Street Or Strip Racing Down A Family Tree By: Mathew Leos & William M. Skidmore
This book is to all the cars that my family has owned, to all the cars we may own in the future, and especially to my car. Thank you for your years of service, may we have many more wonderful years together.Oh, and to all the people we had to interview, thanks too.
Introduction - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Good Old Days - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
70’s CLASSIC - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 12 The New Age - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 24 David’s Story - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 28 Will’s Story - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 32 V-DUB - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Where Are They Now? - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 48 Smokin’ Hot - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 51
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My name is William M. Skidmore, I have only started racing in the past three weeks of writing this book. But my family has been racing for the past three generations. Starting back with both of my grandfathers, continuing to my father, and then to my younger uncle. With the change of time there has been an obvious change in style of cars, as well as a change in the styles of racing. From 50’s big classic cars, to classic 70’s muscle, then came the 80’s imports, and now 00’s Tech tuners. From cutting the square, and cruising, to straight street drags, and now the safer, drag strip racing. Throughout these many advancements in cars and races, the spirit of racing has stayed the same. Build the best car you can afford, race your heart out, and be faster than the guy next to you.
Richard Pattee, or Grandpa, was just a little farm boy when he first became interested in cars, he knew that farming just wasn’t his thing. “Well I was the real die hard car person,” Grandpa said, “nobody else really was. My dad didn’t care anything about cars, he was a rancher and that’s all he cared about. My mom only cared about the animals and us kids and hoping we were at the table in time to eat supper. My brother was the age where cars were behind him, he never did do much with cars; he chased women more than he did anything else. And I had two sisters; of course none of them were interested in cars.” Grandpa found that Auto Shop class was a place where he “accelerated”. In his beginning year he was only able to stay in the shop for a maximum of one hour a day. Which, for anyone who has worked on a car knows, isn’t much time at all, but he stuck with it. The next year, his senior year, he had less classes and he was able to stay in the auto shop for two hours. And since the class was at the end of the day, he was able to stay later. During this time there where, of course, other students in his class; and as it goes Grandpa got caught “Hook, Line and Sinker” into the life of a racer. Now just to clarify, no one in my family has ever gone into professional racing, they were just car enthusiasts and enjoyed the social racing scene, or street racing. Some of the popular cars that could be found in the 50’s were Chevrolet Fleet lines, Studebakers, Ford Fairlanes, Chevrolet BelAirs, Corvettes, and even station wagons. Grandpa owned a few cars, but he took pride in his brand new ’59 Studebaker Lark, which he got new after graduating from high school. While that was his favorite car, his dream car was and will always be, Corvettes. “I’ve
The Good Old Days
always been partial to the Corvettes. I saw a 1958 Corvette on a used car lot after I had been out of school for a while,” Grandpa remembers, “I was married and probably had two kids. They wanted $1250 for it and I just couldn’t figure out any way I could put all of the kids and my wife in it. So I had to pass it up, but if I had found room for them I would’ve had it.”In the 50’s, Grandpa’s style of racing was a sort of cruise, to show off the car. They called it “cutting the square”, which was almost exactly what it sounds like. They went west a few blocks, turned south, drove a few blocks, turned east, then north and then started west again. If along the way they came up to a stoplight and the person next to them revved their engines, they would rev their engine and when the light changed they would go. “Generally, in the course of doing this, there would be other guys doing it too and so one of them would rev up his car and his pipes would pop and snap and if you were sitting next to him, you would Street Or Strip
do the same thing” Grandpa explains, “then when the light changed you would take off and you’d usually race until you came to the next red light.” They would race to the next light, or if it was too close to call, they could hit the freeway, until someone gave up. Then they would go back to cutting the square. It might not seem like much now but it was what it was. And it was a great way to spend Friday and Saturday night, on only twenty-one cents per gallon.
