George Helmer has been creating outstanding cars for over 50 years. He was raised in the town of Rosemead California just a few miles south of Pasadena. During the 1960's drag racing was all the rage in Southern California. Major race tracks like Irwindale, Lion's, Orange County, and Pomona were all within a few miles of each other. Street racing was also very popular at that time and took place at various locations around Southern California. One such location for George was on the streets of Pasadena particularly on famed Colorado Blvd between Mitchilinda and Baldwin Avenues.You know the song "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" where they sing the lyrics "racing down Colorado Boulevard". George was not only living in the time of "American Graffiti" but his experiences were better then what was portrayed in the movie. Crusing Bob's Big Boy in Pasadena, Whittier, and North Hollywood with stops to Harvey's Broiler in Downey, which is now called Bob's Big Boy Broiler and even trips over to Hollywood Boulevard. You would see every type of hot rod, custom, and race cars on the streets all gathering at their favorite place on Friday and Saturday nights.
George attended Rosemead High School with fellow renown automotive artist Kenny Youngblood and other racers and car enthusiasts from his high school who still build and race cars today. After graduating from high school George enlisted in the Army to become a truck and track mechanic. He was stationed at Fort Ord California for basic training and machanic school then sent to the 63rd Light Truck Company at Fort Eustis Virginia, which was a transportation post. Eight months later George was sent to Vietnam along with his company. In Vietnam he repaired trucks and was the retrieval specialist where he would go out and bring back disabled vehicles. His last duty station was Fort Huachuca Arizona. There he joined up with a group of mechanics from his unit to race on the week-ends at Tucson Raceway. During the evenings outside the Army post they would drag race on Charleston Road and go over to Sue & Herb's drive-in for burgers and shakes. A few years after George got out of the Army he reunited with one of his old Army buddies Jim Bridgewater who was helping Paul Pittman with his BB/Gas Angela then Gremlin. Pittman ran in the class BB/Gas Turbo with the Gremlin and to this date still holds the NHRA record in that class that was set back in 1972.
After getting out of the service in 1967, George went to worked for a short time at Ken Burn Rambler, an American Motors dealership in Covina California as a mechanic. In 1968 he joined JAVAMX car club (Javelin and AMX Sports Car Clubs) out of Orange County California. This was the corporate headquarters for all JAVAMX clubs. Within a years he was elected president of the club and raced his Javelin with the clubs race team. He started another branch then decided to devote more time to his racing so he resigned. Many years later he ending up at Mazda Motor of America Corporate Headquarters in Irvine California. He worked in the finance division and among his duties was to oversee payments for the Mazda Race Team and parts. George has designed, built, and raced award winning automobiles throughout the years. George holds a bachelor's degree in Management from the University of La Verne in Southern California. His car's have been in the pages of Hot Rod Magazine and other publications. George is an active member of SEMA and mainly builds parts for AMC car. His interested vary in many other brands and types of automobiles. He also is a member of SocalAMC car club of which Roger Teague's son Jeff has been part of the group. Roger Teague was the head designer at AMC during the glory years and Jeff is following in his fathers footsteps designing cars. Below are some of George's personal cars.
George with H.L. Shahan
at NHRA Winternationals.
1974 Irwindale George driving the
"Wicked & Wild" Gremlin.
Orange County International Raceway 1970 car lettered by gifted automotive artist Kenny Youngblood. George's Rosemead High School classmate
George at Cal-Automotive checking out two race cars "Stone Woods & Cook" AA/Gasser & the Texas Twister Allison engine car.
George standing in front of his 1963 Pontiac at Irwindale 1967. Pontiac going
through tech inspection.
JAVAMX race team George center back
The "Project Javelin " car before paint competing at the Winternationals Pomona 1974.
While living in Covina, CA George's next door neighbor was Bob Eakins who ran this 57 Bird. Bob is president of Eastwest Engineering that builds clutch systems for Pro drag cars.
Some of the parts from "Project Javelin". Enderle Fule Injection was purchased from "Blairs Speed Shop" in 1973 for $100.00 Blair couldn't find anyone who wanted it and George made the deal.
