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The Radlauer books

(This page is not Jazz-related.)

This a convenient place to offer enthusiasts of the books about motorsports written by my late parents, Ed and Ruth Radlauer, scans of
a few of their earliest titles, from the late 1960s to mid-1970s.

Ed Radlauer, c. early 1970s, right

From the mid-1960s through the 1980s my father Ed Radlauer, and mother Ruth, authored hundreds of books for young readers, many about motor sports: drag racing, minibikes, motorcycle racing and custom cars.  Their books are now prized collectors items among enthusiasts of this vintage do-it-yourself era of fun and racing.

New 8.2015

Learn to Ride/Read

Published in:
Racer X Illustrated Magazine #174
September 2015, Vol. 19, no 9

Dan Radlauer authored this warm recollection of Ruth and Ed recently in Racer X Illustrated.

Motorcycle Mania.pdf
Elk Grove/Children's Press, 1973

Motorcycle Mania:
Dan Radlauer seen:  Cover (left), pages 17, 31 (?), 32

On the Drag Strip.pdf
Franklin Watts, 1971

Ruth Radlauer
c. 1959

with children:

L to R: Dave, Robin, Dan Radlauer

The early books in particular contain numerous photos of my brother and sister, Dan and Robin, and me.

Dave and/or Dan seen on pages: 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 32

Bowmar Publishing, 1970

Dan on pages: 7, 9, 17, 26, 27, 32
Robin, pages: 24, 26


The low contrast of these downloadable professional scans was necessary to prevent the page backside image showing through.  The files are large (about 300 mb) so please allow for delay while the file downloads.  With most browsers you may either download these book scan pdfs, or view them in Adobe Reader.

Karting Fun on Four Wheels.pdf
Bowmar Publishing, 1967

Ed Radlauer's comments on
DEAN MOON of “Moon Eyes” fame (RIGHT). 

“From my point of view,
Dean Moon was a spectacular genius in terms of mechanical acumen, promotion and management.  Perhaps the most unusual person I ever encountered during our automotive years.”

Ed first met one of the best-known celebrities of hot rodding while seeking historical photos for the book
Bonneville Cars:

"At that time everyone involved with hot rods, custom cars, or any specialized such activity knew MOON products.  The famous, highly chromed, convex Moon Disc hub caps were popular.  The MOONEYES logo was ubiquitous.

I went to Dean’s place of business which as in a nearby industrial/oil field area called Santa Fe Springs.  His operation covered about two large city blocks . . . a dinosaur-bone-yard-automotive museum all in a jumble.  Cars, motorcycles, choppers, dune buggies, trucks, as well as body parts and engines.

Dean Moon squatting, right

There was a large, very old commercial type structure . . . the inside of the building was  just like the outside only in miniature , automotive stuff wildly piled everywhere.  Dean, it seems was a world-wide distributor and manufacturer of automotive specialty equipment.

Dean Moon was an early pioneer and outstanding entrepreneur of early Hot Rodding.

He was one of the most respected names in drag racing, set world land speed records and assisted others in that endeavor.

His logo, products and reputation developed a
world-wide following.

What I loosely call Dean’s office [was] a room maybe 15 x15 feet, jammed full of trophies, posters, chromed auto parts, old calendars, banners racing flags and photos.  As well as some deadly looking swords, knives, and scimitars hanging from the wall.
                                                     Moon's place of business in later years, above.

I saw no desk as such and Dean’s ‘office chair’ was a handsome, huge, classic 1930’s barber’s chair complete with swivel and pneumatic raise-lower mechanism.  The foot rest platform was the trade-mark, heavy steel platform into which was cast the words, THEO. KOCH CHICGO, ILL.

We chatted while Dean looked at the books . . . he seemed to like them so I gave him  a list of some photos I needed.  He looked at the list, pumped his chair down and led me to what he called ‘my photo room’ . . .  stacked full of file cabinets, cardboard boxes, wooden crates, and shelves of photo albums. 

