I am happy to see someone is still celebrating Johnny Mulligans
life. Both he and Tim were great people to know and be around.We
first met Johnny and Tim at the summer nationals in New Jersey
and offered to help them when they were racing here in the east.
It was not the cave but we provided space for them
to maintain and work on the famous Bebee & Mulligan top fuel
dragster. We enjoyed helping these guys and our brief friendship
as well as with many other racers from the west coast. McEwen,
Pruhdomme, and many others hung at our place and carried our
company name on their car. The one we were most proud of was
on the green car.
(john gaines) and my partner Fausto Marino started Automotive
Specialties in Hyattsville, Md. In 1966. We raced top gas for
several years with a Dragmaster chassis and converted to top
fuel with a Kent Fuller car in 1964. Our last car was a front
motor woody Gilmore. Chops was always willing to help with our
tune up with which we won several events at Englishtown, atco,
new york national, aquasco, cecil co., capitol raceway, ect.
Business grew into a monster so we stopped racing and since sold
the business. I still see and talk with the snake and mcewen
occasionally at a race or the sema show in vegas but I have not
heard from tim bebee in over 30 years. I hope he is in good health
and would love to hear from him. Thanks.
Please allow me to introduce
myself, I'm Rik Chidester and I grew up in Southern California
(San Diego) and have been a nitro-holic ever since the first
few whiffs singed my nostrils, which came out of the "Weed-Sprayer"
style headers, of the Croshier-Baltes-Lavato "Old Yeller"
AA/FD at San Diego Raceway in Ramona, California.... perhaps
1963 or '64.
Quite by chance, I met Jack Jones
in 1965 and began hanging around his garage, as he, along with
his partner Ralph Lincoln, were in the final stages of assembling
what was to become one of the baddest Junior Fuelers on the planet.
I "hung-around" that garage on Chateau Street every
night the lights were shining and eventually they got used to
this chubby high school kid with a flat-top hair cut with "wings,"
and red tennies. They began to "let" me wash parts
and shine chrome and ask some of the dumbest questions ever.
I guess Jack saw potential in me and with the car completed it
was off to the legendary Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington. Jack
asked me if I wanted to go along and crew with them. It was,
as if, we were venturing to far-off OZ to see the Wizard, or
something. The event was the Coca-Cola-Radio KFWB (Channel 98)
"Drag-Bomp." And we won it! Don't think we ever ran
better than 8.40's, but it was Jack's ability to "Leave-On-Them"
that was the ticket.
That night was the beginning
of a love affair with racing that has lasted right up to today.
Having re-located to Western Washington in 1991, I still make
my annual pilgrimage to Seattle to the Northwest Nats. I am still
in contact with Jack nearly every week and I guess he really
did see some potential back in that garage. I raced with him
all through his distinguished career, until I joined the US Air
Force in 1968. Only to be able to crew while on leave a time
or two. He drove the Schultz & Jones AA/GD and in 1970, he
retired and began to work with Leonard Abbott at Lenco in San
One afternoon, at Carlsbad Raceway,
I had the pleasure to meet one of my heroes... I had watched
him come-up through the ranks and always felt he was one of the
best there ever was. It was John Mulligan and if I think real
hard and imagine... I can smell the Antonio-E-Vega cigar and
hear him laugh. What a guy. We chatted for a while and I was
introduced to Jack Wayre and then, to "Lean" Gene and
got to ride down to the starting line with them in the truck.
I remember how personable John and Jack Wayre were. They asked
a couple of us to help wipe tires and turn the car around on
the starting line. Just a couple of kids, who loved the sport
and the people. I ran into them many times through the years,
at Fontana, The Beach, the 'Dale, Pomona, and Riverside. (HRM
Nationals, which we won four years running... two J/F (Lincoln
& Jones) and two Top Gas (Schultz & Jones). John always
called us by name (he actually remembered) and Wayre even sent
us the Adams & Wayre "Zookeeper" T-Shirts. What
a treasure that was.
