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Hot Rods Do you ever wonder how our forefathers did it?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by mikec4193, Dec 1, 2022.

  1. twenty8
    Joined: Apr 8, 2021
    Posts: 1,462


    Yep, somewhere along the line it changed from a hobby to a fully fledged business, at least at the top end.
    Tman and bobss396 like this.
  2. We had a bad crash on a Friday night, we exited the track as soon as possible for the hour long tow home. We hashed out what we needed for repairs. On the drive way, we pulled out the worst damage to the rear of the car using a wrecker boom and an old drive shaft. Cut out the bad and made a shopping list. Go to bed.

    When the scrap yards (that sold materials) opened, we were right there at 7:30 AM. Back at the shop, call in everyone we knew and went for it. By 1 PM it was done and so were we. Catch a nap and head for the track, the car was presentable and showed no damage. Rumors were rife that we had a hidden 2nd car.
  3. Back in the 1960s, there were guys making a living driving bomber cars. They ran 3x a week like clockwork. The purses were decent then, by the time I got into it in 1981, we were getting a paltry $100 to win the feature. The 10th place was good for $10 and $5 for 11th and back.
    alanp561 and X-cpe like this.
  4. bobkatrods
    Joined: Sep 22, 2008
    Posts: 718

    from aledo tx

  5. andyh1956
    Joined: Aug 30, 2021
    Posts: 103


    I Still Stay in the Shop till 0300 hrs, but I Sleep till 0900 now...:p
    Most you boys were Dirt Trackers, I was a Drag Racer. Everthing done in the driveway & at my bud's barn. I had Towing Hubs on my car but towed with a $35 '49 Stude pickup!
    Once I had a towing hub lock up on the way to Miller's Ferry. Had to stop & put a slick on the right rear, the towing wheels had a different pattern than the rear axle, didn't know that until after I had bought them second hand:mad:
    I stopped racing when I got married but never stopped Hot Rodding!
    The restoration industry hadn't taken off when I was in school so I rented a pasture & a barn & bought ever 55-57 Chevy I could get my hands on. Also ever Muncie & T10 also. I worked at a NAPA after school in the machine shop & could do machine work after hrs & buy parts for 10% over cost. I was the kid on the Mississippi gulf coast if you needed a muncie or a Tri Five part!
    The guys who raced dirt & asphalt had a big shop & machine shop & they were always looking for 1959 Ford Wagon frames to build their cars outta.
    Now the kids got stuff to beat on & I watch them a lot & look at my hands that won't stay hold to a Hammer handle...:(
    Baumi, hotrodjack33, alanp561 and 2 others like this.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 9,246


    Dear ol Dad did more than just race, and he stepped off in 66. After racing it was building wrecks and flipping. Then we went restoration or just cosmetic clean and flip, then full on body-off restoration professionally.

    How it was done was different as the times were always changing. Sometimes he was working with/for guys who also raced. I raced too, off topic bracket racing. There is 1 simple answer, THAT CAR OWNS YOU. The racers here who can't get the grease off their heels will concur. Philosophical of course. I spent many a zero dark:30 night working it. Same when I was in the street before I hit the track. You do it. Would I today? Nope.
  7. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 1,725

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    from Upstate NY

    20220528_210504.jpg Me in 75. Total expenditure on the 54 coach before its first race, approximately $2500, not counting the core engine, which came from John Turner. Built in a 16x18 barn, hand tools at home included a 3/8 pistol drill, a 9-inch grinder, oxy-acetylene torches, and a Lincoln 225 amp ac buzz box. I could use machines at work, and did, a half hour at a time (lunch break), and a father and son friends that were machinists and had their own shop in their basement.

    9 to 11 hours a day building paper machinery, then home and another 6 or so hours in the barn. And all weekends in the barn. Scavenged parts and materials wherever I could find stuff.

    Like the body, got it from Haywire Harry Hughes, and redid it.
    alanp561, bobss396, AHotRod and 4 others like this.
  8. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 1,725

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    from Upstate NY

    Hit the wrong button again!

