Funny how some topics come to mind.
I had been going through some notes, trying to decide what to write about this week, when I took a break and went web-surfing.
There’s a thread I started some time back called “Historic Stock Car Photos” on the H.A.M.B. section of jalopyjournal.com. I wanted to post some of my old pictures and I knew there were more out there, and it’s turned out really well. Lots of old photos popping up and jogging the memory.
At any rate, when I went there this time I saw a photo of a 1967 Ford Galaxie that was driven in ARCA by Elmer Davis, a friend of mine from New Albany, Ind. (across the river from Louisville, Ky.). Elmer showed up with this land barge for the first ARCA race at Salem in the spring of 1967, when everybody else was starting to build Chevelles, Fairlanes and such. Wondering whatever possessed him to build a Galaxie, I asked him, and he said, “That’s the body we found to fit the frame we had.”
Oh, he won that race, too.
A couple of posts below the photo was a note from somebody in Wisconsin asking if anybody noticed that Elmer’s ’67 Galaxie had a ’68 front clip.
I had to answer the guy that I didn’t notice it, but if that was the case, it must have been the best replacement part they could find after some front end damage. It had to be, because the ’68 front clip wouldn’t have been available in April or May 1967 when he brought the car out for the first time.
That jogged the memory about how many racecars in that time period, particularly on the local-track level were “cobbled together,” for want of a better term. Car owners, mechanics and builders used whatever parts they could find.
In those days, you couldn’t go to your handy-dandy auto racing parts catalog and order whatever body parts you needed. Heck, you couldn’t always find any parts you needed. A great majority of the stuff in those days was either homemade or picked out of an auto salvage facility. We called them junkyards in those days.
You could also make a case for it being a simpler and more enjoyable time. I know, things have improved from a quality and safety standpoint, but I still think of those as the good ol’ days. The purses weren’t so high, but it wasn’t so expensive to repair a racecar, either.
One particular car I remembered was one of Harry Hyde’s two 1964 Pontiacs that dominated competition at the old Fairgrounds Motor Speedway in that year and again in 1965.
They were matching cars, both painted bright yellow with white tops, No. 14 driven by Jesse Baird and No. 16 driven by Andy Hampton. If my memory hasn’t slipped two much, Andy won the championship both years with Jesse placing second.
One night in 1964, I was on the track lining up a heat race and as I got finished putting the last row in place, I started back up between the cars and just happened to glance at Jesse’s car.
Something didn’t look right. Couldn’t put my finger on it right away, but I wondered about it and couldn’t help glancing at it off and on for the rest of the night.
When the program was over, I wandered down to the pit area, where they were hooking the car up to take it “home.” No semi-hauler or even a trailer. Harry’s shop was right across Crittenden Drive from the Fairgrounds, so they towed them back and forth with a chain.
Suddenly, the answer hit me. Harry had been watching me and he asked what I was looking for.
“Nothing special, but I know what I’ve found,” I said. “The left-rear quarterpanel is from a 1963 Pontiac, ain’t it?”
“Yeah,” he replied. “We couldn’t find a complete ’64 with that panel in shape to use so we took the one off last year’s body.”
As he also noted, the fact that it was on the side away from the crowd kept most people from noticing. And, I suppose, as long as the weight was right our inspectors weren’t too picky about it, either.
Some time back, I posted a photo of those two ’64 Pontiacs on the “Historic Stock Car Photos” thread on the H.A.M.B. section of jalopyjournal.com.
After the discussion about Elmer’s car and a note I posted about the left rear on the No. 14, somebody reposted my photo of Harry’s two cars and pointed out that the windshield on the No. 16 appeared to be from a 1962 model, with 1964 metalwork applied.
I hadn’t noticed that and even after posting that photo, more than 40 years after the fact, I didn’t notice it. Apparently, Harry didn’t think anybody would. They took the photo of the No. 14 from the right side so you couldn’t see the left rear.
There was an epilogue to this story.
We had a fella around at the time named Earl Morris. Earl has passed on now, but he was the best model painter I ever knew. He could duplicate anything, just find him the right body style. We had a league at a local slot car center where we required hard plastic bodies and I asked him to make me a 1964 Pontiac in the same paint scheme as that No. 14. When he brought it to me, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had put a ’63 left-rear quarter on it.
I had to show it to Harry. He looked it over for five minutes before he noticed it.
Just more of the fun we had back in the day.
Like I said, “Templates??? We didn’t need no stinkin’ templates!!!”
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