Ask anyone about the history of the dune buggy and the first name most likely to come up will be Bruce Meyers and his famous Volkswagen-powered Meyers Manx. Yet there’s another branch of the Manx family tree with yet another famous off-roader’s name attached to it.
After its humble beginnings in Dodger Stadium, the High Performance and Custom Trade Show changed venues for its second edition, moving to the spacious Anaheim Convention Center in January 1968. The exhibitor count grew from 100 or so the year before to nearly 150, their 200-plus tables taking up half of the convention center’s 100,000-sq.-ft. floor space.
This month’s headline was a cover blurb on the January 1960 issue of Car Craft magazine. Then, as now, performance enthusiasts wanted to keep their cars from running afoul of local law enforcement agencies and their sometimes-vague excessive noise guidelines.
It was such an outrageous sum to pay for a customized car in 1955 that Motor Trend used the $25,000 price tag as the main blurb for its May issue. Inside, a story called “Gold in the Streets” featured comments from “a group of people” who were shown photos of the custom car and asked for their opinions. About half the group “admired the car in general while the other half varied down the line toward outright dislike,” said the story’s author, Al Kidd. “Must have been built for Ava Gardner,” said one admirer, while a less generous soul said the car was built “for show and blow rather than utility.”
Petersen Publishing Company photographer Eric Rickman was in the pits at Riverside International Raceway in June 1966 to catch this shot of Lou Baney, owner of the Brand Motors Special Top Fueler, buckling in Tom “Mongoose” McEwen before a pass at the Hot Rod Championships.
Six seconds. In the early ’60s, that’s the amount of time safety equipment pioneer Jim Deist figured his protective clothing needed to shield a dragster pilot from fire. The reason? In those six seconds, a rail with its chute deployed could slow enough for the driver to jump out safely.
In 1954, Wally Parks—who at the time was in charge of both the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and Hot Rod—dispatched a small crew of men to cross the country. Their goal: Promote the relatively new sport of organized drag racing—the safe, NHRA way—by working with local car clubs to put on races. They towed a small travel trailer full of everything they’d need for the event, from timing equipment and a P.A. system to trophies.
It’s May 1960, and “TV” Tommy Ivo is about to leave his Burbank home for a months-long national match-race tour, taking with him his new twin-engine dragster and, as crew, a teenaged fellow Road Kings car club member named Don Prudhomme.
The entry list for the 1966 running of the Motor Trend 500 NASCAR race at Riverside International Raceway read like a who’s who of iconic stock-car stars, as well as talented wheelmen from other racing disciplines: Richard Petty, A.J. Foyt, Cale Yarborough, Mario Andretti, David Pearson, Tiny Lund, Bobby Allison, Dick Guldstrand and many, many more.
The happy guy standing on his dragster’s slick is Ed Garlits, younger brother of Don. You may have heard of Don. He’s the “Don” of Don’s Speed Shop that’s lettered on the dragster’s nose. He’s also known by many as “Big Daddy.”