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Cooter UltraDork
8/23/19 11:22 p.m.

My father doesn't have much time left.  I told a little of his story quite some time ago, and was told that I should make a thread about him.   I realize I had better do it now, while I can.  Please bear with me, as both his and my own memories are jumbled up. I will post what I can, and edit this post as I go along.  I will just start with a copy and paste from the old photo thread to start, and hopefully work from there.  There is a ton more to flesh out, so please bear with me, and the numerous edits that are bound to happen.

Here we go-


Here's a few photos of my dad and his different Fuel Altereds-

Bakersfield, said to be '65, where they won their class at the March Meet at Famosa, hailed as a throwdown between the west coast and the rest of the country,

Earlier version, without the tonneau cover over the cockpit.

Note the "zoomies" in this photo, as well as the last one in this post.  They used 2" electrical conduit 90s for their exhaust. Grassroots to the core.

1964, beating the Quality Auto car out at the March Meet in Bakersfield.  (also where I was conceived) 

I have read that they won their class here, as well, but I need to confirm.

Glamour Shot, taken at the filtration plant on the east side of Chicago.  When I was a kid, my dad told me they picked the number "69" so that the car would have the same number upside down as right side up.  I faithfully repeated this to anyone who would listen...  until I hit puberty.

Not sure where this one was taken, thethey spent a lot of time deciding on a color after they won big at the March Meet the color picked was "Candy Tangerine Metalflake", but everyone just called it orange (or worse, brown), anyway.

Both my father and "Snag" O'Donnell drove the car at times, and my dad said they would each hang the hoops different directions when they carried the front end.

That's him in the firesuit shooting Super 8 at the track between rounds.  I have a bunch of film and photos and a magazine or two to convert to digital.  He's nearly 84, and doesn't have much time left.


I am editing this as I dig up more info, and made a new thread so I can continue to add information to it, as I remember stories, find more information, and ask my dad questions.

Streetwiseguy MegaDork
8/23/19 11:29 p.m.

Dad was a bad ass, it seems.

OldGray320i Dork
8/23/19 11:33 p.m.

There's nothing like F/A cars,  and to have your dad be a part of it is so cool. 

Looking forward to more. 

ebonyandivory PowerDork
8/24/19 12:11 a.m.

My dad owned a Falcon... is that cool?

But seriously, those pictures, and of course your dad are very bad-ass! 

As are you for appreciating him and sharing his story.


AngryCorvair MegaDork
8/24/19 12:23 a.m.

Dude was a monster!

Woody MegaDork
8/24/19 4:54 a.m.

Your dad is cool.


bmw88rider SuperDork
8/24/19 6:21 a.m.

Thanks for sharing. Your dad was part of the pioneers in drag racing. Cool car and great story. 

RealMiniNoMore PowerDork
8/24/19 6:23 a.m.

Your dad's awesome. Huge 'nads, driving monsters like those. 

Patrick MegaDork
8/24/19 6:28 a.m.

Your dad sounds like the kind of guy i’d hang out with.

Cooter UltraDork
8/24/19 6:34 a.m.

Thanks, guys.  It still amazes me that this frail little man was able to drive these short wheelbase, high CoG machines at nearly 200 mpH through the traps.   I have near death stories of things that went wrong, and lighter stories about hijinks and youthful missteps.   And some behind-the-scenes stuff of what and why things were the way they were back then.

For now, here is a photo of my dad behind the wheel on the cover of the July '66 issue of All American Drags, a short lived (grassroots) publication out of Chicago to compete with the west coast rags.  California got the lion's share of attention BItD, and most of the well-known racers had a writer that followed them, to keep their name known.  Some things never change.

My cousin asked me back in the '80s why they chose my dad as the driver.  I replied "Because he had the most aerodynamic head"  But honestly, he was a little guy, about 5'5", and never weighed more than 155 lb in the time I knew him.  He also had incredible reflexes and a feel for the car.  That's not to say there weren't mishaps.

I will try to cover those, along with hijinks, tomfoolery, and some behind the scenes stuff of a Grassroots Altered team out of Chicago in the 60s in subsequent posts...

imgon HalfDork
8/24/19 6:35 a.m.

