Tony Lee Waters May 31, 1928 - December 22, 2012 Tony Waters was born in Checotah, Oklahoma on May 31, 1928 and passed away in Bakersfield on December 22, 2012. Tony was the son of Bud and Flo Waters, moving with them to Kern County when he was three months old. He graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1947. During his high school years, Tony began his life long love of motor sports. His first "racecar" was a '40 Plymouth with a cam and dual carburetors. In '49 he bought a new Chevrolet convertible, installed a 270 cu. in. GMC power plant with three carburetors, and was the king of street racing. As the sport of drag racing moved from the street to the "strip", he would drive the '49 to the strip, and replace the three carburetors with a five carburetor set up and run it on 50% nitromethane. In 1954, Tony built a crankshaft driven supercharged DeSoto and put it into his '25 Model T track roadster, which came to be known as the "Giant Killer". A founding member of the Smokers car club of Bakersfield, Tony and his partner Jim Sughrue became the guys to beat at the tracks around the west coast. With help from Irv and Gary Guinn of Bakersfield, Tony dominated the roadster class and ended up as the runner up in the 1st "March Meet" in 1959. During the mid-fifties, Tony also ventured to the Bonneville Salt Flats to test the famous "Waters' horsepower" in land speed racing. In 1957, he drove a '32 Ford Hi-Boy roadster at Bonneville, becoming the first roadster to exceed 200 mph - establishing a two-way record of 202 mph. The following year, Tony returned to Bonneville and set the record at 209 mph. In 1964, Tony and his partner Neil Brandon built a dragster, driven by John Edmunds, which ultimately won the first ever 64-car race and set the National Speed Record at 226 mph at Carlsbad, CA. Tony worked for Atlantic Richfield in Bakersfield for over 20 years, worked in Alaska on the Valdez Marine Terminal and in South America on the Glomar Challenger. He retired from Sturgeon & Sons of Bakersfield to tend to his ranch off of Poso Creek. In recent years, Tony continued racing with Neil Brandon and his new partner, Bill Comstock, along with the crew of Fred Dannenfelzer and Ralph and Larry Evenson, campaigning a Nostalgia A/Fuel Dragster driven by his son Darrell. Tony is survived by his three children, daughters Michelle Waters and Dena Waters-Horn, and son Darrell Waters, his son-in-law Mike Horn and daughter-in-law Jenene Waters, granddaughter Shelly Cobb Marchese and her husband Louis Marchese, grandsons Daniel and Michael Waters, and great grandchildren Anthony and Marianna Marchese. A celebration of Tony's incredible life will be held in the Chapel, with a gravesite prayer immediately following the service, at Hillcrest Memorial Park & Mortuary, 9101 Kern Canyon Rd., Bakersfield, CA on Saturday January 5, 2013 at 11:00 AM, with a viewing from 4:00 - 8:00 PM on Friday January 4, 2013. www.bakersfield.com/obits
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Published in Bakersfield Californian on Dec. 29, 2012