Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Home is where you hang your helmet. Be it oh so expansive, or ever so humble, there's no place like it. Sure, we drive thousands of miles, even cruise blogs, books, magazines, TV, movies, websites and videos for peeks at cultures that are exotic to us. But at the end of the day, we all just want to go home. Being a relative term, home can apply to anywhere, so that's precisely the ground we're covering this week. There's no place like it, wherever it may be.


It was a rare and deadly triple deadline. I stared it down with a defiant case of writers block, to no avail. The date was marked on my jumbo calendar with triple skulls-and-crossbones, along with a note to attend the Hot Rod Nationals nostalgia race at our local track, Champion Raceway, on the same day. I figured that with enough coffee, I might make the deadlines with a few hours to spare at the track. Dr. Lockjaw and I even made tentative plans to prepare the Tetanus II Altered for its first runs in over two years. We were stoked. But as usual, deadline day arrived to find me sweating blood, and the Doctor was up to his ankles in customer work (he's really tall, so ankle-deep is pretty busy for him). We didn't even get the car on the trailer. But thanks to the efforts of veteran drag race photographer and grizzled road dog Dennis Vollmar, we can all enjoy the event vicariously via these hand picked images. 

Dear Uncle Sam, thanks again for the cool drag strip. We're still really enjoying it. It sure could use a new computer system though - after you pay off your debts, of course. Have you considered selling off some of the southern states to Mexico, to raise funds? Just a thought. (Scotty shot)

A booked-in BB/Funny Car show provided spirited entertainment from the first green flicker to the last working win light. Eye witnesses report these guys to be an excellent value for the money.

Dave Hix had his new Altered in the lanes, but it never fired. The Arias headed Chevy is now apart for final assembly. 

This digger was news to me...

Old pal Frank Miller and his Beeline Express can always be counted on for some lively action. So I'm not going to assume this is a burnout.

Twisty Ron Austin even came out of retirement to dust off his injected smallblock Fiat. Doc and I had our hearts set on dusting it off for him. Maybe next year. (Photos courtesy of lovable curmudgeon Dennis Vollmar)

Meanwhile, only a few miles south in California (conveniently close to Mexico!), the Brenneman family's A/FX Mopar was melting concrete at the Eagle Field Drags. The roving proprietors of Albany, Oregon's storied B&B Speed Shop made a good showing at "The Field" and did all Oregonians proud with the screaming thousand foot burnouts and edge-dancing quarter mile attacks that we were anticipating at the Hot Rod Nationals. That's right, the B&B Speed Shop team made a conscious decision not to race locally. In their absence, Albany slid a little bit closer to Mexico on the map.

It really isn't much different from its days as a northern Oregon street/strip brawler. We first met on I-5 at the Woodburn, Oregon exit. I was feeling smug, wheeling my ten second street car in from Portland, when this thing took the exit right beside me and drowned out the sound of my uncapped headers. Humbling. (Photo by Hot Rod Deluxe cub reporter Kleet Norris)



As you know, Ray spends his Sundays and Thursdays with Chris Switzer in the Motor Mouth Radio studios, informing their fellow New York gearheads of local events and other pertinent news (talk about your Public Service Announcements). Last Thursday got sweeter than usual, when Hot Rod magazine staffer Elana Scherr dropped in - one of several stops on her whirlwind New York tour. The ensuing interview was the second consecutive home run for the Motormouths (go to www.motormouthradio.com and at least listen to the awkwardly funny-but-sweet finale, wherein Elana connects with a potential soul mate, known locally as "The Garbage Man"). But the fun continued long after the show...

After being grilled in the hot seat for an hour, MMR guests are rewarded with mandatory photo sessions. L-R: Motormouth Ray, NY show promoter and magazine staffer chauffeur Bill Giaccio, Elana Scherr, Motormouth Chris.

Special guests (like Bill and Elana) are then whisked to Ray's garage and forced to feign interest in Ray's extensive collection of Pontiac arcania. Bill is silently working on his taxes here, while Elana plans her escape.

If you must whisk around New York, Elana felt it most appropriate to whisk in Autoseum honcho Andy Perillo's Chrysler New Yorker. She fell in love with it. Look at her - she's glowing!

