Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two off-beat makes
at the Automobile Driving Museum
In addition examples of such luxurious brands as Packard Stutz and Pierce Arrow the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) in El Segundo California, the museum has some off-beat makes, such as this first example, a 1914 Saxon 2-passenger convertible roadster one of 4125 built that model year which sold for $395.
The following year, the Saxon Motor Car Company moved up-market as they added a line of six-cylinder powered vehicles. Sales soared to nearly 30,000 units in 1917 but the company ran into financial troubles and returned to four-cylinder powerplants in 1920, but it was not enough as the company ceased business in 1922.
Check out the 85-cubic inch 10-horsepower four-cylinder engine
and the precision steering gear in the foreground.

Another unique make displayed at the ADM is this 1929 Durant 6-cylinder Sport Coupe with a rumble seat. Durant Motors was the comeback of William Durant the founder of General Motors (GM) who had been forced out of GM in 1920 by the two major stockholders.
Durant still had empire building in mind and after founding Durant Motors in 1922 began buying up companies that included the low-cost Star and the high-end Locomobile as part of a plant to offer as many as seven different nameplates under one umbrella.
William Durant’s son Cliff was involved in American Automobile Association (AAA) racing and Cliff's racing entries during the 1922 1923, and 1924 seasons carried the Durant Motors name. Alas, William Durant's second empire was crippled by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and Durant finally closed in 1933.
The example at ADM is powered by a 65-horsepower
6-cylinder engine and fitted with many optional parts

All photographs by the author

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Arizona invader smokes
the USAC/CRA regulars


The author visited the Perris Auto Speedway (PAS) for the June 24 2017 AMSOIL United States Auto Club (USAC)/CRA (California Racing Association sprint car “Moose Racing Night” program. Upon arrival, it was noted that there were 27 entries, divided among three classes; in addition to the 410 cubic inch USAC/CRA class, the PAS ‘Young Guns’ and the PAS ‘Senior Sprints.’  The USAC/CRA regulars were joined by a number of Arizona racers who made the long trip West on I-10.

The ‘Young Guns’ class is open to drivers from 14-25 years of age with no previous sprint car experience in cars powered by cast iron block 360 cubic inch engines and restricted aluminum 410 cubic inch engines to allow drivers to gain confidence racing against others of the same ability. The ‘Senior’ sprint cars are similarly powered and are open to drivers 45 years of age or older.  

The program opened with single-car two-lap time trials and Jake Swanson driver of the Moose Racing #92 emerged on top with a best lap of 16.478 seconds, far off of Nic Faas’ track record of 15.833 seconds.

The ‘Senior Sprints’ 4-car heat race was next, with the number of starters reduced by two cars, as Eddie Tafoya’s car broke during hot laps and Richard McCormick’s #71 was pushed off several times but refused to fire off. The ageless Rick Hendrix was the 'Senior' sprint heat winner as he led all 8 laps.  Next up was the ‘Young Guns’ 6-lap heat which started just three cars, and Hannah Mayhew won by a straightaway over Blade Henderson who lost the engine in his #5 entry on the final lap.    

Each of the USAC/CRA 10-lap heat races started nine cars with the top four cars automatically advanced into the feature starting field. The first heat race was won by pole-sitter Chris Gansen ahead of Max Adams with Gansen’s teammate Mike Spencer finishing third. Quick qualifier Jake Swanson finished fifth and would have to start the semi-main.

Damion Gardner won the second heat race ahead of AJ Bender with the VanderWeerd twins, Richard and Jace third and fourth. The final heat race was captured by Austin Williams who staged a race-long duel with multi-time USAC Southwest champion RJ Johnson with Brody Roa finishing third ahead Arizona’s Charles Davis Jr.

The ‘Young Guns’ feature was scheduled for 15 laps, and at the drop of the green Hannah Mayhew leapt into the lead and built up a half-lap lead over the second place runner 14-year old Joel Rayburn. Around lap ten the engine in Mayhew’s machine began to labor and by lap twelve, her #43 sprint car was continually smoking.

The crowd held their breath to see if Mayhew’s engine would survive when on lap 14 the engine in Rayburn’s car broke as he exited turn four and his car erupted in flames and came to a stop nosed into the inside retaining wall and Rayburn bailed out uninjured as the red flap was displayed. Later in Victory Lane, Mayhew revealed that her car’s engine had also broken, so all the entries in the ‘Young Guns’ class this night went home with broken engines. The “Senior Sprint Cars” followed with a twenty-lap 3-car feature in which all three cars finished.  

