Car people often have a bucket list of events that they want to attend. Events like Hot August Nights, Bonneville Speed Week, or the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise. My brother, Tom, and I have such a list. We have been to Hot August Nights in Reno and to the Salt Flats for Bonneville Speed Week several times. This year we decided to forgo a trip to the Salt Flats and go instead to Pebble Beach for the Concours d’ Elegance.
The Concours d’ Elegance is held on the famed Pebble Beach Golf Course on the final day Monterrey Motor Week. Motor Week consists of a number of events occurring throughout the week. We chose to attend a few select events and not try to do it all (I’m not sure you could do it all, even if you wanted).
We chose to go to the Tour d’ Elegance, the Concours d’ Lemons, Exotics on Cannery Row and of course the Councours d’ Elegance. We did not attend any of the new car displays, vintage car races at Laguna Seca nor any of the five or six car auctions with the likes of Mecum’s, Bonham’s and Russo and Steele. In fact I had received instructions from the home front not to attend any auctions, apparently fearing that I might make a purchase.
The Tour d’ Elegance consists of the majority of the vehicles that are going to be on display at the Concours being driven around a 34 mile course around the famous 17 mile loop, into Carmel by the Sea and then a short run down the coast and back to Pebble Beach. The route is published in advance, but being unfamiliar with the area, we had no idea where to find a good viewing spot. So we headed for the loop and began looking for a wide spot to set up some lawn chairs and watch the parade of vehicles. We happened upon a fairly large area with a number of cars parked and tables and chairs being set up along the road, looking very much like tailgating at a football game. We asked a woman if this was a good place to view the cars. She responded that she was a local and this is where she watched every year. Turned out to be an excellent spot. Over 160 of the 210 show cars came driving by. It is always fun to hear and see the cars in motion. Several of the vehicles were moving slowly enough that brief conversation could be held. We did have to decline one driver’s request for a beer. Seemed like a bad idea. The cars do stop about half way through the tour and park on Ocean Avenue in Carmel by the Sea. This is a chance for spectators to get an up close look at the cars for free.
The Concours d’ Lemons is a satirical take on the Concours d’ Elegance. All of the vehicles entered in this event are of questionable quality at best. As opposed to some of finest vehicles in the world, these are some of the worst. The winners were the ugliest and the rustiest of the bunch in categories such as American Rust Belt, Soul Sucking Japanese, Swedish Meatball, etc. You get the idea. This year’s winner was a modified, extremely ugly 1977 AMC Gremlin. Great fun and good way to spend a sunny morning.
That afternoon, we headed down to Cannery Row to view the exotics. About 12 blocks for Cannery Row was closed off and filled with dozens upon dozens of late model exotic vehicles like Maeserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mclaren and many others. Cannery Row certainly did not look the way John Steinbeck described it in his novel of the same name. Music was blaring, people were crowding the street to see millions of dollars worth of cars. A far cry from the poverty and desperation described by Steinbeck. After a couple of hours of looking, we decided it was time to go hit the In-N-Out Burger. While we were eating a group of 25 Mclarens arrived at the restaurant, quickly drawing a crowd. Rarely do you see one Mclaren in the circles I travel, let alone 25. It was a rare treat.
Finally it was time to attend the Concours d’ Elegance. We arrived early and followed the signs to the general admission spectator parking about five miles away from the golf course. We parked right along the shore line with seals and otters playing directly off shore and got a shuttle to the course. The shuttle were extremely well run and organized by the way.
Once we arrived it was a bit of a walk down to where the show is held on the 17th and 18 fairways of Pebble Beach Golf Course. You walk through new car display areas, most offering complimentary drinks and finger foods. When you arrive there is a sense of “Am I really here?” The scenery is beautiful, overlooking the bay, with yachts anchored just off shore. The weather was perfect, as were the cars. These are truly some of the finest cars in the world. New categories and eras are non display each year and a featured marque is selected annually. This year the featured car was the Tucker, the futuristic brainchild of Preston Tucker built in the late forties. Of the 51 Tuckers known to have been built, 12 were on display. Other show categories included Coach-built Citroens after 1945, American Sporting Cars of the 1920s, Motor Cars of India, Rear-engined Indianapolis Racers, Eisenhower Era Convertible, Oscas, Scarab Sports Cars, as well as a few others.
