Pat Foster 1940-2008
"I've been involved in many
motorsports through the years and know for sure that drag racing
done properly is as tough as it gets. For something that appears
so simple it is terribly complicated." Pat Foster
Drag racing has lost, much to
early, yet another of its "family" and this particular
loss hit many of us on a deeply personal level. Pat Foster was
a man's man and a racers racer. His entire life was was steeped
in motorsports and drag racing was his first and last love. His
accomplishments are far to numerous to remember, let alone mention.
To know Patty was to love him and I was lucky enough to know
him for 40 years. His sense of humor and incredible memory made
him a joy to be around - or just talk to on the phone. Like a
man who only met him once said, "It was such a treat because
he's such a nice and intelligent man, like talking to a friendly
drag racing encyclopedia - if that makes any sense". He
was also opinionated, stubborn, emotional, a perfectionist and
loyal to a fault... an incredible package of brains and talent.
"Foster" (yes, he was
one of those people who could go by one name) lived life pretty
much on his terms and was extremely good at whatever he did.
Many times over his 68 years he cheated death on and off the
track. In the last few years he underwent four major surgeries,
three related to his genetically poor vascular system. And in
the end it wasn't anything daring or foolish that took Patty,
it was his vascular problems that won the war. In late November
his ascending aorta failed causing catastrophic damage to vital
organs. He had just finished what would be his last project,
a dragster restoration for Billy Lynch. Although his move from
Kansas to Moscow, Idaho in 2006 didn't turn out has he'd hoped,
he was making the best of it. Pat had a new shop and a heavy
back load of work when disaster struck. Like many of us, he had
no retirement plan or pension - during a conversation we had
after his heart surgery I told him I'd be working 'til the day
I die. He laughed and said, "Welcome to my world".
Over the last few months Patty
beat the odds (an ascending aorta is nearly always fatal within
minutes) and showed signs of improvement. Although he would never
walk again there was a chance he could function in a wheelchair.
Rehab, therapy - they tried it all and Foster was a willing participant.
However when he was told there was nothing more they could do
for him and the cold hard facts were his internal organs were
not going to rally, he requested to be unhooked from all the
support devices and pulled the chute with dignity.
I will miss him dearly. Sit low
The photos and text below is
not only a tribute to Pat, but a celebration of his life. Much
of what is here are his own words - words well worth reading.
He was a consummate story teller and with that came the gift
to put stories into words. I hope you can get a slight glimpse
into the man that was Foster and find a laugh or two along the
way. This, in short, is his legacy and through his work he will
be remembered long after most of us are gone and forgotten.
For 44 years
Pat Foster had literally built everything from Gas Coupes to
Land Speed Record cars with every iteration of Dragster and Funny
in between. Working with the likes of Woody Gilmore, Ronnie Scrima,
Frank Huszar, Jim Hume, John Buttera, Nye Frank, Tom Jobe and
Mickey Thompson... Foster was involved in virtually every aspect
of the Southern California and national racing scene.
Beyond his craft
and innovation, Pat was the test pilot de rigueur. Best
remembered as a touring professional, he was generally the first
one turned to for the shake down runs in a new chassis design
or to sort out a the evil spirits haunting an existing car. Neither
reckless nor foolish, Foster was the ultimate behaviorist when
it came to sorting out a hot rod. He survived 68 years
due more to his technical understanding than blind luck and bravery.
Although, the latter is subject to considerable debate.
A builder at
heart, after finally hanging up his helmet, Pat turned to Sports
Racing Prototypes in Can Am and ultimately embracing the new
generation aerospace metals and advanced composites, fabricated
the prototypes for the near unbeatable Nissan IMSA GTP program.
His last role
was a restorer/recreator of old drag cars, Foster was unique
in that he could handle the pipe as well as the tin. He
started early, put in a full day and got a lot done. Generally
he limited himself to one project at a time and the results were
very satisfied clients.
Long before he
went on to be one of the best funny car pilots of all time, Foster
drove some pretty nice dragsters. Here he is at Lions in 1964
with the "R&R Engines" AA/FD. This shot is with
a motor they borrowed from Don Alderson (Milodon) for one weekend.
They couldn't run the nose as Don's pump extension. and such
were different than their standard set up. The car itself was
a Scrima chassis, Don Brown body (sprint car guy). Ran the car
as R&R Engines. R&R stood for Rocky and Ronnie, Childs-Winkle.
This car later became "The Addict".
is a shot of the unpainted Tommy Ivo "VideoLiner" against
the The "Scrima Liner" of Scrima, Bacilek and Milodon.
Foster at the helm.
Childs & Albert's "Addict"
AA/FD in the pits of Lions in 1965. This is when a young kid
named Pat Foster was at the wheel.
"Jimmy Albert, Rocky Childs
partner in the Addict car always held Zueschel in high regard
and emulated him in all respects, except for girth. We`re at
Lions one night and Davey does one of his patented throttle whacks
with Ed Pink in the other lane. Dave would stand beside the motor,
with his hand on the injector shaft and when he was sure Pink
or Black or whoever was looking, he`d grab a handfull of throttle
and just smile over at `em.
One of the few times we made
it to the final round, Jimmy tries the deal against Waterman,
I think. He whacks that bitch, backfires the blower, OFF the
manifold, the concussion knocks him over backwards and the stand-off
tube that holds the no longer exsisting oil pressure gauge is
pissing a steady stream of 70wt. on his head. I didn`t know whether
to laugh or cry, while I was deciding, I left the mag switch
on and just let her die a slow death. What a pitiful sight, he
NEVER whacked her again, left that to the real tuners".
In 1966 Foster got his
first taste of a "door car" in Don Kirby's blown Vette.
"This is Dusty Rhodes' Fuller
car that was briefly driven by Pat foster. This is Foster doing
the welding as I wasn't doing any stickarc at that time."
Photo from Steve Gibbs --
Commentary by Kent Fuller
"In 64'-65' (?) Dusty Rhodes
had a very nice Fuller full bodied Top Fuel car. I have heard
Kent refer to the car a few times on 1320.
Dusty had a fire ,and got his feet burned to about medium rare
(pink in the center) He called me from the burn center and asked
if I could help him, by driving his Hot Rod till he was able.
I should have got the clue as to what was to come, from the origin
of that first call. He told me his guys would prepare the car
per his wishes - all I had to do was arrive and drive.Sounds
good so far.We were to race at Riverside Raceway (Hot Rod Mag.
meet - I think?)
After a couple of attempts to
qualify, it became apparent to me his guys weren't gonna make
it happen and I told them so. They called Rusty and asked him
what they could do. His answer was to engage Ed.Pink`s help if
possible. Sure boys-come on over, Pink said, with dollar signs
dancing in his head. I failed to mention the car had a Tork-Master
in it. Fuller can attest to the fact that a T-M deal was a difficult
tune-up at best.After selling Dusty`s guys all the latest bolt
- on tricks, we had still failed to qualify after two more tries
and several junk pistons.
Well, once again I`m there on
a percentage deal and my kids are home hungry.
Stand back - I`ll get this bitch
in the show, boys, I said.So I give it the old ten, ten and ten
deal,OK maybe 15,10 and 20 ,for you kids out there that's - 10%
more nitro- 10 degrees more lead in the mag and take 10 lbs.
off the front end. Can`t remember any numbers,but we put it in
the show second, behind maybe Tim and John. Oh Yeah! I forgot
to say, it also nipped a couple (all eight) and blew their BRAND
NEW Pink blower thru the big O in the Champion Spark Plug sign
on the bridge over the end of the track! Couldn't race (out of
parts) but his guys were pumped!
They got their revenge a few
weeks later at the 'Beach'. Rusty is still M.I.A. so the boys
prep the car again for the 'Beach'. They are real proud of their
prep and tell me: Don`t worry about anything - We`ve checked
and repaired everything in the car.
First run, I get her down thru
there to about the 1100 ft. mark and it goes dead-ass sideways
with the tires locked - up solid - got it stopped without tipping
her over and jumped out FAST ! The rear housing was smok`in !
New Quiz - What had the boys forgot on their non-existent check
list? Bingo! 90wt. gear oil.
Next week-end.back to the 'Beach'.
First run - they forgot to let the air down in the tires,so blazed
the hoops and shut off.
Second run - Now it`s dark, leaves
hard gets out there about 300 ft. and I can`t see ANYTHING !
Shut her off in the middle of the track and get out. Threw my
helmet and shit in the tow car and returned to the pits. They
asked "What Happened? That baby was on one!" I said
two words "Couldn't see." They said "What?"
As I got my stuff out of the tow car I noticed for the first
time, It looks like my goggles had been spray painted with white
Krylon, also the bill and front of the helmet.I showed that to
the guys and they all got funny looks on their faces and started
checking out the toes of their sneakers.Then they told me Dusty
had been working with the folks at Sperex Corp. on a trick coating
for the chambers,valves,top of pistons etc.
Well, so much for 60`s technology!
Ahhh ! The life and times of a hired gun! Foster
"Bad news for the "Rhodes
Runner" at the 1968 Hot Rod Championships in Riverside.
Dusty Rhodes was in Holy Cross with burns suffered at San Fernando
and they put Foster in the seat. Pat insisted on "lean
'er 2". The results - well into the show, But! Our front
cover and top pulley went through the "O" in the Champion
bridge over the finish line. My hand with early air wrench and
Chuck's knee is in this picture... or vice-versa. 'Bout 45 min.
after this pic a guy walked up and asked "is this yours"?
Holding the pulley and cover... still kinda white. He was standing
about ten feet from where it hit. And YES, it WAS expensive."
Commentary by Don Rudy
Foster in the then brand new
"Atlas Oil Tool Special" at Lions, 1968. Pat built
the car at Woody's and Tom Hanna sculpted the incredibly sleek
body. After Foster shook the car down, owner, John Bateman put
Gerry Glenn in the car and it enjoyed nation wide success until
it was destroyed by a clutch explosion in 1969.
in the no frills "Atlas Oil Tool Special" at Long Beach
in 1969. This is the replacement for the beautiful tail piece
car that Gerry Glenn crashed in. Foster built (at Woody's) and
drove the car while Glenn was recuperating from that incident.
The Beach City Vette
Saga According to Foster
"Here's how I remember the
whole Beach City deal that has gotten told so many different
ways over the years.
When Scrima and I had Exhibition
Engineering in the mid to late sixties, Don Kirby and I became
good friends because he painted some of our clients stuff. Don
had the Corvette Auto Parts coupe that I think his brother Bud
drove some. Don contracted John Garrison to build a stroked 427
BB Chev. engine for that car. The car was horrid, short, high,
rectangular tube frame, straight front axle, much like the 'Gassers'
of the day. I loved Garrison and agreed to drive it when they
got the new engine in it. It was a genuine 'Kill yer' self kit'
as Olin would say! I made about five attempts to get her down
through there with very scary results. I told Kirby, no more,
I told him to let me build him
a new car and we'd race together. I then built The Roadster at
E.E. and it started life with Nickey Chevrolet livery, as they
promised Don financial help, which never happened so he approached
Beach City Chevrolet and they did provide the help he needed
to complete the new car and hire John and I to run it. The new
roadster hauled ass from the git-go and ran over 200mph the first
weekend. It was VERY light, slippery and beautiful to look at
and handled like a dream.
At about this same time Scrima
and I parted company and I was working for Woody in Downey. He
and I started thinking and planning the ill-fated back motored
dragster. My weekend ride was the Beach City Corvette when Woody,
Leland and I started testing the dragster. We ran at Irwindale,
OCIR, perhaps Irwindale again and thought it was ready to run
'In anger' so went to 'The Beach' and crashed (see story below).
During my long recovery Kirby put Ronnie Goodsell in the roadster
and did the fire, crash and burn deal onto the 405 freeway.
The story get very fuzzy for
me from that point on, as I was kind of 'out of it' for months
after the 'Beach' incident.
I don't know who or how the off-set
car that Kirby/Gabelich ran came to be or if the E.E. roadster
survived the Freeway deal (below) or what happened to that car.
When I finally joined the 'real
world' after recovery, Bateman had me do the Maverick at Woody's
and we went 'on tour' and that deal is just as confusing and
comical as most of those years were for me! <GRIN>"
This car was backed by Ford in
1968. The car was built with the help of Joe Anahory, John Buttera,
Pat Foster, Nye Frank, Tom Jobe, Paul Sutherland and Louis
Techenoff. The car was taken to Bonneville in October 1968 along
with some Ford Mustangs.
M/T never drove the care to its
450+ MPH potential. He did make a couple of 360 MPH runs and
then the weather turned bad and the rains came.
Ford cut back the money so M/T
retired the car. The car is now owned by Mickey Thompson's son,
Danny Thompson, . He has plans to make an attempt at the world
land speed record, as soon as he is able to find a sponsor.
Lions - December, 1969. Pat Foster
in the first Woody (RCE) rear engine dragster. As Patty explains
it below, the car had some flaws and although he doesn't expound
on the subject, it almost cost Foster his life. I witnessed the
incident from the starting line and it was so bad that I just
knew he was dead. When the car crossed the track at 200 mph it
literally leaped over the guardrail and flew a good 100 feet
in the air about 10 feet off the ground. It struck a wooden light
pole in flight and disintegrated. Luckily the car hit the pole
just behind Pat. Had it hit another 2 feet (or less) further
forward - well, I would have been right. As it was, the cage
stayed in tact and the engine continued on through the field,
over a fence and into the far end of the parking lot. Foster
was in bad shape but alive. It took him nearly a year to completely
recover and I would bet he still has some aches on cold days.
In his own words, here's how
Patty answered the question: "How did the ill-fated Woody
car come to be?"
"There was no particular
reason that Woody and I decided to build a back motored car.
It began as lunch talk and grew from there. We decided to do
the car with Woody supplying the materials and me donating the
labor. We approached John Bateman to use his running gear and
one of his 392's. He agreed, so the work began. We felt to be
able to achieve the balance of the better running front motor
cars of the era we needed to get the static load on the rear
as high as possible so we inverted the rear end, used a small
gear drive off the pinion to reverse the rotation, came back
through the rear housing to the bell housing. Back of block to
centerline of rear ended up about 18 ".
Some how, John and Woody had
a falling apart and Leland Kolb ended up the motor supplier.
After two outings with the piece, both marred by poor handling,
we slowed the steering from the regular 6-1 ratio to 10-1 and
headed to the Beach for more testing. The car hooked hard and
made a very nice, straight hard run until entering the lights,
at which time it picked up the front end violently, got on the
fifth wheel just behind the seat, tipped on to left rear and
catapulted the car over the right lane guardrail where it struck
a light pole. By the way, we started in the left lane.
Garlits called me a week or so
later in the hospital and asked my opinion was the accident,
as he was thinking of building a similar car after his accident
at Long Beach. I told him to put a wing on the front, no fifth
wheel and to slow the steering, the rest is history."
More to The Story from Foster...
Woody and I built the car and
used Leland Kolb's engine and clutch. We thought it was time
to get the driver out of harms way, so did the car as a spec
project. This was before Garlits and Swingle did his. Soon after
crashing the original car Woody made the changes needed and did
another for Duane Ong, that performed well.
The car I crashed had the engine
too far to the rear and needed a front. wing. Also prior to the
night at Long Beach we had made a couple of attempts at OCIR
and Irwindale, where we determined the steering had to be slowed
considerably. That handled, we went to the 'Beach' convinced
we had it figured out. On it's initial run that day it hauled
ass, straight as an arrow to the 1100-1200 ft mark then violently
started a blow-over. A single fifth wheel, close to the axle
centerline caused it to tip onto the left rear slick and launched
it over the opposite guardrail, where it hit a phone pole about
eight feet from the ground.
Myself and the front half of
the car dropped to the bottom of the pole while the rear half
with the engine went through the spectator parking lot and ended
up almost at Willow St.
Gar called me in the hospital
after two weeks and asked if I had any suggestions for his back
motored car he and Swingle had on the jig. I told him to slow
the steering and not locate the engine as far to the rear as
we had done and to consider a wing on the front.
During his stint at Mickey Thompson's
Foster, along with the likes of Tom Jobe and John Buttera, designed
and built what were at the time two state-of-the-art Mach 1 Mustang
funny cars. Danny Ongais drove the "blue car" and Foster
the "red car" which was destroyed in a tragic accident
Patty was not only a fine driver
but a hands on mechanic. He could do it all and was known as
one of the sharpest clutch guys of his era.
Foster in the Atlas Oil
Tool Special Maverick at Irwindale in 1970.
Pat had a stint in Roland
Leong's "Hawaiian" in 1970.
We're at Irwindale qualifying
for some race, so here I am at about 1200 feet when "Sherm"
(that's what Roland called that car for a Sherman tank) breaks
the pinion, the RPMs go to the moon which in turn blows the blower
off and explodes the drum in the Lenco trans. Now we've got red
oil all inside the car, a big fire which burns off the chute,
and I'm headed for the gravel pit at about 220. Much to my chagrin
when I reach for the brakes, there are none. Transmission explosion
cleaned the master cylinder right off the frame rail. Went off
the end well out into the desert like terrain at the end of Irwindale.
