The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by J.Ukrop, Jan 27, 2017.
J.Ukrop submitted a new blog post:
Dialing in the Dragster
Continue reading the Original Blog Post
My father was a mechanic both in the military and civilian life's. He specialties' was sport cars, and was well know in the Midwest (South Dakota). So along with working dealerships, he did side work as team mechanic for a well to do customer that raced SCCA, and since it was in the early sixties I make the call that the cars are not OT. So from Sunbeam Tigers to race body Austin Martin roadster to the last two seat Lola.
The Lola was a fiberglass low slung roadster with a single bar loop behind the seats and was a beauty. After a long hard season, and getting bumped in the rear causing major body damage, my Father rebuilt both the body and the driveline in our one car garage.
Now for the rest of the story,
Once completed, it needed to be tested and there were few circle tracks, none. So on a Saturday morning the family headed out to 'Farm Country" were the car was; unloaded in a farm house, fired and warmed up, and creped out to the two lane asphalt. In South Dakota farm land the road were flat, long and empty.
We, my two brothers and I, stood and watched as after a couple of blips the Lola disappeared down the road in a open header roar. It was 'neat'.
After a couple of blasts up and down the road, my Dad and the owner Gordon Stewart, were happy with the car. Then Gordon asked - 'You Boys want a ride?'
When it was my turn, I climbed into the bare aluminum seat, by younger brother was placed in front of me, ( no seat belts on the passenger side) and Gordon let out the clutch.
We were shoved back into the seat, the wind blew our hair and the farm land blurred by. A few seconds later, a slow down and a U turn. Another quick blast and we were back at the farm.
That was 53 years ago and every time I think of it, I am a 8 year old boy again,,,,,,,,,
One of the better photographs I've seen in a while. Love it.
How ridiculously cool?, and stupid at the same time.
Looks like the Ford is a wrecker- and I bet the photographer had to take a couple steps back right after the shutter clicked, cause that Ford is aiming for him!
After I got out of the Army in 68 I worked in Aerospace in New Mexico, one of the guys I worked with, Jim Archer, had an A fuel digger, I have no pictures of him doing it unfortunately, but he told me he had push started it right in the middle of Las Cruces near his home, he wasn't a guy to BS so I believe it was true. Note the high dollar trailer, this picture was taken in about 1970?
Something like this Joey?
That reminds me, where the hell has MonsterFlake been???
Thanks for sharing the photo and story. Below photo is of my grandfathers dragster from about 10 years earlier. Note the license plate. It was needed because he used to drive it up Main Street in our small town to the local gas station as his warm up, before loading it up to head to the drag strip a hour north.
3rd WSODR 2 - - Grandfathers dragster featured by 3rd Gen Hot Rodder posted Jul 26, 2009 at 8:31 PM
For additional pictures and history, see link in my signature.
Boy, you had me going for a min. Great picture!
Great narrative and pic!
Richard Rogers (of NW fuel car fame) lived a few blocks from me in the late '50-60s. The road he lived on was (at the time) a dead-end. He push-started his fuel rail in front of his house a few times before the neighbors figured out who was making all that noise.... LOL.
Yeah, that definetely looks like the midwest to me. It made me think of a time [late 1969] when I was looking for a friend's house about 10-12 miles outside Bend, Oregon on the skinny two lanes when I came upon a truck and trailer and a 61-62 'vette in dark candy apple red making tune-up passes on a long straight stretch of the hiway. I don't know if it was John Mazmanian or not but it was a dead ringer for his car..
