Over the years, Jim and Nick Harrell built and raced a number of cars. Some were photographed, some were not. Nonetheless, there are enough examples to give us a feeling for the breadth and depth of their involvement in land racing from the early 1930s through the mid-1960s. 


     The following photo depicts a common scene in dry lakes racing during the 1930s, when young people drove their cars to a dry lake and then removed headlights and windshields for a day at the races. Jim (White) Harrell is on the left, in goggles, for his first photographed appearance at a dry lake meet in 1935. (This photo was first seen by us in Issue Five, 2003, Hop Up.)

     The Modified roadster number 75 with Jim (White) Harrell's Straight 8 Hudson engine was run with Bob Noble in 1940. Jim ran the same car and engine in 1941 on his own carrying the number 6. (This car is on the cover of the book described on this web site.)

     Car number 69, pictured below, was run by the Albata team of Jim (White) Harrell and Bob Knapton. It was Bob's modified and Jim's first V-8 flathead Ford engine built for racing.

 This picture and the following caption are from Throttle Magazine, Nov.-Dec. 1941, page 10. “Hail the champions! Here’s the Albata Club, the outfit that won its second straight SCTA club championship. Left to right, back row is: Paul Harestead, Bob Knapton, Bill Schwartzrock, Jim White [Harrell], Chuck Spurgin, Johnny Thomas, Bob Giovanine and Nick DeFrabrity. Front row is Bob Noble, Babe Ouse, Matsuo Euchi and Essau Chung. Camera shy boys not present were Bob Bebek and Ralph Schenck.”

This photo was provided by Bob Giovanine’s son Curt. He made the collection available to us on CD.


This photo is from the Harrell Family Collection.

The photo is from the Harrell Family Collection.

     The following photo shows Tony Capanna (left) and Jim Harrell at El Mirage Dry Lake in 1946. This was one of the first, if not the first, car and engine Jim ran after World War II. It was one of his first runs with his Harrell intake manifold. His first set of high performance heads were being machined at that time. 

Photo from Pat Berardini's Collection.

This photo is from the Harrell Family Collection, and was used wirh the caption in: Veda Orr, Hot Rod Pictorial, New Revised edition, page 29.

This photo was provided by Bob Giovanine’s son Curt.

     The following photo illustrates the closeness of the racing community in South Central L.A. in 1953. The 1934 coupe is the newly built Harrell Engines car, the Tudor in the middle is Tony Pollaccia's, and the roadster on the right is the Berardini Brothers' no. 3 (later renumbered as 404 Jr.). All three cars have Pat Berardini's paint with white flames, and Harrell built engines with Harrell Los Angeles heads. The Harrell coupe ran for about a year before it took a tumble one Sunday afternoon (fortunately Bob Morgan, the driver, was not seriously injured). The Harrells bought Berardini’s 1929 roadster and put their engine in it for about another year.

     By the end of World War II, Jim's brother Nick joined him at the Harrell Engines shop and spent the remainder of his working life there. Nick had been working around town as an auto mechanic since the late 1920s. He is pictured here in the late 1940s.

     The photo below shows the Harrell Special in the late 1940s with number 66 on the side. This is a “beefed-up” version of the same V-8 flathead Jim was running at El Mirage dry lake in 1946. The photo was taken on a typical Sunday afternoon at a local drag strip after taking first place in its class—note the trophy strategically placed on the cowl.

     By late 1956, Harrell Engines had completely rebuilt their  '29 roadster and reentered competition with what the racing media called the Chrysler powered "Red Hot Roadster."

 Photo of “Harrell Engines L.A.” in July 1960; from: 50 Years of Hot Rod by the Editors of Hot Rod magazine, 1998, page 54.

     By late 1955, Harrell Engines pulled their V-8 flathead out of their roadster and teamed with Willie Borsch to run a Chrysler OHV engine. At that time Willie Borsch replaced Bob Morgan, who had been driving Harrell Engines' cars for several years, very successfully.

Photo is from, Drag News, March 30, 1956, page 8, and provided by Rod McCarrell.


     By 1960, Harrell Engines and Willie Borsch, along with a lot of help from their friends, spent a good deal of time at the Harrell shop building an altered roadster for their Chrysler power. In the early trouble-shooting years it ran under the banner of "Jim's Auto Parts" as is evident in the following photo. This picture shows Vic Pollaccia on the left, Don Reynolds (in the driver's seat), Willie Borsch in the background playing catch with Phil Johnson in early 1962.

     For more about the development of the altered roadster from 1961 through 1966, as it became the "Winged Express," click on the tab "Harrell-Borsch Roadster & Altered" in this web site.

Photo by Rod Larmer.


Harrell Engines and Racing Equipment

Jim (White) Harrell & Nick Harrell

Harrell Engines' Race Cars

     Jim had been operating his speed shop in South Central Los Angeles since 1932. He and several of his friends were founding members of the Albata racing club in December of 1937. The following photo shows the club members after their 1940 championship season. The team was noted for working together and cooperating. Jim ran two cars in 1940 and partnered with two fellow Albatas. 

            There is another early photo of Jim at a lake’s meet about a year later with the same car. Jim is the young man without a shirt and looking very depressed. His roadster had obviously just broken its axle. This photo was first seen by us in Bob Taylor Family Collection at the American Hot Rod Foundation’s web site (ahrf.com, ID: HUM005). The caption with this photo (on the AHRF’s web site) reads as follows: “Street Roadster; Muroc Dry Lake; 1936.” In addition, the photo is joined with this comment :


The Franklin front axle decided to retire on these boys at Muroc in 1936. The three-springer might have been a track job before the narrowed ’23 body was added. These axles were noted for breaking especially when the spring perches were moved inward like on this one.”



     Jim White/Harrell was probably running the same roadster at Muroc on November 7, 1937 as number 39. He was running “T. Special” equipment and as a member of the 90 M.P.H. Club at that time (The Albata club wasn’t formed until December of 1937).


     Because Jim White/Harrell is clearly, directly involved with the roadster in both the "broken axle"

photo and the one just above it, we are almost certain this is one of the roadsters Jim owned and ran

during the mid- and late 1930s. At the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) meet on May

15, 1938, Jim ran his car number 2 with a Miller-Schofield head, as well as his car no. 4 with his "White Special” head. Then in July of that year, Jim again entered and ran two roadsters: his number 106 with a “White Special” head, and number 112 with his Schofield head.