If you’ve never been to a Billet Proof event you have missed out on of “The Worlds Least Important Car Shows.” No kidding, that’s what they are billed as. And the Hot Rod Eruption Drags at Riverdale Raceway in Toutle Washington can best be described as what I’ve heard said many times. “It’s a Hoot!”
The drag strip is an outlaw strip, devoid of Jersey Barriers, walls, catch-fences or other gear to protect spectators from the speeding cars. Tech inspections are basic and safety requires a helmet in an open car. All the racing is heads-up on the 1/8th mile and though there is a return road, its dirt, so the cars that have raced wait at the end of the track and after a sufficient crowd forms, they all line up and parade lap back up the track to the starting line while the racers in the staging lanes wait. It’s gotta be what it was like in the beginning of drag racing.
It’s a run-what-ya-brung kind of format and I think there were some grudge matches going on out there, and if not this year, there will likely be some next year. At least one where I heard a fellow saying, “I got beat by a Volkswagen!” He was driving a Ford with a V-8. That has grudge match written all over it, don’t you think. This year was my first and the place was packed. Everything about the day is primitive at best but it was also a lot of fun. Real racecars were in attendance along with some very old school creations that frankly looked a little scary. But everything went well and I saw a lot of smiling faces. That should tell you that there was a lot of fun happening too.
The Billet Proof Hot Rod Eruption Drags appears to be an annual event so it you start now you could just about have your “Race Car” ready for next Augusts Drags at Toutle’s Riverdale Raceway.
I visited R & G Machining the other day to get an update on their machine shops capabilities. It’s amazing, they can do almost any kind of machine work for engines that you might need, or they have a large stock of rebuilt parts and engines on hand.
R & G Machining is a full service machine shop. They can turn crankshafts, regrind camshafts, bore engines, align bore, hone, balance, do head work to include resurfacing, valve grinding, install new seats and guides, flow bench test heads, weld blocks and heads and they work on both Gas and Diesel engines, all in house.
R & G Machining also has exchange cranks, rods, cams, heads, short blocks and long blocks in stock for same day service. And they have a full parts supply as well. Visit their web site at www.grumpysperformancecenter.com or visit them at 27716 S. Hwy 213, Mulino, OR. or give them at call at 503-829-6038.
Most, if not all of you, know about what happened during the wee hours of the morning on February 12th this year. The security cam video went viral on the internet showing eight (8) Corvettes fall, one after another, into an ever enlarging HOLE that developed in the floor under where these cars were parked on display in the museum’s “Sky Dome.” No one was there, fortunately, since it was early in the morning before the Museum opened, so no one was hurt. That can’t be said for the cars however.
The list consisted of the following cars:
1984 PPG Pace Car
1992 1 Millionth Corvette produced
1993 ZR-1 Spyder
1993 40th Anniversary Ruby Red Coupe
2001 “Mallet Hammer” Z-06
2009 1.5 Millionth Corvette Produced
2009 ZR-1 Prototype “Blue Devil”
Looking into the gaping hole you can see some of the cars and while damaged, those don’t look too bad. The others are buried under the ones you see and tons of concrete and dirt. Those cars got the worst of the damage. It’s surprising to me that they were found and recovered at all.
Early on, GM said they would help with restoration of the cars. The Museum said they would restore them but then many on lookers said “No,” leave them as they are and display them as found. I submitted my two cents worth in this regard, suggesting that a ‘to scale’ graphic be created and applied to the floor once the hole was filled and the floor repaired, so that future visitors could experience the scope of the damage but, without the danger and the dust. Others had expressed this idea and the Museum entertained and discussed all the ideas that were submitted. This one was considered too expensive both initially and to maintain. I was told that they are discussing, at a minimum, putting the outline of the hole in actual size on the newly repaired floor but a decision hasn’t been finalized. I think that’s a great idea.
The construction crew arrived back at the Museum this week to begin re-filling the hole. The plan is to fill it entirely with rock and then re-enforce the fill by drilling and filling with columns of concrete to support the floor.
Many of the cars that were recovered were displayed in the months since the sinkhole happened. The curiosity factor created a significant boost in attendance since the sinkhole in February. Since some of the cars were literally destroyed and in consideration of the idea that displaying them as recovered would be a historical display, the Museum’s current plans are just that. Create a permanent display of badly damaged cars showing what happened to them.
The “Blue Devil” ZR-1 prototype was sent to GM in Michigan for restoration. Two weeks later it was as good as new. It was transported to SEMA for display and it arrived back at the Museum on November 14th, looking as spectacular as ever. The White 1 Millionth Corvette and the Black 1962 Corvette will be restored as well. The remaining five cars will be in the future “Sinkhole” display.
My wife and I are members and we visited the Museum in 2003 during the 50th Anniversary celebration. Celebrating the first Corvette’s birthdate, June 30th 1953. Since I’m a lifelong Corvette nut, it was cool to go there and see the displays and we look forward to going back again soon, but I think we should wait until the Skydome floor is finished and the damaged Corvettes are displayed again. I’d like to see that since we couldn’t go this year.
