THE LITTLE BOYS OF THE SALT
by Mary West
We all know many stories about the Little Boys of the Salt. For just
a moment think of Carl Heap and the black smoke as he charged down the
salt. Nolan White who kept going faster and faster and breaking weak
parts. The glory days of Macdonald Pitts and their struggle with 300
mph. The silence as we listened to Al Teague shift gears. Think for
a moment of Grumpy Old Men and the long long lakester. There was crazy
crazy Mort Strain and his lakester with the tank motor
with arguments over who would drive it. If you are old enough you remember
the beautiful streamliner from Denver and Bill Kenz and Roy Leslie.
And Kugels made history with their 300 mph door slammer. Blown engines
and other parts from the Perry Boys and fun Bill Temple. In recent years,
tears for Mike Waters and Dana
Wilson. Dana called me a Dork and Mike grumbled something..........Tim
Rochlitzer my hero with a pink car and I remember the day he let me
drive his truck and told me, "don't touch the a/c, don't turn on
the radio, don't move the seat and don't ride the clutch. Brian Rochlitzer
said, take my truck Mary and do
anything you want. Don Vesco always going faster on motorcycles and
streamliners. The first time he brought the Turbonator to the Salt the
Nish team were ready with hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks to roast
in the heat from the motor. Up on blocks in the pits they discovered
the rear wheels were turning the wrong way but by the next morning all
was ready for a runndown the course.
The Bryant's trusted me and coached me when I drove Tom's Thumb. Tom
was a gentle giant of our sport who tragically lost his son Barry in
that same little car that had so much horsepower. We who go to Mecca,
as Marlo Treit calls it, love the history of this place which seems
almost Holy. Art Arfons I called my friend as well as Bob and Charlie
Markley. My first trip was in 1951 with my husband Don and a 32 ford
coupe with a flathead. We were all so innocent back then. 107.78 mph
and beat by Pisano's. Earl Wooden and the amazing Crosley. My son Marty
made us so proud when he beat his Dad's record of 247mph by going an
amazing 261mph one way and an average of 260.277mph. He and Don are
gone and I miss them so much.
Aren't we proud that we have known these Little Boys and their Toys?
Oh for another day on the salt another hug before we say goodbye. Rest
in Peace for those who have passed away. What great years, records and
broken parts and Seth Hammond who still takes a ride once in awhile
after his terrible crash.
Thanks for the memories and all the warm hugs...............................