Jack Safro’s “8 Ball Special” pays tribute to early modified racing cars. His son John Safro built the car secretly for Jack over a three-year period. John tried hard to keep it a secret. However, Jack saw the car at a place called Tom’s Auto Body and told the owner Tom that it looked like a car he used to race.
After telling Tom some old racing stories, Jack asked if he could buy the car. Tom told him he was sure the owner didn’t want to sell it. Jack inadvertently ran into the car again while it was at a shop getting the Dan Frank interior installed. Once again it was “not for sale.” Finally, in 2008, John presented the car to Jack at Paul Clarkson’s open house at his Horsepower Garage.
The car is based on the 1934 Austin Bantam coupe that Jack used to race five nights a week back in the 1950s. Back then, it was common to flat tow cars like this to the track behind a convertible. Jack usually made more money racing a car in that era then he made at work. “I would always race clean,” he said. “So, that I could race again the next night.”
The 8 Ball is finished off so that it is streetable and Jack can drive it to car shows. The red interior color is taken from Jack’s SC430. He always said that color interior would look great in a hot rod.
In building the car, John used the same type of torquey flathead Ford V8-60 engine that race car builders used back in the ‘50s. For safety’s sake, he went to front disc brakes. The tires resemble those used on Jack’s old racing car in both style and sizes. The hand-painted graphics were taken from photos Jack had of the car dated 1962. The presentation of the car in 2008 was perfect timing, as he enjoyed the thrill of receiving it, although he never actually got to drive it. Now, it stands as a tribute to his early racing career.
SPECIAL NOTE: The Iola Old Car Show is looking for nostalgic racing cars like the 8 Ball Special to feature in its “Race Cars & Pace Cars” theme display the second week of July. If you own any type of vintage racing car and would be interested in exhibiting it at Iola please contact: Iola ’15, PO Box 1, Iola, WI 54945 or visit www.iolaoldcarshow.com.