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History Help! Chrysler 300 Racecar (Daytona Beach)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Hyfire, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Now for the complex part. Chrysler did not install engines in sequence. A pallet of engines was dropped by the assembly line and engines were pulled out of order.

    Car #1001 was built with Engine #005.
    Car #1002 was built with Engine #004
    Car #1004 was built with Engine #007

    On one hand I wish the car had Engine #005 in it today, but on the other hand the engine it's got adds to the history. I've been able to correspond with several people who were there or had connections, including local historians, Shaw's son, Richard Petty and so on. Some of the small details are different, but the bones of the story are the same.

    In 1955 Lee Petty decided he was going to race a brand new 1955 Chrysler New Yorker coupe at Daytona. Lee showed up and he was extremely pissed and bitter to see other drivers with their pre-production Chrysler 300s. Petty proceeded to throw a fit.

    There was nothing Chrysler was willing (or could) do about it. Petty was a friend of Brewster Shaw and although Shaw had 1 of only 2 cars, he wasn't about to let Petty beat the hell out of his extremely rare car. Lee Petty was known for being brutal on the track.

    As a compromise, Shaw offered to loan Petty the parts from Vin#001 to convert his New Yorker coupe into a C-300 for the NASCAR Grand National at the end of Daytona Speed Week. Richard Petty said he still remembers working on the cars in the San Juan garage, Converting the parts over. Shaw made sure the car was taped off to protect the loaner parts.
    The borrowed parts include the entire front clip (hood, fenders, grille), 300HP Hemi engine and trans, all 300 trim, 300 emblems and so on. Petty ran the race as a "real" 300 and came in 2nd. Giving Chrysler a 1-2 win after Roberts was disqualified.

    After the race, the parts were returned to Shaw and Vin#001. The hood, fenders, trim and so on where reinstalled onto Vin#001... But for some reason the engine block wasn't. I don't know if the block was damaged or if Brewster just didn't want a beat-on engine block back. Instead, Shaw kept Petty's brand new engine block and put all the original 300 parts onto it.

    Since Lee Petty's car was returned to a New Yorker model after Speed Week, Petty would have to retire his car until he could get "permanent" C-300 parts. Petty had no real connections at Chrysler and regular production hadn't started, so he would have to wait nearly a month before getting the permanent C-300 parts. Because of this he went back to driving his 1954 car during this period, before reemerging with the cloned red and white C-300 again.

    After Speed Week Brewster Shaw took the restored Vin#001, still in race paint and used it for publicity around town. The race paint wouldn't be taken off until it was sold to it's new owner.
     
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  2. CJ 56 hemi
    Joined: Oct 25, 2011
    Posts: 105

    CJ 56 hemi
    Member
    from NJ

    I have a friend that could shed some light on this car. He is a restorer of 55-56 300s and we spoke at length about this car when it hit e-bay earlier in the year. PM me... Btw, I own car 195 (C300 C300.jpg
     
  3. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've put some photos side by side so you can see the parts that were loaned from this car. It took me a while to wrap my mind around the whole thing, but it's really an interesting story.

    Here is my favorite photo. It's Richard Petty with the car. Everything you see (hood, fenders, engine, trim and badges....) are Vin#001s. This is the NY converted with 001s parts. The paint and lettering remain here.

    Also, note the custom 1 of 2 smooth air filter that was only used on the two pre-production cars. It's a factory modified unit, based off of Packard or Cadillac unit. The production units had grooves.

    [​IMG]



    A view of the driver's side:
    [​IMG]


    And the passengers side:
    [​IMG]



    And taking a look at this photo that was posted before... this is Lee Petty sitting in actual Vin#001. You can see what looks like the San Juan garage behind him, so I'm guessing this was literally just before converting the cars. The Petty shop manager mentioned that Lee might have driven Vin#001 at a smaller race, but I think this photo is at the garage.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  4. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here is the New Yorker block with the factory C-300 parts in the car as it sits today.
    [​IMG]

    It's missing the original 1 of 2 pre-production air cleaner, but I can fabricate a new one.
    [​IMG]


    What do you guys think? Am I nuts wanting to keep the New Yorker block in it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  5. speedfreak1970
    Joined: Aug 21, 2015
    Posts: 2

    speedfreak1970

    This is easily the greatest find I've seen in years
    I have a 55 331 in my 50 dodge wayfarer so I'm an early hemi and 300 fan
    Congrats!
     
  6. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    John had noticed that the trunk has six holes vs the normal three for the trunk handle.

    3 are factory and 3 had been added. The strange thing is they are all hidden under the emblem...


