Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sprint cars on display at 
the 2017 Sacramento Autorama

There were two displays of sprint cars set up at the Sacramento Autorama- both the winged and the non-winged variety.

Justyn Cox and the Cox Family Racing Team showed both their winged sprint cars - the 410 cubic inch car is on the left and the 360 cubic inch car is on the right 

The Joe Hunt Magneto Series for wingless sprint cars had multi-time champion Terry Schank Junior's car on display.

The Joe Hunt series is being promoted in 2017 by Rick Faeth and they had the 2017 schedule posted- the first race is February 25! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Top Fuel Hydroplane drag boat

The Hedman Hedders booth at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show featured the Hedman-sponsored “Shockwave” Top Fuel Hydroplane drag boat driven by Tyler Speer who celebrated his 26th birthday just prior to Christmas.

Speer took an interesting career path; after a childhood racing motocross and go-karts, he graduated to late models then began racing an ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) stock car on the dirt one mile tracks as a 20 year old in 2010.  To date Tyler has run 11 dirt races with his best finishes in 2016 of seventh at both DuQuoin and Springfield which matched his career best from the 2012 season.

In previous years, the stock cars driven by the young man from Woodstock Georgia carried primary sponsorship from his father Jim’s ProBoat Inc. boat service shop, but this past year Speer drove a Chevrolet owned by Andy Hillenburg that carried sponsorship from the Lucas Oil Drag boat racing series.

In 2015, Tyler stepped into drag boat racing at the controls of the Amphibious Motorsports “Climax” Pro Modified boat. A “Pro Mod” powered by 500-cubic inch ‘hemi’ style engine on methanol in a hydro style hull with the single 11-inch diameter propeller driven through a v-drive. “Pro Mod” places a premium on driver ability as the goal is to race down the “liquid quarter mile” to the finish ahead of your competitor in 7 seconds without going under that barrier.

As a rookie in the 2015 Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing (LODBRS) Pro Modified series, Speer finished seventh in the national points standings. This past season, Speer won the LODBRS  Pro Modified World Championship in a tight points race which was only determined at the series’ ninth and final race at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix Arizona.   

Also during 2016, Tyler Speer made his first appearance in the #131 Hedman-sponsored “Shockwave” Top Fuel Hydro owned by Robert Montgomery. Shockwave is a “outrigger” style Ellison hull powered by a 500-cubic inch supercharged engine that burns a mix nitromethane and methanol to produce an estimated 10,000 horsepower and uses Hedman Hedders. 

Lucas Top Fuel boats use a W-drive transmission mounted ahead of the backwards mounted engine which splits the engine’s power into two contra-rotating propellers which spin at up to 20,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) to drive the “Shockwave” boat from a standing start to over 255 miles per hour at the end of the 1000 foot course in 3 ½ seconds.  

A view inside the driver capsule of the Hedman Hedders “Shockwave” which is designed to break away and float in case of a crash, with the driver breathing from the air tank mounted on the floor of the capsule.   

In 2017, Tyler Speer plans to defend his LODBRS ‘Pro Mod’ title and hopes to run a full season in the Hedman “Shockwave” Top Fuel hydro as well as compete in the two ARCA dirt races. Hedman Hedders has been proudly making exhaust tube headers in the United States since the company was founded by Bob Hedman in 1954. Check them out at
All photos by the author

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A pair of hot Ford street cars at the 2016 SEMA show


Today we share two of the domestic manufacturer modified street cars spotted at the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas Nevada.

Ford Motor Company presented a 2017 Ford Fusion Sport Sedan known as ‘Ballistic’ customized by the folks at Webasto Thermo and Comfort North America the world leader in air conditioning, sunroofs, and convertible roofs. The Focus’ Ecoboost™ engine’s 235 horsepower output was increased through the addition of a JMS Chip Performance BoostMax boost controller and PedalMax throttle installed and recalibrated by SCT Performance. The car rides lower and corners betters after the installation of an H&R suspension kit with the braking ability improved with larger Rotora brakes on all four wheels

On the exterior, Webasto added their own natural finish Kevlar® front lip spoiler and Kevlar® side skirts along with a heat-extracting hood with the body finished in ‘Ballistic White’ metallic custom paint sprayed by MRT Performance. The Fusion rides on 20-inch Modulare Alloy wheels fitted with Toyo Proxes T1 tires. Webasto also installed an engine heater and a portable 12-volt refrigerator-freezer unit in the trunk.  The whole ‘Ballistic’ package is topped by the installation of a Webasto H735-III comfort in-built sunroof with protective Venus® glass to reflect 99% of UV radiation, 80% of light and 97% of heat to protect the Katzkin custom leather and suede upholstery  interior. Check out Webasto’s website at

