What You Know

What You Know

As I pulled my rented Kia minivan into the empty parking lot on Louisville’s south side, I noticed a number of faded signs warning that this particular property was under surveillance every hour of the day every day of the year. This, I figured, meant there could be some serious repercussions for using this patch of asphalt just behind the credit union as a backdrop for the feature you see here. Undeterred, I tried the credit union’s front door. Locked.

Behind me, a woman smoked in her car. “We’re closed,” she said from behind the half-lowered window. After explaining my intentions, she took a long look at me and gave it to me straight: “As long as you’re not hurting anyone, you do what you know.” I nodded and thanked her, repeating her advice in my head. “Do what you know,” I said. “Do what you know.”

***

It’s been a little over a year since I shot Shaun Cervenka’s 1955 Chevy in that parking lot in Louisville. Of all the cars at the Nationals, it’s the one that seemed to really pull me in. As soon as I saw the chromed steelies, piecrust slicks, VHT white fenderwell headers and a pair of station wagon coil springs pushing the front end skyward, it became immediately clear that Shaun had done his homework. He and I got to talking, and I soon discovered that the car was actually a tribute to the silver ’55 that his father raced back in the ’60s. I was hooked.

When I brought up the idea of shooting the Chevy in the evening after the show wound down, he said that would be no problem at all. But he had one question: could his longtime pal Dan Ulreich join us in his straight-axle Falcon? The two had been friends for decades, and the little Ford was a former Rod & Custom cover car. “Of course!” I said.

For a small part of a memorable evening in Western Kentucky, I rolled around in the parking lot shooting photos while simultaneously getting to know Shaun, Dan and their cars. It didn’t take long to realize that neither the Chevy nor the Ford were for the faint of heart—not by a long shot. How could they be? These are high-riding, tire churning, window-rattling street and strip terrors from the Land of Lincoln built by guys doing exactly what they know.

Joey Ukrop

 Side Note: If Shaun’s ’55 looks familiar, it’s because some photos from this shoot appeared in Rodder’s Journal #74 in a one-page mini-feature titled “Street & Strip Chevy.”

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