What a long strange road we traveled to get to CHRR 2K. Normally I would
have done my typical deal of showing up and hanging out for the
weekend...Not this year! The March meet changed all that. Jet Car Bob and I
went to the March Meet (me for the first time in more years than I want to
count). Bob and I had been trying to get our buddy Jon Halstead to come to
the reunion or the March Meet for a number of years without success.
Things changed drastically this year as Jon and his wonderful wife Jeanne
were in attendance and we had a super time getting re-acquainted again after
so many years. Since I had committed to doing the restoration of Jon's first
dragster, I was delighted to spend time with Jon and Jeanne getting a lot of
research information for the project car. Jon also had a great time seeing
lots of old friends. He called me a couple of weeks later to tell me he was
going Top Fuel racing and asked if I wanted to be part of the team. Wow,
just like the old days. Hell yes, I'll play!
After the March Meet I stopped at Fuller's place to pick up the car and
start the long journey back to Snohomish, WA, with the car strapped to the
roof of Pam's station wagon. Stopped at Ewald's for a little rest and dinner
and some tune-up work on his computer. Stopped the next day at Tom Wilford's
place for coffee and chat.
Got home that afternoon late and unloaded some of the stuff I had
gathered up for the project. You have to understand that I live in a very
small neighborhood where I'm probably the only motor head around. Nobody
around here had ever seen a car like this and since it was still strapped to
the roof rack there were some amusing remarks about what it was. Best
comment was from my Veterinarian friend's wife. She wanted to know if I was
building a helicopter.
The next day, I set out for Hayes Classics in Kirkland to begin the process
of restoring what is now commonly referred to as "THE FULLER,"
aptly named by Fred Vosk. At first it was a little intimidating to have the
little car sitting amongst such classics as the Bugatti and the one off
Ferrari as well as a rare Cadillac Phaeton that is being restored for the
100th anniversary Cadillac celebration (it will be a 100 point car!).
I won't bore you with all the details of the process of doing this car,
since Fred has been chronicling the progress of it in his own inimitable and
very humorous way. Yes, we struggled with finding the right parts and I
spent lots of long nights and early mornings searching the Internet.
The net result was what those of you who were at the reunion saw either in
front of the Doubletree on Thursday night or over the weekend parked at the
Fuller display. What did I get out of this, you might ask? First and
foremost, I have been lucky enough to make a number of new friends, two of
whom have put as much of their heart and soul into this project as I have.
Their names are Fred Vosk and Eric Hayes, who are indeed artisans in their
The skills these guys possess are unbelievable. You cannot appreciate
Eric's polishing ability until you try to match him. Case in point was when
Fred said to me, "You're not going to put that black anodized pump
drive extension on this car, are you?" Well, I decided to do the whole
process of sanding it down to remove the anodizing and polishing it up to
match the rest of the car. Took me about five hours to get it done, and when
I was coming out of the polishing booth, Eric commented, "Hey Pete, now
you look like one of the Bruthas!"
I was covered with polishing stuff from head to toe. Eric can be my Bro
any time he wants... He's so good at polishing that when we needed to get
some pieces chromed, Eric did the polishing and took the stuff to the chrome
shop and all they had to do was dip the pieces and get them back to us. It
sure helped on turn around time.
Fred's Rheumatoid Arthritis puts limits on what he can physically do, but it
didn't stop him from doing the paint layout for the body, and some of the
polishing and assembly of the car. If you were to look closely at the paint
scheme, you will see that there is no part stripe between the silver stripes
and the color coat and the lines are immaculate. No bleed over anywhere. He
also provided guidance to Eric in doing the painting process, since Eric had
never done metal flake paint before. If you have seen the car, you can
appreciate the quality of Eric and Fred's work.
If I sound like an Eric and Fred fan, it's only because I am...big time. If
not for them, the car would still be way less complete than it is now.
I want to personally thank everyone who stopped to admire the car and tell
us how much they liked it. It is a work art that has come back to life. I'm
not too sure how to say this, since I don't want to offend anyone who took
the time to comment about the car; however, from the time I rolled into the
patch with it, I had high hopes that we had accomplished all that we set out
to do. For me personally I guess my perfectionism sometimes gets in the way
and I tend to reach beyond what is reasonable to accomplish in a given
I wasn't happy with having to make the decision not to fire it up on
Saturday, but I didn't want to make one of those last minute mistakes that
would have spoiled it for us. Some of you may have known that Steve Gibbs
had asked Bob Smith and me to light it off for the Fuller presentation out
in front of the stands, and you will never know how much I wanted to do it.
It just wasn't possible to get done, so that's why we pushed it out from the
I have been around this sport for a long time and seen some very nice cars
built by very talented people. I wanted to do this car with as much class as
I have ever seen. I have told a few friends I wanted it to surpass the GBP
car for quality. I don't know if that got done or not, but when I got the
kinds of comments from my peers (that's the old guys from the '60s) whose
workmanship I have always admired, I got chills up my spine.
The soft spoken metal master from Wichita was the first to see it on
Thursday, and although I can't remember the exact words he said, the impact
on me was wonderful, thanks for your opinion, Tom.
Steve Gibbs also saw it Thursday afternoon and was very impressed with the
car, enough so that he told me to be sure and park it under the canopy at
the entrance to the Doubletree. We told the clerk at the registration desk
when we were checking in that Mr. Gibbs had requested that we do that and
the clerk told us that would be just fine. Boy, does the Hook carry some
weight around that place! Steve has also requested that the car make an
appearance at his house of Hot Rods at the Fairplex at the earliest possible
convenience. High praise coming from the master of the museum.
