Family of late Snowball Bishop reunited with his restored big-block race car
After a four-year journey, the combined crews of Hagerty series Redline Rebuild and Barn Find Hunter were able to reunite a long-retired race car with the owner’s family. The dirt track racer is a 1937 Ford, powered by a Chrysler 440 big-block, that had been driven by the colorful and talented Claud “Snowball” Bishop in the 1970s. Unfortunately, Snowball passed away in 2021 and didn’t get to see his race car returned to its former glory, but his family did, with his brother, son, and granddaughter all on hand to see and feel the car in action on Snowball’s hometown Virginia track. If you’re not familiar with the car, read this recap of how we restored it back to life.
Hagerty Senior Video Lead Ben Woodworth films Redline Rebuild’s fascinating time-lapses and got to see the car come together first-hand. He, along with Video Specialist Jon Rudolph, shot and edited most of the car’s progress and its eventual return to Snowball’s family. As Woodworth explained, the race car, like a lot of the Barn Find Hunter cars the team comes across, was one of those, “I’m gonna get to it eventually” kinds of projects. This particular car and its story resonated for the Redline Rebuild team because Snowball was so approachable and such a charming storyteller. Driver, builder, and Redline video host Davin Reckow was further drawn to the car, and Snowball’s history with it, because of his past dirt-track racing career.
This project was unique for Davin and Redline Rebuild, not just because it was dealing with an entire car and not just an engine, but because it allowed for a bit of freedom. The car, with its race-earned scuffs and dings, could be “correct” without being perfect. However, because much of the work done on the race car didn’t happen at the factory, it provided unique challenges. Woodworth explains: “It was a puzzle of sorts to figure out how they would have done it in the ’60s or ’70s.”
That’s how the Redline Rebuild crew put the car back together as they believed it would have looked in its heyday. Judging by the response from Snowball’s family, they nailed it.
Aside from sharing Snowball’s legacy and providing his family a rowdy, rumbling reminder of his open-wheel racing past, the Redline team hopes this story opens people’s eyes.
“It might not be so well-known,” Woodworth noted, “but there’s this very robust and still active community of dirt-track racing. I never went to stuff like that as a kid, I never knew it existed.” However, when Woodworth got behind the wheel of Snowball’s car for himself, he instantly understood the appeal. The lure of dirt track racing is indeed strong.
When the car finally made its way back onto the track, it brought out plenty of the family’s old friends to reminisce about Snowball and his exploits, racing or otherwise. And while his individual story is surely special, what’s encouraging is that it’s not that unusual. This small track, hidden away a bit and wedged into a hillside, was the nucleus of a tight-knit community of racers. Tracks like this still exist all across the country, particularly in the South. Many of them helped shape Snowball Bishops of their own.
As we are often reminded, a car is an easy place to start, but the stories are always about car people.