"OLD TIMER" Street Racin' - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-13-2014, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
 
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"OLD TIMER" Street Racin'

New Topic. I saw many posts that are related to more or less contemporary street racing, highway blasts, running somebody, and other such irresponsible acts involving a combination of car, ego, & adrenaline (and maybe a good tune on the radio).

This thread is aimed more at "us" guys (and gals) who experienced the muscle car era or had some kind of built up car during the 60's, 70's and even 80's. These are OUR stories and experiences - and not sure how some of us lived to tell about it, but would not trade any of it in for all the money in the world. This is not limited to just Pontiacs, as I myself owned many makes of cars. The interest was "the need for speed" and horsepower in whatever coat it happened to be cloaked in.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-13-2014, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
 
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I graduated in 1977 and I think it was about '78 or '79. I had my 1967 GTO convertible, 400CI, close ratio 4-speed, and replace the 3.90 gears with some highway gears out of a 1965 GTO automatic car, so probably 3.23's or even 3.08's. It was still very fast and could smoke the tires easily - non posi rear.

I was married at the time to the ex #1. We were out and bumped into some classmates in a store. They informed us they were going to a cinema to watch a movie in one of the bigger cities about 1 hour away. We lived in a small town. They invited us to join them. So we said "yes". We would meet them there. Problem was that I forgot the starting time of the movie. I thought I knew what time, and by my calculations, we were running late.

We hopped into the '67 GTO, headed up to the Interstate, and I got in the left lane and hammer down the gas pedal went. This was when speed limits on the interstates were 55MPH. Traffic was always light back then, nothing like today or I could not have done what I often did. I was running between 85-90MPH and the GTO wasn't breathing too hard. As I approached an overpass at my high rate of speed, I went tearing by it only to catch a glimpse of the cop tucked up tight against the cement wall waiting for a speeder to zip by. Well, I did. In a quick response to the ex, I told her at this speed I will lose my license if he gets me. I told her to hold on because I was not stopping. I floored the car as I looked in the rear view mirror. I was now up over 100MPH and kept looking back in the rear view and could see the cop still setting along the bridge. I finally rounded a curve and lost sight of him, but kept on flying in the triple digit range for a while. Never did see him, so I backed out of it, still vigilant in that rear view mirror the whole way to the movie show. I only breathed a sigh of relief when I got parked and was going into the movie house. Well, I got to the movies in record time..........and I was about an hour early because the movie started later. When I look back, I figured the cop knew he was not going to be able to catch me at that speed, and he probably figured it would be easier to scoop me up off the pavement after I killed myself then to kill himself. My ego was swollen pretty big because I had gotten away with it.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-13-2014, 06:56 PM
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I was there, summer of 73 trying to figure out how to stop the new tires from being cut to shreds from the wheel well, notice the hack saw in the left hand.
First experience with backspacing and new wheels. As far as street racing, there were only a few cars that could take me in the quarter.

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-13-2014, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
 
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I bought my first "performance" car from a co-worker and classmate of mine named Duncan. Duncan bought the car from a co-worker and a classmate who was 1 year older than us, Paul. Paul had some work done on the engine, and had raced the car at the nearby Thompson Speedway in Connecticut in the street car division - you use your own street car. Paul lost his race and kicked the front fender putting a nice dent in it when he lost; the only dent in the car. The car was a 1967 red Firebird, bucket seats, console shifter, 3-speed manual trans, in very solid shape. The original 326CI had been replaced with a Pontiac 350CI and Paul had had the heads worked on it. It leaked oil at the rear main and he got tired of it and sold it to Duncan for $300. Duncan drove it a while, but got tired of the oil leaking and not so good gas mileage. So I bought it from Duncan for $300. I pulled the engine, my first, and put new seals in it, my first try at this too. Got it all back in and no leaks. It was a fast car. Man would this thing burn rubber. This was about 1978 and before the GTO convertible.

