Dragster - "Scorpian From the Past"
by Don Ross and Bill Collins * Edited by Bobby and Ruth Langley October, 26 2003
In 1954 Bobby and his brother went to a drag race at Caddo Mills Texas. Bobby
liked what he saw and decided to go racing. His brother was not as impressed and
did not do the same. Bobby had a 38 Lincoln coupe as a family car. He started
working on the Lincoln to get it ready to drag race. Bob said that he didn't know
that drag cars should be light. He used a lot of lead to do the bodywork and the
car was very heavy.
Next Bobby decided to build a dragster, Bob was about
25 years old at this time. He used all his talents as a tool and die maker at
Convair Aircraft (now General Dynamics) he set about to build a dragster. He started
with a wing tip fuel tank from a now unknown origin. Bobby built a frame out of
40 Olds drive shafts with plates welded to the ends to bolt to the 41 Ford rear
end. The roll bar and cross members were made of one and one half-inch pipe and
the bracing was made of the same pipe. Here again Bob wasn't trying to build a
As a side note, Wayne Calvert of Denton Texas was quizzed
by Bobby about chassis material and Wayne suggested drive shaft tubing, the same
as he was using on his roadster project.
first car was known as Needle Nose, as the wing tip tank used as the body was
turned with the pointed end to the front and came to a point about three feet
in front of the front wheels. This configuration had a Cadillac over head valve
V eight engine. Bob and Ruth ran the car around Dallas and Ft. Worth area. They
also took it to Kansas City Nat's. In 1956. Needle nose was painted white with
blue nose and one scallop on each side. Bob and George Jackson teamed up for a
time and ran needle nose with a flat head Ford for a short time. George told Bobby
that if he would clean up the Car some he would put his Chrysler hemi in it.|
Bobby set about rebuilding Needle Nose and it became The Scorpion. Of course
he didn't know it was number one in a series of six cars. Bob and George ran the
new Scorpion car till George pulled out as a partner. Bobby went to a Chrysler
dealer and started to purchase a brand new 392 engine. The counter man asked what
he was going to do with it and Bob told him, put it in a dragster. The dealer
owner said he didn't think they should sell him an engine, as Chrysler was not
in to racing at that time. Bobby finely talked them into selling him the engine.
Bob and Ruth ran "The Scorpion 1" from early 1957 till January of 1958.
Bob didn't have a personal car to tow The Scorpion with in this time period.
Bob had friends that offered to help with the car. One was Bill Collins who towed
the Scorpion around to such places as Wichita Falls, Texas, Phoenix, Arizona,
Tampa Florida and Monterey, Mexico. In Mexico Bobby raced down one of the streets
off of a traffic circle. At the end of the street (strip) Bob had to run across
railroad track. A farmer was grazing a herd of goats in a field near the road.
When Bob roared by, the goats bolted and ran in all directions the farmer was
still chasing them when Bobby pushed back to the start. This by the way contributed
to bending the chassis. They would hook the trailer on Bills 1951 Old coup and
load up five or six people and take off for the races. Bobby has said on many
occasions that he would not have known about many races if Bill had not told him
Scorpion was sold to Bob Taylor who took the car apart and painted it red with
black scallops and stripes. It had a flying horse on the tail where Bobby's Scorpion
had been. This configuration was called Red Hoss. Bob Taylor and Charles (Smiley)
Sitton narrowed the rear end and put a Super charger on a 354 Chrysler and ran
BG/D. In a recent interview with Bob Taylor he said he had removed the aluminum
body work and scraped it out. Then he cut the chassis up and threw it away. Photos
of the car seem to suggest that the car was bending in front of the engine and
at that time it was an old car and had out lived it's usefulness.|
1958 Bobby built Scorpion II and he and Ruth started traveling more. The Scorpion
II had an aluminum channel frame and pipe roll bar. Scorpion II looked much like
No. one but was some lighter. He ran the six two's that he ended the season with
on number one, on fuel and Gas at different times.
Bob and Ruth went on
a trip to the U.S. Fuel and Gas Championship in 1959 in Bakersfield California,
where they saw a lot of guys were beginning to run GMC 671 super chargers. Garlits
was there also and he had no blower. Bobby set low E.T. with the first set of
M & H tires in California. The late Earnie Hashim called Marvin Richter of
M & H that night and got the Dealership for the tires that evening.
got a blower also and put the eight two's on top of it. Bobby flipped the Scorpion
II at Caddo Mills after hitting a battery on the side of the track. Bob hurt his
left elbow in the crash and demolished the car.
Bobby put an engine
in a car owned by Francis Reed, a Chassis Research car. He and Francis raced this
car while Bobby built Scorpion III. Many other people helped Bobby and Ruth besides
Bill Collins and Francis Reed. Some were Olin Davis, Ed Mabry, Don Metzger, Ronnie
Helschinstein, Marvin and Homer Brown & Jim Hensley.
Bob built Scorpion III and ran around Texas and California. One day at Green
Valley Raceway near Ft. Worth Texas Bob had another accident and ran off the course.
The frame was bent and the body scratched and dented above the roll bar. Bobby
rebuilt the III car and made a previously arranged show. At the racetrack the
officials didn't like Bob's roll bar. He told them to look at the scratches and
had Ruth get his scratched helmet. They had to admit that it had been tested and
allowed him to run.
built Scorpion IV with the same type aluminum channel frame rails and used a cable
system on the under side to hold the down loads. This car had about a 150"
wheelbase and would steer it self at times. |
One day Don Garlits told
Bobby that this car was going to get him hurt. He said that if Bobby would pay
for the tubing and parts he would build him a new car. This was the start of Scorpion
V. Bob and Ruth campaigned Scorpion V around the country. They won the nationals
at Green Valley in 1964.
His last car was a "T" bar chassis built and donated by Henry (Moose)
Shroeder. It had the most unusual tail section of all the Scorpions with a large
stinger coming off the top of the roll bar and curving back about 18". Bobby
always built his own bodies with hand tools and oxy acetylene welding at his home
All the Scorpions seem to be lost or hidden away from site.
I have heard rumors of parts and cars here and there but have not been able to
see them in person.
Written by Don Ross and Bill Collins
Edited by Bobby
and Ruth Langley
October, 26 2003