    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1440260761.170259.jpg
     
  7. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    You can click on this photo to make it larger. Lee Petty would have had to use the trunk lid off this car as well, so I looked and found this photo of #42 with this 001s sheet metal, trim and engine installed.

    I'm wondering if the trunk hold-down has anything to do with it? You can see it in the photo below.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Someone changed the oil filler cap along the way. I see in the comparison photos that they don't match.
     
  9. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Good eyes. Here's an engine photo from when the Sigmon family owned the car. This came in the earlier group of photos, but I couldn't date it so I left it out. It lost it's fan shroud sometime after this photo. I've got a box of parts that I haven't really gone through yet.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 9,424

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    Saw the blurb in the Mopar rag about your car, should help get more exposure to your search for the history of this car.
    Definitely a"Holy Grail" car in the Chrysler world.
     
  11. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,508

    Gotgas
    Member
    from DFW USA

    Just to add some texture, here is a Chrysler dealer promo film that introduces the new 1955 models - except of course the 300 which was released later. I highly suggest skipping all the entertainment cheesecake at the beginning by starting the video at around 13:00.

    Vicki may not have been impressed with the woman in the film handing the car over to a "race driver" at about 31:30. ;)

     
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  12. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    While searching I found a really cool informal photo of Lee and his wife at Daytona, as well as a later Vicki Wood photo from Daytona the following year.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And a photo of the final 1955 Speedweek event... the Grand National.
     
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  13. Keep the New Yorker block, its part of the story/history.
     
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  14. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I agree. It's a lot of story to tell... to justify why it's got that engine. But it's a neat story.

    Regarding how Vin#001 got engine#005 from the factory.... and Vin#002 got #004... It looks like a pallet of engines/transmissions were parked next to the assembly line. I'm guessing they were not too concerned about engine serial numbers at this stage.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    And two other photos from the "300 series" book that show the prototype car going together. Notice the undercoating and how sloppy it is. The two racecars were built without undercoating so that they could be worked on easier. At some point Vin#001 did get undercoating, but it was after Daytona.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I'm still waiting on some of the car's papers which should shed light on more ownership history and a timeline, but I found a clue and I'm hoping someone might be able to help...

    I spent the other night going through some of the seats, carpets and panels looking for clues on it's past. In the front driver's side kick panel I found this:

    [​IMG]
    Front

    [​IMG]
    Rear

    Can anyone shed light on it? I searched old newspaper archives and have found that the "Dont Worry" story was published in various papers Early October 1955 (which supports the cartoon date of (9/30/55). It also appears the paper was from Virginia? Based on the Virginia references on the Front side.

    Anyone have any suggestion on how to verify that these addresses and phone numbers are Virginia?
     
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  17. Gotgas
    Joined: Jul 22, 2004
    Posts: 6,508

    Gotgas
    Member
    from DFW USA

    The three street addresses are all in a tight area of Bristol, TN which is on the TN/VA border.

    But Bristol is about 160 miles from Martinsville. So this may just be a red herring.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. I don't know if this will be of much help BUT I have a 1957 NASCAR Stock Car Racing Handbook.

    First on the List and with the highest speed listed

    In the category of "Top Speeds Anywhere"- In the Speed Trial (straightaway) list is
    135.748 mph,Tim Flock, 56 Chrysler, 1 mile at Daytona Beach , Fla , beach measured mile, Feb 23, 1956

    Also

    In the category of "Top Speeds 1-Mile Tracks"- In the 100 mile list is
    76.52 mph,Tim Flock, 55 Chrysler, New York Fairgrounds, Syracuse N.Y
    July 30,1955 (dirt)

    Also

    In the category of "Top Speeds 1-Mile Tracks"- In the 250 mile list is
    77.89 mph,Tim Flock, 55 Chrysler, Langhorne , Pa Speedway , Sept 18,1955
    (dirt)

    Hope this helps.
    (UPDATE)
    I see now that this "Flock" information pertains to the #2 car and not the #1 car you are seeking information on. I'm still gonna leave the info up on this #2 car in the spirit of adding information to such a pair of rare cars.

    Oldmics
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2015
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  19. k9racer
    Joined: Jan 20, 2003
    Posts: 3,117

    k9racer
    Member

    you would be welcomed to bring the car to the moonshine festival in dawsonville ga. you might meet some of the people involved with your car. you would have the real car not a clone. if you need contact numbers for the MS Festival call mr. bell at the no I pm you.
     
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  20. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Great info on car #2. The '56 Flock record car was also loaned to Vicki Wood, as a hired Chrysler driver. She set a new record that year too. It was Red (I'll attach a photo in the morning).

