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William Mellette Pollack


1925 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
1925 - 2017 William Mellette (Bill) Pollack, a pioneer of the early West Coast road racing scene, died peacefully at home in Sherman Oaks on July 16th. He was 92. Born in 1925 to songwriter Lew Pollack and dancer Helen Mellette, Bill grew up on a walnut ranch in the San Fernando Valley, where he rode horses down Ventura Blvd. After a stint flying B-24 and B-26's for the Army Air Corps during WWII, Bill began his era-defining career in racing. Between 1949 and 1958 he raced Porsches, Jaguars, Ferraris, Corvettes, and took home more than one trophy. In 1951, with only four races under his belt, Bill took first place in the Pebble Beach Cup. From then on, he was a fixture of the racing scene, often spotted driving Tom Carsten's black Allard with red spokes and whitewall tires. Bill was also an important figure in the organizational side of the sport. He designed the course at Willow Springs, served on the board of the California Sports Car Club, and later in life, started The Fabulous Fifties, a "non-organization" of "non-members," which brought together fans and drivers from California's early racing history. A great storyteller blessed with a spotless memory, Bill was a resource for many historians of the era. His stories were archived by the Petersen Automotive Museum and appeared in the documentary Racing Through the Forest. An avid reader who finished several books a week until his passing, Bill also published two of his own: the sci-fi epic "Tananger" and his autobiography "Red Wheels and White Sidewalls." Bill was preceded in death by his wife Bobbi and his brother Jim, and is survived by his daughters Mellette Hawksley-Smith and Leslie Crabtree, his grandchildren Eva and Dashiell Anderson, and his dog Amy, as well as countless fans, friends and neighbors who were touched by his inspiring life and generous spirit. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to Tree People or the Sherman Oaks Public Library. Funeral services will be private.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Aug. 3 to Aug. 6, 2017
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