The Good Old Days
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The Good Old Days
12 Martin Skidmore, or Dad, was around cars his entire life, his father Rex, owned and operated City Garage, in Tracy, California for over 20 years. He retired and handed the shop over to his partner, who still runs the garage today. Marty was in that garage everyday, sometimes by force, but mostly because he loved the cars. He told me once that when his dad would test the cars at the end of the day, he was in charge of bringing their personal car into the garage. The garage had a slick, concrete floor, and as he brought the car in, he would hold the brake and do a torque stand (burn rubber), but he had to quickly clean the concrete before his dad got back. His father was the reason he loved cars. But the reason he loved to race, was cars. Plus a little help from his auto shop classmates and friends. “Well, I started because pretty much anybody who had a car was drag racing,” Dad confessed, “and most of my buddies at the time; they had all turned sixteen before me. So, I immediately had to run ‘em. Run the cars.” In fact Marty’s first drag race was only a week after turning sixteen; he later informed me that his first ticket was within the first month of turning sixteen. Cars found in the 70’s included Chevelles, Corvettes, Mustangs, Cadillac’s, Monte Carlos, and for the police a Dodge Polara. Marty has owned close to 40 cars, most he turned around to sell after a quick fix and buff job. Still there were a few that he loved dearly. The first car that he could drive legally; a ’69 Cougar XR-7, the quickest car; a ’69 Mustang Mach 1, and his fastest car; a ’71 Mustang that would hit 140 mph. Surprisingly enough, his dream car is not a Ford, in fact it’s a Barracuda. “I think what I would like to have is a 1970 ‘Cuda with a 426 hemi, all pumped to the max with all the suspension tricks that are out there now days,” Marty explains.
In the 70’s they kept hold of some of the old traditions, with minor variants of course. Marty cruised the streets of Stockton, California, just for the sake of getting out on the town, but it was just up and down Pacific Avenue (also known as the Miracle Mile), no square. They would still race between the lights and there were some surprising victors when that happened. “Beetles were screamin’ fast for first and second gear,” Martin says, “because they never spun they just launched, so power to weight ratio, could be very, very high.” But that was only between the lights. For real drags, Marty would go out to Arbor Road, a little farm road outside Tracy, California. He and his buddies would go out there, outside city limits, away from pedestrians. It was also a flat road, with multiple exit points, so they could get away from the cops if they needed to, when they needed to.
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The New Age
Welcome To The
Including some of the best and the brightest from the 80’s, the 90’s and of course the
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28 David Pattee, or Uncle David, was also around cars his entire life; he worked in his dad’s garage, also in Tracy, California. Not the same garage as Marty, in fact a sort of rival to the City Garage. He was a teen in the late 80’s to early 90’s, right when imports were starting to emerge on the scene. But with his background he stayed classic, heavy muscle, low looks, “Balls out” drag racing. Even with these style cars he didn’t actually start racing until a little later than the rest of my family. He was still sixteen and, as he tells it, he had a “fat sounding car” but kept getting picked on by some of the richer kids, who bought the muscle in their cars. Dave, who had to work for his muscle, didn’t want to race. One day, Dave was walking out to his car when he saw that his hub caps were smashed in, he turned around, walked up to the guys that messed up his car and Dave said, “Let’s just get it done with. Let’s pick a day let’s do it, tomorrow.” The other kid said, “I I I…can’t do it tomorrow, because my car’s not runnin’ right.” Dave countered with, “Look, I don’t care dude, I just want to race. Let’s get it over with, I’m tired of you guys pickin’ on my car, pickin’ on me, I’m sick of it!” But his interest in engines prompted him to ask, “What’s wrong with your car?” The other kid said, “It’s not firing right.” Dave went to his house to look at his car, and first off I asked who his mechanic was. “It was some, mechanic I hadn’t heard good things about,” Dave said. After a quick
