( If you haven’t read part one jump down and catch up.)
Race to the Clouds 1922
Prior to race day hardly a mention of Noel Bullock made the newspapers. The weather was bad the night before the race and left the upper section in muck. Early hours on race day was described as “Crimpy (?), but soon the sun dispelled the chills”. Three events were run that day and event number one which Noel was entered , he would take the fastest time of the day. 19:50.4. The only person to break in the the nineteen minute mark in 1922 and the fastest every for a event number one small engine class car. King Riley in the large motor class, the 1921 winner came close with a time of 20:05 in event three for the large displacement cars .
Shock and Awe and the press.
The overlooked kid from Nebraska, would now get his due in the press, sort of. “Tho Veteran of Dirt tracks” was a dig on unauthorized racing. The factory teams didn’t compete in such trivial things like dirt track racing. How dare they, those circle track boys think they can compete with the high and mighty. factory teams in a real race such as Pikes Peak. Another headline would read, “Nebraska” Kid Mechanic” built Flivver out of Junk, Won Pikes peak Hill Climb”, ….another, “Aviator, in first road race”tho Veteran of Dirt Tracks” overcomes huge handicap’, One more from the Gazette Telegraph, 9-5-1922, “Bullock Upsets Dope, closely followed by Rhiley and Abbott” , under the main headline in large letters, ‘King Wins First Place in Large Car Class”
A local Ford dealership would take advantage of the Noel Bullock win. Didn’t matter that it was a salvage yard built car with parts from several vehicle, and driven by a dirt track racer. The old Nascar saying “Win on Sunday Sale on Monday” , way before there was a even national stock car racing association. The establishment had been shocked on race day for sure, but the following day would send chills down their spines. Reporters asked Noel about the knowledge he gained yesterday of conditions to be met on the course and if he would be returning in 1923., Noel commented that he he would return with his car built to hold the road better and capable of cutting down his winning time and declared ” Next year I’ll break the record”
The new rules for the 1923 Hill Climb race
The American Automobile Association (AAA) made the rules in the establishment racing world and in the 1920s was in a battle with dirt track racing. They controlled the contest board for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. There would be major changes designed to keep out the lightweight home built cars from competing in the 1923 race. Minimum weight requirements would be added to each class. no longer would a smaller (lighter) higher powered car have an advantage. The two Nebraskan, Noel Bullock and King Riley were not worried, they offered to add weights to their cars in order to compile with the rule changes. Just weeks before the race the AAA blacklisted the two drivers, for driving in unsanctioned racing events. The only AAA sanctioned race in Colorado was Pikes Peak. No local driver could afford to build a race car that could only be used once a year. The rule, up until 1923 had never been enforced . The timing of the the banishment just weeks before the PPHC left the drivers with little time in order to get reinstated. The local politics of racing the Pikes Peak Hill Climb for some is still apparent today. Glen Shultz in the “Essex Specia”l would go on to win the 1923 race with a time of 18:47.3
The last laugh belongs to Noel !
Noel Bullock started his racing career in Colorado, in 1918 and , later moved to California where he started an automotive parts and machine shop. On the west coast he would also continue his racing ways. Noel was inducted in the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame in August of 2000
Automobiles were not his first love, it was the world of aviation. At a young age, like his father, he was also a pilot. Prior to racing Pikes Peak in 1922, Noel was working at a flying school in North Platte Nebraska. later he would be involved with commercial aviation , aircraft mail delivery and even his own airport in Nevada, that supported the making of the Hoover Dam.
WAIT, there is more !
Thankfully the story doesn’t end. The car that Noel won the PPHC in 1922 is still alive. Thanks to Rick Rawlins who found the car, or you could say piles of parts from the car on a Nebraskan farm. Mr Rawlins not only restored the car to better then raced condition ,but he also took it to a few vintage races and ran the “Old Liz” before loaning the car to the El Pomar PPHC Museum in Colorado Springs. The car looks great and garners much attention.
One of things that stands out about the car to me, is the steering wheel, drivers seat and the metal windshield visor are all on the far left side. Could be the earliest circle track designed surviving car with those features. Still has the Dayton wire wheels, Rajo head and its Warford trans.
Amazing after racing 90 plus years and its still with us. Thanks all around to everyone who helped keep this small part of Nebraskan and PPHC history with us today.