Built by Hurst In collaboration with Kenne-Bell superchargers unveiled their 2017 Hurst/Kenne Bell ‘R-Code’ Mustang advertised to produce 750 horsepower through the installation of Kenne Bell liquid-cooled twin-screw supercharger atop the Mustang’s 5-liter (305 cubic inch) Coyote modular V-8 engine.
Photo courtesy of Hurst

In addition to the trademark gold and white Hurst paint laid down by Rounsville Auto Body in San Bernardino California with graphics designed by “Lil Louie,” the car features a Hurst rear wing, side skirts, chin spoiler and 20-inch Hurst chrome “Stunner” wheels. Hurst will only build 50 of these special edition Mustangs which come equipped with 3-inch Flowmaster exhaust and a Hurst “Comp Plus” shifter. Order yours at

Photos by the author except as noted

Sunday, February 12, 2017

F-9A Diesel-electric locomotive

Today we share something completely different  - a General Motors Electro-Motive Diesel, Inc. (EMD) model F-9A diesel electric locomotive which painted in the dark green and yellow colors of the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway (SP&S RR) displayed on the grounds of the Columbia Gorge Interpretative Center Museum near Stevenson Washington.

Click to enlarge this cutaway F9 drawing from a GM brochure

The locomotive has a 4 foot 8 1⁄2 inch gauge, 40 inch wheels and is 50 feet 8 inches long, 10 feet 8 inches wide and stands 15 feet tall.  Depending on gearing a F-9A locomotive could attain a top speed of105 miles per hour with a 21-tooth pinion and 56 tooth axle gear. With a total weight of 258,000 pounds fully fueled with 1200 gallons of fuel oil  200 gallons of cooling and 230 gallons of oil  water the locomotive's center of gravity was 63 inches above the rails.

A schematic from the F9 Operating Manual

EMD began production in early 1954 as one of the final first generation models of the series 16-cylinder model 567C 45 degree V-type two-stoke diesel that displaced 567 cubic inches  per cylinder, with a 8-1/2 inch bore and 10 inch stroke for a total of 9,072 cubic inches that could produce a hefty 1,750 horsepower at 800 revolutions per minute (RPM). The engine sat backwards in the locomotive with generator just behind the cab.  

A direct current (DC) 600 volt generator powered four D37 traction motors one on each powered axle to produce 40,000 pounds of continuous tractive effort and 56,500 pounds of starting effort. In addition an alternator supplied AC power for cooling fans and blowers. Three levers - selector, throttle and reverse - and two brake air valve handles controlled the operation of the locomotive. The F-9A Operating Manual encompassed 534 pages.

Just 100 F9As were built at the EMD La Grange, Illinois plant before production ended in the spring of 1960. This unit was one of 39 purchased by the Northern Pacific railroad between 1953 and 1956; Northern Pacific was the largest single purchaser of the 18 railroads that bought EMD F-9A locomotives.  

This locomotive is painted as one which met passengers from the North Coast Limited which ran 1892 miles from Chicago’s Union Station to Seattle’s King Street Station. The North Coast Limited could typically make the run from Chicago to Seattle in just less than two days or 46 hours, and was renowned for its excellent food and the Vista Dome cars for panoramic viewing as the train ran through Yellowstone National Park. The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) discontinued service on the North Coast Limited line on October 1, 1979

Passengers headed to Portland Oregon disembarked the North Coast Limited and embarked on the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway Route #1 at Pasco Washington which passed through Stevenson Washington on tracks adjacent to the Columbia River which can be overlooked from the Center’s property.  

In March 1970 Northern Pacific, Great Northern, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway merged to form Burlington Northern which purchased the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in 1996 to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. Later renamed BNSF the corporation was purchased by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in 2009.

BNSF donated this F-9A car body (no mechanicals) to the Columbia Gorge Interpretative Center Museum which has completed the exterior and cab restoration. The Museum hopes someday to complete the interior restoration and use the locomotive as the basis of a virtual reality exhibit. Check out Museum’s website at
Photo by the author

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The forgotten marque- the 1928 Whippet


In 1908 Elmira New York Overland automobile dealer John North Willys (pronounced Will-is) bought the struggling Indianapolis, Indiana Overland factory and quickly turned the company’s fortunes around around. The following year Willys purchased the Marion Motor Car Company from Marion Ohio and the bankrupt Pope-Toledo Motor Car Co. in Toledo, Ohio and consolidated the base of operations for his Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo.