The New Age look at the car he saw he had a duel point excel distributor which is notoriously difficult to set up. Dave explained that he told the other kid, “The first thing we have to do is take your distributor out of your car because, it’s like 180 degrees backward and all your plug wires are pulled super tight, I don’t even know if you have the firing order right, and your vacuum advance is on the wrong side, your vacuum lines are getting pinched. Then I said we need to get it out flip it around and get everything set right. This other kid freaked out, ‘no no no you can’t do that, you don’t know what your talking about, what your doing, your not a mechanic’. So I told him, you don’t have to be a mechanic to work on your car dude. I convinced him that I was still going to race him no matter what his car ran like, I was done getting my car bashed with, plus I was having fun teasing him because he didn’t know anything, so I ripped the distributor out of his car, he was surprised it only took one bolt, to do that and five minutes later, I dropped it back in the right direction, rewired and plumbed it up, fired it up and adjusted the static timing just by sight and I tuned it by ear, then we threw a timing light on it, it was right at 6 ½ degrees
advanced top dead center which is right where it needed to be. So, the next day at lunchtime, he had a friend of his mark off the start and finish line of the quarter mile out on a country road, and no less than 16 cars went out to the drag race at lunch time. “It was more attention and more people, than I wanted in my life,” Dave remembers, “All the cars lined u, just parked off the side of the road in the country, towards the finish line. One guy got out, lifted his hat up, dropped his hat and we took off. The other guy panicked so bad, because his car was set up for drag racing, stomped his gas, spun his tires out, something fierce. My car kind of bogged because it had 3:1 rear-end gears and it was just a dog off the line, but it had plenty of power so I got her going and barely got it in third gear by the time I hit the quarter mile. I just wound second gear all the way out and I smoked ‘em by about three car lengths. We get down to the end, my heart’s just pounding cause I just had, you know there’s all these people watching, and stuff. And I hadn’t done that before. Then the other kid goes, “Best two outta three?”, and I was so nervous, so I was like “Hell no, I won, see you later, I’m going back to school.” David, like Marty, has owned plenty of cars, but recently he has actually mellowed into Minivans and such. Dave says that every car that he has owned has become his favorite car, so he has a little list going; ’65 Rambler Classic 770, his first car, an ’80 Toyota Celica, a new ’89 240-SX, an ’86 Nissan 300 ZX, and a Honda Civic, which he still has today. Then he moved on to his mini vans after starting a family of his own. His dream car though would be to have his Rambler back, or to just have a chance to have a drift car to play with. Actually, believe it or not, another car Dave would like to have would be a Hemi ‘Cuda. Go
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figure. “I’d love to go to a Barrett’s auction or something, and find something there, and buy a super muscle car, any super muscle car, a Hemi ‘Cuda or something, that would be sweet, that’s my kind of ride.” In the 80’s and 90’s, imports have hit the scene and with them have come a different style of racing. Street racing is becoming less and less common and there are more ways that people are trying to keep it from happening. Such ways are the “Race on the Track, Never on the Street,” program that targets teens to keep them safe from the streets. Another way is the “Top the Cops” program at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The program provides a viable alternative to illegal street racing by allowing high school students the rare chance to drag race against Bay Area law enforcement officers. Street racing has boomed and cruising was outlawed in many communities, but one thing survived: Drag racing works with both classic muscle as well as import rice rockets. A hybrid of the two, in fact, combining the lightweight body of an import with a classic engine could eat up the ¼ mile. Having more of a classical background with his dad’s shop, Dave stuck more to the drags and not so much of the street racing, which kept him out of some of the troubles of racing, but of course, not all. “We’d be on the freeway and we would be going 80mph, 85 mph, and I’d get up next to him and slid my car over, and we’d hit mirrors,” Dave expressed vividly, “or we’d pass each other and get up and tap the brakes a little bit, and the other guy would come up and at 70 mph we’d play bumper bumping, we’d just sit there and, bump. Bump, bump, bump, from behind.”
