‘Dragstalgia’ sure to turn heads | TheUnion.com

‘Dragstalgia’ sure to turn heads

I couldn’t help but steal a word from the late Gray Baskerville to describe the awesome competition car featured today. “Dragstalgia” just sums this car up perfectly. When I first walked up and saw the bright red 1940 Ford coupe in Jim Hooper’s garage, I began thinking of the “gasser wars” of the ’60s. Images of the Stone, Woods and Cook Willys, K.S. Pitman, Big John Mazmanian, and Ohio George Montgomery flooded into my mind. While Hooper had designed and built this car for a more modern class of competition-super gas-I couldn’t help the nostalgic feelings that I got.

The coupe is a wonderful example of the kind of work that is done in the Grass Valley area. This car was designed and built completely by local craftsmen. Obviously, there’s no need to go out of town for custom fabrication of the highest caliber.

While the Ford body is original steel, there has been a generous use of fiberglass and aluminum wherever possible. The brilliant red paint was applied by Craig Wallace, and the upholstery was by the late Dale Woods. The tube chassis was constructed by Bill Fitting from Fitting Company in Nevada City. The assembly and detail work on the car was completed at Hooper’s Hot Rod Garage, with most of the work done by Jim’s father, Gary Hooper.

The Ford has so much attention to detail that a person would think it was a show car, not designed and intended for competition. It has, in fact, won more than its share of trophies in some prestigious automotive shows-the Sacramento Autorama and the Oakland Roadster Show, for example.

The award that Hooper is the most proud of, however, is the Best Engineered Award from the NHRA that he received at the World Finals in Pomona. That’s quite a feat when you consider there were over 800 professionally built cars entered.

The Ford is powered by a 477 cubic inch big block Chevrolet, backed by a Chevrolet power glide transmission and a Ford nine-inch rear end. The combination is strong enough to run in the mid-nines at over 150 miles an hour.

Hooper said, “I built this car in my head for years. But I do what I do best [Hooper owns Rare Earth Landscape Materials] and I let others do what they do best-I relied on the craftsmen of Grass Valley and, particularly, my dad to bring it to life.” Hooper has always liked cars and even as a child, he and his dad always built something unique and different from all the other children. He says his dad always taught him “have your own ideas and be different.” Even his bikes were different.

After seeing the rest of Hooper’s “stable,” I would say he’s still following his dad’s advice. There was a beautiful Harley chopper, a ’32 roadster, a Z06 Vette, and oh yeah, a super eliminator rail that runs in the sevens at over 180 miles an hour.


I’ve been back home for a week, but I leave Monday for Fontana for our first Nextel Cup Race. There is much anxiety about the new tire “lease” program NASCAR is initiating this year. But I believe it will go smoothly. If there’s any interesting gossip out of California Speedway, you’ll be the first to know.

I’ve not felt well since I got back from Vegas. I am designing a new apparatus that resembles a brown paper bag that I am going to put on my head on the airplane with a breathing filter tube out the side. I’m convinced that I get “diseased” whenever I get on an airplane. I may be applying for a patent soon, if there’s anyone that would be interesting in investing. If it works well on my trip to Fontana, I’ll try to have it available in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog.

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