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Eldon Snapp Biography March 12, 2012

Eldon Snapp Biography March 12, 2012

Eldon Snapp

Story by Richard Parks and Timothy Oldfield,
Photographs by Timothy Oldfield - Photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz  


(Special thanks to Albert Drake and his interview with Eldon Snapp that was used in the book Hot Rodder! From Lakes to Street, Flat Out Press, 1993. also from the Road Runners Car club maintained by club historian Jerry Cornelison.)

There is no record of where Eldon Snapp was born or who his parents were. There is a notation that he attended Whittier Union High School and graduated in the class of 1932, which would make his date of birth around 1914, which is only a year later than my father's birth in 1913. Eldon and my father, Wally Parks, were close friends. In high school Eldon participated on the cross country team and earned a letter. Another close friend of Eldon's at school was John Riley, who graduated in the same class and was a letterman in the 125 pound wrestling division. Eldon loved art in all its forms, but he was best known as a sign painter and letterer. Many of his friends from Whittier came together to form a very important part of the early Road Runners car club that began in 1937. Wally Parks was instrumental in getting Eldon to join along with John Riley, and the Miller Brothers (Lawrence, Zeke and Ak). The Road Runners formed along with a few other clubs in the mid-1930's in order to build hot rods and to race them at the dry lakes in Southern California.

It was the automobile that gave young men and women a sense of freedom from the gripping vise of poverty due to the Great Depression in the thirties. The feeling of speed as the wind went through one's hair in an open roadster made the lack of money a distant memory. Eldon, like all the young people of the era made do with what they had. They scrounged around in junk yards and bought broken bicycles, car parts and wrecked automobiles and then they learned how to rebuild and adapt and create works of beauty and speed. It was also an age of experimentation and these young minds used the cast off refuse of others to invent new and better uses of the cars and parts that Detroit had manufactured. Of course, not all Americans were made destitute by the depression. Fred Hadley's father was a banker who had invested prudently in property and his family lived very comfortably in a two-story home in Whittier. For a lot of other families the times were tougher with one in four working men and women out of work. Uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents and children often simply moved into the same home and made do with what they had. People took whatever jobs were available and even the children had jobs, such as mowing lawns or selling newspapers that brought in needed money for the family.

After graduating, Eldon carpooled with three other friends into Los Angeles to attend a vocational school. Eldon was taking art classes and his other friends were studying electronics and mechanical arts. One of the men, who was older, was a man by the name of Frank Hoffman and he had a profound impact on Eldon. Hoffman had a beautiful 1930 Ford Model-A sedan and he took great care to improve it. He installed lights under the hood, so that you could see the engine at night through the grill. Hoffman also worked to upgrade the performance of his car by installing Winfield downdraft carburetors and a Cragar overhead. It was a way to improve the speed of the car and make it difficult for the police to catch them should they create some fracas. It was also a way to let the wealthy know that with a lot of ingenuity the common and less well off could have what the rich could easily buy. Hoffman also had a penchant for street racing and challenging other drivers with a taunt. Eldon was enthralled by how fast Hoffman's little sedan could go.

After he had finished with his art classes, Eldon found a job at the Frank J. Dore Ford Garage and honed his skills with cars. He was living at 528 S. Milton Avenue, in Whittier, California at the time. He bought a '29 Model-A Ford roadster and little by little as he made some money he began to upgrade it with better parts. Some of the speed equipment parts that Eldon bought had been made by Ed Winfield. Ed had been a race car driver in the 1920's, but retired when his wife had demanded that he give up the dangerous sport. Winfield turned to tinkering and inventing and his carburetors and cams were sought after by young men who were hungry for speed. Another cam grinder was Pierre Bertrand, who influenced Clay Smith. George Riley manufactured the Riley 4-Port, but beyond that it was young men and their ideas that created speed equipment. It would be latter half of the 1930's and the years just after the end of World War II when shade tree and home garage mechanics would create the speed equipment industry that we know today. Eldon predated men like Ed Iskenderian, Phil Weiand, Stu Hilborn, Vic Edelbrock Sr, Ted Halibrand, Harvey Crane, Paul Schiefer, Harry Weber, Chuck Potvin, Dean Moon, Nick Arias Jr, Louie Senter and so many other talented inventors.

