Gene’s Brake Shop

John Bradley - Gene's Brake Shop

Back in the ‘50’s, Gene Long owned Gene’s Brake Shop.  I think it was in Colton, CA but it was out there in what is now called “The Inland Empire”.  Gene sponsored a flathead dragster owned by John Bradley.  John eventually became known as “Mr. Flathead” and rightly so.  When we sold our Fiat Topolino that was supposed to put Jazzy Nelson on the trailer, we put the flathead in our new Ito built (Bender and Hier) dragster mentioned in a previous blog.  The best running flathead dragster at the time of course was Bradley.  We always ran 100% nitro in our car but the Bradley bunch was something else.  We were never sure what they had in the tank but the crew was usually running on a 50/50 mixture of John Barley Corn and Falstaff (Beer); half of the crew was on Jack Daniels and the other half on beer.

We were at Colton one day and John got beat by Emery Cook in the Cook & Bedwell Chrysler.  We won our next round and were faced with Cook for top eliminator.  Cook was ahead of me about a car length at half track when all of a sudden the Chrysler let go and I won the race.  The Bradley team went nuts.  They all climbed into their pickup (about a dozen of them) and sped down the middle of the track yelling obscenities, throwing beer cans all over the place, weaving from side to side screaming “FLATHEADS FOREVER!!”  “All you %$#@ing overhead lovers ^%$#–you and your overhead valves, yaaaaay!  Hier beat the Chrysler!!  I went over to Emery, still sitting in his car, shook his hand and thanked him for the race.  One of the nicest guys I ever met.  Here we were out in the weeds at the end of Colton, I was sitting on the tire of the C/B car talking to Emery when the Bradley bunch came screaming up and surrounded us still throwing beer cans and yelling.  They scared the hell out of Emery but since Hank and I knew them, I wasn’t worried and although it was very embarrassing, nothing happened.

On another occasion at Fontana we were rained out and sitting in our truck waiting for the rain to quit when we heard a car fire up.  It was John lighting off his dragster.  We figured he was just running it up to play with the tune a little bit when all of a sudden pulling up to the starting line was the Gene’s Brake Shop dragster.  Down the strip he went in a driving rain, rooster tails shooting up from the slicks, by the time he got to half track you couldn’t even see him.  We just shook our heads and went home.  One thing about these guys: They were nice guys (as long as you were running a flathead) and had a car that really ran.  Regardless of conditions they would always provide good entertainment even if you couldn’t race.  We enjoyed racing them and it was all part of the “good ol’ days”.

Thanks for visiting and…

See you at the races!
Ronnie Hier

Home Of Nostalgia Drag Racing


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