The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by elgringo71, Jul 2, 2016.
Safeway Sandblasting against CT Automotive which belonged to Pittman and Edwards
1959 Lion’s Dragstrip K.S.Pittman/John Edwards
The era with K.S. Pittman & John Edwards and the Red 1941 Willys Coupe and Blue Ford push/tow truck was a hard charger, class winner and record setter in the 1959-60 time. (No CT Automotive on the door back then.) So, your photo has to be a year or so later in the progress of the K.S. Pittman Willys Gas Coupes.
Although the Street Legal Gas Coupes were self starting, back then, the cars were allowed to have their push/tow trucks and vehicles in the same Class Lanes. So, after a run, the trucks were allowed to go down the return road to get the Gas Coupe back to the pits. A lot of Gas Coupes kept their motors running and drove back to the pits, after all, they were street legal hot rods. But, sometimes, at the end of a race, it was towed back.
at :15 Pittman/Edwards Willys + Blue Truck
During the time period of 1959-60, this was the only other Willys Coupe that was white. But the lettering does not match up.
thanks, Doyle Hatfield...
@jnaki, I don’t know when Pittman and Edwards teamed up but I agree with you on the photo. It’s at least a year or two later. Here it is in 1963
On the White Coupe although this picture is definitely a little later I wonder if this could be the car. The first two lines of lettering look close and letting is an easy through change. I have seen quite a few changes in some of these cars from year to year. Also they are both white with a similar hood scoop.
I talked to a friend that was drag racing in that area at that time and he said that he remembers Interstate Sandblasting racing a white Willys Coupe with black lettering so that could possibly be the car that raced against Doug Cook’s Chevy Coupe.
That would be cool if your friend had a photo of the Interstate Sandblasting White Willys. The Red Safeway Sandblasting Willys and the White Jardine Special with the Marrs Brothers were in the late 1961-1962 competition levels with less street legal equipment as before. The NHRA loosened the class rules and then it became more full race cars.
This time frame photo was 1959-60 era as recorded by me at the time.
At time of our Willys accident in late summer 1960, the class was evolving into more race car installs, but, still qualifying for street legal status. By the 1961 season, cars were more modified than our 1960 version.
Doug Cook’s 1937 Chevy weighed approximately 2800 lbs. A 1940 Willys weighed 2100 lbs, so the writing was on the wall. For most racers, the lighter weight coupes were drawing racers like flies to jelly. The 1961-62 seasons were a lot different than the 1960 season, that was for sure.
Street legal was a term that was used, but not really DMV approved. 10 inch wide M&H slicks are not street legal or actually safe… HA! Also, try driving on Hilborn Injectors to work the next Monday morning…
To throw some confusion into the door lettering dilemma, here is a photo from 1959, of Don Garlits at the Kingdon drags. His group had just been knocked out at the 1959 Smokers March Meet and he had been invited to race up North later.
But, as history shows, his trek up North did not go with his carburetor only Hemi motor. He had some help from the So Cal racers and industry people to go with a new Hemi addition, namely a new blower spec motor and a 671 supercharger.
Now, reading about the journey to Kingdom Dragstrip and elsewhere was a complete turn around in performance. Then, the records fell again.
But, look at that Willys Coupe in the next lane over. Although they are in Northern California, the lettering is covering the whole door. The films were shot in the 1959-60 era at Riverside Raceway and the photo shows its history from 1959 at Kingdon dragstrip. Check out the full story in the Drag News articles.
1959 Riverside Raceway vs Archie Ary
1959 Riverside Raceway vs Glen Ward MEL motor
I couldn’t sharpen the photo enough to read the lettering but to me it looks like it might be shoe polish because the writing is not straight.
This Coupe is a 41-42 due to the Windshield Wiper position.
One Coupe that was from that area and raced there early and was a light color is the little lemon and it was yellow. It was owned and raced by Woody Parker.
From Custom Rodder in March 1959 and it has a Chevy 292 V8 with a Ford transmission.
Memories . . . (maybe just dreams) . . .
