Monday, February 3, 2014

DOG SLEDDING IN PANAMA (includes free DIY flathead blower manifold how-to!)

Welcome to Panama. (Photo courtesy of Panama

PANAMA. The three syllables deliver a promise of idyllic year round comfort. Ocean breezes and lush greenery, soothing the body and spirit. But Tim Jones lives in Panama, Iowa - Midwest home of the ice and snow, a frozen land where the cold winds blow. Constantly. Tim's daily commute to his job at Omaha, Nebraska's Henry Doorly Zoo is a round-trip winterland survival test, the completion of which is to be celebrated with gratitude for life itself. We do what we gotta do, and home is where we live. Fittingly, Tim's home is also a zoo, overstocked with a revolving cast of fuzzy four legged pranksters that have earned the place it's nickname, "The Cripple Dog Ranch". How to keep your sanity in such an environment? Tim Jones has learned to thrive in it.
Welcome to Panama. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Department of Transportation)

Tim Jones is a lifelong student of drag racing. Dragsters and altereds in particular, have mesmerized him into a trance-like state for most of his life. But today, Tim's dream is wide awake, in the form of that most surreal mashup of digger and altered: the Competition Coupe. The original plan was to create a period correct dragster. And so Tim planned his work, worked his plan, and presto - a dragster! Just like that. Spread out over several years of "spare time" work, anyway. As in racing, fabrication is much more rewarding when performed as an act of passion. When funds run low, the slack is taken up with research and planning, which always yield positive results. Hell, just planning a project is considered a success, when not on the clock. Tim surpassed the planning stage a while ago, but reconsidered when he realized his digger chassis would fit inside a Fiat Topolino body. Most projects don't take kindly to such detours, but Tim's rail idled straight into the Italian envelope without drama. For the most part.

We weren't jivin' about the dogsled (AKA Iowa dragster). Iowa is for real. 

Tim sketched a copy of some ancient Chassis Research plans and was on his way. He had the tubes bent and tacked at the aptly named Cornfield Customs in Loveland, Ohio. The rest is pretty much all Tim. So we'll let his photos do the talking from here. They silently narrate a saga of respect for tradition, Yankee ingenuity, and the Midwest farmer's work ethic.

All that's left on the To Do list now is:"Fill tank with alky" and "Aim down track".

And that's how quick and easy it is to build a Comp Coupe in your barn. Piece of cake. The photos prove it: Tim is one of us. Building solo can sometimes be a lonesome endeavor, but Tim had a little help along the way from some very special friends...

You've seen Tim's girlfriend Beth Main and her Model T Speedster on SGE before. That's Beth suited up in the chassis, being fitted for driving duty. She has the proper "Outta my way!" attitude to whip this sled down the strip, and is chomping at the bit to do so. And Beth's fingerprints are all over the build, which will come in handy in the pits.

Zoo co-worker (and Creations by Day impresario) Garrett Day pitched in with some of the welding.

Jim Coleman handled paint chores...

... and Brian Chollett was the man of letters.

Fellow zoo-mate Huck Hockemier hand carved the walnut butterfly grips.

While building the coupe and helping Beth with her speedster, Tim has also been active with the restoration of Tim Beebe's Fighting Irish '73 Satellite Funny Car at the ranch.

Dick Rosburg, conjuring the ghost of Beebe's former AA/FD partner, John "The Zookeeper" Mulligan. Is Mulligan's nickname coincidental? Tim Jones doesn't believe in coincidence and neither do we.

Tim is somewhere in that crowd, accepting gratitude from some fuzzy souls who wouldn't exist without his generosity.

This is merely a glance at Tim's build adventure. He hopes to be torturing local strips this summer (and I hope to cover the mayhem for a magazine feature). For all of the build details, check Tim's HAMB thread: (Photos courtesy of Tim Jones) 

Note: This week's post is abbreviated due to logistics challenges, plus I insisted on running all of my favorite photos of Tim's barn thrash. Glad I did, too. - SG.



For the second week in a row, our squirrels and toolboxes are ensconced in New York City, where they participated in the Super Bowl Week festivities. This is a huge honor for us at SGE World Headquarters and a proud moment for the entire SGE Nation. Who'da thunk a silly novelty like this would catch fire and become a national obsession? Not us. Yet, the SGE squirrels were booked solid for two weeks of talk show appearances (did you see them with the toolboxes on Letterman? Just like The Beatles on Ed Sullivan!) and the toolboxes are now covered in autographs and decals from every venue they were displayed at. In fact, NYC had such a drastic case of S&T Fever that they closed down thirteen blocks of Broadway in Times Square to erect an interactive salute to fuzz and hardware, under the thinly veiled guise of "Super Bowl Boulevard". The NFL loved the attention, but everyone in NYC knows exactly what this display was really about - because they demanded it. The NYC City Council even passed a motion to change the city's nickname from "Big Apple" to "Squirrel Town"! For a week, anyway. Check out these photos from last week...

Can you believe 13 blocks of Broadway were shut down for this? Amazing. But there's more...

... we're constantly amazed at how literally some people interpret content on this blog. East coast SGE fan and rodentology student Butch Szollosy built his absolutely spot-on "Squirrel Town Screamer" Junior Stock '57 Chevy as a tribute to the SGE squirrels. We love it! But apparently not as much as the NYC Tourism Council, who booked it in for the Super Bowl Boulevard bash, so Butch could make a full throttle pass down the toboggan run! Incredible. Join us next week in welcoming home our triumphant world conquering squirrels and toolboxes, hopefully via Zsollosy's badass '57. There might even be a Seattle Seahawk or two hitching back to the Northwest in Szollosy's shoebox. This will be an epic celebration! (News wire and online photos via Motormouth Ray)


This post is dedicated to the memory of Pat Garlits - wife, mother, and business partner. Pat did a lot of heavy lifting for the Swamp Rat, for a lot of years. It was my great honor to spend some special times with the Garlits', and Pat made the tense moments bearable and the good times especially sweet. Pat was accompanied by her Yorkie bodyguards up to her final breath. Minutes after Pat's passing on the evening of February 2nd, Don Garlits understated, "This house is going to be very quiet for a while."(Photo courtesy of Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing)

Besides driving the Garlits racing dynasty for 60 years, Pat also drove this Dodge to a string of victories in 1962: "I usually won, but it had nothing to do with my driving abilities. My Dodge was simply always the fastest car out there. Don wouldn't have it any other way. I just stepped on the gas and held on. I won a couple trophies, but after a while, I decided Don was the racer in the family." Godspeed, Pat. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)

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