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Attention: Members, Racers & Crews
It is with great sadness that I must let you know that LSR Member Kenny Schaefer has passed away. He experienced an unexpected sudden health crisis January 15th and passed away early morning on January 16th.
Kenny was the LSR 2023 club points champion and current club Treasurer. He was an accomplished racer and a regular volunteer for the club. He will be greatly missed by all.
It is with great sorrow to share the passing of a former Gear Grinder member and all-around great guy, Len Jones. Len was introduced to the club by a lifelong friend of over 40 years, Bill Kennedy. Len gravitated to motorcycles, namely a motorcycle with a side car. Len had an amazing life full of racing and accomplishments. Len was a drag racer from 1963 to 1969 and a motorcycle road racer from 1969 until 1984. He raced a GT1 in the IMSA series beginning in 1975 and raced in the 24 hours of Daytona. Len Jones joined the Gear Grinders in 2008 and began competing in both 650cc SC-PE and SC-PG, he set five records from 2010 to 2012. Len was the SCTA Top points Bike for 2012. He also received the club’s “Most Improved” award in 2009 and 2010. He was a great friend to all he met and will be missed. God’s speed to our friend.
Gear Grinders' President
A GREAT LION OF BONNEVILLE HAS FALLEN
LESLIE (LES) ALLEN LEGGITT JUNE 29, 1940 - SEPTEMBER 7, 2023
Les, 83, passed away suddenly at his home in Hesperia, California on Thursday September 7, 2023 of natural causes. He was born in Los Angeles, California. His parents Clarence, a successful surgeon, and Kay Leggitt adopted Les at birth. He grew up in Compton before moving to Orange County and eventually in ’96 to the High Desert to be near his favorite place… El Mirage. In Hesperia he and Kym enjoyed a comfortable home with 2-1/2 acres, a pool and a large shop for his cars and engine-building.
Les is survived by his wife Kym, daughters Drisha, Loranna, and Megan. Sons Mark, KC, Tom, and Brandon. Grandchildren Haydn, Allyn, Madyson, Jazzy, Jayde, Elvis, Sydney, Ashley, Kaitlyn, Erin, Cole, Aubrey, Malaya, Alex, Kevin, Kalyssa, Kaden, Thomas, Tommy, and Sage. He is also survived by many lifelong, devoted friends.
As a teenager he played football, chess and ping pong, and took part in school activities. He loved wood shop and at age 14, he wanted a Shopsmith but his mother thought he'd cut his fingers off. Instead, his parents bought him a ‘37 Ford with a bad gearbox. One day his parents came home and he had the engine apart in the bathtub... (A true story that he loved to tell). It was then he discovered his love for engines and what made them work! After high school he went to college getting a B.A. in ’64, M.A. in ’70 and M.S. in ’71 as well as his Lifetime General Secondary Teaching Credential. At age 24 he taught Auto Shop at Cypress College in So Cal. During his career he enjoyed teaching Math, Drafting and finished his last decade teaching Wood Shop.
As a young man starting out teaching and passionate about fast cars, he discovered El Mirage and drag racing. For several years he raced at So Cal drag strips, and Al Teague remembers seeing him at a drag meet in 1962. In 1980, he took a break from teaching and went to work for Global Marine Drilling Co. where he worked from 1980-’92. He went to Martin Maritime Academy and received his Masters Papers/Offshore Manager License with the US Coast Guard, becoming a Captain. He moved oil rigs around the world for years, drilling in Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Mediterranean Sea, Alaska, North-West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. In ’95 Les returned to teaching 7th and 8th grade kids in Victorville for the remainder of his career.
After several years as a young fellow drag racing, Les decided he was not gifted with the consistent razor-sharp reflexes a race driver needs and turned his talents to race engine building. His full-time professional occupation was always teaching (except the time with Global Marine noted above), but being a man of boundless energy, on the side he established Leggitt Engines.
