Salt Flats Rainout

For the second time in the last eight years Bonneville Speed Week was canceled due to heavy rains. The event was also called off in 2014. Prior to the day of the event all reports were that the salt was well groomed and in excellent shape. However, a thunderstorm on Friday night led to an announcement that racing would be delayed from Saturday until Monday. Another, larger storm, on Saturday night led to the salt flats being covered with water from two inches to a foot deep. A scene more suited for hydroplane racing than for car racing. The salt flats are part of the great basin. There are no rivers or streams that eventually flow into the ocean. All of the water runs into the basin and sits there until it evaporates. This is a slow process. On Monday, the official announcement came that all racing for the week was canceled. The only chance that we had to get out on the salt was when we hitched a ride with Lee Kennedy, the Chief Tech for the Southern California Timing Association, the body that runs the event. We had met Lee at the Nugget car show and he had offered us a ride down the track. He followed through and we accompanied him as he retrieved some of the Southern California Timing Association equipment from the flooded area. Our only view of the race vehicles was sitting on trailers in the parking lot or on trailers being towed off the slat through the flood waters. This was a major disappointment for the three guys in my group who had just driven 700 miles to see cars capable of nearing 500 Miles per hour.
Just because racing was canceled, there were still things to do and sights to see. A day trip down to Ely to visit the train museum and ride the old steam engine was well worth the time. And the nightly car show at the Nugget Casino was the main attraction. The show occurs in the parking lot at the Nugget nightly throughout the week. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the best nights by far. Attendance tends to wain as the week goes on and racers start to head home along with the spectators. This show is different than most. There are no classes and no awards. What there are is a lot of cars that you rarely see elsewhere. Early hot rods are in heavy attendance along with rat rod types of vehicles Creativity is the name of the game. Where else are you going to see a fifty seven Chevy hood used as a trunk lid on an early pickup bed? Where else will you see a twin engine roadster, each engine with twin turbos? It is clear that most of the cars are home builds and the only limitations are the owner’s imaginations.
The first time I attended this show they had cocktail waitresses roaming throughout the show vending drinks. This no longer occurs, but there is a bar set up in the parking lot (the heat and all you know). The really fun thing is the friendliness of everyone. The car owners, racers and spectators mixing freely. It is also fun to meet people, not only from around the United States, but from around the world. New Zealanders and Australians are usually present in numbers. They have a strong car culture of their own and love to venture to the salt flats.
Even with no racing it is an event that should not be missed.


By: Terry Thompson

Casual Cruise

Well, here we are, back to car cruises and shows. We all know that there are big shows and small shows. Shows that you pay entrance fees and hope to win a trophy as well as small shows where you just show off your ride. This story is about the second option. You know, the show where you dust your ride off, go to the show, pull out your lawn chair and shoot the bull with the other participants.
The casual cruise is not just for the ride owner, but for the whole family of the car. The cruises I have been to have families. There are kids running around, wives and moms talking, you get the idea. Of course, the ride builders are always showing off what the latest thing they have done to their rides.
Let me tell you about the different rides. You have your traditional street rods, coupes, roadsters, and T-buckets. Then there are the sporty types of cars such as Corvettes and a lot of vintage muscle cars like Mustangs and Cameros, Dodge Challengers and Chargers. Then, sometimes, you have a surprise like a big military truck with twin 50 caliber machine guns on top.
Most of the modern muscle cars had engine modifications, custom lighting, and great tuned exhausts. Most of these cars are daily drivers. One of these is a fully custom 2006 Dodge Magnum station with a 6.1 liter Hemi engine. It has custom lighting and a decal reading “Grocery Getter” across the top of the windshield.
These casual cruise shows are usually held in parking lots of shopping centers or in parking lots of businesses that appreciate classic rides. A guest ride showed up at one of the casual cruises I recently went to. It was a 1933 Ford Vicky AA/FA drag car. It was a beautiful red in color with a BAE Hemi 420 cubic inch engine and approximately 3000 HP. It’s the world’s fastest Ford Vicky and is owned by Dave and Lois Owen and driven by their son, Troy Owen. I would be scared to death to take that car for a run!
Back to the real world. The variety of cars and different manufacturers just blew me away. For small, local shows it can be pretty impressive. There were imports as well as American-made vehicles. Just a sample of what I saw at a couple of different shows: Camaros, Mustangs, Jeeps, Hondas, Chrysler station wagons, Volkswagens, a Toyota pickup with a V8 engine, Subaru, BMW, Corvettes, Mazdas and a classic 1965 Plymouth Satellite with a 440 V8.
I know it is getting to the end of the outdoor cruise shows, but if you are a car guy or a car gal, stop in and experience a casual cruise car show for yourself!

