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This page is about the automobile sport. For the 1957 film starring Stanley Baker, see Hell Drivers (film)
Hell Drivers - The frequently used term to describe, and the very popular title of, numerous automobile thrill-based productions performing at fairs and racetracks by various squads of stunt drivers since the 1930s. Earl "Lucky" Teter was the first to coin the phrase Hell Drivers, when he began touring his show in 1934. Hell Drivers provided massive audiences with an always exciting show filled with precision driving and deliberate crashes.
Featured stunts included driving cars on two wheels, crashing through flaming barricades, and jumping an automobile ramp to ramp through mid air. For many years, Hell Drivers were used to demonstrate the dependability of a manufacturer's automotive product. Major Hell Driver automotive sponsors have included Chevrolet, Dodge, Chrysler, Ford, AMC, Nash, and Toyota.
Later thrill shows coining the phrase "Hell Drivers" were launched by such famous drivers and race promoters as Jack Kochman, John Francis "Irish" Horan, Danny Fleenor, Geoff Williams and Joie Chitwood.Chitwood bought Teter's Hell Drivers from Teter's widow after Teter was killed in a jump in 1943. Ford Motor Company supplied cars and financed Chitwood for several years until the mid 50's when Chitwood switched to Chevrolet after unsuccessfully trying Plymouth for a year.
General Manager of Kochman's troupe was Bob Conto. Conto, a native of Malone, New York in the state's North Country was a former radio-television announcer whose staccato delivery kept pace with the 50-mile per hour events.
The Danish city of Aalborg is known internationally as the world's centre of Hell Drivers
Currently, the only traditional new-car stunt show in the United States is Tonny Petersen's Hell Drivers. There is a current documentary produced by filmmaker Dan T. Hall and Vizmo Films about the life and times of Lucky Teter.