Eldon had his '29 lowered and a cloth top and side flaps made by Bob Story in Whittier to keep out the rain in the wintertime. He found good used tires when the new Ford 16 inch tires came out in 1935. He worked on the tank and removed the fenders, giving the '29 a hot rod look, but he was careful to avoid going into Los Angeles where the police were known to crack down on fenderless roadsters. He put a Winfield flathead into his roadster and then changed it to an overhead motor, a Model-B block. Then he put in a '36 Ford V-8 in his roadster and drove it everywhere, even out to the dry lakes where he raced it on the playa. There's a photo of Eldon with his '29 Ford roadster when he had Winfield heads, manifold and cam and the number 52 painted on the side of his car in the late 1930's. Besides the lakes, Eldon simply loved to drive and he joined in with all the other young people in the activities of the car culture. He was at the local diners, at the Road Runners meetings and on the various activities. He enjoyed going on the Hare and Hound chases, where a course is marked out in lime thrown on the street, but in such a way as to befuddle the best navigator. The club members would take their girlfriends on long drives down to the beach or out to the desert and hold picnics. They had timed rallies at various checkpoints.

A favorite activity was cruising down to San Diego and back. They would often go out to a new restaurant in Orange County by the name of Knott's Berry Farm, located deep in the orange ranches of that rural county. Eldon and Wally were close friends with Bozzie Willis, from the San Diego Roadster Club and so the San Diego club and the Huntington Park Road Runners would often hold joint activities. Another club that they spent a lot of time with was the Gophers of Whittier. Many of the Road Runners came from Whittier, including the Miller Brothers, Riley and Snapp, so they knew and associated with the Gophers. The Gophers had members who did outrageous stunts. In the Gophers were the Gonnella brothers (Dante and Donald), Johnny Ryan, Nellie Taylor, Johnny Price, Harry Weber and many other young men who threw caution to the wind. Their parties were outrageously funny and their antics beyond imagination. When the Gophers and the Road Runners got together for a cruise or party, anything was possible.

The Road Runners held their meetings over in South Gate, probably in the garage of Jack Henry, who was the club sergeant-at-arms; the guy that kept order in the group. Afterwards they would often pair up and dare someone to street race and they would find a nice stretch of road to run on. Sepulveda Boulevard in Los Angeles was a favorite street. They would meet after midnight when the office buildings were empty and there were few people out and about. Using purloined road repair barriers they would close down the street and post sentries to look out for the police; then they would hold impromptu drag races. Eventually someone would hear the noise and the police would show up, but the sentries would sound an alert and the young men and women would tear out and down side streets. If you were caught you faced the possibility of a "three days in jail or a three dollar fine." Most kids took the three days in jail, because you had a bed and three meals a day. Three dollars was very hard to come by in those days. Every young man had a favorite place to race their cars in the 1930's. Eldon preferred a stretch behind the Whittier Hills on the way to La Habra Heights. Another favored spot was Highway 39, between Whittier and La Habra that was flat and straight and even the police got involved in blocking off the area and betting on the hot rodders. Westminster Avenue down in Huntington Beach near the Naval Station was another hot spot. Just about any road through the orange groves of Orange County was raced on, because the traffic around midnight was almost non-existent. Eldon remembers a trip down to Kearney Mesa in San Diego to go racing and he blew up his engine and had to be rope-towed home by Jimmy Triplett

Most of the Road Runners were aware of the dry lakes in Southern California around Rosamond, Mojave and the Palmdale/Lancaster area. Today it is known as the sprawling Edwards Air Force Base, but in the past it had such names as Muroc, Corum, Harper, Rosamond and other dry lake beds. They were low valleys surrounded by hills and mountains and over millions of years the seasonal, but sparse, rains had washed sediment down from the higher elevations. These sediments filled the low spots and the winter rains and winds scoured the desert playa and left behind a smooth, hard mud surface that dried out around the end of April. Sometime around the end of World War I the dry lakes had been discovered to be ideal for testing vehicles to see how fast they could go. The first to use the dry lakes were motorcycle and car companies, who often used professional race drivers to run endurance tests on the cars. This was early performance testing and it gave a wealth of advertising statistics to help sell cars and motorcycles. In 1927 Earl Mansell, from San Diego, organized a one day event and charged a few dollars to enter. The top speed got the entrance money. He marked off the course with a tape measure, built a homemade starters flag and had one man time the event at the end with a stopwatch. The dry lakes drew a small group of independent racers until 1930 when George Wight of Bell Auto Parts and George Riley of the 4-Port Riley fame sponsored organized racing. The Night Riders Car Club of Fullerton organized the event under Wight and Riley, who formed the racing organization's name as the Muroc Timing Association (MTA).

