The Mysteries of The Great Gatsby’s Castles – Beacon Towers and Other Places

 

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Here are rare images that I shot over several decades at Sands Point, Long Island, NY, the site of the inspiration for the famous F Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby. These feature Daisy & Tom Buchanan’s or Jay Gatsby’s castle, Beacon Towers, Sands Light, and others. Some of these castles are gone now, torn down & lost to time. So take a trip back in time & Enjoy! There’s more to come…
- HKK

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Images of The Mysteries of The Great Gatsby’s Castles

Copyrighted 2014 by HKK Productions Inc

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2 Images of The Beacon Towers from Fairchild Aerial Surveillance

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’64 – ’65 NY World’s Fair Through the Years

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Here are some rare images I shot over several decades at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY, the site of the most famous ’64 – ’65 New York World’s Fair. These feature the now non-existent terrazzo floor of the NY Pavilion, the ’39 World’s Fair Aquatic Center, and others. Enjoy! There’s more to come…
- HKK

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Images of The ’64 – ’65 NY World’s Fair Through the Years

Copyrighted 2014 by HKK Productions Inc

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Posted in Uncategorized

The 2006 Dodge Challenger RT Prototype

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The 2006 Dodge Challenger RT Prototype Story

The biggest hit of 2005′s All Chrysler Nationals in Carlisle, PA was the 2006 Dodge Challenger concept/prototype car. “There was a crowd around the vehicle all weekend long” said Ed Buczeskie, Carlyle’s Chrysler event manager. Knowing that car enthusiasts still desired great looks and an abundance of power, Dodge decided to bring the Challenger back after a 35-year hiatus. The ‘06 Challenger featured the long hood, short deck, wide stance and two door coupe body style that distinguished it in the 1970s. “We drew on the rich heritage of the Dodge Challenger, but with contemporary forms and technologies” said Chrysler Group President Tom LaSorda. “It’s not just a re-creation; it’s a re-interpretation”.

The iconic Dodge Challenger made its’ debut in the fall of 1969 as a 1970 model. While it shared the “E-body” platform with the Plymouth Barracuda, the Dodge Challenger’s wheelbase was two inches longer, creating more interior space. The Challenger was originally offered as either a two door hardtop or convertible. And with true respect to the brand’s performance heritage, the Challenger went out of the factory doors and right onto many different types of race tracks nationwide. In its’ first year, competing most notably in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) series, Trans Am Series and National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Pro Stock class. Although it was produced only from 1972 to 1974, The Dodge Challenger earned a reputation as one of the most desirable of the original “Ponycars”, with meticulously restored or super rare examples today selling for six-figure prices.

How cool is it to be able to once again walk into your local Dodge dealer and order a brand-new Hemi-Challenger, like your Dad, Granddad, or even a plum crazy purple one, like your Aunt Betty might have bought after graduating college?

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Here are some rare images I shot at the 2005 Mopar Nationals in Columbus, Ohio. These feature the Challenger RT Prototype with carbon fiber construction. Enjoy! There’s more to come…
- HKK

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Images of The 2006 Dodge Challenger RT Prototype
Copyrighted 2014 by HKK Productions Inc

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Posted in Uncategorized

AAR – All American Racers

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When Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby founded All American Racers (AAR) in 1964, they wanted to build exceptional racing cars in the United States that would gain international recognition. And that is exactly what they did.

By the time 1970 came about, Sam Posey was the driver for Ray Caldwell’s factory backed Auto Dynamics 1970 Dodge Challenger, and in Trans Am Series he raced against Parnelli Jones, also against Dan Gurney in the AAR Cuda, with Swede Savage driving for that same team. This was a time that racing historians regard as the greatest season of professional road racing in US history! These pony cars competitors were the Dodge Challenger and the Plymouth Cuda. The Dodge finished fourth in points for the 1970 season, behind the Ford Corporate Team, and the great Roger Penske’s AMC, but ahead of Chevrolet, the Plymouth Cuda entries, and Pontiac. This all done as a last minute start up team of Dodge boys ready to take on the world of road racing.

