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History The Lost Speed Shop

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by J.Ukrop, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Yeah, unfortunately speed shops seem to be a thing of the past for the most part. I do have fond memories of Jack's Speed Shop in Houston, Texas back in the 70's and by the end of that decade I was hangin out at Blue Max Speed Shop in Midland,Texas.
  2. Grapes of Wrath
    Joined: Aug 6, 2014
    Posts: 19

    Grapes of Wrath

    I edit the above post with correct info
  3. chopt31
    Joined: Dec 1, 2008
    Posts: 1,147


    smith # 1 auto parts in Minneapolis was the place to go in the 70s, still have a t shirt from there
  4. Mark mathguy
    Joined: Sep 11, 2015
    Posts: 2

    Mark mathguy

    I ran across this by accident. But I used to know the man your looking for. I actually lived at his house down stairs as a young adult. And also hung around his shop for a long time. Years perhaps. We were great friends. He had a lot of knowledge of engines and old school tricks. In the 90s there was still a pimped out 70s van in the back that had been there forever. Just parked and left there. The man was just that way. He knew what was good stuff and what was junk. Because of the area he lived life secluded. Most of the possessionsame were hidden in back pulled underneath things. Rare engine blocks everywhere! Most folks heads would turn to see the amount of stuff. He was into a little of everything. Places like jegs and summit of course ruined the small shops. Not to mention the area was full of punks. As far as Sontags, it's in Crest hill illinois. And old man Bill is still there. Another good hearted man wit ton of knowledge. I bought from him for years! Still know his kids. Haven't talked to the guy at hillcrest speed in probably 20 years. But his name is Dan Ford. And if I had my money on it he's still playing with cars somewhere close. And definitely if he still owns that building there are some serious, virgin treasures there. He kept everything! And collected EVERYTHING! His son Rodney also worked in town at exhaust shops usually. Good guys!
    catdad49, AHotRod and Finn Jensen like this.
  5. Mark mathguy
    Joined: Sep 11, 2015
    Posts: 2

    Mark mathguy

    The notorious car, is Dave Myerhoff and Dan Shick both men have passed away now. Danny had a 66 Chevelle called Notorious II. Great times with these two guys!
  6. Bellweather one
    Joined: Oct 7, 2015
    Posts: 1

    Bellweather one

    I sold Dan parts for many years. Great guy! I worked at Bellweather Automotive in the 80s. John Hulls owned Bellweather and his brother Pat ran TPS.
  7. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,688

    from vail az

    "Performance IS economy".
    Remember that slogan?
  8. John C Dailey
    Joined: Jun 5, 2018
    Posts: 2

    John C Dailey

    I realize that I'm about 4 years late in replying to this. In any event, Hillcrest was owned by John & Bill Yoakum and then my brother, Dan Dailey bought it from them in the early to mid 70s. The Yoakums campaigned a Vega funny car and when Dan bought the shop from them, they switched the motor in the Vega over to a 54/55 MGTF and later put a 440 inch Chevy in it. I helped them crew it occasionally, mostly at Byron.

    Hope this clears up some of the questions, even 4 years late.
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  9. Calhoun Speed Shop... Alexandria VA. Gene Calhoun opened the shop in 1969 and closed in 2004 or 2005.

    Gene raced a fair amount at the local tracks and sponsored many local cars.
    chryslerfan55 and lothiandon1940 like this.
  10. lake_harley
    Joined: Jun 4, 2017
    Posts: 1,292


    I ran a "speed shop" until about 13 years ago. I catered to mostly circle track racers. I did virtually no advertising, didn't race against my customers (and their money), and sponsored no cars. I didn't accept credit cards or debit cards which would have forced me to raise prices and I pointed that out to new customers when they asked about using plastic. I made it a point to meet or beat "catalog" prices. I pointed out to my customers the benefit of holding the part they wanted in their hand to see if it was really what they wanted and also the benefit of having a local source rather than waiting for the "brown truck" to arrive. I was willing to share information (I had raced before) and although I would share information that I learned from my customers I NEVER said it was what so-and-so was doing.

    My profit margins were slim, but I felt that I added value by meeting or beating the price they would pay elsewhere. I built my inventory out of cash flow and never borrowed 1 cent. Word-of-mouth spread about my shop and business was good. I had customers driving up to 100 miles to buy their racing parts from me. One more year of growth and I would have probably shut down the metal fabrication I also had going with other employees.

