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

 

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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 to pull the chute with dignity.

I will miss him dearly. Sit low my friend.
Don Ewald

 


 

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.

 

 

Over the last 44 years Pat Foster has 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".

 


 

Here 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.

 


 

In 1966 Foster got his first taste of a "door car" in Don Kirby's blown Vette.

 

 


 

"This is Dusty Rhodes' Fuller car, 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

 

"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.

 

Foster 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, that's it.

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.

Pat Foster

 

 

 

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.

 


 

Test Pilot

 

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."

Pat Foster

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 in Dallas.

 

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 'em?"

Foster

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 brakes Roland"!

 

 


 

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!"

Pat Foster

 

 

"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 familiar?"

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 talented!

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?"

Pat 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 Ron O'Donnell.

 

 

 


 

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 1977 rides.

 

 

 


 

 


 

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.

 

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.

 

Tom Ivo and the always animated Foster in 1998.

 


 


Pat Foster 1968

 

Up Close and Personal With Pat Foster
by Suzy Beebe - 2001

One 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.

Today, 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.

Kansas 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.

Some of "Uncle" Patty’s 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.

When 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.

Patty would walk two miles every evening to Ronnie Scrima’s garage "to just be near the cars." Ronnie nurtured Pat’s 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.

Patty went on to drive such note-worthy race cars as John Bateman’s "Atlas Oil Tool" AA/FD; Roland Leong’s "Hawaiian" Charger; two of Barry Setzer’s funny cars; Larry Huff’s "Soapy Sales;" Joe Pisano’s Firebird FC and Mickey Thompson’s Mach I AA/FC. Some curve for a kid from San Fernando Valley who just wanted to be close to "the cars."

Outside the world of drag racing Foster’s 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!"

Today 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."

As to Patty’s 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 Patty’s star remains shinning for years to come. Congratulations Patty on an outstanding career that has always been the personification of class and style.

 

2001 CHRR: Pat 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.

 

Tim 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 Rod Reunion.

 


 

Foster 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.

 

 


 

Bowling Green NHRR 2003

 


 

Foster unloads Don Trasin's "Jade Grenade" and Tom McEwen English Leather Corvette - two cars he restored - at the 2004 NHRR at Bowling Green.

 

 

This photo means so much to me <not being a photog> it was taken by me at the 2006 NHRR....
Please let it be my last tribute to Patty... Gary Cochran

 

 

The Mongoose car in its last stages.

 


 

In 2004 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.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Foster was the Grand Marshall of the Funny Car Reunion at Englishtown in 2004. Also in the shot are Bruce Larson and "Jungle Pam" Hardy.

 

Foster in the pits with Don Trasin's Jade Grenade. Dusty McWilliams, Mike Kuhl also in the shot.

 


 

Foster with another fallen hero, Steve Carbone in 2006.

 


 

During 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.

 

Here Pat goes over the car with Tony before he made a squirt in it. Rico Fodrey on left.

 

 

As beautiful 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 came first?

 

 


 

The 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.

 

 

Foster in the seat for the maiden fire-up at Pomona.

 

The 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.

 


 

Columbus NHRR 2007

 


 

Pomona 2007

 


 

The 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.

 

 

 

 


 

Patty 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.

If you 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 Tribute

 


 

From Cindy Gibbs on 03-22-08

To say 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 last days.

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 days.

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, huh?

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.

 

I'm 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 well.

PF Flyer... you ROCK!

Cindy Gibbs

 


 

Thank you for this page to remember our dad. I thought you all might like to see him as I do...pop, grandpa and friend.

He went 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.


Dan Foster

 


Me and pop at Cole's wedding in 2005.

 


Grandpa and new born Ellah.

 


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 Pat Foster.

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 chance.

"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 follow.

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 us."

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.

Cole Foster

a few Patty-isms- from Cole

"I was never the best ............ but not bad!" = driving career
"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

 


Cole & Pat in Yokohama, Japan

 


Pat holding court in Japan.

 


Japan trip....new friend.

 


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 latest restoration.

 


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

I 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 order.

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 over.

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!

Leslie Foster

 

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 and Cole shooting hoops at a Kansas Family Reunion. Probably the only picture ever taken of Pat in shorts. Pat’s 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 to Kansas…full circle.

 

Pat napping with JT. Great dad!

 


 

Drag car builder Foster dies

BY MIKE BERRY

The Wichita Eagle

 

We lost a great car guy this week.

Pat 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.

He had 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 weeks.

He had 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.

But then came more complications, and he finally made the decision he was not going to prolong the inevitable.

I had 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.

"Patty," 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.

I visited 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 were spot-on.

When 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.

I had 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.

So when 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 dialing.

It wasn't 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 now.

I held it together pretty well till we signed off. He was one of the most fascinating characters it's ever been my honor to know.

And 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!"

Sit low, Patty Foster, and don't lift.

 


 

REMEMBERING PAT FOSTER

Patty Foster was a man’s 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, don’t 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 Setzer’s 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.

Pat’s boys are terrific, but in all truth Patty himself was not lucky in matters of the heart. It was if the gods had said, “You’ll 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.”

Like 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.

When 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 stand.

Foster 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 else’s cookie-cutter designs.

In our 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.

At one 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.

Should I have skipped that little vignette? Are anyone’s sensibilities offended? Patty’s 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.

My fondest 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’ “Can’t 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.

Not 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 Foster’s 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.

As the 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. He’d’ve 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 “When’s-the-next-round” personality.

It doesn't 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.

Jon Asher

 


 

"No Sad Music for Me"

"Sooner 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."

