Old Yeller II
1959 Balchowsky Buick Special

TIMELINE

TIMELINE

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Builders - Max and Ina Balchowsky - Hollywood Motors

In the fall of 1959, Max started the design and build of the completely new Old Yeller II. There was no second thought about using the potent torque packed Buick motor, as Max had always used a Buick motor and he was considered the guru of Buick motors. Max Balchowsky successfully raced the Old Yeller I in the 1957-58 race seasons and that historic race-car car was an extremely modified “Morgensen Special”. The modifications that were made on the Morgensen Special (designed and built by Dick Morgensen of Arizona) by Max was the use of the powerful Buick engine and many Balchowsky racing / Hot Rod “tricks” that he had learned since the early 1950s.  In 1958 Lance Reventlow and the his powerful Scarab costing a huge amount of money to build,  broke the track record at the Santa Barbara Races... and Max with the scruffy rough looking Old Yeller I then proceeded to break the Scarab's track record at Santa Barbara shortly after, which convinced Max that he could design a potent race car by himself. Max and Ina Balchowsky attempted to build the completely new Old Yeller II in time for October 1959 Grand Prix and they planned seven weeks to complete entirely new race- car at Hollywood Motors garage.

October 10-11, 1959 - Riverside International Raceway United States Grand Prix Sports Car races. from the official program...Sponsored by the Times Mirror Co, "Drivers in today's race"...MAX BALCHOWSKY- "The driver - mechanic who made the backyard specials famous in western road racing, debuts "the Old Yeller 2" in the Times-Mirror Classic. If the race were a popularity contest 35 year old Max would be a good bet to win, for everyone it seems has been helpin him whip his machine together. Chief assistant has been wife Ina who 'blueprinted' the chassis and has done a good share of the tool - twisting. Max has the habit of keeping upo with the imported machinery, and this race should be no different." Note: The Old Yeller II was not completed in time for the October 10-11, 1959 Grand Prix but everyone was anticipating seeing the brand new race car designed by Max and Ina Balchowsky.

November 7-8, 1959 - San Diego - Hour Glass Field-Road Races. Max Balchowsky was a contender and suffered a  flying rock damaging the radiator which resulted in a DNF.

November 1959 - Tucson - Pacific Coast Championship Sports Car Races. Max Balchowsky and Fred Hall was listed a entrants and Fred Hall was a sponsor of Max's races cars from time to time and sponsored the Bu-Ford Special." Max drove the car to Tucson Arizona for the races. The Old Yeller II raced to a 2nd place finish.

December 4-5, 1959 - Riverside International Raceway - California Sports Car Club. Max Balchowsky raced the Old Yeller II at the Regional SCCA Cal Club race. In the Main event Max was leading through first lap and soon the two experimental "short cure- soft" Gardner Reynolds re capped tires shredded/ blistered (Max pitted on 3rd lap for two rear tires). Max continued with some handling problems that eventually resulted in a DNF. Other notable cars was the 2nd place 2.8 Birdcage Maserati raced by Bobby Drake, and the Mercedes Corvette Special (was a crashed 300 SL coupe with a special aluminum Chuck Porter body). Dick Morgensen (builder of the Morgensen Special which was the basis for the Old Yeller I) raced with a new 3.0 Ferrari. 

December 5, 1959 - DRAG NEWS- Volume 5 No. 36 - Sports Car Tops Honors ...San Fernando, California November 29, 1959 - San Fernando Drags-  "Max Balchowsky with his "401" Buick powered sports car dubbed, "Old Yeller no. 2" ... "Max went home with all the laurels today. First time he ever managed to pull off this feat at Fernando, taking the TOP TIME, TOP ELIMINATOR, LOW ET, AND MODIFIED SPORTS CAR CLASS."  This was truly an amazing accomplishment with the brand new Old Yeller II Buick Special race car taking all top honors available at the Drag event.

