Tuesday, December 17, 2013


(Photo by Reinfied Marass)    CLICK ON IMAGES TO VIEW FULL SIZE

Racecar spelled backwards is racecar. You can spell it upside-down or inside-out, but it's all the same. Yet some people still insist on projecting their own baggage onto reality and attempting to twist it into something it isn't - like perceiving the women of motorsports to be a threat. SGE covers female racers regularly, as a matter of course. But out in the world, I'm often reminded that not everyone shares that gender blindness. Luckily, when I venture out of my cocoon, I continue to find more racing women. My belief that we all cross paths for a reason has inspired me to share some bits of their stories here, so you can join me in cheering them on. Surely, the force of the SGE Nation can propel these gals to the Winners Circle. Actually, they all seem to be doing just fine so far without our help. But I'll keep cheering until they reach equal numbers with the guys, then I can cheer them just for who they are and not for what they are. That will be a great day for all of us, whether we recognize it or not.


History was made in Detroit, Michigan last week, when Mary Bassa was named Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Corporation. Bassa (shown here with her blatantly illegally parked 2014 Corvette Stingray), has diligently worked her way up through the company hierarchy since being hired in the 1980's. That's a long hard drive for anyone, and an historical first for American automobile manufacturers. Bravo to Bassa and GM!

Minutes after the unprecedented announcement, SGE cameras burst into Bassa's private office, demanding a statement. Bassa was cordially staunch during her refusal to provide a statement to the SGE Nation, but did comment that she is a regular reader.

When photographer Raymond Guarino bulled his way past Bassa to get a shot of her secret lair, he managed to capture this image. Bassa quickly dismissed the GM design exercise as "Just something we're working on to kill photojournalists who think they can drive", with a smile. It's obviously the prototype for the 2016 Vega, though no one at GM would confirm that for the record. (Photos courtesy of General Motors)

As security hustled Guarino from the property, Bassa suggested he might find a more interesting story in Dearborn, where Ford had just introduced their new Mustang.

Ray took nearly a hundred shots at this Honda Accord before realizing it was not a Ford Mustang.

The SGE Research Team revealed the radical design changes Ford has made to the Mustang. This 1964 photo shows the original concept...

... a far cry from how the Mustang appeared two years later. This drag race version is the very car Ohio George Montgomery used to unwittingly introduce the Funny Car class, which instantly eliminated his own Gas class structure. Doh!



Inspiration is where you find it. Her boyfriend had been storing this T for so long, it had become invisible to him. But Beth has excellent vision...

In rural Panama, Iowa, Beth Main has been helping her partner Tim Jones with his flathead competition coupe project for the last couple of years. Beth has enjoyed getting her hands dirty and experiencing the satisfaction of taking an idea from Point A to Point B. The little digger is progressing nicely ("But Tim keeps changing his mind about everything!"), and so has Beth's interest turned to passion.

Upon discovering an abandoned 1915 Ford body shell and chassis in one of Tim's barns, Beth worked a deal with Tim, and set out to build her first car from scratch, herself. Beth researched the possibilities and decided on a traditional approach to the T, ultimately realizing that nothing could be more trad than a Ford Speedster. And so it has come to pass that a road and track speedster is coming to life right beside a '50s-era dragster in a barn surrounded by vast fields of snow in America's heartland. When the spring thaw arrives and crop rotation turns from snow to edibles, Iowa livestock will have two more unwieldy vehicles to dodge on gravel roads, drag strips and fairground oval tracks. Unless Beth and Tim change their minds a few more times. But there's always next year. Stay tuned for updates.

A 61 year-old girl and her dream, basking in Iowa winter sunlight before the sparks begin to fly. Considering the local crop in the background, E-85 fuel seems a natural choice to power Beth's speedster.

One last lap before disassembly. Note dragster tire in foreground and blown Hemi in background. The buffalo heads just enhance the party vibe of this cozy shop. As Martha Stewart always says, fun decor inspires spirited wrenching...

Teardown and inspection revealed a fairly solid foundation to build on. Beth's motto: "If I'm gonna do something, I need to know how it works."

Beth is coating everything with rust converter as she goes. And the going has been smooth, until...

... Tim's project requires a helping hand. 

