About ERNIE NAGAMATSU
Ernie Nagamatsu was a dentist by profession although he also has a background in Art. Ernie started racing over 35 years ago with Formula Fords in competitive SCCA racing in Southern California. Ernie raced FF Swift DB-1s and eventually he started Vintage Racing with his 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra with the help of his long time friend - Max Balchowsky. The CSX 2203 Cobra had an automatic installed by Max for a prior owner and Max was sure it could work in Road Racing, which was not the case, although he wanted to modify it "a la Jim Hall." This long time friendship with the legendary Max Balchowsky lead to many a late evening coffee shop discussions about racing and race cars.
Ernie was given many of the historical archive items from Max's racing day and the Old Yeller Race Cars. When the Hollywood Motors was shut down for new building development, more memorabilia from the Old Yeller race cars were given to Ernie which included Racing Dash Plaques, Ina's lap charts, Race Programs, original photographs, shop invoices, and drawings.
Over the years, Max helped Ernie try to locate an Old Yeller race-car and they checked out several of the cars that were available from time to time. In the records, there were drawings for the Old Yeller X as a front and rear engine race car. Ernie purchased the chassis and designated parts from Max for the Old Yeller X in the late 1980s and the car was to be competed as a front engine Old Yeller X race car.
The most famous and legendary of the Old Yeller race-cars which was the Old Yeller II became available but the price was too steep for Ernie at the time. For almost three years, the prior owner (Dave Gibbs- Oklahoma) of the Old Yeller II held the car refusing higher offers until the pricing was right for Ernie and Ernie purchased the 1959 Old Yeller II. The previous owner Dave Gibbs wanted the car to come to Southern California and to have the guidance of Max Balchowsky in racing.
When Ernie bought the Old Yeller II, (in the early 1990s) it had noted internal chassis crunches due to over 15 years of tough competitive SCCA/ Cal Club racing. Over the years, there was a focused mission to restore the Old Yeller II back to the 1959 Max and Ina Balchowsky specific build specifications. 2005 was a 'breakthrough' year with the handling and performance getting into the window of performance envisioned by Max and Ina.
The Old Yeller II has been invited to some of the most prestigious International Historic/ Vintage Racing events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK and the Revival Meeting Races for over 12 racing events. Ernie has also raced the Buick Special at Elkhart Lake - Road America, Limerock Raceway, Coronado Festival of Speed, and the Monterey Reunion Historic races. In August 2005, the Old Yeller II won the top prize - The Rolex Phil Hill Monterey Cup. It has also won the DuPont Registry People's Choice Award at Amelia Island and was invited to the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance. Ernie has raced the Old Yeller II in England, Australia, and New Zealand with the winning achievements at the events.
Ernie is a contributing writer to Victory Lane magazine and other magazines and newspapers from time to time. He also races a famous 1958 Porsche Speedster "the General Kilpatrick Speedster" that was raced by the General for over 32 straight years in SCCA races. He has raced the Kilpatrick Speedster in New Zealand (Co Winner of first Bruce McLaren Perpetual Trophy and Denny Hulme Trophy), Australia (won the Rolex Australia F1 "Most Historic Race- Car" trophy), Porsche Rennsports Races, Porsche Festival New Zealand, Donnington Classic - England, and Coronado Speed Festival. He races the 289 Shelby Cobra CSX 2203 and races with a Le Mans style Hard Top (he had prior owned one of the two original AC built aluminum Le Mans Hard Top designed for Le Mans and raced with the Hard Top... and then he subsequently made an exact aluminum replica of the Le Mans Hard Top) for 20 years. Ernie raced with Lyn St. James as a co-driver at Goodwood in 2001 in the Tourist Trophy and won the Goodwood Team Trophy. The CSX 2203 has raced at Road America, Monterey, New Zealand, Australia (Phillip Island and Rolex Australia F1 Historic Races), and Chateau Impney Hill Climb in England.
Ernie and Elaine Nagamatsu have a mission in sharing the great and historic legacy of Max and Ina Balchowsky and their iconic Old Yeller Race Cars with racing fans around the world.