The Corvette Assembly Plant is across the freeway from the Museum too. They offer tours of the assembly plant which are fascinating to any car nut. When you plan your trip to the Museum and the Assembly Plant, I recommend that you contact the plant for tour info BEFORE you book your trip. They have certain black out times and dates where you will not be able to tour the plant. Don’t plan and book your trip without checking for their schedules.
Jacks “collection” of what I generally call “hard parts” is extensive. The coverage is from the 30’s thru the 70’s with a little into the 80’s if there were ‘carryover’ applications. Jack tells me that his inventory is primarily Ford and Chevy mechanical parts, no sheet metal, glass or rubber parts.
Having had a career in the aftermarket auto parts business, Jack has crossed his inventory over into one numbering system for ease of identification. This large collection of elderly but, new parts is all properly organized and arranged on parts room shelving in his warehouse space at 909 N.E. Cleveland Ave. in Gresham, OR. 503-667-1725. If you’re looking for parts for your latest project, Jack might be able to help, give him a call.
The year is 1947 and as I remember the some-what cloudy details, my older brother Richard and I were just pulling into Seattle Washington’s Train Depot arriving on a one day ride from Spokane on the Northern Pacific Train. We were all dressed out in our next years back to school clothes with a promise to Mom that those clothes would return in the spotless new condition as they were in, when she put us on that train.
We were on our way to visit her sister and our three cousins, who had the neatest toy pedal cars in the world. They had fire trucks, airplanes, cars, pickups, and my favorite, a Super Sonic Race Car. Wow! This was the fastest and neatest pedal car in the neighborhood where my cousins lived. What was so neat about where they lived, it was on Fremont Hill. You could look straight across the water and see the most fantastic premier hill in Seattle for pedal car downhill racing. Its name of course is Queen Ann, and for those of you that didn’t remember that the city of Seattle was built on seven hills and the Queen Ann is the steepest and curviest and longest from top to bottom, of all seven. The Fremont and the Queen Ann hills had one thing in common: at the bottom they both ended up in Lake Washington, just above the Fremont Boat Lockes.
Well as I remember I could hardly sleep the first night there, as all I could think about was that fantastic Super-Sonic Race Car and Fremont Hill. The next morning my brother Rich and I were anxiously but, in a friendly way debating on who and what pedal cars should be teamed up to whom. Well, he got the Super-Sonic and I got the Airplane. Much to our surprise the cousins went along with our decision.
There is one thing that stands out in my memory of that days’ events and that was when my cousin Butchy appeared at the top of those steep stairs leading up to my Aunt and Uncles home. He was all decked out in knee-pads, elbow pads, padded gloves and a crash helmet. Now we all knew that Butchy was the first born and Aunty really liked him best but wasn’t that a little over dressing for our first day in Seattle or did he know something that Rich and I had over looked?
We all jumped in our assigned rides and we were off, down Fremont Hill. Me on the Airplane, Jimmy on one little car, Fred on the pickup, Butchy on the fire truck and Rich on the Super Sonic Racer. We all started out with some competitive racing, with the lead switching on several occasions. But, as time went on, the age of the contestants came alive with Fred and Jimmy slowing and bowing out. Butchy hung in there on his Fire truck but finally the weight of his fancy, color matching, elbow pads and knee-pads and that crash helmet that kept twisting around on his head and blinding him, the poor kid almost crashed several times.
Well down Fremont Hill my brother and I raced, him on the Super Sonic Racer and me on my airplane, that I swear, felt like it wanted to take off and fly. I’ll tell you one thing, there was not a better dressed couple of brothers from Spokane racing in Seattle on that day in late August 1947. Everything was looking pretty good as I could still see the Super Sonic Racer ahead maybe just two blocks. Then a Seattle City Transit Bus went flying by me and my airplane. The last thing I truly remember is the bright red tail lights on that bus and down the hill I raced right past Rich on the Super Sonic who was legally stopped at a red light at the intersection of 118th and Fremont. Down I raced with nothing but me and that same Seattle City Transit Bus ahead. Well, I swear that Airplane Pedal Car and I had become one and I flew past that city bus on the left and to my amazement I was looking eye to eye with that Seattle City Transit Bus Driver. Unfortunately, trying to stop that Airplane with my new Converse All-star shoe brakes didn’t work all that well and off came the soles. In trying to get my legs in a more aeronautical position while I was in flight, I kinda did a number on my new Levi’s but, my new shirt was still wearable and, I won the race. What’s remarkable is that I ended up 57 feet short of being IN Lake Washington! Watch out Queen Ann Hill, here I come!
For you penny watchers, a dozen eggs was just 32 cents. A Coke was a nickel and a pair of Converse All stars were $4.49. All in All the summer of 1947 was the best ever!