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History Rollema & Hill / Al Teague GMC Dragster

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by TexasHardcore, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. TexasHardcore
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    TexasHardcore Member

    When I first came across a photo of this car somewhere online, I stared at it for I don't know how long. I was blown away at how simple the car was. I saved the picture and moved on, opening it up to gaze at it from time to time.

    Now that I'm collecting the parts to build an early short rail six cylinder dragster, I kept going back to the photo I had of this car. Then I started to research more about it...

    From HAMB member George Hill, "K88-ghost" (Stan Hill's Brother):

    "Somewhere around '56/'57 Stan and Jerry teamed up; with Stan having the old Scotty Fenn chassis and Jerry with the G.M.C. with a wayne twelve port. they started racing at San Fernando and Long Beach, Colton and verious other strips in So. Cal.

    I was in the service at that time so I don't know how they got "tangled up" with Joe Itow, who had a automotive buiseness at 52nd and Normandie ave in L.A. You could go to his shop and he would fabracate most any thing with in reason mostly race cars (sprint cars engine swaps ect) Stan and Jerry remained mostly in the gas class'. They went from B gas with the G.M.C. to A-gas when they decided to go with a small block chev. opened up 414 C.I. The last time I remember seeing the old channel iron rail is some time in '61 (I think) when they sold it to some one who was at Long Beach.
    When I got out of the service in '61 Stan and Jerry were running the chev."


    The Teague Brothers, Harvey and Al (Landspeed Legend) bought the car from Rollema & Hill, and put their 'Jimmy" in the car with much success. I can't find any early photos of the car when Teague owned it. I cannot find any information about where it went after the Teagues stopped running it. What happened to it after that?

    The chassis builder was listed as Joe Itow of Itow's Automotive. There's not much information out there regarding Joe...anyone care to change that?

    The car wound up at the Flying A Garage (America's Car Collection) in Winnemucca, and was auctioned off with much of their other collection through RM Auctions...but where is it now?

    I found these recent photos from various sources, along with some information about the car...

    From RM Auctions (The car was sold at auction in Sept 2009 for $33k, but to whom?):

    "320 cu. in. inline six-cylinder engine, live axle front suspension with transverse leaf spring, rigid rear suspension, two-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 106.5"

    Al Teague’s rail dragster is typical of the ingenuity and competitiveness that characterized American drag racing in its formative years. Its constant evolution and variety of powerplants speaks of the drive, creativity and curiosity which characterized drag racing and the wide variety of individual expression which it encouraged.

    Al was raised in the hot rod culture of Southern California. He and his brother Harvey first went racing in the late '50s. That in itself isn’t surprising, but the engine they chose to use is. The car was a classic roadster but up front, instead of the then-standard flathead Ford or modern overhead valve V8 from Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Chrysler or even Buick was a modified GMC inline six cylinder. The Jimmy six is largely forgotten today, yet good design, meticulous assembly and a surprising array of go-fast parts from talented, ingenious experimenters made it successful.

    The Jimmy’s success wasn’t just in drag racing. Many enjoyed continuing success in the sprint cars, which could find a race on almost any night on short tracks throughout California. Some even challenged the mighty Offys and Novis in “Big Cars” at Indianapolis.

    Many factors made the GMC six successful. Not the least of them was the strong, robust design for demanding commercial hauling that GMC incorporated in the basic engine. It owed its inherent power to its overhead valve cylinder head, pioneered in Chevy’s “Stovebolt” six from its introduction in 1928. In its stock form, however, the Jimmy had inefficient porting with three siamesed intake ports and four exhaust ports on the same side of the engine. One of the first to take advantage of the engine’s potential was Wayne Horning, who in the days just before the outbreak of war designed a 12-port cylinder head for the Chevrolet six with cross-flow breathing. Development continued after the war and eventually culminated in creation of a 12-port head for the bigger postwar Jimmy six. Most were produced by Horning’s former partner, Harry Warner, who had retained the “Wayne Manufacturing Co.” name after the two parted company.

    The heads produced by Wayne Manufacturing were masterpieces of engineering and machining, typical of the high standards which prevailed throughout the Southern California speed equipment industry. Many of the pioneers, including Wayne Horning and Harry Warner, were aircraft engineers, designers, machinists and fabricators accustomed to the no-compromise standards of the aircraft industry which had flourished in the Los Angeles area during the war.

    The head’s valves were vertical opening into shallow combustion chambers in the head. Compression ratios ran upwards of 12:1 using homebrew fuel and lightweight pistons made by Frank Venolia. Fuel typically was supplied by a Hilborn constant flow fuel injection system.

    Running straight alcohol, a well tuned Wayne head Jimmy would deliver better than 1 horsepower per cubic inch displacement, power that tested the engine’s durability but compared favorably with the mega-expensive purpose-built 270 Offenhausers.

    Al and Harvey Teague’s 320 cubic inch GMC-Wayne roadster would do mid-120 mph trap speeds in the quarter and turn low 11’s. When they put the Jimmy into an early rail dragster chassis it jumped to 137 mph and high 10’s. Turning to “rocket fuel” raised the trap speed to 152 mph, a startling accomplishment for any unblown 320 cubic inch engine and nothing short of miraculous for an ex-truck engine that was well outside the mainstream of performance development. But when they put a Hilborn injected Chevy in the same dragster chassis, times dropped into the 8’s and trap speeds climbed into the low 170’s. The handwriting was on the wall for the Jimmy, but it had shown its stuff.

