67 Chevelle Convertible Muscle Car Upgrade by MetalWorks

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Take a good look at this 67 Chevelle. Pretty nice huh?

One would assume this beauty would be leaving a restoration shop, not arriving at one—but this is exactly how the 67 appeared when it arrived at MetalWorks Classics in Eugene, Oregon for a radical transformation. You may be a bit confused, as was I when the sharp looking Chevelle arrived, but after a conversion with owner Jerry and the crew at Metalworks I got a good understanding of what lay ahead for the convertible, and why.

My first question was “what” would be getting changed on the Chevelle as it was obviously not in dire need of anything cosmetically, and its small block purred like a kitten when it drove into the shop. The answer was a laundry list of dream components including a brand new LS drive line. Now, the next question was “why tear into an already beautiful, and nice performing car?” For this answer we need to dig a bit into Jerry’s past and thought process.

Jerry has always had a passion for classic cars, and designing. In fact in high school he completely went through a 65 mustang along with his father, even designing and building his own custom console for it. The thought of another classic had always been on Jerry’s bucket list. After 25 years of dreaming about it, the timing was right, so Jerry began putting out feelers for the right car. In fact Jerry spent the next 2 years shopping for the perfect car, and actually purchased one at one point. Jerry thought another 65 mustang would be very cool and nostalgic, and located one at a classic car dealer, but the day the mustang was set to be shipped his way a salvaged title came into the equation, so Jerry decided to pass.

About this time Jerry had began to talk with Matt Powell at MetalWorks, and was also introduced to shop owner Jon Mannila. After a number of discussions Jerry was sold on the idea of a chevelle due to a number of reasons, but a full frame was the biggest factor. Jerry recalled test driving the 65 mustang, and even though it was very cool, and even smelled like his high school car the uni-body design was now less appealing, and the overall comfort and driveability of the chevelle felt like the right direction for his ultimate goal. Another 4 months were spent with everyone keeping an eye out for the right car until the beauty you see before you came into Jerry’s life.

Once the Chevelle was in Jerry’s garage Matt encouraged him to get out and drive it to find out what he really liked about it, and what he felt could be improved, or altered. Jerry spent the next 6 months enjoying the convertible, and received tons of compliments on it everywhere he went. Jerry contemplated how he could keep that feeling, but make the Chevelle even better regarding everything from not needing to run premium gas, to gauges that worked properly and accurately, to being reliable enough that his wife or kids could take it for long trips without a second thought of its dependability. In the end Jerry brought spreadsheets of information to MetalWorks and collaborated with Matt and Jon to arrive at a plan that would bring the chevelle to the next level.  Jerry has always loved the design aspect of things, and enjoyed the fact he was able to work side by side with the crew at MetalWorks to arrive at a plan of action, and enjoyed contributing and learning from the build as it unfolded. Jerry stated “if MetalWorks was a drop your car off, and pick it up when it’s done without any involvement, I would not have chose them for the build.”

Once at MetalWorks the Chevelle went from a sweet street car to a cutting edge Pro-Touring dream. The process included installing a full front and rear HEIDTs suspensions, a 430hp LS3 engine upgraded to MSD Atomic LS fuel injection backed by a 4L65E automatic transmission, Wilwood 12.19” brakes, Budnik V2 wheels, Vintage Air, and Dakota Digital gauges. The Chevelle also received a new OEM styled interior, but stitched in leather. The carpet and convertible top were also replaced in complimenting tones. The dash was converted from wood grain to grey, and additional grey treatments were done to the grille and taillights surrounds instead of the factory black.

In the end Jerry’s Chevelle does not look radically different, but it is in nearly every way when compared to a stock Chevelle. The performance of the 67 however, is absolutely a RADICAL transformation and the results are a car anyone is Jerry’s family can drive anywhere without concern. The relationship between MetalWorks skilled crew and Jerry’s vision of the Chevelle worked out perfectly, and produced one slick Chevy. Keep your eyes peeled for the 67 if you find yourself cruising in the Willamette Valley, it will be the one that stands out in a subtle manner from the masses.