Rod Run to the End of the World

Hastily laid plans had been made among friends at the Beaches Cruise In. Two days later it was time to go and the hastily laid plans turned out to be not so well laid. But all the same, wildfires were raging, and PGE had announced their plan to cut off power here on the mountain (Mt. Hood) for days. So, it came time for this writer to make his own adventure, throw a tent and bags in the trunk of his Corvette and bug out.

We rolled through rush hour in the intervening cities and towns and the temp rose as we drilled further up into the state of Washington. We tripped across a blown GTO sitting at a gas pump in the little town of Clatskanie. He had a downed battery. The trusty little Viking battery jumper came out of the trunk of the Corvette. Unzipped and attached, it fired up that bad boy and sent them down the road to the Napa for an alternator. Come nightfall we rolled on into the little town of Long Beach, hungry and thirsty. And oh boy howdy, what we saw then …

The whole place was packed with hot rods on every street anywhere around! Revving engines and all manner of other ecstasy echoed up and down the main drag.

Getting grub inside the packed Long Beach Tavern proved to be an ordeal. But not so bad, what with the free drinks being offered by happy hot rodders. And the very capable bartender, Connie came through with the grub.

One fellow, I believe his name was Mike, related as to how, he and his Hotrodding friends had been getting together for years at this event. They rent an entire house next to the museum and just steps away from the main drag. They all get together and have a grand old time reenacting all the good times from times past. On this night, these fellas could make their way out of the bar and on to the strip with no worries of cops and their dastardly handcuffs. The cops – and there were plenty of them, were busy with other mischief. The cruising would continue full steam ahead up until the midnight hour.

Come Saturday, the car show would commence up the peninsula. There would be a 10 mile procession of hot rods leading to the Beach Barons’ property in Ocean Park. The drive was not so bad – until you hit the town. There you would find a traffic backup from the show property back into the center of town, all morning long. Cars that were parked all along the roads radiating out from the fairgrounds numbered in the thousands, easily!

Inside, the property is expansive. Bisected by a long narrow waterway of some sort, full of crickets and critters. There are several wooden bridges to accommodate the cars and people. And the cars and people – they were plentiful! The final car count came to somewhere not too far shy of 1,000! But that does not include a good couple thousand more hotrods remaining out in the towns! I mean if the all mighty Creator were to throw a cast net down over this peninsula he’d be coming back with thousands of keepers.

Inside was a kaleidoscope of color. So much variety and creativity to see. Not to mention a blazing sun looking down upon us like some kind of a blurry red eye, deformed by the wildfire smoke that had spread all through the area, humidifying the air. It fell upon the creations in the form of some kind of ash mixed in with some other condiment, resulting in this slurry, some kind of a seaside gumbo. Perhaps the addition of a little salt and pepper might make for a tasty appetizer if one were to sample a convenient hood with one’s tongue. Slurp!

No really, all that smoky humidity did result in a certain sort of underarm – shall we say, claminess. All of this adding to that sort of seafood ambience. Alas, in time all of that would clear. And shiny paint and chrome would once again radiate all across the valley.
It would seem that batteries were the theme of the day. We came across a ’68 Camaro fresh from the Napa store with a new battery going in. The old Optima sat on the grass. It had breached its end of life date stamp and was headed for hospice. The setup in this ride required 10.5 volts cranking. Without at least that, there would be no RPM signal to the ECU. Yes, this old Camaro had a whole lot going on with the power plant. Dave White with the NW Classic Chevy Club had purchased an LT4, supercharged Corvette motor over the counter a few years back. A sweet package that was tuned to some 700+ RWHP!

Oh. And the supercharged GTO (Lemans) mentioned earlier, made it out of Clatskanie to the show with a fresh alternator. Oh. And my old Castlerock friends, Ron and Pam from Street Fantasies car club, saw the Facebook post I made on that incident and texted me. So, we hooked up at the event after so many years.

Once it came time to wrap up the day’s activities, it was time for the long procession of hot rods to make their way back down the peninsula to Long Beach. All along the way would be the droves of excited viewers in their lawn chairs, along with the more devious ones standing roadside with the bleach bottles, holding signs that say – Burnout Here.

Did anybody see the young gal with the halter top, holding up the sign that was saying something about showing something for something … not sure what that was all about?

Once you have approached some 2 mi outside of Long Beach, traffic rolls to a halt. And you know what’s coming – a repeat of Friday night’s cruising action. Mayhem is approaching. Spirits will be uplifted. Life will once again be good. All of that Americana that helped America be so great is here again. On this night, we relive another little slice of hot rod heaven.

