It all began while we were out in front of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California, attending an exhibit opening when a conversation started up about a '56 Ford panel truck. As it turned out the young feller who owned the '56 Ford was H&H Flatheads' Mike Herman and he had a whole lot more to talk about than just his trusty old Ford panel. He went on to say that H&H Flatheads was the exclusive distributor for Navarro Racing Equipment, and it didn't end there either. Mike went on to speak about acquiring everything from Barney Navarro's personal toolbox exactly as Barney had left it to a ton of cool historical memorabilia commemorating Navarro's career as a racing legend. Upon hearing all of this we suggested that maybe it would be neat if the NHRA Motorsports Museum hosted a Navarro exhibit. Mike laughed and said that he and Tony Thacker, the NHRA Museum's executive director, were already in the planning stages.
There are few people that can describe an event as well as Tony Thacker so we'll just use his words from the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum's website to give you guys an insight to the Navarro Racing exhibit.
"The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum together with H&H Flatheads pays homage to one of the fathers of hot rodding, the legendary Barney Navarro. A former hot rod racer turned manufacturer, Barney Navarro was known for his unconventional methods in engineering faster and efficient racing machines. From racing in Bonneville to engineering heart pumps for Kaiser Hospitals, Barney dabbled in all forms of engineering.
Following WWII, Barney started machining Weiand speed equipment. In 1946 he began making Navarro Racing Equipment. He was a pioneer in the evolution of the flathead improving everything he touched. His greatest impact was at Bonneville where he was one of the first to use a roots style blower for racing.
Later in his career he tried his luck at Indy developing a 199 cubic-inch 6-cylinder Rambler motor with over 700 horsepower. He also raced flat bottom boats with Henry Kaiser who founded Kaiser Hospitals. Barney also invented a heart and lung pump that was used at Kaiser Hospitals all the way into the '80's.
Navarro passed away in August 21, 2007 leaving behind an unmatched engineering and design for nostalgic speed equipment. Today, H&H Flatheads continues the Navarro legacy by producing his flathead heads and manifolds as they were produced by Barney for over six decades. With the approval of Barney, Mike reintroduced three manifolds and the '49-53 heads which were not made for 50 years."
The Navarro Racing Equipment exhibit opened on December 18, 2008 and will run well into 2009.