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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Super Camaro and Son

1970: The Super Camaro Goes Racing

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

1970. Can you believe it? It's never going to be 1960 something ever again!

Seems like it is around February, on a Saturday, we are at the Trans shop and the "Super Camaro" is there! The body was a satin black color and I guess it was ready for paint. My uncle and my dad were mounting the parachutes on the back and I remember the side windows had a protective paper on them still. Dad says that they have to make sure all these little things are done and everything fits before it gets painted.

Ray had just had his 1969 Cadillac El Dorado painted Candy Apple Red and they were going to use the same color for the "Super Camaro."

1970. Back from the painter, Teddy Hines of Advance in Wyandotte. It's beautiful!

It is the most delicious shade of "Candy Apple Red" I have ever seen. It has these "inserts" that are silver and outlined in gold fog. It has a blue stripe along the fenders and doors stopping on the quarters. Inside of these "inserts" are all of these "bubbles." They're "bubbles" on the sides, the B-pillar, and the hood, blending over onto the grill. The "bubbles" are red, blue, black, and gold.

It says Gallagher & Wyatt on top of the doors under the windows. Between the front and rear wheels it says, "Super Camaro" in a chrome reflective material, shadowed in black. On the lower portion of the fender, behind the front wheels, it says Jerry Shields. On the deck lid, it says Tom Smith's Wolverine Chassis Specialties. On the corner of the hood, it says paint by Advance.

Ray has an open face helmet painted the same way it matches the car perfectly. The "Super Camaro" is the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. Now, it's time to go racing!

1970. This season went by so fast; even now I can't completely sort out the order in which events occurred. I got to go to the track every time the "Super Camaro" was run at Detroit Dragway.

One weekend, my Mom and Dad left us at my uncle's house and they went to Kansas City, MO, to run the car. If anyone knows who the photographer was there, please let me know. My mom and dad did not take any pictures and I have never seen a photograph of the car racing.

Then there was the time that they were going to run the car at "Motor City Dragway," I didn't get to go and I was quite unhappy about it. I cried to my Mom and she "chewed" my dad out, but I still didn't get to go. I realized what a "spoiled brat" I was and I felt bad about my mom "chewing" my dad out.

Another time we drove all the way to Gary, IN. I believe this was US 30. We pulled into the track and I jumped out of the car and ran to the stands. I remember seeing this blue Nova, like a 1966, altered wheelbase (a true funny car) steel body, but I don't remember the name. Well, I watched this car go down the track and then my dad came over and said, "they're not going to let us run" (don't know why), so the car was never unloaded (doubt anyone got any pictures there).

One time we went out to Milan, but were turned away at the gate (again, don't know why), so the only time I ever saw the car run was at Detroit.

Well, now that I have told you about all the times that I didn't get to see the "Super Camaro" in action, it's time to tell you about the action that I did see!

1970. Well I have racked my brain and I can tell you about a few things that stand out, but I have no memory of witnessing a complete pass by the "Super Camaro."

Here's what stands out though: It's a Friday afternoon and it is the first of two major events at Detroit Dragway. The "Super Camaro" is loaded on the old black Ford ramp truck. We head out to Detroit Dragway. When we arrive, there is a back up of traffic, leading into the track. We just drive around, going the wrong way on the wrong side of the street and are waved directly into the "Hot Pits" like we were "royalty", it was so cool!

Mind you, that these few memories that I have from Detroit, I can't separate when they happened or at which of the two major events they occurred.

I know that I always got to stand on the back of the ramp truck when the "Super Camaro" was run. I remember one time, Ray handed me his wallet to hang onto until he came back from the pass. It was later suggested to me, that he may have had a fear of something going wrong and if it did, he didn't want anyone going for his wallet.

Anyway, I remember the car being fired up to make a pass down the right lane and the announcer commenting on the matching "Candy Apple Red" El Dorado tow car, wow!

Another memory, I was standing on the back of the ramp truck, the "Super Camaro" was making a burnout in the left lane, the "Ramchargers" with Leroy Goldstein, driving their 1970 Challenger, was doing the same in the right lane. Both cars staged and the "Super Camaro" left first, the "Ramchargers" went into a major wheel stand, about the time the "Ramchargers" came down, the "Super Camaro," which was out on them, banged the blower, and coasted to a stop. We had to load the car on the ramp truck, right off the track.

Now as these cars staged, the camera flashes went off like nuts, it was the "Ramchargers," there must be someone out there somewhere that has that photo of the "Ramchargers" and the "Super Camaro." I would love to talk to you!