’nuff said,
Chuck Fasst

The Thunder from Down Under

As they had in 2021, the cars and stars of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES arrived in Portland a week early in preparation for the Grand Prix of Portland held Sept. 4. This year a three team contingent was led by Team Penske featuring series point leader Will Power, runner-up in current points Josef Newgarden and an energetic up start from New Zealand by the name of Scott McLaughlin.
“Scotty Mac” as some refer to him, is completing his second season in Indycar and has already visited the winner’s circle. Though he operates in the long shadows of veterans Power and Newgarden, McLaughlin’s enthusiasm shines through and his personal excitement about racing in America’s premier open wheel series is palpable. (Evidently it has been his goal since he first began racing for Penske in Australia’s Supercar Series several years ago).
Newgarden set the pace in practice but when it mattered most, twenty nine year old McLaughlin put his Freightliner sponsored mount on the pole. Power timed second quick with Newgarden third (although an engine swap pushed him back to the eighth starting berth). At the drop of the starter’s flag McLaughlin charged into the lead. Rookie Christain Lundgaard raised a few eyebrows when he pushed his Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry by Power and they were followed by Mexican Pato O’Ward and last year’s winner Alex Palou. Newgarden’s issues were compounded by an unfortunate tire choice and he fell completely out of the top ten initially.
Little changed in the first half of the 110 lap contest- McLaughlin set a blistering pace which not even his teammates could match. Aussie Power recaptured the second spot and O’Ward ran third. Newgarden and his crew rallied and to their credit slashed their way back into the top five with forty laps remaining. Lundgaard’s moment in the limelight faded but a career best finish seemed attainable.
McLaughlin forfeit his lead only when he made his pit stop and it was looking as though the entire race might be unfettered by a single caution period. Then mid-pack racer Rinus VeeKay stuffed an unsuspecting Jimmie Johnson and the pace was slowed to a crawl. McLaughlin continued his dominance on the restart while Power and O’Ward scuffled behind him, Newgarden ran fourth and Californian Alexander Rossi appeared in the top five for the first time.
A second yellow flew with just a hand full of laps remaining but it didn’t rattle McLaughlin. O’Ward’s McLaren entry had a sidepod break loose after contact with Power yet both maintained their positions. Meanwhile behind them six-time series Champion Scott Dixon materialized seemly out of nowhere and displaced Newgarden in fourth. (“The Iceman” had been pushing toward the front all day after a dismal qualifying effort). Dixon subdued the crippled car of O’Ward before the finish and Graham Rahal salvaged the day for his father’s team with a hard fought top five.
So it was a perfect day for young “Scotty Mac”- He led all but five laps and is destined to be a champion in the not too distant future. His flawless win from the pole wasn’t exciting to watch but can’t be faulted. Fellow Penske driver Power did a yeoman’s job protecting his point lead and fighting off the advances of O’Ward (who was relentless). And the incredible Scott Dixon made it an all “Down Under” podium. Newgarden brought his Penske entry home eighth. It was an afternoon he would just as soon forget but he was able to maintain his position in the point standings going into the final race at Laguna Seca Sept. 11.
Sadly Indycar racing will never regain the prestige and popularity that it once held yet I still get a kick out of watching Scott Dixon wheel a racecar. Most in attendance fail to recognize it but they are watching one of the greatest racers of all time…right up there with Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt. That is not my opinion…It is a fact.

Never to be dismissed, “The Iceman” Scott Dixon rallied from 16th on the grid to finish third and still has a shot at the title.

Current Indycars resemble F-16 fighter jets. #26 Andretti entry is piloted by Californian Colton Herta.

Point leader Will Power practices a pit stop with Team Penske prior to the Grand Prix of Portland.

Young Scott McLaughlin dominated the weekend for local sponsor Freightliner and Team Penske.

Penske teammate Will Power fought hard to retain his series point lead coming into Portland and successfully defended his position.

Northwest Art & Air Festival

The Northwest Art and Air Festival returned to the Linn County Fairgrounds after an absence of two or three years to accommodate the COVID pandemic. The event is multi-faceted and spread over three days. It has an emphasis on art and air displays. The fairgrounds are covered with booths selling art and food. There are hot air balloons on display daily (weather permitting). They lift off every morning shortly after dawn and on Friday there is a Night Glow This is quite spectacular. The balloons are tethered to the ground. Shortly after dark the burners are ignited and the balloons inflated. It is like a dozen or so huge glowing, multi colored lamps. Activities involving fixed wing aircraft are held across the street at the Albany Municipal Airport. They go on all day long. There is also live music on stage throughout the day. The musical high light is the Saturday night concert featured a well known national artist. This year the performer was country music star Billy Culligan.
Also included in the festivities is a car show. The show is staged by the Studebaker Club. This year about 75 cars showed up to participate. The show featured a mix of classical, muscle and foreign cars. Best of Show went to a 1934 Plymouth hot rod owned by Don Pyle. It is truly an outstanding ride. There were many other fine cars there as well. This is a big event with several hundred of people in attendance. A good way to spend a Saturday with people who are interested in a variety of modes of transportation.