January 24-1960 - Palm Springs International Sports Car Road Races. Max and Eric Hauser (Eric was a somewhat partner in the Old Yeller I as they both raced the Old Yeller I and when they parted Eric took the chassis and body with Max taking the Buick motor) were listed as drivers. Max qualified in the front row in the top "B Modified Class" and a push rod broke but he held on to 3rd place until the "Re Cap" tires blew.

January 31 - February 1, 1960 - Pomona International Sports Car Races. Max Balchowsky raced the Old Yeller II and he held the lead for a period of time until the Buick suffered a cracked valve leading to a  DNF.

March 5-6, 1960 - Pomona - Pacific Coast International Sports Car Championship Sports Car races. The Official Race Program with photo and comments - “Max Balchowsky of Hollywood is almost always a threatening contender in his now famous Buick powered Ole Yellar Mark II Special” Max was leading the race and then suffered cracked valve/ head gasket leading to a DNF. It was noted as Old Yeller ‘Numero Dos’ in the Cal Club Regional Race News-

April 3, 1960 - Los Angeles Examiner–Herald Examiner International Sports Car Grand Prix – Official USAC Race. Dan Gurney was racing Formula 1 in Europe and returned for the event. Max noticed that Dan did not have a "ride" to race in the most prestigious event with a huge "purse" available for the winner... and Max encouraged Dan to take the Old Yeller II out for a spin. Dan returned and accepted the "ride" to race. They did not accept Dan's medical application as it was a last minute entry but there was a medical doctor attending the race and cleared Dan to race. The Tech committed did not accept and disallowed the front "Re Capped" tires so they quickly changed to "street tires" and the Old Yeller II was ready to race.  Dan established the 3rd fastest qualifying lap time at 2:07.8. Dan was cruising in the race and he established a new racing track record (2:08.2). Dan Gurney was leading by an incredible 18 seconds over some of the very best Factory Team Cars from Europe. On lap 40 the Old Yeller II incurred a break in the harmonic balancer which lead to a cracked crank and piston failure leading to a DNF. Dan Gurney was quoted in saying..."The Old Yeller II is like driving a baby buggy and so easy to drive."  The winner was Carroll Shelby racing a Maserati Birdcage Tipo 61.

*Testing tires at Riverside - Max crashes into guardrail. Max had told reporters of his special design for the front suspension which with drilled upper Jaguar A Arms the suspension had a "crushable" unit that could absorb the impact of a crash. He said following the incident that it was only a cost of $4.60 for used Jaguar 120 A Arms and no damage at all to the chassis.

May 1, 1960 - Vaca Valley International Sports Car Races.  Max Balchowsky in the SCCA -RDC raced with the Old Yeller II for a 2nd Place. 

May 8,1960 - Valley of the Sun SCCA Regional Race- Phoenix Arizona. Max Balchowsky raced the Old Yeller II to a 1st place.

May 28-29, 1960 - 13th Santa Barbara International Sport Car Races. The Santa Barbara Races was always attended by thousands of fans and attracting the best drivers and Sports Cars. Max Balchowsky raced the Old Yeller II to a 3rd place in Main event on Sunday. He finished ahead of Dick Morgensen in the new Testarossa Ferrari

June 25-26, 1960 - Pomona International Sports Car Races. Pomona was one of the key racing events prior to "purpose built" race tracks and held on the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds and even held a FIA sanctioned race event. Max Balchowsky raced the Old Yeller II to a 1st Place in the Saturday races. In the Sunday Main event, Max took the Old Yeller II to a great 1st Place. He averaged 1.22 for the 20 laps and it was a 40 mile race with 10 turns on the circuit. There were over 9,000 race fans 26 cars in the class. In 2nd  place was Jim Conner in a Birdcage Maserati Tipo 61, followed by Hulette in his Jag Corvette Special, Graham in a 250 Testarossa Ferrari, Proctor in an Aston Martin Corvette, Nethercutt with a 250 Testarossa Ferrari and Scooter Patrick in a Porsche

