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Austin Gassers - West Coast History

WEST COAST Austin Gassers:
Junior Thompson:
Go to Junior Thompson Gallery

Junior Thompson (57K)

Check out JR. THOMPSON at

Junior Thompson of La Mirada, California started building one of the first Austin Gassers in late 1964. While on a family excursion in San Diego, Junior discovered a cherry British Austin two door sedan. Junior removed the body from the frame and had Chuck Finder prepare a chassis. Chuck constructed a crossover leaf spring for the front suspension. A straight tube axle was hand-formed from steel tubing. Willys spindles were added and alterations allowed acceptance of a lightweight '63 Corvair steering link. Wanting the least weight possible for the front, Junior used lightweight American magnesium wheels and mounted small Pirelli tires.

The 2400-pound car was stopped by a 14' Simpson chute and Olds brakes in the rear, with Airheart discs up front. An open driveshaft coupled the C&O Hydro to the Olds third member. To keep the car super light Junior decided on a Chevrolet engine. A 1963 Chevrolet in its stock form was purchased and increased to 360 cubic inches by using a stroker crankshaft by Joe Reath. Injection heads and Mickey Thompson forged pistons with Perfect Circle rings were used with Mickey Thompson rods. Junior bought a Crower blower grind camshaft and altered the stock valve train with Crower pushrods and lifters for increased performance. The 6-71 GMC super-charger was sent to Don Hampton for racing modification. The installation of a four-port Hilbourn injector and Vertex magneto with his own headers completed the engine. A fiberglass front end by Anderson Industries was used. The car was painted by Don Kirby of Corvette Auto Parts with thirty coats of candy burgundy lacquer. Jim Kelly applied further detailing of gold leaf pin stripping and lettering.

POPULAR HOT RODDING magazine did a two part feature (February and March of 1966) that detailed the construction of Junior Thompson's Austin.

Junior Thompson (125K)

The Austin, also known as "THE BURGUNDY BANDIT", appeared at Lions Drag Strip in May of 1965. In early 1966 the Austin set the AHRA record at 9.52 seconds. The engine was changed to a 392" Chrysler provided by Jim and Don Cassedy. In July 1966 the Austin recorded a run of 155.85 MPH and 9.17 seconds at Fremont, California. The car was also run for a brief time under the Mazmanian banner while Big John was building his own Austin. The car was pieced out over time to build other race cars.

John Mazmanian:
Go to John Mazmanian Gallery

John Mazmanian (62K)
Photo by:

Jere Alhadeff
13622 Cypress St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Phone: 714-530-4849
FAX: 714-530-5247

John Mazmanian of Whittier, California and his nephew Richard Siroonian built a chopped-top, sloped-back, Chrysler powered Austin AA/GS in 1966. Because of its radical design the car was nicknamed "The Football". The chassis was done by Ron Scrima of Exhibition Engineering. The doors, front clip, and deck lid were fiberglass by Anderson Industries. The 427" Chrysler was built by Dave Zeuschel and the transmission was a B&M Tork-Flite. Because of its unusual design the NHRA would not allow the car in AA/GS. In 1967 the Austin ran 161.87 MPH and 8.68 seconds. It won many match races and AA/GS programs in California.

John Mazmanian (77K)

Photo by:

Jere Alhadeff
13622 Cypress St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Phone: 714-530-4849
FAX: 714-530-5247

K. S. Pittman bought "The Football" in 1968. Pittman match raced the Austin as "K. S. TIGER PITTMAN" and won BB/A at the NHRA Nationals in 1968 with an ET of 9.26 seconds. The car was campaigned in match races in 1968 and 1969 with a group of more than two dozen AA/GS cars running back East.

The "Football" is currently being restored by collector Tom Willford of Tacoma, Washington.

John Herrera:
Go to Herrera and Sons Gallery

Herrera & Sons (80K)

John Herrera of Montebello, California and his sons (Manuel, Richard and Phillip) built "HERRERA & SONS" based on an Austin two door sedan purchased from a Lancaster, California wrecking yard for $60 in 1966. N-N Suspension in La Puente built the chassis and suspension. For ultimate weight transfer and handling, a complete coil suspension was fabricated and adapted for use on the rear. The late-model Olds rear end was outfitted with Monroe shocks. Airheart rear brakes and a Simpson parachute handled stopping.

