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.
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.
“What is it?”
That’s the most common question out of everyone’s mouth, when they witness Jack Dagett’s 1939 pick-up for the first time. No, it’s not a custom ‘39 Ford or Chevy or Mo-Par! Believe it or not, it’s a custom handmade glass body over steel construction, 1939 Studebaker pick-up. This limited edition kit car creation was built by Mr. Jerry Shirley from Tacoma, Washington about 14 years ago. The original design was a product of Briggs Manufacturing from Detroit. She is hand-built starting with an S-10 chassis over an air ride technology. For power, she sports a built 350 Chevy w/Brodix aluminum heads and Pete Jackson gear-drive. She’s running a 700 R4 tranny and a 12 bolt Chevy rear-end to get her down the highway. Add on power disc brakes, power steering, windows and seats and she’s almost ready for competition. The color is from MoPar and the label on the can is Plum Crazy. Jack being a cool dude from Cleveland High back in the sixties, has re-labeled his delicious ride “PURPLE REIGN.” To enhance the stance she sports 335/35 17”x10”w/tires on the rear, with 225/45 17”x7” up front over a super custom set of Boyd wheels. To finish this gorgeous ride off in style he chose world class pen-striper Mitch Kim to lay down some fantastic graphics and artistic striping.
The “Purple Reign” has been winning awards every-time Jack has time to show her off. We at R&R NW Publication are honored to make this 1939 custom classic Studebaker pick-up, our featured ride of the month for October 2017.
A sure sign that summer is coming to an end is the Oregon Festival of Cars, held each September in Bend, Oregon. Broken Top Club’s driving range is the venue and is a perfect setting. This is a weekend event which starts Friday morning with an optional tour which leaves Ron Tonkin’s Gran Turismo in Wilsonville. With a leasurely drive through country roads, it takes a different route every year. It ends at a car wash in Bachlor Village with all the beer and wash supplies provided, the labor is on you. Later everyone meets in the showroon of Kendall Porsche for dinner, drinks and conversation.
Saturday morning starts with the placement of cars on the driving range with public viewing beginning at 10:00 a.m. The variety of cars is one of the many things I enjoy about this show, with everything from hot rods, customs, classics and muscle cars, to sports cars and classics. This year the featured cars were Badass Cars, and there was a wide variety to choose from. After the show there is a banquet for participants to close things out.
Sunday for those left standing they can choose to participate in a tour which ends with lunch. If you find yourself in Bend the middle of September this is a must see.
If you weren’t at the Northwest Motorsports Associations Rockin Around the Block cruise last month, you missed a big one. Hundreds of cars showed up for this day long event that benefits scholarships for the automotive program at Mount Hood Community College. Rockin’ Ron Rudy and his band supplied the street dance as Hot Rods and cool cars filled in the entire Gresham downtown area. The event then wrapped with the cruise of Main Street.
Jerry Lyons of MHCC was this year’s chairperson of the event. At the last NWMA staff meeting he reported that the entire MHCC staff very pleased with the success of the event. This year’s contribution to the Scholarship Fund will be signifcant, adding to considerable contributions from prior years. NWMA has plenty to be proud of. This year’s event was the most successful of many years. GearHeads: you might want to leave room in your calendars for next year’s 20th. Annual event.
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.
A cool dude from Oregon City, Oregon, Mr. Jack Bristol, owns this sweet little black-on-black 1937 Chevy Coupe. She picked up a Best of Class Show Trophy back in 1977 at the Portland Roadster Show the year she was built and she’s still a winner today. She sports a 383 ci Stroker for power with a Chevy power glide tranny and a beefed up Ford rear-end. Power rack & pinion steering and disc brakes keeps her straight on the Highway. Add on super A/C, power windows and power door locks, plus a set of hand formed custom front fenders giving this little ’37 coupe a special new dimension. The custom interior bench seating is in a rich all leather finish, complimented with a set of custom dash gauges to finish this ride off in style. She features 16” tires and wheels up front and 20” tires over fully chromed out racing wheels out back to enhance the stance.
Jack and his wife (girlfriend) Linda have been married for fifty years. She attended Canby High and he was that cool dude from West Linn. They have two grown up wonderful daughters and five fantastic grandchildren. Together they love driving by their old High Schools in there like new 1937 Chevy Coupe. Jack is also a regular member in good standing at the Kool Guys Hot Rods Car Club Breakfast out in Carver, at the Hangar Restaurant every friday morning at 8:00 am.
