It was 1967 or so, I was 12 years old. We lived across the street from the grade school I attended. Everyday at recess we would go outdoors. My house was in plain view of the playground. Every boy in my class was my "bud" because of what was sitting beside my house, on a trailer.

My dad had been eyeing an old 1956 Chevy Panel Wagon that Grady's Food Market used for delivering groceries in our small town of Portales, New Mexico. He was looking for a recipient for his dreams and ideas.

And one day this unsuspecting "grocery wagon" appeared. It was "mucho ugly". Looked like it has been painted with house paint, but surprisingly in good body shape considering all the young delivery boys that had pounded the streets taking groceries to the old ladies that could no longer make the trip to the grocery store.

I knew he was getting a "race car" but this sure wasn't my vision of it. I think my dad is NUTS.

I didn't pay much attention for a while. He took the "wagon" to a friend, Mike Urtons, house to use his garage. Mike was a good engine mechanic and it was there that the project began. Night after night of my Dad being gone, at some point I went over with him. I was everywhere. Engine on a stand, body work here, parts flying there......I started seeing what was in his head.....and for a 12 year old was coooooool. Man did it ever drag on though. This was no "quick trip".

Every stage of this car was planned. Don't ask me how, but to this day I remember details. This car was to be a 265/245 HP in L/SA class. With Stahl headers, Lunati cam, the carb was sent to Big Daddy Don Garlits to be set up, and took 3 months to be returned, but it was "right".

The engine was totally balanced and blueprinted and the whole project was coming together after one year. The body work was nearing completion. It was finally running, my Dad couldn't wait. One night at midnight he took it out on 18th Street and let it rip. Not only did he blow the transmission, but he got pulled over. After a sad story about how long he'd been working on the car and how anxious to try it out, the officer just said "Jerry, get this thing OFF the streets, and don't let me see you out here again "testing" your car.

After much experimentation a Hurst 4-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic was the tranny that would work the best in his application.

[ Home ][ Next ]