Jimmy Martin grew up in Oregon’s burgeoning racing culture of the 1940s, made his way to the 1949 Indy 500 as a mechanic, became part of the SoCal performance parts shop and garage culture by the 1950s, traveled up and down the west coast as one of the many that helped to solidify the California – Pacific Northwest racing pipeline of racers, races and racing culture into the 1960s. Over the decades, he would expand his racing interests and by the 1970s, had come back to where it all started for him in Oregon.
Jimmy’s son, Gary Martin sifted through his father’s now-digitized photos and shares details about his dad and some of the people and places in his own words below:
WOS#3786 – GM03 p043: Jimmy Martin #9 Model T Roadster
From the pictures you can clearly see Jimmy Martin written on the side of a modified model T roadster # 9. My dad built that car with the help of Francis, and I believe Don (Duck) Collins. That car shows in a lot of the photos. But I also can see my dad sitting in the # 33 model A roadster, the one with the custom front end. I recall my dad telling me something about that car. I believe that was his second car but had been built by someone else, and ended up getting taken back by the builder for a reason I don’t recall.
WOS#3786 – GM05 p087: Jimmy Martin in a # 33 Model A Roadster
He [Jimmy Martin] was a mechanic at the 1949 and 1950 Indy 500. Hence all the pictures from the Indy speedway [Indianapolis Motor Speedway]. He was also stationed for a time in the San Diego area during the later stages of WWII. He told me they would drive up to LA at times and check out local racing and cars. It is here that there are two or three photos from Vic Edelbrock Sr.’s gas station/shop in LA showing some cars out in front, and one shot of senior Mr. Edelbrock.
In 1966 my dad took me to the Can Am races in Seattle at the old SIR [Seattle International Raceway] track, now Pacific Raceway. Those color pictures I took myself when I was 11 years old with my dad’s camera. Those are the shots with the Chaparral’s and other Can Am cars. There is one shot of a man standing next to a blue Corvette, and I believe that is Russ Gilbertson from Portland who was another good friend of my dad.
There are some shots from an Indy car race we went to at Sears Point [now, Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, CA] in the late 1960s [and 1970].
My dad was racing sports cars at this point, he had several—a Triumph Spitfire, then a Triumph TR4, then had a Datsun 2000 roadster car #98. That car is shown in a few pictures. The man standing by the car is Gene Blodgett, or Geno Blodgetti as my dad called him. Gene drove the Datsun at times. The last car my dad built was a Datsun 510, also car #98 and raced in B Sedan. When the factory BRE Datsuns were in town in 1970 or 1971 we raced against them.
My dad was also involved in the local Portland SCCA club and he might have even been president of it for a time in the 1970s.
The best picture of my dad out of the bunch is GM07 p109, showing him with a helmet on in a crowd of people. Very cool. Unfortunately, I do not know who the girl is, that is well before he met my mom. Possibly a girl he was dating?
Also I have no idea what Randy Francis looks like. Picture GM06 p093 is the 1926-27 model T runabout when it was a stock [car] before Jim turned it into the #9 race car. I’m not sure who the man sitting in the car is, but could be Randy Francis.
GM05 p078 shows four guys, looks like the guy on the left with sunglasses could be the same guy Francis (?) as the photo mentioned above [GM06 p093], and I do believe the guy on the far right is Don Collins but could be mistaken; no idea who the two in the middle are.
I can tell you pictures p046 – p074 are all from Indiana in either 1949 or 1950. Most are at the Indy 500, but it looks like a few (p071 – p074) are from some sprint car races nearby—you can see hills in the background.
And oddly enough p073 looks to be my dad sitting in the #7 sprint car—pretty sure he never drove one of those; must have been a photo opp. Len Sutton and [Rolla] Vollstedt used to run sprint cars—could have had something to do with that.
Photos p104 – p107 and p122 – p126 are definitely from an Indy car race at Sears Point [now, Sonoma Raceway] in 1970.
Photos p129 – p143 are from the 1965 Can Am race in Seattle at Seattle International Raceway [now, Pacific Raceways].
Photos p138 – p139 could be my dad’s friend Russ Gilbertson running in one of the support races in his Corvette.
Thanks to Gary for sharing details about the family photos now part of the World of Speed Archive. To see the complete collection, visit the Jim and Gary Martin Mid-Century Racing Collection.
This collection of mid-century racing photos was amassed by James L. (Jimmy) Martin and son Gary. Some identified subjects include: Portland Speedway, Roadster Racing Association of Oregon, Frankie McGowan, Al Reamer, Don Moore, Tom Story, Tom Bigelow, Dick Martin #14, Don Collins, George “Pop” Koach, Stocky Stockwell, Allen Heath, Chic Barso (driver), Clarence Smith (owner), Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Seattle International Raceway, and Art Pollard at Pacific Raceway.