Tuesday, July 23, 2013

HOT WEEKEND SALAD Suitable for ages 8 to 80

                               This guy has the future all mapped out. Don't tell him it can't happen.

So much fretting over the future of hot rodding. So little faith in the spawn of nitro-altered chromosomes. I don't get it. Just because our own synapse system has corroded doesn't mean petrochemical poisoning has had an adverse effect across the board. Young roosters still get their feet wet with exposure to any manner of mechanical merriment, then sample other pursuits until the adventures deliver them to their own niche. Everything's new, but nothing has really changed. Here's a toast to the future, and our offspring who drag us along for the ride.

       My nephew Riley Gosson, at a car show with his pick of the day. I couldn't be any more proud.

Even the late model guys don't last forever. We received a couple reminders this week that none of us know how long our fuse is. All around great guy and beloved track character Steve "Nitro Man" Wallace died suddenly of unknown causes. I saw Steve less than a year ago at Famoso, so stoked on horsepower bliss that his feet barely touched the ground - he just vibrated around the facility, manically thrilled to greet everyone he saw. He couldn't have been any more full of life. I didn't shoot any photos that day, so have downloaded some for you here. My apologies and thanks to the unknown photogs.

Nitro Man carried the passion for drag racing's roots right past many veterans too cynical to hear him. With "characters" in short supply in the age of conformist paranoia, Steve was a national treasure.


From the Honoring Veterans Department: Paul "Tug Boat" Candies also passed on this week. Renowned for his mega-successes with  Funny Car and Top Fuel partner Leonard Hughes, Paul's family can take pride and solace in decades of achievements driven by an untameable passion. Paul Candies envisioned and implemented the team concept in pro drag racing, decades before John Force and Don Schumacher took the blame. Love 'em or hate 'em, teams win Championships, thanks to Candies' foresight. Children P.B., Brett, and grandson Devin carry on the legacy with Candies signage on their (Stock and Super Stock) Drag Pack Mopars and Cobra Jet Mustangs.

Candies & Hughes employed the hottest shoes of the day, from Richard Tharp and Mark Oswald to Leonard Hughes himself. But most fans still associate Leroy Goldstein with the C&H butterfly. The Wale and Candies AA/FD showed at Bowling Green's Hot Rod Reunion this year with an enormous fuel tank, ensuring it would be the last Cackle Car running, and so it was. Candies wins again!


SGE International reporter Jacques Vandenbergh (from Classic Cars and Lifestyle Magazine) checked in this week with coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed from England. As my unflagging pursuit of event entry for the Son of Godzilla Morris continues unrequited, the event somehow carries on. Baffling.

Jacques failed to report on the number of hay bails ignited by nitro flames from the Rat Trap Fuel Altered during the hill climb. But he saved face with nice photos of these Euro rods, including the Mercedes Dream Truck that inspired Dean Moon's version, built from a '61 El Camino and now under restoration by Florida's Geoff Hacker. Photos by Jacques Vandenbergh


SGE East Coast correspondent Ray Guarino submitted this report from last week's Syracuse Nationals in New York. The Right Coast Association blowout was bigger than ever, but was sadly overstocked with pastel and billet filler. Unfazed, Cub Reporter Ray sniffed out the good stuff for discerning SGE eyes to savor - a nice sample of East Coast reality, from pitiful salt carnage to righteously restored historical hilarity.

That's our man Ray on the left, obliging a fan who wanted a photo. You may recognize Ray's mug from the Motor Mouth radio show (and it's the perfect face for radio). We've devised an exchange program, wherein we'll contribute to each other's media outlets while covering events. Expect plenty of down-and-dirty  Pontiacs, tired race cars, and crusty station wagons from both of us. Photos by Ray Guarino


WARNING: Self Indulgent Post!

Shellski the party planner. She could spin plates on the Ed Sullivan Show. Photo by Scotty

I still have no idea how she does it. For years, I've watched slackjawed as my girlfriend Saint Shellski throws together dinner parties on a moment's notice - every one a delicious smash hit. This weekend it was finally my turn.