In 1970, Chrysler introduced its third generation Barracuda, and the new Dodge Challenger, a distant relative from the 1959 very limited edition Silver Challenger. This pair of new ponys gave potential racers of the future many great engine options; from basic solid 6-cylinder, through the “Big Blocks” but not at big bucks, 340-cubic inch, 383, 440, and 426 “Hemi” elephant power plants. With the 425 horses ready to nip the other pony cars in the ass. 1970 was also the year that Chrysler executives decided to add onto the corporation’s current race programs of NASCAR racing and NHRA drag racing by sponsoring Cuda and Dodge Challenger teams in the ’70 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-American sedan road racing series.

Trans-Am racing was getting a lot of top name drivers along with car companies spending whatever amount of money was needed to get winning results and faster road course lap time. This is when Dan Gurney was hired to manage the racing program. Dan was retired from active race driving. But he still would get behind the wheel if needed, as in the Lime Rock Connecticut race. He did not finish that race, dropping out with clutch problems. Gurney’s management responsibility would be to locate and organize the needed talent, and construct specially designed race set-ups.

Trans-Am regulations required that 2,500 examples of this model car be offered to the public. These models were the now world famous AAR Cuda and AAR Dodge Challenger loaded with the 340 cubic inch V8 with three two barrel carburetors, affectionately known as “The Six Pack”. Exhaust pipes that ended short below each door. Ouch that could get you a hot foot! The suspensions were special but turned out to be not so special for road course handling in these otherwise Super Cars. It came from the factory with larger front disc brakes, the much loved “Pistol Grip” four speed standard shifter, a matte black fiberglass hood, a big in your face air grabber hood scoop, rear wing spoiler and a quicker steering ratio. The tires were the first to be set up with tires that were one size wider in the back than on the front wheels. This is common today but new at that time. The AARs made 290 horsepower, equal to Boss Mustang streetcar, but less than Chevy’s success, the ’70 Z/28 Camaro that used a Corvette 350 with 260 horses. The ARR Cudas that Dan built for his driver, the well-named Swede Savage, cost a lot more than the street version of the Cuda’s $3,966 price tag, that even being more than $1,200 over the price of a base Barracuda. Plymouth had no problem to find eager customers to sell every one of the 2,500 AAR Cudas it was required to build that year (they actually made and sold 2,724 of this model).

The team of Gurney/Savage was not quite as successful as those car sale numbers, finishing fifth in points, behind the Dodge Challengers with a similar set up. But alas all good things must come to an end, or not? After just one extended season of great champion competitors and dramatic racing, Ford decided to drop out! Following this surprise move, Chrysler executives cut off its support and involvement for Trans-Am racing. So now with the end of its road-racing days, those factory built racers AAR’s came to an end way too soon… or is it? Chrysler Fiat has a golden opportunity to revisit one of their most successful models (and favorite car from the 1971 cult film Vanishing Point & the’90s remake) and bring it back into modern times. And it would have America right there in middle of its race history name. You couldn’t go wrong with this package’s road racing potential, and a great tire and suspension system could eliminate the wheel hop problems and win their way back to victory circle.

Back in those days, Trans Am series teams were known to acid dip the racecars to etch away the metal making the cars lighter. At Laguna Seca, the first race of the ‘70 season, the Challenger team was last in line for technical inspection. Since all the factories were participating in 1970, the first inspection of the year was highly detailed. After the Challenger had passed tech inspection and was accepted onto the race roster, the team offered John Taminus, the chief technical inspector, a beer. John sloppily rested his elbow on the roof and dented it. It was extra soft metal from an extra long time in the acid bath. So now the team was told by the officials that they could not run the car until the roof was replaced! Within an hour of the incident the Challenger team had received permission from Chrysler executives to cut the roof off a Challenger that was sitting on a dealer’s showroom floor in downtown Monterey California. They were able to perform this roof transplant and start the race on time. It was all well worth it, Sam Posey finishes in a respectful third place. Other best finishes for Sam in 1970 were third at Lime Rock, third at Road America and once again Sam Posey in third at the Kent race track.

