LIKE MYSELF, GENE WINFIELD WAS BORN IN MISSOURI. But, when he was still small, his family moved from Springfield, Missouri, to Modesto, California, and it was there that Gene started a life based on Rods & Customs that he still works at to this very day !
Though he's been respected for about seven decades as one of the true Pioneer builders of some of the most iconic custom cars ever to hit the show circuit, and one of the Industries most-sought after automotive painters, Gene's early history was established as a Hot Rodder of the highest caliber at California dragstrips & the dry lakes of El Mirage & Bonneville. So, it was that part of his career that I wanted to focus on in this Interview, as we had never fully explored it before.
You'll hear historic Industry names like Alex Xydias, and, Doane Spencer, as well as complete info on every car he's ever built, or, raced, because Gene is an excellent story teller with a memory that can always hone-in on the smallest detail...no matter how long ago it happened.
YOU'LL SEE JUST WHAT I mean as you listen to our Interview from July 29th, 2011 that was done at the KKOA's 31st Annual Leadsled Spectacular in Salina, Kansas: This story is a part of Gene's history that you may have not been aware of, but once you hear it you'll have a further appreciation of this Legendary Hall Of Famer: GENE WINFIELD ! JK
Note: The photo at the top of this page shows Gene holding his "First In-Class" & "Top Eliminator Awards. At the time, Gene was President of the "Century Toppers" Car Club. You can see their logo on his tee-shirt.
This is the "home built" rod that Gene won with: nothing fancy, just a bare bones frame, and power from an exceptionally well-built flathead. The flathead was sweetened with some SoCal Speed equipment, and helpful tips - and a spot-on prediction - from Doane Spencer.
SERIOUSLY, I would think that Gene would almost have to add a new addition to his house...just to store the massive collection of trophies, plaques, and, awards he's won throughout his career !
BTW: That photo shown above is courtesy of "Century Toppers" Club Member Joe Barnett.
Above top: Gene working on his flathead in 1951 at Bonneville. (Photo courtesy of Gene Winfield/American Hot Rod Foundation)
Above lower: Gene with the re-worked coupe re-named "The Thing" ! (Photo courtesy of the Gene Winfield Collection/Kustomrama Website)
The Case From Season 5, Episode 7...
As quoted from the PBS "History Detectives" Website:
"A man in Benicia, CA owns a 1932 Ford roadster that, upon purchase, had an engine too powerful for normal driving. Our contributor suspects his car was used for dry-lake racing, a sport that had its heyday in Southern California in the 1930’s, and 1940s.
In 1932, although America was in the midst of the Depression, Henry Ford forged ahead, designing a new model ’32 car with the first powerful V8 engine affordable to the masses. Was our contributor’s car among the popular hot rods raced out at the dry lakes?
History Detectives high-tails it to California to investigate one of the most iconic hot rods of all time."
AND, when they got there, one of the experts they made sure to check with was the Legendary GENE WINFIELD !
(Above photos courtesy of the History Detectives/PBS)
Here's Gene's current Bonneville contender...all I can say is "WoW !"
(Photo courtesy of the Car Domain Blog website)
IF YOU DON'T HAVE David Grant's comprehensive volume on GENE WINFIELD you better get a copy ! Check-out one of your local bookseller's or go to Amazon.com
SPECIAL NOTE: See my complete Review of this book, and other books about Gene, in the "Hot Off The Press" Section... Just click-on here ...and you're on your way ! JK