Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Speed Shops / Karl and Veda Orr's

This little jewel of a "Speed Shop" looks kinda' lonely sitting there. Well why wouldn't it, it's one of the first Speed Shops that came along to help ignite the world of hot rodding. This is Karl and Veda Orr's shop that opened up in 1940 in Los Angeles after George Wight's Bells Auto Parts in 1923, Lee Chapel's shop in 1929 and Jim White's in 1932 years before the postwar hot rod boom. Orr's shop quickly became a hangout for local hot rodders as it was considered one of the best.

Karl ran his shop as a mechanic, parts supplier and early member of the SCTA(Southern California Timing Association). Both Karl and Veda were racers, however before WWII women were not allowed to belong to the SCTA. This did not stop Veda, as men went off to war and with her interest in racing on dry lakes, she introduced her own "California Timing" news publication pictorial featuring popular race cars of the period that she produced at the shop. When SCTA's activities were put on hold during the war, she extended her "CT" news to a special-interest mailer sent to hot rod interested military servicemen gratis, at least to ones she could locate. It was a little touch of home.

"She was the glue that held hot rodding together during the war years." - Tom Medley

Veda was granted membership to SCTA after the war and the speed shop continued at the original location in Culver City until it closed sometime in the 50's. The shop was reopened in the 60's on Sierra Highway in Mint Canyon, California.

The Deuce sitting outside the Culver City Speed Shop. Notice the track car inside the shop on the left.

Karl and Veda Orr with their "Speed Shop" parts truck. The letters at the bottom of the door represent different racing associations, such as Western Racing Association.

Inside the "Speed Shop" working on a trick set-up for their track car.

The 1932 Roadster with Karl's track car in tow outside their home in Culver City. Karl won the SCTA Championship in 1942 and held it through 1946 with the track car. It ran a 126.65 mph in 1946 with a Merc engine. Karl also was a big oval track fan as well as the dry lakes.

Karl came to California in the 1920's and raced in the land speed time trails as early as 1929 at the dry lake called Muroc. Racing a 4-cylinder modified he recorded a speed of 125 mph, which was supposedly the first to attain that speed on the Southern California dry lakes. He later recorded times of 120 mph in his '32 Roadster.
Veda in the Roadster at one of the dry lakes.
Veda fell in love with the whole aspect of land speed racing. She started racing with the Russetta Timing Association and after the war, the SCTA passed a special resolution giving her the full rights of membership and the ability to race at their meets. She set a record of 104 mph in a full fendered roadster class. Then in 1937 at Muroc she improved on that record by going 114 mph. In a borrowed modified car she turned a 131 mph at a SCTA meet. 

The Roadster was repainted black and white, their favorite colors.
Veda in line with the black and white deuce getting ready for a record run. She was considered the fastest woman running.

Here's an image on Veda running the Roadster in the "C" category in 1947 setting a speed of 121 mph. Those were exceptionally fast times in those day with that type of car.

You can find more info on the Orr's here.

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  1. I'm sitting here with Veda's younger brother, John Robert (Bobby) Ludwig. He has enjoyed reading articles and looking at old pictures tonight with me. They brought back many fond memories.

  2. I only began to appreciate the California Speed scene in the last year or so after stumbling across some photo's of Roy Richter's Allard and more recently Leonard Williams '32 Ford Boeing (yes Boeing as in jets) Highboy Roadster, enjoying finding out more from your blog :-)

  3. Thanks Art...take a look around and please share with a friend.