There was an infallible filing system, namely Dean Moon.  He went to a box under a window, opened it, fingered a few photos, and two and three, the whole operation not taking even five minutes.  I was dumbfounded.

Dean’s terms for using his photos, sign a ‘single use’ release, credit him as Dean Moon, and include the Mooneyes logo . . . see last page of Bonneville Cars.  I had occasion to use Dean’s resources several times during the ensuing years, each time the experience being the same.

Encountering an icon of the 1960s drag racing era.

Model car kits based on Moon designs, right.

For quite a while Dean had a strange way of keeping in touch with friends.  At 12:00 midnight each December 30th, Dean called to wish us a happy new year, inquire about my work and family, and offer any technical-photo help I needed.  He usually chatted on as if we were nearby neighbors who gossiped daily over the back fence.”

A Short History of Ed Radlauer as Writer and Racing Fan

by Dave Radlauer

This is the story of how these books and hundreds others came to be.

Background and First Books

Ed certainly didn’t set out in life to be a writer.  When he was discharged from the Army late in WW II a college counselor advised him that his desire to enter Broadcasting was impractical and he should go into Education.

He started teaching around 1949, and then got a master’s degree in Administration and became a school principal by 1958-59.  An unconventional administrator, he liked the kids and teachers.  He declined to use corporal punishment (spanking) as discipline.  But he thought district-level bureaucrats were stupid, or worse, political.  And he spoke disparagingly of irresponsible parents who had no business raising kids.

Meanwhile, wife Ruth who had a burning desire to write children’s literature, began to be published in the late 1950s.  Besides her own titles they collaborated on a couple of very dull books probably aimed at the school and library market: Fathers at Work, Missiles and Men, Nuclear Power for People and Atoms for Peace, a book about the first nuclear-powered merchant ship.

Photos of Ed
c. 1947-52, right


But Ed had numerous other interests, talents and enterprises.  He built the house I grew up in, did most of the carpentry, cement work, plumbing, electrical and appliance repairs.  We had an avocado grove that he took considerable efforts to maintain: grafting, fertilizing, irrigating, fighting off the castor bean plants.  Several years we a nice little cash crop.  Ed was an adventurous eater and excellent cook.  He made  his own  pickles and other fermented foods like Kim Chee, and built a gas grill barbecue from restaurant industrial surplus decades before they became popular.  Ruth was a good cook too, but overshadowed by his crowd-pleasing improvisations.

My mother always had an artistic streak dabbling in watercolor and oil painting, and was very good at one time with clay and glaze.  A practical woman she helped build the house, knitted and sewed, and was comfortable on horseback or mountain trail.  In later years she deepened her explorations of artistic media: printmaking, photography, collage and memory books.  But when she took up basketry it became a passion.  She developed great skill and artistic range; a true artist her work sold in galleries and won awards.

Electronic Sales

One of Ed’s big interests in the 1950s and ‘60s was hi-fi.  He designed and built his own amplifiers and speakers, sometimes from Navy surplus or second-hand parts.  He acquired a large open reel tape machine.  I even remember a country music combo that came by once for a raucous recording session.  In the large rumpus room upstairs he had a state-of-the-art audio system, and built a 16 foot long speaker cabinet on one wall.  The stereo was stupendous . . .  and no doubt tax deductible as part of his electronics store.

Around 1960 while still a school principal he launched his own repair and retail shop, Electronic Sales.  A modest enterprise, it sold electronic kits and parts, radios, tubes, small components, and an early importer of Asian electronics, Calrad.  What success it had was probably because Ed was a whiz fixing televisions and radios; time consuming but relatively simple work.    I went along on more than one of his jobs installing home and business sound systems, or TV antennas.   He had a partner in the business -- Kay, a postal delivery man by day  --  to whom he later sold the business. When Kay proved to lack Ed’s flair for repairs, sales or mark-ups the business quickly flopped.