Being traditional hot rod/muscle car guys, this was a learning experience for us. We were unfamiliar with many of the cars. We found it to be quite interesting and spent some time studying our programs in order to understand what we were seeing. Needless to say, all of the cars were in spectacular condition. Also, many of the cars have a historic provenance. The Indy cars for example belonging to drivers like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and others. Two if the Eisenhower Era Convertibles have ties to United States Presidents. One was Eisenhower’s inauguration car. Another was the car carrying the secret service agents when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. This years best of show was a 1937 Fiat Touring Berlinetta.
Along with viewing the cars, the people watching is superb. When you buy your tickets to get in, you are provided with some helpful hints for what to wear at the show: resort casual, a nice finished look topped off a with perfect hat. We saw every kind of outfit you could imagine. Everything from bib overalls and a T-shirt to Armani suits. Women’s hats would rival anything you might see at the Kentucky Derby while many men were wearing pastel sport coats (pink, sky blue, lavender, etc.) and trousers of all colors including bright red, green and yellow. Some of the more interesting sport coats looked as though they had been tailored from old living room drapes. Very interesting. It is also a place to see car celebrities. We saw Donald Osgood from Jay Leno’s Garage, noted hot rod/rat rod builder Jimmy Shine and Wayne Carini from Chasing Classic Cars.
If you decide to go, get hotel reservations well in advance and expect to pay premium prices. Get your tickets early. They will go up in price as the event gets close. Be prepared to pay a healthy price for your tickets. We payed $325 for general admission. Some high end tickets that allow access to restricted areas of include parties hosted by various groups may cost over $2,500. Also, be prepared for crowds. Every event we attended, except the Tour, had crowds that numbered in the thousands. Tom and I have checked this one off our list. I think we will head back to the Salt Flats next year.
It seems that the Roadmasters car club’s annual gathering is generally about the last cruise of the season, so I usually plan to attend. Even when we’re blessed with an Indian Summer, in the Pacific Northwest, the pleasant weather is bound to have ceased by Halloween.
Scheduling a cruise on the first Saturday of December is a crapshoot at best but—Hey! This is a Christmas themed affair so when else are you going to hold it? You get what you get when you plan an outdoor event in Vancouver, Washington on December 1st but I have to say, we lucked out this year. Saturday dawned cold yet clear and the droplets held off until early afternoon. Club president Art Wohlsein grabbed the microphone and finished passing out the homemade awards before anyone got wet.
It’s all for charity anyway with a truckload of new unwrapped toys and groceries going to the needy. The good folks that keep track of such things, report that contributions were up this year- not that last year was bad! This is a well-established gig with Benny’s hot rod /racing themed pizzeria providing the locale for the last thirteen meets. For added incentive, Benny’s prepares a special breakfast menu for attendees and kicks in some of their profits on the backside.
Eighty plus vehicles braved the cold to support the Cruise for Kids this year and it was a good mix of classics, retro rods, muscle cars and “what have you” (as Jack Corley might say!) When you procure your 2019 calendar, be sure to highlight the first Saturday of December. Just make sure those wipers are in good working order and pack a warm jacket. In all likelihood, you’re going to need them.
I rest here, overrun by sage and dead brush and surrounded by razor wire. Above me are endless skies. My shattered headlights stare through chain link fences as mindless shiny boxes race by. Inside them, drivers hold their devices and steer nonchalantly, racing forward like lemmings following each other into the abyss.
But here you are, Kid. I saw you pull into the parking lot. My glass has become delaminated, and the years have not been kind to my interior soft bits. My exterior has fared no better. There is rust on my right rear fender, the one that sat in the mud where I was found before I ended up here. Come closer, Kid. Give me a chance.
The young man walked toward the ’48. To be honest, at a freshly turned 18 years old, there was still more than a hint of boy in his appearance. Earbuds pressed in his ears, his head bobbed slightly. But unlike his peers, he was listening to big band music and late 40’s jump blues; early rock-n-roll and Bakersfield styled country music.
His friends had latched onto the tuner craze, and all drove whips. Yes, it’s true, he had one, too. And yet…
The car just never spoke to his soul. He’d owned his ’98 Prelude for about two years. Motor Trend, Autoweek, and even Hot Rod magazine had run articles on how to make the beater into a balls-to-the-wall performance machine. It had all been so easy really. And he should be happy. Yet…
Say Kid, I was once a proud coupe. My owner kept me polished and changed my oil and kept me in tune. I was his daily driver. A businessman, he was. Sold paintbrushes for the Purdy Brush Company. But he eventually opted for a car with an automatic transmission and newer power plant. Sold me to a young man with a hungry heart and a wild gleam in his eyes just like you.
