The Army guy right next to the Navy guy said, the Army will take you.’ The Army guy gave me a dirty look and stamped a paper and told me to take it downstairs. I took it downstairs and asked, what do I do now? Go home, you’re 4-F (not suitable for the military).’ I went to a doctor and he told me there was no cure for asthma so he said I should move to some place where it didn’t bother me.

Tim escaped the damp climate of Portland, Oregon (average rainfall 42.3 inches per year), heading south: I always wanted to come to California and as soon as I got here in 1944, the asthma went away. I moved to Highland Park and later to Pasadena.

Tim’s first job when he got to California was working at a Burbank aircraft plant in the modification shop. But I wanted to start my own business down the road, so I started planning for it. A friend of mine traded me his stock engine for my race Flathead V-8 engine and $200. I went down and put that down on a Kwik Way Boring Bar. At that time I was boring engines nights and weekends for various shops and making payments on the machine.

Hot Head

I first met Don Blair at the dry lakes. He was working down in L.A., at the time, for a machine shop that did engine work and sold parts. Blair worked on the counter and said to me, come down and see if they’ll hire you.’ They did.

Blair and I used to drive to work together. He had the lousiest car radio I ever heard. I asked him, where did you get that thing? Blair said, What difference does it make? I got a good buy on it!’ (Blair was/is thrifty.)

I found out I was just a flunky tearing down engines and hot-tanking heads and blocks; I realized nothing was going on there. I told the owner I’d come in on weekends and work for nothing if he’d teach me to run the crank grinder. He wasn’t receptive to it so I got hot and told Blair I was going to look for another job. Blair said he knew somebody who might hire me.

Jack McGrath

It was Jack McGrath. He called his shop Quality Motor Rebuilders. Jack built half the engines used by the Gophers, Sidewinders, and the Outriders. He really taught me how to run the equipment, stroke cranks, cylinder block machining, and assembling engines.

When I was working for McGrath, I built my ’32 from scratch. I got a frame, frontend, and I found a straight roadster body at different wrecking yards. When I got that thing running with a bored and stroked engine, I don’t think I had over $500 in it.

Jack and I really hit it off. He taught me how to do machine work. After I built my ’32 Ford roadster, we’d go out street racing around 10 o’clock when most people were home from work and off the streets. We’d always go to a place where there was no intersection. You couldn’t do that stuff today too much traffic. Of course we also went together to El Mirage and ran.

People don’t realize it today, but McGrath and most of the guys started out racing regular roadsters and a lot got totaled. McGrath ran his ’32 roadster and I ran mine, but after three races at Carrell Speedway I realized I couldn’t race and work at the same time. If I crashed the roadster I’d have no way to get to work. As the competition got stiffer, McGrath and everyone else switched to the lighter T roadsters. McGrath was racing at Gilmore and Carrell Speedway, but there were tracks all over the place. That’s when he closed his shop.


I went over to Blair and asked if he needed anybody. He said, You!’ I went to work for Blair on Arroyo Parkway. I did all of his engines. There was only one other guy who worked there; he called himself Remarkable Art Herd. He worked on chassis and on Blair’s race car.