Dode Martin passed away on February 1st 2018 at the age of 93
Feb 7, 2018 11:08 AM - 345 Views
Everything began in 1925, where Martin was born in La Hambra, California shortly before moving to Fallbrook, CA, where he resided his entire life. A self-taught welder and hot rodder, Martin’s first attempt at speed was a ’28 Chevrolet chassis and driveline with a T-body dropped on, which served duty during his teenage years before he was drafted into WWII while working at Douglas Aircraft, in Long Beach. In 1944, Martin was trained and dropped into the Battle of the Bulge, World War II’s deadliest and bloodiest battle as Hitler attempted a last-ditch Blitzkrieg to wedge an axe between allied forces as the war came to a close.
After recovering from WWII, Martin re-entered the burgeoning racing world with the 1950 opening of the Santa Ana Drag Strip (operated on a side runway at Orange County Airport). While the land speed racers had been developing their own streamlined specialties, post-war drag racers were splayed in every direction trying to figure out the best solution to the new quarter-mile time trial. What caught Martin’s eye was Dick Kraft’s “Bug,” a Model T stripped to the rails and cowl with a Flathead stuffed up front, and a single seat precariously attached to the back. Kraft’s “less is more” approach to light-weighting inspired Martin to do the same with another Model A frame, the engine out of his coupe, and the transmission and rear end out of a ’36 Ford to create his own flyweight racer, the same one that upon seeing the chopped-up coupe, C.J. “Pappy” Hart famously asked: “What the heck am I going to call your car?” Without an apt description, Pappy slapped the “dragster” label on Martin’s contraption, becoming one of the first known applications of the word itself.
What a great story of a man who served his country and then came back to do even greater things.
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