There was a TV show in the 60’s or maybe it was the 70’s, called All in the Family. That phrase applies to other circumstances… like the old car hobby. My family has been at least interested in cars for my whole life. My Dad was a car guy when he was younger. He had a number of, what are considered today as, “Blue Chip” cars, only he owned them back when they were just old used cars, oh and they were cheap to buy too. I also have a couple brothers who have owned many cool cars over the years and like me they wish they still had them.
My brother Randy owned a 66 Chevy Nova, which he “resto-moded” back before that was a thing. A 65 Malibu SS with a 4 speed, a 67 Chevelle, a couple 57 Chevys, cars trucks etc. and likely more than I can recall now. He became a damn good mechanic when he grew up and has bought repaired and ultimately sold on, quite a few other great cars like his totally redone 64 Impala SS Convertible, his 72 ½ ton 4 X 4 pickup, which was a total restoration and it turned out absolutely beautiful.
We have worked on car together, in fact we started out working on my 66 Biscayne together. I ultimately finished that one and he started on his latest, a 1965 Corvair. He jumped into that one after we moved the Biscayne to my shop and the Corvair has been in the dreaded “Limbo” for a time now.
A few years back he got roped into cleaning up a friend’s moth balled 70 (I think) Corvette. It had been sitting for a long while and needed a bunch of mechanical attention. But he got it back on the road and it was a great looking car.
The Corvair is really pretty nice and is said to have been owned by Jack Ramsey, of Portland Blazers. The car had its fair share of bumps and bruises, like they all do but not a lot of bad. It ran and drove well and looked pretty got from 20 feet.
At last look it is getting near a good coat of primer and then the block sanding fun can begin so, it’s pretty close. I’m hoping that this little article will spur him into action to get back to it. It could be a fun summertime driver… aren’t they all?
The Numbers Game
Watching last weekend’s broadcast of the U.S. Grand Prix (Formula One race) from Austin TX; I had a difficult time figuring out who was driving which car. Not because each team fields two virtually identical entries, but because the car numbers have become less prominent than they were in year’s past. I picked out the numbers on the winning Mercedes mostly because its flanks aren’t cluttered with corporate logos (unlike the Ferraris) but the third place Red Bull? Forget it!
In the modern age of transponders and computerized scoring, the legibility of car numbers isn’t as critical as it once was. I certainly hope they aren’t considering eliminating them altogether. Growing up, a numeral emblazoned on the side of most any vehicle is what made it immediately identifiable as “a racer”.
NASCAR Cup racing is a series in which the car numbers still play an important role. I think because the Fords, Chevrolets and Toyotas are all the same shape and color schemes change frequently, car numbers are critical for identification purposes. You can easily follow a particular team’s progress throughout the race if you can pick out the number. Take for example the Petty Enterprises forty three. If you’re a Petty fan, that number carries a ton of history for you. You’re rooting for Bubba Wallace today but you’re also honoring the owner, Richard Petty’s legacy. It’s hard to imagine a Cup race without a forty three in the field. Richard chose that number because his father Lee was still in competition when Richard started and he ran forty two. When Richard’s son Kyle turned pro, he logically ran forty four. No one can tell me these numbers aren’t meaningful to thousands of Petty fans.
Consider the Childress three… I doubt that any car number in American racing history conjures up deeper emotions. Even though Dale Earnhardt is gone, I think it gives fans comfort to see a number three out there circulating.
Sometimes car numbers have emotional attachments from the get go. Accomplished northwestern driver Monte Shelton chose fifty seven because that was the year his son Neil was born.
Sometimes numbers are earned. I can’t think of any driver more deserving of number one than San Franciscan Nick Rescino. During his career the short track legend won six season championships, some on pavement and some on dirt. Interestingly, he reportedly sold his right to that number one season to a fellow competitor. Joey Santos exchanged his three for Rescino’s one. The cost was $100.00 and a new tire!