    Hilborn injection from 2 brothers who tried them on a gasser 55 Chevy, quick change and fuel cell from Jimmy Ogle, which is also where John's engine had been. Brakes and hubs/spindle adapters from Keith Palmer's wreck, front axle made from heavy wall tubing from short rack at work for scrap price ($0.05/pound). We won't talk about the bolts and nuts that might have been supplied by a certain machine shop, all grade 8 or better

  9. Dad and a buddy once finished an engine swap ON THE OPEN trailer on the drive to Husets Speedway. Talk about pressure about not dropping a wrench or bolt!
    Driver50x, alanp561, AHotRod and 2 others like this.
  10. partsdawg
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 3,300

    from Minnesota

    Heading to the dirt track in Kasson MN and running late. A buddy and I installed the 3-speed trans and driveshaft laying on the bed of a open trailer doing 60-65. That was 45 years ago. We used up a couple '64-65 Chevelle HT bodies a year. At that time we were buying them for $25-50. A few were SS cars. When we started we used Chevy '55-57 2 door sedans. Used to roll '55-'57 convertibles over at scrapyards to get the frames as they were stronger.
    Driver50x, Baumi, alanp561 and 3 others like this.
  11. And now this word from our "Just Trying To Get a Rise Out of You -and- I'm Just Kidding About the Misogyny Thing So... Please Don't Hit Me" Department:

    **looks over both shoulders then whispers**

    Look, I'm NOT a misogynist or anything but... I'm going to throw this out there anyway. Being in a relationship now is a full time job in itself.

    Most women weren't as high maintenance back then and didn't require the amount of kid-glove handling as they do now. You could get away with hours and hours in the shop at home. At least you weren't lying in the bar all night.

    Now, if you're not in their face, 24/7 validating them, rubbing their feet, bringing them Starbucks, constantly doing damage control for the one thing you said in a dream they had the other night, trying to mindread in order to make them happy while constantly getting accused of sleeping with someone at work by the one person in your life who has weaponized sex... they fillet you in public and post the entrails on Facebook and Twitter to empower the other high-maintenance, self-centered wives/girlfriends. And then they bitch about nothing getting done around the house.

    Compared to that, building shit out of nothing is easy.

    Fuck you, Oprah! :p

    Oh shit... my wife is calling for me. I gotta go!

    Last edited: Dec 3, 2022
    bobss396, 6sally6, Baumi and 9 others like this.
  12. So that's what I did wrong in the old days. And all this time I thought it was just my 'catch and release' mindset....:confused:
    hotrodjack33, AHotRod and ccain like this.
  13. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,827


    When I was about 12, I hung out with one of my cousins who was into cars (me too). The guy behind his house raced what was deemed as the "amateur" class. The car was a Ford chassis with a "stock appearing" flathead. He used to narrow Model A coupe bodies for the car. I can remember stacks of flathead blocks and normally 2 or 3 coupe bodies setting outside. The car had no floor boards, just a couple of places to set your feet on expanded metal. It had a Ford 3 speed with a hook on the dash to lock it in second gear. It was a great place for a young guy to hang around and help when needed.

    Much later I became a car owner when I bought a sprint car from the local track champion. He drove for me for three years and we won a lot of races. When we parted ways, I became the driver. The days of winning the trophy dash, fast heat, and the feature became memories. However, it was a lot and I mean a lot of fun. I don't regret any minute of it.

    While my first sprint car was over 10 years old when I got it, it was a very well built car. Most of the things I did to it were to replace/rebuild worn parts. I normally tore it completely down each winter and took car of maintenance. There were never any "cobby" repairs. When we got to the track it was ready to run.
  14. jaracer
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 1,827


    I meant to attach this picture from maybe 74 with Jim Moughan driving. 11inMud.jpg
  15. Kerrynzl
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,474


    All those old photos could pass for when my dad was racing back then [In New Zealand]


    In NZ bumpers were welded all around them and Stock Car Racing evolved into a "Gladiator" contact sport.
    Stock bodied cars were know as "Saloon Car Racing"

    Here's some old vintage film [The Stock Cars start at about the 2 minute mark]

    Back then with the "6 o'clock swill" and limited TV ,the promoters could draw huge crowds on a Saturday night or Sunday afternoon.

    I spent my youth touring the country riding in an old Dodge ambulance towing a dirt car.
  16. impala4speed
    Joined: Jan 31, 2010
    Posts: 384


    I'm not a misogynist either but that was good; really good. :D
    ccain and AHotRod like this.
  17. The hot chassis for the figure-8 racers used to be the '63 to '64 Ford Galaxies. The front snouts were indestructible. The staple for the Fords was the 223 6-cylinder. The guy that builds my engines was the master at those.

