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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.
A Ray Rogers picture from the archives of the Ron Nielsen Family. Thanks to Jim Balder.
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