More on the C-T Au­to­mo­tive Spl.

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Scrapbook -

While re­search­ing archive pho­tos from 1957 for this month’s “Back­stage Past” in­stall­ment, Dave Wal­lace ran across this photo of the C-T Au­to­mo­tive Spl., taken by Eric Rick­man at the Gar­dena Speed­way a year and a half af­ter the Al Paloczy photo that ran in last is­sue’s “Back­stage.” Dave then cir­cu­lated the photo among friends, his­to­ri­ans, and other rac­ing his­tory ex­perts to see if we could iden­tify the guys in the pic­ture.

The Amer­i­can Hot Rod Foun­da­tion’s Jim Miller hit pay dirt when he sent the photo to for­mer C-T em­ployee Dave Sweeney, who also helped us with the car for our pre­vi­ous is­sue. Says Dave:

Left to right—har­ri­son Hag­gard: Ed­u­cated, smart, had a good job in Hol­ly­wood, but was al­ways at the shop by 5:30. Drove a gor­geous ’32 high­boy.

Clem Te­bow.

Leroy Payne: Stress engi­neer at Lock­heed Bur­bank. He must have been lean­ing over since he stood about 6 feet 4 inches and Clem was about 6 feet even. Leroy went to Wat­son’s about 1958 and picked up the nick­name “Bird­man” from AJ. He was the strat­egy brains dur­ing the early Ward-wilke-wat­son glory years. I learned a lot from him.

Joe Arm­strong, owner, Arm­strong Ma­chine: Mas­ter crank grinder. He and his wife, Ginny, were great salt-of-the-earth peo­ple and prob­a­bly Clem’s best friends. Joe was a ten­ant at the Lanker­shim shop, and they were right in the mid­dle of every­thing. At this time we were just per­fect­ing welded stro­kers. The weld­ing booth (ply­wood) was right be­hind the crank grinder, and my “work sta­tion” lathe and hy­draulic beam press were about 6 feet on the other side. Process was (1) weld; (2) rough straighten since the cranks were bent damn near like pret­zels; (3) take to Joe to rough grind the welded throws; (4) back to the welder to touch up any in­clu­sions ex­posed in the first grind; then (5) back to me for fi­nal straight­en­ing; and then (6) over to Joe for fi­nal grind. Then off to Ditronic Bal­anc­ing—jim Khougaz—for bal­anc­ing. He was the far­thest away, about 100 feet, in the same build­ing. Had to dodge around Kent Fuller, who was designing and fab­ri­cat­ing en­gine swap-kits, an­other story for an­other time. It was a pretty crude op­er­a­tion but amaz­ingly pre­cise, and I don’t re­call fail­ures in the field.

Jack Gard­ner in the seat. Clem went through four or five re­place­ments when Arthur [Bisch] went USAC. Jack fi­nally got the job, but was nowhere near the tal­ent of Bisch. Note the change in the C-T logo. Fi­nally dropped the pe­ri­ods.

A lot of tal­ent came through C-T on their way to fame: Dave Zeuschel, Kent Fuller, Rocky Childs, Tom Ruddy, Gerry Glenn, and Jack Richard. Part­ner Don Clark be­came a very suc­cess­ful real es­tate de­vel­oper. Fol­low­ing up on Dave’s com­ments was Greg Sharp:

Jack Gard­ner was CRA Champ in 1954, Bisch in 1956, as you stated. They also won the Car Owner Cham­pi­onship, which is where the #1 comes from. The fel­low on the left, Har­ri­son Hag­gard, had a beau­ti­ful full-fend­ered Deuce road­ster, mid­night blue with De­soto Hemi power. It was fea­tured in an early Honk or Hop Up.

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