Tuesday, June 24, 2014



Last week's look at pedal and solar power closed with a vow to return to unbridled hot rodding this week, and on that, all parties seem agreed. Our own Motormouth Ray summed up the general consensus: "We really are backwards as a culture... But let's bring back the tire smoking, fuel wasting, carbon spewing horsepower!" And so it shall be.

Sunrise after a full moon night at El Mirage. Big changes were coming to the desert in the next few minutes. This is the silence before the cacophony... (Holly Martin photo)

Danny Thompson, strapped in for his first ride in the Challenger II, following four years of non-stop hard labor. At least his wallet was now thin enough not to cause him any discomfort in the aluminum seat.

Baby's first steps.

IT'S ALIVE!!! Mission control, we have ignition. 

No drama. All systems check positive. First test pass: 180 MPH. (Photo courtesy of C. Chick Huntimer)

Idyllic end to a rowdy day, 46 years in the making. That's how long it's been since Danny's dad (Mickey) last chased the piston driven landspeed record with his Challenger 1. Mickey got pretty close to the record. Danny hopes to capture it on behalf of his dad. Testing resumes at the USFRA's Bonneville session, in two weeks. Next stop after that: Speed Week. (Photos courtesy of Zane McNary)


Downshifting to a more grassroots level, Fathers Day weekend is celebrated in my town (Medford, Oregon) with street car drags at Champion Raceway. But when I heard that Dave Hicks' Fuel Altered would be testing during the event, I decided to get some shots for an imminent magazine piece on the car. Hilarity ensued...

Street cars are the stars on Father's Day, but I was there to shoot Hix' Fiat. Driver Ronnie Mankins shoots a victory sign in this out take from my pit shots. He was feeling frisky after arranging a friendly grudge match with our mutual pal Twisty Ron Austin.

Twisty's pit was my next stop. His trailer features the best artwork in all of the pit area, for my money. (Art by Lance Sorchik)

Twisty and partner Crankypants were obvious underdogs, pitting their junkyard alky smallblock against Hix' Arias big block on nitro. Regardless, they were definitely up for the grudge match. 

Both parties suited up and got tucked into their respective steeds.

The National Anthem was rendered by a local celebrity, then it was on...

Cars were fired and drivers staged - in the same lane?! Ronnie still needed one more licensing pass before being cleared for side-by-side action, so bye runs were made instead, with low ET determining the winner. That turned out to be Twisty by a landslide (8.66), as Ronnie got too crossed up and had to abort. To see that action, stand by for a future issue of Drag Racer magazine. Scroll to the bottom of this post for my street car picks. (Scotty shots)

SIDEBAR: It was a petition signed by southern Oregon street racers that made Champion Raceway happen in the 1970's. Today, a similar campaign spearheaded by Los Angeles speed freaks is underway to re-open storied Brotherhood Raceway on L.A.'s Terminal Island. Founded decades ago by Big Willie Robinson and The Brotherhood of Street Racers, the track has a contemptuous history with the governing Harbor Commission, but seems to have learned some lessons and now has support from several of the commissioners. The racers have organized under the Project Street Legal banner. Sign their petition at: http://www.change.org/petitions/eric-garcetti-help-stop-illegal-street-racing-in-los-angeles-by-providing-a-legal-track?utm_source=supporter_message&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=supporter_message.


Speaking of street cars... Hot Rod Magazine's Power Tour ended last week, toasting the manic mechanical migration from Charlotte, North Carolina to the Wisconsin Dells. Following a valiant last-minute thrash, David Freiburger and Mike Finnegan hopped into Mike's '55 project car and played catch-up to the tour in Two Lane Blacktop style, following much of the route from the film and documenting their progress with photos at several of the movie's shoot locations. Play Spot the 2LBT Backgrounds and test your skills!

As the clock ticked down... Deadline Roulette is a young man's game. Too much drama for me...

... but these guys thrive on the challenge. They've cheated Father Time once again. Good for them.

                                                                  (Photos courtesy of Hot Rod.com)

Long story short: They made it to Power Tour. The comprehensive report will appear in a future issue of Hot Rod, but if you can't wait for that, just skip to www.hotrod.com. (Photo by Elana Scherr)

BREAKING NEWS: SGE Tech Editor Motormouth Ray has finally pulled his '55 Nomad out of storage and rolled it into place beside his Long Island home. He's been talking lately about building the 'mad with a Two Lane vibe and we hope he does the right thing. Expect plenty more on this project in the coming months. (Photos courtesy of Motormouth Ray)


Talking horsepower always dictates a return to basics - in this case, real basic, like one horsepower. Marty Strode's build of Jim Lindsay's Bonneville Modified Roadster is in full thrash mode now, with Speed Week lurking just around the corner. Meanwhile, Marty's brother Tom got inspired by his Shetland pony to re-imagine his homebrewed minibike, crafted from a bicycle.

BEFORE shot of Tom Strode's pitmobile, and it's initial inspiration.

AFTER shot illustrates how a little imagination and elbow grease can take a concept to the next level. Is it too pretty now to actually use? Tom doesn't think so. We say The Shetland is now the perfect tow vehicle for Lonnie Gilbertson's Hit and Miss Special bellytank. 

Marty Strode finished-off Jim Lindsay's headers, whipped up a nice chute pack/mount, and finalized the majority of the tin work last week. Lindsay remains MIA... (Photos courtesy of Marty Strode)

Last known evidence of Jim Lindsay's whereabouts. What has he been doing in there? 



We won't try to snow you here. This isn't even a real squirrel. It's actually a guy in a squirrel costume. He calls himself The Republican Squirrel, and has been trailing Hillary Clinton like toilet paper during her prolonged presidential campaign reconnaissance mission, thinly disguised as a book tour. Here's The Republican Squirrel checking in from Times Square in New York City. The rumor mill insists he blew a bundle on hookers and street race wagers here, but we can't confirm that.

After days of dogged stalking, it finally happened. Hillary surprised The Republican Squirrel with a complementary copy of her Hard Choices book, disarming him in the process. The baffled squirrel accepts...

... and is even more surprised to find a personal note within.

The Republican Squirrel has now been demonized by the Tea Party as a lefty (for fraternizing with the enemy), and consequently hung out to dry by the entire Republican Party. Motormouth Ray saw him working at a White Castle in Queens last weekend. Most squirrels know better than to get involved in politics, and now this guy does, too. Happy reading, pal.

Gonzo hot rod photographer Spike Kilmer's personal rollaway (in background) assists with Spike's 'found object' art projects and vintage camera rebuilds. Here's to one of the most colorful and talented photogs in the biz!

Street cars at Champion Raceway...

                                                                                                 (Scotty shots)

The annual Medford Cruise also took place on Fathers Day. My neighbor Mary was aghast at my disdain for the event, and caught this guy's reaction to the cars as a reminder to me - without these events, this kid might never get exposed to car culture at all. Thanks Mary. I needed that. (Photo by Mary Wilkins-Kelly)