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Torrey Pines,

Thumbnail: TR2 follows a Morgan away from the bluffs

Other than a Morgan followed by a TR2, what can we say? In later years there was an Oceanside Morgan racer named Willie West. Or was that Lew Spencer? Haybales, turn worker, radio tower, pacific ocean, coastal layer of clouds . . .   11-02-01 bulletin from Bill Oker:  "...the Morgan #59 is my Dad, Bob Oker, driving the Ed Savin owned Morgan. The car looks white in your picture, but it is actually turquoise."

Bob Oker is a name very familiar to me, but I'm not surprised I couldn't come up with it. As Bill Oker says, "It's hell getting old."
Thanks for the reminders. Well, one of them, anyway . . .

Photo: A really  old Benz at Torrey Pines

The Number 4 Benz in this photo is from Lindley Bothwell's collection.

On that day in Albuquerque while I waited for Bobby and Al Unser to pronounce my MGTD fit for the road, I had time to examine a Peugeot racer of about the same era and shape as the car pictured here. It was white, trimmed in green. The floor of the driving compartment was three feet off the ground.

(I have some of those Terraserver satellite photos of the Torrey mesa. If I can figure how to coordinate them with the course map I'll post particulars)

In the meantime, perhaps I'll describe the track as I remember it.
You can look at the course map as you check the description and photos.

Another face of Torrey Pines
Bill Bean's 1950s slides


I went to the FAA's website and did a search on the N number of one of the tow planes that were in the photos (the only one who's number I could make out), and believe it or not, that aircraft is still around! It was last registered in April of 1993, which means that someone took possession of it then. It has moved from Torrey to Alaska! Built in 1945, it is a Piper J3C-65, Serial Number is 13937! Pretty neat, huh?

John Mondary
Indianapolis, IN

Bob Storck describes the airplane and his Torrey experiences of this era:

It was one of two Cub towplanes that the Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California, the SD club, owned. My mother was an art teacher and one of her students was the president of the club. She found that she could learn to fly power planes in the Cubs during the week when they were not used towing gliders, and I could be a member on the family membership. We both soloed within months while my dad was stationed in Entiwetok for H-bomb testing.

The AGCSC had just rebuilt the Cub about that time, converting the original 65hp engine to a 115hp, considered to be a big step up at the time, and we got the change approved by the FAA, keeping it in standard license. Little did we know that later Super Cubs would be built with 125, 135, 140, 150, 160 and eventually 180hp. Even more without FAA certification. We thought the 115 was a rocket! Note that it is not a Super Cub, in that it does not have flaps. Good to hear it's still around.

The main Torrey Pines runway was east west, 90/270, from the tree line on the east and ending on the cliff edge. The takeoff point was high, then a long dip of at least 30', running uphill to a high point on the edge. We had a winch located there, using a 50s Olds V8 engine driving a big reel with a level wind, pulling in the cable to launch the gliders. It was mounted on the back of a 1927 Reo truck, no windshield or cab top, and only a bare frame in back where the engine, protective cage for winch operator, and reel was located. We often stored the winch rig in our backyard in Pacific Beach, and I learned to drive on it at age 13/14, moving it around the field and occasionally on the highway. (you can solo gliders at 14, and I did so on my birthday). The Reo had a straight cut three speed, so I started out double clutching. Shuffling 25' long glider trailers around glider fields backing them into parallel parking spots, also enhanced my skills.

We could get 800-1000' of altitude, depending on the prevailing head wind, and the glider runway was about 2000' long. Upon release, you'd coast back and forth parallel to the cliff, turning inland (downwind of course), just north of the winch where there was a cut in the cliff edge, landing parallel to the take off runway. The Cub is taking off on a diagonal towplane runway, slightly SE to NW, about 150/330. It ran from inland through the dip and across the cut, to the cliff edge again, crossing past the southerly links of the vaunted golf club. The towplane runway was shorter, and the brow the winch was on provided a bit of cross wind protection.

Our training was conducted at Torrey Pines, with most soaring done out of Lake Elsinore airport, before the lake flooded in the 60s, and also at El Mirage dry lake near Edwards AFB. Shared the lake with a lot of racers, but that's more stories.

More than you wanted to know.

Cheers, Bob

To see Bill Bean's glider photos from mid-50s Torrey, click H E R E

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