He was known for sixty years as a legendary builder of race engines for Bonneville, El Mirage and drag racing, furnishing record-breaking motors for many race teams as well as his own cars. His favorite engine.. the blown fuel Chrysler Hemi. Starting out in the ‘60s with the iron production Chryslers and proceeding to the Keith Black aluminum blocks when they became available later in the ‘70s. Keith Black gave him the second KB Hemi block he made (stamped #2) to help promote the new aluminum block movement which has proceeded down to the present. Les was a renowned master of the art of building supercharged Hemis between 300 and 500+ cubic inches, producing several thousand horsepower running on 70% nitromethane and 30% methanol without hurting themselves in the process. He led the learning curve for these potent and demanding engines.
Les was the type of man who loved to give speed advice to anyone wanting to go faster. He would always say, “I might not know what to do, but I do know what NOT to do!”
Archival records show that between 1964 and 2009 his engines set no less than 70 class records at Bonneville and El Mirage, for a variety of teams including his own. His last race car was the well-known "Beast Studebaker”, an all-steel original stock body ’53 coupe. Running in Classic Blown Fuel Altered Coupe and always driven by Brandon Leggitt. The car and driver took all its class records at El Mirage from AA to D, with a top speed of 275 mph. At Bonneville, an official time of 335 mph.
In ’90, Les brought his Blown Fuel Roadster to Bonneville and KC Leggitt Polk drove it to an all-time Roadster record of 283 mph which stood for about 20 years until Dave Davidson broke it at over 300 mph with a ’34 Roadster that Les also built. Davidson used a Beck Hemi.
Another famous Leggitt car was his legendary Lakester, still the fastest car at El Mirage at 312 mph since '99. It made 12 passes over 300 mph with various drivers including KC Leggitt Polk and set no less than nine El Mirage class records which are still in the record book; most over 300 mph. It ran in Blown Fuel Lakester and with trailer fenders in Blown Fuel Streamliner in the years around 2000. This car belongs to Brandon Leggitt nowadays.
Les was known for always being one of the first to reach milestones and most of them held for decades. He was the first to record four consecutive Hot Rod Magazine Top Speed Trophies in 1974/’75/’76/’77. A tip of the iceberg of his accomplishments includes first stock bodied Studebaker to go over 200 mph and 300 mph. First open wheel Lakester to go over 300 mph. He tuned the first Competition Coupe to go 300 mph.
Additional accomplishments include holding 31 current records at one point between SCTA and BNI. He’s held the titles at El Mirage of Fastest Blown Fuel Streamliner, Fastest Blown Gas Streamliner, Fastest Blown Fuel Lakester, Fastest Blown Fuel Modified Roadster, Fastest Blown Fuel Roadster, Fastest Blown Fuel Competition Coupe, Fastest Blown Gas Competition Coupe, Fastest Classic Blown Fuel Altered Coupe and Fastest Stock Bodied Production car. At Bonneville Les has held fastest Grand Touring, Fastest Blown Fuel Modified Roadster, Fastest Blown Fuel Lakester, Fastest Blown Fuel Roadster, Fastest Blown Fuel Competition Coupe, Fastest Classic Blown Fuel Altered Coupe and Fastest Stock Bodied Production car.
In ’89 & ’90 he served as SCTA President and Bonneville Meet Director. He earned two El Mirage Season High Points Championships in ‘95 & ‘00. Earned over a half dozen Season Top Speed Awards. Founded SCTA clubs and was President of Rod Riders, Land Speed Racers and Gear Grinders.
KC Leggitt Polk and Brandon Leggitt will continue to honor their legendary Dad and keep these Blown Fuel Hemis setting records in The Beast and Lakesters. KC is part of the Fred Dannenfelzer family and plans to continue to race Fred’s famous Lakester, which is one of the few timed over 300 mph at El Mirage. KC and Brandon are committed racers and learned the Art from Les.
