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John Zachary DeLorean (January 6, 1925 – March 19, 2005) was an American engineer and executive in the U.S. automobile industry, most notably with General Motors, and founder of the DeLorean Motor Company.

He was most well known for developing the Pontiac GTO muscle car, the Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac Grand Prix, and the DeLorean DMC-12 sports car, which was later featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future,

 

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John Sawruk

John Sawruk is a former Pontiac executive and was the official historian [1] of the Pontiac Motor Division of GM.

John was a licensed engineer, receiving his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and his MBA from Wayne State University.

In 1978, a highlight of this career was presented with the prestigious Boss Kettering Award from General Motors.[2] He held a U.S. patent for an engine with charge equalizing intake manifold on the 4-cylinder “Iron Duke” engine.[3]

After retiring, John enjoyed attending car enthusiast events, often speaking at technical sessions of the GTO Association of America (GTOAA). He would bring his black 1971½ Pontiac GT-37, a rare car of historical significance. Pontiac only produced a few thousand of the GT-37's in 1970 and 1971, a car based on the same body platform as the more numerous and popular Pontiac GTO.

John was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 1997 and was doing well until November 2007. Typically once someone has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, they only have a 5% chance to live beyond one year. John went through two surgeries and many different experimental drugs over his last few years to be able to live an additional 11 years beyond the odds. On September 30, 2008 the doctor gave him six months, or less, to live and on the morning of November 12, 2008 he died at age 61, just 11 days before his 62nd birthday

 

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Carroll Hall Shelby

Carroll Hall Shelby (January 11, 1923 – May 10, 2012) was an American automotive designer, racing driver and entrepreneur. He was most well known for making the AC Motors-based Shelby American Cobra and later the Mustang-based performance cars for Ford Motor Company known as Mustang Cobras which he has done since 1965. His company, Shelby American Inc., founded in 1962, currently sells modified Ford vehicles, as well as performance parts.

 

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Very cool thread!

Nothing like honoring the great legends of our trade
 

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Very cool thread! Nothing like honoring the great legends of our hobby!!!!!!!:agree

Randy do Smokey next. Les

Les, Is this the correct smokey, how about Smokey and Fireball Roberts?



Fireball Roberts and Smokey Yunick pose with the #3 '59 Catalina hardtop. Pontiac produced two NASCAR factory race car options in 1959. The first, like this one, was outfitted with a single four-barrel intake, rated at 330 hp. The rarer and rarely seen 345 hp NASCAR upgrade was illegal for Daytona racing and featured Tri-Power carburetion.

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Henry "Smokey" Yunick (May 25, 1923 - May 9, 2001) was an American mechanic and car designer associated with motorsports. Yunick was deeply involved in the early years of NASCAR, and he is probably most associated with that racing genre. He participated as a racer, designer, and held other jobs related to the sport, but was best known as a mechanic, builder, and crew chief.

He was renowned as an opinionated character who "was about as good as there ever was on engines," according to Marvin Panch, who drove stock cars for Yunick and won the 1961 Daytona 500. His trademark white uniform and battered cowboy hat, together with a cigar or corncob pipe, were a familiar sight in the pits of almost every NASCAR or Indianapolis 500 race for over twenty years. During the 1980s, he wrote a technical column, "Track Tech", for Circle Track magazine.[1] In 1990, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Edward Glenn "Fireball" Roberts, Jr. (January 20, 1929 – July 2, 1964), nicknamed "Fireball", was one of the pioneering race car drivers of NASCAR. BackgroundRoberts was born in Tavares, Florida, and raised in Apopka, Florida where he was interested in both auto racing and baseball. He was a pitcher for the Zellwood Mud Hens, an American Legion baseball team, where he earned the nickname "Fireball" because of his fast ball, not his driving style, which is sometimes disputed. He enlisted with the Army Air Corps in 1945, but was discharged after basic training because of asthma.
 

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DON GAY was a Pontiac Legend in the 60's. Having a family owner Pontiac Dealership was just what he needed. Gay Pontiac build a new Pontiac race car every other year for him. He passed in 2007. Here is the newspaper notice of his passing.



