In 1956 I inherited an almost finished slingshot dragster from my friend Jack Harris, who went on to become a mogul in the Hi-Performance (Rush Sales)performance parts world. The dragster was powered by a Ford Flathead engine with triple carbs, which I set up to burn 100% Nitromethene fuel.
I bought the nitro from my high school girl friend’s father, who had access to buy this controlled material because he was in the paint stripping business. I remember paying him $.35 cents a gallon for a drum. Expensive compared to gasoline at .25 cents, but it doubled the horsepower.
I used the facilities of the school’s automotive and machine shop classes during my senior year to produce parts to finish the car. The cooperation from the other students and the teachers was really great. I think everyone thought of the dragster as a school project. Lettering the side of the car with: Sponsored by LAKEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL, would have been appropriate.
In my senior year, I actually made my first complete run through the quarter mile. I was towed to the Akron Airport drag strip by my good friend Bob Riggle of “Hurst Hemi under Glass” fame. The top speed for my first quarter mile run was clocked at 114 MPH.
Lakewood was special for me in a lot of ways because it is where I started a business welding tubing together in the basement of my parents home to produce a chassis for dragsters like the one I built for myself. I sold them to various drag racers in the Midwest. I called my company Lakewood Chassis Company.
I also spent a couple of weeks in Lakewood Hospital when a gasoline fire left me with 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my arms and hands. The burns were a terrible sight and very painful. My mother, the saint that she was, came to the hospital every day and poured some very special Holy Water on my (big as boxing gloves) bandages while she prayed for a miracle.
When the bandages were removed, not only did I now believe in miracles, but so did the doctors and nurses, who were all set to begin skin grafting. To everyone’s surprise my arms and hands were practically healed. No skin grafts and no scars, even to this day.
A final note about Lakewood Chassis Co, the business which I re-named Lakewood Industries. is how our product could become so popular that it caused the name Lakewood to become generic.
The product was our hydro-formed steel housing that replaced the die cast aluminum bell housing on the rear of the engines in Detroit built muscle cars. The difference was that our housing would contain the fragments of a flywheel and/or clutch explosions that occurred weekly at drag strips all around the country.
The explosions were so violent, they were like a hand grenade exploding under the drivers feet. Although we called our product the Lakewood Bell Housing, the containment job that it did gave reason for it to be called a ‘Scatershield‘. My guess is that the many thousands of customers buying the product all over the country, didn’t really know how to properly address the product, so they simply called it a “Lakewood”
Anywhere in the country you would hear race car builders at the parts counter of their local speed shop saying: ” I need a “Lakewood” for my Camaro” The product became so popular that if you ask anyone in the high Performance Race Car World, what does the word Lakewood mean? they would most probably answer: ” a Scatershield”. Not, a city in Ohio.
Yours for safer performance,
“Gentleman Joe” Schubeck