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History Craig Breedlove and the Spirit of America...

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by George Klass, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 903

    George Klass
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Rooming with Swingle, I could tell you some stories about that but I'm not sure that the Statute of Limitations is over yet...
     
  2. Bullet Nose
    Joined: Nov 20, 2001
    Posts: 2,063

    Bullet Nose
    Member

    In 1965 I was the skinny 26 year old that worked the graveyard shift taking care of the alleys. I think the coffee shop opened at 6:00 AM and I would go sit at the counter and have a hamburger because I had been up all night and was hungry. Got a lot of strange looks from others having their traditional egg breakfast.

    The other place you mentioned was the Parasol .....

    [​IMG]
     
  3. plym49
    Joined: Aug 9, 2008
    Posts: 2,797

    plym49
    Member
    from Earth

    The Arfons were cool, but Breedlove was my hero, and the original Spirit was, to me, the coolest LSR vehicle ever.

    I remember daydreaming in school about the LSR wars, staring at the cap of my first-gen BIC pen because it had the same lines as the nose of the SOA.

    This thread, the stories and photos are an unexpected treat. Thanks.
     
  4. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 903

    George Klass
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Yes, the Parasol. Most of the time it was breakfast and dinner there, almost every day. And lunch at the bowling alley.
     
  5. Bullet Nose
    Joined: Nov 20, 2001
    Posts: 2,063

    Bullet Nose
    Member

    Here's another off topic question .....

    If you ever had coffee or breakfast at the bowling alley, do you remember the guy with the chopped 64 or 65 El Camino that came there? I think he drove it from the Valley and had a business somewhere in Torrance. I often talked to him and think he had a daughter that was married to one of Bing Crosby's sons. He didn't drive it every time but I always looked for it because it was a bitchin looking ride.
     
  6. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    Was fortunate enough to be a part of the Spirit of America team in 1997/1998 in Rio Vista. Just ran across this thread and thought I would add a story from that time. One of the projects assigned to us was the development of a speedometer to visually display mph in large letters in a cockpit display. If you are interested, I'll go into how we overcame that problem and solved it in another message. The funny part of the beginning of this process was a round-table type discussion that led to "why" would a speedometer be required thinking he wanted to know the "top end" of his pass? Craig's explanation paraphrased was this and caught us all off guard: "When you are driving down the interstate at 80mph and then slow down to 40mph, it feels like you are walking doesn't it. When SOA has been at a speed around 500mph and then you slow it down to 300mph it feels like you could just pop the canopy, get out and walk! As you may know, I've had some problems in the past with losing my braking parachutes...." pause...laughter... " and I don't intend to make that mistake again -- I have to know when I'm safely below the parachutes top deployment speed and can not rely on the ground effect visual I have from my seat...."
     
  7. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    As to the speedometer, they had tried pitot tubes like on airplanes using air pressure but those plugged up and were unreliable -- had also tried figuring out a gear combination on one of the wheels but also failed with the rotational speeds being generated. Our final solution was to magnetize one of the bolts that held the custom aluminum wheels together and then count that bolt's rotation magnetic signature with a computer chip customized to count and generate a numeric display to the cars cockpit display. If you look close on the car in this shop picture, you can see the bolts I'm talking about. Still had problems keeping the pickup clean in dirty conditions but it did work!
     

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  8. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    One last picture --- this was the first generation mock-up of the internal dash of the car inside the car, was later modified extensively. But the interesting part was the steering handles which would move lock to lock about 90 degrees -- so 270-90 would become 0-180. The complete movement from lock to lock resulted in approximately 3 degree's of wheel movement! Logical when you think about it but pretty amazing when you are first told about it.
     

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  9. loudbang
    Joined: Jul 23, 2013
    Posts: 32,781

    loudbang
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    Any idea what the red buttons on top of the steering handles were used for?
     
  10. My dad took us to a lot of car shows in the 60s and 70s in Seattle when we were kids. I have a BW 8x10 photo of Breedlove next to his car with his autograph. But my memory sucks and don't remember if the car was on display, or even if Craig was there actually signing the pictures. Its one of my favorite car show pieces of memorabilia.
     
