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Gray Baskerville

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by frozen_bohemian, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. frozen_bohemian
    Joined: Mar 24, 2007
    Posts: 46

    from Minnesota

    Hard to believe it was 6 years ago.....
    Gray Baskerville, Senior Editor of Hot Rod Magazine, died February 1, 2002.
    He was the very epitome of a hot rodder and automotive journalist. He influenced and informed a couple of generations of hot rodders and probably never fully understood the magnitude of his influence.
    After his death, Gray was cremated. It is rumored that not long after, when the winds were still and while the crowd watched with respect, Gray's ashes were set free when a streamliner popped its chute at around 300 on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

    Adios ol Dad

  2. Thirdyfivepickup
    Joined: Nov 5, 2002
    Posts: 6,088


    I can honestly say that I think I may have loved the man. I only met him once... and breifly at that... it was on the HR Powertour... the first one I believe. They pulled into Merrillville, In in the evening and it was freezing out. I walked up to him to say 'hi' as he was gathering his stuff out of the HR panel and he said "gawd it cold" and walked away. (There might have been some colorful descriptors in there to describe 'cold' but I dont know for sure. ;))

    He helped change my views on hot rodding... writing... and life in general. I just wish I could have gotten to talk to him a bit. I know I missed out on so much.

    If I had flip flops at work, I would slip them on now in memory of him! :)
  3. willysguy
    Joined: Oct 2, 2007
    Posts: 1,213

    from Canada

    Gray was a huge influence on myself while growing up reading Hot Rod in the late 70's and early 80's. I loved his rodtest on Gary Kolofski's 55 Chevy. I think I have 5 of 6 copies of that magazine.
  4. 71buickfreak
    Joined: Sep 26, 2006
    Posts: 609

    from Oklahoma

    I know that when I first started reading Hot Rod, Rod and Custom and Car Craft, Gray's articles always stood out. He was The guy. His artcles helped to further my desire to be a writer. I think that it is pretty cool that I now write for the same magazines. Never got the chance to meet him though.

  5. I met Gray for the first time when he shot my '32 5 window for a feature in Hotrod magazine back in 1986.
    After that, no matter where I would see him (always just in the midwest) he would call me by name and always had time to BS.

    In 1992, I was cruising the Indy Goodguys in a radical purple Studebaker convertable and he chased me down wanting to shoot the car. We spent the rest of the day, just cruising around Indy.

    I really miss him, he was one of a kind for sure.
  6. I saw his Roadster at Bonneville Speedweek last year and see it at many Hot Rod Shows in So. Cal. I think he will be with us forever in one way or another.
    ROD ON GRAY, rod on.........
  7. Tinman
    Joined: Mar 6, 2001
    Posts: 963

    from Orange, CA

    Gray was the best wierdo... all those terms he'd use in his articles (like "reet") used to make me laugh as a kid.

    I remember being so thankful for the cars he featured in HOT ROD that were clean and traditionally-styled when that sort of thing was generally frowned upon... for better or worse, he was perhaps the greatest single influence on the resurgence of "our" style of rides.
  8. See, I'm not the only cool guy wearing flip flops...
  9. tjm73
    Joined: Feb 17, 2006
    Posts: 3,386


    His '27 T race car, Rice Bowl III, is one of my all-time favorite cars.
  10. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,704

    from Nebraska

    I, also, was fortunate enough to meet him. It was at the 2000 or 2001 Americruise in Lincoln, NE. I always enjoyed reading his articles and, to me, he was a legend.
    I finally gathered up enough courage to go up and talk to him. He, of course, was wearing his infamous flip-flops, shorts, and black sunglasses.... pretty easy to spot. Being only 21 at the time, I was a little intimidated and worried he'd think I was just some kid bothering him. Not the case at all. I struck up a conversation with him and we started talking about cars right away. He actually seemed to enjoy the fact that a younger guy was really into this hobby of ours, especially the "traditional" looking cars. At the time I had a '57 Ford Custom 2dr. He asked me a little about it, I started to tell him, and he knew exactly which car it was out of the many in attendance. How cool. He also gave me some advice that I will never forget - To keep it (old cars in general) simple and tasteful.

