Filed under: History
If you’re a subscriber to The Rodder’s Journal and you’ve received this year’s Holiday poster, you’ve undoubtedly taken a gander at the photo above. It’s incredible, right? The only problem is that the more information we come up with about the history of the photo, the more questions that arise concerning exactly when it was taken. So, we are asking for your help!
The other day we got a call from So-Cal Speed Shop founder Alex Xydias who not only has very fond memories of the time, but was also able to identify most of the people in the photo. Not only is it a remarkable photo, but there is a remarkable group of early hot rodding luminaries shown as well. So, here we go from let to right. Neither Alex nor Spence Murray, who took the photo, can identify the photographer with his back to the camera who is holding a Speed Graphic type camera with the Spiral notebook in his back pocket. Next in the aviator sunglasses and the Hot Rod Magazine T-shirt is Ray Brock who would become a staff member at Hot Rod as of the December 1956 issue. To Ray’s left is Alex shown in his SCTA Contest Board shirt and So-Cal pith helmet talking to the guys in the Kenz & Leslie push car. Next is Lynn Wineland in the Rod & Custom T-shirt and pointy hat who had hung around R&C since its inception but wasn’t listed on the masthead until the January ’56 issue. To Lynn’s left in the Hot Rod shirt is Ak Miller and to his left is Wally Parks wearing the cap, aviators and the same Contest Board shirt as Alex. We cannot identify the gentleman in the Pith helmet with the cigar. Long time Bonneville starter Bob Higbee is shown talking to driver Roy Leslie as he prepares to make a run. Quite a lineup!
After doing quite a bit of research we are pretty sure that this photo is from the 1954 Bonneville Speed Week, but we can’t be 100 percent sure. What we can’t determine is what year (or years) Kenz & Leslie ran the streamliner with the small canopy over the driver as opposed to the small windscreen shown in this photo. By 1955 the team had gone to three flathead powerplants and had added the large tailpiece and flamed paint job and we don’t believe that this photo could be earlier than 1953 since we can see Alex’s 1953 pickup on the right-hand side of the photo. If the photo were from 1953 and not ’54 the driver in the streamliner would be Willy Young and not Leslie. If any of our reader’s can help us positively identify the year of this shot or the unidentified people, it would be appreciated and you will be rewarded handsomely with both TRJ and TJJ merchandise. We don’t exactly know what yet, but rest assured – you’ll be taken care of.
And to help you along with your mission, here is a higher resolution copy of the original image:
To record your answers, simply reply to this post… Good Luck!
We will be closing down our shipping department and headed out of town for a week on Friday morning. So, if you want any of our merch in a timely fashion, act now!