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The Guy's Then


All the guys!
I want to take the time to thank the many contributors of pictures and information to this web site.  Some of them led the way during the gasser wars of the sixties.  I consider them friends.  Thanks to: Junior Thompson, and Rhonda Strickland (Junior's other kid); "Ohio" George Montgomery; 'Big John' Mazmanian; KS Pittman; Steve Woods; Gary Reinero; Ron Nunes; Byron Stack; Paul Hutchins; Jamie Jackson, and others.  I want to give a special thanks to my old friend Tom Chambliss, for his special help, and encouragement he provided in setting up this web site.

*A personal thanks to Charles Gilchrist, drag photographer extroidinaire, for letting me use his very high quality pictures of some of the 'Guys.'  Charles is a guy too!  You can purchase pictures from him at:
PO Box 770-226, Lakewood, Ohio  44107.
e-mail: info@charlesgilchrist.com


Photo by Rich Welch, circa 1968 - Brasher, Cummings, & "Little" John - Fremont Raceway

Bill Brasher...lining up the powerful, blown & injected big block Chevy engined 33' Willys, for a burnout at Fremont.  You never counted old Bill out...he could hold his own with almost anyone.



Brasher and Cummings, AA/Gas Super-charged, 33' Willys
Photo courtesy of Tom Chambliss, from his collection, circa March, 1967 - Ron Rinauro's shop in Los Altos, CA.

Here is a rare photo of the "Brasher, Cummings, & Rose's" 33' Willys, as it was making the transition from A/Gas to AA/Gas Super.  Tony Del Rio was on the first stages of chopping the top 4 inches.  The new chassis was built by 'The Wizard,' Tom Chambliss.  The transformation featured a full roll cage, narrowing of the frame rails, new engine location, seat location, brake and throttle controls, and new front and rear suspension.  The whole project, including new paint, took a total of three weeks!  Bill ran his new blown & injected 483 ci. big block Chevy engine.  This car ran middle 8's at over 160 mph. on gas, and Bill could be as sharp as they come driving.



Brasher, Cummings, and Rose
Photo courtesy of Tom Chambliss, circa June 1970 - Orange Country International Raceway

'Brasher, Cummings & Rose's' 33' Willys AA/Gasser warming the engine up, circulating the oil in the transmission, and getting ready to make a lap.  By this time, they had gone to an early Chrysler Hemi.  This was the last time the car was ever run in the Los Angeles area.  That's 'Del Rio & Carlson's' 33' Willys AA/Gasser in the Background, also from the Northern California area.  To the left is Wayne Del Rio, and to the right is Elywn Carlson, the driver and partner.  Not pictured, is the late Tony Del Rio.



Ron Rinauro, AA/Gas Super-charged, 33' Willys
Photo by Rich Welch, circa 1968 - Fremont Raceway

Ron Rinauro...putting the pedal down on the beautiful 'Super Fox' 33' Willys AA/Gasser at Fremont.  This car was originally a B/Gasser until Ronnie bought it and had Tom Chambliss build a new chassis for it...the one you see above.  The car started out with a blown & injected 469 ci. big block Chevy engine in it.  Later, he went to Chrysler Hemi. power.


Photo from the Tom Chambliss collection, circa 1968 - Sears Point International Raceway.

Ron Rinauro...on a qualifying run at Sears Point Raceway.



Photo courtesy of Paul Hutchins, circa 1969 - Winternationals, Pomona

Mike "The Hippie" Mitchell.  He ran his Corvette 'Revolution,' roadster fashion, in the AA/Gas Super-charged class back in the late sixties.  It was built by Ron Scrima, 'Exhibition Engineering.'  It ran some very respectable numbers for it's day; 160's and middle 8's with a converter.  He also ran the NHRA 'Summer Nationals' with this car, in the late sixties at Indy.



Photo courtesy of Paul Hutchins, circa 1969 - Winternationals, Pomona

Keith Bush.  The 'Bushwhacker' was another car that ran well back in late sixties in the AA/Gas Super-charged class.  Whatever race he showed up at, he always qualified up at the top.



Lemon Twist,  48' Austin, Fremont Raceway, Mike Steinberg
Photo by Ted Stewart, circa 1973 - Fremont Raceway

Mike Steinberg putting the pedal down on his 48' Austin, 'Lemon Twist.' The body was sponsored, and built by  "Contemporary Fiberglass," and the chassis was built by Tom Chambliss.  The engine was a 432 c.i. late model Dodge Hemi, built by Mike Steinberg.  The car weighed 1,874 lbs. ready to to run.  It ran a smokey 8.72 e.t. (converter was too big), at 164.45 mph, in the AA/Gas Super-charged class.  The car was totally destroyed in an accident.


Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1971 - Fremont Raceway

Mike Steinberg...Laying down a burn-out out of the 'box' at Fremont.


Photo by Ron Burch, circa 1971 -  Fremont Raceway

Mike Steinberg...another burn-out at Fremont in the "Twist".



Photo by Rich Welch, circa late 1960's - Orange County International Raceway

Junior Thompson...a legend, and a proven winner.  You were never guaranteed a win against Jr...short of shooting out his tires during the run!  When he and the boys from L.A. showed up, Jr. had a way of figuring out how to win, and he'd never give up!



Jr. Thompson, 48' Austin
Photo by Paul Hutchins, circa 1969 - Possibly Winternationals, Pomona

Another photo of Junior's 48' Austin in the pits, getting ready for another lap.



Jr. Thomson, Big John Mazmanian, Opel, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photo courtesy of Jr. Thompson

Junior and Big John's very nice Opel AA/GS car in the pits, without the front end on it.  It ran as good as it looks.  



Photo by Rich Welch, circa late 1960's - Orange County International Raceway.

Ronnie Nunes...in his early Hemi. powered 'Vette,' blowing an engine.  Notice the blower scoop laying over on one side (sorry Ron, it's the only pictures I have of your car...send me some).  It's an old saying in racing, but it's still true..."If you ain't  breaking parts, you ain't breaking records!"  Ron has been racing blown gas coupes from the beginning.  He's held the BB/GS record that he broke at 'Half-moon Bay' drag strip in the middle 1960's...I know...I was there that day.  The team of 'Nunes, & Warren' always ran very hard and fast.

Ron Nunes now, has one of the fastest contemporary "Pro Supercharged" cars in the world today.  His current version, has a Corvette body, runs a late model Hemi. engine on alcohol, and has run 205 mph, with a 6.76 e.t.



Photo by Rich Welch, circa late 1960's - Orange County International Raceway

Same run of Ron blowing the motor.



Photo by Rich Welch, circa late 1960's - Fremont Raceway

This Anglia belonged to 'Jennings & Miller.'  The Chrysler motor in it was built by Jim Miller, and came out of the 33' Willys of 'Warren, Miller, & Warren.' that he was a partner in. The "The West Coast Fuel & Gas Championships" were being held at 'Fremont Raceway.'  The boy's from LA were coming to play in our backyard, (Stone, Woods, & Cook; KS Pittman; Jr. Thompson; Herrera & Sons; Skip Hess; etc) and these guy's weren't kidding around!  Jennings & Miller ran this car at that meet, with Jim Jennings driving it.  They unloaded it off the trailer at Fremont on Saturday for qualifying, and proceeded to make 3-4 runs...all over the track each time.  The blown Chyrsler motor certainly had the beans for the job, however, the problem with the car from the outset, was in the way the traction bars were set up.  In the beginning, J/M had a basic problem to solve with these types of small, short wheel-base cars.  They were trying to get more clearance for the slicks inside the body.  So, the traction bars were run at an angle, like the old Ford wish-bone bars, and connected to the cross-member at a single point.  In doing this, it cancelled out the traction bars natural ability to stop chassis roll.  Conventional, parallel traction bar type suspensions, automatically cancel the engine/rear axle housing torque.  They in effect, act as a heavy duty anti-roll bars.  It is what makes them so popular, vs. 4 link suspensions.  Trying to compensate for the problem, the boy's increased the spring rate to some very heavy duty springs.  The result was the picture above.  They eventually changed the suspension around, and got the car running and handling pretty well.  At this meet at Fremont, the car was carrying the left front tire 1-1/2 feet in the air, half way down the track.  Driving this car added up to a VERY interesting ride!  The car set top speed of the meet at 166 mph on the second run, which is really a tribute to Jim Jennings driving skill in handling this little brute.  The car was retired that day, and was loaded back onto to the trailer and taken home, because it was just too damn dangerous to drive!



Photo by Rich  Welch, circa late 1960's - Fremont Raceway

Same run as above on this car.  The left front wheel didn't get back on the ground until the 1/8 mile.  The car darted from one side of the track to the other with it's 89" inch wheelbase under full throttle.