    As for car #2, definitely relevant. I've found info and images on that car too... And will interject it at some point here.

    Regarding the GA offer, great idea. I wish I could. It will be a while before the car is truly movable.
     

    Attached Files:

  21. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER


    Wow. Great work! There was a Bristol Sears location at 714 State street back in the 1950s. You are good!!!

    Regarding this new info... that is a lot to process. I have no idea how this fits in. And I'm just going to assume that the car was there for now..... It looks like the car went from Florida (shaw 1955) to North Carolina (James "unknown" 1955) to Tenn (newspaper) and then back to Florida (Clifford Sigmond, 196X) and then back to North Carolina (Phil Sigmond, 196X) and then back to Tenn (McCloud, 1970).

    Seems like a lot of bouncing around. And to repeated states. Supposedly, the paperwork shows additional owners, but we will see.

    Strange huh???
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2015
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  22. clunkerbob
    Joined: Aug 23, 2015
    Posts: 17

    clunkerbob
    Member
    from Arizona

    Great article man , looking forward to when you get it up and running .
     
  23. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,094

    d2_willys
    Member
    from Kansas

    Looked through this thread and found nothing about the C-300 that Tim Flock won with at Daytona Beach. The C-300 that Flock drove was the only car in Nascar history that won with an AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. Yes, this car came with the Powerflite, and Flock shifted between Lo and Dr and viceversa, while driving the beach course. When Fireball Roberts was disqualified, Flock was awarded the winner. Before the next Nascar race, Chrysler provided the Keikeifer car a manual transmission.
     
  24. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've got a fresh batch of leads and the timeline for post-Daytona ownership has become a little clearer. Thought I would update this to reflect where it stands at the moment.

    The 67/68 plates are definitely right. Great eyes Wayne!

    The Sigmond family selling date is correct, but the buy date is wrong. I was lucky enough to find a guy named Benny who is a Chrysler history nut. It seems he was obsessed with this car during the 1970's and 1980's. He had researched and tracked down several owners, but could never find the car. About 30 years ago he was able to collect a good chunk of info about it's post-Daytona owners.
     
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  25. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Sometime in between March 1955 and October 1955 a gentleman named James Gilley drove from Welch, West Virginia down to Daytona Beach and bought #1001 from San Juan Motors. James was an Engineer for the coal mines and then took the head position as the local official for the Department of the Interior. He was a pretty high ranking guy. I have found that James used to play baseball locally in a coal mine team (1920's), but he was in his 40s by this time. So far I don't know his motivation, but I can't see any reason why James Gilley would have driven all the way down to Florida for this car other than it's race history...

    By 1985 this was the only surviving piece of the original invoice from San Juan Motors. It was copied and sent to Benny by Frances Gilley, James's widow.
    [​IMG]
     
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  26. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Included with the copy was this hand written letter from Frances. Along with three photos of the car that James had taken in front of his house, sometime during the late 1960's.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  27. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I found this interesting. Obviously, in 1968 there was interest in the car. It appears that James was considering selling the car and he received this note from a prospective buyer. It sounds to me like the gentleman may have scheduled an appointment and flaked. Then wanted to reschedule.

    [​IMG]

    I see records of this person still at this business up until 2010. I'd be curious to hear the story, but I don't know if it's a little strange to call up a guy who didn't buy the car over 40 years later.
     
  28. brad2v
    Joined: Jun 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,432

    brad2v
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I say give a shot. Pretty good chance he still thinks about the car now and then. I know I still have cars from the past that I missed out on float through my mind, and none of 'em were Chrysler 300's with a racing pedigree!
     
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  29. Hyfire
    Joined: Jun 18, 2004
    Posts: 1,395

    Hyfire
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Good point. I'll see if the guy is still around.

    So it looks that by 1969 James was pretty serious about selling the car. He was now in his mid 50's and would only live another 6 years. It appears that he decided to sell the car through a VW dealer. Reading the letter, it sounds like a disappointing amount and the buyer was a used car dealer that the VW dealt with frequently, so it sounds like the car was being bought to flip.

    [​IMG]

    It is from this transaction that the car went from James Gilley to Wade Hamby at Hamby Used Cars and then made it's way to the Sigmond family. Clifford Sigmond was a Chrysler collector in Florida at the time so the car would end up back in Florida. This seems to show a pretty clear connection. Clifford would keep the car and eventually sell it to his Son Phil. The last reference to the Sigmond family is a 1970 issued title under Phil's name. So Clifford must have sold the car to Phil in 1970.
     
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  30. Bob M.
    Joined: Oct 13, 2015
    Posts: 2

    Bob M.

     

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