Other timing associations came and went, and often they were only small car clubs who acted independently and for their members only. By 1937 Wight and Riley decided that the liability of sponsoring these land speed time trials was not worth risking their businesses on and withdrew, dooming the MTA. But enough young men, including Eldon Snapp, had seen the racing, ran their cars or had volunteered to fill the duties of running such meets that they decided to form their own association. In November, 1937 several car club groups came together in a meeting and roughed out the plans for the new Southern California Timing Association (SCTA). Slightly before this time the Road Runners had formed and were actively recruiting more members in anticipation of the new timing organization. Eldon and Wally both approached other young men with flyers and encouraged them to join. The day of irresponsible street racing was coming to an end as the young men gradually saw the benefits of a safer way to race their cars on the dry lakes. It took organization and skill to run such an association. There had to be inspectors who checked out the safety of the vehicles. There were patrols organized to keep spectators off the course while the cars raced. A board of directors oversaw all the work groups. The clubs themselves had to have a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and 'sergeant at arms.' The sergeant at arms was simply the biggest guy in the group who knew Roberts Rules of Order and at the behest of the president, could pick up and toss out any trouble makers. There were plenty of trouble makers indeed in those early years.

The Road Runners missed that first meeting, though they were supposed to be there. The leaders were all older men and they included Ed Adams from Fullerton, who was the first president of the SCTA. Duke Hallock and his brother came from La Habra. There were the three Wrigley brothers; so Orange County, as sparse as it was in population at the time, was a center for the leadership of the new group. Art Tilton was elected as the new secretary and he was a major reason why the SCTA got off the ground and was so successful. He was a member of the Throttler's car club from Hollywood. After he resigned to go into the war there was a succession of secretaries that tried to fill his shoes. He died in a military training accident just after the end of World War II and they named a sportsmanship trophy after him. Other important pre-WWII figures included Bozzie Willis, Wally Parks, Bob Rufi, Karl Orr, Eldon Snapp, Mel Leighton and John Riley.

The early dry lakebeds that they used were Harper, Muroc and Rosamond prior to the war and El Mirage after the war. The constant racing would loosen the compacted mud and cause dust storms, cloaking visibility. So the group that was created to find lakebeds would search all over the desert areas of Southern California, from San Diego to Muroc and then as far east as the Colorado River to find suitable dry lakes. They would race at Muroc or Harper most of the time; and less frequently at Rosamond. After the war the military took over all three dry lakes and the land speed racers had to settle for the much smaller El Mirage playa. Safety was primitive back in the 1930's. John Riley had a leather helmet that Eldon painted green. Riley would lend the helmet out to whoever wanted to use it during a run down the course. There were no seat belts or safety harnesses in those days. There were Air Force harnesses available but the racers didn't want to spend the money and they had a fear about being tied down if there was a fire. Zeke Miller told me a story about a racer who had a seat belt on when he crashed his car and it caught on fire. The racer and the safety crew could not get the seat belt undone and rescuers attempted to cut the cords with a knife, but the fire became too intense and the man was burned alive. Until the day he died, neither Zeke nor his wife Dorothy, would ever use a seat belt. There were no roll bars or cages in the 1930's as we know them today. Some of the racers reinforced their cars and this helped somewhat. That's what Bob Rufi gave as the reason for his survival when he crashed his streamliner in November, 1940.

Eldon Snapp was a sign painter by trade during the Great Depression when one took any job and excelled at it, or starved. Eldon and my father were close friends and his wife Betty and my mother Mary often went out together socially. Eldon was also an artist, cartoonist and designed the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) logo. He was also the co-editor with my father on the Road Runners club newsletter that morphed into the SCTA Racing News. Most of the cartoons and ads were designed by Snapp and signed Snappe. My father did some of the cartooning, but Eldon did the majority of them. Eldon and Wally simply loved the car club scene and dry lakes racing. They volunteered for any job that needed to be done. With their artistic flair and talent they created a newsletter for the Road Runners car club and went out and found all the latest news and gossip. It filled a huge gap in what the young kids of the time wanted; news of their new sport. They convinced Harry Cameron that he should be the 'editor-in-chief,' though Cameron had little idea what Eldon and Wally were up to.

