"A few days later, curious about what the man meant about real cars, I went to his shop. I had never seen anything like it. The place was like Batman's secret cave, full of all kinds of super-sleek racing type sports cars, many torn down and in various states of repair and others looking untouched, painted in shiny blood red with blue stripes down the center bordered on each side with white. The man in the restaurant that invited me to his shop turned out to be a man named Joe Landaker, a master mechanic that worked for a millionaire race car owner named Tony Parravano. The cars were Ferraris and Maseratis --- cars I had never heard of or seen before."

Paragraph six, below

the Wanderling

Long before there was a Ford vs. Ferrari there was a Carroll Shelby and a Ken Miles working their way up through and earning their chops in the racing world while Ford and things Ford was a laughing stock. There was however, at that same time a young boy-come-man millionaire who was, on his own dime, designing, building, and racing an exquisitely built and highly competitive Chevrolet powered sports car racer called the Scarab that most often or not left anything built by Ferrari, Maserati, or Ford in the dust --- unless they were driven by Carroll Shelby.

Sports cars as an interest started for me while I was still in my teens while most of my peers were building and driving hopped up Fords. Almost sacrilegiously, as that teen I bought an MG TD, an MG that was less than four years old at the time. The previous owner had bought it new four years earlier and had just traded it up for a brand new Austin Healey 100. In those days both Shelby and Miles had only just been racing a few short years and although both highly competitive and always winning races they raced in different classes. Shelby in the over 1500 cc modified which meant all the big engine cars with Miles racing in the under 1500 cc modified. For the first few years Miles raced an MG special which was a hopped up version of a standard MG and was practically unbeatable until the German built Porches started showing up. Miles, a former British tank commander and just 10 years after the war he found it difficult to switch to the enemy's machines, but after squeezing every ounce of power and driveability out of what MGs could offer, to stay competitive he reluctantly had to switch. First, he tried an English/German hybrid affectionately named a Pooper, combining an English Cooper with a Porsche engine, eventually moving to the all Porsche 550 Spyders, becoming after that, bar mechanical difficulties, basically unbeatable.(see)

Ferraris, Maseratis, Porsches, well they were, cost wise, way out of my league. MGs weren't. Having one was the key to opening the door, it leveled the playing field. It started as me being a wide-eyed young boy still in high school meeting and getting to know as a friend the top Ferrari and Maserati sports car racing mechanic in the country at the time, as well as Carroll Shelby's mechanic most of the time in those days, Joe Landaker, just about the same time as the new super raw-horsepowered 4.5 liter V8 450 Maseratis were about to come on the scene.

(photo © 2017 internationalclassic. for more details and photo source please click image)

Sometime during the summer between a rather uneventful and mostly unsuccessful sophomore and junior year attending my eventually to become alma mater, Redondo Union High School, the person I call my Merchant Marine Friend, who I had been working for part time doing odd jobs and errands for since I started the ninth grade, died. With his death and the end of my steady flow of semi-substantial pocket money I started looking around for another source of income. I took a job in a small, ten-stool and counter mom and pop restaurant called Fred and Liz's not far from my home and in the process substantially increased the amount of money I earned. With that increase I was able to buy my first car, a Ford Woodie Wagon. Fred had been a cook in the Navy during World War II. Somewhere along the way he met and married a woman from India that he and everybody called Liz. Fred had a regular slew of customers that showed up day after day for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Invariably people who owned businesses, stores, or shops up and down the street from his cafe would show up at one time or the other. Not far up the street from Fred and Liz's on Torrance Boulevard was a business called H and H Body Shop that had a reputation for building outstanding custom and hot rod cars. People from all over would come to the shop to have work done or cars created. One day Barry and Jarvis, the owners of the body shop, showed up outside the restaurant in a customer's immaculate bright yellow full-fender '32 Ford two-door sedan they were building, channeled with a chopped top and a lots of undercarriage chrome.

I had been working in the back of the restaurant when I noticed everybody but one lone man had gone outside to look at the car. He had just finished his meal and getting up while placing money on the counter to leave when I walked in. Turning toward me as he was heading out the door he asked, "You're the kid fixin' up the woodie wagon, right?" When I nodded in agreement he said, "Lookin' good." As he went out the door, pointing to the crowd around the duce he said, "If you ever want to see REAL cars come by my shop sometime, it's just up the street on the right in the back before the city line."

A few days later, curious about what the man meant about real cars, I went to his shop. I had never seen anything like it. The place was like Batman's secret cave, full of all kinds of super-sleek racing type sports cars, many torn down and in various states of repair and others looking untouched, painted in shiny blood red with blue stripes down the center bordered on each side with white. The man in the restaurant that invited me to his shop turned out to be a man named Joe Landaker, a master mechanic that worked for a millionaire race car owner named Tony Parravano. The cars were Ferraris and Maseratis --- cars I had never heard of or seen before.[1]


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Over the next couple of years, thanks to Parravano and his comments as found in Footnote [1], I dropped by regularly and became enough of a fixture I could pretty much come and go as I pleased. Landaker even took me along to the road races at Torrey Pines one weekend. Carroll Shelby won the main event and it was that weekend, July 9-10, 1955, that Parravano asked Shelby to become his driver. Although the weekend ended up being unsuccessful and uneventful race-wise for Landaker and Parravano as the #103 car above renumbered #98 and to be driven by Jack McAfee, didn't do anything either day. For me however being at Torrey Pines put me in a position to be surrounded by all kinds of exotic cars and drivers, which for me, the high school kid I was, was a whole new world. Interestingly enough I bumped into someone I knew that weekend who was scoping out the track for an upcoming race in October, Lance Reventlow, who would become famous in sports car racing in his own right just a few years later. Reventlow, who I first met when I was around 12 years old and he was 14, was the first person that brought road racing to my attention.


One Friday for no real reason Landaker asked if I could leave the woody for a couple days, he had a surprise for me. When I came by the shop to pick up the wagon on Monday after school he had taken it upon himself to install a dual intake manifold topped with two brand new Stromberg 97s, all at no charge. Other than the carburetors he never did any real mechanic work on the woody, although, because he liked my dedication to its restoration, he was instrumental in a lot mechanical things being done to it. He got his hands on a 25 tooth floor shift Zephyr transmission that me and my buddy installed.[2] When the transmission was out he arranged to have the flywheel chopped and balanced along with a magnesium Auburn racing clutch and some sort of heavy duty throwout bearing. Then one day I went by the shop and it was locked up tight. I slipped through a side door where I knew the key was hidden and inside, much to my amazement, except for a few pieces of old junk and a couple of worn tires, the place was empty.

Not long afterwards I was driving down PCH in my woodie near Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach when a pick-up truck towing a trailer carrying a bunch of acetylene bottles and tires mounted on scruffy looking wire wheels pulled along side of me. The driver yelled, "How's the carburetors workin' kid?" As I looked over I could see it was Landaker. Not knowing what to say having not seen him in such a long time I jokingly told him they needed to be tweeked. He answered by signaling me to follow him. Which I did.

He said he had started working for a new race car owner, John Edgar. He then filled me on the fact that his previous boss, Parravano, apparently got mixed up in some heavy duty tax problems with the IRS and inturn they seized his shop and what few cars they could get their hands on --- Parravano wisking a dozen or so Ferraris and Maseratis out of the country, with most of them ending up in Mexico where they managed to remain hidden for years --- although more recently I have heard all of them have been accounted for. In the meantime Parravano disappeared, and unlike his cars, remaining so right up to this day (although if still alive he would be well into his 90s).

Edgar's race cars were typically hauled around in a 10-wheel truck and closed trailer transporter. Landaker, as chief mechanic and responsible for the cars, was invariably the person that drove the transporter to and from the races --- and was known to drive it at an extremely high rate of speed, especially cross county. Edgar's main race car driver throughout most of the Golden Years of the sport was Carroll Shelby, later of Cobra fame among other things. Shelby used to tell a story about Landaker and a onetime race driver come film director come highly successful international boatsman named Bruce Kessler that went like the following:

"I remember how Joe would drive John Edgar's big gasoline GMC tractor and trailer full of race cars all the way from Los Angeles to the Atlantic coast, 3000 miles, seldom dropping under 100 MPH, living on cheese snacks and soda pop and never once stopping to sleep.

"Joe could drive that transporter coast to coast in two days, give or take a couple of hours. Once in the late '50s, when Bruce Kessler decided to ride along with Joe from Los Angeles to Miami for the Nassau races, Kessler went as far as Dallas with Joe before he got out and caught an airplane for the rest of the way. It wasn't because flying was faster. It was that Joe was driving that rig over 100mph and it worried Kessler that they'd both die in some horrible highway crash. But Joe never crashed. It was his way with life. He was his own 'King of the Road.'"[3]

I am not sure which 'late 50s Nassau races' Shelby was referring to, but I know it couldn't have been the 1958 races, so it must have been in 1957 or before because early in the year of 1959 Kessler crashed during the Examiner Grand Prix at Pomona ending up in a coma for four days. After that he decided to quit racing which would have left, for him, any later Nassau races out of the picture --- unless he went just for the heck of it. That still leaves the 1958 races open. However, the major reason I can be so sure it wasn't the 1958 races that Kessler rode in the transporter to Nassau is because in 1958 I rode shotgun in the cab with Landaker to Miami myself, continuing across the open waters to Nassau on a single stack tub of a ship called the S.S. Florida.


I remember the year specifically because earlier that same year Edgar Enterprises had received two brand new special built factory-prototype aluminum block 550 horsepower Pontiac racing engines of 6.3 liter displacement still in crates, courtesy of General Motors. Edgar's 450-S 4.5 liter Maserati had thrown a couple of rods through the side of the block during practice for a race in June at Riverside and Landaker, deciding it was beyond his repair, sent the engine back to the factory for a complete overhaul. In the meantime Landaker installed one of the 550 horsepower Pontiac engines in the Maser and the second engine --- of which very few knew, me being one of the few ---he installed in the GMC truck-tractor that made up the transporter. That year Lance Reventlow Scarabs won both Friday's Governor's Cup race and on Sunday, the main event, the Nassau Tourist Trophy. The Pontiac Maserati, the ONLY year it was at Nassau, was a DNF. Shelby too, was a did not finish. On the 15th lap Shelby, who had been leading the race driving Temple Buell's 450-S punched out to 5.7 liters by the time it was loaned to Edgar for Nassau, came into the pits with a shredded tire. After a quick 28-second wheel change the engine wouldn't restart. By the time Shelby had limped into the pits, the wheel was changed, and Landaker located why the engine wouldn't turn over, then repaired it (a broken battery terminal) Reventlow was more than two laps ahead. They decided there was no use in putting the car or Shelby at risk with such an insurmountable lead so they packed it in. Matter of fact, throughout the whole Nassau racing week only one of the Edgar cars finished that year.


Toward the end of the year before, November 2nd and 3rd, 1957, when Edgar's 450-S was still pure Maserati, that is, powered by the original 4.5, Landaker took it down to Palm Springs for the races held that weekend. A few nights before, like I often did in those days, I dropped by his house where his garage opened to the street. The garage, as usual, was crammed full of all kinds of Ferrari and Maserati stuff, only this time including the 4.5. He gave me a couple of pit passes and told me to show up if I could. I was there both days dawn to dusk. Early in the morning on both days Landaker was out on the track tuning and driving the Maser. On Saturday Landaker was turning lap times equal to Shelby's fastest, all the time looking over his shoulder like a sprint car driver and throwing the rear end out just the same. As he said, even though he could cut lap times as fast as Shelby, the car would never last the way he drove. On Sunday morning Landaker told me to get in we were going for a ride. The day before he had the transaxle driveshaft cover off and the thought of the cantaloupe size U-joints spinning around inches from my elbow just wasn't something I really wanted to do. Looking into the cockpit I saw he had reinstalled the cover so I dutifully got in. Now, I am not sure how many of you have ever ridden in the passenger seat in an out-and-out race car like a 450-S, I have to tell you what they call a seat is marginal at best --- just barely meeting FIA regulations for something resembling a "seat." That afternoon during the race Shelby was being timed consistently along the back straight at speeds well over 163 miles per hour. I know Landaker, with me in the car and hardly anything you would call windshield, was going just as fast. Shelby won the race finishing well ahead of the pack. The next month, in the 252 mile Nassau Trophy race on December 9, 1957, Shelby, driving the same 4.5, even after blowing the clutch leaving the pits and being stuck in fifth gear the rest of the race, through pure driving skills and raw Maserati horsepower distributed to the rear wheels by Landaker's expertise, finished second behind British driver Stirling Moss.

The next year's Nassau race in December of 1958, the Maserati had the 550 horsepower Pontiac engine as did the GMC tractor for the transporter. It was after the Pontiac engine was installed in the GMC that the legend of Landaker's high speeds in the transporter really began to grow. He told me the fully loaded truck and trailer had been timed at over 110 miles an hour at Bonneville. As far as I know the engine was still powering the transporter when he hauled the cars to the 1959 Nassau race --- the race I think Shelby was referring to when Kessler was in the cab. The rest of what Shelby says about Kessler's trip, that Landaker lived on cheese snacks and soda pop and never once stopping to sleep, rings true for my trip. Except for one thing, and a part of the story nobody would know unless they were there, and I was. When we reached Florida the Pontiac engine swallowed a valve or blew a headgasket or some such thing before we reached the docks. Big time NASCAR race mechanic Smokey Yunick joined Landaker repairing the truck right along the freeway. State troopers came along to tell 'em to get the rig the hell off the freeway. When they saw it was Yunick, they set out flares and parked a cruiser behind truck until it was repaired and Landaker took off. Actually, what they finally ended up doing was taking the head off the Pontiac engine in the Maser and putting it on the Pontiac engine in the transporter with Yunick taking the broken head back to his shop. By the time the transporter reached Nassau and all the cars and equipment had been unloaded and set up someone had shown up with the head fully repaired. Although I had heard of Yunick I didn't know much about him, but after Landaker told me there were strong rumors to the effect that he had flown for the Flying Tigers I liked him even better, especially since my favorite airplane was the P-40 Warhawk, the plane the Tigers flew. While on the subject of World War II fighter pilots, for those of you who may be so interested, Carroll Shelby was a pilot in World War II. However, unlike almost every U.S. Army pilot during the war, who were officers, Shelby was one of the few enlisted men pilots --- a very rare breed indeed.(see)

The Maserati 450-S put Landaker in the perfect spot to meet, know, and become friends with the world's top Formula One racing driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, who was well on his way to win the World Drivers' Championship five times, and a man I always wanted to meet. I had learned that when Fangio got into a race car a remarkable transformation occurred to his perception of the world, a time-like transformation that gave him an edge over other drivers. During the period all this race car stuff was surfacing for me and I was trying to resolve the time issue both on the conventional level and the spiritual level through a newly acquired person in my life I called my Mentor, on the international scene a man named Juan Manuel Fangio was quietly going about winning world driving championships, eventually before his retirement, winning five. I had to meet him.(see)

In February 1958, ten months before my ride to the 1958 Bahamas Speed Week in Nassau, the Cuban Grand Prix was held in Havana. Despite all the hoopala being called a Grand Prix, the Cuban race was for sports cars, not the open wheel formula one cars used in the driver's championship. So said, the Edgar contingent showed up with two race ready cars, the 4.9 Ferrari for Maston Gregory and the 450-S for Shelby. They also had a third car under their auspices, that being race car owner Tempel Buell's 450-S for Fangio, with Landaker responsible for all three. The whole Cuban thing ended being nothing but a major fiasco. The day before the race, after a full day of practice, Fangio went back to his hotel and was immediately confronted by three armed men who took him out of the hotel, put him in a car and drove off. The men were pro-Castro guerilla fighters trying to embarrass the head of the Cuban government, Batista and his regime. The race went off the next day without Fangio, starting two hours late. Six laps into the 500 mile race a car went out of control and slammed into the crowd killing six or seven people and injuring upwards of thirty. The drivers voted to stop the race with Gregory awarded second place to Stirling Moss in first with Shelby third. Fangio was returned unharmed.

