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David Parks 60th Birthday Party March 17, 2012

David Parks 60th Birthday Party March 17, 2012
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David Parks 60th Birthday Party
Costa Mesa, CA
3-17-12
Story by Richard Parks and Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz


 

David Parks, son of Wally Parks and brother of the writer of this story, celebrated an UNsurprise 60th Birthday Party on Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012. His family and friends decided to give him a well-deserved 60th birthday party at his shop in Costa Mesa, California. David is quite a remarkable guy and has seen the growth and development of land speed, drag and sports car racing as he grew up. He has set records at Muroc, El Mirage and Bonneville and has a red hat emblematic of membership in the 200 Mile Per Hour Club. There are a number of land speed and drag racers who have gone over 200 mph, but fewer who have set records over that speed and he is in that select group of men and women. David has also hung around the offices of the NHRA and accompanied Chick Saffell to the races to sell shirts and hats before Sport Service (now MainGate) grew to be as big as it is today in sports apparel and drag racing memorabilia and souvenirs. He went to college at Cal Poly Pomona and earned a degree in Philosophy and while there met Craig Bothwell, Dan Larson, Stefan Berlinski and Craig Parada and the group organized a campus sports car club to race their cars. All four were at his birthday party. Bothwell is the nephew of Lindsay and Ann Bothwell. David also made friends and joined the Lakers car club so that he could race at El Mirage dry lake where he learned the hard way that power and aerodynamics make race cars go fast.

He returned to Cal Poly and earned a second degree in engineering and raised a family while working for Levine-Fricke in Irvine, California. But his love of racing never really faded away and he returned to land speed racing to see if he could finally find the combination that eluded him. This time he made friends with guys like Ak Miller, Jack Lufkin, Leonard Carr, Dave Kleeman, Mike Golightly and many others who helped with speed equipment, motors and experience. Dave and Mike came to the party. With a lot of help and David’s own persistence he set records at Muroc, El Mirage and Bonneville, one of only a few to have ever done that. At his party were Lakers car club members Jim Snyder, Warren Bullis, Ed Clancy, and Phil Grisotti. John Davis and his sister-in-law Karen ‘Nabee’ Davis came and represented the Rod Riders car club. Jim Miller came and represented the Sidewinders car club. These are member clubs of the Southern California Timing Association which David’s father, Wally Parks, was a founding member of back in 1937. Jim is also the President of the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians, western director of the American Hot Rod Foundation and a major researcher of our early hot rodding history. Charles Rollins was also on hand to celebrate David’s birthday. Charles has the website www.benchracing.com and is the son-in-law of Ray and Joann Brock. Ray Brock, Don Francisco, and other hot rodders were dry lakes and Bonneville guys and worked at Hot Rod magazine in the early days.

Long-time friends attending include; Bob and Maggie Hesselgrave, Jason Manning, Maudie Whyte, Jim Whyte, Donna Whyte Bunney, Chuck Densford, Ron Pfenning, Delia Asuncion, Leo Cruz, Ron and Sherie Pahl, Joel French, Myra Brewer, Steve and Melissa Schuetz, Tyler Schuetz, Charlie Robinson, Phil and Cookie Schroeder and John and Melissa Harris. Other invited guests were Roger Rohrdanz, Keith Longerot and Dee Wisrock. Barbara Parks, the Guest’s wonderful wife, coordinated the party with the help of her daughters Mari Parks Bell and Tamara Parks. Maudie Whyte baked a green birthday cake. Epi Parks made key lime tarts to feed everyone and Melissa Harris made cupcakes with a ‘Christmas Tree’ drag light motif. Melissa has a business called Kookla’s Cakes and I highly recommend her for catering treats at parties. She can be reached in the Orange County, California area at 949-554-4505. The food was catered by Stone Fire Grill in Fountain Valley, California and was delicious. For those in the area who might want to try out their menu for a party the numbers are 714-968-8300 and 888-649-5783. Barbara also set up a candy and fruit table for hors d'oeuvres that was outstanding.

Family members included; Richard and Epi Parks, Scott, Stacy and Brock Parks, Michael, Tara, Trevor and Dane Parks, Stacy’s mother Joyce Rauch, Sherry Teresa, Russ di Teresi and his daughter Molly, Jana Ziebarth Girard and her friend Paul, Tamara Parks and her friend John Holt, the guest of honor, David L. Parks and his wife Barbara J. Parks, John Ziebarth, Matt and Mari Bell, Bob and Diane Bell, Lindsay Bell, Brandon and Lori Bell and their children Brooklyn and Easton, Roger and Kathy Eves and their children Kristen, Melissa, Jared Eves. Brandon Eves and his friend Jacey Perkins, Herb and Marion Coddington, Cindy Moore, Ken and Daniel Coddington, Kevin and Janelle Nerison, Dan and Bonnie Nerison, and Kelli Nerison. On display outside were several cars owned by the late Wally Parks, including Buttercup, a 1965 El Camino and Suddenly, a reproduction of the Plymouth Savoy that broke the stock car land speed record at Daytona Beach, Florida in 1957 with Wally Parks driving at a speed of 166 miles per hour. The speed was increased to 183 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah with Ray Brock driving. Tony Capanna at Wilcap built the engine for the original car. A rare rainy day did not spoil the party as the guests had plenty of room in David’s shop and garage and spent the day telling stories about the honoree, some of which were true.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].