    It came to an end, and I sold the inventory, when we (my wife and 2 children) decided to move away. I gave my customer list to the fellow who bought my inventory. By reports I've heard he ran business into the ground in about 2 years.

    To this day it ticks me off when I need a motorcycle tire (granted, not a speed shop item) that the local motorcycle shop refuses to match an online price. Surely if they'd match the price they would still make something on it, rather than me ordering a tire online, waiting for the brown truck, and them making nothing instead .

    I'm by no means perfect, but it seemed my approach to the "speed shop" business worked.

    catdad49, woodsnwater and Finn Jensen like this.
  11. John C Dailey
    Joined: Jun 5, 2018
    Posts: 2

    John C Dailey

    Thought I'd add this. When John and Bill Yoakum owned the shop it was at the back of the lot, behind the house. It was a building that had the speedshop, laundry and a few others I don't remember. My brother said that when he first bought the place, he would have guys wander in while they were waiting for their wives to finish the laundry. Guy came in one day and kind of browsed around the place, noting that, with every product he saw, that he "had one of these or them" or "I used to race midgets". Well Dan couldn't help it and said to him, "Doesn't hardly seem fair." and the guy says "Huh?" "Don't know what you're talking about."

    "Well" says Dan, "your legs are much longer than theirs">
    alanp561 and Nailhead A-V8 like this.
  12. blazedogs
    Joined: Sep 22, 2014
    Posts: 465


    Little Dearborn Mpls Mn Closed/out of Biz
    Joined: May 5, 2015
    Posts: 896


    I can remember Speed Shops when I first started out. Dick Levy's, out of Portsmouth NH comes to mind as well a Peddlers of the same NH town. Did not buy a lot of stuff back (high school budget) then, but they were a great source of used speed parts and knowledge. I remember in order to stay in business both shops were into other areas, Peddlers sold bikes and Dick Levy sold electronics. Gordon the man who ran Peddlers ran a Olds at New England Dragway, so he talk the talk but did, walk the walk.
  14. Pistnbroke
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 488


    Speed shops were all over the Aurora Il area when Oswego Drag Strip was open. I worked for Karl's Performance speed shop AKA "KPS" in the early 80's after Oswego had closed it was on Aurora's East side. Just down the road from HillCrest Speed shop. Karl was a drag racer and tried to cater to the real drag racer. We did a lot of street cars as well. I was a mechanic working the shop area. I learned a lot during those days and still have great friends I met while working there.
    I remember ordering from Bellweather, there was a guy there named Wayne that had an old 66 Nova race car called Bull Shift he was building it with his friend Dennis Weaver, not McCloud but his nick name was McCloud because of it for you older guys you will understand.
    Wonder what ever happened to them?
  15. Not exactly; when Roger retired, the business regrouped and moved to Long Lake. Give Terry a call.
  16. I remember Bob Long's "Performance Products" on Broadway in Rockford, IL, and Sterling Speed Shop on Kishwaukee St. Both are long gone.

    Those were the days.
    26hotrod likes this.
  17. 26hotrod
    Joined: Nov 28, 2009
    Posts: 933

    from landis n c

    Back in the 50's we had Barker's Custom Accessories in Kannapolis N.C. where I bought my 1st tach. It was a Sun tach with a sender I mounted on the fender well. I mounted the tach on the dash. The car was a 54 Ford with a 55 engine. After Barkers went away there was the HOT ROD BARN run by Barry Kemp where I bought my 1st set of ET mags. They are both gone so now I deal with local rod shops and race shops. Those were the days...…….
  18. I also remember "Winner's Circle" down on Rockton Ave. and State St. Then there was "Stan's Performance" on Kishwaukee St. back in the day. Now it's called "The Hot Rod Shop" over Charles St. around 5 points. He mostly just sell parts. Super nice guy. :cool:
  19. FasterWheels
    Joined: Sep 2, 2018
    Posts: 1


    Greetings Pistnbroke :
    I was a customer of many of the local Aurora speed shops back in the 60s (Al's, Bellwether, Sontag, Hillcrest). I also built a C/D Chevy injected gas dragster with Al Thompson and Ed Webster, which I raced at Oswego. Do you remember the name of Ed's partner/driver for their B/F Pontiac injected dragster? I think his first name was Ron.......
    Cheers - Mike
  20. Pistnbroke
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 488