 


 

Even 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.

Thanks for the memories P.F. Flyer.

Henry Walther

 

 


 

I'll 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.

The 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.

Patty, I will always miss seeing you and in our next life, I hope to see you again.

You 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

Lee...

 


 

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!
Butch Leal

 


 

PEACE BE WITH YOU

PATTY FOSTER

Sy

 


 

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.....

Tom Morris

 


 

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 Vosk

 


 

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.

Thanks Pat.
Scott Frymoyer

 


 

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 memories.....

Mike O

 


 

RIP Patty!

SUSHI & BLUES TRAVELERS!!

You won't be forgotten!!!

Alan R. Miller

 


 

My condolences to Pat's family, and the entire Drag Racing community.
Bob

 


 

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

Donovan

 


 

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 from that.

Cindy, you were right - your Racing Family is second to none!
I love you all.

Gordie Bonin

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' done!!
Patty

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.
Norb Locke

 


 

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!

RIP

Ted Pappacena

 


 

Hello Don,
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!
tom jobe...

 


 

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.

John Olcott

 


 

Damn, this is why I have dreaded coming home and opening my email. I just flat out sucks to loose another one.

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

Jesse Chavez

 


 

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 my life.

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.

Ron Colson

 


 

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 state.

Great guy, he will be sorely missed. RIP Patty.

Peter Broadribb

 


 

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...

Jim Burke

 


 

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.

Jim Mullis
Olive Branch, MS

 


 

Thanks Pat. We spoke at Geezers '07. My wife finally understands my mania with all things "Foster".

Arthur Cimilluca

 


 

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.

RIP, Hero.
Bill Pitts

 


 

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!

Mike Durante

 


 

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 that.

You did a great job at WDIFL and the rest of us will keep his memory alive.

James Ibusuki

 


 

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

 


 

D...
Foster was my hero...
I told him that he was today's John Wayne of the drag racing world...And I truly believe that...
Mr.C

 


 

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,
Brett Crowe

 


 

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 the Islands.)

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 you
The charming one who dwells in the shaded bowers
One fond embrace,
'Ere I depart
Until we meet again

Aloha 'Oe, Patty, Aloha 'Oe

Bruce Wheeler

 


 

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.

Fredb

 


 

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.

Dale Smith

 


 

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 that evening.

To explain; the architectural work referred to in the letter reveals a little known side of Pat’s 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…..

Tom Hanna

--------------------------------

Dear Pat,

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…..

Hanna

 


 

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!

Jimmy Holzman

 


 

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 to detail.

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.

CARL OLSON

 


 

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.

Peter Vincent

 


 

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.

Dale Pulde

 


 

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!!

Big Lar

 


 

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.

Bob Barber

 


 

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 the Jocker".

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.

Gene Krueger

 


 

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 immeasurable.

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 blindfold!"

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.
"NEVER LIFT!."

Mike Chase

 


 

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

Cindy Gibbs

 

 

 

 

 

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!

R.I.P. Pat

A humble funny car fan from the Newport Beach area,

Eric Widmer

 


 

The ol’man 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 farm kid!

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 Woody’s 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 ol’man 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"

Darrell Karst

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 filled helmet"!

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 !!!

Darrell

 


 

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… enjoy.

http://tinyurl.com/29udfa

Bill Pratt

 


 

As usual, your writeup is "spot on". Here's a few photos of Pat at the Big Go last Sept.
Foster Photos From 2007 Indy

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 Holiday
Inn. He treated me like we were long lost brothers. I didn't even want
to go to the race track. I just wanted to stay and listen to Pat's
stories. He could've written a book.

R.I.P. Pat.
Jim Fox

 


 

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.

 


 

Unbelievable … 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 … many 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 … I 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!

Susie Shumake-Anderson

 


 

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

 


 

I will never forget the first time I saw the Setzer Vega at Beeline Dragway in the early 70’s. 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…RIP gentlemen.

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 time friend.

Fans and Friends, Roger & Julie Lee

 


 

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.

Todd Berube

 


 

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 Osborne’s car, Surfers car, Pedregon’s car, Whale and Candies car & etc…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 filter…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). I’ll 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 off.

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 don’t 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. Pat’s 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…..
Mike Lee

 


 

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 evening.

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 very briefly…but he knew me.

Patty was one heck of a story teller, in addition to being a really great craftsman - I'll miss him.
They just don't make 'em like that any more. My 'Foster Slingshotz' T-shirt goes in the permanent keepsake pile...

Mark Johnson

 


 

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.

Tommy McNeely

 


 

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

Pat Knopp

 


 

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.

Frank Mancuso

 


 

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 spot-on!

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 final round.

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 that.

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."

Brendan Murry

 


 

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.
John Ewald


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 last time.

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!

Adam Sorokin

 


 

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."

Phil Ditmars

 


 

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.

Dave West

 

 


 

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" for that.

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 your feeling.

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 track?

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.

Carolynn Foster-Novak

 


 

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 be?

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 P.M. mini-cacklefest.

Of course on many occasions we saw Pat explaining details in regards to one of his incredible restorations.

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 hunt!

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 next CHRR!

Sincerely,
Chris Roberts
Joe Iverson
Mark Roberts
Ron Saylors

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.

Joshua Harper

 


 

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.

Roger "Riceman" Lee

 



Video Clip of Patty in the Setzer Vega at OCIR

 


 

If you have some thoughts or a story about "Patty Faster", please send them and they will be added above. Foster Tribute E-mail

 


Just some of Pat's incredible work:
Foster ProFab


 

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