  11. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    Braking parachutes I tend to remember -- there were two tubes mounted at the back under the engine that were tasked to "throw" the parachutes out after the run... At one point, we were mounting a on-board camera between them so that their deployment could be visually confirmed..... Sensitive area for Mr. Breedlove....
     
  12. Skotz
    Joined: Aug 24, 2005
    Posts: 1,473

    Skotz
    Member

    George
    Thanks for sharing all of this(along with your website)....I was another one who followed the LSR via magazines and imagination. Your details and pictures have brought all of this back in a great way. I appreciate your efforts and sharing of "new" details and people stories.
     
  13. banginona40
    Joined: Mar 5, 2007
    Posts: 758

    banginona40
    Member

    Thanks for the great bit of history. I went to an open house at Craig Breedlove's shop in Rio Vista on a Good Guys tour sometime in the '90's. It was very interesting and a great time!
     
  14. 57f100
    Joined: Jun 12, 2007
    Posts: 63

    57f100
    Member

    I'm super excited to see all of the support for Craig. I had an opportunity to meet him a little over a year ago when a former employee of Craig's and my mentor asked me to get Craig on Travis AFB to measure and template the inlets of an F-4 Phantom that we have on static display. Craig plans to use the same engines as the F-4 on his upcoming project. I was star struck that day and Craig was a true class act. A few people from my sheet metal shop worked for Craig during the last attempt, and I hope to get involved with his new project when it gets off the ground.
     

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  15. Crusty Nut
    Joined: Aug 3, 2005
    Posts: 1,834

    Crusty Nut
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    Great stories and pictures! Thank you for sharing. I happen to be midway through reading Speed Duel at the moment so this is also very timely.
     
  16. indybigjohn
    Joined: May 22, 2008
    Posts: 1,713

    indybigjohn
    Member Emeritus

    The comment about driving 70 on the interstate and slowing down to 40 so it seemed like a "walk," and Craig's reference to going from 300 down to 200 being the same type of thing reminded me of an experience we had with ASA the first time we ran at Milwaukee. On our first caution, we couldn't get the cars slowed down.

    Dick Trickle explained that it was because you lost your reference to zero.
     
  17. Wow, thanks for sharing, very cool!
     
  18. George Klass -

    Great stuff! ... Thanks for sharing your pics and stories with the H.A.M.B. community!

    I've always found this "SoA pit" photo humorous:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Critical Mass
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 159

    Critical Mass
    Member

    Was that Arfons' dog?
     
  20. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,969

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    okcnhra, and others, Thanks for adding stories and pics
     
  21. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    fab32
    Member Emeritus

    Thank you everyone who contributed to this thread. It's always interesting to get "behind the scenes" of any historical event and this one is an "out of the ballpark" home run for those of us that eat, sleep and breath cars.

    Frank
     
  22. robber
    Joined: Nov 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,866

    robber
    Member
    from Colorado

    Gallons of thanks for this thread, George Klass (& contributors)! I hadn't seen pictures of the Spirit of America in decades. I forgot how beautiful Breedlove's car was; timeless in design, it looked like it could have been built yesterday. What craftsman and innovators these hotrodders were... with only one goal in mind: to be the fastest car on the planet! :D Although the thread is about Craig, it reminded me of some of his peers during the same time frame. Great masters of speed: Micky Thompson/Challenger II; Art Arfons/Green Monster; Summers Brothers/Golden Rod :) Thanks again for the insight on the Spirit's build and all of the great memories!
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2014
  23. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    Deep into tax season but will try to get a few more of the technical pictures posted over the next few weeks. When I google around the web and so few pics, I now realize what a piece of history we were involved in...
     