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In the meantime, throughout it all during the days leading up to the race Landaker and Fangio became close, if not friends. Back in the early days when Fangio first started racing cars he was his own mechanic and because he knew the rigors of keeping and maintaining a car at its maximum personally he always held top mechanics such as Landaker in high regard. Fangio always insisted on having his own mechanic, but since the 450-S he was driving was owned by Temple Buell under Edgar care, and knowing Landaker's reputation, he reneged for Cuba. Landaker, a modest man about his talents as a mechanic, nevertheless carried Fangio's opinion proudly --- and rightly so.

I had heard that Fangio had an uncanny ability, an uncanny ability that made him the greatest race car driver of his era if not of all time. It has been said when Fangio got into a race car a remarkable transformation occurred to his perception of the world, a transformation that gave him an edge over other drivers. While he was in the cockpit he and the car would be moving at the same everyday pace as anybody would, with one exception. That exception was that the outside world, the world beyond his car relative to himself slowed down. Everything around him moved in slow motion, at half speed as it were. That gave him more time to make decisions and act on any move. If a spectator ran out on the track in front of him the spectator would be moving in slow motion giving Fangio time to go around him or find an alternate response. If a car spun out, the same thing. He could go around corners faster than anybody because he had all kinds of time to place the car in the right spot and keep his tires right on the very edge of he asphalt without falling off into the shoulder and losing adhesion or traction because everything around him was going so slow. When I talked to Landaker about Fangio he said he had heard the same stories, but he said, it wasn't unusual for race drivers to experience similar abilities just not at the level or refinement of Fangio. Fangio could control it and if his concentration wasn't shattered or broken he had all the time in the world.[4]

One day in conversation with Landaker, because of Fangio's ability to have all the time in the world, I mentioned I would love to talk to him. Landaker, agreeing with me as to Fangio's ability, saying it was well beyond any other race car driver he had ever seen, told me even though to his knowledge Fangio didn't speak any amount of English if I could get to Nassau, which was coming up in a few weeks, and if Fangio was there, he would introduce the two of us. I told him because of money, mostly the lack of it, it wasn't all that feasible I could make it. Landaker, looking up from what he was working on and pointing with a wrench in his hand out toward the transporter said, "Then ride with me."


In 1958 the Speed Weeks butted right up against Thanksgiving weekend, so I requested a one week leave from work after the four day Thanksgiving holiday (or just took it), a request that eventually ran into two. Top teams and drivers had free roundtrip transportation for their cars and equipment to be shipped to Nassau from Miami, one arriving on Saturday, November 29th, the other on Tuesday, December 2nd. Landaker had made arrangements for the first departure ensuring room for the transporter. However, since he drove at a 100 miles per hour most of the time he figured he could leave the west coast and be in Miami in plenty of time after enjoying a family Thanksgiving on Thursday. All well and good from Landaker's perspective perhaps, except that not only would we never have made it on time, the engine swallowed a valve before we got to Miami. That put us on the second boat to Nassau, which, although it didn't happen, looked like the transporter might have to stay behind. The two day later arrival, although it may have lessened wear and tear on the vehicles, ate into testing and tune-up time as well as course familiarization by the drivers --- the course having been revamped from the year before and running in the opposite direction.

In the end the Speed Weeks may have been an OK deal for the Reventlow Scarab Team, having two wins under their belt, but such was not the case for the Edgar/Landaker team. Except for one minor all Ferrari race they ended up with nothing but DNFs, with the Pontiac powered Maser, curiously enough, blowing a head gasket. When Landaker got the head back from Yunick, to save time he didn't switch it with the original one on the transporter, but simply installed in on the Maser --- so, goodbye head gasket. So too, the race was marred by the lack of Stirling Moss who had won the main events of the last two previous Nassau Speed Weeks, 1956 and 1957. Although he maintained a home in Nassau he demanded $2000.00 in appearance money, which the powers that be that ran the races declined to do. Moss not being there put a monkey wrench in Landaker's plans for me to meet Fangio. Moss was like a son to Fangio and it was expected that Fangio, even though he had actually retired from racing midway through that same year, was expected to show up and give support to Moss just for the heck of it. If either were at the race somewhere or at some time they must have been traveling incognito as nobody I knew or Landaker knew ran into or had any contact with either them, especially so Fangio. As it was, like the Edgar/Landaker team, for me Fangio was a DNF. I never did meet Fangio or ever talk with him.[5]


Unfortunately I only saw Landaker a couple of times after Nassau. I went to the SCCA road races at McCarran Field in Las Vegas with him sometime in the early sixties, most likely 1961 because in 1960 I spent the whole summer traveling all over Mexico with a buddy and in 1962 I was drafted.[6] [7] After that so much changed in my life it wasn't until maybe 1973 or 1974 before I saw him again, and then only by accident. My dad died in 1972 and it was through an outcome of his death Landaker and I crossed paths --- for the last time.

My dad had been married several times and with his third wife they had a daughter, biologically making her my half sister. My father and I were not really close and since his third wife hated me it made for a lot of estranged distance between all of us. Even so, the daughter and I, who was at least 14 years younger than me, as she reached into her teen years, became good friends.

For whatever reason, as a kid, she really liked Volkswagens, so, for her 16th birthday my dad, who doted over her on her every move, want, or conceived need, bought her a vintage split rear window VW bug. However, before her ever seeing it he had it completely restored inside and out, having it painted with seven coats of hand-rubbed black lacquer and installing chrome plated Porsche rims mounted with Pirelli tires. He also had famed Porsche race team owner and mechanic Vasek Polak install a Porsche 1500 Super engine with a roller bearing crank, upgraded brake system, dual Weber carburetors, and a street legal Spyder exhaust system.

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Then, about a year and a half later, in December 1969 during the Christmas vacation six months before the June she was to graduate from high school, she was riding in a car (not the Volkswagen) with three other teenagers at a high rate of speed when the car went up under a slow moving trash truck completely sheering the roof of the car off and killing all four of the teenagers outright including my half sister. My dad, totally distraught, got rid of all her stuff and put the Volkswagen into storage where it was soon forgotten.

The next year my dad, who had been on a total downhill trajectory since his daughter was killed was caught in a fire on the job and two years later, simply losing the will to live, died.[8] In the normal process of things it came out that the forgotten Volkswagen was still around and wasn't left to anybody. His daughter always said if anything ever happened to her she would make sure the car came to me. Her half brother on her mother's side --- from a previous marriage --- substantiated my story saying he had heard her say the same thing many times. On that, I took the car out of storage and got it running. Because the car was so much fun to drive, I began using it as my regular mode of transportation, even using it on a trip as far north as Sausalito.[9]

One night late I was headed south on the I-10 near Cabazon north of Palm Springs cruising at about 70 mph when a near twin to my car, a beautiful black Okrasa Equipped Beetle, possibly supercharged, pulled up beside me, the driver acting as though he wanted me to go faster. Soon the Okrasa Beetle topped out about 90. When he was done I just pushed down on the pedal and pulled away. Behind me I could see he swung off on Highway 111 toward the Springs. I continued south on the I-10 eventually taching off at 120 mph on the long downhill stretch between the 111 and Indio when the interior of the car suddenly began filling up with smoke. I pulled over and, although nothing caught on fire, smoke was coming out of everywhere. A driver of a big rig stopped and took me into Indio where I arranged to have the VW put on a flatbed and taken to Vasek Polak's. It was only a broken oil line, which in turn had spewed oil all over the hot engine causing all the smoke.[10] Since the engine had all kinds of chrome, most of the repairs was steam cleaning and polishing. Shortly thereafter my dad's third wife had some kind of a restraining order or court order issued barring me from coming anywhere near the VW and after that I lost track of it.

Anyway, while I was at Vasek Polak's I bumped into Landaker who, unknown to me at the time, was working for Polak. Waxing philosophically over lunch he told me that his glory days were behind him, and I have to admit, to me he looked like a former shell of himself. His job at Polak's was not so much as a mechanic but as a truck driver and goodwill ambassador delivering needed race car parts to Polak's International Motorsport Association (IMSA) customers. He told me Shelby had retired from driving the year before we last saw each other, then of course went on to the big time with the Cobras. All of that ended too, with Shelby's last team victory in May 1969 with a Shelby Trans Am Mustang winning at Lime Rock. Landaker said some of the early stuff he was in on but eventually that faded away. Then he went on to say with all the race car owners like John Edgar, Frank Arciero, Joe Lubin and Johnny von Neumann no longer active, along with the big bore machines not meeting FIA standards the only major sports car racing team left was Polak's. Landaker joked, with an element of truth to it, because he was to ham-handed to have the finesse demanded of the Porsche engines, he was put out to pasture.[11]

He said Shelby himself was pretty much out of the game too, basically spending most of his time in South Africa while Reventlow, as a passenger in a small plane, had pancaked into some mountain in Colorado a few years before. In the end, much to his credit, Polak found a need for Landaker talents anyway. Since he knew every sports racing track in the country and almost anybody who was anybody in racing, Polak hired him to ensure all the car owners and drivers under the IMSA banner received nothing but the best, quickest service whenever and whenever needed.[12]



Carroll Shelby, as found in the main text above, is quoted as saying:

"I remember how Joe would drive John Edgar's big gasoline GMC tractor and trailer full of race cars all the way from Los Angeles to the Atlantic coast, 3000 miles, seldom dropping under 100 MPH, living on cheese snacks and soda pop and never once stopping to sleep. Joe could drive that transporter coast to coast in two days, give or take a couple of hours."

For sometime now, more than just a few readers of my works have contacted me saying they came across an account in a book on Shelby and his Cobra years written by a person other than me who also told about riding in the Edgar-Landaker Transporter across country. The person's experience, as he wrote it, was in a total 180 degree opposite of my experience. The person who wrote the account reports that at one time he worked for Shelby American, Carroll Shelby's organization set up to design, build, promote, race, and sell the Shelby Cobra, and because of that how it is his ride came about. The transporter rider other than me, speaking of his experience, writes:

"The last drawback to the trip with Joe was that the gasoline-powered transporter was painfully slow. Crossing the vastness of Texas against a strong headwind, the speedometer never topped 40 miles per hour."

The person in question writing the above quote was one John Morton, who, according to the promotional blurb regarding him in his book, became transfixed with sports car racing as a very young guy in the late 1950s. Accordingly, to be brief, the blurb continues with:

"His dreams of competition eventually led him to enroll, in 1962, in the Shelby School of High Performance Driving. In a bold moment after the last class, Morton asked Carroll Shelby if he might come to work for the newly formed Shelby American. The answer was 'Yes, here's a broom.' Thus ended Morton's college career and began his long racing career."

Apparently Morton had purchased a Lotus Super 7 from Bob Challman's Lotus dealership Equipe Sherlee in Manhattan Beach, California. Part of the purchase requirement was that he attend a race drivers school Challman approved, which turned out to be Carroll Shelby's driving school held at the Riverside Raceway, in turn, how the above events unfolded. What brings us now to our two transporter trips in or not in common. As you will eventually learn, as clarified a few paragraphs down the page, when it comes to transporter speeds, be it 40 MPH or 100 MPH, it all boils down to which motor powered which race car at what time.

Morton's trip with Landaker occurred in 1963, mine was in 1958, some five years earlier. The question is, what happened in the intervening five years that changed things so drastically, that is, dropping the transporter's speeds from hardly ever going under 100 MPH across country to not even being able to get over 40? The Morton/Landaker trip came about when and why it did because Shelby American had prepared four extremely special Cobras for an all out assault against the 12 hour road race in Sebring, Florida. All four Cobras had all been upgraded from the previous 260 cubic inch engines to the new more powerful 289s. Two of the four had the rack-and-pinion steering and all four had been retrofitted with high powered driving lights, etc., since Cobras had never raced at night.


For me, two things are in play. For one thing, the Sebring race was in 1963 and the year before, 1962, I was drafted into the U.S. Army. Sports cars, sports car racing and especially something like the Sebring 12 Hour race was so far out of my thoughts I didn't even remember they existed. The Army saw to that. By the time Sebring came around I had just finished Basic Training in Fort Ord, California right next to Laguna Seca and sent to the U.S. Army Southeastern Signal Corps School in Augusta, Georgia for 15 weeks of intense schooling of which the Army calls Advanced Individual Training {AIT}. Trying to pinpoint what I was doing specifically day-to-day for or with the Army during the exact same moment that Sebring was going down is something I haven't been able to narrow down. I know as far as Sebring or any other sports car race or sports car was concerned, on a more broad general sort of view, at that specific time, relative to the Army and all, big time, I couldn't care less.

Any of you who may have read some of my previous works may recall a lot of my growing up childhood pastime, besides reading comic books, circulated around sending and receiving Morse code. Because of that background the Army sent me to the Signal Corps school, training that involved a whole bunch of time learning to send and receive Morse code at ever increased speeds with ever increased accuracy. I was at the Signal Corps school only a short time when, unknown to me and behind my back, it began filtering up through higher and higher levels of the upper echelon and beyond that I possessed a rather special, almost uncanny talent when it came to sending and receiving Morse code, a talent that powers that be felt was ripe for exploitation.

Over time in the Army I had developed a reputation as a notorious code sender with abilities thought by some of my superiors to have been on par with the even more notorious Confederate George A. Ellsworth who wreaked havoc throughout the Union forces during the Civil War. Just as equally if not more so, thought by the Army Security Agency as ready for the stockade. The ASA was always after me for some reason or the other. In the early days when I was no more than a private slick sleeve, if it hadn't been for higher authorities with higher priorities, ASA would have most certainly nailed me. The ASA, after I was caught goofing-off replicating the fist of a staff sergeant that unbeknownst to me at the time was actually gone from the base on leave, discovered that I, with almost a minuscule amount of practice, had an uncanny ability to accurately duplicate or counterfeit almost any Morse code operator's fist to such a point that what I sent, was totally indistinguishable for virtually anyone to differentiate between messages sent by me and that of any person I was imitating. My fate was sealed and immediately appropriated by higher ups for other duties, I myself becoming top secret. If there were others like me I never learned, but they didn't want anybody to know my skills nor to have my whereabouts tracked.

