Made for Hollywood

Perhaps the next great auto racing picture will be based on Neal Bascom’s novel “Faster.” Published in 2020, “Faster” tells a true story about grand prix racing in pre-WWII Europe—It was a story I had never heard before.

I have a couple of amazing friends in Loy and Nancy Kirksey. Both are remarkable in their own way and both share a passion for books. Loy found “Faster” on a trip over to the coast. He has no love for auto racing per se (although he never misses the Indy 500 broadcast) but, Loy is a bonafide history buff.

Our story takes place in the late 1930’s. Lucy Schell is an American Heiress and rally racer. Not your common hobbyist but co-driving along with her husband Lawrence (Laury), a capable racer. Her driving career is winding down but her thirst for competition has not been quenched. Meanwhile Adolf Hitler is gaining momentum in his pursuit of world domination. His influence is already far reaching in fact, the Nazi party is subsidizing both Germany based Formula One teams; Auto Union and Mercedes.

Rene Dreyfus is an accomplished French driver, black-balled due to his Jewish heritage. He is no longer sought after by the German and Italian teams and to Lucy, he seems like a logical prospect. Now all they need is a worthy steed and here, the Schells make a dubious choice-they select the French coach manufacturer Delahaye. They are an established builder of high-end luxury vehicles, struggling in the current economy and irrelevant on the racing scene. Delahaye needs the contract and insists they are up to the task. What they produce in the end are a short run of mongrels that fortunately, perform much better than they look.
By 1938, a Mercedes W25 is a state-of-the-art Formula One machine. Sleek and aerodynamic, it is dubbed the “Silver Arrow”. By contrast the Delahaye 145 has no waistline, it was thick throughout and had a bulbous nose like Karl Malden. Some guessed that its appearance was inspired by Lucy’s pet bulldogs. Dreyfus himself thought it was the most awful-looking car he’d ever seen. In short, the Delahaye was no match for the Mercedes aesthetically but it had its merits. Its V-12 engine pulled hard, it had excellent brakes and handled well. Dreyfus reasoned that he could defeat the Mercedes if he devised the proper race strategy. He would get his opportunity in a non-championship contest in Pau, France in front of his fellow countrymen. It would prove to be one of the last chances the French had to thumb their nose at the Nazis who would soon invade their country.

I would love to tell you how it all shakes out but author Bascomb certainly tells his tale better than I can. This book has a better storyline than most of the racing movies I‘ve seen- And it’s all TRUE! I simply cannot recommend “Faster” highly enough. (Note: This novel was published under the title: “The Racers” as well. It is the same story, just confirm that it was written by Neal Bascomb. Accept no substitutes!)

Ridge Motorsports Park

Ridge Motorsports Park is located near Shelton Washington about 25 northwest of Olympia Washington. It offers a road course, a skid pad, kart racing and there is an off-road park.

On June 11-13th the “Trans-am series event was held at the park. One of my former co-workers, Steve Ingersoll, being a racer and a car guy went to the track for that weekend. The weather didn’t look like it was going to cooperate, but Saturday turned out to be great… Sunday, not so much.

Steve managed to take a few pics and told me a little about the event which I have transcribed here for you. The facilities look good and sounds good. They even offer catering and meeting rooms for retreats or business meetings or corporate training classes. Sounds like a cool place.

This weekends race was a joint race weekend. The SVRA, Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, and Trans Am. Trans Am races often include several classes made up of faster and slower cars on the track at the same time. Such was the case at the park for this weekend.

Also present was rain. The rain put a damper on the turn out as you might well expect, but those that stayed were rewarded with some exciting racing. Steve said it was something to see “800 hp Trans-am cars putting up huge rooster tails as they tried to negotiate the 2.47-mile road course.”

Steve and his friend, Andy Collins made a weekend of it, brave. But it turns out they had help. Apparently, Saturday night, with their camp/pit set up they held a race meeting with a Mr. Hennessey and a fellow, Jim Beam was his name to help warm the night. It sounds like it was successful.

The Lux Performance Dodge Vipers finished one-two in the SGT class in their first appearance in trans-am this season. Cindi Lux scored her fifth win when she crossed the finish line in fourth overall and first in SGT class driving the number 5 Lux Performance/Black Coffee Dodge Viper.

Carl Rydquist drove from the back to the front to claim victory in the TA2 class driving his number 47 Ford Mustang. Even though the track was rain soaked he managed to pass everyone to take the lead and finish more than 12 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.

The series returns to Portland Oregon’s PIR for the Portland SpeedTour July 23-25th.

FUNCTION 4 JUNCTION 2021: 4 the schools, 4 the community, 4 the children

The Function 4 Junction Show and Shine Car Show was on. It was my first car show in about a year and a half. The show was the largest one that I have gone to in a long time.

The show was in the downtown area of Junction City. The show was at one time held at the high school football field. When I say large I mean large! Let’s just say 6 blocks long and 2 blocks wide with cars parked on both sides of the streets, in the parking lots, and down the alleyways. There were also vendors in about every other parking lot.

I talked to Corrie Lucas, the president of Function 4 Junction. Corrie said this was one of the biggest Show and Shines ever, with over 600 cars.

When I enter a show I like to know, “where does the money go?” Corrie had no problem in answering that question. The entry payment goes to the community of Junction City to help with projects, for scholarships for students and also a donation to all the volunteers for whatever good causes they have. It’s good to know where the money goes. The downtown businesses are 100% on board for the show. Corrie said 2019 was the best year for the show. Then the Covid “Crap” hit and 2020 was canceled. I mean, not only the show, but everything was canceled.

