California Hot Rods in the 1940s. Aw Yeah

California Hot Rods in the 1940s. Aw Yeah

If you don’t get a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat watching this, I don’t want to know you. Of course I don’t know you, and I’m never going to know you, and you probably wouldn’t want to know me, so the threat is sorta idle. But by gad I love this video.

It’s blissfully free of a bad soundtrack. There’s no opportunity to get preachy with a narration, either. There’s not a whiff of editorial about it. It’s the straight dope, homies. This stuff used to happen, and someone pointed a camera at it so we could get a look at it. It’s like going to the Coliseum in Rome with a tour group and finding gladiators still hacking around in there.

The word jalopy was still en vogue then. These might be called rat rods by their owners. They were doing it for the love of it. If there was a prize, I bet it barely paid for the fuel. You know — the fuel being slopped into the rusty gas tank with a lit cigarette dangling from the corner of your mouth. Safety above all things wasn’t the point of racing back then. Of course they all wore helmets, but that was just to hold in all the awesome.

3 thoughts on “California Hot Rods in the 1940s. Aw Yeah

  1. Jim Rathman hit the big time. Drove the Indianapolis 500 a dozen or so times in the ’50s-’60s. Won once as I recall. I grew up within a mile of that speedway in the ’40s-’50s, and hung around the garage area in May of every year once I was old enough to bicycle that far. During pre-race prep the track was wide open. Anyone could freely wander in and out of any area. Very few people did, so I guess no one saw a need to control access. Knew the names and record of all the drivers, but was not acquainted with any of them.

  2. Yeah, it was kind of a Tom Sawyer existence without the river, even on the fringes of a larger city like Indianapolis.

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