    10 minutes of my life that I will never forget. Gray was one-of-a-kind and I really wish we still had him around.

  11. RoadDevil13
    Joined: Aug 11, 2004
    Posts: 1,802


    Thought I would share this with all of you...My partner Scot wrote this article.

    Hot Rodding's Last Savior
    Gray Baskerville
    taken from ‘the Dreams of Legends’
    S. Charles Hamilton

    Gray Baskerville taught me a lot about hot rodding. I think I can speak for the entire world when I say that Gray taught a lot of people about hot rodding. Gray was never the best writer or photographer, or even journalist. He had a look like a kind of sightseeing tourist, no matter where he was. Flip- flop sandals and a pair of cool- ass sunglasses, always bitchin' sunglasses...and those red shirt's. Always a red HOT ROD magazine shirt. Gray knew what Hot rod meant to the sport, hell Hot Rod was the sport. It was the magazine that started everything, unlike that first speed shop or the first camgrinder, hot rodding journalism only has one true wear that red shirt, carried the respect and tradition of old and new, with the same pursuit for devine ingenuity that drove him and friends crazy from the was everything that Gray stood for, and frankly, he's probably rolling over in his grave right now with the way that the magazine has turned to shit.
    My story about Gray Baskerville begins and ends on the Bonneville salt flats, Gray's favorite place. I met Gray when I was very young, maybe 5 or 6, but probably earlier at the drag's, when my uncle, Pete "Greek" Kallas was running his altered roadster in the 70's. Gray was at almost every single racing or hot rodding related event I ever went to, between 1978 and 1998 I'd bet. We didn't go to too many events, but every one we were at, Gray was there. I remember Bonneville best because the memories are just so vivid, the colors so bright. I would be riding my little motorbike around the pits and go watch the cars out at the starting line, or the 2- mile mark...way down at the 5 or 6 mile, always shooting photos. Those were my first experiences with photography, my first experience with media and with the history of the sport. Something about his relaxed, yet panicky nature, that was engrossing and entertaining at the same time.
    I could best describe Gray as being as interested as he was interesting. He had a great way of making you feel understood, while helping you to better understand. That was the way all of his work was too. He taught others what hot rodding was, it was a not-so-delicate blend of man and machine, mixed with a fair portion of work and a great deal of fun. Gray always had fun, was always laughing or making other people laugh, he was a blast to be around, everyone liked him...and there was a reason that everyone liked Gray so much.
    Gray's personality was great, but what made him what he was and what he will always be remembered for, is for being so understanding. Gray understood the changing times in a barely founded tradition, he understood that there was always a bigger picture to look at, it wasn't about any one person, or car, or motor or's about EVERY person, part, car and motor. Corporate decisions give way to demand, only when it's profitable, and until recently, it just hasn't been. I honor Gray with all of these stories, as he was one of the first inspiration to me to do something like this. I wish Gray could see what the sport has become and the direction that it is going right now, he'd shit.
    This new movement, the 'period- correct' movement can all be attributed to the work Gray did, as far as I'm concerned. Gray kept the spirit of hot rodding alive with his coverage of where the sport was, and where he saw it going...which is where hot rodding is today. Yeah, Gray covered all of the van- conversion jobs and cookie- cutter cars that they could throw at him, and he did it with a smile, he knew things would change, and they'll probably change back one day, but Hot Rod, it's core, began at Bonneville and the Dry Lakes, and Gray showed everyone what it was about, from head-to-toe...even when the public didn't want to see it, or even care if it existed at all, Gray still kept everyone up to speed.
    It was often sad seeing the Bonneville coverage take such a backseat to everything else, just because of it's lack of a spectator- friendly environment. Bonneville is not about's about racing. Bonneville is about making your machine go faster, it's about tuning and adjusting and figuring and driving, and working on your OWN car. The salt flats are the testing ground, the proving ground for everything on wheels, throughout the 'wheels' modern history. When you watch, or listen to a car run, actually see what parts and pieces the owner is using, you learn for YOURSELF how to go faster. This encourages ingenuity, something that the sport was specifically founded on... 'Before Dedication to Safety', there was 'Ingenuity In Action', the slogan for the NHRA.
