Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hot Rods Lead To Porsches

Pits at Bonneville. Photo NHRA Collection

So-Cal Coupe push start at Bonneville. Photo NHRA

Alex Xydias in coupe. Photo NHRA Collection

As the So-Cal Car sits today. Photo, Phil Toy

Some time ago I was chatting with George Taylor, our local Autocross Inspection Chair about a past club member, Russ Lanthorne. I met Russ about 1970 when he was a teacher at La Jolla High School. He had just purchased a white 1967 911S and also a Speedster that he was running at Holtville. Interestingly the 911S had previously been owned by Fred Davies, the owner of Davies Motors, a Rambler/AMC dealer in Pacific Beach. Fred had traded the "S" into Bob Brown Motors in Santee for a newer car. Russ loved that "S", but had racing in his blood...and here is how he got started.

Years before Russ and a friend, who's name was Jim Gray, chopped and channeled a '34 Ford coupe and ran it successfully at Bonneville. The So-Cal Speed Shop founder Alex Xydias saw the car, made a deal for it, modified it some more, and debuted it in 1953 as part of the So-Cal Speed Shop racing team. He immediately set records at Bonneville, where it topped 177 mph and also ran it at dragstrips, turning 121 mph in the quarter mile setting more records. Don Orosco now owns the car, restored it and showed it at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance where it won it's class. It is one of the most famous racing "Hot Rods" in the world and it all started with San Diego Region member Russ, and Jim Gray.

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