A Landscape Of Speed
The above image was sent to me by Wally Parks about ten years ago. It’s an outtake from a fairly famous Hot Rod Magazine photo shoot that resulted in the cover shot for the October, 1950 issue. I don’t believe this particular photograph has ever been published and it’s a bit a of a “mind blow” to see the Kenz Twin-Ford Special, the So-Cal Special, and the Tornado Special together from a front 3/4.
For years, I’ve stared at the famous Hot Rod cover taken from the opposite angle. In fact, it’s framed and sitting on the wall just to my left as I type this. Before I went to Bonneville for the first time, this photograph represented to me what it must be like on the salt – the endless and open freedom of potential. Speed & Power.
Think about the time for a moment. It’s 1950 and the most aerodynamic shape most folks had ever seen at that point was maybe a prop driven WWII fighter plane. The sight of three graceful beasts sitting together on the salt must have been something akin to a Popular Mechanics illustration. In a a sense, they were faster sitting beside each other than they could ever be on the course.
However, the amazing thing about this photo is that it was never intended to be the cover shot. Take a look at the unpublished shot above. Notice the two belly tanks sitting along side a modified roadster in the background. The idea was to place the camera on top of a tall ladder and then take a long exposure with a small aperture. The idea was to create a landscape of race cars – the first layer of cars being four streamliners (the City of Pasadena Streamliner couldn’t make the photo shoot due to issues in the pits) and the second layer being the two belly tanks along with the roadster.
Like a lot of creative ideas of the time, technology just didn’t work out for Wally that day. The ladder wasn’t stable enough and the exposure chosen was just too damn long. When he got the roll back, he was greeted by white pieces of photo paper – everything was over exposed.
Luckily for Wally, he took another roll of snap shots to be used as filler. One of those snap shots is what we now know as the October, 1950 cover of Hot Rod Magazine. Incredible, right?
A Sidebar Of Sorts:
This cover shot was also used in a number of advertisements throughout the early 1950’s – most notably, Edelbrock. However, Edelbrock cut the Tornado (the best looking streamliner in history… Damnit) out of the shot when they used it in their ads. Why? The Tornado wasn’t Edelbrock Equipped.