The Gualala Arts Center recently
hosted the 2nd Annual Sid Waterman Classic Auto and Art Show.
In addition to the work of local artists and artisans, the event
featured a special exhibit of paintings, photographs, memorabilia,
and high performance racing products honoring the awards and
achievements of one of racing's foremost innovators-Sid Waterman.
Gualala's famed Waterman Racing Components is an industry leader
in the manufacture of fuel pumps and fuel pump components for
drag racing, open wheel (IRL and USAC), and NASCAR race cars.
Before launching his hugely successful WRC, Sid Waterman was
a renowned engine builder. In 1967, Waterman Racing Engines was
launched, and it was not long before one of Sid's motors powered
a dragster into the winner's circle. At the 1968 Hot Rod Magazine
Meet at Riverside Raceway, Steve Carbone drove John Bateman's
Atlas Oil Tool Spl. to Top Eliminator honors powered by a Waterman
Sid's path to the winner's circle
started in Northern California in the late 1950s. The Mt. Vernon,
New York native and James Lick High School (San Jose) graduate
opened a small speed shop on Coleman Street in San Jose called
Speed Inc. Sid built an A/FD and with driver "Jet Car"
Bob Smith was a regular at Ron Lawrence's Fremont Drag Strip.
The speed shop allowed Sid to get parts for his dragster, which
in turn, generated extra sales for the shop. In addition to his
Speed Inc. top fuel dragster, Sid also crewed for Sid Masters
and Rick Richter on their powerful nitro rail.
Sid's Speed Inc. rail at Fremont; July 01, 1962
Bob Brown photo
As competitive as the drag racing
scene was in Northern California in the early 1960s, the place
to be at that time was Southern California. Sid, in retrospect,
sums up the drag racing scene at the time, "I wanted to
learn how to compete against the top cars, and the Southland
had six tracks in operation (Long Beach, San Gabriel, Pomona,
Riverside, Fontana, and San Fernando). There would be times when
30 or 40 cars would show up for a 16-car show. So, when C-T Automotive
offered me a position in 1961, I closed Speed Inc. and took my
tools to SoCal."
It was not long before Sid had
another top fuel dragster out on the strip. Because he preferred
to build and tune the cars, Ronnie Goodsell would be the driver
of the Waterman-Foley-Goodsell top fuel dragster known as the
Clearspark Spl. The Kent Fuller built 392 cid blown Chrysler
fuel dragster was an immediate success. On September 15, 1963
at Fremont, this Alhambra, California based team would wrest
away the prestigious #8 spot on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator
list from John Wenderski and Ron Winkle. An immediate challenge
for the position came from none other than Mickey Thompson. This
duel would turn out to have lasting, fortuitous ramifications
for Sid that went well beyond the drag strip. Sid recalls, "After
we beat Mickey Thompson on opening day at San Diego Raceway (Ramona),
he came up and offered me a job; he also bought the Clearspark
business from owner Bill Munson". Sid would work for Mickey
Thompson until 1967. It was in that year that Sid started Waterman
Racing Engines. A complete engine shop was sitting idle and Sid
jumped at the opportunity to purchase it. The client list for
WRE would go on to include many of drag racing's top stars like
Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, and Bob Glidden. In 1979, Sid
sold the engine building part of the business, moved back to
Northern California, and opened a new enterprise specializing
in fuel delivery systems. Waterman Racing Components has been
turning out state-of-the-art fuel pumps and components for over
30 years and continues to be an industry leader not only for
drag racers, but also for Indy, NASCAR, and USAC customers.
Ronnie Goodsell in
Sid's Clearspark Spl. vs. Tom Hanna at Ramona, 1963.
Bob Hardee photo
Sid's next endeavor after the
Clearspark Spl. would provide him lasting fame. The Waterman-Hampshire
top fuel dragster was built at Frank Huszar and Roy Steen's Race
Car Specialties shop in Tarzana. This low-slung slingshot was
a sensation the moment it hit the drag strip. On January 24,
1965, Ronnie "The Hangman" Hampshire set a new world
record of 7.51 backed up by a 7.62 at Fontana Raceway. To officially
set the Standard 1320 record, they would need to make two more
runs within 2% of the record time at another track. The team
went to Lions the following week and recorded a 7.57 right off
the trailer. They needed only a 7.66 to take the record away
from Mooneyham-Jackson-Faust. Unfortunately, on the back up run,
a header bolt came out down track that slowed the car just enough
to miss getting the record.