Also, on Thursday afternoon I needed to get some machine work done for
one of the pieces of the blower drive (this was when I was still trying to
get it ready to run). Well, after having been to the March Meet a number of
times over the last 40 years, I did what I would usually do when I needed
help at Bakersfield. I went to see the godfather of Bakersfield drag racing,
Ernie Hashim. I asked him if he could do a little machine work for me and
without so much as a moment's hesitation he says, "What do you
need?" I showed him the piece and he grabbed it and told me, "I'll
have it for you first thing in the morning."
Now you have to understand that the first thing in the morning to Ernie
is 7 a.m.! And, he had it done exactly the way I needed it when I came to
pick it up. He thought the car was beautiful and went on to tell his son
(whose name escapes me at the moment) about the car he had that was like
this one. Ernie is 76 years old and was about to celebrate his 50th wedding
anniversary that evening with upwards of 400 of his friends and family. I
got a hug and a pat on the back from Ernie; that made my day. I love Ernie
Thursday evening at the Doubletree was lots of fun and many folks stopped to
look over the car. All I talked to were very kind with their compliments on
the car. Dave McClelland stopped to chat about the car and asked me some
questions about it for reference information to use when he would interview
Fuller later on Saturday. That worked out well, since Fuller is such a motor
Dave Jeffers, who some of you may remember from his days at RCS, looked
at the car and told me what a nice job we did in restoring it. Last summer I
ran into Dave out at SIR at a match race. We hadn't seen each other in 30
years. His comments about the workmanship on this car were neat to hear
since I know what an excellent craftsman he is. Dave was also responsible
for building the rear end in the car. He did it for a paperweight car he
built while at the Ol' Man's place (RCS).
Most of you had an opportunity at some point, as I did, to spend some time
looking over the Beebe and Mulligan recreation that Pat Foster did for Dave
West and can appreciate what an amazing craftsman Foster really is. Patty's
son Cole has inherited those same talents and produced the super neat pickup
that was displayed next to the B&M car. I had the pleasure of getting a
guided tour of the truck from Patty at the Doubletree.
These guys are way above the standard for excellence when it comes to
creating masterpieces. Both Patty and Cole were very complimentary to me
about the car. It's hard to write what Patty said to me and convey the voice
inflections of how he says it. However, if you have ever talked to him, I
think you will know what I mean when he said to me in his deepest, most
sincere voice, "That's an absolutely BITCHIN' car." Thank you,
There's a member of the Standard 1320 Group who set the standard of
excellence for both Gas and Fuel dragsters when he was racing, who has, in
my estimation, rarely been exceeded by anyone. To hear such a guy, who was a
racer week in and week out with solid results and always a class act, tell
me, "That's a really nice car," was exciting for me. I want to
thank you very much Mr. C [Gary Cochran].
There are a few people who have gone through what I have just experienced
and know exactly how much time and effort are needed to reach the point we
are at currently. Bill Pitts and Tom Morris were very kind to make a point
of telling me how nice the car turned out and how much they liked the work.
Like Bill and Tom, this was not a one-man band kind of thing. I had super
help from a lot of people to get it done. Eric and Fred are just as
deserving as I am for any and all compliments regarding this effort. The
Andersons also know what it's like to go through this exercise and I
appreciate their fine comments as well.
Some of the others involved in this project that you may not know about are:
Randy Bradford, who managed to get in a little machine work for me while
thrashing on his own car to get ready for the reunion (not to mention
letting me dig through his scrap barrel for material to make some of the
components). Randy has a scrap barrel to die for...
Dave Benjamin did a lot of machine work for us (a lot of it was last minute
bailout type work and if you saw some of Fred's postings about components
that were made, Dave is our guy). Dave does fuel pumps and clutches for some
of the hitters on the NHRA circuit. His ability as a machinist is super
Wayne King was very helpful in helping me find parts, as was Tom Wilford.
Tom was a great resource for locating parts and is quite a historian on
correct parts for a period correct restoration. Wayne also found a machine
shop guy to do the blueprinting and balancing stuff on the motor (yes, it is
a sound motor, and will run once I get some small details taken care of).
Bill Holland was also of great help in acquiring parts and getting work
done. The heads are from World Products (one of Bill's clients) and were
worked over by a friend of his by the name of Mike Slover. Bill's moral
support and guidance were way more helpful than he may ever know.
Jim Hill's participation as a genuine sponsor of this car is unquestionably
one of the nicest things to happen for us. This car has never had anyone's
decal on it and never will. Yet Jim made us a nice deal to put his products
in the engine and went way beyond just being a supplier by giving us all the
technical support to make sure we got it right the first time. He made
numerous phone calls and follow up to make sure everything worked for us.
Well, if I haven't bored you all (is that Y'all?) yet and you got this far
down the page, I would like to make sure that each and everyone of you
understand that I am not minimizing anyone's kind and thoughtful comments
about the results of this project. I truly appreciate them all, as do the
other members of this team, Fred Vosk, Eric Hayes, and Doug Pratt. I had a
goal in mind and I think I met it.
Oh, yeah, two more quick comments: Fred said to Fuller, "Neat little
car, huh Fuller?" Fuller responded, "Yep, wish it was mine."
Hopefully, I can fulfill your wish my friend.
Someone said to me on Saturday afternoon, "You have established a
benchmark with this car." I don't remember who said it, but thank you.
"Pit Crew Pete" Starrett