In 1913, Willys acquired the license to build Charles Knight's sleeve-valve engine which was used in cars that bore the Willys-Knight nameplate. With his diverse line of automobiles in the period from 1912 to 1918, Willys-Overland became the second-largest producer of automobiles in the United States after Ford Motor Company. In 1925, John Willys bought out the Stearns Company of Cleveland and added the Stearns-Knight luxury car to his array of offerings.

In 1926 John N. Willys discontinued sales of cars with the Overland nameplate, and introduced a new economical type of car which he called the Whippet, after a mid-sized breed of racing dog smaller than a greyhound often called "the poor man's racehorse."  The 1927 Overland-Whippet was introduced to the American public on June 26 1926, and later in Britain, Canada and Australia. The Whippet was powered by a four-cylinder side-valve engine that displaced 134 cubic inches and produced 31 horsepower, which was plenty of power as the largest Whippet, the 12-foot long sedan, weighed little more than a ton.

The new Whippet featured 4-wheel brakes, a rear fuel tank, ‘Chadwick type” replaceable main engine bearings, Tryon spring shackles, water pump cooling and pressurized oil lubrication - all features not included on the Ford Model T. Whippet advertising touted the car’s European styling of a compact (100-inch wheelbase) yet roomy body, to combine good looks with good performance, handling, and economy. Early Whippet magazine advertisements quoted John Willys “Never before such beauty and quality for so little money.”  

The 1928 Whippet Model 96 such as the one on display at the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River Oregon was offered in one of six body styles.  The low-price leader was the “touring car” a phaeton style body with a canvas top but no side windows which sold from the factory for $455.
Next up the Whippet price ladder came the roadster with rumble seat for $525, then the enclosed coupe and coach body styles which each sold for $535. The stylish Whippet Cabriolet Coupe (convertible) sold for $545 and the Model 96 passenger car line was topped by the four-door sedan as shown at WAAAM which sold for $585.   

Whippets were advertised as fast, durable, and economical and the factory proved that to the car-buying public with a number of performance tests. Best known is the effort of famed long-distance driver Erwin George “Cannon Ball” Baker who drove a Whippet touring car from Los Angeles to New York in late 1926. Baker who drove in the 1922 Indianapolis ‘500,’ covered the distance of 3,539.8 miles in 14 ½ days under the close observation of AAA (American Automobile Association) officials.

The test began with Carl Laemmle Junior, assistant manager of the Universal Picture Corporation witnessing the start at midnight on November 26 1926. A motorcycle escort led Baker and his official AAA ride-along observer, pioneering early race car driver Joe Nikrent (veteran of the 1913 Indianapolis 500), out of Los Angeles.  Baker and Nikrent followed the Southern transcontinental highway route as they passed through Arizona, New Mexico through El Paso and Dallas. Texas, then headed north to Memphis and Indianapolis and finally east in snowy weather through Philadelphia to the finish in New York City.

George Lewis, the Universal Pictures western silent film star and John N. Willys welcomed the pair at the end of the grueling economy test at noon on December 10 1926.  The Whippet touring car used 82 ¼ gallons of gasoline for the trip with an average fuel consumption of 43.28 miles to the gallon (MPG) which exceeded the advertised fuel economy of the Whippet by 13.28 MPG. At one point during the trip on December 1st between Sweetwater and Dallas Texas the Whippet’s fuel mileage peaked at the remarkable rate of 53.6 MPG.

110,344 Whippets were sold during the 1927 model year, and for the 1928 model year sales nearly doubled despite the introduction in late 1927 of the all-new Ford Model A. During 1928 Whippet added a 40 horsepower 178-cubic inch six-cylinder powered model, known as the Model 98, which sold alongside the four-cylinder model.  Sales continued to be strong and Willys-Overland ended 1929 in third place in US car sales behind Ford and Chevrolet.

As the Great Depression deepened, Willys-Overland discontinued the Whippet nameplate in the United States at the end of the 1930 model year after just four model years in favor of the Willys Six and Willy Eight.  The company staved off its creditors until World War II during which it built 363,000 “Jeeps” and returned to profitability. For the first few years after the war, Willys-Overland chose to concentrate on Jeeps and Jeep-based vehicles instead of passenger cars.  