I remember (?) Safeway Sandblasting running an Ardun.
And Garlits at Colton the week before the big Bakersfield meet helping Setto Postonian (sp?) with a blown Chrysler very, very similar to what he needed.
And years later I met Big Daddy and he confirmed this. I asked him a couple of questions about my Chrysler-powered car and instantly became a non-fan.
@Stan Back, according to a friend of mine that raced in the area at that time, Interstate Sandblasting was white with black lettering. I have only seen pictures of Safeway Sandblasting in red paint but I don’t really know. You are correct that Safeway Sandblasting had an Ardun
Just to add more clutter to James "Safeway Sandblasting"......the predecessor to his Willys was
a white 35 Ford w/ a blown flathead. He stored all of his equipment at a gas station at the end of my block. I think all his equipment and truck were white w/ red lettering (Cmid-50's) a long time ago.
1959 Lion’s Dragstrip C/Gas Eliminations
Back in 1959, we knew all of the names of those competing in the Gas Coupe and Sedan classes. Why? Well, we wanted to know of their builds, what made them run well and of course, for future competition possibilities. So, it has been a long time since 1959 and the discovery of the original movie films still on those steel reels was an event in 2015.
One thing that I have been putting off is to do is start at the beginning and name all of the participants in my films. There is a large university library that is anxious to get the drag racing files as they are the only color 16mm films still around for research and history of So Cal early drag racing. But, I do not want to send them the files until I get at least 98% of the cars and people named. I only have a few left that still puzzles a lot of old, So Cal drag racers and their collective memories.
One of the last Gas Coupe/Sedan Class Participant that was in living color, but too fast to get the writing on the door clear enough to label, was a mystery. Back in 1959, we knew who and what it was, but over time, the facts list disappeared. So, a massive research project was not moving forward as planned.
Then, last week I was reading several years worth (1957-60) of the Drag News weekly papers for some research facts. When I came upon the small photo, that got my matching program going and the mystery of the White 1941 Willys Coupe with lettering on the door was complete.
Doug Cook and his 1937 Tahitian Red Chevy coupe versus unknown white Willys Coupe with distinct door lettering in quantity. Hard to decipher from the moving film I took 63 years ago. The first guess was the Safeway Sandblasting Willys Coupe driven by Bones Balogh. But, most photos were red and a distinct Safeway Sandblasting on the doors.
At :41 and at 1:25
Why did I make a similar clip for the Doug Cook film clip edit? He was at the top of the C/Gas and B/Gas class racing competition. I wanted a loop to see over and over to identify the names of his opponents.
The next project is in the same loop. Any guesses or known facts?
at :20 and 1:03
I had heard that there were three Willys race cars that belonged to different sandblasting companies. I have seen quite a few pictures of the Safeway car and had heard of this one but I’m not sure what the other car was. It’s great that you found more details on this one. It definitely seemed to be a strong runner. I will see if I can find out anything on the 37-38 Chevy Coupe that you are looking for. Maybe @Dean Lowe would know something.
@jnaki, I asked my friend and he didn’t know who raced that 37-38 Chevy Coupe. He said that there were quite a few of those that raced in those days. and named about 4 people in his area that raced similar coupes. He wasn’t surprised that Doug Cook was in the lead and he said that he was hard to beat. He also said that the other company that raced a Willys was American Sandblasting.
Here is a good shot of the Safeway Sandblasting car which had an ARDUN Flathead
I believe that this is the Al Dal Porto Pickup that later became the Panella Brothers Pickup. I think that it won class at the smokers meet in 59
Excellent find of a great photo!
No 35mm film cameras for us at the time, just a point and shoot 16mm color movie camera.
The history of the Al Dal Porto Willys pickup was that it won the A/Gas division in 1959 as per Drag News weekly.
“Another gasser that had an early influence on Joe was the Al Dal Porto Yellow Willys Pickup that was later bought by the Panella Brothers and became their candy apple red pickup. Al was a lakes racer and built this Pickup to go drag racing. He won the A Gas Coupe Sedan class in it at the Smokers Meet (March Meet) in it in 1959. It turned 114.94 Mph with a Chevy engine.”
