WILD

MARCH MEET AC­TION

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Just as nitro-starved vic­tims of the fuel ban flocked to Famoso for their win­ter fix start­ing in 1959, thou­sands ar­rive each March to get dosed with more nitro­meth­ane than any other mod­ern meet de­liv­ers. Six of 16 March Meet elim­i­na­tor cat­e­gories run on “pop” and, with one ex­cep­tion, su­per­charg­ers. Ev­ery run lasts 1,320 feet.

De­spite the con­tin­u­ing de­cline of AA/FD en­tries (nine here) and a rel­a­tive abun­dance of fuel flop­pers and fuel al­tereds, the March Meet re­mains a “drag­ster race”—at least in the minds of folks old enough to re­mem­ber 100plus Top Fu­el­ers fighting for 64 spots. A half-cen­tury af­ter the low-dol­lar Surfers won it and soon re­tired, any­one meet­ing Tom Jobe in­vari­ably asks how he and late part­ners Bob Skin­ner and Mike Sorokin pulled that off in 1966. If Mike’s son, Adam Sorokin, shows up 50 years from now at Milt’s Cof­fee Shop, some cus­tomer will surely in­quire about the crazy cir­cum­stances con­tribut­ing to his un­likely 2019 vic­tory.

Sorokin’s up­set of world­champ Mendy Fry con­cluded a fi­nal round that pro­duced fel­low win­ners Bobby Cot­trell in Aa/funny Car (de­feat­ing im­pres­sive rookie Jerry Espe­seth); James Day in Fuel Al­tered (d. Dan Hix); Mike Hal­stead, Rear-en­gine T/F (d. Billy Mcde­vitt); Dan Hix, Clas­sic F/C (d. Rodney Flournoy); Kin Bates, A/FD (d. Wayne Ra­may); Don En­riquez, Jr. Fuel (d. Alan Hull); Steve Faller, 7.0 Pro (d. Ge­orge Van­der­pool); Ja­son Barta, Nos­tal­gia I (d. Lloyd Harder); Terry Lin­blad, N/E II (d. Ge­orge Chat­ter­ton); Ron An­za­lone, N/E III (d. Don Morris); Jim Teague, A/gas (d. Frank Merenda); Steve Pullin, B/G (d. Nick Ken­drick); David Stage, C/G (d. PJ Glacalone); Bill Nor­ton, D/G (d. Bob Gon­za­lves); and Stacy Roberts in the DYO Hot Rod bracket (d. Dan Row­ley).

Un­de­feated in NHRA’S Hot Rod Her­itage points se­ries for a full year since run­ner-upping at the 2018 March Meet, Fry’s ti­tle de­fense got off to a rocky start be­lied by re­sults sheets list­ing two world-record runs, over­all low e.t. (5.49), top speed (265.43), and an­other se­cond-place fin­ish. Ear­lier, dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing, a freak fail­ure of the drive cou­pler had the pre­dictable ef­fect on a Donovan Hemi that re­port­edly zinged past 12,000 rpm. One en­gine and run later, the cou­pler’s cul­prit re­vealed it­self when a cracked rearend mount sep­a­rated from the chas­sis at speed, tak­ing out the brakes. Her ’chutes alone couldn’t keep Mendy from bounc­ing into the rain-hard­ened sand trap. Owner Tom She­lar and his vet­eran crew thrashed ’til 3 a.m. Sun­day to clean out the mud and in­stall a fresh axle­hous­ing that friend Bruce Dyda fetched from his L.A. chas­sis shop twoplus hours south then drove straight back to de­liver.

En­ter­ing elim­i­na­tions against friendly archri­val Jim Mur­phy, Fry had yet to make a full pass. She promptly un­corked a win­ning 5.518, the quick­est in sling­shot his­tory, at 265.43, the top speed over­all (just edg­ing Dan Ho­ran’s 265.22-mph Funny Car). Fry broke through the 5.40 bar­rier in the semis, but left so un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally

Back in 2012, a small dragori­ented event held on the East Coast called The Race Of Gen­tle­men (TROG) shook the hot rod scene. Although it gath­ered only 15 hot rods and 15 mo­tor­cy­cles, it still cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of gear­heads the world over. It was or­ga­nized on the beach and fea­tured aes­thet­ics rem­i­nis­cent of faded pic­tures glued in a 1950s photo al­bum.