I’m pleased to again be able to share another small part of the grand story about American muscle car history that led us up to today’s modern day muscle car classics. You can count on seeing more interesting imagery and posts in the near future. Cruise them, race them, or if you like, just take them out, show them off, and enjoy admiring them. Cheers!

– HKK

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Images of The AAR
Copyrighted 2014 by HKK Productions Inc

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Posted in Uncategorized

Chrysler Mopar Racing Legends

Here are a few images from my collection of Automotive Art. These are featuring the Chrysler Mopar Racing Legends. Enjoy! There’s more to come…
- HKK

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Images of the Chrysler Mopar Performance
Published and Copyrighted by Chrysler Corporation

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Posted in Uncategorized

The Dependables Success Cars Of ’64

Here are a few images from my collection of Automotive Art. These are featuring the 1964 Dodge Polara, one of Dodge’s Dependable Success Cars. Enjoy! There’s more to come…
- HKK

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Images of The Dependables
Published and Copyrighted by the Dodge Division of the Chrysler Motors Corporation

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Posted in Uncategorized

The ’59 Challenger Story

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Recently it occurred to me the possibility of two of the first and most famous models from Chrysler Corporation competing in a dream race. These two classics are a part of the history of iconic model names that still lives and thrives today. They were a part of automotive race history that set many standards for today’s quarter mile track racing NHRA, NASCAR, and Trans Am AAR road course racing. These two classics would be the Dodge 1964 Charger and the Dodge 1959 Challenger, both of these early models are unfamiliar to even the most knowledgeable auto enthusiasts. This meet and match could be an amazing dream car competition, a sort of fantasy race. A competition that would feature the original originals, or as they called themselves The Original RamChargers. And in 1964, Dodge was the bad boy of NASCAR, with its 426 Hemi elephant engine banned from racing for… now get this, being too fast! LOL. Back in 1959, the Dodge Silver Challenger came on the race scene as a limited edition mid-year model. It was only available in one color inside and out, that color, of course, was silver. Its look was very muscular, just a little bit angry, and it was packed with style & power.

Then eleven years later in 1970, the Challenger returned to challenge all on comers. Today its dollar value can be in the six figures, and it’s a long time favorite of Mopar fanatics and automotive collectors. When Dan Gurney and Carroll Shelby founded AAR All American Racers in 1970, they wanted to build exceptional racing cars in the United States that would gain international recognition. And did they ever achieve their goals! Sam Posey in the #77 was the lucky driver that got to tame that wild Challenger Pony car in its racing run, until Dodge pulled out support for the Trans Am race series in 1971.

Not too many people today still remember that first ‘59 Challenger, so I’m pleased to be able to share this small part of the grand story about American muscle car history that led us up to today’s modern muscle car classics. You can count on seeing more interesting imagery and posts in the very near future. Cruise them, race them, or if you like, just take them out, show them off, and enjoy admiring them. Cheers!
– HKK

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Another great dream race!

Another great dream race!

