“Bill put a pair of stuffed pants with a pair of shoes in the men’s stall to look like someone was in there. When our vice president at the time, an ex-banker, went in to the men’s room the guy was still in the stall. He went in several times and the person was still in the stall. He kept going into the shop to see who was missing,” Kathy laughs.

From 1,500-Pound Race

Cars To 30-Ton Locomotives

“I went from AAR to O’Conner Engineering in Costa Mesa. We built two vintage full-sized steam locomotives (The Central Pacific Jupiter and the Union Pacific 119) in 1979 for the National Parks Service. We had about six people to start. It took three years to build the replicas, and then I went to the National Park in Promontory Summit, Utah, and stayed on as a locomotive engineer for five years.”

Promontory Summit is the site of the transcontinental railroad where the Union Pacific Railroad joined the Central Pacific in May 1869, completing the coast to coast connection.

Skip Marketti, curator of the Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar, California, told us, the reason Bill came to the Nethercutt Collection was his knowledge of the Lotus 19. Bill took the Lotus 19 apart and did the modifications necessary for the race season for Jack Nethercutt (who was a good enough road racer to have turned pro) in the late ’60s. Bill was chief mechanic for Jack Nethercutt and the restoration shop for years.

“Bill and I were touring the pits at the Monterey Historic Races a few years ago when we saw several cars with ‘Bill Fowler’ painted on the side of the cars as chief mechanic. One was a Lotus whose owner knew of Bill Fowler but had never met him. He was thrilled to meet the man he’d heard so much about.”

Full Circle

Bill Fowler is a full-fendered hot rodder who left his mark in the stressful world of Championship Auto Racing that earned him the respect of his peers plus the leading names in racing.

Bill’s retirement consists of enjoying every one of the 300,000 miles he’s put on his ’00 Ranger 4x4 pickup exploring the American Southwest, keeping his home machine shop humming with a few projects, like building miniature running engines that no one else has built, such as 1/8-scale replica of the Wright Brothers engine, besides restoring an old car or two. Speed Week is circled on his calendar and Indy too, what else do you need? Maybe hosing off the salt on the driveway still clinging to his 4X when Bill gets home!

Dan Gurney’s All American Racers