Following up, this is the car
after Jim Meyer, Tom Hanna's buddy, sold it. Hanna said a local
Kansas guy bought it and put a flathead in it.
I got more interested in this
car because about 4 years ago when Cliff Bedwells cousin, named
Wes Fence, contacted me because he googled pictures of the car
and Cliff at Cordova on my website, bigyohnsracing.com.
I was there in 1957 and watched
and took pictures as Emery Cook helped Garlits get his tune-up,
wrote a story on the race for our Car Club publication, the Gopher
State Timer and posted story and pictures on bigyohnsracing.com.
Wes sent me pictures of the car from Cliffs personal collection
and I saved them, of course.
Because it was a watershed car,
in terms of performance and impact on the sport, I was always
entranced with it and its history, so you could say it was a
favorite of mine.
So, here we were at Coronado
Naval Air Station in October 2011, Bill Pitts and I with our
cacklecars on trailers, and Ray Lake, who has a hot rod Ford
F-100 pickup and has been a push car for all of us at many events
over the last few years. We were talking about Cackle cars and
what cars needed to be built. I knew that Garlits had the more
recent version of Emerys car, but the original was another matter.
As we talked, Ray told us of having had Emery drive HIS roadster
after the Cook and Henslee partnership broke up, and that Ray
had traveled with Emery and Cliff to numerous events during that
fabulous year, 1957. Ray had also been a member of the Car Club
that ran Paradise Mesa dragstrip and had become good friends
with both Emery and Cliff.
I suggested that HE was the guy
to build a recreation and told him about my communications with
Bedwells nephew and that I knew that Bedwell had moved to New
Zealand, but figured I could get ahold of him. Also, I knew Hanna,
and Bruce Crower, and Ed Iskendarian and some of the other players
in the story and offered to assist Ray with the build should
he decide to do it. Within a week, he called and said he was
up for the challenge.
I called Hanna and started to
get into communication with Cliff Bedwell and Ray and I started
to figure out what he would need in the way of parts and components.
Bruce Crower invited us to come and visit with him, which we
did, and he agreed to assist as he was as able. Hanna put me
in contact with the actual purchaser of the car from Cliff Bedwell
in 1957, Jim Meyer, and he said that as the last owner of it
in it's full original iteration he had no problem with Ray recreating
the car. I was able to talk to (by phone) and email with Cliff
Bedwell and he sent a written statement approving Rays recreation
of his car. Remember, the car Garlits has was never Cliffs, it
was a wholly separate venture of Emerys and no real connection
to the original.
So Ray and I started working
on gathering parts. My time and his money!!! I talked to Iskendarian
at the Mooneyes Xmas party in December at Irwindale race track
and he agreed to make a Five Cycle cam for the project. Then
I saw Dode Martin who was there with his just completed Dragliner.
I asked Dode if he was up for a project. He was pretty dubious.
But then I told him what the project was. His eyes lit up and
after a hurried consultation with his assistants, he agreed to
build the car. I had overstepped my bounds as consultant, because
Ray was paying the bills, but when I called him and told him
that Dode would build the car, he was virtually overcome with
the all-star cast and quickly agreed.
So, here we are. Dode took on
the project and with assistance from a couple of local lads,
will do the entire car, from chassis through powdercoating and
painting. No chrome, no polishing, this is a RACE CAR! The car
is expected to be finished for the CHRR. I am very happy for
Ray and his wife Ginger, who has been a more than willing participant
in the program. She is more than likely kind of puzzled about
what can make a bunch of old guys get emotional looking at a
pile of pipe and cast iron on the floor of a race car shop, but
we have tried to explain to her about the significance of this
particular car. I think she gets it.
Ray and Dode have a long ways to go, but most of the hard to
locate parts have been found and as I told Ray would happen,
when people hear what he is doing they will pitch in and go above
and beyond to help him make it happen. When I talked to Ed
Iskendarian about the project and getting the cam and lifters,
he thought it was pretty funny that "Dragmaster"
Dode Martin was building a Chassis Research car! The irony has
not been lost on us either.
I am pleased as punch to be a
part of this project and hope it's not the last one I can help
with, but I cannot believe there will ever be another project
with my involvement that will be as significant as this one.
Thanks Ray and Dode,
This is the first look Ray Lake,
on the left, had at the car since Dode, on the right, picked
the rails off the floor/chassis jig and set the front and rear
ends and engine in place. Dode is holding onto a grand old tradition.
He chalk marked the rail position on the floor and built it right
The finished car was first seen
at the 2011 Escondido Nitro Night where it was on display.
Its next outing was as a featured
car at the Doubletree Hotel for the 2011 California Hot Rod Reunion.
Ray Lake was in the Cook &
Bedwell car. It took a few tries to light but once it did you
couldn't miss the unique sound of nitro through carbs.
On display at the 2012
Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona.
On display during the
2012 NHRA Winternationals at Pomona.