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History Lions Dragstrip - 1960

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Ryan, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. elgringo71
    Joined: Oct 2, 2010
    Posts: 2,978

    elgringo71
    Member

    This one looked close but jnaki said that it couldn't be it because of the location of the moon tank.

    image.jpeg
     
  2. Bigbrusky
    Joined: Jul 17, 2016
    Posts: 3

    Bigbrusky

  3. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    Hello,

    I found this 48 year old photo that shows some of the trophies won at Lions Dragstrip from 1958-59 in the upper middle area of the wall mounted bookcase. This house was a vintage Long Beach post war tract home, built in 1946, but we moved in sometime during 1953. When the Lions Dragstrip opened, the prevailing west winds would make the racing sounds amplified to everyone east of the strip. We could open the windows, the front door, and a giant glass sliding door to listen to the sounds of the races at Lions, which was about 1.5 miles away. I am sure that if we were not at the strip between 1957-68, I was sitting at that desk or table doing homework like a good student that I was…ha ! Check out that cool early 1957-58 version of a stereo…am/fm, reel to reel tape recorder, and a 33/45/78 record player. Hectic decorating for some hectic times… wedding on the horizon.

    Jnaki
    upload_2016-8-15_4-26-20.png
     
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  4. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    Hello,
    With the renewed interest in sedans and coupes in drag racing, here is one sedan that stood out from all of the rest. It had gone through many owners and builders, but always put on a great show for the race fans.

    At Lions in 1959-60, there was this sedan that just made everyone look when it came to the line. It was once the Koenig/Sundin sedan, then, a Reath/Maillard (a great combo), and the Dosser Bros chopped sedan. Eventually, it became known as the Dosser/ Reath Automotive sedan.

    You could not walk by it in the pits without stopping to look at it. It had a white chopped body, yellow frame, yellow wheels…what a set up. It was very loud and fast. Here is a compilation of the runs we were able to film at Lions during this time period.
    upload_2017-6-20_4-37-8.png
    Jnaki

    This sedan was the one that said… look at me race…with a mean stance. If we were to build an altered sedan, this would be the look and style. It would even be a mean looking street sedan with the traditional style.


    A tribute to Joe Reath Automotive from Long Beach, CA.
     
    lbcd likes this.
  5. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,688

    czuch
    Member
    from vail az

    Wow,, Lions. I was just a kid at the time but the neighbors went often and so did I.
    Does anyone remember the rollers to start the cars?
    This is great footage and stories/ memories.
     
  6. LBCD
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,017

    LBCD
    Member

    I never made it to Lions as I didn't move to Long Beach until 75. I'm sure my dad would have taken me if it was still there. Looking at the modern map you can still see the outline of where it once was and Santa Fe Ave. runs parallel to it.
    Back in 81 in the 9th grade we would go with my friends older bro and watch the illegal street races on Santa Fe directly next to where Lions once stood...coincidence? I don't know...
    [​IMG]
     
  7. Roger O'Dell
    Joined: Jan 21, 2008
    Posts: 1,125

    Roger O'Dell
    Member

    Forgot I had seen it, oh well maybe after three more times I will remember it
     
  8. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-6-20_17-41-20.png
    Hey Guys,
    I knew there was a photo of someone's sedan that was a good example of the Dosser Reath Automotive drag sedan. Stan Back has one in his profile page. NICE!
    Jnaki
    That I would proudly drive on the street !
     
  9. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-6-21_4-29-16.png Lions Dragstrip Pits 1958
    upload_2017-6-21_4-29-45.png Doug Cook 1959
    Hello,

    How could anyone not like a 1937 Chevy coupe, Tahitian Red painted, street/race car? This car was a very cool, street legal, coupe with white walls and gold rims ! When we first went to Lions Dragstrip to watch and stroll around the pits in 1958, it was an eye opener.

    The car that impressed this teenager the most was Doug Cook’s 1937 Chevy Coupe. Besides being in a street legal class, it sounded like a dragster and watching it go down the strip, that was totally impressive. Talk about speed shifting…

    He was winning the class eliminations left and right all while looking like a high quality, Tahitian Red painted, show car. This was a car I could drive on the street and still race at the drags every Saturday. The smooth lines, the lowered stance, the grill that seemed to move backwards in its design while moving, etc. They all played a part in being a cool car. Plus, it was not just a race car by any means. The Chevy was a fast, gas coupe.

