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A True Story Part 4 The Final Chapter


Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:41 pm
388 Posts
Here is Part 4, the last chapter, in the sage of "A True Story Only the Names have been Changed to Protect the Guilty.

A True Story. Only the Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Guilty. Part 4

The Great Race Chase

We Won!!

Well, if this was a Disney tale we would have won, but alas, it is not. But then again, we did sort of win. We will get back to that.

So now we had a Charger Division car ready to go, and a driver. While I won't go through each and every step that I went through to get all of the parts, some of it was notable. For instance, I was working as a stock boy/bagger at Central Markets, and one of our customers was a late model driver with whom I had struck up a conversation with, and I had told him I was building this Charger Division car. I had asked him where I could find some tires for the car cheap and asked him if he had any old tires laying around he wanted to sell cheap. Much to my surprise and delight, each week for several weeks that he came in, my tip for bagging and bringing the groceries out to his car was one used tire! Tire problem solved!

Wheels were found scrounging through the local junk yard and taking them off of old abandoned late models that still looked like they were straight.

I bought a set of spark plug wires from the local National Auto Stores and a set of re- manufactured spark plugs. Yes, they made re-manufactured spark plugs back in those days.

Paid a whopping $5.00 for the battery at a garage by my Grandmother's house.

That is sort of how the whole car was put together. Wherever I could save a penny, I did, as pennies were about all I had.

Now I had to figure out how to get the car to the track. I didn't have access to a trailer, or a truck, or much of anything else other then the mighty Imperial, and the track was to far away to use just a chain. Ray came to the rescue! He took a piece of pipe, about 8' long, welded a loop strap over both ends, and then welded a used trailer ball he found in his mound of misc scrap metal to the front of the The Sneaker's bumper. Hook one end over the ball on The Sneaker, the other over the ball on the Imperial, and we had a way to tow the car without using chains! It still required someone to steer the car, but what the hell, we were ready to go!!

Loading up all of our gear in The Sneaker, including a borrowed small floor jack from Ray, the mighty Sneaker went off to Fonda Speedway to make history!!
It made history alright. The chuckles and grins we got from the other car owners and drivers were a tad embarrassing, but screw them! Rocky was already at the track waiting for us, and much to his credit, he didn't just get up and leave. By gum, he said he would drive it, and indeed he would.

When you signed in to the pit area, you were given an option to pay an additional $5.00 for a welding fee should your car need to have repairs, etc.. I ponied it up, just in case, and was sure glad I did! It appeared that the inspector didn't quite like some of my welding (couldn't understand why) and pointed out several areas that need to be “fixed” before he would certify the car race worthy. To this day, I feel sorry for that welding guy, as he must have done a $100.00 worth of work for that measly 5 bucks! But the inspector was now happy, pointed out some things that needed to be “fixed” before the next week, and slapped an inspected sticker on the car. We were ready to roll!!

Now, I have to fess up. Thinking back to those days, I cringe at memories of the car circling the track in warm ups. Stock springs, stock torsion bars, and well worn out shocks were on the car. When the green flag came out to start fast warm ups, and Rocky hit the gas, well, Mohammad Ali never bobbed and weaved like The Sneaker did. It highlighted every bump or dig in the track. I swear to Goofy, that other drivers were watching it and commenting “Hey Bob, watch out for that bump high on 4. See that 40 car hit it? Its nasty.” I suppose we were good for something anyway.

We waited with anxious anticipation for our heat race. Since we were a new car, we were forced to start at the rear of the 10 car field for that race. I noticed that there were 2 other Charger cars in the race as well. The 10 lap race started, and as we watched, we were amazed to see Rocky, only because of his experience, passed the 2 other Charger cars. We didn't finish last (!) and to top it off, we made the feature!! That meant we would at least get the last place payout of $20.00! No going home with a measly $5.00 tow in fee!

We asked Rocky how the car felt, and he looked at us with a glare that said “seriously?” without a word being said. While we waited for the feature, we grabbed some cloths and water and wiped the mud off of the mighty Sneaker so it would look its best as it made its feature debut!

The feature event was a 20 lap race, and I hoped that we had enough gas to make it that far. I had broken my piggy bank to buy aviation fuel at the Johnstown airport as it was cheaper then the racing fuel at the track, but still it was expensive, and 5 gallons was all I could afford.

We lined up 19th in the 20 car field, and damn near pissed our pants in excitement at seeing the Sneaker in its very first feature event!
Well folks, I will not lie to you. The Sneaker bobbed and weaved, ducked and dived, and rang out its throaty muffler less roar for 20 laps, and came in a solid 15th. Rocky looked a little green when he got out of the car, and we did fear he was suffering from sea sickness, but he finally smiled and said “Well, that was fun!”. And we were all excited and thrilled to see our work had paid off. Our car was officially a race car. It survived the rigors of a 20 lap race, and it didn't finish last. We were ecstatic!  Some well wishers from the stands came over to look at the car and talk to Rocky. I think some of those fans wanted to see with their own eyes what this car looked like up close as they couldn't believe this big ass 4 door boat was really racing!

Now back to the top of this story. Remember when I said we “sort of won”? Well, I guess you could say we won a moral victory of sorts. But that's not where the story ends. I believe it was in Part One where I said the Charger Division cars would run with the Late Models? If it wasn't there, it somewhere in the story, you can go find it. Well anyway, as the night got longer, the guys got The Sneaker ready for its trip back home while I went to the pay window and stood in line for our payout. When my turn at the window came up, I was handed a little brown envelope and was told to sign the sheet that showed I received the money. I signed away, and walked away from the window, and looked at the envelope. On it was written “#40 1st place Charger Division $50.00”. A quick check inside of the envelope showed me 2 $20's and a $10.

So we had WON!

I offered the money to Rocky who just laughed and pointed to the car. “I think she needs it more then I do” and said his goodnight.

Well the Sneaker made a few more races that year, never finishing worse then 2nd in the Charger Division, and by years end The Sneaker had made over $300, which was almost double what I had invested in it. To this day it remains the only race car I ever made money with.

It would be nice if I could say that The Sneaker went on to a long and illustrious career, but that was not the case. Over the winter I decided to invest some of those winnings in buying a junkyard 413 engine for it. But alas, while I was trying to get it installed into the car, word came that the Charger Division, due to the lack of cars, was being eliminated for the next year. I was honest enough with myself to know that The Sneaker could not compete with the higher buck Late Models and that its racing days were over. With no place to store the car, and with no place to race it anymore, The Sneaker ended up in the same junk yard where so many of its parts came from. And who knows, perhaps someone else saw the car had a part they needed and it lived on in another car. I would like to think that.

Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
If you can't eat it or play with it, piss on it and walk way
Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:06 pm
112 Posts
GOt any Photos of you and the car?

Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:11 pm
388 Posts
Alas no. Only one photo of it existed taken by the Fonda Speedway photographer, and somewhere along the line it got lost at my mother's house. I tore her house apart looking for it Sad

Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
If you can't eat it or play with it, piss on it and walk way
Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:58 pm
152 Posts
Good story Larry

Richard Hildebrandt
AKA Corvette-fan
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Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:00 pm
388 Posts
Thank You Sir Richard.

Handle every stressful situation like a dog.
If you can't eat it or play with it, piss on it and walk way
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