Michael Steinberg ~ Lemon Twist

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Racing cars began for Mike back in 1958, when he built his first hot-rod; a 51' Chevy with a Chevy V8 engine in it.  Before that, he had a brief career as a flat track motorcycle racer.  His flat tracking days ended when he landed in a hospital for injuries sustained in a major pile up in a dirt track race in Hollister, California.  He started racing with Elmer 'Un-sprung' Snyder, from Newman, California. Snyder, who is considered a legend and a pioneer in the sport of drag racing, was campaigning a C/Open Gas dragster, with a Chevy V8 engine in it.  He was the world record holder at the time.  Mike served an apprentice-ship of sorts with Snyder, and then began helping others to build cars.

His driving ability was noticed enough that other car owners asked him to drive for them to race their cars.  A career of driving fast cars was started.  Through 1959 and 1960, he raced at Ballico Drag Strip.  He drove his best friends' 40' Ford coupe, with a bored and stroked Chevy V8 engine it, in the A/Gas class.  He set the strip record there for A/Gas, A/Stock Automatic, and also had the record with his BSA drag bike that he was riding at the time.

In 1961, Mike moved to San Francisco, California and got married.  He started working as a Journeyman Auto Mechanic for auto dealerships.  Later, he was a Service Writer, and Asst. Manager.  In 1962, he partnered with a friend and they put together a 40' Willys coupe, with a bored and stroked, carbureted Chevy V8 engine.  They ran the Willys in A/Gas.  They campaigned with this car up and down California, at strips like Half-Moon Bay, Fremont Raceway, Fresno Drag strip, and Vacaville.  A world record was set in A/Gas at Half-Moon Bay drag strip, and held for less than 10 minutes!

Steinberg wanted his own car, so he built his own 40' Willys Coupe, with a blown 430 cubic inch Lincoln engine in it.  The car started off with a 4 speed manual transmission in it.  He ran AA/Gas Supercharged with the car, from 1967 through 1969.  For a time, his Willys called the "Lemon Twist" held the BB/Altered speed record.  He campaigned this car vigorously, and was a regular competitor at Fremont Raceway almost every weekend, including all the big Supercharged Gas Coupe meets that were held there.

In late 1969, he began construction on a new racecar.  He received a sponsorship from 'Contemporary Fiberglass' in Azusa, California, and they gave him a 48' Austin fiberglass body for the new car.  A late model supercharged Dodge Hemi engine was selected for the power plant.  His friend, and ace chassis builder from Northern California, Tom Chambliss, began building the frame for the new car in his shop.  A few babies decided to start arriving, and this slowed the new project down some.  Mike began playing daddy for the first time.  He still managed to win a red Fremont jacket for going over 200 mph in someone else's dragster in 1970.  He still has that jacket in his closet at home.

By 1972, the new AA/Gas "Lemon Twist" Austin was ready, and made its first runs at Kingdom Drag strip, in Lodi, California.  After some chassis and engine tuning, the 95" inch wheelbase car ran like it was on a string.  In 1973, Steinberg was 5th in the world in AA/Gas Supercharged.  His Austin ran a best of 164.48 mph - 8.72 E.T., before the car was totally destroyed in an accident, which came frightfully close to taking Steinberg with it.

After that, Mike retired from drag racing.  He moved back to Newman, California, where he lives today.  He never went to another drag race again . . . until 1998, when a friend and neighbor, asked him to help with his Federal Mogul A/Fuel Dragster.  They campaigned the A/Fueler for two years, and then the owner sold the car.

Mike Steinberg retired again, and is now a Painting Contractor locally.  He is building a hot street motor for the 1967' Ford F-100 pickup.  He had bought the truck brand new way back then and it was used to haul all of his racecars.  Mike has a web site devoted to a pictorial history of AA/Gas Supercharged cars, during the Golden Age of Drag Racing.  He says, "All I have left from those days is 'Ole Blue'... my old pickup. . . some terrific memories. . . pictures. . . and a lot good friends."

Mike Steinberg's Home Page

Click on Picture to See a Larger Version
On the Golden Gate Bridge Mike's 40 Willys At Fremont Mike & his Willys
Mike's 48 Austin Mike's 48 Austin Mike's 48 Austin Lemon Twist Austin
Closeups of 48 Austin

Mike Steinberg in his 40 Willys


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