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Tue, 6 Jun 2006, 12:39 PM

Fast Five with Bill "Short Round" Roell and Jim 'Dauber" Farr
Courtesy of Bill Groak

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Short Round and Dauber are back!

For nearly 40 years, Jim Farr and Bill Roell, better known as "Short Round and Dauber", teamed up to paint countless race cars, motorcycles and hot rods. For the first 10 years they worked continuously in a custom paint shop and turned out wicked paint jobs for such noted racers as Jim and Allison Lee, and Raymond Godman, and Frakes and Funk. Now it's their turn to be in the spotlight as they are Honorees at the Holley NHRA National Hot Reunion, presented by DuPont Automotive Finishes, June 16-18, at Beech Bend Raceway Park in Bowling Green, Ky.

1. How does it feel to be named an Honoree at the 4th annual NHRA Holley National Hot Rod Reunion? What does the Reunion mean to you?

Bill Roell: It's a great feeling to be recognized by fellow racers especially those who remember or were around back then. The Reunion means a lot to me because I was part of the experience of racing when it was fun to do.

Jim Farr: It is a most humbling experience. Knowing that there are - and were - thousands of unknown, anonymous artists, often underpaid and underappreciated by their patrons, requires my attention and appreciation of this honor. It is furthermore poignant, especially since Bill Roell will by the first custom painter and me, the first artist/striper/designer/calligrapher, to be so honored.

2. When you retired, did you think you'd be honored years later? Are you surprised that people remember your exploits?

Roell: I never gave it a thought. I was just glad to be honored along with Tom Hanna, George Cerny, Don Long and the rest of history. I sure hope some people remember all of the hard work that was put in on some really ugly race cars to make them look respectable. We had many customs that won best appearing awards and I hope that we made a difference in the lives of those racers.

Farr: When Bill Roell closed that shop, we continued to work in shops, doing street cars, hot rods, motorcycles, customs and race cars. As a result we still refer work to one another, and have a much broader, more appreciative and diverse client base.

It's a base sophisticated enough to know the value of original hot rod flames, real gold leaf lettering and freehand pin striping.

3. What are some of your fondest (and funniest) memories about the drag racing sport during your time? What do you miss most?

Roell: My first project was painting a dragster body in the 1960s. I applied talcum powder to the panels to keep them from sticking together. When the car first raced, it came speeding down the initial pass spraying the talc everywhere! There are some other funny stories I vividly remember, but most can't be told publicly! You know racers&. I really miss creating color schemes and layouts, along with the old trick paint work that we used to do. I still keep in contact with quite a few guys. I'm glad they're still around to shoot the bull with.

Farr: I miss seeing the cars I'd painted hurtling down the track toward the finish line.

One time I heard a nationally ranked driver tell another that he "didn't make the car go fast enough" because he didn't "know how." The other driver, not willing to readily take such an insult, challenged him to a few laps. The following Monday the loud-mouthed driver brought his car into our shop with a flattened right fender, like it had recently come into extended contact with a guard rail. Upon seeing my broad smile, he snorted, 'Not a word outta you!'

4. How did you two start working together? Are you surprised at the popularity of vintage drag racing?

Roell: I met him at a car show. We had a 48/ Anglia B/G car and he asked me if I would like him to stripe it. I told him that I could stripe, and he showed me pictures of things that he'd done and we hit it off right away. Two months later I called him about lettering for me at my new painting business, doing race cars only.

I worked at a Cadillac dealer in Cincinnati and ran my own shop after-hours. That lasted about a year and a half then I went full-time and so did he. We painted from 1967 to 1976.

Farr: I can honestly say that I am not surprised at how popular the vintage drag racing is - between the NHRA nostalgia races and the ones that the GoodGuys puts on, there are some very good programs for vintage cars. I think there is a large group of people that really enjoy seeing the style of cars that ran 25 to 30 years ago. I also think the nostalgia races are at a somewhat slower pace than the fuel classes of the modern day races. The vintage programs have allowed people who cannot afford to run a car on the NHRA PowerADE series the opportunity to be involved in the sport in a less costly alternative.

5. What sort of projects are you involved with now? What do you think of today's painting techniques versus those employed during your day? How about drag racers today?

Roell: I still paint flames and do some striping if I have the time for it. Lately, my biggest claim to fame is the Ohio style flames which we started doing for street rods. They've gotten a lot of ink in the magazines lately. House of Color and all the paint companies have custom colors out now, but back then I had to make all of my candy colors from scratch. We experimented a lot with color mixing and layering. The new paint is a lot like the old stuff, but I still like the old lacquer colors for clarity and depth.

The 4th annual Holley NHRA National Hot Rod Reunion, presented by DuPont Automotive Finishes, June 16-18 at Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Ky., is a 3-day festival of speed, hot rods and American automotive enthusiasm. Produced by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California and located in Pomona, Calif., the Reunion is part of the museum's "living history" philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of drag racing, land speed racing and the golden age of American car culture.

Unique among motorsports events, the Reunion honors some of the top names in hot rodding from the past and features a fabulous array of cool drag cars, street rods and customs of the historic and present-day hot rod eras.

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