The Bengt Wennergren Photo Collection

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Bengt racing his "Street Roadster" at the Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein, Germany in 1966. As Bengt had the only hot rod attending, he ran alone in the "C" class. It was then easy for him to qualify for the Middle Eliminations. This photo shows Bengt as he is about to outrun a Corvette in the Middle Eleminations! Go Bengt!! Photo by Bengt Wennergren.
This photo from the Bengt Wennergren collection shows Bengt next to Louie Bettancourt's 1949 Mercury during a visit to Barris Kustoms in 1967. Bengt moved to the United States in 1967, and he worked for a while for Brian Chuchua at his Jeep Sales. Bengt took several photos at Barris Kustoms, but as his camera later got stolen, most of those photos are now gone. Gone is also the Louie Bettancourt Mercury. Dean Jeffries inherited the car from Johnny Zupan after he was killed in an accident. Dean stored the car outside his shop next to the Hollywood Freeway when it was stolen from his lot in 1970. The car has since then been lost. Photo by Bengt Wennergren.
Bengt with his roadster at the harbor in Monaco in 1966. Bengt drove all the way down with the car, and a boat race in Monaco was the final destination of the trip. On the way over he stopped by Ramstein, where he also attended a drag race at the Ramstein Air Base. Photo by Bengt Wennergren.
Bengt Wennergren's 1931 Ford Model A Roadster outside the Road Knights barn, where Bengt built it. The photo is taken in 1965 or 1966, the first time it was rolled out of the barn. The occasion was that Bengt was attending the Osterman Hot Rod Show with the car. At the time, Bengt hadn't received the chromed windshield-frame from the United States, so he had fixed up and painted the rusty old one black. As you can see, the headers are chromed and not mis-colored due to the heat. The fenders are not installed yet either. After the show, Bengt prepared the car for its inspection at the vehicle-licensing department. Bengt received 40 remarks from the vehicle-licensing department on the recently completed hot rod. He realized that he would never get his car through the way he wanted it to look, so he took out license plates on a Ford Comete title he had lying around that he used. As the Ford Comete was a rare car in Sweden, nobody reacted on Bengt's title. Photo by Bengt Wennergren.
Hasse Broberg and Kjelle Gustad's 1938 Chevrolet Convertible parked in front of Bo Sandberg's 1959 Ford Thunderbird - Surfin Bird during a trip to Italy in 1964. Hasse and Kjelle's Chevrolet was powered by an Oldsmobile V-8, and Bengt remembers that the car was first customized after an accident. Bengt was riding with Hasse and Kjelle early one morning when they hit a deer. The front end was badly damaged in the accident, so Hasse and Kjelle decided to fix it up and restyle it. Photo by Bengt Wennergren.
Bengt Wennergren's 1949 Ford and Lars Erik Ljungkvist's 1932 Ford Roadster during a trip to Italy in 1961 or 1962. From the right by Bengt's Ford is Rikard, Bengt Wennergren and Junken. Photo by Bengt Wennergren.
Bengt Wennergren's 1949 Ford and Lars Erik Ljungkvist's 1932 Ford Roadster being admired by locals during a roadtrip to Italy in 1961 or 1962. Photo by Bengt Wennergren.

Bengt Wennergren of Enskedefältet in Stockholm, Sweden is an early Swedish hot rodder and a drag racing pioneer. Bengt's first car was a customized 1949 Ford. In 1962 he bought a 1931 Ford Model A roadster in Denmark. Over a four year periode he turned the old car into a "Street Roadster". The build was completed in 1966, only hours before Bengt hit the road to Ramstein, Germany. Bengt had read in Hot Rod Magazine that there were drag races being held at the Ramstein Air Base, so he decided to go and check it out. At the air base Bengt met Robert H. Jones. Robert invited Bengt to attend the race, and Bengt and Walle stayed for free at the Air Base for about a week. 90 cars attended the race in Ramstein. Most of the cars ran in the "MP" class, Modified Production. Bengt had the only hot rod, and he was put in the "C" class. As he was alone in the class, he qualified for the Middle Eliminiations. Bengt outran a Corvette in the "Middle Eliminations", and went on to compete against a 1957 Chevrolet with a 327 engine. Even though the Chevrolet had a 10 meter handicap, it turned out to be an easy win for the young Swede. Bengt's e.t. after that race was 15.6 seconds. Six races later, Bengt was still unbeaten, and his e. t. had been improved to 15,3 seconds. In order to win the "Middle Eliminator" competition, Bengt had to beat a Porsche. The Porche's e. t. was 16,8 seconds, so in the race against Bengt is started with a handicap of 20 metres. Bengt wasn't able to take the Porsche, and he crossed the finish line one meter behind it, at 15,1 seconds. After the race, Bengt heard that the Porsche might had been cheating during the qualification run. According to rumors it hadn't been running at full speed, in order to start with a bigger handicap. After a week of fun in Ramstein, Bengt and Walle took the roadster over the alps in order to catch a boat race in Monaco.[1]


After attending the drag race in Rammstein, Bengt was bitten by the bug, and back in Sweden he and some friends formed the Swedish Drag Racing Club. The newly established club wanted to host organized drag races in Sweden.[1] One year later, in 1967 Bengt left Sweden for the United States. Over the pond he met Wally Parks, and he got to hang around Tony Nancy learning the sport of dragracing. Instead of going to Vietnam, Bengt decided to move back to Sweden. Back in Sweden he was instrumental in forming the SHRA.[2]


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Start & Speed Nr. 4 1966
  2. Bengt Wennergren



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