YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Contents - • WORDS & PICS: BOB MCCLURG • VIN­TAGE PICS: DAN WADLEY & COURTESY CODY PARR • CAR: CODY PARR

Cody Parr re-cre­ates the al­tered he raced in the 1960s.

> In the mid 1960s, Cody Parr’s blown gas road­ster was the NHRA Di­vi­sion 4 (“Land of the Good Guys”) Su­per Elim­i­na­tor Champ as well as a record holder in NHRA and AHRA com­pe­ti­tion. Years later, a trip to the first Cal­i­for­nia Hot Rod Re­u­nion con­vinced him to build a spot-on trib­ute of his famed road­ster, seen here at the nos­tal­gia race held at Great Bend, Kansas, the site of the original NHRA na­tional drag rac­ing cham­pi­onships.

While most se­niors are con­tent to sit back and en­joy the fruits of their labors, Na­tional Street Rod As­so­ci­a­tion Hall of Fame in­ductee and SEMA Life­time Achieve­ment Award re­cip­i­ent Cody Parr of Ok­la­homa City is do­ing any­thing but rest­ing on his lau­rels.

Parr Au­to­mo­tive fig­ured promi­nently in the South­west­ern au­to­mo­tive scene for some 67 years. In 1947, Cody’s fa­ther, Don, founded what was then a gen­eral au­to­mo­tive re­pair and tune-up busi­ness op­er­at­ing out of a gas sta­tion. Two years later, the elder Parr would build a two-bay con­crete-block build­ing at 4933 10th Street in Ok­la­homa City, where the Parr Au­to­mo­tive leg­end grew and flour­ished un­til its clos­ing in 2016.

In the early 1950s, dirt track rac­ing was the hottest thing go­ing in the South­west. The younger Parr tried his hand at it, but eat­ing dirt was not his idea of a good time. Cody pre­ferred to leave that to his cus­tomers and build the ac­tual race cars him­self. Then drag rac­ing came along.

“Drag rac­ing was some­thing I could more eas­ily re­late to,” he re­calls. “By that time [1955-1956], I had built a Cadil­lac-pow­ered T-bucket that I ini­tially ran on the street, but the thing was just so darned fast that I turned it into a drag car. Ini­tially it was car­bu­reted, but later I added a chain-driven GMC 6-71 blower mounted to a cus­tom-fab­ri­cated in­take man­i­fold. That car was fea­tured on the cover of Na­tional Drag­ster smok­ing the tires at Amar­illo Drag­way and was also fea­tured in HOT ROD magazine’s cov­er­age of

the 1957 and 1958 NHRA Na­tion­als held in Ok­la­homa City.”

In the mean­time, Parr Au­to­mo­tive had be­come more spe­cial­ized, phas­ing out of the gen­eral auto re­pair busi­ness in fa­vor of build­ing race car chas­sis and en­gines.

“We also got into build­ing cus­tom cars and started tak­ing on a few hot rod parts lines,” Cody says. “We started with Dean Moon”—parr Au­to­mo­tive and Dean Moon col­lab­o­rated on a Hil­born fuel pump ex­ten­sion for blown en­gines—“then Vic Edel­brock Jr. dropped by and we got signed up with them. We also got into man­u­fac­tur­ing spoke wheels for drag­sters, tubu­lar front axles, and stuff like that. Our busi­ness flour­ished to the ex­tent that we out­grew the original con­crete-block build­ing that my fa­ther built, and we erected a new struc­ture five times the size. We also opened a whole­sale per­for­mance parts di­vi­sion with sales­men cov­er­ing Ok­la­homa, Texas, Kansas, and Arkansas.”

Cody’s al­tered driv­ing prow­ess con­tin­ued to im­prove, and a new car came along with it.

“I built a light­weight chas­sis to ac­cept a blown small-block Chevro­let that re­ally ran well and made lots of power,” he says. “In 1965’66 we held both the NHRA and AHRA World Records for blown gas al­tereds. I was also the NHRA Di­vi­sion Four Su­per Elim­i­na­tor champ and held the Ju­nior Gas (Al­tered) record on the Drag News Stan­dard 1320 list. We even ran the NHRA Win­ter­na­tion­als at Pomona a cou­ple of times and at­tended the AHRA meet at Bee­line, Ari­zona. Back in 1968, Pop­u­lar Hot Rod­ding ran a fea­ture on the car, which served as a rolling bill­board for the com­pany, which by that time was build­ing drag­ster chas­sis and com­plete race cars.”

By the early 1970s, the street rod move­ment was start­ing to gain

mo­men­tum, and peo­ple were com­ing into the shop ask­ing for parts. Rec­og­niz­ing a gen­uine need, Cody parked the al­tered and fo­cused his at­ten­tion on this rapidly grow­ing mar­ket seg­ment.

“We be­gan ad­ver­tis­ing in Street Rod­der magazine, printed our first cat­a­log, which was ul­ti­mately ex­panded to 300 pages, and put to­gether a tow rig that we took to all the shows. We also opened a CNC ma­chine di­vi­sion to man­u­fac­ture a line of bil­let-alu­minum prod­ucts and set up our Cool­ing Com­po­nents di­vi­sion to ser­vice the street rod in­dus­try.”

By the end of the 1990s, Cody’s al­tered driv­ing days had be­come a dis­tant mem­ory. That is un­til he and his late wife, Liz, at­tended the in­au­gu­ral Cal­i­for­nia Hot Rod Re­u­nion at Famoso Race­way in 1998, a place where he and his lit­tle blown Chevy had com­peted back dur­ing the hal­cyon days of the Bak­ers­field Fuel & Gas Cham­pi­onships.

“I came home all charged up and ready to go rac­ing again,” Cody re­mem­bers. “I be­gan build­ing a clone of my blown Chevy al­tered, al­beit with a few Nhra-man­dated up­dates and re­fine­ments.” The trib­ute de­buted just a year later at the 1999 CHRR.

One of the big­gest rea­sons for Cody’s road­ster revival was to par­tic­i­pate in the Cack­le­fest, which he thor­oughly en­joys and has done on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions. Although it may no longer be the hey­day of al­tered rac­ing, Cody re­lives those glory days ev­ery time he climbs be­hind the wheel, prov­ing that for some, you only live twice!

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