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Gone Racin' - Dean Court Biography

Gone Racin' - Dean Court Biography
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Dean Court

     I was born in Rochester, New York, where it snows from Thanksgiving to Easter, in 1944 to Wallace and Virginia Court.  I was their only child.  Rochester might snow from November to the end of March and snow tires are a must if you drive.  

     I attended East High School in Rochester, New York from 1960 to 1964 and my older friends were Bill Drake and Wes Edwards.   Bill was quiet, and single.  He had shirts with snaps, because he did not sew buttons.  Bill had a friend Larry with a Dodge power wagon that they towed his Austin with.  Bill's Austin drag raced in the A/G class and he took the front end off and ran BB/ Altered.  He had both ET and MPH NHRA records one time.  That Dodge could get out of any mud hole.  Wes was married and had a house with a nice garage.  He always liked people.  When Don Garlits came to the local indoor car show, Wes got him to stay at his house instead of a motel. It was an indoor show in downtown Rochester and Garlits was a special guest.  Snow was on the ground.  Wes won E/G at Indy in 1964 and owned a 1956 Chevy that ran in the E/G class.  
     I didn't belong to any car clubs but I did a lot of cruising with Bill Strom, John Valentine and Bill Beck and I still keep up with these guys by e-mail.  Barry Strom had a '32 five window coupe with a Buick motor in it.  Barry moved to Columbus, Ohio after the Air Force.  John Valentine had a '34 Ford coupe with a Chevy engine.  Bill Beck had a '55 Chevy.  I had a '57 Chevy.  John went on to become Director of Racing at Ford Motor Company for a few years and now lives outside of Detroit.  Bill Beck now lives in Las Vegas.

     I was drafted into the US Army in 1968) and spent 13 months and 51 days in Viet Nam.  I stayed in Nam all of 1969 in the Northern Highlands, in Fire Direction FDC on top of a hill in the 4/42 Artillery.  We were moved almost every 30 days.  FDC is the initials for Fire Direction Center.  You are on a hill with five 105 howitzers and the artillery supports the infantry.  FDC is in a container box with radio's and maps and charts.  We talked to the forward observer and the choppers flying over the Viet Cong.  Nam was like no other place.  The most asked question was, "Where are you from back in the world."  I saw the northern highlands.  It was nice and had no swamps.  You never forget the sound of a slick; the most used chopper.  I saw one at Eagle field and had to go over and look at it.  I joked that I was checking on the rear door gunner.  A lot of those guys did not make it back home.  As the FDC chart operator I also kept three generators running for communication; they were lawn mower engines.  None of my friends were ever killed at the base.   Fire direction is put on top of a hill.  The infantry is around the hill.  I did go on R&R one time, and when I came back they told me the hill had been attacked.  One guy on one of the guns got hurt when a grenade went off.  The metal box (shipping container) Fire Direction is in stayed safe because we used lots of sand bags at the entrance and on top.
     I got out of the Army in April of 1970 and was discharged at Ft. Lewis, Washington.  I did not go back to New York, but first went to Orange County, California and then to the San Francisco Bay area.  Wes Edwards had moved to Pleasant Hill when I was in the army.  Then Edwards' called me in Orange County and asked if I wanted to see their house.  I flew to Oakland and I fell in love with the hills and trees around the bay.  I went to Contra Costa College after I got out of the service and never returned to the East where I was raised.  I took a welding class, but I already knew how to weld some; I also took English, and other subjects.  I married a California girl named Kathy Baldwin and we have three children and eleven grandchildren.  I worked as a welder in the area and then got into carpet cleaning and became self employed.


     I raced a 1957 Chevy a couple of times at the drag strip. I did not have enough money to go racing full time.  I wanted a street rod and since I had a ‘32 Ford 2 door sedan that I worked on, it was going to be my car, but I had to sell it when I got drafted.
     I met Wally Parks at Indy and at the Oakland Museum. The Museum had an event called "California Cruisin" and the narrator, Alex Xydias, was sick or in the hospital. Your father was about to take a photo of Mrs Helen Xydias in front of a car. I walked over to him and asked if I could take the photo with his camera, and he could be in it.  He acted surprised and said, "You sure can and thank you."  He acted as if I was doing something great for him that he did not expect; he acted so humble. I will never forget that.

