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Mumford's Brizio-built '27 Track Roadster wins AMBR

Mon, 28 Jan 2013

As is often the case with the great roadsters, the Kelly Brown Track T has been a known commodity in rodding circles for somewhere around 30 years. All it needed was to finally get built and finished.

For a while it was in the shop of Stevie Davis, the famous tin man who could shape anything into aluminum art. Then drag racer and stunt man Kelly Brown had the car, and had big plans for it, too. But as Brown's fortunes ebbed and flowed, the car got a few things done but spent a lot of time sitting in the SoCal Speed Shop, awaiting financing. Then, two and a half years ago, collector and hot rodder John Mumford bought the car and handed it over to Roy Brizio. Mumford had, of all things, a set of Ardun heads around which he wanted to assemble a car.

Yes, the heads came first.

The heads were a very limited set of which there may have been only eight ever made. Mumford put them on a Ford V8 60 engine. Then found the car. Then…

“The pieces were there,” Mumford said. “I just turned Roy loose.”

That'd be Roy Brizio, scion of the famous hot rodding family in South San Francisco. His father Andy, aka The Rodfather, had won the AMBR in in 1970. Roy won 27 years ago himself. Brizio's approach with this car?

“Simplicity,” he said. “We didn't overdo the car. We wanted to keep it where it still looks like a hot rod.”

The details were all hot rod correct, too, from the Track T nose to the Halibrand rear end. The car's stance was just right -- low and tight, like a Track T that could actually race around a track. The deep maroon paint was one Brizio had seen on a 1940 Ford and liked -- he asked the owner for the formula. The completed package had all the earmarks of an AMBR winner.

But it wasn't a simple coronation. There was some solid competition, too.

Ford executive Jim Farley brought a '32 High Boy built by Dave Simard of East Coast Customs. Farley had been steered toward Simard by writer, rodder and sometime Autoweek contributor Ken Gross.

“We conceived of this idea many years ago,” Farley said three days before. “The idea was to build a car that a crew chief of an IndyCar team in the 1950s would have built if he'd built a roadster back then.”

The Farley car is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 made up to look like a period-correct mill. It's not exactly an Offy, not exactly a two-cam, not exactly a four-cam, but a bit of all of the above. It even has the flavor of a set of Hilborn injectors. The suspension is nickel-plated, the racing buckets look just right for the time and the whole thing sports the upright proportions of a proper High Boy.

Across from Farley's car was an entry with total street cred or, rather, salt cred. Mark and Dennis Mariani's roadster has made 20 passes at Bonneville, setting two records and putting each of the brothers into the Bonneville 200-mph Club. Builder Troy Trepanier cleaned off the salt and brought it to Pomona.

On the opposite side of the main hall was John Gunsaulis' black-on-black-on-black 1928 Roadster pickup that had its own set of excellent proportions.

There was even an outrageous Merlin V12-powered 1932 Ford Phaeton entered by Timothy Tarris.

But the win went to -- and pretty much had to go to -- the Track T.

“He just built an amazing car,” said Mumford.

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