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Sandy Belond & Equa Flow Exhaust trivia

Discussion in 'New to the H.A.M.B.? Introduce yourself here!' started by 777, May 7, 2009.

  1. 777
    Joined: Jul 17, 2008
    Posts: 196

    from Pasadena

    I figured an appropriate first thread would be one of the reason why I'm here. I took ownership of a pre-war lakes racer about a year ago and the man that passed it along to me had a few stipulations: 1. I couldn't resell it until he died but I could donate it or sell it back to him. 2. I had to maintain it and use it like the original owner would have 3. I should learn about the history of the man that owned it and pass it along because he had become forgotten.

    So it could tend to be a little dry in some parts, but they are the facts as best as I can document them thus far.

    Sandy Belond officially began racing on the dry lakes in '38 with a '31 roadster on a duece frame that his friend Sam Hanks helped him build. His roadster was 1 of the first 100 cars to record a land speed of over 100 mph. It also won the Idler's Trophy Championship in '38 and '39 as well as the Sta-Lube Motor Oil Co Trophy in '39. In 1942 at a REVS Car Club meet invitational it clocked what is arguably the fastest speed ever by a roadster in the pre-war years, 125.854 mph

    Note: more about the car to come in a later thread, you can find pics of it here on the HAMB, it recently won the Pasadena Roadster Clubs' Reliability Run Best Roadster award. A huge thank you to all the people that helped put that event on, its a great event and we had a wonderful time.
    Sandy joined the Idlers car club in '37 and he was on the founding board of the Western Timing Assoc. as a Safety Committee member.

    Sandy was most likely the greatest success story of the pre-war manufacturers. While the country was still in the depths of the Great Depression, Belond was expanding his operation four times. There were 4 Sandy's Muffler Shops in operation before the war to meet the demands of the dry lakes and stadium racers he was supplying. That is if we count his house as a shop since it was his first place of business and he continued to do work there on midgets race cars until he was called away to join the war. He became one of, if not the first, Edelbrock dealer in late 1940 and ran one of the first Slingshots on his roadster in early '41.
    Sandy's Muffler Shop headers cost $15 a set before the war if you were a timing club member. He also offered a little something more then off the shelf performance when you purchased his Sandy's Muffler Shop "W" header, actually a variation of the Harry Miller cast iron header designed for the '35 Miller Ford V8 Indy cars.

    Note: Don't confuse Belond Headers or the Equa-Flow line with Sandy's Muffler Shop headers they are very different, although both were made by Sandy and his men.

    "Belonds" and the "Equa-Flow" line are Post-War stuff and Sandy's Muffler Shop is Pre-War.

    The Belond "W-1" and "W-2" headers were usually custom ordered and manufactured in the Post-War years by Sandy Belond's Southern California Muffler Service, '47 - '50.

    In the later years '51 or so and beyond, Belond did offer a few off the shelf "W-1" and "W-2" headers based on jigs built for other customers. Interestingly Belond never produced any "W-1" or "W-2" headers for a car with a wishbone and if you attempt to fit them in a roadster with a stock "K" member and/or steering they won't go, I've tried both.

    "W" headers on the other hand were custom made Pre-War headers by Sandy's Muffler Shop. Each "W" was a custom order, made per application, these all featured the center dump like the later "W-1 and -2" headers but they have a single plate flange and a long tapered collector which was to satisfy a rule the early dry lakes racers had about exhaust length.

    Sandy joined the USMC, entered the war late and was back by '46.
    When Sandy returned he went to work for Archie Porter where he reunited with Bob Hedman, later to be known as the founder of Hedman Hedders. It is believed that Sandy learned the muffler business from Archie Porter in the mid 30's at the Porter's Muffler Shop and Sandy returned to work there for a short stint after the war.
    But Sandy was anxious to open his own shops again, so he along with Bob Hedman and Bud Gregory proceeded with the manufacture of a couple of ideas Sandy had for a new equal length V8 60 header for midget cars. Karl Orr lent him the money and offered him a space in the back of his speed shop. Sandy installed a drive on lift on the west side of the Orr's Speed shop, and he moved into a small apt behind the speed shop on the east side of the Orr's property with his wife Ruth and their daughter Donna. This was '47, Bud came over with Sandy as the shop foreman and Bob joined them shortly thereafter.

    Sandy began building the midget headers with Bud and they were a great success. He saved some money up and ventured into his next project creating the Sandy Belond Equa-Flow Exhaust System which revolutionized the header industry by creating the first ever jigs for exhaust systems.

