Saturday, July 16, 2011

Phil Remington, last of the soup to nuts mechanics

After serving as a B-24 flight engineer in the South Pacific, Remington returned home after World War II and headed straight to the dry lakes of California. With an ultra-modified Model A fitted with a flathead V8 Ford, he set a class record by running 136 mph and change at El Mirage.

When West Coast hot rodders started tearing up the dry lakes before World War II, he was there. When Sterling Edwards won the first bonafide sports car race staged on the West Coast after the war, he was there. When Lance Reventlow ran the first American Formula One car at Monte Carlo, he was there. When Carroll Shelby's Cobras crushed all comers from Riverside to Daytona, he was there. When John Holman and Ralph Moody were dominating the Southern stock car scene, he was there. And when Dan Gurney's All American Racers finally won Indianapolis 500, Phil Remington was there.
As director of research and development at Shelby American, Remington was responsible for hundreds of modifications to the all-conquering Ford GT40s, Mark IIs and Mark IVs. On the sketches for these fixes, there used to be a legend: " Draftsman: Remington. Designer: Remington. Engineer: Remington. Approved: Remington." Just call him the last of the soup-to-nuts mechanics.

As soon as the Scarab operation folded in 1962, for instance, Remington landed on his feet with the Cobra program. In fact, when Shelby started leasing shop space in Venice from Reventlow, Remington more or less went with the building. As he puts it, "I just changed payrolls, I guess you could say." A few weeks later, when Billy Krause broke a rear hub carrier while leading at race at Riverside in the Cobra's maiden race, Remington was the guy who picked up some forging blanks from his friend Ted Halibrand and made a set of new ones. These served as the prototypes for all future rear hub carriers which, by the way, never broke again.

Excerpts from

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