|"I ordered the chassis from Jim Davis in 1963. I was
working there at the time borrowed $5,000.00 from the City of Arcadia
Credit Union, (with the two Demarest brothers, Mike & Bill "Ground
Shakers"). They had the first top fuel car I worked on in 1962, called
Demarest, Reed & Feltham. They taught me how to build my first top fuel
motor which was a 392 Chrysler.
By the time I paid for the
chassis, bought the rear end, axles, brakes, rear & front wheels and
tires, a 392 block, firesuit and helmet, the $5000.00 was gone. At the
time I was going down to Roth's at Atlantic & Slauson in Maywood every
night to help him on his cars and I skinned a couple of trailers for him;
("Chapel of Memories") Ed was paying me for the work.
We were always talking about my dragster and he was going to try and
get me some sponsor help. I was also going to the car shows with him
selling t-shirts and decals, etc.; he was paying me for that also. But it
wasn't enough to buy motor parts with.
a show Ed had a small tool/nut & bolt room, about 6' x 6' with a short
ceiling on it and he would throw his loose change on top of it everyday.
That night, the ceiling came
I told him, "Man, there must be $5,000.00 worth of change there! Why
don't you sponsor the dragster; we can put your name on it, that way I'll
get paid some extra money and I can pay you back." He said, "That's a
great idea". He also said that Mickey Thompson owed him $2,500.00 for
t-shirts and decals and that I could go down and get the motor parts I
Man, a dream come true! My hero was helping me finish my
dragster (my FIRST top fuel dragster and there were six more to come later). I
was only 26 years old, man was I jazzed.
I had been telling Ed about this streamliner idea I had
because I wanted to be the first to run 200 mph with a stream-lined body.
They push a lot of air and they are very heavy.
There were seven of them built and the Fang was the only one
that ran 207 mph after two years of trying.
Anyway, he liked the streamlined ideas, but not the canopy idea I had. I told
him it had to have the canopy to work. After a 'few friendly'
discussions, he finally agreed. Ed was getting as excited as me over the idea
and it was great.
We contacted Steve Swaja to do the design drawing after I
made a coat hanger chassis and Ed helped me with a clay model that we both liked
when it was finished. Then it was off to Tom
Hanna to do the body in Chula Vista. By now it is late 1964. We used to go down
there every Wednesday night in Ed's '55 Chevy, the one with the 406 Ford in it.
The Fang didn't get finished and running until 1965. Our
first race was a KFWB sponsored race at Lions Dragstrip. I think the first run
was 153 mph and then we ran 176. It took two years before we were finally able
to run over 200 mph.
The name Yellow Fang was Ed's idea, and there weren't many
yellow top fuelers at the time and I liked the color yellow. So we painted it at
Ed's shop. Diamond T Truck Yellow epoxy so that the nitro would not remove the
My buddy, (Large Father) Ed Roth, San
Fernando Drag strip
First Top Fuel race we won with the Yellow Fang - 1965
Notice Ed's shirt in the picture above. He checked the bearings and did the
bottom end. No problem as we had a dry sump. But he loved to get down and dirty.
I luved that man!
I wasn't real happy about the "Hollywood" type story that wound up in Ed's
Hot Rod Book, but I always
respected Ed as a person so I just teased him about it and he told me that he
didn't know what to do and that his story sounded cooler than the original
version. We both laughed and said ," What the heckl, no problem". The poster
that Ed signed and gave me with all of his cars on it has the date of 1966 on
it. I haven't seen any of the ones with 1976.
Ed sat in the car once,
after much trouble getting in and out, as Ed was much bigger than me,
down at Hanna's shop, Ed didn't ever drive the car. I love to talk about the
Fang and my hero, Large Father.
I took the car to Australia in 1966 on the USA Olympic Drag Racing Team,
then toured the East coast in 1967/1968. The car went into The Cars of Stars,
Planes of Fame Museum about 1970. Then it was moved to Harrah's in Reno for many
years, then went to the Rear Window in one of the Carolina's. Then my friend Don
Garlits finally bought it, after bidding on it twice; once at Harrah's and then
the Rear Window. It is now in "Big Daddy" Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum. Man,
was I ever elated over that!"