    We never had any real money to build cars. We hustled junk cars to bring in cash, sold parts to body shops if we had a car with desirable parts on them. One guy who was a helluva builder did repairs on the side, he got very little sleep. Most racers unless they had a huge crew got little sleep. That was us too, I'd quit in the shop at 1 AM, get some sleep and be at work at 7:30.

    Did I say I was skinny? Everyone on the crew was, food was an afterthought. One guy worked in a pizza place and he would come by with pies pretty often. The "crew" was a core of 3 to 4 guys on any given shop night. We had reserves we would summon if we needed them in a pinch.

    We also had "silent sponsors", people or businesses who donated to the cause and didn't know it. My racing partner walks in from work with 10 lbs of welding rod. We were broke... where did you get that? Silent sponsor was the answer.

    So it became a contest in itself, see who could come up with innovative ways to come up with what we needed. My buddy did maintenance for a fleet of trucks. Welding and brazing rod came from there. so did new hardware and shop supplies. I worked in the machine shop, so all machining was free. We did retrofits on systems, all the old hardware went home with me. If I needed to arc some leaf springs, we had a 50-ton press at work, done on a Saturday if I was working. The electrician at work was a race fan and would slip me wire and terminals when I needed them to wire a car from scratch. It was beg borrow or steal for the most part. We had a guy who worked at a muffler shop, he gave us resonators to use as mufflers.

    The weak area was anything we had to buy. We had a parts supplier who gave us cases of Kendall oil, other things we needed but we couldn't abuse it. Hard parts we got at cost. Having a radiator shop and junkyard sponsor was a given, we had to have those. One boon was a sponsor who bought us 10 Towel City recaps to start the season.
  18. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 2,966


    Try racing for a case of beer to win:(. You win, everyone wins:(:rolleyes:.
    bobss396 likes this.
  19. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 3,204


    I guess I just screwed up that deal was well! I lived at home until about a year after I got out of high school (dad made me pay rent as soon as I had a job). That last year in HS, I worked at a gas station for 36 hours a week while going to school. From 5 pm until 9 pm every week ight, 8 hours on Sat and 8 hours on Sunday. I paid rent, bought my own food, and paid dad back $60 every month for the money he lent me for my 1st car. My auto insurance had to be paid for before I could drive my own car out of the driveway. I graduated HS 3 months before I turned 18. Out of HS my work hours changed to just under 60 hours a week. By then I was already doing major auto work (motor & transmission swaps), my boss at the gas station didn't do. He was helping me line up work for after closing time. I met my future wife during that time. She was attending the local college as an LPN student and working nights at a local nursing home. I was 7 months past 19 when we got married in May of 1976. That was when I moved out of my parents house. In June, my buddies and I bought what was going to be our 1st hobby car. The house we were renting had a very small garage, that the car didn't even fit in. We worked on it in my back yard, because I had the best area to keep the car at and be able to work on it there. My boss at the gas station would let me take the car to the station and work on it after hours. My new wife supported me through the entire process, but she informed me very early in the game that working on the car all night was going to be a very rare event. She had a few other rules that were also acceptable. We are still married.

    When I read ccain's post, the 1st thing I thought was man, was I lucky to find such a great wife. Then I could just picture my wife talking with a woman like ccain posted about. Lets just say my wife would really challenge the snowflake's attitude after she got done teaching the poor little snowflake a few things about life in the real world, and my wife is very mellow! My daughter, isn't nearly as mellow as my wife is, that snowflake would be a pile of quivering mush on the ground. :D:D
    My Daughter gets her attitude from me, I'd be pointing her to the door in about 10 minutes. My son is more like his mother, much more loving then my daughter or myself. He would probably let her hang around a while so he could torment her all the time. My son's 16 year old daughter is more tactful then the rest of us, she would at least try to help her, if there was any chance.
    Budget36 likes this.
  20. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 10,394


    Heck Gene, I might still be married if my ex even knew your wife;)
  21. My racing partner sits down and comes up with a purse-structure formula. We plug in numbers for all divisions and it works. Everyone goes home with something decent. Our division paid $100 to win, other tracks paid $300 to $450. So he gives it to the track steward who just laughed at him.
  22. Dave G in Gansevoort
    Joined: Mar 28, 2019
    Posts: 1,725

