In the sport of drag racing few
names are more recognizable than Hoover... Pa (George), Ma (Ruth)
and Tom. Pictured below George Hoover on the left with Tom and
the Dragmaster car in 1963. To quote Tom Hanna, "Can you
imagine their resume? 2 words... Family business.
From the early '60 through the
late '90's there was hardly a season that the Hoover name wasn't
on a race car. It all started with the family with buying a Dragmaster
car from Arvy Mack in Summer 1962 which they ran on gas until
August 1963, switched to 25% in the 454" gas motor through
the Fall of 1963.
Here Tom is on the left in the
Dragmaster faced off against Bruce Norman in the Big Wheel Ivo
car at Minnesota Dragways in 1963.
Tom Ivo Photo
Tom in the seat of the
Stuckey car, 1964.
Pa and Ma then bought a Rod Stuckey
car in early 1964 that was fitted with a 392 on Fuel. This is
Tom in the Stuckey car in late Spring 1964. Tom went along with
the Big Wheel to Cordova where the Big Wheel was match racing
the Guzler. Bruce Norman, driver of the Big Wheel, with the cigarette
helps to pull Tom onto the push down road.
The 1964 season the car yielded
mediocre results but they did win the AHRA Winter Nationals at
Beeline in January of 1965. Hoover defeated Dean Turk in the
The Stuckey car was replaced
in late June of 1965 by an RCE chassied car featuring a B &
M Torqmaster. This is the car that was stolen the following Winter
and was never recovered. The loss would have put most racers
out of business but not the Hoover's. Woody Gilmore (RCE) and
Tom Hanna helped them get back running again with what was ultimately
dubbed "The Fishbowl" car for 1966. It would prove
to be not only the prettiest car the Hoover's ever had but the
one best remembered by drag racing purists.
The car was powered by a 392
hemi for most of its two year stint with Hoover but was converted
to a SOHC Ford "hemi" in mid 1967.However, the "Fishbowl
Car" proved to be too heavy for the cammer so they got another
car for the 1968 season which had a full nose but only a shorty
back. Hoover sold the Fishbowl car with the 392 to Denny Darragh
at the end of 1967 and Denny ran it in 1968 and 1969 then sold
it. And the trail goes cold from there.
That is the cars history in a
nutshell... the car that is featured in this recreation by Steve
1966 - the Hoover car in process.
Tom Hanna did a shorty body first so they could race the weekends,
then they would bring it back so he could hammer on it during
the week. This car replaced the 1965 B & M Torqmaster car
that was stolen. The Hoover's were pretty broke getting back
in operation so Hanna agreed to take payments. Every month like
clockwork Pop Hoover would have a check in his mailbox for $105.
When the body was finally done
the car went to Imperial Customs for paint. It was already somewhat
notorious because of the "Fishbowl" deal. A magazine
writer and photographer were doing a story on Hanna. He was doing
this car at the time. There was an inset in the tail that would
get woodgrain. Hanna made the inset by cutting out teardrop shapes
on each side and rolling them out a little. Then he fitted pieces
back in, to make a flat area. The article was done while the
teardrops were removed and the writer asked what these were for.
Hanna, his usual playful self, said "Hoover is going to
put an aquarium there with real fish" or the nearest equivalent.
This explanation appeared in the article, hence "Fishbowl
By all accounts this car qualifies
for one of the top 10 nicest tail pieces ever done.
Among the unique tail piece,
the car also feature almost plush upholstery previously unseen
US Nationals, Indianapolis
Tom in the far lane at a UDRA
race staged in Moorhead, Minnesota in June 1966. In the near
lane, Doug Paton in Ron Johnson's Big Wheel sponsored car.
Tom Hoover at Minnesota Dragway,
1967 with "Papa George" pushing Tom's Woody/Hanna beauty
out of the pits.
Photo by Dick Wittnebel
On a launch at Union
Grove, Memorial Day weekend 1966.
Here is the Fishbowl car at Union
Grove, probably Memorial Day weekend 1966.
Photo by Ron Johnson
Tom Hoover the 1967 NHRA Springnationals
at Bristol, right before he switched to a Ford cammer.
Denny Darragh from Canada
at Minnesota Dragways in 1968.
