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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Super Camaro and Son

1972, 1973: On the Road with Trader Ray

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

1972. The new "Trader Ray" arrives. It has slightly different paint and an updated Mustang body. The "Live" axle is gone, in its place a more "standard" version.

This is the car that really makes the "Trader Ray" name known.

They take this car everywhere and race. As always, I only get to see it at Detroit Dragway. The one weekend at Detroit, they along with the "Ramchargers" and Jim Murphy's "Holy Smoke" (former Whipple and McCullough car) were running in the 6.40s.

This was also the year they took the "Trader Ray" to OCIR and they were in the movie "Funny Car Summer." Plus they ran the manufactures meet and got magazine coverage. They were #2 qualifier for Ford (Mustang body, Hemi engine).

This is the car that was featured in the magazine ad for Don Kirby, where he had several examples of his "Art Work" displayed!

I was in sixth grade and my mom and dad were going though a divorce, outside of going to Detroit Dragway, it was not a happy time.

My dad goes down to Florida on one weekend to be with Ray while they are racing. Ray and my dad party allot! My dad had just turned 30 and now he is single, so a whole new way of life is on the horizon.

1972. This whole year, I live at either my dad's or Ray's shop! My dad had moved out of the house and I spent all my time with him.

Every night at one of their shops was a party. They would work all day and party all night. They would drink and shoot dice. I heard so many stories being around that, I could fill volumes from them. Most of what I heard; I would do better not to repeat!

The "Trader Ray" stayed at Dwane's house. It was his full time job to "service." He and Jerry Shields traveled the country with the car. Ray would fly in on the weekend to meet up with them. One weekend he flew to New York, my dad went with him. This was my dad's first trip to New York, they were going to New York National, and boy did I hear stories about that weekend.

Learned why Taxies have the "big" bumpers and boy the things that happen in rental cars!

Then there was the weekend that Ray and Dwane had a dispute over going to Kansas City, MO. I don't know what the dispute was over, but Dwane wouldn't go and Ray was determined the car would make the race.

So Ray says the hell with it, I'll drive! They head for Kansas City, Ray, Joe, Jerry, and my dad. They get there and prepare the car to race. Ray's inside and they have fired it up. They put the body down, but the car won't move. Ray motions for them to raise the body and he kills it! Jumps out of the car and says something's wrong, collects his "show" money and they come home.

Ray accuses Dwane of sabotaging the car. Dwane swears he did nothing and states that Ray didn't have the "nerve" to drive it! Whatever happened, Ray didn't have anymore "disputes" with Dwane and racing continued.

This year took a heavy toll. Ray had spent allot of money, he was partying all the time, his wife had had enough!

1973. Another brand new car from Gilmore. This one had the prettiest Kirby paint job yet! It had what looked like a tropical island painted under the name "Trader Ray," kind of fit the new party image!

I saw this car at Detroit I think just the one time. This is the car that had the big fireball and left Dwane in the hospital for two weeks with severe burns. I don't remember for sure where it happened, Ray tells me it was at the Summer Nationals in E-Town (maybe Bob could verify that).

Once Dwane had recovered I remember him coming down to my Dad's shop. He had some of the parts from the engine that let go on that fireball pass. The crankshaft was broken into 3 pieces. Well Dwane got the car back together and they ran out in California (probably OCIR).

The car was loaded in the ramp truck and the whole rig was parked in the motel parking lot. Dwane and Jerry came out in the morning to find that the rig had been stolen, it was later recovered, but that was the end of the "Trader Ray"!

Ray had divorced his wife and moved to Grosse Ile. We had moved in with my dad. Dwane moved in with Ray. Ray made no plans to build a new car. Dwane got offers to drive some other rides, but I think that after the fire he was ready to give it up.

That was it! Life was going to be different!

Up Next: 1974, 1975
Previous: 1971

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

 

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