Cobra Killers

Someone told me you were in the 1964 movie The Killers. Can you tell us more?

Back in the ‘60s things were pretty fluid in the racing world and a person could be involved in several different projects, unlike today where you mostly have to be dedicated solely to the team you’re with. Even while working at Shelby’s I raced my own cars, including a small 1000cc Hino sedan and a 1300cc Hino Contessa, both right hand drive. Fast cars attracted a lot of stars back then and they would just stop by local shops, whether it was Max Balchowsky’s Hollywood Motors where I first worked when I returned to California from GM in Detroit in 1959 or at Shelby’s.

at right: Peter Brock racing Hino Contessa at
Mission Bell 100, support race to Riverside Grand Prix
Hino Contessa

Whenever Hollywood needed race consultants and drivers it was pretty easy for them to tap local talent.  I was a consultant and stunt driver in the movie The Killers that came out in 1964 of which I remember mainly Angie Dickinson (she’s pretty easy to remember) and Ronald Reagan (his last film role). A Cobra roadster played a pivotal role in the movie. Years ago someone told my wife, Gayle, that if you slow the movie down to frame by frame, in one frame you can see a moment’s glimpse of my derriere as I jump over a fence. They offered to show her at which time she said she was already familiar with that view, but thanks anyway (-: I was also a driver in The Love Bug but most of my scenes were cut. To do these films I needed to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). SAG decided my name was too close to another actor, Peter Brooks, so they made me come up with something different. I chose Hall Brock, Hall being my mother’s maiden name. Hall Brock still receives royalty checks (small as they may be) whenever these movies play!

Killers Movie Cobra
Actors Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes in Cobra Roadster during filming of The Killers. Note Peter Brock's Falcon sedan delivery at far left, white with blue stripes.

I was also involved in a little known short film (which did not require my SAG card) called “1:42.08”.  I was introduced to a USC Film student in ‘66. His first love was cars and he had planned to become a professional race car driver until that dream ended when he had a serious accident shortly after his High School graduation in 1962, so he enrolled at USC. In film school in ‘66 he was given his first Director’s assignment to direct a short film. Still interested in cars, he wrote a script for this film called “1:42.08 to Qualify” (title later changed to “1:42.08”). The story line is that a driver is practicing on a track with his race car to try to make a lap time of 1:42.08. No words are spoken, just a guy pushing his car (and his driving ability) to the limit trying to make the time. You can find it on the internet. This kid knew Allen Grant from Shelby American and asked for a recommendation for a driver that could also provide a car for his film project. Grant recommended me due to my experience in the movie industry and I had access to a Lotus 23 that could be used.

I borrowed the Lotus and a few days were spent filming at the Willow Springs race track in California. James Garner was there at the same time, taking laps in a Formula car for an upcoming film he would be starring in called “Grand Prix”. The most memorable part of this experience were the evenings where we hung out at dinner and this kid would share his vision for a series of sci-fi movies he wanted to make. It sounded kind of like Buck Rogers with strange creatures and better weapons. Very strange and we just kind of nodded and patronized this enthusiastic kid. In ‘63 the guys at Shelby American called the Daytona Coupe I was designing and building (before it went on track and proved itself) “Brock’s Folly”.  It would be fair to say that as we heard this kid sharing his vision we thought of this as “George’s Folly”.  The Daytona Coupe went on to win the FIA GT World Championship in ‘65. This kid, George Lucas, brought his “Buck Rogers” vision to life with the release in ’77 of his first Star Wars movie. I love it when people realize their dreams and vision even, or maybe especially, if others consider it a folly at first!

top right:  George Lucas (center) inspects position of camera man and camera in basket on camera car. Driver, Peter Brock, in Lotus at right.

 

center right:  Peter Brock filmed at-speed while
director George Lucas looks on at right.

 

bottom right:  James Garner pulls up in Formula car (on left) he's practicing in for the movie Grand Prix. Camera man and George Lucas center.
Peter Brock in Lotus at right.
George Lucas 1:42.08
George Lucas 1:42.08
George Lucas 1:42.08

9 thoughts on “Someone told me you were in the 1964 movie The Killers. Can you tell us more?

  1. What fun it would be for George and Peter to reunite on a film project about the early days of the Cobra program. Great human interest from developing paint schemes and attending film school, swimming upstream with the Coupe design and being told by many it won.t work, to attempting to sell American Graffiti to one studio after another. And when funding is finally secured, being abruptly kicked out of a film site because of noisy cars. The results, a World Championship and the highest grossing film of its year. Who better to direct than Ron Howard. more fun than the GT program.

  2. Love that movie, Reagan wasnt too bad either. I know you know Peter but for those that don’t Peter’s Ford Falcon parts chaser was in the movie too.

    1. Hi Bill….It was Bob Bondurant who did much of the teaching to several on the Grand Prix movie. Bob taught for me at Shelby’s race school until Shelby closed the school, and the Cobra program, to concentrate on the GT40s. After the GT40 program shut down, Bob left and started his own school. The rest as they say, is history!

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