About twelve years ago a comprehensive Interview with Les was published by the present writer in Bonneville Racing News. Readers wishing photocopies of same can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BILL HODDINOTT AND THE LEGGITT FAMILY
A STAR OF BONNEVILLE AND EL MIRAGE PASSES
‘FAST FRED’ DANNENFELZER July, 1937 - SEPT 11, 2023
‘Fast Fred’ Dannenfelzer, 86, passed away suddenly on Sept. 11, 2023 at his home in Santa Barbara, California. He is survived by his wife Patricia, two daughters Debbie and Shari, his son-in-law KC Leggitt Polk, and Grandchildren Kyle Dannenfelzer (Debbie) and Kalyssa and Kaden Polk (Shari and KC).
Fred Dannenfelzer was born and raised in Santa Barbara, to Phillip and Thelma (Dickscheidt) Dannenfelzer, where he lived his entire life. His father had established Pyramid Tile Co. in 1928. The company had thrived for many years in the Southern California development boom doing tile, masonry and marble projects.
Fred had a natural flair for mechanical things, and as a young teen was crazy about building and flying control line stunt model airplanes. Still in junior high school, he started devouring the new Hot Rod Magazine every month and was swept up in the hot rod and racing craze in Southern California and very soon, the rest of America.
As soon as he had a driver’s license Fred got an old Pontiac and hot-rodded the straight six flathead engine with aftermarket parts then offered. He jumped into street racing but after getting some tickets, decided he’d best knock that off.
Out of high school Fred followed his Dad into the tile and masonry trade, joining the union and going to work as a helper. He learned the trade quickly and qualified as a journeyman. He was a true craftsman in the industry his entire adult life before selling the company and retiring in 2000.
When he gave up street racing, Fred went into drag racing on the So Cal strips in the ‘50s, learning fast like the other racers about blown fuel Chrysler Hemis by building and driving his own equipment. From drag racing he was attracted by California long-distance desert motorcycle racing, in the 1960s until the early ‘70s, until a fairly serious crash convinced him this was TOO dangerous!
Fred accomplished a great deal in racing on a shoestring budget. For many years, it was a 2-"man" team with himself and his wife Patty, who supported him in his efforts as his crew, his push truck driver, co-breadwinner, main caregiver to the kids, and nurse to his motorcycle injuries. Fred's racing dreams became a way of life for the entire family. In 1961 his attention turned to land speed racing and that remained his focus the rest of his days. He gained entry in the Bonneville 200 mph Club in 1985, the El Mirage 200 mph Club in 1984, the 300 mph chapter of the Bonneville 200 mph Club in 1997, and the 300 mph chapter of the El Mirage 200 mph Club in 1999, one of only 5 people to achieve that distinction and the only one whose car has run continually since. He achieved his top terminal speed when he was 74 years old, reaching 386 mph! This speed still stands as the World's Fastest Open Wheeled car. He always built his own equipment and engines and drove it, up to the age of 79 when weakness in his legs finally forced him to give up driving. He knew his legs had become so weak that he could not exit the cockpit of his car fast enough to meet SCTA safety standards, so he decided on his own to hang up his driving helmet.
Fast Fred had several fast Bonneville and El Mirage cars, but is most noted for his famous home-built Lakester. His lakester as the DRM Racing team, has several records still in the 2023 SCTA Rules and Records book. The most recent from ’22 when his son-in-law KC Leggitt Polk drove the car to a 248 C/FL El Mirage record with an unblown fuel Hemi.
Aside from racing, Fred was also an avid bowler. He bowled in leagues off and on from the late 50's until the end of his life. During the early 90's he even bowled in a couple of leagues with Patty and his daughter, Shari. He was as good a bowler as he was a race car driver, achieving the ultimate goal of bowling at least one 300 game in league play. He was a loved and respected friend in his bowling community.
Fred was the type of man who never bragged about his accomplishments but never hesitated to brag about his kids and grandkids. He would give tuning advice to anyone and everyone who would ask for it and would receive calls from all over the world from people seeking his advice. He would loan a part or a tool to anyone in need, even if he didn't know who they were and even if they were running against the same record. He was immensely proud of his wife, both of his daughters and all of his grandchildren, who have followed his lead as dedicated volunteers for the SCTA. It also gave him great joy to work alongside his son-in-law, KC, and grandson, Kaden on the DRM Racing Lakester over the last few years. He has left us with big shoes to fill, but his legacy will continue....