During the early part of the year 1963, because of my ability with Morse code, a near savant as my civilian instructors continued to tell my chain of command officers, before completion of Signal School I was sent on the second of my early TDY military experiences, the first having been the Cuban Missile Crisis while I was still in basic.

My second TDY destination was the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I was sent to be part of a several week observed study control group working with initially ten, dropped to five, specially selected cadets supposedly versed in the intricacies of Morse code. The idea was to find out what I had that they didn't and once found could it be learned or replicated.

In any case, as it turned out, from February 4, 1963 to March 4, 1963, after having been on exhibit in Washington D.C., but before returning to the Louvre in Paris, and for the only time ever, Leonardo Da Vinci's painting the Mona Lisa was in the U.S. and on exhibit at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a period of time that overlapped the exact same time I was at West Point. More than that, it just so happened the father of the cadet had long time philanthropic ties in support the museum and had at his beckon call special VIP passes to see the exhibit. When the father and I got to talking yachts and he discovered I was friends with and knew David Halliburton, the multi-millionaire heir to the oil fortune and a friend of the father as well, when I expressed an overwhelming desire to see the Mona Lisa, as soon as he could arrange it and his soon and his son and I could get time off he sent a car up to West Point to pick us. We were whisked into the museum ahead of the hours long crowds and as others were being ushered through after viewing the painting, our neck lanyard identification allowed to stay as long as we wanted.


At the end of August, 1963, during the Martin Luther King speech, I was a member of a team operating classified transmitting equipment in a AN/GRC 26-D communication van parked along the beltway in Washington D.C. a few miles away from the Lincoln Memorial, the site of the King speech. Somewhere in there, either before or after the King speech, and I don't remember which because at the time I was doing all kinds of travel for the military including even to the point of being sent by the military to Panama, Cay Sal Bank off the north coast of Cuba where I participated in night raids along Cuba's coast, and Swan Island located between Cuba and Honduras. Then, along in there, besides all of the previous, for whatever reason, the Army decided they wanted me to participate in other extra-curricular military activities for a couple of weeks out west. They put me, along with a handful of other slovenly GI types, on board an unmarked company C-53 with all the windows covered over on the inside by aluminum foil and masking tape and flew us out on a cross-country middle-of-the-night flight to a place called Pinal Air Park, sometimes called Marana Air Park, near Marana, Arizona.(see)


In the first of the two photos above, from the Edgar Motorsport Archive and taken by Lester Nehamkin, shows the left side, or driver's side, of the Edgar transporter parked at the Palm Springs Airport for the Palm Springs road races in November 1956. The second photo shows the right rear, or shotgun side of the exact same transporter. You can easily see painted on the side just in front of the rear wheel where Carroll Shelby is listed as driver and Joe Landaker is listed as mechanic. As well, you can make out some of Landaker's name and rank as mechanic it the black and white photo of the transporter at the top of this section

The date of incorporation for John Edgar Enterprises is recorded as January 27, 1956. So, less than ten months later, November of 1956, the Edgar race team was fully up and running, including their fully equipped and operable race car transporter. William Edgar, John's son, has been quoted as saying that in early 1960 his father, after fielding his sports car equipe for the past ten years, "got out of the game entirely when he sold all of his race cars and interest in Riverside Raceway."

When Shelby had been in Europe racing Aston Martins for the factory team he met a fairly high positioned man in the Aston Martin organization named Richard "Dickie" Green. On February 5, 1956, Dickie emigrated to California, and In order to stay in the USA he was sponsored by Ken Miles. Miles sent Dickie to Tony Parravano and during the interview a phone call came through from Shelby and convinced Parravano to hire him. It was but a short time after that, that Dickie was Parravano's shop foreman.

Notice the incredible timing coincidence. John Edgar Enterprises is incorporated, January 27, 1956, and the very next week, February 5, 1956, Dickie was sent by Miles to be interviewed by Parravano --- and under Shelby's request or intervention, hired immediately. Almost just as quick Dickie becomes Parravano's shop foreman, in turn it would seem, freeing up Landaker from any more responsibilities to Parravano --- meaning a quick jump as lead mechanic into the John Edgar Enterprises team, thanks to Shelby.

However, less than a year later, the IRS was closing in on Parravano's construction empire for not paying his fair share of corporate taxes. After a successful start with his racing team early in the 1957 season, in June of 1957 Parravano abruptly fled to Mexico, with the Palm Springs races in April being what would prove to be the very last race for Scuderia Parravano. For that April 1957 race in Palm Springs his team showed up with two cars, a Ferrari 121 LM (S/N 0484 LM) for Phil Hill and a 750 Testa Rosa for Bob Drake. Drake was a DNF, but Hill went on to take first place with Shelby, driving Edgar's Maserati 300S, finishing in second, followed by Richie Ginther in Joe Lubin's Aston Martin DB3S.


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Only three weeks following the Palm Springs races, April 24, 1957, Parravano had five cars scheduled to race in Hawaii with drivers lined up like Alfonso de Portago, Richie Ginther, and Bob Drake, who was scheduled to drive the 450S. None of the cars showed with most whisked out of the country along with Parravano as well. What happened to Richard "Dickie" Green in all this is not known, but his shop foreman crew chief days were no doubt just about done. Alfonso de Portago was killed a few weeks after the Hawaii meet, on May 12, 1957 racing in the Mille Miglia.

In May 2017, sixty years after all of the above events, a university graduate student by the name of Ryan Vohringer, in partial fulfillment for completion of his Master's Degree in History, in a highly researched and footnoted thesis titled FACTORY HOTROD: Carroll Shelby's Melding of Detroit Industry and Hot Rod Culture writes:

"Shelby's job prospects began to turn in April 1961 when Tony Webner, the director of Goodyear's racing division, offered him the opportunity to be a tire distributor. While not a glamorous position, it would place Shelby in charge of distributing performance tires throughout eleven states, including California. Goodyear had dominated the NASCAR circuit and was looking to move into other automotive sports, which included road racing. Webner hoped that Shelby's name could add credibility to their new venture. Shelby moved into a small office in Santa Fe Springs, and set out to build the Goodyear brand within the automotive industry. Furthermore, Shelby continued to advertise for his racing school, but this time in Sports Car Graphic, which brought a response of over 1,400 people. This influx of interest motivated Shelby to hire help including, Paul O'Shea, a retired driver, and Joe Landaker."

So, now we're back to April, 1961. At the end of the month, if you remember from the main text above, the weekend of April 29-30, 1961, was the same weekend I joined Landaker at the road races in Vegas. There was no sign of a transporter then. Matter of fact, to me, it seemed like Landaker was freelancing, driving his own pick-up truck and pulling a flatbed four wheel trailer. Hugh Powell had entered the one time Tony Parravano short chassis 4.9 Ferrari 375 Plus (S/N 0478 AM) for Tony Settember to drive. Landaker, with a long history working with and maintaining the 375, Powell must have brought him in to ensure it's success. In the Saturday preliminary Settember finished 5th overall. Sunday's main event was a DNF caused by gearbox failure. Jim Hall went on to win the main in the much smaller more agile 3.0 birdcage. After that race weekend it was ten years before I saw Landaker again when I ran into him at Vasek Polak's.

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Sometime during the period between March 1962 to June 1962 Shelby moved his operations into Lance Reventlow's old Scarab digs practically in Marina Del Rey, at 1042 Princeton Drive, Venice, California. Reventlow had leased the place in 1959, even officially making what he was doing into Reventlow Automobiles, Incorporated. However IRS laws categorized a business that recorded a loss for more than five years a hobby, which, after looking at costs, pretty much caused Reventlow to throw in the towel. In the process Shelby got a facility that had practically everything already in place he could ever want, at least in the beginning, to build his Cobras. Landaker was at the Racing School with Shelby in April 1961 according to Vohringer's masters thesis and still with Shelby, according to Morton who rode in the transporter to the Sebring 12 Hours March 23, 1963.

Edgar sold all of his race cars and interest in Riverside Raceway in the early 1960's which means all the stuff and junk that went with it, which in the inventory should have been the transporter and two 550 HP Pontiac aluminum block racing engines. We know one engine had been put in the 450S, but removed and replaced with a 5.7 Maserati engine. But what of the other one? Was it still in the transporter? If so, why could it push the loaded with three race cars truck to a steady over 100 MPH going to Nassau in 1958 but not do over 40 on the way to Sebring in 1963?


"As you will learn, when it comes to transporter speeds, it all boils down to which motor powered which race car at what time."

In 1963 the 12 Hours of Sebring was held on Saturday March 23. The Shelby Cobra team was there. Three months later on June 30, 1963 the races at Watkins Glen was held and the Shelby Cobra team was there as well. After Watkins Glen the team headed toward Lake Garnett, Kansas then on to Kent, Washington for races to be held on July 21, 1963. The transporter that showed up at all three races was the one pictured below. Please note the transporter is being pulled by a Ford not a GMC tractor like the John Edgar transporter. So too, it is fully open, not an enclosed van like the one that was owned by John Edgar.

By the time Watkins Glen rolled around the Shelby Cobra team was fully entrenched with Ford, hence the Ford tractor pulling the transporter to the three cited races and elsewhere. It's almost a sure bet that the Shelby Cobra team didn't show up at Sebring a few months earlier in a transported pulled by a GMC, Pontiac aluminum racing engine or not. As shown below Shelby did have a fully enclosed van, the trailer, although totally another color, looking awful similar to the Edgar trailer, albeit pulled by a subnosed cab-over Ford. What Ford powered tractor that made up the transporter, open or closed, used to haul the Cobras to Sebring and John Morton rode in is not known. It just isn't likely it was Landaker's 100 MPH GMC.

The two Pontiac engines may have to have been accounted for in the sales of all of Edgar's race cars and equipment in some fashion, so they may have been made to stand alone rather than one of them being allowed to remain in the transporter. So too, on the so said 1963 Sebring trip the transporter was carrying four Cobras. I had never seen more than three cars being carried in the Edgar transporter when he owned it. The same was true on the cross country trip to Nassau in 1958, the three cars being the Edgar/Buell 5.7 450S for Carroll Shelby, the Pontiac powered 450S for Jim Rathmann, and Edgar's old reliable Ferrari 410 Sport. What the weight difference could or might mean to the top speed of the van between Edgar's three cars and Shelby's four Cobras I have no clue. Personally, I don't think the Ford powered transporters were up to it.


For the record, I have been in contact on and off over the years on a semi-regular basis with Landaker's grandson as to what has been presented here. During that time the two of us have tweeked this page with additions and removals both large and small. When we first started, his dad, Joe's son Ed, was still alive and Joe's grandson could go to his dad to ensure any information pertaining to what I offered was accurate or not. Ed, who I never met, graduated from Redondo Union High same as me, but did so the year before I started then immediately joined the Navy for four years. Joe's grandson wasn't born until 1958 when most of the stuff I write about was going down so now with his dad gone there's sort of a gap. The following quote shows up a couple of places in my works. Like the last paragraph above, it makes mention of the factory built 550 horsepower Pontiac aluminum racing engine. The quote goes on to say that Landaker had installed one of the engines in his GMC pick up and the intended joke is, after riding in the transporter with the same type engine and never dropping below 100 miles per hour I wasn't about to get in his pick to go to the Las Vegas races with him and would instead drive my own car and meet him there:

"Several years went by without really seeing much of Landaker. Then one day in the spring of 1961 I bumped into him. In general chit chat he asked if I would like to re-live the old days and go with him to Las Vegas in a few weeks for the SCCA sports car races being held there at the end of April. He said all the room costs and most of the expenses would be picked up. I told him it sounded like a good idea to me, but only on the condition I drove my own car. Laughing, he said he was using his pick-up this time and hauling only one car on a trailer. I knew that he had, like the transporter, installed a factory built 550 horsepower Pontiac aluminum racing engine in his pick-up truck as well so I told him I'd join him at the races, but I was still going to drive my own car."


Well, Landaker's grandson recently told me that in the late 70's the GMC' engine finally died from the unleaded low octane gas. He disassembled it and found it was nowhere near being a stock V8 alright. It was a 389 cubic inch (6.3L) with a 4 bolt main, machine finished connecting rods and crank, and extensive cylinder head work. He never reassembled it, and it's been in storage for over 40 years. His cousin has the original custom cast intake manifolds (with John Edgars name on them) and Weber carbs, but here's the clinker, according to the grandson, legend or not, the GMC V8 block that made up the engine in the pick up truck all these years that the grandson removed and disassembled was not aluminum, but cast iron.


On Saturday and Sunday, September 4th and 5th, 1954 the 2nd Annual road races were held at Santa Barbara, California. It was a relative minor non-championship event attended by very few well known drivers and even fewer hot cars. However, it just so happened the J-2 Cadillac-Allard, #J 1578, that finished third overall and first in class at the 1950 Le Mans 24 hour race was there that weekend. Although not totally destroying the Allard, a fire in the cockpit pretty much rendered it far from being fully operable.

The following year, 1955, Landaker purchased the Allard with no specific intentions to do anything with it right away, the car ending up in storage. Although it was never officially "lost" the Allard didn't truly surface again until 1988 when it was bought with all intentions of restoration. The Allard is shown above in all of it's fully restored Le Mans glory. Why Landaker never got around doing anything with it, especially the equivalent to the above, is not known.


The decade plus between the tail end of the late 1940's thru just into crossing over into late 1961 early 1962 was just about the high profile golden age of California and west coast sports car road racing. During that period almost everybody who was familiar with the sport had heard of drivers such as Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill, Ken Miles and Dan Gurney as well as the prominent car and team owners like John Edgar, Tony Parravano, Johnny Von Neumann, Joe Lubin, and Frank Arciero, along with Lance Reventlow and his Scarabs at one end to Max Balchowsky and his Old Yeller junk yard dog specials at the other.

However, as much as the top drivers and teams did to draw in the crowds and make the races more exciting, it is what filled in the bottom rungs that made the races what they were.. It was the production cars and production car drivers that fueled the whole shebang. We're talking mainly affordable British built cars such as MG's, Triumphs, Austin Healys, Morgans, with a smattering of Jaguars along with German cars costing a few more bucks to buy and maintain such as Porsches and Mercedes Benz 300SL's.

