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BobPalma
09-09-2010, 09:13 PM
Yes, as you will see, this is properly placed in the General Studebaker-specific Discussion Group. If you enjoy reading about Studebaker's national drag racing conquests in Ted Harbit's NHRA classes during the 1960s, you'll hopefully find this interesting....

It all started today (Thursday, September 9, 2010) when my snail mail arrived. Therein was the October 2010 Cars & Parts, which we now know is the next-to-the-last issue. You wouldn't know it to read this issue; it is bright and upbeat, and contains many interesting articles and features.

Among the features was a 5-page article on a gorgeous 1950 Oldsmobile 88 Holiday Coupe (2-door hardtop) owned by Bill Ehrsam of Sylvania, Ohio. The article says Bill, "...is no stranger to 1950 Oldsmobiles. He bought his first one as a kid, has always owned at least one, and currently owns 40[!] of them, which just has to be a record among the Olds fraternity."

So far, so good.

The second paragraph describing Bill's infatuation with 1950 Oldsmobiles is the following. I quote directly and entirely; no editing:

"He drag-raced '50 Oldsmobiles and won many trophies, until he faced off with a 1951 Studebaker. After losing to the Studebaker, he bought a 1951 Studebaker himself and won the NHRA Nationals in Indiana four times and then won the NHRA Nationals in California, beating a 1950 Olds driven by Keith Berg."

As the topic title says, "WHOA! Not so fast, there, Dr. Oldsmobile." I suspected some, ahem, "enhancement" in that paragraph, because I knew full well he could not have won the NHRA National Drags with a 1951 Studebaker four times during the period in question, roughly 1960-1971, when 1951 Commanders dominated classes M/S, K/S, and L/S. (The same 1951 Commanders ran in those classes; the class name just got changed around during that time.)

I reasoned that:

1. Ted Harbit and The Chicken Hawk were the combo that initially beat Bill Ehrsam in 1962, and

2. Ted went on to win the class 8 times in the next 11 years, and

3. In two of the three years (1963, 1965, 1971) that Ted did not win his class, I knew he lost to Oldsmobiles at least twice.

Therefore, it was not possible that Mr. Ehrsam won the class four times with a Studebaker.

Having figured all this out, I called Ted for a long conversation. The upshot of that conversation with Ted this afternoon was this:

1. Driving a 1950 Oldsmobile 88, Bill Ehrsam lost the 1962 Championship Race race to Ted Harbit and The Chicken Hawk; Ted's first "Nationals" win.

2. The 1962 loss apparently inspired Bill to buy and build a 1951 Commander (good).

3. Bill Ehrsam did return with his own '51 Commander in 1963 and beat Ted in the Championship Race, winning the class once. However, he was disqualified as illegal in the mandatory tear-down as Class Champion, so no person is recorded as having won the Class in 1963. Ted's runner-up status in the 1963 Championship Race remained just that, runner-up, with the winner having been disqualified.

4. Ted lost the Championship Race again in 1965 and 1971, but it was to an Oldsmobile 88 both years, not to another Studebaker.

5. The Commander-dominated HP/LB weight class was eliminated after the 1971 race.

6. Ted alone ran "up" one class for 1972 and beat a 283 Chevy station wagon (1958 or 1959, as he recalls), despite being placed at a distinct HP/LB disadvantge with no handicap.

7. The lowest HP/LB class in 1972 was eliminated following the 1972 National Drags, so 1951 Commanders were no longer competitive and did not appear in the lowest HP/LB NHRA class after Ted's 1972 swan song.

8. Given "all the above," Bill Ehrsam won one NHRA National Championship in class (1963). I don't see how he could have won four times, as the article states.

Finally, Bill would have won the NHRA Winternationals in California, beating Studebaker's #1 nemesis, Keith Berg's 1950 Oldsmobile. The annual "grandaddy" NHRA National Championship Drag Race has only been held in five states in the event's history: Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Indiana. So the article was in error, saying that Bill had won "The Nationals" in California, because "The Nationals" have never been held there.

However, it is good to note that Bill Ehrsam's 1951 Commander did beat Keith Berg's 1950 Olds 88. Keith had the fastest early Olds 88 in the country...but because he was out west, he and Ted Harbit never did battle, as Ted remembers. [Edit: See update below from Ted.] Ted acknowledges Keith having the fastest Olds 88 in class, so it would have been a white-knuckle race had Keith's Olds and The Chicken Hawk ever squared off during the 1960's heyday of stock car drag racing.

