Stroker Memories

My First Stroker Memory

Submitted by Larry Ray July 23, 2008

The first time that I ever heard or knew about the Galt Strokers was when I was about 13 years old and I was at the Galt Fall Fair. As I was coming out of the main building I saw this strange looking car sitting on a trailer with a your brownish blond slim greasy young man sitting on the trailer. I thought it must be Don Garlits and this must be his car. As I approached I read the Name on the Car "The Gladiator" and then I saw this smaller person with slicked back hair - I recognized him - it was "Skip". He explained that this was one of the cars from The Galt Strokers and the person I thought was Don Garlits was Norm Whitlaw and he built the car. I was blow away and talked with him for quite a while learning all about this car and what the Galt Strokers was all about- "The Club that Courtesy built" I soon started to hang around the club with Skip and Skunk and later had the dreaded "Initiation and luckily I was allowed to join.

The Burning Telephone Pole

Submitted by Bob Purdy August 22, 2004

I am sure it was in the early building of Gord Bartlett's 67 Chevelle for the drags that it was decided that a roll bar was required. Not wanting to have a crummy looking job the 2 " steel tubing was filled with sand and plugged off. The torches and the bar were taken to the laneway as it was decided that the perfect bend radius was the telephone pole. The bends were made and all was fine. dad went to work the next morning and saw the fire trucks in the club laneway. Apparently the wood in the pole was drier than we thought and after the bending the smoldering continued until the pole burnt off. We were asked if we knew what happened but all had selective Alzheimer's.

We never bent another pipe around that pole again as the neighbours were wise by now.

Dave Boon Remembers

Submitted by Dave Boon August 7, 2004

This old-timer well remembers an occasion in 1955 involving the Galt Strokers! I was living in Toronto and had constructed a hot rod based on a '34 Ford Five window coupe. It had a chopped top , dropped axle ,was Z ironed --and had a three carb big bore-stroked flathead. It was one of the earlier rods of the era and in mid summer of '55 I was invited by someone in the Strokers to attend their hot rod show and to participate in a "run". I drove to Galt --found the premises where the Strokers were holding the event--registered the car -- met the youthful organizers--and then set off on for a run on the "course " that had been laid out by the club.

About half way through the route I heard a warning noise from the rear axle. The car was so low that the Ford rear axle torque tube ran downhill to the transmission and over a period of time --the R/A lube would empty from the R/A housing , run down the torque tube ,and end up in the tranny --leaving the R/A dry, or at least very low on lube!!. It had happened many times previously and I was well prepared for this eventuality . So I stopped the car and at the side of the road I used a "suck-pump" to drain the excess lube out of the tranny and pumped it back into the third member! Anyways --I completed the run and in the Club's closing ceremonies that day I was given a trophy for "Best Rod 1955 Run Stroker's Galt" .

I still have the trophy --it was hand made by one of the then youthful club members --and has a two inch long SS 100 Jag mounted on a four inch high wooden plinth-with a small shield inscribed with the "Best Rod--etc." If your club would like it for a display for the Sept 18 reunion --I would be glad to give/send it to you on loan --along with a photo of my '34 and a description of the circumstances. The Older I Get The Faster I Was!

The Village Idiot

Submitted by Larry Ray July 23, 2004

village idiot rodI recall one Saturday at the club when several members were summoned to help in work and testing of the Village Idiot. Warren had borrowed a new 2 x 4 barrel Edelbrock ram manifold and carbs from Paul Cassel and had installed it on the car. I recall that Warren Grimm, Paul Cassel, Skip, Matt and I were there and we pushed the car up and down the hill - with Skip driving! On the third push the car fired and proceeded to set the intake and carbs on Fire! Someone - I think it was Paul grabbed someone's jacket and put out the fire. We worked on it for the rest of the day and the next day took it to St Thomas Dragway - I think it continued to run poorly and backfire through the carbs.

This was one of those Stroker Moments!

Tires for Heatwood stove

Submitted by Larry Ray July 23, 2004

After reading the bit from Harold about burning old tires, I was reminded of the first time I was told to stoke the fire. When I couldn't find any wood, they handed me an axe & a hack saw & told me to cut up an old tire to burn. I thought they were nuts but to my surprise, the old tire burned a lot better than I had thought it would & it sure gave off a lot of heat..... and not to mention soot that the neighbours found on their laundry drying outside on the wash lines.