Jake Swanson went wire-to-wire in the semi-main chased across the finish line by Tommy Malcolm and USAC Western States midget champion Ronnie Gardner. The night’s ninth fastest  qualifier RJ Johnson started on the pole for the night’s 30-lap feature and immediately took the lead and held on by using the low line with his #51 car’s left front wheel just grazing the inside beam through the turns.

Johnson was in the lead on lap seven when the red flag was displayed for the tangled cars of Brody Roa and Jake Swanson in turn one. Neither car overturned, but the track had to be blocked in order to allow the safety crew to untangle the mess. Both drivers were okay, with Swanson’s 'Moose Racing' #92 car eliminated but Roa returned after repairs.

On the restart, Damion Gardner who had fallen to fifth, charged forward and grabbed third place on lap 11, but he soon slowed in turn three with an apparent steering or brake problem. As Gardner angled his stricken #4 machine towards the work area under the caution flag, Chris Gansen ran over Gardner’s machine and flipped at the head of the front straightaway which brought out the evening’s third red flag.  Neither driver was injured in the accident or the subsequent scuffle, but both cars were through for the evening.

When action resumed, Johnson continued to run his low line as second place Richard VenderWeerd experimented with various lines through the corners but was unable to get closer than two car lengths to the speeding Johnson and held off the challenges of third place Ronnie Gardner with Austin Williams in fourth. The running order at the front did not change over the last seventeen laps and RJ Johnson sponsored by the Phoenix area Martin Auto Museum took the trophy and big paycheck home to Phoenix after he led all 30 laps and never was seriously challenged.   

Perris Auto Speedway will be back in action on July 1 with the “Night of Destruction IV’ that will feature Demolition Cross, Figure 8's, Figure 8 Trailer Racing, Spectator Racing, Formula-X Autocross & CrossKarts, while the USAC/CRA sprint cars will return to action that same night at Santa Maria Raceway for the Doug Fort Memorial.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Pedal Cars at the
Automobile Driving Museum

During the  author's recent visit the Automotive Driving Museum located at 610 Lairport Street in El Segundo California near the LAX airport had a unique display of pedal cars and children's wagons.


Photographs by the authors

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spectacular cars
at the Automobile Driving Museum

The Automotive Driving Museum located in El Segundo California (near the LAX airport) has several spectacular nineteen thirties luxury cars in a glassed-off section known as the Lairport Automotive Showroom ( the museum is located on Lairport Drive)

The beautiful 1930 Weymann bodied Stutz  patented design system that used a jointed wood frame covered in fabric. It was popular because the body system reduced the usual squeaks and rattles of metallic bodies and improved performance because of the body's lighter weight.  This four-door Stutz Monte Carlo Sedan is powered by a 287-cubic inch "Vertical Eight" 8-cylinder engine mounted in a chassis equipped with four-wheel hydraulic brakes. This car one of three built sold for $4,495 when new.  

After World War I pilot Charles Weymann used his knowledge of aircraft manufacturing techniques to develop a patented system for automobiles. He opened a factory in Paris in 1921 and through the decade the market for Weymann fabrics bodies  grew quickly and Weymann licensed his system to many of Europe's most prestigious manufacturers. Weymann opened a factory in Indianapolis Indiana in 1928 that was mainly devoted to building custom bodies for Stutz automobiles.

Early in the new decade of the nineteen thirties, the automobile buying public tastes shifted to high-gloss painted bodies and the Weymann fabric bodies with their matte finish fell out of fashion. Weymann's Paris factory closed in 1930 followed by the Indianapolis factory in 1931 making this 1930 one of the last of its breed.

Also behind glass was this 1937 Pierce Arrow Town Car with custom body built by Brunn & Company of Buffalo New York. In 1929 Studebaker had acquired the luxury automaker Pierce-Arrow which had been building its exclusive cars with the trademark styling cue of headlight built into the front fenders but in the Depression it was difficult to sell expensive custom-bodied car like this one. During the 1937 model year the full year of Pierce Arrow production only 164 cars were built.  Fewer than 20 Pierce Arrows were built during 1938 before production ground to a halt.  

Just outside the showroom was this magnificent 1932 Plymouth with a custom  Town Car with a body built Brewster & Company of Long Island New York. The original owner of this car was Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the car was used  for many years by Eleanor Roosevelt around their estate in Warm Spring Georgia. Roosevelt selected a more mundane Plymouth instead of a more ostentatious make of car to attract less attention during the Depression.  

All photographs by the author

Monday, June 19, 2017

8th annual Collector Car Appreciation Day set for July 14 2017

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and its Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) Councils announced that the next "Collector Car Appreciation Day" will be celebrated for the eighth consecutive year on July 14, 2017. The annual event raises awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. 

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, represents the $39.2 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,633 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles.

