Saturday June 17, 2000 - Another sunny Saturday morning, another ride
(although much shorter than last weekends' 860 mile round trip marathon!)
to another gathering of old drag racers and old drag race" ‘wannabes".
Hey, no disrespect intended, everybody always longs for "the good old
days"… even those that missed ‘em by more than a few years.
Today we're pointed towards Maple Grove (Pa.) Raceway and the SUPERCAR
Showdown 2000 Nostalgia Nationals. For those that haven't attempted this
journey via route 222 and 568, the winding roads take you through some of
Southeastern Pa.'s most picturesque scenery, but you'll need to take a
passenger along to describe it to you because you don't dare take your
eyes off the winding two-lane!
Arriving early when the air is still cool (the Weather Channel folks
promise us another steamer and thunderstorms this afternoon), I am greeted
by the usual large turnout of racecars and small turnout of spectators. I'm
certain the management would love more butts in the bleachers, but the lack
crowds is one of the things that makes this event so enjoyable.
But one drawback to the small crowds… no funnel cakes… That's
right! The legendary funnel cake booths were locked up. Man, I even skipped
breakfast this morning in anticipation of one, covered with powdered sugar!
But they were serving up something that looked like coffee, just never
tasted anything like it before. It's still pretty quiet, seems like a good
time to head down to Tech, one of my favorite places to check out the cars
and the people.
Some interesting stuff mixed in with the bracket cars. Talked to a couple
that had an inline 6 powered Burgundy "T-Bucket" who told me they
were runner up in the inline class last weekend at the Indy Goodguys meet…
wrote down their name, but can't seem to find it now. But I'm sure they
know who they are.
Hey, check this out, a yellow '33 Willys five window with a radical top
chop and Classical Gas painted on the doors. Couldn't miss the blower with
a Hilborn four-hole injector and scoop sticking through the plastic hood.
The Willys sat with a real nice attitude… kinda' low in front and raised
in the back. The front bodywork was removed for the Tech guys, revealing an
old iron Hemi.
Dave Stegman owns this little jewel and towed it in from Gaithersburg,
Md. Dave told me he's had the car since '89 and he's probably the 4th
or 5th owner, but the only one to ever race it. When Dave
purchased the Willys it was race ready, but the top hadn't been chopped
yet, and it still needed a little tinwork. After the Tech guys gave the car
the once-over, I tagged along for a closer look.
I asked driver Greg Mauchamer about the 392 power plant and he informed
me, " Ain't no 392… that's a 354". Not a lot of shiny stuff
on the engine, and the Delta blower drive had to be a museum piece! By the
way, the boys DO run gas in this motor, no Alcohol. Couldn't wait for them
to fire this rascal up and when they did I was treated to a sound I haven't
heard for years… the beautiful rump… rump… rump idle, only a blown gas
burning Hemi can make. Haven't heard a sound like that since Austin, TX.
And that was a long time ago!
Time to wander around and see what else looks interesting. Saw Rocky
Pirrone and had a short visit. Haven't seen The Rock since last October at
Bakersfield. Will run by his pit area later and check out the "Big Time
Memories" Willys. Rocky will be pairing off with the "Under
Pressure" Willys later in the program. These two always put on a good
show and Rocky's ready to take ‘em – two straight! Looks like some
cool cars (not the bracket cars) are filtering into the staging lanes…
time to go find a spot near the starting line!
Met Dick Gerwer (one of the organizers of the Barnfest at Bruce Larson's)
who also enjoys the view from the starting line and had an interesting
visit. Learned that my pal Mashie (Mike) Mihalko was in Florida on vacation,
and was going to miss this year's event. Also learned that Dave Heisey
(another Barnfest person) was feeling better and didn't need back surgery,
but wasn't here either.
Hey, here's the Classical Gas Willys at the starting line making that
beautiful loping sound! When Greg mashes the throttle there's a wisp of
black smoke out the pipes and a nice wheelie to start things off on a good
note. This thing sounds Bitchin', but at about 1000 ft. the motor starts
loading up, resulting in an early shutoff 10.34 @ 130.7 MPH pass.
Next up – the Big Time Memories vs the Under Pressure Willys. Both do
their burnout rituals and at the green Rocky wins the reaction time battle.
Both make troubled passes… Rocky a 9.28 @ 119 and Under Pressure an early
shutoff 11.85 @ 81 MPH. We'll be hoping for better times next round.
