View Full Version : Old Race Cars

02-26-2004, 03:44 PM
Last night, the name Max Balchowsky and Old Yaller popped into my mind, and even though I should have been busy doing other things like laundry and getting the tax papers ready for the tax guy on Friday, I did a search on the internet and came up with the following website:

www.tamsoldracecarsite.net (https://www.tamsoldracecarsite.net)

Tons of pictures and info on race cars and drivers from the 50's and 60's at tracks up and down California - Riverside, Santa Barbara, Laguna Seca, Pebble Beach, etc. I particularly liked the section on Memories of Riverside and Riverside Today.

Also links to all kinds of interesitng sites - cars, drivers, museums, etc. Did you know there is a Lotus museum in Utah?

Austin-Healey BN1

02-26-2004, 07:55 PM
And there lots more "not-so-famous" homebuilt race cars from the 1950's and 1960's.

I get the feeling that it was fairly common back then for people to construct their own race cars, using British/import engines. A few have managed to survive and I've come across some of them.

Here's one story of a race car home-built in 1956 in Ontario (second article down). It has been restored and is ready for racing again. This story also has some history of the "Canadian Class" race cars. Disclaimer - This article will be replaced within about a week.

1956 race car - "Canadian Class" race car (https://www.oldautos.ca/samples1.html)

Another one I know of being a DKW-engined home-built race car from the early 1960's rescued recently in Ontario. And there are far more examples out there still likely. And many more that have long since expired...

[ 02-26-2004: Message edited by: Sherlock ]</p>

Jim Weatherford
02-26-2004, 08:33 PM
You just have to love the oldies but goodies. I fondly remember my wild and impetious youth mostly spent hanging out at the Del Mar, Riverside, Goleta, etc., etc. Road Races in the early to late 60's

I really miss those races and the excietment and people!

02-27-2004, 01:57 AM
There is a great book full of info on "the glory days of homebuilt racers" called American Road Race Specials 1934-1970 by Allan Girdler. Ol' Yaller through Ol' Yaller IX are described and pictured. Lots of car pictures both clothed and just engine and chassis. I would not want to drive those things as fast as those guy did. I have a one off early 50's sports racer that I used to autocross on a regular basis, I will again when I get it renovated. It has a Cooper chassis with an aluminum body using an Alfa engine. If I could figure out how to post a picture I would, it is a very good looking old beast.

02-27-2004, 04:36 AM
One site that is linked to Tam's site is our own John C. (coldplugs) here at BCF. In fact, the two sites are sort of complimentary, with "coldplugs" being sort of an east coast version of "Tam's".


I'm also are pretty keen on old racers, and I love to attend vintage race events (and enter them if I can). I was hoping to enter this year's Hershey Vintage Hillclimb, but just found out that I have a conflict with a re-scheduled race at Summit Point. images/icons/frown.gif
I will still probably run the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Even going with a lowly Sprite is great fun, especially hob-nobbing with all the big-name car owners. I have been going to the Lime Rock Vintage for years (now run by Steve Earle, who also runs the Monterey Vintage): seeing all those historical cars is simply amazing. Brock Yates usually shows up with his "Eliminator" historic racer: I've heard that he owns one of the Ol Yaller cars that Max built (although I've never seen it). I've also been to the Watkins Glen Vintage and the event at New Hapshire Speedway...all great


Another well-known fellow in Max's league was Bob Gossman, who raced on both American coasts and had an enormous influence on early Jaguar sales in the U.S. He was an early member of our club. Bob is gone now, but his daughter came to our club's annual awards dinner last month: we got to speak to her about the "old days" and her Dad. She has some great stories.

Bob Grossman:

02-27-2004, 07:51 PM
One of the Old Yallers runs out here in Seattle all the time. We have tons of great historic racers. It's fun to watch the Old Yaller, Atlas Ford, Kellison Corvette, TR250K (Kaz Kastner's old car,)and others tear it up in SOVREN events.

02-27-2004, 09:48 PM
There is a car in Ontario called a "Dreossi"' that is essentially an F-86 drop tank on wheels powered by a venerable 948 Sprite engine. It was built sometime in the late '50s, and is still raced in VARAC.

02-27-2004, 10:57 PM
Somewhere I've got a picture of Ol' Yaller II taken at Road America. Really neat car. The owner-whose name escapes me now-has run it at Goodwood the last two years. For more info on US-based specials of the fifties and sixties, check out "American Road Racing Specials", published by Vintage Motorsport. Last I checked, they were still advertising it on their website. Its a reprint of a series of articles that were run in the magazine and in special issues about a decade ago. At about fifty bucks it's a bit pricey, but well worth every penny. Plus there's loads about the wonderful cars of Max Balchowsky.