    Note: More importantly, from a performance stand point. The Belond V860 headers were the first ever tuned equal length header, these also featured a merge collector. Although Sandy had initially installed a merge collector onto a header he built for Kelly Petillo who owned a Roy Richter built, Offy powered midget and a similar header for Sam Hanks who won the Pacific Coast Midget Championship in '38. Hanks did credit Belond for the added performance the header contributed and that is thought to be one of the factors that grew Belonds header business before the war.

    There were more then 2000 Belond Dealers by '53 and Belond Systems were offered by dealships as an option.
    He was so hooked up with the OEM that they would send vehicles out to the Sandy Belond's Southern California Muffler Company to have system designed for their cars before the cars were offered for sale to the public.

    Note:Today this practice is a highly sought developmental tool offered to SEMA members. Sandy was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 1981.

    His muffler operation had grown so big that he actually built a steel mill in the West Central area of Los Angeles to founder his own exhaust tubing. The header and exhaust manufacturing section alone exceeded 15,000 square feet.
    He retired and sold the Belond Muffler Company to A-P Industries in '58 and the header division to Bob Hedman. Hedman founded Hedman Hedders and A-P Industries couldn't figure out how Belond made his business so successful so they hired him back as CEO and he remained there until his passing in the late 80's. Eventually Belond grew A-P into W.R. Grace an investment company that holds many of the major aftermarket brands we still buy from today.

    It is unclear whether he personally ever raced another car but I have not seen any mention of a race car other then his '31, perhaps because right after the war Ruth became pregnant with Donna and then a few years later Don. It is very likely Sandy's priorities changed from racer to father.

    He did however sponsor a number of race cars with the Belond name such as the Tom Beatty belly tank, Bob Rothwaite's chopped 1934 Ford coupe and the Lentz Bros. 777 streamliner. These cars set many land speed records and ultimately Sandy went on to win Indy as an owner in '57 and '58 with his life long friend Sam Hanks in a George Salih designed roadster that was powered by an Offy. The body was a Quinn Epperly job and it was nick named "the Sidewinder" Drivers were Sam Hanks and Jimmy Bryan, respectively.

    In 1961 he partnered with an old Indy pal to open Calsbad Raceway.
    Sandy died of cancer in 1989. He is buried in Hollywood, Ca. at Forest Lawn Cemetary and was survived by his wife Ruth, a daughter Donna and three grandsons.

    That's my start and I hope it sheds a little light on who this iconic man was. It took a lot of calls and letters and I've been rewarded by meeting some really awesome guys from a great time in American history.

    It is an on going quest so I'm really interested in contacting anyone who knew the man or worked for him. Especially if you knew him before the war.

    First photo is of his '57 Indy winning team so we could have a face to put to his story.
    The team is Left to right:
    Frenchy Sirois (Jigger's Father), Howard Gilbert, George Salih, Sandy Belond and either Shorty Barnes or Shorty Reeves.
    Sam Hanks is seated in the roadster.

    2nd shot is the Sandy's Muffler Shop roadster at the lakes, most likely in the sumer of '41. Persons in the photo are unidenified.

    First ad is Pre-War Sandy's Muffler Shop and 2nd ad is early Post-War.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  2. landseaandair
    Joined: Feb 23, 2009
    Posts: 4,475

    from phoenix

    Dang! I thought it said sandy blonde. Just kidding. Welcome, and by the way, I don't see the team picture in your post.
  3. NealinCA
    Joined: Dec 12, 2001
    Posts: 2,932


    Michael - It was good meeting you and seeing your car last weekend at the PRC run. (I was there with my dad in the bare metal 32 rpu with open pipes.)

    My dad talked to his good friend and neighbor Bob D'Olivo...and told him about seeing the Sandy's Muffler car. Bob said he and Sandy, alond with Vic Edelbrock Sr and Racer Brown played golf together on a regular basis. Small world.

  4. I love this stuff.

  5. AV8-Rider
    Joined: Jan 31, 2002
    Posts: 909



    Nice to have you on here. Please continue.
    For a nostalgic mind this is fuel on the furnace.
    I love the fact that I tend to learn some more about this hobby every time I drop in to the HAMB.
    Appreciate you taking the time to share.

  6. Dennis Lacy
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 1,254

    Dennis Lacy

    Awesome post, Michael. Until now I was aware that there was a man named Sandy Belond who manufactured the famous "W" headers and exhaust systems but had no idea when it came to the details you shared. Not that there was any reservation before, but this post just re-enforces our decision to pick your car for the "Best Roadster" award as your car and it's history are the essence of what the Reliability Runs are all about. The fact that these historical name cars survive is a miracle and it's awesome to see them still out there doing what they should be - driving. I truely hope you hang on to this piece of history and continue to bring it to future runs.