His skilled hands worked me into a custom. My engine was hopped up and, if you would just pop my hood… well, you’ll see what he did. Kin spirits, he and I were. We went everywhere. Hell, he even drove us to an actual drag strip and we competed. I remember nights of unfettered launches on back roads; the sound of uncapped headers filling the night air. How the landscape raced by, and the growl of my exhaust would mix with his howl of delight.
Our affair was a short one, though. His number got called, ya see, and he left to serve our country.
The young lad walked around the coupe, hands dug firmly into his pockets. Something about this old car spoke to him.
He paused and, as Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats began to sing Rocket 88, he reached for the hood release. In between the fender wells was what remained of the hopped up inline 6. Chrome plating on Cal Custom air cleaners flaked off and fell like metallic snow as he ran his hands over them. Long gone was the throttle linkage. The Offenhauser finned valve cover was chipped and corroded in some places.
Stepping back, he realized for the first time that the old coupe was nosed and decked. Shaved door handles. The kid took it all in.
The next song cued up; a gentle chorus of strings swirling together. The young man let his mind run over his personal inventor—a freshly bored, honed, and magnafluxed Jimmy 6 on an engine stand; a pair of ‘41 Buick fender skirts; a ’42 Chevy banjo steering wheel; a real set of Appleton spots. Everything began to click in his mind.
“At Last…” The passionate voice of Etta James floated through the ear buds.
I was parked in his parent’s garage for a long time; waited to see his tall frame silhouetted once more in the open doorway. I waited in that cold garage as the years passed. Not willing to just sell me off because they hoped, as I did, that he would miraculously come home, I was pulled out of the garage to make room for the Mrs’s car. And there I sat, exposed to the elements. Waiting. Over time, just how long I’m not sure, they lost all hope. He was gone, and so was a part of my soul. But, Kid, I see that look in your eye; the small ember of a fire.
The young man was in awe. He had been saving for a bit for just the right old school survivor; the one that would speak to his soul.
C’mon,Kid, whaddya say?
Mark “Spooky” Karol-Chik
It was a perfect day for a swap meet. The sun was shining it was not too cold and I didn’t have that much to sell. The swap meet in Albany is huge, four large buildings and a lot of spaces outside with your typical things to buy like tires, carbs, diecast cars, tools, project cars, turn key cars, neon signs, and even old Levi jeans.
This is what I noticed while walking around the meet. I would overhear people talking. The most common phrase heard was, “I used to have one of those!” when talking to friends or just listening to people I know. Here are a few stories I heard.
In one of the outside spots there was an early Datsun Z car for sale. A couple guys were talking. “That is cool, I’ve always wanted one of those. We could pull the engine out and put a small block Chevy in it, put bigger wheels and tires on it and go racing.”
Inside one of the building was a selection of carbs. Three guys were discussing the virtues of how many carbs do you put on an engine: one 4 barrel carb, two 4-barrel carbs, three 2-barrel carbs and so on and so on.
Listening, I know its called eavesdropping, but not if you’re with friends. I think this was one of the best stories. As we stood around looking at a ‘65 Mustang we heard the story that went like this. A dad just bought a ‘65 Mustang that had been sitting for a while. He brought it home, it was a runner. As the dad was washing it and cleaning the interior his wife came out to see his new toy. All shiny and clean, this mustang was purple in color and had black interior with a V8 engine and an automatic transmission. Just then his 16 year old daughter showed up. “It’s beautiful,” she exclaimed. Looking the car over she asked, “can I drive it ?“ Mom said, “I’m sure Dad will let you drive it”. Well, to a 16 year old girl that means ”It’s mine”. After that the dad only got to drive it after he did some repairs or tune ups and oil changes. Most of the time it was rescuing her when she ran out of gas.
One of my stories is how I learned how to drive my dad’s ‘51 GMC pickup with a 3 speed on the steering column. Our family had 3 acres in southern Oregon. I was bucking hay with a couple of friends and I was driving. Now, still learning how to use the clutch, I let it out too fast and, as you could imagine, we lost about half the bales off the back of the truck. We had to do all that work over again. My friends were not happy with me.
So, next time you go to a swap meet or car show stop and listen. You may hear some great stories. That is, if you haven’t heard them before.
As I go about my business, making calls on various automotive oriented shops and attending select swap meets, I have noticed a trend. I am observing an increasing number of enthusiasts that have begun to create original objects of art. And they are now presenting them right alongside their other wares for viewing and possible purchase.
