Pete’s life was too short, only 21 years. But boy, did he have a flair for it!
June 22, 1944 to August 1,1965
Second President of the ROAMIN’ ANGELS 1962-63.
Story By Lanny N. with Maggie, Pete’s sister.
My memories of Pete are of a young man who seemed to be always in a hurry for the next challenge. Most of the time that meant a drag race somewhere. In October ’01, we were privileged to have a visit from Will Peters and Maggie Laney, Pete’s father and sister. Will donated a model that his son had built of his beloved ‘55 Nomad. I was able to talk to Maggie about her memories of her brother and his zest for all things with wheels and motors that “go fast”.
Maggie said that they grew up in a small town in the bay area called San Geronimo. When I said that I had never heard of it she replied, “well it wasn’t much of a town”. Pete missed a lot of school because he was born with a lung disease called cystic fibrosis. If he were sick, or if any of the kids at school were sick, he had to stay home. This left him with a lot of time to devote to his love of mechanical things. Maggie said that he got his first ticket from the CHP when he was 12 years old! This was a result of him running a go-cart on the local roads. With the approval of his father, the judge “threw the book” at him. Trying to make an impression, no doubt, to prevent any further crazy acts like this. Well, it didn’t work.
At some point the family moved to Nevada County. When I knew Pete they were living in a house in the Glenbrook area. Maggie remembers that Pete acquired an old phone company car, a 1954 Ford, and put a stick transmission with a floor shift in it. She says he used to take her out on Brunswick Road and show her how to drag race it. She reminded me that from the point where the current stop lights are now to just where the road begins to dip into a turn is exactly 1/4 mile. I know for a fact that Pete used this stretch more than once. His vehicle that I remember best was a late 40’s Dodge pickup that Pete had installed a “hemi motor of some kind” (Red Ram I think) with a stick tranny. I remember going to the drag strip in Vacaville and seeing him burn the tires at least halfway down the strip. The truck was very light in the rear. Occasionally the rear would start to chatter violently and this would lead to dropping a driveshaft or a broken axle.
Maggie is not sure what happened to that truck. He may have sold it to purchase his next ride. This was a 1955 Chevy Nomad that was originaly an ambulance. She remembers it as all white when he brought it home. Pete took care of that by repainting the car a candy apple red. This was a color that was really popular in the 60’s. As a matter of fact, his Dodge pickup had been that color too. I am not sure of exactly what Pete did to the drivetrain in the Nomad. I am sure that whatever it was it was intended for racing. Maggie provided a picture of her brother taken at the dragstrip in Orville in 1964. The name on the side of the car says “sodbuster” and Pete is holding a trophy. She thinks one of the other people in the picture is a guy named Dennis Pisani, the rest she is not sure. She says she was 17 at the time and into “other things” besides cars at the time.
It is sad to note that it was only approximately a year after this picture was taken that Pete passed away. I personally never heard him complain of his illness. He seemed just too busy with getting on with life to complain. One can only imagine what his life might have been had he survived, and the effect he may have had on us all. After all, he was The President of the best darn car club in Nevada County!