Retro Rockets - Photo Archive Volume 21
We met Jim Balder at races around Grand Rapids. He always wanted to race, so he bought this super. Jim and my dad, Ron Nielsen, worked on this car in our garage in Rockford, Michigan. The first thing they did was change it over to "USAC", that is, fine threads, grade A, aircraft quality bolts, etc. Jim always had to have the car looking good, and I think you'll agree that it is a nice looking car. Jim named his car "The Odyssey" and my brother Dave once stood up and played "The Theme to 2001 Space Odyssey" on his trumpet when Jim came out to qualify at the Berlin Speedway in Marne, MI.
Jim had a Dodge Challenger as his personal car and it was in the back seat of that Challenger that I first experienced rapid acceleration!
This is an Edmunds car that Duane Spangler (Bryan, Ohio) got as a kit out of California. Duane sold the car to Jim in November of '72 after Jim and Johnny Logan flew down to Ohio to look at it. (Johnny was a pilot and decided to land next to the runway in Ohio - sometimes clear land beside an existing strip gives a softer landing - Well they hit a concealed drainage ditch, busted the tail gear and flattened a tire and ended up in a bean field after a the plane took a sharp left).
This Ray Rodgers picture was taken at Jim's second race ever...Berlin, 1973. Jim later renamed the car "Spirit of 76" and raced the car until August 29, 1976 when he flipped it at Kalamazoo after getting in the oil put down by Ron Kholer's blown engine. Jim later sold the car to John Witter from Indiana who turned it into a sprinter. Then Jim Murphy had it...Right now, Garry King has the car and is restoring it.
|Jim Gresley drove this #98 upright super at the 1965 Sandusky Classic. Jim was from the Battle Creek, Michigan area. This car was owned by Jack Conely and driven by Gresley to a second place finish in the '65 Classic.||Jim McCune in his #1 at the 1965 Sandusky Classic.|
|Jimmy Nelson from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I remember watching Jimmy in this car at the Speedrome in G.R. Man alive, the guy would absolutely stand on it! Wheel to wheel, neck and neck, sometimes two abreast all the way around the track. Jimmy was killed at the Speedrome, but the legend lives on. See the story about Dick and Jimmy Nelson in the reminiscing section of Issue 1 for more.||Jim Shampine's Ford powered 8 ball on the trailer at the 1965 Sandusky Classic.||Joe Martincic at the 1965 Sandusky Classic. His #707 red, white, and black super had a 327 Corvette engine.|
|Johnny Benson's white #21 "White Tornado" on the trailer. 1966 or 67.||Karl Busson brought this 327 Chevy powered, white #95 sprinter to the 1965 Sandusky Classic.||Dean Mast's red and white 327 Chevy sprinter at Sandusky in 1965. These guys had two sprinters they would haul around on the one trailer. Nice looking set up. Behind Dean's car is the number 62 of Baldy Baker. It was a white and light blue roadster with a 427 fuel injected Ford.|
|A 1965 "Ray's Racing Pictures" shot of Nolan Johncock at the Speedrome in Grand Rapids. Noley (cousin to Gordon Johncock) was my moms favorite driver back then - in fact, one year for Mother's Day she got a Nolan Johncock picture button from us kids.||A 1967 shot of Nolan Johncock's "Strip Teaser". To say this super was "audacious" would be an understatement. Fluorescent pink and white striped, this car was a site to behold. I believe Nolan was signed with USAC at the time and so he couldn't race under his own name, so he showed up and raced under the name of "Joe Chance".||Norm Smith brought this #92 rear engined super to the 1965 Sandusky Classic. I also see Ed Vanderlaan's yellow #17 in the background.|
|Oscar Faye in his sprinter. We also have Oscar's autograph.||Rich Senneker drove this super in 1967. Rich was killed in a supermodified accident, but I'm not sure where, when, or if it was in this car.||Ron Lux brought Howard Purdy's white #2 "Little Duece" to the 1965 Sandusky Classic.|