The ex#1 (girlfriend at that time) and I had just left the local movie in the little town we lived. The movie was one of those that leaves you "pumped" up, I can't remember what it was. She was still in high school at the time as a senior. I had graduated. She had a friend named Bruce who drove a clean white 1965 GTO with a 350CI and 4-speed. As it happened, Bruce pulled up behind us as we were heading out one of the main streets/roads leading out of town. This street has houses on each side, businesses, a church, parked cars, side streets, etc.. - a typical rural town main type street. Bruce is winding his GTO up and dropping back then racing forward again to taught us. I respond by hitting the gas and pulling away a few times with him right on my bumper. I have my eyes in front and in the rear view mirror watching Bruce. Next thing I know I hear that GTO drop a gear and the exhaust tone climb. Bruce pops the GTO into the oncoming lane of traffic, my left, and makes an attempt to "slingshot" past me. Mind you, no traffic, but cars parked along both sides of the street and there is only the two lanes - not a lot of room. As soon as I saw the GTO break out into the the lane, I dropped the Firebird down into 1st to get a burst of acceleration and into 2nd. We were side by side racing down this street with people outside on their lawns. The roar of 2 cars racing had to have woken everybody up, and no doubt the police were called for that stunt. We were neck and neck down the street for several blocks when Bruce gave up and fell behind. The street went out of town and was a wide open barren road with a long straight stretch for several miles. The GTO tried to get around me again, but I held him off once more. He dropped back, and I thought he had quit and given up. Nope. He had dropped back and built up some speed. This time he managed to "slingshot" right past me and as hard as I tried to catch him, he was gone. After that stunt, I stayed out of town for a while and went in and out via another road system.

Looking back - absolutely crazy thing to do. In no way could you do that today with all the cars out here. Even small rural towns are way too busy today. Guaranteed I would have hit someone, gotten injured, injured someone else, or worse, killed myself or another. Like all "kids", consequences to our actions were not thought through.....
because we didn't know or think that way - we lived in the moment. How thinking changes when you are 55.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-14-2014, 07:23 PM
 
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Would have been around 81' with my first Pontiac, a 69' gold 400 firebird with black vinyl top. I was the second owner and the 82 year old lady i bought it from had every reciept for everything ever done to the car since day one. Bone stock original with just a few small bubbles in the paint. Proceeded to flare the wheel wells so those 50's would fit out back with smalls in the front, along with a fresh coat of refrigerator white. One night we are out and up to no good and one of the guys looks at the speedo and says this car won't do 120...sounded like a challenge to me. We head out of town and find a nice stretch of two lane blacktop and off we go. Never new the gear in the rear but it was never that quick of the line, but once she started to breathe at 70 the jump to 120 was pretty quick even with 4 passengers and we soon found out that the speedo actually wraps past the 120 mark and that Pontiac did not supply adequate braking to bring you quickly down from that advertised speedo limits. And to top it off i had misjudged the distance from our starting point to the single track train crossing...think we were still at 70 and in full pucker mode when we got air. Luckily it was fresh smooth blacktop and after a few squirrely moments on touchdown we headed off to the party at a nice leasurly pace... a month later i had to have the leaf springs re-done with both mains broken, had them throw an extra one on both sides to help my air shocks keep that ass end lifted in true 80's fashion...ohhh to be young and stupid again.

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-14-2014, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
 
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Saved and collected many of my former "warnings" and "tickets" I received in my cars. They begin with my first car, my 1956 Pontiac 4 Dr HT, back in 1978 when I was 19. The state trooper had a field day as it took him 2 warnings, one for speeding and the other for defective equipment - which required an inspection. You were supposed to get the car re-inspected, which I did in the beginning of my car life. But as time went on and I got a lot of these (just like John Milner and his coupe in American Graffiti - file it under CS for Chicken Sh*t) and knew the local garage inspection number - so I just signed the warning myself, plugged in the inspection station number, and mailed it off.

The 1965 Impala SS convertible that I built up and installed a 409CI 4-speed in it had a fairly radical solid lifter cam ground by Chet Herbert, Sr. - you know, one of those cams advertised in the magazine for $49.00. I wrote Chet and he answered back saying he had the perfect solid cam grins for me and had a few new billets still available. I ordered it. That cam was awesome in that engine. I had found and built a 1965 340HP engine with all the 425HP goodies. 425HP was probably and understatement. I used the stock, one year only, 1965 factory exhaust manifolds that were very slick with 2.5" outlets. I sized them right up to a 3" pipe by reversing a reducer pipe and ran 3" pipe, turbo mufflers, and tailpipes. It was "legal" in every sense, but it had a rumble and tone you could not mistake. The exhaust system proved to be just one of those things the car was pulled over for. I saved 2 warnings from 1982 and one from 1983, and "exhaust system" is check-boxed on each one. The ex wife #1 got a warning 7 days prior to mine.

