The Checkered Demon Gasser

So you thought hot rodding was dead?

I guess I was born a "petrol head" with a "lead right foot and a ball bearing for an ankle joint"! One of my earliest memories is riding in the back corner of my Dad's "sit up n beg" Ford Popular. The smell of that little car still lingers with me today and brings back many happy memories. In August 2010 I started this Austin Devon "Super Street Gasser" project as an affectionate and nostalgic requiem to my late teenage years, which mainly involved "ligging" lifts in other peoples custom vehicles, drinking to excess and making a fool of myself.

The plan is to create an anglo/american "Gasser" cicrca 1961 that I can use on the street, take to rod runs, the drag strip and classic car shows. The Checkered Demon will be built to the 1961 "Gasser" class regulations laid down by the National Hot Rod Asscociation (NHRA) of North America which is the sanctioning body of the Drag Racing sport. In 61 the Gasser classes catered for "Hopped Up" street cars and limited modifications were allowed. Drag Racing has been one of the most popular sports in North America for many decades. The British Hot Rod Association (BHRA) who organised drag racing in England did not organise a "Gasser" class.

When I was in my late teens I wanted to be an artist and an engineer and enjoyed making models, drawing cars and motorbikes. My friends and I also belonged to the Fine City Vans custom van club based in Norwich, Norfolk, England. I don't know what attracted me to drag racing but in the early days they ran meetings at Snetterton circuit in Norfolk and the vans were sometimes used on the rollers to start the cars. Anyway I "ligged" a lift one weekend and being a vacant teenager I remember looking down the open headers of a slingshot rail when it fired up covering me in Nitro; followed by a barrage of flame and the most incredible noise. Now Nitro really stings and smells so I guess everyone thought it was pretty funny, but I was hooked from that moment on.

I went on lots of trips all over England and Europe and had a huge amount of fun in the vanning scene. Whenever I could afford it I went to Santa Pod Raceway in Bedfordshire. Even more fun was had "barracking" the Swedes and doing some really silly games in the all night cafe that used to be there. I recall "Slammin Sammy Miller" in his rocket car was a huge favourite of mine as was "Bootsie" Herridge and Al O'Connor of "Al's Gasser" fame; the dude was just the coolest ever.

Several FCV members, used to import USA magazines, such as "Zap", "Weirdo" and the "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers". The Checkered Demon character (who appeared in Zap) was created by S.Clay Wilson who is a great talent and a brave soul. The Checkerd Demon in my opinion is one of the most extreme cartoon characters, who left a long lasting impression on my abused teenage brain. Perhaps if you purchase and peruse "The Checked Demon Anthology V1" you may come to understand why?

So there I was dreaming of a name for this Devon Gasser and I suppose it was the period of drag racing history it invokes, the bulbous shape and maybe the red colour that reminded me of the old Checkered Demon. But what is kind of coincidental is that if you turn the 'V' in Devon upside down and add another one next to it, you get make the word 'DEMON'....mmmmm.

We all have problems in life and mine is finding time to pursue my hobby. With work and family commitments I will only get a few hours a week to work on the Checkered Demon.

I guess its in my blood, as I still enjoy hot rodding after all these years and still meet up with hot rodding friends twice a month near Norwich. The club is called "Norfolk Street Cruisers". I have known some of these guys since I was seventeen and though we have lost a couple along the way, quite a few of the old FCV club members are amongst us. After 30+ years we don't seem to have changed much at all, so navigate to the links page to go to our web site. I am a member of the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) and the National Association of Street Clubs (NASC), so check those out for the latest events. I also belong to the Austin Counties car club and read Classic and Sports Car magazine every month.