© 2014 Bill 'BADCO' Ott
Every Picture Tells A Story
*Make the best out of the bad
… just laugh it off...
You didn't ask to come here anyway*
Editors note: This is Covered Up Part 3. To view Part 1 click here and Part 2 click here
From an April 1st 2011 issue of National Dragster by Phil Burgess, recapping some of the earlier Golden Days of our sport reads the following...
“Middle Eliminator was won by the Lickliter Brothers A/Competition entry, a '57 Cadillac-powered '31 Austin driven by Pete Lickliter, of Staunton, Va. The A/C entry won the NATIONAL DRAGSTER Middle Eliminator award... a '60 Ford Falcon station wagon... over a field of seven class winners who had qualified to compete for the title.”
Now then... ever witness a news worthy event and see it later on the 6 O'clock News only to realize that what you'd just seen and heard ain't exactly the same as what you saw and heard earlier? “Happens all the time” you say. And it does. Facts get rearranged, names get misspelled, etc., etc. It's easy enough to do. Hell, sometimes the facts supplied by the actual participants in the event can be misrepresenting... or not exactly legit. Case in point...
When we last left Part 2 of this story, Competition Coupe stars Howard and Pete Lickliter, dragster owner Glenn Houlihan, and dragster builder, tuner, and driver Dick Swecker had all come to a sort of Gentleman's Agreement to replace the recently destroyed Lickliter's racer with the one owned by Houlihan and maintained and driven by Swecker.
Shouldn't be too much of a problem. The '31 Austin body was all that remained relatively intact from the ruins of the race car. So the body was delivered to Swecker's garage where knuckles were skinned and fingers were sliced but within a day or two the coupe body found itself perched atop the Houlihan/Swecker 96” Lyndwood chassied dragster. The cowl of the Austin didn't line up the cowl on the dragster. But what the Hell... it'd probably work and time was too short for any major body work to make it look pretty anyway. As can be borne out by the bright purple body(1) matched up against the matador red dragster.
Before the blood had time to dry on crewman Sam Richardson's hand or David Fry's knuckles had lost that bluish tint, the dragster was loaded up on Swecker's trailer hooked to the back of Glen Houlihan's sharp '58 Chevy Impala convertible and whisked off to Detroit. I'm sure the boys all had visions of victory on their minds... as well as one hell of an excuse to get out of the house. But in their wildest of dreams, what was about to unfold was all but inconceivable. The barely 650 mile trip was relatively uneventful by 1960 non Interstate Highway standards. Speed traps and all.
Arriving at Detroit on Wednesday first stop was tech inspection. The tech boys weren't too happy about that gaping space between the coupe and the dragster cowls and proclaimed it would have to be fixed before they would be allowed to compete. A piece of flat sheet metal was scrounged up and hammered into something that 'Covered Up' the offending crevice. It was riveted to the Bantam body and a can of Rustoleum red added another shade of scarlet to the multi hued racer. It sure wasn't getting any prettier, but Tech was more than satisfied with the repair... so much so that they didn't even notice that as was written on the pre-entry card, the home built chassis had been replaced by a factory job and a blown Chrysler sat where a Cadillac was supposed to be. A feat to be mirrored almost some fifty years later by Lee Beard and the late Gary Ormsby. You folks remember the 'Terrible Towel' episode and how everyone's attention got diverted to a totally innocent feature?
So here we have an A/Competition Coupe that according to the pre-entry form was owned and built by Pete and Howard Lickliter (and driven by Pete) but due to a series of coincidences was in fact owned by Glen Houlihan and built, maintained, AND driven by Dick Swecker. And Dick was adamant about that. NOBODY drove that dragster except him. But one of the Lickliters told me himself he didn't have much confidence in a Lyndwood chassis anyway.(2)
Continued on next page...
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