Next stop was The Autoseum on Long Island. And wouldn't you know it - just when Elana slid into the Batmobile, the phone rang. She talked for 45 minutes. When asked if it was Commissioner Gordon, Elana claimed it was a wrong number. Half an hour later, a pizza arrived. (Photos by Motormouth Ray)

The long day of reminiscing with Bill and Elana called up this remembrance from Ray :

"This is the Camaro Drew Parise used to run on the street, before he upped his game and made it a race car. His wife Dina asked to drive it, which she did. After that, there was no stopping her. Shortly afterward, Drew had his Pro Mod built and Dina took over the Camaro full time. Fast forward a bit and Dina had her own Pro Mod, making them a two-car local team. Anyway, with all of the pro-girl talk recently, I thought you might get a kick out of the rear window decal Dina ran on the car." (Photos courtesy of Motormouth Ray)

Check Elana's Hot Rod blog (blogs.hotrod.com/author/escherr/) for the details on New York City legend Alex Harsley and his incredible Dodge Dart GTS. Elana may have earned her first Pulitzer with this story. It's that good. In the spirit of my local NPR station's Pledge Week, why not buy a subscription while you're at Hot Rod.com?  (Photos swiped from Hot Rod.com)


Across the nation, many race fans just couldn't stay local while the California Hot Rod Reunion was playing out in Bakersfield last weekend. They came from everywhere. A record number of Cacklers, combined with wild and woolly action in class eliminations was claimed by many to be the best Reunion ever, despite a dismal turnout of Top Fuelers. Example: SGE regular Adam Sorokin took the Top Fuel final while sharing his oiled lane with his opponent, as the Champion Speed Shop semi-liner blew its SB2 Chevy powerplant straight to hell. There were plenty of highlights in the crowded Funny Car field, as well. Luckily, the CHRR always has the world's finest motorsports photographers standing by...

Award winning independent Doug Adams and NHRA company clicker Marc Gewertz both caught Todd Paton's short run. With leaking fuel pooling under the tires, this is what can happen before the 60' lights in less than one second.

Tiffany Stinson shot a motor-driven series of images detailing this excursion. I picked one.

Even sitting still, Competition Coupes are the wildest show on wheels. Filled with burning nitro and getting the green - anything can happen and often does. Marc Gewertz relied on his cat-like reflexes and nailed this classic...




His credit card is already scorched, but even an oxy/acetylene torch can't melt the steely passion of a hot rodder's dream. Ray's latest online finds are intriguing, to say the least.

As of 10-24, bidding on this Deuce roadster project was sitting at $6,300. The Brookville body was bought with floor installed, which makes for an exaggerated rake. Once it's channeled over Funny Car builder Richard Pauza's 1 3/4" steel tubes, the seller claims, "All you'll need is a motor, trans, wheels, and a mill, lathe, and TIG welder."

Jesse James is still cleaning house. On 10-24, bidding hit $1,136 for this Hilborn EFI conversion that Jesse claims will make your traditional smallblock Chevy "run like a new LS3. It was set up for Delphi electronic fuel injection by Blower Drive Service - perfect for a period hot rod project!" "Period" is another relative term..."Period, with a secret" might be more accurate. Still cool though.




Our man Grady (see his feature on this blog) is apparently taking the scenic route home to Texas from Washington, D.C. He posted this photo on Facebook last week, succinctly captioned, "Lost."

Lost. And he isn't complaining. (Photo courtesy of Grady Bryant)




My old Bi-Polar Bear station wagon still gets fan mail. I'm happy to report that new owner Rocky Gosson is still getting dependable service from the '80 Malibu I traded a smashed Pinto for. Rocky recently sent these images to the SGE offices...

It's still extremely efficient at burning fuel...