Beth and Tim work at Omaha, Nebraska's acclaimed Henry Doorly Zoo, where staff welder Garret is teaching Beth to TIG weld, during off hours. She's working on the first iteration of Tim's dragster intake here...

... and has a good start on the second design, here. So it goes with parts fabrication as it relates to the creative process. Beth will run the original 1915 4-banger in her speedster. Tim Jones quips, "Knowing Beth, she'll probably want to beef up the banger."

The carrot on Beth's stick. Her speedster will vary a bit from this one, but this is the photo that set her course.

When she isn't building speedsters or dragsters, Beth Main is caring for an ever-expanding flock of orphan birds that she has taken in. Good company for anyone in the process of learning to fly.

A sneak peek at boyfriend Tim's comp coupe. Beth is the designated driver. That's the mock-up engine in it for now. Wait'll you get a load of the real powerplant. Tim has rescued so many dogs, the coupe is sponsored (tongue-in-cheek) by "Cripple Dog Ranch". Watch this space for a full feature.


Every day at the track is 'Father - Daughter Day' for the Clarkes. And they make the most of it, too.

Holly just wanted to drag race like her hero, dad Kevin Clarke. The British Columbia native finally found a Junior Dragster seat at age eight and has been unstoppable since. "My mom told dad not to pressure me into it. There was definitely no pressure needed. I couldn't wait to hop in that driver's seat!" Kevin's pals razzed him with remarks like, "Kevin, she's the son you always wanted." To which he replied, "Why can't she be the daughter I always wanted?" Holly adds, "He never lets the fact that I'm a woman be an excuse for anything. One day, I hope to teach my own kids these same values."

Holly is already teaching lessons via her actions on the track. In the twelve years since her first Jr. Dragster pass, she has amassed six championship trophies in her '68 Nova. She parked the Nova for the 2011 season, to focus on earning her Automotive Service Technician certificate, then came back stronger than ever. There's only one explanation for this: "The rush of racing - and especially winning - is very addicting. It's a feeling that you really crave. I think an adrenaline rush is very healthy. Even as a kid, I loved anything that gave me that drop feeling in my stomach. I like to feel a little frightened and push myself. Racing gives me that, especially during competition." And the payoff for pushing oneself from the comfort zone lasts a lifetime. Talk about win/win!

"The very first time I drove my Jr. Dragster! I just turned eight years old. I was on top of the world, and instantly felt right at home in that huge helmet. At the track, you'll still catch me wearing that big smile, though I have grown into my teeth a bit since then."

Holly's been doing the twist with this bigblock Nova for over a decade and it keeps coming back for more. As for driving: "The race track has always been home for me. I believe you should take what you love and make a career out of it." 

"Away from the track, I'm a real girly girl, who loves heels and chick flicks, so it's awesome to embrace my inner tomboy."

The tried-and-true 468 cubic inch combo has proven strong and consistent in the Nova.

Zenning up for the next round... By the way, Holly's Nova is now certified to 8.50 seconds. And Torklift International signed on as the primary sponsor in 2013. Next year should be interesting.

Younger racers like Holly hold an unfair advantage at the tree against us more 'vintage' drivers. Bottom line: Holly's a tree chopper. But that's not the only reason for the new sponsorship. Torklift International says, "This award is in recognition of her outstanding community service, racing accomplishments, and her positive example to other young racers."

I'd love to tell you that Holly built the Nova and did this tinwork, but I only found so much info on her. Perhaps she'll see this and fill us in? How 'bout it, Holly? What's the scoop here?

Holly appears to have her hands full with this pesky Pontiac, but likely held her own at the stripe.

Brother Travis is now running a race car of his own and is obviously beside himself with gratitude for Holly's insight and support. 


"When you hit a jump, it's amazing. I love the hang time. It's a 15 to 20 minute race, at super fast speeds, in super close quarters. It gets intense." So sayeth Corry Weller, driver of the #18 Pro 4 (4X4) Unlimited class truck and member of the frequent flier club.

While frantically channel surfing for some racing action, I sometimes come across the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series insanity and stomp the brakes. This is one of the most mesmerizing motorsports today, with jawdropping action every second of every heat. I was most impressed with Corry Weller's #18, constantly flirting with disaster and winning more often than not. I thought, 'this guy is my kind of crazy!', but I received a big surprise when I finally saw Corry being interviewed after a recent race. I stand by my declaration that Corry is my kind of crazy. But learning that Corry is a woman (I noticed right away in the interview) has only earned more of my respect.