When safety trucks, ambulance,
and crew get to me, I'm OK but Sherm is a little worse for wear.
The first thing Hop Sing says to me, "Foster, why didn't
you stop?" I said, "Roland, there's no master cylinder
left on the car." He replies, "Why didn't you pump
From: Kenny Youngblood ,
Great, Pat, except the best part..
taking Roland by the arm and walking to the back of the car and
pointing to the master cylinder and brake lever
dragging behind the car by the braided line.. "There's your
The Winners Circle at
the Hang 10 Funny Car Championships at OCIR in 1972.
"When Ed Pink hired me for
the Setzer car, 'Lil John (Buttera) was not happy, as he still
wanted to drive but never ever got much attention while in the
seat. So he thought Kelly Brown was the driver of choice for
the car. Between a little professional envy and the hot rods
immediate performance increase with a clutch, gear, tire, engine
tune up change, Buttera didn't have much negative to say about
the driver change in one one of his race cars! (builder).
But at some point he went to
Barry and Pink and said he couldn't deny the performance gains
and the cars win/lose record but ..... but what's with his squeaky
little wet burn-outs? Pink approached me about this and I said
I only did em' hard enough to prep the tire and track for a pass
and tried to be easy on the parts bill for Setzer. Wrong thing
to tell Pink. He asked me to step it up a little on the burn-outs.
Now that was the wrong thing to tell me and so from then on the
Setzer car was no 'Weak Suck' on the burn-out deal. . . . . .
half track, smoke out the front wheel wells, full track, what
strikes your fancy boys.
Pink, Setzer, 'Lil John, Baney,
Chrisman, Meeks and all the normal players would gather at the
starting line waiting for me to blow-up and then chide me for
being too aggressive on the burn-out! You think being a hired
gun is pretty glamorous, (?) think again, all the armchair quarterbacks
can't wait to stack you up and pitch your ass out into the cold
world of unemployed drivers! <grin> Talk about a high-stress
job, just trying to feed your family, look elsewhere boys. it
had few rewards other than going to bed Sunday nights after a
win or Top-time or low ET and that wasn't in front of a large
crowd, believe me!"
"Another whiny driver story,
all the other hired drivers will agree with most of this. This
will relate to no particular car, time period or race but just
as an example of the being a hired 'Hero Driver'. In any of the
weekly or monthly publications of the era, a race story would
usually say something to the affect of: The beautifully built
(Buttera) perfectly prepared and tuned (Pink) Setzer (owned)
Valvoline-Goodyear (sponsored) Funny car easily won the Manufactures
64 car show this weekend at OCIR! - Skip to the following weekend
results when the papers would say: Roland Leong's Hawaiian funny
Car wins at Irwindale with Butch Mass up as Pat Foster in the
Setzer car (blew it up, smoked the tires, left early, left late,
blew the blower off it, missed the clutch setting, choose the
wrong tire or any of the above) to lose the race that he should
have easily won if he hadn't lost it single handedly! My point
being that the car,owner, team, builder, tuner etc. won all the
races but Foster LOST all the others!! How bout' it lad's, sound
Patty ( Just couldn't get
no respect! ) Foster (LOL)
"Jungle and I were good
friends and booked together as much as possible, Barry (Setzer)
loved the car to race as much as possible and loved the exposure
we received in the southeast and east coast area.
With Jungle's ability to get
dates, we were often running three and four nights a week in
a small market and then do it all again in a different market.
Some were three smoky burn-outs and run er' fairly easy but Barry
hated those dates and loved track records, so many other match
race guys hated to see us pull in as they were trying to live
off their cars and didn't and/or couldn't run hard often. July
forth week was insane in the mid-west, we ran six nights straight
with many miles between each. We also ran a lot of dates against
the 'Max', great racing those guys as they would run it hard
against the Setzer car.
You can only run that much for
perhaps a year or two of your life, as it will take it's toll
on your health in a hurry. Jungle was inexhaustible and very
I made many friends and met many,
many folks I'll never forget and wouldn't trade those years for
anything! Hard work doesn't describe it, but youth makes you
do strange things, really strange things!
We didn't hurt for fun, excitement,
friends, ladies, good and bad food, road stories and more fun
but we also didn't smell too good for days on end and slept on
the back seat of a crew cab WAY too many nights and days! Did
I mention we had fun?"
More Jungle: At Atco N.J. in
about 72' (O.K. Lee?) We were to race Jungle in a match race
deal - first round 8pm sharp!
Well it`s 7.45 and no Jungle(Hard to believe,Huh!) The track
lines up a local leaker and says to me - run this Bozo first
round and maybe he`ll show by the second round.
We pull up and I`m dressed and
just getting in, everyone in the joint stands up and begins chanting,
JUNGLE! JUNGLE! JUNGLE! All eyes are towards the Hi-Way that
goes by the track.
The starter starts yelling at
my guys - Get him the car, get him in the car!
I look where everyone else is looking and here comes Jungle,strapped
in ,motor lit and sending flames above the roof, driving that
bitch from where they unloaded it out by the Hi-Way,past the
gates and ticket booth thru the parking lot and one end of the
pits right onto the starting line and then through the water
for a huge smoky burn out. And the crowd went wild! I had time
for one squeaky little chirp behind the line,they booed us -
then we blaze 'em against J.J. and again the crowd goes INSANE.
Tough gig running the Jungle
Man in his part of the country or anywhere else for that matter.
Jim was the King - Hard ass racer
and a great showman! R.I.P. my man.
Well here come the tears, night-night. Foster
In 1973 Foster was in the seat
of Don Cook's "Damn Yankee". In the summer Cook took
the car on tour and Foster declined to go so the ride went to
Among his many rides,
Foster drove for John Lombardo in 1974.
Foster in the seat of
the Chicago Patrol Mustang at Ontario in 1975.
This was one of Patty's
On April 8, 1979, driving the
Super Shops Arrow, Pat Foster became the 3rd member of the Cragar
5-Second Funny Car Club with a 5.99 at Fremont, Calif.
From Foster circa 2004.
In 1980 Foster retired from driving
and concentrated on his real passion "building stuff".
He was grabbed up by
Sports Racing Prototypes who were involved in Can Am racing and
ultimately embracing the new generation aerospace metals and
advanced composites, fabricated the prototypes for the near unbeatable
Nissan IMSA GTP program.
In 1997 he surprised
most everybody when he moved to Wichita, Kansas where he worked
with old friend Tom Hanna and starting setting up his own shop
which became Foster ProFab.... more on that in Suzy Beebe's story
below. It was the so-called "Cacklecar Movement" that
gave Foster a new direction and after his first project (the
Beebe & Mulligan recreation for Dave West) was met with much
acclaim, he went on to do some of the nicest restorations and
recreations the sport has ever seen.
Ivo and the always animated Foster in 1998.
Tom Hanna & Pat Foster -
CHRR, 1998. Patty became a fixture at most of the Reunions and
other nostalgia events into the 80s. He was back in the drag
racing spotlight and loving it.
Close and Personal With Pat Foster
Beebe - 2001
of the 2001 CHRR honorees, Pat Foster, was once known as a hunk
around the drag strip.That smile! The warm personality and quick
wit. Although that was 30 years ago some things never change.
however, Patty would much rather be known as the "Wizard
of Oz." Not that he owns a magic wand or a flying balloon,
but because he restores old race cars and lives in the land of
Oz - Kansas, with his bride of 20 years, Leslie.
is not only the original home to Dorothy's famous Ruby Slippers,
but now a man who thrives, emotionally as well as economically,
on bringing life back to race cars that have long been retired,
if not forgotten.
of "Uncle" Pattys more famous restorations include
the Dave West owned Beebe and Mulligan car and "The Jade
Grenade," both AA/Fuel Dragsters making their Cacklefest
debut at this years reunion, Saturday, October 6th. Coincidence
or fate, both cars are painted bright green and are slated to
face off against each other in a first ever "short squirt"
match race, as part of the "Cacklefest". Both will
be a huge crowd pleaser.
Patty moved to Reseda, California with his parents, Dorothy and
Art Foster, it was famous for it's clean air, bean fields and
a new sport just sprouting up like the beans growing in the ground
- drag racing.
would walk two miles every evening to Ronnie Scrimas garage
"to just be near the cars." Ronnie nurtured Pats
love of the sport and finally, in 1963 talked Rocky Childs into
letting Patty drive his Blown Fuel Chevy Dragster. This is the
very first time in Pats life he ever staged a drag race car,
and chillingly describes it as "a steep learning curve?"
Steep learning curve! Going from tire wiper to drag race pilot
is about as steep a curse as you're ever going to take. And take
it he did.
went on to drive such note-worthy race cars as John Batemans
"Atlas Oil Tool" AA/FD; Roland Leongs "Hawaiian"
Charger; two of Barry Setzers funny cars; Larry Huffs
"Soapy Sales;" Joe Pisanos Firebird FC and Mickey
Thompsons Mach I AA/FC. Some curve for a kid from San Fernando
Valley who just wanted to be close to "the cars."
the world of drag racing Fosters finest achievements have
been the births (like he did all the pushing) of his three sons;
Cole, Dan and J.T. Hobbies away from resorting cars is shooting
hoops with his sons, Bass fishing and riding his motorcycles...
"the way I do it, it's a Pat Foster 2000 sport!"
in the "Land of Oz" he has restored over 30 of the
most beautiful race cars that ever ran, from the floppers to
the diggers, and "where I live is not important, who I live
with is....wouldn't change that for anything."
Pattys future plans in racing, his wife Leslie says..."someday
I will find him slumped over his workbench...with a smile on
his face. Not the worst way to go." His fans, however, are
hoping that Pattys star remains shinning for years to come.
Congratulations Patty on an outstanding career that has always
been the personification of class and style.
CHRR: Foster officially receives his portrait from artist Cindy
Gibbs during the track side ceremonies on Saturday. This was
a mini repeat of the Friday night affair where the Honorees actually
had to talk to the crowd.
Beebe, Foster and Don Trasin prior to the push start below.
Foster in the newly restored
Jade Grenade (his second project) at the 2001 California Hot
in his Kansas shop with the Beebe & Mulligan recreation.
2002 NHRA Winternationals: Pat
Foster was all over the place looking over two of his babies.
Baby one, the Beebe & Mulligan car (recreated for Dave West
by Foster in 2000). Below, baby two - Foster with Don Trasin
and his Jade Grenade a 2001 Foster restoration.
Green NHRR 2003
unloads Don Trasin's "Jade Grenade" and Tom McEwen
English Leather Corvette - two cars he restored - at the 2004
NHRR at Bowling Green.
photo means so much to me <not being a photog> it was taken
by me at the 2006 NHRR....
Mongoose car in its last stages.
Please let it be my last tribute to Patty... Gary Cochran
Foster was commissioned to recreate the very famous "Surfers"
car and he nailed it. Unfortunately the principles had problems
and although finished, the car is stored and its fate is totally
up in the air.
was the Grand Marshall of the Funny Car Reunion at Englishtown
in 2004. Also in the shot are Bruce Larson and "Jungle Pam"
in the pits with Don Trasin's Jade Grenade. Dusty McWilliams,
Mike Kuhl also in the shot.
with another fallen hero, Steve Carbone in 2006.
the 2005 NHRA Winternationals the Pedregon Bros. debuted the
"Frank Pedregon Tribute Coupe" that Foster built from
scratch. As was Pat's style, he did it all and in this case he
and son, Cole pour the pop.
Pat goes over the car with Tony before he made a squirt in it.
Rico Fodrey on left.
as this car is - and with the extensive time and attention to
detail Foster put into it, unfortunately he was never paid the
full amount of the commissioned price. Guess their Big Show stuff
Belle of ball at the 2007 NHRA Winternationals was the debut
of the beautifully restored Wale & Candies 1963 dragster.
As always, Pat Foster did an incredible job of bringing this
piece back to life.
in the seat for the maiden fire-up at Pomona.
other Foster restoration debuted at the 2007 Winternationals
was the 1976 NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship car of Candies
& Hughes that was driven by the multi-talented Richard Tharp.
last time I saw Patty was at Seattle in August of 2007. The rain
and other delays allowed a lot of bench racing and here's a group
with enough stories to fill a book. Dave Jeffers, Walt Stevens,
Jim Hume, Pat Foster and Pete Starrett.
Patty's last project was a recreation
for Billy Lynch. It was loaded onto a truck for the east coast
in September of 2007, shortly before his ascending aorta failed.
Over the last few months Lynch
got the car completely finished and its a beauty. It will truly
be another Foster legacy.
is gone but he lives on in his work. The next time you see one
of his cars take the time to really look closely at the workmanship
and that in itself will tell you much about the man who did it.
have some thoughts or a story about "Sit Low", please
send them and they will be added below. And with that there really
isn't anything else to say. Foster
Cindy Gibbs on 03-22-08
that my mind has been 'racing' for the last 48 hours would be
an understatement; to simply say that I just visited Pat Foster
hardly describes the past few days. What really took place was
a life altering experience that will stay with me until my own
Patty is a hero to me; he always has been. As a little girl,
I loved that Setzer car; I remember that strawberry blonde hair,
beard and cowboy hat. I had such a crush on him! He was bad ass
and a 'rock star' in my eyes... all those funny car guys were,
but there were always a few that stood out. Pat did.
The greatest gift for me that has come from the hot rod reunions
is the chance to get to know these guys who were bigger than
life to me as a little girl. Through Don Trasin, I was given
the opportunity to get to know Patty during the building of the
'Jade Grenade' and Mongoose Corvette projects he did for Don.
At first I was star struck; then he became just 'Patty.
We traveled together and shared memories that will be with me
always. We laughed until our sides hurt and always hoped for
a good 'what the fuck' outta Foster... he rarely disappointed.
My appreciation grew beyond the little girl who loved to watch
him race; I grew to appreciate his wisdom and his ability to
be the best 'bullshit filter' (as my dad calls him) around. In
fact, I think Pat and my dad are cut from the same cloth; they
are old souls filled with a common sense that makes them so admirable.
No grand facades; what you see is what you get. So not wrapped
up in the materialistic nonsense of life. No need to go on here
about how I feel about my dad... that's a whole other chapter.
When Pat fell ill, our hearts sank. Since we've watched him bounce
back from major medical hurdles in the past few years, I guess
we all hoped that this outcome would be the same. Sadly, that
isn't the case. The doctors met with him and his family Monday
and the truth was spelled out. But, here's the beauty in all
of this... Foster is doing this on his own terms. He's of sound
mind and is able to make decisions for himself that couldn't
have been easy. He is in no way taking the 'easy way' out or
'giving up' as the less enlightened might suggest. It takes balls
to do what Patty is doing; he told me last night that 'men have
to make hard decisions, Cindy... its part of being a real man.
He has relieved his family from having to make them for him,
something that I can only imagine would break their hearts. Instead,
he has voiced his wishes with his family's support and they are
all around him, loving him and reassuring him every day. Could
any of us ask for more?
When I got into town Wednesday, I walked into the room with Brendan
Murry and Patty was asleep. So as not to startle him, I held
his hand for a minute. He opened his eyes and his face lit up
to see both of us. He gave me one of his 'hello, love' greetings
that always floors me. That velvety deep voice just melts us
girls, you know. He thanked us for making the trip and we just
talked for awhile. When he needed to close his eyes for a little
rest, we ducked out. We got to spend time with Ken Logan and
Pat's son Cole, sharing Patty stories the whole time. No need
to go to the gym that day; our stomach muscles got a workout
from all the laughing we did.
Thursday I got to spend most of the day with him; I went to Walgreens
to get my pictures from the March Meet printed out and had a
few 8x10's made to add to all the photos and letters that his
family has tacked onto the walls of his room. He likes that...
this way he can show off to all the nurses! We hung out and I
got to watch him have a Popsicle or two. He was diggin' that,
and some orange Jell-O and a cup of coffee that his sister tasted
and said it was 'poison', LOL. He liked it though... keep in
mind that until this week, he hadn't had a bite to eat or drink
since November... not even water. What a sweet moment to see
him savor that.
I said my goodbyes Thursday night... I walked up to him with
tears in my eyes; Patty asked me not to cry (I had somehow managed
not to cry the whole time up until now). 'I love you', I said
and he told me he loved me back. I told him 'Patty, I'm going
to miss you so much'; he replied with a drawn out 'I know...
LOL! I'm thinkin' 'dammit Foster, humor me... tell me you'll
miss me too!! LOL, he refused to let me be sad. Instead, he just
held my hand and told me that its all going to be okay, that
he's had the 'best fucking life' he could ever imagine. He's
loved much and has been loved. He has no enemies and he has his
family's support. He knows he's made the right decision and he's
very much at peace with it all. He's not afraid and truth is,
he's comforting all of us who have been around him the past few
I told Pat how proud I am of him and how much I appreciated the
friend he's been to me and my family. I thanked him for the lessons
he is teaching me about dignity, grace and personal fortitude...
some day this could be my parents or myself in the same situation
and I pray Patty's spirit will guide me throughout those times.