One of Southern California's top, if not the top, production British sports car mechanics and tune-up artists who was much larger in scale than his diminutive size would seem to predict, was a man named George Dillaway. I had just got my SCCA drivers license and stopped by his shop to talk to him about installing a roll bar and blueprinting the engine of my MGTD or switch to a Triumph or Morgan and do the same. Joe Lubin's white with blue stripes Aston Martin DB3S was parked inside the shop facing headlights toward the street the day I stopped by. Needing the space and wanting to move the Aston Martin, even though it could easily be pushed by hand as it couldn't have been more than 30 feet to the parking lot Dillaway asked if I'd like to drive it from the garage space it occupied to the parking area next to the shop. He said the only problem was I would have to drive it around the block because it wasn't good to just start it up, move it a few feet, then shut it off.

I eased the Aston Martin out of the garage after a couple of clutch faux pas turning right onto Opal Street barely moving. When I got to the first street instead of turning right to go around the block I turned left then a quick right on Torrance Boulevard, crossed over Prospect past the drive in theater all the while picking up my pace. When I got to Hawthorne Boulevard I made a U-turn heading back west. Just passed Mary's Little Lamb I shoved my foot in it before I slowed to cross over the Redondo city line with two Torrance motorcycle cops right on my tail. I pulled into the White and Day mortuary parking lot and shut off the engine.

Before I had a chance to do anything, Roy Thomas, the Redondo Beach motor officer was pulling into the lot. Seeing it was me, who he knew from my high school days working at Fred and Liz's just down the street, began asking the two Torrance officers why they were in his territory. After a few minutes Thomas waved me off. Just as I was heading toward the exit the son of the owner of the mortuary, Larry by name, came out to see what an Aston Martin DB3S sports racer was doing in his parking lot followed by two motorcycle cops. We had gone to high school together and seeing it was me said he should have figured.


When I went into the Army I sold my immaculately restored 1940's woodie wagon and put my low-slung British sports car with two rows of louvers and a leather belt up on blocks. When I returned from the service I drove the louvered-hood sports car up into my graduate school days. However, tired up people either cutting or pulling back my tonneau cover and pilfering books and going through my backpack and glove compartment while parked in the college parking lot I decided it was time to get an enclosed car. I bought a 1967 Mini Super Austin Cooper with a 1300 cc engine and 10 inch diameter wheels. When I joined the Peace Corps and went to Jamaica the Peace Corps assigned a person to me that they called a "Jamaican counterpart." He was a really cool dude around 25 years old who was on the side in a very serious relationship with the daughter of the Jamaican Prime Minister of Defense. Because of those connections my Jamaican counterpart, Gregory, was able to get the Mini into Jamaica quickly and passed all of the paperwork, and except for bribes, practically duty free --- if I signed the title and ownership papers over to Gregory. Which I did. I didn't want to drive in Jamaica anyway, plus the Peace Corps, at least in those days, frowned upon or discouraged volunteers to officially have cars. Gregory and I went everywhere and everyplace on the island, almost always at top speed with may unexpected results. Re the following from the source so cited:

"My very first encounter with an Obeahman occurred long before I began my apprenticeship under the Jamaican man of spells I eventually studied under. Although I had been in Jamaica for some time I had never heard of Obeah or an Obeahman until the day a Jamaican friend of mine and I were taking a trip across the island in his car. We had gone to Montego Bay along the north coast for several days and on our return trip to Kingston my friend decided it would be quicker as well as more fun if we took a short cut through some of the cane fields. We were doing about eighty miles per hour when we passed a little old man on the side of the road walking with a wooden staff and carrying a bundle over his shoulder. My Jamaican friend immediately hit the brakes and screeched to a halt telling me the old man was an Obeah and leaving him to walk so far out in the middle of nowhere would be bad luck. Since his vehicle was a small little two-door British car, to show respect due the Obeah, I got out and squeezed into the small rear seat allowing him to sit in the front. Soon we were back up to speed cruising the back roads of the cane fields at about eighty miles per hour. Then, all of a sudden the engine started to cough and sputter, eventually just dying and stopping to run altogether. We coasted to the side, my friend got out and asked me to get into the drivers seat to try and start the engine as he fiddled with stuff under the hood. Two or three times we tried and the car refused to start. The Obeah got out and went to the front of the car, and, although the hood obscured my view somewhat, I could tell he tapped the engine a couple of times with his staff. My friend asked me to try it again and immediately the engine fired up. The next morning my friend was late to work. He said after we left the Obeah off where he requested and me home, he went home. However, when he got up the next morning his car refused to start and that it acted exactly the same as it had in the cane fields. When he got it to the shop to be repaired the mechanic showed him the ONLY thing he could find wrong with it. A spring in the carburetor was physically broken and with that spring broken the car could not run under any circumstances. The mechanic replaced the spring and the car started up and ran perfectly."



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In a little side note as well as a special tribute to a special lady, sports car racer Mary Davis. She was, as well as Landaker, highly responsible for me getting a job working on the sport-fisher marlin boat owned by big time oil heir David J. Halliburton, a job that for me led to more than a few adventures. Halliburton's skipper had seen my woody parked outside of a restaurant one morning and was so taken by the quality of the woodwork he came in and asked me if I would be willing to do the brightwork, i.e., the wood, on his boat.

Before he actually hired me he did a little background checking see if I was "OK," re the following, in of which, thanks to Landaker, sports cars and sports car racing, I was hired:

"Always looking out for the best interest of his boss, in general small talk the skipper learned we had mutual acquaintances he had respect for and questioned them as to how they felt about me. At the top of his list, after jokingly bypassing the infamous south bay personality Fifie Malouf, was the owner-manager of the Portofino Inn, Mary Davis, located at King Harbor marina in Redondo Beach who he knew through consultation with her regarding construction and completion of the marina (started 1960, opened 1965). She was also a rabid sports car enthusiast and race driver. Davis maintained a close relationship with a couple of fellow race car drivers, Bob Drake, of whom she was married at one time and Eric Hauser, both often seen wheeling about the Max Balchowsky #70 Old Yeller' V-8 powered Buick special affectionately known as The Junkyard Dog, in local sports car races.

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"Her primary contractor for the Portofino Inn was Frank Arciero, a major race car team owner. I knew Davis peripherally as well having known one of her top 'girls' Bonnie J since she was an infant in the crib. Taken together they all knew Joe Landaker the number one Ferrari and Maserati mechanic for Tony Parravano's and John Edgar's race teams. Since Landaker had known me since I was a young teenage boy in high school he personally vouched for me ."


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Fangio died July 17, 1995 at age 84 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Landaker retired shortly after I saw him at Polak's. In 1994 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died the following year on January 9, 1995, like Fangio, at age 84. Landaker, a former U.S. Navy Motor Machinist's Mate, was buried at the Veteran's National Cemetery in Riverside, California, not far from the old Riverside Raceway, the scene of both many of his victories and losses, and of which had been developed and financed by his old boss John Edgar. Now, from the main text above, the following as a reminder regarding Fangio and time:

"Fangio had an uncanny ability, an uncanny ability that made him the greatest race car driver of his era if not of all time. It has been said when Fangio got into a race car a remarkable transformation occurred to his perception of the world, a transformation that gave him an edge over other drivers. While he was in the cockpit he and the car would be moving at the same everyday pace as anybody would, with one exception. That exception was that the outside world, the world beyond his car relative to himself slowed down. Everything around him moved in slow motion, at half speed as it were. That gave him more time to make decisions and act on any move."


Their Life and Times Together


Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.





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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

Footnote [1]


It just so happened that on the very same day I walked into Landaker's shop for the very first time, the owner, Tony Parravano showed up. Parravano asked Joe who the kid was. Landaker told him I worked down the street at Fred and Liz's and he asked me to come up to see "real cars." Parravano, saying he owned all the cars asked if I liked what I saw. I told him I had never seen anything like it. Then he asked me if I wanted to see his favorite, taking me over to what turned out to be a newly acquired 1.5 liter Maserati 150 S (S/N #1655). Parravano said it had a four cylinder engine with none of the cylinders bigger than a soup can, but the car could still reach up toward a 150 mph. With that he said, "OK kid, that's it, it's about time to go," followed with a gentle turning me around and pointing me toward the outside gesture.

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Landaker was just about to step in on my behalf I think when I, thinking even faster and not wanting to be thrown out or banned from visiting forever, quickly squeezed in that I had seen him one night several years before with Russ Miller in the kitchen of the Normandie Club, a then semi-notorious card club in Gardena, California. With that Parravano, almost stunned by the information out of my mouth, a kid who he didn't even know existed five minutes before, stopped cold, wanting me to repeat what I said. Telling him, but with a little more elaboration, that he came into the kitchen with Miller because he wanted him to taste some sort of special Italian sauce he was brewing up.

Paraphrasing here a little, Parravano basically said he remembered the night because Miller was all atwitter over the fact that some high ranking person was supposed to be showing up and he wanted everything to be perfect. Walking side by side out of the shop Parravano said he remembered that a few nights before, again I'm paraphrasing here in order for the reader to be filled in, a few rough guys that not long before flew under the old Micky Cohen side of things, came through the back door unannounced on the way to Miller's office for reasons unknown. Parravano said one of the men stopped and started roughing up a kid working in the kitchen he thought he recognized. Those few minutes stopped them just long enough from doing whatever they came to do when they were confronted by Miller in the kitchen wanting to know what was going on. Except for what happened that night with the boy nothing happened.

The next day the same man that stopped to shove the boy around was found severely beaten and near death with little chance for recovery. Word on he street was that the driver for the boy's mother, a well respected man known for his expertise, was who did the beating. The reason the boy was roughed up that night was because, through his mother (actually stepmother, something that wouldn't be known by Parravano) the man that pushed around the boy recognized him as knowing a high ranking member of the mob that was more-or-less opposed to or at least highly antagonistic to the old Cohen side of things.

The high ranking member of the mob was a man named Johnny Roselli. Because nothing ever got by Roselli in such or like related areas, especially so if it linked back to him and a mob man being beaten seemingly because of it, even if the man beaten was on the Cohen side of things, in his own inimitable way, he was sniffing around for answers. Keeping it all low key and off the record, it wasn't long before Roselli was showing up at Miller's. Efficient as the driver was known to be, he wasn't mob and Roselli had to resolve the issue as far up or low down as he had to go, on or off the books. So saying, Roselli and I had known each other since I was a ten year old through my stepmother and he wanted to hear from me face to face my side of the story and if I knew of any connection or had any personal knowledge leading back to the beating associated in some fashion to my mother's driver.

After associating me with the Roselli incident, Parravano stepped back in the shop and in so many words told Landaker to give me the run of the place, with Landaker nodding in approvement and giving a slight sign of a salute. Then Parravano came back out bending to my level putting his face in mine and tapping my chest fairly hard with his knuckle said, calling Roselli by his mob name, that the next time I saw him to put a good word in for him, that he had did right by me. Which, although it was a few years later and Parravano already skipped town, I did. Most of the rest of the Roselli, my stepmother's driver, and me story can pretty much be found by going to the Normandie Club link:


Wouter Melissen

Footnote [2]

The sentence this footnote is referenced to carries with it an almost throw away mention of a person I simply call my buddy then quickly goes on to tell of his helping me install the Zephyr transmission Landaker gave me and that's it. True, the whole of the page is written for other reasons than my buddy, but the quick passage doesn't pay homage to the much bigger part he played in the overall scheme of things relative to the woodie, my life, AND me. He and I went to the same high school, and, although we didn't bum around together, he did live just up the street from me and on occasion he would stop by while I was working on the wagon to see how things were going. Pretty soon he was tinkering with some minor mechanical stuff, then as time passed, more and more. In ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, linked at the source at the end of the quote, the following is found:

"However, we had established a strong tie and friendship because he was like an artist when it came to working on and having knowledge of old Fords, of which my early 1940s woodie station wagon was one. While I restored the wood, except for twin carburetors that had been installed by famed race car mechanic Joe Landaker, my buddy was the only one that worked on it, spending tons of hours on the mechanical end of things just for the heck of it, and because of his endeavors, it sang when it ran because everything mechanical was so in sync."(source)

Several years out high school my buddy moved to northern California after getting a job with IBM or some such place. One day on a trip through the same general area where he lived, not having seen him in a very long time, I decided to look him up. In turn he invited me to stay a couple of days. Other than going to the same high school and working on the woodie wagon in our past, we really didn't have much in common, plus we hadn't seen each other in years, so staying at his place for two or three days we did things more to his liking than what I would have otherwise normally done. He, having to work on one of the days I was there, suggested I visit the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum and/or the Winchester House, both of which were located not far from his apartment. Thinking coming from him neither was probably the best of ideas I selected the Winchester House first because I remembered as a young kid playing cowboys I had a certain fondness for the classic western saddle gun, the Winchester lever-action 30-30. Arriving early I actually ended up staying most of the of the day and never did make it to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum.

After a formal tour and a long time going over all the weapons in the Firearms Museum I found myself off on my own wandering around both inside and outside the rather bizarre complex, eventually ending up leisurely strolling around the Victorian Gardens that surround it. While in the garden I was approached by three or four monks in full Buddhist regalia. We spoke for a few minutes and they went on their way. A somewhat intense, disheveled, and bearded young man in his late teens or early twenties who seemed to have been following and observing the monks from a distance came up to speak with me when they departed. He asked if they always acted that way as they seemed to exhibit some sort of reverence toward me. After several more questions I told him I had studied Zen under Yasutani Hakuun Roshi and had as well been to India and the ashrama of Sri Ramana Maharshi. As the afternoon passed in conversation he continually wanted to know all about the the difference between the Indian side of things and that of Zen. After awhile, he stood up from the bench we were sitting on and said as soon as he had the money he was going to go to India. Later I learned the besheveled young man did just that, actually traveling in India for seven months. His name was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers. See Footnote [6]. See also:


Footnote [3]

I crossed paths with Kessler on-and-off on a number of occasions in the early years, usually in or around the docks of Marina Del Rey or sometimes at a road racing event or Reventlow's Scarab Factory a few blocks from the marina. Although now days there is no specific reason for him to remember any of the occasions because all of them were mostly no more than small, unconnected increments of time many years ago. However, as you can see if you go through events as I have outlined them, although the weaved pattern becomes lost in a much larger fabric of place and time the minor threads still hold the whole together.

