Ford versus Chevy, AMC, Mopar, Pontiac, etc.

After winning the 1969 Trans-Am Championship for Chevrolet, Roger Penske sent shockwaves through the racing world by signing a lucrative deal with fledgling AMC. If anyone could make a winner out of their boxy Javelin they reasoned, it was “The Captain” and his talented chauffer Mark Donohue.

Introduced in 1967, team Javelin participated in the series under the direction of Chicago based racer Ronnie Kaplan. “A” list drivers including Peter Revson and George Follmer had piloted the patriotically painted beasts and though they were competitive, they hadn’t won any races. By the dawn of the 1970 season, AMC brass was ready to see that change. Defending series champion Donohue would drive the primary car and Revson would return (after a stint with Ford) to wheel a sister car.

Chaparral creator Jim Hall took over the Chevrolet effort. He planned to make his return to the driver’s seat after a debilitating crash in his Can-Am car two years prior. Trans-Am veteran Ed Leslie was his second.

The strongest threat to capture the title however was expected to be fielded by Ford. In ’69 there were two factory supported Mustang teams; Bud Moore’s and Carroll Shelby’s. When the season ended, Moore’s team received the nod. Three school bus yellow Boss 302’s appeared at the Laguna Seca Opener; one for legendary team leader Parnelli Jones, another for the capable Follmer and a third as a backup.

But wait, there’s more! 1970 was the year that all the manufacturers decided to come out to play! Dan Gurney brought a pair of nasty Hemi Cudas- One for him and one for his protégé Swede Savage. Sam Posey appeared with a lime green Dodge Challenger and even Pontiac was represented by Jerry Titus and his all new Firebird. If you were a muscle car guy and you liked road racing, this season was unprecedented. The entry list looked promising and the paddock was abuzz with enthusiasts that were pulling for one marque or another.

After the dust settled from qualifying, “PJ” was awarded the pole but Donohue would start alongside in the new Javelin. They were followed by Follmer (Mustang) and Gurney (Hemi Cuda) in row two. Row three: Posey (Challenger) and Leslie (Camaro). Row four: Titus (Firebird) and Savage (Hemi Cuda). Rounding out the top ten were local driver Milt Minter in the Ex-Penske Camaro (Now fielded by Roy Woods) and Hall in the new Camaro. Revson (Javelin) would tag the field after experiencing mechanical issues in qualifying.

At the drop of the green flag, Jones shot into the lead with Donohue in hot pursuit. Follmer seemed content to follow in the second Mustang. Hall was the race’s first casualty, retiring with transmission woes after completing just three circuits. For the first forty laps, Donohue remained within striking distance but eventually Jones began to stretch his legs. Likewise Follmer was never able to challenge for the runner-up spot. The real excitement was watching Revson’s charge through the field. He advanced as far as fifth but was then punted into the guardrail by Posey. Gurney fell out one lap later also due to a balky transmission. Finally, Leslie completed fifty nine laps before busting an axle.
Following Jones, Donohue and Follmer across the finish line was Savage in the Mopar and Minter’s Camaro (Minter would win a race at Donnybrooke later in the season, shoving Follmer out of the lead along the way). Posey was three laps down in sixth, then Titus in the Firebird. Eighth place was claimed by an independent, Craig Murray driving a two year old Camaro. Portlander Joe Chamberlain was next piloting his own Chevy and John Silva Jr. rounded out the top ten in yet another ’68 Camaro.
To be honest, the race was a little anti-climactic after the build-up but it did serve as a preview of things to come. Jones would go on to win the ’70 Championship for Ford and Donohue/Penske/AMC would have to wait another year to claim their title. The Hall Camaros would prove under powered and Gurney’s Hemi Cuda was fast but unreliable. Posey’s Challenger was capable of going the distance but not winning. Tragically, Jerry Titus was killed when he crashed his Firebird practicing for the Trans-Am race at Road America (WI). His seventh place finish at the Opener would remain the team’s best effort.

Years later at a Tran-Am revival, Follmer was chastised for rubbing fenders with another competitor. He explained to the aghast car owner, “This is how we used to do it!”

