The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Owner
A special appearance "by race car driver Jim Hayter is scheduled under the big "autograph tent" which is new this year at the 8th annual Fred Gibb open show.
Last year's show brought 540 entries into the small friendly community of La Harpe, many who remember the glory days of the Fred Gibb racing era.
This will be the first time that Hayter, of Cushing, Oklahoma, who won the National Stock Car Championship driving Gibb's #1 - 1969 ZL1, has been a feature at the Gibb show.
Fred Gibb ran his Chevrolet dealership from 1948-1984. He had already had leaders in the racing world looking up this small town dealership for it had owned and sponsored 1967 Camaro Z/28 Top Stock Camaro driven by Herb Fox, Gibb's top salesman, and was among the very first of its breed to mow down the competition. Fox introduced Gibb into the world of racing and from there, Gibb made history. Herb Fox, broke several records and was the A.H.R.A. World Championship Stocker in 1968. In 1971, Hayter was hired.
That year Gibb ordered 50 COPO Novas equipped with 396/375 h.p. engines which he entered in the racing circuit. But, it was Gibb's brainchild, the 1969 ZL-1 with its all aluminum 427 in the Camaro that was the "ultimate racing car", that brought Gibb fame. It was given a gold base and painted a candy apple red and intricate gold lace panels added at Dick Harrell's Performance Center in Kansas City. The first time on the track, Herb Fox drove the ZL1, defeating the two cars with the fastest qualifying times. It went on to beat AHRA S/S driver of the year, Ronnie Sox. Herb was eventually eliminated, but the ZL1 served notice-it was a contender. The car continued running for Gibb logging over 30,000 miles racing in 15 major cities and other tracks in "69. It's best time was 10.05 seconds 139 mph.
It was in 1971, the car set a world's record. Gibb hired Jim Hayter Pro Stocker in "71 to campaign the car.
At Hayter's direction, a lot of weight was removed, a Rally Sport grill installed so the headlight assemblies could legally be removed and a "Grump lump" style hood scoop was added. At the A.H.R.A. World Points Finals in Fremont, California October 8, 1971, the car set a record of 9.63 seconds at 143 mph and won the Pro Stock World Championship with Jim Hayter driving!
"Hayter basically built the car and changed it from what it was," said Paul Anderson, owner of Paul's Muffler in La Harpe. Anderson, a line mechanic at the Gibb dealership, worked alongside Hayter and went to the World Points Finals to see the Pro Stock World race, a highlight of his racing career as they captured the world championship title that day.
"Gibb hired Hayter expecting him to do other things around the dealership as well, but he soon found out when you have a race car you are planning on winning with, that it is a full time job to build, race, and maintain it.
Anderson raced when he lived in California several years before returning to La Harpe, winning his first trophy in 1960 in Santa Maria. "I was driving a 1947 Ford Coup I'm afraid to say. It was the only Ford I ever raced." Later, Anderson had raced at the same races Hayter had raced in but they had never met until he returned to La Harpe and worked for Gibb.
Anderson's race experience started in high school on the country roads of La Harpe. "In "55-56 there were races every Sunday where Camp Ellis use to be located. They closed it and moved the buildings. It wasn't sanctioned, but there were flag men. No one said anything," he explained.
"I have watched a few NASCAR races. They are okay, going around and around, but there's nothin' like drag racing. You've got to have coordination, get everything right, be in control, and the object is to win the trophy."
"There's only one winner. No second place. There's a first place loser, second place loser, third place loser, but only one winner in drag racing."
Anderson said you have to wade through a lot of cars to get there. "Experience, coordination, and consistency is the secret. You don't always have to be fast to win."
In Keokuk, he explained that a 75 mph Studebaker at top speed, won several years with its handicap start. It would be set further down the track due to its slower pace and always manage to win against the 100 mph plus guys.
"It is something to be sitting at a handicap start and be driving on the 1/8th mile track and be blown away by an 110 mph car at the finish line. Today, they have the colored lights and everyone starts at the same line," he said.
Anderson celebrates with his class of 1956 at Summerfest this year on a special "50-year" float. He recalls bugging "June" at Maynard's Conoco until he gave him a job washing windshields at age 14 and has been car-crazy ever since. Racing over the years and sharing in the Gibb legacy are cherished moments as is his friendship with Jim Hayter.
"Fred asked Hayter who he wanted to take with him to California and he picked me. We've always remained friends. He still likes to surprise us. We are waiting for his call to find out when he is driving in for the show. His wife Thelma has cancer and we think won't be able to come. We will miss her."
After the 1971 season, Gibb sold the car and it eventually ended up in the hands of its current owner, Bill Porterfield. The car and Hayter will be a highlight of the 2006 Gibb Show.
They will all be under the autograph tent with the Gibbs.