Me being a regular at the marina came about because of the woodie wagon I spent so much time re-doing. The wood on the wagon was in such an immaculate state of restoration, having arrived at such a state only after hours and hours my own personal painstaking endeavors, that it attracted attention whenever I drove it. One of the persons it attracted was the skipper of a yacht come marlin boat moored in the Marina Del Rey harbor owned by the grown son and heir of a major multi-millionaire oil man.(see) The skipper was so taken by my talents working the wood he hired me to do the brightwork on the boat he skippered. Working on the brightwork put me in the marina on an almost daily basis --- at least for a good part of the year, the other part of the year we were in Cabo San Lucas. I don't know how it is now, but in those days there was sort of an esprit de corps on the docks. Me as a common worker quy was just as accepted as the next person. Ronnie Burns, the son of comedian George Burns, had a boat in a slip on the same dock that the boat I worked on was moored, and Kessler was a frequent visitor (actually, it could have been vice versa with the boat belonging to Kessler and Burns the visitor). Kessler would not have been in a position to know I knew Landaker or Reventlow, but even so whenever we came in contact pleasantries were passed, especially after a little girl who was walking with her mother and two sisters stepped off the dock and without thinking I jumped into the water to pull her out. Now, if Kessler was an actual witness to the event is not known, however the marina is a small community and it wouldn't have been long for the word to get around that it was the guy that works on the brightwork on so-and-so boat. No sooner had I pulled the little girl from the water than a small crowd of locals gathered and the following happened:

"Amongst the crowd was a woman that recognized me, a former Rose Marie Reid swim suit model that I knew as Sullivan, but since married to the son of a renowned ocean explorer. They had a boat in the harbor and since we had not seen each other in years, after everybody was sure the girl was OK, she asked me to join her for drinks on her yacht, get into some dry clothes and get caught up. As I was leaving later in afternoon Sullivan asked if I would be willing to go to a party she was throwing in a couple of weeks. As I slowly strolled away down the dock I halfheartedly turned back and nodded in agreement that I would attend."

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In general conversation Sullivan told me that if Kessler's dad Jack wasn't the outright owner of Rose Marie Reid, the company she used to model for, he was certainly a major mover in the firm. I was actually set aback at the time because, although I knew he (Bruce) traveled in fairly high circles he never acted like he was so connected --- I mean, during the period of time we are talking about here the Rose Marie Reid swimsuit company was turning out something like 10,000 suits a day and bringing in somewhere around $15 million in sales a year, not exactly chump change --- and Kessler (again, Bruce) was always just a regular guy.

Little did I know at the time that anything related to what was going on would eventually involve the woman on the dock, a crash of a PBY, and the prophecy of an ancient tribal elder as found in the Navajo Code Talkers.



I had known Lance Reventlow since we were both kids. He was probably around 14 years old and I was around 12 when we first met. My dad and Stepmother had gone off to Mexico and on to South America for a couple of years and parsed out my brothers and I to others to look after us. My older brother went to live with my grandmother and my younger brother went to live with a couple of which the woman of the couple was somehow known to my stepmother. My Uncle, who had basically had charge of me since I was eight years old was going back to Santa Fe and after some negotiating was able to convince the couple that took my younger brother to take me as well. It didn't work out with me running away on more than one occasion. My uncle contacted my stepmother who told him to stick me into some kind of boys home or some such thing until she got back, but not a disciplinary one like they had put my older brother in at one time, but an educational one. In the process my uncle checked out the Southern Arizona School for Boys in Tucson and took me with him. The school for boys idea didn't take hold because of money I think --- mostly the lack of it --- and I ended up back with the couple after promising my uncle I would behave until other solutions were found or my stepmother returned.(see)

The thing is, during my visit to the school, while my uncle was in discussion and being shown around I saw a boy sitting by himself at a table and, although later he claimed to be no kind of an artist, he was making the most fabulous pencil drawing of an open wheeled race car by a kid I had ever seen. I was always drawing pictures, mostly of planes and rocket ships, but never of race cars. I sat down next to the boy and began drawing the only race car I knew anything about, the Boyle Special that had won the 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500. The next thing I knew the two of us were talking on and on with the boy telling me of seeing race cars in Europe, not like the ones in the U.S. that drove around only in circles, but that raced on real roads. The boy turned out to be Lance Reventlow.

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Right after graduating from high school I got a job in Hollywood. Typically like I did almost every day after work in those days I walked down to the bus stop near the corner of Sunset and Van Ness to catch a ride home when on a certain particular day a pristine mint condition Mercedes Benz 300 SL gullwing coupe stopped in traffic directly across from where I was sitting waiting for the light. Of all things, and one of the last things I would have ever expected, I recognized the driver as someone I knew. Stepping off the curb toward the car, and not totally sure if I might scare the crap out of the driver, I tapped on the window. Almost immediately after a quick glance the driver recognized me. In an open hand pointing motion he signaled as though he would pull over when he got a chance. When the light changed he crossed the intersection pulling into a red zone along the curb while I ran to catch up with him. The driver of course was none other than Lance Reventlow.

Now, I don't know how many of you have ever tried to get into a Mercedes Benz 300 SL gullwing coupe, but if you don't know how or have never done it before, it can be a little tricky, especially in the middle of rush hour traffic with horns honking and all kinds of people yelling. But got in I did and off we went in a huge big rush of acceleration. The first thing he asked was what was I doing on a bus bench on Sunset in Hollywood, implying softly if I might be homeless or something. I filled him in that I was staying at the home of a friend of my stepmother who owned a place in the Hollywood Hills while I was working as an inbetweener in the animation department of a major film studio just down the street from where he picked me up. He told me he lived off Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills and on his way home and could easily drop me off. Remembering back when we were both kids drawing race cars together and what I was doing now, he practically shit. Here was Reventlow, a guy that didn't have to work a day in his life and me thinking nothing I could of or ever do or say would impress him one way or the other, he was drop jawed amazed that I was working, being paid, and doing a job creating cartoons for a major Hollywood studio, and I was still just a kid. It seemed like it was almost as though he wished it was him doing it instead.

A number of people have come forward claiming to have known Lance Reventlow saying what I've written about him doesn't sound like the Reventlow they knew, i.e., spontaneously picking someone up from some bus bench in Hollywood for example and taking him home. What most of the people seem to have in common is that their coming to know Reventlow came into being after he had inherited his wealth and became a Hollywood playboy sports car builder and driver. When I first came across Reventlow he was a 14 year old product of a falling apart family situation having been dumped off in some school out in the middle of the Arizona desert for asthmatics. The day I sat down next to him and began drawing single seat open wheel race cars with him I had never seen anything like it. His incredible attention to detail without the object in front of him showed an extraordinary observant mind to small details combined with an ability to transfer what was in that mind onto paper, showing an extraordinary mental hand-brain hand-eye small motor skill coordination that I hadn't really experienced before even after all those years with my artist uncle. Immediately I began upgrading, incorporating, and refining my ability into the same set of skills. As to others and how they knew him I have to admit the most time I ever spent with Reventlow together alone was the day he took me home in his 300 SL and then he was only just then entering the era where most of the writers were telling me how he "really" was.

I did get a small sniff of that potentiality when one day I submitted a satire article I had written on Reventlow to James T. Crow the editor of Road and Track magazine at the time. I had known Crow personally from the time he was the editor of the California Sports Car Club monthly magazine and through that relationship thought he might publish the satire in Road and Track, a satire I had titled "LUNCH REVS-LOW: Or Lunch Bucks It." Crow got back to me saying even though he found the article extremely funny, falling into the same vein of Mad Comics, he was reluctant to publish it, even if was written by someone Reventlow knew because of his notorious lack of a sense of humor --- which was news to me.

Footnote [4]

In March of 2003 the noted theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking had a speaking engagement at the University of California, Davis. I attended his speech as the guest of a well respected science-related invitee as well as the formal invitation only after speech event. Doing so presented me with the opportunity to wend my way through the greeting line in a more official-like status as she slowly progressed forward to express her regards and admiration to the scientist. Reaching the spot Hawking was positioned, the following, highly related to having all the time in the world transpired, as quoted from the source so cited:

"I was just to the right of her at that given moment and a hand-width to the right of me was another distinguished professor or scientist. When the person I was with was given a nod of acknowledgment she courteously stepped back as did I. Instinctively Hawking turned his eye contact from her toward the man to my right who had already begun unnecessarily gushing a loud, thick layer of praise. In the process, without changing his head position much, if at all, and with me in the middle, Hawking's turning eye gaze made a sweeping cross-path contact with mine. It remains difficult to gage if that sweeping eye contact was as little as a half a yoctosecond or stretched into minutes. To me, that instant, if it was an instant, was like being hit with a hammer. The hollow ring sound of the stopped time was broken only by the continuing ultra slow motion movement of being turned away because of my underarm contact with the person I was with as well as Hawking's handler slightly tapping him as though he had fallen asleep. There was no meeting or greeting between us. No words were exchanged nor any Samsara or conventional-plane recognition or acknowledgement transpired in either direction. However, acknowledgement or not, in that brief history of time something changed."(source)

Nearly everyone, at one time or the other in their life, has experienced such an episode wherein time either seemed to stop or slow to such a snails pace it seemed so unreal you could almost step out of it. Fangio had the ability to both 'turn it on' and control it. Traveling with Landaker to meet Fangio was what I wanted to know and learn, turning it on and controlling it --- an intellectual exercise far removed from, but touching on the edges of Zen. What was to eventually transpire in Dark Luminosity was years off, and for me at the time, seemed a valid solution.






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Footnote [5]

John Edgar had a son, William, or "Bill" as he is known, who has over the years risen to the top to become a highly valid and trusted historian of the Edgar/Landaker/Shelby years. As a teenager into my early twenties during those years I floated around on top of the goings on when it was going on completely innocent of all the subtle nuances. Unknown to most there was a whole host of background intrigues brewing just below the surface that sometimes barely rippled into the daylight time-and-again that affected who, what, when, and where cars and drivers were used and who used them. Bill writes the following absolutely fascinating information regarding some of those intrigues. Bill, speaking of his father writes:

John Edgar expected Maserati to deliver to him a free 450S for a very good reason, as that was the deal set forth in the contract that Shelby and Edgar drew up with Maserati, which promised Maserati that the Edgar team would not enter its existing Ferraris in road racing competition but would only enter and run Maserati. And this proved to not be limited to Shelby as driver. In Hawaii, in April 1957, at the sports car races at Dillingham Field, Oahu, with the contract already in effect, Edgar thought there would be no real problem with allowing Phil Hill, not Shelby, to drive the Edgar-owned Ferrari 410 Sport s/n 0598CM. On April 19, Hill did seat himself in the 410 for solo speed runs on the 3,800-ft Mauka runway straight at Dillingham, on which Hill achieved fastest trap clocked speed of the meet with a certified pass of 165.12 mph. But by race time two days later, on Easter Sunday, a contract quandary had evolved that resulted in an Edgar team last-minute decision to not permit Hill to drive the Edgar Ferrari in the actual road race, as it would have constituted a breach of the deal with Maserati. So Hill and the 410, a duo that could have easily won the race, had to sit it out on the sidelines. In the race, Shelby drove the Edgar 300S 3071 to third place, behind winner Pete Woods in a D-Type and runner-up Chuck Daigh in the Troutman Barnes Special. The footnote to all this is that after Edgar had to look beyond the contract's promise and pay cash to finally get a 450S in the summer of 1957, and a used one at that, he would soon consider the Maserati contact void and start entering his Ferraris again, alongside his paid-for 450S, which proved to be a very strong winner in Shelby's hands.

Maserati's reason not to send Edgar the Sebring-winning 450S chassis 4503 was certainly the factory's desire to keep that car in Europe serving the works team, and so he got 3071 as an appeasement loaner. We know of the financial problems Maserati would have later in the year, but they might also have had some bearing on the delay in getting a 450S to Edgar at the beginning of summer, otherwise Maserati would have built more. Also, Maserati's reluctance to send the 450S at no charge indicated that the company, as early as the summer of 1957, was closely watching its finances. Only when Edgar said he would wait no longer, and go ahead and buy the car, was one finally shipped to him, 4506. Meanwhile, 3071 served Edgar as a not-too-bad substitute, regardless of what Shelby thought of it. I, personally, loved the look and snarl of it, but never turned a wheel in it.

A bit of irony at the Riverside Raceway opener in September 1957 is worth mentioning. Shelby, having just weeks before won the VIR opener with the 450S, got off the road with it in practice at Riverside, causing serious damage to the Maser's front end and occasioning many stitches to close the gashes in his face, rendering both car and driver unable to compete in the Riverside inaugural race on September 22. The irony comes into this when Richie Ginther won that Riverside opener overall in a Ferrari, which was Edgar's 410 Sport, entered by Edgar at the track that was constructed with finances provided by John Edgar Enterprises.(source)

Please note the above paragraphs so stated as written by William "Bill" Edgar are found in the comments section of the source page so cited by scrolling down to Edgar's personal response regarding the article it is posted in response to, dated August 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm.

Footnote [6]

The Fremont Hotel downtown was one of the major sponsors of the road races that weekend, and because of that Landaker and I were staying in one of several comped rooms (i.e., free) set aside for people associated with the races. It just so happened that during those years in Las Vegas there was an individual of some influence found mentioned by me in Footnote [1] by the name of Johnny Roselli, dapper, silver-haired and carrying all the outward appearance of a gentleman, that had gone out of his way to help my ex-stepmother, who he knew, after she found herself experiencing some hard times. It also so happened that Roselli was as well, his otherwise gentlemanly outward appearances and demeanor notwithstanding, a major bigtime heavyweight crime figure, a member of the mob, of which at the time held a certain amount sway in Las Vegas and environs.

In that I had a minor role on my ex-stemother's behalf between the two, and that Roselli came through like a champ, while in Vegas I decided to send him a thank you note to express my appreciations for his efforts. Without really thinking about it I used Fremont Hotel stationary. From that he was apparently able to track me down and make contact because that evening Landaker and I were sitting in one of those infamous all you can eat, cheap (in those days) buffets having dinner when a man stepped up and told me Roselli wanted to see me. Landaker's jaw fell open. He had worked for Tony Parravano and, although I am not intimating any sort of a connection, he was familiar enough to know who Roselli was, but had no clue I knew him or why Roselli wanted to see me. Roselli and I met in a room behind the gift shop at the New Frontier Hotel. We spoke for a few minutes, I told him how much what he had done had helped out my stepmother and that was it --- except for Roselli, my stepmother, me, and a bunch of "off the books" slot machines. See:


When the race weekend was over I took in Hoover Dam then drove down to Searchlight thinking I might take in a little gambling and maybe even partake in a few extra curricular activities on the side at the infamous El Rey Club, also known as a casino, motel, and brothel.

Navigating through the casino the day I was there in an attempt to find a lucky machine, I bumped into the club's owner Willie Martello and introduced myself. He told me he remembered well the day my "mom," i.e., my stepmother, and I was there, saying, "She pulled a fuckin' .45 out of her purse and pointed it at one of Daisy Mae's girls. I thought she was going to blow the shit out of her, the place, and everybody in it," my stepmother's pistol having somehow mysteriously morphed from a .25, which is barely even a gun, to being a .45, which is like a small cannon at close range. We talked a few minutes, shook hands, and jokingly as he walked away he asked if I was carrying any kind of a firearm. When I told him no he said as far as he was concerned it was all in the past, no harm, no foul.

