Drew Hardin

Crane’s First SEMA Show

The dapper man in the bow tie is Harvey Crane. He’s talking about his camshafts and valvetrain components to dealers in the Crane Engineering Company booth at the very first SEMA Show (though it wasn’t called that at the time).The dapper man in the bow tie is Harvey Crane. He’s talking about his camshafts and valvetrain components to dealers in the Crane Engineering Company booth at the very first SEMA Show (though it wasn’t called that at the time).

In January 1967, some 100 aftermarket companies set up booths in the concrete aisles of Dodger Stadium’s Club Level for what was then called just “the trade show.” Crane, one of SEMA’s earliest members, brought his wares from his company’s headquarters in Hallandale, Florida, and demonstrated them using a “hand-operated engine simulator,” according to a story in Petersen Publishing Company’s Hot Rod Industry News.

Bonneville Giants

On October 2, 1964, Walt Arfons’ Wingfoot Express, with Tom Green at the wheel, earned a place in land-speed racing history by setting a new record of 413.20 mph, besting the previous 407.45 mark set the previous year by Craig Breedlove.On October 2, 1964, Walt Arfons’ Wingfoot Express, with Tom Green at the wheel, earned a place in land-speed racing history by setting a new record of 413.20 mph, besting the previous 407.45 mark set the previous year by Craig Breedlove.

Turned out Walt’s record would be short-lived. His half-brother, Art Arfons, set a 434.02-mph mark just three days later in his Green Monster. Breedlove eclipsed that mark with a 526.28-mph average before famously running his Spirit of America into a water-filled ditch, only to have Art come back and top that, running the Monster to a 536.71-mph average.

Number One Favorite

Robert E. Petersen (left), the publishing company’s founder, is handing Dan Gurney a check for winning the second annual MT 500, held in January 1964. The young lady sharing the photo op is 21-year-old TV actress Linda Evans. In the early ’60s, Motor Trend magazine sponsored a 500-mile Stock Car race on the twisting Southern California road course at Riverside, drawing top racing talent from a number of sanctioning bodies, including NASCAR, USAC and the SCCA. That’s why Robert E. Petersen (left), the publishing company’s founder, is handing Dan Gurney a check for winning the second annual MT 500, held in January 1964. The young lady sharing the photo op is 21-year-old TV actress Linda Evans.

Motor Trend’s coverage of the race kicked off by proclaiming, “Stock Car road racing shows every promise of becoming the Number One favorite of American racing fans. Considering the importance of passenger cars in everyday American life, this is the way it should be.” Unlike racing on oval tracks, where “brute horsepower is the deciding factor,” a road course “is much more demanding, because it puts equal emphasis on all the various systems of the automobile. Also, driver skill and nerve are important factors.”

Hey Hey

Arguably his best-known TV cars are the two GTO convertibles he modified for “The Monkees” TV show in 1966. We dug through the Petersen vault and came up with these shots, taken in June 1966 after a grueling 10-day build of the first GTO.Dean Jeffries, custom car painter, striper and builder, died in his sleep in early May. He was 80 years old. Jeffries was among the most talented of the men who shaped car culture in the ’50s and ’60s, though his profile was somewhat lower than that of George Barris, Ed Roth or Ken “Von Dutch” Howard. He may not have been as well known, but he was versatile and skilled enough that his handiwork could be found everywhere, from Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis to Hollywood movie and TV sets.

Arguably his best-known TV cars are the two GTO convertibles he modified for “The Monkees” TV show in 1966. We dug through the Petersen vault and came up with these shots, taken in June 1966 after a grueling 10-day build of the first GTO.

America’s First Driving Shoe

.” Described by the shoemaker as “America’s first driving shoe,” the GTOs featured “such footwear greats as split grill, stacked headlights, fastback styling and an accelerator pedal heel for really ‘putting it to the wood.’ In its December 1965 issue, Car Craft magazine featured an extensive review of the ‘66 Pontiac GTO. But not just any GTO. This particular car was the GeeTO Tiger, a hot hard-top owned by Hurst Performance and used as a test mule for various engine, suspension and tire-and-wheel modifications. Adding to the GTO’s pedigree, it was tuned by Milt Schornack of Royal Pontiac, the Detroit-area dealer that had developed the famous “Royal Bobcat” tune-up packages for GTOs and other performance Pontiacs.

The article went into great detail about the modifications performed on the Tiger, from Air Lift bags in the suspension to Schornack’s careful cylinder-head work. The author, Roger Huntington, also advised Car Craft readers to not buy a GTO “without having a careful look at the list of options. The dealer might sell you one off his back lot for a little less money. But for maybe another $100 or so, you might be able to get a combination that would suit you a lot better.” A combination, in other words, ready to hit the dragstrip.

Long-Haul Roadsters

The Hot Rod Power Tour is nearing its 20th birthday (this year’s running in June swings from Texas to North Carolina), but the roots of long-distance hot-rod hauling go back much further than that. The October 1963 issue of Car Craft covered an annual road trip made by members of the Los Angeles and Bay Area Roadster Clubs. The Hot Rod Power Tour is nearing its 20th birthday (this year’s running in June swings from Texas to North Carolina), but the roots of long-distance hot-rod hauling go back much further than that. The October 1963 issue of Car Craft covered an annual road trip made by members of the Los Angeles and Bay Area Roadster Clubs.

The story, “Cruisin’ for a Reason,” described how members would start from their respective ends of California and convene at a hotel in Fresno, roughly halfway between each club’s home base. “More than a dozen cars in each group made the tour, drawing glances of admiration and respect from thousands of motorists along the freeways and super-highways,” wrote Lynn Wineland, one of three Petersen staffers who went on the tour.

Chevy’s Little Giant

It’s December 1967, and the men about to fire that Chevy small-block on the engine dyno are Jim Travers and Frank Coon, founders of Traco Engineering. Commanding their attention is a Trans-Am race engine—possibly destined for one of Roger Penske’s Sunoco Z/28 Camaros—and Car Craft magazine’s Bob Swaim is chronicling “Traco’s magic touch” to see how the legendary engine builders squeeze more than 400 hp from “a basically stock 301ci engine with the Z/28 options.” Swaim’s story, “Chevy’s Little ‘301’ Giant,” appeared in the magazine’s March 1968 issue.

Traco (a contraction of Travers’ and Coon’s last names) was founded in 1957 after the pair served as mechanics for Bill Vukovich during his Indy 500 wins in 1953 and 1954.

Dick Scritchfield

“If you haven’t already bolted a tape deck in that machine of yours, man, you’re either living outside of the ‘in’ group or have never heard an automotive stereo tape player in action,” he said in his opening paragraph. “Stereo might be great at home, but in a car—it’s something else. Just to drive along while listening to your favorite music coming at you from all directions is what most stereo owners refer to as the new surrounding sound.”

Midnight Oil

The pits at an NHRA drag race today are as much a part of the show as they are a place for work. They’re a maze of 18-wheelers, easy-ups and souvenir booths, where hawking T-shirts and collecting autographs go hand in hand with rebuilding engines in a tense but well-orchestrated effort to make the next round.

Wheels Up

The third annual Hot Rod Magazine Championship Drags, held in June 1966, was a scorcher. On the track, that is. All the big names in drag racing came to Riverside loaded for bear: McEwen, Chrisman, Landy, Leal, Ongias, Swingle—and records tumbled.

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