wheels. The Vette is a daily driver, with a 435 HP 427 engine, and has 225,000 miles on it.
Just down the row was an Ultima GRT, from Tiger Eye Racing, owned by David out of Portland. It looks like something out of the 60’s running LeMans or Can Am with a mid engine 500HP Chevy V8 and a Porsche 6 speed transaxle. This is a true kit car, imported from England in pieces, except the engine and transaxle. David has run it at PIR at speeds over 150MPH. He is in the process of building a GRT roadster.
One of my favorite cars was a home built silver roadster sports car, now this car looks like it came right off the track at LeMans in the 50’s. It is a front engine, rear wheel drive.The whole body is made out of hand formed aluminum. With a 1974 Corvette chassis and a Chevy V8 engine.the hood covers the whole front of the car and opens like an old XKE Jaguar. Owner Ray Parks said it took 7 years to build and it is a true work of art.
Tom Hendrickson is the proud owner of an original, unrestored, 1964 Cobra. The Cobra is a truly unrestored car. With chips in the paint, shift boot gone and tattered upholstery, it is still beautiful. Tom has owned this car for 53 years. Talk about a true daily driver, from 1966 to 1972 this was the only car Tom had, so he drove it in the rain or shine. The car has original chrome wire wheels, a 289 Ford V8 engine and a dual exhaust that sounds great.
The show was like the old cruise-ins, no entry fee, no judging, no trophies, just great looking cars coming and going all morning. What I liked most, though, was listening to the owners talking about their rolling pride and joys.
Okay gals and GearHeads, how about we step right into the big news. We’ve talked about it before oh, and now it is here. If you have not been living in a cave then you know that the new mid engine 2020 Corvette supercar has been officially unveiled. In fact you might want to check out the Fireball Tim YouTube channel. He got some great coverage of the unveiling.
They have been showing up in showrooms. and they say they are starting at under 60k which is exciting. but if you put your order in don’t expect to see one til sometime next year. Matter of fact at press time they’re telling us that they may well be sold out of that run.
And then my favorite bartender, Wendy (CJ’s pub out in Fairview), informed me that the first one has been wrecked! Didn’t take long.
Oh how I do like writing about the ICE cars (internal combustion engined). so now I will throw out a little teaser about something new and exciting they are working on. Transient plasma ignition
So, here is another tidbit. The Indy cars are a-changing. They are saying that as the OEMs move further into electricity, it will filter down into racing. It looks like next year’s cars are going to be hybrids. Also they have added 50 horsepower to them.
How about this—Texas motor speedway bans all EV cars! It seems that some EV cars have been slapping around the ICE cars pretty bad down there. But the official reason is fires. It turns out that fighting these lithium ion battery fires is requiring some special fire fighting equipment. It seems they flare up even more when conventional foam hits them.
So finally, in a world where this author is observing more and more millennials behaving horribly awful, I want to give a shout out to the hot rodder rmillennials I am seeing out at the events. They seem to be showing a lot more common sense, integrity and respect. So, kudos to the millennial hot-rodders!
Nuf said, Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld
Some facts about Route 66: It was commissioned in 1926; It was finished in asphalt in 1937; It starts in Chicago and finishes in Santa Monica; It crosses eight states and three time zones; It is 2,249 miles in length.
In 1960 a new television show called Route 66 was introduced to America. The show starred Martin Milner and George Maharis and ran through the 1964 season before disappearing. The concept of the show was two young men driving Route 66 and encountering various adventures. In reality, very few of the shows were filmed on Route 66 and the road was rarely even referred to in the script.
The third star of the show was the car that was driven, a Chevrolet Corvette. The first season it was a 1960. Chevrolet updated the car throughout the series and the final season featured a 1963 Stringray. The show has endured as a cherished part of the American Culture. It also led to one additional fact about Route 66: The Corvette is a Route 66 icon.