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Images of the Hell Drivers from the World’s Fair Hell Drivers Official Souvenir Program at the New York World’s Fair 1964-1965
Published and Copyright 1964 by Alsack Corporation

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Image of The Greatest Charger Race Ever
Copyrighted 2014 by HKK Productions Inc

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Posted in Uncategorized

’64 – ’65 NY World’s Fair Hell Drivers

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Thirty “Hell Drivers “ risked life, limb and ’64 Dodges, crashing 1950′s oldies and performing wild stunts in a daring, very high-speed show at the ’64 – ’65 New York World’s Fair Auto Thrill Show. Among the features of the program were four-car bumper tag, wing ski jumps (drivers careen off a low ramp on two wheels at 50 miles an hour) a crash rollover contest, and the “dive bomber crash” (off the ramp with an older car onto the top of a parked car). In the show’s big climax, a driver piloted a truck on a ramp to ramp “flight” hurtling more than 70 feet through the air. The 6,000 seat Auto Thrill Stadium had a banked figure 8 track, the first of its kind for super stunt driving. Admission for reserved seats was $2.00, general admission a mere $1.00! There were four shows daily on weekdays, six on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays; each performance lasted about one hour.

The Fair occupied only about half of the Flushing Meadow acreage, but it was almost nine times larger than the ’62 Seattle World’s Fair. Actually the entire 1962 event would have fit into the Transportation Area of the New York Fair. That was the area where the first track ever designed for an auto thrill show was constructed by Transportation Productions Inc. It was built at the cost of $2,500,000, a staggering amount for ’64, and was the result of three years of planning. The only track of its type in the world in 1964, it had an asphalt surface, double guardrails, special drainage equipment, and a figure 8 pattern that let drivers have maximum maneuverability. Drivers, engineers and designers worked to develop the plans for the track that the Hell Drivers performed on. Special methods had to be introduced to lay the track due to the degree of the high banking curves at both ends of the figure 8 track. A special concrete crash wall was constructed between the double guardrail and the grand stand. It had a visitor’s lounge, refreshment stand, a plaza, and floodlights for nighttime performances.

The history of the Jack Kochman Hell Drivers goes back to the stunts of the ’39-’40 New York World’s Fair. Over many years the auto thrill show was seen in county fairs from coast to coast. It was ’42 when Mr. Kochman took over as the head of the auto thrill show. The original name of the group was aptly enough the very dramatic “Death Dodgers”, they performed at the ’39-’40 New York World’s Fair with Chrysler products. During World War II, the gasoline rationing and shortages of replacement parts created obstacles that were overcome by running their cars on propane gas, and of all things iron tube wheels.

For the ’64-’65 New York World’s Fair, the Hell Drivers performed with a group of 30 drivers and stunt men, combined as a team for each performance. They had been using safety belts since ’42. Drivers inspected their own vehicles before and after each performance. Superstitiousness did exist for some of them, but was it really a matter of practicality? For example, one driver painted his clutch, brake, and accelerator pedals yellow while another stuck various patches on his steering wheel. The president of the company, Alan Gottlieb, summed up the goal of his team; “We wanted to provide the most thrill packed auto stunt driving show, that would give the public the best entertainment at the Fair at a reasonable price. To get a reduced price we had to have more shows and that’s why we had scheduled 1,800 performances throughout the run of the Fair.” To complete this first-of-its-kind auto stunt driving required dealing with an inhospitable location that included swampy land and former garbage dumping area that had become a ‘sea of ashes’. (As the area was referenced in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.) To improve on the success of the ’39 Death Dodgers, quite a large investment was required. Mr. Gottlieb noted, “The shows had to live up to the excitement and jammed-packed action the ’39 event provided. This was quite a different automotive era comparing ’39 to ’64. Cars are sleeker and faster, but are they really as durable as the earlier models? We had to determine product reliability before the show was even possible. Again, we were planning 1,800 performances and the cars that were to be used had to measure up to a lot of punishment.”