Parks was the editor and writer and Eldon did the cartooning and the art work for the little newsletter/magazine. Eldon also handled the sales, going out to garages and shops and with his ready smile and pleasant nature, getting ad revenue. What they received as income never quite met all of their expenses, but it made them feel important. They would sell their little newsletter at the dry lakes, board meetings and leave some at the garages. They always had some on hand to sell whenever they met hot rodders. This style of writing and sales would be copied later on in 1941 when Jack Peters would start up his Throttle magazine. After the war Pete Petersen and Bob Lindsay would do the same thing with their little magazine called Hot Rod in 1948. It was a combination of Eldon's artwork and cartooning and Wally's skill as a writer and editor that caused such a demand for the Road Runners newsletter that the two of them were encouraged to change the name to the SCTA Racing News with the backing of the board of directors. From that time until they went into the war the SCTA Racing News would be the backbone of news for a racing hungry youth in Southern California and around the country. George Wight at Bell Auto Parts would include a copy of the newsletter in his catalogs and advertisements that he mailed to hot rodders all over the world.

Eldon was a constant, but often silent voice in the SCTA and a loyal friend to my father. Few people know how important Eldon was to the well being of the SCTA and how it was an effective force in curtailing illegal street racing. I have some of Eldon’s paintings and treasure them. Karl and Veda Orr are perhaps somewhat better known among land speed racers and a few even remember going to his speed shop and buying some of the best equipment available at the time. Many people remember how Veda Orr took over the SCTA Racing News or what was left of it after Parks and Snapp went into the military. Eldon went into the Army in 1942 and Wally followed him into the Army in 1943. The SCTA effectively shut down in 1942 as nearly all of the members were away in the military at that time. Veda sent the newsletter to as many of the dry lakes racers as she could, with news of home and whatever racing related information that she could find. Receiving those newsletters kept the morale up and many racers today covet those little sheets of yellowed paper. Karl was also known for the roadster that he built and maintained and let Veda drive at the dry lakes in the 1940’s, when no other women were allowed to race. She was a special lady and Karl, as crusty as he could be, had a loyal following of younger men who idolized him.

John Riley was an original member of the Road Runners and was there when the SCTA was formed in 1937. He was the treasurer of the club when Eldon Snapp, Wally Parks, my mother Mary Parks and a friend of Eldon’s “borrowed” the club treasury, all $6 of it and took off for a two day vacation to Yosemite National Park in the 1930’s. Gas, food and a tent for the group cost just $6 in those days, though they made my mother sleep in the car. Eldon's first wife was Betty, who became ill and passed away. He then married Hazel and I met her and Eldon at their home in Joshua Tree in the 1980's. He had sold his business and moved from Orange County out to the desert which he truly loved. His home was in a small desert community where all the houses were built in a Southwestern or early Spanish/American style. He took extra pride in how he made the big arches and Hazel would show off her cactus and other desert plants. Eldon was a fine artist and painted many watercolor and “plein air” artworks. I was lucky enough to find three of his watercolors for sale on the internet showing Saguaro cactus amid the rocks of a lush spring time.


The following comes from Timothy Oldfield

I used to assist Eldon Snapp at his Snapp E Signs behind the old Anaheim post office. I was a long-haired hippy living in a camper built on the back of my 1947 Dodge 1-ton flat-bed dually truck when I ran out of fuel in Anaheim. I’d quit my struggling sign business in Tucson and was seeking a mentor to learn secrets of creating more quality and value in my mediocre works. He didn’t need another sign painter, but said his wife was on him to clean up the shop space. That was the beginning of Eldon becoming my mentor, in signs and to some degree in my life as well. A friend had shown me Eldon's obituary of sorts in Hot Rod magazine, I think it was in the early 1990's. He used to introduce me to folks as Barney Oldfield’s grandson.

