What a long strange road we traveled to get to CHRR 2K. Normally I would have done my typical deal of showing up and hanging out for the weekend. Not this year !!!
The March Meet changed all that. Jet Car Bob and I went to the March Meet (me for the first time in more years than I want to count) Bob and I had been trying to get our buddy, Jon Halstead to come to the reunion or The
March Meet for a number of years without success. Things changed drastically this year, as Jon and his wonderful wife, Jeanne were in attendance and we had a wonderful time getting reacquainted again after so many years. Since I had committed to doing the restoration of Jon’s first dragster, I was delighted to spend time with Jon and Jeanne getting a lot of research information for the project car. Jon also had a great time seeing lots of old friends. He called me a couple weeks later to tell me he was going Top Fuel racing and ask if I wanted to be part of the team. Wow, just like the old days. Hell Yes, I’ll play !!
After the March Meet, I stopped at Fuller’s place to pick up the car and started the long journey back to Snohomish, WA, with the car strapped to the roof of Pam’s station wagon. Stopped off at Ewald’s for a little rest, dinner and a tune up on his computer. The next day, stopped at Tom Wilford’s place for coffee and a chat. Got home that afternoon late and unloaded some of the stuff I had gathered up for the project. You have to understand that I live in a very small neighborhood where I am probably the only motor-head around. No one around here ever seen a car like this and since it was still strapped to the roof rack, there was some amusing remarks about what it was. Best comment was from my Veterinarian friend’s wife. She wanted to know if I was building a helicopter
The next day, I set out for Hayes Classics in Kirkland to begin the process of restoring what is now commonly referred to as “THE FULLER”, aptly named by Fred
Vosk. At first it was a little intimidating to have the little car sitting among such classics as the Bugatti and the one off Ferrari as well as the rare Cadillac is being restored for the 100th anniversary Cadillac celebration (it will be a 100 point car). I won’t bore you with all the details of the process of doing the car, since Fred has been chronicling the progress of it in his own inimitable and very humorous way. Yes we struggled with finding the right parts and I spent lots of long nights and early mornings searching the Internet.
The net result was what those of you that were at the reunion saw, either in front of The Doubletree on Thursday night or over the weekend, parked at the Fuller display.
What did I get out of this, you might ask ? First and foremost , I have been lucky enough to have made a number of new friends, two of which, have put as much of their heart and soul into this project as I have. Fred Vosk and Eric Hayes, who are indeed artisans in their own right. The skills these guys
process are unbelievable. You cannot appreciate Eric’s polishing skills until you try to match it. Case
in point is when Fred said to me, “Your not going to put that black anodized pump drive extension on this car, are you?” Well I
decided to do the whole process of sanding it down to remove the anodizing and polish it up to match the rest of the car.. It took me about 5 hours to get it done, and when I was coming out of the polishing booth, Eric commented “Hey Pete, Now you look like one of the Bruthas’! I was covered with polishing stuff
from head to toe. Eric can be my bro’ any time he wants. He’s so good at polishing, that when we needed to get some parts chromed, Eric did the polishing and and took the stuff to the chrome shop, and all they had to do was dip the pieces and get them back to us. It sure helped on turn-around time.
Fred’s Rheumatoid Arthritis puts limits on what he can do physically, but it didn’t stop him from doing the paint layout for the body and the polishing and assembly on some of the car. If you were to look closely at the paint scheme, you will see that there is no part strip between the silver strips and the silver coat and the line are immaculate. No bleed-over, anywhere. He also provided guidance to
Eric in the painting process, since Eric had never done “metalflake” before. If you have seen the car, you can appreciate the quality of Eric and Fred’s work.
If I sound like an Eric and Fred fan, it is only because, I am. Big Time!. If not for them, the car would still be way less complete than it is.
I want to personally thank everyone who stopped to admire the car and tell us how much they liked it. It was a work of art, that had come back to life. I’m not sure how to say this, since I don’t want to offend anyone who took the time to comment about the car, however, from the time I rolled into the patch with it, I had high hopes we had accomplished all we set out to do. I guess my perfectionism sometimes gets in the way and I tend to reach beyond what is reasonable to accomplish in a given time. I wasn’t happy with having to make the decision not to fire it up on Saturday, but I didn’t want to make one of those last minute mistakes that would have spoiled it for us. Some of you may have known that Steve Gibbs, had ask Bob Smith and me to light it off for the Fuller presentation, out in front of the stands, and you will never know how much I wanted to do it. It wasn’t possible to get done, so we pushed it out from the staging area.
I have been around the sport for a long time and seen some very nice cars built by some very talented people. I wanted to do this car with as much class as I have ever seen. I have told a few friends that I wanted it to surpass the GBP car for quality. I don’t know if that got done or not, but when I got the kind of comments from my peers (That’s the old guys from the 60’s ) whose workmanship I have always admired, I got chills up my spine.
The soft spoken “metal master” from Wichita was the first to see it on Thursday, and although I can’t remember his exact words, the impact on me was wonderful. Thanks for your opinion, Tom
Steve Gibbs also say it on Thursday afternoon and was very impressed with the car. Enough so, that he told me to be sure and park it under the canopy at the entrance to the Doubletree. We told the clerk at the registration desk, when we were checking in that Mr. Gibbs had requested we do that and he said that would be just fine. Boy, does that Hook carry some weight around that place. Steve had also requested that the car make an appearance at his House of Hot Rods at the Fairplex at the earliest possible convenience. High praise, coming from the master of the Museum.