This type of racing is foreign to me, so I don't claim to understand the class structure or the rules. Here's what I do know: Corry started racing motocross on quads in 2001 and did it for five years.  Meanwhile, husband Jason was building his own line of Yamaha Rhino quads, equipped with 140+ horsepower CBR600 drivetrains - a tall step up from their previous 60-horse rating. That was great preparation for off road truck racing, "except I can't use my body weight to get around corners anymore." By 2012, the Arizona native had worn out her copy of the Dust to Glory film and was wheeling Pro 4 trucks through the LOORRS circuit: "Here was motocross racing, but 100 times better. I was hopelessly in love. The power-to-weight ratio is about the same, so it was a pretty easy transition." Now deeply involved in the LOORRS, Corry's Pro 4 program has strengthened, culminating in victories. She runs the truck program solo, while Jason tends to his Weller Racing enterprise in Chandler, Arizona.

Wife, mother, model, and racer Corry Weller has been sponsored by the corner bar from the get-go. The Tilted Kilt (where Corry used to work) supplies grub, grog, and a rabid fan base. When Optima Batteries came on board last year, Corry was able to join the elite Pro 4 truck class and somehow became even more competitive than ever.

When Corry took the leap of faith into full-time driving, husband Jason did the same by launching the Weller Racing shop. This isn't it - just an example of a body-off Pro 4 truck. A turnkey unit goes for over $200,000, and puts out 700 - 900 horsepower. That's all the info I could find! I assume the engines are all LS series Chevys, but again, LOORRS is keeping specs very quiet for some reason. Weird.

Corry has always made time for fans and is now meeting more of them than ever, signing autographs from the pits to the SEMA show.

Scraping mud from a truck is just one glamorous aspect of bigtime racing, demonstrated here with Corry's previous CORR Yamaha Rhino Pro/Mod ride. The new Pro 4 truck is full sized, with more area to clean. 

Strapped in, Corry dons her race face and morphs from friend to foe until she sees checkers. "We are not a sideshow or a marketing gimmick. We are racers. We belong in this class."

What's the main difference between the quads and trucks? "If I screwed up a jump in the motocross, I'm hitting the ground and breaking bones. There's blood and hospitals. The trucks eliminate most of that, because you have the seat, the harness and the cage. Now I'm just out there having a blast and going fast."

These close-ups don't show the intensity of a dozen trucks going fender-to-fender over hill and dale together. Incidents like these are commonplace. Tell 'em, Corry: "If you have time to turn into the rollover, you can usually drop it back down. It's the snap-rolls that really suck!"

 Corry can easily run away from the rest of the field. She proves it all the time, but still must contend with being knocked off the track.

Corry on winning: "It's a 'manly man' class. These trucks are powerful. No one thought I'd be able to hold my own in this class, let alone be competitive. But I am. And it's just going to get worse, because I'm just going to get faster. I don't think guys should feel bad if I beat them. I'm just a driver. So what if I have boobs?"

There will be 15 editions of the LOORRS races in 2014. Most are run on Friday and Saturday nights, on tracks scattered throughout the southwest. Fox 1 Sports and MavTV carry live coverage of some events and tape the rest. Being a pro racer on TV is a dream come true for a kid bashing quads around the desert: "But not without years and years of hard work, painful wrecks, broken bones, broken parts, broken bank accounts, tested relationships, derailed friendships, losing and gaining sponsors, and just plain hard racing."


Running her Moonstruck Chocolate Top Dragster was but a brief stop on a very long journey for Sadie Floyd.

The roots run so deep. Sadie Floyd was lucky enough to be born into the storied Floyd family - truly legendary in Northwest drag racing. Lucky, because she was born with drag racing in her blood and was surrounded by understanding family. Not so lucky, when it was discovered at two years of age that her royal blood carried leukemia. Sadie nearly died more than once, but was finally declared cancer-free at six years old, following years of intense treatment. Then she was off to the races. Sadie buzzed a little '32 Ford roadster go kart around Northwest pits. She crewed on her dad John's '48 Anglia until getting her first Jr. Dragster at age 11. Since winning the regional championship, Sadie Floyd has also excelled in the Pro, Super Pro, Super Comp and Top Dragster classes. Now 22 years old and a marketing student at Portland State University in Oregon, Sadie has recently made the news again.

