Thursday, December 26, 2013

Small World

Darryl Richards and I have known each other for almost 50 years.  He was a regular at Beltsville Shell and he sold his 1957 Corvette to my brother, Wayne.  Darryl plays a prominent role in Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive, he helped me get reconnected with Sharon Cox (who started the whole Corvette thing  for me) and we have remained close all these years.

This month we both have had a big laugh over a common experience we have shared but never realized.  We were talking on the phone the other day and Darryl told me about a very rare Maryland license plate he acquired.  It is a “Tercentenary” plate – celebrating the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Colony of Maryland by Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, when the Ark and the Dove arrived at Clement's Island near what became St. Mary's City.  I told Darryl that I should buy the plate from him because it would remind me of the very brief period of time when I owned a 1934 Ford.

I found the black two door (suicide doors) three window coupe in a guy’s back yard in old College Park while I was at High Point High.  It had a frame, body, full fenders, some suspension parts, but no engine, transmission or interior.  Equipped with teenage enthusiasm and a J C Whitney catalog I was preparing to install a dropped front axle, convert to hydraulic brakes, and put a Chevy engine in it.  The car was sitting peacefully in my parent’s back yard patiently waiting for me to have the coolest street rod in Beltsville.  Every morning at breakfast my Mom would give me grief about the old Ford.  She felt the neighbors were gossiping about it and would criticize her for having a junk yard in the neighborhood.  Finally, after endless daily nagging, I succumbed to her pressure and I placed an article in the Washington Post to sell the car.  In an instant two guys from Virginia showed up at my house with cash, a trailer and a truck for all the spare parts.  My dream of a ’34 Ford was gone forever.  Every January when I go to the Grand National Roadster Show and I see all those beautiful ’34 Fords, I relive my brief experience with my three window coupe.

When I told Darryl my ’34 Ford story he said that he once owned a ’34 Ford.  Our conversation went something like this:  

“Did yours have a rumble seat?”  
“Yep, mine too!”  
“Full fenders?”  
“Where did you get it?”  
“I bought it from a guy off Metzrott Road”  
“I SOLD mine to a guy off Metzrott Road!”  
“My Mom made me sell the car while I was in high school!”  
“My Mom also made me sell the car while I was in high school!”

We laughed so hard when realized that we had once owned the same car and all these years never knew it!

Yesterday Santa dropped by the house in Carlsbad and he left something very special under my Christmas tree.  Maybe this present deserves to be affixed to a ’34 Ford some day!  Thanks, Darryl, you are the greatest friend ever!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Returning a Favor - 10+ Years Later

As my close friends know, I “pick up” new friends in gas stations.  I suppose it is a habit I started at Beltsville Shell.

About 12 years ago I was putting gasoline in my 1962 Corvette at the local Chevron station when I noticed a beautiful new 2002 Torch Red Corvette coupe.  I walked over to the owner, Jeff Smith, introduced myself and told him what a great car he had and that I have never driven a C-5 Corvette.  Jeff complimented me on the 62 and offered to give me a ride in his car.  We drove our Corvettes to my house and Jeff let me drive his car.  I was instantly impressed with everything about it.  Nan came out to see the car and she liked it too.  Right then we realized that the next model year would be the 50th Anniversary Corvette and we began making plans to buy one.  So you could say that it is Jeff’s “fault” that I have a C-5 Corvette.

Jeff and his wife, Sherri, became friends with all my Corvette buddies and they have attended virtually all of our Corvette events for the past 10 years.  Shortly after we acquired the 1967 Corvette Coupe last year Jeff stopped by the house to inspect it.  Although he didn’t say anything to me at the time, his mind began to wonder if buying a 1967 Corvette might produce a more satisfying and profitable return on investment that his bond portfolio.  And as readers of Beltsville Shell know, Jeff’s first ride in a Corvette was when he delivered a 1967 Corvette from a car dealership to its owner back in 1967.

Jeff began searching the country for the perfect 1967 Corvette for him and he located it in Chicago.  

Jeff’s car had been in storage for about 12 years in Michigan.  A buyer (Buyer #1) purchased the Corvette and moved it to Chicago with the idea that he and his son (along with a restoration shop) were going to restore the car as a family project.  Unfortunately Buyer #1 died and the son didn’t have the heart to complete the project.  Then a fellow named Mike Bianco, also a Chicagoan, became Buyer #2 when purchased the car and completed the restoration in about four years.  When Mike decided to sell the car Jeff became the new owner (Buyer #3).  The restoration is beautiful and the car is fully supported with full documentation.   Mike is even providing Jeff with photos of the restoration to authenticate everything that was done for the car.

So I guess you could say that after 10 years I have “returned a favor” and it is my “fault” that Jeff Smith has a 1967 Corvette! 

Enjoy you “new “ Corvette Jeff – it is a beauty!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

All Time Best Lola Scene

My kid brother, Pat, just happened to tune in to Agents of SHIELD one night to see the absolutely best all-time Lola scene:

Flying 62 Corvette

I'm wondering if Corvette Central will offer a conversion kit for this upgrade?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bill Goodwin

Through the Beltsville Shell book I have reconnected with dozens of old friends.  An unanticipated benefit has been finding many new friends along the way.  At the top if the list is Bill Goodwin. 

