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History The Birth Of Bill Burke

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ryan, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. Ryan
    Joined: Jan 2, 1995
    Posts: 16,741

    Ryan
    ADMINISTRATOR
    from Austin, TX
    Staff Member

  2. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,213

    1950ChevySuburban
    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    Fun read and visit back in time. Great way to start the morning, thanks!
     
  3. Ol Deuce
    Joined: May 30, 2007
    Posts: 1,096

    Ol Deuce
    Member
    from Mt. U.S.A.

    Bill Burke is a very intersting man to visit with, He has so
    many Bonneville stories of his early days. Bill is a very cool
    person!

    :cool:Ol Deuce
     
  4. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 2,198

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    I've enjoyed more than a few wet lunches with Bill when he was the one and only ad salesman for Car Craft, Hot Rod, and Rod & Custom. Most, if not all, of our clients were more than happy to contribute parts, pieces and and a helping hand to Bill. A true living legend and a hell of a nice guy.
     
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  5. Ryan ... I've been meaning to start a "Bill Burke Pictorial History" thread ... now I don't have to! :) ... thanks for the cool pics and the history lesson!
     
  6. Flying Tiger
    Joined: May 2, 2009
    Posts: 479

    Flying Tiger
    Member
    from Japan

    Great read. Thank you for sharing.
     
  7. Bugsy
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 1,255

    Bugsy
    Member
    from Kansas

    Talk about a pioneer on so many levels. And talk about balls on so many levels. These depression era inovators like Bill Burke are national treasures to say the least. When you think of the advancements in mechanical technology and speed that took place during a 20 to 30 year period it's mind blowing. Also, this was also one of the last times in our history where the military was taking it's cues from the civilian sector as far as engineering, horsepower and speed. Whether it was in the air races over Cleveland or on the dry lakes of California. Guys like Bill Burke were pushing the limits with no safety net or compensation. They hung it out there, spent their hard earned dough and set and broke records at a break-neck speed, both figuratively and literally!!

    I can't imagine what a buzz he caused when he rolled up with the belly tank for the first time! What a wild assed ride that thing must have been.
     
    elgringo71 likes this.
  8. G. Hacker
    Joined: Sep 1, 2006
    Posts: 146

    G. Hacker
    Member

    Hi Gang....

    I visited Bill Burke last week and took some shots of him with the belly tank we recently built. Attached is one of the photos. Bill is in purple and his son Steve is standing next to him.

    Hope you enjoy...

    Geoff
     

    Attached Files:

    elgringo71 likes this.
  9. flamingokid
    Joined: Jan 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,924

    flamingokid
    Member

    The Kellison and also that streamliner are just plain cool.
     
  10. Bib Overalls
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 3,945

    Bib Overalls
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've told this tale before. When I was in grammar school my walk home, with a slight detour, took me by the Burke house in the San Gabriel Village. If I was lucky the garage door would be open and I could get a look at a belly tank or stream liner parked inside. And once or twice, a car was actually pushed outside. But I never saw anyone outside and I did not have the nerve to knock on the door. My loss. Many years later I found out Bill's son Steve and my brother Mike were best of friends.
     
  11. fiat128
    Joined: Jun 26, 2006
    Posts: 1,430

    fiat128
    Member
    from El Paso TX

    Got any more details on this car? That looks seriously fun.
     
  12. G. Hacker
    Joined: Sep 1, 2006
    Posts: 146

    G. Hacker
    Member

    Hi Fiat128....

    Here’s a summary of links on the internet about the belly tank. These are the stories covered by Hemmings in the last few months. Hope you enjoy. Just click on the first link and then the remaining links for each story.