Over the years, other TROGS have come and gone, in­clud­ing one in 2016 that tread the sand of Pismo Beach, Cal­i­for­nia (un­for­tu­nately plagued by stormy weather). Pro­moter Mel Stultz and his crew trav­eled back home af­ter­wards, think­ing an­other race was un­likely to take place on the West Coast. Yet, sur­pris­ingly, of­fi­cials from the scenic city of Santa Bar­bara con­tacted Stultz in 2018 and asked him to have an event in town! They made it clear rac­ing on the sand would not be an op­tion, but how about us­ing a street along the beach?

Stultz loved the idea, and so was born the TROG Santa Bar­bara Drags. He came to town with the sup­port (and mem­bers) of his club, the Oil­ers, which had been es­tab­lished in Carls­bad, Cal­i­for­nia, in 1947 and was re­vived a few years ago. The Oil­ers, with help from lo­cal en­thu­si­asts, trans­formed Cabrillo Boule­vard in front of Santa Bar­bara’s Hil­ton Beach­front Re­sort into an eighth-mile dragstrip, where 30 mo­tor­cy­cles and 70 pre-1935 cars en­tered grudge matches, with no tro­phy spoil­ing the fun. As a bonus, an ex­hibit called Cus­toms by the Sea wel­comed a se­lec­tion of fan­tas­tic pre-1959 tra­di­tional cus­tom cars.

Want to see more TROG ac­tion this year? The city of Wild­wood, New Jer­sey, will hold an­other can’t-miss sand­sling­ing event on Oc­to­ber 4-6.—STEPHAN SZANTAI

• PICS: PAUL SADLER & DAVE WAL­LACE

FABBED-ULOUS: One new build al­ways seems to steal the ca­sual pit­side shows that ac­com­pany Famoso’s two big races (the other be­ing NHRA’S Cal­i­for­nia Hot Rod Re­union, up­com­ing Oc­to­ber 25-27). Ja­son Brown didn’t let wet road­ways de­rail a long­planned maiden voy­age for an Ls-pow­ered, Tre­mec-shifted ’28 Ford un­der con­struc­tion for four long years. Only the metal above the belt line orig­i­nated in Detroit; the rusty rest was re­placed with sheet steel shaped by Bak­ers­field’s TL’S Rods. The one-stop shop also trimmed 9 inches of ugly air from all win­dow openings, cre­ated a cowl-fire­wall assem­bly, and ap­plied the paint. That oh-so-low roof makes Mclean’s rear wheels look even taller than their 20 inches. Note how the head­ers and ra­dius rod fol­low the arc of TL’S fab­ri­cated frame, which ta­pers down from 4x2 tub­ing at the 9-inch Ford rearend. Bran­don Gross of TL’S Rods slid be­hind the wheel for HOT ROD Deluxe to demon­strate the low-down, set-back seat­ing po­si­tion that com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­dates his six-foot cus­tomer.

SCENE AT THE 2019 MARCH MEET BAP­TISM: Fuel al­tered rookie Ron Capps was prop­erly bap­tized into the world of Aw­ful-aw­fuls while qual­i­fy­ing a brand-new chas­sis (wear­ing a Fiat body bought from Mike Sullivan). Own­ers John and Roxie Hertzig ini­tially sus­pected some­buddy’s prank when the big show’s 2016 Funny Car champ called to ask whether he might fill the open seat— and bring along his fa­ther and brother to help wrench on both Hertzig al­tereds. Capps fell to peren­nial March Meet win­ner Dan Hix in Round One but made the fa­vorite work hard by leav­ing first and nearly forc­ing a sub-6.00-in­dex break­out by Hix, who sur­vived with a just-safe 6.021, on the brakes (208 mph). Famed free­lancer Paul Sadler, whose lenses have fa­vored AA/FAS since their early-1970s hey­day, got the shot

