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Louisiana Lumberman Bill Fuller RIP


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#1 Jerry Entin

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 00:35

Bill-jag-1.jpg

 

Bill Fuller on his way to victory during the Louisiana Hilltop Races at Bossier City in September 1960. His car was the Rebel Special, a Chevy-powered Jaguar D-type, chassis 560. It was his third overall victory in as many races at Hilltop that year, earning him the nickname King of The Hill.

 

 

 

We just heard the sad news that Bill died on January 15 this year, at the age of 94. From 1956 on he was a well-known participant in races around the South: Mansfield, Hammond, Eagle Mountain, Galveston, Pensacola, Stuttgart, San Marcos, Hilltop, Opelousas, Sebring, Daytona and Baton Rouge.

 

Bill started out with a Corvette in 1956, upgrading in 1958 to the D-type in which Jack Ensley had previously mounted a Chevy V8. The D-type was raced by Fuller until early 1966.

 

Photo credit: Bob Jackson [from Sports Car Racing in the South, Volume 2]

all research Willem Oosthoek


Edited by Jerry Entin, 15 February 2020 - 01:16.


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#2 Jerry Entin

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 01:22

Bill-Mansfield-Sep59.jpg

Mansfield, September 1959. The 4.9-liter Rebel Special being chased by Ronnie Hissom in his new 4.7-liter Lister/Chevy. In the prelim Fuller finished 2nd ahead of Hissom. In the feature Fuller retired and Hissom finished 2nd overall.

 

Photo credit: Bob Jackson [from Sports Car Racing in the South, Volume 2].

all research Willem Oosthoek


Edited by Jerry Entin, 15 February 2020 - 01:26.


#3 JacnGille

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 03:29

Sad news



#4 RA Historian

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 16:56

Bill Fuller had one National win. He won the SCCA National at Corpus Christi in 1960. I think that it was an airport race, run at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. It may have been a National, but it was very poorly attended. A number of his 'regional' wins were actually over stronger fields than his one National win.

 

Tom



#5 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 09:37

]Bill-Hilltop760-1.jpg

Hilltop, July 1960. With his D-type in the shop, Bill Fuller borrowed Harry Washburn’s Chevy-engined Ferrari Monza, chassis 0502. He never even sat in the car before, but in spite of the Monza’s marginal brakes, its heavy understeer and a tendency to jump out of fourth gear, Bill took it to victory in the feature. The fact that the leading Monsterati Special of Bill Janowski threw a rod three laps before the finish certainly helped.

 

Tom is right.

Bill Fuller won the SCCA National at Corpus Christi, Texas, in October 1960. The competition wasn’t too strong: Hap Sharp’s Maserati-engined Cooper Monaco, Mason O’Keiff’s Kurtis SX-2/Chevy, Enus Wilson’s Chevy-engined Maserati 300S and Bill Steele in Tom Binford’s Ferrari Monza-engined Maserati 200SI. Only five car started the feature, and fastest qualifier Sharp lasted only 50 yards, blowing a plug at the starting line. After Wilson retired as well after 3 laps, the end result became: Fuller followed by O’Keiff and Extell Bell in an EM class Triumph Special.

 

All research: Willem Oosthoek

 

Photo credit: Bob Jackson [from Sports Car Racing in the South, Volume 2]


Edited by Jerry Entin, 16 February 2020 - 10:16.


#6 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 09:59

71-Mansfield-9-61-Bill-Fuller-423.jpg

Mansfield, September 1961. In addition to his D-type /Chevy, Bill Fuller ran this Ford-powered Merlyn Formula Junior.

 

Bill’s parents came down to Louisiana from Indiana in 1919 to work in the local hardwood industry. Bill, who pioneered the state’s reforestation program, eventually took over the Fuller Forest Products operations in Oakdale. His sawmill used 80-plus vehicles and employed four mechanics. Shop foreman Jack McDaniel did the work on Bill’s competition cars, but never went to the races. That was a job for mechanic John Faiszt and a few others.

 

Photo credit: Bob Jackson [from Sports Car Racing in the South, Volume 3]


Edited by Jerry Entin, 16 February 2020 - 10:01.


#7 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 10:04

77-Mansfield-9-61-Sharp-leads-Fuller-418

Mansfield, September 1961 again. In the feature Fuller raced his much lightened D-type/Chevy, seen here in a battle with Hap Sharp’s Ford-powered Cooper Formula Libre.

 

Photo credit: Bob Jackson [from Sports Car Racing in the South, Volume 3]


Edited by Jerry Entin, 16 February 2020 - 10:08.


#8 Jerry Entin

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Posted 16 February 2020 - 10:10

74-Mansfield-Bill-Fuller-9-61-471.jpg

 

Another Mansfield shot of Bill Fuller in his Ford-engined Merlyn Formula Junior. The car was fast but not too reliable.

 

Photo credit: Bob Jackson [from Sports Car Racing in the South, Volume 3]


Edited by Jerry Entin, 16 February 2020 - 10:13.


