Ernie Nagamatsu is a dentist by profession although he also has a background in Art. Ernie started racing over 20 years ago with Formula Fords in competitive SCCA racing in Southern California. Ernie raced FF Swift DB-1s and eventually he started Vintage Racing with his 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra with the help of his long time friend - Max Balchowsky. The CSX 2203 Cobra had an automatic installed by Max for a prior owner and Max was sure it could work in Road Racing, which was not the case, although he wanted to modify it "a la Jim Hall". His long time friendship with the legendary Max Balchowsky lead to many a late evening coffee shop discussions about racing.
Ernie was given many of the archive items from Max's racing days and when the Hollywood Motors was shut down for development, more memorabilia from the Old Yeller race cars were given to Ernie.
Over the years, Max helped Ernie try to locate an Old Yeller race-car and they checked out several of the cars that were available from time to time. In the records were drawings for the Old Yeller X as a front and rear engine race car. Ernie purchased the chassis and designated parts from Max for the Old Yeller X in the late 1980s and the car was finally almost compete as a front engine race car.
The most famous and legendary of the Old Yeller race-cars became available but the price was too steep for Ernie. For almost three years, the prior owner of the Old Yeller II held the car until the pricing was right and Ernie purchased the 1959 Old Yeller II. The previous owner wanted the car to come to Southern California and to have the guidance of Max in racing.
When Ernie bought the Old Yeller II, (in the early 1990s) it had noted internal chassis crunches due to over 15 years of tough competitive SCCA/ Cal Club racing. Over the years, there was an attempt to restore the Old Yeller II back to the 1959 Max and Ina Balchowsky build specifications. 2005 was a 'breakthrough' year with the handling and performance getting into the window of performance envisioned by Max and Ina.
The Old Yeller II has been invited to the most prestigious Vintage Racing event the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK and the Revival Meeting Races for 5 events. Ernie has also raced the car at Elkhart Lake - Road America and the Monterey Historic races. In August 2005, the Old Yeller II won the top prize - The Rolex Phil Hill Monterey Cup. It has also won the DuPont Registry People's Choice Award at Amelia Island and was invited to the Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance.
Ernie is a contributing writer to Victory Lane magazine and other magazines and newspapers from time to time. He also races a famous 1958 Porsche Speedster "the General Kilpatrick Speedster" that was raced by the General for over 32 straight years in SCCA races. The 289 Shelby Cobra races with one of the two existing Le Mans aluminum Hard Top designed for Le Mans and he raced with Lyn St. James as a co-driver at Goodwood in 2001.
Ernie is interested in sharing the great legacy of Max and Ina Balchowsky and their Old Yeller Race Cars with racing fans around the world.