Truth is, we will all face this... death does not only happen
to the unlucky ones. As Mike Kuhl told me once, 'None of us get
out of this deal alive, Cindy. Something to think about,
HUGE thanks to everyone who so generously contributed to the
fund we set up for his family; they are appreciative beyond words.
The looks on their faces was worth every bit of effort... again,
an honor and a privilege for me to be a part of. Pat was overwhelmed
when I told him what was donated; all he could say is 'unbelievable.
It brought him a huge sense of relief to know that his family
would not have to carry the financial burden alone. A great gift
to a dying man, I'm sure.
off for now... I'm emotionally and physically exhausted. But
I'm so thankful for every moment of the last few weeks and especially
the last two days. You can't buy these life lessons... they are
precious and absolutely priceless. I hope Pat has inspired you
too; he will always be bad ass in my eyes and I hope yours as
PF Flyer... you ROCK!
you for this page to remember our dad. I thought you all might
like to see him as I do...pop, grandpa and friend.
so gracefully and on his own terms. We could not have asked for
a more dignified end for him. There was nothing left unsaid,
he was alert and sweet. Seeing my daughter Savannah at the foot
of his bed made his blue eyes sparkle. He gave her that big grin
of his and they both cried as she melted into his arms. He made
so many phone calls to say good-bye to the people he loved and
respected not for him but for them. What a stud!! He was worried
people would think he was taking the easy way out. I think we
all know that there is no easy way out. Thank you all for the
love and respect you showed our pop in his final days. It meant
the world to him. Peace be with you all.
Me and pop at Cole's
wedding in 2005.
Grandpa and new born
Grandpa Savannah (big
one) and Ellah (little one). xmas 2005.
Grandpa and Savannah
at xmas 2005.
Thank you all for the love and
friendship, Dad was truly blessed to know you all.
This really isn't a tribute to
Pat Foster ......... Its a tribute to all the friends that made
I grew up at the drag races and
shared a lot of things with dad, we both had our regular family
and our racer family, my biological side witnessed over the the
last few months something very few people experience - to borrow
a line from Jim Hume - "There is drag racers and what we
call " the others".
My dads brother and sisters,
my brothers knew what dad did for a living, but didn't know who
he did it with, personally like I did. I wasn't a bit surprised
by the ARMY of my dads friends that "stepped up". Most
people who are reading this already know what I'm talking about,
Its hard to even explain it to "the others" .
As a kid I was lucky enough to
witness a few heroic thrashes at the drags , I pulled this story
from "National Dragster"
1974 world finals:
During qualifying Saturday
afternoon Shirl Greer kicked the rods out and had a huge fire
, His qualifying mate on the pass, Pat Foster, dived into the
raging inferno to help safety personnel extricate him.
"As they took me away
on the stretcher, I looked at the car and said to myself that
that was the end of that one," Greer recalled. "There
was no way I was gonna get enough points to win the championship."
When Smith and Hall both surprisingly
failed to qualify, the remainder of the Funny Car community came
together -- including Smith and Prudhomme - to give Greer a fighting
"Some of the guys came
by the hospital that night and told me that if I could drive,
they'd have the car ready for me," Greer said. "When
I got to the track Sunday morning and saw the car all patched
back together, I just couldn't believe it."
1974 world champ - Shirl Greer
I so miss my man, my pop's.......When my tears fall ........the
lessons and words he gave me comfort me. He is a hard act to
My dads last words to me... leaving
his room I said "goodbye" he shook his head no, and
said " Hey ....... Tiger, there is never a goodbye between
To all my Dad and I's ol pals
and some I just had the pleasure of talking to or meeting ,even
fans that have wrote me with a few words about Pat , I just want
to say love you all.
a few Patty-isms- from Cole
"I was never the best ............
but not bad!" = driving career
Cole & Pat in Yokohama,
Pat holding court in
Japan trip....new friend.
"shitbox" = racecar
"Lets put this shitbox in the trailer, and get the fuck
out here." dad said he invented the word!
"bad actor" = Impressive race car
"hot lash" = trick
"jackoff" = idiot
"Lop" = see "jackoff"
"bitchin" = great
"keep on keep'n on" painted on Setzer car
"What you see ,is what you get" painted on Setzer car
"way good" = "way bitchin"
"Period " = end a sentence
"flat ass" = "that shitbox was flat ass on one"
"on one" = good run
"cave" = shop
"weak suck" = under achiever
"deal" = everything
"Knay" = fuck'n A
"horseshoes and hand grenades" = close
"dolly" = cute girl
"donkeys" = bottom end guy
"who do you drive for" = asking who was on the phone
"Stout"= see "bad actor"
"yahoos" = see "jackoff"
"slide or slid" = "man ,slid right into that deal"
"saybye" = end a call
"Lumpy" = John Lombardo
"Jelly" = Larry Board
"Joe P" = Joe Pisano
"pudd'n" = Tom Prock
"LV " = Linda Vaughn
"Dongoose" = Don Trasin
"Vipe" = Snake
"Waldo" = John Galaspy
"Snoz" = Dale Emery
"Weasel " = Bob Brant
"Wolfy" = Bobby Clober
Indy 1971 Foster/Pulde Don Cook
forgot to torque the rods the night before 1st round.
When you're hot, your
hot ..... this one was a long walk back to the pits.
Cole checking out Dad's
Patty & Tom Ivo
Pat and Cole with Ed
Pink at the NHRA Museum in 2007.
We spent '07 Winternationals
with The Candies Family. Amazing people.
Cole's shop in Calif.
Pop and Carl Olson
As far as a service, at dads
request there wont be one. He had his own by getting to talk
to most of his friends, and the ones he didn't get to talk to
knew how he felt. He said, "I do not have any enemies, loose
ends, or unsettled issues. I have been there done that. I've
been good to my friends, and they've been good to me. I did every
thing in my life I wanted to." I didn't argue. lol Cole
would like to thank both Dan and Cole for their heartfelt contributions
to their Dad's page. Foster was very proud of his family and
its easy to see why. DE
I have read with sweet melancholy,
all your letters and kind words about a man I knew well. To me,
he was always Pat. I know and have met many of you and have heard
many of your names over the years. Even though we weren't together
for the last year and a half, you don't live with a man like
Pat Foster for 27 years and not still love and care about him.
He was definitely "one of a kind!" He had the kindest,
most generous heart, was an amazingly creative and talented craftsman
and was a great dad. Together we raised the youngest of his three
wonderful boys, JT, who is just now 21. To JT, Pat was just "dad",
and I don't think he ever really knew what he did before becoming
dad. So it was very special for him to read all about his dad's
career and the letters from some of the people who loved and
cared about him.
I thought it might be interesting
for some of you who only knew Pat through drag racing to know
some of the other things Pat did in between racing projects.
When Pat "retired" from drag racing in the late 70's
he dropped out of the scene for awhile but there was a whole
other side to him that emerged when we moved to Carmel, CA. He
opened a shop and started a whole new career in fabricating custom
parts for a unique, new home in Big Sur for friends of ours.
He made custom furniture and wall art out of wood and architectural
features out of metal. He restored the woodwork of an antique
Diamond T flatbed truck. He was an avid golfer and designed and
built a line of golf putters out of black walnut and brass.
After about four years, work
began to dry up and he fell back on what he knew best, drag racing.
We ended up in Dallas, where Pat built cars and racing trailers
for Raymond Beadle. While there, he was involved with several
other "interesting" racing endeavors before our eventual
move back to California to build a dragster and manage a racing
team for Dan Fitzgerald. But after the shop and car was built
and Fitzgerald decided he didn't want to race, Pat ended up running
his construction equipment rental business. He often joked that
he had GOMS (Grumpy Old Man Syndrome) and so dealing with the
public on a daily basis, understandably was not his cup of tea.
With his connections, he landed at Nissan for a few years. When
it looked like Nissan might shut its doors another move was in
We began looking at opportunities
which would get us out of California, when Tom Hanna contacted
Pat out of the blue and we ended up in Wichita, Kansas in 1992.
After a few years, he decided to start his own business and it
was a roller coaster. Before car orders really started coming
in, times were lean so Pat built custom fireplace grates, a pressure
tank for a plastics manufacturing company and automated machinery
for a pet products factory and dozens of other things. He started
doing some repairs for customers of a wheelchair supply company
where he met and made friends with a paraplegic young man who
had him build several custom wheelchairs. Just about the time
he thought this business was never going to take off, he got
busy. Real busy! Between building cars he also did his hemi commercial
and Junkyard Wars.
When Pat got an order for a re-creation,
he wouldn't be able to sleep soundly for days. Starting with
just an idea, he would spend weeks researching and gathering
pictures and information. He would fret and fuss about it until
suddenly in the middle of the night the answers he was fretting
about would come to him in his dreams and he would bolt out of
bed, dress and go directly to his shop in the garage and start
building the car. You wouldn't see him for days. Then after weeks
and months the car would begin to take shape. Just as in drag
racing, there was always a period he called the thrash and the
house was sometimes taken over with people, some of whom had
come to Wichita to do some special part of the car or the lettering.
As they worked 'til the wee hours, there was a constant flow
of words like "Jeeeeezus!" or "What the F
coming from the garage. Then, "piss, mud or flood",
after painstakingly looking after every detail, the car was finished
and it was "way bitchin". Then for days there was a
constant parade up and down the driveway of people, who had come
to see the new creation. Sometimes I would tentatively stick
my head in the garage to see what was going on and would always
see Pat in a deep conversation with someone I'd never seen before
but who seemed to be his best buddy. When I would later ask,
"Who was that?" he would reply, "I was hoping
you knew!" Then finally the day would come when the new
owner picked up the car. Pat would go into a two week depression
over the loss of his "baby". Then it would start all
Pat never lived his life in fear
of losing it, for that would be losing the point of life. Life
was never dull and for him it was always full speed ahead. Mike
Berry who wrote several stories over the years about Pat in the
Wichita Eagle signs his emails "Life is not a journey to
the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and
well-preserved body, but rather, skidding in broadside, thoroughly
worn out and loudly proclaiming... Wow! What a Ride!" A
perfect description of Pat! I'm sure he's telling stories right
now with his hands out to the sides palms up going in all directions.
He will be missed and lovingly remembered!
Below are some photos of Patty
that reflect a side most of his fans never knew about. Thanks
to Leslie for her great tribute and for sending along these shots.
Patty working on the
M/T Ford LSR project in 1968.
Just a Dad - Cole, Pat,
J.T. and Dan
Tom Hannas property where Pat
fished most days after work. He was pretty passionate about his
fishing for quite awhile. He approached it just about like he
did racing by analyzing everything from light to water clarity
to temperature to time
and there were a lot of four letter
words flying around as well as lures and hooks.
Pat napping with JT.
Pat and Cole shooting hoops at
a Kansas Family Reunion. Probably the only picture ever taken
of Pat in shorts. Pats family (grandparents) had a farm
and raised his dad in Baldwin, Kansas where his dad eventually
met his mom. So the Fosters came from Kansas and then we returned
car builder Foster dies
a great car guy this week.
Foster, who had brought his one-man crusade to save some of the
original ground-pounding front-engined dragsters and early funny
cars to Wichita back in the early '90s, died early Thursday at
a hospital in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.
moved there about a year and a half ago, after recovering from
life-threatening health problems that required multiple surgeries
here. Foster, 68, had put together a new shop and was working
on another historic car when he was again felled by a medical
setback just before Thanksgiving that left him in a coma for
rallied back, though, being the tough old bird that he was, and
it looked like he might even be able to get back to work.
then came more complications, and he finally made the decision
he was not going to prolong the inevitable.
met Pat in 2000, through freelance photographer Craig Hacker
and I knew within minutes I was going to like this gruff, grizzled,
pony-tailed drag racer as a person.
as he allowed his friends to call him, let it be known he did
not suffer fools gladly. You never had to ask what he thought
on the subject at hand. He told you, short and sweet, and if
you didn't like it, tough.
him several times in his tiny one-bay shop at his home east of
Wichita and always came away shaking my head and grinning. I
marveled at the quality of his craftsmanship and the lengths
to which he took his research in making sure the cars he restored
he was meticulously re-creating the famed Beebe & Mulligan
fuel dragster, he said to me, "If I'm going to do this car,
I'm going to do it right." And that's just what he did.
exchanged e-mails with people who knew Pat a lot better than
I did and was aware of his decision to let the end come naturally.
I had sent him a card, but that didn't seem enough.
one of those people told me he had just got off the phone with
Pat and that I should call him, I didn't waste a minute. I started
until the next day when I finally heard that gravely voice of
his come on the line. "Foster here," he said. We talked
for a few minutes and he seemed to need to explain why he had
made the call he had. I told him a few years ago, I wouldn't
have understood, but having just turned 60, I did understand
it together pretty well till we signed off. He was one of the
most fascinating characters it's ever been my honor to know.
I smiled when a kind lady who had been keeping me posted from
Pat's bedside told me that the tag line that I use on my e-mails
was a pretty apt description of Pat's leaving us. Someone named
Peter Sage had written, "Life is not a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved
body, but rather, skidding in broadside, thoroughly worn out
and loudly proclaiming... Wow! What a Ride!"
low, Patty Foster, and don't lift.
Foster was a mans man but not in the sense of what
used to be called a male chauvinist pig. Pat was the kind of
guy who'd strap on a welders mask at night, and a firesuit the
next morning. As a race car driver he competed in an era when
some car owners regularly said to their drivers, No matter
what, dont lift. I saw Foster live and come
close to dying following this credo. When I asked him,
after he'd climbed out of another inferno in Barry Setzers
Vega at the Springnationals in Columbus, why he continued to
drive like that, he just winked, smiled and said He tells
me to drive it to the lights, but it's my decision whether I
go all the way. Gotta fix this. We're running at Englishtown
Tuesday night! Foster always went all the way, in every
aspect of his life.
boys are terrific, but in all truth Patty himself was not lucky
in matters of the heart. It was if the gods had said, Youll
be a master craftsman, a renowned racer, an envied constructor
and have a wealth of friends, but in this one area, my friend,
things will not always go your way.
everyone who was lucky enough to know Foster and he was
one of those last-name-only guys I have stories that somehow
help define the man.
Carol and I were living in then-considered-remote Kagel Canyon
in Southern California there were numerous evenings when we'd
hear the approach of a rumbling Harley. We'd smile, waiting to
see if the motorcycle would turn down our dead end street. We
knew if it did it would be one of three people Foster,
Peter Bassin, or Dale Pulde. It didn't matter which one it was,
we had the door open and smiles on our faces before the late
arrival had even switched off the engine and kicked down the
always regaled us with stories, but behind his smile there was
a razor-sharp mind able to dissect the inner workings of the
NHRA decades before other drivers could see beyond the finish
line. Long before there were chassis specs written in rule books
Foster who worked with almost all of the sports legendary
builders -- and partner Jim Hume were building cars that were
closer to works of art than they were to everyone elses
younger years all of us did things that were questionable, if
not downright illegal. It was, after all the late 60s and early
70s, and while there will be those who are in denial, the reality
of our little world was that we drank too many beers and smoked
too many hand-rolled cigarettes or inhaled through small, custom-made
metal pipes behind closed doors.
point Foster had a farm hidden behind the 8-foot
walls of his San Fernando Valley home, a crop he successfully
took to market after convincing his then junior high school son
that if he and his friends left it alone there'd be plenty for
everyone. Believe me, there was.
I have skipped that little vignette? Are anyones sensibilities
offended? Pattys wouldn't have been. Every time he talked
about that crop he'd help laugh so hard tears would come to his
eyes. Okay, so Patty wasn't a saint, but let's admit it: None
of us are. Only our mothers thought we deserved sainthood, but
as we got older they probably figured we'd be going to hell despite
their best efforts.
memory of Foster is the night we sat three feet from the largest
stereo speakers I'd ever seen in his rental house somewhere in
the Carolinas, listening repeatedly to the Stones Cant
Ya Hear Me Knockin. I wondered what the neighbors
might have been thinking until, as Foster re-placed the needle
in the proper groove, I could hear their sound system moving
the walls of their house next door.
too many years ago I got a call from a guy named Don Trasin.
He told me he'd bought the last Jade Grenade front-motored dragster,
and wanted to know everything I could possibly tell him about
it. Sadly for me, that was one car before I became a partner,
but one thing I did know, and that was the one guy I'd trust
to restore that gem -- Pat Foster. I put them in touch with one
another, with the result of Fosters efforts being the best
looking front-motored Top Fuel car I've ever seen. You can't
miss its gorgeous green colors during its Cacklefest appearances,
or as it sits beneath the spotlights of the Wally Parks Museum
of Drag Racing in Pomona.
years go by I find myself saying good-bye to far too many good
people, and it seems to me that more of the best of them take
that final step into the great void far too early, leaving us
to wonder at their lives, and cherish their memories. I won't
shed a public tear for Patty. Hedve kicked my ass
if he thought I'd do something like that, but I, along with countless
others, will miss his smiling face, his insightful comments and
his Whens-the-next-round personality.
matter what your ingrained religious beliefs are. What counts
is what you believe inside your heart and soul. I'd like to believe
that somewhere there's something that some might consider a heaven.
