Since the other thread was started about the Bakersfield swap meet and had gotten off topic, I decided to start this new thread about the LBMTC hill climb.
1979 was the last year for the hill climb, and Nick D'Antonio was the last "KING of the HILL" with a time of 9.57.
Cars were becoming faster and faster, and the club was starting to restrict a few modifications as well as require safety equipment such as automatic transmission blankets to contain failing parts.
Although the LBMTC hill climb never had any injuries, and I think only one incident of a car getting "off course" while backing down the hill, (no injuries), there was another group that started using the hill for their events beginning in the mid '70's. SKATEBOARDERS! Yes there were several young people crazy enough to attempt to ride a skateboard down the hill! And just like our uphill event, their downhill event attracted larger and larger crowds each year, and the racers conceived ever more exotic conveyances for their downhill runs (imagine full bodied "lay-down" streamliners) attaining speeds in excess of 70MPH, and they did have injuries! Not only to the racers, but imagine the injuries inflicted by a skateboard flying into the crowd at 70MPH! The ones that did make it to the bottom, often plowed straight through the hay bales and continued on into car traffic.
This began attracting the attention of the four entities (the top of the hill is in the City of Signal Hill, the bottom is in The City of Long Beach, the south side was owned by Atlantic Richfield, and the north side was owned by Shell Oil) owning the "hill." The LBMTC attempted to hold the 1980 hill climb but could not get agreement between the four parties on insurance requirements, costs, etc. We tried again in 1981, and I think 1985 or 86, but it was cost prohibitive.
KINGS of the HILL, 1970-1979
1979 Nick D'Antonio 9.57
1978 Jerry Sherman 8.97
1977 LaRue Thomas 7.18 fastest ever
1976 Hank Becker 7.42
1975 Seth Hammond 7.58
1974 Doc Pruden 7.79
1973 Chris Egsgaard 7.74
1972 Al Uslanghi 7.75 rear engine car
1971 Doc Pruden 8.22
1970 Clem Sala 8.15
Jeff- Thank you so much for taking the time to posts all of these issues of the Magneto News. Looking over the lists brings back so many memories. Lots of names I have not thought about in decades. So many great and talented people that contributed so much to the Model T hobby. American ingenuity and enthusiasm at its finest.
One of the standout non-competitive entries was always Grover Sequim's (spelling??) TT C-cab truck. That is a great picture of it with the six pack of Coors. In other years he had four gigantic T coils, a circus cage, outhouses and a enormous bail of hay on the back of his famous yellow TT . He was a very creative guy and provided some great comic relief in between the serious contenders.
I have the 2nd Place Semi-Modified Stock Crank trophy of my wife's Uncle. It's from 1967. It was a 1922 Touring. My in-laws had the car when we got married and I had possession of it for a couple of years. They decided to sell and at the time had no place for it. The classic "One that got away"
Each year club members made trophies using different Model T parts and tools. The "KING of the HILL" crown was made from a transmission band with tools and parts welded to it.
Thanks Jeff. Those are nice and bring back memories to me as well, even though I wasn't old enough to drive then (legally). You wouldn't happen to have any Magneto News form the 60's would you? Jerry
Thanks for posting this Jeff, I enjoyed it.
Jerry, we have copies of all of the past issues, and extras of many. I also have scans of most of them up to 2010. Which ones would you like to see?
Maybe Gaffey Street would be a good place for a hill climb. Street View doesn't do it justice. The curve at the top would add interest.
Thanks Jeff for sharing.
I recognize a few names that are still in the Model T hobby like Azevedo Archer and Genrich. There are probably more.
Yeah Kirk, a lot of them are still around, but a lot are gone too. Seth Hammond still comes to our swap meet, and Ed Archer too. Of course, Humble Howard Genrich is like the energizer bunny, still going strong at 92! I ran across a picture of him in 1977 where he was sitting in his #7 speedster, American flag flying on the back, wearing his white coveralls and hat, and waving at the camera. That picture could have been taken today, 40 years later! He is still driving #7, flag flying, and wearing the white coveralls and hat!
Jeff, you shared 70-79. I'd like to see whatever you have. 69 and older possibly. I'm sure others may enjoy them as well. Thanks,
Jeff great coverages It real enlightened me to what was where time wise and what places for classes etc I to would love to see the earlier hillclimbs. By the the way is this George hood /Jeff the same person ?? Cause I spoke to George in whiten ca!
I to meet Seth Hammond in bakersfield he was selling, very humble man and still loves this stuff but. He moved on to faster things bonneville I talked to him he still has the hillclimb car on the wall at his shop and told me come by and see it , I told him there was talk on the Ham of people saying he should bring it out he said its great where it is. I didn't tell him but I do agree it is. Its history like the Sherman car.