And sometimes the choice of car number is sort of an evolution. “We don’t really have a car number,” said the late Merle Brennan looking to his wife to help with an explanation. Like Shelton, Brennan was a successful club racer that held his own when he ventured into a national event. He ran seventeen on his Genie Chevrolet when he raced in the Can Am in the late sixties. Built his own sports racer from a wrecked formula car and numbered it fourteen. When the Can Am was revived in 1977, he procured a McLaren M8F and raced it as nineteen. For whatever reason, Brennan clearly preferred a number in the teens.
My choice of number was an evolution as well. I numbered the first car I raced thirteen because though I wasn’t superstitious, I knew I was in for the biggest challenge of my life. Along came a professional mechanic offering help but only if I would change my number. “With all the things that can go wrong,” he explained, “you don’t need that working against you!” I wasn’t attached to the number and needed his help so I switched to four. The number four had no significance to me- it was simply the lowest number that was available. A few years later I wanted to update with a newer, lighter car and sold the four. The new owner assumed the number was part of the deal and balked when I suggested he change it. Not wanting the transaction to fall apart in the eleventh hour, I conceded and selected six instead. Again, the number had no significance to me other than I liked the single digit and it was available. My new number six was an awesome car and with it I won my first feature. I raced that car pretty successfully for a few seasons, sold it and eventually bought it back. It was always number six for me and after I sold it the second time, it won in the next owner’s hands. It was a great car!
As I mentioned, I’m not superstitious but I do believe in luck. My fortunes changed with the purchase of my original six car so every car I raced going forward was also numbered six.
I have been to many races in my lifetime, but very few as just a spectator sitting in the grandstands. I have always been involved at a race, such as part of a pit crew, taking photographs, or gathering info to write a story.
The first 10 years of my life I was raised in Santa Clara, Calif. My family has always gone to circle track races. On Friday nights we would go to the Alviso Speedway, a ¼ mile dirt track. Then on Saturday night, we would go to San Jose speedway, ⅓ mile high banked paved oval. My uncle was part of a pit crew for one of the hardtops that raced at both tracks. This was back in the late ’50s through the early ’60s.
So I guess you could say that racing was in my blood. Back then I was a spectator, sat in the bleachers with my family and cheered for our favorite drivers. Even back then I would go into the pits with the family after all the racing was over for the night. I got to look at the cars up close and personal and even got to sit in a few.
In ‘62 the family moved to the City of Rogue River in southern Oregon. My love of racing never died, but at that time it was put on hold. From then until my high school days I would take a week or so in the summer and go back to San Jose to see my uncle and go to the races at San Jose Speedway.
It was then my hands-on involvement started. Throughout the week my uncle would take me with him to the shop where we worked on a couple of hardtop race cars. As a little guy, my job was not much. Wash parts, thread on bolts by hand, holding things in place. Then we would go to the races. My uncle would be in the pits and I would be back in the stand with the family as a “spectator”.
Back in Oregon I worked pumping gas at a local service station that sponsored a stock car that raced at the Posse Grounds Race Track, a ¼ mile dirt track in Medford. I am back getting my hands dirty and loving every minute. The team would race in Roseburg and Medford. I was in the pits not in the stands.
As time marches on I grew up, got married and raised a family. In time I moved to Albany Ore. Now selling auto parts, I met Brian Drager, now one of my very good friends. He is a driver and a race car builder. I helped at his shop and in the pits as I could. It was a great time in my life.
Then came a change. I had developed a love for photography. I was not in the stands, I was in the infield of the tracks. I took photos all over the west coast for Racing Wheels Newspaper, Open Wheels Magazine, and now Roddin’ and Racin’ NW Newspaper. I got to be in the infield, in the pits, and even in the flagman’s stand to take photos. Most recently I was able to travel to Indy.
I still enjoy watching the races from the stands. About five years ago I was asked to come along to the races at Willamette Speedway by some close friends that knew very little about short track racing. They kept asking when was “the big one”? You know the multicar pileup that always seems to happen in Nascar. Later that evening 3 cars spun out and I told them that was the big one! As I sat in the stand I enjoyed answering the questions from the rookies.
