If you missed my post announcing that I’d be driving a 1955 Studebaker at Speedweek 2014, you don’t yet know that I’m not referring to my own Studebaker but Jerry Hansen’s ’55 Studebaker! Before I jump in and drive this thing for my first time down the salt, I needed to find out more about it’s story.


When he got this car, Jerry Hansen wasn’t looking for a ’55 Studebaker and he wasn’t intending to go to Bonneville.  Jerry had his eye out for a ’53, intending to build it as a street cruiser. When a ’55 popped up for sale in his local paper, he figured he could pop a front ’53 fiberglass clip on it, so went and purchased the ’55. After bringing it home, Jerry’s mom came to see it and said, “My dad had one like that.” Ends up Jerry’s grandpa used to drive a 1953 Commander back in North Dakota (pictured above) during the ’50s…so maybe it was meant to be that Jerry would find his way back to the Studebaker family.

The ’55 sat in storage for a number of years until the right pieces fell together. As owner of Excalibur Machining, Jerry does some work for Autotrend EFI. Dave at Autotrend, who’d been going to Bonneville for a number of years with a team running a ’32 roadster, suggested “You ought to go to Bonneville with that Stude.” He also suggested that Jerry look into LS engines instead of the 400 SBC he had ready to go.


When a friend crashed a Corvette, Jerry got the spoils – a 6.2L LS engine, 4L80 tranny, and Corvette front and rear ends. He gathered those up, as well as stopping body work to install a cage and safety stuff for land speed racing. Originally intending to run “time only,” there was no thought put into what motor and class he’d be running – he just wanted to go out there and have fun going fast! After an SCTA guy told him, “Time only is crap, you need to get that Stude out in the altered class,” Jerry decided to join the alters as his fuel injection and other items kept him from being in other classes.


Arriving on the salt with the Stude for his first ever Speedweek in 2013, Jerry caused some head scratching over at tech. Jerry says, “I had to explain in great detail that I was there to have fun and had no intention of going more than 175mph.” Nobody really understood why he didn’t have any intention of going over 175mph when the class record sat near 240. There’s one simple explanation for this, over 175mph the safety requirements go way up – which means so does the cost.

Jerry ended up squeaking by tech and he and three of his friends got their “D” licenses in the Studebaker. Since then he’s been making small aerodynamic and safety modifications to the Studebaker getting it ready for this year, which I’ll share more about in the next post. He also added on thing which really made me smile…


…my name under the driver’s door! I told Jerry that if he was going to give me a driver’s seat, he’d have to put me to work too! He took me up and also put Ethan to work as crew chief! I’m now a card carrying member of BNI, required to drive at Speedweek, and am looking forward to showing up on the salt this year – not just to watch, but to drive!

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