DAY WON: A huge up­set saw Ron Capps’s team­mate, James Day, wres­tle the Hertzigs’ tra­di­tional, short-wheel­base, wing­less Amer­i­can Ban­tam to a rare de­feat of Dan Hix’s dom­i­nant “trans­former” (i.e., a slow NHRA Funny Car re­bod­ied as a road­ster and planted by two big wings fore and aft). The dif­fer­ence was a holeshot (6.22-6.16) that pre­vented Hix, whose Mustang topped the 5.90-in­dexed, six-car Clas­sic Funny field, from scor­ing pos­si­bly the first fuel “dou­ble” at a ma­jor nos­tal­gia meet. FABBED-ULOUS

LOW-DOWN HIGHROLLER: Here’s the Rick Dore build that launched the se­cond sea­son of his Rusted De­vel­op­ment se­ries. Marc Mc­caslin’s two-year search for an un­mo­lested ’36 paid off in a com­plete, two-owner coupe suf­fer­ing noth­ing worse than two small dents and the blown head gasket that sen­tenced it to decades of cov­ered stor­age out­doors. Sur­pris­ingly stock be­low the win­dows, the car even re­tains both orig­i­nal bumpers, swapped end for end. A crate 350 Chevy and TH350 keep the show rolling. Mc­caslin (wear­ing the dark jacket, rear) drew smiles by cruis­ing into and out of the Famoso Grove at ap­prox­i­mately this ride height. The fourth­gen­er­a­tion Bak­ers­field farmer re­lies on ad­justable, poly bump­stops in all four cor­ners to safely main­tain as lit­tle as 1 ⁄ inch of clear­ance 4 “on a road that’s real smooth; no bumps!”

DIF­FER­ENT TWIST: Here’s an­other way to ex­tract ex­haust from a tight over­head con­ver­sion. Philipp Meyer didn’t drive his Chevy-pow­ered coupe all the way from his home in Ger­many, but he’s cov­ered much of this coun­try in the Model A built by Mackey’s Hot Rods. Lo­cal tube ben­der Sean Mc­dougall formed the sexy stain­less sys­tem.

CON­TRAST: At once one of the dark­est yet most colorful early pick­ups on the planet, the blacked-out ’41 Ford be­longs to Mike Brown, brother of the chopped Model A’s owner. TL’S Rods added a Chevy LS and Mustang II sus­pen­sion while sub­tract­ing 8 inches of bed length. Shop owner Bran­don Gross per­son­ally painted both brothers’ hot rods.

RECORD WRECKER: Mendy Fry ex­pe­ri­enced a whole sea­son’s worth of drama in the sea­son opener, high­lighted by the quick­est and sec­ondquick­est sling­shot e.t.’s ever. She’d been in record ter­ri­tory be­fore, as a teenager driv­ing two cars built to­gether with her fa­ther, the late Ron Fry. Their full-fend­ered road­ster was the world’s fastest street-le­gal car. The teenager’s un­prece­dented 6.15 in 1988 ten­ta­tively claimed NHRA’S Top Alcohol Drag­ster na­tional record un­til the car slowed to 6.27 on her next, last chance for the manda­tory backup. This time, the vet­eran, who de­scribes her­self as “the son that my dad never had,” made sure it stuck with backto-black blasts of 5.518 and 5.490.