NOTE: The old Station Agent stove now graces the rec room of former Stroker Bob Purdy who sent along this photo

Cayuga 1956

Submitted by Jim Dando July 22, 2004

After running a 1956 Ford Station Wagon through the clocks on the drag strip several times, watching other cars on the track, lots of noise and heat, it was time to head home.

On the way home up Hwy.54 my Ford wagon decided it had had enough.  I coasted to the shoulder of the highway with a dead engine.  Nothing could be found to have caused such an event to happen.  After thinking I was the last to leave Cayuga along came Frank Trevor in His New 1956 Ford Hardtop, (that reminds me of another story Watkins Glen) anyway Frank had a short chain in his trunk, I think it was about 6 ft. He proceeded to tow me to Galt.  On Hwy 54 there used to be some very narrow bridges. At the approach to one of the bridges there was a long hill down to the bridge and I could see another car coming down the other side toward the bridge. Frank cleared the bridge but I met the other car right on the bridge. Lucky for me the other car was a Hillman.

Our trip to Watkins Glen

Submitted by Jim Dando July 22, 2004

While traveling along the New York Thruway very late and trying to arrive in Watkins Glen in time for some sleep before the races started the next day, we got stopped for speeding. I was driving Frank Trevor’s new Ford at reasonable speed when suddenly there was a very bright light shining in the rear window and mirror. I pulled over onto the shoulder and a Police Car followed me. There was another Police Car on the left shoulder also.  Needles to say I was in big trouble. The trooper suggested that I ride with him. After finding where my new Chauffeur was taking me and hoping the others were following, I talked about my new Chauffeur’s car. We arrived at the house of the Justice of the Peace at about 1 AM . The JP arrived at the door in his nightshirt and took us directly to his kitchen table. The Policeman wrote his report and I watched him write 70 in a 60 and expected him to go from there. That was all he wrote. The Judge suggested I could appear in court or pay $15.00 now. I paid my money, got outside as quickly as possible, got in Frank’s car (back seat) for the rest of the trip.

The old clubhouse on East Street is no longer standing and in its place is a new two car garage. I do remember two bays with a pit in each bay. Upstairs at the back, there was a small room with outside stairs. I also remember doing an engine swap in my ’47 Pontiac, 270 GMC truck engine from Paris Auto Wreckers.  I also remember getting my eyes burned while watching motor mounts being welded in place.

Remember the Courtesy Card?

Submitted by Al Howlett July 17, 2004

At one of the reunion meetings Skip Mathieson had a handful of these 40 plus year old cards. This was a PR game played by many of the carstrokers courtesy card clubs to try and improve the image of those "Hot Rodders". The idea was if you came across a motorist who needed help you would stop and help. Besides there were no cell phones to call CAA in those days. Then you would hand out one of these cards and invite the recipient to fill out the back and send it to a local newspaper.

One day as a convoy of Strokers were on highway 54 South of Brantford heading for the strip at Kohler, an opportunity presented itself to hand out a card. A white Corvair was keeping us at a slower pace then we would have liked. Remember Ralph Nader and how the Corvair made him famous? His book "Unsafe at any speed" took GM to task based on the Corvair. Well this Corvair that was holding us up suddenly made a sharp turn to the right and ran down an embankment stopping in a field. We all stopped and ran down the hill to help, most likely with a handful of those cards. We discovered two old ladies somewhat shook up but not injured. Besides the unsafe Corvair was not too badly injured either and was drivable. Unsafe or not Frank Trevor climbed in and drove it back through the field to the highway. The ladies by this time had regained their composure and thanked the "Hot Rodders" who had helped them out. We don't know if they sent a card in or not.

Why did the car leave the road? Driver error or Mechanical, maybe Ralph's book could tell us.

Left Turn Antics and more

Submitted by Doug Crawford July 16, 2004

Remember the challenge of making a left hand turn out of the Club House laneway and heading to Preston or out the Hespeler road. I'd like to try that maneuver now on a Saturday afternoon.