Just to keep all the hill climb stuff together- the utube video is interesting. The 1st car up the hill in that video is Al Usalanghi in his rear engine speedster that won the hillclimb that year and was banned in future years. Interesting thing is that later in the video, the fellow in the red sweater working on the car with the aluminum hood is also Al, but in those shots, the car is still front engine, so that portion of the video was from a different year. Of the 3 speedsters in a row, the right hand #4 car is owned by Ed Archer and was part of the Northern Cal contingent along with Vic and Clem Sala and others that went to Long Beach every year to do battle with the So Cal guys. (All in fun of course) Later on the 24 Roadster with #3 Buffalo wheels that goes by from left to right is driven by Ellis Gray. The car is powered by a SOHC Rajo B. The There was an article written in the VF showing details of the engine in this car. Lastly, in the #2 DOHC Fronty Sprinter is another LB Hill Climb character and legend- Doc Pruden.
How could anyone forget Doc Pruden??!! Whether he was racing on the hill or selling speed carburetors and parts at swap meets, he was always an entertaining character!!!!! As a young kid, Doc helped me get my first speedster together.
Does anyone know whatever happened to Herb Bramley's speedster. It was a 26-27 roadster body channeled over the frame with a Z'ed rear section. Painted blue with Mobil flying red horses on the side. For some reason, I have always remembered that car. Herb is shown on the cover of one of the Magneto News above with his brass firetruck.
Again, so many great memories.
I wish my VF mag collection wasn't so mixed up..would like to see some of those old issues featuring the hill climb.
Thanks Jeff and Dan, some real memories for sure.
On a recent club tour that passed by the street some of us detoured and drove up the famed street. Now it's a divided street but still a good grade and fun hill to do in rememberance of the famed races.
How it looks now.
Jerry, Was that picture you posted with the Rajo powered car taken at the Taft Ca. hill climb sponsored by the Bakersfield T club? That Taft event was another good one now long gone.
Looking at that landscape, it sure does look like Taft- We only went to it once, but I recall how desolate the surroundings were.
Kevin and Dan, I thought it was Signal Hill before all the houses. I could be wrong. I was a youngster then. Jarvis Erickson gave me that photo. Maybe he knows. I think Jarvis is in Australia now. He mailed me a letter a couple weeks ago saying he was heading down under.
Ed, nice photo. Any idea who it is? Looks like a speedster or sprint car. Great crowd at the event. I really miss the hill climb in Long Beach, it was fun.
No relation to George Hood. I know of him, but I have never met him. I'm on the road this weekend and all of the info is in my home computer. I'll post some more pictures, history, and results from the sixties when I get back Monday.
I worked on the oil pipeline(s) at Long Beach - then off shore on the Emmy oil platform - took a tug out of Long Beach Harbor .....
The YouTube video link that Dan McE posted is a clip from a longer video from a series called I Remember Long Beach. The 28 minute full video on the Hill Climb is available from a website called I Remember Long Beach. Here is the link. Click on the "Movies" tab and scroll down to the Signal Hill Model T Hill Climb. I downloaded the movie for $12. Totally worth it!!
I would love to know what happened to some of the cars like Doc Pruden's DO Fronty, LaRue Thomas's DO Gemsa, etc.
I would suggest buying the video if for nothing else to see the T Coupe rolling down the hill without a driver in it. Wow! You'll have to watch the video to get the details.
George Hood is living history book about the Long Beach days. Loves to talk about it.. Doc Pruden sold his DO Fronty racer to a guy who returned it to what looked like when it was a track racer. Different radiator and hood. I saw pics of it on the NWVS site. We know of a DO Gemsa engine in the Eastern US that may be the LaRue Thomas champ.
I ran the hill in 1968 & 69 in my TT, hoping to give Grover some competition. This is from 1969.
He beat me both times.
In the video of the driver-less Coupe, you'll see a man jump on the running board and then finally getting the car stopped.
That man is none other than a very young version of the late Jim Eliot.
In the photo above, the banner shown still exists. It is the same banner that was displayed across the entrance to the "Swap Meet" before it became the "Parts Exchange" at the Hamilton (Dust) Bowl. I remember seeing that banner ripping the a/c air intake off the roof of a large motor home as it entered the ramp to the Dust Bowl. This was after getting the "All Clear" signal from someone on the ground, next to the motor home.
That event resulted in one very pissed swap meet vendor.
This is a really good read. Thanks Jeff , Dan Jerry and all.
I think you will find that Doc Pruden built and raced 2 very different DO Frontys at Signal Hill
So they both cars may still exist and not one made into another. I will post some photos.
Thanks for the info Mark. We saw Doc's Gemsa T engine for sale at Bakersfield a couple years ago that he raced in a 26/27 touring car. Mark Chaffn restored it and it now has a new home. Pruden is legendary with the fast model T crowd.
This is possibly Docs first DO Fronty at Signal Hill (not sure which one was first). A mush bigger Yellow car. Photo from Jarvis Erickson
This is Doc's other DO Fronty, photo taken again at Signal Hill. Doc built a race car or speedster almost, if not, every year and sent a Christmas car with a pic of it to his good friends.