Photos by John McCuskey


C-10 Club Cruise

The Northwest C-10 Club held a cruise in Enumclaw Washington back in April. A friend of mine who lives in Washington and is a C-10 fan attended the cruise and took some pics which he shared with me via email and we will share them with you here.

Steve Ingersoll tells me there were around 300 trucks on display. Some very cool Chevys and even a few Ford trucks too. Steve says there was a nice mix of very beautifully done trucks and lots of patinaed ones too. A great group of guys and some ladies too. The weather held off until about 2pm when it poured for about 30 minutes.
Kudos to Chris Fowler and his helpers. The cruise went off without a hitch.

Steve also shared that in his opinion the 1972 Chevy C-10 was the best pickup ever made. I know there a few of you out there that feel the same way. They are a good-looking truck.

The UAP Report 2021

Greetings Earthlings, uh, er … I mean GearHeads. Sorry, that slipped out. Been kind of preoccupied lately, I guess.

For all twelve of you who follow this column, you know I have spent a lot of time introducing the newfangled electrical vehicles (EVs) coming into our car world. But if that wasn’t enough, now we have … aliens!

For those of you who haven’t been hiding beneath a magic mushroom or something like that, you are well aware of the worldwide conversation that is about to be had. Perhaps the greatest conversation in the history of all of mankind. We are not alone. That’s heavy, man!

By now, most of us have heard the announcement. By the time you are reading this, perhaps the Pentagon will have released their files and the conversation will have begun. And what will that be? What will  we be saying about these UAPs (former UFO)? That stands for “Unofficial Auto Punishers” or something like that. That might not be quite accurate, I dunno. What shall we call these things, GearHeads?

I will tell you this, I am certainly not tripping all over myself to race one of these things with my Camaro! Now, we don’t exactly know what these things they call Tic Tacs, are. They are roughly in the shape of a slice of pie but they sure are damn fast. I think we can all agree on that.

And can they ever maneuver! I certainly wouldn’t mind having one of these on my team. I mean, might they actually be the penultimate, intergalactic hooners of all of  spacedom? Who knows. They seem pretty cool though, don’t they? Might be interesting to know who is in them. But then, perhaps that is what the conversation will be all about, eh? Can’t wait!

So, we figured what time is better than the present to get this convo started? All I know is these things are fast and I like fast and you like fast too, yes? What say you? And with that — ’nuff said.
Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld

SWAP MEET — FINALLY!

It was a dark and stormy morning. Well, actually, it was slightly raining in Albany. I was on my way to a swap meet in Vancouver WA. My friend, Stephen Veltman, invited me to this swap meet a few days before. After about two years of no swap meets, cruise-ins or car shows I said yes, I would go, rain or shine. The swap meet at Vancouver Bolt and Supply, Inc. has been going for 13 years. It’s put on by Gordy Rivenburg, Mark Brislawn and Jack Corley. This turned out to be the biggest swap meet they have had, filled the entire parking lot and some of the streets around it.

Stephen and I were there to sell some of his treasures. The weather was good, cloudy, sunshine, no rain and a happy group of people. Everyone had a smile. Like me, it was the first swap meet in a long time.

I have never been to a swap meet that had a flyover. The Oregon Air National Guard must have been practicing. You could hear them take off and see them go straight up between the clouds. The F-16 Fighters were loud and proud! Not only were the jets loud, but the cars that cruised by were, too. There were some beautiful hot rods, rat rods, trucks, and muscle cars.

Now, back to the swap meet. As I said, talking to the people, everyone was happy.

