ANATOMY OF AN
A few weeks back we posted a TEAROFF
“An Ode to Senior Supers”. It seemed to rouse the troops.
One person who had a whole lot to say is Lee Allard of Satellite
Beach, Florida. Lee was one on-the-gas cutdown shoe in the early
sixties, and he’s the one starring in the spectacular end-for-end
crash pictured in that piece. He returned over time, won frequently,
and was successful as a NASCAR team owner and business man.
Lee’s memory of the event on Labor Day 1964 at Hudson (N.H.)
Speedway is crystal clear. He described in precise detail the
construction of that senior supermodified and what transpired on
that fateful afternoon 46 winters past.
Think about what
Lee’s rendition below says about safety. Back then, it just wasn’t
well-defined or a primary concern. There were few rules and little
protective equipment, but all said and done, drivers accepted
responsibility for their own well-being.
and I built that Twister car for the 1964 season for the URDC
circuit. We modeled it after a CAE design. It had frame rails like a
Model A, a small block Chevy, three deuces, Frankland rear, suicide
front, semi-ellipticals on the back. Everything except that
three-speed Ford transmission was brand new. $3150 complete.
I was a weight freak. I’d drill everything to lighten it and I
measured the grams. Frank wanted to use .120 tubing while I wanted
.060. We compromised on .080. Obviously, that wasn’t too smart.
One thing did worry me. I am not small, but the dimensions of
that CAE-type cage sure were. I insisted that Frank use a dish
steering wheel from a Ford station wagon that would absorb energy if
I crashed. It worried me that I couldn’t duck my head down with the
helmet on if I flipped. It was that tight. So, I spent a lot of time
in the garage practicing ‘going into the basement’, as we used to
call it. To get my head and shoulders down into the cockpit, I’d
leave the shoulder harness real loose. And I left the helmet strap
undone so the helmet would actually come off. I perfected ducking
down that way. That ol’ pit steward Phil Roy wasn’t happy seeing me
go out with my helmet undone. I’d have to unsnap the strap right
when they were throwing the green.
We won Dover, the Pines,
and Hudson the first week. It got really fast at the Pines, though.
Coming through traffic, I got into someone, lifted my front end up,
and it slammed back onto the track. Bent the frame just a little,
giving it the perfect set. I told Frank it was okay to add a little
weight with a down tube on each side of the front.
of ’64 was high cotton with the cutdowns. Ollie Silva, Eddie West,
Bentley Warren, Don MacLaren. Everyone was tough, and the stands
were full. We won our share for sure, but what happened on Labor Day
was 100% driver error.
We were at Hudson, and I must have hit
a slick spot. I thought we had busted an axle. I stomped on the gas
once and looked for smoke from the left rear. That was okay, so I
tried it again to check the right side. When I looked back up, it
was ‘Oh, boy!’. I clipped one of the phone poles holding up Kenny
Small’s starter’s box. That wrenched the wheel right out of my hands
and flung me end for end.
I think, when you are racing, your
brain operates at a different level. It turned quiet and I knew I
was getting some serious air time. I remembered to go to the
basement, and my helmet went flying.
On the first hit, the
cage was torn off, sheered off about four inches up the front posts
and bent away from me in the back. Then quiet again.
couple of hits my head and the upper third of my back hit the ground
directly. It kept drilling me deeper and deeper into the car.
The Twister hits the ground,
with Allard’s back acting as the roll cage.
it finally stopped, I was upside down, pretty much cageless,
so crunched up that I had a collapsed lung and could hardly
breathe. Meanwhile, outside I had certainly attracted some
attention. I heard drivers Archie Archambault and Bobby
Edwards shouting gibberish to someone to get some canvas.
They were going to drape it over the wheel fence to block
the spectators’ view. You see, my helmet had rolled down
into the first turn, and they assumed my noggin was in it.
I was gasping for air and yelled ‘Get this damn
thing off me!!!!’ They freaked out.
First they lifted the car up on its side and I
could partially unfold my body and catch some breath. Then
they brought it upright. They were all nervous, yanking on
me. They were no safety crew; there wasn’t one. These were
just fellow drivers and mechanics. I shouted to slow down. I
was alert, really ripped.
world class safety crew. (John Halloran Photo)
Finally they got me to that pitiful old Packard
ambulance and that pitiful old alcoholic doctor. He was
so juiced on whiskey he was useless. By this time my
wife, Candy, had pretty much taken over. Good thing –
and remarkable thing. She was seven months pregnant with
our daughter, Tracy.
I was really banged up.
Smashed discs and vertebrae, and I spent four or five
days in the hospital. But I refused any kind of surgery.
That’s the way we were back then. Accept the injury and
keep going. Let it mend itself.
You know, that Twister was first of a bunch
Frank made. It was the fastest. He built five more of
them, but they all had .120 tubing.
One twisted Twister. (John
© 2010 Lew Boyd, Coastal 181