Several curious stories attach to Electronic Sales.  It was burgled twice; the culprit eventually proving to be the local beat cop.  In later years Ruth harbored suspicions that the two unsolved, unexplained, mailbox pipe bombings we experienced may have been done by Kay, his resentful former business partner.  No motive or person of interest was ever established for those crimes.

One of Ed’s employees at the store was a young Latino man in his 20s, a solid citizen named Rosie.  I once got to drive his go kart, a factory job powered by an over sized Briggs & Stratton engine.  Rosie let us know where to find drag racing: at Lions Drag Strip in Long Beach.

Discovering Drag Racing

In 1963 Ed started taking Dan and me, and sometimes my sister or our friends to the drag races regularly.  Besides Lions we went to Pomona, Fontana, Irwindale, Orange County, Riverside.  Our ritual included preparation of many tuna fish sandwiches and acquiring discount  packaged donuts and orange juice from a local drive-thru along the way.  At the track we invariably got “pit passes” permitting us to get into the area where cars were prepared, repaired, tuned-up and admired.  It made for an all day up-close  immersion.  We watched at the starting line 15-20 feet from roaring 1000-horsepower engines and smoking tires, arriving home with bits of rubber in our hair.

There was a schism then in the drag racing world over introduction of nitromethane fuels.  They generated tremendous power, and made for more exciting, more pungent racing.  The conservative NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) resisted nitro as dangerous.  But under the rebellious banner of the UHRA (United Hot Rod Assc) lots of racers, and fans like us, were flocking to the tracks pioneering safe use of nitro.  Things were pretty loose at some: arriving early at Fontana or Irwindale, we could occasionally back the truck right up to the track fence and view racing from halfway instead of the bleachers.

Lions racetrack was managed by an unlikely and unassuming figure named C.J. “Pappy” Hart, who I think Ed admired.  He looked like Groucho Marx on vacation, wore a jaunty straw hat, always had a cigar in his mouth, and drove a Honda 50 scooter around the facility. (right)

Pappy Hart was the final authority on all matters, and he deftly brokered contending factions, teams and personalities with firm diplomacy.  It was always funny to watch him drive the scooter down the track for some reason: It took him 30 seconds to drive the quarter mile that race cars did in 8 or 9 seconds.

Ed often retold the story of watching a racing team disqualified during an NHRA vehicle inspection.  The Rules state that failure to pass inspection upon arrival disqualifies a car from that day of racing.  He saw a respected team barred participation at a championship meet due to lack of a single cotter-pin in a steering assembly bolt: a minor but required precaution.  I think that for Ed this was a parable about the meaning of sportsmanship, rules, fairness, preparation, and the social contract.

Drag racing got me and my brother out of Ruth’s hair.  She was working very hard that year on a series of Social Studies books that the publisher hoped would become a ‘state adoption’ meaning that California would buy one copy for every five kids in the state-wide school system.  Ka-ching!  When she succeeded, and Ed saw that her first quarterly royalty check exceeded his annual principal’s salary, he decided he was in the wrong racket.

Writing About Drag Racing

Next he decided to write and photograph a book about drag racing for young adult.  The photos were more challenging than the writing.  Ed not only knew nothing about photography, but partly due to his bad hand that was damaged by the Army he could not work a camera well . . . up to that point in his life.  Every blurry photo in the family album was attributed to him.  But he read books and magazines, decided he needed a Nikon, and asked a friend traveling to Japan to buy one for him at a good price.  

I recall his deep frustration when that camera was impounded by US Customs.  In order to obtain it from the Government he had no choice but drive to the Port of Los Angeles and  deface it: scratch the Nikon name off.  Or suffer any number of even more unpalatable consequences: paying a tariff or fine, confiscation, or possible prosecution for violation of import trade law.

Teaching himself photography Ed learned quickly, authoring and illustrating his first racing title and hundreds more.  We accompanied him to events and locations of all kinds where he went shooting exciting photos of custom cars, oval track racing, dune buggies or motocross.

