A reunion 52 years in the making

May 26, 2019

After 52 years, Phillip Yeiser managed to locate the vehicle that his father Jimmy Yeiser and friend Jerry Basham built and raced in and affectionately referred to as "The Other Woman." | Photo by AP Imagery

In 1966, Jimmy Yeiser, Jerry Basham and a few of their closest friends constructed a drag car that took them further than they ever fathomed. Yeiser and Basham, both of Owensboro, used every ounce of free time they had during the next two years either tinkering with or racing the car they appropriately named ‘The Other Woman.’

“We were either racing or working on it,” Basham said. “We were ate up.”

In 1967, after racing all across the state of Kentucky, the two advanced to the national drag races in Indianapolis where they placed second in one of the largest events in the country. Many members of the racing community refer to Basham and Yeiser as pioneers of the sport.

Photo by AP Imagery

Basham worked at Murphy-Miller while Yeiser was a farmer by day and unlike many of their competitors, they were not ‘factory-backed’ and had to rely solely on themselves and their team for any expenses or labor that the car required. Despite their growing success, the two decided it was best that they sell the car later that year.

“We were both about broke and about to get a divorce over that car,” Basham said.

Fast forward 52 years and Phillip Yeiser, Jimmy’s son has managed to locate ‘The Other Woman’ and bring her back Owensboro, a feat that both Phillip and Basham never thought possible.

“I can’t believe after 52 years, it’s sitting in my driveway,” Phillip said. “To be able to have a car that my father and friends built and were very successful with after all this time is pretty cool.”

Basham was equally as astonished to discover the hot rod that created so many memories for him was still intact.

“I’m glad to see that it’s still alive,” Basham said. “I’m shocked and surprised to see that it’s all still there.”

Jimmy passed away nearly 40 years ago, but both Phillip and Basham agree he would be in awe of the discovery and is likely smiling down from heaven.

“He was my buddy,” Basham said. “It’s a shame he’s not alive to experience all of this – he would be shocked and surprised.”

“I’d expect he’d (Dad) have a big grin on his face like Jerry did,” Phillip said. “Jerry’s been grinning from ear to ear.”

Nearly fifteen years ago, Yeiser was in the break room at T.V.A. when two of his co-workers encouraged him to begin searching for the car. That day, he posted on a well-known drag racing and hot rod website that he was in search of a 1931 Ford Roadster sitting on a Model-T frame with a 427 big block engine that was painted poppy red.

Thoughts of ever seeing the car again were slowly dwindling, when Yeiser received a text message from a gentleman out of Richland, Pennsylvania stating that he thought he had purchased his dad’s car.

“I was just overwhelmed — I had to sit down,” Phillip said. “I knew right when I saw the pictures that it was the car.”

Two of Phillip’s co-workers, Jimmy Gold and Todd Robinson, agreed to make the 1,400-mile round-trip with him to purchase the car and transfer it back to Owensboro.

“Before we could even get the truck parked, I was jumping in it,” Phillip said.

David Bowles of Madisonville, Ky. also assisted with the car. Bowles assisted Basham and Phillip in securing arguably the most important component of the car, the engine. The 427 Cammer, often referred to as ‘Ford’s greatest engine’ was crafted in Detroit and actually banned from Nascar in 1967.

Unfortunately, the car no longer possesses the original engine. Phillip has established where the engine is but is uncertain if the current owner would be interested in selling it. Efforts are currently in place to install a comparable engine, but that could prove to be quite costly.

Moving forward, Phillip plans to keep his options open as far as what he plans to do with the car. He is considering making it street legal, entering it in nostalgia shows and races or even putting it in the Speedzeum at the Museum of Science and History in downtown Owensboro. Regardless of where the car lands, the stories, and memories that surround it will likely follow it wherever it goes.

“These guys (Jimmy and Basham) were pretty much daredevils back in the day,” Phillip said. “The car has brought a lot of attention since coming home and I love hearing stories about it.”

May 26, 2019

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