PATINA-PER­FECT: Lewis Milmich ( top), who spends weekdays restor­ing early Cadil­lacs and C10 pick­ups for cus­tomers, got talked into help­ing build a shop truck by his son Lee, who also re­cruited fa­ther-in-law Bill Lynch. Over eight months their fam­ily af­fair pro­gressed from a dis­as­sem­bled ’56 stocker to what you see here. They left the body and paint as found, ex­cept for fab­ri­cat­ing the fire­wall, adding an af­ter­mar­ket rear-win­dow kit to the stan­dard cab, mini­tub­bing the in­side of the bed, and in­stalling a donor truck’s run­ning boards and bed sides, painted and aged to match the sur­round­ings. A coat of satin clear pre­serves the patina. A 460 plucked from an F-250 ben­e­fits from a Comp cam and Hol­ley Sniper in­jec­tion. Detroit Steel sup­plied the 20x9 and 20x11 rims.

LEG­ENDARY LOSS: Re­minders of en­gine builder and Pro 7.0 racer Cub Bar­nett ap­peared on Jug­gers club mate Boyd Schafer’s ’40 Olds gasser and one of sev­eral pit­side benches rec­og­niz­ing Cal­i­for­nia Hot Rod Re­union hon­orees. He raced in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and op­er­ated the dyno at Scotty’s Muf­fler Ser­vice prior to mov­ing north to work for Ted Gotelli in 1961. He later part­nered with Andy Brizio in Cham­pion Speed Shop and op­er­ated his own en­gine shop un­til the end. Cub, the younger brother of pi­o­neer racer Bud Bar­nett, suf­fered a heart at­tack while un­der­go­ing can­cer treatments the week of the March Meet, just shy of his 85th birth­day.

late (0.219 r.t.) that she needed most of the 5.490 and a top-end charge of 259.71 to over­come Bret Wil­liamson’s event-best (0.051) r.t. and 5.85 e.t. Fry’s lousy light was traced to worn throt­tle parts that got re­placed just in time to warm the Hemi for what, on pa­per, fig­ured to be a mis­match with a wounded Chevy car fully 3.5 tenths and 50 mph slower on the day. In­stead, an over­looked screw in that hastily as­sem­bled throt­tle link­age backed it­self out some­where be­tween Fry’s burnout and staging; at the hit, noth­ing hap­pened. For her se­cond straight year, the fa­vorite watched from the left lane while a long­shot op­po­nent drove away to nos­tal­gia rac­ing’s big­gest prize. As win­ner Adam Sorokin un­der­stated after­ward, it was lucky for him “that they don’t run ’em on pa­per.”

SCENE AT THE 2019 MARCH MEET (CONT’D)

EARLY ED­U­CA­TION: Ask Bobby Mclen­nan why he con­tin­ues shov­ing pres­sur­ized nitro­meth­ane through a limited en­gine de­sign aban­doned by Top Fuel rac­ers be­fore the orig­i­nal sling­shot era ended and he’ll an­swer, “Be­cause the Chevy was my dad’s deal.” Fa­ther and son both ap­pear in a pre­vi­ously un­pub­lished Petersen Pub­lish­ing im­age that HRM ed­i­tor Wally Parks com­posed dur­ing a 1962 sum­mer meet at Pomona. The late Jim Mclen­nan (left), whose in­jected and blown sling­shots were fre­quently fea­tured in man­u­fac­tur­ers’ late-1950s and early-1960s “hero” ads as the world’s quick­est Chevys, is seen talk­ing with long­time NHRA tech di­rec­tor Bill “Farmer” Dis­muke. Mclen­nan never won the March Meet, but his youngest crew­man (who has al­ready learned that nitro is for racin’ while gas is good for washin’ parts), his son Bobby, grew up to build the bil­let small-blocks that made Adam Sorokin the Top Fuel Elim­i­na­tor of 2010 and 2019.