I was at Eldon's sign painting shop in 1975 and although I learned a lot about painting and gold-leafing from him, I rarely got to learn much about the man himself. He was cheerful and very helpful, but really didn’t toot his own horn about himself. The only thing even close to sounding boastful was when I told him I’d been taught gold-leafing before, but my results were not of high quality due to my fingerprint indentations from testing the readiness of the varnish. He said, "You were taught incorrectly, probably to mislead you." And he said he didn’t mind teaching me the correct way to test and such with both fast and slow varnishes as well as gelatin method for gold gilding on glass. He said that nobody else would ever be better than him with this technique, even if he didn’t hide such secrets. His confidence was definite and true. I’ve done some nice work, but his work was truly beautiful. I assisted him one evening after work later that week on a race car.

The earlier fingertip-touch-test that I was taught by others was bogus as hell, and Eldon showed me how to use the few hairs on the back of my hand, not my fingertips, as the back of your hand is actually more sensitive anyway. Eldon used a badger tip gilders brush used to carry the leaf from the book to the surface being gilded. You can try softly dragging a feather or silk ribbon or such light material over the back of your hand, then the front, and again on the back. You will see the front of the hand barely feels it, while the back of the hand is almost too ticklish. When the varnish was dry enough to feel ready by the old method, the little hairs will still stick in it too easily. They should just drag a tiny bit, almost squeak, but not hang. He had the science down and it probably cost him dearly to learn that back when he did.

Eldon did mention he had to hire a chemist to track down why a gilding project had to be redone due to discoloration of the costly gold (and we used real 22 or 23 karat gold), and before he did the project a third time, he had to be sure it was the last time. It turned out the client was using a cleaner on the signage that contained a mild acid. It didn’t matter that the client had used it before without such mishap; manufacturers sometime change formulas. He taught me to use Bon Amie cleanser on glass, not just because it “hasn’t scratched yet,” but because it leaves dust stuck to the window if it is still not totally clean. He said to repeat cleaning three times without even looking, and then look to see if any dust was lingering afterward. If so, then clean it again till not one particle of anything is there on the glass.

One time we actually did talk longer when he rescued my truck from being towed. A front oil seal had blown down on the freeway near Irvine on my way back from seeing my later-adopted son and his mom (a new baby then; age 36 now) down in Oceanside. I’d hitch-hiked the remainder of the way back to the shop in time for work Monday morning. After work, we left in his big Suburban and the truck was still where it had coasted off to the exit and into the far side of a graveled lot near a fruit stand. But even then, he mostly explained how the toilet-paper filter worked on his Suburban which he’d shown the procedure to me while changing it one afternoon. The aftermarket or home-built filter case was up top on the engine compartment for super easy changing. He said it kept his oil cleaner for a longer time by changing that regularly, though I am not sure how often. I saw the race car kids come by and show great respect for the man, which I assumed was for his artistic abilities alone. The few old B&W photos on the wall of his office, which had turned into a storage place, had things in there from his former wife who had passed away. The photographs showed him standing by racers and their cars. For quite some time I only assumed he was in the photos due to having done the lettering on them or having met a driver. It wasn’t until I moved back to the Pacific Northwest that he gave me any clue that he had been a racer.

We used to write each other on rare occasions after I went north. He would decorate #10 envelopes by rattle-can with hand-cut stencils to create fluorescent green and orange Barney Oldfield golden-submarine-styled race cars. One time he made a cucumber-shaped car out of the letters of my last name (olDfielD), greatly italicized with only the two Ds in caps and tilted back to look like flat tires. If I recall, the lowercase “f” was backward about midway as if the bottom was an engine exhaust. His letters were short and well-wishing; his envelopes were so creative and yet also often child-like. He was such a professional, that he could allow himself to make little goofy stick people at other times. The only photo I believe I still have from him was after he gilded those boys’ last name on the car doors, then hand-painted a border/shadow (the story shared up top).

He reported he had done a big hand-lettered showcard (large stiff poster) for Walter Lance to set on an easel, as Walter was to be signing autographs at some event in Anaheim. Eldon had left a space for him to add his own Woody Woodpecker image. When he showed up to pick up the showcard, Eldon had to do the famous cartoon character portion because Walter said he couldn’t draw him. Evidently, Walter's version of Woody was very rough when invented, and so he hired animators who actually developed Woody Woodpecker to what he was then recognized as. Eldon liked to practice drawing and painting desert scenes and since he is gone, I don’t think he would mind me now sharing that he also liked to take classes with live nude female models. You and others perhaps knew this, but just in case not; yes, nude females were probably his favorite art forms.


The following was taken from the Road Runners website maintained by Jerry Cornelison.