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Second Time Around

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I never had the privilege of racing against the legends of the Northwest.

Guys like Art Pollard, Bob Gregg and Palmer Crowell were finished by the time I started racing…but I did get to compete against one of their contemporaries. I remember meeting Earl Veeder Jr. (and his son David) in the pits at Sunset Speedway around 2000. They’d stroll up mid-sentence, offer unsolicited advice, critique your set up, etc. Man, could they talk! I remember thinking, “Who the hell are these guys?”  Earl says, “Well, I’ll be out in a couple weeks…” I’m thinking these guys are all talk but a couple weeks later they show up with this clean ‘ol  Tognotti sprinter and away we went.  Neither of us were front runners so we ended up racing each other a lot. There were a couple of incidents on the track and Earl stormed my pit afterward. If I were one to throw a punch, I’m sure he would have returned fire! Mostly we just exchanged threats. Then in 2003, Earl showed up with a new Wolverine chassis and became a contender. On July 10th (on “Back to the Fifties Night” appropriately enough) Earl captured the fast car Trophy Dash. At season’s end he won the track’s Hard Charger award.

When I raced with Earl he was just beginning phase two of his driving career, a career that began in the late fifties. Earl’s first laps were taken in a family owned midget but he soon became a veritable gun for hire. Guys would show up at the track with their midget, big car, hard top or roadster and there was Earl with his gear. He might strap into two or three different cars before choosing the fastest one to qualify. If he could win a heat race and muster a top five in the main, he and the car owner made money. The purses were decent in those days and the split was typically right down the middle. The best rides had assigned drivers of course, so many of the cars Earl raced were of questionable pedigree. It was a dangerous vocation to be sure, in an era that placed little emphasis on safety. Earl had a reputation for getting the most out of mediocre equipment and survived to tell about it.

In the early sixties Earl bought a midget of his own—a sweet little Eddie Kuzma creation. He painted it canary yellow and numbered it “25”. Earl couldn’t afford a state-of-the -art  Offenhauser so instead he installed a Triumph TR-2 sports car engine. The chassis was a proven winner but the English power plant gave him nothing but grief.

Earl soldiered on until reaching a crossroads in 1968. Just as he was preparing to follow his dream back east, his young wife passed away. Twenty five year old Carole Veeder collapsed while spectating with her husband at the now defunct Salem Speedway. A valiant effort was made to revive her but it was all in vain. Now Earl was left with an astronomical medical bill and two children to raise on his own. He was forced to abort his racing plans and get a regular job.

For the following decade Earl raced sporadically for other people until another change came to pass. By the late seventies, car owners were expecting their drivers to help with expenses. At that point Earl threw up his hands. “I couldn’t see paying for something I used to get paid to do,” he told Bill (Scoop) Poehler in an interview. With few exceptions, Earl didn’t race again until he could field his own entry. It took him over twenty years.

After a dispute with the promoter, Earl parked his sprint car and returned to his first love- midget racing. He was driving a sharp little Chevy II powered car for owner Bob Farwell. On February 3rd 2007, under yellow flag conditions, Earl made contact with the crash wall at the Salem Indoors. EMT’s worked on him for twenty minutes before taking him to Salem Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Earl had crashed approximately one mile from where his first wife Carole had collapsed forty years earlier. He was seventy years old.

I don’t like clichés but whoever coined the expression: “He died doing what he loved”, must have been referring to someone like Earl. Since his demise a memorial race has been held each year in his honor.

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Earl & son David proudly present the new Wolverine sprint (circa 2003).

The Hess Family

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Here’s a story about a family who are really car people.

Bill Hess is a car guy, always has been and continues to be. Bill has worked many years in the parts business and his “hobby” is, wait for it, Cars. He currently works at NAPA, High Desert Automotive Supply in Bend, Oregon.

