MY RACING EXPERIENCES
The sport of going fast started with "soap box derby" cars that my grandfather Conner promoted with the help of his neighbor Mr. Morris and his son. Sam and myself were around 9 or 10 years of age when we got the bug, it just went down hill from there. "Soap Box Derby", then old cars we got from neighbors backyards, serviced them, tuned them and finally got to drive them in the field next to Sam's and my grandfather's house. My grandfather got a kick out of this as he had never learned to drive a motor car as he called them.
PA - Junior Racing Series
1954 PA Jr. Soap Box Derby Champion Chester, PA - Jr. Soap Box Champion, Lancaster, PA
Sr. Soap Box
Moto-Cross Rookie of the Year (Stock Class)
Moto-Cross Rookie of the Year (Unlimited Class)
From the the debry cars I started riding an old Moto-Cross bike of a friends in 1953. In 1954 I had my own and with some experience got to ride for "Berwyn Bultaco & Harley Shop" in that town until 1957. We ran in the Stock Class to the Unlimited Class Then moving from oval tracks to the dragstrip with a dual engine Triumph bike owned by "Triumph Sales" in Radnor PA. Lots of stories about motorcycles. Finally moved over to door slammers in 1959.
Up until this point I had some real junk and was a butcher in those days with a chopped top '46 Dodge 1/2 ton pickup to a '33 Dodge 2 door sedan with another chopped top. I drove my father nuts with the money I wasted, those early cars were real home made clunkers. Something that most other kids wouldn't even consider driving, we didn't care we were having fun. Then my Aunt Sarah bought me a reliable '52 Ford Sunliner 2 door sedan, nice car that I just drove back and forth to school and took very good care of which made the family happy.
Here's where my real trouble begins; our new neighbor is a car guy (does tune-up, engine work and builds race cars in his garage). I start asking questions as he's a pretty cool dude and always has something neat to look at. The neighbors don't care for his little shop and put pressure on him to move his operation (which is part time at this time as he's an engineer for Sun Strand Corp. during the day). Folks didn't like the testing after dark with burning rubber and car's with open exhaust. Heck we though it was cool and were always talking about Bill Jenkins and what he was working on, mainly Chevy's - '55 to the latest ones, all neat stuff.
Mr. Jenkins moved his operation about 12 miles from home to a Sunoco gas station in Berwyn PA. That's cool as I go to school in that town so I start stopping at his shop after school to look at the cars. After several weeks of showing up he asks if I'm interested in working in the station, heck that's a deal. I couldn't stand afternoon classes with thinking about what I was missing at the station. All I did was pump gas, check air in customer's tires, check oil and wash windows (probably all I was capable of doing at 16 years of age and not get in trouble with screwing something up). Oh, my boss had a nick name which fit him; "Grumpy", boy did that fit him. In fact I was fairly low key on cussing until I started hanging around the station. Boy did that go down hill fast, some words I had never heard before but it didn't take long to know what they meant. I had a number of old cars through high school that aren't worth mentioning.
HERE'S WHERE THE FUN STARTS
Jenkins, Stahl, Strickler, Faubel and dozen other sponsored racers that hung out at the Sunoco station were all into setting AHRA/NHRA records, having articles written about them, making money while I was into just collecting those wonderful $5 buck trophies as my father called them.
Sold the '58 for a '60 Pontiac Catalina factory race car (not legal for the street) turned out it was to well know which was a handi-cap. Plus trying to make payments on a vehicle that was a duel purpose ride (street and strip) was killing my pocket book.
Here's a true and funny story that I almost got my butt kicked because of Jenkins. We are at York US 30 in 1962, "Royal Pontaic" has come to town to run "Old Reliable" advertised for weeks. They bring their old 1960 Pontiac along with current cars. One of their well known drivers is handling the '60 while Al Wilson is running the later cars. I have my '60 "Poncho" car entered and I worried about the out come of this race. Strickler and Jenkins tell me "Blow the horn when he goes for second". I'm like "I can't do that" and am told "DO IT". I do as told and their driver misses the shift - I win. I get back to the pits and my friends are having a good time laughting. Then here comes Wilson's driver making 6 foot steps as he runs at me, Jenkins is sitting on the hood and Al swing at him as he runs by. Out of no where AHRA officials take him to the ground, he is thrown out for starting a fight. I came close to carrying my teeth in my hand that day.
I had a kidney removed when I was 17 years of age, within a year my hair started to tune gray on the sides from the drugs I was taking for recovery from the operation. It wasn't but a few years and I was being called "The Sitting Fox" (like a gray fox) with being low key, watching and being prepared with my racing compared to Jenkins and the others we ran with being loud. I found it was better to not run off at the mouth and just put it to them on the strip with our performance. Thus the nick name "The Sitting Fox Performance" name came about from my friends, later change to a business venture that followed us for 50 years. "Bandito Dodge Racing".
Traded a guy for a '59 Dodge D500 that was like new in 1962 along with cash from him to pay Pontiac off, this turns out to be the best car deal todate with the "Grumpy" one putting his skills to work. With the three speed auto transmission it could hold it's own against the competition setting the H/SA-G/SA records several times in a three year period.
This was the beginning of my race car operation (like the big guy hero's we all followed). I get back together with an old girl friend (you know the story - first real love), get married and then she wants to move to another state because of her mother. Flip a coin with (7) locations in mind and Denver wins. Have to sell some of my toys, '59 D500 goes down the road with some pretty nice firearms to cover costs of moving. We rent a U-Haul with a tow hitch for the '57 Olds J-2 and away we go to Colorado.
The Dodges were the start of the TV and radio ads that got Jenkins Competition on the map. Those ads ran every week, everyone knew the "Good Guys" with the white cowboy hats from those Dodge dealer ads. "The Dodge Boys" Dodges were famous in those days. I spent much of my time at the station playing guard over all the race cars sitting around waiting for their turn to have Jenkins or Stahl put their magic on that vehicle. We were selling $ .24.9 a gallon gas needless to say the kids would come in get a $1.00 worth of gas and then think they could hangout. I ran more damn lookie-lou's off than you could count every night. Fun times that will always be remembered.
Bud Faubel was a really great guy, he would get new performance parts from Mopar and sell me the used items replaced at super cheap prices. He got the parts for nothing, I was buying these items up for "his pocket change" he called it.