By: Terry Thompson

Carol Hood and her 57 T-Bird

Pete Rocco’s 59 Bug Eye Sprite

Sue Thompson’s 56 Chevy

Customer Service

About the first week of August, I drove my trusty ol’ wagon to the local Les Schwab Tire Center. The location our family frequents is just around the corner from our home, and we’ve never had an issue in the two decades that we’ve been customers there.

The challenge I brought to the table this particular Saturday was a set of slotted dish Ansen Sprint mag wheels.  Ya see, my daily driver is a 1982 Ford Granada GL wagon.
For years now, I have run a big and little skinny white wall tire combo with painted steelies and Falcon poverty center caps. The wagon looked clean, but I wanted an ’80’s street machine look. So when an ’85 Thunderbird arrived at All American Classics with those slotted mags, well, the wheels started to turn.

The wheels had an aged appearance, which was ideal for my vision with the car. There was even a stamped date of 12/20/1985 on each of them. The wheels are 14″ x 6″ for the front and 14″ x 7″ on the rear. I envisioned a set of big ‘n little raised white letter tires and a stance to make the car pop!

Oh, this was gonna be RAD!!  (you know, 80’s style?)

A quick check on tire availability, and I saw that a set of Cooper Cobra radials would most likely do the trick. So I dropped by Les Schwab, and a service rep, Kellen, began to help me. We discussed the look I was going for as well as availability, and it was recommended to go with 225/70R14’s for the rear and 215/70R14’s up front. The order was placed, and a time was scheduled to make the swap. I was giddy with excitement!

Now, some background info here… The wheel/tire combo that I had been running was as follows:
The front tires were 205/75/R14’s, and the rears were 225/75/R14’s. On stock rims too. But, I was confident in my order and eagerly arrived for the scheduled appointment.
What could go wrong?

When I arrived to pick up my vehicle at the end of the day, the technician, Rebecca, handed me my keys and casually stated, “Uh, there is some rubbing.”
I paused. “Rubbing? As in tire rub? Is it safe?” I asked and could feel a sense of dread drop like a load of hot lead in my gut.
Nervously, she replied, “Uh, well there might be some tire smoke.”

I took my keys and walked out to my wagon. I really liked the look. It changed the whole attitude of the car.
I climbed in, fired it up, and began to angle the wheel to exit the parking lot. The front tires begin to rub viciously against the front fenders.  I paused, thinking, “Oh, it can’t be that bad. It’s probably minor.” I turned the wheel more as I pulled out into traffic, and it was even worse. The rear tires were singing. LOUDLY.

Every bump made it worse. I couldn’t even fully turn the steering wheel to safely make a turn. I ventured the short distance home and backed into the driveway. “Maybe the added weight of my other tires and wheels added to the wagon’s payload,” I thought.

I got out of the car and was dismayed to see that damage had already been done to the tires.  There were gouges in the tires, and white rubber was showing. The wheel opening moldings were flared out and damaged. I emailed the corporate office straight away and sent pics.

Monday arrived and I was Johnny-on-the-spot at the tire shop.  Kellen was ready and, though I was amped up, he did his best and calmed me down.  He listened and assessed the tire sizes and what was happening. My old set were put back on, and I was told that he would be in touch to address the problem more thoroughly. After waiting patiently, I asked to come in again the following Saturday.

When I did, Kellen told me of his plan. The idea was to do a test fit to see if a 215/70/R14 would work on the rear of the car. So my car was whisked off and jacked up, and the test fit seemed to be a cure. Kellen even asked me to stand on the rear bumper and bounce the car to make sure there was room. Success!!!

He told me he had a plan for the front tires, 205/70/R14’s, and to give him a little bit more time because they had to be custom ordered.
Well, some things really are worth the wait. Two weeks later, I again came in on a Saturday, and the crew dug in. The tires were not the original Cooper Cobras I ordered. Oh no, but the replacements were a set of BF Goodrich T/A’s!

Again, Rebecca was the lead tech, but when she noticed that there was still a rubbing issue, Kellen and Nathan jumped in to solve the problem. With a few calls to O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, a set of cast coil spring spacers were purchased, and the rubbing issue was solved. Can I tell you? My car looked amazing!

As the bill was finalized, I expressed that I hoped I hadn’t sounded like a whiner or a “I WANNA TALK TO THE MANAGER” type throughout the process. Kellen laughed, “We just want to take care of our customers, and do it right.” And they did!
Thanks again to Kellen, Rebecca, and Daniel at Les Schwab Tire Center on Minnehaha in Vancouver, WA. You folks won a customer for life! -Written by Mark Karol-Chik