PASSINGS: Bill Summers, John S. Carter, Ruth C. Cole

Bill Summers

He helped build racer that set speed record

Bill Summers, 75, who with his brother Bob built a four-engine racer called Goldenrod that in 1965 set a speed record for wheel-driven cars, died May 12 at his home in Ontario of natural causes, said his daughter, Maggie Peace.

Goldenrod streaked across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utahon Nov. 12, 1965, at an average top speed during two runs of 409.277 mph. The record was later broken. Bob Summers, who drove the car, died in 1992.


William Ray Summers was born Dec. 18, 1935, in Omaha, one of three children of Sherman and Mary Summers. The family moved to California in the 1950s. The brothers started building cars at Chaffey High School in Ontario “to stay out of trouble,” Maggie Peace said. Bill Summers spent two years in the Army as a driver for a general, his daughter said.

Bill Summers told the magazine Ward’s Dealer Business in 2006 that the brothers were self-taught mechanics who “knew what we wanted.”

A 1965 story in The Times described Goldenrod as a $250,000 car powered by four Chrysler engines capable of a minimum of 2,400 horsepower. They built the sleek Goldenrod, which is 32 feet long, 48 inches wide and 42 inches high, in a former vegetable stand in Ontario. The car is now at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.

Summers held records in certain classes of exotic cars built specifically for high speeds on the Salt Flats, some of which lasted until as recently as last year, according to his daughter.

John S. Carter

He co-wrote lyrics to ‘Incense and Peppermints’

John S. Carter, 65, a music producer, songwriter and manager who co-wrote the lyrics to the 1967 hit “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, died of cancer May 10 at his home in Palm Springs, publicist Jessica Erskine said.

Carter was an English major at the University of Colorado when he began writing for a school band called Rainy Daze. He wrote the song “Acapulco Gold” (1967), which reached No. 70 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, according to “The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits” by Fred Bronson.


That success led Carter to a job writing lyrics for an instrumental track by a group called Thee Sixpence, later rechristened Strawberry Alarm Clock. With partner Tim Gilbert, Carter strung together what he described as “meaningless nouns” that sort of rhymed (“Good sense, innocence, cripplin’ mankind/Dead kings, many things I can’t define…"), resulting in a landmark hit for the psychedelic pop group.

Carter went on to a successful recording industry career, first as a radio promotion executive for Atlantic Records in San Francisco and later at Capitol Records.

At Capitol, he scouted and developed talent, working with artists such as Bob Seger, Steve Miller and Sammy Hagar. He is credited with relaunching the career of Tina Turner with the album “Private Dancer,” which included “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

The son of an oil wildcatter, he was born in East St. Louis, Ill., on June 14, 1945.


Ruth C. Cole, a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education from 1952 to 1957 and a former president of the board, died Wednesday at her home in Los Feliz after a long illness, her family said. She was 96.

-- Los Angeles Times staff reports