Photo by Rich Welch, circa late 1960's - Fremont Raceway

Tom Chambliss...driving the AA/GS Cuda of the 'Mallicoat Bros.,'  lining up for a burnout.  Tom built the chassis on my 48' Austin "Lemon Twist."  He built the chassis' on many other cars you see here too...he does beautiful work. Tom's still a friend.



Mallicoat Brothers, Tom Chambliss, Turbo-charged
Photo courtesy of Tom Chambliss, circa April 1971 - Fremont Raceway

'Mallicoat Bros.' new turbo-charged AA/Gasser being tested at Fremont in 1971, with Tom Chambliss driving.  Best time for this car was 8.13 et. 174. mph.



Tom Chambliss, Steve Woods, Fremont Dragstrip
Photo by Doug Heuton, circa Sept. 1973 - Fremont Raceway

For those of you who think you would like to try driving an AA/Gasser!!!  This is where you get, '...the test first...then the lesson afterwards.'  Tom Chambliss, driving the 'Mallicoat Bros.' car, went off against Steve Woods in his 48' Anglia AA/Gasser.  The turbo motor had been sold, so Tom put in his new 420 ci. gas motor to shake it down.  They were using a clutch-flite tranny with a 'Crower-glide' two disc clutch.  Just as they both went through the lights, the transmission failed in Mallicoat's car, which locked up the two rear wheels solid.  Tom got the chute out (notice the pilot chute out in the photo) to help keep the car straight, and drove it to a skidding stop without getting upside down.  Some piece of driving eh?  Even Steve looks like he's a little out of shape.  Tom got a time slip on this run of 8.48 et. 166.00 mph!



Zeller Brothers, Ron Zeller, AA/Street Roadster
Photo courtesy of Tom Chambliss, circa July 1970 - Fremont Raceway

Here is the 'Zeller Bros.' laying one down at an AA/Gas meet at Fremont.  That's Ron Zeller doing the driving in the 'S&R Race Cars' AA/Street Roadster.  The engine was built by Steve Leach and was a 420 ci. early Chrysler blown and injected.  If you look carefully behind the car, you will see a young looking Ronnie Nunes, and to his left, John Chambliss.  Let's not forget Fremont's famous starter, 'Chet Carther,' in orange and white, who was there as long as I can ever remember.


Photo courtesy of Ron Arcangeli, circa Oct. 1968 - Orange County International Raceway

The very potent AA/Street Roadster of "Bilby, Densham, & Plueger'.  This car, with Gary Densham driving, put up some impressive numbers back in the late sixties, running middle 8's and 160 plus's.  The car was built by, "S&R Race Cars."  The engine was built by Steve Leach.  L.R; Steve Leach, Steve Plueger (owner of S&R Race Cars), and Lee Bilby.  At an AA/Gasser meet at Vacaville Dragstrip, I saw this car run 162+ mph on gas with a converter.  I remembered it, because at the time, I thought that was pretty decent.  Their wern't many others matching their speed that night.


Photo courtesy of Ron Arcangeli, circa Oct. 1968 - Orange County International Raceway

A rear shot of the "Bilby, Densham, & Plueger" AA/Street Roadster.  L.R; Steve Leach, Lee Bilby, and Steve Plueger.



Warren Brothers, Ron Nunes, Tom Chambliss
Photo courtesy of Tom Chambliss, circa Nov. 1967

This is the just completed 'Warren Bros.' chassis.  It used a 'Fiberglass Trends' 1968 Corvette body, and was originally set up for a big block Chevy motor.  The car ended up running a +400 cubic inch early Chrysler motor, and turned some world class numbers.  Ron Nunes came in with the Warren boys on this car later, to form a pretty solid race team.  This chassis was built by 'The Wizard'...Tom Chambliss.



Panella and Miner, Bob Panella, Tom Chambliss, BB/Gas Super-charged
Photo from the Tom Chambliss collection, circa 1973 - Bob Panella's barn in Stockton, California

Here is a rare picture of Bob Panella's Opel GT turbo-charged.  It only ran turbo-charged between March & October of 1973.  It WAS 'El Padrone' (The Boss) in BB/GS, as it held the NHRA record.  It's best was an 8.64 et. 159.26 mph.  