    'Where is the ingenuity in action now', you ask? Gone, a long time ago, barely kept alive through the 70's, coasted through the 80's on vapors and started its' long climb back into the hot rodding lifestyle with the 90's and the turn- of- the- century. Gray had a 32 roadster, it had belonged to Paul Horning, one of his other two partners on the original M V car. The '32 is so bitchin'. The guy that bought it, paid too much to say, but it was well worth it I tell you. That car is the history of hot rodding. It all begins and ends with the '32 Ford roadster. Gray knew it, and he knew that the way Paul had built it to be in the 50's, could never be improved upon. So he left it alone, kept it the same for all of those years. I respected him so much for doing that. He even had a little dent in the back that he left unfixed, only primered over...he just left it. So cool. it was a battle wound, not the excuse he needed to change or update the car. That just wasn't what it was about to Gray.
    For Gray, it was more about history and memories. Gray's good friend Paul Hornung died in a motorcycle accident in the late '60's, and actually that was how the car looked when Gray bought it from Paul's widow. Gray and Ernie, from M V kept the tradition alive, and Ernie still does today. There are still remnants of the M V shop, and all the great things they did, and didn't do. They were all just such good people, so diverse.
    Gray's roadster remained untouched, still does. Everyone remembers when Gray took the car down to So-Cal so that they coould takle pictures of the roadster for a clone that was to be built for the man who innevitably bought the car later. Gray received a call from Pete down at So-Cal, and had just been asked one too many times, so on that rainy afternoon, Gray just hopped in the car and drove it down there. They wanted to take photos, so Gray drove it from Pasadena to Pomona.He pulled it in the garage, soaking wet, as he wasn't about to put the top up for this ride. It seemed so bittersweet, but it was really all in good fun, you just had to know Gray. The guy wanted it so badly, because he knew that car was what hot rodding is really all about. It's about keeping something in tact, Gray knew he would never change the car and he also knew that he wouldn't have the time to find the right suitor for his 'little baby'. Letting his car go was never about money, he just wouldn't think of it. After Gray passed away, his wife made sure that the man who had wanted to build the replica would get the first chance to buy the 'real deal'...he did. Selling the car was about carrying on the tradition when he was gone. It's great to see that car at events today.
    The other day I saw a 'Baskerville Lives' sign in the back of a truck window, it reminded me of a Willie Nelson song or something. Gray really is what hot rodding's made of. Nothing could be more true than the statement 'Baskerville Lives', right now in hot rodding. What Gray worked soo hard for has finally come to pass, all the years of really 'un-hot rodding' related work have finally paid off...for all of us especially. Gray's legend is forever etched into the history books, and I hope that one day they create an award named after him, in fact, that's what I'm gonna do, 'The Baskerville Award'. I don't know what it will be for, but be on the lookout, because you could be the first recipient.
    Gray loved Bonneville and drag racing, more than life itself. If you had ever been given the privilege to watch Gray standing next to a car at the starting line, or in the pit area, you definitely would remember it. It's half rain dance, half free- form, half coniption fit. Only when nitro was involved though, or at least it seems like that was the main proponent to his typical display. My uncle Greek ran a street roadster in the 60's and 70's, and was part of what Gray called the end of the altered's. One night, uncle Greek almost ran over the starter and Wallyt Parks was there watching...the NHRA outlawed the altered's right after that. The wheelie bar broke, and the car took a hard left...a real hard left. Gray loved it, he always joked with my uncle about it. The truth was that the roadsters didn't fit in with what the NHRA had planned for drag racing. Between the sport's new, corporate, decision- making policies, mixed with that of a growing box office and a new sponsor- driven direction, there was no place left for the hot least not for the original hot rod.
    Get the WHOLE story...