Enter Bryce Bowmar

By the mid-1960s Ruth was a promising writer being romanced by a company called Bowmar Publishing.  Ed went along to a dinner with owner, Bryce Bowmar.  To her last days, Ruth suspected he conceived his basic innovation on the spot  --  back of a napkin so to speak.  Turning his attention from Ruth, Bryce asked, “So Ed, what are you up to?”  

His basic idea was this:  he was finding out what kids were interested in and wanted to use it teaching them to read.  For the unsuccessful readers he proposed to begin without the BOOK, which itself had become an object representing failure and humiliation.  Replace it with a multimedia package: an entertaining film strip and narration, with exciting music and sound effects on record or cassette.  Finally, reintroduce the books themselves, but with content the kids would “want to steal off the shelf.”

Bowmar bought Ed’s idea big time.  He quickly perceived his brilliance in this area and let him run with it.  They published several extremely successful series of books and multimedia packages that Ruth and Ed conceived and authored together.

Recording mixing and producing the audio elements appealed to his fascination with recording and electronics.  While he deferred to skilled professionals, he observed keenly and had a definite concept about the final product.  It should seize the attention of reluctant readers, use their enthusiasm to overcome resistance, and in his words, “trick them into reading.”

At first there was resistance from the fusty, conservative library and education establishments.  But success getting kids to read overcame resistance to some of the ‘questionable’ content:  chopper motorcycles, low-rider custom cars, dubious and dangerous motor sports of uncertain parentage.  Within a few years they had imitators, who had mostly little success. 

Ruth and Ed had a very thorough grounding in the process of teaching and learning, building vocabulary, comprehension and review, sustaining interest.  And they just worked harder and longer, were earlier to bed and sooner to rise, than competitors.

Radlauer Productions became a thriving family corporation providing medical and retirement, sheltering income, and offering opportunities to me and my siblings.  Each of us collaborated on or helped photograph a book or two before we moved on to our own lives and careers.  I co-authored titles, Model Airplanes and Model Trains and contributed photos to a couple of the National Parks books.

Playing the System

Ed and Ruth learned to consummately play the bureaucratic system by which school and library systems purchased books in bulk.  They supplied support materials for teachers, and met all requirements and guidelines for content, grade level, progression, modularity, curriculum, and social or ethnic diversity.  Some titles were translated into Spanish -- I recall Los VW Bugs.  They made at least one Writers Rock Star Tour through schools in New Zealand and Australia, and branched out to other publishers, formats, and fields.

The series of 24 books on National Parks was surely Ruth’s inspiration.  She loved the outdoors and recalled her childhood summers in Yellowstone with fondness.  They found a clever angle.  Collaborating closely with the interpretive staff of each National Park, the content was vetted for sale in all National Park Visitor Center Stores, as well as to schools and libraries.  They researched, photographed, and visited almost every park . . . tax deductible of course.  These are some of their most visually striking books.

They offered free personal appearances to school districts and libraries: author’s talks on Books and Writing.  Ed became quite a crowd pleasing entertainer.  He’d always performed for the kids even as a school principal, with yo-yo tricks, dumb jokes, and harmonicas.  He developed a signature road show.  Appearances had the additional benefit of giving him fresh test audiences for the latest photos or subjects:  monkeys, hot air balloons, model railroad, sharks, bicycle motocross, wind-driven sports.  

Schmoozing with his hosts afterwards Ed offered deals and boosted sales.  I once observed him in action; he could be a sly and canny salesman.  This is why Ruth and Ed always had the inside track, and how they lapped the competition and stayed out front for decades selling a boatload of books, perhaps 2.5 - 3 million.

A Writer to the End

Ed  and Ruth wrote in other contexts.  They attended many classes and workshops of all kinds on creative writing.  Both wrote their autobiography to age 21 (about 125 pages) which were illuminating.  Ed’s was very funny in places.   When I requested more about his Army years, he produced another hilarious, fascinating 75 pages casting a jaundiced eye on his military experience.  (I still have both these documents.)