The “T-Bone” crash stunt was one of the highlights of the Hell Driver shows. This maneuver was done with the older used cars, and not the ’64 Dodge Polara Lineup. One racer would zoom up a ramp, fly through the air then “dive-bomb” itself into the side of another car, and continue racing through the course. Another stunt was the always popular, body-crunching “Roll-Over Contest” where a car is raced at high speed onto a ramp launching its two wheels up in the air while its other two remain on the ground. The elevation of one side of the car flips the car over as it reaches the ramps peak. If the car lands on its side, the driver was awarded two points by the producer, Mr. Jack Kochman. But… if the driver flips one full turn the driver got five points! The stunt men competed against each other for just a $1000 prize, saved until the end of a very challenging and long season. Then there was the “Hi-Ski Event” one of the many different thrill shows that made spectators feel like you ride from the bleachers. The ’64 Polaras climb up ramps, or at least half the wheels do, the other two hopefully stay on the ground. Then off the ramps and as far as the cars would go on two wheels before coming down again with a jolt to both car and driver. Mr. Kochman turned this into a competition between drivers to see which one could “stay up the longest” as it were, with special prizes at the season’s end to the “Top Man”!

“Happy”, the wacky antics clown, had his own special set of thrill car wheels, a miniature one that was likely to move in any direction. Sometimes it would explode, or disintegrate, or what some of the show personnel would say, “take off into the wild blue yonder”. Happy and his vehicle were a little bit unpredictable. But he was considered a ranking Hell Driver with the best of them, even though his baggy pants and flapping arms often caused the audiences to miss the hairbreadth timing that was part of his gags. For instance, he would stand on the track as two ’64 Polaras racing at more than 50 miles per hour would pass in tandem and, seemingly, sandwich him very tightly to their sides. He had faced as many as four ‘64s careening towards him simultaneously! Just when it looked as though he would end up carried away in an ambulance, the agile “Ole Happy” would drive away to safety. (Perhaps Happily?)

One of the most thrilling of the maneuvers which the Hell Drivers would perform was their motorcycle leap. A stock model motorcycle launched 30 feet through the air from one ramp to another. It was aerial leaps very similar to these that killed many of the early stunt riders who dared to be first. The crowd favorite was a motorcycle jump over six men laying on their stomachs as the motorcycle seemingly drove across their backs. While all of these stunts were dangerous, the skill of the drivers, the exactness of their preparations, and the amazing sturdy frame and construction of the ’64 Dodge line, including the Charger inspired convertible Polara 500 model, combined to prevent fatalities during their 18 years of performing shows across the nation.

The Hell Drivers performed their 1,800 shows in brand new Dodge cars and trucks as did the Jimmy Lynch Death Dodgers at the ’39-’40 New York World’s Fair. Most of these stock passenger Dodges; two door coupes, sedans and, of course, those beautiful convertibles; were powered by the bullet proof 383 cubic inch V-8 engines, amazingly the only modifications to these vehicles was a heavy duty suspension and raised torsion bars that would help with the severe punishment during the run of the Fair. All of the vehicles were equipped with 1964 state-of-the-art seat belts called Auto-Crat by Jim Robbins Co. The Hell Drivers used these since ’42 and were strong advocates of their use in a time when they were an optional item. During those 22 some odd years, the Kochman Teams only used Dodge vehicles averaging 37 cars a year for all their performances. The ‘64 Dodges where put through extensive performance testing before they could launch into the air on a 70 foot ramp to ramp jump, skid along at high speed in reverse gear, and shift into forward motion within seconds by the push of the ultra cool push button transmission (alas, the last year for that feature).

The cars were checked daily for a long list of items that included front end alignments, amount of gasoline in the tank, tire pressure, radiator system leaks, and, of course, the special seat belts. The only other special safety equipment was the aptly named ‘crash helmet’. All the vehicles used a brand of tire called Allstate, with ‘safety rims’, that were exclusive to Chrysler cars. All the ’64 Dodges were white, a favorite with the corporate heads, with a special World’s Fair emblem hand painted on the sides.

So when it comes to the first famous Dodge that was doing long jumps and driving away in good shape, the ’64 Dodge leads the pack. It was the grand dad of the jumping Dukes of Hazzard ’69 Dodge Charger, The General Lee. I’m sure you Dodge boys (or girls!) are enjoying this story and you’ll see more in future posts, along with super rare photos and my original images. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the large amount of facts and events that Dodge was leading the way in the birth of the modern American muscle car era, that we are still enjoying today. Dukes of Hazzards General Lee ’69 Charger eat your heart out!