As soon as Martello left and I sat down to try and win a fortune than some heavyweight stepped up showing me he had a pistol shoved in his belt and wanting to know what my connection was with Martello, saying we seemed awful of chummy for a guy just passing through. After a brief explanation the man left. Within a few minutes he was back telling me that Roselli wanted to talk with me on the phone. Using a pay phone from a bank of pay phones in some dark hall in the back Roselli asked the same thing as the man, although wanting a clarification if I was using his name, i.e., Roselli's, in any fashion in any dealings with Martello. I ensured him I wasn't, saying I had no dealings with Martello, it was strictly a friendly visit while informing Roselli the background story between Martello, my stepmother and me. I added as far as I knew Martello didn't even know I knew him. With that Roselli said, "He knows." Roselli told me he wanted me to distanced myself from Martello before it got dark that day, permanently dark. Then, as requested, I handed the phone back to the man. After a couple of quick words over a couple of quick seconds the man hung up telling me that Roselli said to give his best to my mom. Knowing everything was cool between us with that remark I left that instant and never went back.

When I was leaving the El Rey Club the same man that questioned me about Martello a few minutes earlier in the casino, blocked me from backing out my car with his car, all the while waving something in the air and yelling that he had something for me. When I got out to see what the fuss was all about he handed me an already opened envelope addressed to Roselli. Inside was an 8X11 white sheet of paper that had only a small few line typed note in the center asking Roselli if he knew how to contact me and a business card of a L.A. lawyer that had "Call me. Brenda" written on the back. Roselli had sent his gorilla to stop me, not catching me until reaching the El Rey Club. My meeting with Martello at first took precedence over the note.(see)


While I was still in Las Vegas before going to Searchlight, just as I was leaving the little room behind the gift shop in the New Frontier Hotel after seeing Roselli, a very good looking well dressed clean shaven man was entering, with the two of us having to circle out of each others way as he was going in, neither of us realizing the other was there at first. As we passed in the narrow space of the doorway we made very strong close eye contact and even though I felt I should know him I didn't ... nor did I recognize him. Although I noticed there was a kindness about him I didn't expect a potential Roselli cohort would exhibit. Ten years later I was to meet the same man again under much different circumstances and although I didn't recognize him, after some time together he remembered me. The man was Dan Rowan of the Rowan and Martin comedy team, headliners in Vegas in those years before. It seems in those days Rowan had developed what was said to have become a mutual infatuation between himself and Phyllis McGuire of the McGuire Sisters, also headliners in Vegas at the time. It seems also at the very same time a major heavyweight mover in Roselli's inner circle had also developed an interest in McGuire and Rowan was told in so many words to put a lot of distance between himself had her, otherwise there would be consequences. I heard Rowan was actually roughed up over it. If Rowan seeing Roselli was related to any of that I don't know. For more on the meeting between Dan Rowan and myself ten years later, which reveals a side of Rowan than most people know, see:


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One year after Landaker, Roselli, me at the SCCA road races at McCarran Field in Las Vegas it was Roselli and me back together again, only this time it was in Florida for the Cuban Missile Crisis:



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Footnote [7]

My all-summer-long travels in Mexico came about after the excitement of going to Nassau with Landaker in 1958 but before being drafted into the Army in 1962. I had tired of the day-to-day over-and-over grind of the same job I had held since leaving high school. At first I had been working on the high altitude breathing equipment for the then super-secret U-2 spy plane, which was exciting work getting to go out to Edwards Air Force Base, Groom Lake, and Area 51, but with the contract nearing an end, the job began to get stale. When the skipper offered me a no-brain job doing brightwork on the marlin boat I jumped at it. Even so, the draft was still looming over my head and the fact my long term semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help. When my buddy, who was in much the same boat I was, suggested an extended, open-ended trip to Mexico I decided to take a leave of absence from my job on the boat and go for it.

My buddy and I searched around until we found a used six-cylinder 1951 Chevy panel truck perfect for the trip that was in pretty good shape. After pooling our money and buying it, over a period of a few months we outfitted the inside panels like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. We got a bunch of new fanbelts, radiator hoses, inner tubes and tools, then, early one Saturday morning we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border with no idea how long we were going to be gone.

We made our first mistake the same morning we crossed the border by turning east thinking we could get into the main part of Mexico. When we got to Tecate we were told it was, at least in those days, difficult to continue traveling eastward for some reason and to just go back into the States and cross at Nogales. The other suggestion was to go down the Baja peninsula and cross over by ferry to the mainland. We took the second suggestion and turned southwest ending up on the Baja Pacific coast near Ensenada. If it was bum advice to continue east or not I still don't know to this day. In any case, it worked out more than OK for us.

After leaving Ensenada we continued south on some pretty crummy roads eventually reaching the town of Guerrero Negro where the road turns south eastward across the peninsula to the little town of Santa Rosalia. There we put the truck on the ferry and crossed the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas. Not far from Guerrero Negro and well before reaching Santa Rosalia we turned left on Highway 18 as I wanted to catch up with a man I hoped to meet who was said to live at a place called El Arco.

The man was Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the onetime second in command of the infamous Flying Tigers of World War II fame. I had read his wife's book Lady and the Tigers (1943) and heard somewhere along the way that Greenlaw lived there. Since we were close by and most likely would never be back I made it a point to look him up, spending a couple of days with him at his nice but almost fully dirt floor hovel. In conversation I mentioned that a few years before I had met Smokey Yunick, a pilot who had flown for the Tigers. He said he did not recall the name as having been with the A.V.G., but he may have flown for the 14th Air Force Flying Tigers that replaced the A.V.G.

Continuing on after crossing the Sea of Cortez we passed through Guadalajara turning toward the mysterious ancient ruins of Chicomoztoc with an interesting set of results, then back toward Lake Chapala, San Miguel Allende and a bunch of other places ending up seeing the pyramids in Mexico City and Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Compared to most of the people in the countryside we came across, as well as the locals in the towns we went through, we had all the money we needed to spend on anything we wanted including gas, food, lodging, girls, and beer. A full accounting of the story, from start to finish, can be found by going to:



When I was eight or nine years old I went on an almost all summer long excursion throughout the desert southwest visiting a variety of major and minor historical sites as well as fossil and archaeological sites all across Arizona and New Mexico with my uncle. One of the places we visited when we got to New Mexico was Fort Sumner, stopping there specifically for me to see the gravesite of the infamous western outlaw and bad guy Billy the Kid.

Because of a few highly memorable adventures and people I met during that excursion I created a couple of web pages devoted to it. One of the pages revolves around a post high school teenager I met named Tommy Tyree. Tyree worked on a ranch for a man whose dad's brother, in 1908, shot and killed Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who in turn had shot Billy Kid in 1881. Because of such Tyree was a minor historian of Billy the Kid. However, his major claim to fame is his stature as a witness to the events surrounding the alleged crash of an object of an unknown nature that came out of the night sky during the summer of 1947 related to what has come to be known as the Roswell UFO. The other page, because of my visit to Billy the Kid's gravesite, I have dedicated it to Billy the Kid. On that page I use a graphic of a fairly famous oil painting done in 1937 of the Kid by a fellow desert southwest artist and friend of my uncle named John W. Hilton, of whom, through my uncle, as a kid I both met and as well, saw the original painting.


In an article on the net about Col. Harvey Greenwall said to have appeared in Cabo Life Magazine reportedly states that the same artist, John W. Hilton, painted a mural on Greenlaw's wall a year or two before I visited him --- during the same period Hilton was gathering material for a book he was writing titled "Hardly Any Fences," a book that dealt with his various travels in Baja California from 1933 to 1959. In a chapter or section of that book, published in 1977, titled "South to El Arco," in his own hand, Hilton presents a slightly different version of any attempt at what could possibly be misconstrued as him having painted a full wall mural:

"I took a liking to Harvey Greenlaw at once. His house had a dirt floor but there were murals on all of the walls painted and drawn by artists and would-be artists who had stopped by to visit him. I added some cereus and cactus plants on each side of a painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This gave her a local touch, we thought."

As you can tell from this page and several others referenced herein I have page after page related in some fashion to the World War II fighter plane the Curtis-Wright P-40 Warhawk, also known as the Tomahawk, and the Kittyhawk depending on who flew them, their area of operation, and when they were made. Although I hold no distaste toward other aircraft, and I mention many throughout my works, relative to the P-40, most do have a tendency to take a backseat. Such is the case with the truly most formidable F6F Hellcat. I bring up the Hellcat, more specifically the F6F below because of Baja California and the potential possibility of one of it's kind coming in contact with another strong interest of mine, submarines --- especially so World War II Japanese and German rogue or ghost submarines. See:


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Footnote [8]

If you read Footnote [2] you may recall I mentioned my uncle had charge of me over a four year period starting before I was eight years old through to me being at least twelve or so. After that I was fostered out and he returned to his home in Santa Fe. Even though those years with my uncle were my most formative and the two of us were really close sharing many good times and adventures together, after we separated, except for letters and a few phone calls years went by before we were able to see each other again. First, for a short time in 1968 then again two years later in 1970 following my father being caught in the fire while on the job. Because his outlook didn't look all that favorable, my uncle drove out from Santa Fe to see him. After learning my father's health was OK considering his age and what had happened to him --- as well as spending several days talking over old times together, my uncle decided to head back home. As it was, my dad held on, and as I have said, dying of complications from the fire two years later.

After visiting my dad but just before leaving Los Angeles my uncle, with me going along as well, squeezed in whole day with a long time good friend of his, the cowboy western author of over 100 books, Louis L'Amour. After that, rather than go straight to New Mexico he headed north toward the High Sierras as he wanted to see another old friend of his he had introduced me to when I was a young boy, a man of great spiritual attainment by the name of Franklin Merrell-Wolff --- as told in The Tree --- and I continued to tag along with him there as well as all the way to Santa Fe.

A few months later, in fall of 1971, after I left my uncle in Santa Fe but before I caught up with Landaker at Polak's, my uncle called and asked me to meet him in Denver, Colorado. Apparently the day before he had been sitting in a cafe in Taos, New Mexico when a Native American spiritual elder and peyote road man by the name of Little Joe Gomez along with two other men stepped up to his table. Gomez, who my uncle knew, introduced the two men then left. According to my uncle the two men said they were emissaries of a supposedly highly regarded Buddhist monk then residing in Boulder, Colorado. From there one of the most interesting roads trips with my uncle unfolded. For those who may be so interested please go to:


Footnote [9]

"(F)or her 16th birthday my dad, who doted over her on her every move, want, or conceived need, bought her a vintage split rear window VW bug. However, before her ever seeing it he had it completely restored inside and out, having it painted with seven coats of hand-rubbed black lacquer and installing chrome plated Porsche rims mounted with Pirelli tires. He also had famed Porsche race team owner and mechanic Vasek Polak install a Porsche 1500 Super engine with a roller bearing crank, upgraded brake system, dual Weber carburetors, and a street legal Spyder exhaust system."

Regarding the trip to Sausalito and while along the way meeting Steve Jobs. Several years ago a-long-time email correspondent of mine by the name of Ken Fry was discussing Enlightenment Intensives with me, and of which, in so many words he favored and I didn't. In the process Fry mentioned Alan Watts, saying:

"Alan Watts knew about them. He called it A True Western Zen when I discussed it with him personally, on his houseboat in Sausalito, a few decades ago. Afterward we went to the Trident and ate boullibaise and drank white wine."

Disregarding anything more to do with Enlightenment Incentives, referring to the Trident I said, "So who hasn't?" I went on to say long before Fry ever emailed me, my page ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, was made available on the internet as mentioned in The Letter. Page two of the Zen Enlightenment page has a longtime appearing paragraph that, without mentioning Alan Watts DOES mention Sausalito and Emanuel Sorensen, known as Shunyata. If one knows their history, Shunyata, a man of great spiritual attainment, was invited to stay on the Watts houseboat in Sausalito in the "marina," spoken of below, not far from where I picked up my mentor. The reason Watts wasn't mention regarding picking up my mentor and meeting Sorensen is because Watts had died the year before, in November 1973, but I had been to the houseboat --- actually a former 1870s stern-wheel ferryboat named SS Vallejo once moored in the mudflats off gate 5 road --- several times previously over the years, just not in connection with Shunyata:

"In 1974 another of the few occurrences where the man next door mentioned someone specific transpired, only this time, unlike above, how I downplay the extent of my meeting with Swami Ramdas, I actually met the person involved. My Mentor sent word requesting I pick him up along the California coast and take him to one of the marinas in the Bay area to meet an old friend visiting from India. It had been at least twenty years since he had been on the mainland, so it was quite clear something important was up. Plus, except the brief encounter with Swami Ramdas as I have described it above, with me being brand new at the time I had never really met anyone from his past. Now, with some experience under my belt I was most anxious to do so.

"The old friend turned out to be Emmanuel (Alfred) Sorensen, known as Shunyata, a man of great spiritual renown, although much to my chagrin, that I was not totally familiar with at the time. He was European, at the very least in his eighties, spoke with an accent, dressed somewhat like an east Indian, and, as it turned out, truly one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever met. Sorensen, it has been said, was BORN Awake. My Mentor and Sorensen had known each other from the early years when both inadvertently met while travelling in India and had, unlike Upaka the Ascetic on the road to Benares, immediately recognized in each other the aspect of Awakening. The man had remained in India since the early 1930s and had only recently arrived in California for a short stay."

It should be noted the visit by Sorensen in 1974 was his first or initial visit. In 1978, at age 88 he moved to California on a permanent basis, under the auspices of the Watts' leftovers. In July, 1984 he moved into a house in Fairfax several miles north of Sausalito. After living almost his whole life in India and with only a few short years in California, in 1984, at age 93, he was hit by a car while crossing the street in Fairfax and died in hospital soon afterwards. In 1978, when Sorensen moved to California to stay, I was living in Jamaica. During that period my mentor died. When I returned to the states I wasn't even aware Sorensen had moved to California until sometime later when the circumstances surrounding his death filtered down to me.

It was during that same leisurely months long trip north to meet and take my mentor to Shunyata that, while visiting a friend in San Jose' I met a young Steve Jobs who was at the time contemplating a trip to India. Within weeks, or maybe even days, of our meeting Jobs made his decision and left for India.

One last thing before we move on, as written about in the main text above, in 1970 my father was caught in a fire while on the job. He held on for a couple of years but by the end of 1972 he had fallen into a deep coma and put on life support. The year after the 1971 trip with my uncle I write about elsewhere about meeting Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and all, sometime around the start of the summer of 1972 but prior to my dad falling into a coma, my dad called me to his bedside without the knowledge of family or friends, including his wife. He told me he had long rented a small, single-car garage-size storage unit unknown to anybody. Inside the storage unit he said, was a large locked trunk clearly marked with his brother's name and he wanted me to deliver it him unopened and without anybody's knowledge, even my brothers, and especially so before anybody discovered he had the storage unit.

Adhering to my father's request put me in Santa Fe unexpectedly on a quick couple of days turn around during late June early July of 1972. I say unexpectedly because as soon as I walked out of the hospital I went straight to the storage unit, picked up the trunk, and drove all night right to Santa Fe. Doing so put me into my uncle's schedule of doing things instead of the two of us designing time around me being there.

