In June 1974, Petersen Publishing Company photographer Pat Brollier captured three iconic figures in one candid photograph. At left is actor Martin Sheen, next to him is Pete Chapouris, and behind them is Chapouris’ trend-setting ’34 Ford three-window coupe. They were there for the filming of The California Kid, an ABC television movie of the week. Brollier and Hot Rod magazine staffer Gray Baskerville traveled to the Soledad Canyon location north of Los Angeles to catch some of the action for a story to appear in Hot Rod’s October issue.
Given the lengthy schedule of events put on by the NHRA today, it’s hard to imagine a time when the drag-racing sanctioning body had just one national event on its calendar: The National Championships—or “The Big Go,” as Hot Rod magazine liked to call it. So when a second national meet was added in 1961, it was a very big deal.
Few cars have won the coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster (AMBR) trophy twice, but Bob Reisner’s wild custom, called the Invader, did just that 50—and 49—years ago.
John Thawley, writing in the September 1967 issue of Hot Rod magazine, perfectly described that ever-elusive Holy Grail of car mods: bolt-on horsepower. Ford lent the magazine a brand-new (1,300-mile) ’67 Mustang with a two-barrel-carbed 289, a C4 automatic transmission and 3.50 gears. Thawley used the chassis dyno at Ak Miller’s Garage to measure the V8’s output and a number of Southern California dragstrips to put his mods to the test.
It’s 1978, and then-SEMA President Leo Kagan is driving an antique car onto the floor of the SEMA Show in just its second year at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In the back seat of the car are Robert and Margie Petersen, who were instrumental in producing the very first SEMA Show back in 1967.
In late September of 1955, the NHRA staged its first-ever National Championship Drag Races in Great Bend, Kansas. The first car to make a pass at this historic event was Art Chrisman’s Hemi-powered no. 25 dragster. That’s Art in the cockpit as dignitaries (including NHRA founder Wally Parks, at right) perform the event’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Most of us would probably consider ourselves fortunate to be remembered for doing one thing really well. As we look back on the life and achievements of performance pioneer Louis Senter, who passed away in May at age 95, the circumstance is different. Senter did so many things so well that it’s difficult to single out one accomplishment as the cornerstone of his legacy.
Before he became the first man to set land-speed records above 500 and 600 mph in the mid ’60s, Craig Breedlove was a hot rodder, like many other young Southern Californians in the ’50s and early ’60s. He raced at dragstrips, on the dry lakes and at the Bonneville Salt Flats, where he would later make history in the Spirit of America and Sonic I jet cars. Photos of him with various cars showed up in Hot Rod magazines of the era, including a three-page feature on this “triple-threat” ’34 Ford coupe that was photographed by Petersen lensman Eric Rickman for the magazine’s September 1960 issue.
In January 1965, Petersen Publishing photographer Pat Brollier set up his camera to get as much depth of field as possible to capture the goings-on at the Winternationals Custom Auto Fair in the cavernous Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. That small aperture resulted in a long exposure, blurring many of the visitors as they passed by what had to be one of the most dramatic exhibits in the show.
Dot-O-Wols were considered “the latest in tire glamorizing” when Al Paloczy photographed them in the September 1959 issue of Car Craft magazine.