The Jalopy Derby
By the Spring of 1941, Europe was in utter turmoil as Nazi Germany had swallowed up surrounding countries and set its sights on jolly old England to the north. Here in the USA, life carried on with minimal regard for what was happening ‘over there’, until the horrors of war came to our doorstep at Pearl Harbor towards the end of that year.
Check out this British Newsreel filmed April 17th, 1941 at a “Jallopy” Derby in Texas, which looks to be a cross between the Devil’s Bowl and Pismo Beach with a twist of World Rally Championship! You’ve got a bunch of stripped-down roadsters charging up and over hard-packed dirt hills that look to be well over 20 feet high… This was before the advent of automotive seatbelts, and you’ll notice how much the drivers and passengers are catching air over each jump. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, but I can’t help but wonder if the impending war might have lost this unique hot rod hobby forever. Maybe by the time the boys returned from the European Theater they moved onto racing on the airstrips and using the go-fast tech they learned in the pursuit of speed?
(You might notice the announcer refers to the cars as ‘Crocks’ which was a British term for ‘One that is worn-out, decrepit, or impaired; a wreck.’, in other words, a Jalopy!)