    Al Teague eventually turned his attention to other racing pursuits but eventually put the GMC-Wayne engine back into the rail chassis in which it had startled opponents in the late 50’s. He restored it to its present sparkling condition, a credit to the design, fabrication, casting, machining and assembly standards for which Southern California was rightfully respected. It was acquired directly from Al Teague by the present owner in 2007 along with other cars from Teague’s important history. Assembled and driven by one of the legendary backyard racers of Southern California with a rare and highly developed example of a nearly forgotten high performance engine, the GMC-Wayne, Al Teague’s rail dragster will always bring curiosity and admiration. Its story deserves to be retold over and over. "


    So, does anyone know more about this car? Have more photos of it? Know it's whereabouts now? Was it restored? By Whom?

    Here's some pics I have of the car...

    Rollema & Hill
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    Rollema & Hill
    [​IMG]

    Rollema & Hill (with Chevy Engine)
    [​IMG]


    Teague Brothers/Recent Photos
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    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  2. Zig Zag Wanderer
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    Zig Zag Wanderer Member

    subscribed! great stuff. thanks for posting.


    i have no additional info, just an observation from the photos about the chassis evoloution;

    the Rollema & Hill version had a transverse leaf with hairpins while the Teague Brothers version is obviously Fuller-style torsion bar. one would think that rather than the car being essentially front-halfed, that a new tube chassis would have been built back in the day to replace the by-then-dated channel affair
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  3. Tman
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    Tman Member

    You have the HRM feature of the car? If not I can scan it for you.
  4. 296ardun
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    296ardun Member

    I am dating myself but I remember the first Rollema and Hill dragster, powder blue TE-440, first saw it at San Gabriel in the late '50s...then they went with the Itow chassis, I remember seeing it at Lions with a nose piece which was so low it ran under the front axle, candy blue body, pearl frame and blower scoop.....lost track of it after Al Teague got it...don't know if that is a new frame but the roll cage looks similar to the original.

    But more questions than answers...who has it now? It is now displayed in someones collection with Tom Beatty's tank, and that cool 32 competiton sedan that ran in the '50s from Nevada...lots of money tied up in restoration, would like to know whose collection this is...the people who take the time to restore these cars are doing the hobby an invaluable service!
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  5. TexasHardcore
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    TexasHardcore Member

    Tman, don't have it, can you scan it? Thanks!
  6. STURGIS39
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    STURGIS39 Member

    I worked with El, Harvey, Harvey Jr. and Matt at Swinerton and Walberg. The last project we worked on together was a Fire protection system at Southern California Edison Tank farm. I was the project manager and Harvey was the superintendent. El was the millwright that was in charge of the engine driven and motor driven fire pumps. This was in the mid 90's. El was off for a couple of days and Harvey suggested we go visit El at his shop during lunch. I got to sit in the Stream-liner that El set all kinds of records with. What a lunch break.

    They showed me the dragster and they were going to put it back together. It was in their shop at that time.

    The Teagues were great to have on a project. Harvey was a pipe fitter. I first meet El on Hydrogen reformer project at the Ultramar Refinery. Swinerton had three separate contracts on this project. El was on the mechanical contract. We assembled two large reciprocating air compressors (I think they were around 2,500 Hp can not really remember), a 207 megawatt steam turbine-generator and condenser. Harvey was working at the Budweiser brewery during the Ultramar project and then we went to Southern California Edison project.

    It was a joy to have the Teagues on a project!
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2011
  7. TexasHardcore
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    TexasHardcore Member

    Cool story!

    I still cannot believe this thing went 8's at over 170mph...
  8. Tman
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    Tman Member

    I will dig it out right now and scan at work this week.
  9. TexasHardcore
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    TexasHardcore Member

    Looking forward to seeing it. Thanks
  10. Tman
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    Tman Member

    It's waiting by my keys so I dont forget it ;)
  11. Tman
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    Tman Member


    PM me your email, easier to mail them from the office
  12. RAT "T"
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    RAT "T" Member

    hard for me to see, is that a channel type frame?
    I thought it was tapered rectangular tubing
  13. aircap
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    aircap Member

    That thing has a great stance.... what a badass hot rod!
  14. Tman
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    Tman Member

    Rat T, PM me aggain tomorrow and I will be on the computer with those scans.
  15. RAT "T"
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    RAT "T" Member

    thanks tman,
    i'll try to be online, but if the hurrican knocks out the power, it may be a few days
  16. 300racr
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    300racr Member

    Just came across this thread, beautiful car!
  17. Dougd
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    Dougd Member

    Hi, Al & Harvey's Dragster was bought bought by Speedy Bill, of Speedway for his Museum, According to Al & Harvey. Thanks
  18. Teague_Landspeed_76
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    Teague_Landspeed_76 Member

    It sat in my backyard for 12 years then become part of my living room for another 6. As far as I know the frame is all original. The only thing "updated" was the pan. I have a couple clear pics somewhere I'll post. For now just this blurry original Drag News with my dad behind the wheel


    Matt
  19. Teague_Landspeed_76
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    Teague_Landspeed_76 Member

    My father & Al set the rearend further back and it picked up substantial m.p.h.


    Matt

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