The first Javelin George purchased was a new 1968 from Fairway Rambler in Alhambra, CA. This car went on to become the "Travelin Javelin" race car. Funny that more that 45 years later George ends up purchasing the original Travelin Javelin funny car. It was only about a year after George purchased the green Javelin that he was hit while making a left hand turn to pick his dad up from work. A full size car ran into the back of him at over 40 mph. George's car catapulted towards the right side of the road missing the oncoming traffic. The impact was violent enough as to break the drivers seat back and the radio broke out of the dash. George only remembers looking in his rear view mirror and seeing a car sliding towards him as he garbed the steering wheel bracing for the impact. After he regained consciousnesses the next thing he remembers is hitting the curb. He kicked the door open and stagered to the sidewalk. His dad was there in seconds and the ambulance a few minutes later. George was lucky he only received mild injuries. It was then when the repairs were being made at Fox AMC that he decided to go with the Red, white and blue paint scheme and the B&M trans since it had to be beplaced.
2013 out at the LA Roadster Show always loved red high performance cars.
Rare photo of Reg Sheldrick President of JAVAMX Sports Car Club (on right)
Ground up build of a very rare 1932 Chevy 3 window coupe running a small block Chevy. George purchased the body and frame while in the Army at Fort Huachuca Arizona. All new interior wood replaced the original. His dad Carl assembled the wood structure with the help of the pattern shop at C.F. Braun's the engineering company that dad worked for in Alhambra. George's dad was an exceptional machinist and did a lot of the specialize parts that went on George's cars throughout the years.
Award winning 1956 Ford Victoria. George's high school car (photo 1964). The interior featured inlaid walnut dash and custom black leather seats with small pleats. The interior was designed by a local custom boat shop in Rosemead. It ran a built Thunderbird 312 Y-block with Tri-Power and B&M trans.
After Basic training and mechanic school George was sent to the 63rd Transportation Company at Fort Eustis Virginia. After 8 months he was sent along with his company to Vietnam. George was a gifted mechanic and became the company's wrecker operator and truck retrieval specialist. Going it alone and bringing back broken down and sometimes abandoned trucks from the field. Sent on TDY (Temporary Duty) outside Qui Nhan to support the efforts at An Khe and Pleiku. The 63rd supplied the 1st & 7th Cavalry with JP4 (jet fuel) in 55 gallon drums that were trucked up to Camp Radcliff from the port at Qui Nahn. He was there during the time of that major battle in the La Drang Valley took place which was depicted in the film "We are Solders". From Vietnam to Fort Hauchuca, George and a team of mechanics were sent to support the combat surveillance school there.
In 1965 George convinced his parents to purchase a new 1965 1/2 Marlin. Solid Blue fully loaded.
George's 1963 Pontiac Bonneville was purchased from a used car lot located on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena California. Very rare 4 speed 421 c.i. silver with a black interior car. George paid just $2,100.00 cash that he saved while serving in Vietnam 1965-1966. The photo below on the lower left was taken at the historic horse race track, Santa Anita. Street racing was going on during the week-end nights just above the track on Colorado Boulevard. His Pontiac saw action at both Tucson Drag strip and Irwindale and ran quite well considering how much it weighed. Many times it was just too much power for the drive train and George sheared off the teeth on the cluster gear. Eventually he decided to trade it in on a new 1968 Javelin.
George with his cousin Ed Helmer 2012 NHRA World Finals Pomona.
1962 George at 14 working on his model A five window coupe.
1964 found a 1922 Dodge body outside of Bullhead City in a gully. Building hot rod.
George's good friend and neighbor Lou Montante sold his yellow Javelin to George in 1980.
1966 Fort Huachuca hang out for races "Sue & Herbs" drive-in.
Army buddy Jim Bridgewater and his 1966 Chevelle SS 396 4 speed. Raced out at Tucson drags with the rest of us.
Bridgewater would later become part of the Paul Pittman's pit crew. Car was a NHRA recorder in 1972, still has record.
Advertising from Tucson Drag strip 1966.
Fort Huachuca Arizona Main Gate
Jerry O'Brien, George'd brother-in-law raced his 55 Chevy at Irwindale held modify production record.
George's friends Gary Rosenberg and Casey Charles the three of them looking for old cars near Fort Huachuca 1968. two other photo's below finding cars.
George in 1969 was making a trip to Tucson and saw this car sitting in a used car lot. Wrote an article about it in Rod & Custom Magazine. Original owner contacted him, car is now restored.
