This cutaway reminds me of a could-be-long story.
The winter of '71/'72, I was helping good friend Butch Thuney convert his
too-small garage from a race shop that would support his B, C, D, E/G '55
Chevy into one that would support a brand new hemi-powered '72 Cuda Pro
Stocker. Oh, we had to build the car too... from a real live
So, that whole story is for another time BUT we didn't get done in time
for Pomona so went without it. I went in my other capacity of writer/photog
with another great friend Rich Carlson, and we drug Butch along. Much of the
southbound trip was spent in talk/theory on Pro Stock.
All we had was the previous two years of NHRA PS to use in our mix and we
could not, would not believe that Jenkins' small block Vega would perform
with big blocks and hemis. How?! We even decided that he might get it to ET
but not run enuf mph to stay consistent.
In those days, many racers got to SoCal early and tested at Irwindale,
Lions, and OCIR. We did the same. It was at Irwindale on Tuesday nite (we
were fresh off the road and hadn't even gone to the motel yet!) where da
Grump rolled in (also fresh off the road from PA) with the still-new Vega on
the ramp truck. This was the stuff dreams were made of!
There it was with its stoopid headers sticking through the sides of the
fenders and Butch and I picked it apart (of course). I looked underneath and
was shocked to see all the round tubing -- nearly an early FC chassis from
what I could see! Neither of us could see how this thing would even pass
tech for Pro Stock, and Butch sorta mockingly bet me it would be classified
B or C/A for the Winternats.
What absolutely floored us was that after one aborted attempt when shift
and clutch linkage needed adjusting (this thing was FRESH from SRD!), the
little car scooted to something like a 9.87/143. After that, it went back on
the truck and according to Jenkins was driven to the already forming tech
line across from the fairgrounds.
The next morning, we were there before 9am to find hundreds of others but
no Jenkins. We LOOKED! EVERY where! Finally, I approached our northwest
(Div. VI NHRA) tech man, Jerry Valentine, explained what we'd seen the night
before, and asked. Oh, he'd been there with that pile of s**t (not an exact
quote) and Jerry had bounced him! In fairly loud tones (you gotta know
Jerry), he explained to Butch and I how this and that was wrong, and if Sox
& Martin had built it, it woulda been right, and those headers, and on
and on. When I pried as to where Jenkins had gone, Valentine offered
something like he didn't know, really didn't care, and furthermore... You
get the idea.
Where he'd gone was to Hooker Headers and the boys there whipped up a set
of more proper (and legal) beside-the-engine headers, the car whistled
through tech, ran 9.6/145, won the race, and the rest is history.
Butch and I were quieter on the way home and I always believed that he
wished there was a half-done Vega in the garage. After all, he already had a
couple high-horsepower small blocks.