It's good that Bill Ehrsam and his 1951 Commander were up to the task of taking on Keith Berg, and were able to make the trip to the Winternationals.

So now, when you read the October 2010 Cars & Parts, don't scratch your head. You already know "the rest of the story." BP

barnlark
09-09-2010, 09:23 PM
QUOTE-BobPalma;

"It all started today (Thursday, September 16, 2010) when my snail mail arrived."

Did you buy a back to the future car we don't know about, BP?! Heh, heh. Thanks for the heads-up on the October C&P, though. You catch 'em all!

BobPalma
09-09-2010, 09:28 PM
QUOTE-BobPalma;

"It all started today (Thursday, September 16, 2010) when my snail mail arrived."

Did you buy a back to the future car we don't know about, BP?! Heh, heh. Thanks for the heads-up on the October C&P, though. You catch 'em all!

Good one, Dave!
I'm already into next week at The Pure Stock Drags!
I'll edit my post. Thanks. BP

barnlark
09-09-2010, 09:36 PM
What a great bit of history, Bob. Just wondering with a wink. I had to read it twice to make sure you weren't purposely foreseeing an errant article! How did they drop those into the article without checking them out, you have to wonder? Glad you have Ted's memory on speed dial!

Milaca
09-09-2010, 09:39 PM
Thanks for the 'rest of the story' Palma Harvey! :)

JRoberts
09-10-2010, 07:33 AM
So Bob, have you let the magazine know about the mistake? Of course I guess that would not accomplish anything since I am sure the last issue of the dying publication is probably already put together and could not put a correction together so quickly. However, it might be worth a try.

Great detective work. Thanks.

BobPalma
09-10-2010, 08:23 AM
Update from Ted Friday morning, September 9th:

After our conversation yesterday, Ted remembered that Keith Berg did come to "The Nationals" in Indianapolis one year, but Ted did not have to run Keith after all. In Ted's words from an e-mail this morning:

"Sorry, but I must have given you some wrong information about Berg. He did come to the Indy Nationals around 1967, 8, or 9. I don't remember for sure what year but in the eliminations he got paired with Fred Robinson's white '51 Commander Starlight Coupe and Fred put him on the trailer.

Fred and I met in the finals and barely edged him out so that year whatever year it was, two '51 Commander Coupes were winner and runner up."

To add to that: Fred Robinson is a good, life-long friend of Ted Harbit. Fred and Ted raced Studebakers against each other on the open road while in high school. See Ted and Fred together on Page 8 of the March 1996 Turning Wheels.

Ted and Fred also raced early Commander V-8 coupes against each other in NHRA drag racing in the 1960s. There were sometimes a dozen cars to be eliminated in their class before they got to the Championship Race. As you see above, Keith Berg and Ted Harbit never had to run each other because Fred dispatched Keith with Fred's Commander in the eliminations before Keith got far enough in the eliminations to have to race Ted! BP

BobPalma
09-10-2010, 08:28 AM
So Bob, have you let the magazine know about the mistake? Of course I guess that would not accomplish anything since I am sure the last issue of the dying publication is probably already put together and could not put a correction together so quickly. However, it might be worth a try.

Great detective work. Thanks.

No, Joe; I'm not going to write them and add to their problems as they close out their magazine. I would rather they would publish my lengthy, legitimate, corrections about the 1964 Daytona convertible article in the September issue. They've had those long enough to use them, and I don't want to "pile on" at this late date.

'Glad you enjoyed the original post. Be sure to see Ted's update this morning. BP

clonelark
09-11-2010, 06:32 AM
So is this Fred Robison still alive?, Does he still mess with Studebakers?

BobPalma
09-11-2010, 07:24 AM
So is this Fred Robison still alive? Does he still mess with Studebakers?

Yes, Fred Robinson is very much alive and well, still a local good friend of Ted's, and still drag racing.

Fred no longer plays with Studebakers on the strip, though; he migrated to modified Fords many years ago. Today, he runs a 460-Ford-powered Fairmont Futura and helps his son with an older Mustang on the strip.

Fred Robinson and Ted still pit together at The Muncie Dragway and remain close, actually among the best, of friends.

To wit: We wanted to display both The Chicken Hawk and The Stude Tomato side-by-side at the 2004 SDC International Meet in Charlotte NC, and did. I was to take The Stude Tomato on my car trailer behind my 2002 Dakota Quad Cab.

