Lilburn “Clyde” Lamar
November 14, 1935 – December 22, 2021
West Sacramento, California – November 14, 1935. I was born in a car somewhere in San Angelo, Texas. We were on our way to Shasta County just outside of Redding Ca.
I was 12 when I lost my father Clyde in a mining accident. I was the eldest of 2 brothers Marion and David and 2 sisters Bettie and Linda.
We fished for salmon in the river, raised rabbits and drew water from the well to survive. To pass the time I learned to play the piano, the guitar and to sing with my cousins.
A few years out of the Marines, I married my first wife, Marjorie Conway, the mother of my 3 boys Frank, Burney and Izzie. After work, I found old cars that I could throw away for extra money. One day I came across this old Ford and realized that with a little work I could enter it in a Saturday night race at the Anderson Fairgrounds. After the first race, ideas came to me to make my car more competitive. So I made several trips to the junkyards and pulled all the pieces I needed to bring my ideas to life.
Shortly after, I left California and followed the work to Medford Oregon. I had Frank and Burney with me when I met and married my second wife Marion Schroeder. She had a one year old son named Herman who I raised as my own.
In 1964 we moved to West Sacramento. I kept throwing away cars and whatever metal I could find. The desire to constantly innovate became my greatest asset for the future.
I went to work for Capital Machine. They loved my ability to visualize and solve problems. Then Sacramento Engineering saw my value and upped the ante. I worked there until the end of 1968.
In 1969 with 2 other partners: Charlie Booth and Charlie Stout, Tri-C Machine was born. Shortly after, I bought all the shares of both partners.
From day one, Marion took care of the front desk and I was in the back. The hours were long, but we received calls to design, engineer and build several types of machines that would make other businesses flourish. I worked around the clock to fix breakdowns, and for 10 years I had the Port of Sacramento maintenance contract. I even machined parts needed for the aerospace industry and over the years I obtained several patents.
From our house I could hear the cars roaring around the track at West Capital Raceway, it was like a call to me. It was 1971 when I put our first car on the track. Over time it became known as the “3c Tri-C Machine”. Over the next 50 years, Marion and I would get everything in order so that when Friday came we could load up and spend the weekend racing. Marion always had a pep talk for our drivers; it went like this “drive like you stole it”. The rest of the time, if the family wasn’t barbecuing, fishing, or boating, you could find us at the baseball park. The boys loved their baseball.
In 1980 I built my first tire grinder and when finished it could remove metal from the sidewall and grind the rest of the tire into 2 inch pieces. Once done, the metals could be recycled and the rubber could be used as a mixture for fuel in biomass production plants or as a base in landfills. I was able to turn the biggest truck tires into pure rubber that looked like black sand and could be made into all kinds of useful products. I have built mobile tire grinders that have been used to clean up toxic tire dumps all over the country. I would like to think that I played a small part in cleaning up the environment of our planet.
At that time, Burney and Herman were taking care of Tri-C Machine Sacramento, Frank was Tri-C Machine Auburn, and Izzie and Cheryl had Izzie’s Body and Frame.
It was around this time that I set up a home recording studio. My cousin Dean and his wife Phyllis would come over and jam for hours. We were always the first part of all family gatherings.
Years went by, but every Christmas Eve we invited all our family and friends over for an evening of food, drink, song and Santa Claus. For Easter, all the grandchildren would come for the egg hunt and a trip to the 15th Street Market to choose their kites for the annual kite challenge. It was a Lamar tradition. We never needed a reason to come together and we did whenever we could.
Marion and I were able to see parts of the world that few people see. I caught some fish you wouldn’t believe and when I was asked “Clyde, how are you?” I always answered with a smile “Life is beautiful!”
Then in 2018 I lost my dear wife of 58 years. We grew up together and I remember her sort of managing the Tri-C Machine office and doing all the duties of a full-time mom. She was the one who kept me grounded and encouraged me to thrive. I always kept a red rose on the store and on the race car for her. When she left this world, a part of me left with her.
By now I had raced every year for over 50 years. One of my favorite stories is how we won the Race of Champions at Chili Bowl 2020, we beat the best drivers in the world that night and it went well.
But what I treasured most were the friends and relationships I had made here and across the country. Among them were car owners, track owners, drivers, team managers, racing fans and track workers. They were truly my second family and I will miss them all immensely.
Then, one sunny day, I crossed paths with Marjorie again. Both of our spouses were gone, so we spent the next few years catching up with each other. We spent each day together as if it were the last. Who would have known that I would take my last breath in the arms of this woman.
Published by The Sacramento Bee on January 23, 2022.