July 2-3, 1960 - Santa Maria International Sports Car Road Races. Bobby Drake (first Maserati Birdcage Tipo 61 driver in USA) raced the Old Yeller II to a great  1st place Saturday races with 150 cars racing. In the Sunday CSCC Main event Bobby Drake took 1st place. He was the winner by 17 seconds and average speed of 75.8 mph. Bobby took the win over the Hulette Special, Jack McAfee in a Porsche RSK, and Jack Graham in a new 3 liter Ferrari,

July 9-10, 1960 - Vaca Valley International Sports Car Races. Bob Bondurant raced the Old Yeller II at the San Francisco Region SCCA race. At the time Bob Bondurant was the top Corvette race car driver. Bob was instructed by Max to start the standing start race in 4th gear and sure enough with the incredible Buick torque... Bob was in the lead at the first corner. He subsequently had a motor failure and had a DNF.

July 31, 1960 - Road America International Grand Prix- Sports Car Races - 1st Professional Race at Road America in Wisconsin. This race was the now premier "Big Purse" racing event attracting the best Factory Team cars from Europe and drivers. Carroll Shelby had won at Le Mans with an Aston Martin and suggested that Max take the Old Yeller II Buick Special to Wisconsin for the "Big Money" race and Carroll would split the purse with Max. Augie Pabst in the fast Scarab was on the pole with Carroll Shelby in second after qualifying. The Scarab stumbled at the start with the motor and Carroll disappeared out of sight.  Carrol Shelby was leading by and incredible 51 seconds over some of the very best racing Sports Cars in the world and he would lead for 31 laps at the Road America long circuit. Carroll Shelby had to retire the car as unfortunately the Old Yeller II suffered a broken transmission and the Scarab took the lead with the Le Mans Special Built Birdcage Maserati eventually taking over and winning the important race. Ina had worked all night prior to race day working on the transmission problems. The classic story told is that after the race Carroll Shelby asked Max..."Where in the hell did you get this transmission? At a junkyard??" Max replied... Hell it was a good transmission for $17.50!!"

 "Story goes that somewhere in Iowa during the towing of the Old Yeller II, they unloaded the car and Billy Krause drove the car on the highways for a period of time. At the races, Ina worked an “all nighter” on transmission… as Max and Shelby went on the town" (SDI Race Report November 1960).

*Classified Ad - August 5, 1960 - Old Yeller II Buick Special for sale by Max Balchowsky

September 4, 1960- Santa Barbara International Sports Car Road Races/ "Labor Day Races". Carroll Shelby raced the Old Yeller II for the 2nd time and was the "Pre Race" favorite in all of the Newspapers. Carroll Shelby was in 14th place struggling and on lap 6 the bottom of engine came apart and was a DNF. Carroll Shelby did not race on Sunday which was the Main Event.

October 16, 1960 - Riverside International Raceway - It was the big 3rd annual Times- Mirror International Sports Car Grand Prix Races and it was a 200 mile race. It again was a top purse for racing of every kind and it attracted once again many of the very fastest racing cars made and attracted many International legendary divers of the day. There were over 120,000 race fans at the Riverside International Raceway and one was the now seeing well organized Factory Teams with huge trailers to compete for the big prize. The race was filled with excitement and the Old Yeller II after almost 200 miles of hard racing was closing in on the leading Birdcage Maserati Tipo 61 with the respected Billy Krause at the wheel. Billy Krause squeaked out the win with the Old Yeller II with Bobby Drake in Billy's mirrors. Just passed the finish line the Birdcage Maserati suddenly quit and coasted to a stop. For the 2nd place win, the Old Yeller II won a $2000 contingency check from Sponsor Autolite (the Autolite decal is still shown on the Old Yeller II as well as the red pegasus for Mobil would supply race gas if the decal of the flying horse was on the race car). In 3rd place was the great Scarab raced by Augie Pabst, 4th place went to Jim Jeffords in a Birdcage Maserati, 5th place went to Carroll Shelby in a Birdcage Maserati, 6th place went to International driver Roy Salvadori in a Cooper Monaco, 7th Place went to Phil Hill in a new Testarossa Ferrari and 8th was Jim Hall in a Birdcage Maserati. There were 10 cars that bettered the current track racing record of 2 minute, 6.97 seconds for the 3.275 mile track.. There was over $25,000 in prize funds. Road & Track Magazine (January 1961) had quoted... “ Drake masterfully flying Old Ugly as though it was a well-bred sports car…”.