    Excerpts from ‘the Dreams of Legends’
    S. Charles Hamilton
    Copyright 2004
  12. coupster
    Joined: May 9, 2006
    Posts: 860

    from Oscoda Mi

    I sure miss reading his stuff, always made me think. I wonder if anyone has or will gather his articles and reprint them in a book? I know I would sure buy one.
  13. Countn'Carbs
    Joined: Nov 8, 2006
    Posts: 893

    from CO

    The15 minutes of fame in my life came when I met him on a Power Tour stop. I asked him if he would sign a tag board poster I have of old race decals. He said "sure" and threw it up on the decklid of his roadster and signed away. We BS'd about the decals and some of the memories he had around them.
    Truly a high point in my life and one I'll never forget. Thanks Gray.
  14. BIG JOHN 37
    Joined: May 21, 2007
    Posts: 318

    BIG JOHN 37
    from central NJ

    my story about gray baskerville is a little different - in april of 1995 my son's high school baseball team from here in NJ was invited to play in the Upper Deck Classic at Cal-State Fullerton for the top 25 teams in the country - fortunately for me the weekend we were there was also Tom's Fun Run so i took most of the kids from his team there to see all the hot rods ( and hopefully influence them!), another place i took them was coddington's in stanton, while we were there ol' dad showed up to do a cover shoot for R&C, and he spent the better part of the afternoon with me, a couple of other dads and about 7-8 16-17 year old kids, it left a lasting impression on them, and me to this day - i'm also proud to say one of those dads and 2-3 of the boys have our kind of cars today!
  15. ShortBus
    Joined: Dec 31, 1969
    Posts: 916


    I was lucky enough to work on the same floor as Gray while I was on staff at R&C. We clicked right away because of our similar tastes in wardrobe and automobiles. You could hear his infectious cackle from the other side of the building. I can't tell you how many times I'd hear it from my office and would start laughing with him, and no idea what he was laughing about. He was always stoked about everything. I miss him.

    Half of his ashes were in that 'chute. The rest were spread in the garden at his Pasadena home. He was an avid gardener!

    If you ever run into Freiburger, ask him to do Gray's cackle. It's spot on.
    Also congratulate him on his new baby, James Gray Freiburger.
  16. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,792


    Gray's writing style was the best. No matter what he was covering, he made you feel like you were there.

    One of my favorite stories about him was the time he was going to the L.A. Roadster show. He had driven his car there and it was dirty or perhaps had primer on a spot he had repaired. They wouldn't let him in, so he told them to shove it and left!

    The man lived by his own terms and they were golden. I miss him everytime I breeze through an issue of HR.
  17. OneRustedDodge
    Joined: Jan 28, 2007
    Posts: 182


    Gray sounds like he was an amazing guy. I'm gonna have to pick up some old HR mags and check him out. His son's middle name shows how much respect Freiburger had for him:)
  18. I met Gray in the bar at the Stateline, he was sitting at the next table, and we talked about the days racing at Bonneville.
    He gave me some Hot Rod decals, and I still have them.
    He was a great writer, and one of the reasons I continued to subscribe to Hot Rod, and Rod and Custom.
  19. speedtool
    Joined: Oct 15, 2005
    Posts: 2,541


    I grew up reading Gray's stuff, so it was a real surprise for me to meet him on the salt in '98. It was during the driver's meeting on Saturday, and I was taking some pix. I turned around, and there he was!
    Immediately I told him he was a great inspiration, and when I stopped to take a breath he said, "Are you havin' a bitchin' time?" What could I do but agree, and shake his hand before he moved on?
  20. Ranunculous
    Joined: Nov 30, 2007
    Posts: 2,466


    Great stories.
    I had the good fortune to meet him at the Indy Goodguys show around 92or93.
    A poster I had pilfered and my glovebox door got his signature.
    We were standing by the display where Linda Vaughn was signing pics and paraphernalia and Gray made a reference to anatomy and signed the poster.
    She didn't hear what he said and just smiled.....
    Now,that was a moment.
  21. pullinlines
    Joined: Jan 25, 2007
    Posts: 50

    from indy

    i got a chance to meet gray on the hot rod power tour when it came thru indy.he was ridin' in curries roadster( the guy that builds rearends) and my buddys little boy was standin' there tryin' to look into the roadster and gray picked him up and set him in the car i just thought that was cool as shit!!!!!!! also have pics of that but not here!
  22. I've always been a fan of his work, and his roadster, here's my tribute to him on my car.
  23. Russ D
    Joined: Sep 8, 2008
    Posts: 4

    Russ D
    from Colo.

