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  History

 

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

 

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.

 

Tom in the seat of the Stuckey car, 1964.

 

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 final.

 

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 Anderson.

 

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 Car".

 

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 in dragsters.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

US Nationals, Indianapolis in 1966.

 

 

Tom Hoover at Minnesota Dragway, 1967 with "Papa George" pushing Tom's Woody/Hanna beauty out of the pits.
Photo by Dick Wittnebel

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Fishbowl car at Union Grove, probably Memorial Day weekend 1966.
Photo by Ron Johnson

 

On a launch at Union Grove, Memorial Day weekend 1966.

 

Tom Hoover the 1967 NHRA Springnationals at Bristol, right before he switched to a Ford cammer.

 

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.

 

Denny Darragh from Canada at Minnesota Dragways in 1968.
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 begins.

 

Orangeline

 

 

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 ‘60’s 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 a powerglide.

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 he’s 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 the story.

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We pick this project up in early 2011 at Anderson's shop, the car is a "roller" with the chrome done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

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.

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

Saturday night was Cacklefest and the Hoover car was a stand out among the 60 some dragsters that did push starts.

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

Parked on the track after being push started.

 

 

 

 

Orangeline

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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