If you’re a collector and find a Ferrari Mille Miglia with Stromberg 97s instead of Webers bolted to the V-12, don’t pull them off because here’s how that happened: “That’s how I got started with Frank Arciero. He had a little 1.9L Mille Miglia Ferrari. His mechanic didn’t know anything about the Weber carburetors, so he put Stromberg 97s on it. That’s when Arciero brought the Ferrari over to us to see if we could get it to run right.”

You can’t fault the mechanic for throwing the Italian jugs in the trash because the Ferrari won 9 out of 11 races with the 97s after Bill fine-tuned them.

“Arciero came to the United States when he was 18. Arciero and his two brothers started digging ditches that were footings for the slab concrete floors in homes. Eventually he was able to buy his own trenching machine and became a big general contractor.

“The more Arciero worked with us the more he wanted Eisert and I to go to the races with him. Eventually, Arciero made me an offer in 1958 to work for him full time.

“Eisert bought me out and when I left he hired Jerry Kugel. Kugel would hang out outside, so Eisert finally told him, ‘If you’re going to hang out here, grab a broom and do something”, and boy did he ever. You know the rest of the story—he later formed Kugel Komponents.

Vette A Hot Rod?

Visualize a two-seat fuelie with a small-block Chevy shoehorned in it, with four on the floor. Could be your roadster, right? This one went straight big-time-fast but could turn left and right and stopped pretty well (with cerametallic brakes). What you had back in 1957-58 was a few Corvettes that GM modified for road racing and used ones were fairly cheap. Hot rodders raced them on the local California road courses in the ’50s and some went on to bigger and better things.

“I raced a Vette that belonged to Willie Kristie that I got down to the lap record, which was two minutes flat on the road course at Willow Springs. The owner of another Corvette, Cal Bailey, was at Willow and asked me if I’d drive his car as he (Bailey) was looking for a driver. After I did, Bailey said, ‘I had a guy in that car last week and he was 3 seconds under the lap record.’ I said, you’d better hire him. That guy was Dan Gurney.” (Stranger than fiction: Bailey later tried to kidnap Firestone company president Leonard Firestone and was killed trying.)

Gurney was a Riverside, California, hot rodder with a ’37 Ford two-door headed to Bonneville in 1950. He drove his buddy Skip Hudson’s ’29 Ford roadster with its ’41 Ford 267-inch Flathead V-8 down the salt to 130.43 mph. Gurney later raced a Triumph TR2 at Torrey Pines (near San Diego) in 1955 and won his first race in 1956 at Montgomery Field in San Diego driving a Porsche Speedster.

“The driver who drove Arciero’s 1.9 Ferrari decided he didn’t want to drive Arciero’s newly acquired 4.9 Ferrari [from Tony Parravano], which was a lot faster, so we thought of Gurney.” (Parravano was a wealthy building contractor who had some of the finest drivers in amateur racing at the time, like Bob Drake, Richie Ginther, Phil Hill, and Carroll Shelby, drive for him.)

Great choice because Gurney started racking up wins in the Ferrari on the airport courses of Santa Barbara and Palm Springs, plus Pomona and at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu. Bill kept the Ferrari in top racing trim for the talented young driver.

Indy