Wally’s Roadster Reborn

December 08, 2005

Cal-Rods Unveil Parks’ Re-creation at Museum Cruise Night Toy Drive

 Wally Parks in the re-created Ford Roadster - Bill Groak photos
 Wally Parks sits joyously in the Ford Roadster re-created by Cal-Rods Car Club. Photos by Bill Groak for the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
POMONA, Calif.   – It might be the ultimate toy for the ultimate hot rodder.  A precise, historically perfect re-creation of Wally Parks’ roadster was presented to the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum at Wednesday’s final Twilight Cruise of the year.

The 92-year-old Parks, founder of the National Hot Rod Association and arguably founder of hot rodding as a sport, was there in person to accept the keys on behalf of the Museum.  Parks  sold the original in 1952 and it has not been seen since.  The replica was constructed by the Cal-Rods Car Club, which staffs the monthly Cruise Nights at the Museum, with the help of sponsors and Museum contributors.

 “They’ve done an incredible job,” said Parks as the car was unveiled
 Members of Cal-Rods unveil the car
 Members of Cal-Rods Car Club pull the cover from the re-created roadster.
in the Museum’s courtyard before a huge crowd.  It brought back memories to Parks.  “I only raced Ak Miller in this car once.  He was leading at the halfway point, but then I pulled away and won.  I never raced him again.  That way, I could say ‘the last time I raced Ak Miller in this car, I beat him.’”  The crowd roared with laughter, in which Parks joined heartily.

The ’29 Model A Ford-bodied roadster, constructed on a ’32 Ford chassis, will occupy a place of honor at the Museum, located at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif.  The bright red car was unveiled by Cal-Rod members who worked on the project over the course of more than a year.

 Re-creation of Wally Parks' roadster
 The roadster on display in front of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.
Encouraged by the crowd, Parks got into the driver’s seat and fired up the roadster to enthusiastic cheers.  A photo of Parks in the original roadster graced his column in Hot Rod for many years.  Parks was presented with a white Adirondack wood chair by master designer Tom Thibodeaux.  Parks and other celebrities signed the chair, which will be auctioned to benefit the Museum at a future event.

The annual Museum Toy Drive filled a ’42 Ford stake-bed truck with
 Eric and Kat Lotz load toys into the stakebed
 NHRA Director of Field Marketing Eric Lotz and his wife, Kat Lotz of the Museum staff, load toys into the back of a '42 Ford stakebed truck.
gifts to give to the Inter-City Volunteers, a nonprofit charity group that will disperse the gifts to hundreds of needy families in the Inland Valley for the holidays.  Additional toys were piled around the “Wally” statue at the Museum’s entrance.

“Inter-City Volunteers will get the gifts to the families that really need some holiday cheer,” said Sam Jackson, executive director of the Parks Museum. Jackson also thanked “Vic Cunnyngham and all the Cal-Rod club members for their generous donation of hundreds of gifts. This was a very special event.”

 Pete Chapouris signs as Alex Xydias and Tony Thacker look on
 Pete Chapouris signs the SO-Cal Speed Shop book as founder Alex Xydias and vice-president Tony Thacker look on.
As if all that wasn’t enough excitement, the legendary Alex Xydias, Pete Chapouris and Tony Thatcher were ensconced at a table inside the Museum, signing the new book, SO-CAL Speed Shop: The Fast Tale of the California Racers Who made Hot Rod History, by Mark Christensen.  The Museum’s next exhibit, “60 Years of SO-CAL Speed,” will run from Jan. 20 through Apr. 9, 2006.

Fun was the theme for the evening’s cruise, declared by Cunnyngham
 Sam Jackson, Wally Parks and Vic Cunnyngham
 Sam Jackson and Wally Parks present a framed letter of thanks to Vic Cunnyngham of Cal-Rods.
and “Big John” Morehead.  Among the more than 300 hot rods, street rods, customs and classics present, Ron Ceridono of Street Rodder selected the purple ’39 Ford Coupe of Jim Thomas for special recognition.  Pat Ganahl selected the lime green ’51 Ford Sedan.  Cartoonist Tom Medley chose the ’26 Model T Flat head owned by Max Norris of Eagle Rock and Jeff Smith of Car Craft chose the rare burgundy ’64 Acadian owned by Dave Sconyers of Pomona.  J.R. Martinez gave ‘The Look’ award (and a $50 donation to the Museum from J.R. Martinez Design and Power Puzzles), to Tom Crew of Temecula for his ’36 Red Roadster.

 Pat Ganahl chose Marty Wells' car
 Pat Ganahl, Marty Wells and Wells' lime green '51 Ford Sedan. Wells will get the chance to parade down the track at Pomona Raceway in 2006.
More than $3,500 in door prizes were delivered to happy winners.  Prizes included a $100 travel certificate from the Automobile Club of Southern California, presenting sponsor of the Parks Museum, two handmade rocking horses created by Tom Thibodeaux, a radio controlled West Coast Chopper motorcycle, an EZ-UP and jackets from the Museum, the NHRA, Flowmaster, Justice Brothers and Hooker Headers.

Scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month – from April through
 Wally's new roadster
 The roadster was re-created with attention to detail - both outside and under the hood.
December – Cruise Nights transform the popular motorsports museum in Pomona, Calif., into hot rod heaven as cool pre-1970 rods, customs, classics and muscle cars fill two parking lots.

Next Twilight Cruise is set for Wed., April 5, 2006. Cruise Nights, which run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and are hosted by the Cal Rods car club, include raffles, prizes and a huge 50/50 drawing. Admission to the Twilight Cruise is free, and all who attend receive free admission to the Parks Museum as well. Food and beverages are available for purchase.


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