The mind is a hell of an editor. As time passes, some things go and some things stay. It’s interesting to think of how vividly we remember certain moments, while others simply drift away.
In my line of work, I ask a lot of people. I ask them to bring back memories from another place and time. Sometimes it requires a great deal of digging. Other times it doesn’t.
Today, we have a case of the latter. Back in the summer of 2019, I was writing a double feature on Jack Fuller’s 1932 Fords for issue #83 of The Rodder’s Journal. Jack’s a lifelong hot rodder, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that he’s the real deal. His stories are colorful, and he’s a do-it-youselfer to the core. His tagline? Hot Rods, Built Dirt Cheap. He sticks to that mantra, no matter what.
From dropping axles to building complete hot rods, Jack does it all. I think he’s in his late-70s now, but you would never know when you talk to him. He builds traditional early Fords and he drives them—a lot.
Working with a guy like Jack doesn’t feel like work. Our first round of interviews flew by. At the beginning of the conversation, I asked my usual question: how did it all start for you?
Here’s an excerpt from the TRJ story.
Born and raised in southeast Virginia, Jack credits his father and uncle for triggering his lifelong hot rod obsession. Growing up, they would take him to the local dirt track, dubbed the “Dude Ranch,” to watch the Jalopy races. “I was fascinated with open wheel cars,” Jack says. “There was one particular car there that was cream and red, was number 17 and had a bee on the side of it. Only years later did I realize that was actually a ’32 five-window coupe, and the bee had stood for a Model B.”
As he spoke, I conjured up the image of a Deuce dirt tracker in my head. In my mind’s eye, it looked like a long-lost brother of the five-windows on AMT’s now-famous three-in-one kit. Build it stock, street, drag…or Jalopy. With the wild paint and the 17 and the bee, it sounded like a 1/25th scale model kit brought to life.
More than two years after the issue was released, Jack sent me a message on the H.A.M.B. “What a surprise,” he said. “A picture of the ’32 stock car, #17 ‘Bumble Bee,’ showed up on my Facebook page Saturday.” And there it was—the car that started it all.
After receiving the picture, I did a little more digging. The story goes that it was campaigned by Ray Gerringer, and power came from a DeSoto Firedome Hemi. The photo came from Betty McCarter’s collection.
It’s pretty amazing how we can remember the hot rods of our childhood, and it’s even more incredible when we find photos of them. I’m fortunate that Jack shared this story with me, and I realized it’s too good not to pass on to you.
Excerpt from TRJ #83, page 21. Historic image from Betty McCarter. For more tales of early hot rod sightings, click here.