The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
JIM HAYTER, FEATURE AT GIBB'S CAR SHOW
by Dessa Rodeffer,, Quill Publisher
Friendships developed during the Fred Gibb racing era that remain constant, such as the one between one of Fred Gibb's mechanics and Gibb's race driver in 1971.
Jim Hayter, the driver who raced Gibb's #1 1969 ZL1 Camaro
in the points race to #1 in the A.H.R.A. World Championship was asked by Fred who he wanted to take to California with him and he replied Paul Anderson.
Hayter said, "Paul is a mechanic interested in that type of stuff. He worked the normal mechanical work and then would go weekends to races. He knew the ropes, what to do and not to do. He knew what I expected without ever being asked for it.
"He would pour the water for the water-burn out just before the run," Hayter said, to get the tires heated to 140 degrees so it won't spin but have traction."
Anderson had raced cars himself in California, and saw Hayter race, though they didn't become acquainted until Fred hired Hayter to come to La Harpe and race his ZL1.
2006 was the 8th Annual Fred Gibb Memorial Car Show, but it was the first time that Fred's race driver Jim Hayter was featured in the event. He traveled in an RV with his wife, Velma, from their home in Cushing, Oklahoma.
Gibb's racing legacy came about due to a lot of things. His financial investment in purchasing race cars in General Motors' COPO program, hiring great race drivers and mechanics, and his ability to meet and work with key people. He listened and made some tough decisions, and he was willing to take chances. Jim Hayter was a race driver Fred decided to take a chance on.
Fred had already been racing his 1967 Z/28 "Little Hoss" with Herb Fox driving very successfully and was a national winner in his class in '68.
Then Gibb's #1 1969 ZL-1 Camaro had won several races with Herb Fox in 1969, and with Ray Sullin in 1970.
Fred and Hayter's mutual friend (a manufacturer of race car parts), brought the two together when he learned Fred was looking for someone to race his ZL1.
"Our talk went well on the phone," Hayter said. "A week later I drove up and we agreed on everything. Our goal was to put a winning program together."
Hayter was hired and moved to La Harpe for a year, He spent his time building the car, changing it, upgrading it from the fancy 1969 ZL1 show car that raced the previous years. At Hayter's request, the gold lace came off and the car was painted a bright red. Jim Hayter's name was painted across the back in large letters in place of Dick Harrell and Harrell's name was moved below using smaller lettering. Fred Gibb Chevrolet's name remained center stage on the car doors.
The pay for winning match races was $750 for 2 out of 3, and $1250 for 3 out of 5, Hayter said.
"I was paid $800, and if I did a good job, there would be a bonus. After every race Hayter did maintenance and replaced parts working non-stop, he said.
"Car parts weren't as durable as they are today," he explained which he credits to the racing world.
Herb Fox said the aluminum engine was replaced with a more powerful Diamond Racing¨ cast iron 427 cubic-inch engine after it blew in Arizona in a test run," Herb Fox said.
Their first race was in West Palm Beach, Florida where Hayter/Gibb was runner-up in the 1/4 mile.
"I saw some things that went wrong, returned to La Harpe and tore the whole car apart again," he said.
"Sometimes you have to get spanked real good to realize you're doing things wrong. We were the underdog."
Hayter said they continued to race in Keokuk and did some other things like St. Louis, Texas, and Chicago.
"We would go places to earn points," Hayter said, "to get to the end of the rainbow."
Hayter would chose races where he thought they would have the advantage. Sleep was at a minimum.
He always is looking for the advantage. There is a gray area in what you can and cannot do and he tries to get in the edge of it.
"We did a series of races to earn points. Bob Lambeck, a young buck in 4th, in a Dodge Duster, and I were going back and forth in the points race," Hayter said. "At the World's Finals, my goal was to win.
There were 500-600 cars, he said, with 25 competing in his class of which only 16 could make the cut to the finals.
"There were 4 rounds of jockeying for a position ," he said, "and I was the number 1 qualifier. "My goal, was to qualify for second place. Joe Satmary of Chicago was in first position in points.
I wanted Joe in first, me in second, and Bob in third, and that's how it was," Hayter said.
The number 3 car had to race the number 1 car in the semi-final s and number 2 ends up racing the winner of that race.
Hayter wanted them "to beat each other up" before he raced them and that is just what happened. Joe Satmary, who was first in the points race was edged out and it put the Gibb/Hayter car into the lead for points. The final race, was just "the icing on the cake" as Hayter had already claimed the AHRA World Points Championship.
He said it was a good chunk of money but wouldn't give the amount. The purse was $10,000, he said, and he was to get 25% if he won. "We had won quite a bit on a smaller scale," he said. "It was the most anyone ever won and the 2nd year for the Pro Stock class.
In addition, the winner only, also gets paid for each decal/sponsor that is on the car.
A winner today in the same race has a purse of $200,000, plus earnings all year, Hayter said.
In World Championships today, you gain sponsors for the following year to support your habit for an average deal of $250-$300,000.
Jim's wife Velma told how intense Jim gets when he is racing, "When Jim races, he is attuned to the car's every movement. And when things go wrong, he will work with only 2 hours sleep. We and U.P.S. are good friends."
A lot of things go into a race, its a total mental focus, Hayter explained. "Weather-the track-parts-humidity, water grains, heat, it all means something. You have to correct it with the altitude and the weather.
"The more correction for altitude the less horsepower your engine makes," Hayter said. "You will lose 75-100 horsepower from here to Colorado. You don't get horsepower back, he said. "You add or change gearing."
For instance, I ran a 517 rear end in St. Louis and 563 rear end in Denver's Mile High."
After Hayter and Gibb won the 1971 AHRA World Pro Stock Championship, he and Gibb agreed to go their separate ways. Hayter said there was a class change coming up and he wanted to continue racing at the next level, and Gibb wanted to return to his responsibilities in his community.
"We both made wise choices for us. In 1971- Fred got out on top of Nationals. People go a whole life and never win a race. We had a good team chemistry. Fred, me, and Paul worked together well with everyone pulling in the same direction.
Hayter, born in 1941 in Cushing, Oklahoma, was 16 when he became interested in cars. His 20 year old brother had a fancy 1955 Chevrolet.
His first car was a black 1927 Model A, he painted red, built, showed, and drove for pleasure. He went from that to a 1950 Ford with an Oldsmobile V8 engine in it and he painted it blue and street raced at age 17. He learned from his brother, at home. He bought a 1958 Chevrolet BelAir Convertible loaded up with a Corvette 270 HP engine. He graduated from high school and went to the drag strip with no seat belt, no helmets, and no concern about safety, he said, and he won quite a bit.
Hayter said, "I learned, you don't necessarily have to be the fastest car, but you've got to be on time.
It's a lot of mental focus and absolute."
Hayter is an Air Force Veteran serving four years as part of a crew who put fuel inside the storage of the upper airplanes. At age 64, he is still racing with the Richard Freeman racing team in Paul's Valley, OK. Hoosier Tire is his sponsor.
Hayter had many stories of his racing adventures but his connections his paring with Fred Gibb in 1971 have put them both in history books in the racing world.
From left Jim Hayter, his wife Velma of Oklahoma enjoy their stay at Bev and Paul Andersons of La Harpe