Ted's 1961 Stude flat-bed hauler, normally used to transport The Chicken Hawk around the midwest, would be a bit much, comfort-wise, for such a long haul for Ted and Mary Ann, all the way to Charlotte. So Fred Robinson loaned Ted his [Fred's] late-model GMC 2500 series extended-cab pickup and car hauler to take The Chicken Hawk to Charlotte. That's how good of freinds they are to this day.

Kinda funny anecdote: In May 2009, the night Ted had his horrible accident in The Chicken Hawk at The Muncie Dragway, Fred Robinson was not at the strip, which is unusual...but he had simply not gone that night. Probably so much the better as Fred is no spring chicken and could have suffered a medical condition (seriously) had he witnessed Ted's accident.

Word of the accident spread quickly that evening. Mary Ann Harbit got "the call" at home (she had not gone with Ted that night) and quickly drove the 25(?) miles to Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, where they had taken Ted. This was late at night in the dark, on two-lane Indiana highways.

On her way, "some idiot" passed her going 'way too fast in the same direction. She had, ahem, "verbal reservations" about that fellow motorist's judgement, as we might all be want to do, especially at such a stressful time.

When Mary Ann arrived at the hospital, she discovered the fellow motorist she had scolded under her breath had in fact been Fred Robinson, who had also been called about Ted's accident and was himself blasting across the Hoosier countryside, admittedly too fast, to get to the hospital. Fred had shot around Mary Ann Harbit in route, not recognizing her generic, late-model Impala as he blew around her.

So, yes; Ted Harbit and Fred Robinson remain good friends and fellow "anchor babies" at The Muncie Dragway to this day. (I've spent time around Fred, too, naturally, and he is a really nice guy.) BP

dauz
10-14-2010, 08:43 PM
Hello all. If you speak with Ted please ask him if he recalls a White 52 Stude The Maggot that nearly (or did beat him according to the win light) beat him in the early sixties driven by Pete Magel. No joke, I bet Ted will be surprised to hear the name "Maggot" again. Maybe he can shed some light on that race.

Steve T
10-15-2010, 03:01 PM
Wow, this is interesting stuff. A snapshot of vintage Stude racing for publication in TW, maybe...?? Anyone got period pix? 'Twould be cool to rework one of those JL diecasts into a vintage drag racer. Or for that matter an actual '51.

Any chance Fred Robinson's white '51 or the "Maggot" '52 might still be around anywhere? There'd be a story...

S.

DEEPNHOCK
10-15-2010, 03:31 PM
Yes, Fred Robinson is very much alive and well, still a local good friend of Ted's, and still drag racing.
<snip>

To wit: We wanted to display both The Chicken Hawk and The Stude Tomato side-by-side at the 2004 SDC International Meet in Charlotte NC, and did. I was to take The Stude Tomato on my car trailer behind my 2002 Dakota Quad Cab.

Ted's 1961 Stude flat-bed hauler, normally used to transport The Chicken Hawk around the midwest, would be a bit much, comfort-wise, for such a long haul for Ted and Mary Ann, all the way to Charlotte. So Fred Robinson loaned Ted his [Fred's] late-model GMC 2500 series extended-cab pickup and car hauler to take The Chicken Hawk to Charlotte. That's how good of friends they are to this day.
<snip>
BP

http://inlinethumb16.webshots.com/36431/1151863176038087468S600x600Q85.jpg

Oh...and the 'other guy' you mentioned BP...

http://inlinethumb46.webshots.com/16301/1151862819038087468S600x600Q85.jpg

THAT was a fun (and a HOT) day...
Jeff:cool:

BobPalma
10-15-2010, 07:22 PM
http://inlinethumb16.webshots.com/36431/1151863176038087468S600x600Q85.jpg

Oh...and the 'other guy' you mentioned BP...

http://inlinethumb46.webshots.com/16301/1151862819038087468S600x600Q85.jpg

THAT was a fun (and a HOT) day...
Jeff:cool:

It sure was, Jeffster; a great time indeed. Thanks for saving and posting the pics...BP

Carrw
02-09-2014, 01:58 PM
Peter waS sick so he took Magott & another Stude to a storage barn in Varysburg ny Guy was supposed to sell with Peters approval (thru me ) of price . Sold to Baloney Bob who immediately put it up for resale.dont know where it is now.Seller in Varysburg kept Peters money.any body who has it should worry about title!