During that couple of days in Santa Fe my uncle had to meet up with, for some undisclosed reason, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who just happened to be in town during the same period and I went along. I wasn't introduced to or meet Ginsberg, staying off some distance milling around the car as requested by my uncle while the two of them talked. However, I was close enough to see Ginsberg was traveling with a couple of hangers-on, one of which was a woman about 30 with ultra-short dark hair the other a very tall young man with full beard and dreadlocks. The young man with full beard and dreadlocks, who just happened to be a good friend of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was Bhagavan Das, age 27, only just returned from India.

I never met Ginsberg, another good friend of Trungpa. That afternoon with my uncle was the closest I came to an introduction. Although it was apparent the two of them knew each other why my uncle requested me to remain by the car while the two of them talked was never clear. I could have easily overridden the whole thing if I so chose, and perhaps I should have. I carried a major ace-in-the-hole relative to Ginsberg that would have elevated me quickly with him had I selected to do so --- that ace being me having met a few years prior a major high-profile woman in his inner circle that had disappeared, a woman by the name of Hope Savage. She had been with the Beats ever since Ginsberg's top player Gregory Corso brought her into their circle. She had gone to Paris and Corso had went in search of her with no luck. Ginsberg ran into her in India a few years later and was the last to see her when the two of them said goodbyes in Calcutta in 1962. However, I had inadvertently crossed paths with her wandering in a remote section of the Himalayas since then. He would have flipped had he found out about it.

The three-photo strip below was taken at the 1972 meeting in Santa Fe. The first photo show Alan Ginsberg. The center photo has Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass shown together. The third photo shows him with Ram Dass and Ginsberg. Ram Dass, again, IS Dr. Richard Alpert, the author of Be Here Now, the 1971 book that shot Bhagavan Das as well as both Ram Dass and Bhagavan Das' guru Neem Karoli Baba to fame.


Sometime early in February 1972, several months before the above mentioned trip to Santa Fe, my uncle phoned saying he was planning to go by train to San Bernardino, California, and was wondering if it would be possible for me to pick him up at the station and take him to the home of the mother of a friend of his who had died recently to pay his respects, the mother of the deceased living in Palm Desert, less than an hour drive basically south into the desert from San Bernardino. I told him sure, but as it was the plan never came to fruition as there was never a formal funeral or memorial and the deceased's ashes were apparently scattered overseas.

During the summer trip to Santa Fe, in that I had my own car, i.e., the Porsche powered Volkswagen, and would be returning home the same direction in a couple of days, my uncle felt it would be an opportune time for the two of us to have another one of our infamous road trips together by me taking him to Palm Desert on my way back. I agreed, but with two sort of joking-like conditions. One, only if we could figure out a way to stay the night once again in one of the pit houses along the Meteor Crater rim like we used to when I was a kid, and two, that he would find his own way back to Santa Fe after being delivered to Palm Desert, all of which he agreed to.

Up until arriving in Palm Desert and locating the "mother" I had no idea who the mother was, who she was the mother of, or how she fit into the overall scheme of things relative to either my uncle or myself. However, after introductions she, as well as the daughter, proved to be long time friends of my uncle, the mother being the mother a onetime late 1930's to late 1940's movie star by the name of Rochelle Hudson, who had passed away January 17, 1972 at the young age of 56. He had met Rochelle on the train traveling in Mexico just at the outbreak of World War II while he was on his way down to Mexico City to meet his friend the famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera who he had worked with as an artist during the depression for the WPA. Unknown to my uncle at the time Rochelle and her husband were traveling in Mexico in the guise of being a vacationing couple when in fact they were spies for the U.S. government trying to ferret out German and Japanese activity below the border.

In the cloak and dagger world of espionage, Hudson, who was active along with her Navel officer husband during World War II, is primarily known and given credit for bringing to light the existence of a secret Japanese submarine base located 60 miles north of the Guatemala border along the Pacific west coast in Mexico that has since come to be known as the La Palma Secret Base as well as discovering and then having eliminated a huge stash of high octane aviation fuel in Baja California thought to be intended for an aerial attack against Southern California by German planes. See:



Footnote [10]

This Footnote is basically a follow-up to Footnote [8]. In Sausalito my mentor and Sorensen were together for a short time after which I took him back to where I picked him up, returning I guess to his island off the coast. Sometime later Sorensen traveled to Palm Springs in some capacity to give darshan and my mentor, without me being involved in any fashion, joined him there somehow. However, when it was time to leave, my mentor contacted me to assist in his return home. You may remember from the main text above that late one night I casually participated in a semi high speed faceoff with an Okrasa equipped VW on Interstate 10 near Cabazon. Well, the original intent of me being on Interstate 10 ending up near Cabazon in the first place was for me to go to Palm Springs and pick up my mentor.

The Okrasa VW turned off on Highway 111 toward Palm Springs, the same way I should have gone except I was in the far outside lane and traveling way to fast. A few minutes later my Volkswagen blew an oil line or some such thing and I had to pull over.

The rest of the night was spent getting into Indio and making arrangements for a flatbed truck to transport the VW safely to Polak's. The next morning, after having contacted my mentor he made his way down to Indio and met me at the Greyhound bus station. From there we caught the first Greyhound to Los Angeles, a hot, stuffy, overripe, crampacked bus coming up out of Louisiana that had been on the road for two straight days.

Footnote [11]

Regarding the accuracy of the statement regarding the 450-S as being the real, original Edgar/Landaker/Shelby 450-S as so stated under the photograph of the 450S, the link in the photo took you to a footnote discussing the discrepancy in the measurements caused by an actual physical discrepancy to the frame et al. The cause of that physical discrepancy may lead back to what is inferred in the following quote attributed to Carroll Shelby speaking of Joe Landaker as found in the previously cited William "Bill" Edgar quote further back up the page:

"'He lived for horsepower and the road,' Shelby has told me of Landaker, 'and he was my best sports car mechanic in the 1950s. Joe could drive that transporter coast-to-coast in two days, living on cheese snacks and soda pop, and never once stopping to sleep.' Landaker, too, had a special way with a race car's body damage. Not how expensive coachwork on these same sports cars is refurbished today, Joe back then did the job right in the race paddock with mallet and tin snips. Plus he was a whiz with engine and drive train work and applied early-learned truck mechanics for making innovative fixes from scratch. 'All-nighters with wrenches and hammers,' said Shelby, 'were just regular hours for Joe'."

Towards the bottom of the main text in the link that got you here, in a conversation with me, you will find

"(Landaker) went on to say with all the race car owners like John Edgar, Frank Arciero, Joe Lubin and Johnny von Neumann no longer active, along with the big bore machines not meeting FIA standards the only major sports car racing team left was Polak's. Landaker joked, with an element of truth to it, because he was to ham-handed to have the finesse demanded of the Porsche engines, he was put out to pasture."

In the upper of the two quotes above you can tell, as with other quotes by Shelby I've cited, that he, Shelby, always spoke highly of Landaker. However, during the time that the movie Ford vs Ferrari covers is just at the time Landaker was being "put out to pasture" as I call it. I always felt, and even more so after Ford vs. Ferrari, that Landaker should have been found a spot, even as a grand old statesman if necessary, in the post John Edgar era of the Shelby organization. While it is true no doubt that Landaker was no Ken Miles, I always felt Landaker deserved better.

Below is a post-Landaker graphic of Shelby with Miles at Le Mans, having moved on to bigger and better things:

Footnote [12]

Although a good part of my childhood was spent traveling all over the desert southwest with my uncle, very seldom did we venture much farther east than the eastern New Mexico border. All those travels came to a halt just about the time I reached the 8th grade. Even though I made many trips back and forth across country by plane, train and automobile over the years, mostly north of the southern states, after my trip with Landaker it would be 47 years before I would make a similar trip by motor vehicle that encompassed most of the same states Landaker and I crossed following basically the same route, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, only going west rather than east.

If you have gone through any of my works you may have come across the fact that at a very early age I was taken by a foster couple to India. I have since learned that going to and from India from the U.S. I traveled by ship. However, I lived on the west coast when I left and how I got to the east coast, because of what I call mitigating circumstances, is not known. Most likely it was by train.(see) Following my arrival back in the states some six months later it is known for certain that after staying in Pennsylvania for a short time I returned to California via train --- known for certain because the train I was on, the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief out of Chicago, wrecked in a high speed crash, derailing just outside Winslow, Arizona, killing the fireman and three passengers. Although I escaped unhurt 113 passengers along with 13 train employees were injured, among them the severely injured engineer.(see)

Five years later I made a west coast east coast and return trip by train that I do remember. I took the week off before the regularly scheduled school year Christmas vacation started, returning home the day before Christmas using the southern route through Yuma, El Paso, Sanderson, San Antonio, New Orleans, then to Atlanta and on up to Washington. The purpose of the trip was to the see the Kensington Stone while it was still on display in the Smithsonian.

While we were gone the whole upper tier of the U.S., and especially so the upper midwest, was covered in the worst snow anybody had ever seen, some places so deep locomotives and whole trains were completely buried with tracks covered for hundreds of miles with so much snow they couldn't even be plowed. A good part of the remaining rail service was shifted toward the southern part of the country and I remember we were caught up in it all both coming and going. No sooner had I returned and finished what was left of my vacation and started school than on January 8-11, 1949, all of downtown Los Angeles was hit with snow. The hills all around the civic center, the Hollywood Hills where the sign is, even Griffith Observatory. The storm was so bad that on January 11 the Los Angeles Unified School District shut down and declared its one and only district-wide Snow Day. It was bad enough the rest of the country was zapped by snow, but Los Angeles? I remember being totally amazed by it all as well as my uncle saying the last time it snowed like that in L.A. he had just met Albert Einstein.

Nine years later on my way to Florida and on to Nassau in the transporter with Landaker I was crossing much of the same route as my trip by train to Washington D.C. Then, forty-seven years after that, I found myself crossing through much of the same territory a third time, although under a completely different set of circumstances.

I had volunteered with the Red Cross for three weeks of hurricane duty involving Katrina, but it wasn't until six weeks later and well into cleaning up for Hurricane Rita that I was actually able to head home.(see) About that same time, with a good portion of their work behind them the Red Cross began finding itself with a redundant amount of material, equipment, and personnel. Some of that redundant equipment was what the Red Cross calls ERVs ---Emergency Response Vehicles. Hundreds and hundreds of ERVs had been driven from cities and areas all around the U.S. to the areas of devastation --- then, when the original crews had been rotated out with new crews made up of volunteers from almost anyplace taking over, and over time eventually less and less ERVs needed, without the original crews to return them to their homebase, hundreds of ERVs began to stack up. So said, because those ERVs without original crews needed to be returned and the cost of flying down hundreds of original drivers was way to expensive, the Red Cross began requesting already inplace individuals that were scheduled to rotate out, and willing to drive an ERV rather than fly, to do so. Since my deployment time had long since passed and driving an ERV across country sounded like a potential adventure I headed down to Houston to see if I could bag one off.

The person in charge of hooking up drivers with ERVs told me the last two ready-to-go ERVs headed in the same direction I was headed had just been assigned. One just left for the San Diego area, the other was leaving the next morning for northern California. He said it would be at least four, possibly five days before another west coast ERV would be fully checked out and ready to go, unless I was interested in going in some other direction, I would just have to hang out for a few days.

The driver of the ERV heading to northern California overheard my discussion with the assignment person and asked me, since it was 2000 miles to the delivery point for his ERV, would I like to tag along and share driving duties. Which I did.

One of the major highlights of the trip was when we got to Tucson and stayed a day or two because the driver's girlfriend was in graduate school there. During that period I met another graduate student who was on his way to Phoenix to interview the ex-wife of Carlos Castaneda, Margaret Runyan, who, since I knew her ex-husband, I ended up interviewing her as well.

For almost the whole trip the assigned ERV driver did most of the driving, at least until we reached the more populated areas of California. So hour after hour, dawn to dusk, I just kicked back and watched miles upon miles of the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona countryside slip by. Except for how the coming of the interstate, which didn't exist in 1958, impacted all the little towns it bypassed in a deeply sad sort of way, not much had changed, at least on a grander scale, since crossing the same area with Landaker 47 years before.

Soon as World War II started my dad went to work at the shipyards in Terminal Island. Up until then he worked for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in South Gate, California. While there, after doing some sort of beyond the cause of duty work for some high ranking officials, as a reward, in addition to just compensation, he was given a very rare Firestone promotional object --- a deep blood red special-built scale model version of the 1939-1940 Indianapolis winner, the Boyle Special. It was an exquisitely handmade down to the last nut and bolt scale model, about 12 inches long, and just like the actual race car, had real (albeit miniature) inflatable Firestone tires on wire wheels. The model also had a highly louvered hood that was held down by little miniature belts and when undone and opened, revealed a scale model albeit non-operable engine. Just like the real car it also had a metal steering wheel rimmed with wood, attached in some fashion to the front wheels that by turning the steering wheel the front wheels would turn. My father was continually telling my brother and I the race car was not a toy and not to mess with it. Of course, every chance I got and nobody was around I would get it down and run it all over the floor by hand. As it was, the Boyle Special that won the Indianapolis 500 in 1939 and 1940 was actually a Maserati.



After six months or so in India, upon returning to the U.S., in that my immediate family in California had apparently dispersed to the four winds following the death of my mother, the couple left me unexpectantly and unannounced with a relative of mine in Pennsylvania that didn't know me and who I didn't know. It is not clear how long I was there nor who I was traveling with, but it is known that that late in June of 1944 I somehow left Pennsylvania for Chicago and there boarded the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief headed westbound toward Los Angeles.

Although a lot of what went on in those days relative to me is unclear, the fact that I was on the Chief is well known because around midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's locomotive, a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for well over 500 feet before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.

(photo courtesy Arizona Republic)

Although I was unhurt, the person or people I was traveling with was among the injured and taken, with me along with them, to either Williams or Flagstaff. Because of the nature of their injuries, whoever I was traveling with was held-up under doctors care for several days, leaving me without direct adult supervision. My grandmother, who had been contacted by the railroad, called my uncle in Santa Fe. He inturn contacted a nearby tribal spiritual elder to oversee me until someone figured out how to get me to my grandmother's in California.

Years later my uncle told me the story about me sitting in the waiting room of some train station in Arizona with the tribal spiritual elder late at night waiting for him, my uncle, to arrive and take me to California. The spiritual elder was quite obviously Native American and I was quite obviously not. A lot of people seemed concerned with me traveling with an Indian, that is, except for an older man who seemed concerned that I might be bored.

