Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Classic Race Car Paint Job – Part One

Painted, no clear coat yet

Sixteen years ago my brother-in-law Arny painted the body of this Fuel Altered race car, and it was time to do a re-do.  There were lots of cracks and chips after sixteen years, but considering it is a race car, it really held up well.  These pictures are ones taken shortly after we arrived, as Arny got ready for the first clear coat.  After the clear coat dried, then he had to sand it and get it ready for the detail painter who would hand paint the names, the car’s number, etc.

Painted with first clear coat    Painted with first clear coat

Painted with first clear coat

I have seen some of Arny’s work before, but this race car is certainly a great paint job…the first time, and this time.  How he melted the new repairs in with the old is amazing…

Brad Bradford, circa late 1940's to early 1950's, picture from

Dexter Randell Bradford passed away in March, 2015 at the age of 87 years.  To his friends he was known as “Brad”, and he and Arny were close friends.  Brad started racing in the late 1940’s out in the desert dry lakes of Southern California, and also at the Santa Ana airport drags as a member of the San Pedro Rod Riders.  In the early 1960’s his son Randy started racing a 1940 Ford truck with 327 Chevy power.  In the 60’s they started racing their first true dragster, a 1955 Chevy C Gasser.

Original Bradford Fiat (far lane), picture from    Original Bradford Fiat, picture from

In 1966, they entered the Top Fuel Altered racing world by purchasing a 1937 Fiat bodied altered. They built an injected 427 Chevy running on alcohol, later running 96% nitro.  After Randy’s tour of duty with the army, they started racing the circuit against the likes of Pure Heaven, Rat Trap, Leroy Chatterton, and Willie Borsch.  Today, they still race some of these classic cars in what is known as “Nostalgia Races”.   Below is a picture from 2011, Bradford Fiat against Rat Trap,  at Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield California.

Bradford Fiat against Rat Trap, 2011 at Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield California, picture from

Arny has from time to time worked in the pits for some of the races.  This is not foreign to him since he use to be the manager of Sacramento Raceway, and helped open a few other raceways in Northern California.  (Note: I went to a few races at Sacramento Raceway during the time that Arny worked there, before I had ever met him and before he met my sister.)

Brad (left) and Randy (right) Bradford, from

Above is a picture of Brad (left) and son Randy (the driver/owner) taken from their website  Since I only met Brad a couple of times myself, I figure this picture was taken around 2005.  Now with all that said about racing, and race cars…what Brad was “really” known for was being a Great Engine builder.  Once the car is put back together this time, with the new engine that Randy is building, only the block will be something that Brad had worked on…the rest is essentially new.  Arny told me that some real old-time famous dragsters had Bradford Cranks in their cars when Brad owned and operated a crankshaft company.  Arny said that when they would go down to Bakersfield, it is an “off week” for the big dragsters, and many of them would come to Bakersfield…and most would end up in the Bradford pit area saying hello to Brad, "Pops" as they called him, and Randy.

Arny working on helmet     Arny working on helmet

Helmet before clear coat

Arny is also painting the helmet.  Today (Tuesday) the car came back from Mike Clines where hand painted names and sponsors were put on the car.  They kept the helmet, which needs Randy’s name put on it.  Tomorrow (Wednesday), after Arny does a little touch up, everything will go to Arny’s son’s paint shop, Auernig Auto Body, where it will have the final coat of clear applied in a more controlled environment, and by nightfall, the final product should be ready to photograph.

Car's number in gold leaf put on by Mike Clines    Mac's Distribuiting put on by Mike Clines

On Friday Randy will be here to pick up the newly painted body.  I wish I could get a picture of the body on the car, but that will wait until Randy gets it back up to Washington State and puts everything back together again...I am sure he will send Arny some pictures.  Part two of this posting will have final body and helmet pictures, and hopefully a picture of Randy as he admires his newly painted race car.

Note: If you hold the mouse over the pictures, credit is given to the websites where I got them "if" I did not take them myself.


  1. Amazing paint! He's definitely an artist!! That stuff is hard to do!! Yup, love the drag race!!

    1. Knew you would appreciate it...wish I had a picture of the entire car put together.


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