Athol Graham video collection, 1940s-1980s  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Graham, Athol
Title
Athol Graham video collection
Dates
1940s-1980s (inclusive)
Quantity
11 hot rod movies on VHS, 10 8mm movies
Collection Number
A1036
Summary
The audio visual component of this collection is comprised of several relatively low quality but fascinating clips of hot rod related footage and several reels of 8mm home movie film relating to Utah and the Bonneville Salt Flats as well as Graham's late 1940s mission to New Zealand.
Repository
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
84112-0860
Telephone: 801-581-8863
special@library.utah.edu
Access Restrictions

Materials must be used on-site; no use of original material, access copies will be made available for viewing. Five business days advanced notice required. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law, condition of the material, or by donor.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Athol Graham (1924-1960) was a Salt Lake City mechanic who attempted to break the land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Graham built his own car, the City of Salt Lake, using an airplane engine and cockpit. Although Graham neared Sir John Cobb's 394.2 mph record (set in 1947) in December 1959 with a run of 344.7, his final attempt in Summer 1960 ended in the first fatal crash at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The first land speed record was set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1914 by Teddy Tetzlaff. The slick surface of the flats, created by the presence liquefied salt, facilitates greater speeds, however, it does not offer much traction, creating a substantial danger to the drivers. Due to recent mining of the salt on these flats, they have begun to disappear.

Graham, a native of Salt Lake City, quit his job as a mechanic in 1955 and opened his own garage (Canyon Motors) on 3300 South to spend more time pursuing his dream of hurtling down the Bonneville Salt Flats at more than 400 mph. Graham spent $2,000 on his homemade speed machine in an era when Mickey Thompson of California, the American land speed record holder, spent $190,000 on his record holding automobile. In December 1959, Graham hurtled out of nowhere in the City of Salt Lake to nearly upset Thompson's record. Graham was also a veteran of World War II, having served in England and France as a mechanic. Following the war, Graham went overseas to New Zealand as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 1947 to 1949. Graham married his wife, Zeldine, on August 2, 1950. He passed away one day prior to their tenth wedding anniversary. At the time of his death, Athol and Zeldine Graham had four children.

Athol Graham's second youngest child, Daryl "Butch" Graham, was three years old when his father died. In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Athol Graham's attempt on the land speed record and subsequent death, Butch rebuilt the car that took his father to his death, the scarlet City of Salt Lake.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection is fully digitized.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Athol Graham video collection must be obtained from the Special Collections Multimedia Archivist.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: Athol Graham video collection, A1036 Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations:A1036.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
video
1 Athol Graham Crash

Digital file
Low resolution transfer of 8mm footage of Athol Graham's work with his car, the City of Salt Lake. The video includes shots of early runs, when the car was silver, and the fatal 1960 run in the City of Salt Lake at Bonneville Speedway, when the car was red. This video includes the Graham and his team's preparation for the record attempt and the beginning of Graham's final run. Although there is no footage of the crash itself, this film includes shots of the mangled car and the unconscious Graham being transferred into an ambulance in the aftermath of the disaster. All of this material is shown twice from different angles.
1960s
2 Graham Special Crash

VHS
Footage of the 1962 land speed record attempt and subsequent crash of the Graham Special, a car belonging to Athol's widow, Zeldine Graham. Driver Harry Muhlbach of Salt Lake City was not hurt.
1960s
3 Working on Car at Home

VHS
Men work on a car at home. This video includes shots of one man working on the car's engine and of a whole team of people working on the car in a workshop. There are also shots of the assembled car in the mechanic's home driveway and of the interior of the house.
1960s
4 Speed Week 1

VHS
Footage of cars and drivers at Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
1960s
5 Speed Week 2

VHS
More footage of Speed Week, including Mickey Thompson and his Challenger I.
1960s
6 Hot Rod Boogie, Part 1

Digital file
Professional documentary set at Speed Week 1987 and hosted by Australian television personality Brett Clements. The program includes interviews with various attendants and lots of shots of cars racing in the Bonneville Speedway time trials. Interviews include National Hot Rod Association Chairman Wally Parks, who first got permission to run hot rods on the Salt Flats in 1949, and multiple speed record holder Al Teague, who was an active and revered participant at the time.
1987
7 Hot Rod Boogie, Part 2
Includes more from Al Teague and other drivers.
VHS
More footage of Speed Week, including Mickey Thompson and his Challenger I.
1987
8 Jefferies' on Sports Wrap

VHS
Sports report on Doc and Wendy Jefferies.
1987
9 On Way to Coast: New Zealand Mission: San Francisco? Baby Ronnie?
Black and white.
8mm film
Home movies with footage of Graham's missionary activities.
1940s
10 Going Over: New Zealand Mission: Boat, arrival in New Zealand.
Black and white.
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1940s
11 Going Over: New Zealand Mission: Boat, arrival in New Zealand.
Black and white.
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1940s
12 New Zealand Mission (Long Reel)
1st part black and white, 2nd part Kodachrome)
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1940s
13 Hui January 1948: New Zealand Mission: Maori community gathering (Hui), Halverson
Black and white.
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1948
14 Wedding, Halverson Leaving: New Zealand Mission
Kodachrome
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1948?
15 South Island Tour, 2nd Hui: New Zealand Mission: 2nd Maori community gathering (Hui)
Black and white.
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1948?
16 South Island Picnic, Start of Trip Home: New Zealand Mission
Black and white.
8mm film
Home movie footage of Graham's mission to New Zealand.
1948? 1949?
17 Salt Lake City and Mountains
Black and white.
8mm film
Shots of Salt Lake City, including the State Capitol and Memory Grove and of people gathered at mountain lodges.
1950s?
18 Cars
Color
8mm film
Various cars at Bonneville Salt Flats, probably Speed Week.
1950s?
19 Bonneville Nationals 1959 or 1960
Color
8mm film
Various cars at Salt Flats, probably Speed Week.
1960?

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Automobiles, Racing--Speed records--United States--History--20th century.
  • Automobiles, Racing--Speed records--Utah--Bonneville Salt Flats.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Utah
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Moving images
  • Sound recordings