In 1953, a subsidiary of the upstart car manufacturer Kaiser Manufacturing Corporation purchased the assets of Willys-Overland and changed its name to Willys Motors Incorporated.  U.S. production of Kaiser and Willys passenger cars ceased during 1955, but he company continued Jeep production and changed its name to Kaiser-Jeep in 1963.  Kaiser-Jeep was sold to American Motors Corporation (AMC) in 1970 as Kaiser Industries finally left the automobile business.  Chrysler Corporation purchased AMC and the Jeep nameplate in 1987; now a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Jeep vehicles continues to be built in Toledo.

Friday, February 3, 2017

1930 Packard 7-33 Sedan 
“Luxurious Transportation”

The author recently visited the fantastic Woodland Auto Display at the Estrella Warbird Museum in Paso Robles California and we will feature more cars from Richard “Dick” Woodland’s collection in future articles. Today we open the series with a study of Mr. Woodland’s gorgeous 1930 Packard 7-33 seven-passenger sedan.

James Ward Packard purchased a Winton automobile in the late 1890's and after he was unsatisfied with his new car thought he could build a better car. The Packard Motor Car Company which first manufactured its cars in Warren Ohio in 1899, before it moved to Detroit, From the beginning Packard was considered one of the elite luxury cars built in the United States reinforced with the advertising slogan “ask the man that owns one.”  

During the period from 1917 to 1919 Packard was very successful in automobile racing with cars fitted with airplane-style engines driven by Ralph DePalma. In 1923, DePalma led an ill-fated attempt to build a fleet of Packards to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway which resulted in disaster as all three cars retired before 225 miles were completed.

After the humiliating results, the jewel-like Packard race cars were returned to the factory and Chief Engineer Colonel Jesse Vincent reportedly ordered the cars and all related documents destroyed. The Packard factory never again participated in racing, although in  the 1937 Indianapolis ‘500,’ Russell Snowberger raced a supercharged Packard-powered entry at Indianapolis under the “Junk Formula” rules.
A period newspaper photo of actress Anita Stewart with her 1930 Packard Sedan

The 31st President of the United States Herbert Hoover owned several Packards as did the era’s top golfer Gene Sarazen. In Hollywood, Clark Gable and Western actor Jake Holt were both owners of 1930 Packards as were actresses Carole Lombard, Dorothy Jordan and Anita Stewart.

The 1930 Packard is considered to be one of the quintessential classic automobiles and prized because this series of Packard automobile was only produced for this single model year. The Seventh Series Packard “Standard Eight” introduced to the public in August 1929 was advertised with the claim that “anyone owning a car costing $1200 to $1500 can have a Packard at no extra cost over his present car ownership.” Packard prices ranged from $2300 - $2775, available in either the 127 ½ inch wheelbase, which was known as the 7-26, and the 134 ½ -inch wheelbase model known as the 7-33.

The 7-26 was available only as a five-passenger sedan while the 7-33 was available in twelve different body styles all built by the Packard factory. The 7-33 was available as a two-passenger Roadster (with a rumble seat), the 4-passanger Phaeton (an open body with no side windows), the Sport Phaeton,  a 7-passenger touring car which was a phaeton body style 2-, 4- and 5- passenger coupes, and the five-passenger club sedan.

The1930 Packard 7-33 model offering also included  2- and 4- passenger convertible coupes,  the seven-passenger sedan as shown in Paso Robles identified by the Packard factory as body number 404, and a seven-passenger limousine sedan which featured a curved glass partition to separate the driver from the passengers in the rear compartment. All the Packard “Standard Eight” models shared the same basic styling cue - a single flowing fender line from the crown of the fender to the running board.

In addition to the 7-26 and the 7-33 series, both sold as the “Standard Eight,” Packard also offered the “Custom Eight” known as the model 740 and the ”Deluxe Eight” known as the model 745, both equipped with a 384-cubic inch straight eight engine which were sold in very limited numbers often with custom bodies.   

With the United States economy in free fall following the October 1929 Wall Street stock crash, 1930 Packard sales declined dramatically from 1929’s total sales of 55,081vehicles ; for the 1930 model year there were 15,731 Model 7-26 sedans produced and 12,531 Model 7-33 body styles sold. In one year Packard’s net earnings fell from $19 million to $9 million and net profits fell 53%.

The wheelbase for the “Standard Eight” chassis had been increased 1 inch for 1930 because of the redesigned water pump which used twin rubber belts that also drove the fan. Underneath the long and graceful hood was a 320 cubic-inch straight eight L-head engine with two valves per cylinder and nine main bearings; the engine thermostat used in previous models was eliminated as thermostatically controlled radiator shutters controlled engine temperature.