  7. More on Sandy Belond. From Time magazine, June 10, 1957

    More than three-quarters of the Indianapolis 500-mile auto race was behind him at 2:01 p.m., C.D.T. on Memorial Day, and handsome Sam Hanks was right where he wanted to be: in front of the pack. Now, for the first time, he began to worry. A veteran of eleven unsuccessful attempts at the "big spin in the brick-yard," Sam had planned to steal some time by making only two pit stops in his light, low-slung Belond Exhaust Special. He had already made them, and he could not be sure whether his latest set of tires would last till the finish. He was less than a lap ahead of the second racer. Should he crowd his luck, or bet on the speed and skill of his pit crew?

    Sam played it safe: he pulled in for the third time. Just 34 seconds later the Belond was filled with gas, oil and water, three of its tires had been replaced and it was rolling on new rubber. Sam was still six seconds in the lead. By the time he whipped past the finish flag, he was 17.35 seconds in front of Jim Rathmann's Chiropractic Special (named after its sponsor, Chiropractor Ray Sabourin). He had careened around the 500-lap course in 3 hr. 41 min. 14.25 sec., an average of 135.601 m.p.h.—the fastest 500 on record.

    Every bit as careful as Sam, the Speedway management had also tried to play it safe. The limit on piston displacement for engines without superchargers had been lowered from 274.59 to 256.284 cu. in. (the limit for supercharged power plants was 170.856 cu. in.), on the theory that less power would mean less speed. It meant just the opposite. Smaller engines allowed smaller cars. The "bombs" that turned out for the 500 had never been lighter, had never handled so well on the turns. As a result, the first ten to finish all beat the late Bill Vukovich's 130.84 m.p.h. record, set in 1954.

    Hank's Belond, named for a sponsor, Exhaust-Pipe Maker Sandy Belond, was one of the lightest and lowest cars in the race. George Salih, the California engineer who designed the car, was a conformist only in his choice of engine. (He used the same four-cylinder Meyer-Drake Offenhauser that powered every car in the race except the two V-8 Novi Specials.) Under the Belond's yellow skin, the time-tested Offy engine was laid on its side. In its unusual mount, the Offy not only ran cooler, it gave the car a sleek, slanted profile that rose only 22 inches off the track at the snout. It looked strange, but it was sweet to handle; the off-center weight of the tilted Offy made it cat-quick on the corners. Next year almost every other racer at Indianapolis will probably copy its style.

    The difference will be that Sam Hanks will not be back to drive—or so he says now. At 42 the greying, crew-cut driver has spent half his life racing cars, from the midgets to 500 monsters. "This is the only ambition I have left in racing," he said before last week's race started. "When I win the 500, I'll hang up my goggles so fast it'll make their heads swim." Wiping the oil off his face, Winner Hanks, who split $103,000 in assorted prizes, announced that when the season ends he will retire and return to Southern California to look at Pacific sunsets.
  8. Bought these off Ebay. Belond headers for a Y-block Ford.

  9. bubba67
    Joined: Nov 26, 2008
    Posts: 1,808

    from NJ

    Great historical information about a legend that most people don't know the history of. Thanks !
  10. rayford
    Joined: Jul 3, 2008
    Posts: 1,238

    from calhoun ga

    welcome from Ga
  11. BigCountryracer
    Joined: Jan 21, 2011
    Posts: 2


    I just found this article doing a google search. I think this is a very nice article on Sandy Belond. There is one detail I would like to let you know. Sandy Belond was survived by three grandsons. I am the youngest of them. I look forward to seeing more articles.
  12. WOW!!!
    Hello and welcome to the h.a.m.b..............................
  13. Now that's what i call a success story. Great post...Thanks
  14. B&T Tony
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 3

    B&T Tony
    from NJ

    Does anyone know where to get Belond headers for a 394 Olds?
  15. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    from BC

    I have a drivers side Belond header for a 303 olds, looks like it should fit a cross steer ford chassis with a starter switchover. Has the number 325 stamped down by the collector flange. Does anyone know anything about this, or have a photo of what the passenger side should look like?
  16. Kevin O'Connell
    Joined: Dec 21, 2008
    Posts: 25

    Kevin O'Connell

    Anybody see the Belond Equaflows on the Conforth Modified from the TROG in Rodgers Journal? I've got a 337 EL flattie in my 49 Lincoln with Austin intake and heads and would like to find a set of Belond headers or plans to see if I can fit a set into my car. Anybody got any info?
    I know Red's makes headers for these and wonder if they're similar design. Thanks Kevin
  17. edcodesign
    Joined: Mar 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,302


    Great story, welcome from Ct.!

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