CAN­DIED COU­PLE: Satur­day’s sur­prises in­cluded back-to­back-to-back-to-back-to­back ex­hi­bi­tion runs by five wheel­standers, rang­ing from the an­cient stage­coach of Ed and Wendy Jones (pic­tured) to Mike Kunz’s spunky and fast PT Cruiser. The wheelie ri­vals staged an im­promptu, side-by-side header burn­down on Sun­day. The coach took the main stage im­me­di­ately af­ter the Mopar’s last pass and was cir­cling at mid­track when Nitro Mike came down the re­turn road and stopped, di­rectly op­po­site, to un­leash an ex­tended firestorm that the Out­law re­turned across the guard wall. As usual, the candy man later strolled the fence line and had scream­ing fans eat­ing out of his hand. As far as kids are con­cerned, no­body keeps up with the Jone­ses. The Idaho cou­ple’s 17-year, two-ve­hi­cle deal with fam­ily-owned Jelly Belly is among drag rac­ing’s long­est-run­ning spon­sor­ships.

LONELY ON TOP (END): Adam Sorokin never saw his fi­nal-round op­po­nent but wasn’t tak­ing any chances, keep­ing the ham­mer down even af­ter his blower gave up the fight. A slow­ing 5.84 at just 212 mph clinched a se­cond March Meet ti­tle for the son of 1966 champ Mike Sorokin. Paul Sadler’s photo il­lus­trates why top-end shoot­ers chal­lenge each other to cap­ture the 377inch min­i­mouse mo­tor with a belt still in­tact at 1,320 feet.

SCENE AT THE 2019 MARCH MEET (CONT’D)

• PICS: STEPHAN SZANTAI & DREW HARDIN

SCENE AT THE TROG SANTA BAR­BARA DRAGS 2019 FIRST IN LINE: Jimmy White, the owner of Circle City Hot Rods in Orange, Cal­i­for­nia, hasn’t driven his well-known ’31 Model A much in re­cent years, but he de­cided to get it ready for the event. This old hot rod, found in River­side, Cal­i­for­nia, runs a nasty 334ci Hemi equipped with a 6x2 Weiand man­i­fold. It had the honor of mak­ing the first pass of the day with Gil Muro’s Willys, the cover car for our lat­est Gasserthem­ed is­sue (“Willys Fever,” May 2019; bit.ly/2hm8q2f).

WILLYS WIN­DOW: Hot Rod Ranch’s Gil Muro pro­vided this unique per­spec­tive of Santa Bar­bara’s staging lanes through the tinted Plex­i­glas of his sur­vivor Willys Gasser.

EX-STOCKER: Ro­seville, Cal­i­for­nia’s Jim Luke bought ’29 Model A that’s stock right down to the me­chan­i­cal brakes. It had been re­stored decades ago. Over a year he mor­phed it into this jalopy, keep­ing the orig­i­nal rails but in­stalling ’40s hot rod specifics: juice brakes, a ’39 Ford gear­box, a 21-stud flat­head, Sharp heads, a Thick­stun in­take man­i­fold, an Isky cam . . .

BAD TO THE BONES: Rolling Bones mem­ber Dick Deluna drives and races his ’34 Ford five-win­dow (which has been chopped 6 inches) all over the nation. Check out the un­usual grille from a Cana­dian Cock­shutt trac­tor. Be­hind it re­sides a ’49 8BA flat­head now dis­plac­ing 284 ci. It re­ceived Stromberg carbs, Navarro heads, an Of­fen­hauser two-carb man­i­fold, and a Ver­tex mag­neto. BAD TO THE BONES

HEAVY CHOP: Back from mak­ing a pass, this is Tom Mcintyre’s ’32 three-win­dow Ford from the Rolling Bones crew. It per­formed well, cour­tesy of a ’54 Dodge Ram Hemi bolted to a five-speed ’box for long-dis­tance jour­neys. The coupe ad­di­tion­ally uses a Hal­i­brand quick-change and an alu­minum bel­ly­pan.

AN­OTHER BIRD: We showed you Lynn Bird’s blue ’32 Ford three-win­dow coupe back in March 2019 (“Dis­tinc­tive Deuce”; bit.ly/2ovtcxc). Al­ways the tin­kerer, his lat­est en­deavor is this great-look­ing ’25 Model T. It is mo­ti­vated by a ’49 Mercury flat­head that’s as­sem­bled with Of­fen­hauser heads and an Ed­munds in­take. The body sits on heav­ily mod­i­fied ’34 Chevy fram­erails. Bird won most of his races.