In 2018, my wife Sue and I participated in the Route 66 Fun Run in Arizona. We drove our 1966 Mustang to and from the event. This year she indicated that a repeat of that trip was off the table. She said she would fly to Las Vegas and I could pick her up there. I was not totally comfortable doing a solo trip of that length with any of our classic cars. As it turned out, we both flew to Las Vegas and rented a 2017 Corvette and drove that for the Fun Run. Much more comfortable than the old Mustang and how can you beat driving an open car in 80-100 degree heat when it has air conditioned seats?
The Route 66 Fun Run is sponsored by the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. It began in 1987 when a group of people, mostly from the Seligman and Kingman area got together dedicated themselves to getting Route 66 its historic designation. The event has now been going on for 32 years with the continuing goal of preserving and maintaining the highway.
Once again this year, nearly 800 cars were registered for the Run. Cars of all makes and years are welcome. The variety of vehicles is impressive with cars from the early 20s through late model vehicles. Foreign and domestic vehicles are both welcome. The large majority of the vehicles are classic cars and hot rods. Once again this year it appeared that the largest single category of cars was the Corvette. We observed everything from a tie-dyed Subaru to military vehicles, T-buckets to DeLoreans and roadsters to limos.
The Fun Run is a two day event that starts in Seligman and proceeds to Kingman for a huge car show on the main street. The Run continues the next morning departing Kingman and proceeding over the mountains, through Oatman, and ending in Topock.
The Corvette we were driving performed flawlessly. Being virtually brand new (only 6,000 miles) that was to be expected. Not everyone was so lucky. We encountered a 1952 Chevy pickup that was temporarily stranded along the road. Apparently running out of gas on the first day had led to some dregs from the bottom of the fuel tank being picked up and causing a clogged carburetor. A few minutes with a wrench and screwdriver and it was back on the road in short order. In keeping with the nature of these types of events, several cars stopped and offered help, including a Sheriff’s Deputy.
This is an adventure well worth attending. Preserving this historic highway should be something that all car lovers can support.
Hemmings Motor News “Great Race,” Sponsored by Haggerty Insurance, an annual event since 1983, evolved into what it is today, a time-speed-endurance rally for vintage cars, 1974 & older. Each year there is a different route. In 2019 the starting point was Riverside California and the finish line was Tacoma Washington at The LeMay, America’s Car Museum. It was about a 2300-mile trek.
Some 150 cars/trucks/participants left Riverside on Saturday, June 22nd and finished in Tacoma on Sunday, June 30th. The Overall winners were Howard and Doug Sharp, a father son team who drove a 1916 Hudson and hailed from Fairport New York.
The race has become so popular it usually fills up well in advance and would be participants, must put their name on a waiting list just to get a spot. There are classes, cash prizes and what looks like just plain fun traveling with like-minded car crazy people.
Jim Estes and Bill Nelson took a short trip to Hood River Oregon, one of the stops, to get some pics and learn about the race and the participants. They asked me if I wanted to go too but I had other commitments for that day. I did make it to Vancouver Washington for another stop later that day.
A kinda comical story was the 4 guys from Finland who started the rally in a 1910, 11, 12 or something, Simplex. The Simplex threw a rod early on day one so… They bought a Mercedes sedan in which to finish the rally. The Simplex was an open car (as were most cars from that era) so these guys from Finland were outfitted with leather helmets, goggles, rain gear etc. but with the Simplex out and a later model Mercedes sedan, stand-in, (closed car) it was decided that they should continue in an open car, they might as well make the Mercedes stand-in an open car too. They cut the roof off, windshield and all! In a tribute to the retired Simplex they attached the broken rod from the car to the hood of the Mercedes. There is a picture of the Mercedes crossing the finish line in Tacoma, on the web site.
www.greatrace.com. It sounds like this could be just plain fun.
In some of the pictures you’ll notice cars that are plastered with stickers that look alike. The significance of these stickers is, each one represents a different Great Race that the car participated in. Obviously, some of these folks a diehard rallyers, participating year of year.
Next years race route starts is San Antonio Texas on June 20th and finishes in Greenville South Carolina on June 28th. They say there is $150,000 in prize money, WOW! For more info call 800-989-7223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit their website.
