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Sprint Cars & Champ Cars The big brother(s) to the midget these open wheel beasts have a rich heritage in our auto racing memories.



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Old 12-01-2011, 12:16 PM   #1
Monkaz
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Default Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

L. Hal Minyard in the Leonard Surdam Chevy 1965
R.The restored Wolcott Spl.

Some authors say this car was originally the Wolcott Champ car in which Johnny MCDowell lost his life. in 1953 it was cut down to make it into a sprint car for Mari Hulman. Hulman sold it and it eventually found its way into the hands of Leonard Surdam.Surdam ran it as a Chevy.
In 1968 Hank Henry was killed in the car and Leonard Surdam supposedly cut the car up and buried it in the desert.
Recently a car surfaced in Victoria B.C. owned by a gentleman named Nick Pappas that is alleged to be the Roger Wolcott car in which McDowell died.
Can anyone sort out this mystery.
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

If I understand correctly, one of the people that worked at Hank Henry's told me that carl Adams cut the car up and buried the remains. Carl was Hank Henry's protoge and later worked for and drove for Jim Culbert at CAE. I do not remember the name of the guy that related the story to me. He lived in El Cajon and I was buying a '40 pickup from him and his son showed me a helmet and gloves hank Henry had worn some time. Carl has moved to the Carolinas and I have lost touch with him over the years. He worked on the Harry Gant Skoal bandit cars and still does fabrication. Some one familiar with modern NASCAR should be able to contact Carl and find out the truth.
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Old 12-02-2011, 06:00 PM   #3
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

.....'That would really be great to get Carl's input. I'm sure that after 41 years he wouldn't mind discussing it. But wow, as far the car goes--what a remarkable car! History does not prove and I can't be positive that it was indeed the car that Johnny McDowell was killed in at Milwaukee in 1952, the week after Indy. But, Art Cross did finish second at Indy the following May to Vuky in the car. The car was the Springlfield Welding/Paoli car and was a Kurtis KK4000. Bessie Lee Paoli was the car owner and she later sold her team to Mari Hulman George.

This is where the history of the car gets confusing. After Mari Hulman George established her H.O.W. (Hulman-Ober-Wolcutt) Racing team, A.J. Watson built what was to become a new "H.O.W." Special. It is said that a lot of parts off of the old Springfield Welding car went into assembly of the new car. My assumption would be that the old chassis was set aside in favor of the new chassis built by Watson. Because history does show that the Springlfield Welding car did in fact become one of the H.O.W. Specials.

The old chassis was then shortened in the early sixties to sprint car specs and became the Leonard Surdam car made famous by Bruce Walkup. When Bruce left southern California to go run USAC, as we all know, Hank Henry eventually lost his life in the car in April, 1968.

Carl Adams does play a significant role in history, both for possibly knowing the demise of the old, original Springfield Welding/HOW Special/Leonard Surdam car that finished second at Indy but also in the history of Hank Henry built sprint cars. As everyone knows, Gary Ponzini recieved the very last Hank Henry built car. But, when Hank died, the Talley Chevy sprint car chassis was on the jig. Carl finished the Talley Chevy and later became very successful in CRA competition with it.

1. Bruce Walkup and Leonard Surdam 1966

2. Carl Adams El Cajon Speedway 1968




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Old 12-02-2011, 10:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleFauss View Post
.....'That would really be great to get Carl's input. I'm sure that after 41 years he wouldn't mind discussing it. But wow, as far the car goes--what a remarkable car! History does not prove and I can't be positive that it was indeed the car that Johnny McDowell was killed in at Milwaukee in 1952, the week after Indy. But, Art Cross did finish second at Indy the following May to Vuky in the car. The car was the Springlfield Welding/Paoli car and was a Kurtis KK4000. Bessie Lee Paoli was the car owner and she later sold her team to Mari Hulman George.

This is where the history of the car gets confusing. After Mari Hulman George established her H.O.W. (Hulman-Ober-Wolcutt) Racing team, A.J. Watson built what was to become a new "H.O.W." Special. It is said that a lot of parts off of the old Springfield Welding car went into assembly of the new car. My assumption would be that the old chassis was set aside in favor of the new chassis built by Watson. Because history does show that the Springlfield Welding car did in fact become one of the H.O.W. Specials.

The old chassis was then shortened in the early sixties to sprint car specs and became the Leonard Surdam car made famous by Bruce Walkup. When Bruce left southern California to go run USAC, as we all know, Hank Henry eventually lost his life in the car in April, 1968.

Carl Adams does play a significant role in history, both for possibly knowing the demise of the old, original Springfield Welding/HOW Special/Leonard Surdam car that finished second at Indy but also in the history of Hank Henry built sprint cars. As everyone knows, Gary Ponzini recieved the very last Hank Henry built car. But, when Hank died, the Talley Chevy sprint car chassis was on the jig. Carl finished the Talley Chevy and later became very successful in CRA competition with it.

1. Bruce Walkup and Leonard Surdam 1966

2. Carl Adams El Cajon Speedway 1968




The problem with this is that the Springfield Welding car still exists, it was sold at auction in 2010 or 2011.
If the Paoli car is accounted for and the Wolcott car is accounted for what Champ car was shortened to make the HOW sprint car that Eddie Sachs drove in 1954? And what car did Carl Adams cut up and bury?
Bessie Paoli didn't sell her car to Mari until 1955 by that time the first HOW sprint car was a year old.
To really foul things up I have it on pretty good authority that Bob DeBisschop built Mari's second sprint car and Champ car at Romeo Palamides Hot Rod shop in Oakland in the winter of 1955-56!
Hope somebody can sort out this can of worms?
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

.....'Actually, there's really no problem at all. And it's not that complicated either.