The car was built by 'Exhibition Engineering', Ron Scrima, and Tom Chambliss CRC from Mountain View, California between July 1971 and Jan 1972.  The early Chrysler engine was 301 cubic inches.  It was a 354 ci. Chrysler motor, destroked 5/8", and was built by Fred Miner.  It used a Crower-Glide clutch, and B&M clutch-flite transmission; Halibrand mag. quick change rear-end; Fiberglass Trends body; and a Nat Quick candy apple red paint job.  Tom Hanna did the outstanding aluminum interior.  The car weighed just a tad over 2400 lbs. with 300 lbs. ballast.

Tom Chambliss drove the car for the first 3 test sessions, because of his turbo engine driving experience with 'Mallicoat Bros.' car (Staging and leaving is difficult).  Phil Featherston of Stockton became the permanent driver.



Panella and Miner, Tom Chambliss, Turbo-charged
From the Tom Chambliss collection, circa 1973 - Sacramento International Raceway

Bob Panella's...'Opel GT' being tested for the first time at Sacramento Raceway.



Panalla and Miner, Tom Chambliss
From the Tom Chambliss collection, circa 1973 - Sacramento International Raceway

A good close-up of the engine.  You can get an idea of how nice this car was.  Fred Miner built the turbo intake and exhaust system.



Photo courtesy of Rob Stuart

Goodbye to a lot of great memories...



Lee's T, Ron Nunes
Photo from Mike Steinberg collection, circa 1965 - Fremont Raceway

Ron Nunes B/Gas Supercharged 40' Willys going off against 'Lee's T.'  Ronnie was running a 327 ci. Olds engine, blown & injected, with 59 Olds heads, Engle cam, and a B&M 4 speed hydro transmission.  Even with this engine/transmission combination, the car was initially built light at 2,050 lbs.  Ron had to add 900 lbs. of ballast to make the B/Gas Supercharged class weight limit.



Jim Kirby, Challenger, 40' Willys, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photo courtesy of Phil Quinto, circa 1968 - Irwindale Raceway.

Jim Kirby's awesome AA/GS "Challenger" 41' Willys, making one of its usual groundshaking runs. Kirby's early Chrysler powered 'Whale' motors could get the job done!  At one of the many great Supercharged Gas Coupe meets run at Fremont, Kirby and his 'Challenger' waded through a stellar field of AA/GS cars, and won.  The horse-power this car was putting down that day was un-real!  He also set top speed and low et of the meet.



Harry Bickford, Challenger, 40' Willys
Photo courtesy of Phil Quinto, circa 1970 - Atco, New Jersey.

Harry Bickford...putting the pedal down on the burnout, driving the former Jim Kirby "Challenger" AA/GS 41' Willys that he bought.



Jr. Thompson, 40' Willys, A/Gas Super-charged, Half-moon Bay Dragstrip
Picture from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip.

I believe this is Jr. Thompson's old 41' Willys coupe that he ran in almost all the supercharged classes.  That day, it was running in AG/S.  I have to confirm this with Jr.  I took this terrible picture back then, but I'm thankful to have it now.



Pittman and Edwards, K.S. Pittman, BB/Gas Super-charged, Half-moon Bay Dragstrip
Picture from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip

I think this car is the old "Pittman & Edwards" B/Gas Super. car, very early on.  This is to be confirmed with K.S. yet.



Pittman and Edwards, 40' Willys, BB/Gas Super-charged
From the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip

Here is the engine compartment on a legendary car.



Pittman and Edwards, K.S. Pittman, John Edwards
Photo from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip.




Photo from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip.

Here is a rare photo of a car that is all but forgotten as far as I know.  This beautiful 32' Deuce belonged to Jean LaCoste.  It was built by his friend, Charles Tabucchi, an Indy car mechanic, who also built the 354' inch blown Chrysler hemi engine as well.  The engine featured a 6-71 blower with a Tabucchi intake, and 8 carburetors.  It had a Winfield cam, and Tabucchi built the pushrods and lifters for it.  The rear-end is a Halibrand quick change, with a 3.78:1 gear ratio.  The transmission was a 37' Buick, and the drive-line was an enclosed tube.  I don't have any speed or e.t's for this car, but I will post them if I ever find them.  The car was in an old 'Hot Rod Magazine,' and was spotted by Jim Ullman, who was nice enough to pass this information along to me, after he saw this car on my web site.  As I said before, this is still a nice 32' Deuce, even by today's standards.



Picture from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip.

Hey look...the guy taking the picture had a flat top haircut!...LOL



Photo from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March, 1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip.