The Road Runners car club was established in January 1937. Along with six other clubs they became Charter Members of the new Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), organized on November 29, 1937, to conduct speed trial events on the dry lakes of Southern California. Of the original seven SCTA Charter Member Clubs, two remain active today, the Road Runners and the Sidewinders. Two of the founding members of the Road Runners were Wally Parks and his close friend Ak Miller. Wally Parks was instrumental in helping organize the new SCTA which held its first official speed trials meet on May 15, 1938, at Muroc Dry Lake. Ak Miller later served as SCTA President. Wally Parks went on to form the NHRA in 1951. In the early years, the Road Runners met in Huntington Park and Whittier. Many members from those early days would later become legends of hot rodding. Besides Wally Parks and Ak Miller, the Road Runners included Ray Brown, Bill Burke, Fred Carrillo, Art Chrisman, Chuck Daigh, Vic Edelbrock Sr, Vic Edelbrock Jr, Jack Harvey, Jerry Kugel, Bobby Meeks, Bob Morton, Ray Morton, Bob and Dick Pierson, Joe Reath and Don Waite, all of whom would later be inducted as members of the American Hot Rod Foundation Pioneers. Road Runners members were innovators.

Following WWII, Belly Tank Lakesters began to appear at the dry lakes. In 1946, Road Runners member Bill Burke is recognized as having been the first to take an Army Air Corps, surplus P-51 wing tank, build a rolling chassis, stuff in an engine and run it at an impressive 131.96 mph. In 2001, the Road Runners SCTA Club moved its headquarters to Riverside, California, and began holding meetings at the historic Ed Martin Garage. Road Runners members have raced a variety of land speed racing vehicles from 1937 to the present day. Club members hold a number of current speed records and the Club has a significant number of members in the Bonneville 200 Club, El Mirage "Dirty 2" Club and Muroc 200 MPH Club. Twenty former Road Runners are members of the Dry Lakes Racers Hall of Fame. Club History; the club was founded in January 1937 by seven members who met in a garage on Sundays. This group included Wally Parks, Ak Miller, Eldon Snapp, and Jack Henry. Originally the Club was known as the Road Runners of Huntington Park and the President was Jack Henry, Wally Parks was the secretary. Wally Parks designed the original Road Runners club plaque. The same plaque design that was created by Wally is still proudly used by the Road Runners today. The club participated in dry lake racing activities, sanctioned by the Muroc Timing Association at Muroc Dry Lake (today known as Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards AFB)

The Road Runners met in Huntington Park initially then moved their meetings to Whittier, California. Over the years, meetings moved to various locations around Los Angeles and Orange counties. In the 1990's, the meetings moved back to Whittier and then to Riverside in 2000. The first SCTA meet held was at Muroc, on May 15, 1938. The first SCTA Racing News Issue 1 was dated December 1, 1938 and it is still published today. Harry Cameron was listed as the Editor, John Riley was in charge of Finance, Jack Shadford and Eldon Snapp created the artwork and advertising and went to the clubs to sell new ads. Wally Parks was the defacto editor, though Cameron was given official credit. Shortly after only two names appeared in the Masthead; Wally Parks as the Editor, and Eldon Snapp as the Art Editor (both later were associated with Hot Rod magazine). Snapp visited all the SCTA Clubs each month collecting pictures and news for the SCTA Racing News. The newsletter was sold at racing events and Snapp also made the rounds soliciting ads. At the beginning of WWII, several very significant things happened. By Government decree, on June 1, 1942, all racing in the US was stopped (gas, oil, rubber etc rationing/shortages). Racing was the ONLY sport suspended. The last official race conducted after WWII began was July 19, 1942 at Harper Dry Lake. All official racing was suspended for duration of the War.

Many SCTA members, including many Road Runners, went off to war. Many sold or garaged their race cars. Some guys never returned home. Some who did return home went on to other pursuits. A partial listing of Road Runners serving: Rob Pugh enlisted in the Navy before Pearl Harbor; Eldon Snapp went into the Navy; Jack Harvey went into the Army as did Ak Miller. Ak first enlisted in the Army Air Corp, but was transferred to the Army and ended up in the Battle of the Bulge. We believe John Riley went into the Marine Corp. Wally Parks enlisted in May, 1943 and served in the Army Tank Corp in the South Pacific and the battle to retake the Philippines. Bill Burke went into the Coast Guard. Bobby Meeks was in the Navy. Dean Batchelor went into the Army Air Corps and Wes Collins was in the Army. The SCTA Racing News stopped publication. Eldon Snapp, Wally Parks and others exchanged lots of mail and many SCTA guys tried to stay in touch. Wally Parks worked (via mail) with Veda Orr on publishing a newsletter for SCTA members.

