Jun 21, 2009

Hot Rod Reunion -- Everything I Expected, and More...

I have embedded a slideshow that tells a lot of the story. The number of cars on display was overwhelming! The drag racing was over the top. I saw a dragster go from a dead stop to 247+ miles per hour in a little over 4 seconds! That's downright scary. And the level of noise is beyond words. I think this may become an annual trek...

There are a lot of pictures here; It may take a few seconds for the slideshow to load, but it's worth the wait:

And here's a little video action:

Jun 14, 2009

Hot Rod Reunion...

This coming weekend, which just happens to include Father's Day, I'll be going on an excursion with my friend Monty Love and his son Patrick. We'll be heading up to Bowling Green, Kentucky, for the 7th annual Holley Hot Rod Reunion.

This event is held at the Beech Bend Raceway near Bowling Green. Darrell Gwynn, one of the NHRA's all-time Top 50 drivers, has been selected as the event's Grand Marshal. Honorees for the event include Jerry Baltes, Amy Faulk, Chuck Nelson, Bob Creitz, and Vance Hunt. The Justice Brothers Reunion Spotlight falls on the team of Stone, Woods & Cook and their 1941 Willys gasser, voted Favorite Race Car Ever.

Several thousand cars and fans are expected. I heard about this event from my friend Richard Wright, engine rebuilder par excellence. Richard and his son Daniel have attended for several years and say it's an event not to be missed. I'm sure you'll see more right here after we return!

Jun 9, 2009

Have a Great Ride, Emily!!!

This morning at 9:00 AM, Emily Anderson and some friends set out on a great transcontinental adventure. They departed from 1930 Broadway in New York City heading for San Francisco as a reenactment of Alice Ramsey's 1909 drive across the country. Alice was the first woman to drive an automobile across the continent. Emily will be driving a 1909 Model DA Maxwell, exactly like the car Alice drove.

My 1932 Plymouths are direct descendents of the Maxwell. On June 6, 1925, Walter P. Chrysler reorganized the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) to form the Chrysler Corporation. The engineering in the early Chrysler products bears a strong resemblance to the last Maxwells.

I recall the excitement I felt leaving Tacoma, Washington, in 1998, as I started on my first Great Race, heading for Haverhill, Massachusetts. My best wishes to Emily and her friends for a safe and successful trip!

Check out their Web site at http://aliceramsey.org

Jun 6, 2009

Moving Day!!!

The '32 Roadster
After only ten years of waiting, the 1932 Plymouth roadster went to the shop today. It will begin the conversion to a V-8 Hemi-powered streetrod. The engine and transmission are ready to go, but we have a lot of work to do to get the body and chassis ready.

My friend Monty Love came up early today and helped load the car onto the trailer. Then he and I rode to Dan and Deron Shady's shop where most of the work will be done. Monty drove my truck and trailer back while I drove my '32 Plymouth coupe, which had been at Deron's. I couldn't have done this without Monty, who is recovering from neck surgery. What a champ!
The Other '32 Plymouth -- "Winston"
The roadster currently has a 1951 Plymouth 6-cylinder engine and a transmission of unknown origin. Deron Shady will start yanking these out on Monday. I can already hear the glass packs...

Jun 4, 2009

St-e-e-rike One!!!!

Mary Ann's gift shop is named Ebabe's Gifts. This year, we have sponsored a first-grade girls' softball team in our county league. Naturally, they're called 'Ebabes." They had an undefeated season going into the last game on this past Monday. We watched them lose a squeaker to the Frito-Lay team. We're still going to the playoffs. We credit our devoted coaches and parents. Thanks to all. Here are a few highlights:

Jun 2, 2009

Back to the Past...

The Cars on Display at Guptill's Arena

This weekend deserves to be documented. It all began several months ago when I was notified that the Lincoln Zephyr Owners Club was planning to conduct a meet at Latham, New York.

I have been a member of the LZOC since the early 1970's. For several years, Margo and I were the membership chairmen of the club, and I developed and maintain the club's Web site. On that Web site, among other features, I have for several years included a calendar of events that might interest members of the club. For any major club event I usually create a special Web page describing the details with links to the host hotel, a map of the area near the site of the meet, a link that permits the user to print an application form, and a schedule of activities. So I was not simply being notified that a meet was going to take place in Latham, near Albany, New York. I was also being asked to create the Web page that would publicize it to our club members who use the Internet.

Coincidentally, I was born and raised in Schenectady, New York, so I saw this as an opportunity to not only attend a national meet of the club, but also to visit my old “stomping grounds.” I had lots of frequent flier miles stored up from my recent years' travel, so I talked it over with Mary Ann and decided to go to the meet. She had to stay at home to keep the gift shop open, but she encouraged me to go. It had been several years since I had attended a club event and I also saw it as an opportunity to renew some old and very dear friendships.

