Legends of the Cruise 2018 – Ecurie Awol Car Club


Legends of the Cruise 2018

Walk of Fame
By Chris Murphy
People need to know our fantastic story. In 2012, we created and established the Modesto Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame. This was important in many ways. First, when talking to George Lucas, he refers to himself as a storyteller. With that in mind, I wanted to do with the Cruise Route and Walk of Fame was to create a place where we continue to tell the story George started, celebrating the real people that were the inspiration for American Graffiti. What I have learned is, the people that inspired this film are even more interesting, and the friendships and experiences from this era are still vivid today. There are no shortage of Graffiti characters in Modesto USA and the Walk of Fame exists to keep those stories alive. See all of the inductees at www.modestocruiseroute.com
Here are the 2018 inductees:
Ecurie Awol Racing Club
Don Wood – 2018 Cruise Parade Grand Marshal
Paul Corgiat
Allen Grant
Jack McCoy
Roy Farriester

Ecurie Awol Car Club
To many, the days of American Graffiti were built around the super muscle cars of the day, the Fords, Chevys, Dodges and Chryslers loaded with chrome and horsepower. But notice something in the film; Curt played by Richard Dreyfuss, has a Citroen Deux Cheveaux, not the traditional Ford or Chevy. There were groups of kids that loved racing and cars, but it was all about fast European racing cars, Ferraris, Lolas, MGs, Aston Martins, Porsches and more. Ecurie Awol “Ecurie” being French for racing team began in 1959-1960 whose members worked on their cars at Wes Gustafson’s Foreign Car Service on Scenic Drive, across the street from Scenic Drive In. Founding members included, Chuck Billington, Don Wixcel, Jeff Puccinelli, Derek Powell, Allen Grant and others.

Most of the members were racers who appreciated the handling and agility of the foreign cars. Many of the races, called Autocross, were sometimes held in large parking lots, like McHenry Village or even Candlestick Park and featured tight technical tracks. George Lucas was a young member of Ecurie Awol and raced a small Fiat. George loved the speed and eventually rolled his car and he cut off the top and installed a roll bar, manufactured at Billington metal works and installed at Foreign Car Service. This roll bar would later save his life in a 1962 that destroyed the car and nearly killed Lucas. There were drivers that really changed the game and winning racers like Allen Grant were natural drivers and knew how to get the most out of cars like the AC Bristol, the car that became the foundation of the Shelby AC Cobra Racing Team. It was interesting to note that Ecurie meetings where held at Chuck Billington’s home, that also was home to the Faro’s Club of which his brother Dennis Billington was a member. Allen Grant tells us, “it was a small community, we all knew each other”.

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.