October 23, 1960 - Laguna Seca- Pacific Coast Championship. Bobby Drake qualified the Old Yeller II as Dan Gurney struggled with his relatively new Lotus X1X with Max trying to help Dan get the Lotus Race Car working. Bobby Drake qualified the Old Yeller II with a 1:19.5. Dan Gurney accepted the "ride" in the Old Yeller II as he and his crew could not get the Lotus X1X working properly. Dan Gurney suffered a failure and that resulted in a DNF. 

November 6, 1960 - Pomona international Sports Car Races/ SCCA Cal Club Race.  Billy Krause raced Old Yeller II and did not finish the race. Once asked at the closing ceremony of Riverside Raceway… “ What is the most potent race car you have been in?” Billy Krause replied ...“The Old Yeller II.”

November 27, 1960 - Tucson Arizona SCCA Races. Max Balchowsky raced the Old Yeller II Buick Special to a fine 2nd place. Dick Morgensen was in 1st place with his Testarossa Ferrari

December 11, 1960 - Las Vegas International Sports Car Road Races/ CSCC. Paul O Shea (noted National SCCA Champion with his 300 SL Mercedes Gullwing) raced the last race of the great and historic race season for the Old Yeller II Buick Special. Paul O Shea took 1st place in the race with the Old Yeller II.

*Major Sponsor - Academy Award winning Cinematographer - Haskell Wexler with his Haskell Automotive Research and Development (in the beginning of the year there was still the restriction of having any sponsors for racing so Haskell established the Haskell Automotive Research Company as a "shell" for sponsoring the Old Yeller Race Cars.  Haskell sponsored the Old Yeller II, Old Yeller III (Ronnie Bucknum-driver), and the Old Yeller IV.

*Chuck Baldwin (Chuck saw the Old Yeller II race at Road America with Carroll Shelby racing in 1960) bought the Old Yeller II  January 1961… and the Old Yeller II was sent to Chicago. Chuck raced the car at Road America, Meadowdale Raceway and other race-tracks.

April 16, 1961- Indianapolis Raceway Park. The race was cancelled due to ice and snow

May 28, 1961 - Meadowdale Raceway- Chuck Baldwin raced the Old Yeller II for a 1st overall in the Preliminary race. The Feature 100 mile race was won by the Augie Pabst in the Scarab Chuck Baldwin won 2nd place overall.

June 25, 1961 - Indianapolis Raceway Park - Chuck Baldwin raced the Old Yeller II and resulted in a DNF.

July 23, 1961 - Meadowdale Raceway - Illinois- Chuck Baldwin crashed the Old Yeller II and a photograph showed the Old Yeller II on its side. Chuck raced the Old Yeller II for a 15th place

August 20, 1961 - Indianapolis Raceway Park - Chuck Baldwin was scheduled to race was a DNF. The final race re-scheduled.

September 11, 1961 - Eklhart- Road America 500 Miler - Chuck Baldwin (co- driver Bob Spooner) raced the Old Yeller II and resulted in a DNF.

*Ad - January 1962 - Road & Track- Old Yeller II for sale - Harry Woodnorth of Chicago - $5500

March 10, 1962 - Indianapolis Raceway Park - Chuck Baldwin raced the Old Yeller II and was a DNF.