On the days when Jack’s not driving the ’37 he can be found in a 2001 Classic Custom GMC step-side red on red pick-up showing off lots of chrome. This gorgeous, limited edition, features a custom billet grille, super chrome extensions up front with the rear-end featuring a bumper-less design. The black on black tonneau cover and the all black leather interior make this a one of a kind dream truck come true. For power this sweet ride sports a 350 Vortec with an OD Tranny and a stock GMC rear-end. She is showing off 20” Tires and wheels on the rear and 16” tires and wheels on the front, over a full set of super chromed American Cragars on all four corners. This is one nice ride that I guarantee you won’t see another one like it in your neighborhood tomorrow. Thank you, Jack and Linda, for sharing your delicious rides with our thousands of R&R NW readers all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. “All for the Love of a Classic Chevy Coupe and a Custom GMC PU.” Come one and all to a free car show and some great food at the Hangar every Friday Morning rain or shine.
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.
Some of you know we have been talking a lot about EVs and AVs in this column as of late. That is because there is plenty of news to be had concerning these vehicles. And we have more news for you this month.
First I would like to say that the RPM Act is moving right along with more than 180 members of Congress endorsing it so far. And I hope you enjoyed Collector Car Appreciation Day last month. This is another example of congress steppeing up and recognizing us GearHeads for the contributions we have made to America with our cars, down through the years. They recognize that we have made contributions in a number of ways. One of which is the advancement of Americana. This uniquely American, hot rodding phenomenon did indeed manage to spread around the world through the years.
Now this leads into another subject that I would like to address. Cruising these hotrods was also a unique part of Americana that served as a rite of passage for many young hot-rodders in cities and towns throughout this country. Unfortunately, those who hold positions in leadership came to feel that this kind of pastime was unwholesome and not worthy of the good people in this country.
So, town by town and City by City the pastime of cruising was gradually stamped out from one Coast to the other. Now many years have gone by. And guess what? It seems that many of those cities and towns now miss us.
As a result, there has been a resurgence of organized cruising activities in cities and towns all across the country. In particular, the current powers-that-be have recognized the benefits to local merchants and economies that come hand in hand.
In recent years we have seen cruising events spring up in the Vancouver and Battle Ground areas. The biggest one around has been the Vancouver Cruisin’ the Gut which was growing from year to year and contributing to a number of charitable causes along with many local Merchants along Main Street.
This annual, Summer Event had been started by a local Gearhead, Phil Medina. The event continued to grow, drawing in tens of thousands, despite the promoter being saddled down with increasing bills for insurance and police. All of a sudden, this year the name gets changed to Cruisin’ The Couve. That is because the original OG was no longer in charge. City Hall and the merchants stepped right up and took it all over.
I am not going to go into the nitty-gritty of all of the details but the information is out there in social media. I will just say that no GearHead would just simply give up his event because he couldn’t handle it anymore. Some out there would say that he could not afford to keep going.
I for one fail to see the necessity for having an army of police out there working overtime in cars, motorcycles, bicycles and walking around along with a big headquarters trailer parked there. What I found particularly offensive was when they moved in at 10 PM sharp with their lights and barricades and shut down the entire street to close down the event.
What are they afraid of? A riot might break out? Did anybody get a load of most of the Cruisers that were out there? They were old dudes. OGs from a past era, cruising along and behaving themselves just fine. I mean give me a break!
Well that was then and this is now. And now is the future. And the future is autonomous vehicles. So these AVs are electric cars that drive themselves. I don’t expect that there will be much cruising being done in those things. So here is a little news coming out of Portland. The new Transportation bill is going to allow a $2,500 rebate towards the purchase of some EVs. In addition a $2,500 rebate will be made available if you scrap your car that is 20 years old or older. And this is in addition to the $7,500 federal tax credit you will receive.
This should be a great savings for many. But let’s not forget where much of that money comes from. You know how it is, it’s always the people who eventually end up footing the bill. Let us not forget that.
Next, on a bit of a sad note the Dodge Viper which has been in production since 1995 is coming to an end and the plant will be shuttered. Also AM General has sold their Hummer plant to an outfit called SF Motors who will be a manufacturing EV’s. Oh and the CEO of shell has announced that he will be buying a plug-in.
Intel has been doing their research and has recently released numbers. Essentially they are saying that the autonomous ride-hailing industry which is mainly Uber and Lyft will generate trillions for the economy. Maybe we are all going to get rich? And then we have news from the UK and France. It is looking like internal combustion vehicles will be gone by 2040.
So there you have it GearHeads. Let’s end this month’s column on a fast note. A company called Lucid Motors has an EV that has hit 235 miles per hour and they are making it faster.
‘Nuff said, Chuck Fasst