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The Scotty’s Muffler Ser­vice Spe­cial is, once again, owned by a guy named Scott with an ex­haust shop.

FAM­ILY. You were a lucky lit­tle son of a gun if the sperm lottery landed you in an au­to­mo­tive nest. Those gear­head rel­a­tives pro­vided an ad­vanced­place­ment course, a head start in hot rod­ding. If you were fur­ther for­tu­nate, the folks let you drag some hope­less hunk of vin­tage tin home even be­fore you came of driv­ing age. If you were re­ally, re­ally blessed, your peo­ple were rac­ers who hinted that if you kept your grades up and your nose clean, maybe you’d get to make a pass or run a lap some­day. (“Mean­while, get down there and pull the pan!”)

Billy “The Kid” Scott was the luck­i­est kid ever be­cause Charles Scott must’ve been the coolest dad ever. What other fa­ther ran flat­heads and Ar­duns at the dry lakes and drags and had his own muffler shop, to boot? Charles W. Scott was so cool, he started his boy in quar­ter mid­gets at age five. When the time came to move the kid up to full­size race cars, Dad brought home this well-used sling­shot, along with a sec­ond ve­hi­cle with which Charles planned to per­suade Mrs. Scott to ap­prove Billy’s grad­u­a­tion to Top Fuel— at 13 or 14. That sen­si­ble car was an am­bu­lance, fully func­tional, to en­sure prompt med­i­cal at­ten­tion to her son at what­ever out­law strips al­lowed ninth-graders to drive fuel drag­sters.

Ev­i­dently, Mrs. Scott was not the coolest mom ever. Ac­cord­ing to a story that Billy “The Kid” would still be telling as a se­nior cit­i­zen, Mom looked at the dragster, she looked at the am­bu­lance, and she an­nounced that grownup race cars were out of the ques­tion be­fore Billy turned 16. In­stead, the ride went to Billy’s older best buddy, a barely le­gal Mike Snively.

Per­haps the big­gest con­tri­bu­tion made by this an­cient, over­pow­ered, bolt-to­gether chas­sis was its role as train­ing wheels for the young­ster who fa­mously grad­u­ated to Roland Leong’s Hawai­ian Aa/fu­eler and won both of NHRA’S big­gest events, the Win­ter­na­tion­als and U.S. Na­tion­als, in 1966. Snively’s driv­ing tal­ent kept the car com­pet­i­tive well be­yond its time. Drag News

re­ported re­spectable e.t.’s as quick as 8.17 sec­onds in late 1963, with speeds con­sis­tently in the mid-180s, be­fore Charles started trans­plant­ing his ni­tro-burn­ing 327 Chevy into a state-of-the art sling­shot that Billy would drive af­ter turn­ing 17. Ralph Fuller pur­chased the old car and ran it briefly with an in­jected Chevy be­fore putting it out to pas­ture. Hope­lessly out­dated by the mid’60s, a tired, bolt-to­gether chas­sis could not re­al­is­ti­cally be kept com­pet­i­tive, had lit­tle re­sale value, and was pre­sum­ably scrapped by some­one at some point.

“It should’ve been cut up and thrown into the scrap pile,” says the fourth Scott to en­ter our tale, cur­rent care­taker Scott Cochran. “This was a wing-strut, 1950s chas­sis run­ning against state-of-the-art cars in the mid-’60s, a pe­riod of drastic change. The car never crashed, and no­body both­ered try­ing to up­date it. It’s truly a piece of his­tory.”

Loved the Fuel­ers

The Scotty’s Muffler Ser­vice Spe­cial made Snively a lo­cal star in 1962-1963 at San Gabriel and es­pe­cially Colton, which never buck­led to the fuel ban im­posed by other So­cal strips in 1957 and na­tion­wide by NHRA a year later. A lo­cal phone-com­pany em­ployee named Mike Cochran “would’ve been run­ning to the fence to watch this thing run,” says his son. “Dad was at the drags ev­ery week­end. He even vol­un­teered as an of­fi­cial when­ever tracks

were short on help. He was a Chevy guy, and he loved the fuel­ers. They were a huge in­flu­ence on me, too. I’ve al­ways wanted an old dragster from his era. I went on the hunt af­ter Dad passed away. We lost him on 1-14-14.”

This is not to sug­gest that Mike and Scott en­joyed a fairy-tale re­la­tion­ship. Like other strong-minded, re­bel­lious off­spring, the young man didn’t al­ways ac­cept fa­therly guid­ance. Mis­takes were made in his 20s, he ad­mits. Feel­ings got hurt. As Bruce Spring­steen sug­gested in the lyrics to In­de­pen­dence Day, a song about leav­ing his dad’s nest, “I guess that we were just too much of the same kind.”