The month of September sweeps in as August walks away, slowly, leaving Summer’s promises in ashes. Pat was winding down a long day and had strolled out to his shop to again try and make gains on his roadster pick up project. All of the pieces seemed to be falling into place; yet, he was missing a solid K member and a gennie Deuce grille shell. Many of his pals had chided him on this detail. “Dude, just buy a repo piece!” “So-Cal has a decent piece.” “Call Bob Drake, they have them.” And so on, so on and… well Pat heard every detail but on his RPU he wanted the real deal. Pat smiled and agreed, yet. With all of the efforts he had put place on his hot rod, reproduction would not suffice.
He’s kind of like that. The frame was an original set of ’32 rails he had found in a abandoned mining camp in Montana. The cab and bed he had scored from a long abandoned tug boat station in the ‘Couve. The mill was from a ’44 Ford, a 59L block that had been found in a crate in St Johns. It seemed that for the most part, every piece of his hot rod had come together by chance or word of mouth. Yet, his connections either had a grille they were not parting with or, they knew a guy who had a friend who… well, you know. Pat leaned back on his work bench and looked at his pickup. So. Damned. Close.
He shook his head. In his mind he did a mental recap of the parts he had gathered to create what his heart and mind had created. It’s not every day one is rescuing a less than 500 ever produced vehicle, or that shakes up things and dares to make it a hot rod. He shook his head and hit the lights. His ‘70 Dodge Demon 340 seemed like a cake walk compared to this pile of metal.
As he had done for all his 58 years he rose, greeted the day with questions and a spark somewhere in his psyche’ made him rethink his daily routine. It was Sunday, September 1st. Summer’s last 20 days were here and on this bright crisp day Pat knew this was the day and where to find that last part. He placed his cell phone into the glove box of his ’64 El Camino and just drove. He left his home in the outskirts of Vancouver, Washington, got onto I-5 and headed North.
The Elky’s 327 sang through the twice pipes and Pat felt like a passenger as his body drove and he observed. He crossed the Lewis and Clark Bridge out of Longview and headed across the Columbia River and into Oregon, and then he was driving West toward the coast. Highway 30 has this incredible climb outside or Rainier and as Pat had done so in all his years, marveled at the view as he drove on. At the crest of the hill, he down shifted and got into the left lane and took a side road and headed South.
He had never been down this road.
And he had spent nearly 40 years as a tow truck driver in the Northwest. The road split into a Y and he banked to the left. Around him the trees has started to turn colour as Autumn kept teasing her arrival. Pat reveled in the landscape and soon he slowed and on his right was a very old wrecking yard. He had never seen or had known this placed existed, yet, it felt like he knew where it was all along.
He killed the ignition and the 327 became silent. Around him were the occasionally chatting birds and the wind as it swept through the trees and evergreens. The El Camino’s engine ticked as she cooled down. There was an iron archway with Gallagher’s in faded letters. No signs forbid his entrance. With caution, he walked into the yard and saw a very old Spartan trailer parked next to the gate.
Outside on a stump an old man sat with a pipe between his lips and was whittling a piece of Fir into a sharpened point. “Eh youngster, can I help ya?” Pat paused. Why had he driven here? What was he after? Then he spoke and he heard what he said, more than knew what he was going to say. “I am here after that old ’32 Ford grille shell, the purple one.” Pat cocked his head to the side and the old man nodded, “Yassir, right over near that shed.“ He did not have to point; Pat nodded and walked right to it. “$80, right?” and the old man nodded. Pat peeled off the bills, they shook hands and he was back into his El Camino and headed home. The ride home was a blur. It was not til he was a few miles away from home that he lost that foggy mental state and felt himself driving again. But he knew where he had gone to, knew how to get there and what the reward was once he had arrived. Yet had never had set foot in that yard before.
Later that night as he bolted the grille shell into place and he tried to explain it to his friend who had dropped by, it still did not make sense. Lonnie asked, “Well could ya drive there again?” Pat shook his head. “I do not think I could.” Lonnie nodded. They fell silent and marveled at how great the roadster pick up looked with that purple grille shell on it.
Sometimes parts just find their way home.
—Written by Mark Karol-Chik August 10, 2019