PRETTY PENNY: Alex Car­los strug­gled a bit to see the flag­man be­hind the wheel of his chopped Penny Hemi Model T. Spec­ta­tors loved the car’s track an­tics, watch­ing as it flew down the eighth-mile thanks to a 354ci Hemi fed by a Weiand in­take man­i­fold and six carbs. A four-speed Borg­warner trans­mis­sion gets the power to the ground.

SUSHI AND LOUIS: Team Throt­tle Rac­ing from Ja­pan en­tered the field with this (near lane) nar­rowed mod­i­fied driven by TROG reg­u­lar Atsushi “Sushi” Ya­sui. Next to it sits Louis Stands’ 1927 Ford road­ster equipped with a 327ci pow­er­plant from a ’63 Corvette.

RAG­ING ORANGE: One of the fastest cars run­ning the eighth­mile, the his­toric Orange Crate (now owned by Steve Gil­li­gan) wowed the crowd with its good looks and per­for­mance. Brothers Bob and Terry Tin­dle bought the ’32 Ford Tu­dor al­ready chopped in 1959 and went on to trans­form it into a fast strip con­tender. It fea­tures a tilt body along with a Hil­born­in­jected 417ci Olds mo­tor with a Potvin blower.

HOT ROD LADY: Diana Branch owns both a colorful ’29 Ford road­ster and this ’32 Tu­dor, run­ning a Stude­baker V8 bored to 299 ci, a Chevy five-speed trans­mis­sion, and a Chevy ’57 rearend. The sedan’s good looks should be at­trib­uted to the 4 ⁄ inch chop and 5-inch chan­nel. The Glacier Blue Chrysler metal­lic paint does not hurt ei­ther.

LO­CAL RAC­ERS: The Hanssen fam­ily are the care­tak­ers of these two rac­ers built by Willis Bald­win of Santa Bar­bara. On the left is the ’49 Bald­win Spe­cial, and on the right, the bare alu­minum C/mod ’51 Bald­win Spe­cial used from 1954 un­til 1957 in SCCA com­pe­ti­tion. The ’49 Spe­cial runs a ’46 Merc flat­head with a full-race Clay Smith cam, Edel­brock heads, and triple Strombergs; the ’51 Spe­cial is also pow­ered by a Merc flat­head, this one fit­ted with Ar­dun heads.

COLORADO RODS: The Lucky Tramps Car Club out of Colorado pre­sented a cou­ple of fine rides driven by an equally fine cou­ple. Brooke Dolan drove the Deuce coupe with S.CO.T. su­per­charged flat­head power and Navarro heads, while hus­band Daniel com­peted with a ’34 five-win­dow Ford with a flat­head V8, too.

LIT­TLE ZIP: A re­cent Craigslist find, this 1927 T owned by Reno, Ne­vada, res­i­dent Rory Forbes ap­peared to have been a Cal­i­for­nia circle track racer as far back as 1949. On the dash re­sides a plaque stat­ing, “Par­tic­i­pant NHRA Na­tional Drags-1959 Detroit, Mich.” The road­ster hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years, still fea­tur­ing its Joe Bailon paint and Tommy the Greek strip­ing.

SPIRIT OF ’47: We in­tro­duced you to Paul Gommi in HRD’S Sept. 2018 is­sue (“The Way We Were”; bit.ly/2ck­9yjk). The com­pet­i­tive racer brought his su­per­charged ’32 Ford road­ster, which was built in 1947 and ran 129 mph at El Mi­rage shortly af­ter. All eyes were on Gommi, who won his class at the 2018 RPM Na­tion­als, but is­sues with the flat­head’s block didn’t al­low him to per­form as well as ex­pected.

FUN T TIME: Te­gan Ham­mond had a ton of fun rac­ing the Ham­mond fam­ily’s ’27 Ford road­ster. The pow­er­plant of choice is a rare 1927 HAL dou­ble-over­head-cam four­cylin­der. By the next decade, few uti­lized that en­gine, as it had been sur­passed by Ford’s flat­head V8.