Though he usually wrote very well, Ed could occasionally miss the mark.  I once read the manuscript of a science fiction novel he wrote that was terrible and far too obvious.  On another occasion I hired him to write a script for an interpretive audio tour company, but he failed completely.

He once told me his books were simple to write, saying he could knock one off before breakfast.  But Ruth complained it took her months to finish editing it.  By then he had simply been doing it so well for so long that it had become second-nature.  He’d forgotten more about teaching kids to read than most would ever learn.  

Both Ed and Ruth took great pride knowing their books had made a difference in the lives of children struggling to master the simultaneously abstract and concrete task of learning to read.  Their books validated young people’s enthusiasms, and besides literacy they transmitted values of sportsmanship, fair play and teamwork.

Toward the last months of his life Ed lost the use of his voice, but never his wit or intelligence.  Ruth preserved some of his later writings, and their personal dialogue in notes.  His final attitude was one of gratitude, summed up in the note that together they had lived a blessed life.  

And, I would add, a tax deductible one.

These are typical of personal writings left by Ed and Ruth. 
The first is by Ed.


Phasing out [my school principal] career occurred for me during October of 1968.  This was not my first phase out.  My career as a teacher phased out in June of 1956.  My army career phased out around the end of October 1944.  But though short lived, most unusual was the phase out of my career as president of Delta Tau Delta at UCLA.

It was mid 1946.  I had become member of a highly anti-Semitic fraternity.  After six months of membership, I was elected house president by the fraternity.  As president, I was now required to inquire of prospective new members the two questions I had answered.  “Do you swear you are not more than 1/8 Communist?  Do you swear that you are not more than 1/8 Jewish?”

My presidential philosophy for new members was quite democratic.  “You can join us if you like to drink beer, raise hell, and chase women.”

Then!  Then!  Some of the prewar, arrogant jug heads, REAL frat boys, returned to the house after military service.  They were aghast.  We had members studying to be teachers!  Members from socially low class families!  Dating a girl from Alpha Gamma Delta was not acceptable.

Monday night.  A motion.  President Ed Radlauer must be impeached.  Motion passed.  Elected new president in my place was the most stupid, dull, inarticulate oaf, Del Borchert.  My frat career phased out.

Something by Ruth:

“He sounds like a rusty gate.”  That was Mom’s statement the first time she met my two-day old son, David.

David was the gate I opened to become a mother.  Gateway to parenthood!  Above the gate should have said, “Arbeit Macht Frie.”  Until then, I didn’t know how much arbeit (work) was involved in the roles of mother.  I had visualized a Renoir painting with mother and child, blue ribbons, sweet smelling baby powder, and an angel snoozing peacefully in the cradle.

The reality was a messy house I had no time or energy to clean, the smell of spit up, and squawks timed to interrupt dinner or sleep.  Forget sex.

THEY said, “Wait until he’s a teenager.”

I always wanted to say, “Thanks.  I’ll wait.”  It would be different for me.  Yeah right!

David took a running start at the teens when, in sixth grade, he lit a cigarette on the playground during lunch hour.

He managed to make that gate screech and clatter to disturb my waking as well as sleeping hours as he charged his way through love-ins, rock concerts, the drug culture, and revolutionary activities.

What a relief it was when, with a lot of help, I closed the gate and told him, “You’re on your own.”

Now he’s a fairly solid citizen who builds his own fences and keeps the gate well oiled.  Happily, he opens it often to let me into his life.

JOURNAL ASSIGNMENT: A Time of major change in your life
Ed Radlauer

In my life a time of radical change was 1941-42.  At the end of 1942, December 7 to be exact, I was the lowest, most detested, harassed, threatened soldier in Company F, 2nd Battalion, Rhode Island 43rd Field Artillery.  Those in my company who didn’t threaten me with sodomy for being a Jew, cajoled me as a friend in an effort to lure me into anal sex.

Then.  One day.  We were hustled into the company mess hall in the evening well after dinner.  Our crude, rude First Sergeant, Top Kick Kelly, sat us down and announced, “Okay you fuckers, this is an army aptitude test.  Do you own work on this test.  Catch you peeking you’ll be in the guard house for a week.  Start now.”

