The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Back to Thunder Alley, Feb 4, 2013.
that is absolutely beautiful...
Let's go back to the roadsters and racers (after the Sunday Indy pics); It took all kinds and what better place to test ones creation than at the dry lakes!
Sad to hear that Phil Remington just passed away at 92.
I think this is the Riley V8 that is now in the Don Orosco Roadster. Wonder if the sprint car is still around? Bob
Verne Houle (Road Runner) English Riley with a Ford V8 good for 126.00 MPH. I always likes the look of the upswept frame on these cars. Bob
Phil Remington is gone and the racing industry has lost a true legend. A review of Phil's accomplishments will fill books as he touched so many aspects of racing during his seven plus decades of being front and center.
On a personal note, I recall many backyard gatherings at our house with Phil and his wife Joy and little Kelly (who passed away at a very young age) during the 1950's. My Dad, Don Nairn and Phil were life long friends. We had great times up at Lake Arrowhead or skiing at Davis Dam. Phil was simply a really nice man.
Below are some photos I have of Phil. One is Phil coming out the water in Hawaii while stationed there when he was in the Navy and another is Phil next to his locker in Hawaii during WWII. Enjoy.
Phil also had a roll in the legend of Thunder Alley along Jefferson Blvd in Culver City when he hooked up with Lance Reventlow (who occupied [SIZE=2]what would become my Uncle Jim's building at 11930. Phil and the rest of the "boys" brought technology and love of racing together for the benefit of so many in L.A. and around the country. He will be missed and remembered.
I do have one correction. My brother tells me that the young man on the motorcycle is actually Ed Cunningham and not Phil.[/SIZE]
I sure would like to have one of these now;
Thank you so much for sharing your photos and history. I guess that you are as close to the "roots" as you can get.
I want to ask a question that has probably been answered before on this JJ but I would like to hear your version. How did these cars get the name HOT RODS ??
First of all, I can't begin to articulate just how much fun it's been to be able to monitor this thread. Thanks again to Back to Thunder Alley for starting all of this and for sharing his priceless family photos.
As I think I mentioned, I have the great pleasure of knowing some of the characters in these photos and have been so looking forward to sharing them with these guys and getting their take on what they remember and the stories that go with them. I wish I had a way to insert the photos from the original post, but I can't seem to make that happen with my limited computer skills. I guess, for those interested, you'll just have to bop back and forth between the photo being discussed and what we've been able to establish based on these first hand accounts. I have a feeling, based on the enthusiasm for this post, that most people will find it worth it. There's a lot to cover, so lets get started...
The first photo I want to talk about is the backyard scene showing Isky's roadster from the passenger side with a slight rear quarter. There are 4 people in the shot ( a kid in the car at the wheel, a little kid standing at the drivers door, a guy sitting on the front tire, and an older looking guy sitting on a motorcycle to the far right in the photo;
According to Isky and John Athan, the kid at the wheel is their friend Herman Layham, the little kid was a neighborhood friend of theirs that they just knew as "little Whitey", they believe the guy sitting on the tire is Doug Fenn ( although Isky said it could be their friend "Lesh" ), and the guy on the motorcycle ( a Francis Burnette ) is Isky's brother Luther. This photo would have been shot before the war and when Isky first owned the car. John Athan broke the crank in the B-engine that had been in it and got fed up with the car and sold it in an instant to Isky for $25 minus the turtle deck. Athan sold that to another friend for $5.00. Isky bought another one for $2 at the scrapyard. Athan took the money from the sale of the car to Isky and bought a '29 roadster body for $7.50 and a '32 frame for $5. A very very interesting and important thing about that is that Athan went to the scrapyard to get a '32 K-member and the owner said to just take the whole frame for the same price. He did and, when he got it home, decided to see if he could make the '29 body fit on the '32 frame. He made that work and is believed to be the very first person to have done this. If he wasn't, there is no evidence of who did this before him and we have to remember that '32 Fords were only 7-8 year old cars when he did this. A final memory that Isky and Athan had about this photo is that they, and Jimmy Nairn, all went in on a tire order together to purchase brand new wide-white wall tires for their cars. This is why all three of their roadsters wear the same tires. 6.50 rear/5.50 front. Jimmy Nairn's father had a connection to a tire distributor and the three boys pooled their money and purchased the 12 tires. Isky remembers that the tires were $10 each including tubes. Athan chimed in around this time with the memory that, when he was building his second roadster ( the '29 on '32 ), he purchased his wheels and caps and rings from a scrapyard all on the same day ( $2.50 a wheel, $1.00 per trim ring, and $.50 per hub cap ).
As I'm running out of time here, I wanted to share one more bit of coverage on another photo... the side view shot of the young guy sitting on the drivers side frame rail of a model A chassis in a driveway;
John Athan and Isky both said that that is Jimmy Nairn and John remembered everything about this photo. Athan remembered that Jimmy had purchased a model A frame to build a roadster and had Athan install the '32 K-member ( which he did for $5 ). By the time Nairn got the project as far as you see it in this photo, Athan had started the build of his '29 on a '32. He advised Jimmy to give up on the model A chassis as a basis for his car and just do what he did... buy a complete '32 chassis. So, this model A chassis was sold as you see it for $100 ( a whole lot of money then ) and that money helped to fund the build of Jim Nairn's roadster, which was nearly a direct copy of Athan's car.
