We recently received an email from Junji Nakamura offering us digitized 16mm video clips of the second annual Smokers Meet from 1960. What a surprise to say the least and we are very much in debt to Mr. Nakamura for his time and generosity. Please scroll to the bottom of this page for the YouTube link.
From Mr. Nakamura’s email:
“We recently digitized our 16mm movies we took at the 1960 smokers meet in Bakersfield. We spent all day there and took as much as we could. We have not watched them since they were still on the original reels. Now that they are digitized, it is so much fun watching them. We were racers from Long Beach and were frequent racers at Lions almost weekly from 58-60.”
He continues: “We loved our days in drag racing and would like to share our historic videos with you and your followers. I am glad to give them to you and the Smokers. We were backyard hot rodders and followed drag racing from back in those days. Our build of the 40 Willys was very competitive with times near the national record in the C/G class. Our involvement ended after the explosion/fire/crash in August 1960 and haven’t been following drag racing since. The flying clutch pieces (from the explosion) were lodged in the dash board, glove box, door sills, etc. (upon inspection the next day at Lions in the burned out hulk). They were the reason the Moon tank exploded. The legal scattershield was nowhere to be found. It left a huge hole in the floorboard. The only thing left of the Moon Tank were a few bolts in the floor.
“(The Smokers race) was a great trip for us to record the action. But, back then, it was a long trip back to our house in Long Beach, near Lions. We sold all of the remaining parts in drag news and the car was towed to a scrap yard near Lions. One good thing did come out of the explosion: The Lions safety committee demanded that all aluminum, Moon gas tanks be moved out of the cab and be put in the back or front of the car. Our friend Atts Ono, (who helped us with the build, was in our pit crew and helped me take apart the aftermath of the explosion/crash) moved his moon tank out of the cab and put it in front of the motor.”
And finally, one small request:
“To get the word out about someone having some photos or movies of our 40 Willys at Lions in 1960. We lost all of our photos and movies of our Willys in the million house moves over the years. We are asking you, your families and contacts if they may have a photo or two of our race car. (red primer, no insignias, black wheels, 671, SBC, 6 Strombergs) the time period was 1960 at Lions until middle of August. Also if someone knows all of the racers in all of the clips, please list them and send them to me.”
Please use our contact page if you have any info regarding Mr. Nakamura’s inquiry and thanks in advance!
Also, we obviously recognize a number of the folks in the video, but not enough to add captions to all or most of them. If you recognize anyone, please let us know and try to note the run time on the video and we can add their names as they appear in the clip in addition to sending Mr. Nakamura a listing.