I planned to fly to Albany on Friday morning as early as possible so I'd only have to use one day of vacation. I knew that the Concours d ‘Elegance and judging were planned for Friday afternoon. My hope was that I would arrive in time to get a few pictures at that event while the cars were on display. I made it in time. My flights to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Albany both arrived early. I picked up my rental car and dashed up the road to Guptill's Arena, a 1950's-era skating rink in which I skated as a kid.

The front parking lot of Guptill's was the site of the car display. What a perfect setting. And as I expected, I started seeing a lot of familiar faces – John McAdams, one of the founders of the club in 1968, and his lovely wife Ellen; club President Jerry Emery and his wife Roz; past club president Al McWade and his wife Charlotte; Jerry and Mary Richman, Carolyn Henderson (the Chief Judge of the club), Tom Brunner (club Treasurer), and many more.

After we returned to the hotel, the technical seminar proceeded, hosted and presented by Ed Spagnolo, of Color-Ite Refinishing Company of Bethany, Connecticut, a car restoration business of long standing. Ed and his associates probably have more experience with high-quality restorations of Lincoln-Zephyrs (1936-1948) and the early Lincoln Continentals built on the Zephyr Chassis than any other restoration shop. He came equipped with a computer full of PowerPoint show-and-tell presentations of restorations, unique problems and solutions, and great personal stories. The audience really appreciated his sharing of experiences.

Friday evening was concluded with a social hour at our host hotel, the Century House Inn, a delightful buffet dinner, beautifully presented, and our traditional parts auction. Jerry Richman was his usual entertaining and fund-raising self as the auctioneer. Fines were levied for talking, laughing, and other innocent behavior. Ultimately, through the generous contributions of the Lincoln Motor Car Division of the Ford Motor Company and many club supporters, we raised over $2,000 for the club’s treasury.

Saturday morning’s activities opened with a “poker run” in which participants drive to five predetermined locations to gather playing cards. At the end, the best poker hand wins a prize. I was asked to staff one of the locations, so I drove to Schuylerville, New York, to the residence of General Philip Schuyler, a revolutionary war hero. His residence is now maintained by the National Park Service as part of the Saratoga Battlefield National Historical Park. I handed out cards to each of the club members who drove to my location. It was thrilling seeing these wonderful vehicles being driven and enjoyed.

The Philip Schuyler Home, Built in 1777

After the last car had visited my site, I decided to take the guided tour of the Schuyler residence. The park ranger who escorted me through the house, Joe Craig, was exceptionally well informed and the hour flew by. Then I headed back to the hotel where a bus was to take us to a private collection of very early cars that are located in Schenectady, my home town. Traffic was very heavy. I made a couple of wrong turns. By the time I got back to the hotel, the bus had left.

Fortunately, Debbie Schneiderwind, one of the club members hosting the meet, was still at the hotel. She very graciously took me to the location of this incredible automobile collection. Amazingly, as we approached the site, I realized that it was within a block of one of the schools I attended as a kid. Small world!

The Gerald Sichel collection is made up almost entirely of automobiles from 1915 and earlier. As I entered the building, I knew I was in a very special place. To top it off, when I met the curator and caretaker of the collection, it turned out to be Bruce Armer, a fellow whom I had known 50 years ago when we were members of the Automobilists of the Upper Hudson Valley, a local car club. Bruce and I exchanged reminiscences and I had a chance to savor these magnificent cars. Then it was back to the hotel to get ready for the Awards Banquet.

Some Scenes from the Sichel Collection

I had a couple of hours to spare, so I gathered up my cameras and headed back to Schenectady. I stopped to pay my respects at the cemetery where my brother Richard, sister Ann, mother, and maternal grandparents are buried. Then I proceeded to the neighborhood where I grew up. I took some photos of the house I lived in for 18 years, the garage where I worked and pumped gas, and some of the neighboring streets. Then it was back to the banquet.

The club President, Jerry Emery, asked if I could act as the official photographer, so I flitted around taking pictures as the awards were made. I didn’t envy the judges who had to decide on best this and best that since there had been so many gorgeous cars presented at the meet. At the end of the evening, I was shocked to hear my name as the host, Harold Schneiderwind, presented me with a beautiful desk clock in recognition of my service to the club. It was a total surprise, and a very considerate gift.

At the end of the evening, I think everyone agreed that this had been an exceptional weekend. Harold and Debra Schneiderwind did a terrific job of preparing for and hosting the meet. The hotel staff had been superb. The accommodations and food were excellent. We all considered ourselves fortunate to have participated.

Ed & Pam Avedisian's "Best-in-Show" 1940 Lincoln Continental