SEMA and its councils will once again seek a Congressional resolution to recognize the day's significance. The industry endeavors to preserve our nation's automotive heritage while providing well-paying, high-skilled jobs nationwide. Intended to celebrate the classics of the past and the future, Collector Car Appreciation Day is a singular tribute to the collector car industry and the millions of hobbyists it supports.

SEMA will maintain and publicize a list of scheduled events to commemorate America's time-tested love affair with the automobile. Individuals, car clubs and business owners interested in publicizing events should contact Colby Martin, Director of the SEMA Action Network (SAN), at 909/978-6721 or

Monday, June 12, 2017

Prickett and Elliott
score wins during
back-to-back weekend

David Prickett and Cory Elliott claimed victories as the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) mighty midgets completed a back-to-back weekend of midget racing on June 9th and 10th.  
In their only 2017 season appearance at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville California on Friday night June 9,  thirteen BCRA midgets took to the ¼-mile banked dirt oval in groups for time trials, and Michael Faccinto in Mike Sala’s #19W Spike obliterated the old midget track record set by Ron Marshall in 1996 with a best lap of 13.332 seconds.
Alex Schutte in his family’s Esslinger-powered Spike chassis was just whisker behind at 13.334 seconds. Shannon McQueen had the misfortune to have a rocker arm break in her Esslinger engine after just ¾ of lap, but she still managed to post the ninth fastest qualifying time.   

Following a scratch by scheduled pole-sitter Terre Rothweiler, Prickett moved to the inside pole starting position and led the first four laps of the first eight-lap heat race before Cory Elliott up from his third starting position powered past into second place. Elliott led the rest of the way to take the heat race win trailed by Prickett, Shannon McQueen (after some fast pit-side engine repair work by Duane McQueen), and Atascadero’s Randi Pankratz.

In the second heat race, pole-sitter Terry Nichols powered into the lead at the drop of the green flag and led wire-to-wire ahead of a furious battle for position behind him. For the first two laps, fellow front row starter Maria Cofer held down second place, but entering turn three on lap 3 Schutte up from his sixth starting spot slide by to claim second place.
Cofer hung on to third place despite repeated challenges from Mason Daniel, while Danny Carroll battled an ill-handling Spike chassis to finish fifth. Chad Daniel’s car unfortunately suffered a broken rear end in the heat race and thus was unable to take the green flag for the evening’s feature race.

Terry Nichols started from the pole position for the 25-lap BCRA main event with Prickett alongside and the pair streaked away with Nichols leading Prickett for the first four circuits until Alex Schutte claimed second place on lap six and began to close the gap on the leader. By the end of lap ten, Schutte was pressuring Nichols for the lead, and as the pair exited turn number two side-by-side on the eleventh lap, they tangled.  The incident left Nichols stopped on the back straightaway but Schutte was able to continue, although his #28 machine had sustained some damage.

On the restart, Schutte’s car hesitated which created a traffic jam entering turn one, and David Prickett emerged from the pack with the lead trailed by Elliott and Faccinto as Schutte fell to fourth place. Over the next few laps Prickett, Elliott and Faccinto distanced themselves from the rest of the field comprised of Pankratz, McQueen, Carroll, Cofer, Nichols, Rothweiler, Floyd Alvis, Tom Doherty and JR Williams.

On lap 20, Schutte joined Williams in the Ocean Speedway grass infield as he could not continue due to brake damage the #28 car had suffered in the earlier collision with Nichols. Over the final laps, Elliott tried gamely to pass Prickett, but the wily veteran and 2009 BCRA champion repelled Elliott’s charges to claim the victory. Michael Faccinto finished third, trailed by Randi Pankratz in fourth with Shannon McQueen in fifth place and Danny Carroll finished sixth.  The BCRA teams loaded up and left Watsonville bound for the North Bay and Petaluma Speedway, the site of Saturday night’s scheduled race.  
At a chilly and windy Petaluma Speedway Saturday night, fourteen BCRA midgets took times during the group qualifying sessions with Elliott the speedy youngster from Bakersfield establishing the quick time for one lap of 14.877 seconds. Hanford’s Michael Faccinto was second quickest with his best lap of 14.951 seconds. The two fastest qualifiers were scheduled to start from sixth position in their respective 8-lap heat races. Alex Schutte, who experienced problems with the Esslinger engine in his #28 machine, would start from the tail of the second heat race.

In the night’s first heat race, outside front row starter and the previous night’s feature winner, David Prickett grabbed the lead and withstood several strong challenges from Elliott to claim the win. Elliott actually took the lead for a moment after a low-side move under Prickett in turn three on the seventh lap, but his momentum carried Cory a bit too high and allowed Prickett to cross back underneath Elliott and recapture the lead. The lead pair was trailed to the checkered flag by Randi Pankratz, Terry Nichols, Sparky Howard, defending BCRA champion Bobby Wilson and JR Williams.