One special memory of mine took
place at Carlsbad. It was sort of a funky Top Fuel show.... very
little money, small crowd, J.S "Sandy" Belond had recently
sold the place and it is kinda run-down from what it had been
in the recent past. John was to race Jerry Andrews (a local Escondido
gas station owner-Andrews American Station) in his new Woody-Car.
Well, during the turn-around and staging process, the guy, who's
job was to pull the push-bar, was having trouble getting it to
slide-out. If, my memory serves me (and it doesn't sometimes)
it was John's brother Gary? who pulled the push-bar. Anyway,
I was assigned the right tire and another guy was assigned the
left. During the tire-scrubbing I wiped with my right hand and
held onto the shoulder-hoop of the cage with my left. I knew
enough to avoid the chute cable, but I felt something brush my
left elbow and looked back in horror. The push bar had clipped
the right chute cable and triggered it.
It fell about 1/2 way out and
there we were..... I believe it was "Lean" who began
to stuff it down the seat behind Zoo and I think the idea was
to cut the pilot-chute off and RACE. I personally believe it
would have been OK, but the Carlsbad starter, Henry Hart gave
the shut-off sign and we got pushed back to the small Carlsbad
pits to re-run it later. I can't even remember who won the re-race.
I was so scared "Lean" was going to blame me.... but
the push-bar guy finally admitted it was him. I remember the
push-bar had two bars that slid into two peaces of pipe in the
back of the seat bars down sort of low. The entire push-bar looked
like the "Pi" symbol. It was bent or rusted-up or something,
that's why it was so difficult to slide-out.
The photo of the incident appeared
in one of the trades and I was just out of frame. You included
that shot in the website. The web-site.... what a wonderful job
you have done and the love it took to re-store the "Fighting
Irish" car. Gave me chills to see it. I'd like to personally
Thank You for returning to all of us the memories of the Legend.
I miss John and all the old days, where it was simpler, and seemed
more genuine. I can't help to wonder what John could have done
in one of the newer 4.50 Top Fuel rides. Or a Sprint-Car!
I remember the L.A. Top Fuel
Racer unofficial Uniform. Black Red Wing Chukka Boot (we called
them Fruit-Boots) the US Mailmen wore them, too. Black Levi 501's
(we used to get into 501's back them) and a short-sleeved white
t-shirt, either Venolia, or Reath Automotive, or the car you
were crewing with. Foster Grants, an 18" piece of nylon
parachute shroud cord tied to your front belt loop (for packing
Simpson Cross-Forms) and a Flat-Top with wings.......Those were
Thanks for the memories
PS. Mid-way thru 1969, while
in the Air Force stationed in far-away South Carolina, when I
received a phone call from my Mother reporting to me that Jack,
his wife Linda, and crewman were involved in a late night towing
accident at the base of the "Ridge-Route." The news
wasn't good at all..... Linda, eight months pregnant with their
first baby, had a broken neck and was in a traction device, while
Jack was suffering from a broken back. Their crew member had
fallen asleep and driven the tow-vehicle up under a slow moving
semi, with a flatbed trailer and everything was a mess. No one
knew exactly "how severe" Linda's neck injury was and
how they planned to deal with the pregnancy. It looked grim enough,
for me to get emergency leave to travel to Kern General Hospital
in Bakersfield to see them.
As I arrived the next afternoon,
I climbed into the elevator at Kern General to find Mr. Ernie
Hashim going up to visit the Jones also. I began to talk to him
and told me it was truly a sad day. I thought he had heard something
bad about Jack or Linda, that I hadn't. Not the case..... Ernie,
then told me that John Mulligan had died that day. I was stunned...
I didn't even know about the Indy crash. Any current race news
trickled down slowly to me back in South Carolina. I remember
the "raccoon-shaped" burns on his face. It was at Lions
one evening and was the last time I ever saw him.
Thanks again Dave, perhaps I
might see you and the car, if, you get to Pacific Raceway in
Kent, Wa. I'd love to have one of the die-cast models.