The late Gordy
Bonin in the flo-rite Trans Am at Edmonton in 1979. At the time
flo-rite was one of the few non-racing automotive sponsors.
Who'd have guessed that in just
a couple of decades later this would be the winningest funny
car driver ever and the Force family would be drag racing royalty.
They are all the real deal who went from sleeping in a station
wagon to a million dollar motor home. Its hard to imagine where
drag racing may have gone with John, then the kids.
The late Pat Foster in
the Don Kirby/Beach City Chevrolet topless Vette at Lions
The Beach City
Vette Saga by Pat Foster
"Here's how I remember the
whole Beach City deal that has gotten told so many different
ways over the years.
When Scrima and I had Exhibition
Engineering in the mid to late sixties, Don Kirby and I became
good friends because he painted some of our clients stuff. Don
had the Corvette Auto Parts coupe that I think his brother Bud
drove some. Don contracted John Garrison to build a stroked 427
BB Chev. engine for that car. The car was horrid, short, high,
rectangular tube frame, straight front axle, much like the 'Gassers'
of the day. I loved Garrison and agreed to drive it when they
got the new engine in it. It was a genuine 'Kill yer' self kit'
as Olin would say! I made about five attempts to get her down
through there with very scary results. I told Kirby, no more,
I told him to let me build him
a new car and we'd race together. I then built The Roadster at
E.E. and it started life with Nickey Chevrolet livery, as they
promised Don financial help, which never happened so he approached
Beach City Chevrolet and they did provide the help he needed
to complete the new car and hire John and I to run it. The new
roadster hauled ass from the git-go and ran over 200mph the first
weekend. It was VERY light, slippery and beautiful to look at
and handled like a dream.
At about this same time Scrima
and I parted company and I was working for Woody in Downey. He
and I started thinking and planning the ill-fated back motored
dragster. My weekend ride was the Beach City Corvette when Woody,
Leland and I started testing the dragster. We ran at Irwindale,
OCIR, perhaps Irwindale again and thought it was ready to run
'In anger' so went to 'The Beach' and crashed - BAD. 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.
Besides Foster and Ronnie Goodsell,
the Beach City Vette was also piloted by the late great Gary
Gabelich seen here at Irwindale.
The late Gary Burgin
out on Tom Hoover at Fremont in 1976.
The late Frank Hall in
Jim Green's Green Elephant at the 1975 Fallnationals at SIR.
Roger Guzman heating the tires
of the Guzman & Kershal 427 powered Super Rat during the
1973 World Finals at Ontario.