    This shows the progression from when we started the belly tank project, it’s arrival and showing at Bonneville, and it’s final stop on the journey at the NHRA Museum in Pomona California. Here are the links:

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2009/05/14/bill-burke-bellytank-re-creation-under-way/

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2009/07/22/burke-bellytank-re-creation-continues/

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2009/08/06/bill-burke-bellytank-re-creation-headed-to-bonneville/

    http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2009/08/11/bill-burke-bellytank-hits-the-salt/

    http://tinyurl.com/lons3k

    Hope you enjoy…

    Geoff
     
  13. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 2,909

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Figured that since Ryan posted about Bill's Birth I'd put this here as a closure to the Burke legacy.
    Bill Burke Passes :(......
    Got a call earlier today from my buddy Oscar that Bill Burke=Father of the Belly Tank passed away a couple of days back as relayed by his son Steve.
    The family will have a private small service as Bill wasn't one for funerals or a large service.
    Very sad to see so many Hot Rod pioneers going to the big white dyno in the sky.
    Guess I'll drive my Purple 34 by Steve's to give the family my condolences all the while thinking of Bill. It was pretty cool growing up 2 blocks over from a legend of the lakes when I was a kid. Godspeed Bill to the tune of 200 mph!!!!!!!!
     
  14. Bill attended every Bonneville meet. Met him in 08, very nice man. Here he is with Lucky Burton and Bobby Green....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    OL 55 likes this.
  15. Damn that is sad news, R.I.P. Bill Burke, father of the belly tank.
     
  16. banditomerc
    Joined: Dec 18, 2005
    Posts: 1,769

    banditomerc
    Member

    Wow,that is sad to hear.He was my metal shop teacher in Belvedere junior high school in ELA,back in 1973.He taught us kids things we never heard of in the barrio.Stuff like making molds so as to make parts.He taught me how to hammer weld!and how to harden steel..amongst lots of other things.He would drive his 1932 Ford cabriolet highboy to work,and park it in the street...Bill Burke was a cool dude.He made a. Big impact on me and taught me things that I have used all my life and have passed on to my son...he lives on..RIP
     
    dad-bud, Dean Lowe and Jimmy B like this.
  17. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 2,909

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor


    Not sure that the Bill Burke listed above was the same Bill Burke (Hot Rod Pioneer) that lived in San Gabriel and worked on cars with his brother-in-law Oscar=(my best pal), I believe Bill lived at his mom's in Alhambra on New Ave right next door to Oscar and Bill's sister Pat. We don't remember a 32 Cabriolet in 1973 or Bill working @ Belvedere Junior High. I know that Bill did work at Gene Scott's around that time as well and he even left a fiberglass body there till the 2000's sometime.

    If it was the same BB, that would be cool to see him pounding out steel. His usual medium was fiberglass which he and Mickey Thompson were partners in a company making a glass Cisitalia in 1952-3 in Alhambra on Date St. But he did do a whole helluva lot of welding on Oscar's 29 CG/R in 1972-74.
     
  18. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 2,909

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    This is now on the SCTA website.
    Bill's family is pretty low key, his son Steve said that Bill didn't want to make a big deal about his passing when it came. I wonder if Banditomerc is talking about Bugsy, which is Bill Jr.???
     
  19. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 2,198

    denis4x4
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Colorado

    Quick Bill Burke story: Some time in the mid to late sixties, we were buying ads from Bill. He mentioned to my boss and mentor Bob Fall that he really needed a car for his wife. We were doing ads for Bill Thomas Race cars and Nicky Chevrolet, so Bob got a new Camaro for Bill's wife on a super deal. It didn't take very long for that car to turn up on the salt!

    As mentioned in an earlier post, having lunch with Bill was a genuine treat. RIP
     
  20. Cyclone Kevin
    Joined: Apr 15, 2002
    Posts: 2,909

    Cyclone Kevin
    Alliance Vendor

    Yeah, The wife at the time was Elouise and the 67 Nicky-Bill Thomas 427 4 Spd RS Camaro became part of the Burke Bros line up. Bill's brother in-law Oscar bought the Camaro from Bill minus eng/trans in 1970. I think he sold it in 73 when he was building his 1929 CG/R "Old Yeller" that Bill did the box tube chassis for along with Steve doing the headers.
    I wish that I knew where that Camaro was today, It would be worth a fortune!!!!! Bill did use it for ad content/story content, I was a lead photo for a story on rear spoilers. the car must been fresh as it had a full set of American 5 spokes on it. You can barely make out the Burke Bros livery on the top of the door edge.
     
  21. Lucky Burton
    Joined: Dec 31, 2004
    Posts: 1,522

    Lucky Burton
    Member

    Sad news indeed! Bill was a awesome guy to know. Rest in peace Bill!
     

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