But I can't envision that with floating clouds and angels with
wings. For me it's an extension of this life, and I know there's
a drag strip there, one that probably looks like one of those
tracks that have been plowed under. Maybe it's like Irwindale,
or maybe even like U.S. 30, but the surface is glass-smooth and
the tractions always great even if there are oildowns. There
are a bunch of racers getting ready to run right now, and there,
pulling an aluminized mask over his beard is the newest arrival,
the guy they've all been waiting for, Pat Foster.
Sad Music for Me"
or later all things must die. Only the sun seems invincible.
And so it becomes each man's responsibility to garner as much
and contribute as much as he can during his indefinite term's
existence upon this earth. Some people are fortunate in being
able to live a lifetime in a few short years. Others linger on
for many years, often failing to realize the rewards they are
attaining. As for me, I have lived many lifetimes during the
years I have relished on this earth. The friends I have known
and the people I have loved (many of them undoubtedly unaware)
have been more rewarding, more gratifying than all other things
combined. To those who are left behind I would like to express
these assurances. We have worked together, fought together, argued,
and defended one another. We have shared our misgivings and sorrows
just as we have shared our satisfactions when a job was well
done. In the many phases of my lifetimes there were many things
for which to be thankful. Fortunately, there have been very few
times when I didn't look forward to the new day. For this I can
only credit the people with whom I was associated. Their tolerance
and their forgiveness of my shortcomings were neither unnoticed
nor unappreciated, although I suspect they too were often unaware.
And now, having lived these many years, I can truthfully say
that I am satisfied. There will always be new goals one would
like to accomplish, but such ambitions only come as a result
of the happiness one feels as a result of past achievements.
For me, there is no real regret in leaving - only an aching concern
about the feelings of those left behind. It would be my wish
that instead of traditional sad-sounding music, my services could
enjoy a happy, happy note. To me it's a celebration, commemorating
the many years I have been fortunate to spend among the greatest
people there are. If I could offer but one bit of advice, it
would be: Look around you at the good people you know - don't
take them for granted as they're most of what makes life worth
living. Enjoy each day, despite its discomforts and shortcomings,
and take a little time to appreciate even the little things that
are good. So join me now in celebration, for I have gained far
more than one man could ever contribute. You, my friends, have
made it all possible. Let the music have a happy note, and be
glad that one's life was as abundantly rewarded as mine has been.
I sincerely hope yours will be even richer, in rewards far beyond
any monetary equal."
though we knew it was coming, its still hard to fathom. Not having
any new stories to hear from Patty, or any of his craftsmanship
to look forward to seeing, makes his loss painful. I'll treasure
the photo below of Patty (albeit minus ponytail) explaining to
Paul Candies and myself how it should be done.....Foster-style.
for the memories P.F. Flyer.
always remember some of the stores that Patty would tell. From
the start he would have you crying so hard it hurt, in side.
But if you had to ask him something, About Drag racing. You would
always get a straight answer, I remember when Jim Hume &
Patty had the shop over in Van Nuys and I would stop by to see
what those two were working on. The work that came out of the
shop, Was super. I would always look forward in seeing Pat at
the Reunions. We will always miss that smile and how the HELLARE
YA, with a big old hand shake.
last time I seen him and talk to him was at the Hot Rod reunion
back in Ohio, last year. Here's a shot of Brendan and Patty just
before Brendan's big blower deal and the bad fire.
I will always miss seeing you and in our next life, I hope to
see you again.
old friend, with all my Love - RIP Thumbs Walt Stevens
As we waited for the sad news
that we knew would receive one day, it still doesn't make it
any easier when it finally arrives. I considered Foster a good
friend, we had many discussions about dragsters and we agreed
on many concepts of what a dragster should look like.
His many posts, great sense of
humor and oh the stories he could tell. The Dusty Rhoads story
of him at Lions was one of my favorites.
We'll all miss him terribly.
One of my prized processions
is the award he made for me in 2000 with a replica of the push
bar key that was on TV's single Buick.
Sit low Patty
In 1969 I had the opportunity
to work with Pat at Mickey Thompson's shop. He was one of the
very best fabricators I have ever known along with John Buttera
and Nye Frank. He loved drag racing and will be missed forever!
PEACE BE WITH YOU
He will be missed here by many,
we will grieve a man many of us held in hero status and many
of us got to know and to know him is to love the guy. He was
straight forward and no BS and willing to help you out even if
you were a weak suck. Just know though he will be welcomed to
the afterlife by many of his heroes and his peers. His passing
is very heavy in our hearts but at least his pain is over and
when you hear thunder on a stormy night, remember it is Foster
sittin low keepin the bitch lit and keepin an eye on all of us
as he makes pass after pass on the big strip in drag race heaven.....
Gods Speed Patty you are one
awesome and respected man and thank you again for gracing my
car with your touch.....
When I had Heart surgery a year
and a half ago - Patty kinda talked me through it, (He'd already
gone through it a couple of times himself at that point), and
one of the things he told me was, "keep a handle on things",
"ya ain't just along for the ride" ...
Ya know, we're all gonna get outta here someday - and it's gonna
be too soon for sure ... doing it on your own terms seems like
a 'Keeping a handle on it' type of deal - - Pat's still the guy
in the hat and the silver suit doing the driving...
Foster is in my thoughts Fred
I had the pleasure of meeting
Mr. Foster in Columbus last year when he signed my 6 year old
son's helmet. What a great guy, he talked with us for a few minutes,
and even offered to let my son sit in the 'Goose Vette. I'll
never forget the dry-hops in the Vette during the Cacklefest,
it was by far the highlight of the event, even though he said
he was probably going to get yelled at for it.
The first time I ever went to
the drag's I was 9 year's old on pit side. I hear something that
is so loud, I take off running for the fence, It was Pat Foster
doing a burn-out at O.C.I.R. in the Barry Setzer [red car] Funny
car. At age thirteen I was working there, and at 46 I think about
it like it was yesterday. Thank You Pat Foster for all the good
SUSHI & BLUES TRAVELERS!!
You won't be forgotten!!!
Alan R. Miller
My condolences to Pat's family,
and the entire Drag Racing community.
I don't think a better Memorial
could have been written. It is obvious how much love and thought
went into to this piece.
Oddly enough the first time I
can remember seeing a Foster project was a sports car. My father
was a sports car racer in the 50's and 60's so my first racing
experiences were at road courses not drag strips. So the Nissan
GTP cars were something to drool over when I was younger. The
962 Porsches, Group 44 Jags, and the Gurney Toyotas were basically
ruling the road until the Nissan showed up. The car just looked
mean!! And, it proved that it was mean by basically taking no
prisoners. To my knowledge the car never lost unless something
bizarre happened. I am one of those people that identify with
the sounds and to me there are some sounds that truly bring shivers.
A Top Fuel Car on a burnout, a Ferrari V-12 screaming by on a
straight, or the Turbo "chirp" of the Nissan downshifting
hard into a corner.
Then I get out of my house and
start expanding my racing base of interests into dirt cars and
ultimately into drag racing. And once again I am awed by the
craftsmanship of Pat Foster. And through this 1320 family I was
lucky enough to meet and talk with Pat on several occasions.
I will always look on those meetings fondly.
God Speed Patty
I hate opening up the computer
as it seems every week we lose more friends.
Patty, we miss you dearly.
Prayers are with you and family.
Tell Jungle I said "Hi".
PLUM & DOTTIE
DE - THIS is all any of us can
ever hope for........, thank you!
What a WONDERFUL tribute to a wonderful, wonderful, talented,
loving, caring individual.
I was SO blessed to be back in
Spokane to visit "Mr. Everything," as Phil Burgess
so fondly put it; for the past 3 weeks. And, to be there when
Cinders was there, was the icing on the cake!
Hook - you too, are SO blessed
to have the children you 'n Gordie have brought into this World.
I SO wish I could have "right click, save as....."
Patty's sharper than ever mind. Patty did it his way, and I learned
Cindy, you were right - your
Racing Family is second to none!
I love you all.
GODSPEED PATTY, thank you for who you were for us
Back in April of 2006 when I
needed to make the body panels for the Toy I was looking at doing
something I had never done before and had no idea of what material
to use. In looking at the membership list I figured one guy should
have all of the answers so I took a chance and emailed him for
help. His email to me is copied below, please read it below:
Norb - It's my pleasure to help
you. The alloy of choice for bodies is 3003 H14, it is formable,
half hard heat treat, totally weldable. (gas or heli-arc) In
that era .050 would be used and .060 might be a good choice for
a person without much experience, as it will be more forgiving
and easier to repair mistakes if you know of what I speak. Any
large metal supply should have no trouble providing this alloy
for you. If you need info on suppliers of Dzus buttons, springs,
tabs, springs, tools for dimpling etc. let me know. Now the fun
begins, don't hurry, think it through(patterns, patterns, patterns!!)
and don't be surprised at the amount of scrap you create, you
should see my dumpster in the midst of a complete body, seat,
tank/tanks project! <G> Hope this helps ---- now, Get er'
His opening sentence said it
all, "Norb-It's my pleasure to help you." Having never
met Patty, first I was surprised to receive a reply and then
shocked by his opening comment. I did as he instructed, made
patterns and took my time. When finished I thought it looked
pretty good and just like what we had in the 60's, no better
or no worse. Now move forward to Bowling Green that year, I was
doing something and heard a voice call my name. I turned around
to meet an extended hand and a voice that said, "Norb, I'm
Pat Foster and you did a real good job, the car looks great.
We shook hands and talked a minute then he left. I then turned
back to my wife with a tear in my eye, she asked what was wrong
and I explained to her who he was and what he had said. Hearing
those words from Pat made the whole thing of building the Toy
even a greater joy. It isn't every day that a super hero will
take the time to help out one of the common folks. He did and
it was and is greatly appreciated.
Rest in Peace Patty.
Although I didn't know him personally,
I felt I did these last few months. I would supply Billy Lynch
with daily updates on his status. It was with a heavy heart that
I called Billy today to give him the news. He did get to speak
to him (Patty) on Tuesday for about 15 min. Patty said he liked
the way Billy's car came out but felt it was a "little over
the top". But that's Billy and I guess that was Patty too.
Straight from the hip.
I only met him briefly at the Funny Car Reunion in 04 when he
was the Grand Marshall. He was with a few racers and I timidly
walked up to him and asked for an autograph. One of my Barry
Setzer Vega photos. He obliged and I left. I wish I had something
to say to him but he was busy with pals he hadn't seen in a while.
I thought I'd get a second chance when Billy's car was finished
in November. Patty was supposed to fly in and help put it together.
I asked Billy if I could be there too to record the proceedings.
But it wasn't to be as he was stricken shortly thereafter. I
saw Billy last Saturday and we talked about Patty. Billy said
the man lived and breathed drag racing. Amen to that.
All I can think of now is that Valvoline commercial from a few
years ago. Last segment. Only lasts a few brief seconds, but
it give me the chills nonetheless. The Setzer Vega doing an out
of control burnout sashaying from side to side with smoke pouring
out of the cockpit and wheel wells. Sometimes I wonder when you
guys do this if you know how cool you look. Patty was that cool!
Thank you for the wonderful tribute to our hero Pat Foster!
That was bitchin!
How many people on this earth have ever lived such a good life?
I'd say damn few!
Keep it lit!
RIP Patty I got to meet Pat at
the 2007 U S Nats in Indy. I got to push the Wale & Candies
T/F car in the Crackelfest with Patty. We talked about the old
days of racing ,and how much he really cared about the cars he
restored. He was a neat guy and he will really be missed. Thanks
for the memories Patty.
Dave Huber Louisville, Ky
Pat, RIP Good Man.
While I never knew him I knew about him. He is a great legend
in our beloved sport. He will surely be missed by many. I only
spoke to him once for about 2 minutes. He seemed like a real
cool and truly honest man. That and his talent both building
and driving race cars will always have my respect.
Damn, this is why I have dreaded
coming home and opening my email. I just flat out sucks to loose
I have only met him a few times in person and I am lucky to have
shook his and hand, thanked him for all he has done for the digs
and us bleacher bums. I recounted how he chewed my ass out on
the board and he laughed and also offered an apology, but I told
him it was cool, how often do you get your ass chewed by one
of your heroes! Emails had gotten crossed up and he misunderstood
what I was saying. We spoke some more about the subject and I
asked a bunch of dumb questions and he was generous enough to
answer them for me. I have nothing but respect and admiration
for the man. I hope he runs into my Dad up there and they have
a few laughs together.
A good man gone too soon.
My deepest and sincerest condolences to his family and his friends
here on the 1320.
Vaya con Dios, Tio Patty
From racing him in the 70s to
admiring the craftsmanship of his incredible restorations to
recent concerns for his health, Pat's life has always influenced
If I had to sum it up in two sentences:
He was one of the finest drivers I've ever raced against.
He was one of the finest people I've ever known.
I remember Patty fondly as one
who gave me great incentives with the
restoration of my car. He never differentiated between a Top
Fuel car or a Gasser, as far as he was concerned, they all had
their place in the history of the sport.
When he first saw the rusting
hulk of the "Moody's Garage" gasser, when I brought
to the 2001 CHRR, he told me that it was a very significant piece
of drag racing history. In fact he went to bat against a couple
of folk who were making fun of it's battered and dilapidated
Great guy, he will be sorely
missed. RIP Patty.
I consider myself blessed to
have met and talk with Patty. He always treated very well and
I was privileged to be able to listen to some of those fabulous
stories first hand. Of course if I would see that he posted I
would always go to hear what he had to say.
I had a lot of respect and admiration
for the man for his accomplishments behind the wheel, his skills
as a fabricator but most of as as one hell of a man.
Till we meet again...
As a kid from the '70s, I grew
up only dreaming about the fabulous funny cars from California.
Then came Barry Setzer's red Vega with Pat Foster as the driver.
Finally, "we" had a bitchin' funny car based in North
Carolina. Naturally, it became my favorite. I have for all these
years keep up with all the cars Pat drove and more recently his
continuing excellent craftsmanship on the cars he has restored.
I have followed with interest the information about Pat's medical
problems. As the information grew less positive, I still hoped
for him to pull trough.
I truly am sorry to hear of his passing. My prayers and thoughts
are with his family, all his friends and fans in the drag racing
world. PF Flyer was a special kind of person and racer.
Olive Branch, MS
Thanks Pat. We spoke at Geezers
'07. My wife finally understands my mania with all things "Foster".
I got to know Pat through the
California Hot Rod Reunion. An event that was primary created
to allow old racers a place to go to bench race about the old
days and get reacquainted. I went to the CHRR's with the hope
of meeting some of my heroes and perhaps have the opportunity
to tell them (in a personal way) how much I enjoyed their participation
in the show that was golden age drag racing. I certainly had
no thoughts of ever getting to know any of my motorsports heroes
to any great degree, for they were the "stuff" that
made major articles in national publications and Wide World of
Sports episodes. Just to be able to say "thanks" would
have been fulfilling enough for me. But as each year passed,
I found myself getting to know some of the stars of my youth
on a personal level, and one of those people was Pat. My contact
with him was infrequent, but none-the-less unforgettable. His
"broadcast voice" resonated in a way that locked those
conversations in my mind to this day. And the thing that I found
most amazing was, that he recognized my sincere admiration for
what he was a part of and that somehow held his attention longer
than I expected. He was interested in what I thought! We had
some great conversations about how much the history of this sport
really meant to a great deal of people and how we all longed
to see the cars and stars of our youth, perform for us once again.
And I think WE ALL helped to encourage him and move him in the
direction of the recreation and restoration of some of the cars
that we thought we'd never see again.
I think he most definitely understood
how much we all appreciated his work; his energy; his smile;
his laugh. Allot of us worked to make Patty happy--to stay off
his "weak suck" list, and in doing so we somehow moved
in the right direction--a good direction. I don't think he would
have allowed us to move otherwise. Especially when it came to
the history of his beloved sport of drag racing.
I hope we did o.k. for you, Patty.
You certainly did o.k. for us.
Don, Great job on this tribute
and my deepest condolences to all that loved Pat Foster. I have
loved Funny Cars since I first saw them as a 10 year old in 1966.
I had built all the models, drew all the pictures, and always
dreamed of becoming a Funny Car driver but never would. Pat Fosters
life reminds me of the saying..."everyone dies, but not
everyone LIVES" I think its safe to say, Pat Foster LIVED!
That is a very moving tribute
you created to your long time friend and our hero Pat Foster.
There were so many facts, photos and information that I wasn't
aware of in terms of Pat's accomplishments and career path.
I was touched to see a few of
my words in your opening statement to convey Pat's amazing personality
and spirit. After speaking with him only at last year's Indy
I wondered why I never got the chance earlier---but I'm so glad
that I did! Cindy Gibbs' thoughts were also very heartfelt in
a most perfect way.
Until I met Pat last year my
only substantial experience of hearing his voice was during his
acceptance speech at the Calif. Hot Rod Reunion several years
ago. It was one of the best, if not the best, I have ever heard.
