HEART OF GOLD
Dick Guldstrand, 1927-2015
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Published on Fri, Sep 4, 2015
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Thursday, September 3, 2015: Dick Guldstrand, "Goldy" left us last night I was told. If I can say anything about him it was that he was just about the most honest person that I've ever met. It was really more a form of humility, but it was even more than that, Dick was a supremely civil individual who was modest about his accomplishments and always seemed more enthusiastic about the achievements of others. He was always kind, always ready to listen to YOUR story, rather than tell his (which most, likely would have been much better, by the way). And, when you could coax one or two out of him, what stories he had from the heyday of sports car racing when we were just turning the corner to professionalism and talented guys like him led the way by example. His successes as a racing driver were many and widely-based, as I'm sure you'll note as you read his remarkable Hall of Fame racing record elsewhere. But it was his later work as a suspension engineer and genius chassis tuner that eclipsed even his many racing triumphs. His work in the aerospace industry (which I only ever heard him just barely hint at) may well have been an even bigger accomplishment, I don't know. What I do know is that there are literally thousands of Corvettes out there that handled a whole lot better (and won a whole lot of races) with some of Dick's magic pieces under them. There are even those in the know who say that "some" of his ideas "somehow" crept into later production Corvettes as the years rolled on. And those pictures of his Corvette racing at Riverside, Santa Barbara, or Dodger Stadium with an old metal roller skate ty-wrapped to the rollbar? Yeah, sure, "Goldy" turned a few cars turtle in his headlong pursuit of speed; and none other than Les Richter himself commemorated Dick's wheels-up accomplishments by personally affixing that skate to Guldstrand's 'Vette as very special badge of honor. He was a wonderful, warm person, highly competitive but (almost) never combative. My own little fun with this great gentleman was something that he and I never tired of. I only wish that I could do it again tomorrow. I would spy Dick at an event some place or another, sidle up behind him, hold both hands up and out in front of me as if cradling a very small child and just say "you know my mother used to take me to the sports car races and hold me up over the snow fence just like this and tell me, 'Look Dougie, there's Dick Guldstrand.'" The above sight gag works best if you know that I'm only 14 years (1927 vs. 1941) younger than Dick and have had grey hair and a paunch for some time now. The laughs all around were always fun and the guy laughing loudest and longest was always none other than the man that the "old guy" joke was aimed at. I was even able to do it by remote control one time when Dick was the guest on a local radio (KPFK in Los Angeles) talk show. I called in, the hosts knew me, so I told them not to mention my name but to simply make that "holding up a tiny baby over the snow fence" gesture for their guest. "STOKES!" was Dick's bellowed response. As I said, I wish like hell that I could do that again tomorrow. - Doug Stokes, Editor - September 3, 2015 Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here.