I'm sorry that I don't have more time but I promise I'll get back to this soon. I have similar information on nearly every one of the photos from the first posting in this thread.
Thanks again to "Back to Thunder Alley" for starting all of this. Obviously this is a whole lot of fun for all of us but, most importantly, this made a couple of seriously cool old guys absolutely light up with nostalgia, and the great memories they had from those times just poured out. To say that it made their day would be a gross understatement. So, thanks again for that "Thunder Alley".
Nice Franklin from around 1908-1910, air cooled 4 cylinder. Was this car and the Ford and Buick family cars as well? Bob
That's great Steelworks, keep the stories coming! Love hearing the history.
Wow !! Steelworks the history is awesome. I can't wait to read more stories... come on baby, post, post, post !!
yeah thanks Thunder alley, and Steelworks!, it just keeps getting better and better. keep the history lesson coming guys!
bump for all the guys that made this thread happen.
Steelworks; Thank you for posting your story behind a few of my photo posts. Ed and Jon Athan and my Uncle Jim Nairn (as well as my Dad, Don Nairn) were very close friends and fellow speed junkies from the late 1930's and then for decades to follow. I didn't know who the people were in the photo with the kid that my Dad had in his collection so it's good to know that. The pic of my Uncle Jim leaning on the chassis is one of my favorites and always fun to see him so young. I'll be interested in your thoughts about other photos and I can probably help with some of them from my own knowledge as told to me by Dad or Uncle Jim or my Brother Scott who worked with them for 30 years at the Nairn Machine shop and then Speedway Pattern building on Jefferson Blvd, also known as THUNDER ALLEY (actually it was the alley behind those buildings that created most of the thunder as racing engines were rumbling at Trayco Engineering next door.
great pics thanks for shareing
Thanks for chiming in Steelworks, terrific history. Keep 'em coming!
To Goldy; Thanks for your question about the origin of the name "Hot Rod". During all my discussions with my Dad, Don Nairn or Uncle Jim Nairn, I am pretty sure they did NOT refer to the cars they built and raced as "Hot Rods". Dad usually used the term roadster or sometimes "bucket" (as the body of the early ones were really just a bucket secured to the frame). They also identified some with the term "T" or "Flathead" (as my Dad wrote on the back of one of his photos of one of John Athan's dry lake cars; By the way, this picture is of one of John Athan's roadsters but my Uncle Jim Nairn is behind the wheel.
I believe the term Hot Rod probably came from writers describing the noise and chaos the early racers brought to the quiet streets and of course at the dry lakes. Some have thought there may have been a mechanical origin as the early experimenting with camshafts certainly did create some "hot" rods (many times way too hot) but I think that was seen as a negative thing to the early builders (except for the what not to do aspect) and the early racers probably didn't label or name the type of cars, Hot Rods after a negative result. Others, however may have picked up on that aspect. I think the term Hot Rod didn't take hold with the general public until after WWII and probably closer to 1949 or 1950.
Today was an "end of an era" days for the famed Thunder Alley on Jefferson Blvd in Culver City, Ca. as my brother, Scott Nairn took down the Speedway Pattern (Don Nairn and Scott Nairn's business) sign from 11930 Jefferson Blvd (we sold the building). Underneath the sign was the signage for Nairn Machine, my Uncle Jim Nairn's longtime shop next to the old Trayco Engineering location. Our family had business at this location since the 1950's and this brings to a close the last remnants of the Thunder Alley boys.
Man, I hope you keep those signs.
Thanks for the pictures and info. This is a great history lesson. Keep it coming.
woodz; Oh the signs will be kept as well as many old patterns and of course hundreds of photographs and memories.
Hi TA.Thanks for a superb thread,awesome photos and history.
Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
Some good stuff, thanks for sharing!
This is why I love hotrods...thank you
Back to Thunder Alley , those are some interesting photos that you posted in #125. Can you tell us more about them? I'd especially like to know when and where they were taken. Thanks for sharing them with us!
Re: Your post #125 the second from bottom photo
Here's one with Veda Orr in the seat from 1946
To 15ASedan; Check posts # 127 and 128 for a possible insight on two of the pics on my #125 posting. I'm going through my Dad's papers to see if I can identify any of the other pics.
Here are a few more shots from the dry lake. On the back of the pics were some identifying notes
On the back of photo it says K.P. Orr 134 mph
On the back of the photo it says; Iskenderian - 120mph
My Dad, Don Nairn and a co-worker in the early days.
On the back of the photo is the name Lehmam (?)
On the back of the photo is the name; Reese (?)
I'm thinking the editors at The Rodders Journal will be calling.
Separate names with a comma.