He didn't talk off the cuff but took the time to craft a well-written
speech. He thanked those who helped him through his career, told
tales in his unique way and talked about the simple thrill of
being involved in racing. Pat delivered a perfect sermon for
and about hot rodders---it was that good! He was not just a craftsman
with metal but with words, too.
Rest in peace Pat, you were one
of the great ones!
James PS --- I know you were
a bit concerned that Pat was being overlooked last week by the
passing of Al Hoffman. I don't think you have to worry about
You did a great job at WDIFL
and the rest of us will keep his memory alive.
This really hurts. One word comes
to my mind when I think of Patty - "CLASS" !!!! RIP
my friend. There is much more I would like to say, but it is
hard to type when you are crying. Norm Weekly
Foster was my hero...
I told him that he was today's John Wayne of the drag racing
world...And I truly believe that...
Your great love and compassion
for our racing family cannot be surpassed !! Thank you for such
a wonderful way to memorialize Patty.
Love to you and yours,
The following is the chorus from
the beautiful Hawaiian composition, Aloha 'Oe, a song of farewell
and hope written in 1878 by Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen
Lili`uokalani. (It's always sung at memorial services here in
Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again
Farewell to you, farewell to
The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace,
'Ere I depart
Until we meet again
Aloha 'Oe, Patty, Aloha 'Oe
Pat was my dear friend and as
you know my sponsor with Standard 1320 Club. Pat and I had many
of conversations on the phone as a member and when he wasn't
a member. We stayed friends from the old Budd's Creek days running
4 abreast. We both had gone through a lot over the years and
had much in common with life's good and bad. I will miss my friend
beyond anyone's belief.
Next to my dad, this one is really
tough. I can't remember when/how I met Uncle Patty, but to meet
your childhood hero and then be able to call him a friend, truly
an amazing experience. Memories of sitting at a bar with him
having a drink and listening to a story, or having his wisdom
on life presented to you, having a question on fabrication and
being able to call any time and get a straight answer, being
at the track and having your side hurt from laughing, or just
greeting him with his own trademark phrase, "What the f**k
Foster" (LOL) only for him to turn to you and say, "are
you making fun of me again"..... Man, I'm going to miss
Patty in a big way, as will many, many others.
The last time I saw Pat he had
just been inducted into The Garlits Drag Racing Hall of Fame.He
came over and we started to talk about the "Touring"Funny
Car days. We laughed about Groupies, Crappy racetracks and a
certain night at Rockingham, I treated Pat and Barry Setzer &
crew to a special plate of victory brownies. Yeah,them days were
crazy and Pat was a cornerstone of those crazy touring days.
One heck of a driver and a great person. Hey, Pat, Say "Howdy"
to Arrington, Jungle and Hoffman. God has one heck of a Drag
race team.......................RIP...........Steve Reyes
Thanks so much for the wonderful
tribute you have assembled for our man Foster. We had our last
phone conversation several days before his passing. He was ever
the man with it and I tried but eventually near the last goodbye
I lost it. I attach my last letter to him (below), written and
overnighted the morning before our last phone conversation of
To explain; the architectural
work referred to in the letter reveals a little known side of
Pats creative portfolio. About 13 years ago we built a
house with many design elements unavailable off the shelf. Pat
worked with the architect on a lot of the unusual and executed
it using several mediums all in his typical attention to detail
fashion. The structure went on to win several meaningful architectural
awards, largely because Pat could build anything the designer
could dream up and added much of his own. It's still highlighted
on the architectural firms website. http://www.ccbg-arch.com/ccbg_main.swf look
for Hanna Residence under projects. This project
illustrates a side of Pat few knew.
As a further side note, Bruce
Crower and I took a tour of the Nissan facility when they were
building the GTP cars and back in the skunks den, we found Pat
disassembling one of the Carl Haas Indy Lolas that Michael had
driven. Apparently Nissan had designs on an Indy attempt and
had Pat doing a little research on the competitors
design. He covered far more territory than most of us ever realized.
I figure without the health issues,
which he fought valiantly, there were 15 more good years in him.
We are left to forever wonder what those years might have created
Late word is that you are growing
weary of the medical treadmill. While imminently understandable,
this leaves me sad. There will come a time absolutely for each
of us, no matter who or what we think we are, to stop pushing
that rock up the hill only to have it roll over us on its way
back to the bottom. I have far less fight in me than you and
can never match your endurance, commitment and toughness.
To exit gracefully and with dignity
on one's own terms is probably the last ultimate measure of a
life well lived, fully and always on one's own terms. For this
I very much admire and applaud you.
Every day your craft is before
me from the time I pull in the front gate (which you built) until
I settle in for the evening, your skill and creativity is all
around me in the many architectural details you built and that
I enjoy every day.
At the shop, the tools and equipment
you built are all still there, all well used.
You have educated me technically,
morally and with a richness of humor and wit.
For the gifts you have given
my life, I thank you, I love you and wish you peace and comfort
I got to work with Pat on the
Wale and Candies car when he lived in Wichita a few years back.
My family and I have a chassis shop and have a retail store.
That is how i first got to know Pat eventually he asked me to
come work with him and of course i said yes who would turn down
an opportunity to work with a legend. The more and more i got
to know pat the more and more i realized how great of a guy he
was. I loved to here all the stories he had about racing and
just life in general. Pat was a great guy and me and my family
will deeply miss him.
RIP Pat and..........be good buddy!
Pat Foster-hero driver, craftsman,
and most of all our friend. We had the privilege to assist Pat
on some of his projects, and the guidance he gave us on the restoration
of the 1968 Gas Ronda mustang was priceless. Pat also taught
us Kansas folks how to say bitchin.
Rest easy my friend.
Rob, Carol, Chad ,Jimmy ,and Danny Holzman
It is with great sadness that
I learned of Pat Fosters passing, being a huge fan of the man
and the beautiful work he did.
We have recently lost to many
of the greats that built the cars and stars of drag racings "Great
Era" of innovation. I doubt if there will ever be another
time like it. The "Big Show" is a parade of a long
gone time when men like Pat Foster and his peers would and could
lovingly craft such cars as they did.
God bless you Sir and my sincerest
condolences to your family.
Rest in Peace.
John and Jamie Phillips
While I only met Pat once just
to be introduced, I certainly am aware of his achievements. We
raced him several times with the cars I put together for Twig
Zeigler, "Pizza Haven" and Ed Mculloch, Red "Revellution".
He was always tough. As a chassis builder myself, I liked to
look at other builders work. I'm always critical of design, fit,
welding, etc. some being less than quality. Not so with Pat's
work. His cars were as near to perfection as can be humanly possible.And
a great driver to boot. Pretty hard act to follow. My friend,
Jim Hume, worked with him on several occasions and they were
good friends. Jim talked about him frequently. I think Jim will
miss him greatly as will many other folks . Drag racing has lost
one of the premier people that through his efforts helped the
sport tremendously. A pair of shoes that I believe, no one will
be able to fill.
Jack "The Rev" Slawik
Northwest Race Cars
"Patty Faster" has
always been one of my heroes. He did it all. He was a master
constructor and fabricator, a most capable mechanic and a superb
and absolutely fearless driver.
I was one of many who observed Pat's catastrophic crash at Lions
in the RCE / Leland Kolb rear engine car, and I, too, truly believed
we'd lost him. Needless to say, he survived, came back strong,
and continued to focus his life and efforts on his beloved sport.
Pat made several major contributions to my own racing career.
Right at the top of the list was the car he built for Jack Ewell,
Tom Bell and myself in 1969 while working for Woody Gilmore at
Race Car Engineering. This one was Patty's baby from the moment
of conception. He and I worked very closely together to make
this car the jewel that it is.
When I had the opportunity to salvage this car in the mid-1980's,
I restored it back to its original configuration, and then loaned
it to the Specialty Equipment Market Association for display
in their new office building in Diamond Bar, California. It continues
to hang from a wall in the SEMA reception area to this day, reminding
all visitors of the glory years of drag racing that inspired
SEMA's founding. I still think it's one of the prettiest and
most functional slingshot top fuelers ever built, and working
with Pat during its construction provided me with an opportunity
to experience, first hand, his genius and incredible attention
During the past decade, Pat and I had many of opportunity to
spend quality time together at various Hot Rod Reunions and other
events, and I'll never forget his wonderful sense of humor and
honest, forthright approach to racing, race cars and life. I
already miss him more than I ever imagined possible.
RIP my friend.
I met Pat Foster about two years
ago in Moscow Idaho. It's about as far away as you can get from
anywhere, other that the location of two major universities,
but as for automotive subculture, it's pretty non existent. I
had heard rumors of Pat's moving to Moscow through some friends
on the west coast (I photograph and write extensively about the
hot rod & Bonneville subcultures) and was actually working
on a book about shops, not garage collections, but real shops
where people create and build real stuff. I was already planning
on doing a chapter on Pat's son Cole, but a friend here in Moscow
said he wanted to introduce me to someone he "thought"
I might be interested in. I went by just as they were getting
ready to send out the Candies & Hughes car. Pat and I had
a chance to talk for a while and I found a kindred spirit. The
more time I spent with Pat, the more I realized what a great
and interesting person he was. I photographed his shop and current
projects extensively and we spent quite a bit of time hanging
out and talking. Never heard the same story twice and realized
that Pat expected in all things, what he thought should be the
best, which I agree with and respected. Realize that I am not
from the drag racing family so I was accepting Pat on a different
automotive level. I've been around it, but it was not an everyday
part of my life.
He became a close friend, riding
buddy and part of my family. He's the one guy I've cruised with
on bikes, before just usually going by myself. I'm going to miss
him more than I can even begin to realize today. And, I'm glad
I had a chance to say goodbye in Coeur d'Alenne before he passed.
I am even more glad that I had a chance to call Pat a friend,
and he was one, he was family. He left with more dignity and
class than most that I know. His sense of humor, his distaste
of mediocrity and his true open mindedness always surprised me.
Patty, I miss you, and I wish you peace.
Very good and heartfelt memories
of Patty. I had always thought Patty would have made a great
color commentator for ESPN. He had a good way with words. You
can bet the fun has started. With all the people the racing community
has lost. Can you all imagine what a Gods creation of a race
car would be now? The talent is endless.
When I read of his passing this
AM it really saddened me. Definitely one of my heroes growin
up in SoCal. A cool guy and when the Setzer Vega was in town
we were there! I just wish i have lived 1/4 the life PF had lived.
Thanks for he great memories PF Flyer and Godspeed to ya. You
were the greatest Man!!
The first time I talked to Pat
on the phone all he told me was "I don't want you to do
the car -- I don't know who the hell you are". During our
weeks of talking on the phone he kinda softened a little bit,
but he still scared the crap out of me.
When the car (Jade Grenade) finally
got back to Kansas he called to tell me that it was "spot
on" - what the hell did that mean, I'm from PA., not Kansas.
From that point on we talked quite a few times but I finally
got to meet him in person when he came to Maple groves Geezers
at the Grove with Don Trasin last summer and spent most of the
day talking with him.
To be able to work on a project
with Pat---the racer, craftsman, and all around really interesting
guy was a real thrill for me. I'll miss him and his incredible
work. Thoughts and prayers to his family.
The one time I met Foster personally
was at the CHRR when the "Fighting Irish" car was first
shown. The thing that I'll never forget is that he made me feel
like we'd been friends for a long time and in a way, I guess,
we were. I asked him to sign my Beebe & Mulligan shirt, which
he did, and I requested that he personalize it "To the Joker".
He did but as we looked at it, we both realized he had signed
it "To the Jocker". We looked at it,we both laughed,
and Patty says in true Foster fashion, "Who the fuck is
Rest in peace, my friend.
Dick Kalivoda a.k.a "The Joker" a.k.a. "The Jocker"
Although I lived only 20 miles
away in Newton Kansas, I actually first met Pat over the internet
through being voted into the Standard 1320 group after having
driven out to California to purchase my lifelong dream, a "real"
front engine dragster. What I had purchased was a very used 1963
Don Tuttle chassis FED, the US Mule, an ex BB/GD campaigned in
the '60s by Buddy Bates, which had been transformed into small
block Chevy powered bracket car in the '80s by the 2nd owner
from which I purchased it from. The car needed EVERYTHING, the
chassis was laying on top of a couple of SBC valve covers out
in a pasture, with a pile of various other pieces/parts in the
nearby garage. Loaded everything up and brought it all back to
the Land of Oz and the land of Foster! After a lot of begging
and negotiating and a little more begging Pat agreed to help
me out and worked me into his busy schedule. He was in the final
stages of completing the Jade Grenade when I dropped my "load"
off at his doorstep. Pat and his help at the time Darrell Karst
went to town on my mess. First the frame had a drill-bit like
twist in it that Pat had to work out and square everything back
up. Bottom rails were beat up, holey and rusty, these were replaced.
Numerous X and K bracing and other members were added, kidney
bars, new 5 point cage, torsion tube and arms were all re-fabricated,
completely from the front axle to a very special 1-off "Patty"wheel
and everything between all new, engine midplate and motor mounts,
anti-rotation x-member, seat, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on
and on. My chassis wasn't a mega famous car like a lot of the
"cackle" cars appearing more and more, it is to be
an actual driver at nostalgia events and the like, but Pat didn't
skimp on anything as far as quality goes when it came down to
building something for it. And performance wise, it has turned
out to perform about 500% better than I had ever expected it
to. With an all iron Chevy block and heads, the mild Schnieder
hydraulic liftered cam and crane roller tipped rockers and valve
springs being the only non bowtie internals, I figured maybe
high 9's to low 10 second times. Although it isn't quite finished
yet (needs body), I decided it was done enough to try out. After
a few trial runs I have gone 7.75 at the 1000 ft on a high gear
pass where I lifted and not by choice. This pass was also to
be test the new parachute pass. As I approached the 1000 ft I
was thinking okay go ahead and reach up and grab the chute lever
so's I can be ready to pull it off at the finish line. Well,
remember when you was a kid riding along in the back seat of
the family cruiser at 60 mph and you would stick your hand out
the window and do the airplane wing thing with your hand? That's
what happened to me as I was reaching for the chute lever, a
140 mph wind grabbed my hand, it slaps me in the face which all
freaks me out and I lifted right there and then!!! Pat, you were
the BEST of the best and you will always live on in my heart
and in the dragster, I will cherish it forever.
PAT FOSTER On Sunday March 23,
2008, I received an email that originated from Cindy Gibbs. Although
I have never met Cindy, it struck me in a most personal way.
It was a farewell salute to her ( and my,) dear friend Pat Foster.
Well written and honest, it was a moving experience to read it.
Although I had been following Pat's medical progress, and putting
off visiting him, I was terribly upset to read that he had finally
decided to pull the plug. The imminence of his passing hit me
with gale force. As his friend I desperately wanted to be there
to see him, honor him and just hold his hand. I had flight reservations
in an hour.
Tuesday afternoon I was ushered
into his presence and I was surprised and gratified to find him
alert and available both emotionally and intellectually. As I
approached his bedside he grinned and said "Hi Mikey, I'm
really glad you made it." As I took his proffered hand I
was surprised by the strength of his grip. His room was papered
with photos of his family and loved ones, drawings from his grandchildren,
a fine sketch from Kenny Youngblood, model race cars and more.
His sisters were there, his son Dan, his friends Tom and Karen
and they all welcomed me as though I were a family member. It
seemed a little hectic,visitors came and went, final phone calls
were routed through and Foster handled all of it like he handled
his tools, with precise skill and a serious dedication to completing
his tasks. His communications were accomplished with grace and
his ever present dignity.
Wednesday afternoon, I somehow
found myself in the room with him, just the two of us, and we
talked some and I watched him sleep a little.
Through the large window next
to his bed I watched the snowfall slowly covering up the tricycles
and slides and swings in the children's playground next door.
The full of circle of life and it's inherent mysteries were revealed
from front to back. Life seemed perfectly painted in those moments,
from childhood to the final passing.
Loved by many, Pat left us his
racing legacy and his children, two of whom I have the privilege
of knowing. Dan and Cole are every inch the man their father
was and it is one more credit to Pat that after all, his parenting
efforts were so very successful. Parenting, in my experience,
is the greatest trial and error process that one encounters in
life, a sort of living laboratory of continual experimentation.
Pat and I talked about his children on that last day together
and he knew that he had done well. His pride in his family was
At the end Pat unflinchingly
maintained his composure. His dignity and courage will be a continuing
example to me as it will to many others. I will always think
of Pat as the guy in the old movies who, when forced to face
the firing squad tosses his final cigarette aside and facing
his executioners says with authority, " To Hell with the
Thanks for you Patty Faster,
knowing you has improved my life. To all of you who loved and
admired Pat, remember his advice in drag racing and in life.
I'm taking Jon Asher's lead here
and adding some humor to this awesome tribute. These pics are
from a few years back when Foster and Don Trasin were asked to
do one of the popular 'Hemi' commercials. The piece was shot
in Lancaster, CA and Patty did the stunt driving. The car is
the Jade Grenade, wrapped in a peel off coating to make it generic.