There were no complaints as they were buying things and having a great time. It seemed that everyone that went out the front gate had a new treasure to take home.
As I walked around, checking out all the cool stuff, one booth caught my eye. “Paul’s Used Cars”. He had a couple of tables of diecast cars and large scale plastic models. I talked to Paul Mackie about his display. He said he has been building models since the 1960s. His first model was a Revell- ‘57 Ford Ranch Wagon. Paul is still building models. His latest project is a Revell- ‘49 Mercury Woodie. Not only does he build the models, but he pinstripes and does graphics on them. Some of his top pinstripe jobs were a 1956 Ford pickup, “Old Gold”, an award winner from the Portland Roadster Show in the ‘80s and is in the Roadster Show Hall of Fame. For those of you who are too young to know or older and would like to forget the Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh who had a religious compound in Eastern Oregon in the ‘80s, Paul pinstriped his Rolls Royces. He also pinstriped a custom ambulance for the president of Mexico. I can’t draw a straight line. If you want to see his fantastic work go online to artworksbymackie.com.
While walking around some more I ran into Marty Strode. We talked for a while then his friend showed up to talk. Marty builds Track-T roadsters. These cars can be driven on the street or in Vintage Dirt Track Racing.

I also talked to Gordy Rivenburg, one of the men who put this swap meet on. We talked about circle track racing back in the ‘60s and ‘70s in Southern Oregon at Medford Posse Grounds Speedway. Boy, did that bring back memories. It turns out we knew some of the same people racing at that time.

Not only were there booths with “stuff” for sale, but a few cars on display. What caught my eye was a beautiful Black ‘32 Ford Coupe. There was also a green ‘32 Ford panel wagon and talking to the owner, he said it was the original unrestored body. He had changed the old for a modern engine and drivetrain. The owner said it has “Original Rust” not like some cars where they have painted the car to look like it’s old and rusty.

At the end of the day, someone in a chopped Ford coupe rumbled by. What a way to finish the day, and it was a great day. It was time to head out. Stephen had sold some of his stuff, I met some new car guys and it never rained. There were a lot of happy car guys!

Out of the Blue

It was early June on that Pacific beach; the marine layer was heavier than normal on that day.  The western skies had grown dark and the tide was awash in foam as the ocean raced to the sandy shores.   But Clinton stood watch, for he knew that he would witness the return of the spectre driving that ’32 Ford roadster.

Locals will tell the stories over ice cold cans of Olympia or Rainier that just after sunrise a hopped up old roadster will come from out of the blue and if you are lucky, you watch it pass by.  But, you see, the setting have to be just so.  According to legend, an adventurous member of the Road Runners car club had ventured North to seek a new place where to have possible speed trial runs ran on a hard packed beach.

Long Beach, Washington is just such a place and the adventurous member reached out to local hot rodders to see if there would be interest in such an event and he soon had about 20 guys signed on.

Safety was the concern.

On a cool and stormy June morning the driver gathered everyone to witness his run, to prove a point.  That hard packed sands were as good as the dry lakes of SoCal.  Those in attendance still remember the car, but the driver’s name has faded into history.

Oh that car.  She was a crisp ’32 Ford roadster wearing her Cornflower blue lacquer.  The factory spoked wheels had been replaced with ’38 Ford V8 60 wheels up front and wider Merc wheels out back, painted in bright red with ’40 Ford center caps.

He never lifted the hood much to the chagrin of the locals, but, man that Ford sounded good!

And he set off.  He had  a Zephyr tranny and a Columbia twin butt rear axle too!!  The locals watched as he gave her the gow and was soon speeding across the hard packed beach.   Everyone watched as he made speed, that slick ’32 sailing across the sand.  His head was down as that stripped down rod chased the horizon.  The flattie mill sang a song that resounded across the seaside.  Then in a flash, the roadster’s right front wheel sank in a soft spot in the sand and the hot rod was cart wheeling.

It was over so fast.  The deuce was a mass of destruction and when the first responders came upon the scene, the driver was nowhere to be seen.  Legend has it the body was never recovered.

Clinton stood on the beach and watched as the clouds rolled in.  The horizon was dark as sin and the Pacific lashed at the beach, begging for more.    It was 7 A.M. on that June morning when from out of the blue, a white flash, and that Cornflower blue Deuce flashed on by.

The phantom driver was hard pressed his head against the dash, hands white knuckled , full throttle. Clinton watched in awe and shrieked!  The driver raised a hand in victory and that beautiful roadster just vanished.

