Simanaitis Says

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VOL. 1 NO. 6 OF Road and Track first appeared in December 1949 and later in a Brooklands Books facsimile in 1987. Yesterday in Part 1, we learned about motor racing across the Atlantic in 1949 from Foreign Correspondents Spike Rhiando and Alice Caracciola. Today in Part 2, one writer is a hot-rod enthusiast, the other is John R. Bond.  

Dean Batchelor’s 193-mph Ride. When Dean Batchelor wrote, “How it Feels to Drive a Ford V-8 193 mph” in Vol. 1 No. 6, I suspect he didn’t sense that years later he’d be editor of the magazine.

“My first experience,” he wrote, “at driving a fully enclosed streamlined record car not only ended with two new class records, but also in near disaster.” 

“Dean Batchelor, at the wheel of So-Cal Spl., talks with Bob Meeks, left, and Alex Xydias, right.” Image, caption,  and the following from Brooklands Books facsimile of Road and Track, December 1949.

Partners in Action. Dean Batchelor and Alex Xydias were partners in design, construction, and driving the So-Cal Speed Shop Special. Alex’s So-Cal Speed Shop in Burbank appears in a 1/2-page ad on page 1 of this December 1949 magazine. 

Dean and Alex took turns in trailing the car and piloting it at the first National Speed Trials held at Bonneville, Utah, under the auspices of the Southern California Timing Association.

Trailing the So-Cal Speed Shop Special in an open rig, they reported “local yokels ask, ‘What lake yuh takin’ the BOAT to?’ ”

Dean’s near disaster? On his last run, “About 100 yards past the second light the tread came off the right front tire. I thought it had blown out and was getting ready for trouble when the left front let go. Luckily, it was only the tread that came off. I hate to think of what would have happened had they actually blown out. The return run was 185 for an average 189.74 mph.”


An American Sports Car? John R. Bond wrote in this same Vol. 1 No. 6, “Sports car enthusiasts are quite vehement in denying the hot rod sports car status. Hot rod enthusiasts are equally positive that a hot rod is a sports car.” John offers “factors which are most vital in defining a sports car, and in order of importance!”

“Before appraising the hot rod against this yardstick,” John continued, “it is only fair to admit that there are all kinds of hot rods—in fact, probably no two are ever quite alike. However, the most popular type is the 1932 Ford V-8 chassis with lowered or ‘channeled’ roadster body.”

John cited, “The roadability of hot rods is notoriously poor by sports car standards. Hot rodders often attempt to rectify this shortcoming in all sorts of ways—mostly bad…. Considering performance, the hot rod does show up extremely well, as was pointed out in the first article of this series, but what good is it to have ‘bags of power’ and not be able to use and control it safely.”

“No, the typical hot rod cannot be called anything but a hot rod. There is always an exception to the rule….” John wrote. 

And I’m sure glad he kept on writing. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022

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