After seeing my last column on George Sein’s “Flamer” ’32 coupe, Donny Welch (of So. City R&C) clued me in to this very cool, rare photo of the car in obvious drag race trim, in the pits at some unnamed strip. He said the pic belonged to our good friend and long-time Satan’s Angels club member Ron Brooks of Castro Valley, who had acquired it in an album of photos taken by Nor-Cal midget racer Ronnie Hulse in the ’50s. Even though he was using a box camera of some sort that didn’t have the sharpest lens, at least his photos were well-framed and well-lit, and I’ll show you several more in a minute. But given the June ’57 date on the print, I assume the photos were shot a month or two earlier, so (given magazine print lead time) this is very probably the “Central Pacific Coast NHRA Regional” mentioned in the June ’57 Car Craft feature where Sein claimed he won class and turned 113 mph. Given the slicks seen in this photo, and the big-inch dual-quad Cad engine, this claim is quite believable, as long as the early Ford driveline held up. Using a magnifying lupe, the class designation written on the window appears to be A/SC, which would be Street Coupe. Someone with a complete set of Drag News could probably find reference to this meet, and maybe even results, but neither Ron nor I could find any specific reference to it elsewhere. However, the tall trees in the background tell me this is the Santa Maria strip, with more evidence to come.
But first, here are a couple of photos I got from Jim Griepsma when I featured his Hemi-powered, Barris-built ’34 coupe (seen behind Sein’s ’32 here) in my Lost Hot Rods II book. This was a lineup of Barris cars at some outdoor car show (I think at the Hollywood Park horse track in Inglewood around ’57). The one thing to notice in the hazy overall photo is some sort of name (or something) written on the cowl below the Barris crest. It’s too blurry to read. The better interior photo not only shows the upholstery, but the yellow engine (with one hood side off), and a good rendition of the car’s true colors.
And here’s another look at that incredible Jeffries dash, this one taken sometime earlier than mine by Russell DeSalvo, showing the Tom’s Top Shop brass plaque in place, as well as a door panel, and a fuel pressure pump for drag racing. What all that wiring was for in this ’50s car, I can’t imagine. Also, DeSalvo mentioned he gave the Jeffries-striped and painted Moon tank back to Santistevan, so I asked how he got it. “I bought it from a friend, Ron Borton, who got it from Leo Alarid, who was a good friend of Santistevan’s and probably got it in some trade.” As for the 1955 Oakland Show plaque on the tank, Ron Brooks said he found a photo in Andy Southard’s Oakland Roadster Show book, not only clearly showing the Sein car, but mentioning it. However, this was supposedly the ’56 show, so Ron looked in his collection of programs, and there’s Sein’s car not only listed for the ’56 show, but including a photo. So I super-enlarged my photo of the tank at Santistevan’s, and yes that is ’56, not ’55 on the plaque. Finally, the photo in Southard’s book faintly shows the square hole cut in the middle of the radiator for the chrome water pump pulley to fit into. It obviously had no fan, and couldn’t have done a lot of street driving.
OK. That’s the extent of my update on the Flamer. Still no word on who Sein was or where he went. But let’s take a look at the other photos from Ron’s album of this drag meet. They’re great.
Let’s start with this good shot of Dave Marquez’ well-known Ardun-powered roadster. First, I left it uncropped so you could see the tall trees in the background, which definitely looks like the Santa Maria track (which would be “Central Coast” as well). You might remember Dave’s Da-Glo red and white, much-chromed Deuce from the July ’56 Hot Rod cover. It also won the Best Appearing trophy and class top speed at the first NHRA Nats in Kansas in 1955. Well before that Dave was a founder of the Motor Monarchs club of Ventura, CA, which also helped organize the first drags at Goleta in 1949. The scallop paint job and the double-digit number were Motor Monarch hallmarks, and by the mid-’50s Santa Maria was their home track. Dave told me the Da-Glo paint faded every year, so he finally had to paint it regular red. I’ve never seen this paint job, with prominent pinstriping, a “character” on the grille, but still the donkey cart on the hood. Note F-100 push truck.
This ’29 hiboy looks sort of like the Monarchs’ team car shown at Goleta in 1950 in my article in TRJ No. 14, but not exactly. It appears to have “Brewer’s Muffler Serv.” on the side.It must have been a major meet, since the Glass Slipper came all the way from Sacramento for it. It’s also likely ’57, given the Slipper has the injected Chev in it, and the slick, lowered ’56 hardtop behind it. Too bad we don’t have any results or further info on the event.
