When there were far fewer people around, far fewer laws and regulations, when the legal speed limit was 75 mph, when gas was cheap, when driving was a pleasure, if you owned a hot machine you could point the grill down an empty road and go!

Not a Rat Rod

In the fall of 1951 I had a wreck with my roadster, which resulted in a bent front axle, a ruined radius rod and broken header pipe. It could have been fixed in short order, but I towed the car to my father’s service station in Oswego (now called Lake Oswego) and dismantled it. I had big plans for the hot rod but I had little money. Then, in the spring of 1952, my father passed away. I had been walking and hitchhiking the 20 miles from my house to Oswego to work on the car but the work progressed slowly.

The first thing I did was to fire up the torch and channel the body. Then I bought a new dropped axle and installed it. I tried to make suitable radius rods but they were beyond my ability. Late in the summer of 1952 the station was sold and I had to get the roadster out of there. I towed it home, and then made arrangements to take it to a garage not far from my house. R&S Automotive was owned by a guy named Smith and Keith Randol, a race car builder who ten years later built the chassis for the "Orange Crate".

Randol built the radius rods, made a steering gear support, put in an electric fuel pump, built an exhaust system and wired the car. He also installed a Smith and Jones (Clay Smith) 272-2 full race camshaft and tuned the engine. It never ran better.

The photo was taken by my mother in the fall of 1952, a year after the accident. I must have been proud of my little roadster, or why else would I have asked her to take the photo? But look at it: in channeling the car I managed to burn the red paint off various parts of the body and rear fenders; that's bare metal showing! Regardless of how it looked, it never ran so well and I raced everybody. What did I have to lose?
Copyright 2008, Albert Drake and Flat Out Press.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]