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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Super Camaro and Son

1969: The Super Camaro Begins Construction

By Perry S. Wyatt, Jr.

Perry Wyatt, Sr., and the Super Camaro. Photo thanks to Perry Wyatt, Jr.
Perry Wyatt, Sr., and the Super Camaro. Photo thanks to Perry Wyatt, Jr.

Perry S. Wyatt, Jr., has put together a great story for his dad, Perry Wyatt, Sr., who owned and tuned the Super Camaro funny car. He kindly consented to share his story with Draglist.com readers. As it spans 40 years, we are running it in installments. Check out the links at the bottom to navigate the entire story. Perry is looking for any info on his dad's old funny car, the Super Camaro. If you know of any info or photos, please drop him a line. bp

Early 1969, Dad comes home late one night and says I can help him carry stuff down into the basement. The back of the El Camino is loaded with all this "shiny" looking aluminum stuff, covered in bubble wrap. We put things on the pool table and on the floor next to it. I remember a set of valve covers that have the "M/T" on them. It's like Christmas all over, all this stuff! Dad lets us "pop" the bubbles on the wrap.

Shortly after that, on a Saturday, we make a trip up the Southfield freeway to Schoolcraft. We go to this "factory" looking building and meet this guy named Tom Smith. As we go inside, I remember all these big looking metal machines and in a small clearing in the back, there are all these pipes that have been welded together sitting on stands. Dad says this will be the "Super Camaro."

Seems like we go out there about every Saturday. Dad is always taking some part or something and we go out to see how things are progressing and give Tom a hand. One Saturday, we go there and Tom has started another chassis and its right next to ours. He says he is building it for a guy named Walt Knoch. It's going to be a 1969 Mustang.

My dad has a for sale sign in the "55." I wish he could keep it, but he says he can't.

He's going to build a "Hemi" Torqueflite Trans to use in the funny car and I remember this fancy shifter they got. It's a B&M and you have to keep moving it side to side to get it to change gears. Dad had car seats in the front of the trans shop and I would sit in the one and play with the shifter, like I was driving.

Well, one Saturday, I was sitting in the seat and these two guys walk in dressed in suits. They own the building my dad leases for his Trans shop. They say, "Perry, we're sorry to tell you this, but we are going to expand our auction business and we are giving you 30 days notice to vacate the building." WOW!

Still 1969. Now what? My dad is frantic to find another building. We buy milk and bread at Calder's Dairy. We go there a couple of times a week. Never paid any attention before, but my Mom notices right across the street, from the dairy, that there is an old Texaco gas station and it's for sale. She makes a phone call and before you know it, my dad is buying the place on a land contract, no lease. He's told he can run his Transmission business, but by contract, he will have to continue to sell gas for at least the length of the land contract. No problem, we start moving into the new building and guess what? It's closer to the house than the other one. Now I can ride my bicycle there and that's what I did. Every day after school and all summer and every weekend, I lived and grew up in that Transmission shop, it was more comfortable than being at home.

Good Bye Melvindale Transmission, Hello Lincoln Park Transmission Service. (My dad is still there to this day, 313-386-7460)

We tow the "55" over from the old shop to the new and dad let's me sit behind the wheel of the "55," but don't touch the wheel he says. This is the first time he ever let me do this and it is so cool!

The new shop is bigger than the old one and my dad has more room to work. My brother and I both get to pump gas for customers, after school (hadn't heard of self-serve yet). My dad set up a special bench where he only worked on the engine for the "Super Camaro." He did not have an engine stand; he built this engine on a flat bench and rolled it by hand as needed. He had always run small blocks, now he was building a big block.

It was a factory steel block and factory steel heads. I believe it had a factory steel crank. It was a stock stroke 427. I do know he had to grind allot of the block away to clear the aluminum Mickey Thompson rods though! I don't know what type of pistons he used or what cam for that matter, but it had an aluminum intake for a blower, what's a Blower?

1969. What's a blower? I'm about to find out. One night my dad, Joe Natt, and I drive way out to this guy's house and go out to his garage. Not sure how to spell his name, but I remember it being Chet Blazik. He's got all these "blower" cases stacked up in his garage and apparently had put one together for my dad, but we are there all night as they work on it. Of course, there was a lot of beer being drunk also. I'm not sure outside of that why this memory sticks out in my mind, but it does.

We continue to make trips out to Tom Smith's on Saturdays and sometimes during the week, seems progress is slow. The season is starting up and the car is not going to be ready.

July 16, 1969. My baby sister is born (same day Apollo 11 blasts off for the moon). My dad has sold the "55" and has spent allot of money on the "Super Camaro," but they are missing "match race bookings." The heat is on from Gil Kohn, but Ray has already sold the "Super Bear." Ray contacts Houston Platt. He had just had the "accident" where his car went in the stands, so he was selling off things to raise cash.

My dad and Ray made a deal to purchase Houston's "Dixie Twister" 68 Camaro F/C. I'm told this was Houston's back up car and not the one involved in the accident. They have the car lettered "Gallagher & Wyatt" "Hell Chevrolet" out of frustration over the "Super Camaro." Ray takes the car out with Joe Natt and Jerry Shields, to fulfill booking dates. Other than his name being on the car, my dad didn't really want anything to do with this car. He was very frustrated!

Finally, my dad has a heart to heart talk with Tom Smith. He asks, "What the hell's going on?"

Late 1969. Turns out Ray never finished paying Tom for the "Super Bear" and because of that, he was dragging his feet finishing the "Super Camaro." My dad didn't blame him for that; he just wished he had of known. He makes a deal with Tom to get the "Super Camaro" completed and leave the deal with the "Super Bear" between Tom and Ray.

Well winter sets in and I don't get to go out to Tom's with my dad anymore (don't know why, seems the fun was gone).

New years eve is coming and I can't believe it! It is not going to be 1960's anymore. How could that be?

Up Next: 1970
Previous: 1961-1968

Perry S. Wyatt, Jr.
perryswyattjr@aol.com

 

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