Land Speed Racer Memorial

                  1960-1969

Charles Bennett

Born:  March 22, 1916

Died:  May 17, 1964

Buried: Glen Haven Memorial Park, Sylmar, California

Age:  48

Full Name:  Charles E. Bennett

Nickname: 

Location:  El Mirage Dry Lake, California

Event:  SCTA speed trials

Accident Date:  May 17, 1964

Vehicle:  Ford Falcon Sprint

Biographical:   He had just been clocked at 130 MPH and was slowing down and turning to the left when his left front tire gave way.  He was thrown from his race car and it rolled over and over.  He was a veteran racer from Tujunga, California.

Sources

"Minute sports page," Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 18, 1964

"Accident fatal to race driver," Victoria Advocate, May 18, 1964

"Driver flipped from stock racer, killed," Long Beach Press-Telegram, May 18, 1964

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=2801)

Social Security Death Index  (Charles Bennett, born March 22, 1916, died May 1964, SS# issued in Calif. Before 1951)

Photos

"Geezer" Emick

Born:  April 3, 1940

Died:  July 21, 1969

Buried:  Buffalo Gap Cemetery, South Dakota

Age:  29

Full Name:  Gaylord D. Emick

Nickname:  "Geezer"

Location:  El Mirage Dry Lake, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  July 21, 1969

Vehicle:  motorcycle

Biographical:  He was killed while road-testing a motorcycle.  Just a few days previously he had won his first expert class race at Ascot Park.

Sources

"Motor racescene,” Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1969

California Death Index  (Gaylord D. Emick, born April 3, 1940, in South Dakota, died July 21, 1969, in San Bernardino Co., mother’s maiden name was Lake)

Social Security Death Index  (Gaylord Emick, born April 3, 1940, died July 1969, SS# issued in South Dakota in 1956)

Photos

Find a Grave website (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=emick&GSbyrel=in&GSdy=1969&GSdyrel=in&GSob=n&GRid=39473672&)

 

Robert Funk

Born:  October 8, 1940

Died:  July 15, 1962

Buried: 

Age:  21

Full Name:  Robert Isaac Funk

Nickname: 

Location:  El Mirage Dry Lake, California

Event:  SCTA

Accident Date:  July 15, 1962

Vehicle:  lakester

Biographical:  He died after the accident at Upland General Hospital, Upland, California.

Sources

California Birth Index  (Robert Isaac Funk, born October 8, 1940, in LA Co., mother’s maiden name was Matthews; he had a brother named Bruce Matthews Funk who was born Oct. 22, 1943, in San Bernardino Co.)

California Death Index  (Robert I. Funk, born October 8, 1940, in Calif., died July 15, 1962, in San Bernardino Co., mother’s maiden name was Matthews)

Motorsport Memorial website (http://www.motorsportmemorial.org/focus.php?db=ct&n=7502)

Photos

Athol Graham

Born:   January 15, 1924

Died:  August 1, 1960

Buried:  Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park, Salt Lake City, Utah

Age:  36

Full Name:  

Nickname: 

Location:  Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Event:  

Accident Date:  August 1, 1960

Vehicle:  3,000 horsepower Allison-powered "City of Salt Lake"

Biographical:  The Salt Lake City garage mechanic was attempting to break the world speed record of 394 MPH set by John Cobb in 1947.  He had made a run of 344 MPH in fall 1959 in his 21-foot long racer.  On his first run at the record his left rear wheel snapped as he was going an estimated 300 MPH about two miles from the start of the measured mile.  The vehicle went into a sideways skid, flopped onto its right side, and looped across the salt for 4,000 feet before coming to a stop with Graham pinned underneath.  He was flown to Salt Lake City and taken by ambulance to LDS Hospital, but died minutes later.  He had spent $2,500 building his home-made race car.  It was thought that he had too much power and acceleration for his 4,200 pound vehicle.  Mickey Thompson tried to warn him against making the run, but Graham ignored his warning.  Thompson set up a movie camera just where he thought the car might crash.  It did.  He was the first of four racers scheduled that summer for land speed record attempts.  He was survived by his wife, Zeldine, and four small children.