For some odd reason, we missed the inaugural 1959 Smokers March Meet. But, told ourselves that in 1960… there was no way we would miss the event, again. We were fortunate to be there to watch some of the best drag racing we had experienced in 1960 and it showcased all of the top racers everywhere during that time period.
March 1960 Smokers March Meet.
Here is the film capture of the Al Hirshfield Studebaker Sedan vs. the Al Dal Porto Willys Pickup Truck. It was an exciting race with plenty of noise, lots of power for those Gas Coupe/Sedan/Trucks in the ever popular classes.
Here is the film clip that I took in March 1960 at the Bakersfield Smokers March Meet.
Note: I did not have sound at the time of any of my film recordings, but to get the idea of a real Gas Coupe or Sedan class racer, I added original sound to the film that I took of Junior Thompson/Speed Engineering Studebaker. The sound is very similar to those top running Gas Coupes and Sedans from the time period.
Imagination helps in visualizing the other silent films during the action.
@jnaki, That is interesting information. Thanks for providing the documentation. I was told that it won by someone who was there and was impressed by what it did. That pickup was very fast.
Between setting the C/Gas class records in his 1937 Tahitian Red Chevy Coupe from 1959 to 60, during the mid to late 1960 season, Doug Cook decided to raise his game and build a lighter weight Willys Coupe for the next level up, the B/Gas class competition.
Then due to his lightning quick reaction and mechanical skills, the Willys Coupe instantly became a record setter in the B/Gas class. So, where did the 37 Chevy Coupe go? One rumor is that it got stored in the Cook family garages and is in the process of being “reborn.” That would be very cool.
We were gone by the time the class started to change to accommodate the need to go faster and try to stay street legal. But, as the sponsorship competition goes, the rules relaxed to welcome more racers. The idea of a street legal class was being pushed aside to create a faster set of competitors in the classes.
Fiberglass came into the picture, open headers ruled the day, Hilborn Injectors that were not your every day daily driver material, and slicks so soft (and comparable to the dragster sizes) that a daily drive to work would need replacing weekly. Those were now on most Gas Coupes and Sedans. So, how can that be street legal? Then the Stone, Woods, and Cook era began people know the history of those race cars.
There were a few great years to come, but as soon as the flurry was over and the class disappeared, as did most street legal class's history was observed.
Doug’s Coupe seems very fast for his day. I believe that this is the Doug Cook Willys Coupe that you are referring to.
This looks like the same Coupe.
1961 Indy Nationals
Looks like it had a Ford Banjo Rear End
Street Eliminator winner 1961 Indy Nationals JR Garrison of Kentucky 111.66 Mph 12.44 seconds
1961 Indy Nationals
May 1956 1939 Willys Coupe
I was doing some research and came up with one of the earliest Willys photos from the Westcoast. We all know about Santa Ana Dragstrip and Mrs. Hart’s Willys Coupe in 56-57. This 39 Willys Coupe may have been the first larger body version in So Cal. The D&J automotive “A/Gas” Willys was an early record setter, too.
Most of the hot rods in A/Gas class ran multiple carbs and bored over motors. Since it was in the top class, stroked motors was also a possibility. The superchargers did not come to the classes until a couple of years later. Remember, these hot rods were street legal and most used them for their daily drivers. So, nothing fancy, just good solid motors and carbs to function during the week to go to work or school.
In the early days, the dragstrip timing was not set up for elapsed times. It was who ran the fastest to get noted and if you also won the elimination rounds to be listed as per local So Cal dragstrips.
That is a very early one that I had never heard of before and was a great find. He was also ahead of his time on running a Chrysler Hemi which would eventually become the hot ticket. Also from my research the 354 Chrysler came out in 1956 so it was a new or almost new motor. These early winners must have led to more Willys Coupes being put on the drag strip but in many cases are obscure and difficult to document. Thanks for your help.
Separate names with a comma.