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Fifties Flashback, A Nostalgia Trip - Written by Albert Drake

Fifties Flashback, A Nostalgia Trip - Written by Albert Drake
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Book review by Richard Parks
Photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

FIFTIES FLASHBACK: A NOSTALGIA TRIP is a book by Albert Drake, a hot rodder from the Portland, Oregon area. The book is in paperback format, covering a multitude of subjects in 256 pages. The size of the book is 8½ by 11 inches, with a nice looking cover with the only photograph in the book in color. It makes a nice coffee table book. Drake has a style of writing which is easy to read and hard to stop. It’s a book that one can pick up, read for a few minutes and put down without losing one’s concentration on the various subjects. FIFTIES FLASHBACK: A NOSTALGIA TRIP is published by Bill’s Automotive Handbooks and you can call them at 1-520-547-2462 to order a copy. The ISBN code is 1-931128-17-0. There are approximately 281 black and white photographs in the book and most of them are quite clear, but since the sources of the photos are often in poor quality the reproductions sometimes are not the best. The paper quality is adequate, but not the high gloss waxed paper that you see in higher quality photographic works. In addition to the photographs, there are 20 drawings and cutaways, 67 advertisements from old magazines and newspapers, 40 magazine covers, 19 cartoons, one poster and six additional visual presentations. It’s a literal smorgasbord of topics that will keep your interest going.

Drake divides the subject matter into 53 interesting chapters. Here are a few chapter descriptions; Hub caps, Vintage Tin, Car clubs, NHRA, Track roadsters, Street racing, Magazines, Books, Novels (Henry Gregor Felsen), ’53 Oakland Roadster Show, The Drive-In, Bonneville 1955, James Dean, Drive-In theaters, Girls & Rods, Blue dots, Dice & Flames, Service stations and much more. Each chapter is short and easy to read. Drake’s area of strength and knowledge is in the Pacific Northwest and I particularly liked the chapters on Track roadsters, Len Sutton and Rolla Vollstedt. I’ve reviewed several of Drake’s books and hope that he will continue to write more on hot rodding, the car culture and auto racing. Drake has a zeal that isn’t often matched by writers. This leads him to write books that fill a needed niche and his interests are often eclectic, taking him into areas of the sport of hot rodding that many writers avoid. Drake also has a feel for the subject that opens up new horizons for those who love the often overlooked aspects of the car culture.

Drake has his supporters and his detractors, but he writes and he researches when others would simply avoid a subject. He does make some historical mistakes, such as stating that Wally Parks is the current president of the NHRA or was the editor of HONK. Sometimes it is an error in attributing the facts in the right sequence. More often it is a minor problem like getting the pagination wrong in the index. For example, Hal Miller is mentioned on page 98, but in the index it says Ak Miller. I have to give Drake credit for having an index; which is four pages long. Many fine historians and writers simply avoid adding an index to their books, which is troublesome for historians and researchers. Some historians in the Society of Land Speed Racing Historians say that any mistake in a print medium is unacceptable. They are wrong, for I don’t know of a single writer, researcher or historian who is perfect. Drake impresses me with his overall knowledge and his enthusiasm for a subject and if there are a few mistakes here and there it doesn’t detract from the story that he tells. I rate FIFTIES FLASHBACK: A NOSTALGIA TRIP a 6 out of a possible 8 spark plugs and suggest that you add it to your library.

Gone Racin’ is at [email protected]