A couple of weeks ago I went back to Willamette Speedway with another one of my friends, Steve Veltman. My, how things have changed. It is a beautiful racing facility. I also found out that a couple of friends of mine worked there. The flagman Jeff Morrison has been a friend for many years. He does a great job of keeping the races going on the track. Another friend is Joel Imamura, the announcer. I understand this was his first year announcing. He did a great job keeping everyone up to date as what was going on at the track. While I was at the race I decided to write a story about it. I was without my camera so I took photos with my phone, not great, but, better than nothing.
I have been very fortunate in my racing life. Helping build cars, being on pit crews, photographing and writing. The last race for the season I was a spectator and I loved it.
Still a Family Affair
My brother and I attended our first auto race together—It was the Monterey Grand Prix in 1966. We were fortunate enough to go with my best friend and his family, six of us in total. I think my friend’s father had a lot of guts to haul a carload of pre-teen boys all the way down there for the day. And he did it couple more times after that!
In 1971 my brother and I struck out on our own. We piled my 75cc Kawasaki mini bike into the trunk of our parent’s car and spent the day buzzing around the perimeter of Laguna Seca. In retrospect, I have to say that it was one of the best days “Scotty” and I ever spent together. Through the eighties and into the nineties I continued to attend road races and occasionally Scotty would partake but that was with a large ensemble of people. Finally in 1994, we attended our first (and only) Winston Cup race together. Somehow I had come up with a couple free tickets and just he and I spent the day together- this time in Sonoma. By the mid-nineties he had moved his family away from the Bay Area and we just stopped seeing each other. As the years ticked by, we grew distant.
Scotty’s health declined in recent years. He moved into assisted living in 2016 and hospice care a couple months ago. On the Friday before this year’s Grand Prix of Portland, he passed away. I spent Saturday in mourning with three of my four sisters but planned to attend the race on Sunday. My daughter Cora would be there on behalf of NBC and my eldest sister Vickie (whom had never been to see the IndyCars before) commit to joining us as well.
On Sunday morning I awoke with Scotty heavily on my mind. At first I tried to push the memories aside but ultimately I decided to embrace them. I have a closet full of racing shirts but instead chose one of Scotty’s to wear as a tribute. I thought about him while I prepared my food for the day- he would have loved that process. Once I arrived at PIR, I contacted Cora and we set up a rendezvous. When we met, we shared a lengthy hug (I hadn’t seen her since Indy) then sat down for a nice visit. Unfortunately, she barely knew my brother and that is on me.
Based on the starting grid, the outcome of this year’s Grand Prix was difficult to predict. Nineteen year old rookie Colton Herta snatched the pole from Aussie Will Power at the conclusion of qualifying. The second row contained five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and Englishman Jack Harvey driving the most under-financed entry in the field. Dixon’s rookie teammate Felix Rosenqvist posted fifth quickest time and non-championship contender Ryan Hunter-Ryan was slotted sixth.
On the initial green, fifteenth starting Graham Rahal pulled a bonehead move on the inside and ruined the day for both Arrow Schmidt Peterson entries as well as Andretti driver Zach Veach. Rahal’s gaffe even damaged his teammate Takuma Sato’s mount, depriving the defending Portland champion of any chance at an encore performance. After twelve laps under full course yellow, the race was restarted and Hunter-Reay pulled a remarkably similar move to Rahal’s. Attempting to block his teammate Alexander Rossi’s inside pass, he arrived in turn one too hot, spun sideways and slammed into the pink and black entry of Harvey. Hunter-Reay was able to continue (at an uncompetitive pace) but Harvey’s day was finished before it started.
On the third try, the race began without incident. Young Herta set the pace with Dixon getting around Power followed by Rossi and Rosenqvist.