Jack Bayer built a 427" Chevy engine. Jack used a Crankshaft Company arm, steel Crankshaft Company rods, Forged-True pistons and Crankshaft rings. A special ground Sig Erson camshaft was selected in the flat tappet variety. Mondello was given the task of modifying the heads. Jack completed the valve train with the stock valves and pushrods, M/T rockers, and Sig Erson lifters. A Hampton reworked GMC 6-71 blower was positioned on a Cragar manifold, then topped with a bug catcher injection. A Cragar three-inch drive, utilizing 24 percent overdrive, was installed. Art Carr reworked the TorqueFlite transmission. Jardine Headers constructed a tuned exhaust system. The Herrera's next move was to finish the car off in show car style. All components were removed for chroming by Paramount Polishing. A complete fiberglass front end and doors were purchased from Anderson Industries. John and his sons then applied 32 gallons of their self-mixed candy apple red paint over metal-flake. The interior was finished in black rugging with black naugahyde seats. The final step was ornate gold lettering in gold leaf.

The car was trailered to Irwindale Raceway to check out. The car's first appearance was nothing but the fastest. Running in A/GS, the Austin clipped off a rapid 9.30 ET with a speed of 156.52 MPH.

Herrera Flip-top:
Go to Herrera and Sons Gallery

Herrera & Sons (98K)

In mid-1968 John Herrera replaced the all-steel Austin with a one-piece fiberglass flip-top 1940-lb. AA/GS Austin (body and chassis by Contemporary Fiberglass). The Jack Bayer built 464" Chrysler Hemi engine was mated to an 1800 rpm converter and Arcadia Transmission Torqueflite.

Carter executed the stunning orange and yellow paint pattern with Denny Jones' gold leaf lettering. The top chop was a legal four inches with no streamlining to meet NHRA rules. The interior was done in gold anodized aluminum by the Granger Brothers. The Austin was driven by Manuel and Richard in Southern California in late 1968 and 1969. Their 1968 season saw a best of 158 MPH and 8.87 seconds.

Herrera Cut-away (113K)

POPULAR HOT RODDING magazine (December of 1968) had an article on the Herrera and Sons' Austin which featured this unique silhouette drawing made exclusively for POP HOT by Tom West.

Go to Herrera and Sons Gallery

Tom Wilford (32K)

Tom Wilford found the old Herrera flip-top Austin in Portland, Oregon in 1988. It had been painted black and was racing eighth-mile drags.

Go to Herrera and Sons Gallery

Troke and O'Neill (35K)

Charlie O'Neill purchased the flip-top Austin from Tom Wilford in 1990. The Austin was painted red and ran under the name of "TROKE AND O'NEILL". Tom Thompson was the driver. The car was sold in the mid 90's to Keith Harvey of Southern California.

Gene Ciambella:
Go to Gene Ciambella Gallery

MGM C&O Austin Pickup (49K)

Photo by:

Jere Alhadeff
13622 Cypress St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Phone: 714-530-4849
FAX: 714-530-5247

Gene Ciambella built a rare Austin pickup, "MGM C&O AUTOMOTIVE", to run A/GS for the 1966 season. C&O stood for Ciambella and O'Brien. Pat O'Brien raced A/GS in 1960. The truck did not use any fiberglass components. It immediately became a top competitor with speeds over 150 MPH and elapsed times in the low nines. It took many western strip records and prestigious wins including lowest ET at a major meet in 1966 at the AHRA World Championships. The truck was a test bed for the C&O Racing Torqueflite transmission.

Go to Gene Ciambella Gallery


Photo supplied by:

Bob Plumer

Vern Hicks and Lou Galli bought Gene Ciambella's pickup in 1967. The Austin pickup inherited the "AGITATOR" name from their '40 Willys pickup. A Vern Hicks built 467" Chrysler powered the Austin. Gary Southern drove the Austin pickup to 151.59 mph and 9.16 seconds in 1968.

The truck had several owners down the line and was purchased in 1974 minus engine and transmission by Paul "Cap'n Crunch" Wiechmann of Redondo Beach, California. Paul installed a 327" Chevy engine with Powerglide transmission and went bracket racing. The truck was painted in orange enamel and was sponsored by Performance Center. It was later repainted pearl white with candy blue and yellow stripes to match the color combination of his sponsor, the Service Center.