Given the number and the paint job, this chopped ’34 coupe with an injected Cad engine was certainly a Motor Monarchs car. The only other thing I can tell you is it has “Richie” written on the door, and another F-100 push truck.
I know very little about this very good-looking Groh’s B/H (Hot, meaning Fuel) ’32 roadster except I have other photos of it running at other tracks, as far as San Diego. A H.A.M.B. site says the team was Bill Butters and Don Porterfield, and Rivera joined with adjacent Pico in 1958. It has Lakewood Muffler written on the frame. They ran a similar Deuce coupe before this, and a Potvin-blown Chrylser rail after, from the early ’50s through the early ’60s. And, what else?, a matching F-100 tow and push truck.
I’ve certainly never seen this Motor Monarchs car, made from a ’27 T roadster body and a hand-formed needle nose. The driver sits in the trunk, with some large V8 in the former interior. My notes add the name C.B. Clarkson; not sure why. Also, no explaining why Hulse took all his photos in the pits, and none of the track or cars running.
My personal pick for neatest machine there is this–um–roadster. The ’39 wide-five wheels and Model A full fenders indicate an early Ford chassis. But the body is a ’25-’26 Dodge, with its characteristic (but cut down) windshield still in place. We can’t see the grille, but a handmade, louvered hood top covers a big Chrysler Hemi mill. The rollbar makes it drag legal. But the tube nerf bars, ’39 taillights, white upholstery and pinstriping indicate it was a pretty nice street rod, though there’s no license plate. Again, this is the only place I’ve ever seen this car. How about you?
There’s plenty to see in this pic, all the way to what might be a hard-chopped Vicky behind the primered 4-door. The chopped Deuce coupe has no I.D. at all. And I can’t explain the body on the round-nose dragster which looks to be flathead-powered.
Our photographer was into pickups. And you have to remember these F-100s were near-new. This one, with a big push-board on the front bumper, came all the way from Berkeley, and has all the right cues: wide whites, ’53 Stude caps, ’50 Merc taillights, chrome cab stacks, white bed tarp, and matching scallops.
This ’56 small-window parked with spectators couldn’t have been more than a year old. It already has a shaved hood, a very dropped front axle, ’56 Fiesta flippers, and what looks like a black lacquer paint job, given the Olds’s reflection in the door. Next on the list, chrome bumpers.
Aha. Here’s a good photo of the lone Chevy, also near new. It’s also plenty shiny, but has chrome bumpers, as well as running boards with stack pipes. Excellent today, very nice then.
Ron’s (Hulse’s) photo album also contained a few prints that appear to pre-date the drag meet, but I figure are still worth showing. Hope you agree. And what else? Another shiny, shaved, apparently black pickup, this one a near-new F-1 with a ’53 license tag. It has twin spots, chrome running boards, and maybe rear fender skirts(?) for a more custom look. The door says Advance Muffler; don’t know where.
Ronnie Hulse lived in Richmond, CA, in the North-East Bay Area. I assume he saw and snapped this nice ’32 5-Window somewhere near home. Since it has a black bumper on the front, I further assume the back one was at the chrome shop. The single taillight was legal, and I can’t read the tag on the plate, but it’s pre-’56. You can see the dual chrome tips at the rear; wonder what was under the hood.
Man this guy liked pickups. Can you handle one more? At least this one’s a Dodge, again near-new. The very big-n-little tires, with Lancer caps, give it a great rake. Those might be chrome running boards, but it’s definitely got chrome lakes pipes as well as bed pipes. And maybe Model A bumpers in back?
There’s a story here, but I don’t know what it is. The hiboy 5-W has ’55 Ohio plates and a club plaque that looks like “Shafters” with the image of a crank. I can’t I.D. those hubcaps, nor the teasingly visible V-8 with the hanging-out chrome-covered generator. But what’s possibly more interesting is the race car on the trailer in front of it, which looks larger than a sprinter to me. What and where do you suppose this is?
And just in case I haven’t raised enough questions yet, I’ll leave you with this little mystery. Forget the weird Chevy pickup and the shaved ’50 Ford in the street. What in the world is this nicely painted, chromed and upholstered T roadster and why is it sitting in what looks like a park all by itself? The cut-down Deuce grille and very nicely appointed interior would indicate a street rod. But the lack of any windshield or headlights, plus the front nerf–not to mention the relatively ugly black wheels and tires (dirt grooved in the rear) say circle track race car. The radiator has flathead V8 inlets, but I see no engine in there, and a hood top is missing. One clue is the brass plaque in the corner of the dash, which could indicate it was basically a show car. Coulda been. I’ll leave you to guess. Mystery is our ongoing theme here. Hope you enjoyed the pictures. See you again soon.