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Ted Harbit's Inspiration

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  • Ted Harbit's Inspiration

    [With apologies to Mary Ann Harbit; this topic references automotive inspiration.]

    The new, July 2009 Hot Rod unknowingly contains "Seed of The Chicken Hawk."

    There's an excellent decade-of-the-60s article assembled by Bill McQuire, entitled "When Stock was Hot: Hot Rod looks back on the Golden Age of Junior Stock." This is a great article with many old 1960s black & whites; worth the price of the magazine by itself. Of course, those of us in Studebaker-land know the most dominant drag racer and car in the lower stock classes: Ted Harbit & The Chicken Hawk.

    On Page 78 is a starting-line photo of an early K/S elimination race at the 1961 NHRA National Drags at Indianapolis Raceway Park. A four-cylinder Tempest sedan and a Corvair station wagon are being launched (well, OK, to the extent that you can "launch" a 4-cylinder Tempest or a Corvair station wagon). The caption says,

    "Compacts were big news in 1961. Believe it or not, fans at the Nationals in Indy screamed their lungs out as four-cylinder Tempests and air-cooled Corvairs battled their way to 18-second times. With their rearward weight bias, Corvairs did well on the lousy tires then available. However, Bill Senft's '50 Oldsmobile V-8 won the K/Stock class trophy that year."

    Not disclosed in the caption, unfortunately, is the 1961 K/S runner-up who lost to Bill's Olds. That would be the 1951 Commander convertible Teacher's Pet, piloted by our own Ted Harbit.

    Runner-up status was Ted's Inspiration to find a 1951 Commander about 300 pounds lighter, still able to run in K/S, for the 1962 Nationals. Within the month of September 1961, after that Labor Day runner-up finish, Ted's wallet was $30 lighter and The Chicken Hawk had been extracted from a field to begin life as the most famous racing Studebaker of all time.

    Of course, Team Harbit & Chicken Hawk showed up for the 1962 Nationals a year later and went home as The Big Kahuna...a feat that would be repeated in 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969, to close out the decade being discussed in this article.

    So when you read Page 78 of the July 2009 Hot Rod, you already know "the rest of the story." BP

    We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

    Ayn Rand:
    "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

    G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

  • #2
    quote:Originally posted by BobPalma

    Within the month of September 1961, after that Labor Day runner-up finish, Ted's wallet was $30 lighter and The Chicken Hawk had been extracted from a field to begin life as the most famous racing Studebaker of all time.
    Bob,

    Any information about why the future Chicken Hawk had already been "put out to pasture?" It was only a ten year old car at that point.

    <div align="left">1960 Lark VI</div id="left"> <div align="right">1962 7E7-122</div id="right">
    [img=left]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/62champ/car/8b0ac4c6.jpg[/img=left]
    [img=right]http://i96.photobucket.com/albums/l163/62champ/car/DSC02237.jpg[/img=right]

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    • #3
      quote:Originally posted by 62champ

      Bob,

      Any information about why the future Chicken Hawk had already been "put out to pasture?" It was only a ten year old car at that point.
      I don't know; 'never happened to ask Ted, either. But it was not that unusual for a 10-year old car to be scrap in 1961. Cars simply wore out earlier back then and styling changes really brought to bear pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

      Today, envision a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier parked next to a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt. Sure, there's a difference, but not much. 'Nowhere near as great as the difference between a 1951 Studebaker and a 1961 Studebaker, that's for sure.

      So, in the fifties and sixties, cars were generally "done" by age 10. It wouldn't have been unusual, at the time, for Ted's Chicken Hawk to have been ready for recycling. Too, it had Automatic Drive, so if the AD had gone south, the car simply wasn't worth repairing...but I don't know if the transmission was bad when Ted bought it. BP
      We've got to quit saying, "How stupid can you be?" Too many people are taking it as a challenge.

      Ayn Rand:
      "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

      G. K. Chesterton: This triangle of truisms, of father, mother, and child, cannot be destroyed; it can only destroy those civilizations which disregard it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Bob P. - You should send this "rest of the story" to Hot Rod magazine.

        Gary L.
        Wappinger, NY

        SDC member since 1968
        Studebaker enthusiast much longer
        Gary L.
        Wappinger, NY

        SDC member since 1968
        Studebaker enthusiast much longer

        Comment


        • #5
          Bob, I was thinking about that very thing this morning while reading that Hot Rod article, but I wasn't sure about how well Ted did at that event. Thanks for reassuring me that my memory has not completely failed.

          Joe Roberts
          '61 R1 Champ
          '65 Cruiser
          Editor of "The Down Easterner"
          Eastern North Carolina Chapter
          Joe Roberts
          '61 R1 Champ
          '65 Cruiser
          Eastern North Carolina Chapter

          Comment


          • #6
            quote:Originally posted by BobPalma

            quote:Originally posted by 62champ

            Bob,

            Any information about why the future Chicken Hawk had already been "put out to pasture?" It was only a ten year old car at that point.
            I don't know; 'never happened to ask Ted, either. But it was not that unusual for a 10-year old car to be scrap in 1961. Cars simply wore out earlier back then and styling changes really brought to bear pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

            Today, envision a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier parked next to a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt. Sure, there's a difference, but not much. 'Nowhere near as great as the difference between a 1951 Studebaker and a 1961 Studebaker, that's for sure.

            So, in the fifties and sixties, cars were generally "done" by age 10. It wouldn't have been unusual, at the time, for Ted's Chicken Hawk to have been ready for recycling. Too, it had Automatic Drive, so if the AD had gone south, the car simply wasn't worth repairing...but I don't know if the transmission was bad when Ted bought it. BP
            My first car was a 1951 Studebaker I bought off the back lot of a dealer in 1958 for $150.00. The car was thus 7 years old. The front fenders were rusted out, as were the floors and rear quarters. It had 70-80 thousand miles on it, and used two quarts of recycled oil per tank.

            JDP/Maryland
            JDP Maryland

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