    Eddy Webster was my brother in laws uncle, They had the shop up on Montgomery road back behind a house. I used to store cars there for about 15years until the land was sold for residential development.
    I believe it was Ron Bartley, Eddie Webster and Bud "Shorty" Lackey. Eddie passed away but Bud and Ron are still around and both still playing with cars. Mostly show cars. I hope this helps you out.
  21. krylon32
    Joined: Jan 29, 2006
    Posts: 7,082

    Alliance Vendor
    from Nebraska

    When I was in my teens and early 20's I used to go to Speedway when it was a real speed shop and the countermen (Bill Franklin) treated a young kid like me like an idiot. Today I occasionally go to Speedway and the young counterman/computer genius still treats this old man like an idiot. Seems nothing has changed?
  22. Fordors
    Joined: Sep 22, 2016
    Posts: 3,361


    Not necessarily true, the counter man may know far less than the customer. Where the fault lies is more than likely he is relying on computer knowledge rather than his own.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  23. cooke
    Joined: Jan 13, 2011
    Posts: 55


    I used to go to the Blue Max shop too. It was a young hot rodder's dream come true. Always lot's of cool cars parked outside in the parking lot. And over to the East was Rick Camp's Exxon. His "Unfinished Business" '63 vette always sat outside.
    Years later after Blue Max closed; Ron's Engines opened up on Wall Street. His front engine dragster always sitting on the show room floor. Before PAW, JEGS and Summit showed; this was where we got our parts.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  24. Scott De Shields
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 162

    Scott De Shields

    The only one I know of in the West LA/Santa Monica CA area is Westside Performance on Pico Blvd. They sell performance parts as well as build hot cars for the area. Old school parts counter with lots of new and used performance parts an the counter guys can actually talk car.
  25. Back in the mid nineties, I was drag racing a Chevy Nova and the speed shop in St.Louis that I used to buy parts from was Wise Speed Shop. One of the countermen was a guy by the name of Donnie Barron. I was only 21 at the time and nothing more than a wet behind the ears kid, but Donnie also raced at the same track (Gateway International Raceway) and he helped me out tremendously. To a dumb ass kid, anybody like Donnie that would even talk racing, much less help out, was a God to me. Unfortunately, Wise closed a few years ago and I lost track of my old racing buddies.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  26. stanlow69
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 5,146

    from red oak

    When I was younger, I used to wonder into speedshops and buy an oil filter for My 427 in my avatar. Trying to make an impression on the guys at the counter. Never worked.
  27. lake_harley
    Joined: Jun 4, 2017
    Posts: 1,292


    Wise Speed Shop....that place even smelled like race parts! I'd go there along with a friend of mine when we were students at Ranken Trade School from '70 to '72. He had money to spend on parts......I'd just look in awe and wish I had some extra $$ too.

    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  28. 19highboy32
    Joined: Feb 22, 2014
    Posts: 51


    True speed shops are all but gone here too, replaced by big chains selling seat covers, sound systems and Chinese junk. Shops were often run by local racing heroes like Stormin' Norman Beechey, Graham Withers and Eddy Thomas.
    Modern high tech cars, pollution laws, mail order and political correctness killed the old speed shop.

    In the early 1980's a couple of mates worked at Graham Withers Speed Shop, so l spent a bit of time there. At that time two of Graham's front engined rails were hung up in the rafters, one or maybe both, were ex Don Garlits and he purchased them for his museum. No rails hanging up today in my local Autobarn!

    Norm Beechey and Monaro
    grumpy32 and Bandit Billy like this.
  29. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,180

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    Looking back, there were speed shops EVERYWHERE. Super Shops all over the place, Service Centers, Champion Speed, Santa Ana Speed..... the list goes on. It all seemed so normal at the time. Now, it's either a big online retailer or the "speed shop" in Pep Boys. I think I'll enjoy life more when my short term memory fades and long term memory is crystal clear again........
  30. Hey Lynn! I went to Ranken as well, class of 1994 Automotive Maintenance Technology! Nice to hear from a fellow alumni.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app

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