If you find a black ’32 Ford...
If you find a black ’32 Ford roadster with a salvaged title and signs of bodywork at the rear, you now know its history. Tim was sorting through his photos when he discovered this itemized list of wrecking yard prices he paid when he was building his Deuce and it was 1945 all over again: “I forgot all about having it,” says Tim. “That body was in great shape.”
How does a hot rodder who’s enjoyed zipping through life for nine decades stay so young? Tim was quite an avid bicycle racer and unicycle rider and did so well into his eighties.
Blair would stand behind the counter selling new and used speed equipment by the hour. There was a lot of activity going on at Blair’s all the time. Guys would come to him with used speed parts because they knew he’d buy them. If I’d ask him where a particular part was, he’d say, It’s upstairs on the second shelf on the right.’ Don knew right where everything was.
The late Robert Petersen would come in all the time and talk to the guys about what was new in the way of hot rodding. He was trying to figure out what to put in Hot Rod magazine. He’d end up selling a few of his magazines to the guys in the shop. I worked for Blair for five years.
I decided to take a vacation and go back home and visit my folks. I drove my Deuce up to Canton. A bunch of guys wanted to street race me when they saw the California license plate. Then they told me about a race on a horse track in Yakima.
This rare photo of Bruce Blair...
This rare photo of Bruce Blair with his brother Don was taken by Tim at the first SCTA post-war meet Oct. 21, 1945 at El Mirage. Don ran a blazing 134.32 mph in his No. 29 roadster.
It was almost like a math equation: California license plate + hot rod = racer. That combo was a magnet for info-hungry Oregon hot rodders. Tim tracked down Travers because of his California plates on his ’29 roadster when he showed up in Canton. Now, Tim was the hot dog from hot rod country and everyone was all ears about the latest. It was one thing to read about the lakes and the roaring roadsters, but another to see a ’32 in the tin with a hint of Carrell Speedway clay and El Mirage dust still clinging to it. Naturally Tim and his Deuce roadster were real popular.
I kept making the payments on that boring bar all the time I was working for McGrath and until I quit working at Blair’s. Then I started my own shop in Pasadena.
Tim later became an innovator when it came to blueprinting engines in his new business: I went up to Foothill when Don moved there but I didn’t stay long. Don was very good to work for, but I just decided to start my own shop around 1953 and called it Tim’s Precision Engines, on Hudson Avenue in Pasadena.
Parts that Don didn’t machine or didn’t do he’d send to me. I moved only a half-mile down the street from Blair’s. Don would send me work because I had a balancer at the time; blue printing an engine was brand new then when I started.
Tim rented out half of his shop to Duffy Livingstone (Mr. Go Kart) and Roy Desbrow. Desbrow and I decided to go into business for ourselves. Livingstone begins. Tim had room in his shop, so we cut a deal with him and got half of the building. We called it Duff & Roy’s Mufflers. We didn’t stay too long; then we started to manufacture glasspack mufflers. We went to Monrovia and opened GP (glass packed) Mufflers. Vern Dad Taylor worked for Tim and was doing the porting and relieving.
Jack McGrath and Manuel Ayulo...
Jack McGrath and Manuel Ayulo were as close as brothers and rarely was one mentioned without the other. But before graduating to Indy, they built and raced their roaring roadsters at tracks like Bonelli Stadium, Gardena Bowl, Gilmore Stadium, and Carrell Speedway. This historic photograph, circa 1945-46 and taken at Ayulo’s garage in Burbank, shows them thrashing to make the next race. That’s Ayulo’s face obscured by the steering wheel working on his roadster; Tim bending down to assist. In front of the stripped roadster is McGrath at the valve-grinding machine. “It was easier to take the body off to remove the engine and trans since we only had a few bolts holding it on,” Tim recalls.
Livingstone purchased a warranty Chevy engine for $25 that was purposely rendered useless by the dealer by cranking the pistons down, breaking each of the skirts, hammering the front of the crank, and punching a hole in the side of the block.
After Duffy breezed through those irritants, Tim balanced and bored the motor from 265 to 283 ci, put bigger valves in some truck heads that Duffy scrounged, and produced a Ferrari killer on the road race circuits of Southern California in Livingstone’s ’24 T roadster.
Tim’s business was well known in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond for building quality engines for all forms of motorsports and of course for the street. Tim gravitated toward Chevy Corvette motors, which he knew well from a hands-on standpoint. Tim eventually moved his shop to Santa Ana and retired at the age of 81 after over 60 years in the field.
Tim, like all the hot rodders who grew up in hard times, never had his hand out except to shake yours. Tim worked nights, weekends, and during the day to achieve his goals.
Tim’s most cherished possession...
Tim’s most cherished possession is this ’46 CRA yearbook where promoter Bob Ware wrote: “This book is dedicated to the future greats in automobile racing of America.” Among the future greats listed: Manuel Ayulo, Jack McGrath, Jim Rathmann, and Troy Ruttman. Two years before Petersen’s mag debuted, the term “hot rod” was commonly coined used for cut-down Ford roadsters used for racing. Tim has cherished this yearbook since the day he got it. Rightfully so, since he is listed with some of the greatest names in American auto racing.
Tim rubbed shoulders, and...
Tim rubbed shoulders, and wheels, with some of the future stars in Champ Car racing back in 1946. His lap times at Carrell Speedway were more than respectable against his close friends Jack McGrath and Manuel Ayulo, and Jim Rathmann as well. Rathmann (his name was misspelled in the program) won the Indy 500 in 1960 and Troy Ruttman in 1952.
On more than one occasion,...
On more than one occasion, Tim commented that it had been 70 years or so since he took the photos in his scrapbook. “It’s hard to remember that far back,” says this exceptional 90-year-young hot rodder. Tim, you did just fine sharing your priceless photos along with your memories with us.