From the article Bill Carr contacted George as to where the car was. Bill restored the car and George saw it in 2012 at the Grand National Roadster Show.
Here is a photo that George took at Cal Automotive in the back lot. There sitting was an original Stone, Woods and Cook 41 Willy's coupe and Tex Collins Texas Twister. Both cars have been restored.
George's friend Gary Rosenberg's 41 Willy's pickup
George and his cousin Ed at the local donut shop 1965 while home on leave from the Army. Ed had a 57 Plymouth 4 door painted dark green. George would tell Ed that it really belonged to the Army.
Tex Cox and the Wicked & Wild SSAMX car one of 50 made by Hurst. Tex and George are good friends and raced together in the JAVAMX car club. Tex is a member and former president of the LA Roadster Club.
In front of his parents home in Rosemead. Notice his parents 1965 Marlin in the driveway.
George purchased the gold 1970 390 AMX from his friend Tex Cox. Tex was in the JAVAMX car club with George. George was the Orange County Chapter President and Tex was Vice President and drag team captain. Later Tex would race his SSAMX and George's the Project Javelin. On occasion they would take their cars to various car shows and events.The gold AMX paint job gave way to Ferrari red with black interior. George like the looks of the 1969 dash and change the 70 to a 69. When George purchased the car from Tex he requested that the automatic be swapped out for a four speed. Tex owned an auto shop in Glendale California which did among other things brakes and tune-ups.
George had two corvettes but only has photos from the first one a 1968 convertible. Originally a gold color George painted it white. George painted many of his cars including the Project Javelin which had a award winning candy paint job. This was one of George's favorite cars and was his daily driver. Besides a great white paint job he completely re-chromed the car from front to back installed side exhaust, luggage rack and Goodyear's with Cragar wheels.
The Project Javelin story then and now. It all started when George went over to Orrin W. Fox an American Motors dealership located in Pasadena California. George was having some work done on his street/race car called Travelin Javelin, not to be confused with the funny car. While waiting he walked around to the side of the shop and saw a Gold 1968 Javelin sitting there. It had all the lettering and drag slicks on it and he wondered what the story was on the car. George went up to the front of the lot and asked one of the salesmen what was going on with the car. The sales guy stepped back and said, "You shouldn't mention that car too loudly". Apparently the guy who was racing it decided to take off with some of its parts from the motor and the owner was furious. George asked him if they were going to sell it. The sales guy said if you're brave enough to ask the owner he's in his office. George thought, why not, what can he say, no. Anyway George could't really afford to buy it anyway. George was shown to the lobby then escorted into Mr. Fox's office. After greetings were said, George asked Mr. Fox if he would be interested in selling the car. Fox's face turned red and said what would you pay. George explained how much he would like the car but wasn't sure if he could afford it. He said, I can give you a thousand dollars because of the missing parts and I'm not sure what is wrong with the motor. Fox looked really upset and said fine take the car. George asked if he could make payments on it and Fox call the sales guy to his office and told him to write it up $1050.00 with $200.00 down. ( The sales contract is below)
Unknown at the time of purchase George learned latter that the car was in a magazine called Motorcade the August of 1968 issue. here is that article.
George called his dad Carl and asked him to bring his Marlin so they could tow the car home. Once at George's house in Covina, about 15 miles east of the dealership, he started inspecting the car. Looking inside the engine compartment yes the heads, intake, carbs were all missing. George went around the car and opened the trunk. He couldn't believe it, the missing parts were all there in the trunk. George though why didn't they just look in the trunk, who knows. Not wanting to make a bad situation worse for Fox telling him no one look in the trunk for the missing parts he just let it be.
For a couple of months George not knowing any history of the car he decided to turn it into a real drag car. If he would have known about the magazine article he may have thought differently and preserved the car as it was. George was out looking for parts at a few speed shops. He stopped by Blair's Speed Shop in Pasadena. Blairs always had a lot of used equipment sitting in the store. As George was looking over the inventory of speed equipment he noticed a Enderle fuel injection sitting on the shelf. The tape across the manifold said AMC. George said to himself, wow. He went up to the counter and asked Don Blair what was with the manifold. Blair said that it been sitting there for awhile and couldn't get rid of it. George offered him $100.00 and Blair said get it out of here. Because it didn't have stacks on it George went over to Enderle in Glendale and they made him new one's for the correct height for his displacement.