You’ve all heard the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree.” Well that’s true in the case in spades.
Bill’s Son, Brent also works at the same auto parts store and one of his hobbies is also cars. But wait, that’s not all. Remember that apple thing? Well Brent’s son, Tucker is a car guy and he works for NAPA in Bend as well. He told me that he is interested in auto mechanics.

Each of these guys, three generations worth, have a special interest car. In addition, another one of Bills sons is also a car guy. Joe owns a 1953 Chevy 210, club coupe. I once owned a ’53 150 club coupe. You don’t see many of those, and Joe lives not far from me and I’ve seen his car on the road several times. Plus, to show you how deep the 30W flows in this family, David, another of Bill’s sons, owns a 1941 Dodge ½ ton Pickup that Bill rebuilt the mid-fifties Mopar six for. David doesn’t work in the auto industry but that doesn’t mean he’s not a car guy. He works at Clark’s Lumber & True Value in Tualatin Oregon. And they have a car show there every year. You’ve probably heard about it. Unfortunately I didn’t get any advanced notice of the 2016 show in time to include it in our coming events for May.

Bill has a very original 1952 Chevy, 4dr sedan. It’s not a hot rod but it’s well preserved and with a little newer 235 engine it’s a cool old car. He tells me too that he is working a 1963 Rambler Ambassador wagon with a stock 327 and an automatic. You don’t see many of those either. I didn’t get any pictures of the Ambassador the day I visited the Hess Family Car Guys at their work but I’m sure I’ll see it at a car function in the future.
Son, Brent has a 1967 Chevy Nova 2dr Hardtop with a 350 4spd. His Daughter has a 1966 VW Bug. See I told you they had a car family.

Tucker, who is a student, has a 1991 Pontiac Firebird, with a 350-5spd, that his Dad and his Grandfather helped him put together.

It’s pretty cool that three generations of the same family work in the auto parts industry, together, and all have cars they’ve built to their liking. The Car hobby is going strong in the Hess family of Central Oregon.

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RPM Act Update

Gearheads Must Continue to Fight for Our rights

Those of you who have been reading this EPA column now know about their attempted power grab and the resulting backlash from that effort. SEMA is the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association. They fight for our rights in ways that we simply can’t. They took hold of this and led the charge. We joined in and let our Representatives know. Then State’s Attorneys General stood up one by one and refused to abide by the EPA language as written. The EPA subsequently changed the wording on one sentence. That took care of the issue at hand for the time being.

You also know that SEMA filed the RPM Act which was meant to limit the powers of the EPA. They well know that once a Government agency obtains a certain amount of power – they will never cease in their attempts to grab more. We have since had an increasing number of Representatives stand up behind the RPM act. But we are not out of the woods yet. It still has a ways to go.

Before we go any further, we would like you to consider a scenario such as this: You want to improve the performance of your tow rig for hauling your racecar cross country. You have installed CARB approved parts on your engine to accomplish this. This requires that you re-program your CPU in the rig. Next thing you know you are in a jail. Perhaps it was your second offense and the powers that be had decided to make that into some kind of a gross misdemeanor. Of course this sounds totally absurd – but there is no telling what the future may hold. The RPM Act did not cover your truck because it is not used on a racetrack.

Granted, the EPA’s efforts might be well better spent going after gross corporate polluters as opposed to a relative handful of hot rodders. But who are we to say? Of course we do have some say. In addition SEMA has asked that we share this to our social media platforms. They have made this very easy for us over at their website. If you have not done so yet, we encourage you to get on over to SEMA.org at your earliest convenience or you can get there from #GearHeadsWorld. Sign on with SEMA and they will carry the rest. We win this battle and then get ready for the next.