Scott cites a se­ries of in­ti­mate, un­com­fort­able, in­valu­able man-to-man con­ver­sa­tions that ul­ti­mately guided the son down par­al­lel paths to a new busi­ness and an old race car. “Dad had leukemia for 22 years,” he ex­plains. “We had a few hard talks the

last year, when this thick-headed, su­per-al­pha-type guy let his guard down, fi­nally. His hobby was hot rods. His pas­sion was tele­phones. He worked on phones for 38 years, in­stalling and fix­ing them, climb­ing poles. I be­came an elec­tri­cian. I had a trade. But Dad knew I loved cars. He said, ‘You ought to do what you love and en­joy it. Life is too short. I got kind of cheated, shorted. I just worked, clocked on and off. Find some­thing you’re pas­sion­ate about.’ I was al­ways pas­sion­ate about front-en­gined drag­sters. I’m not re­li­gious, but the way this all worked out, he’s gotta be up there, pulling strings, mak­ing things hap­pen. There have been some re­ally unique sce­nar­ios.”

Turn­ing 30, Scott de­cided to heed that fi­nal fa­therly ad­vice. “I was tired of work­ing for the man,” he ex­plains. “You put your heart and soul into a job, then get canned in the end. I was never

pas­sion­ate about be­ing an elec­tri­cian, any­way. I wanted to do some­thing with cars that didn’t com­pete with any­one lo­cally. No­body up here was do­ing spe­cialty cus­tom ex­haust, so, I cashed out my re­tire­ment—ev­ery penny, paid the big penalty—and started look­ing at ben­ders. I thought, in­stead of chas­ing down in­di­vid­ual ma­chines and equip­ment, why not look for a whole shop; some­body fold­ing up? I got on Craigslist and found one, made a deal over the phone, rented a big-ass U-haul, drove eight hours, and loaded up every­thing in the build­ing. I even took the toi­let pa­per out of the bath­room and the gi­ant muffler off the cor­ner. I had no ex­pe­ri­ence, so I watched a few Youtube videos. I’d bent con­duit for so many years; it was the same con­cept. I also had to teach my­self to weld. I had lots of 1 7 ⁄ 8- inch tub­ing for prac­tic­ing. You can burn up tub­ing all day long and learn more than work­ing for some­body who’s look­ing over your shoul­der.”

Thus was the Cochran Garage Ex­haust Shop un­of­fi­cially born in late 2015 in­side a shop that Scott al­ready rented for his fam­ily and hobby ve­hi­cles. A year later, a life chang­ing text ar­rived from buddy Tom Dut­trey.

“It’s Fri­day night, I’m at the fair with my kids,” Scott re­calls. “I

pull out my phone and there’s a screen­shot of an ad for an old dragster that’s let­tered, ‘Scotty’s Muffler Ser­vice.’ Tom typed, ‘You should buy this car. Dude, it’s al­ready got your name on it!’ I got this weird feel­ing that my dad was lin­ing shit up, wher­ever he’s at. Some­thing about this car; I gotta have it. What I didn’t have was all 15 grand, or time to raise the rest. The seller, Dave Young, had al­ready been screen­ing peo­ple who wanted the car. I called and wound up telling him all about los­ing my dad, how he’d prob­a­bly seen the car run, that my name was Scott, that I had an ex­haust shop. Those con­nec­tions sealed the deal on the phone. He said, ‘I think it should be yours.’ He even of­fered to hold it un­til I could get down to south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. My friends were telling me not to wait. One of them had some ex­tra cash and in­sisted that Kelly and I bor­row the bal­ance.”

Scott, Kelly, and their pal Tom hit the road “on Fri­day night at seven o’clock and drove 24 straight hours, 1,200 miles,” Scott ex­plains. “That was a real emo­tional ride, feel­ing my dad watch­ing. Dave Young had been grad­u­ally sell­ing off a whole col­lec­tion of tra­di­tional hot rods to pay for two kids in med­i­cal school. The dragster was last to go, the fi­nal sac­ri­fice to get his last daugh­ter through col­lege. Dave grew up in San Bernardino, watched this car run, went to Scotty’s Muffler as a teenager. He searched 10 years for it, planned a restora­tion, but never had the time be­cause of work. I asked what he did. When he said, ‘I’m a phone man,’ I lost it. We both got tearyeyed. It all tran­spired in an hour. Kelly and I got back to town at 11 Sun­day night, su­per tired. In­stead of shov­ing the trailer in the shop, we de­cide to un­load this thing. We stayed un­til one o’clock, no­body else around, star­ing at the car, like, That just hap­pened!”