LAKE REFUGEE: Rac­ing against Daniel Shir­cliff’s orange A is “Hudson Joe” Buf­fardi’s ’29 Ford road­ster, pre­pared with an un­com­mon ’49 337ci Lin­coln flat­head. It is fed by dual Merc sid­e­draft carbs on an Ed­munds in­take and runs a Potvin cam and Mal­lory dual-point ig­ni­tion. It seems that the car raced at El Mi­rage in the 1950s through the mid 1960s. When Buf­fardi bought it in 2004 it was “just a body.” He fab­ri­cated the hood, nose, and grille. No­tice the neat air­craft-in­spired ex­haust sys­tem.

AS THE FLAG DROPS: Tom Franzi of Ger­many is ready to ham­mer the throt­tle of his Model A, which was built in the mid- to late-1950s. He bought it about a week be­fore the race. Seem­ingly painted met­alflake in the 1960s, the 6-inch-chan­neled road­ster with sec­tioned ’32 grille re­ceived a ’56 324ci Olds Rocket V8 at some point.

WAYNE’S WORLD: This nice lineup of healthy mo­tors is led by a not-so-com­mon Wayne head-equipped 235ci Chevy six mo­ti­vat­ing Cedric Meeks’ ’34 Ford coupe. Cedric is the son of Russ Meeks, who won the Grand Na­tional Road­ster Show’s AMBR award in 1972 with his well-known tilt-body, rear-en­gined Model A road­ster.

WEL­COME BACK: It was good to see Gene Win­field in Santa Bar­bara, look­ing none the worse for wear af­ter his Euro­pean or­deal last year. He was at­tend­ing a car show in Fin­land in Septem­ber when he broke his hip in a bad fall. Dur­ing re­cov­ery, he came down with pneu­mo­nia; that and other health com­pli­ca­tions made it im­pos­si­ble for him to fly com­mer­cially back to the States. A Go­fundme page set up to get him home reached its goal in just a few days, and he was back in the U.S. by late Oc­to­ber.

GRANDPA’S HEAD­ERS: The ex­haust on the banger en­gine in Jenny Boost­rom’s ’23 Model T road­ster was fab­ri­cated by Jesse Belond, grand­son of famed ex­haust maker Sandy Belond, us­ing a vin­tage photo they found as ref­er­ence. So far it’s the only one, but Jesse hopes to make more, “try­ing to keep Grandpa’s name out there.” Arch Gratz built the mo­tor with a rare Thomas in­take and head, and two Stromberg 81 carbs. Clayton’s Hot Rods in Santa Cruz, Cal­i­for­nia, put the car to­gether, which Jesse bought for Jenny as a Christ­mas present.

HAR­LEY AL­LEY: The event wasn’t only about cars, as 30 vin­tage bikes made a ton of passes all day long. In­ci­den­tally, Har­leyDavid­son was a ma­jor spon­sor of the Santa Bar­bara Drags.

STUDE STUDY: Trav­el­ing with his wife Diana, Tom Branch joined the may­hem with his real steel ’32 Ford show­cas­ing a 304ci ’63 Stude­baker V8, hopped up with four Stromberg carbs. Fabian Valdez at Vin­tage Ham­mer Garage helped build the road­ster, which is fit­ted with ’50 Pon­tiac tail­lights, 15x4 and 15x8.5 Amer­i­can Rac­ing mags, and In­gle­wood slicks in the back.

WHEELER’S WHEELS: David Wheeler is a reg­u­lar racer, hav­ing com­peted at the TROG Pismo race and the 2018 RPM Na­tion­als (see our Mar. 2019 is­sue; bit.ly/2v30yql). He made a hand­ful of passes with his stout Model T.

