In July 11 IssueRussell County NewsBy Ron Cowell, Columnist
Since the beginning of this Cruise In season, one car has caught the eye of many spectators. I have received many emails asking about the car and it’s owner and history. At the Block Party at Sonic Drive In I caught up with Alfred Hadley of Jamestown, Kentucky and had the pleasure of talking to him about his 1936 Studebaker Dictator Coupe.
Alfred is only the third owner of the car since it was new in 1936.
The vehicle was purchased from George Reitenour. Mr. Reitenour did a lot of race car driving and had a lot of fun with the car before selling it to Alfred. At one point George became ill and parked the car for close to 20 years. He did keep it started and kept up the body and paint but didn’t drive it. It just sat in storage. Alfred wanted to buy the car but for the longest time it was just not for sale. One day out of the blue Alfred was offered the car from George and he has been the proud owner forever since.
This car is something to see in itself but when you learn the history of the car also it’s truly amazing. This car has been entered in 4 Cross Country races over the years, 1987, 1988, 1989 and in 1995, and did quite well. Alfred told me there had been some minor changes made to the vehicle over the years, like changing it from a 6 volt system to a 12 volt. Also the car runs Nitrogen in the tires instead of air so it will maintain even tire pressure.
I was sure a vehicle that had been around that long and been in all those Cross Country races had to have a story or two that came to mind when Alfred thinks about the car. He told me a story that he said he could smile about now but at the time he wondered if he and George or the car would ever see the next day.
In a Cross Country race from Ottawa, Canada to Mexico City he and George were going through Utah. They saw a sign that said there was a seven percent grade in the road ahead for the next 35 miles. George was driving the car at that time which was a blessing because he had a lot of experience driving and sliding into a curve on the race track. This experience came in handy when they started down the 35 mile grade and when George tapped the brake the pedal went to the floor, there were no brakes on the car.
For those of you who have driven out to the State Park from Jamestown you know what that road is like, one curve after another. Well, that’s what George and Alfred were looking at ahead of them, all down hill with NO brakes! It was a two lane road and in many places no guard rail and nothing but a drop off on one side of the road.
George’s experience on the racetrack came in handy as they kept picking up speed as they rolled down the hill. He slid into the curves like he was on that dirt track racing and with the good Lord looking over them, they made it down the grade safely. When they reached the bottom of the hill they had passed cars that were in the race and close to two minuets ahead of them when they first started down the hill.
In one of the other races they were driving along and heard an airplane and seemed like it was awful close to them. They looked up and flying above them by only 15 feet was a crop duster type plane with a camera man taking pictures for the race. This was a little bit close but the pilot knew what he was doing. The next thing they knew, this plane had set down on the road ahead of them and was shooting pictures of them as they drove down the road. The plane stayed on the road ahead of them for about ¼ mile taking pictures before taking off to the air again.
Those were just two of the many stories behind this car and it’s history.
There are many more stories that can be told about the car and it’s owner. When you attend a show and see Alfred and his wife there with the 1936 Studabaker stop by and talk to them. They are really nice people and enjoy talking to others about the car and the experiences they have had with it.
They own eight other Studabakers along with a 1955 Packard and a 1954 Ford Pickup truck.
If your Car Club is having an event and you would like us to tell everyone about or someone who you would like to see featured in this article send all information to, email@example.com
All information on upcoming events needs to be in at least two weeks before the event.
If your Club or church or group is having an event and you would like to display some classic cars at that event let me know at least two weeks in advance. One or all of the clubs in the area would be more than happy to bring the cars out for you.