Peek Brothers Racing
Peek Brothers Race Cars
Our first trip in 1964 got us hooked on Bonneville and 1965 our own car became the foundation for an obsession which would last for the next six or more years. In June of 1966 I was 18 and graduated from Littleton High School. Six days later went to work full time at the C.A. Norgren company as an apprentice tool and die maker. This provided income and skills which building and maintaining a race car requires.
The relationship with Roy Leslie and the inspiration from just knowing the man probably was motivation for some of the changes in 1966. It certainly would be responsible for the progression as the car improved every year we ran it. It should be noted that there was never any true sponsorship by Kenz & Leslie or any other company or individual.
A number of big and important things happened in '66:
A tube frame made the car safer and lower.
A Halibrand V-8 Quick Change replaced the Olds rear end.
A tube axle by M-W Enterprises graced the front and became a milestone in Michael and my lives.
We hot rodded the engine with Hilborn injectors and may have added an Isky 505 cam.
This was the big change which set all future improvements in motion. This was probably May or June 1966. Since I enjoy designing things a lot there were drawings for this frame but they disappeared long ago. I really don't know what the inspiration for the size and shape was; I think some sprint car, some dragster and the best motivation of all, necessity. Regardless there is a strong resemblance to modern funny cars. I don't think there was anything similar in drag racing for another five years. There was 100 feet of 1 1/2 X .083 wall mild steel welded tubing purchased to build the frame. I still only had a hacksaw, some files and the same Lincoln arc welder.
The frame is not finished in these photos.
What else was there to use for stands back in those days except Ford axle housings with the ends cut off.
Now things are really taking shape. The M-W build front axle really was a turning point in my life. For some reason it took M-W a lot longer to build the axle than I thought it should have (might have just been an impatient 18 year old) but never the less it caused me to develop a do it myself attitude. This led just a few years later to having a bit of equipment including a heli-arc welder and we were somewhat self sufficient in the garage. One thing led to another and we wound up doing a variety of race car repair and construction for others in the evenings. In the spring of 1971 I quit my day job and Peek Brothers Race cars became a real business.
The attitude of the car certainly changed with the new frame. A "step" pan was added to keep feet from draging on the salt. I bent up a frame out of 1/2" EMT with 1/4" bolts welded into the open top ends of the EMT and bolted into the body sill. This skin was some sort of sheet aluminum that was pop rivited to the frame starting in the center and then forced around the bends on the sides. This step pan would years later be the thing that caused us to leave Bonneville.
By now Michael may have been dreaming of driving or maybe just posing.
I never have liked building headers and here it shows that I was inexperienced at it. No heli-arc yet, they were all gas welded as were later versions.
Once again the uglier duckling and borrowed trailer head west, this time via US 40 over the mountains. Here we are on top of Burthoud Pass, less than 100 miles from home.
Experimenting with colors we now have a dark blue roadster with a silver frame and lettering.
On the starting line for probably the first run of the year. With helmet on the tonneau and Jerry walking behind the car we must have been near the front of the line.
Jack Lufkins modified sports car is in the background.
Starter Bob Higby with his back to us probably means we were next up. Jerry is buckled in, all we need is a push truck.
Now that we have a push truck in action you can see the dramatic difference in the height and attitude of the roadster from a year before. In '65 the roll bar was several inches above the hood of the truck and the wheel well had 3 - 4" showing above the tire. In '66 the roll cage is about even with the hood and the wheel well is just barely showing above the tire.
The new stance and other changes made it a reasonably good looking car by current standards but not nice yet.
I'll have to get Michael to dig into his collection to get the records out but I think we ran in the low 170's this year when the record was about 178.
The end of the week and we are headed off the Salt and back home. In those days there were no crew cabs, motor homes, transporters or anything comfortable. With four people (Jerry was married now) in a '56 Ford PU, someone was always in the back enjoying the sun and wind, this time Michael on the left and Greg on the right.