Monday, July 14, 2014



We the Sheeple tend to share a curious propensity for the herd mentality. Be it politics, religion, sanctioning body, or "other", many folks just feel insecure without a membership card. 

Then there are those dogged individuals who must drive their own road. Guys like Tim Jones in Iowa.

Tim Jones and girlfriend Beth Main are no strangers to this blog, because, well, there are none stranger. They fit right in here. Tim's flathead Competition Coupe project is getting close to being race ready - but not fast enough for Beth, who is the designated driver.

Tim even converted his '89 Ford F-250 dog hauler to race car hauler status a while back. Then last year, he got a better idea.

So off came the '89 cab, the hard way. The long tube (a fence post?) leaned against the cab is Tim's leverage tool. When you work alone in rural Iowa, you learn to be self sufficient.

With a little Yankee ingenuity and some sweat, Tim made short work of the cab removal...

... revealing the 7.3 Liter (444") Powerstroke diesel/ZF 5-speed/4WD combo. This package includes enough torque and gearing management to pull anything anywhere. The flyweight Fiat won't challenge this drivetrain's abilities, but a car with that much character deserves to roll into the pits in style. So...

The new wave-era cab was replaced with a more appropriate model. This '47 cab went on the same way the '89 version came off. With muscle. Tim's back is tired, "But it's a good tired."

Better already. Now it was just a matter of connecting some wires and hightailing it to the track, right Tim?

There were a few issues that required Tim's attention before hitting the road. With the race car living the rock star life in the shop, Tim built a mobile garage from a blanket and some truck shade.

Fitting the cab actually presented surprisingly more fabrication challenges than Tim anticipated. But being a creative type, he made the most of each slowdown to enjoy a bit of freestyle customization.

The '47 dash was introduced to the '89 dash and anointed with a wave of the spray can.

A display from Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo (where Tim works) was found in a dumpster and declared fair game for a makeshift sleeper. The lion poster is an artsy touch. Nice.

Back when the truck was still a basic issue '89 F-250, Tim built a rear enclosure for hauling his 16 sled dogs, then remodeled it to accommodate his fossil hunting hobby. He found these prehistoric bones right there in Iowa.

Momentum on the truck project was occasionally tested by life events, such as rowdy Iowa hail storms...

... and one of Tim's sled dogs, Buddy, ran away from home for a week. He was found seven miles away - safe and sound. Crazy kids...

Another uniquely automotive phenomenon: When your affliction for a certain marque becomes common knowledge, they begin falling from the sky (even though they were declared an extinct species when you were hunting them). So it was that Tim received a complete '47 flatbed from a neighbor. He declared it a parts car, but Beth claimed it as her new project. No work got done that day...

It took more time, money and energy than expected, but Tim now enjoys viewing life through a '47 windshield, with dogs barking at the tires, and unlimited torque at the ready under his toe.

Beth approves, the truck works great, and now there's only one thing to do.

Off to the races! Tim and Beth hope to have initial test results for us soon. Stay tuned.



Lance Sorchik taught himself to chop tops while building his first hot rod, the iconic Jersey Suede '34 Ford coupe. Since then, he's cut a few more. A recent vacation trip to Yellowstone National Park derailed into yet another slashfest at Rocky Harrison's Montana shop. It happens. 

Rocky's intriguing headers sprout from a '49 Cadillac V-8, rocking a 2 X 2 intake. The mad Cad is backed by a 4-speed and quickchange package. The car is obviously outfitted with the right stuff. It just needed a touch of Sorchik's unique Model 40 cosmetology to match the drivetrain's nasty disposition. So, off with it's top! 

Mr. and Mrs. Rocky survey the impact of Sorchik's gift. Inspired by salt coupes and self-taught with gas and coat hangers, Lance's method has evolved over time. But the look remains distinctively Sorchikian, from a mile away. 

How badass is Mrs. Lance (AKA Diane)? She wheels a wicked (Lance-chopped) '32 Vicky with six twos on a nailhead. She deemed this, "The best vacation ever!" And an appropriate celebration of the Sorchik's 35th wedding anniversary. 

In the end, both parties agreed the coupe had morphed from cool to drool. And so it was that the coupe formerly known as Rocky's '34 is now addressed as Montana Suede. Insert ticket into mail slot.

Two sheep cut from the same black wool, Lance and Rocky do the warm fuzzy. "We spent the mornings playing in the shop, then our wives joined us and we went different places in the area together. On the last day, we got up at 4:00 AM, worked 'til noon, and completed the chop." What have YOU done today to make the world a better place? (Photos courtesy of the Sorchiks and Harrisons)



Speaking of Sorchik, I've been meaning to post his twisted salute to fellow ink slinger Jimmy Smith for a while. Smith has been working on the 1:1 scale version of this '37 Ford pickup for almost as long as I've been toying with my Model A. That's too long. The plan was to light a fire under Smith with an outside perspective on what could be.