“What Are You Do­ing with My Car?”

The weird­ness did not end with the week­end. Soon af­ter rolling the car into its sec­ond muffler-shop home, Scott re­ceived a spooky call from the great be­yond—or so it seemed when a strange, se­ri­ous voice asked, “What are you do­ing with my car?” It was Billy Scott him­self. Cochran said, “Wow, I thought you were dead.” Billy laughed and replied, “Not yet.” Thus be­gan an in­tense, four-and-ahalf-month tele­phone re­la­tion­ship dur­ing which the young Scott picked the old Scott’s brain, log­ging ev­ery de­tail in notes. Billy re­peat­edly ex­pressed re­gret about miss­ing chances to buy his dad’s old rail in the 1970s, when he was busy rac­ing Indy cars, and in the 1990s, when he hes­i­tated just long enough for some­one to snatch it away. Imag­ine Cochran’s dis­com­fort when his new hero asked to buy it now. Imag­ine Billy’s re­lief when Cochran agreed.

“I told him that it was not for sale to any­one else. I said, ‘This is your car, Billy. I’m at­tached to it, but your dad bought it for you, your best friend drove it.’ He was talk­ing big num­bers, six dig­its; enough to buy the shop prop­erty and make a down pay­ment on a house. He wanted us to bring it down to his place, in­vite his racer pals over for a BBQ, set the car out by his pool. I thought, Maybe I’m sup­posed to have this car for a year. I get to be part of Billy see­ing it for the first time since 1965, spark­ing mem­o­ries of his dad and best friend. I get to see him re­live that, and meet my dad’s he­roes, in a le­gend’s back­yard, drink his beer, then come home with life-al­ter­ing cash and an empty trailer. That was the an­tic­i­pa­tion.

“My last con­ver­sa­tion with Billy was April 26th [2017]. He died on the 28th.”

“We had been talk­ing all the time,” Cochran said,“but I hadn’t heard from him in two weeks. I knew he was fig­ur­ing out the funds, hit­ting up pals to help. He was gonna call any minute and say, ‘It’s on, we’re do­ing it.’ I went to his Face­book page and the posts all said, ‘RIP.’ I’m like, What just hap­pened? Now, Billy doesn’t get to see it. That made me de­ter­mined to bring it back out, make it run again—on fuel. These guys are drop­ping like flies. Now that I know how im­por­tant this car is, we’ve gotta take the reins and do some­thing with it; do it for Billy, for his dad, for their le­ga­cies.”

“We’ve built some amaz­ing friend­ships be­cause of the car,” he re­veals. “It’s a cir­cle that I wish I could’ve been in my en­tire life. Wayne King, who’s been do­ing this since be­fore my dad’s day, is in­cred­i­bly help­ful. Those con­nec­tions make it all worth it. If we can belch some ni­tro out of the pipes, that’s just ic­ing on every­thing good that’s al­ready hap­pened.” By the time these pages reach your news rack or mail­box, a pe­riod-cor­rect, blown small­block should be bark­ing be­tween the air­craft rails, ig­nit­ing an­cient mem­o­ries while breath­ing new life into a 60-year-old ar­ti­fact. Scott Cochran can hardly wait to let the clutch out for his first push start. The late Mike Cochran, Mike Snively, Charles Scott, and Billy Scott would all surely be pleased to see this fu­eler back home where it’s al­ways be­longed: sur­rounded by pipe in a muffler shop owned by a guy named Scott.

> Just be­yond that scenic tree­line is the for­mer Puyallup (Wash­ing­ton) Drag­way. Pho­tog­ra­pher Mike Ward got as close as pos­si­ble with indulgence from Doug Mil­lar, who runs the ad­ja­cent pri­vate air­port and moved parked planes to en­sure a clear, col­or­ful back­ground. The over­sized gap in the alu­minum body and a glob of weld on top of each frame rail, sev­eral inches ahead of SBC mo­tor mounts, might be ev­i­dence of the Jimmy six that one old­timer claimed to re­call from the mid-’50s. This non­func­tional 327 came with the sale. The new owner was still search­ing for pe­riod-cor­rect re­place­ment parts when our pho­tos were shot. Wheel­base is 100 inches. The rusty rear rims are be­ing re­placed by gen­uine Romeo Palamides mags. Nei­ther the paint job nor let­ter­ing is au­then­tic.