Thanks for sharing, your Dad certainly was Grassroots and a badass. It is good you will be able to chronicle some of his stories here. My father passed away 10 years ago and I wish I had thought to do something similar. We spent about 6 months together as his health was failing and on top of giving him something else to think about besides the inevitable it would have given me a better picture of what he was like as a person besides being "Dad". Keep on posting, we will all learn together what his life was like.

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
8/24/19 6:44 a.m.

My dad grew up on the south side of Chicago. He was born in 1935.   Give us all the details - I find it very interesting.  

I agree with the rest on how wild it must’ve been to drive those.  

Cooter UltraDork
8/24/19 6:51 a.m.

In reply to imgon :

Thank you.  That is exactly why I am posting. I realized in my How Much Is Too Much thread that I really can't do much to help my parents right now, and I feel incredibly helpless because of it.  But I can tell his story.  If I don't do this, no one will, and all of this history will be lost forever.  My mother has Alzheimer's and doesn't even remember who I am anymore.  My father's health is declining, as is his memory.  Neither of my siblings are into cars.   Most of the guys he hung out with are dead.  And I have my own fears about my declining memory and health, so I need to get this written before it is too late.   

Patrick MegaDork
8/24/19 6:59 a.m.

I appreciate your dad’s story and will read everything you post here about him

Floating Doc
Floating Doc SuperDork
8/24/19 7:23 a.m.
Patrick said:

I appreciate your dad’s story and will read everything you post here about him

I can add nothing more than this. 

Stampie PowerDork
8/24/19 7:29 a.m.

If I remember correctly he had some pretty interesting engines. I'd love to hear about them and the building of the cars also. Your dad is cool. 

Danny Shields
Danny Shields HalfDork
8/24/19 7:38 a.m.

Awesome. Thanks for sharing all this with us, and I hope that you can spend more time with your dad, going over his photos and adventures.

Adrian_Thompson MegaDork
8/24/19 8:14 a.m.

Thread of the year no doubt. I wish I could have got more from my dad before he passed, I tried but Alzheimer’s had it’s evil claws in him earlier than we all realized. Cherish this time and we will listen attentively as you share it with us. Thank you. 

759NRNG UltraDork
8/24/19 9:22 a.m.

F/A's ohhellyea!!!!!......these and the Anglia's/Willy's in the gas classes are my all time faves...prayers for your dear parents and YOU.....thanks for sharing.

ShawnG PowerDork
8/24/19 9:29 a.m.

Very cool dad!

rustybugkiller HalfDork
8/24/19 11:45 a.m.

This is good!

When my mom was in the last of her declining years, I dug up old photos and asked her about them. Thankfully her memory was good and the  reminiscing brought many a smile and laugh. Best thing for her and me!

dean1484 MegaDork
8/24/19 8:56 p.m.

Dad wanted a mustang but with me on the way ended up getting a four door Mercury comet. He always wanted a Mustang.  He told me many times how he wanted one.  I was in the process of restoring  a 1965 when he got sick. Dad passed this spring. I never got to tell him about the surprise I had for him. I recently sold the mustang. It needed to go as I know I would never finish it. 

ultraclyde PowerDork
8/24/19 9:03 p.m.

My hot rodding roots started with my dad's stories and handing him wrenches working on family cars. But he never ran anything so full crazy as your dad.

Good on ya for telling the story. I cant wait to hear more.

Indy-Guy PowerDork
8/24/19 9:21 p.m.
Patrick said:

I appreciate your dad’s story and will read everything you post here about him

Quoted for truth, because I can only give Pat's comment one thumbs up.  All ears, waiting for more

8/24/19 9:45 p.m.

Last time I saw my dad alive, he came over to help me wire my garage. He was a GRM kinda guy and his dad owned a GM dealership, so long family car guy tradition beginning when the family owned livery stable and started doing car stuff as horse drawn carriages transitioned to automobiles. My dad had a lot of cool cars over the years but didn't race on track.

I'm enjoying the old F/A pics & info.

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