    This was drag racing. So, in 1960, we decided that this 37 Chevy was the biggest challenge for a couple of budding, backyard, hot rod builders to race against, in the C/Gas class. (Little did we know that by the time we were finished and ready to race, Doug Cook went to the B/Gas class against the big names)


    Doug Cook’s 37 Chevy gas coupe 1959-60

    upload_2017-6-21_4-34-35.png
    Let’s get the best seat in the house for this popular, Chevy vs Willys race…1959

    Jnaki
    But, what does a top notch gas coupe racer drive in the off hours, giving his 37 Chevy a rest? Here is a clipping from the Drag News in 1959.

    upload_2017-6-21_4-40-2.png
    A real street car in the Gas Coupe and Sedan class…

    Doug Cook, 1937 Chevy Coupe C/Gas Class

    Wow, somewhat, similar street sedans with visions of racing...
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
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  10. MO_JUNK
    Joined: Jan 22, 2006
    Posts: 1,044

    MO_JUNK
    Member
    from Rolla, Mo.

  11. old man hal
    Joined: Jun 21, 2017
    Posts: 92

    old man hal
    Member

    I grew up about a half mile from Lions right across 223rd St..In 1960 I was 17 yrs. old and went to the drags just about every weekend, Saturday night drags and on Sundays. I saw a lot of the famous cars and drivers in those years. The film brought back memories of those times. Thanks!


    Sent from my iPad using H.A.M.B.
     
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  12. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-6-22_4-24-5.png June 20, 2017
    Hey Guys,

    I found a corresponding thread from way back to showcase the latest photo shot of a famous, drag race, street car (truck) at Lions Dragstrip. (Charlie “The Painter” Ettein’s yellow, pickup truck...a Los Angeles local.) It looked innocent enough with all of the stuff on it, but when it fired up and made a run, that was impressive.

    I was able to shoot a quick photo of the newly updated truck a couple of days ago in Long Beach. It is the 2017 updated style, but pretty accurate in its early form. The rest of the paraphernalia would be added later in the final display. I had to shoot and run as the saying goes.

    Jnaki
    More on this truck later. But, a little history first:

    upload_2017-6-22_4-25-56.png Drag News 1959
    A blown Chrysler engine with an automatic transmission used over 100,000 miles of daily driving, what an amazing feat. (A 5000+ lbs. truck slated for C/Gas... Our 671, SBC, 40 Willys rivalry/competition in the making... including the idea of extra weight in the rear to make the class rules.)

    Ours weight set up for the Willys was a couple of large, 1 inch steel plates to shore up and cover the whole rear trunk area. We welded extra pieces right over the rear axle. Thanks for the idea...We easily made the weight rules for C/Gas in 1960.

    upload_2017-6-22_4-27-54.png
    upload_2017-6-22_4-28-46.png
    upload_2017-6-22_4-29-34.png
    In 1959, here they were lined up against each other on the start line at Lions. At 0.11 on the counter


    upload_2017-6-22_4-33-25.png
    Thanks to all that participated in the earlier thread...now updated.
     
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  13. old man hal
    Joined: Jun 21, 2017
    Posts: 92

    old man hal
    Member





    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  14. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    Hey LBCD,

    Santa Fe was the main drag on our Westside neighborhood. All the way down to the industrial yards in the south area. We lived a few blocks north of 101 to the south, near the industrial complex. That Santa Fe area was well used. From where you pointed out and north past the 405 freeway, including the Long Beach Drive-In theater, that area was totally barren back in 1958-65.

    Santa Fe, Del Amo, Alameda, Wardlow, and Willow all were surrounding streets and they were empty late at night. Big wide, open fields with no buildings around. It wasn’t until much later that the harbor influence and shipping containers came into being, so the demise of Lions started. Yes, by 1975, Lions was gone and only an empty field with some cars from the harbor were parked on it. The containers came later.

