In about 1958 my father and I got interested in stock car racing after going to some races at Godfrey, Ill and St Charles, MO. At that time I was working with Bill Myers at a trucking company in Wood River, Ill. After some discussion Bill, myself and my dad bought a `32 ford coupe and put a `48 ford flathead in it. We named it the Three Bills and ran it at the local tracks around the St. Louis area. The usual circuit was St. Charles, MO on Friday night; Godfrey, IL on Saturday night, and Springfield, IL on Sunday night. When Tri City Speedway was built, we quit running Godfrey and moved to Tri City on Saturday nights. Joe Shaeen was the promoter at Tri-City and he was always good to the racers. Even if a person had a bad night Joe would always come up with some "gas money".
Anyway, we ran the car for about a year and then decided to build a Supermodified over the winter. We built a tube frame and put the flathead in it. It was a very crude car with a GMC truck steering set on an angle. One of the people we had driving for us at that time was Bill Putterbaugh who hadn't driven anything but midgets. Later in the year we got together with a local driver, Evertt Fatss Booten and he finished out the year for us.
The flathead didn't have the power to keep up with the Chevy V-8's so we went out and got a 283 ci Chevy with three Stromberg carburetors and a vertex magneto. This would become the car that we took to the first Knoxville Nationals with Al Kuennen (King) driving. We didn't even have a trailer so we pulled the rear axles to be able to tow it on the ground. We didn't have any luck in the races and got in a wreck during our first heat. While that ended the night for us, the real problem was that we had to fix the car before we could take it home.
I had been involved in an automobile accident in the late 50's and was told by my lawyer not to get in a race car because of neck injuries. So, I became the builder and chief mechanic. We didn't have a big budget so I reasoned one day that since we didn't have money for stroker kits to make big cubic inch engines, two engines would work just as well. Over the winter we stretched the car out and put the second engine in it.
When we were at the Nationals I had taken note of Roy Robbins performance. He had installed an inverted wing on his car, broke the track record, and walked away with all the races he ran. So I went to the local airport and got a piece of a wing off of an old wrecked airplane. I put homemade side panels on it and ran the whole year. The car ran at St Charles, MO; Godfrey, IL; Granite City, IL; and Springfield, IL; with several drivers though the years. Looking back on it that 2 engine car was quite an oddity, still it did pretty well on the short tracks in the area.
During 1961, we went to an IMCA race at Winchester, IN to see how the big boys run. We wound up talking to an owner named Charlie Altfater from Cleveland, OH. We agreed to buy a car that he had at the track that day. It was a USAC champ car, the former Peter Schmidt #44 out of St. Louis MO. Charlie had the car set up for a small block Chevy and was running IMCA with it. The car had been driven by Eddie Sachs when it ran USAC on the mile tracks they ran at that time. I still have the St. Christopher's medal that was in the car when we bought it.
The car had all the gear we needed to run USAC so we put it together and went racing. We used Walter (Curley) Boyd for our two outings for USAC. We went to Langhorne, PA for the 100 miler and went to the last 100 mile race at the Phoenix (AZ) Fairgrounds. We didn't run well at Langhorne and the clutch expired before the race at Phoenix.
We were contacted by AJ Sheppard in the winter of 1961 about his making a comeback after his bad crash at the fairgrounds at Indianapolis earlier in his career. We talked to the IMCA officials about this and they said if the medical people cleared him he could drive the 44 champ car at the races in Tampa in February of 1962. We took the car to the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa and when we got to the racetrack we found out that AJ had not been cleared to drive. We found a driver named Jay Woodside who didn't have a ride so we put him in our car. We didn't run too bad and making the field was our first really good racing experience.
After we got back from the IMCA races we bolted a cage on the car and ran the year as a Supermodified in the St. Louis area all the while making a few races around Indiana such as the Little 500 at Anderson, IN and races at Winchester.