Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bonneville Boomer

In the early fifties Doug Rice built a highly modified 39 ford coupe. The car is chopped, channeled,  and sectioned with relocated fenders, a race mill, quick change rear,  full custom interior........ The list of modifications is endless.  The car is beautiful but the real story is the owner. Not much information about the build of this car was ever printed aside from the components and mods, but according to what is out there, Doug did all the work himself. Starting in Hawaii and later shipping the car to Washington state , every modification had to be completed by the end of the weekend because the car was his daily driver. This car is chopped and channeled. If these mods were completed in weekends the finished product is amazing. So Doug spends all his time and money building a beautiful 39 custom, the kind of car that has a rope around it at car shows, and all the while he's taking it to the strip. He's taking it to Bonneville. He's flogging it.
The car first showed up in 1953, unchopped, almost stock, running at Bonneville.  Most people would return to Bonneville with a race car but Doug shows up the following year with a full blown custom. In that years time, between speedweek 53 and speedweek 54, Doug got married, worked a job, chops,channels and sections his daily driver, goes on his honeymoon to California where he buys a 32 roadster, and returns to Bonneville with his new wife, using the roadster as there push car.  That is living.
So it's speedweek 1954. You've just done an incredible amount of work over the past year but you've made it. Your car is perfect, your new wife is beautiful and there to share in the glory of your accomplishment. Could life get any better? How about you've bolted your four pot intake on and you run  121.45 in C class coupe. Amazing.

Speedweek was over and Dougs accomplishment is astounding. His 39 garners the attention of HOT ROD magazine and will make an historic appearance in the Dec. 54 issue under the moniker "Bonneville Boomer", a title the car maintains to this day. That's a wrap right? Not quite. So Doug leaves speedweek, roadster in tow behind the coupe. Obviously not afraid to hammer his masterpiece, Doug breaks a crank-shaft in Idaho. Time for a flatbead right? Nope. Doug and his Mrs. push the coupe all the way back to Aberdeen with the roadster. One sits in the coupe and steers while the other sits in the roadster working the gas and brakes. For 600 miles. Doug married the right girl.

Over the years following speedweek 54, Doug runs the Boomer in various drag events as well as showing it in custom shows. The car shows up in multiple magazines and becomes a timeless legend, but what's really astounding is Doug. A guy who followed no rules or formula. He built the machine he wanted. He built a machine to do every job he wanted it to do.  He ran his perfect custom flat-out. Eventually Doug would sell the coupe and it would change hands several times, although it's doubtful it was ever driven the way Doug drove it. In a letter to Street Rodder magazine in 1986, Doug said he wishes he wouldn't have sold it.  Doug doesn't seem to be the kind of guy that would care to be someones hero but he's one of mine, and I'm sure he's done everything else in life the way he did his coupe. To the floor, flat-out and looking good.


  1. Hello,

    We are headed to Bonneville Speed Week 2010 with the Bonneville Boomer.

    Maybe we will see you there?

  2. Wow I'm honored you're even looking at this. I have some long term Bonneville plans but I'm probably still 2 years out. I'd love to see the Boomer on the salt though. Good luck and thanks.