Bill works in the telecommunications business and is a “technology guy”.  He is friends with a guy named Al Becke, who was a colleague of Johnny Bradley years ago.  Al’s stories about a bunch of crazy car guys from Beltsville led Bill to do some internet research, and sure enough Bill stumbled across the Beltsville Shell web site.  Next thing you know I get an email from a complete stranger who grew up in Montgomery County, was about the same age as the BSYAWYD guys, had buddies with similar cars, drag raced at the same tracks we did, knew everything about the Mighty Mo, and had an equal number of stories about wild and crazy gear-heads.  Bill announced he wanted to meet up with us at one of our reunions.

I have a slight fear of stalkers, so I decided to send Nace on a reconnaissance mission.  Nace agreed to take on the mission as long as beer was part of the agenda.    So Bill and Nace met at a neutral site, (Red, Hot & Blue) consumed a few beers, exchanged stories and had a good time.  Nace’s report came back positive:  we needed to invite this guy into the “club”.  This decision was one of Nace’s all-time best.

Bill got his hands on a few copies of Beltsville Shell and began spreading the word about the Boys from Beltsville.  Bill attended his first BSYAWYD reunion in 2005. Bill must have a hundred drag racing buddies and before long our circles of friends became intertwined.  But the best connection Bill made for us was to Sonny Kruhm, the owner of “Monster Racing”, the NASCAR racing experience company at Dover Speedway (MONSTER RACING).  Bill landed a 4-pack of “day on the race track” tickets for us.  In July 2006 Bill, Sonny Boteler, Nace and I rented a Hemi station wagon, drove to Delaware, and conquered “The Monster Mile”.  Sonny Kruhm treated us to a great driving experience, photos, videos, and a million laughs.

The day at Dover triggered a wickedly evil thought in Bill’s mischievous mind.  He negotiated the purchase of a real-life NASCAR (retired) race car with spare parts, towed it back to Maryland, somehow registered the thing with some unsuspecting (na├»ve) DMV clerk and started driving the car on the street!  Notice that the car has headlight decals -- and doesn't have headlights! OK, no one at the Mighty Mo ever drove a real NASCAR racer on the street; I’m nominating Bill for the Nobel Prize in Automotive Excess.  

As crazy as the NASCAR street-machine idea was, it is not my favorite.  My all-time favorite Billy-Mobile was the AM General FJ8C United States Postal Service Delivery truck with the 9” rear, slicks, mag wheels, Chevy V-8, straight pipes and 700-R4 transmission.  Billie went to Walmart and bought about 30 cans of white spray paint and painted the truck in his garage!  Love the ingenuity.  I got to ride in the “Mail Truck” to 75-80 Drag strip.  When Bill pulled into the pits everyone stopped what they were doing, pointed at us, and said, “What the hell is that?”

Bill is also the guy who introduced me to the annual Los Angeles Roadster Show in Pomona each January.  We have gone together a few times, but the best trip was the time Bill appropriated some bogus Press Passes and snuck us into the show two hours before the poor slobs waiting outside could come in.  We had the run of the place and had a blast visiting with the owners (who thought we were going to get them in the magazines!).  It is a good thing that Bill lives in Delaware and I live in San Diego or the two of us could get in some serious trouble together!

Happy Birthday Billie, from all your friends at Beltsville Shell!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Craig's List Stingray

It is amazing to me that people post complete junk for sale on Craig’s List.  Especially if you search with the word “Corvette”.  Used spark plugs, rusted out battery boxes, and lots of completely useless crap.

But I know someone who struck GOLD on Craig’s List:  My buddy Bob Rabourne (or perhaps his son, Phil)!

Phil Rabourne knows cars, especially through his many years as Operations Director of the Speed Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (SEMA) shows in Las Vega$.  A bit over a year ago he was on the hunt for a nice mid-year Corvette for his Dad.  They found an advertisement for a 1964 Corvette Coupe in Craig’s List in Orange County.  They made an appointment to see the car, owned by a woman who couldn’t keep it in her garage any longer.  Bob and Phil called in a car restoration friend, John Cappellitti the former Hiesman trophy winner, who  inspected it and said, “Buy it; if you don’t I will!”  The asking price was completely reasonable, so Phil offered full price.

Bob is now the proud owner of a  1964 Sting Ray coupe   327 -365 HP,  4 speed, #s matching.  PS, PB, after market Knock offs, Riverside Red, Black interior.  The car underwent a partial restoration about 6,000 miles ago, but only the parts needing restoring were touched – and thing that could be left original was freshened up or left alone.  The car has a rebuilt engine, gauges, seats, and carpet kit.  The Corvette was repainted the original  Riverside Red. The door panels, dash etc. are all original.  While the car sports a 67 style hood and an updated carburetor, Bob has the original hood and carburetor in boxes in his garage.  The speedometer is showing 100,500 miles.  Bob is the third owner; he drives it about 125 miles per month,  Runs as new. Shows as a nice daily driver. 

The Corvette was presented to Bob on his 71 st Birthday as a present from his Son Phil.  If you get a kick out of coincidental numbers:  the 64 Sting Ray is the 64th vehicle Bob has owned and 1964 was the year Bob was married to his wife, Evelyn!

Maybe I should log into Craig’s List tonight?