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one of jims storys

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  • one of jims storys

    found this in an old email, if its already been shared here my bad

    If you look at this month's Hot Rod magazine on pages 116 and 134...you'll see pic's of a red '70 Nova with a blown big block, tubs etc. It was on the cover of Hot Rod in March 1982. I have a special place in my heart for that car. Please read on.....long story..but one of my best street racing stories!


    Years ago, me and all my buddies used to attend the Waco Mini Nats on Memorial Day weekend each year.It was THE event of the year. For one thing it was a great car show under the trees at Fort Fisher...but the best thing was cruising Valley Mills on Sat night. It was like a flash back to the past with all the car lots allowing the clubs to take over the front rows and make it look like 1969 with rows of GTO's, Camaro's etc etc. Really cool.


    The next big thing about it was that Sat night was also THE street racing event of the year. Everyone from across the state came loaded for bear and we were no different. We raced at Seegoville Park and at *The Quarry*. Later years had legal *street racing* out at the Prairie Hill airport.


    So this one particular year, I had been to Houston Raceway Park on Wednesday night before the weekend with my black on black 68 SS/RS Camaro to test and tune and make sure I was ready to race in Waco. It was a factory big block car that had my old 427 installed in it. I switched back and forth between a 4 speed and a T-400 regularly in that car...and this weekend I had the T-400 in it.


    I drove up to Corsicana and stopped at the Ryder shop to meet Donny Grace on Friday afternoon. All was fine on the way up but when I pulled out to leave, the trans gave up and wouldn't shift right. Turned out that I had wounded a sprag during the Wed. night testing and it finally died. Uh oh...Friday afternoon and everything is closed. I started calling folks I knew to line up gaskets, seals, clutches etc since I had no idea what I was going to need.


    When I had lived in Corsicana, a bunch of us had pooled our resources to rent a "Hot Rod Shop" where we could work on our junk. Luckily the guys had kept it going after I had moved to Houston/The Woodlands and I was able to pull the trans out in the shop and strip it down on the tailgate of a pickup truck. When I found the scattered sprag, I started tearing apart all the old T-400 cores we had accumulated in the back of the shop until I found a good sprag. Had to look for awhile because we broke these regularly and most were already gone. (years later we got smarter and bought the HD 34 element sprags). So I cleaned everything up and started reassembling the trans. with the case balanced on the tailgate for a bench. As I was just about to drop the whole planetary assy.back into the case using both hands...a buddy who shall remain nameless..but his initials are Paul Joyner...leaned on the pickup and as he did I watched the trans case start to wiggle and eventually hit the floor which cracked the bellhousing badly! Silence fell over the 20 or so folks hanging around as I stood there with a handful of trans guts.



    I immediately put out the call for a replacement Chevy T-400 case. All the cores were Buick/Olds/Pontiac and wouldn't work. No one seemed to have one available and I was getting frantic. After about 20-30 minutes I noticed that my buddy Donny Grace was being way too quiet. I looked at him and said *Fess up...where's it at?* He was holding out on me! Turns out he had traded for one that was still laying in the back yard at some guy's house. We went over there at about 11 PM and sloshed around to dig the trans out of the 6" deep water hole it was sitting in. We got back to the shop and tore down the "new" trans so I could put my "good parts" inside. I had also made a few mods to my old case for shift quality that I had to replicate in the new case. We finally got the trans back in the car at about 2AM and it shifted 3 forward gears and had a back-em-up..so we were ready to race again!


    After the show..we all hit Valley Mills. There was one particualar black '69 big block 4 speed Camaro that I had my eye on. The owner was pretty loudmouthed and was pretty much telling everyone he was the baddest boy on the planet. Of course I wanted some of that! So we arranged to race out at the *Quarry* and headed that way with literally hundreds of other folks. You would have had to be there. but these races were literally lined down both sides of the road for the entire 1/4 mile probably 5 deep and tons more at the start and finish lines. When we go there, the guy decided he needed to make some shakedown runs and in all his goofing around he blew the clutch out of it. Hmmnn......bummer...no race.


    In the meantime, my buddy from Houston named Gary Stoops was working on other races. He was pretty loudmouthed also so he was good at getting races set up. There was a killer blue '67 Mustang that was spanking everyone. It was running very well. Not sure what was under the hood but it was fast. Before we raced, I heard him tell someone "Let me take out this Camaro (me!) and I'll back for you in a minute! Well...that was a challenge for sure and I made sure to beat him BAD..which is usually not a good idea when street racing. Never want to show your whole hand!


    When I got back to the line, Stoops had discovered that the black Camaro owner also owned the red '70 Hot Rod Nova and had set up a race. Now I wasn't too enthused about it since there was a giant Roots blower sitting on top of the big block, it had huge tires, a rollcage etc. No way I had enough to handle him...but he was such a loudmouth I was willing. In the meantime he was making *test and tune* runs with the Nova also and as I watched I realized it made a lot of noise..but just didn't seem that fast. Wasn't sure if he was suckering us in..but I had to find out.


    We pulled to the line and I made sure to severely heat up my L-60x15 McCreary Dirt Tracker tires. He did the same. Stoops was the starter for the race and was standing out in front. He raised one arm..then the next...and then BAM....the Nova took off with Stoops still standing there with both hands in the air. Rotten loudmouth cheater! I should have sat there and demanded a restart..but I launched also and went by Gary with his hands still in the air! I stretched that 'ole 427 out pretty hard that night and realized I was pulling back on him. I passed him at about the 3/4 track point and went on to a 2 car lead!


    When we came back it was so cool. It was like "Parting the Red Sea" as we came back into the crowds and was a as neat as any big time NASCAR win to me at the time!


    The next day on Sunday, I slept in a little since I hadn't slept much since Thursday. I got to the show a little later in the morning than usual and son-of-a-gun, they had saved me a special spot on one of the *best* corners in the show. When I got the car backed into place and opened the hood,,,,there tons of folks that came to check it out. The Nova was within eyesight of where i was parked and he was not a happy camper with all the attention the Camaro was getting and left the show early.


    Anyway, when I saw the magazine this month it brought back some really cool memories of some good times. That was an exhausting weekend that had a great ending!


    Of course there are other races....like the time Donny and I had a race set up with David Koresh (yes that one!)....and another time I was able to beat another Hot Rod Magazine project car..a blue '69 Z-28 that they did a multipart engine and paint buildup on.


    Good times...and LOTS of stories!






  • #2
    Always LOVE hearing these stories!

    thanks for sharing.

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    • #3
      And the best part is they are true!!

      You know me well enough to see it all happening don't you??

      JIM

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      • #4
        Originally posted by 540Hotrod View Post
        And the best part is they are true!!

        You know me well enough to see it all happening don't you??

        JIM
        Dude, You're a magnet for this stuff! LOL.

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