I’m not talking about shellacked river rocks with googly eyes or cute sayings but legitimate artwork created by real craftsmen. The objects themselves are as varied as conceivable- limited only by the imagination of their creator. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about…
I stumbled across Donnie Talbert’s art in a combination tire salon/service garage located in Stayton, Oregon. After I commented on his coffee and end tables, a friend of Donnie’s suggested that I meet with him personally and made the arrangements. Talbert is an unassuming young guy that is employed as a union glass worker. After spending a few minutes with him my gut feeling was, “This guy is the real deal—he possesses a true artist’s sole. He is sincere and totally committed to what he’s doing.”
I think some people would describe Talbert’s work as “steampunk” but it is so much more. He describes it as “motorcycle art” or “rat rod art” but I don’t think that is accurate either. Everything I saw required a high degree of engineering to execute. And everything I saw (unlike steampunk), looked clean and was brightly finished. The amount of time Talbert devotes to each table or lamp is clearly evident and reflected in his asking price. “I make unique art,” he proclaims. “No cookie cutter.” His artwork is lowbrow and high-end… simultaneously! I strongly urge everyone to check out his stuff on Instagram at: broken_gear_art.
By contrast, there is enigmatic Jim Nichols. I found his artwork in a second hand store in Sweet Home, Oregon. Nichols builds approximately twelfth scale vehicles out of cardboard, found objects and bits of this and that. I purchased his version of a ’32 Ford Roadster for a paltry fifteen dollars a couple years ago. When I returned to the shop a few months later, they had sold out of his creations save a stagecoach-like affair. The owner of the shop had no phone number or forwarding address for Nichols. He described him as “an old man” and that was the extent of the information I received. It is all together possible that Nichols is no longer among us…but man, what a creative guy! The proportions of my Roadster are damn close. It has opening doors, an opening trunk and a removable hood which reveals a detailed engine made of cardboard, duct tape, a plastic bottle cap and god knows what. The low profile roof is upholstered as is the interior. The wheels and tires are made from jar lids and caps. The headlights are bottle caps filled with clear RTV!
Nichols is/was very familiar with hot rod building and I have to wonder if he also built full scale models. If he is out there in reader-land or if anyone knows him, we would certainly like to hear from you. I know your fellow readers would enjoy seeing more of his work.
Finally, I make auto-themed shadowboxes (or memory boxes as some people call them.) I assembled my first one during the summer of 1974. It was high school themed because that’s where I was in my life in ‘74 but it included automobilia as I was already a committed car guy. Since then I have assembled many boxes with specific themes like: Early Hot Rodding, Early Nascar, Short Track (Hardtop) Racing, Bonneville, Midget Racing, Sprint Car Racing, Indianapolis, etc. I thoroughly enjoy the process and experience great satisfaction when I complete one. Generally, I give them away to close friends or family; I have donated them to fund raisers and presented them as trophies. I have actually sold a few.
From the beginning, my intention has never been money motivated. In fact, I’ve lost money on even the boxes I’ve sold. That is because the price of the boxes themselves plus the automobilia therein, cost me more than I can possibly charge for the finished shadowbox…but I’m okay with it.
I am compelled to create like Donnie Talbert whom I suspect will continue to build his amazing tables and lamps even if no one purchases them.
I wonder if Jim Lambert ever collected the fifteen dollars I paid for his Roadster?
Times have changed. In the 1920’s women were first allowed to vote here in the U.S. In 1976 the first women were admitted into the U.S. Military Academy. The following year Janet Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for the Indy500. She was by no means the first woman to compete alongside men on a racetrack, but that feat is heralded as a groundbreaking moment for women in motorsports. Since, there have been numerous females to make their mark on the racing world, but even in 2018 there are far fewer women wearing a driver’s suit than men—and fewer still at the top tiers of the sport. This is a problem and one that is not easy to solve. Coming in 2019 is an attempted answer: an all women’s Formula1 feeder division called the ‘W Series’.
Here are the facts—or the ones we can discern at this point. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is the ultimate governing body for Formula1 and all of its affiliating series. This W Series would fall under their jurisdiction. Similar in kind to Formula 3, the W Series will be an open wheel, open cockpit spec series that plans to feed into Formula1. Starting in May, the 2019 schedule will include 6 thirty-minute races all over Europe. All W Series races are scheduled to support the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters or DTM class. Over $1.5 million will be awarded to the field of drivers in prize money and the overall championship winner will take home $500,000 to help further their career.
The biggest challenge for any aspiring professional race driver is funding. This has historically been the largest barrier for women in racing. The W Series has an answer for that. Aside from the season’s-end purse, the W Series is supposedly an all-expense paid racing experience. Cars are owned and run by the sanctioning body and expenses will be paid for as well as travel fees.