To celebrate the completion of the new Scotty Gosson Combo album ("Surfing the Asphalt Playground"), producer/drummer Rob James and I decided to make a promotional video. We began planning the logistics two weeks ago. And that's exactly when the wheels began to come off. By the morning of the shoot, everything had unraveled. We had no video camera. The club we booked to shoot "live" performance scenes was locked and empty. What to do? In the spirit of the album, we winged it on the fly. As usual, it all worked out better than our original laughable plans. Look for the finished(?) product here soon. Keep your expectations low and you won't be too disappointed.

We called a "band" meeting at slingshot pilot Ronnie Mankins' house. My brother Mark (left) and BFF Dr. Lockjaw (right) were pressed into service as our fake rhythm guitar and bass players, respectively. Saint Shellski (foreground) agreed to shoot footage on her cell phone. Ronnie was supposed to play the band manager role, but was nowhere to be found. So far, so good. But hey, check the orange '41 Ford coupe in the background... Photo by Scotty

Ronnie's next door neighbor now owns this conservative custom street rod, built at Warmington Coach Works, where I labored for a few years. Dr. Lockjaw helped with the graceful chop and I did the bodywork: Molding in fenders, Frenching lights, rounding corners, sinking license plate, etc. It came out nice, and triggered some amusing memories. Photo by Scotty

We soon learned that Ronnie was helping partner Dave Hicks build his new Fuel Altered at Bill Comstock's Acme Garage (20 miles away) and had run into some glitches. But he hightailed it home in his 6-cylinder '56 Chevy in under 15 minutes! Most impressive. Photo by Ronnie Mankins

Upon Ronnie's arrival, we piled into the bandmobiles and fried rubber to James Drive Studio, where Rob had been waiting for us. Photo by Scotty

We shot some "recording" footage in Rob's garage/studio, while Mark and Doc got the hang of the song. Then Doc offered to let me drive his Deuce to our next location.That turned out to be a mistake. But so much fun! Photo by Scotty

We jammed our gear into the '56 and caravanned across town to the Oakdale Laundromat for a surprise guerrilla performance. Thanks to my itchy clutch foot, Doc's blown smallblock/4-speed coupe put on a good show, but allowed the 6-banger Chevy to walk away from every stoplight. How embarrassing.... Photo by Mark Gosson

Our triumphant arrival at the laundromat. There were two very tired women inside, sitting on a bench, and a guy folding his laundry. Ronnie plays the band manager role with exacting accuracy. This was planned to be a nude performance, but weighing visual shock against police record risk, we silently rocked the joint (no power outlets) and split before the fuzz came. Photo by Shellski

We beelined over to the SGE complex to shoot the epic final scene. But first, we called a lunch break, just like the big Hollywood studios do. Saint Shellski lugs band equipment to the soundstage in 100 degree heat, while I condition myself with a cool refreshing drink. Showbiz is grueling ( just ask Shellski) - gotta protect the moneymaker at all costs ("Honey, where's my Vaseline-filled gloves?"). Photo by Mark Gosson

While Shellski desperately foraged for pizza out on the sizzling streets, the guys and I soaked up the air conditioning (set on "Wrist Pin Shrinkage"), caught up on local gossip, and nitpicked this month's magazines in the spacious SGE lobby. We eventually had to don flannel shirts. Brrr... We were napping when Shellski returned with the pizza. We savored our dinner while she wired power to the patio, set up the equipment, tuned instruments, did a sound check, set out food and drink, arranged patio furniture, watered the plants, and greeted invited guests (she did a fine job on the invitations, too). Photo by Mark Gosson

Saint Shellski did a nice clean stage set-up around our Monolith Of Shock And Awe sound system (at left), which rivals anything Stanley Ousley ever rigged up for the Grateful Dead. It's also much more efficient, requiring only one roadie, compared to fifty (thanks again, Hon!). Photo by Mark Gosson