Anyway, we took the "Super Camaro" back to the Trans. shop and a late trip to Chet Blazik's followed.

I remember another time, that as the "Super Camaro" left the line and sort of shut off. It turned out that the throttle rod broke and we made a quick trip back to the Trans. shop, to weld the rod back together, returned to the track to put it back together and go.

Saturday night, don't know if the "Super Camaro" was broke or what, but it was loaded on the ramp truck and parked near the finish line area in the pits. We were watching the racing and here comes the "Ramchargers" with Leroy driving.

The car burst into flames as it went through the lights. The car burned for what seemed like an eternity. The Brownstown Fire Department came to the track and they were unsuccessful in putting the fire out, in fact, when they hit it with water or whatever they were using the car just flamed up more.

There were seven explosions, one for each magnesium wheel and not sure of the rest. I was told that it was so volatile, because the "Ramchargers" were running hydrazine. Well the fire truck drove away as the car burned to the ground. After the fire finally extinguished itself, what was left of the "Ramchargers" 1970 Challenger was towed back to the pits on dollies. There was a charred chassis and engine block, everything else had burned or melted away.

1970. Sorry, I don't have any more memories of actually racing the "Super Camaro."

I did collect allot of handouts from various teams, while being in the pits with the "Super Camaro." I remember at the one race that there was another "Super Camaro" there. It was the one owned by Frank Huff and Clare Sanders; I believe Clare Sanders drove it. It had a roof on it then, but the roll bar came out the rear window, later they ran it with no roof.

I'm not sure what kind of ET or MPH my dad's "Super Camaro" ran, but I did find it listed on Bill Pratt's Draglist:

123. (123rd. quickest run of 1970) 7.830 200.89
Driver: Ray Gallagher; Entry: "Super Camaro"
powered by: 427 Chevy, vehicle: 1969 Camaro
class: AA/FC; owned by: Ray Gallagher/Perry Wyatt MI
tuned by: Perry Wyatt
built by: Tom Smith-Wolverine Chassis Specialties MI 1970

I'm not sure what Bill's source of info was. He may have got those numbers when they ran in Kansas City or Detroit.

I would like to find out though; maybe the same source could turn me onto more info, about the "Super Camaro."

1970. The season was over. There was a lot of talk about the "things" that went wrong.

The car was outdated, it was obsolete before it ever left Tom's chassis shop.

Guys were going away from running Chevy engines, but my dad was determined. This was a huge area of concern. My dad had no experience with Nitro before this and there was not a lot of information available. And regardless of what you may believe, there were not any people willing to supply you with this info. Sure they were quick to tell you "why" something didn't work after the fact, but were not forthcoming before hand.

My dad learned that he had run the wrong type of piston rings. He believes that they collapsed the first time the engine was fired up, but didn't find out till the end of the season.

Also, my dad didn't think the ladder bar system on the car was right, he said the car would not make a straight pass. (Of course, he was never sure to what extent the driver had something to do with it. My dad would not drive the car and it was the talk that Ray had lost his nerve).

Talk of what to do next. Ray suggested that they just buy an engine from Ramchargers. My dad said well sure, but the car was so outdated that it would be a waste to put a Ramchargers engine in it.

Well the handwriting was on the wall. The end of the "Super Camaro."

1970. Ray is talking about a new car. My dad, frustrated after the last two years, doesn't want anything to do with building a new car. They decide to dissolve their partnership. Purely business, they remained good friends and still talk to each other to this day.

My dad has spent all the money he is going to for drag racing and decides he is not going to spend anymore. Ray doesn't have the cash to buy my dad out, but gives him the 1969 Cadillac El Dorado (yea, the candy apple red 1), a 1969 Chevy El Camino, a 1970 Cadillac de Ville convertible, and a 1970 Lincoln Mark III. (I told you Ray was into used cars, 'nuff said).

I was not a happy camper; I cried the day my dad came home and told me the deal was done. Ray sold the "Super Camaro" and I have no idea who bought it. Tom Smith has told me that the car ended up being parted out and the chassis cut up. This was around the time Logghe had the "lawsuit" and they were doing this to any car they had built. Tom had built the Challenger that John Denski owns now and because of the "lawsuit," that was the last funny car Tom Smith ever built, he had his fears of the same thing happening to him.

Drag racing was not over. It would continue in pretty much the same way for me, just my dad would not own a car.

Up Next: 1971
Previous: 1969

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

 

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