I was up on the interstate minding my own business, doing the speed limit of 55MPH, and saw a car ahead on the shoulder pulled over with a state trooper behind him with the blue light flashing. The state trooper was outside his car and handing the driver the ticket. He was about 1 mile off when I first saw him. I saw him look in my direction and knew I was in trouble. I went sailing by him as he was walking to his car. He proceeded to get in, his blue light still on, sped up and got behind me. I pulled over. He came over to my window and said, "I heard you coming. You need to fix that exhaust." I told him that there was nothing wrong with my exhaust system as it was legal with mufflers and tailpipes. Told him he could take a look under the car if he wanted to check it out. I was then told, "Well then, you need to get some resonators on there, its too loud." He went to his car, wrote my warning up for defective exhaust, handed it to me and told me to fix it and get it inspected. Off I drove. The next warning was given to the ex #1 to include the exhaust system and "excessive smoke". I will tell you right now, the engine did not smoke.......but the tires did. She may have been pulling a burn out because the warning has 5 check-boxes and 2 written additions. Got the attention of a lot of cops with that car. Don't have an copies of my tickets as they got turned in when you went to court. However, I do have a small stack of court paid receipts in my collection as well.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-17-2014, 01:20 PM
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It was a Sunday night in the summer of 1980. Three of my buddies and I had gone to the drive-in to see The Hollywood Knights. A '65 GTO was featured in the film, as was street racing. We were partying pretty hard, and enjoying ourselves. We were in my first car, a Platinum '66 GTO with 4 speed, tripower, 3.55 posi, and a junkyard '67 Catalina 400 engine with 061 heads. Jacked up with Hi-Jackers running on 10 inch Ansen slots in the rear, with 50 series bias ply rubber. 8-inchers up front. For some reason, that car was much faster than it had any right to be. It was about midnight when the show ended, and we went thru the Alameda Tube back into Oakland, heading home. We got to a stoplight in downtown Oakland, and I was in the left lane at a 4 way intersection, 2 lanes in every direction. We were indulging in adult beverages. Just then, a guy in a '65 GTO pulls up to us at the light, on our right. He looks at me. I look at him. The light changes to green. Already having in first gear on anticipation, I nail it. Wide open. Long, smoky burn-out across the intersection. Perfect launch. The guy in the '65 GTO simply makes a right turn and goes on his merry way. At that point, I see the red lights behind me, right behind me. Oakland PD. Turns out, he was right behind me at the light, so close that I couldn't see his headlights. He pulls me over. Beers disappear under the seats. He is amazed. "What on earth were you thinking?" He was actually amused. I told him honestly that I didn't see him. He told me that downtown Oakland was not the place to open it up......go out into the sticks for that. Actually, a really cool guy. My speech was clear, and we looked presentable enough and were respectful, so he wrote me an Exhibition Of Speed ticket and we were on our way. The next morning, Monday, I got into my goat to go to work, with a pounding hangover. I fired the car up, and there was a terrible rattle. Looking over at the passenger side of the car where the rattle was coming from, I saw the large, cast aluminum speaker from the drive in still hanging from my window.....which was rolled up as far as it would go with that thing in there. Somehow it didn't break the glass. I rolled down the window, and removed the speaker, along with about 12 feet of cord that had been dragging behind the car. The guy in the '65 GTO saw the whole thing: 4 kids in a hotrod, the speaker, and the cop right on my tail. It was classic. The best part of this story is the ending: when I went to court, the officer did not show up. I pleaded to the Judge that I had just installed a new intake on my car, wasn't used to it, and had simply let out the clutch too rapidly and the tires spun on the slick crosswalk. He bought it. No ticket, No fine. That was the last time I ever skated. The next time, I lost my license for a year. But that's another story!!
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 05-17-2014, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
 
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OK, we'll fast forward a bit to 1986. I was married to wife #2 (who became ex#2) and we purchased a 1977 Chevy Caprice station wagon through a buddy of mine whom I had met in my first move to Gastonia, NC with wife #1. The stay in Gastonia was short lived, but I maintained contact and hoped to move back (which I eventually did).

It was your basic 350CI & TH-350, nothing special at the time. I like unique cars, so I had to modify the wagon. On went the Mopar 440 Six-Pack hood scoop, blacked out grille & headlight treatment, hood pins, stripe, chrome reverse rims and baby moons on back with big tires. It looked as "racy" as you can get with a station wagon. I would later soup up the engine which moved it very quick -which got me some other big tickets (check out my posted car photos).

We had left a friends house and jumped up on the interstate to cover a few miles rather than go through town and take secondary roads. As we were driving, speed limit was again 55MPH, a black 5.0 LX Mustang coupe with blacked out glass went zipping by us at about 70MPH - I took note of this in my head and figured we would see him pulled over by a cop somewhere down the road.

