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Fred's first car
and hot rod.

Photo is from around 1959 in Bakersfield, CA. 1929 Ford Roadster pickup.

This was my first car, it was completely stock when my grandfather gave it to me, I was 14. Over the next 4 years I built and rebuilt this car 3 times, first with a hopped up 4 banger, later with a Chevy 265 and then…Unfortunately I crashed the car at the beginning my senior year in High School - only the body and the pick up bed (and me) survived. No problem, a quick channel job, shorten the bed, apply some paint and we were back on the road again. With a hopped up Chevy 283, Duntov cam and dual four barrels this cut down 29 ran 102 at Famosa in street trim - this thing was an absolute death trap, but we did have a lot of fun with it. I sold it less the engine, which I put into my next project, a big safe car, a 55 Chevy, of course. [TOP]



My First Ride
Somewhere in Nebraska.

The car is a thirty-something Willys, and that's Ruth in the center, the baby in white, along with her mother and two brothers. Wouldn't you love to have that car in good condition today?
[TOP]


"Years Gone By"
by Don as told to Jan

One of the reasons the movie classic " American Grafitti" will still be popular years from now is because the era of the 50's and 60's was so magic that even those born a decade earlier or later find it appealing. Most of us in the Roamin Angels were lucky enough to have lived it, loved it and can still recall it as if it were yesterday. This is one of those "flashbacks"!

Don grew up in the San Fernando Valley during the 50's. Naturally, he belonged to a car club. It was called the "Chi-Lons" (spelled in Asian symbols) and roughly translated to "Wolf". Supposedly there was another rough translation in Spanish that was VERY rough and couldn't be dragged out of Don with a Hemi. There were about 30 or so in the Chi-Lons, mostly from San Fernando High. The weekends were routinely spent cruising to one of the many "Bob's Big Boy" drive-ins so popular back then. All the cars from all the clubs stuffed with kids from the valley would spend Friday and Saturday nights partying at Bob's Big Boy (and a drive-in or two). To this day there are still two of these restaurants left...one in Tuluca Lake and one in Burbank.

The Chi-Lons found a ‘32 Ford 3-window coupe and decided to rebuild it for drag strip racing. (The photo shows a Scotts Blower on top the engine.) They took turns racing and that little coupe took a whole bunch of trophies at the San Fernando drag strip (which is long gone) and the Bakersfield drag strip. Eventually they decided to sell raffle tickets on the coupe and gave it away. Maybe you can find Don in the picture because he won't tell me which one he is.

Don has some great history on the San Fernando Raceway. It was in operation from 1955 to 1970. Gates opened at 9 a.m. Unmuffled cars couldn't run until 12:30 p.m. and the featured 8-car Top Fuel and Top Gas shows, along with all time trials and eliminations in open-header classes, had to be completed between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. because it was close to residential neighborhoods and proved to be the eventual downfall of the dragstrip in 1970. One popular attraction was the "Bustle Bomb".

Here is its history: George Smith pulled the cadillac engine out of his record-setting pickup and mounted it in the rear. Harvey Goldberg put his Oldsmobile engine in front. The Caddy ran gas and the Olds ran on Alky and Nitro. Having clocked 140 MPH on it's maiden run in 1953 at the Santa Ana Raceway but on that run the rear engine would not shut down at the end. Driver (Lloyd Scott) had to steer with one hand and reach around back with the other and pull the plug wires out of the ignition, one by one, until he got the engine shut down. By then, he had traveled a half mile from the dragstrip, across a bean field and wound up by a hangar at the Orange County Airport (now known at John Wayne International Airport). In 1955, at the first NHRA national meet, the "Bomb" set the top time at 151 MPH over a field of dragsters from all over the country. They lost their elimination race to the eventual 1955 Champion, Calvin Rice.

Don has some special memories from a half century ago, and like most of us, wouldn't trade a day of it. I am left to wonder if those guys ever figured out how to shut off the rear engine.


Daddy's Partner
A Father’s Day Story by Cindy

I was born into a family of car lovers so it's in the blood. I am the oldest of three and the only girl. My father was a car salesman for Chase Chevrolet in Stockton Ca. In the early years when my dad wasn't working my parents participated in sports car ralleys with their MGs. By the time I was 5 years old I went everywhere with my dad. My mom had my two baby brothers to take care of, so she didn't get to go much.

One day we were out in my dad’s 1956 green chevy truck and my dad backed into a mail box and put a dent in the truck. This was a mortal sin and the earth shook. My dad didn't have just an ordinary truck it was a show piece! Of course dad said ‘don't tell mommy’. Well, I bet you can quess the first words out of my mouth when we got home. "Mom dad wrecked the truck!"

Every friday night during racing season, my dad and I were at the 99 speedway watching my favorite car Jack Gordon in the purple #7. Through the years my love of cars grew because of my dad. My dad was very proud of how nice and clean his vehicles were...you didn't touch windows; didn't touch the dash; didn't wrinkle the seat belts; never lean up against a car-not just our cars, anybody’s car. It goes without saying that you never ate in the car! Other people just could not understand why my dad was so particular , but they didn't place as much value or most importantly didn't have this love of cars.

In 1973, I got my drivers permit and was coming home from a company picnic with my dad in the 1969 chevy truck. I was driving and dad said punch it! So I did. Dad said ‘I mean punch it!’ He reached his foot over to the gas peddle and buried it. I was going down I80 (no traffic) doing over 100mph! My dad turned to me and said "you’ve done it now so don't ever let me catch you doing it again." He knew me too well.

To my surprise, the next month I got my first car, a red 1965 Nova SS 283, all original with 33000 miles,with the original monroney in the glove box. The original owner was a little old lady that lived on Pasadena St. No joke!

I grew up as my dad's lil partner. December 7, 1995, unfortunately, I lost my dad to a heart attack. One year ago my mom finally decided to sell my dad's 69 truck tome and my husband. Even though we own the pickup, it will always be my Dad's truck. [TOP]


Jack’s first hot rod.
Photo is from around 1957 in Fullerton, CA. ‘29 Ford Roadster with 241 Dodge Red Ram ‘Hemi”

This is not my first car, but it is my first attempt at a hot rod. In 1955, I built the car with a flathead engine while I was a junior in high school. That engine froze up so about 1957 or ‘58, I put this 241 Dodge Red Ram in it. I don’t know why I went with the Hemi Dodge. I started going to the drag races at Santa Ana with a friend of mine. Hemi’s were just getting popular in race cars. I guess I was impressed with them so that’s why I chose it.

The car was a ‘29 Ford roadster channeled over the frame. It had a ‘39 Ford tranny and rear end. I couldn’t keep gears in the tranny and ended up fixing it so many times that I could change the gears in a Saturday morning. I had great fun in this car. I am also lucky to be alive considering the things i did with it. It was really unsafe. I eventually traded it to a friend of mine for a ‘40 Ford coupe. I wish I still had that roadster. [TOP]

 


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