Mark your calendars for Friday July 8th. That is National Collector Car Day … got it? That is OUR Holiday. If you would like to know more about this you can visit the Blog over at #GearHeadsWorld. So enough said here—what say you?

~ Chuck Fasst

H.R. 4715/S. 2659, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016

The Continuing Saga of the Barn Find 55

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Just so you guys that are following this elongated story, here is a quick update.

A couple months ago I gave you a little update where I had taken the body off the frame and did the test fit on the new frame.  I’m glad to report my scientific wild guess on engine placement worked out great.  With the body set where it would be bolted down the firewall cleared the back corners of the heads by at least a half inch.  Lucky guess I know.
The next phase was to dismantle it in prep for dipping and stripping.  We found some rust that wasn’t apparent until we got it blown apart, (darn) but we half expected that.  It’s going to require a little more work to replace the rusted panels but surprisingly this old car is very solid.  Gary the metal man at Metal Works in Eugene looked at it and said he thinks the wrinkled quarter panel can be “pulled” rather that replaced.  He likes the old metal just like I do.
It’s out of the dipping process this week.  I hope to include a couple pics of what it looks like in bare metal, hopefully not Swiss cheese.  Did I tell you about how much damage rodents can do in your headliner?  Those rotten little ?!*#+@?*& so and so’s.  Oops, sorry for the colorful language, but I’m betting you understand.
I’ve been working very hard on both the paper and my projects.  I’ll try to do a more complete up-date maybe next month.

Feature Car of the Month

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A Ford in a Ford makes for a sweetheart of a 1926 Tall “T” Street Rod, a winner in every corner. 

There’s not one inch on this delicious Cherry Red “T” Coupe that hasn’t been refined to perfection.  From the hand formed custom grill shell, to the smooth as silk rear quarter panel, rear deck-lid and below including the rear tail-lights and turn signals placed just above the dual tail pipes.  She’s powered with a gorgeous Ford Flathead tweaked with just the right look and sporting everything in her to make it sound and perform like a million dollar ride.  Including a hand built chassis, and that 8 gallon fuel cell, and the special squared off designed head-lights up-front.  She’s a standalone beauty.  Add on the one of a kind custom designed combination hood and air-breather, feeding the right mixture of Oxygen to that Carville fuel injector system and you have one lean and mean “T” Street Rod Coupe.

She’s finished off with a host of leather covering a bench seat and leather wrapped tilt-steering wheel.  Add custom electro gauges on a one off hand formed interior dash, plus the soft gray leather is also accented in the rear-trunk area complete with 15 gallon main fuel supply.  She’s fitted with custom polished alloy wheels on all four corners and Wilwood Disc brakes up front.  Add on a super sounding AM/FM/CD and you have just built Brandon Hillyer’s (in todays $$ an $80 to $90 thousand dollar build) award winning 1926 Super Modified Tall “T” Coupe.  She has won her share of Trophies including best of class at the Portland Roadster Show, and a host of other awards all over the West Coast.  We at R&R NW are proud to select Brandon’s tall “T” as our featured car of the month for June 2016.  If you would like additional information on this ride call Brandon at 503-981-4747 ext. 1410.

All for the Love of Classic Custom Chevrolet Corvettes

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The question to this “All for the Love Story” is what do you call a guy with five delicious Chevy Custom Corvettes in his garage at home?

Now, let the record show that this same creative artistic car enthusiast has had twenty five plus Corvette creations registered in his name over the years. The following five featured here are the Crème-De-La-Crème from his fantastic collection. A modified ‘56 coupe, two custom creations, built from ground up, a ’57 and a ‘60 award winning Roadster’s, both artistic works of art. One showy flamed out ‘71 Stingray and a 2000 coupe, his daily driver. The people in his Springfield Oregon neighborhood call him Mr. Dennis Huntley. “One cool car lovin’ kinda guy.”

