This year has flown by at breakneck speed, with nothing being as expected. What started out as a literal disaster, has become an appreciation of what hard work
(and play) can result in. So, I must say I am thankful, in keeping with the spirit of the holiday. I found out going to be a grandfather, my family is healthy, I made my triumphant return to Bakersfield, business is good and projects are on track. Yeah...you can say I'm thankful and also hopeful those of you reading this are as well. If not quite there yet, I hope you have a very short way to go.
After so many starts, the Hippo ( remember the Hippo?) is starting to gain steam in it's restoration. With no further adieu.... it's back on as the Nostalgia Drag World project car. I hope to keep the monthly updates flowing. With sending the Hippo off to King Chassis, it has actually given me the opportunity to be more involved with it. It seems like each week, (sometimes every few days) there's something new with it. As a matter of fact, in the last week, Brian had me over to get fitted. He's doing a fantastic job of making things right and paying painstaking attention to detail. Thanks to Robert Morris' diligence, we now have the Donovan can I have been beating the bushes for well over a year. My intent was trying to preserve as much of what we thought was original to the chassis and maintain some integrity. Time and previous alterations deemed that to be a nearly impossible and costly nightmare. I bit the bullet and heeded Brian's advice and new tubing now replaces the questionable and too far gone. It gives me peace of mind as well. The worry of having a cobbled up cage, with it's inherent weakness during a push start... no longer there.
Our cause du jour the last couple weeks has been figuring out the dual master cylinder brake system/handle/mount. Everyday a new theory, until the next one came along. I know I usually curse social media for any number of reasons, but it helped us in this case. Lot's of good input and we finally came to the conclusion it was something we never really considered. Careful study of magazine photos, all of which left a lot to be desired, we discovered it was equipped with both a hand brake and pedal brake. Lots of hand wringing and false starts as each detail emerged out of the 45 year old fuzziness of magazine paper.
The crescendo to it all came the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, when my son Spencer and I headed out for a day trip recon to Indy. We made our way to Mike Roth's MR2 Motorsports complex. He generously offered the use of an unmolested SPE dragster back half. Every mount and bracket we couldn't see in reference photos was there. The trip wasn't without incident though. As soon as we left the state of Missouri, it started to rain and continued to do so for hours. Luckily, my "junk haulin' box" contained a roll of plastic wrap and WD 40, in the case we are moving bare steel... and we were. After 3 near misses on highway 70 by the Thanksgiving crowd, I figured 3rd time was a charm and we dodged being a fatality.
What the hell is up with Terre Haute?
I think there has been construction on the same stretch of highway for 4 years! If something was done, other than those damned barrels routing you every which way... I can't see it. Once at Mike's, you quickly figure out he is one of those guys with cool stuff everywhere. He apologizes for the"mess"... Hell, you can walk through it, that beats my place right there! After the tour of the coolness and history lessons, he hoists the passenger for the trip home, down from the rafters. Then, he has another " out in the trailer", which was about 90% as it was born at The House of Roy. I snapped about 100 photos of the brackets, mounts and minutia as I crawl around in what could be considered the coolest trailer on earth. In itself a piece of history that started out hauling one of the most beautiful diggers around. He also told me it appeared in the early 70's "Drag Racer" movie as well.
Note: I watched the movie last night and I'll be damned, there it was, right down to the finicky latch on the back door!
After all was loaded, secured and a good soaking in the process, we were off to see Roo before heading home. A good visit with our friend with the accent and we were on the road home. More rain and road food, then we landed back at Brian's shop with the chassis. In the process we popped his new driveway's cherry. He wouldn't let me do a burnout. Once we dried everything off, comparisons began and everything he has done so far matched up. This is what we call getting stoked with the progress and keeping the momentum. I realize the choice of taking it to King Chassis was the wise one. At the rate I was going, this thing was never going to get finished. Every photo I get and every time I visit and see the progress... is like Christmas. The fact that history is being preserved and brought back to life is what this is all about. Coolness on an infinite scale and a great way to excercise the mind. Once the King is done with all the repairs, it's of to Crown... and we aren't talking about the little purple bag.
Be good to your mama.