The cute little girl I used to impatiently watch putting her Jr. Dragster through the 1/8th mile (and playing in the pits around family patriarch Earl Floyd's front engine dragsters) has now climbed the roots of her family tree straight to the top. Last week, Sadie licensed for A/Fuel in Jerry Darien's latest juggernaut. That's right, uber-coach Darien has now anointed our own little Sadie Floyd with the very mentoring wand that turned Gary Scelzi, Melanie Troxel, Brandon Bernstien, Morgan Lucas, Ashley, Britany and Courtney Force into Big Show stars, seemingly overnight. I barely know Sadie, yet feel an almost overwhelming sense of pride, buffered with some protective apprehension. This couldn't have happened to a more deserving person or family. We local yokels will be watching carefully as Darien tutors her to somewhere. And Sadie vows to use the opportunity to continue her campaign for leukemia awareness.

She's apparently sitting pretty now, but nothing has come easy for Sadie Floyd. She has paid more dues than most can comprehend.

This is the face of gratitude.

The face of youthful openness to possibility.

 The face of conjuring a vicious and wicked attack on the competition, while appearing grateful and innocent. 

Sadie licensing in Jerry Darien's new A/Fueler at her home track, Woodburn Drag Strip. From all reports, it went like clockwork.


Kristin's only gripe about hot rod guys is that they don't have to deal with this problem. I consider it an artsy socio-statement. Someone (Von Dutch?) will probably start marketing these shirts to female scenesters looking to hook themselves a car man, soon enough. Until then, we have the genuine article, right here.

Kristin took in this orphaned '53 Studebaker a few years ago and has rehabilitated it into a spirited but dependable road warrior. A cammed-up 350 SBC and TH-400 provide the grins.

Despite some honest patina, the Stude still looks every bit the classic that Raymond Lowey envisioned in the early fifties. This one runs and drives way better than stock. The wicked smallblock scarfs gas though, so Kristin began another daily driver project...

Meet "Davey". The flyweight six cylinder Falcon makes a more realistic driver and is teaching Kristin new tricks daily. Like isometrics.

When Kristin took welding classes from Gene Winfield, they hit it off and became pals. Kristin yanked the battery from her Stude to get Gene rolling at Bonneville last year. Gene and bud Johnny install the Optima red top here, just in time to make the last pass of the day in Gene's roadster. Gene bagged a solid run and Kristin scored hero points.

Uh oh. The Stude's tired brake lines finally expired and provided Kristen a puckering moment in L.A. traffic. Being Kristin, she used the event as an opportunity to learn the exotic braided stainless line-to-AN fitting dance.

The next day, Presto! She has produced her own braided stainless brake lines - and shows no band-aids on her fingertips! But it was pouring rain outside and the Falcon was hogging the garage. What to do? You can probably guess.

Yes, that's noted author Lori Bentley Law on the clock, filming an NBC News segment on Kristin and the Stude! They're famous!

This is NOT Lori Bentley Law, filming Kristin and fellow wrench twirlers at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Jeeze Kristin - save a little airtime for the rest of the world, okay?

When Kristin decided to learn pinstriping, she hooked up with a local master and took notes, then woodshedded until she could lay lines like these. Now she's tagging everything in sight.

She's looking up and she's moving forward. Kristin Kline is on her way to somewhere beyond greatness.



Straight outa cyberspace, this week's squirrel comes sporting mad ninja chops. Stay tuned for our upcoming holiday squirrel blowout. You won't believe your eyes!!!

No matter how cool your toolbox is, it's what you do with those wrenches that counts. So this week we salute a guy who knows how to handle a wrench (discovered by Motormouth Ray).

All we know about this guy is that he lives somewhere near Boort, Victoria in Australia and he makes magic with wrenches from his wheelchair. His toolbox is a building and his wife is okay with that. That's good enough for us.


Betty Skelton

Ethel Flock

Ivy Cummings

Louise Smith