Larry Steinegger and Al Eshenbaugh teamed up in the late 50s and had other race cars before this one, which was their last. Their teamwork and friendship was solid and long lasting with Steinegger making the horsepower and Eshenbaugh pushing the pedals. This post includes a gallery of vintage photos from Phoenix, another of photos of the restored car, and two videos.
The team of Steinegger and Eshenbaugh is generally credited with bringing professional racing to the Phoenix area and they carried the Arizona banner at tracks throughout the nation. Steinegger was the builder and crew chief and Eshenbaugh drove the car at a lightning pace down the quarter mile drag strips around the country. They list many championship wins in their resume, and although not as young as they used to be, they are not through yet. They are preparing a car to run on the Bonneville salt flats.
One of the original nine Cacklefest cars, the Steinegger & Eshenbaugh AA/FD (1962-1964) comes with impeccable documentation as one of the quickest and fastest dragsters to hail from Arizona in the 1960’s. The driver was Al Eshenbaugh from Phoenix, Arizona. This car, with a 130″ Rod Stuckey chassis and a 392 hemi on 98%, saw runs of 6.98 at 208.00 during its era. In addition to winning no less than 15 Top Eliminators in a row at Beeline Dragway in Phoenix during 1964, it also took first place one year at the Arizona Fuel & Gas Championships and held the No. 9 spot on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator List for a period of time. They were Arizona State Champions in 1964 & 1965. S&E believed in function over form so the car was, by definition, no frills. This fuel dragster was built to race and that’s exactly what it did. From Cracklefest.
A couple of years ago I was privileged to become involved with the project of creating artwork for a body wrap using vintage photographs. Thanks to Brian Wilson of Clear Vision Printing and Graphics.
After selling the car in 1966, Steinegger and Eshenbaugh did their own things, including raising families. The car was just a great memory for them. It wasn’t until the California Hot Rod Reunion’s became the event of the year that Steinegger’s interest in drag racing was revisited. But even then he didn’t actively seek out his old car. That happened by fate.
In early 1999 an old friend of Larry and Al, Tom Walsh was checking out wrecking yards and body shops for treasures when he found a dragster chassis behind a small body shop in Higley, Arizona. He called Steinegger and wanted him to help identify the thing. Walsh thought it was their old car but wasn’t sure. On instinct he bought it and brought it home.
Sure enough it was the S&E Stucky car. The rear end had been moved and the front axle and torsion bar were gone. The chassis also had some “new brackets” and small block Chevy motor mounts. Not “needing” a dragster, Tom Walsh was looking for racing stuff to decorate his house and Steinegger had an old windowed 392 with a couple of rods out the side. The trade was made and Walsh had a coffee table, and Steinegger had his old dragster. Everybody was happy.
Steinegger then took the car to Paul Henderson’s shop and started thrashing on it. They had lots of pictures and memories to go by and also help from Clint Brown who built the original nose and other body parts. Steinegger is a self proclaimed ‘pack rat’ and was amazed at how much stuff for the car he had stashed away. He had Hemi parts, blower drive parts and the original steering wheel. Ray Agee even had the original push bar key and he donated it to the cause. A lot of elbow grease and machine work from J.T. Stewart and the thing came together. From Cracklefest.
This is how the project turned out. Pretty cool.
20 minutes from the way-back machine. Thanks to Paul Henderson.