At the start of the second heat race, young Maria Cofer made a nifty move to slip past front row starters Floyd Alvis and Tom Doherty to lead the first lap. Danny Carroll ran second until the first caution flag flew for his spin and during the pause in the action, Rick Holbrook took his midget back to the pit area and out of the remainder of the race. Michael Faccinto was moved up to second place for the restart.
Cofer, the daughter of 1994 western midget champion John Cofer and Faccinto staged a memorable battle for the lead over the final three laps of the heat race, with both cars running with their right rear tires right against the cushion. Cofer stood her ground and claimed the win over Faccinto as Carroll recovered to finish third, trailed by multi-time champion Floyd Alvis in fourth and Tom Doherty fifth as Holbrook and Schutte failed to finish.

Alex Schutte’s crew led by his father Carl, toiled over the #28 machine before feature time and had their fingers crossed that they had solved the earlier problems when the field of 14 midgets pushed away to start the evening’s 30-lap feature on the Petaluma 3/8th-mile oval. Pole position starter Maria Cofer led away from the green flag at the start and held the lead through the first two caution flag periods for Danny Carroll, the second of which ended the young Australian’s night prematurely. Meanwhile, Elliott who started eighth after the re-draw began to steadily move his way forward through the field.

Cofer kept the Tule Vista Ranches Esslinger-powered Spike chassis on the high side of the race track and in the lead until lap six when both Faccinto and Terry Nichols slid past expertly using the track’s lower groove. On lap 7, Elliott slipped past Cofer to claim third place and as the race continued Schutte had climbed to fifth place from his shotgun starting spot when the caution flag flew on lap eleven.  Terry Nichols had the incredible misfortune to have the heim joint break at the accelerator pedal which brought his powerless #1P machine to a stop on the high side of turn two.  

Nichols’ retirement moved Elliott up to second place with Schutte in third place and Cofer fourth as racing resumed before the action slowed again when Doherty’s car came to a stop in turn three one lap later. Under the caution flag, the machines of Randi Pankratz and Rick Holbrook were pushed into the infield with mechanical failures.

When the green flag flew again, Elliott and Schutte staged an exciting battle for second place behind Faccinto, which was finally settled in Elliott’s favorite as he began to reel in leader Faccinto, who began to slow with a flattening tire on lap 25. Elliott rocketed into the lead past Faccinto’s faltering machine, and “the Young Gun” in his #11E midget claimed the win over Schutte, Cofer, and Prickett as Faccinto’s #19W fell back through the field over the last five laps and limped across the line in fifth place.
Sparky Howard claimed sixth place trailed by Alvis, Williams, and Tom Doherty with Bobby Wilson the tenth place finisher. Among the non-finishers, Pankratz was placed in eleventh, followed by Nichols and Carroll.

The BCRA midget series’ next appearance will open the weekend celebration of our nation’s birthday on Saturday night July 1 at “Knoxville on the Hill” Placerville Speedway as part of a program along with the track’s 360-cubic inch sprint cars, limited late models and pure stocks.  The pit gate will open at 2 PM and the grandstands are set to open one hour later in advance of racing kicking off at 6 PM.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Order a 2018 calendar today and save 5 bucks!

My friend Pete Lyons is one of the greatest motorsports photographers and the best when it came to covering the nineteen sixties Can-Am series, the Group 7 "no rules racing series."

The cover of the Pete Lyons 2018 calendar

Pete annually produces a  jumbo format  wall-sized calendar that features the cars and stars of the Can-Am series, and his 2018 calendar will look back 50 years to the great 1968 Can-Am series 

 Pete is offering an "early-bird" discount for his 2018 calendar. If you order yours by August 31, 2017, and get your special price — just $24.99 (plus shipping & handling and California sales tax if applicable)

One of the "bonus" shots in the 2018 calendar

That's a savings of 5 bucks!

I've made it easy, just click this link to go directly to Pete's site

You know you're going to need a 2018 calendar- so order now and save!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A pair of custom two-door station wagons 

The author found a pair of mid-century two-door station wagon hot rods at the Moraga (California) Community Faire car show held on May 13 at the Rheem Valley Shopping Center.

First is a 1956 example of the legendary Chevrolet Nomad station wagon one of 8,103 built during the model year. The car still retains all its original bright trim, including the huge hood ornament but the original engine has been replaced by a modern powerplant and car fitted with chrome 5-spoke wheels.

Elsewhere at the show, this custom 1958 Ford Ranch Wagon with a modern Ford engine was on display with a slick black paint job offset by chrome 5-spoke wheels.  

All photographs by the author