Just before he went to Blair's George found that the crank in the car had some issues so he called Henry Velasco and asked about having his crank fixed. Hank told George that he could make him a good deal on a new froged crank that the gas company decided that they didn't need anymore. The only problem was that it had a shorter stroke and the journal's were made for Chevy rods. George thought for a moment $125.00 for a new forged crank with shorter stroke and Chevy rods. In the past the AMC rods were expensive to get and he was always having issues with them. The Chevy rods were inexpensive and easy to find. George drove to Velasco's Crankshaft Company in Downey and picked up the crank. More to come on the building of the Project Javelin.
The three photos below show the Project Javelin and a dragster chassis. The story on the rail is that one of George's other neighbors is no other that The Swain Bros. The Swain's ran both Bonneville with their supercharged model A Roadster and top fuel sand dragster. They would warn-up the engine by driving down the street behind George's house on Covina Blvd. One day as George was driving past the Brother's house he noticed that they were out working on their car. George stopped and got out to talk to them for awhile and saw a chassis cut in half length wise sitting to the side. George inquired about the chassis and they told him that they were building a new one. George asked if there was something wrong with the old one and they said no that they just though they would make some changes and though it would be just as easy to build a new one. George asked what they were going to do with the old one and they said get rid of it. At that point George asked if he could have it and they said sure. George took the chassis to a chassis builder in Irwindale not sure the name may have been S&W Chassis. They put it back together and added a new front axle to it. After getting it home and thinking about starting a new project he opted to sell it and make a nice profit. The photo on the bottom is that chassis that the brothers ran.
What happened to the Project Javelin?
When George sold the car in 1977 he sold it to his good friend Tex Cox. Tex separated the body from the running gear. Included in the running gear was the engine with fuel injectors and stacks. Ansen scatter-shield bell housing, Borg-Warner T-10, Drive Shaft, Eelco Aluminum Gas tank, Carl Helmer custom Aluminum radiator, Electric water pump, and assorted pieces. Tex sold the running gear to Doug Hall who lived in Burbank and Doug installed the motor into his full body Javelin. He had major problems trying to get the race motor set up for the street. After having injector pump issues he put it in the garage where it sat for 30 years. Tex knowing that George may be interested in purchasing his running gear back told him to call Doug. George made a deal with Doug and the car and parts came back to George. Looking over the car George pulled the drive train and started working on the body. There were way too many issues with the body so George decided to part the body and parts out.
Speaking with Tex about the original body he said that it was stolen from the guy he sold it to who lived in San Pedro, California. Tex's son Ray said that he thought he had seen it up in the North West San Fernando Valley. George, Ray, and George's girls drove around the Valley trying to jog Ray recollection as were he saw it. Finally an AMC guy that they stopped by to talk with said he knew where the car was, at least where it was at one time. Sitting in this guys back yard and in poor shape from sitting outside for all those years. He said that he sold it to a guy in the upper mid-west. Months went by and george though he ran into another dead end. George was working out of state in Grand Rapids Michigan and he decided to go to an AMC event outside Detroit. There he spoke with a guy who owned the Cotton Candy AMX and while speaking with him he told George who had the car. It was sitting at Greg's Restoration in Hayward Wisconsin. George has tried over the last several years to purchase the car back to no avail. The car is in pretty rough shape where the guy that had it before Greg tried to make a street car out of it but that didn't work very well either. He cut the fiberglass grill and headlights out and installed regular headlights. George can see from some photos that other pieces are missing such as the chrome shocks, Rims and tires,and that's from what George can see in the photos. He Doesn't know what else is missing but is pretty sure things are missing from the interior. The tragedy of it is that someone cut up a very rare front fiberglass front end. Greg said he has another front end and you can see part of it in the photo to the left. It's not a true one piece front end because it is missing the bumper. It resembles a fiberglass Trends front end but can't be sure from the small amount of photo view. The original fiberglass front end was given to George by Skip Randell of Randell American in Mesa Arizona. Most people really don't understand who manufactures the bodies for Javelin's. Randell made several bodies for Doug Headers cars and a few others. That front end that George had on Project Javelin was off the mold to the funny cars. Only one Randell body exist today and that's on the Javelin 2 car. George's new car the Travelin Javelin funny car has a Fiberglass Trends body.
Photo taken shortly after Travelin Javelin was painted by George in his garage.
