Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Everybody's out there, partying like it's 1999. I should be right in the thick of the action, gettin' the hot skinny poop, clicking pix and taking notes. Instead, the cancellation of my summer event tour has condemned me to a grueling sentence in the bunker, with my nose to the keyboard. It's nice to catch up on the workload though. Progress has been steady. But every once in a while, I'll take a breather and am tortured by what's coming in over the wire...

Damion Campbell has enjoyed great success this year with his '63 Tempest road racer/street/strip monster. Damion will ride that success into this years SEMA show and the accompanying Ultimate Street Car Invitational. You better sit down for this next part: It's Chevy powered. But the SBC sits in a tube chassis and fronts a 5-speed, which is probably some redemption. Congrats, Damion! Call me when you're ready to install a Pontiac engine - I know about a dozen people who would DONATE Poncho power for that car, just to make it more... Tempestish. (Photo courtesy of Optima Batteries) http://www.optimabatteries.com/us/en/experience/power-source/catching-damion-campbell-his-1963-pontiac-lemans/

David Freiburger snapped Keith Turk towing the Hot Rod Special back to L.A. from Bonneville. For the first time in recent memory, they did NOT set any records this year, but I've been assured that a good time was had by all. (HRM photo courtesy of Keith Turk)

Hot Rod Magazine Drag Week kicked off last weekend with a bombshell: Four-time Unlimited Class Champion Larry Larson was MIA. Larsen cited the presence of Pro Mod-style carbon fiber bodies to be outside the realm of what attracted him to the Unlimited class with his steel bodied Nova. He had also suffered some last minute parts breakage. Rarely has such a direct statement been so wide open to interpretation... For the record, I say Unlimited means Unlimited. That means competitors can order up any T-shirt designs they can imagine via iphone, while negotiating rush hour freeway traffic in six second cars.

Long the epitome of free range street car performance (it went 6.95 in 2010 under conducive conditions), is Larson's Nova now just a tin dinosaur? 

Personal favorite Jeff Lutz squeezed out a head gasket on Sunday, replaced it, and drove to Indy. 

The Denny Terzich-built "Sick Seconds" Camaro lived up to its name with a 6.72 on Sunday with Tom Bailey driving holding on. (Photos courtesy of HRM)

Missing Speed Week, The Sandhills Open Road Challenge, the HAMB Drags and Drag Week has been painful enough (understatement). Being absent from the upcoming Hot Rod Hill Climb (this summer's premier event, on Saturday, the 14th) will be downright excruciating. I've been walking through the baby steps with promoter Mike "Nick" Nicholas from the onset. Maybe Mike will send some exclusive sneak peek photos for SGE viewers...

This is where I had planned to spend the morning of the 14th: Downtown Georgetown, Colorado.

Some of the pre-entries for the 2013 edition - the first running since 1953:

Some of the original contestants, who will be there this Saturday:

                               Jim Nielson will have his Deuce there.

Cal Kennedy did well last time with this Wayne-headed six cylinder '34 Chevy roadster.

Cal today, with the same Stovebolt six that he drove to glory in '53. That fender at lower right belongs to...

... that's right - old habits die hard. Cal will be spectating this year - in appropriate style.

Some random shots from '53:

                 I suspect this last image is a recent build, but just had to include it somewhere. 

Promoter Mike is approaching this event in the same manner that the last race was advertised, using his own '40 coupe:

And in the midst of juggling all of this, Mike somehow managed to build a race entry of his own:

Even if nobody shows up (Ha!), Georgetown still looks like a nice place to spend the day:

                                                                       BE THERE!!!



The original Mr. Goodwrench, recognized worldwide as the face of General Motors, was played by this anonymous (and now unemployed) actor. Adweek quips, "Today, 'Mr. Goodchip' might be more appropriate". Indeed.

Last week, political talk show television host Stephen Colbert acknowledged for the first time (to this reporters knowledge) his involvement in General Motors' 1974 - 2011 Mr. Goodwrench promotional campaign. Reports of GM's "beyond generous" contributions to Colbert's 2011 Super PAK campaign by rival television journalist Bill O'Reilly have yet to be confirmed. Colbert (who's sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch held a South Carolina congressional seat until being inexplicably ousted by Mark Sanford while he indulged in an extramarital affair in Argentina) has been an alleged Corvette and Camaro owner since the $800,000 left over from the Super PAK was ostensibly donated to charity. As of press time, none of the above parties have returned SGE calls requesting a statement on the matter. 

L-R: Colbert, Colbert-Busch, Argentinian tourism promoter Sanford. 

The State House in Columbia, South Carolina (a city obviously named for its South American ties). Home of the Gamecocks, now more than ever.

                      Bill O'Reilly: Unfocused finger pointer, or orally fixated whistle blower?

Exactly what did Mr. Colbert learn from Mr. Goodwrench, and when did he learn it? Bill O'Reilly and Jack Roush want answers. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.



                                                              Ms. Low Profile Herself

A special Hello to new SGE follower Holly Felsen Welch! Welcome aboard, maam. Keep an eye on your mailbox for your SGE membership kit, complete with certificate of authenticity, personalized club jacket, and a nifty illuminated key fob that doubles as a spark plug gapper! There's a special surprise in the right front pocket of your club jacket - or "colors", as the kids say today...

Holly is actually no stranger to SGE. There's a nice interview with her on here somewhere. I was friends with her dad for the last few years of his life, then Holly stumbled into my path and we've been friends since. Holly just finished reprinting all of her dad's iconic teenage hot rodder books. Kiwis Fingerz and Andi Mullan (who are helping me publish my first independent book) will be selling Holly's books and mine at their Track Race store in New Zealand. We're organizing a Kiwi book signing tour for next spring, which we're all stoked about. The details are all mapped out, except for financing the trip. Anyone interested in attaining heroship for patronizing the hot rod arts is welcome to contact Holly and/or myself. No collect calls, please.

These titles are available individually, or as a boxed set. Check 'em out on Amazon.com.

You didn't know that Henry wrote more than just car books? These examples are merely the tip of the iceberg. Holly is working on reprinting these little known gems, as you read this.



Perhaps the most controversial Model A rear crossmember ever constructed in southern Oregon last week, my deviously radical design has sparked a vicious firestorm that - well actually, no one has seen it yet but Dr. Lockjaw and I, and we're both okay with it. One more baby step toward the 2014 Hot Rod Hill Climb.

Rear crossmember will kick up a bit. The main tube (1 5/8" .138" wall), MIG'd in and ready for finishing.

The final TIG welds would clean up easy, but I'll probably keep 'em natural, for strength sake. Should be nice. Stay tuned to see where this crossmember is headed...

With excellent music on the stereo (as always), we were rolling and couldn't stop. Doc cleaned up the welds on the spreader bar...

... while I tore the '37 Ford front suspension down to the bare axle. We had to heat one end to get a stubborn kingpin out. The spindles were tossed to make way for space age late model (1940) juice brake-compatible units. A pretty productive four hour day (for us). And Mrs. Lockjaw even served us a swell lunch! Sweet...


   Just like Mr. Goodwrench, this automotive spokesperson now lingers in obscurity.