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History Local Legend Race Cars

Discussion in 'Traditional Hot Rods' started by Mr. Sinister, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. Talking to a guy on another forum about his grandpa's old gasser got me thinking about some of the local cars I've heard stories about or have seen in person. There's a lot of local drag history in this area with the Old Reliable Pontiac being from Wilmington, and Jenkins Competition being just up the road in Pennsylvania. I've had the privilege to see a lot of the old local drag cars in person.

    One good story is about an old red Corvette drag car that had a blown 392 Hemi around the Wilmington, Delaware area. My old man told me a story of the guy who used to own it. He owned a service station in Wilmington and apparently they did the work on it there. The guy had converted the car but kept all the original parts. This is important later. Anyway, apparently one day he had the local PD shut down a stretch of road called the Governor Printz so he could do some testing, back when you could do this sort of thing!! So the cops close the road down and he brings the car out. Guy makes his test run and yanks the lever to dump the laundry. My old man said when he did that, it ripped the trunk lid off and sent it 100 feet in the air because the guy had apparently mounted the chute directly to the trunk lid. Apart from this early gaffe, the car was campaigned and apparently did pretty well.
    Fast forward to the 2000s and a buddy of mine's father had bought this same Vette and returned it to factory original, including grafting the radiused wheel well sections back on to the car. The Hemi was long gone. I found this out because my buddy was doing some bodywork for me and he knew my father had an old Vette, so we invited his dad down to check it out. He got to talking about this old race car Vette he restored and my father knew the car and its history. Pretty cool stuff, and why I love listening to the old timers talk about the old cars that used to run around.

    You guys got any good stories like that?
    quick85, loudbang, catdad49 and 2 others like this.
  2. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 3,826

    from Berry, AL

    There's a certain 40 Ford around here that lived on the strip for several years. When it was retired it got put back on the street , then rolled into a ditch. A bodyman at the Chevy dealer ended up with it, massaged it back into shape. It changed hands again, got a SBC transplant, new paint and interior. After a few years, it changed hands again, the current owner keeps it locked up in a building, drives it 10-15 miles every few months, then locks it away again. Never carries it to any cruises or shows. He's had it probably 20+ years now , doubt he's put 500 miles on it in that time.
  3. Love these types of stories.
    loudbang, Mr. Sinister and tmwracing like this.
  4. I always think it's a bit of a shame when old race cars get redone into street rods, but it's better than the alternative. Thanks for sharing!!
    loudbang and lothiandon1940 like this.
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  5. 911 steve
    Joined: Nov 29, 2012
    Posts: 583

    911 steve
    from nebraska

    Don Stephenson's 57 Chev "Tension" from Omaha, won 69 winternationals in Pomona. his tow car was a 67 Chevelle 396-375hp, car drifted in obscurity, found about 7-8 yrs ago by Tony Beam in a farm field totally trashed, then fully restored 1969 winternationals.jpg 1969 winternationals, 67 Chevelle SS396 tow car.jpg 729331_572542559441948_1949186867_o.jpg 10628057_10202899518389183_461381329598951526_n.jpg 11193231_849091018497374_8406714425249661639_n.jpg 11210425_10204294147454038_1661520634754832246_n.jpg 29027405_891240991042391_9055618607207153664_n.jpg 12006349_483313088501852_5419606214988019593_n.jpg
    quick85, harpo1313, loudbang and 7 others like this.
  6. carcruse
    Joined: Aug 20, 2007
    Posts: 712


    @jimdillion might be interested in more info from your Dad about the history of that Vette if it was a C1.
    Mr. Sinister and loudbang like this.
  7. jimdillon
    Joined: Dec 6, 2005
    Posts: 2,853


    Always interested in these old Vette racecars. If it had a trunk lid it more than likely was a solid axle car. Not a whole lot of famous solid axle cars that ran a 392 that come to mind. Mr Pickett ran one for a while though on the west coast. .I have a question or two on a couple that ran Chryslers but not sure what actual engine they ran. Any info on the names and years it ran would be helpful. The more research I do the more I find out how little is out there in print for all of us to see.
  8. Craig Owens
    Joined: Jun 28, 2006
    Posts: 401

    Craig Owens

    Seeing Tension at the Sioux City, Iowa dragstrip as a teenager in the mid-60's made a big impression on me. I followed the story about Tony Beam buying a derelict 57 Chevy that he was planning on fixing up for his wife and then discovering that the car had a very interesting past. I was back in Iowa to visit family several years ago and paid a visit to Tony to see the car and get a look at the restoration in progress. I've seen Tension since the restoration was completed, and it looks great. It's so cool to see this car preserved instead of left to rot.
  9. uncleandy 65
    Joined: Jan 14, 2013
    Posts: 514

    uncleandy 65

    Great story, thanks for posting
    Mr. Sinister and loudbang like this.
  10. It was a 60 or 61 I believe.
  11. Unfortunately that's all I remember. Dad passed 5 years ago and he knew the guy's name. A guy named Al Spayd was the one who bought it and restored it.
    There was a Vette drag car from around the area called the Tomato Can. It was a red C1, but I'm not sure if it was the same car.
    jimdillon likes this.
  12. WCreighton
    Joined: Jun 22, 2019
    Posts: 25


    Great thread so far!

    Here’s the Timekeeper. I was at a show drooling over this car and an old guy comes up to me and tells me how it was a legend on the street and strip in Austin, MN. Apparently it’s a one owner car and was one of the founding cars of the Thumpers CC in Austin. Really old school and badass car. I never met the owner.

  13. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 947


    Friend of mine in the Greenville area ran a garage back in the 60-70's. Had a customer.... Charlie (somebody, I forget). He wanted Rick to take a look at the plugs (back when racers usta READ plugs!) He told Charlie the only way to get a good read was put in fresh plugs...make a full pass through the gears and cut the engine clean. Charlie sez "well that ain't gonna be no problem."
    Now Charlie had one of the factory Fords of the day. Big red 427 side oiler Galaxy! Light-weight front fenders....4 speed the real deal.
    He flat tows it up the highway about 1/2 mile....unloads...makes a FULL power rip through the gears(all 4 of them)...and cuts it clean! Coasts right into Rick's garage. They pull the plugs and reads'em right there in the front lot! Now it was pretty early on a Saturday morning....but what a way to wake the neighbors !
    Woulda loved to have been there!!!

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