Racing is not cheap and it took a wealthy financial backer to get this idea off the ground. British businessman, Sean Wadsworth sold his successful recruiting company for over $200 million a couple of years ago and plans to be the main money source for the first season. Drivers selected to race need only bring a helmet and talent in hand, so to speak.
The W Series says that prospective driver applications have been pouring in from all over the globe. The deadline to submit was October 31st. From those applicants, 55 have been chosen for open skills evaluation test, and then 18 drivers will be selected for the first season of racing. In that initial pool includes 8 from the USA—Courtney Crone representing American short track racing, Natalie Decker of the NASCAR development ranks and Shea Holbrook from the sportscar side of life to name a few. Not only do they come from everywhere—but the pool of candidates drive just about everything. In a couple of months we will have our starting roster.
A women’s-only series in racing is not a new idea. A couple examples include a GT series back in 1999 and Formula Woman in 2004. The former example was moderately successful for a couple of years and included some talented female drivers. Some of those names had success after the GT series, but they also entered the program with momentum. Formula Woman was originally structured to be more like a reality TV show where contestants were eliminated from week to week. Prior to production, however, that caveat was lifted and it was run more like a regular racing series. Both opportunities petered out after a handful of seasons due to lack of interest from fans and sponsors.
It is hard to say what the W Series will really look like, how it will impact the industry and if it will succeed. Do women need a segregated series to climb the ladder of racing? No. Is the added emphasis of women in racing and STEM programs a bad thing? Also no. The W Series was born with a positive motive but its reception is divided.
Critics ask why the sponsorship money attained for the W Series didn’t just go to helping existing drivers further their careers. Others poke holes at the idea of separating female competitors in order to succeed. The reality of all of this is a means to an end. We are talking about more women racing, it is globally being acknowledged as an issue to be addressed in the industry. That alone is a success.
Would the W Series survive better or worse in America? Will it survive at all? How will fans respond? Will there be additional sponsor interest moving forward? It is entirely too early to see the ramifications of such a series. Only time will tell.
By the time y’all read this it will be a New Year. Hope y’all had a good one cuz the next one is sure to be wilder than the last one. Me … I am still in recovery from #SEMA2018 as well as my big move from Portland. Myself and my Flying Dutchman Camaro now reside out in Fairview, OR. by the mighty Columbia.
Y’all know how I like to keep you abreast of the latest news in the electrical car world and the automated driving scene. But I’m not going to say too much this time around as there is simply too much going on out there. Big-time mergers continue to take place as the biggest corporations in the world vie for the almighty dollar.
Mighty GM managed to surprise us all with their big move. They announced the closing of five plants and the firing of 14K workers. Now it is not like this was done out of any dire emergency. GM is simply looking forward. They are eliminating several lines and coming out with several others. And yes they will be electrified. They are bound and determined to not be left behind.
There is a much larger story to this new strategy. It has to do with Auto workers unions and such things as cheaper labor. It remains to be seen what plants will be actually shut down and what plants will receive new assembly lines and what will become of current workers. We will simply have to wait to see how it all shakes out.
There will be more vids coming out on #SEMA2018 – just keep an eye out at #GearHeadsWorld for new releases on through the New Year. Oh and – Happy New Year.
’nuff said, Chuck Fasst #GearHeadsWorld
The 19th annual Northwest Classic Chevy Club show opened this year on August 19th 2018. The NWCCC show debuts every third Sunday in August, at the last standing Triple X Root Beer Drive-In, Issaquah WA. The NWCC Club would like to thank Triple X Drive-In for their hospitality and the great venue. The show would not be what it is without them.
Whether you like stock, modified or custom Tri-5’s, there’s sure to be something that grabs your attention. Bud Worley, club president, and CNA member, arranged for several customs to attend this year. Among the Nomad customs were Ron and Dianna Maier’s 1957 featured car, “Showmad,” which also won the Street Rod Headquarters Custom of the Year. They drove up from Hillsboro, OR. “Showmad” was also featured in Street Rodder magazine this last fall. Another featured Nomad was the “Playbunny Coach” owned by Doug LeMay, a customized ’55 from the ‘60s, with further customization done in the mid ‘80s.
This year’s show attracted around 150 cars and featured Dennis Gage of My Classic Cars television fame. Word is that the show will debut sometime this coming Spring. With drive by concours style awards, the show has appeal for all and draws a good crowd on the outside patio dining area. The NWCCC show is the largest one day show in the country and they are proud to host this event every year.