In 2019 a comprehensive Interview with Fast Freddie Dannenfelzer was published by the present writer in Bonneville Racing News. Readers wishing photocopies of same can reach him at email@example.com.
BILL HODDINOTT AND THE DANNENFELZER FAMILY
The Gear Grinders are sad to announce the passing of Frank Scott. If you looked in the dictionary under “volunteer,” you would see his picture there. A friend to everyone and loved by all those who knew him. Frank’s intention was to join the club to go racing. For whatever reason, that never happened. (Time, health or finances?) But I think he was still racing, every time he was in the tower and saw a vehicle make a run. Whether he was Chief Timer or Assistant Timer, he felt like he was experiencing a small slice of heaven. He was in love and had a piece of his youth every time he was in that tower. The title of the "job" he was performing never mattered, he was volunteering so others could race, and he was good with that. He would often laugh or joke about it. “I joined the club to go racing, but for some reason that never happened,” followed by a smile and a brief laugh. The other side of his volunteering in the tower for the SCTA-BNI, was making sure the timing trailer was in top shape and ready to go, every time and failure was not an option. When the SCTA purchased a new timing trailer, it needed a lot of finishing work inside. Frank spoke to his employer and got permission to pull it into a parking lot they owned, on the weekends, so that the club and others could work on it. He did this for several weekends and over a couple of years. Along with Alan and James Rice, they were the 3 musketeers', a team with one goal in mind................accurate and consistent timing, every time, without fail. There is an empty chair in the tower now and it will be difficult to fill it to the level Frank did. In 2007, Frank received the “Gary Cagle Award”. In 2011, he received the “Jim Lindsley Award” and in 2016, he received the “Special Achievement Award” from the Gear Grinders.
Thank you for everything you gave of yourself. Gods Speed Frank Scott!!!!!!!!!!!!
The family of Bret K. Batchelor is saddened to announce that he passed away on Aug. 25th as a result of complications from a previous surgery. Bret, who worked as an orthopedic surgeon, was active as a driver at Bonneville and El Mirage in the 1990’s along with his father, Steve. He was 59 years old and held several records during his racing career.
Mrs. Villa Sulzbacher Hizer, age 74, of Rome, GA, passed away on Monday, February 6, 2023, at her residence. Villa was born in Rome, GA on December 16, 1948, the daughter of the late Joel and Betty Hanes Sulzbacher. She was also preceded in death by her husband, Courtney Hizer, and by her two brothers, Joel “Jody” Sulzbacher and David Hanes Sulzbacher. She attended Thornwood School (Darlington) and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in mathematics, then continued graduate work at Georgia Tech in computer science.
Survivors include her cousins, Susan Sulzbacher, Jacksonville, FL, Ann Sulzbacher (Bill’s widow), Jacksonville, FL, Bob Hanes (Becky), Houston, TX, Doug Hanes (Carol), Balboa Island, CA, and Pat Hanes Meyer, Wilmington, NC, and their children and grandchildren. Her husband’s cousins, the Stroh family, a close friend and business partner, Bobby Hogg, Atlanta, and her special friend, Al Barron, Jr., Rome, also survive.
With her late husband, Courtney, she owned and operated North Georgia Distributing Co., now Beverage South, for 28 years. They grew the company and achieved multiple Miller Master Awards. Since retirement, she has worked with real estate commercial developments in the Atlanta area.
Her leisure activities include being a member of the Seven Hills Garden Club and CO-Vestors Investments Club. In recent years, she has continued her late husband’s hobby of driving a race car on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Courtney and Villa started racing at Speedweek with their Buick V-6 and later V8 powered Regal/Grand National. They were both true friends to many of us in our racing world. They are both dearly missed.
Ken Walkey passed away on 12/17/22. Ken was a Korean War Navy Veteran, Disney Imagineer, 300 mph Landspeed racer, Car builder, Model T club president, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great-grandfather and Friend.