02-28-2004, 12:20 AM
(I've just finished a "Cognac tasting party" so will probably need to delete this reply in the morning.)

I'm old enough to remember many of these specials when they were racing, and it always bugged me that the west coast cars got all the publicity. The "famous" ones were certainly great cars but we had some good ones here in the east also.

My favorite was Candy Poole's PBX. This was a Crosley powered H-modified car. This was a very sophisticated little race car that was competitive for many years against the best European HM cars (mainly OSCAs). Some of the mods were not trivial. The Crosley had an integral head, which Candy sawed off and replaced with a Bandini twincam head.

The Chevy 283 small block was the engine of choice for many specials, some good and some not so good. My favorite was the "Rutherford Special" with a Hillborn injected Chevy. It was a great crowd pleaser and the best sounding car out there. (Note to XRacer - I have it on good authority that this car will be seen again soon).

Bill Sadler made several beautiful Chevy powered specials in Canada (Not east coast, I guess, but not west coast either). I saw one at Hershey a couple of years ago and assume they're all still around.

Ray Saidel had the Jomars out of New Hampshire and introduced TVR into this country.

Those were the days.....

02-28-2004, 01:23 PM

To back you up a little... If I'm not mistaken, the first road racing of British/European cars in North America (prior to WWII) was in New York and on the east coast in general, and that racing in California didn't start until after WWII.

But I don't think much is written about the early sports car racing in New York.

02-28-2004, 06:33 PM
There were very few road races- of the "clubby" type of amateur racing seen postwar- before World War Two. The ARCA (Automobile Racing Club of America) was the sanctioning body. The ARCA's most famous race was the World's Fair event held just before America's involvement in the war, and the club was disbanded permanently days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many of the ARCA's members-such as the Collier brothers and Briggs Cunningham-went on to form the SCCA after the war. The ARCA, like the early SCCA, was based around the Brooklands ideal of "the right crowd and no crowding", and tried to be as exclusive as they could reasonably be, retaining the ideals of a "club". Much as I like motor racing, any club that would have me as a member......

02-29-2004, 09:18 AM
Since we are talking about clubs, I though I'd point out that the oldest "Motor Club" in the world is believed to be The Liverpool Motor Club (est 1902).
Over 50 ago, an exective of Cunard Line came to the U.S. and started an American chapter of Liverpool MC.
Today, the club is an active group of racers and I'm a member: the club is an affiliate of EMRA, the organization that runs our races. The UK version of Liverpool is quite active too and we correpond with them...they also run a number of sporting evets.


02-29-2004, 07:28 PM
This is a really great thread, just like sittin around a shop and listening and learning. I'm closer to fifty than forty and just was'nt quite old enough to appreciate the design across the pond ,if you will.
I've owned a few detroit steel drivers, but never had so much fun until I started foolin with dual Strombergs and bonnet releases and such.
Wish I would have found LBC's when I was younger!

Winston 67TR4AIRS

Jim Weatherford
03-01-2004, 03:40 AM
Do any of you gents have any info on Southern California VARAC races&gt; I'd love to get involved with the vintage racing circuit. Thanks.

03-01-2004, 09:32 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Jim Weatherford:
Do any of you gents have any info on Southern California VARAC races&gt; I'd love to get involved with the vintage racing circuit. Thanks.<hr></blockquote>

VARAC is the Canadian club for vintage racing. You can find them with a google search, but I doubt that you are looking for that.
Many west coast SCCA regions now run a vintage series. I know that the SF region does, but not sure about SoCal. SF Region SCCA:


You may also wish to look at the HSR site and the Portland Historic site:



03-01-2004, 09:56 AM

I beg to differ....

Midland Automobile Club (https://www.shelsley-walsh.co.uk/)


03-01-2004, 10:45 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by catfood:

I beg to differ....

Midland Automobile Club (https://www.shelsley-walsh.co.uk/)

graemlins/thumbsup.gif <hr></blockquote>


Good catch! Midland was established a year before Liverpool (1902 vs. 1902). However, here's what it says on the Liverpool site (I should have quoted this before):
"We believe that The Liverpool Motor Club is the oldest active Motor Club in the UK, being a direct descendant of the Liverpool Self-Propelled Traffic Association which organised a trial for self-propelled vehicles (what we would now call a Hill Climb) on Liverpool's Everton Brow in 1896."
So perhaps we could say, "It depends on what "direct descenedant" means. Anyway......two *very* old clubs! images/icons/grin.gif

03-01-2004, 11:06 AM
Thats kinda like out here the University of Oklahoma claims to be the oldest state school because they were chartered two days before Oklahoma A&M (OSU) even though OSU was up and running before OU. Just a little bit of trivia for you Oklahoma higher education buffs. graemlins/crazyeyes.gif

Cheers, graemlins/thirsty.gif graemlins/driving.gif