|(3-19-11) From Erich Schultz:
"I actually own a Devin featured on your
site, (along with 11 other vintage race cars), but the description of the
Devin and its history are incorrect.
You attribute the Devin to Ray Wermuth,
but the car was in fact built and owned by Robert "Bob" Shirley, who was
the track manager at Laguna Seca. Ray was a successful regional driver
of an Austin Healey 100-6 before Shirley hired him to drive the Devin.
You mention remembering seeing the house
where the car was parked when you were in high school; that house most
likely belonged to Shirley not Wermuth. He also owned and operated
a garage in the same vicinity as the high school. I've been told
that there were often race cars and hot rods there and that the garage
was a popular hang out for high school boys.
Shirley's family, father and brothers,
raced sprint cars. Shirley custom made the Devin frame in the style
of a sprint car frame,only wider in the center making it a two seat sports
car, with help from a friend in the Navy who was a skilled welder and fabricator.
They used heliarc welding equipment from a navy maintenance facility.
Initially Shirley used axles, wheels
and other components from a sprint car he owned, transferring them back
and forth as needed between the two cars. Later he replaced the Devin's
front live axle with a bolt in VW trailing arm front suspension, and the
rear Halibrand Champ axle with a 56 Chevy unit equipped with a spool instead
of a differential. He also used a few different engines, originally
a Chevy 348 and later a bored and stroked Chevy 283.
Early on, the Devin was entered in races
by Robert, but later it was entered by his daughter, Susan, as Robert had
been diagnosed with Cancer shortly after completing the car.
In the early 60's, the 7-UP soda company photographed Susan in the Devin
and featured the car and Susan in magazine and billboard ads.
The Devin was built to show standards
and took top sports car honors in several concours d'elegance. After
Robert died from his illness, his wife gave the car to her nephew, Mike
Fitzello, in Los Angeles. The Devin was further developed by Mike,
his dad, and their family friend, Larry Shinoda, and used as a drag racer.
Later, Mike disassembled the car with
the intention of completely redesigning the chassis. He never got
around to completing the project and the car remained in pieces, scattered
in various places for nearly 40 years. Fitzello continues drag racing
today in top fuel funny car classes as well as some nostalgia classes.
Hopefully we'll be seeing this car back
on the track in the not too distant future."