    Jnaki

    upload_2017-6-22_11-40-55.png
    Our junior high school , now a middle school on Santa Fe.
    My mom still lived in that Long Beach house until 1998, so we visited often. The noise late at night was only described as “midnight racers” to the people who knew what was going on at the time. Street racers all knew which local streets were empty and had the pick of the litter every night. The farther north from Wardlow Road you went, the more space there was to race and not be disturbed.

    Today, that whole area is packed with factory buildings, shipping containers, huge semi trucks and trailers. It is so busy that traffic is always hectic. The intersection Del Amo and Santa Fe is so crowded today, compared to the empty streets and dirt lots...a long time ago.

    Last Tuesday, I thought I was in the middle of an huge industrial complex and the intersection did not register, except for the names. Late at night when the trucks are asleep, it does create an empty area for some noisy activity. But, alas, the LB Police Department and LA Sheriff’s Department patrol this area quite often at all hours of the day and night. So, beware…
     
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  15. toml24
    Joined: Sep 23, 2009
    Posts: 1,552

    toml24
    Member

    For many years following the closure, you could, if you know where and when to look, see the pavement remains of Lions Drag Strip from the far right slow lane of the South bound San Diego Freeway (the 405). You could dozens of tractor trailer rigs parked on the strip. For all I know the pavement could still be there but the view from the freeway is no longer possible because trees have grown much taller in the last 45 years and there has been tall buildings built to obstruct the view.
     
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  16. From LARS last weekend!
    IMG_0804.JPG
     
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-6-23_9-8-14.png
    Thanks Mickey…This book is one of the best and a pretty comprehensive look at one of the marvels of So Cal drag racing in 1960 at Lions Dragstrip. To see this drag racing record being set week after week… (to be there to witness it first hand…) it was something.

    Hello,

    Another account of the goings on at Lions Dragstrip published from a different viewpoint. In 1960 the Albertson Olds FED with Leonard Harris was on a So Cal, terror, consecutive, win streak in the drag racing circles. Who was going to stop this streak? All of the big names did not have an answer. Some were close to the win, but that Albertson Olds FED just kept on ticking...and winning. The August 13 race was pointing toward the famous Howard Cam Twin driven by Jack Chrisman breaking the streak.

    upload_2017-6-23_9-11-3.png upload_2017-6-23_9-13-36.png upload_2017-6-23_9-13-57.png
    upload_2017-6-23_9-14-47.png upload_2017-6-23_9-15-0.png upload_2017-6-23_9-15-11.png
    upload_2017-6-23_9-15-24.png
    Jack Chrisman Howard Cam Twin Lions 1960
    upload_2017-6-23_9-17-6.png

    In the Albertson Olds/Leonard Harris book, on page 59, there is a write up on an altered coupe exploding during the eliminations at night and splattered parts all over the track.
    upload_2017-6-23_9-18-24.png August 13, 1960
    upload_2017-6-23_9-19-15.png Drag News: August 13, 1960
    That “altered” was our C/Gas 40 Willys Coupe w/671 SBC that had the clutch explode and the metal pieces went flying everywhere on August 13, 1960. The Moon Tank inside of the cab exploded and the whole inside was on a massive, spurting, gasoline fire. My brother tried to put it out with our extinguisher, but it did nothing, so he jumped out going about 60 mph after the traps. (the return road racers told us)

    So, this part of the information came from the incorrect Drag News story dated August 13, 1960. They shut down the strip because our Willys was on fire, wedged into the spectator’s side fence. So many extinguishers were used, but my friend that stayed there until the fire was out, said he lost count of how many were used. The eliminations were shut down for the rest of the evening at 10:00 p.m. No more racing in any class and everyone went home early.

    Jnaki

    One thing we did from this accident, we stopped the consecutive weekly win streak of Leonard Harris and the fast Albertson Olds FED from winning another week’s event.
     

    Attached Files:

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  18. blackrat40
    Joined: Apr 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,167

    blackrat40
    Member

    Outstanding video of "OUR TIME" !
     