The make up gals made him shave off his signature beard; they
added color to his eyebrows and glued on sideburns. We laughed
at him for two days...as you can see, he is UNRECOGNIZABLE!
Here's the link to watch the commercial....LOL, I've never seen
so much rubber fly! It absolutely CRACKS me up every time I see
it. Patty was black from head to toe and it must have taken us
hours to clean everything up!
Great, GREAT memories here...I'm laughing through my tears, which
feels SO good right about now.
Foster Dodge Commercial
- Yea, its a Hemi!
I will miss Pat's stories and
support. Pat came by our house a lot but he was careful if he
knew I was traveling for my job to not come by the night I got
home. When he was invited to his first potluck dinner at our
house he showed up a few hours early to drop off his contribution.
Pat handed me a lovely piece of salmon and was beginning to tell
me how to prepare it. He learned that potluck meant more than
bringing a contribution but it meant preparing a contribution.
He jumped in and cooked his salmon and had a great time talking
with our close friends.
I will miss Pat. He was someone
who understood accomplishment and the importance of supporting
even small steps. I was able to race a 32 roadster at Bonneville
summer 2007. My rookie run was 115 mph, which was the fastest
rookie run for that car and the next day when the carburetors
were changed the car went faster. But Pat's first reaction was
to give me a hug and tell me "I am proud of you." He
understood the difference between driving 115 mph on a dirt road
and racing a car at 115 mph and knew it was a big deal. I appreciate
a man named Patty Faster giving me that kind of support. Pat
loved to talk about his life and his stories, but he also reveled
in your's. We will all miss you Pat; as I drive your yellow truck
around with my gardening supplies I will think of you often.
Kimberly Vincent (math professor
and wife of Photographer Peter Vincent)"
It pains me to read another one
lost. I already dread next week's news! Without adding to or
taking away anything that anybody else has already stated so
eloquently, "I'd like to recall a fond memory I have".
In Irvine, Ca, at OCIR, I believe Pat was in the Chicago Patrol
and I've never seen anything like it before or since, an unforgettable
scene. After the burnout, but before staging the car, during
the dry hop session, Pat was striking the throttle and gripping
the brake lever, pulling it back quickly, so that the tires grew
quickly, tossing the car into the air and with the tires shrinking
just as quickly, the car would crash back to the ground. He must
have sensed the crowd was loving it as the roar was almost as
loud as the car itself. Countless times, Pat caused the car to
jump straight up a couple of feet just to come dancing back down
to the earth in grand style. After several more of these hops,
he finally let the car jump and lurch forward about three times
to stage the car. It was glorious! That was the only time I witnessed
that kind of showmanship in a funny car and I still recall it
as though it was yesterday. Just one more unique item to help
give a snapshot of a great funny car driver, builder and an admirable
man. And to read what others have written how a real man dies
with dignity and honor is unfathomable!
A humble funny car fan from the Newport Beach area,
The olman and me
Working for Foster in his shop
really was not work at all. It was more like attending the Foster
University of fine arts. On any given day I could receive a lesson
in anything from metallurgy to grammar. Depending on the progress
of the current project my tasks would remain fluid. If Patty
needed a part made he would discuss it in depth to be sure I
understood what he was wanting. And after Hours of working on
said part when I would give him what I thought he wanted the
all too common phrase would be blurted out " what the fuck"!!
But once he took the part and ran it across the disc sander he
then would profoundly say "BITCHIN. When it was time to
explain to him something I was thinking there would be interruptions
from Patty correcting my grammar and repeating the word a minimum
of three times to assure himself I knew the proper word to use
in that statement. I always felt better educated when driving
home than when I drove to work. And as in any schooling atmosphere
there was homework. Patty would send parts home with me to make,
repair or disassemble. Which most of the time I didn't care for
since that meant I was not going to Fosters the next day. From
time to time I would send him an e-mail to give him an update
on the progress, And he would reply in true professor style correcting
my spelling and then answering any and all questions I had regarding
the part. One day I was summoned to haul a frame home to be painted.
Patty asks how I intended on doing it since I had driven my work
car to the shop. I informed him it was not a problem I would
tie it upside down on the roof and run a rope through the trunk
and close the trunk lid. To this Patty simply shook his head
and walked off muttering something about Jesus this fucking
But all went well and the frame
got painted and he said "BITCHIN".
Then there were the nighttime
stories that would go on way into the night and his wife would
have to come out peek around the door and say Pat it's midnight.
The stories would be worth the wait to hear, which would include
such colorful personalities as "Jungle" " Tharp"
"Beadle" "shoe" he had stories on all. One
night Patty told me the "Woody story"! This story was
to explain the difference in angle that existed on the front
spindles on Woodys chassis. AS Pat put it there was no
scientific reason behind it Woody was too lazy to change the
jig and correct it. And then there were "Nights of PINK"
Now those Nights would last the longest his stories would involve
arms waving , a more than usual "what the fuck"!!!
When the olman would stop
in for a visit his first stop was the kitchen. My wife being
of good German decent ALWAYS has cookies, cakes, and the such
on the counter. Now Patty had a problem with his blood sugar,
But as he put it what he ate at my house didn't count because
I lived in a different county than his doctor! Never did figure
that one out! absolutely the BEST days of my life were spent
with my friend Pat. After following his every move and project
dating back to 1966 given the chance to work with him is something
only a few can relate with. With this I say odious amigo, RIP
my dear friend, mentor and hero !
"SIT LOW PF FLYER"
More Foster from Darrell:
One afternoon while working on
the "Goose" funny car I was making a couple brackets.
Patty came over to have a look at what I had made and said trim
this one down to here and this one down the there, make the lines
straight from hole to hole with the same amount of material around
the holes. He then went on to tell me that extra metal was useless,
that he wanted the edge of the bracket to be the same dimension
the radius of the hole if it had a ¼ inch bolt hole make
the bracket 1/8 bigger than the outside dimension of the hole
pattern. If it was a 3/8" bolt hole 3/16" and so on.
He said IF your doing it for weight put rocks in your pocket
their easier to remove! There is no reason to haul all the shit
to the other end of the track with you. He was BIG on only what
was necessary to make it work. Latter he told me of the "cement
While running the Super shops
car it was a tad on the light side but it hauled ass and that
was what was important. So to make weight he had 2 bell helmets
one he wore during the run and one that went into the drivers
seat when he got to the other end! He would get out of the car
grab the cement filled helmet from the tow truck put it in the
seat then put his fire suit on top the helmet. Worked BITCHEN
as Patty said, "All that extra shit hanging on the car just
gets me crazy"!!
Of course The story was much
longer when Patty told it !!!
As a guy who came in on the back
end of the boomer age, I caught up with Drag Racing in 1972.
That year, the hot class was fuel funny cars and the baddest
of the bad was Pat Foster in the Barry Setzer Vega. Photos and
stories of Pat and that car left an indelible impression on me.
The sight of it still stirs the heart strings when I think back
to the magical years when I first fell in love with the sport.
How much I regarded Foster back in the day didn't occur to me
until one of my sisters said something just a year or so ago.
In discussing how I'm still hanging in there with my drag racing
hobby, she recalled, I still remember you talking about
Pat Foster and the Barry Setzer Vega. This woman, who doesn't
know anything else about drag racing except what she'd overheard
from me 35 years ago in our childhood, laid the entire phrase
on me, word for word. I was taken aback. She didn't remember
me talking about Garlits, about the Snake, about the Mongoose,
about Shirley, none of em. But she remembered me talking
about Foster and that badass cinnamon red Vega.
In later years along came the
internet and the Standard 1320 Group, where I was privileged
to join and which contained so many heroes of mine, including
the MAN, Pat Foster. Through correspondence online, I thrilled
at his stories, which he kindly offered to let me post on my
website. Then, at either the CHRR or NHRR, I got to meet Pat
and found him to be a unique combination of no nonsense practicality
and kindness. This photo of Pat and my son Jason from the inaugural
NHRR at Bowling Green is of course, precious to me. I was not
much older than Jason when I first started following Pat and
now here he was, taking Jason aside to show him the sparkling
new Jade Grenade and to pose for a photo. I've had a lot of thrills
in Drag Racing, but getting to know Pat Foster and then introducing
my son to my childhood hero ranks right up there.
Here is a link to all the stories
Pat shared with us over the years. They are a riot
That story you told about Pat
having to take an emergency phone call in the announcers tower
as Pat was about to do his burnout, Pat's wife wanting to know
where the hell the car keys were, that has to be one of the best
Patty stories ever.
Keep up the good work,
Brian Harney, Frankfort, Kentucky
When we took the F4 to Bowling
Green in 2004, I hadn't talked to Pat
Foster since the Barry Setzer days(73). I ran into him at the
Inn. He treated me like we were long lost brothers. I didn't
to go to the race track. I just wanted to stay and listen to
stories. He could've written a book.
My Memories of Pat Foster
By Jeff Courtie
I first met Pat Foster in 1966
or 67 at Tom Larkin's House in North Hollywood, we were hanging
out in the garage working on Tom's Top Fueler, when a 1955 or
56 light green Ford pickup comes up the street and into the cul-de-sac
were Tom lived. Out comes Pat on his way home from Woody Gilmore's
(Race Car Engineering) Tom introduced me to him, I knew right
away that he was a special guy real articulate and knowledgeable
not like the usual type of guys hanging around the drag strip
crowd. I was just a punk kid then, but Pat made me feel like
I was one of them.
A couple of years later when
I was building my first Funny Car I called Woody Gilmore to see
if he would SEMA stamp my homemade chassis for me, he said sure
bring it down so I can look it over. When I got to Woody's, to
my surprise Woody and Pat both came out to look over my chassis,
I'm sure they would have done some things differently but both
Pat and Woody said it was bitchin and that really made my day.
When I got the 1970 Mustang done
Pat came up to me at OCIR and looked over the finished car and
said great job, even though his cars were light years away from
mine chassis wise. He was that kind of guy always ready to give
you a pat on the back and give you encouragement.
On my next car my 1972 Cuda F/C
again back to Woody's for the SEMA stamp, and again both Pat
& Woody walked out into the parking lot and looked it over,
said bitchin and again they made my day.
Over the years we both were around
pretty much the same group of guys as we both lived in the San
Fernando Valley. We often competed against each other on the
track. Pat was almost always in the better car and beat me a
lot, (he had a lot of success in the seventies in funny cars
as we all know) he never gloated of bragged about it or got cocky
about winning he was a gentleman about that and knew it could
go either way in Drag Racing. (I know he was very proud of his
accomplishments on the track)
Another couple of good memories,
one is the time we both worked at Start's Race Cars at night
during the winter of 1975. Jamie had a lot of Funny Cars to build
that year, 4 or 5 maybe more? both Pat and I welded up cars for
Jamie at night. Pat for extra money, and me to work off updating
my car at Jamie's shop.
One thing I remember most about
Pat, at the start of every night Pat would spend about 20 minutes
grinding 15 to 20 tungsten's on the Burr-king to get them just
right. He was a perfectionist in every way. He taught me a lot
in those weeks, and of course his great stories to boot. Another
memory that stands out was when I worked at Ed Pinks a lot of
us would go to the Sundance Saloon in Calabasas Tuesday nights
for jam sessions Pat would show up when he could. A lot of the
studio musicians in town and rock stars showed up to play old
country standards with a electric flavor we all sat on the bar
drinking beer, Great times, Pat loved that.
I quit racing in 1978 and kind
of lost touch with Pat as he hung it up a couple of years later,
and moved on to work at Toyota. When I went to the first Hot
Rod Reunion in 1991 as I pulled into the Double Tree Friday Night
who was the first guy I see, Pat, we caught up on old times and
reconnected, that's when he told me he was moving to Wichita
to work for Tom Hanna. I think one of Pat's proudest moments
was his recreation of the Beebe & Mulligan Top Fueler. When
I saw it in bare steel and aluminum it was a work of art and
I told him so, (Pat's attention to detail is astounding) Pat
said that he thought a lot about John and what he would think
of it while he was building it, and tried very hard to be true
to the original (that was very important to Pat). I told him
John would be very proud of what you did to keep his memory alive.
As each year passed I always
looked forward to seeing Pat at the CHRR and his latest creation.
The last time I talked to him in length was when he delivered
the Frank Pedregon Coupe to Pomona, he gave me a big hug and
hand shake and as he always did went all over the car pointing
out each custom piece he had fabricated. To me personally I have
lost one of my heroes and friends, I'm glad we got to see each
other over the years, and will miss him a lot.
To those of you who have one
of his cars you have a piece of history and a glimpse back into
the golden age of Drag Racing, we have lost a great racer, craftsman,
friend and historian of the sport.
I have spent
over 30 minutes reading all the wonderful comments about our
friend Pat Foster! Reading the comments about the good ole
days of match racing around the country brought back
many great (and not so great) memories. It's been 9 years since
my late husband, Tripp Shumake, passed away and yet my children
and I have kept track of all our dear friends from days gone
by. Tripp admired Pat and his driving ability and I admired how
he treated everyone as if they were his best friend.
The truth be known
of us women in drag racing had a crush on Pat Foster!
His boyish looks and his flirting ways
who could resist
being around this awesome man. I remember the last conversation
Pat and I had was right after Tripp was killed. He and I talked
for so long and had some wonderful memories. I always wanted
to make it to Bakersfield just so I could see him again. Yes,
we are loosing some of the best drag racers ever and it's sad
as I am sure we are all still young at heart, but
our bodies are telling us something else!
God Speed Pat Foster
know you and Tripp and Al and Wally and Leroy and Loper and the
gang are all together right now talking about their last great
pass and what might have been!
This is a picture taken from
my video camera, I made into a photo, It's from NHRR 2005. I
got to meet Pat & Steve there, I'm from Ohio so I've seen
them race many times at Indy & Columbus. And have always
looked up to them for being excellent at what they did. And to
get my picture taken with them was a big thrill for me..Because
they took the time to be nice to me. I didn't know them well,
But enough to say they were my friends. And I will miss them
very much.. And they will be missed by all who knew them...God
be with them..
Freddie Young, Steve
Carbone, Bob Crietz and of couse, Patty.
Note: As of the last update on
this page (2014) we have lost everyone in this photo.
I will never forget the first
time I saw the Setzer Vega at Beeline Dragway in the early 70s.
I was about my second year at Arcadia High School in Phoenix,
Arizona, and Pat Foster was already a hero to me. I had several
pictures of the car from Hot Rod and Car Craft on my bedroom
walls; you couldn't see the paint, everything was covered with
Funny Cars and Altereds.
I can't remember just how many
times I saw Pat racing the car at match races, but it was always
one of my favorites, and ran extremely strong. I remember shedding
a tear seeing the tribute last weekend on ESPN2 drag racing;
Pat and Al Hoffman. The world needs more heroes like them
Sonic Mike Stephens
I was at Bakersfield when Dave
West and Pat was unloading the Beebe & Mulligan fueler for
it's first public appearance. To me it was a piece of art. I
went up to Pat and introduced myself to him. He shook my hand
and asked "How in the hell do you build them tiny models,
Rice "?. I 'm being asked this by Pat Foster, Holy Shit
! Since then he has taught me about the real world of race car
building. The good and the bad. I know he will be looking over
my shoulder while I build my Cackle Car replica saying "
What the Fuck Rice "! We only got to know Pat for a few
years and he made it seem like a life time. We have lost a life
Fans and Friends, Roger &
I was lucky enough to meet Pat
Foster through my time spent with Sy, Tom, and Tim Steed while
they ran the King & Marshall car. But looking back the first
time I saw Pat was while he was touring with the Setzer car at
New England Dragway in 1972. I remember clear as day when he
opened up the enclosed ramp truck the color of red that car was.
I had read all the stories of what a killer car that was, but
the biggest thing I remember is that, that truck body had from
floor to ceiling as many cases of Coors beer that I or anyone
else East had ever seen.
After many years of reading about
Pat, I was introduced to him by the K&M guys at Bowling green
2004. The first thing that struck me was he treated me as if
he had known me for years. We had a few other conversations over
the weekend regarding the Jade Grenade and a few of the other
projects he had done or about to do. That weekend I was able
to be a part of some shenanigans aimed at Pat.
On Friday afternoon at about
5-6 Pm Pat and Don Trasin had decided to head back to their hotel.
So Trasin is going through his normal routine on checking, double
checking, and triple checking every door on the trailer and motor
home (also changing his t-shirt for the seventh time of the day-the
over and under for Trasin shirt changes is 10 a day LOL). But
after about 15 minutes Foster says to Don - hey WHAT THE FUCK
ARE YOU LEAVING THE FOLDING CHAIRS UNDER THE MOTORHOME INSTEAD
OF LOCKING THEM UP IN THE STORAGE AREA. Pat and Don have a brief
conversation and Pat does that hands up WTF and walks over to
our trailer grumbling. Trasin follows him over to get ready to
leave and give SY the key to Don's golfcart. This is where I
got to see Fosters humor for the first time. Pat is still ribbing
Don about the chairs, Trasin says who cares their only worth
5$ anyways. Pat says that if the chair are stolen- then pulls
out a 5$ bill from his wallet and says I'm I supposed to sit
on this all F-EN weekend. He just killed us. By the way chairs
where left under the motorhome, the New England guys took them
and all of us were waiting the next morning when they noticed
the chairs gone it did not take them long to find out where they
went because of the laughter coming from us. A time I will never
forget and someone I wish I could see at the next
reunion. Patty we will miss you.
