Two Legends Remember Another
Wally Parks' And Tom Medley's Recollections Of Veda OrrShortly before his passing, I had the opportunity to visit with Wally Parks and mentioned that we were doing a feature on Paul Beck's recreation of the Veda Orr roadster. As one of the pioneers of hot rodding, few knew more than Wally about its roots and those who were there at the beginning, so I asked if he'd mind responding to a few questions about Veda. Despite the fact that he and son Richard were in the middle of a book, "The SCTA's First Ten Years," Wally's response was his usual, an enthusiastic "you bet, I'd love to." Wally took time from his busy schedule and wrote the following:

I first met Veda in the 1930s, when she raced her 1932 roadster at Muroc Dry Lake. She was later active as the first female driver in SCTA's time trials history, at a time when women were not allowed to become members of the association.

Veda was a behind-the-scenes partner with her husband Karl, who operated one of the first speed shops of prominence in California. She was accepted primarily because of her dedication and her expertise as a capable driver in what was still an experimental stage of the desert's lakebed speed trials.

Karl was an outspoken but genuinely dedicated member of that era's hot rod culture, who backed up his opinions, good and bad, with building and driving his own race cars. He was an early member of the 90 MPH Club, who later switched to the Road Runners. Until the World War II years, Veda was a dry lakes speed trials contestant, and then to cover more than just SCTA's activities she introduced her own CT (California Timing) News publication and a CT News pictorial featuring popular race cars of that period. After the start of WWII, when SCTA's activities were put on hold, Veda extended her CT News to a special-interest mailer sent to military servicemen and defense industry hot rod members gratis-at least to ones she could locate. It was a blessing for overseas contacts.

Veda was a door opener for the interest and participation of women in dry lakes racing. She was a role model in vehicle know-how and high-speed experience behind the wheel. Her record 122 mph in her '32 roadster was a mark for the guys to shoot at, which they did.

After they sold their speed shop and discontinued their racing careers, Karl and Veda retired to Mint Canyon, north of Los Angeles on the road to the dry lakes, where they bought the local water works and discontinued their active roles as speed trials pioneers.-Wally Parks

"Veda Orr was the glue that held hot rodding together during the war years"-Tom MedleyTom "Stroker McGurk" Medley remembers meeting Veda on the dry lakes before World War II, where she was, in his words, "a hell of a competitor."

When WWII began, many of the Southern California racers were shipped to far-flung locations around the globe; eventually a young Medley was one of them-he arrived in the ETO (European theater of operations) just in time for the Battle of the Bulge. "Even with everything that was going on around us, lots of us were thinking and talking about our hot rods back home, and Veda certainly helped out in that regard," said Tom.

In addition to sending out her CT News, Tom added, "Veda corresponded personally with lots of the guys overseas; she kept everyone posted on who was where and how they were doing. Veda Orr was the glue that held hot rodding together during the war years."

At one point during the war, Tom sent Veda a cartoon that was used in one of the publications. "When I got home after the war, I told Veda that we should start a magazine, but she said no because the speed shop was getting so busy." Tom went to work at Hot Rod magazine, beginning with the second issue, and some years later he and Veda had a good laugh together about their missed opportunity.