Sorchik's nerf inspired Jimmy to dig out this sketch of his truck, resulting in some recent action in the shop...

... which in turn inspired this dead nuts rendering of Sorchik's '33 roadster project. The Sketch-off worked, as Smith and Sorchik are both finishing up details on their projects today. Expect a full SGE feature on Jimmy's mad art skills (and his '37) next week. (Images courtesy of Sorchik and Smith)



Marty Strode (a bona fide one-in-a-million guy) shot these photos as the USFRA Test & Tune played out on the Bonneville salt flats last week. With less than a month remaining before the Speed Week driver's meeting is called to order, finishing Jim Lindsay's Modified Roadster on time presents an epic challenge. Is it even possible?

The water tank and CO2 system are now done and installed...

... as is the fuel tank (though no plumbing is visible here)...

... and the adjustable weight box.

Ditto for the rollcage and fire suppressant system. The engine and trans seem to be missing though.

That's a lot of items crossed off the list in one week. Strode is committed (or should be) at this point. There's no time for second guessing. Full steam ahead. Too bad Marty doesn't have a helper. Where's Jim Lindsay, anyway?

The last anyone heard from Lindsay, he was trying to decide which car to drive over to Strode's place. And that was two weeks ago. (Photos courtesy of Marty Strode)

While Strode and company thrashed, Danny Thompson (the seminal epitome of rugged individualism) tested at the Utah Salt Flat Racers Association meet. An initial 250 MPH run was backed-up with a mellow 317 MPH lap, followed by hugs, kisses and tears with mom Judy. This moment has been over 40 years in the making. Will D/T hit 500 at Speed Week? Place your bets now. (Photos courtesy of Holly Martin)



The SGE office has been abuzz for months, anticipating the 4th of July nostalgia event at our local track, Champion Raceway. Alas, race day dawned to find me indisposed. But I rested confident that journeyman track photographer Dennis Vollmar would capture the action. As always, he delivered handily. Again. Yes, they had jet cars. Always entertaining. But the focus was on nitro, and plenty of it.

VHT versus tennis shoe. This never goes well for the tennis shoe. Ask any back-up girl.

I would be remiss not to acknowledge a couple of nasty incidents that transpired with the Altereds. This is not what we want our track to be famous for, but we can't help the cellphone videos that went viral last week. Bottom line: Both crashes were horrific, but no injuries were sustained. An absolute miracle. I say this with all due respect and understanding: This track is in dire need of resurfacing ASAP! If you have the wherewithal (you know who you are), it's time to step up for heroship. Even the luckiest racer can only dodge so many bullets.

More than anything, I was looking forward to seeing Albany, Oregon's Brenneman Brothers go at it. This is my favorite show on the quarter mile today (including half track side-by-side burnouts), and you couldn't ask for cooler people than the proprietors of B&B Speed Shop! (Photos courtesy of Dennis Vollmar)

Dennis Vollmar has been doing this for several decades and hasn't been run over yet. I shot his good side here to stay on his good side. Thanks for the imagery, Dennis! (Scotty shot)


                                                   Remember Dr. Lockjaw's Tetanus II? 

The Altered coupe also known as the Tetanus T was rolled into the sunshine for the first time in two years on Sunday afternoon. This was the first build I ever did with Doc, and it stands as the most satisfying, by a long shot. We had a thousand adventures with this little car, but now it's time for a thousand more, under new ownership.

                                        L-R: New owner/operator Walt Skoczylas, Tetanus II, and Doc. 

Before I could traverse the numb stage, the coupe was hooked to a cable and winched into Walt's trailer. 

This is when it really hit me. Kids, don't get emotionally attached to a car. It can't love you back, but it can still break your heart. 

On the plus side, Walt and wife Lori are instantly lovable people. They towed six hours in 100-plus degree heat to pick up the car. And talk about your black sheep: Walt is one of the Northwest's stalwart six-cylinder racers - a rare breed of self-inflicted loners who have more fun than anyone else at the track. The Tetanus has gone to a good home. And I'll probably get over it in time.

Mrs. Lockjaw (Linda) scans Walt's check for rubber content. She's been begging me for years to show her on the blog. Here ya go, Linda! But now you owe me...

... while I hack up perfectly good scrap metal to complete the SGE Model A front spring perch.

All roughed-in and ready for welding. See the shocking result next week, along with other updates (hopefully) on America's most beloved project car since Project X. (Scotty shots)



We're keeping it in the family this week, with this visitor to Motormouth Ray's front porch in New York... (Photo courtesy of Motormouth Ray)

... a film capture by Lori Bentley Law, while covering the Los Angeles urban beat for NBC News... (Photo courtesy of Lori Bentley Law)

... and this underage guest at Paul Kruse's 1st Annual Poverty Flats Hot Rods and Pie Festival in Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Poverty Flats)

This year's winner of the Most Generic Toolbox Owner Award. (Image found online)


Tune in next week...