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 going to run it in installments. Here is installment one.
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
1961. May 26, a Friday. My mom's giving birth to me. Where's my
dad? He's getting an escort to the hospital, courtesy of the Wyandotte
police. Seems he was out, running with the "gang" in their
"Bad Banana." You know the story, baddest car in town just ask
him. They ran on the "ID" in River Rouge at Great Lakes Steel.
Well he's coming down Jefferson a little fast and convinces the officer
who stopped him that he was just in a rush to get to the hospital. Lucky
for my dad, it was true, as the officer came to the hospital to verify.
Let him off with a warning. That's what I was born into!
It's 1964. I'm three. My dad is always working on cars. He
rebuilds transmissions for Harold Lang in Ecorse. After work, he's always
going to some garage to work on some "hot" car. (Not stolen).
He has a 1955 Chevy, Nassau Blue. He put a 327 "fuelie" motor
in it he got from a totaled out Vette. We make a trip to Detroit Dragway,
my first memory of it! I don't know what the car ran, but I remember
seeing cars race four abreast!
By 1965, the car had been stolen. That same year my dad went
into business for himself, opening Melvindale Transmission. Shortly after
that, the car was found, but it had been parted out and the rest burned.
1967. My dad has worked very hard to build up the business and
business is good. During the summer and weekends, I'm allowed to be at the
shop with my dad. One Saturday a couple of guys walk in. I could tell my
dad knew them, by how he greeted them. My dad is pouring trans fluid into
a car and I'm standing in front. My dad asks the one guy to go and start
the car up. His name is Ray Gallagher. The other guy walks over by me and
tells me "never stand in front of a running car." His name is
Joe Natt. I'll never forget him telling me that. Joe has treated me like a
son, ever since and I'll always respect him for it.
Well, these guys are talking about the dragster Ray has been driving,
something about nitro in a wedge motor. Turns out Ray was driving a
dragster called "Top Cat" and another one called
"Pandemonium." Apparently, he had crashed the latter one. Ray
then goes on to tell my dad that, he's having a funny car built. I have no
idea what he's talking about. He asks my dad to build a "Hemi"
Torqueflite tranny for it. My dad agrees.
1968. My dad gets a phone call from his buddy, Pete Gentile. He
says that he knows a guy selling a really clean 1955 Chevy, but it is a
real ugly brown color. My dad goes and checks it out. Turns out, the car
is spotless and that ugly brown is actually a beautiful gold. My dad buys
the car and brings it to the Trans shop. He did what seemed to me like all
kinds of work to this car. The paint and body were spotless, so it was
just mechanical things he did.
He installed a 5:57 ring & pinion and put on the tallest and widest
M&H slicks that would fit. He installed heavier springs in the front
so the front end would set up higher. The tires were mounted on Ansen
chrome dish slotted wheels. He removed the front bumper. One unusual thing
he did was to install the Black leather seats out of a T-Bird; the rear
was that "cocktail" wraparound style, with buckets up front.
He had a 283 that had been bored out to 4 inches. My dad and his
friends called them 301's, but Chevrolet put it in a Z-28 and called it a
302. It had 4-speed "Muncie" Trans and "Hooker"
headers. The tow bar, which was made from a Ford model a wishbone, bolted
up to the bumper brackets.
Early spring, we tow the "55" to Detroit Dragway. This is my
first time back since 1964. They mark H/HR on the window with shoe polish.
The car runs 13 0's and my dad wins a trophy, what a great day!
Still 1968, this is a very important year! Every week we race. There's
some "Big" race coming up at Detroit, it's not just Sunday this
time, we're going there Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Well we're flat
towing the "55" with the El Camino as usual, except this time
it's Friday. Coming down Sibley as we approach the track, I can't believe
OH MY GOD! I can't believe my eyes! The colors, they're beautiful and
they're on the hood, roof, and deck. How can I tell this? OH MY GOD! The
body is sticking up in the air! Turns out to be Roger Lindamood's
"Color Me Gone" 68 Charger. "Dad, Do they race like
We get inside the track and I dart right over to the "Hot"
pits. I'm in awe! I can't believe what I am seeing! My dad catches up with
me and we head over to Ray's "Super Bear" 68 "Cuda"(the
one my dad built the "Hemi" Torqueflite for). I'm looking over
every inch of this car I'm overwhelmed! Then someone starts one of these
OH MY GOD! The sound is incredible! The smell! My eyes start to water;
I cover my ears and pinch my nose. Then "Rap" goes the throttle;
I jump a foot off the ground! "Dad, We got to get one of these."
Later when they go to race, they are given very special treatment, they
don't get in the same line my dad has to put the "55" in, they
cut right through the front! After they start up, they "peel
out" across the starting line, "What are they doing?" Dad
says it's a burnout. Everyone is on his or her feet. The cars line up
finally and take off. They're so loud and fast. They have flames coming
out. I've never seen anything like it! Why do they call them Funny Cars,
This memory started my total passion for Funny Cars, nothing else
compares! I was 7 years old then and that passion burns just as great
Late 1968 (I told you it was a very important year). Having been to two
major events at Detroit Dragway, with Funny cars there for 3 days each and
my dad racing the "55" about every week, it has been the
greatest summer of my life! Then, as if things aren't good enough, near
the end of the season, Ray asks my dad if he would like to go in as
partners and build a new funny car for 1969. I don't know if my dad took
him serious or not, but he told him "yea, but it would have to be a
Chevy." Ray said, "We'll build whatever you want." Well,
that was it! I'm on cloud 9; we're going to have a funny car!
Oh My God! What kind of Chevy will it be? Ray says, "It's got to
be a new Camaro." What color should it be "Got to be
bright"? How about yellow or red? How about "Candy Apple
Red"? What are we going to call it? What else? "Super
Up Next: 1969
Perry S. Wyatt, Jr.