Veda Orr "took over the SCTA newsletter responsibilities from Wally Parks and Eldon Snapp and mailed the SCTA newsletters to SCTA members in the military for free while they were overseas." (Source: "Birth of Hot Rodding") Veda renamed the SCTA Racing News and it became the CT News (California Timing Association News) for the duration of WWII. Evidently, sometime after the War when SCTA was active again, the SCTA Racing News was "re-born." It still is published today. In 1946, the SCTA was reorganized with the following officers.
• Wally Parks was elected President (Road Runners member)
• Randy Shinn was elected Secretary (Road Runners member)
• Mel Leighton elected Treasurer (Road Runners member)
The first post-War meet by SCTA was at El Mirage on April 4, 1946 (later reference by author lists April 28th as the first meet). April 28, 1946, racing resumed (earlier reference by author says April 4th). (Note: These two references are from "The Birth of Hot Rodding" by Robert Genat. I do not know why the dates conflict. Perhaps the April 4th event was cancelled due to rain or wind.)

The December 1946 issue of CT News had an advertisement for the first edition of Veda Orr's Lakes Pictorial book. Her plan was to publish an issue each year. According to the book Edelbrock - Made in the USA, by Tom Madigan, the Lakes Pictorial is considered a treasure today. Ak Miller was elected SCTA President in 1947 with Wally Parks as Secretary and both were Road Runners members. January 1, 1948, the first issue of Hot Rod magazine was published and Wally Parks would become the editor a year later. On September 19, 1948 the SCTA joined the National Safety Council. The SCTA had 300 members with 100 hot rods from 36 clubs, led by SCTA President Ak Miller (Road Runner) and all of the members took the National Safety Council oath. This was in response to the ongoing problem of illegal street racing and the need to "clean up" the image of the overall activity by the membership. Serious sanctions were levied by SCTA on members and clubs caught street racing.
According to the book, Flat Out, "Around 1950, activity at the dry lakes began to diminish." Speeds were getting too fast for the average street rodder. More and closer venues for legal drag racing becoming available. Many guys went into building street rods rather than race cars. Some "Lakes Racers" were transitioning to "Drag Racers." In 1951, Wally Parks wrote an editorial in Hot Rod magazine reviewing the history of Dry Lakes racing and stated that due to course conditions (over use) that dry lakes racing may have to be abandoned or other racing locations sought out.

In March of 1951 Wally Parks organized the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Other Road Runners members include many familiar names of individuals who would have a significant impact on Hot Rodding and racing. Ak Miller was hot rod innovator and international race driver. Bill Burke was the inventor of the Belly Tank Lakester in 1946. Burke, known as the Father of the Belly Tank, went to the lakes for the first time in 1934. He raced roadsters and modifieds. He invented the Belly Tank Lakester in 1946, following service in the Coast Guard in WWII. He saw barge full of belly tanks while on duty in the Pacific and got the idea to build a streamliner. Burke designed and built the famous original So-Cal Belly Tank Lakester body and chassis using a Model T frame and a P38 drop tank. Doug Caruthers was a Midget, Sprint Car, Indy Dirt Car Team Owner and was elected into the USAC Hall of Fame. Art Chrisman was a renowned drag racer. Tom Medley developed the "Stoker McGurk" cartoons for Hot Rod magazine and was the Editor of Rod & Custom magazine. Vic Edelbrock Sr created Edelbrock speed equipment. Dean Batchelor was a race car designer, builder and author of hot rod and racing books. Ray Brown and Bobby Meeks were noted hot rod engine builders. Jack Henry introduced one of the two first "real" streamliners with enclosed wheels in 1939. Eddie Meyer Jr introduced the first mid-engine lakes roadster in 1940. Don Waite was the innovator of the rear engine lakes roadster in 1947. Ernie McAfee was a successful Ferrari dealer and racer. Ernie died while racing at Pebble Beach in 1956.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected].