In the late 1950s and early
1960s, the Bay Area was teeming with machine and specialty speed
shops like Duane Snider's in San Mateo (chassis and flywheels),
Cash Automotive in San Francisco, Card Automotive Specialty (Gerry
Card) in San Pablo, and Al Gonzalez' buzzing little business
(Algon Fuel Injectors) in El Sobrante. But, none of them, neither
Champion Auto Parts nor Gotelli Speed Shop in South San Francisco,
compared with Vic Hubbard Speed and Marine located on Meekland
Avenue in Hayward. It was the "Sears and Roebuck" of
the Bay Area auto parts business; the region's oldest and biggest.
It was also home base for two of Northern California's drag racing
legends-Denny and Jerry Forsberg. They joined forces with mighty
VH Speed Shop to form one of the most successful drag racing
teams ever to hit a drag strip in Northern California. They long
held the Standard 1320 record for class B fuel altered roadster,
but would be forever best known for their feisty B/FD nicknamed
"The Mighty Mouse". On April 29, 1962, Denny drove
the Forsberg Bros.-Hubbard dragster, a 364 cid injected Chevy,
to a new Standard 1320 record of 8.40. They followed up this
achievement on July 29, 1962, by capturing the Drag News' Mr.
Eliminator #5 spot.
Vic Hubbard Speed and Marine
was owned by Jerry Light; Vic was Jerry's stepfather and owned
an automotive repair shop. Most people assumed the "Hubbard"
on Denny and Jerry's race cars belonged to Vic. Not so-that was
Al Hubbard who operated a machine shop next to the VH Speed Shop
and who had teamed up with the brothers starting in 1960. The
full sponsorship with Jerry Light and Vic Hubbard Speed and Marine
came to be in 1962.
"Go West Young Man"
- the migration east to west was a common occurrence in the 1940s.
Not only was the weather warmer and more benevolent, the opportunity
for work was ever expanding. The airplane and airframe industry
had already made its move to California by the time World War
II erupted; the same for shipyards and shipbuilding. The Forsberg
family was just another example of the multitudes that migrated
to the West seeking a better life.
Dennis (Denny), Vernon,
Dave, Florence, and Jerry The guys: Denny and Jerry
Denny: I was born in September 1939 and Jerry
on Christmas Day 1940 in Willimar, Minnesota. During the war,
Vernon, our dad, came to California to work in the shipyards
as a welder. Our mom Florence, Jerry, and I, soon followed and
we all settled in Oakland. We lived in Oakland until 1948 when
the family moved to the "country" and bought a house
in Hayward. There would be three more Forsberg boys: Dave (1948),
Danny (1956), and Jimmy (1959). Sadly, my brother Jerry passed
on May 4, 2008 after a lengthy illness.
The brothers took in their first
auto race in 1947 at the Oakland Stadium, a quarter mile, dirt
oval track located between Oakland and Hayward on what is now
Bayfair Mall in San Leandro. Oakland Speedway featured racing
by members of the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) in roadsters,
motorcycles, stock cars, and midgets; drag racing came a little
later for Dennis and Jerry.
Denny: I saw my first drag car in 1951-the
Zarth Bros. T roadster that was powered by a 6 cylinder Chevy
or GMC engine. Bob Zarth was one of the top counter men at Vic
Hubbard's in the 1950s and '60s; Dick Zarth would later drive
for Masters-Richter. My first drag racing experience did not
amount to much. The family was out on a Sunday drive when we
saw a sign for the San Jose Drag Strip ("Little Bonneville").
Jerry and I convinced our dad to check it out, but when he pulled
up to the gate and found out how much it cost, we were soon back
on the road.
It was 1956 when Denny
purchased his first car-a 1938 STD Chevy coupe that cost him
$175.00. It was an investment that would soon steer him onto
a drag strip.
Denny: The '38 Chevy was built two ways: The
Deluxe had a coil spring front end and was junk. The STD had
a solid front axle that one could have dropped to lower the front
end. I put in a dropped front axle, 15" wheels, and split
the exhaust manifold with cut-outs. Jerry and I joined the Little
Injuns Car Club. On Sundays, club members would take their cars
to San Jose to drag race. My dad was not very keen on the idea,
but he eventually relented, and I got my first taste of drag
racing. I ran 66 mph and was so happy nothing broke, I decided
never again to race my "daily driver". Jerry and I
hung out a lot at City Garage in Hayward, the shop where Hank
Vincent, an electrician by trade, kept his flathead rail. Jack
Hageman would later fabricate a full body for it, and with George
Santos' fuel Chevy engine, The Top Banana was born. It was Hank
who showed Jerry and me what drag racing was all about.
In 1957, the brothers got their
real introduction to drag racing. Denny and John Middleton had
been friends in a 3-hour diesel shop class at Hayward High School.
Back then, the shop supplied the electrical power for all the
classrooms, gyms, and even the football field for night games.
Denny: John had a flathead-powered street roadster
that he wanted to drag race. Jerry and I helped him get it race
ready and before long we were on the strip racing it at San Jose,
Lodi, and Cotati. In 1958, he replaced the flathead with a 265
cid Chevy and we raced it in B/SR at every track in Northern
California. We even went to the half mile drags at Minden and
Silver Springs, Nevada. About the same time, I purchased a '37
Chevy pickup with a V-8 motor. I outfitted it with a 3-2 Edelbrock
manifold and a Corvette distributor. Despite vowing never to
race my street car again, I weakened and took it up to Kingdon
Drag Strip. It ran a healthy 91 mph but spun a bearing so I did
get punished for going back on my word.
John Middleton's flathead-powered
street roadster: "Fearless" Dave Forsberg
behind the wheel, Jerry, Denny, and John (with the jacket).
Denny's '37 Chevy truck;
the one that was not supposed to go down a drag strip.
The Forsberg boys in
1960: Danny, Jerry, Dave, Jimmy, and Denny.
Denny and Jerry spent a good
amount of time hanging out at Vic Hubbard's Speed Shop and got
to know a lot of the members of the Hayward Head Hunters, including
the iconic Al Hubbard. Another Head Hunter was Tom Odgers who
built the slingshot coupe that Al made into the "Flying
Al Hubbard driving his 16' 6"
"Flying Bedstead" dragster; this is the rail Denny
and Jerry convinced Al to scrap (note: head above roll bar) when
he to put his motor into the roadster.
While John Middleton
was putting the Chevy engine in his class B street roadster,
the guys wanted something to race. So, Denny, Jerry, and John
took John's flathead engine and put it in a '34 coupe (The Project).
They took it up to Kingdon, won C/A with a time of 13.54 and
a speed of 95.75, and took the award for the best looking crew.
They never raced the coupe again because the partnership did
not work out.
Denny; John Middleton;
Dick Steven; and, Jerry at Kingdon with 'The Project' car.
'The Project' car belonged to
Dick Steven-that's Dick in the car. Behind the wheel in the push
car is John Middleton along with Denny and Jerry.
John's red B/SR sitting next
to Jerry in the Model A; the Model A, as purchased, had no engine.
John Middleton's B/GR with the
Chevy engine--a winner of many trophies, it ran a best of 12.19
@ 115.97 at Vaca Valley on May 10, 1959.
The flathead engine in the Model
A was owned by Rich Guasco. Rich had just put a V-8 Chevyin his
street roadster and told the brothers they could use the flathead.
Denny and Jerry racedit at Half Moon Bay, but soon realized they
were not going to win races with it. That was when Denny went
out and bought an Olds engine from a trucking company.
The Olds engine Denny purchased
for the Model A never got out of the garage. Bob Raymond, one
of the original Hayward Headhunters (and, Al Hubbard's brother-in-law),
had a competition coupe that he was not racing. Tom Odgers had
an engine but no race car. Bob loaned Tom the coupe to race,
but Odgers was too big for it. Eventually, Tom's motor would
end up in Denny and Jerry's Model A.
Denny: Tom had an unblown Olds 'fuel' motor
that he wanted to run in Bob Raymond's chopped and channeled
competition coupe. Tom was a big guy and did not fit in the coupe
because of the very low roof. He wanted to run blown gas, so
Jerry and I convinced him to build a gas roadster. We took the
Model A and boxed the frame, channeled the body, narrowed the
rear end, and drilled hundreds of lighting holes into it. We
wanted the blower chain drive machined, so we went over to Lenny
Low's machine shop to have it done. Lenny shared a building with
York Fork Lift Mfg., of which he was co-owner. Lenny suggested
a way of building it that required welding. I had just been laid
off from the shipyards and when Lenny saw the quality of my welds,
he hired me to work at York. This allowed Jerry and me to work
on the race car at York after work.
Bob Raymond's B/FC-not hard to
see why Odger's had such a difficult time driving this coupe.
Denny: The engine Tom built was a '56 Olds
bored .060 over with TRW pistons. The Harmon-Collins roller cam
was reground by Ed Winfield (Indy Novi engine fame), and the
crank assembly lighted by Chuck at Ashland Grinding and Balancing.
Tom did all the porting on the heads, equipped the Olds with
Algon injectors and a 6:71 supercharger that he ran 30% under.
We ran high gear only and Jerry and I switched off driving the
The A/R ready to roar in front
of the family home-Jerry in the seat and Denny in the pickup.
Denny: The Model A made its debut at Fremont
Drag Strip in July 1959. We set a new class speed record of 126
mph the first time out. The elapsed times were in the mid-12
second range, not very good for the speed. Ed Winfield knew better
and told us to go 1:1 on the blower. What a difference-on the
first pass with the new set up, I smoked the tires so hard it
got sideways and I had to lift. Then, I got back on it and blew
both head gaskets! Eventually, it ran a best of 10.86 and a speed
of 137 mph. In November 1959, Tom Odgers got drafted and I bought
his Olds engine.
Denny, Fremont trophy
girl, Tom Odgers (behind), and Jerry.
Jerry driving the A/GR at Fremont
Drag Strip after they had changed the blower to the 1:1 set up.
In November 1959, the guy who
had done the alignment on the Model A gave Denny a call. He was
getting a divorce and needed to sell a couple antique cars that
he owned. One was a '35 American Austin sports roadster; the
other an Austin coupe. Denny and Jerry bought both cars, later
selling the coupe for the price paid for both vehicles. They
also unloaded the Model A to a friend of Davey Uyehara.
First time out with the
Austin and the Olds engine.
Denny: Since Jerry and I were both employed
by York Fork Lift, we had free use of the shop and its materials.
Lenny, a big time midget racer in the 1940s and '50s had two
shop rules: if you need help, just ask; and, never, never, work
alone. His advice, along with the resources he made available,
allowed us to build a top-of-the-class roadster. The Austin had
a tube frame and front axle, machined front spindles, tube early
Ford driveshaft, and narrowed rear end; equipped with '59 Mercury
turnpike cruiser front brakes and used the aluminum steering
box out of the Austin. Originally, we ran it with the Olds out
of the Model A, but the performance was not very good. Al Hubbard
had put a blower on his "Flying Bedstead", but this
was way too much power for the chassis. Jerry and I talked with
Al about putting his engine into the Austin. Al's engine was
a 272 cid Chevy with a Winfield cam, TRW pistons, heat treated
rods, 6:71 blower, and Algon Injectors.
The driver's compartment of the
Austin: everything from the bell housing to the steering assembly
was hand fabricated by Jerry and Denny at York's after work.
Al Hubbard, Denny, and Bob Zarth
(of 'Purple Death' fuel additive fame); this picture shows the
roadster's dropped front axle and low height built for the gasoline
Olds engine.Denny and Jerry did not want a lot of weight transfer
(shown with Al's Chevy engine).
It was the association with Al
Hubbard that brought the Forsberg Brothers their success and
fame; first with the altered roadsters, and later with the unblown
fuel dragster. The first time out at Fremont, the Austin set
new track records for speed and e.t. at 10.51 and 151.50 mph.
Their notoriety became such that they even got the attention
of the legendary Al Caldwell. Caldwell wrote a column for Drag
News called Northern Briefs. He was one of the top drag racing
correspondents at the time and covered the NorCal scene for Doris
Herbert. Denny and Jerry bought all their parts from Vic Hubbard,
but happened to be at Champion Speed Shop in 'South City' one
day when Caldwell showed up. Jerry and Denny had gone to Champion
to get a parachute as VH did not have them yet. Al clicked off
a shot of the brothers in the company of Jim McLennan, Denny
Milani, and other Champion Speed Shop notables. Caldwell ran
the photo in Drag News much to the irritation of Jerry Light.
Denny: Jerry told us our association with Vic
Hubbard was too well known to be seen in that kind of picture.
We were young and dumb and did not realize the implication of
that kind of thing. Despite the blunder, Light said he would
partially sponsor our Forsberg Bros.-Hubbard fuel roadster if
we would, in turn, promote Vic Hubbard Speed Shop. Nevertheless,
it was Al Hubbard who owned the engine. He also built the short
blocks and heads and made all the tuning decisions on our race
The infamous photo that caused
so much hullabaloo-Fremont had a rule that any car running faster
than 150 mph had to be equipped with a parachute. VH did not
have them yet, so the boys drove over to CSS to purchase one.
Al Caldwell was also on the premises that day and snapped this
shot for Drag News.
Denny: In the beginning, we ran only 25% in
the tank, but still had main bolt and main cap breakage. Once
we got that resolved, we upped the percentage to 40% and that
got us down to 9.86 at 158 mph. On October 02, 1960, equipped
with Al Gonzalez' new check valve nozzles on the injectors, we
went to Bakersfield and set a new 1320 record for B/FAR. Jerry
broke the existing Bakersfield speed record set by Burkhardt-Brammer-Burns-Chrisman-Cannon
(163.33) with a run of 164.23 at 9.63 seconds. In order to get
the Standard 1320 record we had to tear it down. Jack or Lloyd
Chrisman checked the bore and was amazed the engine was that
small. Jerry backed up the record at Fremont and I rewrote the
elapsed time record with a 9.46 at Fremont on October 30th.
The Austin in B/FAR trim
with straight front axle and raised spring perches.
The Forsberg Bros.-Hubbard B/FAR
(lower left) showcased on the cover of Drag News.
The B/FAR record set by the Forsberg
Bros.-Hubbard would stand for nearly three years! When Drag News
revised its Standard 1320 class rules in August 1963, Denison-Arlasky-Knox
became the new B/FAR record holder. Under the new guidelines,
the Austin would have been classified as a C/FAR and their accomplishment
at Bakersfield in 1960 would have stood until September 1964.
However, the intervening years were not without their trying
moments. In December 1960, Jerry suffered terrible burns in an
engine explosion at Fremont while at the wheel of the Austin
Denny: December 18, 1960 would turn out to
be the worst day ever for us in drag racing. Jerry was on a run
with the roadster when the entire crankshaft assembly blew out
of the bottom of the block at half track and started a massive
fire. Then, events occurred that probably saved his life. The
flywheel had bound up in the bell housing, slowing the car as
it drifted into the tall grass along the side of the track. While
still moving, Jerry jumped out of the race car and started rolling
in the wet grass. He was rushed to Washington Township Hospital
in Fremont and was tended to by the highly regarded plastic surgeon
Dr. Jobe, who just happened to be onsite visiting another patient.
My brother would convalesce there for over a month. In retrospect,
Jerry was fortunate he was wearing a leather jacket, tall boots,
and a piece of leather sewn onto the goggles to cover his mouth.
In actuality, a lot of guys in those days simply raced in white
cotton pants and t-shirts. Jerry did not wear any gloves. Being
welders, we probably considered them too bulky. Plus, our big
worry was a blower explosion not a fire from below.
Ed. Note: this was the same kind
of engine failure and fire that got Rod Stuckey at Half Moon
Bay the following March.
The brothers had a verbal agreement
that if either of them got hurt driving, that would be the end
of it. Jerry wanted to race, but the driving chores were now
entirely in Denny's hands.
Denny: We got together with Al (Hubbard) and
decided no more blown fuel cars until something could be done
to support the main caps better. Al built a 283 cid Chevy .030
over and we ran B/GAR. The roadster won many Middle Eliminator
titles and set another 1320 record at Fremont in April 1961.
One day in June of that year, a Native American Indian from Klamath
Falls, Oregon, showed up at Vic Hubbard's. He had seen the Austin
in a car show and wanted to buy it. I told him it was not for
sale, but when he offered up $3K, I said,"sold". He
hitched it to the back of his new T-Bird and that was the last
I ever saw of it.
Tales from the Sorcerer's
Apprentice: It was a
late summer night's race at Kingdon in 1961. Jerry and I were
still building the dragster, so I decided to help John (Middleton)
with his C/FAR when partner Chet Norris could not make it. .It
was an unusually cool evening for Lodi, so we decided it would
be a good time to test out Bob Zarth's fuel additive he called
"Purple Death". John and I alternated driving, so the
one out of the seat was responsible for adjusting the throttle
response needle. I do not remember how much we added to the tank,
but the engine was sounding stouter with each run. After the
4th pass, we went to the timing tower to get our time slip. Bob
Cress (track manager) was waiting for us on the stairs and wanted
to know what we were adding to our fuel. "Forget it! You
guys are not getting a time slip because the fumes were so bad
no one could stay in the tower".
True Confessions: The principal ingredient was propylene
oxide, an "exciter" sold at Vic Hubbard's. It made
nitro ignite easier and was a 'cheater' additive for gasoline.
To it, we added ether to generate the smell (that's what cleared
out the tower) and acetone to get the two chemicals to mix. Finally,
we added a few drops of blue machinist's dye just to mess with
Middleton-Norris C/FR set both
ends of the Standard 1320 record at Vaca Valley in September
How in the world did Officer
Reiman run down a contrite Denny and Jerry with his police cruiser?
--must have had an Al Hubbard motor in it! In this photo taken
a year after Jerry's fire, Denny is wearing the leathers he designed
for driving-long pants; jacket with tall collar, long sleeves;
and, all triple lined.
With the Austin gone, Al Hubbard
could now focus his efforts on the race car he liked best-unblown
Chevy fuel dragster. Al assembled the engine as always, and Denny
and Jerry built every piece of the dragster except the bell housing.
Denny: Al built a 352 cid Chevy with 12:1 compression
and a Clay Smith cam. The first time out at Fremont we went 9.15
@ 160.14 on 85% nitromethane @ 50% advance on the mag. We switched
cams (Schneider), upped the fuel to 98%, and the advance to 65%.
The speed picked up but we still could not break into the 8s.
We were running Bruce Slicks because that was what VH sold, but
a friend suggested we try his M&Hs. When we picked them up,
Jerry and I could not believe how little they weighed. We decided
to go to San Gabriel (best 'bite' of any track in Calif.) to
test them out. Down there, we would not have to worry about any
of Vic Hubbard's customers seeing us on something other than
Bruce's. The car ran 8.88 and won Top Eliminator that day. We
purchased our own pair of M&Hs and dropped our e.t. to 8.70
at Fremont. Then, Al built a 364 cid engine with a Crower 100R
cam. We dropped our e.t. to 8.55 and racked up top eliminator
titles at Fremont, Vaca Valley, and Kingdon. On April 29, 1962,
we reset our 1320 Record with an 8.40 at Fremont, but our 173.41
would still be 10 mph slower than the Schrank Bros.
The first Forsberg Bros-Hubbard
fuel dragster in Al's garage: 102' WB; 1149 lbs.; American Race
wheels on the front and Halibrands on the back; '52 Olds rear
end with 3.63 gears; 352 cid Chevy with 3/8" stroker by
Ashland Grinding; Crankshaft Co. rods and Forged True pistons;
Crower-Schneider cam, Algon injection, and H&C magneto.
"On my very first trip to
Fremont in January 1962, the Forsberg Bros.& Hubbard went
up against the Schrank Bros. for Top Eliminator. I was standing
behind the turnaround area with my Brownie (I was 13) camera
and caught this image--Forsberg Bros.-Hubbard won TE that day"--Bob
With the Standard 1320 record
secured, Denny Jerry, and Al set out on a crusade to wrest away
some of those Drag News' Mr. Eliminator spots from the big, bad,
supercharged fuel dragsters.
Denny: We challenged Sbarbaro-Palamides for
the #8 position and beat them two straight at Fremont. In May
1962, we successfully defended our title against Starr-Simkins-Cox.,
and, in June, against Adams-McEwen. Subsequently, we challenged
Sammy Hale and the Champion Speed Shop Spl. for the #5 spot.
Although we took the position away from Jim and Sammy, the win
did come with little satisfaction as the Champion car experienced
a lot of problems that day. A much anticipated rematch never
occurred because I had to start my six month army reserve active
duty; I left for basic training the following Wednesday.
While Denny was in the army both
brothers decided to sell "The Mighty Mouse". They felt
the car had reached its potential and soon would not be competitive.
Furthermore, Denny was getting married to his fiancé,
Zeetrice Shamoon, and needed money to start his family.
Denny: Jerry took his share of the sale and
teamed up with Al, Tom Odgers, and Mel Holland and built the
Vic Hubbard Spl, we called the "Super Light". Mel did
all the welding and fabrication, Al built the engine, and Jerry
and Tom did the rest. I agreed to drive, but had no money in
the "Super Light." Al assembled a 364 cid Chevy engine
with prototype Harvey aluminum rods. The first two times out,
including the '63 March Meet, it blew up. We discovered that
the rods were expanding and cutting off the oil flow. We cut
grooves into the sides of the rods and that solved the problem.
Al re-assembled an engine from all the "used" parts
and we were back on the track. On March 24, 1963, we went to
Fresno for one of those big winter races. Right off the trailer
we ran 8.41 @174.41, followed by an 8.28 and an 8.23. On the
4th run we set the AHRA record at 8.17 @ 178.57, but lost to
Garlits in the final. In April we made the historic 8.15 run
and reclaimed our B/FD record from Bob Noice and Accessories
The Vic Hubbard Spl. at Lions
(the "Super Light"); it always ran short intake stacks
and long headers and this experiment just for Lions did not work
More Tales from the Sorcerer's
Apprentice: We had never
weighed the Super Light" and had a race scheduled for Half
Moon Bay that included such notables like Greer-Black-Prudhomme
and Tommy Ivo. Some organization had a 950 lb. minimum weight,
and because we were "Fremont" guys, knew we would be
weighed. Tom (Odgers) had been working on a 3 disc clutch, so
we decided the extra weight might come in handy. On the way to
the track, we stopped and put an extra clutch disc and floater
in the chute pack. Sure enough, they weighed us at the gate and
we passed at 9.51 lbs. Prudhomme beat us when we hit an oil patch
and went off the track.
A near miss at Fresno Raceway
in July would spell the end of Denny's time driving the Vic Hubbard
Denny: Because of the live axle rear end and
very light front end, this car wanted to wander. At Fresno, I
hit a frog at about half track which turned the car almost 90
degrees. I got the chute out but missed the fence by less than
ten feet.. Fresno was 100' wide and had this occurred at any
other track, I would have been in real trouble. I figured it
was time to quit driving this car, so I did. Jerry, Tom, and
Al continued to race the car with other drivers with moderate
success. They added a blower, but blew the crank out of it at
Fremont, damaging the frame beyond repair. That was the end of
the "Super Light".
After the demise of the "super
light", Denny drove for Bob Sbarbaro from September through
December 1963. Going against his vow that he would never drive
a blown "fueler" after Jerry's fire, Denny won 50%
of his races with Don Stortroen (Thrifty Auto fame) tuning.
Denny: A few weeks after this photo was taken,
a bent push rod held the intake valve open and the engine blew
up. I experienced my first and last fire, an experience that
only reinforced my determination to stay away from blown nitro
dragsters until they were safer to drive.
After the demise of the "Super
Light", Jerry, Tom, and Al commissioned Kent Fuller to build
a new Vic Hubbard Spl. Equipped with a full body and a blown
364 cid engine, the car was a dramatic departure from the previous
dragsters. It was so low that it could not be pushed through
the pits at Fremont without bottoming out and was never competitive.
Its appearance on the drag strip turned out to be a brief one--by
May 1964 it was gone.
Denny: Jerry never liked this car because it
was so difficult to work on. Coupled to that was the fact that
the Chevy engine gave away 30 cubic inches to the Chryslers and
the full body made it weigh too much.
The Vic Hubbard Spl., along with
Logghe-Steffey, and Accessories Ltd. were part of a small but
dedicated fraternity of drag racers that relished clashing with
the mighty supercharged hemi dragsters. Nevertheless, their time
in the sun was starting to wane. Builders of the supercharged
hemi top fuel dragster were starting to get a better handle on
all their horsepower. Tracks were being resurfaced with new compounds
and advances in friction technology practically eliminated the
once common site of a slingshot dragster buried in a swirling
cloud of smoke. The Forsberg Bros., Al Hubbard, and Tom Odgers
would make one more attempt to have the top fuel world rotate
off an unblown Chevy axis.
Denny: By the summer of 1964, Tom Odgers, Jerry,
and I were all working at Vic Hubbards. Jerry was still keen
on pursuing the unblown fuel Chevy dragster concept, so we took
one more stab at it. In December, Al built a 389 cid engine with
a ¾ stroker and put it in a Woody car. This race car was
no "super light" and it differed from how we had previously
set up our dragsters-Al's 352 and 364s always had short intake
stacks, long exhaust headers, and aluminum flywheels. We experimented
with a lot of different combinations to make it competitive,
including longer flared stacks, several different header designs,
and different gears. We even tried a 30 lb. flywheel and up to
15% PO with the nitro. We ran a low of 8.01 @ 187 mph and won
our fair share of top eliminators, but by October1966 we were
pretty much done with Chevys. We briefly experimented with a
SOHC Ford engine in the Woody car before getting out of the sport.
We all had jobs and families to support, and drag racing just
did not fit in as comfortably as before. Yet, from 1959 to 1967,
the team of Al Hubbard, Tom Odgers, and the Forsberg Brothers
were a formidable opponent that always produced winning and competitive
race cars. And, we always had fun doing it.
The Woody car at Fremont
with the long, flared intake stacks.
The Woody car with the
traditional Al Hubbard set up and with laid back headers.
A night race at Fresno-short
stacks and short headers.
The Woody car with the
426 cid Chrysler at Fremont-February 1967.
In 1967, Don Stortroen put a
426 cid Chrysler from Ron Williams' flat bottom boat into the
Woody car. Though raced briefly, it was a ride Denny particularly
A Stroll down Pit
A youthful Al Hubbard-August
Jerry Light used his Ford connection
to obtain a SOHC for drag racing. In stock
trim and on 85% nitro, it was as fast as the Chevy but not as
quick. This would
be the last dragster that Denny drove.
Al Hubbard's first dragster;
Al Hubbard at Half Moon
Bay circa 1958.
"The Flying Bedstead"
vs. Hank Vincent's "Top Banana" at Kingdon (1959).
Jerry Light: the man
behind Vic Hubbard's Speed & Marine.
Al Hubbard's 'twin' against Tony
Waters-Vaca Valley (1959); gotta love Al's idea of a safety suit!
Denny helped Rich Guasco build
a facsimile of the "Mighty Mouse" that Rich raced in
Don Stortroen and Thrifty Auto
Supply from Spokane, Washington was one of the baddest of the
Bad 'in the day' . At the '61 March Meet, they set top speed
and low e.t. at 8.28 @ 185.28. Don stayed at Markly's home (a
good VH customer) when he raced in California. In the spring
of 1962, Don moved to California and went to work at Vic Hubbard's.
Factual evidence that a driver
once got the jump on Denny off the line-Dave McKenzie did it
with the Burnett & McKenzie AA/GD at Fremont in 1962.
Denny: In defense of my tardiness above, this
was a fun race contested after eliminations were over. Dave had
won top gas and I top fuel, so we decided to pair off and run.
Since I had five tenths on him, there was no need to push the
envelope. As the caption said, I caught and passed Dave before
the finish line.
JERRY AND JUDIE &
DENNY AND ZEE
Denny at Bakersfield
The Forsberg-Hubbard guys (left
to right): Gary Light (Jerry's son), Dave Forsberg, Dan Forsberg,
Denny, Jim Forsberg, Jerry, and John Middleton-July 4, 2007.