The first I heard of the Hare & Hound Run was in Robert Genat’s book, “The Birth of Hot Rodding.” It sounded like a typical old timer story jammed pack with idealism and a lack of respect for authority that could only happen during a time when authority wasn’t all that important – the 1930′s and 40′s. It wasn’t until later, when Wally Parks told me a similar story, that I realized that the Hare & Hound Run wasn’t just a story in a book. These things really happened… Hot Rodders were hoodlums.
The premise was simple. A “hare” would drive a course in the host club’s neighborhood. At the center of each intersection or turn, he would stick a small stake flag into the ground. The hare would then stick a similar flag two or three hundred feet from the turn to mark direction. Once the course was completely marked, he would then re-drive the entire course at legal speed limits and record his time. This time would become the benchmark.
The “hounds” were usually a local hot rod club. Their goal was to complete the course as close as possible to the benchmark time. They gathered at the start of the course and were released in two minute intervals. As they approached side streets and intersections, the driver’s navigator (according to Genat, these were usually girlfriends, wives, or buddies) would search for indicator flags. If one was spotted, the navigator would call it out and the driver would take a guess at which direction to turn. If a guy turned left and didn’t see another indicator flag within a few hundred feet, he knew he guessed wrong and proceeded to crank the wheel hard and dump the clutch in order to perform a tire screeching 180. Of course, now the driver has lost time and needs to make up for it if he wants to come close to that benchmark. Speed.
In Genat’s book, he mentioned that the run usually ended at a park where the club would enjoy a picnic and maybe a few beers as a reward for finishing the course. In Park’s version, those that made it through the course in one piece and were still free from Johnny Law usually hid their cars for a few weeks or more. It’s an interesting difference considering the influence Wally had in the “clean up” of the hotrodding. In either case, you can’t deny that these folks were straight up hoodlums and knew how to have some good old fashioned fun.