By Stephen Justice

 

 

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 racing engine.

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.

 

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, "…..it doesn't cloud em, just hazes them."

 

 

Bob Bradley, unknown, Sid and Ronnie in the seat.


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.

 

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."

 

Left to right: Kelly; Ronnie Hampshire; Sid; and Bob Bradley--it's all good!

 

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 fuel pump.

 

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 Bradley

 

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 Hampshire.

 


 

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/ Dave Sambad

 

Waterman Racing Components

 

Orangeline

 

Members Site Map || Visitors Site Map

 

Site Copyright Ewald Enterprises, 1998-2010. All Rights Reserved.
Fuel Dragsters is a
Left Coast Graphics Web Property.