Rucker's rides raise eyebrows

Gary Rucker’s Streamliner mega-rod recently re-enacted the 1928 land speed record of 225 mph in Ormond Beach, Fla. Courtesy

Gary Rucker’s Streamliner mega-rod recently re-enacted the 1928 land speed record of 225 mph in Ormond Beach, Fla. Courtesy

Gary Rucker of Kingman and his crew took their Streamliner mega-rod to Ormond Beach, Fla., on March 4-5 to re-enact the 1928 land speed record set by Frank Lockhart and were awarded the Frank Lockhart award for mechanical innovation and craftsmanship.

"Our car loosely resembles Lockhart's car," Rucker said. "It's geared to match Lockhart's 1928 speed of 225 miles per hour."

Rucker said that each year the Motor Racing Heritage Association hosts a re-enactment down Ormond-Daytona Beach to celebrate past world speed record holders dating all the way back to 1903.

The Streamliner is 30 feet long and is completely custom-built. The car is powered by a V-12 2,500 cubic-inch Packard marine engine rated at 1,875 horsepower. The engine was originally designed and built for the PT boats in World War II, according to Rucker.

Rucker said he and his cousin, Rodney Rucker, and some other car builders in California and Oregon are behind the building of the mega-rods.

"He's got the money, and I've got the mechanical knowledge," Rucker said. "We're known as the Blast-O-Lene Brothers in the circuit, and we're the only one in the world building these mega-rods."

The Ruckers keep their eyes open for any displacement engines. Those are engines over 1,000 cubic inches, Gary Rucker said. The work of building the cars occurs at a place Rucker has out at the airport.

Building the mega-rods is Rucker's winter job. His other job during the summer months keeps him plenty busy.

"I fly for the forest service, putting out fires in the western states," he said.

When a mega-rod has been built, Rucker said that they could sell for several hundred thousand dollars, but the cars actually being sold are another story. "We've kept more than we've sold," he said.

Rucker said that he has sold large engines and provided technical support to large car collectors such as "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno.

The construction of a museum in Winslow is on the slate for Rucker and his cousin. The plan is for the museum to be interactive and will include a track for the large cars. "People will be able to buy rides in these cars for their families at the museum," he said.

The Rucker family has been in Kingman for more than 50 years. "My dad started a car repair business here in Kingman in 1947," he said. "I just sold my business, Rucker Auto and RV, that was on Airway (Avenue)."

When hauling one of the mega-rods to a car show, Rucker said that it is likely that he'll spend at least 30 minutes gassing up because of all the questions he gets asked. "People are very interested. When our cars show up, they cause mini-riots," he said. "People are amazed because they definitely are one of a kind."

Rucker said that he is planning a special entry for the Route 66 Fun Run on May 2-4 that starts in Seligman and ends in Golden Shores/Topock. In past Fun Runs, Rucker said that he has driven cars from the collection that were featured in the 1965 movie "The Great Race" that starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon and Natalie Wood.