Sunday, September 29, 2013

10th Anniversary of Publication of BSYAWYD

September 29, 2013

The 10th anniversary of publication of  Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive

It has been a great 10 years:  renewed friendships, locating lost buddies, reunions, and great times.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this marvelous ten-year cruise!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Bob Vollmar: Corvette owner for 50 years!

September 27th is Bob Vollmar's birthday.  He is a Corvette friend.  Bob's first Corvette was a 1963 Stingray Coupe; his current Corvette is a very fast 2009 Z06.

Bob is one of many Corvette friends who are also pilots (Larry Barnes, Bill Brandon, Doug Clark, Don Kingery, and me!).

Bob purchased his first Corvette, a 1963 Sting Ray Coupe, while living in Arizona.  In the days when people actually typed letters on typewriters, Bob first wrote to General Motors asking for advice about the various options for the new model Corvette.  What is more amazing, General Motors wrote back to him!  See the correspondence below.

                                                                                                         6630 Monte Rosa Ave.
                                                                                                         Scottsdale, Arizona
                                                                                                         February 12, 1963

Chevrolet Motor Division
General Motors Corp.
Detroit 2, Mich.


With the advent of the 1963 Corvette I find it compulsory (for the last several years I have had the inclination) to offer you my most sincere congratulations on a superlative achievement.  Ten years ago a new market in the automotive field seemed to be developing--that of the high-performance sports car.  Others retooled mainly their advertising programs.  Chevrolet chose the more difficult course, setting out to actually produce the car.  This was accomplished, and if I may say so, to a fare-thee-well.  In these somewhat cynical eyes the Sting Ray stands as perhaps the finest example of integrity, honesty, and courage on the current American business scene.  To find these qualities exhibited by a gigantic corporation is, to say the least, encouraging.

My interest in the car is not entirely in the abstract, and I would greatly appreciate the following information.

               1.  Performance figures on the coupe with 300 engine, positraction, comparing the 3.08 differential with the 3.36.  (4th gear mph/1000 rpm, 0-60 and 0-100 times.)

               2.  Your comments as to whether the 300 or 340 engine (and which rear-end ratio) might best suit my needs.  I drive 20 mi. daily in medium traffic and 400-500 mi. per month of open highway driving.

               3.  Will factory air-conditioning be available and if so, when, and will it be limited to the lower revving engines?  (If you haven’t driven the summer desert, this is outrageous--if you have, the compromise becomes justifiable.)

               4.  Is the 37 ½ gal. Tank available as a separate option?

               5.  Is black leather an available option?

               6.  Will the aluminum wheels stand-up as well as the steel?  (That is, will an “out-of-it” type station attendant be likely to damage them, bend rims, etc. Are maintenance problems more likely with them?)

Thank you for your attention to my request, and again, my congratulations on an engineering masterpiece.

Yours very truly,

Robert B. Vollmar

Here is the reply from GM:

As you can see below, Bob purchased the 300HP car with the 4 speed, tinted glass, posi-traction, special paint, and air conditioning!  He bought the car from the family Chevy Dealer, Vollmar Motors in Holstein, Iowa, for $5,326!  Bob reports that the sales tax on the Z06 was more expensive than the entire price of the 63 Stingray!

Happy Birthday, Bob!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Joe Mack Schubert

We are sending best wishes today (09/23/13) to Joe Mack Schubert on his 76th Birthday!

I should have put a chapter in Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive all about Joe Mack.  Of all the gear-heads in Hollywood, Beltsville, Berwyn or Greenbelt Maryland none are more adored or better known than Joe Mack.

My life intersected with Joe Mack's in so many ways.  Joe Mack and my Dad were United States Marines and they both worked at the CO-OP Store in Greenbelt; my Dad always laughed when he told stories about Joe Mack's escapades.  Joe Mack attended Berwyn Baptist Church with my family, the Schinners, and many of my friends.  When we were teenagers all the boys thought it was so cool that Joe Mack's wheel chair was decorated with bumper stickers advertising race car parts.  Joe Mack was involved in a number of car-related businesses but his most successful one was upholstery.  After I bought my 1959 Corvette I decided that it needed a nice custom interior, so I turned to Joe Mack for ideas and help.  Joe Mack made custom seat covers, door panels and a nice padded dash.  During the project Joe Mack warned me that I was lucky that my car had a Naugahyde interior because the Naugas were becoming extinct and he might not be able to get that special material much longer!

Joe Mack is legendary far beyond the suburbs of Maryland, thanks in part to Steve Coonan, creator of the Rodder's Journal.  Steve documented for the entire world Joe's adventure driving his 1929 Ford Roadster across America.  The picture below is an amazing classic (and Joe Mack autographed a copy for me for my garage).  Look at that smile!  Joe mack was on his way to California -- the mecca for Hot Rodders everywhere.  Joe Mack made a lot of friends in California including many of the legends of the Hot Rod world.