Sources

"Racer dies on salt flats," Ellensburg Daily Record, August 3, 1960

"Driver killed in bid for 400 MPH on salt flats," New York Times, August 2, 1960

"Graham killed in attempt for new speed mark," Reading Eagle, August 2, 1960

"Utah racer dies in assault on speed record," Rome News-Tribune, August 2, 1960

"Utah racer dies after flats crash," Deseret News, August 1, 1960

"Crash on salt flats fatal to Utah driver," Milwaukee Journal, August 2, 1960

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records  (Athol Graham, born 1924, residence was Salt Lake Co., Utah, enlisted May 24, 1943)

1930 U.S. Census  (Athol Graham, age 6, in Salt Lake City, son of Hugh B. and Lois Z. Graham)

Veterans with Federal Service Buried in Utah  (Athol Graham, born January 15, 1924, died August 1, 1960, residence in Salt Lake City, buried in Salt Lake City)

Norman Hechtkoff, e-mail communication to site administrator, Oct. 10, 2010

Photos

http://einestages.spiegel.de/static/topicalbumgallery/2161/mit_1000_sachen_durch_die_mauer.html 

 

Bob Herda

Born:  April 17, 1926

Died:  August 22, 1969

Buried: 

Age:  43

Full Name:  Robert B. Herda

Nickname: 

Location:  Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Event:  Bonneville National Speed Trials

Accident Date:  August 22, 1969

Vehicle:  Class C fuel racer

Biographical:  At the end of his 282 MPH run, his car burst into flames.  He had turned off the track and deployed his parachute after his car apparently had developed engine problems.  Witnesses reported that the engine seemed to be revving up after the car pulled to a stop and the engine then caught on fire.  It was thought to have been a broken fuel line that ignited the fire.  He burned to death while struggling to climb out of the car.  He was from Portola, California.  The fatal accident was witnessed by his wife and daughter from the starting line eight miles away.

Sources

"Driver dies in fire during speed trials," Spokane Daily Chronicle, August 23, 1969

"Racer killed on Salt Flats," Deseret News, August 22, 1969

"Driver is killed at Bonneville," Modesto Bee, August 24, 1969

Social Security Death Index  (Robert Herda, born April 17, 1926, died August 1969, SS# issued in Calif. Before 1951)

1930 U.S. Census  (Robert Herda, age 3, in Burlingame, Calif., son of Clarence and Claudine Herda)

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records   (Robert C. Herda, born 1926, in Illinois, resided in San Mateo Co., Calif., enlisted June 23, 1944)

Photos

Glenn Leasher

Born:  January 27, 1936

Died:  September 10, 1962

Buried: Resthaven Gardens of Memory, Wichita, Kansas

Age:  25

Full Name:  Glenn Lee Leasher

Nickname: 

Location:  Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Event:  

Accident Date:  September 10, 1962

Vehicle:  "The Infinity" F86-Sabrejet engined race car

Biographical:  The day before, he had been clocked at 330 MPH in a car that had been built and owned by Romeo Palimedes.  Just prior to his fatal run, he was clocked in a morning test run at 287 MPH.  That run went so smoothly that he turned what was to be a second test run into an attempt to break the existing world speed record of 394 MPH set fifteen years previously by Sir John Cobb.  Shortly after entering the measured mile, the engine's afterburner went off.  It was estimated that he may have been traveling as fast as 475 MPH when his car left the ground like an airplane.  The car seemed to skip along, then began disintegrating in a ball of fire.   The car bounced down the race track, scattering parts as it struck the ground.  The engine was found intact but debris from the car was scattered for more than a mile.  He was an experienced drag racer from San Mateo, California.  He operated with a shoe-string budget with help from other fellow drag racers.  He had been engaged to be married later in the year.

