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Lou Bingham (SDRC)

Words by Justin Baas Photos : Bingham collection





Lou Bingham been around this whole hot rodding deal longer than most, he purchased his first, a 32 5 window from Nolan White in 49. Nolan Had already given it the treatment with a 3″ chop, but the little flatty it had was tired, Lou’s first job out of high school was at a machine shop in San Diego so a fresh 21 stud was bored to 3 3/8, got a merc crank, a hot cam and a used Navarro two pot that came from Paul Schaefer and Lou had himself a hot little car. The fenders were quickly pulled to give it the “look” only problem was the local police took notice as well, writing him up for every little thing, soon Lou had enough and “the cops chased me out of town”. Settling in Glendale Ca. in 1950, Lou joined the Headers car club and in 1951 he made the pilgrimage to Bonneville as a spectator and started running the coupe soon after. In 1952 a new law came about that required fenders, all Lou could find were sedan fenders so it got the infamous dual spare tire look, the leading edge of the fronts got trimmed and hammered back, and the rears got a slight bob. Lou towed the 32 to Bonneville in 53 with his t roadster pickup, first pass was 93mph, after a week worth of experimenting changing the coupe around including, pulling the fenders, borrowing different wheels/tires, changing rear end gears, swapping the 2×2 intake for a 3 jug and eventually going to an alky/ nitro mix he bumped the speed up to 127.
In 1955 Lou ended up moving back to San Diego and getting into the service station business buying Bird Rock Mobil in La Jolla. Pretty soon a few pals that hung around the Mobil station, Bill Taylor and Micky Cooper recruited him to join the San Diego Roadster Club. In 1956 Lou picked up wrecked 52 olds and quickly shoehorned the engine into the coupe, that year he picked up 10mph over the flatheads previous effort. Only problem was the coupe wasn’t real competive having to run in the altered class because of the chopped top, at one point Lou even made a little riser to put the coupe top back to stock height so he could run production class. In 1958 Lou picked up a 32 roadster body and swapped it onto the coupe chassis, he ran the roadster at the lakes for a few years swapping the coupe body back on after each race as it was his daily driver at the time, top speed was 162mph in 1960 which was good enough for a new record.
In 1961 it was time to build a new race car so Lou picked up a 29 roadster body and built a full race chassis on a pair of 32 frame rails, it got an injected olds, hydramatic, and a quick change rear, a special feature was a fire supression system for the engine compartment, you see Lou had learned the hard way thats it’s no fun to sand burned paint off louvers in the 32 on a couple occasions a figured the upgrade would prevent that problem in the new a roadster. The little a roadster eventually set a top speed of 185mph, Lou sold the car to Doug Eyres in 1971 who continued to run it for the next 30+ years eventually putting it on loan to Pete Aardema who installed one of his crazy overhead model a engines and eventually set a record of 172.427 in 2009 with Scotty Goetz driving. The roadster only missed one race at bonneville in a 47 year time span, it’s been in semi retirement mode the last few years but Lou still has that spark and is considering borrowing it back from Doug to run it in the new American Iron roadster class. It sure would be great to see it back on the salt again, especially with Lou behind the wheel.


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