I sure would like to know where this car is now.



Photo from the Mike Steinberg collection, circa March,1961 - Half-moon Bay dragstrip.

This car was very nice for it's day.  It ran pretty good too, but I don't know of any records it ever set.


Warren Brothers, 33' Willys, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photo by Rich Welch, circa 1968? - Fremont Raceway

The 'Warren' twins and 'Miller' had a nice 33' Willys AA/GS car back then.



Ohio George Montgomery, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1971.

"Ohio" George Montgomery in his Mustang MALCO gasser.  This car was powered by a blown and injected Ford "SOHC" cammer motor.  In my opinion, George Montgomery probably had the most success with this engine than anyone else, and that includes 'Sneaky Pete' Robinson, although he is modest about it.  George told me one of his ace's in the hole back then.  He lived close to an Air Force Base, and had some connections.  He said he had anything he needed!  Eventually, he began to dominate the class with this car, and won many national events.  George says that once in a while, he still takes a ride down the track in the Mustang, and is going to loan this car to the NHRA museum for display.



Ohio George Montgomery, SOHC Ford
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

"Hmmmmm....shall I give the barrel valve another flat?" "I'm racin' Junior next!"


Ohio George Montgomery, AA/Gas Super-charged, Mustang
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1972

This is the turbo version of "Ohio" George Montgomery's MALCO SOHC Ford powered gasser.  This car became so potent, that NHRA and George had problems over its legality.



Ohio George Montgomery, Stone Woods and Cook
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

The dream race!  "Ohio" George Montgomery's MALCO racer, against Doug "Cookie" Cook in the "Stone, Woods & Cook" Mustang gasser, 'Swindler A.'



Stone Woods and Bones, Ford Mustang
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

The "Stone, Woods & Bones" AA/GS Mustang laying down a powerful run.



Stone Woods and Cook, Big John Mazmanian
Photographer unknown at this time.

The 'Gasser Wars' during the 1960's.



Big John Mazmanian, 40' Willys, AA/Gas Super-charged
Photographer unknown at this time

The late great, 'Big John' Mazmanian, and his beautiful Chrysler powered AA/Gas Supercharged 40' Willys coupe.
John was a very nice man.



Big John Mazmanian, 40' Willys
Photographer unknown at this time.

'Big John' Mazmanian's AA/Gas Super-charged 40' Willys coupe.



Big John Mazmanian, Stone Woods and Cook





Skip Hess, 48' Anglia, Skippers Critter
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1967

Skip Hess...putting the pedal down, in the 'Shores & Hess' AA/Gas Supercharged Anglia.



Skip Hess, Revell Kit Mustang
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa early 1970's - Orange County International Raceway

Skip Hess, in the "Revell Kit" Mustang, Ford powered SOHC motor.



Skip Hess, Ron Nunes, Orange County Raceway
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa early 1970's - Orange County International Raceway

Skip Hess's "Revell Kit" AA/GS Mustang getting it on with Ronnie Nunes' early Chrysler powered Corvette blown gasser.



Jr. Thompson, Opel Kadet
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

Jr. Thompson and 'Big John' Mazmanian's sano AA/GS Chrysler powered 'Opel Kadet,' making a lap.



Jr. Thompson, K.S. Pittman, Opel
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1971

Jr. Thompson and K.S. "Tiger" Pittman going off in their early Chrysler powered, 'Opel Kadet,' AA/Gas Super cars.  What happened to KS's injector scoop?



K.S. Pittman, 48' Austin
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

K.S. "Tiger" Pittman in his 48' Austin AA/Gasser.



Stone Woods and Cook, K.S. Pittman
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1968

K.S. Pittman's 33' Willys, against Doug Cook, driving the 'Stone, Woods & Cook' 40' Willys coupe.



Hart Automotive, 33' Willys
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

The beautiful 'Hart Automotive' 33' Willys AA/Gas supercharged car coming out of the gate.



Hart Automotive, 33' Willys
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1969

The 'Hart Automotive' 33' Willys at speed.  Notice the spoilers on the rear fenders.  This was an early use of down-force.  
It's been said many times...the AA/Gas Super-charged car's were the forerunner's of the modern Funny Car.



Jeg Coughlin, 48' Austin
Photo by Charles Gilchrist, circa 1968

Jeg Coughlin...in his 48' Austin AA/Gasser.


Always!...more pictures of the guy's to follow...