But, we're talking about the ex-Leonard Surdam sprint car #41 that Hank Henry was killed in, aren't we? Isn't that what the original post was all about?

This is what's documented in a publication, in the year in question and directly from the sanctioning body that Hank's accident occurred.



Sure, there's still a Springfield Welding car; there's still a H.O.W. Special, too. And there was another Leonard Surdam CRA sprint car, too. 'Trying to keep up with all the cars Howard Linne, Moe & Porter Goff, Leonard Faas, Sr. & Jr. had and where they ended up, that's where it get's complicated.

Gary Ponzini in the last car Hank Henry finished.

Qualifying on the 1-mile California State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, October 1970.

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Old 12-03-2011, 12:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleFauss View Post
.....'Actually, there's really no problem at all. And it's not that complicated either.

But, we're talking about the ex-Leonard Surdam sprint car #41 that Hank Henry was killed in, aren't we? Isn't that what the original post was all about?

This is what's documented in a publication, in the year in question and directly from the sanctioning body that Hank's accident occurred.



Sure, there's still a Springfield Welding car; there's still a H.O.W. Special, too. And there was another Leonard Surdam CRA sprint car, too. 'Trying to keep up with all the cars Howard Linne, Moe & Porter Goff, Leonard Faas, Sr. & Jr. had and where they ended up, that's where it get's complicated.

Gary Ponzini in the last car Hank Henry finished.

Qualifying on the 1-mile California State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, October 1970.

Gotta love this pic of Ponzini at Sacto. They used this for the design of the CRA decal in the 70's.
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Old 12-03-2011, 12:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

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Originally Posted by Monkaz View Post
The problem with this is that the Springfield Welding car still exists, it was sold at auction in 2010 or 2011.
If the Paoli car is accounted for and the Wolcott car is accounted for what Champ car was shortened to make the HOW sprint car that Eddie Sachs drove in 1954? And what car did Carl Adams cut up and bury?
Bessie Paoli didn't sell her car to Mari until 1955 by that time the first HOW sprint car was a year old.
To really foul things up I have it on pretty good authority that Bob DeBisschop built Mari's second sprint car and Champ car at Romeo Palamides Hot Rod shop in Oakland in the winter of 1955-56!
Hope somebody can sort out this can of worms?
How cool to see these old pics. In the one above of Walkup/Surdam taken at Whiteman stadium I noticed my dad in the upper left. he was a CRA official all through the 60's, 70's and 80's.

Last edited by JRHud; 12-03-2011 at 12:17 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-03-2011, 03:04 PM   #8
Monkaz
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleFauss View Post
.....'Actually, there's really no problem at all. And it's not that complicated either.

But, we're talking about the ex-Leonard Surdam sprint car #41 that Hank Henry was killed in, aren't we? Isn't that what the original post was all about?

This is what's documented in a publication, in the year in question and directly from the sanctioning body that Hank's accident occurred.



Sure, there's still a Springfield Welding car; there's still a H.O.W. Special, too. And there was another Leonard Surdam CRA sprint car, too. 'Trying to keep up with all the cars Howard Linne, Moe & Porter Goff, Leonard Faas, Sr. & Jr. had and where they ended up, that's where it get's complicated.

Gary Ponzini in the last car Hank Henry finished.

Qualifying on the 1-mile California State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, October 1970.


Yes we are talking about the Surdam Chevy in which Hank Henry died. I am trying to determine what Champ car was shortened to build the Surdam Chevy. The notation from CRA clearly states says it was the "ex-HOW Spl. Ch. Tr. car shortened in early 60's was #16 Paoli Springfield Welding ..."
The problem is that the Paoli car, Chassis#349 Model 4000 Offy #132, was sold by Mecum in August 2010! So I go back to my original question: what car did Carl Adams cut up and bury in the desert?
Your right, charting the various owners of cars is complicated but isn't that what history is about?
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Old 01-06-2012, 09:11 AM   #9
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

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Originally Posted by JRHud View Post
Gotta love this pic of Ponzini at Sacto. They used this for the design of the CRA decal in the 70's.
I've seen this photo of Gary Ponzini before, but never thought about this being the design for the CRA decal. Very cool! Here is a photo of Leonard Surdam's #4 with Bruce Walkup behind the wheel. This was the weekend where Bruce went into the Salt Cedar trees outside turn 1 at the California Midwinter Fair in Imperial, almost ending up in the Gem and Mineral building. This 1967 photo may have been taken by the late Dennis Torres, although it is has no markings as such.
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Old 01-02-2015, 02:05 AM   #10
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Default Re: Missing Leonard Surdam Chevy sprint car

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Originally Posted by LittleFauss View Post
Gary Ponzini in the last car Hank Henry finished.

Qualifying on the 1-mile California State Fairgrounds, Sacramento, October 1970.

Not trying to hijack the thread but I have some pics of Gary's Hank Henry. I grew up a couple of houses from Gary, he and my uncle played football together for years. I started hanging out at Gary's helping he and his dad Fred starting when I was 12 until I went into the military at 18. My jobs were all the real technical most important ones you know ;-) I'd pull panels, pump brakes, get tools, wash and wax etc etc. I would ride with Fred and Gary to most of the local races when he was driving the Casho #44 super modified or Duane Kastor's midget and if he ran the sprint car at Jan Jose Sweedway. Sometimes if Gary was racing at Ascot I'd go to San Jose with Karl Raggio when he was running his midget. Anyhow, I hadn't seen Gary in years so I went to visit in March, even got to see Lucile for a bit. I took some pics of his Hank Henry while I was there, Lem Tolliver did the resto some years back and it is beautiful. Here are a few of those pics, I wish I knew how to make them bigger but .... anyways, enjoy. David
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