In Memoriam: Saying Goodbye to Influential Hobbyists

Bob McAtee, Collector

Mopar maven Bob McAtee died Jan. 9, 2007. A collector with tremendous vision, McAtee sold Chryslers and often bought the best cars his customers traded in. He purchased his rare Chrysler 300-F four-speed hardtop immediately after the car set the “Flying Mile” record at Daytona in ’60.

Dick Landy, Drag Racer

Well-known early-‘60s Mopar drag racer “Dandy” Dick Landy passed away on Jan. 11 of kidney failure. Landy’s silver-and-black wheel-standing Dodges were drag strip terrors in their day.

Robert E. Petersen, Publisher

The founder of Hot Rod and Motor Trend, as well as the Petersen Automotive Museum, passed away on March 23, in Santa Monica, California, following a short battle with neuroendocrine cancer. Petersen was 80 years old.

Ann Klein, Tire Maker

Elizabeth Ann Klein passed away March 31, 2007. She was 76 years old. Ann founded the Universal Tire Co. to produce special tires for antique cars. She owned a large number of vehicles including a Kissel, a Winton and a Mack tow truck. She was a Charter Life Member of the Classic Car Club of America. Ann battled ALS since 1982.

George E. Kreissl, Charity Rally Founder

On April 3, George E. Kreissl, 71, passed away. George and his wife Jan were founders of the Lake Geneva (Wisconsin) Classic Car Rally. This poker run was started in 1978 to honor their daughter Corinne who died a year earlier of Biliary Atresia, a terminal liver condition. Over 30 years, the rally has raised nearly $1 million to fight childhood cancer.

Jess Ruffalo, Collector

A third Mopar personality passed away May 3, 2007, when Jesse J. Ruffalo of Plainfield, Wisconsin died suddenly at home. The founder of a trucking company, Ruffalo had a large collection of ‘50s and ‘60s cars — mostly finned Mopars — that he exhibited for the enjoyment of many people. His collection had also been featured on the “My Classic Car” television show.

Russell W. Kruse, Auctioneer

On May 4, Russell Kruse passed away in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Kruse began selling classic cars in the ‘70s, and was the founder of Kruse International Auction Co. He was 85.

Bill France, Jr., NASCAR Official

Bill France, Jr., the son of NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., passed away June 4 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Bill steered NASCAR for 31 years and helped the race-sanctioning body through its strongest growth. He was 74 years old.

Ballard Crooker, Jr., Collector

Classic car collector Ballard Crooker, Jr., passed away on September 12. Ballard owned many older cars including a 1925 Rolls-Royce Piccadilly roadster that he drove everywhere. He purchased this car in 1937 for $125. Crooker was 97 years old.

Wally Parks, NHRA Founder

Wally Gordon Parks died on September 28 of pneumonia. He was 94 years old. Parks was a legendary hot rodding figure. He organized the Southern California Timing Association in 1937, the Speed Trials at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1949 and the National Hot Rod Association in 1951. He also helped organize Hot Rod magazine in 1948 and Los Angeles’ first hot rod show one year later. Parks was editor of Hot Rod and won many hobby-related awards over the years.

Dorothy Deen, British Car Importer and Distributor

On October 23, Dorothy Deen Sitz died in Oceanside, California, after a long illness. The vivacious blonde Deen was best known for the Doretti sports car, a line of sports car accessories of the same name and for importing Triumph Sports cars for the Western United States. A darling of the local and automotive press, she was a common fixture at races and promoting the sports cars she sold.

Evel Knievel, Motorcycle Stunt Driver

Motorcycle stunt driver Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel died on November 30, 2007 in Clearwater, Florida. He was 69.

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