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Images of the Hell Drivers from the World’s Fair Hell Drivers Official Souvenir Program at the New York World’s Fair 1964-1965
Published and Copyright 1964 by Alsack Corporation

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Images of the 1964 – 1965 NY World’s Fair from the OFFICIAL World’s Fair Souvenir Book
Copyright 1965 New York World’s Fair 1964-1965 Corporation
Published by arrangement with Time Inc.

Posted in Uncategorized

’64 – ’65 NY World’s Fair Hell Drivers (Part 3)

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(Continued from Part 2…)

The Hell Drivers performed their 1,800 shows in brand new Dodge cars and trucks as did the Jimmy Lynch Death Dodgers at the ’39-’40 New York World’s Fair. Most of these stock passenger Dodges; two door coupes, sedans and, of course, those beautiful convertibles; were powered by the bullet proof 383 cubic inch V-8 engines, amazingly the only modifications to these vehicles was a heavy duty suspension and raised torsion bars that would help with the severe punishment during the run of the Fair. All of the vehicles were equipped with 1964 state-of-the-art seat belts called Auto-Crat by Jim Robbins Co. The Hell Drivers used these since ’42 and were strong advocates of their use in a time when they were an optional item. During those 22 some odd years, the Kochman Teams only used Dodge vehicles averaging 37 cars a year for all their performances. The ‘64 Dodges where put through extensive performance testing before they could launch into the air on a 70 foot ramp to ramp jump, skid along at high speed in reverse gear, and shift into forward motion within seconds by the push of the ultra cool push button transmission (alas, the last year for that feature).

The cars were checked daily for a long list of items that included front end alignments, amount of gasoline in the tank, tire pressure, radiator system leaks, and, of course, the special seat belts. The only other special safety equipment was the aptly named ‘crash helmet’. All the vehicles used a brand of tire called Allstate, with ‘safety rims’, that were exclusive to Chrysler cars. All the ’64 Dodges were white, a favorite with the corporate heads, with a special World’s Fair emblem hand painted on the sides.

So when it comes to the first famous Dodge that was doing long jumps and driving away in good shape, the ’64 Dodge leads the pack. It was the grand dad of the jumping Dukes of Hazzard ’69 Dodge Charger, The General Lee. I’m sure you Dodge boys (or girls!) are enjoying this story and you’ll see more in future posts, along with super rare photos and my original images. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the large amount of facts and events that Dodge was leading the way in the birth of the modern American muscle car era, that we are still enjoying today. Dukes of Hazzards General Lee ’69 Charger eat your heart out!

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Images of the 1964 – 1965 NY World’s Fair from the OFFICIAL World’s Fair Souvenir Book
Copyright 1965 New York World’s Fair 1964-1965 Corporation
Published by arrangement with Time Inc.

Posted in Uncategorized

’64 – ’65 NY World’s Fair Hell Drivers (Part 2)

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(Continued from Part 1…)

The history of the Jack Kochman Hell Drivers goes back to the stunts of the ’39-’40 New York World’s Fair. Over many years the auto thrill show was seen in county fairs from coast to coast. It was ’42 when Mr. Kochman took over as the head of the auto thrill show. The original name of the group was aptly enough the very dramatic “Death Dodgers”, they performed at the ’39-’40 New York World’s Fair with Chrysler products. During World War II, the gasoline rationing and shortages of replacement parts created obstacles that were overcome by running their cars on propane gas, and of all things iron tube wheels.