A very young, lean and hair-on-his-head
Tom Hoover after the SOHC Ford replaced the 329 Chrysler. Tom
switched this car from the 392 to a Ford Cammer in 1967 and then
sold it to Denny Darragh at the end of the year.
Photo by Ron Johnson
Among the competitive Canadian
top fuelers owner/drivers, there was one guy from Winnipeg who
spent a few years following the circuit in the Midwest. His name
was Denny Darragh. He bought Hoover's last Woody/Hanna 392 Chrysler
car and replaced the cammer with a 392. Here is the car sans
nose at an AHRA meet at Wichita in 1968.
Photo by Ron Johnson
Denny "The Kid" Darragh
in Canada, 1969. Darragh & Winder from Winnipeg, Manitoba
sold it and quit at the end of 1969 and that's where this story
After following the somewhat
undefined leads in search of the real car in 2005, Steve Andersen
deemed there was at least some degree of possible courses it
could have taken. Unfortunately, some of the actual guys that
were the potential players were either dead or no longer capable
of being found. The trail did indicate that it had very likely
ultimately ended up in Idaho. In asking around, Andersen did
locate a FED from the 60s that was available there.
He went to see it and inasmuch as there was none of the original
body still intact, it did appear to be a Woody car, though really
hacked up. It had been front halved (extended to 230)
with a relocated motor plate to accommodate a Chevy motor with
However, there were several convincing
clues that implicated it could well be the cars chassis. The
two most important were (1) the fact that the chute release and
fuel shutoff levers were at one point located on the drivers
right shoulder rail and (2) that the chute mount had at one point
been located quite high (indicating a direct line out the chute
back opening). There were a few other signs, including an original
motor plate that had a very similar shape to that of the original
Hanna cowl and had been for a Chrysler motor. Unfortunately
for Andersen he was unable to acquire it from the owner and hes
since passed away as well.
When Pat Foster looked it over
he agreed that it was quite likely originally a Woody frame,
that it had the eleven degree differential of the seat rail location
to the shoulder rail and thought that there was at least a good
possibility that it was the original car.
So Andersen started the recreation
in 2006 with Tom Hanna on board. Tom was giving some help along
with a lot of advice. as well as spending some time correcting
the details on the life size drawing. Tom Hoover remained within
an arms length of the project the whole way.
As projects often do, this one
got off to a rocky start. The rolling chassis was taken to a
so-called metal crafter who had a lot of information to work
from including the life size drawing from Hanna. Almost immediately
he began to wander off from what Anderson was telling him the
car looked like. At the time, Patty Foster and Anderson felt
that together they could repair some of the wrong stuff once
he took back possession of the car.
Unfortunately in the middle of
the build, Foster died and Andersen lost a lot of thrust with
the car. However after some time and many more growlingly serious
mistakes, he finally took back the car. Once back at his shop,
the problems were so far from what he felt the original car looked
like, he just took the body off, pop riveted it together and
hung it from the rafters of his shop.
Tom Hanna, who had been watching
the progress on Cacklefest.com had grown more and more incensed
about what was happening. When he heard that Andersen had literally
scrapped the project Tom called him with an offer to have Corey
Conyers recreate the body under his watchful eye.
After some discussion, they agreed
and Anderson took the car to Wichita where the legend once again
proved his reputation to be true! And that is where we pick up
We pick this project up in early
2011 at Anderson's shop, the car is a "roller" with
the chrome done.
Thanks to Corey Conyers
or taking the documentary shots at Hanna's shop
Next the car went to Tom Hanna's
shop in Wichita, KS. This coverage has a lot of photos because
it is the most detailed history of a Hanna body being fabricated
on a dragster. It covers the entire process. If you enjoy craftsmanship,
you'll love this.
Friday of the 2014 California
Hot Rod Reunion marked the long awaited debut of the restoration.
Steve Anderson lovingly recreated this classic piece and had
Hoover himself in the car for Cacklefest. It was one of four
featured cars on display at the host hotel.
After the Honorees Awards ceremony,
the cars were fired up to the delight of hundreds of fans.
Saturday night was Cacklefest
and the Hoover car was a stand out among the 60 some dragsters
that did push starts.
Parked on the track after
being push started.
In closing, here are some studio
shots Andersen had taken after the 2014 California Hot Rod Reunion.
They show how beautiful this car really is.
Photos by Mike Chase Photography;
Santa Rosa, CA