Well, back to the showl My neighbor, Keith, asked if I would like to go to the show with him. Keith had pre-registered and was ready to go. Now this was a first for me, riding in a 1963 Cadillac Series 75! You know, the kind of car the mob would use back in the ‘60s. It was 20 feet of cruising smoothness, the nicest ride I have ever been in.

Getting to the show is half the fun. There was a wonderful variety of vehicles. You name it, it was probably there-show cars, rat rods, daily drivers, drag cars, modern muscle cars, pick-ups, as well as traditional hot rods, vintage original cars and trucks, sports cars and many more. Speaking of sports cars, another first for me was a mid-engine Corvette. It was beautiful. There was even a three foot statue of “Rat Fink”. Next to Rat Fink there was a go-kart sized red Radio Flyer Wagon. On the other side of Rat Fink was a gas powered, go-kart sized 1953 Lusse Autoskooter Bumper Car.

Down one of the side streets in one of the parking lots was what I call Mopar Corner where at least 12 of the most beautiful modern muscle mopars. Then there was Mr. and Mrs. Chevelle, Jeff and Debra McLaughlin. Mr. Chevelle, Jeff, had a ‘68 coupe. Mrs. Chevelle, Debra, had a ‘68 convertible. Both had big block engines, yellow paint with black trim; so cool. An award winning 1970 red Mustang fastback was there to see. It had a V8 engine with fuel injection and was owned by Dave and Traci Smith of Springfield. Tucked back in one of the alleys was one of the coolest engines I have ever seen. It was a 1965 Chevelle drag car with a full roll cage, huge slicks and a V8 engine with twin turbos and exhaust coming up and out of the engine compartment.

I always go for the unique cars. How about a ‘30s Rat Rod pick up with a beautiful Hemi engine. On the other end of the spectrum was a unique vintage three wheel Morgan, engine and two wheels in the front and one wheel in the rear with front wheel drive.

With a lot of different cars and trucks there were quite a few drag race cars. One race car, not a drag car, caught my eye. It was a 2001 Subaru 2.5 RS Impreza Rally Car that was street legal, but it had a full roll cage, and custom suspension. It could race on dirt and pavement, up the roads and through the forests. The rally car is owned and raced by Richard and Laura Nile. Richard is the driver and Laura is the navigator who directs him through a headset communication system. She tells him to go left, right or straight. They race on the Oregon Trail Rally at PIR and up the Columbia Gorge.

To be honest with you, I was overwhelmed by all the neat cars there. Besides the cars, one thing I noticed was all the different car shirts, car hats and club jackets. Also in abundance were the families, folks that brought their children to this event. Very family focused all around.

The show and shine was over at about 4:00 that afternoon. Later Saturday evening was the big cruise through the streets of downtown Junction City. Corrie Lucas said they expected 800-1000 cars for the cruise!

So, after a year of no shows or cruises because of Covid “Crap” it was great to see and hear the Function 4 Junction was back again. Can’t wait for next year!

It’s a Swap Meet!

This is a funny story. As the economy begins to open back up and the pandemic begins to wane, events are happening all over the place, thank goodness. We sincerely hope you all made it through this hell.

With events “starting” to happen. we old car guys are getting excited. One of my friends says I have Rust in my veins and that may be true. A swap meet was scheduled at the Veterans Memorial Museum in Chehallis Washington in early June and I wanted to go. I didn’t have anything that I needed, mind you, but I had been cowering in the corner for long enough.

I have several friends that like swap meets and one particularly demented friend said he wanted to go too. So, we planned to start out early, like O Dark Thirty, so we could get there early and not miss the bargain of a lifetime… you know, that deal. Our plan included a stop for breakfast along the way and we both figured that we’d be able to “dine in” since the China Virus restrictions were being lifted. At the first breakfast stop we made; we were surprised to learn that they didn’t have any indoor dining service. Off to the next choice. They had limited seating but indoor availability, so we indulged.

We were back on the road again shortly and the rain was spotty. Up ahead of us looked very ominous with huge dark clouds looming, but with our lust for rust spurring us on we used our intermittent wipers extensively and persevered.

Using todays amazing technology, Google maps, on my phone, we had fore warning of the exit and made it to the destination just as a small sun ray peeked through the clouds. The place was small, compact actually, but it was bustling. The parking lot was very full, but we managed to arrive just as someone loaded with treasures was leaving. We parked and headed for the Popup that looked like the way in.

The folks were friendly and open to my putting a stack of papers on the table for folks to take and we excitedly entered the first swap meet we were able to attend in a long time.

I have to pause here to say that neither one of us had much that we had gone looking for but, it was a swap meet! The first in over a year. And we both knew that there were things here that we needed, despite the fact that we didn’t really need anything. Another pause, we both have issues with our legs being old and worn out. Jim was using a cane and I’m just slow, hips and knees, don’t work quite right and are painful, but we were going to see everything there was to see and we weren’t going to be denied.

It wasn’t long before first I found something then Jim. Negotiations were hard fought, but deals were made, and money changed hands, treasures were bought. I realized that Jim had a real method in his bringing his cane. He couldn’t carry much because he was using the cane. So, the old cripple that wobbles got to carry this stuff back to the car.

Perhaps foolishly, perhaps not, I bought something that was too big to carry so when I went back to the car, I simply drove back to pick up the big stuff. Pretty clever don’t’ ya think?

Now, after nine years as a “professional” publisher/photo/journalist etc. etc. it’s going to be hard for you to believe, but understandable with all the anticipation and excitement, we didn’t take one picture! So much for professionalism. It probably doesn’t really matter though. There were just a bunch of rusty/dirty, bent and some broken, old car parts. If you’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all, right? But I’ll bet you’d go anyway!