Paul Weichmann (48K) Paul Weichmann (55K)

IRWINDALE RACEWAY (California) - 1974 and 1975

Photos by: Baltazar Mora (

The latest version of Paul Weichmann's Austin truck is based on a chassis built by Jerry McAlister at Ernie's Fabrication in Norwalk, California. The truck features a '57 Pontiac rear end with 4.56 gears, spool and Henry's axles. The powerplant is a '72 Chevy 350 which has been bored and outfitted with a Tom Franks stroker crank. The motor now has a displacement of 363 inches. The transmission is a 2-speed Powerglide. The truck has the original steel cab and doors. The paint is Candy Tangerine by Don Barton with graphics and lettering by Steve Feinburg.

Pete's Wicked Ale (42K)

The truck is currently sponsored by Pete's Wicked Ale of St. Paul, Minnesota. It is a regular at Palmdale twice a month and Bakersfield once a month, running in 9.50 seconds at over 140 MPH. It was the track champ of Firestone T & N at Bakersfield in 1993.

Ed Middlebrook:
Go to Ed Middlebrook Gallery

Ed Middlebrook (78K)

Ed Middlebrook built "THE MYTH", an all steel stock-trimmed BB/GS Austin two door sedan, in 1971. The engine was a 365" Chrysler with a B&M Clutch-Flite transmission. Jamie Sarte of Los Angeles built the chassis from 1-3/4 inch OD tubing. The rear end was an 8-3/4 inch 1973 Mopar unit housing 5.14 gears. Custom axles from Summers Brothers were employed. Jamie Sarte built the 32-inch traction bars. Koni shocks were used front and rear. Jones Auto Body in North Hollywood chopped the top four inches. The two-tone paint (Purple and Silver) was done by Bill Carter. "THE MYTH" weighted 2750 pounds. In 1972 it ran 145 MPH with an ET of 9.58 seconds. It was then run in CC/A to a best of 162 MPH with an ET of 8.57 seconds. Ed Middlebrook raced "THE MYTH" from 1972 to 1979.

Don McIntosh (92K)

The following information was supplied by Don McIntosh:
Don McIntosh and his son, Don McIntosh Jr. purchased THE MYTH from Ed Middlebrook in 1979. The car went to Denver, Colorado and was given the nickname "Little Red" by Bernie Partridge. The little car lived pretty large in the McIntosh stable: national event winner, division champ, many series and season championships. The most important would be winner of the first super gas world championship. In 1981 NHRA introduced the S/G class - I was points champ at the end of the year, but they did not crown a champ as they said it was an experimental class. The car ran thirteen races that year, winning eleven - of the two it didn't win, one was a runner-up and the other was a disqualification after a component failure.
The Austin appeared in National Dragster almost weekly, magazine features, cover car, newspaper articles, best appearing car award (best appearing crew - "not because of me"), TV cameo's, even the NHRA official program.
Some details on the car:
Engine: 530ci chev prepared by Don McIntosh - Senior Crew Chief; gas - single 850 holley; TCI power glide (part of the trick deal) - they sponsored the car with wonderful components; 4:11 gear; lamb transbrake (Rodger's brake was the best), it released in nano time? - "way over my head it just worked."
The car was notorious for quick launches and super fast 60 ft time (1.18 best). The car had no electronic onboard (hadn't thought of it) but the car didn't really need them, the car ran consistent 4.0s and 4.teens on the tree and would run the number on the big end within two or three hundredths. The car was so easy to drive and fun. I feel we were on par with the current tech of current super classes, even back in the early 80's. The car launched hard then we took the power away with the rear end gear, which made the car go out the back door at almost 150 mph. Racing the little car was fun. The crowd always loved seeing the old gasser whack a state of the art pro stock type car!!
We owned the car from '79 to '83. We sold the car to Clint Logan and his wife Cheryl - they also had great success with the car. As a driver, you have to figure out how to not lose the race! The car is a winner. If you call it The Myth, Little Red, or whatever - it's a handful for the competition and I am proud to be a part of it's history."

Clint Logan (53K)

Clint Logan and his wife Cheryll purchased "THE MYTH" in October of 1983. Six months later it was racing with a 540" big block Chevy engine with 15 to 1 compression on methanol. The paint was House of Kolor's Candy Tangerine over silver, expertly applied by Tim O'Brien of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The car ran in Super Pro class and ran 9.30 ETs at 148 MPH at 6200 feet altitude.

Tim Seeger of Longmount, Colorado purchased "THE MYTH" from Clint Logan in 1996. The car is currently being raced in Colorado.