The 5.0 was fairly far ahead of me in the left lane, but I could still see him. Next thing I noticed was that I was slowly catching up to him which I thought odd. I was not speeding, maybe 60 MPH at this time. I eventually caught up to him, still in the left lane, and wondered what this guy was up to. His front fender dropped back to about midway on the big boat, and he gassed it to pull alongside my fender. He dropped back, and repeated. I knew what this meant, he wanted to play. It was just at 7 PM and dark. Still could not see into the car. I love a good race & when challenged, I don't care what car I am in......the race is on!

I opened up the Quadrajet on the 350CI, the trans downshifted, and the car began to pull. Racing a 5.0 was just for fun because what 5,000 lb station wagon could win at such a challenge. I knew I could not "beat" him, but I was willing to find out what his top end was going to be before he backed out of it. Give me a nice quite highway and good stretch of road, and I'll tach the engine out at whatever speed that might be. Well, the 5.0 was at my side the entire race, but as I proceeded to go past the 90MPH mark, he dropped back and fell in behind me. Man, I was all smiles because I had just shut down some idiot in a 5.0, not in quickness, but because he didn't have the balls to take it any higher.

Just then, I heard a siren, you know, cop car type. Weird thing was I had no idea where the hell it was coming from. I turned to the wife and said, "Where the hell is that siren coming from, did we pass a cop or something?" She said she didn't know either. I was baffled, where the hell was that siren coming from. I could not see anything in the rear view mirror, but knew the 5.0 was behind me, pretty close too because I could not see much of his headlights with the high body panel out back called a "tailgate". Then I saw it, in my side view mirror. The 5.0 slid over just far enough out from behind me to reveal those wonderful flashing blue lights hidden in its grille. Crap! I had just been racing a cop. I pulled over to the shoulder.

Out pops the officer in plane clothes and says he is an inspector with the State Troopers. He shines his flashlight at my hood scoop and real sarcastically asked me if I had anything under that scoop. I told him "no", it was all stock. He then asked exactly how fast was I planning on going. I phrased my reply in a question and told him "as fast as it was going to take?" He didn't like that answer. He said,"I pulled your plug as you hit 90." He got my license registration, insurance card, and went back to his car. Came back 10 minutes later with the ticket here attached. He told me he dropped the speed to 80MPH in a 55, gave me the failure to wear a seat belt, and told me I had to go to court. He then shined his flashlight back to my hood scoop and said,"If you are going to put a scoop like that on your car, you better back it up with something underneath it." He walked off, and I drove off.

Thought I could beat the ticket, but the Prosecutor told me that Connecticut had no laws that covered entrapment and that I was caught speeding, and I had to pay the fine. It was almost $200.00.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-13-2014, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
 
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Well there I was, tooling along in my Chevrolet.......

It was a Friday evening, about 7:30 as headlights were just coming on, and I was out for a cruise in the '65 Impala conv. with the 409CI. I-395 in Connecticut was a quiet highway, little traffic back then, and speed limits 55MPH.

The early aluminum case long tailshaft BW 4-speed did not hold up too well behind the torque and HP I had in the 409 and the 3.08 gearing & M-50's out back added a lot of stress to it and it was getting more and more difficult to get a clean shift (not clutch related). Having several Pontiacs around & scrapping out some others, I had a few Pontiac TH-400's kicking around. Bought a Trans-Adapt adapter to mate the Pontiac trans to the Chevy block. Worked great -so I thought.

The dual 750CFM AFB's came from a 460CI Ford, were rebuilt, and I left the stock jetting. It ran rich on the lower RPM's, but made the engine pull like a freight train over 2,500RPM's and never stopped pulling. Got 8 MPG to the gallon as it was too tempting to open them up and burn rubber every chance I got -and I did. So I disconnected the rear carb from the foot pedal linkage and ran a choke cable to the second carb. When I really needed the HP, I pulled the cable. I think I got 9MPG this way!

A buddy had a 1969-1970 Charger 500 with the flush grille and a replanted 340CI/auto. Had big wide tires on the rear, so much that we had to pull the quarter panels out to stuff them in there. They fit. A couple weeks earlier, I was with him when we got challenged by a silver Porsche 911 on I-395. The Porsche taunted us, we bit, the race began, and then it was over just as quick as that Porsche vanished before our very eyes. I'm talking FAST.

