Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Salt Tails Part Two: One blown engine won't stop a racer!

My good pal Bob Wilson is a true hot rodder in every sense of the word.

He has been doing it since he was a kid and he is a contributing member of the hot rod community producing his brakes and backing plates that have graced many a top shelf hot rod the last few years.

You can see his fine products here:  Bob Wilson and Wilson Welding  

**Make sure you check out his gallery on his page!

Bob has done drags, Bob lives the life and drives every year from Flower Mound, Texas to LA for the Fathers Day Roadster Show in a roadster, Bob is a good friend to everybody, and most importantly he is a good dad and grandfather to his kids. 

One of the things he wanted to do before his time was through was race on the salt.

He built a real steel 1932 Ford roadster for the purpose of having fun on the salt flats of Bonneville.  

He was not in it for records or glory, it was all about the fun and friendship.

That is why it was kinda heartbreaking and yet inspiring to hear about his plight. 

Prior to going the first time out in the car he had an event that would have stopped lesser men. 

Trying to do some final tuning on the car prior to setting out for his first trip with it he had an engine fire.  It was a mess and for most a weekend ender.

He and his buds put the car on a trailer and went anyway....fixed her up and hit the salt.

They got some runs in and "poof" went the motor.

With a grin the car was loaded and taken home.

By the next year the car was ready again and this time she held together.

That is what amazes me about these guys the run on the salt and/or play with hot rods, it is the spirit and fun that keeps them going.

If that does not inspire you then you need to crawl into a hole six feet down.

Hot rodders don't let blown engines stop them, they overcome this sort of thing.

A lesson many people in America need to relearn.

Go get them Bob!

Salt Tails Part One: Being famous for the wrong reasons

I have not made the great trek to the salt of Bonneville myself yet, but to those who know what I am talking about they will understand my feelings about it.  

Every hot rodder plans to go at some point, I am no exception.  

The funny thing is even without going yet the salt has touched my life.  I have a few "Salt Tails" that I will be putting up on my blog from time to time.  

First up is my buddy that got his 15 minutes of fame (so far) upside down. 

My good buddy has an uncle that is in the 200 MPH club.  He and his uncle are eat up with all things SCTA and now he has salt in his blood.  

He started going out with his uncle to the Bonneville Salt Flats and it was decided that a family tradition should continue and the goal was to get him also in the 200 MPH club.

My buddy drove the very same Camaro his uncle drove to get his record.  The first year they went back out in it they made a good stab at getting him ready for the big run.  

The next year Hot Rod Magazine was running a Camaro in the same class and he and his uncle were doing a good job of making the Hot Rod car play catch up.

He could have possible ended up in the 200 MPH club but lady luck decided to get fickle.  

An ill wind lifted the car and that was that.

The event was filmed and tends to be shown over and over again on the net and in videos about Bonneville.

Now, being his buddy I give him a hard time for the wipe out.  In all seriousness I am glad he walked away and it has not scared him in the slightest bit.  He will continue racing.  

The problem is thanks to that video he gets labeled a fool or a driver going beyond his skill level, mostly by bench racers that never have been on and will never race on the salt.  The salt is a mysterious thing and from all accounts you have to do it to understand it.

Strangers will sometimes mention when they see him that he is the guy they saw on YouTube or some other nonsense.  Some people have actually said some pretty lame things about him to me knowing we are close friends and it amazes me considering they know little about that they speak of.

This is all negative foo foo.  But from his incident I have seen an amazing thing.

The amazing and awesome thing is the community of people who run at Bonneville.  

Not one of them have ever said an ill word about the event other than "when are you going back?"

The Hot Rod guys that day he was running against being class acts asked him how he was.  

From what he told me everybody checked on him and treated him like a good friend.

In the time since the accident I have seen famous people who run at Bonneville and 200 MPH club red hat wearers come up to him and start talking salt with him out of the blue at car shows.

The salt community has grown over the years and yet it is still a community of people who all seem to remember each other and act like they have all known each other for years.  

They are a rare breed and something special.  

My buddy should be going for another try with his uncle this year.  A new Camaro is almost ready to roll.

Below are some pics of that day that has made him sorta famous for the wrong reasons to the wrong people and bound him even more to a brotherhood of sorts.

If you can ever make it to the salt, go!  

Yes, I know...strange words from somebody that has not, but I have seen the community and the sport at it's best and even if I never make it one must appreciate it! 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Diecast car wish list...or as I like to put it, playing with toy cars!