> Cochran wasn’t the first re­spon­dent to Dave Young’s 2016 on­line ad. Af­ter in­ter­view­ing the rest, Dave de­ter­mined that the fifth known owner of his beloved Scotty’s Muffler Ser­vice Spe­cial should rightly be an­other Scott with a muffler shop.

> A race car that once lived in a San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia, ex­haust shop owned by a guy named Scott now re­sides in the Gra­ham, Wash­ing­ton, ex­haust shop of a guy named Scott. Who­ever built the sep­a­ra­ble, bolt-to­gether chas­sis used mil­i­tary-sur­plus wing struts made for the Navy’s PBY Catalina fly­ing boat. Read­ily avail­able and in­ex­pen­sive fol­low­ing WWII, the oval tub­ing bridged the tech­nol­ogy gap be­tween early 1950s’ “rails” based on pro­duc­tion-car frames and the cus­tom-built drag­sters that fol­lowed. This unique ap­pli­ca­tion un­bolts fore and aft of the rearend hous­ing, en­abling side-by-side trans­port in a pickup bed. The dry-rot­ted, air­craft seat belts are orig­i­nal. Cochran has been told that the chas­sis builder might’ve been lo­cal racer Ed Bab­bitt. (See more shop pho­tos on Face­book: The Cochran Garage Ex­haust Shop.)

> Luck­ily for a six-foot-one, 220-pound care­taker, the cock­pit was built for large driv­ers. The unique plas­tic wind­screen was miss­ing un­til the day a stranger showed up at seller Dave Young’s house, in­tro­duced him­self as a friend of Charles Scott’s, and handed over a sou­venir that had been sit­ting on his shelf for decades. Ap­pro­pri­ately—and ter­ri­fy­ingly—the sub­stan­tial roll bar was bent from muffler pipe. > Fric­tion shocks were al­ready ob­so­lete by the time this fu­eler be­came lo­cally com­pet­i­tive. At some stage, the longer wish­bone su­per­seded one mounted much closer to the dampers (at the white patch be­low the word “Ser­vice”). In­cor­rect, un­der­sized pul­leys and belt came with the dummy 327. The blower drive is be­ing back­dated to deeper, 1963-vin­tage pieces.

> Note how the rearend is a stressed part of a chas­sis de­signed for trans­port­ing in two pieces. Now imag­ine top­ping 180 miles an hour in a car held to­gether on each side by five bolts through a flange welded to the hous­ing. The chromed Franklin steer­ing box, cov­ered and pro­tected all these years by the cowl, il­lus­trates the show qual­ity of Charles Scott’s dry-lakes and drag-race cars. > Back when drag slicks were skinny re­caps, weight trans­fer was crit­i­cal to trac­tion. A front sus­pen­sion float­ing out ahead of the chas­sis must’ve been plenty flexy. The red tank car­ried wa­ter. Bungs for ra­di­a­tor hoses are welded un­der­neath. Cochran has learned that, in lieu of any pump, in­er­tia and mo­men­tum alone moved enough liq­uid to buy ex­tra idle time and pre­vent over­heat­ing. Scott bent up the tem­po­rary head­ers in The Cochran Garage Ex­haust Shop to make the mo­tor pre­sentable for the car’s sur­prise reemer­gence at the 2017 NHRA Cal­i­for­nia Hot Rod Re­union. Per­ma­nent weed­burn­ers will be in place for cack­ling.

> One race car, two fam­ily crews, sep­a­rated by a half-cen­tury: Scott, Kelly, Ha­ley, and Charley are re­viv­ing a fa­mous Chevy fu­eler that last snorted ni­tro in 1963 or early ’64 for Charles Scott (in hat) and Mike Snively (seated). The kid with his hand on the in­jec­tor is Billy “The Kid” Scott, al­ready a sea­soned cir­cle-track pi­lot. At 17, Billy grad­u­ated from the Adams & Ras­mussen gas dragster to Dad’s next fu­eler—and won Top Fuel, first time out! > As we were wrap­ping up this is­sue, Tony “The Willys Man” Ste­warts an­swered the call for a rare pair of the four-hole, small­win­dow Palamides mags that parted com­pany with this car af­ter Charles Scott sold it. “They weren’t even for sale un­til Tony found out what car they’d be go­ing on,” ex­plains their grate­ful new owner. “He said he’d love to help us out with cor­rect wheels. I’ve got new slicks com­ing from Towel City, which also gave us a good dis­count.”

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