It is so rare when someone comes
into your life that leaves such an impact on you like Pat did
me, as well as so many others in his lifetime. I would especially
like to thank Paul Candies for all the support (what a class
guy and true friend) Cindy Gibbs, Tom Hanna and everyone else
that supported Pat through his toughest time. Pat always talked
about his sons Cole, Dan, and JT and was very proud of them all.
They are all a chip off the ole block, trust me. I am very proud
to say that Pat was one of my dearest friends and we had so many
great times together. I met him when he moved to Kansas to work
for Tom Hanna, he hired me when he started on the mongoose funnycar
build. I worked for him on the Mongoose car, Benny Osbornes
car, Surfers car, Pedregons car, Whale and Candies car
until he moved to Moscow, Idaho. We stayed in
touch weekly to keep up with what was new with each other, and
of course he would always ask when I was on my way to Moscow
to work on the latest project, but I couldn't leave Wichita at
that time. I consider myself as one of the luckiest guys ever
to work for such a great man and mentor. Pat demanded perfection
and never settled for less, and talk about a walking bullshit
he was it! lol. He was one of the toughest men I
have ever seen in my life, yet one of the most loving and kind
gentlemen there ever was. I must say he taught me so much, not
to mention I have really expanded my vocabulary since I met him
(lol). I have so many stories to tell about Pat and those of
you that knew him well can only imagine (lol). Ill never
forget the time we pulled into Quik Trip and he went in to get
a pack of Camel smokes. I pulled up about 4 cars to the left
of the front door and when he came out, he got into another truck
that was a few cars down from me while the guy was still sitting
in it, and then he realized he was in the wrong truck. When he
looked over and saw me a few trucks down, I was laughing my ass
He was always there for me no
matter what, and understood because he had been there. He called
me a couple days before he passed to say our good-byes, and he
gave me the greatest compliment a man could give to another by
saying I was like a son to him and that he loved me. He was not
only a great friend but like a father to me as well, always looking
out for me. We burned the midnight oil many times to meet a ridiculous
delivery time. I have met so many great people through Pat over
the years and feel truly blessed for that. Many people dont
know that he was quite a cook as well, he was always bringing
me something out to the shop to try. I am going to miss that
smile and rough ole voice of his and hearing him say (are you
shittin me?) or calling someone a weak suck, etc., going fishing,
or riding his Triumph
.my heart aches for Cole, Dan, JT
and the rest of his family that always stayed by his side. I
know how it feels to lose your parents, it is never easy. Pats
sister, Linda always kept me up to date since he fell ill and
is one of the kindest ladies I have ever met. Pat was a lucky
man to have such great siblings in Burch, Kay and Linda. They
are truly what family is all about. My prayers go out to the
entire Foster family, I love you all and you should be proud.
He truly made a huge difference in my life and I thank him for
that. We were all very fortunate to be touched in some way or
another by Pat. RIP Pat, I'll turn up the Stevie Ray Vaughn and
burn one for ya! I Love you, Patty.
Sincerely, your friend
I can't say that Foster was by
any means a close friend - but I visited his shop a few times
when he was located in Wichita - his place was only about 2 miles
from my house, and I used to sneak out of the office a half hour
early so I could stop by and bench race before he quit for the
The first time I was there, the
chassis of the Jade Grenade had just arrived earlier in the day,
and I walked into the shop about 4:15 or so. He already had the
frame rails sitting on top of his super-duper jig, but he needed
an extra hand to get the front end up onto the clamps so he could
straighten it - it was maybe an inch or so out of skew. Of course,
being the helpful guy I am, I grabbed hold at the right place
and pulled it into alignment so Foster could clamp it down. I
guess that means I had a small part in the Jade Grenade restoration.
Last time I saw him, about 2
1/2 years ago, was in the Dillons' grocery store parking lot
late one afternoon, with his son who was my son's age. We spoke
but he knew me.
Patty was one heck of a story
teller, in addition to being a really great craftsman - I'll
They just don't make 'em like that any more. My 'Foster Slingshotz'
T-shirt goes in the permanent keepsake pile...
Other than seeing him in the
pits I never met Foster. I've had many discussions with him online
and he was a legend with a detailed memory among many other things.
There may be no equal to his craftsmanship and showmanship. I
sent him a Setzer Vega a number of years ago to sign which he
graciously did. He wrote "Tommy, "Keep er' lit."
Pat Foster." The sad part is, however, we all lose fire
at times. He will always be one of my heroes because of his accomplishments
and particularly his humbleness.
The day M/T died I sat in Pat's
office while he gave me one of his many philosophy lessons, this
time it was about death and loosing friends to death. Something
he had a hard time with that day was that he didn't want to go
to the funeral and was worried that people would think he was
a prick for not showing. I told him he should go but he explained
to me in one of those explanations of his that never leaves you
" I just never could see the point in having a big party
for some fucking dead guy in a box. If you want to have a party
for a guy do it while he's alive!!!!! What the fuck!!!"
I somehow found this kind of funny and we ended up laughing about
it. After that when ever one of us would get in a shity situation
we could call each other up and say Remember that party you were
going to have for me? now might be the time ol buddy.I also would
like to say I don't think Pats boys can ever know how proud he
was of them. As an example when Cole was first starting to get
good at building the customs Pat gave me a picture of one of
Cole's earliest works and said, "Hang on to that picture
forever, someday that kid of mine will be the best fucking car
builder in history and you'll have the earliest picture of anything
he ever did"
Thanks for all the lessons Pat everyday was that party
We we so inspired by the Setzer
car that we painted ours just like it, (1973 Ron Leaf Vega).
Once during a qualifying run Pink had the car on kill and told
Pat to hit the bottles and chutes at the first line no mater
what cause it was going to blow. Pat drove it out the back door
on fire. H&H built us one of their finest pieces in 1980
and maybe their last. Truly a work of art chromed, polished and
anodized almost too perfect to race. Back then funny cars could
weigh 1950 lbs. After a run we would get weighed and be within
10 lbs. usually what we kept in the weight bar just to play it
safe. The car would carry the left front and go straight as an
arrow and would often forgive my lack of talent. I kept the body
pole all these years and often examine the craft of even such
a trivial part. It's like owning a fine work of art. Thanks Pat.
I had only known Patty for 8-9
years ,but it left a life time impression on me.I never had the
honor of racing with him. I met him through Tom Hanna; we were
instant friends drag race warriors from different times!
I will miss his 2 hour marathon phone calls and driving 6 hours
out of my way on the way to Indy - just to have lunch and to
check out the latest project. It was the highlight of my trip.
I build street rods, and would
send photos of different projects, I will always remember his
thoughts on a project, if he said that is very nice (cut it off
and start over !) if he said a guy could....it was better but
... (cut it off and start over!) BUT... If you got "that
is just lovely" or a simple "Bichin!" - you were
You worked extra hard to not
get on the weaksuck list I grew to like Patty more for who he
was - than what he did, I knew he did it all, but somewhere between
modest and humble he was my friend.
I was at the NHRA hot rod reunion at Bowling Green a couple of
years back, and while we were putting a motor in for the final
round of Top Fuel, a crowd gathered to watch us thrash for the
Pat Foster, Tom Hanna and Steve
Carbone were in the front of the crowd. They were just watching
and smiling. Later I was told that we were the closest thing
to what was and what is now, and believe me coming from anyone
of those guys was a true compliment!
Pat would call weekly and give me his want list and his philosophy
on restoration, food,hot rods, drag racing, parenting, and of
course I would prod him to get a story and Patty was the master
story teller. Each story topped the last.
I never felt shortchanged ...
When I went up to Idaho to see my friend for the last time, he
was concerned to make sure I was o.k. and he took the time to
explain that this was a good wise decision and he was comfortable
with it. He was in no pain and what made it so hard was his mind
was sharp, but his body was shot.
He had lived 200 years in his
68 on this earth and never cut a corner on any of it. He was
a mans man and the original Badass!
Patty taught me about dignity,
quality, perseverance, love and class. He was fiercely proud
of his boys. I had the chance to share some stories and laughs
with Cole. We instantly hit it off. You see a lot of Patty shinning
through in Cole.
He went out on his own terms
driving that bitch through the lights with all 8 lit! In charge
till the end!
In the end I felt fortunate enough to look my friend Patty in
those blue eyes, hold his hand and I told him it was all right
we were proud of him and I loved him I kissed him on his head
and left -he smiled at me like a puppy I will always remember
Every time we light off a motor
I will forever miss the man they call Patty...Father, driver,
master craftsman, and my friend the guy they call Mr.Everything!
"In a night of shinning stars Patty will be the brightest."
The proper words to say goodbye
to someone like Foster just don't come easy. I had the pleasure
of shooting photos of Patty racing for 40 years, including many
of the shots posted on this tribute page. To try and add to the
wonderful tributes posted so far would be futile. He truly was
a man's man who pulled his last chute with class.
RIP my friend.
Always surrounded by friends
and admirers...in the seat of a race car...that was Foster.
Patty and I were close. He was
a father figure, a mentor, and a hero to me. Patty was indeed
bigger than life to me for a number of reasons, but mainly, he
was one of those very few people you meet in your life that were
'the real deal.' It's obvious when you meet someone like that;
you know it when you see it. I met Patty through Tom Jobe (another
real deal) and instantly took a liking to him. Our
relationship was not unlike father and son. When I was just starting
to drive, he was always just a phone call away for me to bounce
ideas off of and, mostly, to just shut up and listen to and maybe
learn a few things from. We talked on the phone maybe once every
other week or so from the first day I met him over 10 years ago
until last week when I flew up to Idaho to say goodbye for the
Pat Foster was a bad ass (in
the best of ways, too). He could build 'em, tune 'em, and literally
drive the wheels off of any car he got in. He was a driver's
driver, and his exploits are legendary (and I don't use that
term loosely). His ability to nonchalantly tell you one of the
best 'hero driver' stories you ever heard always endeared him
to me and anybody lucky enough to be in earshot of his deep booming
voice. To hear his patented "What the fuck" or "I
ain't no weak suck!" was just 'heaven' on the ears ...
Here's one of my favorite Patty
stories. I wish I would've recorded it for all the particulars
of time, place, etc., but it doesn't matter anyway.
Foster was wrenching on his Funny
Car one night at a match race at some back East track. A fan
comes up to him a little nervously and asks if he would mind
signing his autograph on a butterfly steering wheel he was clutching
in his hands. Foster says, 'Sure, can I hold on to it and sign
it when I get back from this run?' ' Sure! Thanks! says the fan.
This whole deal goes down without anybody knowing about it. Well,
Pat is now in his Funny Car on the starting line, his car sounding
bad to the bone (as Patty would say) and he's just
completed his dry hops. He moves in to pre-stage his car. The
top light goes on.
Everybody, including his owner,
is on the line watching with that nervous tension that develops
right before YOUR car gets ready to haul ass down the track.
All of a sudden, the team sees what looks to be a steering wheel
fall out the window and onto the track! As their collective minds
compute what just happened and think, 'Oh my God; how's he gonna
steer that thing?' Patty bumps her in and stages the car. The
light comes down, and he's off! Straight down the track, flames
over the roof, not missing a beat. The team just stands there
looking at each other dumbfounded as to what just happened. It
wasn't until they picked Foster up at the top end that they learned
of that fan's steering wheel being in the cockpit with him.
On my last visit with Patty,
we talked about all things and sometimes we just watched TV together
without saying a word. Even on the verge of death, he was the
baddest [expletive] around! He was comfortable with his choice
and he was matter of fact as only Pat Foster could be about his
life and impending death. I was able to tell him I will miss
him, I love him, I've learned from him, and I will always remember
him. I also told him how universally loved he is (not just for
drag racing/hot rod stuff). He told me how much he cares for
me and how proud he is of me. As he put it, he doesn't get
buttered up to too many people -- you have to EARN it --
and said I was one of them, which makes me immensely proud. After
our visit, I came to the conclusion that Pat Foster was a driver.
He didn't get driven. He, and he alone, had his own foot on the
throttle of his life and when he stepped off, he was through
the lights. He backdoored that bitch, too!
Since I learned of Patty's passing,
I've given him lots of thought. Been reading the eulogies here.
Laughed a lot, and with a heavy heart, cried some too. We worked
together at Ed Pink's in the early '70's, and again at Blue Max
in the early '80's. A lot has been said on this site that doesn't
need to be repeated here, so I won't. But, we enjoyed a brotherly
love of each other and respect of our chosen trade, albeit his
much broader than mine.
The last I saw of Pat was the
reunion in Columbus last year. When I approached him, that irrepressible
smile greeted me and a warmth (on that very hot day) came over
me that was very calming. The affect he always had on people.
We talked for a long time on numerous occassions that week-end.
Even though I hadn't spoke to him in about 5 years (it was whenever
he did the Junkyard Wars TV show) it was, as many others have
noted, as if it had been 5 days.
One story I'd like to tell was
when we were going to the Sundance Saloon (as Jeff Courtie mentioned,
Hi Jeff), myself, Foster and John Glaspey arrived early and went
across the street to the mexican restaurant to prepare for the
evenings drinking, and a very pretty young waitress there caught
Pat's eye. Her name, Leslie, and he couldn't stop thinking about
her the rest of the night. He would look me right in the eye
with that serious look, smile and say that he was going to go
back over there. The rest is, as they say, history.
When Pat and Leslie and the two
golden retrievers came to Dallas to work for Raymond Beadle,
Patty told me about his sports car days. One story was about
how he began to understand suspension on road course cars, by
watching his dogs handle the ride to work in the back of his
pickup. How they crouched under acceleration, braking and turning.
He was never a moment without thinking about racing.
Cole, I think you were too young
to remember me when your dad and I worked at Pink's, but a couple
more of his quotes were "She's bitchin'." (in reference
to a car), and, "Oh, ya!" whenever he agreed or fully
understood what you were saying.
To all the family, my sincerest
condolences and heart felt sympathy. The physical absence is
the hardest part, but I know he lives on within us all.
And Patty like I told you in
Columbus, "See 'ya soon brother."
HEY DRAG RACING KATS AND KITTENS!
I THOUGHT I'D DO A LITTLE TRIBUTE FOR PATTY.
I'VE ENCLOSED A DRAG TOON WITH PAT FOSTER IN THE BARRY
SETZER VEGA FUNNY CAR AND A COOL YOU TUBE LINK OF
PATTY IN THE VEGA.
TAKE CARE AND ENJOY!
PATTY....THIS ONE'S FOR YOU BUDDY.
YOUR CARTOON DRAG PAL...JEFF
I had never met Pat back in the
day, but I sure knew who he was and all about him. He seemed
to be larger than life and the kind of guy that all of us wannabe
drag racers wished we could be. Pat did it all, drove, built,
tested, toured, and talked the talk.
When I met Pat in 1999 he was
exactly as I had envisioned him when we were both much younger.
He treated me like I was another of his drag racing friends that
he had known for years. I was impressed with his wisdom and story
telling and was honored that he agreed to recreate the Beebe
& Mulligan car. We were both clear from the start that it
would be dead-on or not at all. From that experience I got to
know Pat as more than just a drag racer, craftsman, and legendary
shoe. He had a way of expressing himself that was articulate
yet direct and no bullshit. His knowledge of things beyond drag
racing really gave me some insight to what Pat was all about.
He was quick to give credit to others and appreciated all the
people along the way that had influenced him and his work.
I'll always remember Pat as a
father, husband, mentor, teacher, craftsmen, artist, innovator,
spokesman, storyteller, racer, legend, but most of all, a friend.
I was never fortunate enough
to meet Pat Foster, but I did begin my love affair with drag
racing in the mid-1970's, when "Patty" was still driving
those crazy beasts, nitro funny cars. I first watched them on
TV, then went to a local 1/8th mile track to see Snake and Segrini
match race under the lights - and that blew my doors off!
Soon after that I bought the Vallco Pro Drag Racing game - as
you know, this was back when kids used their imaginations rather
than playing electronic games - and ran "Fuel Coupe"
match races, national events, and any other kind of race I could
think of - all on a cardboard game board using little plastic
representations of cars. God, I loved doing that, and who do
you think was one of my favorite drivers? Well, "Patty"
Foster, of course! Although I can't recall anymore which car
he drove which year (I understand even he had a hard time remembering
them all), and I may even have been forced to make up my own
"Pat Foster" card for him, I know he raced often in
my game, as he was so cool. In fact, I think one of the things
that attracted my youthful mind was the sound of his name - PAT
FOSTER. It just flat sounded cool. No nickname (that I knew),
no "Jungle" or "Orange Baron" or "Snake"
or "Mongoose" - just Pat Foster. As far as I was concerned,
it was just a great name.
