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  • NASCAR...where it all began

    Yesterday I had the privilege of riding in the 1949 Studebaker Land Cruiser stock car in the Legends of Auto Racing beach/road parade in Ponce Inlet, Florida, where NASCAR racing all began in the 1940s. The Studebaker was driven by owner and Orlando Chapter member Bob Coolidge. Legendary driver/builder Ray Fox rode with Bob and me in the Studebaker. Ray told me he had a long history of working on Studebaker stock cars. It was an honor to meet him.

    If you go to www.news-journalonline.com you can view the whole story. Scroll down to the #7 Thunderbird photo (Beach Racing Memorials) and click on it to take you to the newspaper's photos. Some SDC members might find photo 7 interesting where yours truly was photographed with Richard Petty and some of the original NASCAR drivers.

    Bob Coolidge is Vice President of the Legends of Auto Racing and was responsible for organizing this fantastic event where over 2,000 spectators lined A1A for the parade. As many members will recall, Studebaker was a key participant in those early days of NASCAR and for many years after.

    During this coming week, Bob will be involved in three more historic events, including a charity auction and autograph session which will include the Woods brothers, Bobby and Donny Allison, Dick Passwater and many more. The Legends awards banquet on Wednesday will honor Junior Johnson and Richard Childress and more. Bob Coolidge will cap off a really busy week by hosting and narrating a racing history bus tour which will visit locations in Daytona where beach and NASCAR racing began.

    Thanks to Bob Coolidge, the big guns down here certainly know all about Studebaker! Great job Bob.

    Stu Chapman

  • #2
    Bob Coolidge is one of the coolest people I know. He drives that big ole Studebaker truck all over the place.
    Neil Thornton

    Comment


    • #3
      To: Stu Chapman,------ Good story! You mention Dick Passwater-- He campaigned a '64 GT Hawk in a few NASCAR races in 1964. I read that Hawk was an ex-Granatelli Bonneville car. Is that right? Do You know if it still exists?
      I think that Hawk was supercharged. Smaller engine or not, I always wondered how the supercharger got by the NASCAR officials. (It would be neat to create a 'clone' of that historic car out of a rough '64 GT).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
        To: Stu Chapman,------ Good story! You mention Dick Passwater-- He campaigned a '64 GT Hawk in a few NASCAR races in 1964. I read that Hawk was an ex-Granatelli Bonneville car. Is that right? Do You know if it still exists?
        I think that Hawk was supercharged. Smaller engine or not, I always wondered how the supercharger got by the NASCAR officials. (It would be neat to create a 'clone' of that historic car out of a rough '64 GT).
        Can't answer your question but I'll ask Bob Coolidge.
        Stu Chapman

        Comment


        • #5
          To: Stu Chapman,----Thanks, I appreciate that!

          Comment


          • #6
            Stu: Thank you for all of your kind comments. Yesterday was a special day as well as this special week for racing history buffs. I am glad we could share it and look forward to the rest of our events.

            The Passwater GT Hawk was a former Granatelli Salt Flats car. Dick wanted to run it in NASCAR but was not allowed to do so because of the supercharger. Dick had previously raced in NASCAR in the 1950's and was a Cup level winner in an Oldsmobile stock car that currently resides in the Oldsmobile Museum in Lansing, MI.

            Dick raced the GT Hawk in both the ARCA and USAC stock car series in the mid 1960's. Bob Palma has commented on this forum of his experience of seeing Dick race the GT Hawk at then Indianapolis Race Way Park.

            Dick told me that he sold the car to a buyer living in Texas who converted the car back to street use. Dick believes he was told that the GT Hawk was demolished in an accident in Texas.
            sigpicBob Coolidge
            DeLand, FL

            Comment


            • #7
              Neil: Thank you. It is surprising even at Studebaker meets how many people are not familiar with the 2 ton models.
              sigpicBob Coolidge
              DeLand, FL

              Comment


              • #8
                What Bob Coolidge said in Post #6. I'm fairly certain The Passwater 1964 Hawk ran an R3 engine, or at least had an R3 pressure box on it.

                I did watch the 1964 Yankee 300 USAC stock car race on the road course at Indianapolis Raceway Park (age 18) and distinctly remember the Passwater Hawk. Most unusual memory is how small it looked when coming out of a corner against, say, a period Ford Galaxie hardtop, Pontiac Catalina, etc. They had the Hawk lowered well to the ground and it cornered well, but it sure looked small when it appeared on the portion of the track on which I was positioned to watch.

                And ditto Stu Chapman's remarks about all Bob Coolidge does to promote the Studebaker in NASCAR history in Florida and among those vintage stock car racers in the area.

                Bob's Coooolidge Studebakers in NASCAR seminar at the 2004 SDC International Meet was easily the most interesting "National Meet" presentation I've ever attended...and was able to attend with Dale "Lark Parker" McPhearson to boot!