Sunny and warm weather was on display and made for an excellent show, and reminds us that the Northwest is a great summer location for car shows. About 25 Nomads were in attendance this year and are featured in the photos. Many are current CNA members. Five Nomads won various awards of the 33 awards presented. Door prizes, raffle tickets and Bingo cards made the event fun for everyone. We hope you enjoy the photos and can attend the 20th annual NWCCC show next year on August 18th, 2019 at the Triple X. See you then!
I might have said something about bucket lists somewhere in this paper and this is maybe another item on us car guy’s lists. Pebble Beach Concours! It’s on my list and I haven’t checked it off yet. The photos were given to me by my pal, Jim. He and Bill checked this one off this year and we decided we would share.
Bill is a Tucker enthusiast. He has pics of many of the about 50 Tuckers that exist and this year the Concours featured the “Tucker.” But wait, that’s not all…
During the week there is a Concours on the grounds of the Pebble Beach Golf Course, Vintage Races at Laguna Seca, A car show on the streets of Carmel, A “cruise” of the concours cars, several collector car auctions and perhaps more. Since I didn’t go, I’m not at all sure just how many car related functions might be going on during an entire week of Car Sensory overload. But its safe to say A Lot.
Here are some pics that Jim shared with us… Enjoy. Oh, and I told that if you plan to attend, perhaps next year, make your hotel reservations early, get a printed confirmation using your credit card, after you have requested and received a credit limit increase. Also keep putting that change into your change jar every day. You might have enough accumulated to attend this function in 2020 or 2021. Just a suggestion…!
Balladeer Marty Robbins is probably best remembered for the tremendous catalog of songs he recorded including ”El Paso” and “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation”. He would tell people repeatedly however, that he was as passionate about his auto racing as he was about song writing.
Born in Glendale, Arizona Robbins became enamored with racing at an early age. He followed the exploits of local standout Jimmy Bryan and the Bettenhausen family back at Indianapolis. When his musical career took him east to Nashville, Tennessee he found himself in a hotbed of short track activity. He attended a micro midget race in 1959 and officially launched his driving career shortly thereafter.
Typical of most racers, Robbin’s desire for more power soon led him to the V-8 powered hardtops at Nashville Speedway. 1962 found him piloting a magenta ’34 Ford coupe with a Thunderbird mill built by Preacher Hamilton. He used the vehicle to promote his new record album “Devil Woman” and even featured the car on the album’s jacket. It was in Nashville that Robbins established a huge fan base. He was a regular performer at the Grand Old Opry and on the popular 5/8th mile oval. He was known to pull off the racetrack early at times to traverse town for a live singing engagement. He always put his music first, understanding that one passion financed the other.
He evolved into a Mopar guy and in a corrugated tin garage behind his home, built his own modified using a ’64 Plymouth Belvedere body and a huge displacement Hemi engine. The engine was so large in fact, that once installed, there was no room for the radiator so he mounted it in the trunk. (The “777” car was discovered years later and restored by Ray Evernham for his television show “Americarna”).
The sixties were kind to Robbins and his wealth afforded him the opportunity to move up to NASCAR’s premiere division (what today would be the Monster Energy Drink Series). He purchased a ’71 Plymouth which Cotton Owens had constructed for Petty protégé Pete Hamilton. Robbins had the car reskinned as a Dodge and raced it for the first time in the Alamo 500 at Texas World Speedway. Owens maintained the car for the following nine seasons while Robbins tested his skill at all of NASCAR’s greatest venues: Daytona, Talladega, Michigan and Charlotte. He earned the respect of his contemporaries and all agreed that he had become a very capable racer. AII tolled he amassed thirty five career NASCAR starts. His best finish was a fifth in the Motor City 400 at Michigan in June of 1974. The event had particular significance to Robbins as one of his idols, Gary Bettenhausen finished directly in front of him.
A history of cardiovascular disease was what ultimately brought Marty Robbins down- that and his age by the time he reached the professional ranks. He drove in his last race, the Atlanta Journal 500 on 11/7/82 and died after open heart surgery the following month at the age of fifty seven.
Once during his rookie season, Robbins had stunned officials by turning in race laps that were fifteen miles per hour faster than he had qualified. At the conclusion of the event, NASCAR attempted to present him with honors but he stopped them in their tracks. He admitted to them that he’d cheated by messing with his carburetor.
“I just wanted to see what it was like to run up front for once,” he confessed.