Now, having grown up, I realize that it was a great name - and
not just because it sounded cool to a young teenager in his impressionable
years. "Patty" Foster was a cool name because "Patty"
Foster was such a cool guy. I soon learned that he not only drove
the beasts, but he fabricated many (if not all) of the parts,
and he also did a lot of the mechanical work (again, if not all
of it). And he was obviously fearless - or at least he seemed
that way to me. So here was a guy who did it all, from building
the car to putting the tune-up in it to hauling that mother down
the track, tire smoke, shake, piston smoke, and even fire be
damned! What an unbelievable guy he must have been. If only I
had ever had the chance to meet him.
Still, although I never did meet him, I feel as if I know much
about the man, and much of what I have learned has come from
this awesome tribute (thanks!). I have known one or two folks
like "Patty" in my time, though not associated with
racing - just people who tell it like it is, no B.S., and if
you don't like it, too bad - and yet they still have that outstanding
sense of humor and love of life that "Patty" so obviously
had. I am thankful that I got to know about the man, even though
I never got to know the man. This tribute, as well as the things
I have read that he has written in the past, and other articles
and stories about him, have inspired me, and I thank "Patty"
To his family I send my condolences, remembering that he went
out on his own terms, which is more than many folks get the chance
to do. I know it is cliché by now, but I have to say it...
SIT LOW, PATTY, AND NEVER LIFT!
John Murnan II
Cole is one of my dearest friends,
and these past few months have been torture to know what my friend
has been going through. He loved his dad, idolized him &
with good reason.
I don't pay attention to much
in regards to the internet, but with Cole in town these last
few days, I noticed each night he would find comfort in the words
that have been posted here.
I thank you all as I think you
have been a better support to him than myself. I am clumsy in
handling Pat's death & don't know what Cole needs from me,
someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, or should I just be
a coward and avoid the subject. I stayed up most of the night
reading comments & learning more & more about how widely
Pat was appreciated.
Yesterday Cole found a picture
of Lil' John Buttera & his pops among others in a book I
have & showed the book to Willie G., who was at Lil' funeral
& it seems everyone has such comforting words to offer Cole,
& I stand dumb founded with out a single word of comfort
that isn't just the same stuff he must hear everyday.
As I scrolled down the photos
posted I found a few where Pat was wearing one of my silly shirts
that said 'we cost more and take longer'. I remember talking
to him on the phone & him saying "Hey kid I need more
of those shirts, I wear it all the time... I wish I would of
thought of that phrase!" I really thought he was patronizing
me, because how could this ruler give a shit about me. He wasn't
and I cried when a saw those pictures. I wish Cole hadn't been
a sleep and seen my tears as I really don't know what he needs.
Maybe had he seen those embarrassing drops fall from my eyes,
they would do more than the words I can't express.
All I know is, Cole is a champ,
just like his ol' man and has been a pillar of strength &
and a great example to me during this trial in his life.
I love Cole. I miss Pat. This internet tribute thing is a worth
while deal, and I think all of you are really neat for sharing
My best regards, Jeff Decker
Pat and I were married for over
10 years and had two boys, Cole and Danny. We were so young in
a day and age that kept us even younger. We had our children
right away and I was a stay at home mom. We never discussed Pats
racing, he just did it!
He always held a job and did racing on the side. He worked for
Dick Landy, when Dick had his dyno tune shop. Ed Pink, Frank
Huszar and the Spar brothers to name a few. When he had a car
project he could be found in the garages of Ronnie Scrima, John
Lombardo or Rocky Child's
The San Fernando drag strip was the first time I saw him drive,
and yes it was me who called the track and said it was an emergency
and to get him on the phone. After all I couldn't find the car
keys. How was I to know he was in the dragster ready to go down
The boys and I had a great summer in Chicago around 1970 when
he was driving for the "Greek" Chris Karamesines. I
had never been out of Van Nuys, Ca so this was a trip of a lifetime
for me. We drove our VW Bug with the two boys in the back and
I took everything I could fit in the car. We drove straight through
as Pat had a deadline, so we never got a motel, and just pulled
over when we were tired. It was the first time I knew about drafting
behind trucks. That trip and the summer at Barry Setzer's in
North Carolina had wonderful memories for us.
With Pats move to Idaho, we talked more than we ever had in a
long time. As my sons have said he had no regrets in his life
and he told me the same. Cole asked his dad and me to write something
for a book that will be published soon, and Pat sent me what
he wrote right away. Talk about a hard act to follow! It was
days; maybe weeks to come up with something that I knew would
pale in comparison to what he wrote. But when I finally finished
and sent it to him I got an e-mail back that said. "Carolynn,
if doing this piece for Cole seemed difficult and laborious then
stand proud, as it reads like a labor of love! " Well done,
Bravo!---Patrick....I was elated!!
Cole, Danny and all the Foster family have been role models to
me. They were by his side every step of the way through his final
journey. Kay, Pat's sister told me you just do it, it's like
you don't think about it, it just comes natural, and that's what
they did. They were just there! I said my last goodbyes on the
phone like so many of you. I told him we had great kids, and
he said "We did good!" He told me his granddaughter
was there. I had no idea Danny was bringing 9 year old Savannah,
but she insisted, so she came. Pat told me he didn't know exactly
the date or time he would go, but this is what he wanted to do.
I told him I loved him, and he said I love you too.
Patty Foster family.
My heartfelt thanks goes out
to a man who invented the words "detailed to perfection"!
I am truly sorry to hear about
your families loss with the recent passing of Mr. Pat Foster.
We tend to take things for granted
as we move through life and each year at the CHRR I listen to
the names called off in memoriam and say to myself how can this
God works in mysterious ways
and he only calls up the best! Pat is one of those people.
My father in law and I attend
this incredible race each year (CHRR) and we have more fun at
the hotel on Friday night just seeing what shows up for the 9:40
Of course on many occasions we
saw Pat explaining details in regards to one of his incredible
My father in law owns a beautiful
piece of So-Cal history and we had always hoped to approach Pat
with some questions regarding old photos,restoration parts etc.
Our car was raced in 1970 as "The Gas House Gang" by
Walt Rhodes and is a 183" wheelbase SPE car with the original
Tom Hanna full mag body on the car. The only changes were the
roll cage which is now being modified back to a single hoop design
like it originally appeared with.
I will cut this short and say
once again that our sport has lost a " real person"
with a super kean eye for doing things the right way. Pats creations
were truly "Beach Cars" and the restoration world is
now looking for someone to pick up the torch! It will be a long
Please let me know if any of
the T-shirts are still available and if not, are there plans
to print some more? I am sure they would be a sell-out at the
The "Gas House Gang Two"
I was friends with JT Foster
for almost half my life, we went to Elementary and Middle school
together, and I visited him on weekends up until the end of High
School. I remember meeting Pat for the first time and being somewhat
intimidated by how tough and serious he looked. In my Junior
year, he took time out of his day to help me create a mobile
for my Junior Art Magnet Project, showing me how to use a band-saw
and attach all the metal pieces. Leslie and Pat were like another
set of parents to me and helped my family through tough times
while I was growing up. I will always be in their debt and will
never forget the impact they have had on my life.
Pat, you will be sorely missed.
I finally got to meet THE Pat
Foster when the Beebe & Mulligan recreation first appeared
in the raw at Bakersfield. He treated me like he had known me
for years. 2006 rolls around and I decided to start building
my Cackle Car that I had been stashing money away for 10 years.
Deep down Pat respected craftmanship and he was amazed at some
of the dragster models I had built. Respect was mutual.
So we came to can agreement that
he would build the chassis for the Jim Brissette 1964 1/2 Woody
Fueler for me. The DEAL was that I had to do all the "LEG"
work and get all the era correct parts for the rest of the car
to complete it. The parts search was on and after a year and
a half I was ready, but Pat had to finish the Billy Lynch Dragster
first. My turn was coming up real quick along with 3 other dragsters
builds Pat was setting up.
Then Thanksgiving came around
and the news of his sickness. The dragster didn't matter. Pat
Foster life mattered. I had emailed Cole quite a few times hope
for the best, but it wasn't to be a full recovery. When I heard
Pat made his final round decision, I just stopped. The day came
when he met up again with Zook. I pondered what to do over the
next few weeks. Sell all the parts or go for it ? Go For It !
I give the project to a chassis
builder who wanted to build this car for me, but after two months
of waiting and watching other people's racecars getting worked
on, I brought all my parts home with all the tubing I had bought
and now WTF. One evening I was thinking about a conversation
Pat and I had and he told me "Even though you don't know
how to weld, you can do everything else to build this car".
On July 5th 2008, the spirit
of a teacher and mentor, Pat Foster was the driving force and
the starting of my replica of a Woody car. A 1 to 1 scale model
replica with real parts. Pat told me to use the KISS method and
along came a story from his book of tales in one of our many
past telephone calls.
It is almost midnight, 12-31-08
and the whole car is preassembled. I am still working on the
10,000 5 minute jobs that Pat said I would have to do till the
day it is finished and is fired up for the first time. I look
at the dragster I just built and I hear you Patty, "WTF
change it or Are you Shittin me ?!?! So get off my case Patty,
and I am making it right. I miss him, but he is rolling with
me. Thanks Pat.
I met Pat and Leslie in Monterey
California well before the birth of their son J.T. Pat wasn't
involved in racing at that time and was doing many of the assorted
projects Leslie referred to in her tribute but one thing he got
hooked on, and hooked good, was golf. Since Pat wasn't racing
he didn't talk about it much at all, in fact the only thing I
remember in the house that spoke of racing was one small photo
on a cabinet that had just the lighted drag strip time numbers,
Pat is a competitor and all competitors
and athletes seem to end up being drawn to the game of golf.
I think Pat has said that in all the motorsports, the most difficult
is drag racing, The same can be said of all sports with a ball,
golf is the most difficult. Pat was never one to walk away from
a challenge and the more difficult the game of golf got the more
it drew him in and challenged him. I've read the story how big
strong starters had to go up to him his car at line and gouge
his collar bone almost out of his body as his car is on fire
but Pat won't shut it down as he is willing to make the run if
the damn guy would light it up and let 'em go. Yep Pat was a
real competitor in all he did and never was a quitter.
Tom Norton and I got Pat together
for one of our numerous rounds of golf and with me in the fire
department and Tom in some other form of employment we would
never miss a chance to play when our schedules aligned and we
tried to align them as often as we could. We had a round set
at Old Del Monte Golf Course and as we put in the first tee to
start the round it started to rain, by the time we got to the
middle of the first hole it started to rain really hard. Patrick
looked to Tom and me and said hey what do you think guys it's
pretty bad. No problem Pat it'll pass let's keep going. Of course
Pat is in a cart with no roof and no windshield and we are walking
and staying under the cover of the many pines that lined the
course. Pat is taking the downpour straight down on him and then
sideways as drives the cart forwards. By the fourth or fifth
hole he is soaked to the bone and there is a very good flow of
water going straight down his lovely multi-colored beard.
The entire round he is saying
"you guys are crazy, what the hell are we doing out here
it's pouring!". ''No no Pat just a little bit of weather
it will clear up shortly''. Then all kinds of things started
to happen, golf clubs were so wet they flew out of our hands
and then I managed a couple of "circus" shots. I was
going after his, by now, very soggy goat when I started doing
Ted Baxter "Caddy Shack" imitations on the last few
holes. I had an old wooden shafted putter at the time and started
caressing it and whispering "Oh Billy Billy Billy"
and he would be standing in the rain getting soaked as I did
it wanting me to get on with it. I buried a ball in the face
of a bunker and was having all kinds of trouble trying to even
stand and make a stance to play the shot. He says there is no
way you can possibly get the ball out of the bunker, as the face
is almost at a 90 degree angle. 'I'll be you a buck I can",
"You're on!!!!". I turned sideways and knocked the
ball almost backwards but I got it out and Pat's dollar bill.
That was the only time he was dry as he was so burning mad steam
was coming off his head. Finally on the last hole he was on the
green and looking at a short birdie putt and I was off the green
embracing Billy pleading with it to be there to help me again.
The true sportsman that Pat was made him await my putt since
I was first to putt since I was furthest "away". Well
it's the last hole and we are all completely and totally soaked
to the bone and I drag out my entwined embrace with Billy Billy
Billy and sure as your born the massive putt kicks up a roostertail
and ends up finding the bottom of the cup and embraces aren't
enough for that putter as I am kissing it wantonly. Patrick's
head dropped when the ball went in and he turned and started
walking off to the clubhouse and didn't even think about putting
his ball. He quit!!
I eventually moved off to Mexico
and Kenya but was around and back and forth when he built the
Fitzgerald car out of plain air and dust and elbow grease and
a plethora of brain waves and was lucky enough to be in the pits
with him in Pomona.I got down to San Diego and made some Mexico
border runs to cook his beautiful young family a clam chowder
or two, J. T. any memory of that? We kept in touch off and on
and when Leslie, J.T. and he moved to Texas I talked to him on
the phone one day and of course had to ask him about his golf
game and if maybe he might want to use Billy or some such. He
chuckled as was his want and told me "Hey Tom I finally
got that game." He then told me how he had gotten lessons
from a pro and then had hired the pro as a caddy to help him
chose the club and shot needed during the round and he said he
shot a round of even par. He explained with that he really didn't
have much more desire to play much thereafter. The Master had
mastered another challenge in his life.
Pat may have walked off that
18th green one time, but Patrick Foster was never ever a quitter.
A true modern day hero in so so many ways. J.T., Cole and Dan
may your dad live in you long and strong and I'll leave you with
a poem from another great man, Ed McClanahan, may it guide you
With our mind's eye
We watch over our departed quest,
Anxious to see him home.
How brief the visit
How long the vigil.
Peace and Love
"This may seem trivial but
here I am a 3 something in the morning, and have been reading
the Tribute. I learned so many things reading this and found
that I had a few facts wrong as far as his driving and chassis
building careers. But also that he drove some cars that I loved
as a kid and never knew his name when drove them. Kind of like
what he was saying about who won the races and who lost the races.
I did know he drove for M/T and the Flyin' Hawaiian. But the
reason I decided to write this I didn't know until tonight that
he had passed. I only spoke with him 2 times on the phone in
the same day. And now I'm nobody but I thought it would be a
contrast to the notorious names who loved, respected, and admired
him. Point being I picked up a 112 inch wheel base Slingshot
back in 2000 and it was built in 1963 same as me. And I got it
from a man who had ran gassers in the 60s and got the Chassis
thinking he might put one of his 1st gen Hemis in it out of one
of his gassers and go top fuel. Well he never did it and the
chassis was never in completely assembled or raced. Fast forward
to a friend finds out about it and said he found me the car for
my 331 Hemi. So I go to see the thing and it's hanging on the
wall of an old carriage house and the front end is laying across
the bed of a Studebaker p.u. in the carriage house. There is
still brown paper wrapped around the spokes. It was definitely
set up to accommodate a 1st gen Hemi and I buy it. The man couldn't
remember what the builders name was that built it, But he knew
he passed decades before. Well I asked people from trying to
get info from Big if he knew anything after sending pics to him
in an email to which I got a rude reply like he couldn't be bothered
with such unimportant things. I have a source where I live that
is one of the brothers of Cannaday racing. And as it would happen
Jack the oldest went to school with my mom and I e know him my
whole life and he at one time favored drag racing over the midget
sprints everyone knows the brothers for. He saw it and said you
know that is Chromemoly which is not common on something built
in 63, this is all hand accetylene welded, there were no tig
welders then. I replied I had know idea. Well he said he knew
of some one that might be of help. Seeing how the car came from
out in Oz damn near to Witchita. I drove from KC to get it. So
he says call Pat Foster. I do and I asked him if he would be
able to maybe help me identify a chassis and that my friend thought
it could have been a sister car to a team that was never built.
Pat said if I can I will he was very accommodating answered several
not stupid but boring to him I'm sure questions as I'd never
even had anything remotely like this. He was great. I e-mailed
pics to him and called back about 30 minutes later and when he
answered and I told it was me . He said I know exactly who built
that chassis. I was floored. He said yep. A guy named Cecil Hicks
out of Pittsburgh Ks. I was like how could you know that he said
the hoop very signature of Cecil's work. Told me it was going
to be a great chassis as the man was ahead of his time but I
gathered he didn't make it to the 70s before the builder called
him home. And he asked what I was going to do with it. And if
I was going to run a hemi with a supercharger or Hilborns. Nitro
or alcohol. It was awesome. And said if he could help let him
know. And I truly believe he meant it. Well life happens, my
wife was diagnosed right after that with MS and things change.
I never contacted him again and unfortunately I ended up selling
the chassis and in a twist of fate it burnt to the ground in
a shop fire before it got implemented. I guess ws never meant
to be completed. But I just remembered when no one else could,
would, or wanted to help me at all. And he took time for me.
Thank you for letting me tell this story and sorry for the loss
and R.I.P. Pat you were a giant and Man among men. I truly wish
I'd have known him and saddened that I won't and even my view
of the world is seems a bit less bright now."
of Patty in the Setzer Vega at OCIR
have some thoughts or a story about "Patty Faster",
please send them and they will be added above. Foster
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