    Hello everyone,

    I was invited to the 2009 Anniv. Show by John Buck, Promotor of the "Grand National Roadster Show" in Pomona. As a Past a Winner. Of the then Oakland Roadster Show in 1966, My 1932 Ford Won the Best Stock Bodied Rod at the 1966 SHOW. I started showing this car in 1965, In 1966 I Toured up the coast to Portland Ore. & down to the LA Roadster Show. Won many of the Major shows.. Thanks to Harry Costa Show Promoter of the San Mateo Show.. He introduced me to all of the promoters up the coast..

    I have owned this car for 49yrs..The 60th. Anniversary Show.. Was a very moving experience for me, Most of the Guy's that I was on tour with are now gone.. Their cars are still here & are being taken care of by their new owners..
    My car remains Just as it was shown in 1966 with the exception of an Eng swap.. I pulled the BUICK nail head & intalled Shelby Ford 289 Stage II ..

    All of the past winners cars were in Bldg. #9. The cars were on Display only, & not entered in the Judging.. We were all presented with 60th. anniv. Jackets with stitching indicating the year we won. along with "TWICE IN A LIFETIME" stitching across the back of the Jackets.. Very COOL, Collectors Items for Sure..

    I never expected to receive any type of Recognition or Award..

    I left the Bldg. during Trophy Presentation to get ready to take down the display & load the trailer(Being all the way form Colorado).. When I received a call on my cell phone telling me to get my ASS over to the Main Bldg.#4 that my Car was picked for the "Gray Baskerville' Award.. A team of Gray's Friends led by, (Eric Vaughn), and staff from Hot Rod & Car Craft Magazines Determined that my car was the one Gray would have said, it is "Soooo Bitchen"..
    I was very humbled by this prestigious award.. it is something I will cherish the rest of my life..

    Thanks again to Eric Vaughn & his staff..

    Along with all of the articles that Your Ol Dad wrote in his colums of Hot Rod & Rod & Custom..

    Russ D
  24. rick finch
    Joined: May 26, 2008
    Posts: 2,003

    rick finch

    Russ, saw your car @ GNRS after Tom Pagano told me where it was.............a well deserved award!:cool: I also got to witness the scattering of Gray's ashes @ 300+mph at Bonneville, a very solemn moment for everyone present.:(
  25. wetatt4u
    Joined: Nov 4, 2006
    Posts: 2,146


    OL DAD ,

    He is missed !

    What a whoo......
  26. Brandi
    Joined: Sep 1, 2007
    Posts: 1,041


    This thread gives me chills. I can't believe I'm just now seeing it.

    While I never met Gray, I think if one person's soul can represent hot rodding, it would be his.
  27. Dirtynails
    Joined: Jan 31, 2009
    Posts: 843

    from garage

    Recently here on the HAMB,one of the Australians posted up pictures of his father and his mates meeting up with Gray on a once in a lifetime adventure tour of the US in 1966. Great pictures of someone who appeared to be real nice guy. The world is a lesser place without Grays contribution.
  28. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,583


    I was at Bonneville the year they "buried" him on the salt... what a send-off.

    Seems like yesterday... RIP.
  29. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    Member Emeritus

    From the beginning I always read anything that Gray wrote and turned to any article or car that was featured before I read anything else when a new mag was in the mailbox. Between him and Lil John Buterra they could leave everything else out of the magazines I subscribed to.

    Joined: Dec 26, 2005
    Posts: 1,021


    The Man will always be a legend. The 32 is in good hands. The owner loves it and preserves it. Thanks for the great story, RoadDevil13

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