While posting on the great site Diecast-pub.com I was going over the fact that I have a "wish list" of cars I wish some company would do.  My favorite two diecast car companies are GMP and the Danbury Mint, but I pretty much buy diecasts due to a combo of what the car is and the
quality of it.

Anyway, here are some cars somebody really needs to do an awesome job with.

Wish One:  The Swindler II Stone, Woods, and Cook 41 Willys.  This car and Big John's are the cars most people think of when somebody says gasser.  These cars were show, shine, and drag cars that won trophies at the strip and at the car shows.  This car and Big John's truly deserve a high class and high end treatment.  I do not like the later dark blue car that started out as a clone of this one when they were the A and B cars.  I never cared for how the front fenders were cut up on it.  This light blue car is the original and one of the best looking cars to ever grace a strip.  It was recently restored and is missing the original tube grill because whoever owns it today wanted a stupid amount of money for it.  If I owned it I would have given to the current owner/caretaker...they need to be reunited!

Wish Two:  Big John Mazmanian's 41 Willys.  Perhaps the more striking of the two famous gassers, and lord knows because of this car many of the Willys you see today are candy apple red.  The real one vanished without a trace, but a killer clone is out there now.  A really nice diecast of his vette was made, but that car by no means was ever as popular as the Willys and I don't think that diecast sold that well.  Why the lesser known vette was picked for a high detail treatment is a mystery to me.  The same company did the "so so" Willys mentioned below used the aftermarket headlights off the Swindler, a big blah mistake IMHO and lazy.  They were cool on the Swindler, but did not belong on Big John's car.

Both cars above were given "so so" treatments by Precision but really good (but smaller treatments) by Motor City USA.  Any of the gassers Motor City did are very rare and super expensive and the Precision cars also bring good money and sold out pretty quickly showing once again the potential of these cars.  Precision did a pretty good job overall considering they used the sorta blah Yat Ming as a basis.

These cars done at a higher level to me are a winner all the way. 

Wish Three:  The Tom McMullin 32 roadster is an over the top car in many ways but screams hot rod.  A couple of generations of car lovers know this car well because it was featured in several magazines and it graced the title/letterhead/cover of Street Rodder Magazine for years. This is another car screaming for a good treatment!

Wish Four:  The recently restored Sam Barris merc is the one other merc that deserves the treatment the Hirohata has gotten.  The Hirohata has been done by several companies, but for some reason this car has been ignored and yet it ranks super high on just about every single persons list of greatest mercs ever.

Wish Five:  Several companies keep doing black 32's with many of the key elements of the Spencer roadster and yet not a single company has gotten it totally right.  The exhaust treatment alone is incredible on this car (It comes out through the frame on the side).  So Cal Speed Shop restored it several years ago and I wish it could be done right.  Probably this is one of my worst suggestions because so many diecast cars already are similar.

Other Wishes:  I don't have pics handy but the Project X 1957 Chevy as it appeared in the movie Hollywood Knights that for years was the rolling test lab for Popular Hot Rodding is a car many people have asked for including myself. 

John Athan's A-bone roadster is often called the Elvis Roadster because Elvis drove it in his movie "Loving You."  That car would hook hot rodders and Elvis fans.  You can see it here at Street Rodders web site.

The Iskederian T and Ivo T's are also as worthy subjects as Norm's Kookie car...and one could argue the early version of Ed's car, the Lightning Bug, could also be done.

Once again I have no handy pics but two cars have also stood out in the mind of most hot rodders for years because the famous artist Robert Williams put them into posters that just about everybody has owned at one time.  They are sinister black Westergard kustom Ford and the infamous Rudy's Green Flame merc from the great poster "Hell With A Torch."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Dad's Car Club...

My dad went to Thomas Jefferson High School in the late 50's in Dallas, Texas (maybe 1960 was his last year, I will have to ask him again).  

Today because of political correctness and the fact the the demographics of the area have changed the school team is called the Patriots.  

When my dad went to TJ the school was the Rebels.  

He and his buddies that were car guys ran a plaque for their car club/school. 

I have the original and a buddy of my dad's made some copies of it a few years back.  

The problem is somehow the plaque has now been duplicated beyond what I was told would happen if I loaned it to this person.  I think the foundry that did it is the problem, but I will never know for sure.  

Anyway, recently a post was made on the HAMB showing a cool data base of plaques and lo and behold one of the phony copies is on it.  

The color is wrong on it (it's orange instead of the traditional black), so I am scanning my dad's plaque so they will hopefully put the real one on.  

That being said I thought I would throw it up on here for others to enjoy.