I was 8 years old, heard the car whiz by at Flatrock and Toledo Speedways many a time, but only once heard it "in person" and that was from outside of the welding shop where it was built. Then it happened, dear ol Dad started the car at home in the backyard. The thunder of it's 427 was terrifying to me. "Get in son..." was even more frightening but I did it anyway. Sitting there with tin rattling and unable to hear much more than the genuine cackle of dome pistons and big tube headers. "Scoot up, make some room." as his leg poked in the window frame and I was afraid to touch anything but the wheel. He settles in and pulls me back into his chest, "Ready to drive?" I just nodded, and didn't know what that meant. I was just a kid with the coolest dad on Earth who'd just put me behind the wheel of an ARCA race car! Yet he was serious. "Push the clutch pedal!" he yelled so I could hear him, and yeah I knew the pedals by then. I tried, only got it 1/2 way, "Go ahead son, use both feet if you have to!" so I did. "Ok, let it out real slow, reeeal sloowww..." and it didn't move. "Good, now do it again!" I worked the pedal 2 or 3 times with 2 feet and looked back, "Like that!?" "Yeah, like that good job son! You ready!?" "Yeah, I think so...?" I look over and see Mom standing it the yard, arms crossed, not mad, but not exactly happy either. A mechanical thunk and it's in reverse. "Ok son, do it again, real slow, nice and easy..." and we start moving. Now all this time his foot is ready to stomp mine through the floor if need be. His other foot was on the ready to keep it running. My hands on the wheel, but control was his as we backed between the houses and onto the street at 5436 Kingston in Dearborn Hgts, MI. "You wanna drive!?" I just nodded yes, still terrified, but something made me do it. Another clunk and we go through the clutch ritual again, and all of a sudden it's rolling forward, and I'm doing the steering. Neighbors are out on their porches, 1 or 2 out on the sidewalk, and I'm steering this monster of a race car down the street. Windows had to be shaking, in my mind maybe things were even falling off of shelves. We idled all the way to the corner of Kingston and Van Born road where Dad took over and steered it the rest of the way into the Gulf station. Silence. Ears ringing, face full of pride as Cliff and Jim walked out to see me driving. "Hey Jocko, breakin him early, huh?" as he lifts me through the window "Can I have pop dad?" "Sure son, here..." I get an orange soda and watch as he fills the car with Gulf No-Nox. Jim Eislhine owned the station and gave me 2 of those plastic stick-on horseshoe promos they ran that year. "Get an extra kick with Gulf No-Nox" for those who remember. Me and Dad put em on the back and he finished with the fill up. "Ok fellas, thanks, lets go son." "Am I driving again?" scared to hear yes but didn't want to disappoint. "No son, slide over to the other side and hold on to the bars real good." I grabbed some bars, "Like this?" "Yup just hang on, ok?" "Ok dad, ready!" He starts it up and rolls out to Van Born, no cars in sight, "Hold on son, here we go!" and he pulls out, stabs the pedal and I was in total fear and awe and he rowed through 1st, then 2nd, then 3rd, pipes wailing, tires spinning, smoke and noise and what was probably rapture for me. He stopped at Pelham road, made a right turn and did it again up to Powers street, another right, 4-5 blocks and back to Kingston and then home. I couldn't lose the smile, he helped me out, "Mom! Did you hear us?" "We all heard you!" My 1st official drive on a street came in this 61 Ford that was fully caged and stuffed with a 427 side-oiler. A race car. It would be a long time before I realized what a lucky kid I was to hang that in my book of experiences. As this topic shows us I wasn't in an exclusive club of full race cars on the street, and decades later doing it with purpose on the west side 'burbs of Motown in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe it's a silent secret society of like-minded souls watched over by who-knows-what.
Can you imagine? That's my uncle Tony in the front, and the coolest Dad ever at the back:
I call this picture "The Immortals" as they'll always be to me. Uncle Tony is still with us.
Back in the 70's my cousin, Denny Wingard, ran a 260 powered Altered at Keystone Drag Strip. My cousin was able to scrounge enough parts to put a Boss 302 together for the car. Well, he needed to break the engine in so the Altered was loaded up and we made a short trip up to the back roads around the Quemahoning Dam. The altered was unloaded, fired up and my cousin disappeared down the road. Those were the days!!
Was 1969, I had a dirt track '55 Chevy I built for the local 1/4 mi. dirt oval. My rented shack of a shop was up the road, once US41, now just a 2 lane state route with the new 4 lane 41 parallel and off to the West a couple hundred yards. East of this road was a railroad track parallel and maybe 10 yards away. To the north the road had no driveways, buildings, or intersections for a half mile, then further on around a curve and a small hill before you got to a small crossroads hamlet. So this stretch was my test strip.
Had been fighting a fuel starvation problem and needed to see if I had fixed it before the next day's race, as it never showed up unless under WOT acceleration down the straights at the track.
So I decided to test the car. But before I did, I always drove up to the little crossroads town to see if the law was around.
Sure enough, the GA State Patrol had a trooper doing a 1 man license check at the crossroads! It was Sat. and they often did this for an hour or so. Sent people up the road all afternoon and he was still there! So, in desperation I decided to try it anyway as I always did my run on the return to the shop and the turnaround was almost a mile from where the trooper was set up at crossroads, and I figured I could do a turnaround and run back before he could get in his car and head towards me.
Sent one buddy up to check things out and as he returned and gave me the high sign and I eased out of the shop and up the road with the engine already warmed up.
Drove as quietly as possible with open pipes to my turnaround and then nailed it, buzzing past 6k in the gears, braked, and turn in the shop stall where my friends were waiting and pulled the door down!
Wasn't more than 2-3 min. later that the trooper drove by, looking hard at my shop! If he had come in and checked the car and found the hot engine, he prolly would have been able to make a charge, but he didn't do so
I had taken our new Torino stock car with the 429 around the block fast twice one spring night in 1982. No front tin or doors on yet, just wanted to see how well it moved... quite well in fact. Woke up 1/2 the 'hood being it was after 11 at night. We quickly stashed the car, closed up for the night and waited.... sure enough, code enforcement drove by twice while we stood in the shadows waiting. Good times.
I can smell & hear this picture.
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