Dan Broguiere:
Go to Dan Broguiere Gallery

Dan Broguiere (76K)

Dan Broguiere raced a big-block Chevy-powered Austin two door sedan, "THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM". The Austin ran at Irwindale Raceway. The Austin was rolled at Bakersfield in 1977.

Perry Lorenzetti (28K)

"THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM" was rebuilt and is currently owned by Groucho's Performance of Sun Valley, California.

Larry Meyer and Ed Cluff:

Larry Meyer and Ed Cluff (111K)

Larry Meyer and Ed Cluff from Phoenix, Arizona ran a very neat blue A/GS Austin pickup. They raced it in 1968 at local AHRA events and many Southern California A/GS programs. The truck weighted 1950 pounds benefited by fiberglass doors and a one-piece fiberglass front end by A-1 Fiberglass (Anderson Industries). The blown Chrysler powered the pickup to a top speed of 162 MPH with an ET of 8.90 seconds.

Bob Silva and Ron Nunes:
Go to Bob Silva and Ron Nunes Gallery

Bob Silva and Ron (122K)

Bob Silva and his cousin Ron Nunes from the San Francisco Bay area of California teamed to build and race A/GS with a 1948 Austin two door sedan. The Chrysler powered Austin weighted in at 2285 pounds.

Lindner Brothers (38K)

The Silva and Nunes Austin is now owned and raced by the Lindner Brothers (Frank and Tony) of central California.

Mike Steinberg:
Go to Mike Steinberg Gallery

Mike Steinberg (86K)

Mike Steinberg (Northern California) built an Austin two door sedan in 1968 to run AA/GS. It did not run until 1974. The chassis was built by Tom Chambliss and had a one piece body by Contemporary Fiberglass. It weighted 1950 pounds with a 426" Chrysler late Hemi engine. The yellow Austin ran 164.36 MPH with an ET of 8.72 seconds. By 1975 the AA/GS class of 5.0 lbs/ had been eliminated, so the Austin ran in BB/A.

James Kaylor:

James Kaylor (85K)

Starting with a 1948 Austin A40 which he purchased for $25, Jim Kaylor of San Diego, California, to the tune of two years and $3,500, produced both a handsome machine and one which had excellent potential in the highly competitve B/Gas class.

To rework the '63 Chevy 327-cubic-inch power-plant, Kaylor enlisted the aid of Jess Van Deventer, the 1962 Worlds Point Champion of drag racing. The bore and stroke were retained at stock dimensions but other modifications were extensive. Larger exhaust and intake valves were added to the ported and polished heads. The valve train starts with a Crower 100R roller cam kit to work the Corvette pushrods and stock rockers. Mickey Thompson pistons are fitted with Perfect Circle rings and ride on stock rods which have been shot peened for added toughness. The compression ratio is 13:1. Spark is furnished by a Mallory Mini-Mag. A Hilbourn fuel injection system furnishes the gas and air mixture. Individual headers terminate in collectors just aft of the front wheels. A B&M conversion of a '56 Olds Hydramatic transmits the engine torque to the rear.

The front suspension utilizes a transverse spring on a Culbert tubular axle. Shocks at the front are a Chassis Research friction type. The steering gear is '39 Willys equipped with a Bell wheel and is linked to '40 Ford spindles. At the rear, parallel semi-elliptic springs suspend a floating rear axle housing which is snubbed by adjustable Gabriel shocks. The front brakes are '42 Lincoln and the rears are '51 Mercury. American wheels at the four corners carry Firestone Super Sports in front and M&H slicks at the rear. The bodywork and paint preparation was done by the owner. A large diameter pipe weighing 45 pounds was substituted for the stock bumper to add weight to the rear end. A 135-pound truck battery in the trunk also adds to rear end balast. The paint is a blue laquer applied by "Jake" in Claremont, California and the interior is tastefully trimmed in black naugahyde.

James Kaylor's B/G Austin was featured in the October 1964 issue of CAR CRAFT magazine.

Conroy Bros:
Go to Conroy Bros Gallery

Conroy Bros (85K)

Photo by:

Jere Alhadeff
13622 Cypress St.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Phone: 714-530-4849
FAX: 714-530-5247

The Conroy Brothers (Doc and Russ) were regulars at Irwindale Raceway in Southern California in the '60s and early '70s.

The Austin pickup was lettered with "Doc & Russ" over the driver's door, Jim Clarks Engine Dynamics and Arcadia Trans on the bed, Dodge on the hood, and "The EXECUTIONER" on the nose with a painting of a masked man with an ax in his hand.

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