At thirty five laps it appeared that Herta had used up his tires and was holding up the procession. Two laps later Dixon made a pass for the lead and Herta immediately began to pedal backward. When he pit on lap forty, the order was Dixon, Power, Rossi, Rosenqvist and point leader Josef Newgarden up from the thirteenth starting berth.
Around lap forty two, the rest of the front runners began green flag pit stops for fresh rubber and fuel. After cycling through, the running order was virtually unchanged except for Rossi and Rosenqvist swapping positions.
Then on the fiftieth circuit, leader Dixon lost power and came coasting down pit lane. Critical time was lost when his crew was forced to rescue him, push him to his designated stop, remove the engine cowl and replace the battery. For all intents and purposes this ended the New Zealander’s bid for a sixth title.
At half the distance, Will Power had inherited the lead with Rosenqvist second, Rossi third, Newgarden fourth and Herta back on pace in fifth.
The running order didn’t change until Herta had a go at Newgarden and secured the spot on lap sixty seven. Second in points Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti got together while dicing for sixth but both were able to continue. Andretti received the worst of this altercation as up to this point he had run just outside the top five all day.
Little changed on the course until rookie Santino Ferrucci (running eleventh) coasted out of the last turn and stalled on the pit lane exactly as Dixon had. This brought out the yellow with eight laps remaining and set up a dramatic single file dash to the finish.
Much to Power’s credit, he got an excellent restart and raced unchallenged to the checkered flag. The popular Swede, Rosenqvist tied his best finish to date by placing second. Third in point standings and on the track Rossi, did little to gain ground in his title bid as Newgarden crossed the line fifth, just arrears of Herta. The championship will be decided September 22nd at Laguna Seca.
After the races I sought out my sister and brother-in-law. They had difficultly following the action but enjoyed themselves nonetheless. My sister said she was mostly there to see and support my daughter who joined us after wrapping up her responsibilities in Victory Circle. There were hugs and smiles all around. We escaped from the racetrack and huddled in a booth at a nearby coffee shop. Over a good meal we reminisced and laughed- it was the highlight of my day.
In my family auto racing has always been a family affair and if Scotty were still with us, he would have been right in the middle of it. Rest in peace, brother.
Albany Antiques in the Streets and Classic Car Show
Downtown Albany, Oregon always seems to be busy with the carousel and all the quaint little shops and antique shops. However, one Saturday in September the downtown is overflowing with cars, people, vendors and antiques.
The Antique and Car Show is the place where you can see and buy the toy cars you had as a kid and the classic cars you want to have as an adult. One of the phrases I have heard over and over again is, “I used to have one of those.“ Now that could go for the old tin cars and truck toys as well as the classic hot rods, trucks and muscle cars.
One of the most beautiful hot rods was a ‘32 Ford roadster with black paint and purple flames and a blower coming out of the hood. The paint job was beautiful—gloss black with purple flames going clear down the side of the car. It is owned by Ted and Judy Johnson from Prineville.
When was the last time you saw a real original Woody? A 1950 Ford Woody station wagon owned by David Krumwiede of Albany. The neat thing about this was about two blocks down from it was a steel toy woody with surfboards that looked just like it—with the exception of the surfboards!
A classic Red ‘56 VW bug owned by Gail and Greg Ashbeck was matched by a yellow VW Bug ragtop toy model in booth two or three blocks away.
The streets of Albany were lined with antique and crafts booths, cars, trucks, and a ton of people. One thing I saw was an old rusty pedal car that looked like an early Mustang. I walked a few blocks down the road and there was a beautiful fully restored Mustang pedal car on display in front of a matching real ‘66 Mustang.
The phrase, “I used to have one of those“ holds true for me. For more than 20 years, my son and I have owned and are now restoring a real ‘65 Mustang Coupe. It is for my son and my grandsons when they get old enough to drive. I just need to get the toy for me!
High Desert Swap Meet & Car Show
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.
Portland Cars and Coffee
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.
Route 66 in a Corvette
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.
The 2019 Great Race
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.