|(10-19-08) From website visitor
"I was 15 years old in September of 1962
at the Santa Barbara Road Races with my 14 year old brother. We were sitting
at the edge of the picket/crowd control fence just north of the Turn One
I was looking down towards Turn Two when
I heard this loud screeching of tires. I turned to look and saw the
Campbell Special sliding sideways into the ditch that ran out from under
the culvert just past turn one. The car went airborne and there was so
much dust and dirt flying..............I was looking up and could see the
driver hanging by his seat belts and his arms seemed to be grabbing for
the steering wheel. The car landed with a loud thud not more then 8 feet
in front of us. The driver was trapped underneath and struggling to get
out. The car's radiator was hissing and steaming.
Course workers were at the crash scene
in no time and it seemed like it was about six guys that turned the car
over and got the driver out. The event was so startling that to this day,
46 years later, I remember it as if it happened yesterday.
I have some fond memories of the Santa
Barbara Road Races; Dave McDonald and Ken Miles driving their Cobras; the
Washburn Cheverolet #614 Corvettes; the first XKE Jag and the Lance Reventlow
Scarab and Old Yeller. Dangerous times to race but exciting for a kid."
(12-29-12) From Mike Menzel:
Thanks for putting together this terrific
site for us old farts who were teenagers back in the '60's and have fond
(but fading) memories of Southern Cal road racing.
I lived right across the street from
Bill Campbell in Burbank and spent endless hours in his garage "helping"
him with his various cars and my dad and I were regulars at the Southern
Cal races Bill took the cars to. We were right there in that turn at Goleta
when Bobby Harris nearly killed himself and destroyed the Campbel Special.
Bill had just installed special gas tanks on the car in preparation for
the upcoming Times Grand Prix at Riverside where they at one time held
the overall track record. He'd asked Bobby to take it easy since
was to be primarily a "shakedown cruise" to work out any kinks in the car
prior to Riverside. After the crash, Billy was so discouraged that
the car sat in his garage for months before he started putting it back
Bobby hit those hay bales so hard that
the exhaust pipes/headers (they were modified boat drag racing units) had
straw jammed (and I mean jammed) right up to the exhaust ports. I
know because Bill gave me the task of cleaning them out with a bent welding
rod, a process that took hours to complete.
After the car got put back together,
they raced it with Jim Parkinson driving and then for some reason Billy
sold the car. He then picked up an old 1950's vintage Kurtis Kraft
sports car chassis and convinced a very nervous Parkinson, a car dealer,
to loan him an XKE drophead which Bill used for a positive mold to pull
a fiberglass body. He got the body on the Kurtis, painted it green
and called it "The Alligator." They raced that one with middling
success and then after a while Bill dumped that car and ended up with an
engineless Porsche RSK. He dropped in a 301 Chevy feeding a Pontiac
Tempest transaxle that Mickey Thompson had run at Daytona and Bill eventually
got the RSK licensed for the street.
About that time Dan Blocker had bought
a Bizzarini that he subsequently spent $5,000 on (a not insignificant amount
in 1966) at Bill Thomas Racing for a 400 HP Chevy engine and some suspension
mods. Dan was driving the Bizzarini back from New Mexico when he decided
to take it up to around 170 to the delight of the New Mexico Highway Patrol
which set up a road block in his honor. The car was impounded and Dan lost
his license. Governor Pat Brown got Dan's license back on the condition
that he sell the car so Bill Campbell bought it and drove it around for
a while which was a cool thing to have parked across the street from my
A side benefit to hanging out in Campbell's
garage was that Bill got Blocker, who'd taught drama and math at Glendale
High School, to help me with my Algebra which took me from nearly flunking
to a B+.
Campbell's fabricator was a film editor
named Gilbert Hudson who could make anything. Gilbert was a drinking
buddy of Carroll Shelby and one afternoon Gilbert shows up at Bill Cambell's
house with Shelby in the very first Cobra which was sporting an unpainted
raw aluminum body. That was a pretty cool experience, seeing that
car (which I hadn't even heard of at the time) and meeting Shelby who I
did know had won LeMans.
A couple years later Gilbert fabricated
a Ferrari-style egg crate grill for his '64-1/2 Mustang which got so much
interest that he started up production and ended up making a small fortune
off those grills.
Anyway, those were wonderful days for
me and thanks for the effort you put into the site. It's terrific."
(12-31-12) More from Mike
"I forgot to mention that Jim Parkinson,
Dan Blocker and I were hanging out in Bill Campbell's home garage (the
only place his race cars were housed and prepared) doing some last minute
work on The Alligator the Friday night before its first race.
Bill had gotten it primered but had forgotten
the green paint back at the Campbell Hulls boat shop in Glendale and the
SCCA wouldn't allow a primered car to race. For some reason Bill
had a key to the shop but not to the front gate so he gave me the shop
key and asked Dan to take me down there, the plan being for me to hop the
fence, open the shop, and fetch the paint.
With Chevy being the sponsor for "Bonanza"
, Dan was kept knee deep in Corvettes but his favorite car at the time
was a British racing green Austin Healey 3000 with chromed wires which
we took down to Campbell Hulls, arriving around midnight. Dan left
the engine running and lights on as I crawled over the front gate.
I unlocked the front door, grabbed what was needed, locked the shop back
up, threw the paint and some reducer over the fence to Dan, scurrried back
over and we took off.
Unfortunately we only made it about 2
blocks before a police car pulled us over. The two cops approached
with guns drawn, positive they'd just witnessed a robbery. They ordered
us out of the car which is when I discovered it ain't easy exiting a Healey
3000 with your hands held high. The cops were ready to slap the cuffs
on us when one of them took a good look at Dan and finally asked to see
his license which immediately diffused the situation.
The cops left laughing but Dan and I
were quite shaken, resulting in a very quiet ride back to Campbell's house
where, needless to say, everybody else thought the incident was funny as
hell. In any event, the car got its coat of green paint and made
it to the race which, I think, was at Willow Springs, but as for the race
itself, I don't remember a thing about it."
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-- December 2012