  19. Junji....
    Were you there the day the Howard cams twin (complete with plywood airfoil) showed up with a red light on the back? The announcer was telling everyone the light would come on at full throttle. It did, but was way down the track before he got the tires to stop smoking so he could open her up. Seemed pretty wild to a couple high school boys.
     
  20. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    Hey Chuck,
    No, sorry, I was not there, but that "Twin Bear" always put on a great show. In the pits it was an impressive, engineering feat, being a twin motor FED. But, when it fired up, smiles were everywhere hearing that powerful set up. Check out that black smoke coming out of the exhaust in the film and you can just hear those motors come to life...

    Here are some of the latest Howard Cam Special, "Twin Bear" photos without the plywood airfoil. The "L" brackets are still in place for an addition of that plywood if needed or wanted.
    upload_2017-6-24_5-1-7.png upload_2017-6-24_5-4-17.png June 20, 2017

    Junji
    As you can see, it was originally the aluminum silver color in my films and then it got the color later on in the build and racing days. Close up, it is one impressive race car, either way.
     
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  21. Special Ed
    Joined: Nov 1, 2007
    Posts: 6,052

    Special Ed
    Member

  22. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-6-24_8-8-58.png upload_2017-6-24_8-9-11.png
    upload_2017-6-24_8-9-25.png
    The Batmobile in front of a very meticulous drawing of the Bat Cave in Long Beach, June 20, 2017.
    Hello,

    When we were little kids, TV was brand new and the programming was pretty cool. Somethings we had seen in comic books actually came to life on the small screen. When the Batman Series came on TV, every kid in the neighborhood wanted a ride in that cool Batmobile.

    A creation of George Barris, this “Gotham City Special” was one unusual car to make an appearance at Lions Dragstrip. But, a show was what it put on for the race fans.

    Jnaki
    (As a sad note, a little over a week ago, Adam West, the original Batman from the TV series, passed away at age 88.)


    The #4 Batmobile model (version) made it's drag race debut on May 6th 1967, at Lion's Dragstrip (there were many versions made as they were needed for different scenes or to replace one that became damaged.)
    upload_2017-6-24_8-31-16.png
    Robin: "You can't get away from Batman that easy!"
    Batman: "Easily."
    Robin: "Easily."
    Batman: "Good grammar is essential, Robin."
    Robin: "Thank you."
    Batman: "You're welcome."

    “Adam West’s portrayal of Batman as intensely rational, made the absurdity of the scripts all the more enjoyable.”
     
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  23. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-6-25_5-33-48.png
    upload_2017-6-25_5-36-35.png
    upload_2017-6-25_5-39-23.png
    upload_2017-6-25_5-39-41.png
    Hello,

    I was recently invited to attend the opening of the “Lions Dragstrip Museum” located in Long Beach. It is part of the huge Price Transfer Automobilia Group Museum. The huge building was built to replicate things that went on at the famous Lions Dragstrip from 1955 until it closed in 1972.

    The first thing that caught my eye was the finished display of that yellow truck that terrorized Lions back in those early gas competition days. Charlie Ettien’s Ford pickup with its famous “Painter’s” rack on the back stood out because of its bright yellow color. The 471 supercharged Hemi motor sounded as good back then as it looks today. Luckily, it was parked next to the Batmobile..."Two birds with one stone"...so it goes.

    Jnaki

    More on the museum later…

    upload_2017-6-25_5-42-44.png
     
  24. buckd
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 335

    buckd
    Member

    I'm in Ocala, Florida on business and went to the Don Garlits drag racing museum today. Absolutely unreal display of cars. And low and behold many of the cars in this film are there on display. What a treat to see them in person. I raced at Lyons in the 60's and it all just made my day Thanks RYAN
     
  25. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    Hello,

    What a day, from my granddaughter’s ballet group putting on their performances in Orange County, to her solo performance on stage, driving 1.5 hours to Long Beach,CA for the Lions Museum extravaganza, one extreme form of entertainment to the next.

    How does one relate to the other? They are to the extremes as it takes countless hours of preparation, skills and constant practice to get really good in both ballet, dance, and engine/race car building and maintaining. Being fortunate enough to spend time with both ends of the spectrum allowed me to get a healthy balance in my useful time.

