So-Cal Eats Dust
It's been nearly 50 years since SO-CAL's glory days in the sunshine of dry lakes and Bonneville racing, now the SO-CAL Speed Shop has returned to the lakes.
"The SO-CAL Speed Shop hasn't raced seriously since the early '50s," states President Pete Chapouris (except for a 175-mph run by founder Alex's Xydias in the John Wolf roadster back in the '90s.) "But on the 50th anniversary of Alex's record-breaking runs in the belly tank lakester in 1952, I'm excited to announce that the SO-CAL crew will once again participate in lakes racing at El Mirage and possibly Bonneville."
The first effort will be a low-key, flat black A V-8 roadster sponsored by SO-CAL and campaigned by SO-CAL employees Tony Thacker and Jimmy "Shine" Falschlehner (both members of the Gear Grinders). The car was originally built by "Kiwi Steve" Davies who is now a part of the SO-CAL crew working on a semi-secret Bonneville project for European car maker MG Rover. "But that's another story," said Chapouris. Powered by a small-block Chevy mounted in an original Deuce frame, the roadster was built to drive to events, race, and then be driven home. In 1998, Steve drove the car to Bonneville, ran 160 mph all day long, and then drove it home-13 hours each way!
In 2001, 12 people were licensed to race the car including Steve's father who's in his early sixties.
"We don't expect to break any records," said Thacker. "We're just going out for some inexpensive fun. However, we managed only one run at the first El Mirage meet in May-a 138-mph "rookie" pass for Jimmy, but we already feel the need to go faster and, if nothing else, break Steve's best of 165 mph-a record he still holds in B/STR at Muroc."
"We're planning a few simple mods, the addition of a 750-cfm Holley carb, and a set of Hooker headers," commented Shine, "and perhaps a bigger small-block for Bonneville. But Tony's right, the primary goal is to play in the dirt and have fun."
Incidentally, the cool '58 Ford push truck is owned by another SO-CAL employee, artist Colby Martin.
For further information on this and other SO-CAL projects, contact Tony Thacker at (909) 469-6171; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or check out their Web site at www.so-calspeedshop.com.
Checking Up On Automotive Artist Jimmy Smith's "Low-Buck" '64 F-100. When we asked our pal, automotive artist Jimmy Smith, how his classic pickup project was going he said, "I've just been trading art to build my truck. Well, trading out art charges for parts and services has its advantages and disadvantages. Did I say advantages? Oh yeah, I guess so. All in all, I probably have a thousand actual dollars and countless hours of sweat "equity" involved in this F-100. If it were not for the soft spot I have for this year and make of truck I would have sent it down the road, on a trailer, long ago! This Ford has occupied space at my house for the last 5 years and counting, but now, for the first time, I really see light at the end of the tunnel (Was that a train whistle?)!
"The front and rear suspensions are a done deal. My uncle and myself installed a Volar crossmember 4 years ago, and recently, the rear suspension and custom fabricated frame aft of the cab was installed. This consumed about a year of off-hours work at Industrial Chassis by the talented fabricating wizard Steve Szymanski and his right-hand man Ryan Mitchell. This last year has been occupied with engine and transmission mounting, major bed modifications (to fit a new frame section), steering hook up, throttle and brake pedal installation, installation on a new gas tank and exhaust, and wiring...that's right, the 10,000 little things needed to allow me to jump in and actually turn the key and start it up.