Skip Hess-Gasser Legend

Skip Hess

Skipper's Critter and More

Skip Hess was born in Chicago.  His father passed away when he was 12 and he moved with his mother to San Diego, California.  In the mid-1960's Skip Hess and his partner Jim Shores brought out one of the first Anglias to compete at national events.  They ran match races at Lion's Drag Strip and Irwindale raceway.  While attending high school in San Diego, Skip spent much of his free time at Burner's Auto Body.  His first car was a 32 Ford with a 354 Chrysler. Skip drove this car to school and would race it at Paradise Mesa.

Skip then attended college and studied mechanical engineering.  He sold the 32 Ford and bought a new 62 Corvette.  With some help from friends he built this car for CM/SP with a 375 small-block Chevy with a Hilborn injection.  They called the car the Wildebeast and even at a heavy 3,500 pounds, it set a national record.  Skip met Jim Shores in 1964 and they got together to beat Johnny Loper's unblown A/G Anglia.  In 1965 they pooled their funds and hired Don Long to build them their own Anglia.  This car was equipped with a Hilborn-injected 375 small-block Chevy and a 4-speed transmission.  Skip wanted to switch to a B&M Hydromatic due to the incompatibility of the 4-speed and the short wheelbase.  Jim was strongly against this so, Shores & Hess broke up.

Skip changed the tranny and he proceeded to set an A/G record of 137.40 mph at California's Half Moon Bay.  Shores was there and this run changed his mind; It was Shores and Hess once again.  Not long after they renamed their car Skipper's Critter but changed back to Shores and Hess again.  They move up to the A/Gas Supercharged class after setting some new records and began running against Stone, Woods & Cook and Big John Mazmanian.

When Chevrolet released the 396 Big Block in 1965, the team got one and put it into the Anglia.  After some time the team again disolved to pursue their own interests, Skip's being in the direction of work and family.  In 1968 Skip built a new car.  With the help of Tom McEwen and the Ford company, he was given everything Ford made and a fiberglass Mustang body. Skip got sponsorship from Meguiar's, Goodyear, Pennzoil, and Autolite.  He was very proud of the fact that he didn't have to put any of own money into this car.  He also went to Revell, who had already made a model of his Anglia, and received additional help.

Skip's new car had a Jim Kirby chasis, Ford SOHC engine, and a B&M Ford C-6 transmission.  With financial help from Jack Burr and Kent Rogers, the car set low e.t. at nearly every track it ran.  On gasoline it ran a best of 8.32 at 168.75 mph and when they used alcohol to participate in the 16-car Funny Car shows, it ran 7.6s at 180 mph.  In the early 70s with the growing popularity of funny Cars combined with NHRA dropping the A/GS Supercharged class Skip decided to retire form drag racing.  Skip sold the Revell Kit Mustang to John Smith from Oregon who put a Chevy big-block in it and ran it as an A/Gasser.

In 1973, with the help of drag racing partner, Bill Miller, Skip Hess stated his own business, Mongoose Bicycles.  The two were part sponsors of McEwens' Funny Cars for about 10 years.  The company grew and Skip sold it "when the time was right" in 1985. He remained the president until the acquisition was complete in 1988.  Now semi-retired, Skip has many ties to the bicycle business. He admits that he still has the desire to get behind a supercharged engine again.  His friends, Jerry and Gary Mallicoat have a new car and don't want to drive it themselves.  Skip says, "I've thrown my hat in the ring. The car would race about 10 times a year around the West Coast, which would really work for me." We hope that Skip gets that chance.

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