...and it still hauls whatever you throw in it. That's good, because Rocky requires a lot of that cream soda to get through the day. The punched decklid is for his '33 coupe project. This image makes my back ache: I used to sleep in there. (Photos by Rocky)



Yeah, it's finally come to this - I'm now updating individual components of my project. But that's just how it is with projects. Especially part-time projects. It's often the little stuff that hangs us up, and this time it was the shocking discovery that I hadn't planned ahead. Again. There will be a vertical hoop just ahead of the forward door jambs (under the dash) and there will be horizontal tubes attached to that hoop. So the jambs required clearancing. My mentor Dr. Lockjaw kindly pointed out some slight irregularities in the cowl that could have been addressed prior to this stage (Translation: He chewed my ass and took away my tools, then spent an hour tweaking, welding and hammering the battered cowl into a shape that actually resembled a cowl). My bad. Eventually, the cowl was trimmed, cowl hoops (there will be two) were designed, and we even shaped the first hoop in the bender (once we found the missing bender dies for our oddball tubing size, which took another half hour). Then it was time to call it a day. Next week: Back to where we thought we'd be last week.

The farther behind we ran, the faster the clock ticked. This phenomenon must have something to do with the approaching change to Daylight Savings Time, but I don't really understand it. I don't even have a savings account, so this is all over my head.

Marking the offending sheetmetal for removal revealed my previous cuts for frame rail clearance (the body will be channeled) to be inaccurate, so that area was welded up.

Doc banned me from his MIG welder seven years ago. He hates it when I watch him weld. Sometimes he even removes his helmet during a weld to see if I'm watching him and I quickly pretend to be interested in something else. He asked (in a decidedly accusatory tone) if I was watching him while I shot this photo. I told him I was just keeping an eye on sparks that could ignite his fiberglass Cobra body. But I wasn't paying any attention to that - I was too busy watching him weld. Doc doesn't read this blog. I once used his TIG welder to build an entire car when he wasn't looking.

Ta Da! My jangled cuts are now replaced with weld. It never happened.

The weld is ground flat (we've resigned ourselves to those hinge mount screws being permanent - long story)...

We re-marked the area to be removed and made the cut we intended to make three hours before.

And just like that, we now have a straight and true cowl that can be vertically removed from the chassis without tubular interference. Total elapsed time to make once slice from two door jambs: Four hours (counting lunch). That's all the time we had for photography. You're welcome. Today's lesson: Patience in marking cuts is key, as my 1/8" inch mistake at the cowl would have resulted in body panels at both ends of the car to be off by nearly a full inch! Unacceptable, no matter how much of a slob you are. This was four hours well spent. 



In a move no one saw coming, my brother Rocky left Oregon for Nebraska in the late 1970s. If that wasn't shocking enough, he's still there! I guess he qualifies for local status by now. Shortly after his arrival in Omaha, Rocky married and bought a suburban home with a tiny one-car garage, vowing to extend it in length and girth, as soon as possible - "soon" and "possible" being relative terms. When he retired from fleet maintenance from the City of Omaha, his massive tool collection went into storage, but for the select few items that fit into his garage.

Humble but adequate, over 100 cars (my conservative estimate) have been built in this garage. Space management is the key.

The Big Red 16-drawer cabinet is one of Rocky's Macs, pulled from storage.

This little Kennedy machinist box has served field duty since Rocky's Oregon days. It has helped many a wounded hot rod limp home, visited untold wrecking yards, and saved the day at more than a few race tracks.

I believe the Snap-on bench box is another escapee from the storage unit. Hey, that's my old baby drill press on the bench! Still spinning, even after making Swiss cheese of the Son of Godzilla Morris.

And this - what the?! Oh yeah, I almost forgot - Nebraska has squirrels, too. This one is posted by request. QUICK POLL: Do you prefer squirrels, toolboxes, or "other"? Cast your vote in the "Comments" box. This controversy will be settled once and for all, next week. Your vote counts.

Rocky's ancient large tool locker, for you art students.

The chemical supply locker lobbies for equal political time with the artsy-fartsy set (For the record, Rocky is right, I'm wrong). That's my old '36 Ford pickup Altered project in the foreground, now being converted to street duty by Rocky. (Photos by Rocky)


NEXT WEEK: Another blog post! You don't want to miss this!


  1. Squirrels carrying their toolboxes! xo shellski

  2. Thank you for reading SGE and for participating in the democratic process, Shellski. Your vote has been recorded. Have a super sparkly day!