1956 Red & White Corvette Convertible has for power, a 383 ci Stroker/425 HP/ Dual 4 Barrels, 350 Auto Tranny, Modified Stock-Rear, Wilwood Disc-Brakes on all four corners. 17” Super chromed out wheels make for a smooth ride on this cherry ’56.

1971 Black w/Purple Flames Stingray, also for power, a 383 Stroker/535 HP w/nitro 600 plus HP. Custom Black on Black Interior, Flames and Exterior finish by D.H.

1957 Candy–Lime Green Corvette Roadster w/572 ci for power w/871 Blower, Fuel Injection producing 1000 HP, w/custom 400 stick on the floor tranny w/9” Ford rear with Detroit Locker. This complete rolling chassis as shown was all built by Jimmy Meyers Street Rods. In addition she features Frenched Head-Lights and for a clean and neat look, they relocated the Parking-Lights down under. She sports Billet Chrome Wheels on all four corners with 18” up front and 20” out back for a sweet stance. The delicious white on white all leather interior was stitched by Jon Lynn from Eugene. The custom Gauges are accented with the candy green theme to the interior. This is an award winning creation where-ever she shows from Hot August Nights and all over the West Coast.

1960 Tangerine Dream Machine Corvette Roadster w/383ci Stroker for power, w/671 Blower producing 650 HP. M22 4/speed tranny and modified rear w/456 gears. Jimmy Meyers Street Rods created the front suspension on this fantastic ride. Again Jon Lynn produced the gorgeous Italian Leather interior including tricking out the trunk. Boyd Coddington special one off wheels were selected for this creation, with 17” up front and 18” on the rear for a perfect look. You can see and hear this creative work of automobile wonder coming as a gift to one’s eyes with the Orange Tangerine sporting those champagne swish graphics making this 1960 Corvette Roadster come alive. Again this super custom has won trophies all over the West Coast.

2000 Torch Red Corvette Coupe. She sports a LT1 for power w/six speed tranny. This daily driver features a delicious black interior and is pretty much a stock ride, for Mr. Huntley to get around the valley in. Dennis is an active member, in good standing, with the Cascade Corvette Club for the past ten years.

We at R&R NW Publication would like to thank Dennis for sharing his beautiful creative works of automobile wonder with our thousands of readers all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. “All for the love of Custom Classic Chevrolet Corvettes“ for June 2016.

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60th Annual Portland Roadster Show – The Tradition Continued!

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All for the Love of Classic Cars, Street Rods, Bikes and Trucks.The 2016 PRS was the Biggest and Best Ever! The Cars were truly the Stars of this fantastic show.

The 60th Portland Roadster Show is now in the history books and for the record it should go down as one of the biggest and best ever custom, hot-rod, classic car, bike and truck shows of all time. Not only in the Rose City of Portland, but one of the most memorable car shows in the whole nation. From the opening gate on Friday, March 18th the Expo Center rocked with a record number of car and truck enthusiasts going thru the turn stiles. Plus, there was a record number of vendors and supporters helping make this show a great financial success. Our Portland Roadster Show had 129 classes in cars, trucks and bikes, the most of any ISCA show nationwide. The show also gave out more cash prize winning dollars than any other show in the country. Cash awards included, the Grand Sweepstakes Rose Cup Award, $10,000, the World Cup of Hot Rodding, $5,000, the King of Customs, $3000, and the Bill Peterson award of $500 all totaling $18,500. Additionally, Best of Class, Second Place and Third Place trophies in those 129 classes were awarded.

The PRS was honored with the presence of world class car building celebrities, Dave Kindig, John D’Agostino, Gene Winfield and Chip Foose, who were on hand signing autographs and meeting and greeting the thousands in attendance. Another point of interest; Portland’s own Johnny Limbo & the Lugnuts performed a full, on stage show, Saturday evening and helped raise thousands of dollars in gifts for the Angel’s on Wheels Toy Drive for Randall Children’s Hospital. In addition there were a record number of 501c3 for charity fund raising activities at this year’s show, including the KDCCP brand new 2016 Mustang raffle car was on display and raised thousands of dollars for the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Cancer research program up at OHSU. The Veterans were well represented with the MIAP booth and the Pharaohs Street Rodder’s Lines for Life Veterans Programs as well as the Veterans, Help a Wounded Warrior was also raising funds with a special custom car giveaway. Plus the Kyron Horman Foundation and the Angels on Wheels Toy Drive were also present.