Also, Thursday afternoon, I needed to get some machine work done for one of the pieces of the blower drive ( This was when I was still trying to get it ready to run). Well, after having been to the March Meet a number of times over the past forty years, I did what I would usually do when I was needing help at Bakersfield. I went to see the Godfather of Bakersfield drag racing, Ernie Hashim. I ask if he could do a little machine work for me and with out a moments hesitation, he says, “what do you need?”. I showed him the piece, he grabbed it, and told me, “I’ll have it for you first thing in the morning”. Now you have to understand, that first thing in the morning to Ernie is 7AM! He had it done exactly the way I needed it when I came to pick it up. He thought the car was beautiful and went on to tell his son (whose name
escapes me at the moment) about the car that he had like this one. Ernie is 76 years old and was about to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary that evening with upwards of 400 of his friends and family. I got a big hug and a pat on the back from Ernie. That made my day. I love Ernie Hashim.
Thursday evening at the Doubletree was a lot of fun and many folks stopped to look over the car. All that I talked with were very kind with their complements on the car. Dave McClelland stopped to chat about the car and ask some questions about it for reference material to use when he would interview Fuller later on Saturday. That worked out well, since Fuller is such a motor-mouth?
Dave Jeffers, who some of you may remember from his days at RCS, looked at the car and told me what a nice job we did restoring it. Last summer, I ran into Dave out at SIR at a match race. We hadn’t seen each other in 30 years. His comments about the workmanship on the car were neat to hear, since I know what an excellent craftsman he is. Dave was also responsible for building the rear end that is in the car. He did it for a paperweight car he built while at the Ol’ Man’s place (RCS).
Most of you had an opportunity at some point, as I did, to spend some time looking over the Beebe & Mulligan recreation that Patty did for Dave West and can appreciate what an amazing craftsman that Foster really is. Patty’s son, Cole has inherited these same talents and produced the super neat pick-up that was displayed next to the B&M car. I had the pleasure of getting a guided tour of the truck from Patty at the Doubletree. These guys are way above the standard for excellence when it comes to creating masterpieces. Both Patty and Cole were very complimentary to me about the car. It’s hard to write what Patty said to me and convey the voice inflections of how he says it, however if you have ever talked to him, I think you know what I mean when he said to me in his deepest, most sincere voice “Thats an absolutely BITCHIN’ car”. Thank You Patty
There’s a guy who is a member of this group who has set the standard for excellence of dragsters both Gas and Fuel when he was racing, that has, in my estimation rarely been exceeded by anyone. For a guy who was a racer, week in and week out with solid results and always a class act, to hear him tell me “that’s a really nice car”. That’s exciting for me and I want to thank you very much, Mr. C.
There are a few people who have gone through what I have just experienced and know exactly how much time and effort are need to reach the point that we are at currently. Bill Pitts and Tom Morris were very kind to make a point of telling me how nice the car turned out and how much they liked the work. Like Bill and Tom this was not a one man band kind of thing. I had super help from a lot of people to get it done. Eric and Fred are just as deserving as I am for any and all compliments regarding this effort. The Anderson's also know what it is like to go through this exercise and I appreciate their fine comments as well.
Some of the others involved in this project, that you may not know about, Randy Bradford who managed to get in a little machine work for me while thrashing on his own car to get ready for the reunion (not to mention letting me dig through his scrap barrel for material to make some of the components). Randy has a scrap barrel to die for.
David Benjamin did a lot of machine work for us (lots of it was last minute bailout type work and if you saw some of Fred’s postings about components that were made, Dave is our guy) Dave does fuel pumps and clutches for some of the hitters on the NHRA circuit. His ability as a machinist is super good.
Wayne King was very helpful in helping me find parts as well as Tom Wilford. Tom was a great resource for locating parts and is quite a historian on correct parts for a period correct restoration. Wayne also found a machine shop guy to do the blueprinting and balancing stuff on the motor (yes it is a sound motor and will run once I get some small details taken care of).
Bill Holland was also a great help in acquiring parts and getting work done. The heads are from World Products (one of Bill’s clients) and were worked over by a friend of his by the name of Mike Slover. Bill’s moral support and guidance were way more helpful than he may ever know.
Jim Hills participation as a genuine sponsor of this car is unquestionably one of the nicest things to happen to us. This car has never had
anyone's decal on it and never will. Yet Jim made us a nice deal to put his product in the engine and went way beyond just being a supplier by giving us all the technical support to make sure we got it right the first
time. Numerous phone calls and follow-ups to make sure everything worked for us.
Well, if I haven’t bored you all (is that Y’all?) yet and you got this far down the page, I would like to make sure that each and everyone of you understand that I am not minimizing
anyone's kind and thoughtful comments about the results of this project. I truly
appreciate them all, as do the other members of this team, Fred Vosk, Eric Hayes and Doug Pratt. I had a goal in mind and I think I met it.
Oh, yeah two more quick comments: Fred said to Fuller “Neat little car, huh Fuller” Fuller responded: “Yep, wish it was mine” Hopefully, I can fulfill your wish, my friend.
Someone said to me on Saturday afternoon: “You have established a benchmark with this car” I don’t remember who said it, but “Thank You”
"Pit Crew Pete"