by Dan Smith, beach racing historian
On March 27th of 2003 my group The Motor Racing Heritage Association
along with the City Of Ormond Beach, Volusia County, The AACA, Daytona
International Speedway and ten other groups staged a centennial of the
first race on the famous old beach. It was my pleasure to serve as car
curator and beach race director. The event was filmed by My Classic Car
of the Speed Channel. General Motors sent down a big hauler with 8 cars
from their museum one of which was the replica of the 1903 Olds Pirate.
Also participating was the last Winton Runabout, Barney Oldfield's 1904
Peerless Green Dragon, and the big 18.5 liter 1922 Mercedes Rabbit. Down
from the Packard Museum in Ohio came the Gray Wolf that had raced on
our beach in 1904. We also had the Wisconsin Special that had set a land
speed record at 180 m.p.h. on the beach in 1922. In all we had over 40
original Edwardian era race cars. On the TV show they said that ours was
the greatest gathering of ancient racers ever assembled. We ran them
two by two in a quarter mile drag race. The fastest car turned out to be
a steam runabout and everyone had fun on the sand.
I met Mr. Rodney Rucker of Winslow, Arizona just after that wildly
successful centennial of the first beach speed tournament. As it turned
out he was and is one of the Blastolene Brothers. That is an informal
association of car builders who are scattered across the western United
States. Aside from being perfectionists one and all, each of these
fellows revel in building large machines that no one else has ever done.
Auto wizards like Chip Foose, Randy Grubb, Michael Leeds and Rodney are
at the core of the group. When it became clear that the term “car guy”
was not quite profound enough to describe them the name Blastolene
Brothers was coined.
After our event Rodney and I became fast friends. The big guy's
enthusiasm for all things automotive and especially the history matched
my own. After 2003 Rodney began building a car to bring to the Ormond
Beach centennials which were scheduled to run once a year for eight
consecutive years as the events had originally. The work was daunting.
Trying to get the power of the big Packard engine harnessed proved to be
most difficult but as Rodney said once you hear that motor run you know
no other will do. When the car was finally completed he brought it to
the sand in March of 2008. It was truly a monster car. The sheet metal
had proven to be a problem but the finished product was gorgeous.
When he fired it up the big exposed engine shook the windows in the
nearby hotels and as it roared down the beach it kicked up a 30 foot
rooster tail of sand. At dinner that evening I congratulated Rodney for
his fine work on the streamliner. He told me that he was happy with the
results but he knew he could do better. I could not imagine how but it
was clear that Mr. Rucker had a vision and by then I knew him well
enough to have no doubts that he would succeed. In March of 2009 he
began work on the next version and as it came together he began sending
photos. The new car was Blastolene all the way.
Rodney would be aided in the design by Grubb, Foose and Leeds. That
would have to be the top design team on the planet. Because the
beautiful Packard 2500 cubic inch engine was from a World War II P.T.
boat it turns in the opposite direction requiring two transmissions. The
frame of the first car had proven to be problematic so Rodney had made
improvements and this time to soften the ride it was given double air
bags all around. The big power plant would develop 1600 horse power. The
large wheels, tires and brakes were taken from a semi-truck. The
overall length of the car is 31 feet 6 inches with a 100 gallon fuel
capacity. It also holds 30 gallons of oil and 40 gallons of coolant. The
beautiful body of hand polished aluminum and brass is stunning and
reflects the talents of Chip Foose and Mr. Marcel DeLay. Both design and
metal forming legends. It is an indication of Mr. Rucker's quest for
perfection to know that the georgeous brass grill was the third one
built. In all the car took over 12,000 man hours to complete.. The
resulting machine is so massive it even dwarfs the famous “tank car”
owned by Jay Leno (also a Blastolene build.) Rodney says the Packard
Royal (a more refined version of the first streamliner) is his “Mona
Lisa.” To my knowledge the only car that compares is the famous British
Bluebird used by Sir Malcolm Campbell to set the world land speed record
on the beach at 276 m.p.h. in 1935. That car now rests in a museum at
Daytona International Speedway.
On June 26, 2016 Tracy Forrest of Winter Park, Florida bought the newly
completed car at auction and on July 4th Rodney delivered it to Tracy's
hangar at the Sanford, Fl. airport. Rodney then called me to drive over
to see the car and meet the new owner. The car is as I knew it would
The big brass grill and gleaming metal reflects the dedication of all who had a hand in the building of it. Each of the men mentioned in this piece are from the Blastolene Brotherhood and now the newest member is the current owner. He is a gentleman of style and class as witnessed by his drop dead beautiful facility at the airport, he obviously appreciates the finer things in life and now with his 1940 Packard Royal Roadster sits at the wheel of a car unmatched anywhere in the world.
Please Contact for photographic opportunities or special showings or car shows..
Photo Credits: Patrick Ernzen © 2016 Auctions America