I am very sad to say my Grandfather, Ken Walkey, passed away on the 17th of December. He always lived his life to the fullest and chased every dream. The drive to chase my own dreams of sailing across the Pacific to Japan, has a lot to do with him. He built many cars, both funky 3 wheelers and 300 mph race cars, from his own ideas and with his own hands. To the very end, he was tinkering and driving his 1927 Model T ford (Lulu) with his Model T Club, which he founded. I had hoped to communicate with him from our boat, via Ham radio, and he was excited about our plans. Miss you grandpa! - Terry Walkey
We lost a great man today. Love you Grandpa! I am so thankful to have had someone in my life. I will miss you so much. My kids will miss you. And I'm sure a lot of people will miss you. You did so many amazing things in your life. I wish i could be even half person you were. Really hope i will get to see you again some day. Thank you so much for just being you and being such an amazing presence in my life. - Kevin Walkey
Funeral Service to be held on January 5, 2023 from 12:00pm - 1:00pm & Graveside Service from 2:00pm - 3:00pm. The location is Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks-Griffin Memorial Park - 5600 Lindero Canyon Road - Westlake Village, Ca. 91362
***Ken did request in his will to be buried with his Blue Bonneville 300mph Hat and that everyone attending his funeral wear Bonneville Racing T-shirts***
It is with a heavy heart we let you know that Monte Warnock passed away today (9/18/22). We will let you know the plans for a Celebration of Life. Our hearts go out to his family and friends…
Skip Hedrich was my father in law and I wanted to let you know he passed away the night of the 7th of September. He has spent the last 3 years rebuilding his 60's Indy car to race at a Vintage Indy event. He got his wish as he and his friend Larry went out to St Louis for Skip to finally be back in the car. As he tried to get in the first race the car would not start, so they decided to fix it and race the next day. But the next day it rained out. Either way he was so happy to be at the race, in his car and everyone shooting photos and skiing what his story was. On the way home he fell in his hotel room and broke his pelvis. When he got home he went to the hospital where he caught pneumonia.
He was doing great until Wednesday night when he took a turn and went into a coma. He passed that night. I wanted to let you guys know because he is in the 2 and 3 club and pretty much everyone knew Skip, whether they liked him or not, they knew him. Thank You - Roger Hickey
Skip joined the Bonneville 200mph club in 2006 with a record of 323.126 and later updated to 331.178. He was also in the El Mirage 200mph club in 2005 with a record of 223.250.
It is with heavy heart that we report that Bob “Grumpy” Chilson passed away on June 17th, 2022. Bob graduated from Garfield High School in 1950. In 1951 he joined the US Navy. After is honorable discharge, he perused his passion for racing. He joined the Gear Grinders in the mid 50’s, running his Studebaker at El Mirage. In June of 1958, he set fast time for the meet, just over 121mph. During 1957 and 1958, Bob was also on a pit crew at the Indy 500, for driver Ray Crawford. The Crew Chief was Edgar Elder. After retiring from a 36 year career at General Electric, Bob would again rejoin the Gear Grinders in 1997. In 2003, driving his G/BGL, he set his first record in that open class at 177.253mph. Bob was a behind the scenes kind of guy and enjoyed working on the car and tuning the engines, more than he did driving. When asked why he painted the engine in the race car orange, he said “that’s the color I’ve always painted every race engine I’ve ever built”. The only color photo of Bob at Indy, was taken inside the garage of him working on an Offenhauser engine and it was painted orange. God’s Speed.
Terry King, 86, of Ocean Park, WA. died on Sept 14, 2021. Terry was born on March 3, 1935 in Longview, WA. After service in the US Army, he attended San Jose State College in California where he received an M.A. in Industrial Education. He taught at the Juvenile Court Schools of Santa Clara County for over 20 years. He retired to Ocean Park, WA. and built a large shop to house the many cars he collected. Terry was a regular at Bonneville for many years, and helped out his friends from Northern California. He accompanied Dick Williams to Australia for the “Thunder Down Under” event in 1995. Services were held at the Beach Barons Car Club House in Ocean Park on May 21, 2022. He is survived by his three daughters.