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  24. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    In the racing world, it's funny how relationships evolve. At the time, I was reporting semi-live NHRA racing results via CompuServe (remember that?) while a member of a race team. We were playing around with medical grade endoscopes and mounting cameras under and all over the car grabbing live video of runs in that quest for a faster car. My buddy was a video engineer who was one of the pioneers in the visual medical world of small cameras in dark places and we were trying to bring that technology into the racing world-turned out we were way ahead of our time. I saw a CompuServe post in another forum about work on a LSR car and the sound barrier by Breedlove. We had just finished a test session with a camera mounted in a CompElim race engine intake manifold and grabbed live video of the fuel misting down runners while it was running with several dyno pulls. So, I posted a message to the CS member that had posted the information about the LSR car whether he thought Craig might be interested in the ability to "see" inside the jet engine between runs or other areas of the car that were hard to access visually. The next morning around 9am Oklahoma time, my secretary put a message slip on my desk that someone named Craig Breedlove had called. A quick phone back and explanation of what we were doing and Craig asked how soon we could pack up some equipment and come see him! He was very concerned about internal engine heat problems with them running "regular Shell gasoline" as fuel -- Shell was their primary sponsor at that time. A few weeks later we were sitting on the floor in Rio Vista with a endoscope looking at engine vanes through an engine inspection port and that migrated to the on-board video along with a speedometer system and a whole lot of flights between Oklahoma and Rio Vista. Still amazed of how it all came together..... More pictures when I can find a few moments.....
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  25. okcnhra
    Joined: Feb 15, 2014
    Posts: 7

    okcnhra
    Member

    One last other fun piece of information. At first we had problems with intermittent bad video on the Hi8 tape system and couldn't figure it out-solid state memory was not even a remote possibility back then. Took some head scratching but finally realized that the certain low frequencies of the engine at certain rpm levels was causing the tape to "flutter" as it passed over the recording head of the tape unit. A few tweaks of the tape tension and a tuned sound deadening material enclosure finally put that behind us.
     
  26. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 903

    George Klass
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I remember that for the '65 record attempts, Shell sent a railroad tank car full of JP-4 (which I think is mostly kerosene) to the Salt Flats, and parked in on a railroad siding next to Interstate 80 near the entrance to the flats. They also sent a bright yellow Shell tanker truck out of Salt Lake City to shuttle fuel back and forth between the siding and our pit area on the salt.
     
  27. Bullet Nose
    Joined: Nov 20, 2001
    Posts: 2,063

    Bullet Nose
    Member

    I did a search on Breedlove and found several threads. I'm adding to this one because George seems to know a lot of what was going on with Breedlove in the early years.

    I received a note and some photos from Garey Hurn. His message said .....

    I am submitting several photos of a collection I acquired from the estate of William A. Moore. He was charter member of Chev's of Venice and it includes rare early hot rod & car club memorabilia from Southern California in the 1950's. His personal scrapbook is jam packed full of Chev's of Venice car club photos, membership cards and Culver City newspaper articles and it includes a photo of Craig Bowman (now Breedlove - of the famed SPIRIT OF AMERICA), along with other charter members of BAY CITIES TIMING ASSOCIATION. The collection also includes an early drawing by Mr. Moore, depicting the SPIRIT OF AMERICA.

    Needless to say, Craig Breedlove broke several world land speed records, while traveling on the salt flats. This rare collection was obtained from a Reno, Nevada collector (that lived near Mr. Moore's last residence on Kings Row in Reno).

    I'm including the photos that identify Breedlove and wonder if George can confirm this info. I'm also wondering where Craig's dad lived when the car was being built in his garage. Could it have been in the Venice area where the Chevs were?
     

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  28. George Klass
    Joined: Dec 31, 2007
    Posts: 903

    George Klass
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I knew Bill Moore quite well, he did all of the art design for Craig. As to where Norm Breedlove was living at the time of the first car (the 3-wheeler), I believe it was in Venice, CA but I can't be sure. Craig grew up in Venice, went to Venice High School. Many of the guys on the team had roots in Venice.

    On the larger photo, the one on the left, the only guy I know in that photo (other than Craig) is Stan Goldstein. Stan was the Business Manager on the LSR projects, handled all the office management issues and accounting. I still see Stan occasionally, I think he lives in the Ventura, CA area.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  29. Bullet Nose
    Joined: Nov 20, 2001
    Posts: 2,063

    Bullet Nose
    Member

    IMG_0478.JPG In one of the photos that was sent to me, there is a drawing of the three wheeler .....
     
  30. Bullet Nose
    Joined: Nov 20, 2001
    Posts: 2,063

    Bullet Nose
    Member

    I forgot to ask if you know why Craig's last name was shown in the photo as Bowman, with "Breedlove" in quotes. Any idea?
     

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