Though the original W/H car had
become "lost", in 2007 Sid and Ronnie Hampshire launched
a project to build a replica of the original Waterman-Hampshire
car. Ronnie commissioned Kent Fuller to replicate the RCS chassis
while Sid built the engine. It took three years to complete,
but the masterpiece was unveiled at the 50th edition of the NHRA
Winter Nationals at Pomona, California. The Waterman-Hampshire
top fuel dragster will be making several appearances at shows
and races later this year including the 19th annual California
Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway on October 15-17, 2010.
Ronnie Goodsell sits in the
cockpit of Sid Waterman's "ClearSpark" AA/FD in 1963.
Red "Animal" Lathrum on the left...and our boy Sid
on the right. No ID on guy in the middle.
Staged shot of the
original Waterman-Hampshire top fuel dragster in 1965.
Bob Bradley, unknown,
Sid and Ronnie in the seat.
The Waterman-Hampshire dragster
was of a design that Roy Steen and Frank Huszar called "The
Haze Series." It accelerated over the first 300 feet so
hard, Big Bob Haines was once heard to say, "
doesn't cloud em, just hazes them."
Ronnie up against
Mike Snilely at the Winternationals.
Tom Mitchell, Ron Martin,
Sid Waterman, Sam Nicolosi, Bob Bradley, And Ronnie "The
Hangman" Hampshire; Fontana Drag City, Jan. 24, 1965. They
had just set a new world record of 7.51 backed up with a 7.62.
The featured centerpiece of
this year's Sid Waterman Classic Auto and Art Show
was the recently completed replica of the record setting Waterman-Hampshire
top fuel dragster from the mid 1960s.
This is Kent Fuller's faithful
rendition of the original Frank Huszar Race Car Specialties design
Kelly Waterman, Sid's youngest
daughter, getting comfortable as Joe Douglass preps the engine
for the din that's about to begin.
Kelly has been the office
manager at Waterman Racing Components for 10 years. A huge NASCAR
and sports fan, she twice got the honors to cackle the W/H dragster
during the weekend's festivities.
Left to right: Kelly;
Ronnie Hampshire; Sid; and Bob Bradley--it's all good!
Kelly: "Growing up, we
(Chris and I) were always exposed to the love of racing by our
parents as well as the need for safety in the industry. Drag
Racing has always been part of our lives and that really is where
we spent a lot of our time growing up. We feel lucky and blessed
to be a part of such a special community."
This is the display inside
the Gualala Arts Center. In addition to photos, posters, and
other memorabilia showcasing Waterman's vast racing achievements,
the month long exhibit included many of the high performance
products manufactured at Waterman Racing Components. WRC has
satellite facilities at Indianapolis' Gasoline Alley and in Concord,
North Carolina. Every Indy 500 winner since 1994 has run a Waterman
Bob Bradley; Ronnie Hampshire;
Sid Waterman today-compare with the image below.
Chris Waterman Burton, Sid's
oldest daughter, switched seats with Kelly for the last fire
up of the day--nothing like lighting off a nitro motor to get
the attendees' attention.
Chris, Sid, and Bob
Chris worked at both Sears
Point Raceway (now Infineon) and The Texas Motorplex before finding
her calling in the wine industrry.
Darian (Kelly's daughter),
Chris, Bob Bradley, Joe Douglass (partially hidden), and Ronnie
The Car Show
1950 Ford Woody -
Pete and Flo Passof, Ukiah Ca.
1948 Chevy delivery
wagon - Alfred Lovi.
1933 Chevy 3W Coupe
- Jimmy and Patty Nye.
1937 Ford Pickup -
Bob and Marge Guintoli
1935 Hupmobile - Gary
and Nancy Pettigrew, Carmichael, Ca.
1938 Chevy Business
Coupe - Rosie and Jim Iverson.
1932 Ford Coupe -
Michael and Erica Umphenour
1955 Chevy Bel Air/
Waterman Racing Components
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