                Dale and I just decided to go on a whim at the last minute and were blown away by all Bob Coolidge has accumulated on the topic. Impressive and appreciated, Bob; thank you. 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


                • #9
                  To: Bob Palma,-------- Very cool You were there at the '64 Yankee 300. I remember seeing a photo taken of that race showing the '64 GT hawk. The photo was in black & white. The Hawk was painted a dark color, but I
                  wondered if You might remember the exact Studebaker '64 color? ( That is, if it was painted a Studebaker factory color) I seem to recall a vinyl half roof . Is that correct? Thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Stu , it sounds like your having a good time down in the warm south .
                    By the way you didn't miss much at todays Hamilton Chapter meeting ( but don't tell Wayne that <g> )
                    I hope you took lots of pictures.
                    sigpic

                    Home of the Fried Green Tomato

                    "IF YOU WANT THE SMILES YOU NEED TO DO THE MILES "

                    1960 Champ , 1966 Daytona , 1965 Daytona Wagonaire

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
                      To: Bob Palma,-------- Very cool You were there at the '64 Yankee 300. I remember seeing a photo taken of that race showing the '64 GT hawk. The photo was in black & white. The Hawk was painted a dark color, but I
                      wondered if You might remember the exact Studebaker '64 color? ( That is, if it was painted a Studebaker factory color) I seem to recall a vinyl half roof . Is that correct? Thanks
                      The Passwater GT Hawk was maroon with the white half top. It ran as the "Duo-Fast Spl" #33 sponsored by Duo-Fast Industrial Stapling Equipment Indianapolis, IN.
                      sigpicBob Coolidge
                      DeLand, FL

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BobPalma View Post
                        What Bob Coolidge said in Post #6. I'm fairly certain The Passwater 1964 Hawk ran an R3 engine, or at least had an R3 pressure box on it.

                        I did watch the 1964 Yankee 300 USAC stock car race on the road course at Indianapolis Raceway Park (age 18) and distinctly remember the Passwater Hawk. Most unusual memory is how small it looked when coming out of a corner against, say, a period Ford Galaxie hardtop, Pontiac Catalina, etc. They had the Hawk lowered well to the ground and it cornered well, but it sure looked small when it appeared on the portion of the track on which I was positioned to watch.

                        And ditto Stu Chapman's remarks about all Bob Coolidge does to promote the Studebaker in NASCAR history in Florida and among those vintage stock car racers in the area.

                        Bob's Coooolidge Studebakers in NASCAR seminar at the 2004 SDC International Meet was easily the most interesting "National Meet" presentation I've ever attended...and was able to attend with Dale "Lark Parker" McPhearson to boot!

                        Dale and I just decided to go on a whim at the last minute and were blown away by all Bob Coolidge has accumulated on the topic. Impressive and appreciated, Bob; thank you. BP
                        Bob: You are very welcome and thank you. It is a fabulous subject and was interesting just yesterday with Stu when a fan came up and expressed that he never knew Studebakers competed in NASCAR. Now he knows.
                        sigpicBob Coolidge
                        DeLand, FL

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SN-60 View Post
                          To: Bob Palma,-------- Very cool You were there at the '64 Yankee 300. I remember seeing a photo taken of that race showing the '64 GT hawk. The photo was in black & white. The Hawk was painted a dark color, but I
                          wondered if You might remember the exact Studebaker '64 color? ( That is, if it was painted a Studebaker factory color) I seem to recall a vinyl half roof . Is that correct? Thanks
                          BC beat me to the answer, Ed; see Bob's Post #11.

                          I do remember the Duo-Fast sponsorship, and thinking (at the time) that the car was the darker 1964 Bordeaux Red...but Bordeaux Red didn't seem as dark as was the car.

                          BC says it was a maroon, and I can believe that. I wish we had the serial number; perhaps it was painted the darker Avanti Maroon? Possible, but I'm not stating that as fact. 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


                          • #14
                            THE PRICE OF TALENT!

                            In my opening thread I talked about the legendary Ray Fox. I've just learned from Bob Coolidge that Ray, who is now about 95 years of age, worked as a mechanic for several years for the Daytona Beach Studebaker dealer. He was paid on a piecework basis and worked circles around the other mechanics. This caused dissension so the owner asked him to leave. Ray then went to work at Fish Carburetor and became involved in NASCAR racing from that point on, which was about 1952. Thanks Bob for that added information. You're a wealth of knowledge.

                            As a matter of interest, the complete list of Legends who will be signing autographs on Tuesday comprise the following: Johnny Allen, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, Jack Anderson, Dave Dion, Lightling Epton, Dick Fleck, Ray Fox, James Hylton, Jack Ingram, Flossie Johnson, Joe Mihalic, Eddie MacDonald Sr., Cookie Osterhout, Dick Passwater, Buzzie Reutimann, Ronnie Rohn, Earl Sappenfield, Ernie Saxton, Yolanda Sheridan, Morgan Shepherd, Eddie Spurling, Don Tillie, Russ Truelove, Waddell Wilson, Bill Wimble and Vicki Wood. How many of those do you remember?

                            The following will be honored at the Wednesday Awards Banquet: Junior Johnson, Richard Childress, Ken Ragan, Buzzie Reutimann, Clare B. Lang, Joe Mihalic, Eddie Johnson Sr., with a special honor going to Racing's North Turn Bar and Grill in Ponce Inlet.

                            Stu Chapman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Bob Coolidge sent along these two photos of the Passwater 1964 Hawk, as configured to race USAC. Bob couldn't figure out how to post them. I seem to have that figured out, but cannot enlarge them without their going 'way out of focus:





                              Bob sent along the following information as well. Can anyone answer his Granatelli-related question? I cannot. (Thanks, Bob) BP

                              Bob: Attached are two color photos of the GT Hawk. The first is at the Milwaukee Mile and the second in front of the sponsor's business. As a side note the sponsor and his wife lost their lives in the Hilton Hotel fire in Las Vages in the early 1980's.

                              Hope this color helps some. I don't know for sure how to upload these to the forum so am sending them to you.

                              Are the car numbers known that Andy Granatelli used on the Salt Flats? If they are then maybe this car could be indtified. Just a thought.

                              Thank you.
                              Bob
                              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

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