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Colorful 2014 Grand National Roadster Show Stories Part 1

Colorful 2014 Grand National Roadster Show Stories Part 1
By

Story by Richard Parks

     Jon and Nancy Wennerberg traveled out to the Grand National Roadster Show (GNRS) to see their friends and to promote their website at www.landracing.com, which is dedicated to dry lakes and Bonneville style land speed racing.  I write for a similar website at www.landspeedracing.com, and although they sound alike they are very different.  The Wennerberg’s bought the website from John Amos in April of 2008.  Jon goes by the name of “Seldom Seen Slim” and he and Nancy have a laser engraving and a storage business.  The Wennerberg’s have been married for 17 years; Nancy has six children by a previous marriage and Jon one child by a previous marriage.  Their land speed racing (LSR) website is probably the largest around and well worth logging onto and making it one of your favorites.  It’s free to become a member and is totally funded by private donations, although they would like to have a major sponsor someday.  I watched as fans of the website came up and put cash and coins into the jar to help keep this great racing site open.  The Wennerberg’s do take advertising and if you are interested go to www.landracing.com.  They claim over 4 million hits a year, which means that 333,000 people log onto the site each month, or it could be one frenetic person hitting the keyboard that many times.  Regardless, the website is well known and appreciated by many.  Jon states that there are over 4800 hundred members and possible many more that haven’t logged on as members, but go to the website to see what’s new.  In addition there are 30,000 photos, historical articles, videos and links to other websites of interest to land speed racing fans.  Both Jon and Nancy are LSR aficionados and Nancy works on the pit crew.

     Someday the name of Kaylin Stewart may become very familiar to land speed racers.  She is the daughter of Gear Grinder club member Tom Stewart.  Kaylin is producing a short video on women in racing and it is on www.landspeedwomen.com.  This short video was very well done and Kaylin interviewed many of the well-known women in land speed racing.  She is just 15 years old and attends Central Coast New Tech in Nipomo, California, which is a charter school.  Her goal is to be accepted at the Dodge College Film School, a division of Chapman University and eventually to become a movie director.  “When I was little (four years old) I wanted to be a cat,” Kaylin laughed.  “When I finally realized a year later that I couldn’t be a cat I decided that I wanted to be a movie director and I’ve stayed with that goal ever since,” she said.  “I know what I have to do to promote myself in order to reach my goals,” Kaylin said firmly.  This young lady has a real flair for movie making and a warm and cheerful demeanor.  We discussed various ways that she could attain her goals.  She was already aware of Public Access TV and other forms of Media presentations.  Expect to see a lot of Kaylin in the future, either in land speed racing or in front or behind the camera.  She is very talented and has a most charming personality and everyone that came to watch her video and talk to her was impressed with her talent and skills.

     Another media giant in land speed racing is Mark Brazeau, who has been filming and videotaping dry lakes and Bonneville salt flat racing for over 30 years.  Mark also videos other events for SCTA/BNI including meetings and award banquets.  He gives many of his videos away free as door prizes and is very generous with his time and effort.  He remarked to me that he would like to see his archive of work saved at some museum or institution so that the record of land speed racing that he filmed would be kept safe for future generations.  We have lost so much of our history from the past because of a lack of a safe archive.  Bozzy Willis, past president of the SCTA and a good friend of our family, saw his large archive of historic 1940 film reels go up in flames in a wild fire at his home in San Diego County many years ago.  Brazeau’s work is on discs, but many people used film that is decaying and subject to loss.  We have a great work ahead of us if we are to rescue and save what is still around.  Mark has been honored by the Gold Coast Roadster and Racing Club in Buellton, California in their Dry Lakes Racers Hall of Fame.  He is asking for suggestions as to where he should send a copy of his voluminous photographic archives.  One such place would be the University of Utah and that would be a good place for his Bonneville tapes.  But the Dry Lakes videos would probably not be a good fit for the UofU.

     Another noted historian of land speed racing is Glenn Freudenberger from the Washington/Oregon area.  Glenn hosts the Bonneville Northwest Reunion, which this year will be held on February 22, 2014 in Portland, Oregon.  Dan Warner will be the guest speaker at this event and 150 people will be in attendance.  The website for the reunion is at http://www.bonnevillenwreunion.com/.  This popular and important event keeps the land speed spirit alive in the Pacific Northwest.  Glenn never likes to draw attention to himself; preferring to keep the spotlight on the sport instead.  Glenn suggested a site on landracing.com.  It’s Treit’s Streamliner at Build Diaries section.  http://www.landracing.com/forum/index.php?topic=6400.15.  Glenn is a crewmember on the Marlo Treit Streamliner.  He introduced a young man to Nancy, Jon and I.  His name is Joel Jackson and he comes from Oregon and is an SCTA Scholarship Award winner.  Joel also drives motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

     Faith Granger is the producer/director of the film DEUCE OF SPADES.  She brought her trailer and set up TV screens to showcase her movie.  Faith travels all over the country bringing this first rate film to hot rodders and car lovers.  Gene Winfield was the inspiration, along with numerous other young hot rodders of the 1940’s and ‘50’s Era.  The hero is a misunderstood young man, a hot rodder, who is goaded into an illegal street race that leaves a man dead.  He owns up to his mistakes, serves his time in a brutal jail and when he returns cannot find his lost love.  In his old roadster was a letter to his love explaining why he couldn’t meet her that day of the race.  The letter is found by an interested party who makes it her duty to track down and reintroduce the two lovers, now old and wistful.  The movie is straight out of the Hollywood Golden Age of movie making and is extremely well done considering that it was an independent film production with no help from Hollywood.  This is a movie that you should buy and give as gifts to a hot rodder or keep and replay often for your own enjoyment.

     A colorful couple is Ron and Vanessa Main.  They were at the GNRS in Building 9 to help sell the book CENTURY OF SPEED, a book written by celebrated author David Fetherston with help from Ron Main.  It is one of the best books that I have seen on Bonneville and the construction of the book is first class.  It has ample text, a good index and wonderful photographs.  Ron and Vanessa also financed this book and the profit from it will go to the SAVE THE SALT Foundation.  Ron is what you call a character and I say that in the good sense of the word.  He’s passionate about his likes and dislikes, both in LSR and life in general.  He doesn’t pull his punches, is brutally honest and is one of the first to offer his help to those with a worthwhile project.  Vanessa is a real lady and very patient to put up with Ron’s hobbies and business ventures, but even she has her limits.  She saw a quotation that said, “Men are stupid and my husband is their King.”  She thought about that and couldn’t agree about all men being stupid, but she did come up with a similar phrase which is on her car’s license plate; “Men are pigs and my husband is their King.”  When I heard that I laughed out loud.  My wife agrees and I’ll go with it; I’m a loyal follower of the King (Ron).  Ron has a lot of great toys that hot rodders and LSR would love.  He also created a business called Main Attractions, which he later sold.  Main Attractions sells old movies on discs that are often out of print and no longer available.  They’re mostly the old B movies that we took our girlfriends and wives to see back in the ‘50’s at the Drive-In theaters.  Ron and George Poteet always have a competitive car at Bonneville and regularly go home with the HOT ROD magazine trophy for fastest overall vehicle.  I am trying to get Ron’s story because I think he’s done far more in his life than this.  Many volunteers helped Ron and Vanessa, including Ed Horton, Karen and Steve Watt, and Joe Galati.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].