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Old 08-21-2010, 05:11 PM   #1
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Default Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

Front engine top fuelers reached their zenith with a dragster owned by John Keeling (TWA mechanic) and Jerry Clayton (United Airlines pilot). With the help of a well known chassis builder, two body fabricators and a painter, the blue California Charger became the most streamlined piece of rolling art to hit the drag strips in 1970.

Rick Ramsey piloted this digger and won the 1970 Supernationals. He continued winning major events through 1971.

I set up this display in one of my dresser openings with the following items:

1) 1:18 GMP drag track diorama. Also recommend for 1:24.
2) 1:24 1320 "California Charger"
3) 1:24 1320 "Great Expectations"
4) 1:25 Revell figures (Kowalski and Dominic) and a 1:25 driver (blue dragster)
5) 12" Scenics Conifer trees

The Diorama






The Real Deal



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Last edited by fazeman; 08-21-2010 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

I like it. It would be better though if the diorama was of Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington Ca.
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

You the man, Steve! Wonderful old dragsters, takes me back to the noise and excitement of watching my dad race in Orange County, Carlsbad and Pomona. He raced Super Stock (a '59 Corvette and later, a '65 Chevelle) and ended his racing in the Smokin' Banana, a bright yellow dragster that blew up twice on him. Never got hurt, but scared the crap out of us.
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Old 08-21-2010, 10:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

Wouldn't it be great if the Christmas tree could be lit?
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:21 AM   #5
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

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Originally Posted by A Tupolev View Post
I like it. It would be better though if the diorama was of Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington Ca.
No problem. I'll just turn the wall around and print Lions Drag Strip on it.

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Originally Posted by gospodin View Post
You the man, Steve! Wonderful old dragsters, takes me back to the noise and excitement of watching my dad race in Orange County, Carlsbad and Pomona. He raced Super Stock (a '59 Corvette and later, a '65 Chevelle) and ended his racing in the Smokin' Banana, a bright yellow dragster that blew up twice on him. Never got hurt, but scared the crap out of us.
No, you the man Steve. You got to experience the noise and excitement with your dad racing!!!

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Wouldn't it be great if the Christmas tree could be lit?
I'll get Clark Griswold to set up the Christmas tree.
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

Just came across this site--want to say hello and how much I appreciate the following we have after 40+ years---That nite starting line shot is whats my wall paper on my desktop

Jerry Clayton
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Old 03-27-2011, 08:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

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Originally Posted by Jerry Clayton View Post
Just came across this site--want to say hello and how much I appreciate the following we have after 40+ years---That nite starting line shot is whats my wall paper on my desktop

Jerry Clayton
Honored to welcome you to DAC, Jerry. I never had the pleasure of seeing your dragster race, but my father was also a racer on the SoCal circuit and I remember those days fondly.
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Old 03-27-2011, 10:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Clayton View Post
Just came across this site--want to say hello and how much I appreciate the following we have after 40+ years---That nite starting line shot is whats my wall paper on my desktop

Jerry Clayton
Welcome aboard DAC Mr. Clayton. The left seat is all yours.

It would be an honor if you would tell us about your pursuit of drag racing and the story behind your beautiful dragster. And because this site is dedicated to airline enthusiasts, we would love to hear about your experience with United Airlines, the airports and a few pictures.

I recently updated my diorama by adding a woman next to Kowalski and will soon add two camera men. Thanks for uploading the starting line picture as your wall paper.

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Old 07-18-2012, 11:41 PM   #9
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

I just ran across this site again---I would like to let you know that the California Charger is being restored by Brent Cannon and Don Long is doing the work---

And to answer the airline histoty question--a Illinois farm boy who got off the tractor and went to Chicago for the week end with a buddy who worked on the ramp for Capital Airlines---yep, started on ramp loading planes, transferred into ground mechanic after the merger with United---years later retired flying captain on B777------never a dull moment---
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Old 07-19-2012, 09:20 PM   #10
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Clayton View Post
Just came across this site--want to say hello and how much I appreciate the following we have after 40+ years---That nite starting line shot is whats my wall paper on my desktop

Jerry Clayton
Jerry, I feel very humble & honoured. I have quite a few "1320" models & yours is one of them. I think the '70's were the epitome of all things motor racing, especially drag racing. Nowadays, everything is just so damned controlled & regulated &, to be quite frank, bloody boring. Just look at F1 (YAWN). High paid prima donnas, not the ballsy people that used to race back in the "golden era". Back then they raced by the seat of their pants & those guys had magnificent car control. Unfortunately, many good drivers lost their lives but damn it was good racing. Welcome to our forum. Would love to hear more about your days of racing.
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:03 PM   #11
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Default Re: Keeling & Clayton's California Charger

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Clayton View Post
I just ran across this site again---I would like to let you know that the California Charger is being restored by Brent Cannon and Don Long is doing the work---

And to answer the airline histoty question--a Illinois farm boy who got off the tractor and went to Chicago for the week end with a buddy who worked on the ramp for Capital Airlines---yep, started on ramp loading planes, transferred into ground mechanic after the merger with United---years later retired flying captain on B777------never a dull moment---
Hi Jerry,

This is great news and I will follow their progress through the Club Hot Rod Forum. (Restoration of California Charger TF). I first saw the California Charger around 1993 on ESPN 2 when Dave Despain presented the '70 Supernationals. That program was probably the best television documentary on the sport. When I later read about the Keeling & Clayton California Charger, I thought it was cool that two airline guys put the whole thing together. Talk about working your way up, thanks for providing us with a little insight into your airline career.

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