I talked to Joe Mack this morning for about 30 minutes.  He was a upbeat as ever, describing his trip yesterday to the "Church of the Holy Doughnut" in Burtonsville.  He gave me permission to write this article and post it to the BLOG.  Joe Mack told me that the LA Roadster Club is planning a 50th anniversary celebration next year and he is thinking about driving across America again to attend it.  I asked him if I could ride along. 

There are so many stories about Joe Mack and so many of his friends that I have not been able to mention here.  If you like, you can add your birthday wish to him, or post a story, by clicking the comments link below.  Very Special THANKS to Darryl and Janet Richards for photos and historical facts about Joe; I couldn't have written this post without them.

Happy Birthday, Joe Mack, from all your friends everywhere!

Monday, September 16, 2013

12th Annual New Millennium Beltsville Shell Reunion

We had a great reunion to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the publication of

Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive

and the birthday of Tom Hontz!  Special thanks to Herman for hosting the event and to everyone who brought the yummy dishes.  This year we had a surprise visit from three lovely High Point Class of 1965 Beauties!

Back Row, L to R: Sam Whitmore, Phil Corbin, Gary Manley, Tom Hontz, Sonny Boteler, Cary Thomas, Herman Knauer, Nace DeLauter, Bill Goodwin, Bill Mortfeld, Pat Thomas

Front Row, L to R: Gerry Adkins, Sara Wiley, Lynn Garland, Nancy Thomas and "Cinder"

Attending but not in photo:  Rick Ransom, Malcolm Van Kirk, Steve Van Kirk, Tammy Williams, Bonnie Williams, Robert Edwards.

With us in Spirit, but unable to attend:  Bonnie Hontz

Friday, September 6, 2013

Celebrating Six Decades of Friendship

This entry to the Corvette Blog has (almost) nothing to do with Corvettes and everything to do with life-long friendships!

Next week we will celebrate the birthday of Tom Hontz in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the publication of Beltsville Shell: You Are What You Drive.  This is also the 60th anniversary of our friendship -- Tom and I have been friends since we met on the first day of first grade in September 1953.  Born just nine days apart (Tom is older than me, which explains why he is taller!), we lived on the same street in College Park (Edgewood Road).  We were fast friends and did everything together.  We were in Cub Scouts, then Boy Scouts and I learned all about scouting from his older brother, Jim, and Tom’s grandfather, who was awarded the Scouting award for life-time leadership, the Silver Beaver.  We participated in Little League sports (Tom was a better baseball player than me) and attended school together all the way through High Point High. 

Unfortunately for our parents and teachers, we cooked up lots of mischief, did some really stupid things, and got in our share of trouble! Once on a Boy Scout camping trip Tom and I went into the woods to get fuel for the fire.  I got the big idea to chop down a tree not knowing that it had a huge bees nest in it!  Just about everyone in the troop was stung, but fortunately the scoutmaster didn’t kick us out of the Troop.  One rainy Saturday we must have been making our mothers crazier than usual so they sent us to the movie theater to see an all-day showing of four or five horror films (like “House on Haunted Hill” and “Pit and the Pendulum”).  In the dark theater we were sitting in the front row face-to-face with Vincent Price, practically peeing in our pants, scared out of our minds!  A few years later when we were getting our “Survival” merit badges it was just me and Tom alone in the woods.  We were supposed to survive for three days by living off the land with nothing but Boy Scout canteens of water and hatchets.  Being resourceful, we snuck off to a near-by 5 and Dime for cokes and candy bars.  Isn’t the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared”?

In the photo below you will notice two little boys sitting in the front row of first grade drawing pictures of cars on a big sheet of paper.  That would be me and Tom!  In the same photo you will see some of our best friends:  Mike Tanguay (of GTO fame) is in the 3rd row, 3rd from the right.  In the back row, 3rd from the right is Joe Anderson who owned a red 1959 Corvette (but not in first grade!).

Twice in our lives Tom and I have been separated by distance.  We both agree that one of the saddest days of our lives was when my family moved from College Park to Beltsville in the 7th grade.  Tom would ride his bike all the way up Rhode Island Avenue and cross the dangerous Route 1 intersection just to visit with me.  Then in 1976 I moved to California.  Eventually though, we got reunited and have reinvigorated our friendship.

After 60 years it is pleasing to me that Tom and I have shared the longest, closest friendship of my life [Editor’s note:  this must be a typo:  these guys can’t be that old!].  Even better, he married one of my favorite “girls” from Beltsville, Bonnie Reid, and now we are able to get together multiple times per year.  Along with another great friend, Herman Knauer, Tom and Bonnie have graciously hosted many Beltsville Shell Reunions!

Happy Birthday, Tom!  Thanks for a lifetime of great memories, buddy; you always have, and always will, make me smile!