Sources

"Killed in salt flats test run," Milwaukee Sentinel, September 11, 1962

"Jet explodes, kills driver, " Spokane Spokesman-Review, September 11, 1962

"Auto, believed traveling more than 475 MPH, kills driver," Chicago Tribune, September 11, 1962

"Bid for record ends in death," St. Petersburg Times, September 11, 1962

"He reached his goal and died in process," Miami News, September 10, 1962

"Racer killed in jet car on salt flats," Los Angeles Times, September 11, 1962

LandSpeed Louise, e-mail to site administrator, June 17, 2010

Photos

http://www.jim-satcher.com/johnsdrivein.html  (accessed 5/7/10)

http://www.ugofadini.com/omicron10.html  (accessed 6/17/10)

 

 

Larry Lubinsky

Born:  August 28, 1946

Died:  April 10, 1969

Buried: Mountain View Cemetery, San Bernardino, California

Age:  22

Full Name:  Larry Dale Lubinsky

Nickname: 

Location:  El Mirage Dry Lake, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  April 10, 1969

Vehicle:  stock car

Biographical:  He was speeding about 80 MPH when his car began fishtailing, then rolled over four to five times.  He was thrown from the car and died of massive head injuries.  He had not secured his safety harness or put on his helmet which was in the vehicle.  He was from San Bernardino, California.

Sources

"Race driver Lubinsky rolls stocker, dies," Fresno Bee Republican, April 11, 1969

California Death Index  (Larry D. Lubinsky, born August 28, 1946 in Calif., died April 10, 1969 in San Bernardino Co., mother’s maiden name was Seim)

California Birth Index  (Larry Dale Lubinsky, born August 28, 1946 in San Bernardino Co., mother’s maiden name was Seim)

Photos

Jack Stewart

Born: September 3, 1929

Died:  May 18, 1968

Buried: Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, California

Age:  38

Full Name: John W. Stewart

Nickname: 

Location:  El Mirage Dry Lake, California

Event:  

Accident Date:  May 18, 1968

Vehicle: 1931 Ford roadster

Biographical:  He was from Norwalk, California, and was killed while making a practice run with his roadster the evening before the event.

Sources

Burly Burlile, e-mail communication to site administrator, Mar. 9, 2013 and Dec. 12, 2013

California Death Index:  Jack W. Stewart, b. Sep. 3, 1929, d. May 18, 1968, San Bernardino Co., mother’s maiden name was Simmons

Cook County Illinois Birth Index:  John Stewart, b. Sep. 3, 1929, in Cook County, IL
 
1930 U.S. Census:  Jack Stewart, age 1 ½ , son of M. B. and Eva Stewart, in Springfield, IL.

S.C.T.A. Raceitorial, June 1968, scanned copy sent to site administrator by Burly Burlile, July 1, 2013.

Dick Zook, e-mail communication to site administrator, July 20, 2013

Photos

Burly Burlile, e-mail communication with site administrator, June 12 & 16, 2013

 

 

 

 (l. to r.) Chuck Gregg, Jim Seabridge, and Jack Stewart, sitting in the shade of Seabridge's '32 Ford Tudor Tudor blown flathead-powered "Orangecrate."

Name/Year of Accident

  • Arnett (1995)

  • Beckett (2005)

  • Bennett (1964)

  • Bible (1929)

  • Bigelow (1951)
  • Black (1970)
  • Blair (1940s)
  • Bryant (2009)

  • Buckmaster (1972)

  • Cass (1948

  • Dean (1984)

  • Donaldson (1955)

  • Emick (1969)

  • Fadave (1949)

  • Fancher (1949)

  • Fernihough (1938

  • Funk (1962)

  • Glover (1948

  • Graham (1960)

  • Gullett (2008

  • Haller (1953?)

  • Herda (1969)

  • Jacobs (2006)

  • Johnson (1950)

  • Johnston (1998

  • Lambert (1913)

  • Leasher (1962)

  • Lockhart (1928)

  • Lubinsky (1969)

  • McGregor (1949)

  • Parry-Thomas (1927)

  • Pendleton (1949)

  • Resta (1924)

  • Robinson (1950)

  • Rosemeyer (1938

  • Schlegel (1947)

  • Sproul (1955)

  • Stewart (1968

  • Warner (2013)

  • Werder (1949)

  • Wheeler (2016)

  • White (2002)

  • Windman (1934)

  • Wynja (1951)

Names Added Recently

  • Jim Buckmaster
  • Floyd Fancher
  • Eric Fernihough
  • Johan Jacobs
  • Charles Sproul
  • Jack Stewart
  • Bill Warner
  • Sam Wheeler