1959 Balchowsky Buick Special

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Welcome to the official Old Yeller II website. This website brings you the fascinating story of Max and Ina Balchowsky's "Backyard Special" Old Yeller II, sometimes known as "The Junkyard Dog".

The Old Yeller II Buick Special Race Car was built in the fall of 1959 at the legendary Hollywood Motors. Max and Ina Balchowsky had raced cars in Sports Car Races since the early 1950s and with that experience, they decided to build the Old Yeller II.

Max and Ina worked side by side on race cars at Hollywood Motors and they were recognized as the premier Hot Rod engine transplant specialists of that time. They first started racing with a borrowed XK- 120 Jaguar at the 1951 Reno Road Races. They just knew they had a much faster car in their highly modified, channeled 32 Ford Roadster, with a Buick motor, named the Bu-Ford Special.

The Bu-Ford Special raced at Pebble Beach and other major Sports Car Races and that was the start of an incredible journey for Max and Ina in Road Racing and competing against the very best including many Factory Teams from Europe.

The next car was a highly modified Doretti Buick and then they modified the Morgensen Special as that car earned the name Old Yeller I. The newly designed Old Yeller II was extremely fast from the start but had durability problems in the first five races. From that point in 1960, the Old Yeller II made racing history competing at all of the major International Sports Car Races as well as almost every other important California Sports Car Race in 1960.

In 1960 Old Yeller II was driven by by many legendary drivers such as Carroll Shelby (Road America & Santa Barbara), Dan Gurney (Riverside International Raceway & Laguna Seca), Bob Bondurant, Billy Krause, Bobby Drake, Paul O'Shea, and Max Balchowsky.

Many track records were broken with the Old Yeller II and the "Home Built Backyard Special" competed against the very best and newest Maserati Birdcage, Ferraris, Jaguars, and Porsches along with the road racing "Specials". The Old Yeller II continued racing from December 1959 until 1974 with the last SCCA race being a regional race in California.

The Old Yeller II languished in a backyard in Fresno for several years where it was discovered by David Gibb in the mid 1970s. Mr. Gibb restored the Old Yeller II to a basic original configuration. The work being completed in Santa Barbara, California.

The Old Yeller II started the Vintage Racing circuit and in the early 1990s, Ernie Nagamatsu bought the Old Yeller II from Dave Gibb and proceeded to restore the car to the most period correct configuration of 1959.

The Old Yeller II is currently vintage raced by owner driver Ernie Nagamatsu and occassionally by featured guest drivers. Old Yeller II races at events including: Elkhart Lake Road America, Coronado Speed Week, Palm Springs Revival, Phoenix International Raceway, Willow Springs, Monterey Historic Races and the Old Yeller II has been featured at five Goodwood Racing events (Festival of Speed and the Revival Meeting Races) in England.

I hope you enjoy the legacy and history of the Old Yeller II.

Ernest Nagamatsu
Current owner and driver of Old Yeller II

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