For the ’64-’65 New York World’s Fair, the Hell Drivers performed with a group of 30 drivers and stunt men, combined as a team for each performance. They had been using safety belts since ’42. Drivers inspected their own vehicles before and after each performance. Superstitiousness did exist for some of them, but was it really a matter of practicality? For example, one driver painted his clutch, brake, and accelerator pedals yellow while another stuck various patches on his steering wheel. The president of the company, Alan Gottlieb, summed up the goal of his team; “We wanted to provide the most thrill packed auto stunt driving show, that would give the public the best entertainment at the Fair at a reasonable price. To get a reduced price we had to have more shows and that’s why we had scheduled 1,800 performances throughout the run of the Fair.” To complete this first-of-its-kind auto stunt driving required dealing with an inhospitable location that included swampy land and former garbage dumping area that had become a ‘sea of ashes’. (As the area was referenced in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.) To improve on the success of the ’39 Death Dodgers, quite a large investment was required. Mr. Gottlieb noted, “The shows had to live up to the excitement and jammed-packed action the ’39 event provided. This was quite a different automotive era comparing ’39 to ’64. Cars are sleeker and faster, but are they really as durable as the earlier models? We had to determine product reliability before the show was even possible. Again, we were planning 1,800 performances and the cars that were to be used had to measure up to a lot of punishment.”

The “T-Bone” crash stunt was one of the highlights of the Hell Driver shows. This maneuver was done with the older used cars, and not the ’64 Dodge Polara Lineup. One racer would zoom up a ramp, fly through the air then “dive-bomb” itself into the side of another car, and continue racing through the course. Another stunt was the always popular, body-crunching “Roll-Over Contest” where a car is raced at high speed onto a ramp launching its two wheels up in the air while its other two remain on the ground. The elevation of one side of the car flips the car over as it reaches the ramps peak. If the car lands on its side, the driver was awarded two points by the producer, Mr. Jack Kochman. But… if the driver flips one full turn the driver got five points! The stunt men competed against each other for just a $1000 prize, saved until the end of a very challenging and long season. Then there was the “Hi-Ski Event” one of the many different thrill shows that made spectators feel like you ride from the bleachers. The ’64 Polaras climb up ramps, or at least half the wheels do, the other two hopefully stay on the ground. Then off the ramps and as far as the cars would go on two wheels before coming down again with a jolt to both car and driver. Mr. Kochman turned this into a competition between drivers to see which one could “stay up the longest” as it were, with special prizes at the season’s end to the “Top Man”!

“Happy”, the wacky antics clown, had his own special set of thrill car wheels, a miniature one that was likely to move in any direction. Sometimes it would explode, or disintegrate, or what some of the show personnel would say, “take off into the wild blue yonder”. Happy and his vehicle were a little bit unpredictable. But he was considered a ranking Hell Driver with the best of them, even though his baggy pants and flapping arms often caused the audiences to miss the hairbreadth timing that was part of his gags. For instance, he would stand on the track as two ’64 Polaras racing at more than 50 miles per hour would pass in tandem and, seemingly, sandwich him very tightly to their sides. He had faced as many as four ‘64s careening towards him simultaneously! Just when it looked as though he would end up carried away in an ambulance, the agile “Ole Happy” would drive away to safety. (Perhaps Happily?)

One of the most thrilling of the maneuvers which the Hell Drivers would perform was their motorcycle leap. A stock model motorcycle launched 30 feet through the air from one ramp to another. It was aerial leaps very similar to these that killed many of the early stunt riders who dared to be first. The crowd favorite was a motorcycle jump over six men laying on their stomachs as the motorcycle seemingly drove across their backs. While all of these stunts were dangerous, the skill of the drivers, the exactness of their preparations, and the amazing sturdy frame and construction of the ’64 Dodge line, including the Charger inspired convertible Polara 500 model, combined to prevent fatalities during their 18 years of performing shows across the nation.

(The Story Continues in Part 3, Coming Soon…)

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Images of the Hell Drivers from the World’s Fair Hell Drivers Official Souvenir Program at the New York World’s Fair 1964-1965
Published and Copyright 1964 by Alsack Corporation

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