Publish date:

Bothwell's Banshees


The wonderfully nostalgic racing cars on the following pages are the pride of Lindley Bothwell, the California citrus rancher who invented, while an Oregon State cheerleader, the card stunts that since have decorated an implausible number of Coast football games, and who serves today as the Los Angeles regional executive of the Sports Car Club of America.

At 12 Bothwell discovered the allure of speed by whizzing down Los Angeles' Cahuenga Pass at 50 mph on a high-wheeled coaster cart. In 1926 he bought his first old car, a 1901 Olds, and two years later a 1909 Benz driven by Eddie Hearne and a 1907 Stearns which had known the heavy foot of the great Barney Oldfield. Today Bothwell has 18 veteran racing cars, 16 of which are shown here—all fitted with the riding mechanics' seats that typified the racers of a lusty bygone era.

There is no Walter Mitty in Bothwell; he races those clattering antiques himself, and his competitors have included such spirited leadfoots as Duke Nalon, Henry Banks, Jack McGrath and Manuel Ayulo. Bothwell's racers may be seen five or six times a year at events on the Coast and on Catalina Island. His chief regret is that no one else west of the Rockies maintains a similar stable, against which he might have a rousing series.

The particular jewel of this group is the No. 66 boat-tailed Peugeot (see page 122) with which Dario Resta won the 1916 Indianapolis "500" ("I think he would sell me before he would sell that car," says Mrs. Both-well thoughtfully). Bothwell took it to the Brickyard in 1949 and turned an exhibition lap at an amazing 103.25 mph. Resta had won the 1916 event at the relatively leisurely pace of 84 mph.

Besides the racers Bothwell has a tidy collection of 69 other cars, and if you think his acquisitive interest in rapid transit ends there, you are mistaken, because he has five old Los Angeles streetcars in his barn as well.

Racing at pebble beach, three of Lindley Bothwell's rapid antiques recapture the flavor of the automobile's toddling days. From top: a 1913 Stutz once driven by famed Bob Burman, a 1916 Hudson and a 1910 Buick.

Gleaming lineup of vintage racing cars is displayed by California Owner Lindley Bothwell. All are kept in top racing condition. From bottom: 1914 Ford, 1913 Peugeot, 1907 Stearns, 1909 Pope-Hartford, 1913 Stutz, 1908 Benz, 1907 Packard, 1914 Ford, 1909 Benz, 1910 Buick, 1909 Mercedes, 1914 National, 1916 Hudson, 1910 Simplex, 1905 Mercedes and 1912 Cadillac.