According to Larry Fisher, the museum’s executive director, Beast IV was originally built in 1953 by Chet Herbert just in time to compete in that year’s Bonneville Speed Week and International Speed Trials. The aluminum-bodied, Chrysler Hemi-powered racer streaked across the Utah Salt Flats to hit a top speed of 246 mph and break eight long-standing performance records. Beast IV—the successor to Herbert’s original Beast (a motorcycle), Beast II and Beast III racers—ran until 1992 in a number of configurations with a variety of engines and reached speeds up to 289 mph. The racer then rested on its laurels; unused, it fell into disrepair and was acquired by David and Marianne Duthu. The couple donated Beast IV to the museum and agreed to fund the car’s badly needed restoration.
While the build of Beast IV took a quick three weeks, the restoration required 15 months of intense research and meticulous craftsmanship. Much of the racer had deteriorated and few of its original parts remained. With museum curator Greg Sharp providing historical guidance on the project, the Webb and Hollenbeck crews worked primarily from vintage photographs and magazine articles to source rare parts, fabricate components and determine and reproduce the Beast’s exact colors. Craig Naff, of Woodstock, Virginia, blended the Beast’s remaining original sheet metal with new material to create a complete body; in effect, a canvas for Hollenbeck to paint. Consulting with PPG Segment Manager Steve Lehner and Technical Trainer Jim Kvatek, Hollenbeck and team members Darrell Schneider and Dennis Sayers selected several PPG automotive refinish products to replicate the car’s initial paint job. Eric Reyes’ steady hand provided the Beast’s elegant lettering and detailing.
“Color was a challenge,” Hollenbeck said. “There were color photos of the original Beast, and we knew the car was blue and yellow, but the colors looked different in every photograph. So we compared the colors of other cars in photos with the Beast. We figured out the other cars’ colors and were able to come very close to equaling the Beast’s color. Then we generated dozens of blue and yellow samples and tweaked them to match the paint. The museum made the final decision and we gave the Beast its proper design and color scheme.”
Beast IV is now on permanent display with Beast III at the NHRA Motorsports Museum.
For more information about PPG's automotive refinish products, call 800-647-6050 or visit www.ppgrefinish.com.