From the mid 60s to the early
70s the New England based Jimmy King and Don Marshall fielded
some of the most recognized and competitive fuel cars on the
East Coast. Among them was their 1969-1971 Top Fuel car that
not only survived one of the sports first "blowovers"
but set several track records up and down the right coast. Against
all odds, after its Top Fuel retirement in 1971, although being
raced in lower classes, the car remained basically in tact until
its rebirth in 2002.
Jimmy King in the lights
at Norwood, MA in 1969
This is Jimmy King in the brand
new Don Long car (1969), doing a show for the kids at a training
school. Don Marshall is in the suit. The "weedburner"
headers are a mystery as they were not used on fuel dragsters
since mid 1964. There are no other photos of this car with these
Photo by Jeff Howe
Photo by Jeff Howe
The K&M car showed
up at the 1970 NHRA Winternationals with a new paint scheme.
A rare West Coast appearance,
after the Winternationals, at Lions Drag Strip in 1970.
In spring of 1970 Detroit Dragway
hosted the AHRA Grand American Series event, attracting a strong
field of cars from across the nation. Here's Rhode Island's Jimmy
King in the King & Marshall car, beginning to smoke the left
rear tire while the right tire bites... very strange.
Jim Hill Photo
King & Marshall fueler at
a Connecticut Dragway in 1970. We believe they had the very first
Dennis Doubleday photo
Near the end of its career, the
car saw other drivers than Jimmy King, among them hired-shoe
Don Roberts (below) at Epping Dragway in 1971. You can't see
it clearly, but there is a castor welded to the top of the roll
cage. This was installed as a joke (or reminder) after King nearly
destroyed the car at the 1970 US Nationals at Indy when it turned
"turtle" after a giant wheel stand.
No matter how big or small the
show was, New England Dragway always paraded the cars down the
track before first round. What made it great was the announcing
staff knew what they were talking about and the crowd loved it.
Here is Don Roberts and his pals from Warren, Rhode Island on
the parade lap at the 1971 Grande American race August 8, 1971.
In 2001 Sy Sidebotham of Bedford, New Hampshire
got a call from a friend telling him that someone had the car
in Delaware. He got the contact information and called him. He
made arrangement for original owner Don Marshall to stop by on
his way to Florida to look at it. Sidebotham had given Marshall
the money to buy the car if he thought it was the real deal.
It was and he bought it.
Soon after the restoration started
with the removal of the upgraded five point cage and replacing
some bent up frame rails. This was done by vet Mark Rowe in Sea
Brook, New Hampshire who is on the NHRA Chassis Engineering Committee.
Since the original Hanna body was all missing or ruined, new
skin was added to the repaired chassis. From there the car was
restored and finished to its 1969 paint scheme.
However, Sidebotham went a step
further than other cacklecars in that he did what it took to
get the car certified by NHRA for 1/8 mile passes. These safety
features are not visible from the outside of the car but include
a fire bottle, kidney bars and a Nostalgia Top Fuel type clutch
and can. His goal was, as still is, to have his driver (Tom Steed)
to make exhibition runs at Cacklefest and other appropriate events.
Tom Steed in the 2002
CHRR Cacklefest 2002
Steed has ignition in the King & Marshall AA/FD at Cacklefest
50th U.S. Nationals Cacklefest
at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
NHRR II in Bowling Green,
Bowling Green 2004
National Hot Rod Reunion
Cacklefest Parade in 2005.
Bowling Green, KY 2005
Sy Sidebotham, Tom Steed
and the King & Marshall crew. The average age is obvious.
Sidebotham's restored "King
& Marshall" made a grand debut at the 2002 CHRR with
Tom Steed making a short run.
Sidebotham whacks the
throttle for Tom "Tuna" Steed - NHRR 2005.
Tom Steed in the 2005
At the 2005 CHRR a Friday exhibition
run didn't go as planned when the car lifted the front wheels
and took a hard right turn. Sidebotham, tired of cracking early
hemi blocks, installed a Donovan 417 and is still getting used
to the power curve.