He came over and sat next to me and asked if my dad was in the war. I told him no that he worked in the shipyards. Asking if I liked comic books he opened his suitcase and pulled out one called Blue Bolt. All the while he was thumbing through the pages like he was looking for something he was telling me he had a son in the war and that his son was a pilot. After he reached a certain spot he folded open the pages and pointed to a story about a group of American pilots that shot down 77 German planes in one outing. Then, carefully reading the story page by page and pointing to the different pictures he told me that his son was one of the pilots. His son flew a P-40 and the event that day the man said, was called the Goose Shoot. My uncle told me with that I took the book from the man's hands completely fascinated, so much so I read the story over and over without stopping or setting it down. The man, seeing how much I appreciated the comic and the story, said I could have it. After that my uncle said I continued to read it again and again all the way back to California and months afterwards.


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On March 30, 1949 the tabloid-like Los Angeles Daily News began publishing a series of expose articles concerning slot machines in California. The very first article they printed was titled "Slot Machines Flourish In San Bernardino County," and without pinpointing specific locations per se' informed the reader there were quite a number of cash pay out machines in operation, a large portion of them in the Big Bear area. With the slot machine articles showing up in the Daily News March 30, March 31, April 1 and April 8, 1949, it was becoming apparent Andy Devine's reputation was becoming more and more at risk, especially so as found in his carefully honed and REAL cowboy persona as related to the Cowboy Code of the West. In Gambling in Big Bear and the Sportsman's Tavern, linked previously above, the following is found:

"(With} the press doing a lot of investigations, it was most likely at this point that gambling came to an end at the Sportsman's Tavern. It is not known what happened to the slot machines from the Tavern, but considering that they cost $200 to $1000 in 1949, they most likely were sold off to someone else in the town (or out of town such as back to Las Vegas as used equipment)."

For me, time has always held a special fascination. I don't mean everyday tick-tock clock time, I mean like what time really is --- from it's make-up or non make-up to time travel to time dilation to the way time seems to appear to one observer as compared to another observer as found in the theories of relativity of Albert Einstein. From H.G. Wells' Time Machine wherein a machine of sorts was used to travel into the past or future to movies and stories such as Sliding Doors that explores how a totally different outcome of events can happen if even a slight change in the normal flow of things transpires to going back in time and meeting yourself --- I encompass it all.

The seed-form of my interest in time had been implanted years earlier --- only to grow and blossom well beyond the normal into almost an addiction. That almost addiction stems from a very lean period of my life when, as a young boy, long before I ever heard of a Maserati or the dreams of Cobras or Scarabs were even in the minds of those who created them, I was taken quite unwillingly by a couple to India and the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

While sitting before the great Indian sage in the old hall, what felt like the start of a small tremble in my body like the shiver of a chill, only inside-out and warm, instantly spread all throughout me into a major explosion of light, and in the process of that explosion I underwent some sort of total mind-body altering transformation. Afterwards, those of whose charge I was under and other adults in my life around me --- and like me at the time not versed in Indian spirituality --- did not make a connection. They thought I had lost my mind in some fashion and saw what they described as a skewed perspective on things. Because of mitigating circumstances, as described in The Last American Darshan, the initial experience sank below my surface mind. However, in that brief window I was Awake I had grasped a very different view of the world and the falsehood of the standard view of time that everything in the every day world seems immersed in. Although that experience became deeply covered over, in my early years there still remained a lingering taste of that grasp just beyond my reach, enough so to continually strive to find my way back. To me, the unknowingly young lad that I was, breaking the mystery of time seemed the answer.(see)




The Brenda on the back of the business card referred to Brenda Allen. She was in Los Angeles dealing with some proceedings related to her divorce and wanted to meet with me for reasons undisclosed. I had met with her a year or so before in Long Beach on Roselli's behalf and in response to her note she requested me to meet her at a certain time and date outside her old place on East Ocean Avenue. When the time came I was there, but she wasn't. I gave her a couple of hours, then, since I was on Ocean Avenue I thought I would go down to the Long Beach Museum of Art for a while then come back and see if she showed up.

"In the meantime, as I was walking around the gallery in the museum --- and totally unprepared for such an event --- I saw a woman that up to that point in time I think was absolutely the most beautiful woman I had ever personally seen in my life. Unwittingly staring at her almost as though I was frozen in a trance, she turned from the exhibit painting on the wall toward my direction and when she did the two of us made eye contact. The exact moment our gaze connected it was a though my life force had been sucked out of me, my knees even buckling from the weight of me standing. Having lost a total sense of dignity and somehow feeling a need for air I immediately went outside, crossing the short distance across a park adjacent to the museum overlooking the ocean. Within minutes if not seconds, for reasons I am yet to fathom to this day, the woman was suddenly standing next to me saying something like, 'Didn't you like the exhibit, you left so abruptly.' I don't recall what my answer was or how one thing led to the next, but soon the two of us were agreeing to have lunch together, although instead I ate breakfast, at a little restaurant she knew just a couple of blocks away called The Park Pantry.

"She said she may have been to the museum before but couldn't remember a specific instance, only stopping in for no other reason except to do so, then she saw me. She said when I left so abruptly she was overwhelmed with the strangest inner feeling, as though she had found something valuable I had lost and she had to return it --- yet she had nothing except for a strange feeling that felt so real."

FIREHAIR: Queen of the Sagebrush Frontier

THE RAZOR'S EDGE: Eye Contact Sequences

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For those of you who may question the accuracy of the statement regarding the 450-S as being the actual, real, original Edgar/Landaker/Shelby 450-S, I refer you to the following:

As found in Footnote [4], William "Bill" Edgar, whose father John Edgar purchased and owned the 450-S having bought it outright directly from the factory, writes that at the Riverside Raceway opener in September 1957 Shelby, having just weeks before won the VIR opener with the 450-S, got off the road at turn 6 during the first lap of practice causing serious damage to the Maser's left front end and occasioning many stitches to close the gashes in Shelby's face, rendering both car and driver unable to compete in the Riverside inaugural race on September 22. In a little more indepth coverage Bill writes, at the source so cited:

"Riverside International Motor Raceway, as it was first called, opened September 21, 1957, barely ready for action after my father paid dearly for its construction when initial funding dried up in the track build's earliest stages. It was a blistering hot race weekend, and Shelby fired up the 450S for practice on the brand new 3.275-mile road circuit. Not through his first lap, he lost traction in a sandy corner and stuffed the big Maser front end first into an embankment. Shelby's face required 70 stitches and the Maserati's nose needed much more than Landaker's mallet. The 450-S and Shelby were categorically DNS for the race, but the kicker was Richie Ginther won the opener's main in none other than the Edgar 410S Ferrari, and Bill Pollack took third in our 300-S. If anyone wondered, my father by then was totally ignoring any indenture to Maserati, and freely ran his Ferraris seated with drivers of his choice. After all, the 450-S was no contractual freebie as originally anticipated, but rather fully paid for and owned outright by John Edgar."(source)

The people doing the restoration of said 450-S Maserati as so pictured in the main text, offers the following regarding their restoration on their website as so cited as well as being the source for the photograph:

"When we disassembled the car, it was discovered that the frame had been hit and repaired on the left front corner. Shelby had gone off the road at Riverside during one of the first races the car had participated in. We had to check this so we took accurate measurements from the right-hand side and used these to check the damaged area. Fortunately, we did this, because a discrepancy of 1 inch in length was discovered and a camber angle of 1-1/2 positive that also needed correcting."(source)

See also Footnote [11]



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"Landaker, with a long history working with and maintaining the 375, Powell must have brought him in to ensure it's success."

Not everyone who sees the photos of the two cars above realize that in reality they are actually the same car. In 1954 Tony Parravano bought a Ferrari 375 Plus Spyder with S/N 0478 AM, shown on the left and had it delivered to him brand new directly from the factory, one of only a handful of 375's manufactured with a 4.9-liter V12 engine rather than a 4.5. Under Parravano, in it's original format, the car was raced by Jack McAfee, Ken Miles, Bob Drake, Dan Gurney, and Carroll Shelby. Shelby drove it to victory at Seattle followed by a crash during the Saturday preliminaries at Palm Springs December 3, 1955 requiring the car to be basically rebuilt and eventually then to be re-bodied by Jack Sutton of Hollywood in 1956. After the refurbishing and new body as seen in the photo on the above right, the 4.9 was bought by Frank Arciero and driven by Dan Gurney, with Gurney winning at Paramount Ranch, Santa Barbara, Pomona, and Palm Springs.

The photo below is of the #0478 Ferrari375 after Torrey Pines and painted in full Parravano colors carrying the number 208 on the Saturday morning of the Palm Springs road races just before Shelby crashed it. Shelby is behind the wheel, Landaker in coveralls and carrying tools is the first man on the left, Parravano the third man from the left.

Any and all of S/N 0478 life time results participating in road races can be found in the link below. In reviewing the results on the list you will see for the preliminary on Saturday December 3rd at Palm Springs Shelby was a DNF (Did Not Finish). On Sunday the 4th in the Main event Shelby's #208 car is listed as a DNS (Did Not Start). Shelby wrecked the car on Saturday so he was a DNF, and because the car was wrecked, for the Sunday main he's listed as a DNS.



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On October 30, 1938 Orson Welles' Mercury Theater on the Air radio production of H.G. Wells' 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds was broadcast nationally. The results of that broadcast, which was presented in the format of a "real newscast" and reached hundreds of stations and thousands of people was, as shown in the headlines in the New York Times below, actual panic in the streets with people actually thinking there was a real Martian invasion.


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My Uncle, who I had been my guardian in lieu of my parents during much of my childhood formative years remembered the Wells broadcast well:

"Like many of his day my uncle experienced the aftermath of, or at least familiar with, the Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of the 'War of the Worlds.' The night of the broadcast, especially on the east coast where it was being sent out live and supposedly taking place, thousands of listeners reportedly took the presentation to be a real news broadcast of an invasion from Mars and actually panicked into the streets. Even so, during the first several years following the San Antonio event my uncle just did not pull forward the Welles incident in his thoughts enough to place any of what he saw or experienced into a 'coming from another world' or 'outer space' context --- and for sure, nothing that appeared to be an invasion. Although he had personally seen, experienced, and participated in what many outsiders might consider strange surrounding some aspects of the various Native American cultures he interacted with, some even hinting at or framed in primitive extra-terrestrial parables --- none leaned outwardly toward what one would think of as a modern day science fiction."

Meeting Dr. La Paz

For a complete unabridged YouTube audio video presentation of that 1939 radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds please click the newspaper image above. For the the Classic Illustrated version of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds similar to the Time Machine illustrated version offered in the main text please click the cover image below:

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Sometime in or around the year 1959 or so I walked into Max Balchowsky's shop Hollywood Motors with a letter of introduction from his friend Eric Houser arranged for me by our friend Mary Davis, which read in part, "Give the kid what he wants, he's OK." What I wanted was to upgrade the power plant in my Ford woody after all these years by having a Chevy Corvette V-8 and automatic transmission installed, and had gone to Hollywood Motors to see if Balchowsky would do it. After reading the note and breaking his stare from a certain admiration aimed at the woody he turned to me. As if hit by a hammer or seen a ghost, uncharacteristically he suddenly and out of nowhere appeared woozy, semi-collapsing, his knees buckling under as fellow shop employees and others close by rushed to block a potential fall, sitting him down and giving him water.

At first I think they thought I stabbed or shot him or something. But that wasn't what happened. The what happened was Balchowsky needed no letter of introduction. He had seen me years before In Burma.

With the end of World War II Balchowsky moved to Southern California almost as quick as the military handed him his discharge. Just as quick, like thousands of others, he jumped feet first into on the growing automotive and hot rod culture that began dominating the California scene. The two things that set him aside from the rest of the pack was his knack for smoothly installing big bore powerful American V-8's into smaller underpowered cars and doing so successfully along with transferring his hot rod skills in the 1950's-1960's into the sports car field by building and racing his own cars. He was known for his bright yellow series of "Old Yeller Junkyard Dog Specials" and their ability to beat the best Europe had to offer. Ferraris, Maseratis, Aston Martins, and Porsche, at one time or the other they all coward under his skills, and if not, gave them a run for their money. In the hands of an extraordinarily skilled driver his V-8 Buick powered specials were a force to be reckoned with.

During World War II Balchowsky was a belly gunner in the turret of a B-24 Liberator. On a mission over Europe his bomber was .hit so hard by fighters and flack the crew had to abandon her. Making it as far back as France Balchowsky, wounded, was forced with the rest of the crew to bail out, France being friendly territory, thus avoiding possible capture by the enemy. Following a short recuperation period he was sent to the China-Burma-India theater, more specifically Burma, where he finished out the war

Hanging out waiting to get back over the 'hump' I spent a lot of time on R&R in Calcutta and in the process bumped into any number of G.I.'s, Calcutta being a fairly safe haven for Burmese and China based troops seeking a change of pace. During one of those times, besides meeting the Flying Tiger pilot Col. Robert L. Scott, along with artist Peter Hurd, John Noble Cumming, Bob Kaufman, and others During that same time period I also met a 20 year old G.I. on R&R named Max Balchowsky that would eventually play a role in my life later on. In conversation Scott related that while with the Flying Tigers he had escorted both daylight and nighttime bombing runs over Hanoi. In turn, Balchowsky told the group he had participated in low-level B-24 bombing runs on Japanese ships in the Gulf of Tonkin right off the coast of Vietnam. Places like Hanoi and the Gulf of Tonkin and even Vietnam didn't mean much to most of the G.I.s, but for me they took on a whole separate meaning of their own.

While in his garage Hollywood Motors in 1959 Balchowsky asked if I had ever been to Burma. I told him about 15 years before, in 1944 as a young boy around six years old, I had been taken to India for several months by a foster couple, but was unable to remember a whole lot about it. If Burma had been on my travel agenda I wasn't able to remember it either. He told me in 1944 at age 20 he was in the Army in Burma counting down the days until the end of the war when he went on R&R in Calcutta India. There he met the person he thought was me, and for sure the me he met wasn't six years old, but more like 25, and, although in civilian clothes, claiming to be in the Army and hanging out with other G.I.s.

Of course Balchowsky was right. I wouldn't be age 25 for several more years, sometime around 1964 or so. When I went to to see about a possible engine swap for the woody it was approximately five years before 1964. Which is to say, neither 1964 nor me being 25 hadn't happened yet. And that's the crux of the matter. If it hadn't happened yet how could I have remembered it?

If any of you have read "The Code Maker, The Zen Maker," especially Part V Of Minds and Landscapes: Into Their Interior (see), you would have learned that in 1964 I ended up in a Zen Monastery high in the Himalayas and an ashram of a venerated Indian holy man in India. It was after the ashram, as found in Return to the Monastery, that I ended up in Burma and then Calcutta. Of course, again, in Calcutta, I was around 25 years old. When I was in Balchowsky's shop seeing about the woody it was 1959, four or five years earlier. I was only 21 and 1964 hadn't happened yet, so there was no way I could remember any meeting with Balchowsky in Burma or Calcutta because, as for me, it was yet to come.