"And now... Ladies and gentlemen... Direct from the Oakdale Landromat... Please welcome home... Gosson Bros. Racing Library recording artists, the Scotty Gosson Combo!" Shellski (exploiting Full Access Stage Pass and obscuring Dr. Lockjaw) captures the magic moment via cell phone, as uncounted Bic lighters melt down. The crowd went ape shit and we played like possessed demons (it was now well over 100 degrees). Photo by Richie Rich

The scene about ten feet from the stage. If the gate and opening were a bit wider, we could've parked rods with us onstage, but this was still a pretty cool setting. Photo by Mark Gosson

Allow me to introduce you around. First, our amazing hardcore audience: Dear friends and neighbors Sandinista and Richie Rich... Photo by Scotty

And Tim Proctor, who was the Starter during my tenure at Champion Raceway. We hadn't seen each other in ages, so his surprise appearance was a true shocker. Tim's heat gun showed a stage floor temperature of 157 degrees at curtain time. Adjusted altitude was over 6,500 feet. But Crewchief Ronnie's clutch setting was spot on: Traction on the cobblestone surface was ice-like, yet we hooked and ran hard. Photo by Scotty

Contrary to popular belief, the Scotty Gosson Combo is not a new offering from Burger King, but an assemblage of incredibly wonderful individuals. Top of the list has to be Saint Shellski (AKA Shelley Kaldunski), who could've effortlessly made this endeavor a total success, but I didn't have the heart to burden her with it. She missed a whole day's work as it was, just to video our sillyness. You're a total badass, Hon. Photo by Scotty

 Dr. Lockjaw (AKA Jamie Ford) has been my best friend for many years now. I asked him to do this gig just so I could say I asked him, never dreaming that he'd actually do it. He seemed to actually enjoy getting out of the shop for a day of playing rock star. I owe you (another) one, Doc! Photo by Scotty

When we were little kids, brother Mark had a flimsy little toy drumset and I had a cheesy cheapo guitar. We pretended to play concerts in the living room. Our furniture thought we were great! Who could've guessed that training would pay off so handsomely, decades later? Meanwhile, Mark worked with some real bands, during rare off-hours from running parts houses, raising a family, building cars, and promoting events. On this day, he totally inhabited the role of slacker guitar player. Could this be the opening of a new chapter in the life of an inveterate overachiever? Stay tuned... Photo by Scotty

You must feel like you know Rob James by now. Our recording project at his garage studio has been pretty well documented on this blog. What you probably don't know is that Rob recorded this album gratis, and it's only one of many he's done this way. He believes in documenting and sharing music at the grassroots level. If he digs the jams, they'll get the royal treatment. God bless him for that! He's also a total funster to hang with and has become a great friend to myself and to the world of music in general. When not hanging with his family or sweating in the studio, Rob wheels a forklift in a warehouse and enjoys gardening.

The face we're counting on to launch this video to viralism. Ronnie Mankins and I met at the drags many years ago and instantly sensed that we have more in common than not. We've been through a lot together since then. But we only recently realized our shared love of guitar. Nice surprise! Ronnie's been chasing his dream of being a fulltime butterfly tamer since before we met. He's wrangled some nasty diggers, altereds, and even some killer doorslammers, and has prodded each of them to their best numbers. This guy can drive. He's licensed and ready to suit up. He supports his habit by wheeling and dealing in race cars, trailers, and a zillion individual associated parts. He also has mouths to feed, so buy his stuff and help send a nice kid to the big show.

NOW do you see why I can claim to be the luckiest guy in town? And these are just SOME of my friends!

UPDATE: The day after the shoot, Saint Shellski, Sheila the Wonder Dog and I headed to the mountains to catch our breath. We returned to find that Rob James had already thrown together a sample of the video and sent it to me. It's gonna be funky-cool. Wait for it...