#9 Jerry Entin

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 17:59

https://www.legacy.c...x?pid=195065598

 

Here is the Obituary for Bill Porter Fuller.


Edited by Jerry Entin, 26 February 2020 - 03:28.


#10 lcbulldog

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 15:03

Sad news.  Thanks Jerry for this information.  I saw Bill Fuller race twice.  The first time was 1963 at Midland, TX Airpark driving a DevinSS Chevy that, if memory serves me correctly, was also called the Rebel Special (like the D-Jag Chevy).  The second and last time was at Texas World Speedway in the late '70s in a Lola T70.  

 

Mark



#11 E1pix

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Posted 18 February 2020 - 17:27

Thanks for honoring a lost comrade, Jerry.

RIP.

#12 Jerry Entin

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 14:04

Jag-D560-Fuller-Edit1.jpg

 This picture of the Bill Fuller D-Type was taken at Ryan Field (the airport) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at an SCCA National on  July 23, 1966.

 

photo: David Seibert


Edited by Jerry Entin, 25 February 2020 - 14:08.


#13 Jerry Entin

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 14:15

Merlyn-AS-Fuller3-Edit1.jpg

Bill Fuller later around 1967 bought a Merlyn with a Chevy engine, supposedly the only one built.  (And that supposedly for good reason -- Merlyn should have stuck to smaller sports/racers.) 

I have never heard or seen this car before. it is similar to the Lotus 23 type body. It was Merlyn's answer to a CanAm racer. A McLaren or Lola would have been a better way to go. Bill probably thought that Merlyn could build a lighter more agile car.

 

Merlyn-AS-Fuller2.jpg

Front View of Merlyn CanAm or ASR type car.

photo: David Seibert


Edited by Jerry Entin, 25 February 2020 - 14:38.


#14 Jerry Entin

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 14:22

Merlyn-AS-Fuller5-2.jpg

 

 Merlin ASR using number 52 probably around 1968.

 

photo: David Seibert


Edited by Jerry Entin, 25 February 2020 - 14:34.


#15 group7

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Posted 25 February 2020 - 17:54

Jerry, thanks for this tribute, an interesting career in a diverse lot of cars. In your last post on the Merlyn Mk. 8-Chevy, I wonder if this is the same car ? it was run in 1966 here in Canada, a number of names were linked to it at that time. I've included a link with some information, there are some differences, the roll bar for one.

Dave Wolin says in the text, that he believes two were built ?

Michael

http://www.davewolin.com/merlyn.htm

#16 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 26 February 2020 - 12:09

Hi, Jerry.  G7.  Very interesting.

 

The Fejer brothers ran a Merlyn/Chevy in the mid-60's.  Coachwork was red.  Exhausts ala the Chaparrals with eight individual stacks.  One cylinder always smoked on throttle-off race after race after race.  Never a real contender but not a complete stone either.

 

See entries here for 1965...

 

https://www.racingsp...-Fejer-CDN.html



#17 Cynic2

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Posted 27 February 2020 - 00:24

This is Bill Fuller's Merlyn/Chevy at Scholes Field, Galveston, Texas, July 1, 1967.   There are enough minor difference between the Canadian car and the Fuller car to make me pretty sure they are different cars.  I think one of the crew guys told me Fuller's was the only one.

 

(Thanks, Jerry.  I think I've figured out how to attach photos now.)

 

(David Seibert photo)

 

 

Merlyn-AS-Fuller4.jpg



#18 Jerry Entin

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 14:42

]mk-8-2-2.jpg

Bill Fuller in his Merlyn Mk 8 in April of 1970

 

The Fuller car was auctioned off in 2018

 

;https://rmsothebys.c...lyn-mk-8/697478

 

Someone got a very good deal. I thought by looking at the photos that the car was running a Huffaker type Gearbox and it was.

 

info sent site Jim Gessner

photo sent site: Perry Canton


Edited by Jerry Entin, 28 February 2020 - 14:56.


#19 artyparty

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Posted 19 April 2020 - 10:43

Very sad news indeed. I am rather ashamed to say that I had no idea Bill was still with us. If I had, then I would have reached out to him as I am the lucky owner of his Merlyn Mk8 shown in the photos above, having stolen it at RM's Auburn auction in the US in 2018. I had read of his exploits in the D Type "Rebel Special" and other cars he ran at the time, as I find that period of US racing history so very special.

God bless you, sir.



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#20 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 April 2020 - 12:40

Alexandra-Arabella-and-Merlyn.jpg

The Fuller Merlyn now owned by Arthur Fitchett

Those are his daughters Alexandra and Arabella his future pit crew.

 

photo: Arthur Fitchett 2020


Edited by Jerry Entin, 27 April 2020 - 12:53.


#21 Jerry Entin

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Posted 27 April 2020 - 12:48

merlyn1.jpg

Dave Wolin in the Fejer Bros run Merlyn in the day.

 

 

photo: Dave Wolin collection