I think the site of Mary's Barbeque in Preston and the site of the old Log Cabin out on Hespeler Road should be designated as historical sites by the city.

Bob you forgot one thing about that weekend in Niagara Falls NY. After we had the trailer hitch repaired I recollect we hit every Bar and Tavern down Pine Ave. to the falls and back. I don't even know how we made it to the drags the next morning. I think also there was something about Norm and a watermelon also.

What about the night we picked up the tubing for the dragster that I recollect Royal Metal paid for, courtesy of JR Watson. We had to pick it up from the receiving dock after the evening shift was over. It must have been a great site to see a bunch idiots running across Delta Park in the middle of the night with lengths of pipe. What were they; 20 foot lengths of 2 1/2 or 3" seamless?

Well here's to the smell of hot "Castrol R" racing oil and high octane Sunoco fuel.

The Purple People Eater

Submitted by Al Howlett July 15, 2004

dragsterThe early paint scheme of the dragster was purple just like the jackets we all wore. Every time the dragster was pushed to the line formodified socket a run, the announcer would play the "Purple People Eater" song.

Remember Doug Lovegrove with those big glass jugs mixing up a fuel concoction and if we had a good run everyone would say, Can you mix up more like the last time Doug. Doug would have a board with scads of carburetor jets of all different sizes. Much experimenting took place trying to get the right set-up. I still have the special socket that was used to change them. The club built their own 2 axel trailer to haul the dragster. The Purple machine was loaded rear end to the front of the trailer. If we did not have a very good run the wits would tell us you should turn it the other way. Towing it backwards was giving it a bad complex. We loaded it that way to get more weight on the hitch as it had the same tendency as the milk wagon to go into a whipping action when towing. Frank Trevor would pick up a supply of Castrol motorcycle oil and this would provide a nice racy smell even if it did not lubricate the engine very well.

Pizzas and Friends

Submitted by Warren Grimm July 15, 2004

Remember how good those pizzas tasted at midnight Friday when your hands were caked in grime and it just added flavor to the food?

Remember how good the Cokes were, I swear they had a different recipe then?

Remember the night we used the post outside to bend the roll bar because it had the perfect arc? When we arrived the next day, the top half of the post was suspended by the wires since the middle had burnt out.

Remember that psychedelic painting that Skip did in the meeting room and how it disappeared only to turn up at a party months later?

Remember the friends you made and the great memories you have?

The Loblaw's Test Strip

Submitted by Bob Drew July 15, 2004

Sometime about 1958 the club needed a place to test the dragster so we would take it up to the old Loblaw store on Coronation Blvd. across from the entrance to the Galt Country Club. We would fire up the Hemi with with straight exhaust and drive it around the parking lot until the Cops came and made us stop. Sometimes the Preston Scout House Band would be there and they had to quit playing until we left.

One weekend we had taken the Gladiator to Cayuga Drag strip on Saturday and decided to go to the new drag strip at Buffalo that had just opened. That evening we were going down a road near the Airport and we hit an unmarked railroad crossing at 60 mph. The tow car was a 53 Chev. of Brian McQuarries and he managed to keep it straight but we broke the hitch. A few minutes later the State Police came along and told us that there was a welding shop about a mile down the road. They wanted us to take the Gladiator off the trailer and fire it up and they would follow it down the road. They were very disappointed when we told them we didn't have water in the block and no radiator. The next day we got to the new drag strip and when we got on the line the transmission locked up and we had to drag the car off the starting line and it chewed up there brand new blacktop. It was a long time before we went back.

The Pot Bellied Stove

Submitted by Harold Dale July 11, 2004

When we burned tires in the pot bellied stove in the club room, the stove would get so hot that it glowed in the dark. (it's hard to believe that we didn't burn the place down ).

Do you remember when we had a couple of aerial bombs left over from the drag strip, so one dark night we set up the launch tube, lit the fuse, ran back in side the club house & waited for it to go off. The bomb went off with a great bang and we all ran outside, as did many of the neighbours. Although we all shouted What-What- What was that, I am sure the neighbours knew it was just us again.