Bill "Maverick" Golden brings the Little Red Wagon up next and
makes an absolutely flawless pass… wheels up, engine never wavering all
the way to the finish line, runs a 10.45 @ 123.9 MPH. You can tell this guy's
been doing this a while! The Blue Moon Coupe (sort of a cross between a
Competition Coupe and a Fuel Altered) runs a respectable 8.02 @ 177 MPH with
an on again off again, two wheels in the air, four wheels in the air pass!!
Now it's Lou Sgro (pronounced Grow) in his Barracuda F/C vs the Frank
Frederici "Shark" Corvette F/C (driven by Neil Armstrong). Both of
these guys put on a great match, leaving the line together and posting 60
ft. times within 1/100 of a second of each other. From where I stood there
was no way to pick a winner, but Lou took the win 7.48 @ 185.0 to Neil's
7.67 @ 173.8 pass. Another nice pairing!
Dave Stegman's "Classical Gas" is back again and makes
another good looking (and sounding) pass. This time a much improved 9.70 @
142.5MPH. Later in pits driver Greg Mauchamer told me this was the boy's
fastest pass ever!! And Dave still wasn't happy with the fuel delivery
system… said he's ‘gonna have it rebuilt next week.
The Mid Atlantic Nostalgic Drag Racing Association aka MANDRA (not to be
confused with NAMBLA), brought a fine assortment of nostalgia cars
including, N/SS, a few gassers, and a couple of rails. MANDRA always does
themselves proud, with the appearance of their vehicles, friendliness of
their members, and how they perform on the track. This time was no
exception. North Eastern Timing Organization aka NETO also was well
represented. Got a chance to have a quick visit with "Tiny" NETO's
president and pass along some York Reunion information to him. Tiny had
brought a fine '55 Chevy with him.
Up again… Rocky's "Big Time Memories" Willys against the
"Under Pressure" Willys. Another Good one!! Rocky brought the
house down with a lo-o-o-ng burnout and then defeated "Under
Pressure" once more with an on again off again 8.44 @ 144.4. Under
pressure made another early shutoff pass. Seems their transmission
"went south", but the good news is, Joe Pirrone Transmissions had
some field reps pitted nearby.
Well, the bracket cars are out there again, time for another stroll thru
the pits. Glenn Gualtieri brought his Jungle Jim collection including a
Jungle Jim Go-Cart! Got a chance to show Glenn my old Atco stuff, and sit
under his umbrella. It's gotten pretty warm but there's no sign of the
Well rested now, I think I'll head over to Rocky Pirrone's trailer
and mooch a cold soda. Hell, Rocky ain't nowhere to be found, guess I'll
have to pay for one. Hey, what's that over there? Looks like a dragster I
missed earlier, better go check it out.
Man, look how long this thing is! I'd bet there's room for at least
one more engine up front. Anyway, this baby is long, looks brand new, with
either an injected 348 or 409 Chevy motor and has "Gravy Train"
lettered on the body panel below the engine. I get to talking with the guy
that built this beauty; Paul Galvin, and I told him any dragster with
"Train" in it's name should have two engines.
Turns out I was right… it should. Paul built this red dragster to be
powered by two 409's, but wanted to make some shakedown runs with just one
motor. He has mounting brackets, a coupler, and a whole ‘nuther 409
waiting back in Danbury, CT.
And dig this… The other motor has a blower! That's right, one blown
and one unblown engine. Why? I ask. Parts. He answers. Seems Paul and
partner, driver Louie Persico could only come up with one blower intake and
one Algon injector intake for the pair of 409's and that's how they left
it. Sort of a Big Chevy powered Hybrid cross between the "Odd
Couple" AND the "Train", on alcohol!! Should be interesting
when this one is up and running. And how about that Algon injector? I
thought ‘ol Al only made injectors for blown engines. Learned something
Another interesting feature is the ignition system. Seems the boys
pirated it from a twin engined boat. It has a rotary switch for engine #1,
Engine #2, both engines, or neither engine (to make charging simpler).
Pretty slick. Hey, the new chute's been packed up for the first time and
Louie's getting suited up, must mean it's time to make a pass.
Looks kinda' weird out on the track, with that long wide chassis out
there and only one engine. But you can tell when the other one is added it's
gonna' look just right. Louie makes a nice easy 138 MPH pass, and the
chute DOES open. Nice packing job, guys!
Well, it's after 4:00 PM, I'm running low on fliers for the York
Reunion, seems like it's getting hotter by the minute, and this deal is
starting to wind down for today. Seems like a good time to head back to
Harrisburg. The Showdown will continue through tomorrow, but I've got
other commitments (Fathers Day).
Cruising along twisty ‘ol Route 568 again, I'm thinking this would be
a lotta' fun to drive in a Porsche… or maybe a 53' transporter! More
old B.S. later.