The Brotherhood of Street Racers
By Dan Roulston
Back in the mid-1950s, when organized drag racing was pulling itself up by the bootstraps, there was a counter culture in the LA Illegal street racing was becoming a big, BIG problem. I was asked to speak to a forum produced by the LAPD. The street racers were loosely organized, but they did have some neat jackets and t-shirts. They were called the Brotherhood of Street Racers and were lead by their "Wally Parks" -- a moose of a guy called "Big Willie" Robinson and his wife Tomiko. We tried to get the BSR guys to come to LADS (as it was known then - Lions Associated Drag Strip). The vast majority of their cars could not pass tech inspection but they did draw as many as 500 cars at their races... usually in the industrial area of East LA.
There was one guy who did start coming to LADS to race. He was called "Charley the Painter." He drove a highly modified Dodge pickup that had a couple of haphazard ladders and paint cans (all thoroughly secured) hanging in the back. He received a ticket once for street racing and came to court. Now most of the other street racers were young guys wearing greased back hair and tee shirts but Charley was probably in his early to mid-'60s and wearing his painter's overalls, his usual racing uniform. The judge expressed surprise that Charley was in court for street racing. Charley's laid back response was "After I hit second gear, there wasn't any race." I think he was fined $14 or something, but won $20 for winning the street race.