It's what hundreds try for and few achieve, reaching and exceeding that elusive number. Bu
After a number of attempts at the record, Summers spun again at the three-mile marker. The roadster flipped and slid on its back through the light at 224.85. The car was repaired and Summers "soft peddled" the roadster to a new record of 225.0785 mph.
Rear engine roadsters were banned by SCTA after the 1959 Speedweek when the most competent of drivers couldn't keep the cars pointed straight until suspension technology caught up with the speeds.
Made to Order
The diversity of land speed racing is totally unique in motorsports since there are no two race cars alike. Ninety-nine percent are handbuilt in home shops or garages around the country. "Store bought" spec racing this is not. That's why this form of racing (since day one) attracts hot rodders whose innovative creations know no bounds.
"I got a call from Bob Joehnck, who asked if I was going to Bonneville. He said,'Bring you
Burke was made to order for the job, not only because of his size-he was a quick study as well. He had the reputation of being strapped into unfamiliar race cars that ran the gamut, keeping them and him in one piece, while bringing home a record. That reputation had owners seeking him out.
It was only natural working at Weber Cams in high school and being an early SCTA competitor, for Burke to gravitate toward the speed equipment industry to make a living.
From 1954-63 he worked for U.S. Motors as a fleet service tech. From there, he was in the purchasing department at Grant Piston Ring Company. He made a major leap when he became the first paid employee for the fledging SEMA organization from 1966-70 as its executive secretary. Then in 1970, Burke went to work for Phil Weiand as his sales, advertising, and promotion manager. Three years later he went on to Ak Miller's Garage as his general manager.
Burke was recognized by SEMA in 2005 and inducted in the SEMA Hall of Fame, which is the highest honor the association can bestow on an individual.
Phil Weiand (who lost the use of his legs racing at Mines Field, now LAX, in 1934) inspect
Burke spun at 180 mph in 1990 and left behind the world of deafening headers and the smell of nitro for good. Splitting Whittier, Burke headed for the serenity of Santa Barbara as the proprietor of a 20x30-foot book and gift shop. Called EZ Duz It, his store was filled with the smell of free cookies, candies, and overstuffed chairs. Selling books was almost an afterthought.
He pulled the drag chute to a crawl, retiring in 1993 to the town of Joshua Tree. It's a community of artists, musicians, and retirees in the high desert, far from the madding crowds. "Burke volunteers driving a minister around town," Burke's retired school teacher wife, Jean, says, "who can no longer drive. And he keeps track of me," she laughs. Turnabout is fair play Jean, because keeping track of Burke during his racing and working years was damn near impossible.
Benham and Burke became a good fit together. Burke drove Ron's 2.0L VW-powered Tank. "The
Benham's slippery Karmann Ghia with the VW engine borrowed from the belly tank. "At 125-15
With Bonneville rained out, Burke coaxed the heavy Streamliner at El Mirage to 132 mph. Th
Yes, that's Burke's 5-foot, 5-inch frame stuffed in between 12 batteries weighing 1,200 po
The hanger in the background close to the salt flats is where the Enola Gay took off heade