    Dave G in Gansevoort
    from Upstate NY

    Chose the modified class over sportsman at the Valley because of considerations like that. Sportsman paid $200 to win, modified paid $200 for 8th or 9th place. The only real difference between the classes by 75 were engine related. I was running a small block Chevy, most sportsman cars ran small block Chevy engines. In those days there was no difference in cost between a 302 and a 350 short block. So once the injection was paid for ($200 used, $100 for new jets and hoses) everything else was a wash. Top 10 paid the bills, top 5 made money if you were frugal. And I'm half Scots, i.e. cheap!
    bobss396 likes this.
  23. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 3,204


    Our track here in IL split the late model class in 1/2 every night, based on the fastest time trial time you pulled out of 2 tries. The top 1/2 went into the "feature" which paid $1,000 to win in the early 70s. The slowest 1/2 of the late models ran in the "semi feature" and it paid $250 to win (10th paid $100 and payout went back to 20th which paid $10). The late models averaged 35-40 cars a night.

    The hobby class paid $100 to win and each position dropped $5 until 20th paid $5. Pit entry was $15. We usually had nearly 20 hobby cars a night. The 1st two weeks every year (for about the first 7 or 8 years), the hobby cars were also timed for starting positions, but after that, the hobby class was lined up under average points. Every week, a number was drawn from the hat, 0, 6, 8 or 10. That was the numbers of cars inverted for the feature, 0 meant the highest average point guy started on the back end and the two cars with the lowest average points started on the front row. 6 meant the highest average point guy started on the 3rd row and the 5th & 6th guy started on the front row. The 7th & 8th guy started on the 4th row, the lowest guys were on the back row. The 8 or 10 invert was set up the same way. The 0 invert was almost always wreck city, the fans loved it! The 10 invert was always the best race, from a racers perspective. The late models only had a 6 or a 10 invert, it was surprising how often the 6 invert was used... Both the feature and the semi feature used the same invert start every night.

    The main reason the track only ran the hobby class in the time trials was because about 10 of the hobby cars ran faster times then several of the "slower 1/2" of the late models. The last 1/2 of my dirt track days, the hobby class drew for starting positions those first couple weeks, we didn't run time trials at all. The fast late models were turning mid 25 second laps (5/8 mile track). Some of the slower cars were in the 30 second range. Most of the few times we ran in the time trials, my cars were in the low to mid 28 second range, with a never before driver. I fielded a pretty competitive car and often had a choice of first time drivers wanting to occupy the drivers seat, but still, it kind of makes you wonder about those 30 second late models. To jump into the late model class there were several "safety" upgrades you had to make to the car, and most of those was out of my financial reach to maintain all season. Besides, would you want to run for 10th in the higher division, or run at winning the lower class for the same pay day?
    X-cpe and bobss396 like this.
  24. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 5,257


    Just checked. Yep you live in California :D
    ccain likes this.
  25. We ran at Islip in the order of money-earned to that point in the season. We had an extended double point race sue to some rained out races and I was struggling all season and wound up on the pole for a 50-lapper, with a true junkyard engine I had just swapped in. I went from 1st to 20th in one lap until I found a way around the dead spot the engine had, I wound up 5th by staying out of trouble. No extra money was given out for that race.

    Lots of guys crabbed about the purse structure, but we wanted to race. Thee were some really nice cars with more money in the paint than I had in my car. We had another local track close the previous year, Freeport and they always paid well even for bomber cars. That was a rude awakening for some of them.

    So the bomber cars came to race with us. They ranged from junkers with good engines to real nice cars that were fast and handled. In 3 years we went from a 20-car division to having 60 cars show up in the pits, to battle for 30 spots. 15-car heats could be a little nuts. If you could get your car on the trailer at the end of the night, you were doing well. I saw a couple of guys that never qualified for a single race all season for whatever reason.