The Multnomah Hot Rod Council/Portland Roadster Shows Wagons for Kids helps the Children’s Cancer Association. The PRS gave away a record number of wagons at the show this year. The new wagons were mostly donated from the 19 car clubs that make up the MHRC. In addition, the Pedal Car Auction raised a record number of dollars for the participating 20 highs school and local community college automotive programs. The MHRC/PRS High School Challenge was well represented again this year with 23 High School and Skill Centers from the Portland and Vancouver area participating. They all did a great job and all are to be congratulated of their winning efforts. A special thank you goes out to Napa Sunset Auto Parts for their generous gifts.

We at Roddin’ & Racin’ NorthWest would like to thank all of the members of the MHRC for your dedicated individual volunteer efforts and the outstanding job you each performed representing you own car clubs and the MHRC at the 60th Portland Roadster Show. The hundreds of thousand/million plus dollars this show brought to the Portland Vancouver area is unmeasurable in immediate numbers, but the amount of good will and your friendly participation with the visitors at this show will be remembered for a long time. The Cities of Portland and Vancouver thanks each and every one of you for a job well done. We would also like to recognize and give a KP thumbs up to two special individuals, PRS Co-Chairs, Duane Caseday and David Jothen for their fantastic leadership efforts in putting the finishing touches on this world class 60th PRS. Also, a salute to all of the MHRC board of directors for a job well done.

Regular Joe

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Jerry Grant was just a “Regular Joe” in many respects.

He had always been a burly man and he felt a little self-conscious about that. Worse was the premature baldness! What’s up with that? He spent his whole life wearing bad hairpieces. In the pits, he’d roll up his balaclava and wear it like a beanie to conceal his dome. But behind the wheel of a race car, Grant was nothing but self-assured. It was confidence that stemmed from years of experience.
Born in Seattle, he started racing as a teen. When he grew bored with drag racing he began entering his hot rod Fords in local road races. Though his cars weren’t particularly well suited for that, he showed enough talent to attract the attention of a car owner named Dick Hahn. Hahn purchased a 3-litre Ferrari for Grant to pilot in 1960, this proved to be a marriage made in heaven. Over the next few seasons the duo won thirty eight races including the 1961 and ’62 Rose Cups. Though Hahn eventually upgraded to a newer model, rear engined sports racers with American power became the preferred weapon so Grant naturally gravitated toward those. With sponsorship from Ole Bardahl, Grant was able to field a competitive car. Typically he would qualify well, run up front but fail to finish.

Encouraged by his peers, Grant ventured to Indianapolis for the first time in 1964. He climbed into the Watson roadster of Fred Gerhardt but failed to make the show. Another non-qualifier that year was rookie Pedro Rodriguez who had crashed Kjell H. Qvale’s third entry. These were Joe Huffaker built, Lotus inspired cars with Offenhauser engines that proved very competitive for years to come. For 1965, Grant brought his Bardahl sponsorship to this entry and easily made the program, qualifying right smack dab in the middle of the thirty three car field. Sadly on Memorial Day, Grant completed only thirty laps before his engine soured.