So I am minding my own business and doing the speed limit for a change and in my rear view I see a pair of headlights coming up fast in the outside lane. I'm curious as he's moving pretty good. Might be a cop or something souped up -as there were many street racers around back then. The car finally creeps up on me and slows a bit along my door, I look over to see the silver 911, and he starts pulling away. The 409 would do circles around my buddies 340, so I decided to match the pace of the 911 and took off with him......and then it was on.

The 911 took off. I took off right behind him. The road had very light traffic, so no real danger here. We began on a straight stretch and I had no problem keeping up with the 911 as he just kept on getting it. We then entered a series of curves and I watched him briefly pull away. The '65 Impala is no road race car and doesn't have much of a performance suspension. The car was a handful hitting 100 MPH and more as I had to let off the gas and ease very carefully through each curve. There was a short straight where I nailed it open and got right on his butt, only to watch him pull away through the next curve. But I knew I could take him at this point and there was a a good 2 mile plus straight stretch of highway just ahead through the last curve.

The road straightened out, the 911 was several lengths ahead of me by now, and it was now time to spot weld his doors shut. I recall looking at my tach which indicated I had about 800 more RPM's still in the engine. At the same time, I had the speedo pegged way past the factory 120 mark, I mean it was way out of bounds coming into that straight stretch. Now was the time to pull the choke cable and burn that Porsche. When I did, it was like a kick in the pants. The car was "floating" on its suspension at this speed and the old 409 began to eat up the back bumper of that 911 like a magnet attracted to steel. The 911 slid over to the right lane to let me fly past as he must have realized I was about to over take him.

Two feet from his bumper and climbing I heard the loudest bang I have ever been witness to while in a car. I instinctively reached for the ignition and shut it off thinking the engine blew. I white-knuckled the steering wheel because at this speed, it was going to hurt if something broke other than the engine (I later calculated my speed to be about 140MPH). Sparks were flying from under the car, clearly visible in the dusk light. I quickly eased over to the shoulder hoping to make it, which I did. I sat there a moment, underwear was still clean, and watched in embarrassment the few cars I had just passed several miles back, go by. Race over.

I got out of the car and looked underneath first because of all the sparks. Lo and behold, there was the TH-400 nose down on the pavement resting on the torque converter. There was no bellhousing to be seen, just the converter fully exposed. My driveshaft was gone, and never found. It left a 6" dent (literally) in the rear floor where it whipped up and hit it. My 3" exhaust pipes were torn all to pieces from the driveshaft. Driveshaft u-joint straps got ripped off at the rear end. And there I was just shaking my head.

Nothing more to do as the car wasn't going anywhere. I had another buddy who used to race stock cars at Thompson Speedway and he had a trailer. I began to walk to the next exit, which was in site, to give him a call to come get me and the car. About 100 feet from the car, I hear on the opposite side of the highway a car gearing down through its gears. Very audible because it was pretty quite back then. I look over and there is the 911 going by me in the opposite direction. I chuckled to myself thinking he was checking out his handy work. I watched him cut through the median and head my way. He went right past me and pulled over to the shoulder. The passenger door of the 911 swung open as I continued to walk towards it. When I got to the car, I leaned in, and a guy of about 40 (I was around 22ish), looking at me and said, "The least I can do is give you a ride to wherever you are going." I laughed and accepted. He asked if the car was OK, and I told him what I saw. Was not sure if the motor had blown up or not. He wanted to know what the heck I had under the hood to make the Impala run as fast as it did. He told me he had put a lot of money into his car as he road raced it at the Laconia race track in New Hampshire. He told me he saw me getting ready to blow by him and that he had no more engine left. He told me I had him beat. I told him I had a lot more and was about to overtake him when the car let go. By this time we were at a phone booth (remember those?). He wished me luck with the car and I told him I would have it up and running by Monday if the engine was OK and I would be looking for him for a rematch. He laughed and said he would keep and eye out.

My buddy came by with his truck and race trailer and we hauled it to my house. The engine was OK, but the distributor was spinning so fast that the sudden lockup of the transmission had caused the momentum to make it jump up and rotate 180 degrees out of position. The TH-400 had locked up solid and spun off the back of the engine breaking to pieces the bellhousing. That adapter I had used never mentioned to use spacers to move the torque converter rearward to compensate for its thickness. The torque converter was not properly seated into the pump, and it cause it to overheat and probably welded itself together -I learned this many years later.

I installed the 4-speed again, fixed the exhaust system, fitted another driveshaft, corrected the distributor, left the dent in the back floor, and on Monday, as I had said, I was out looking for a silver 911. Never did see that car again.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 07-22-2014, 11:38 PM
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Here I am with my almost brand new 66, in early 1968

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