(Words by Robert Dalton, Photos provided by Robert Dalton) Robert Dalton is the owner and driver of the “Flash Point” Streamliner, and a guy who has become a good friend of ours over the last few years at Bonneville. Robert and his team are all guys that grew up, or live, in and around Morgan Hill California where I grew up, and they are one of the most family oriented race teams out there. When Robert wrote up a touching tribute to his mentor and friend Ernie Pereira, it was something we just had to share. God Speed Ernie.
Editor’s Note: After initially writing this up yesterday morning, Robert hit me up with some other cool facts about Ernie. He invented the corkscrew roller coaster, and even did a cool write up about running 200 and getting his red hat. Read it all below Bob’s write-up. There are way, way, way too many Ernie Pereira stories to fit here, but know that he will be missed, but never forgotten. Based on the visitors who made sure to see him in his last days, I know he was loved by a great many. Our sincere condolences to Ernie’s family, friends, and fellow racers.
My friend and mentor Ernie Pereira, who ran the former Markley belly tank with a Hard running GMC in the XO class, is in the last mile of his great run here on earth. He has kicked the rods out and is coasting toward the greatest finish ever. A few months ago, he had what we thought was a stroke when his speech became slurred. But as the MRI showed a few weeks ago, the blood clot was in fact a fast growing tumor. Not a lot of good options for the 85 year old two club member. Given the worst choices, Ernie chose to go home.
This put more pressure to get his Hot Rod Hemi powered 29 Ford done. Ernie started this project a few years after his lovely wife Joy passed away, twenty years ago. Ernie did a great job in building the car. I helped where I could. But given the situation we were facing. It was time to go. Garran SooHoo of Nitro Speed Shop in Sparks, Nv jumped in with his friends. As did a lot of my shop guys, especially Joe Hamilton. The goal was to get Ernie in the car. And we did.
I want to thank all of Ernie’s friends who visited, especially Charley Markley, Harry Hoffman, Greg Teretto(spelling?), Bill & Kathy Dean, and Dick Collier. Time spent laughing, about lightning shows, belly dancers, George Bentley turning his Algon nozzles, 140 mph Ford Econoline push trucks, and the Hideaway, brought back many smiles. Ernie’s daughter Kim Lagoe Taylor has done a great job in the most difficult of times. The caretakers, what amazing people. Lysa Anne my girlfriend, thank you for all you have done. Also, Al Teague, the card you sent was perfect. It brought a huge smile.
For me, spending time with Ernie the last two weeks, driving him in his Hot Rod, was some of the most rewarding and difficult times in my life. Being there when they told Ernie about the tumor, his look, that WTF are these choices, look he had. Not afraid. But that ah shit look, we kicked the rods out, look.
So now he has the rods kicked out. Heading to that final parachute pull, he’s at the 4 3/4 mile. I’ll bet when he gets to the 5 mile marker, he won’t pull it, but just coast in that serenity you get when your engine is off, and you are coasting along at 200 mph. He told me that doing that was like being in heaven and I hope it is.
He will be heading home soon to his wife and son, who got there way too soon..
Ernie, you will be missed….
(The message above was posted shortly before Ernie passed the 5 mile mark. The rest after.)
Well….. Ernie coasted pass the 5 mile marker today… With the peace and joy of a Sunrise on the Salt… On that early morning record run.
I can hear that booming voice on the radio….
Well done … But this time… skip impound… take it straight to Heaven..
Thanks Ernie….. Save me a place at the table…. bob
Check out this other cool stuff about Ernie. Special thanks to the staff at Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento, who provided great care and support to Ernie.
Below is a writeup from Ernie himself about running 201. mph in his GMC Jimmy powered lakester, along with a few other photos and such from his past. It turns out that everyone who has ever been on a corkscrew roller coaster owes a big thanks to Ernie too as he’s the guy that designed the first one!