Photo from Jarvis Erickson
.....and a later pic of the same car (Different Exhaust)
This car could be in the Mark Smith Collection at the moment.
The white one is the one I was thinking of. I have never seen the red one. It looks great too, but needs that flat tire fixed. Mark, I sent you an email about my SR Fronty.
I know that rear engine cars were ruled out after the 1972 win. I am wondering if any of you could provide the yearly rule change history. The rule changes seem to be the reason for the different "King of the Hill" times listed. Folks, me included, would be interested in what the changes were and the year.
Evan in Paso
Oh I am loving all these old pictures of the hill climb. I raced there myself a few times. I held the record of the fastest woman to climb that hill. I even got to wear the 'King of the hill' crown that day. Beat my Dad's time. Dick Bloomfield wasn't sure if he was proud or mad that his daughter beat his time. Good times growing up then.
Okay, here is a bunch more stuff on the hill climb, starting from the beginning in '56 thru '69, and then some more pics and misc. stuff from the latter years too. Sorry for the poor quality of some of this stuff, but it is all I have. In the early years there were no times, and in some others only the fastest and slowest times are listed.
the first flyer, first year it is open to others
Chris Egsgaard car, orange with megaphone exhaust
blue with header exhaust
Humble Howard and "Lucky 7" in 1976. Same car, same hat, same coveralls, same flag as today. Nothing has changed
rules and classes from '71 and safety rule for '79. I haven't run across rules for '78 or '79 yet
Wow! That's a lot of great material. I think I started going to the Hill Climb around 1974. Thank you for taking the time to post all of this. Like I said before, so many great memories and old friends are found on these pages.
The hill climb was featured in a magazine called Saga, THE MAGAZINE FOR MEN, in March, 1962. I am shown on page 32 getting ready to flag a car up the hill. I was 19 at the time, and still at it. I never ran a car up that hill, because it didn't see any sense in it!
Somebody needs to publish a book with this stuff!
Thanks for all the hard work putting that stuff together Jeff. Thanks, to the Long Beach club for all the effort in their Magneeeeeeto News. A lot of photos to actually cut and paste.
speaking the hill climb, this is on ebay.
Not a bad deal. That was on ebay a couple weeks ago for $3,500.
Think the Gemsa head went for 6500 finally. Thank you for the nice posts. Dave in Bellingham,WA
Starting bid was $3500. Sold for just over $6200. This is a different Gemsa head with some pedigree and Gemsa headers.
Lots of good reading here
Thank you for posting this info Jeff. Many people, like myself, would never be able to see this information if you had not posted it here on the forum.
I was never able to get out to the Hill Climb, the Swap Meet was the thing for my dad and I.
I do have Hill Climb connections, however. I currently own the '26 Touring formerly owned by the late Ed Bebeck. It placed 4th in 1978 and 1st in 1979 in Class B Stock Touring and Depot Hack 1916-27.
Also, one of the long-time workers at the Hill Climb was Galen Crosley. Mr. Crosley was my Drivers Ed. Instructor at Downey High School.
Jef Thanks for posting the old results. I was able to find my wifes Uncle Henry "Hank" George 67' 68' 69'I was wrong before it was a 23 touring not a 22. I do remember going to the Hill Climb at least once. But it was before I had any connections to T's
Being as young as I am I don't have much to contribute but did find something in my archives.
What year ?? That's great chad If you decided to depart with that let me know
Well heres what the back says . . .
No I don't plan to part with it but I do have a high res scan I can send you to print up for yourself
Hey, That's a great photo of Billy!
Yes, Chris was always referred to as Billy Poohbah, even long after the Hill Climb ended. I remember buying parts from him and listening to his stories long into the night at the LBMTC swap meets. He was quite a character and could tell a lot of stories-some of which were even true! Although I was young at the time, these "fireside" chats at the old swap meets left an impression in my mind.
That's a great race car photo. Lot's of neat features including a monstrous, downdraft Winfield barrel valve carburetor (Model D?, I don't remember). Now that's a racing carburetor!!! I love the long, drooping radiator hose and that vertical tank that looks like it could be for nitrous ( I assume that is the gas tank??). Also, looks like
there is a frame on top of a frame under where he is sitting?? That race car is very reflective of Chris's personality.
Going to be a good Hill Climb in Lincoln Nebraska in late June. Google Speedway Motors Hill Climb.
The dent in the rad. hose just goes to show it was "put together" out of parts laying around. Although when was the last time you saw a mag in a front plate . . .
Chad even on The wild cherry 2 We used lots stuff. Parts just laying around Parts like that give the car character
It looks like the magneto has eight wires coming out of it. Probably a V-8 flathead speed equipment magneto like a Harmon-Collins, etc.
I like the LONG steering shaft.
Cylinder head is BBR Rajo with twin spark. Probably the same one Chris took King of The Hill with in 1973 in the blue car.