I found the test a bit silly.  Answer a question and put a mark on a piece of paper with a black pencil.  I finished the test quickly and put the pencil down, but Sergeant Kelly didn’t like that.  “Keep working, Radlauer,” he bellowed.  I faked more test taking.

Three weeks later Sergeant Kelly called me to his office.  “Radlauer, for some reason they want a Jew-boy at Division Headquarters.”

Then!  Great!  Once at work in Division Headquarters I was told this was my new assignment.  No more Jew-boy sodomy threats.

A few months later a Colonel from Third Army Headquarters appeared.  “Radlauer?” he asked.  “Yes, sir!”

“We need you at our Office in San Antonio.  You’ll be doing top level personnel work.”

After working at General Eisenhower’s Third Army Headquarters in San Antonio, I realized I had come from detested Jew-boy to personnel records specialist.  Why?

I looked up my own personnel record.  On the Army Aptitude test, Edward Radlauer had scored among the top ten of the 250,000 soldiers in the Third Army.

So, in a few months, my change of place in life was from nothing to something.  I had escaped the scummy 43rd Field Artillery Division with my anus intact.

Ed Radlauer

Bruce Butler, I met him during early February of 1951, when he was the Assistant Superintendent in Charge of Business Affairs for my new employer, the Norwalk Elementary School District. 

Mr. Butler, “Call me Bruce,” he told us, 15 newly hired teachers, “and if there’s anything special you need to help your teaching, let me know.”

How generous, I thought, not knowing that anything special for education was never to be had from Bruce Butler’s largesse.

Bruce was not only classroom supplies retentive, in retrospect I guess he was anal retentive.  But always generous regarding his special love: school grounds, building maintenance, and custodial services . . . .

There came a day when my staff requested a good teaching tool, an overhead projector.  I proposed an experiment to my teachers.  “We’ll ask Mr. Butler for the overhead projector and a power sidewalk sweeper.  I expect we’ll get only one of these, the sweeper.”

Sure enough, three weeks later, our school got a fabulous teaching tool, a sidewalk power sweeper.  An it was a teaching tool.

I established a 6th grade power sweeper club.  Upon teacher recommendation for good work and good behavior, 6th grade boys got a chance to operate the power sweeper.  The teachers reported that yes, in spite of Bruce Butler, the sidewalk power sweeper was improving 6th grade behavior and study, because boys wanted to get out there and operate that noisy machine, the sidewalk teaching tool.  Thanks, Bruce Butler.

Ed’s Railroading years: early 1940s
c. 2000

Is it coincidence, synchronicity, or extrasensory energy that led you to produce a railroading program during this period in my life when I've been reminiscing about my extensive military railroad experiences.

Ironically, in my training for being an officer in the Transportation Corps, there was extensive railroad education but I never used it.  My railroading time was in 1943-44 when as an Adjutant General personnel evaluator, I made at least 15 train trips around the South setting up new Army units.

Many of these trips were in Texas so I rode the MKT quite often (Missouri, Kansas & Texas RR, nicknamed the KATY line).  The KATY was also known for making numerous unscheduled stops. These stops occurred because the KATY had no dining cars. Instead, the wives of engineers and conductors operated lunch counters adjacent to the railroad. Upon entering certain communities, conductors announced the upcoming stop. Passengers got off to have a meal. After about thirty minutes, the conductor came to the cafe and announced, "All aboard."


Indeed, Dave, perhaps you exist, in part, because of the Southern Pacific RR. It was during February, 1944,  that I decided to quit UC Berkeley. I took the SP's STARLIGHT COAST LINER from San Francisco to Los Angeles. After arriving at Union Station, 8:00 A.M., I entered UCLA.

There, within a month, I met Ruth. It was then, and remains now, love at first sight. In few years, you arrived, but not by train.  The result? Three wonderful adult children and their families.