Terlingua International Chili Cookoff

Chili Heads, Hollywood Stars, Race Car Drivers, Monks and Politicians

Shortly after the TRT logo was created, the first Terlingua International Chili Cookoff was held in 1967 and TRT logo was used extensively there. That event also lead to the development of “official” positions in the fictitious Terlingua City Council, or as it was commonly known, the “Terlingua Municipal Board”. We came up with lots of positions and titles that involved some really famous people from that time.

Wick Fowler blind tasting chili at the first cook off held in Terlingua
Terlingua Racing Old Guys

The Terlingua Municipal Board initially started with David Witts, Carroll Shelby, Wick Fowler and Bill Neale. Wick Fowler had created a chili mix called “Two Alarm Chili” still available in stores today. Soon afterwards we added more titles and more Board members:

• Mayor – David A. Witts
• Water Commissioner – Frank X. Tolbert
• Park Commissioner – John B. King
• City Meteorologist – James Underwood
• Airport Manager – George Haddaway (the chili king)
• Road Commissioner – Murray Forswall (Dallas Times Herald sports writer)
• Social Director – Carroll Shelby
• Chief Justice of the Municipal Court – Thomas J. Tierney
• Director of the Museum of Modern Art – Bill Neale (The museum actually consisted of a two¬-hole outdoor privy right behind the old saloon…which is still there by the way.)
• Director of Libraries – Holland McCombs
• Police Commissioner – James Jones
• City Secretary – Buck Marriott (of American Airlines)
• Unemployment Commissioner – Ed Lowed
• Director of the Sanitary Department – Irving Harrington
• Captain of the Port of Terlingua – B. Anderson
• Dog Catcher – Joe Mashman
• City Treasurer – Chavis Chapman
• Building Commissioner – Robert Sturgiss
• Director of Weights and Measures – Keith Shelton
• Superintendent of Schools Bill Rives (Dallas Morning News Sports Editor – he knew how to spell better than anybody else)
• Editor of the Terlingua Tarantula (our official newspaper) – Paul Crume (Dallas Morning News writer)
• Justice of the Peace – Margaret Vlasik
• Director of Aviation – George Coker
• City Engineer – William J. Davis
• Press Secretary to the Mayor – Robert W. Irving
• Chief Chili Head – Wick Fowler
• Keeper of the General Store – Fred Schwartz
• Society Chief – Jack Vaughn

I think it was Bill Rives who said we needed a slogan like most big cities. The one I remember most quoted was, “In keeping with theTerlingua model of looking backwards we hope you have a good year coming up.”

There were many people involved with the Terlingua International Chili Cook¬off, as well as the many racing endeavors that began to take off down there. Surprisingly not all of the racers that used the Terlingua Racing Team logo were Ford teams! We even had people driving Ferraris with TRT decals on them. There were also Maseratis, Corvettes, British cars and many others running the Terlingua logo.

The cast that was most involved with many of the activities, cars or the chili, included Suzy Watson, Gordon Fowler, Happy Shahan, Larry Lavine (Chili’s Restaurants founder), Actress Ruta Lee, Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe, Kathleen Tolbert, Actor and Writer Alex Burton, Hallie Stillwell (a legend in Big Bend), Dick Wheeler, Jerry Jeff Walker and Hondo Crouch of Luckenbach, TX. The fictional Imogene Twitty was a figment of Frank X. Tolbert’s imagination, and it drove people crazy when they tried to run down her background. Then there was Alegani Jani Schofield, Kit Goldsbury, Dick Hitt, Wayne Fleming, Actor Fred McMurray, Yellow Dog Marsh, Hal John Wimberly, Paul Smith and Billy Bob Crim from Kilgore. It was Billy Bob who first introduced me (Bill Neale) to Shelby in the 1950’s, but whether or not he is to be prosecuted for that remains to be seen. Others involved include Sam Pendergrast, Tom Nall, Fred Laswell, A. C. Greene, Ann Fowler, Humorist John Henry Faulk, Jo Ann Horton, Dr. David Hoy, Mandy Dealey (my favorite Delta Airlines Hostess), Calvin Clyde, Jr., Bill Porterfield, David Wade, Kathy Morgan and Guich Koock.

This bunch came to call itself the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI). Later they split into three separate groups…one group keeping the CASI name, one group adopting the name “The Original Terlingua International Championship Chili Cookoff” (the “behind the store” bunch) and the final group, mostly Californians set up the International Chili Society.

Well that’s the story, and most of it’s true. As for the Terlingua Racing Team logo, heck it’s been everywhere ¬and who knows where you’ll see it next.

~ Bill Neale

Neale and Shelby
tres armadillo