Friday, June 22, 2018

This is so cool, I just got an email from Chad Johnson, who was an inspector in the 1952 -1967 Mobilgas Economy Runs!

My name is Chad Johnson, and was the owner of "Chad Johnson Auto Repair", Burbank, California. (from 1946-1986). My age is 97, and I live in a retirement community in Palm Desert, California.

I enjoyed your article on the Mobil Economy Run. I'm sure that you spent many hours in researching each aspects of the run, but I think that you were given some mis-information in a couple of areas. I joined the run in 1952 as an inspecter, and reported to Mr. A. C. Pillsbury, AAA, and Mr. Frank Meunier, Mobil Oil Company. I was involved in every event from 1952, including the last run to Boston, in 1967. Later on as I became a member of the technical staff, I spent much time each summer with both of these gentlemen, plus other members of the technical staff to make changes in the operation of the event. Our main objective was to make the event as fair as possible, and I think we succeeded.

If your information is correct, it must have happened before my time on the run. Over the many years I spent involved with the run, many changes were made to make the event as honest as possible. Were there mistakes, probably, but we made sure that they would not happen again.

Copied from your article: I believe the following charges are not accurate.

Cars were classified according to cost and engine size, and were selected by the AAA Contest Board from showroom floors, dealer lots, or factory assembly lines. These vehicles were no different than the average American would own, and certified as stock. Minor changes could be made in terms of carburetor jets, timing, and tire pressures. Break-in runs were allowed, and that was when the rules were stretched.

Tires were scrubbed to reduce rolling resistance, brakes worn down a much as practically possible, and support cars dragged chains in front of the race vehicle so as to have as much dust and sand enter engines minus air cleaners.

Thank you for your time,


How cool is that!!!!?!!! I don't think I can recall ever getting an email about an article from someone who was involved before... if I did, and you did, and I've forgotten - well, I'm sorry my memory really does suck that bad.

Anyway, I did find where I got those paragraphs from, and if that is all he could find to gig me on, then damn, I did good!  I responded at great length, and gave links to the specific stuff he didn't like.

I was pretty proud of the thoroughness of the post and quickly found the sources of the info he has a gripe with. Nothing I originated, and he can take up the 1st paragraph in italics with a book author, John Heitmann, professor of history, science and technology, The Automobile and American Life is his book. Good luck arguing with him on that, even if you were there. I doubt that the professor made mistakes in what he wrote.

The 2nd paragraph was half from the New York Times article, and half from a comment. That part was hearsay, probably 3rd or 4th hand, but still, I'm leaving it in, as I know that lots of sneaky cheating stuff happened in all racing, and only rumors get out about it until someone confesses to the cheating. Happened in every racing there probably ever was.


  1. How cool, 97 years old and still into cars and enjoying your blog. Once a motorhead always a motorhead!

    1. He gave no indication of enjoying my blog, or having seen anything but the one post he had issues with. So... I'm thrilled to hear from him, but, not as much as I would be if he had enjoyed it, even without letting me know.

    2. Correction, he does say he enjoyed the one post he has issues with. So... that and a grain of salt leave me as skeptical about compliments followed by criticism as I usually am

  2. Anonymous11:22 AM

    That is pretty cool, good for you in getting this kind of recognition.

    1. Thanks! Too bad he didn't say he looked at anything but the one post. I suspect he merely was googling the topic he's an expert on, and came across my post. I say that because he doesn't mention the blog, or anything I've done. He cuts right to the issues he didn't agree with

  3. Even so I remember that post was long and very detailed, so if that's all he could fault that's a damn good score. You, like everyone else who wasn't part of something, have to rely on what others have written. I'd say you're doing a very good job at keeping us entertained.