     Drag Racing is what I like to do.  I towed Bill Linder's CC/G Willys the first year he ran.  Bill had all his money in the car and took the bus to work.  Bill Linder, Bill Drake and Wes Edwards raced the east coast, Niagara near Buffalo, a track in Canada, Bristol and Indy.  We went to Vargo in Pennsylvania for a Gasser meet one time.  Someone had thrown nails or tacks all over at top end.  We did not get a flat tire, but Linder lost a blower belt and Drake won the race.  I never got into motorcycle racing and don’t know anyone in that sport.  I used to go to the Outlaw Sprint car races in California.  I went to the Sprint Car races with Joe Davis who shot Video.  I saw the best; Steve Kinser, Sammy Sindel and Doug Wolfgang.  They came to San Jose, Baylands and Calistoga.


       I enjoy taking photos because some day they will be the old stuff and history.  We all try to get the best action shot.  I like the starting line, but top end is beautiful also.  I take photos at Eagle Field, Sacramento, Famoso and Sonoma.  I post photos on www.HotRodHotLine.com, Facebook, a Yahoo page called Gas/FX.  I also take photos at all Goodguys shows at Pleasanton and many other Bay area car shows.  Gasser Wars Magazine published an Eagle Field race I took photos at.  I have met Phil and Dee at Gasser Wars magazine. I am proud to say that Gary Meadors and I were friends.  I have been to all the Goodguys shows in August.  Gary made the first show of the year All American.  I went and talked to him and he let Austin, Anglia, and the other English cars in the show as long as they were American powered.  Blackie Gejeian and I talk quite a bit. He is a great guy and tells me that I see some of the small details he also notices.

     At the March meet in Bakersfield this year, which is run by the Smoker's car club, I saw Sherm Porter, Sunny Jackson, Bob Brown, Roger Rohrdanz, Tim Marshal and a lot of others.  This is a nostalgic drag race and I like taking photographs at this drag race meet.

     I have been to the Black Hawk Museum many times and I take a lot of photographs there for my collection and to post on-line at www.hotrodhotline.com.  The car shows at the museum are held on the first Sunday events called Cars & Coffee.  This is a car show that is listed to run from 8am to 10 am.  If I do not get there by 6:20 am I will not be in the first parking lot with my Austin.  What is strange if you look around at 9:30 am a lot of cars are gone.   When you go for Cars & Coffee it is a good time to go inside the museum.  The second floor does not have cars in it; now it is the history of the west.  I think it is just great.  It starts out with American Indians, then the ranchers, and moves on to wagon trains and people.  They have a corner that has some great photos and stuff from Buffalo Bill.  The photos of his Wild West show are so interesting.  In the display they have a stuffed buffalo, moose and bears.  You get to see the size of these animals.  In front of the museum on the outside they have a sculpture of an elephant.  It is big and I think it is beautiful.  The cars on the main floor and the art work are the main thing to see at the Blackhawk and I like it.


     I try to go to some bracket races and the week before the Sonoma Nationals they have a division 7 race that brings in Pro Mods and other cars.  Some guys in Super Gas and Comp class come the week before and get a good pit place on the return strip/road course and just stay the week.  I never went to the Half Moon Bay dragstrip when it was open.  It closed before I got out of the Army.  I do go to a car and airplane show called California Dream Machines and shoot photos.  It is great to see the old planes flying.  The family that ran the strip owned the Half Moon Bay Bakery in the town.  They have photos of who raced there on the wall.  I’ve also been to Pomona Raceway, Orange County International Raceway, Sears Point (Sonoma), Fremont (Bay Lands) and Famoso to enjoy the racing and take photos.  I never made it up to Seattle’s dragstrip or to Las Vegas yet, but maybe someday I will.

 

Gone Racin' is at [email protected]