    Being a proud grandparent when my granddaughter took the stage for her first solo performance…(she killed it by the way) to being a part of Lions history and race car prep made it all worthwhile, when someone said, “…nice films.”

    upload_2017-6-26_5-40-49.png
    Hill-Acala Roadster
    upload_2017-6-26_5-41-12.png Lions Dragstrip Museum June 24 upload_2017-6-26_5-42-9.png Nitro Revival fan

    Then to top it off, talking to an author of a new Lions book that was actually in the stands in 1960, when our 40 Willys blew up right in front of him. I should have recorded the conversation. The description of his viewpoint gave me shivers all over. (An actual spectator/witness to the event from the last set of spectator's stands at Lions.)

    I did ask him if he took any photos…He said that no one took photos because it was at night and no one had cameras back then. Everything happened so fast, the moment was over in a few seconds, and it was something that he won’t ever forget.

    upload_2017-6-26_5-46-56.png New Lions book by John Glaspey

    He witnessed the clutch exploding directly under the car, flames shooting out that way first, then the whole cab on fire. He finally, described the flames shooting out of the non-existent windows and door opening. Then he witnessed the actual driver, my brother, leaping out of the car after the traps and roll over many times.

    All the while, the driver-less Willys on fire, turning and wedging itself into the spectator’s fence was a sight he won’t forget. He probably saw us shooting whatever extinguishers that were available and throwing sand to put out the fire.

    Jnaki

    One last thing the author remembered was that our 40 Willys was unstoppable that day and won by big margins in all of the elimination races leading up to this final run at 9:00pm. His description was the latest in my “finds” at this historical Lions event. Wow, that made my day…

    So, was I satisfied with the all day and night (1-11 pm) activities? In the 60’s, one funny statement that was used : “…You betcha, Red Ryder…” from the Red Ryder and his sidekick, Little Beaver series.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
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  26. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    Hey Chuck,
    At the Lions Museum opening June 24th, I was able to see that plywood airfoil in person. It was sitting on that twin FED along with the original "Twin Bear" aluminum cover next to it, for later use.

    This was part of the whole Jack Chrisman's corner display. On display were the early trophies, black leather suit, the maroon sedan, the Twin Bear, the Thunderbird he won at the Nationals and the A/FX car.

    Junji
    The historic photos were pretty amazing and well documented.
    upload_2017-7-3_8-16-0.png upload_2017-7-3_8-17-37.png
     
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  27. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-7-3_16-22-27.png
    Hello,
    The angle is right on the money for moving more air into those scoops. Plus going over the top as the "Twin Bear," goes down the dragstrip.

    Jnaki
     
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  28. LBCD
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,017

    LBCD
    Member

    I saw some photos on line at the museum and it looked awesome! Was is it a one time event?
     
  29. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,751

    jnaki

    upload_2017-7-4_5-29-11.png upload_2017-7-4_5-31-23.png

    Hey LBCD,
    Yes, this Lions Dragstrip event was a one time thing for the museum. It was a preview showing for the venue at Price Automobilia Museum complex. It took countless hours, a bunch of preparation of the cars, displays, fabulous murals, great historic photos and of course, the people involved in setting up the whole show.

    But, the good news for all, it has been rumored that more cars will be settled in the final version that will become the official grand opening to the public. Now, that has not been confirmed, but it is in the works.

    It would be difficult and costly to have a "Cacklefest" weekly, but maybe for the so called "official" grand opening day, they might have one. We shall see...there are too many people that love this place in its original configuration with all of the beautiful cars and history. But this new Lions wing was pretty special to a lot of racers with its rich history from 1955 to 72. There was something for everyone. Even a bunch of old guys walking around enjoyed the complete Lions show displays.
    upload_2017-7-4_5-24-29.png
    Tommy Ivo FED and standing in front of the display in a brown shirt.

    Jnaki
    It was an honor to be accepted to show my old Lions Dragstrip films from 58-60 on that big screen in the corner display near the Hill-Acala, red roadster. The owner of the roadster was totally surprised that his car was shown on the big screen just above the car display... (The films were playing all day and into the night.) He had never seen films of the red roadster in motion.


     
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