The Packard straight eight engine developed 90 horsepower with the addition of the new model 51 updraft Detroit Lubricator carburetor. Powered was transmitted to the rear wheels through the transmission with a single plate clutch which with the addition of an extra low gear in 1930 had four forward speeds. The Packard 7-33 used a seven-volt lighting system with pure silver parabolic headlight reflectors and featured four-wheel assisted 16-inch mechanical drum brakes for 20-inch diameter wheels.

Since 1924 all Packard cars had featured the patented George Bijur chassis lubrication system, which lubricated 43 points of the chassis from a one quart central reservoir with a vacuum operated pump which was triggered by a spring-loaded handle adjacent to the steering column. The Packard 7-33 used a seven-volt lighting system with pure silver parabolic headlight reflectors and featured four-wheel assisted 16-inch mechanical drum brakes for 20-inch diameter wheels.

The 4745-pound curb weight seven-passenger sedan shown in the Woodland Auto Display features the optional fender parking lights (a $20 option) as well as the optional dual side-mount spare wheels. The big sedan is equipped the standard steel disc wheels instead of the optional wire or wooden wheels which fell out of vogue with the buying public in the early nineteen thirties. .

Dick Woodland’s car features the “Adonis” (alternately known as the “sliding boy”) hood ornament designed by New York sculptor Edward McCarten which was only offered by the Packard factory for two model years.  This hood ornament design patent (as opposed to a utility patent) was applied for on November 7 1928 with patent D79561 issued by the United States government on August 8 1929.

Even as the Depression deepened, Packard remained committed to the production of opulent cars and introduced a twelve-cylinder (or “twin six”) model in 1932. By 1935, Packard management gave in to the economic realities and introduced a lower-cost “Junior” series (the six-cylinder 110 and the eight-cylinder 120) which sold for less than $1000 and the brisk “Junior” sales saved the company. In 1936, a Packard “Junior Series” ‘120’ convertible coupe paced the start of the Indianapolis 500-mile race and at the suggestion of its driver Tommy Milton, that car began the tradition of awarding the Pace Car to the race winner.   

During World War Two Packard earned a sterling reputation for building aviation and marine engines, but following the war, the buying public became unable to differentiate the blurred lines between the Packard “Junior” and “Senior” series (sold as the Six, Custom, Deluxe and Super) and Packard sales slowly declined. Packard and Studebaker entered into an ill-conceived merger in 1954 largely funded by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, but afterwards Packard sales continued to slide.

The last “true” Packard a four-door Patrician rolled off the Detroit assembly line on June 25 1956. The final two years of production in South Bend Indiana used Studebakers with fiberglass panels bolted on and are known derisively as “Packardbakers;” the last car rolled off the South Bend assembly line on July 13, 1958.
Except as noted all photos were taken by the author who extends his thanks to Dick Woodland for maintaining and sharing his great collection.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Good Guys 1963 1/2 Giveaway Galaxie

The Good Guys Rod & Custom Association booth at the 2016 SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas featured the Good Guys 2017 Giveaway car, a custom 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie Fastback.

This body style with a sporty roof line and no post was introduced by Ford Motor Company mid-way through the 1963 model year known officially as the “Sports Hardtop.”  By changing the roofline, the improved aerodynamics made it more competitive in high-speed NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Racing) competition.

Reportedly testing revealed that a 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie Sports Hardtop required 100 fewer horsepower to maintain 160 miles per hour around the Daytona Motor Speedway 2 ½-mile oval than did a 1963 Ford Galaxie “notchback.”  As a bonus to Ford, the fastback body style proved to be a winner in the showroom as well as the race track, and was far and away the most popular 1963 Ford Galaxie body style

The Good Guys Giveaway car designed by Eric Brockmeyer and built by Legens Hot Rods of Martin Tennessee is finished in a custom mixed PPG tan paint, matte bronze plating of the bumpers and trim and a brown custom leather interior.

Under the hood the Galaxie features a Ford Racing Performance Coyote 5.0 liter V-8 engine and a Tremec transmission nestled in a Roadster Shop chassis with Roadster Shop suspension parts.  The custom Greening Auto Company wheels are finished to match the matte bronze finish of the rest of the trim on the Galaxie.

The Galaxie will be given away during the 20the annual Good Guys PPG Nationals in Columbus Ohio in July of 2017. Check out the link for a free chance to enter at

Photos by the author