Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bonneville Legend Visits Cary’s Garage

You may recall:

The same day that Thomas Payne, famous for the 1930’s Auto Shop Restoration Project, visited with me we had an amazing bonus visit: Thomas brought his close friend, Lou Bingham, with him!

Lou is legendary in the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) Circles and on the salt flats of Bonneville.  In his years of racing for land speed records Lou set or broke no less than 11 marks.  He is still active today and if you go to Bonneville this summer you will see Lou there in the thick of it all.

Lou brought his scrap book and gave me, Don, and Wayne the history of his life and racing successes.  Lou was born in the Washington DC area but moved to Southern California at the age of five.  He was handy with automotive mechanics and, with a partner, purchased and operated “Bird Rock Mobil Gas”  a full-service repair shop in La Jolla California.  The income from the shop and his connections to steel fabricators gave him the perfect platform for designing and assembling cars that could compete at Bonneville.  Look at the craftsmanship of this 1962 Bonneville-bound Roadster!

Lou and Thomas met at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  Lou was crewing on a Formula Ford race car owned by a Continental Airlines pilot.  The owner introduced Lou to Thomas and now they have become fast friends.  The two of them make an annual trek to Bonneville each summer.  

While listening to Lou’s stories I realized that my neighbors, Tom and Jackie Eckles, have a connection to Lou; Jackie’s uncle was Don Blair, of Blair’s Speed Shop in Los Angeles.  I asked Jackie and Tom to come meet Lou.  When they arrived at the garage they brought with them some of Don’s Dash plaques and one of his trophies.  Lou did, in fact, know Don so it was a great time of sharing stories of the legends of early hot rodding.

From left to right: Cary, Linda and Wayne Cowie, Chris and Thomas Payne, Lou Bingham, Don Kingery and Jackie and Tom Eckles

The whole crew enjoyed a great afternoon filled with the nostalgia of hotrods, racing, and meeting new friends.  

I think I need to make a trip to Bonneville!

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