Clinton stood on the shore as the storm opened up and a driving rain enveloped the beach.  He walked to wear the ’32 had vanished and to his amazement, saw a set of tire tracks in the sand that appeared and then were gone.    The tide and rain washed away the tracks, but the memory of that phantom driver and roadster stuck with Clinton.  He smiled, and began to walk away.  Hoping to again witness it again one day.   Mark Karol-Chik 5/13/2021  Inspired by the artwork by Tom Fritz https://www.fritzart.com

At Last, a Car Show

Cascade High School held its annual car show on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Cascade High School is located a few miles out of Turner, Oregon. Like many of the shows we choose to attend, this one is a benefit for kids. In this case all of the money from the show goes to support annual senior’s all night alcohol/drug free graduation party. A lot of credit goes to the students in helping to stage the show. They were in evidence guiding the cars into the proper parking spaces, answering questions throughout the day, and most importantly, creating the awards. Each of the trophies awarded at the end of the show were custom made and signed by the student who made it. A work of art.

Located in a rural area of the Willamette Valley, the show still got great attendance. There were over two hundred and thirty cars that showed up and registered for the show. Cars were parked around three sides of the school two or three rows deep. Classic rock and roll music was rolling out of the speakers and floating over the venue. It was apparent that there was a lot of pent-up energy around getting cars out of the garage, on the road and showing them off. In addition, there was obviously a lot of interest in viewing the cars as well. The show area was crowded with spectators all day long and the food vendors had a hard time keeping up with demand. On a perfect afternoon people were enjoying being outside, seeing old friends and making new ones. One topic of constant conversation was “I hope this is the first of many shows this year.

The Cascade Show welcomes cars of all makes and models and all years. And the cars reflected that inclusion. Everything from a 1911 Ford to a brand new Corvette. Classics, muscle cars, foreign cars, trucks, hot rods, rat rods and everything in between. There was even a motorized Radio Flyer Wagon and a motorized bumper car, much to the delight of the kids and the young at heart. As with many car shows, half the fun is finding the rare and unusual vehicles. There is also the process of checking out the accompaniments that many owners bring to the show, such things as a custom spare tire cover, period correct attire to drive a Model T and the many varieties of show signs that assist spectators to know what they are looking at, where it came from and who owns it.

All in all a great start to the summer.

Terry ThompsonCascade High School held its annual car show on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Cascade High School is located a few miles out of Turner, Oregon. Like many of the shows we choose to attend, this one is a benefit for kids. In this case all of the money from the show goes to support annual senior’s all night alcohol/drug free graduation party. A lot of credit goes to the students in helping to stage the show. They were in evidence guiding the cars into the proper parking spaces, answering questions throughout the day, and most importantly, creating the awards. Each of the trophies awarded at the end of the show were custom made and signed by the student who made it. A work of art.

Located in a rural area of the Willamette Valley, the show still got great attendance. There were over two hundred and thirty cars that showed up and registered for the show. Cars were parked around three sides of the school two or three rows deep. Classic rock and roll music was rolling out of the speakers and floating over the venue. It was apparent that there was a lot of pent-up energy around getting cars out of the garage, on the road and showing them off. In addition, there was obviously a lot of interest in viewing the cars as well. The show area was crowded with spectators all day long and the food vendors had a hard time keeping up with demand. On a perfect afternoon people were enjoying being outside, seeing old friends and making new ones. One topic of constant conversation was “I hope this is the first of many shows this year.

The Cascade Show welcomes cars of all makes and models and all years. And the cars reflected that inclusion. Everything from a 1911 Ford to a brand new Corvette. Classics, muscle cars, foreign cars, trucks, hot rods, rat rods and everything in between. There was even a motorized Radio Flyer Wagon and a motorized bumper car, much to the delight of the kids and the young at heart. As with many car shows, half the fun is finding the rare and unusual vehicles. There is also the process of checking out the accompaniments that many owners bring to the show, such things as a custom spare tire cover, period correct attire to drive a Model T and the many varieties of show signs that assist spectators to know what they are looking at, where it came from and who owns it.

All in all a great start to the summer.