George at Pomona race track standing with Pete's Patriot. Thanks Big Mike for bringing your car out. First time that the car has been on this track since 1969.
George 's High School friend Richard Mander and his 1931 Ford roadster with a Hemi motor. Photo taken 1962
Back in 1971 George painted one of the James Garners Scramblers from Red White and Blue to all White. The door sticker was put up on the inside of George's garage wall.
Inside, a start to a new race interior. George's dad made the new steering shaft with dash bearing.
Jim Kirby race cars built the tube axle, spindles and roll bar set up. Super clean engine compartment.
In the garage getting ready to put a coat of red paint on the Travelin Javelin
The rebirth of Project Javelin starts. Since my unsuccessful attempt to get the original body back (above) I decided to rebuild it with another body. I have all the running gear plus other critical original parts to reassemble the Javelin. I will show you how the car came back together as I go through the process under the page Project Javelin Race Car.
Car as it sits today in Winconsin
One of the most dangerous roads in Vietnam. Many wrecks and ambushes on this road from Qui Nahn to An Khe. George remember fighting along side the road as they were driving by caring pyramid stacked 55 gallon drums of jp-4 fuel.
Fort Eustis February 1965
George's son Tye in 1978 who now owns the AMX
George in the blue shirt, His dad Carl with cap, his uncle Glen on bottom, cousin Mike on right and Wicked & Wild AMC Team in red shirts.
Irwindale Raceway above and Winternational car show Anaheim Convention Center 1975 George takes 1st Place Competition category. Trophy presented by Playboy Bunny.
It's Grease Lighting! George relives his dream down at Harvey's Broiler. Photoshop can transport you Back to the Future.
George sitting at the parts tent in Nha Trang having a cup of coffee on Christmas 1965 after returning south from Qui Nahn.
George's wrecker (tow truck) and a couple of the old jeeps they were putting rebuilt motors in.
George and his cousin Ed Helmer joined the Army together and were always in the same companies for the three years. This is their shop in Nha Trang where it was a full time job rebuilding trucks. Ed still builds cars in Colorado.
The Project Javelin sits in George's driveway in Covina. Below George getting the glass front-end bodywork finished.
Out at Irwindale Raceway 1973 getting the car dialed in without the front-end on the car.
Working the bugs out and making steady progress lowering his elapsed time with each pass.
Skip & Grant Randell in their shop in Mesa Arizona. Supplied George with new fiberglass front-end.
Vintage Irwindale Raceway jacket 1970's.
Vintage Lion's Drag Strip Race Directors jacket 1970's. Both jackets are at the NHRA Museum in Pomona.
NHRA Museum in Pomona with George's friends car Mike Pierce and the Pete's Patriot SS/AMX race car.
George's Grandfather's car. His mother just a few years old sitting in this early 1900's car.
George's Grandfather's John W. May with a chauffeur;s license # 1604 given to him on 8/4/1914 Los Angeles, CA
Colorado Blvd. 1965 used car lot with high performance cars. Here on the left is a 64 Plymouth 413 and a couple Corvettes in this photo.
Colorado Blvd. and Bob's Big Boy in Pasadena. Late 1950's. At night all the racers would cruse this location.
You could find cool customs for sale on the car lots up on Colorado Blvd. Here's a 1960 Pontiac George snapped a photo of while out looking for a car.
The two photo above. A block from George's house was Boyer's Customs on Valley Blvd. Rosemead. Boyer was friends with the late George Barris.
Carl Helmer standing in front of his dad's early Maxwell car in Harrah's Museum.
At Fort Eustis Virginia George practices his wrecker (tow truck) skills before going to Vietnam.
Very rare JAVEAMX car club license plate frame 1970 vintage.
2001 Mustang convertible 5 speed. George still drives this car.
The actor Steve Reeves 1977 XJS. George owned this car and restored it in 2008. At Harrah's on display then sold to Joe Vitale.
Before Irwindale Raceway was built in 1966 there was San Gabriel which opened in 1956. George's dad would take there when George was 10 years old. It closed in 1963.
While in Vietnam George shot this photo of going over a bridge. The tires would rub against the sides and George was always ready to jump.
Back in 1975 George painted several cars including Glen Henery's1932 American Austin Bantam Roadster pictured here.
Site last updated on July 3, 2019