Monday, October 15, 2012

Eddie Corbin

At the last couple of Cars and Coffee gatherings I really enjoyed talking to Eddie Corbin about everything odd motorcycle. Eddie has been around Albuquerque for a long time and has a lot of first hand experience in the kind of local motorcycle history that really fascinates me. He has a pretty serious collection of personal photos and racing/MC shop memorabilia that he's offered to show me in the past. Yesterday I finally found the time to drop by.

As a result of that visit I now have a LOAD of scanned photos and other goodies I hope to organize and post over the next couple of weeks. All the same, after rummaging through his keepsakes it was ultimately the things he's done that made the biggest impression after leaving.

Eddie's father Clark V. Corbin and and his business partner R. Mitchell owned an Albuquerque dirt track called Cormit Speedway (Cormit = Corbin + Mitchell) starting in 1947. Eddie's mother Letha, who also worked at the track, faithfully saved loads of photos, newspaper clippings and track programs in a scrapbook. The product is historically record that just does not exist for most businesses of this era.

As is the case in many family businesses Eddie worked at the track beginning pretty much day one.

Eddie (age 5) selling programs with the help of his Aunt Lucille Mitchell

As is the case with most kids in racing families, Eddie was naturally drawn to racing and general motorized coolness.
Young Eddie at the wheel.
Eddie's Dad owned a handful midget cars but was not a race driver. Drivers were recruited and trained to run these car to insure appropriately competitive races. KAFB airmen were common recruits. Pilot skills surely translate quite well for filling a race
car seat.
Eddie later made the jump quite successfully to go-karts racing. An interest in motorcycles developed a very short time later. New Mexico allowed limited drivers licenses at 13 years old for bikes of 5HP or less. Eddie bought a new 1956 Harley Davidson STU 165 in late 1955. Eddie's father owned a business selling scooters at the time but Eddie opted to buy a "real motorcycle" from the competition.

Eddie's original '56 at Cars and Coffee
Eddie must have taken to the motorcycle thing with a high aptitude. It wasn't long before he has campaigning a Triumph Terrier for Simonson Triumph in desert hare scrambles.In parallel he also campaigned a fuel injected 125cc MV Agusta road racer capable 120+ MPH on the road course.

He kicking ass and taking names at 13! I couldn't help but notice similarities to the accomplishments a 13 year old Bobby SirKegian is famous for at roughly the same time period.

91.24 MPH - This might well be the single coolest piece of NM motorcycle memorabilia I've ever seen
I don't think I've ever met anyone with a longer history in Hot Rodding than Eddie. Below are some photos of Eddie's fathers "track car" '33 coupe circa 1948.

Track car pulling the trailer & #81 midget car pictured above

This car fascinates me. Perfect chop. Perfect stance. Spotlights, sealed beam headlights, louver-less hood. Some common "custom" touches that almost predate custom cars as we know them.
By the mid 50's Eddie was building show winning, magazine featured rods/customs. Even today there's a Model T two door sedan street rod in progress in Eddie's shop.

Eddie, thanks for all the time you took to show me around and share stories yesterday. I hope this post doesn't strike you as too personal but it's a pretty incredible story.

There are still many more race track photos dealership photos and memorabilia coming soon.  I can't wait to dig through more.
Albuquerque Dealer.


Sell Your Junk Car Atlanta said...

This entire story and collection of info and photographs are so vintage, I love it. Your story was very touching.

-David Enabulele

Flathead45 said...

Very cool. That coupe is sweet! Very nice body-work on the chop-job...

I'm guessing Eddie was wearing those same jeans in High School, judging from the way they fit him in the picture.

His Harley is very close to Uncle Wally's (Wally's is a '58).