Southern Indiana Living

JUL-AUG 2012

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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They're small cars, with a short wheel-base, they don't weigh a lot. And that's why, back in the 60's, a lot of them were convert- ed into drag racers. I've built twelve of them through the years ... I enjoy working on them as much as I enjoy racing them." And Brown always had a unique way of "running across" old cars. He'd take a trip to South Dakota, drive through rural DUHDV DQG VSRW WKHP VLWWLQJ LQ ÀHOGV "I got most of mine up there on the prairie," he explained. "There's an Indian reservation there and for years, when they got done with a car, they just left it sitting where it stopped. There's not much humidity there, so they don't rust too badly. But a lot of them are full of bullet holes. The Indians use them for target practice as they drive by. But bullet holes can be re- paired. The Anglia I have now came from Wisconsin, and it's a ³ LGHQWLFDO WR WKH ÀUVW , UHVWRUHG µ In the mid-1960's there were no drag strips in the area, so Brown and a friend, Vance Fink, decided to build one. Another friend allowed them to use some empty land between Elizabeth and Laconia, along State Road 11, and they built the Harrison County Dragway. "We didn't have much money," Brown said. "But we'd pave a little at a time until we had a pretty nice drag strip. We held meets there into the 1970's and eventually had to shut down. The liability insurance became so expensive, we couldn't keep it open." During the drag strip days, Brown kept his job at Ford Motor Company I'm a person who likes to do things and stay busy. I needed some action. in Louisville. After the dragway closed, he began building show cars in his spare time. He pre- IHUUHG UHVWRULQJ ROG )RUGV DQG RQH RI KLV ÀUVW ZDV D ÀYH window coup. "I had it looking good," Brown said. "And I put a big engine -Roger Brown in it. It was a nice car and I even drove it to work some. One day at work the plant manager, an older guy, came over to me and DVNHG LI WKDW · FRXS LQ WKH SDUNLQJ ORW ZDV PLQH , WROG KLP LW ZDV DQG KH VDLG WKDW EDFN ZKHQ KH ÀUVW FDPH WR ZRUN IRU )RUG LW ZDV KLV MRE WR EROW RQ WKH UXQQLQJ ERDUGV RI )RUGV I asked him if he wanted me to take him for a ride — and he did. We drove down the road a ways and he wanted to know what was wrong with the engine, why was it running so rough ("urump-urump-urump"). When I turned around and headed EDFN , ÀUHG LW XS UHDO JRRG 1HHGOHVV WR VD\ LW GLGQ·W WDNH ORQJ to get back and when I looked over at him, he was as white as a ghost." Brown continued to build show cars for several years, win- ning scores of trophies and awards at car shows all over the country. "I really enjoyed taking an old car and turning it into a street URG RU VKRZ FDU µ %URZQ VDLG ´%XW RQFH LW·V ÀQLVKHG \RX MXVW take it to car shows and sit in a lawn chair while people walk by and look at it. There was nothing to do, and I'm a person who likes to do things and stay busy. I needed some action." 6R ÀQDOO\ %URZQ GHFLGHG WR EXLOG DQRWKHU GUDJ UDFHU +H never raced anything but Anglia cars and wanted another one. He bought the Wisconsin car, brought it home to Elizabeth, put it in his garage, and went to work. "It took me about a year to get it where I wanted it," he said. "The only thing I use is the body. Everything else, I build myself. , WRRN WKH ERG\ Rff WKH RULJLQDO IUDPH ODLG WKH IUDPH RXW RQ P\ JDUDJH ÁRRU IRU D SDWWHUQ DQG EXLOW D QHZ RQH 7KH ROG IUDPHV will twist too much when you race then and cause problems at -XO\ $XJXVW •

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