BRONZE FLAME: Lars Map­stead is just the third owner of the Bronze Flame, a real-deal sur­vivor of 1950s hot rod­ding that still wears its orig­i­nal lac­quer flamed paint job over a steel (not alu­minum) track nose fab­ri­cated by Sam Bar­ris. Orig­i­nal owner Ed Donato raced the car at the lakes and the Santa Ana drags be­fore putting it in stor­age for some five decades. The car is no mu­seum piece, as Map­stead has run it at the RPM Na­tion­als and the TROG beach race in New Jer­sey.

THE BRITISH ARE COM­ING: These 1960s-styled Deuces are owned by two U.K. ex­pa­tri­ates. In the near lane is Nos­tal­gia Ranch’s Jay Dean with his 331ci Cad V8 five-win­dow coupe, chopped 3 ⁄ inches. In the far lane is 1 2 Dice Mag­a­zine’s Dean Micetich with his three­win­dow, which was painted in 1964. It re­lies on a ’55 Cad mo­tor and ’57 Olds rearend. Dean dropped the drive­shaft dur­ing this run, but got it fixed to par­tic­i­pate again later!

BARNES’ FIND: A ’32 Ford coupe with the Pa­cific Ocean and Chan­nel Is­lands Na­tional Park in the background—what’s not to like? The chopped Deuce be­long­ing to John Barnes had been drag raced around 1951-1954. Lack of hood al­lowed spec­ta­tors to ad­mire the su­per­charged flat­head V8 with Fen­ton heads.

THE 1,000-MILE TRIP: Yep, Daniel Shir­cliff trav­eled in his daily driven Model A from Phoenix for the week­end, adding a thou­sand miles to the odome­ter. His Craigslist find was ap­par­ently built around 1961-1962 and last driven in the 1970s.

RE­FINED ’50S: It was great to see two of the most el­e­gant chopped cus­toms built in re­cent years. Scott Roberts’ 1954 Mercury (fore­ground) cruises thanks to a 292ci Y-block. It fea­tures a bunch of tra­di­tional al­ter­ations: shaved door han­dles, frenched head­lights, rounded cor­ners on the hood and doors, and more. It kept com­pany with Kelly and Mark Skip­per’s ’51 Ford with ’53 Chevy teeth.

AN­TIQUE VIBE: Blessed by beau­ti­ful weather, the staging lanes re­mained packed all day long. With 70 cars reg­is­tered, each par­tic­i­pant had the op­por­tu­nity to make sev­eral runs. Palm trees as far as the eye can see con­trib­uted to the fan­tas­tic vibe of this in­au­gu­ral get-to­gether which, we hope, will re­turn to the West Coast in 2020.

BUICK BEAUTY: Steve Pierce se­lected what some might con­sider an un­likely can­di­date for a cus­tom project, a ’40 Buick coupe. Among the most no­tice­able mod­i­fi­ca­tions: a top chopped 4 inches in front and 51⁄ in back, ’39 Ford head­lights, and ’41 Cad bumpers. The color is rem­i­nis­cent of Ford’s fa­mous Wash­ing­ton Blue.

BY THE SEA: TROG Santa Bar­bara wasn’t only about hot rods. The Hil­ton’s ro­tunda hosted the terrific Cus­toms by the Sea ex­hibit. It ac­tu­ally called for ad­di­tional ve­hi­cles to be dis­played on site, but reg­u­la­tions forced pro­mot­ers to park a bunch of cars on the other side of the wall, fac­ing the ocean. The two ’36 Fords belong to Alan Win­dard (Throt­tlers CC, Salt Lake City) and Jon Fisher (Bur­bank Chop­pers CC).

GRAPEVINE REDUX: Back in the day, spray gun ex­traor­di­naire Larry Wat­son prowled the boule­vards of Kus­tom­land in a ’50 Chevy that was first painted black and sil­ver. He later re­sprayed the car in laven­der, which is when it ac­quired the name Grapevine. John Denich owns this clone built with ac­cu­racy in mind, from the ’55 Olds head­light rings and side trim to the ’53 Chevy grille and ’54 Merc tail­lights.

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