    I went to a race at Saugus CA in 1986 for the 1st Southwest Tour just to sit in the stands, eat peanuts and drink a couple of beers. They had a hobby stock division with some really clean cars, the whole facility was real nice. Then I saw the same cars come out for the figure-8 race. I talked with some racers after the show and it was a thing to run both divisions to make more money. IIRC the hobby division paid $425 to win and $300 for the figure-8. The figure-8 at Islip had their own sanctioning body (SAFER) and got paid as much as the street stocks at the time.
  26. v8flat44
    Joined: Nov 13, 2017
    Posts: 1,134


    In the mid 50s when we got a tv, my cousin & I shut off the electric trains & were glued to the screen to watch"Jalopy Races". By the time i was 15 all I could think about was a 40 Ford with a "full house" flatty, no sides on the hood etc. I'm 78 & still think the same way. Thanks to our "forefathers" !!!
    bobss396 likes this.
  27. trevorsworth
    Joined: Aug 3, 2020
    Posts: 1,209


    It's easy to forget that in the 50s and 60s guys were starting with mostly complete, rust-free cars that came apart without much fuss and didn't need hundreds of hours of work before they were even ready to mock up. If anything was missing or needed to be replaced, junkyards were everywhere and full of equally solid cars. The stuff they wrote off back then was nicer than what we have left to start with, unless you're Richie Rich cutting up restored cars. Plus, average shorter work days and shorter commutes as mentioned above means more time in the day.

    I work nominally five but usually six days a week, 8-5, and that doesn't include getting there and back... tough to work any kind of social life into that, let alone a time-intensive hobby like this. When would I have time to go junkyard picking even if there were any left with anything I needed?

    With what I know today I could probably have cranked out 5 or 6 cars in the time mine is taking me if I had their free time, access to what they were starting with and their widespread availability of parts, and most guys here could turn out a lot more.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2022
  28. D Newcomb
    Joined: Oct 14, 2020
    Posts: 248

    D Newcomb

    I 'restored' a local '34 jalopy [found in a berry patch' ] and it is currently tearing up dirt tracks in GERMANY!! The car had a track history prior to 69! There are three vintage dirt tracks in Germany. Newc
    bobss396 likes this.
  29. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,776



    FOREFATHERS? Weren’t those the guys with funny headbands for Native Americans or the funny black hats we saw during our Thanksgiving skits in elementary school of the 50’s? Wow…

    The last time I saw a modified Ford sedan was in Lakewood, CA. We had seen plenty of those style cars at Ascot Raceway in Gardena, CA. Some of them were totally bashed in and needed some repair one way or another. As we also watched them on the TV programming, we always wondered why? Constant repair and straightening, then only to get it bashed again next week. The live action was worst, with every encounter getting more bashing and dents.

    But, when I met a good looking girl from Lakewood one summer, she had me meet her dad. What??? To my surprise, he was a stock car racer with a full roll cage inside of a cool Ford hardtop sedan. It was pristine and he was proud of the fact that it looked so good. He was also impressed with my 58 black Impala and the goodies I had on it. The sound and looks won him over… back in my mind, I was thinking he was going to throw me out, after seeing his daughter and me together.
    Perhaps, he was thinking all along… “He is one of us, a hot rod/drag race/mechanical teenager with some skills. He can’t be all that bad!!!” HA!


    The impression of my Impala won him over and for the next several times I went over to their house, he always took me back to his garage, showed me his Ford race car or something new. I noticed that there were a few more dents, but nothing major and he was proud of that fact.

    Actually, the overall Ford sedan was cool in a certain way. Not a daily street driven sedan, but a purposeful build for racing only. The motor sounded good and the start up lasted a short time due to his nosy neighbors. The visits continued for several more weeks and then it was history as I remember.

    She was too young (two years younger) and as good looking as she was, not able to carry on a good conversation on other things besides her clothes, friends and that she hated surfers. She did not know I was a staunch surfer as I did not drive my sedan delivery over there. I had already established my relationship with her dad with the 58 Impala and did not want to throw in another barrier of a empty sedan delivery cave with his daughter riding around with me. Ha!

    1962-63? FOREFATHERS? That was a long time ago, but "geeez," we are old but not that old...
    “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth…etc”
  30. trevorsworth
    Joined: Aug 3, 2020
    Posts: 1,209


    Might want to think real hard about whether or not that’s how you want to represent yourself. If it is, I’m terribly sorry for the women in your life. There’s a line between humor and repping an organization that wants to deprive women of the right to vote.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2022
    impala4speed likes this.

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