STOMPIN’ THE SAVOY

If you’ve been following us long enough, you might remember a story we did for our GARAGE magazine years ago on Jim Savoy and his little Henry J street-n-strip racer. The only thing we loved more than the faded psychedelic paint was the “UNITY! RIGHT ON” speed shop decal in the rear window that was in about as good a condition as that old metalflake. It was the absolute bitchinest decal we’d ever seen on an old warrior and, long story short, we put Jim (the original builder) back in touch with the car and its new owner (Toby Maciel) all on 3rd Street in San Francisco’s Bayview District for one helluva reunion. Jim hadn’t seen the car in 35 years and folks just came out of the woodwork when photographer Jay Watson set up the sticks for a portrait session in the yet-to-be built lightrail trackbed smack-dab in the middle of the avenue. Good times.

Anyhoo, one of the things that always perplexed us was the graphics that were hidden beneath the picnic table-red panels on the doors. Jim couldn’t remember and none of the old-timers in the area knew, either. Only thing we heard was that it was something offensive enough to the dragstrip management that they made the Savoy team cover it up before they raced.

So, what the hell was on those doors? Welp, Nomad Scott Leber spied this shot of the car at Bako that’s been stamped as 2006. Which is interesting, since we shot the car in ’05 and we’re pretty sure those panels were still intact. But whatever – it looks like it says “________ _________ SOUL” and that lines up with the foggy bits we got from some of the people who remember the car tearing up the streets of Sucker Free in the early Seventies.

Anyone have any idea what this car was called? What was on those doors that offended track officials (the most un-offendable lot we could imagine)? Guesses?

5 Responses to “STOMPIN’ THE SAVOY”

  1. Robert M. says:

    Here is a quote taken from an article 2008-02-01 “Quarter Mile Soul” on the following web site.

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/bolus/2008/02/quarter-mile-so.html

    “Black participation in drag racing continued to grow in the 1970s, with a heavy dash of Black Pride seen on their paint jobs. In the Hunter’s Point section of San Francisco, brothers Jim and David Savoy ran a speed shop and on weekends campaigned at Famosa and Half Moon Bay in a wicked little straight axle Henry J gasser named “Soul to the Bone” (see top of post) festooned with a wildly un-PC native caricature and the Black Power salute logo of their Unity Racing Team.”

    There is a photo of the car “circa 1970″ where the car is named “Soul to the Bone” and appears to have some kind of graphic below the name.

    Hope this helps!

  2. Stoner says:

    Thanks for the note, Robert! Unfortunately, the article is wrong (bless Iowahawk’s black little heart): the “Soul To The Bone” car was a different J, run by a different crew. Jim and his son, David, (as well as Jim’s brother-in-law) were aware of that car, but as far as we can tell, that J was run almost exclusively in Southern California. It’s entirely possible that he got that information twisted up a little by our own feature (mentioned above): we published a shot of the “Soul To The Bone” car as an example of drag racing applied to the Black Experience of the late Sixties/early Seventies, but it ain’t the same car.

    The Savoy car is safe and sound just a few miles south of its old stomping grounds and we’d love to take a box of thousand-grit to those panels and see if we can uncover the its original name…

  3. Just a theory. It may say “California Soul”, written in pot smoke, with a joint underneath. The drug thing could have been a little too Comunist for Dragracing’s image.

  4. Stoner says:

    That’s a good guess, Hawk – and it lines up with what the type looks like on the doors, there. OK, we’re writing that one down…anyone else?

  5. Dan Neathery says:

    I saw this in the pitts at Famoso/Bakersfield about a decade ago… snapped a bunch of pics that I sent to a black friend/coworker who is an OG Hunters Point/Bayview local (the Carrol St. drag racing crowd).
    He educated me that the car was affectionately known as “The Spear Chucker”… and that the censored door art was a running Afro-Native with a bone through his nose huffing a spear. This was an in-your-face farce of the Civil Rights tone of the day (60’s into early70’s) that they threw out there in front of everyone.
    When I forwarded the pics, his reply was.,, “You found the Spearchucker !!!!”

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