Somewhere in this time frame, it may have been at Indy or at a west coast sports car meet, Grant struck up a friendship with Dan Gurney. Gurney recognized Grant’s ability and did much to bolster the big guy’s career. At the ’66 500, Gurney was introducing his Champ Car version of the successful “Eagle” Gran Prix car. A quartet of the Ford powered racers was entered and Grant was assigned one of them. Bringing along Bardahl as well as Pacesetter Homes for sponsors, Grant easily put his Eagle in the show with tenth best qualifying time. 1966 was the year of the eleven car debacle at the drop of the green flag but only Gurney’s Eagle was eliminated. Joe Leonard, Grant and Lloyd Ruby soldiered on and were awarded ninth, tenth and eleventh respectively.

!966 was also the inaugural year of the storied Can-Am series. Grant’s Lola T70 was state of the art and without a doubt, one of the sharpest looking cars in the paddock… but not particularly fast. When the season ended in November, Grant had two sevenths to his credit. His association with Gurney afforded Grant the opportunity to race sports cars all over the country and in Europe. Eventually he moved to southern California to be closer to Gurney’s Costa Mesa headquarters.

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Gurney’s focus remained on building cars for Indianapolis and in 1967, no less than seven Eagles made the program. New Zealander Denny Hulme fared best, bringing Smokey Yunick’s entry home in the fourth spot. Grant fell out after 162 laps with engine trouble. Then in 1968, Gurney accomplished his goal with Bobby Unser winning the 500 in an Eagle. Gurney himself finished second and Hulme again was fourth in a team car. It was a great day for Gurney’s Eagles but not so much for Grant. He had qualified his privately entered Bardahl Special mid-pack but fell out with only fifty laps completed.

Grant’s reputation for being fast but hard on equipment likely prevented him from procuring a first class ride for Indy in 1969. “Grant, you’re gonna have to learn how to finish (races),” Roger Penske advised. Grant had known Penske since the early days and he took those words to heart. Rolla Vollstedt gave him a shot in his back up car but for first time since his rookie debut, Grant failed to make the show.
Determined to turn things around, Grant entered his own Offy powered Eagle in 1970 and slipped into the lineup in the 29th slot. On race day he drove conservatively, pacing himself and when the checkered flag fell, he was scored sixth. Sadly, no one seemed to notice and Grant again found himself chasing a competitive ride for 1971. He turned his own car over to Sam Posey to try but failed to get the Norris Industries #92 up to speed.

Then in 1972 Grant’s old buddy Dan Gurney introduced a new generation of Eagles to the Brickyard. Bobby Unser was assigned the primary car but there was a beautiful blue violet (yet unsponsored) sister car for Grant to try on. This Eagle proved to be one of Gurney’s finest efforts, an absolute rocket ship right out of the box. Unser broke the track record putting his car on the pole; Grant played it more conservative qualifying 15th. On race day Unser was off like a shot, leading the first thirty laps before he succumbed to ignition problems. Popular second generation driver Gary Bettenhausen looked poised to win his first 500 for Penske until he too was sidelined with eighteen laps to go.” So who’s leading this thing?!” people wondered.

Grant (fully aware that he’s got his best chance ever) couldn’t resist reverting back to his old hard charging ways. He’s leading the race but he’s used up his tires and most of his fuel. By now everyone is talking about “The Mystery Eagle”, the car that remained unsponsored that no one gave a serious shot at winning. He has to pit with a dozen laps remaining and the lead is handed to Mark Donohue in another Penske car. Grant returns to the race but not enough laps remain to catch the leader; they’ll have to settle for second. Later it is discovered that Grant was refueled from Unser’s tank (illegal) and they are disqualified. They are awarded 12th place, the last lap scored, the last lap completed before the pit stop. The difference in prize money is about $72,000!

Grant drove for Gurney again the following year and for others through 1976. He finished in the top ten in 1974 but never again came close to winning. In the end, what Grant was proudest of was being the first man to drive an Indy car in excess of 200 mph on a closed course. He accomplished this at the now defunct Ontario Speedway.

On his first timed lap with unlimited turbo boost, breaking the tires loose in every gear.  Just a Regular Joe… an overweight, bald guy who loved to stand on the gas.

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