It is with great sorrow and sadness that the Gear Grinders report the passing of one of our long time members, John Salkins. John was an active member of the Gear Grinders for 30 years. He started out partnering with Burke LaSage and at that time sought an engine builder for their car. John contacted engine builder Les Leggitt. That phone call John made to Les, sparked and was the beginning of a 30 year inseparable partnership and friendship. Throughout the years, John was involved in land speed racing, sand drags and Nitro Pirate Corvette Nostalgia funny car. Though John didn’t perform any mechanical duties or drive, he was always in the shop providing what-ever help the guys needed. John had an incredible smile, wit and sense of humor about him that will be forever missed. Every vehicle John was involved with was first class in both looks and speed. His name was on the side of some of the fastest cars to run at both Bonneville and El Mirage. John will be missed by all those who knew him. A better friend, racer or club member will not easily be found. Godspeed John.
Bob Jackson passed away at the age of 85 on February 12, 2022, in Chandler, Arizona at approximately 5:15 PM. Bob was preceded in death by his wife Sharon Jackson.
Celebration of life will be held at Santan Auto Body on April 2, 2022. Address is 18415 E San Tan Blvd. Queen Creek, Az 85142.
Robert was born August 15, 1936 in Southern California to William and Carol Jackson. He grew up in Michigan and Southern California until when he turned 17 and moved out to find his own way. Bob became a mechanic working for a Ford Dealership and starting drag racing in several national events and he also wrenched on drag boats. He married Sharon Lee Little on October 22, 1960, and there were married for over 50 years before Sharon passed on May 13, 2014.
Bob moved wife, his son, Rocky Jackson and daughter, Glenda Jackson to Southern California in the late 60’s and worked for Beckman Instruments until his retirement in 1995. In 1999, Bob got the Land Speed bug and built a front engine modified Roadster. He raced for 14 years and set two Land Speed Records. Bob provided a good life his family with water skiing and motorcycle riding every month.
Bob and Sharon moved to Parker, Arizona and lived at the dream river house until they moved to Queen Creek, Arizona to bring Sharon closer to better medical facilities and experience doctors. Bob and Sharon traveled around the country going to various street rod shows and experiencing different states and sites.
Lost a true friend of the SCTA in November last year.
November 22nd, 2021 ·
Bring your memories to the Donut shop at Lugonia Ave and Wabash Ave, Redlands, CA. January 15th 6:30am till?
Bob's family will be holding a Memorial on Saturday, May 1st at 2:00p.m. via Zoom.
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://cccconfer.zoom.us/j/93809992748
Meeting ID: 938 0999 2748
Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16699006833,93809992748# or +12532158782,93809992748#
Or Telephone Dial: +1 669 900 6833 (US Toll)
I'm sad to pass this along, Bob Webb passed away this past Monday morning. He died of a sudden heart attack around 10:30 AM. No services or celebration of life has been announced, if I hear of any , I will pass the info along. Bob was a lifetime member of SCTA-BNI ,was a member and past president of the Gear Grinders. , Bob served as Chief Timer and tower worker at El Mirage and Bonneville for many years.
Mark Vigeant - President, Gear grinders
Long time land speed racer Terry Haines passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada after a short term illness. Terry first ran at Bonneville in 1983 as a partner and co-driver of the Stevens/Haines/Young GMC six powered front engine lakester. He later campaigned the rear engine Saline Solution car. He joined the Bonneville 200 MPH Club in 2004 with a speed of 203.489. Joining forces with partner Jim Harte they ran Saline Solution II with a turbocharged OHV six cylinder GMC. At their last two races they set records at Bonneville and El Mirage with Jim driving. Terry was a person that was always fun to be around. He had a great sense of humor and was an awesome story teller. He will be truly missed by his fellow racers, friends and family.
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