*Ad - May 1962 - Road & Track- Old Yeller II for sale- Chuck Baldwin of Wisconsin - price= $4500

John Brophy of Bull Advertising Agency buys Old Yeller II- January 25, 1963 from Mac Dolien of Wisconsin.

February 1963 - Riverside International Raceway - John Brophy races the Old Yeller II at Riverside in SCCA regional race

April 4, 1963 - Tucson Arizona Race - John Brophy raced the Old Yeller II- 5th overall - SCCA sanctioned race

April 27-28,1963 - Del Mar- Pacific Coast Divisional Championship Race - John Brophy racing the Old Yeller II

*Ad - May 11, 1963 - Competition Press magazine- Old Yeller II for sale by John Brophy

*Ad - May 3-10, 1963 - "Motor Racing and Economy Car News-For Sale- $2700 Ol Yeller II –Mechanically A-1 – Trailer & spares” - John Brophy

*1964 - Jerry Entin (Drag Racer) buys Old Yeller II and Max helps Jerry get a SCCA license and first race was Santa Barbara International Road Races.

May 31, 1964 - Santa Barbara Road Races - Jerry Entin races the Old Yeller II and spins out 1st lap and still finishes 8th - Jay Halls wins with 1st place.

September 14, 1964 - Candlestick Park Road Races - Jerry Entin – shunt first turn with Art Snyder, Lotus – broke steering arm

* Old Yeller II races in the Elvis Presley movie Viva Las Vegas movie. Jerry Entin earns $4500 (Jerry pays Max $800)

August 17, 1964 - San Luis Obispo Road Races/ Jerry Entin raced the Old Yeller II and wins 1st place - C modified

October 3-4, 1964 - Del Mar Road Races - Jerry Entin raced and the axle broke at start of race and shunts with a Lotus 23 (Rich Erikson). The Old Yeller II sports a brand new 425 Buick Max built engine

November 1, 1964 - Phoenix, Arizona International Road Races. Jerry Entin races the Old Yeller II to a 1st place in the competitive C Modified class.

*Irwindale Drags - Jerry Entin - 1st place - 127 mph - low 12 seconds (with road racing set up)

September 6, 1964 - Santa Barbara Road Races. Jerry Entin races to a 1st place in C modified with the Old Yeller II

October 10-11, 1964 – 7th Annual Times Grand Prix Races. There were thousands of race fans and the 1959 Old Yeller II was outdated but Jerry Entin still felt that the Old Yeller II was competitive. - Jerry Entin raced the front engine Old Yeller II against the majority of rear engine race cars. The Old Yeller II broke in qualifying.

*Eric Hauser buys and races Old Yeller II.

*Ad - November 19, 1965 - Competition Press - Old Yeller II for sale- Eric Hauser of Los Angeles - $2500

April 1971 – New owner C.W. “Chuck”Cornett of Fresno-Swiss Racing Team-SCCA Club races- Holtville Old Yeller II

**Last SCCA Club race at Cotati 1973 – Old Yeller II crashes in after race and in the paddock as a young crew was driving the Old Yeller II. The Old Yeller II was stored for 4 years in the backyard of a house in Fresno California. 

**1978- Old Yeller II bought by Dave Gibb in semi wrecked state- restored the Old Yeller II in Santa Barbara. The Old Yeller II raced in Vintage/ Historic races (1979- 1990) by owner/ driver –Dave Gibbs of Oklahoma

*** 1991 The Old Yeller II was bought by Ernie Nagamatsu from Dave Gibb and came with related extra Old Yeller II spares.

*** The most recent owner and driver is Ernie Nagamatsu of Los Angeles. Ernie has raced Old Yeller II in Historic races from 1991 to present. The Old Yeller II has raced in England at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (2000 & 2005) and the Revival Meeting Races- Sussex Trophy races for over 12 times. The legendary race- car has also raced at the Monterey Historics races and the Elkhart Lake - Road America International Challenge races. Ernie has taken the Old Yeller II to many International racing events including New Zealand and Australia.