32 Cars now days consist of Camaros, PT Cruisers, Mustangs, Sebrings, Scions and Civics. Will’s favorite car is his one and only 2001 silver Volkswagen Beetle, 1.8-Turbo Sport. “I have only had one car, and anyone that knows me, knows that my 1.8T VW Beetle is the car I love.” Will says that he is very emotionally attached to his car and has used it in most of his artwork for school. He speaks passionately about his car and always lets others know not to mess with it. “I like my car because it’s fuel efficient, it’s fast and it’s fun.” Even when he is criticized for his car he still stands up for it. “I may get criticized for the car I drive, but I fit in it and it fits me, so bug off.” Will explains, “Everyone that says, ‘Oh Beetles are girlie cars’ I say yes, it’s a chick magnet but hey is that a bad thing?” Will keeps his car in the best condition that he can and makes sure it’s always clean. Comparing his car to other high school students really shows how well he keeps his car looking. “I am very obsessive about the way my car looks. Other people, oh just look at high school kids cars; everyone’s got door dings, fender benders, everything.” When he first got his car he had not modified it except for adding a bra, a nice sound system, and increasing the wheel sizes. After racing at Infineon Will has become more involved with how his car will perform in a race. He has added undersized pulleys in lightweight aluminum, which will make his car go faster, and a better pop off valve to hold in back pressure. Will’s trip to Infineon was the start of his love for racing and his experience was quite exciting. Will’s interest in cars started when he was young, working with his dad in their garage and it progressed as he grew older. “I didn’t know much about cars but I knew I liked them.” It was only recently that Will has become really involved with cars and
The New Age racing. Starting the documentary Will visited I n f i n e o n Raceway to understand our topic more clearly. Infineon Raceway is a year round motor sports complex with events scheduled 340 days and 50 weekends a year. As the races began, the drivers pulled up to the watered down part of the long gray strip and burned rubber. The cocky drivers tried to show off burning out before pulling up to the starting light, some better than others. The amount of smoke that came off the tires varied depending on how long they kept the tires spinning, but the smell of burnt rubber always stayed the same. At the starting position, drivers would rev their engines creating a roar that rippled throughout the crowd, waiting in anticipation before the light gave them the sign to go. The starting light or “the tree” as it is known, stood vertically in the middle of the two drivers, four yellow lights shone signaling that the cars were ready
to race. When the tree gave them the sign to go the cars shot off the line bringing excitement to the crowd standing no more than ten feet from them. Watching the races was fun, but to gain the full experience of a driver, Will signed up to participate in the races. “I was hella nervous. I mean this was the first time I ever took my car over eighty.” From the drivers perspective, when you pull up to the light you can see the entire long narrow strip and the tree close to you. “I didn’t know how to time the lights or anything, but my dad told me to go on the third yellow to get a good reaction time.” After racing Will’s time averaged to 16.2 seconds. This was a pretty decent time for a beginner since the fastest time expected from a VW Beetle was 15.9 seconds. Will used his time to compete in elimination drag racing later on that night, and did fairly well. Usually when you think of a race you think whoever is the fastest will win the race. However in elimination drag racing the rules are a little more complicated than that. In elimination it’s not what place you come in, it’s your time. This does not mean fastest time wins the race it means most consistent time wins the race. “Any type of racing that you go too fast and you Street Or Strip
lose, that’s just lame. I mean you got to be in front to win right?” Will questions. This is actually also a rule. You have to be in front to win but you can’t break the time you chose. To explain more clearly, the drivers first begin by taking practice races to see what times they get. When elimination begins drivers choose one time they think they will be getting for the rest of the races and write it on their car. Will did this and used his time of 16.2 seconds. If the driver achieves their time they get to advance on to the next race. If the driver is above or below their time they are eliminated. Will stayed consistent for five races before he was eliminated. “For being a first time racer that was pretty harsh,” Will said, “because I won…but I lost. I actually beat him down the line but I broke out. We both broke out, but he broke out less than I did.” The rules to elimination are pretty harsh so the key to winning is; stay consistent. If you pass the first race, do the same exact thing on the next. Drive the same speed and start off the line at the same time. This also becomes more challenging as the weather changes.
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“I always new YELLOW meant go GREEN just means go..Faster!” William Skidmore
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V-DUB Represent 43
Where Are They Now?
Now days Grandpa is retired, he still plays around with cars, and helped Dave rebuild his Chevy Van, as well as helped Marty rebuild his Toyota 4-Runner. He still loves cars, and supports his family in their pursuit of car happiness. Marty has recently purchased a ’75 Firebird in which he hopes to go drag racing with his son, Will. He is supportive of his son’s choice to race on the track instead of the streets, and is excessively happy that he too can race as well. David, still a child at heart, never really left the sporting scene, not really racing, but driving without sanity. But now he has a family of his own and has high hopes for his children, who the oldest, Amanda, at the age of 5, shows an interest in speed. Watch out. Will is continuing with his racing adventure and will hopefully continue on for as long as he has a fast car and a strip to race at. “I’m definitely going to keep racing, hopefully still at Infineon.” And from everyone in this family or racers, we beg that if you decide to start racing, race the drag strip, not the street.
Street Or Strip
Smokin’ HOT S-PINUPS CLASSIC FOR ALL AGES