Don Carl Gay, former professional funny-car racer known as the "Texas Teenager" and considered a pioneer by the National Hot Rod Association, was laid to rest Tuesday in Dickinson.

He died June 30 of heart disease at his home in League City. He was 60.

As a teen, Gay watched dozens of races at the now-closed Houston International Raceway in Dickinson. The 15-year-old saw opportunity when his parents were out of town one weekend. Gay boldly drove off with the blue 1958 Bonneville that graced the showroom floor of his father's car dealership and won his first race.

At that moment, Gay knew hot rods were for him. He just had to break the news to his parents.

"When my grandparents got back into town he showed them the trophy," said Gay's son Don Gay Jr. of New York City. "He kind of got in trouble for taking the car out there, but they OK'd his racing."

A year later, Gay became one of the youngest drivers in drag-racing history to win a national title. He ultimately worked his way up to funny cars, or altered factory cars.
 

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PETE ESTES

Elliott "Pete" Estes, an engineer at heart, could see the wheels spinning that morning in 1963 when a bright account executive for Pontiac's advertising agency walked through the door with a notion that would ultimately ignite the "musclecar" era.Estes could see the potential in secretly creating the GTO, a car that would eventually become the subject of songs, movies and passionate car clubs from Detroit, Mich., to Dallas, Tex.But, then, Estes could see a lot of things before they happened. It's that kind of brilliance that would take him from the engineering offices of Chevrolet and Pontiac all the way to the top of General Motors.His hands-on approach won over dealers. His leadership energized a division. His vision led a corporation to profitability. Pete Estes knew how to water, nurture and allow ideas to grow. He knew about life's quick turns."You knew immediately that he was someone who wasn't afraid to try something different," Estes' longtime coworker Semon "Bunkie" Knudsen once said.But back to that dime ...The conversation began innocently enough.It was early 1963 and after years working his way through the ranks, Estes was Pontiac's general manager. He knew the division needed a blast of energy and set out to assemble a team to make it happen.Jim Wangers, the account executive at the advertising agency of MacManus, John and Adams, knew that GM's mandate to pull out of all forms of factory-backed racing in 1963 wouldn't help the company attract young buyers. Wangers' idea was to swap an engine from a full-size Pontiac into the mid-sized body of the Tempest. The car, named the GTO after Ferrari's GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato), also received a number performance upgrades, including a heavy-duty suspension. "It's an old hot-rodder's trick, but I think it could work," Wangers said that day.Estes outlined the plan. The 1964 GTO was born and the rest was history. The original production plans called for about 5,000 units; Pontiac sold more than 30,000 the first model year. Sales topped 97,000 units just two years later. The GTO was the right product at the right time, but Estes was just getting rolling. His ability to spot a trend and ride it would eventually take him to the top.Born Jan. 7, 1916 in Mendon, Mich., Estes was a car guy practically from birth. He graduated from the General Motors Institute in 1938 and then attended the University of Cincinnati where he received a degree in mechanical engineering. Estes began as a young engineer at Oldsmobile in Lansing, Mich., where he helped develop a high-compression engine in 1949. While at Olds, Estes' life took its real first turn.Knudsen had just been given the reins at Pontiac and he needed some fresh ideas and young minds to inject excitement into the brand.A call was placed to Estes."Pete," Knudsen said, "I want you to come over here and help steer us on the right course."Estes was a little hesitant about leaving Olds, at the time a successful GM division."After all," Estes said, "Olds was a fast stepper, while Pontiac certainly was not."But Knudsen and GM styling vice president Harley Earl eventually convinced him to make the move."I just had all my Oldsmobile blood drained out one night," Estes remembered, "and had Pontiac blood pumped in the next morning. That's all there was to it."Estes went to Pontiac as a chief engineer. It was the beginning of an era unequaled in recent automotive history. Together with Knudsen, Pontiac and Estes were on their way up.Over the years, Estes was instrumental in developing the "wide track" concept of the automobile (a wide stance for better handling and more interior room) and also working to equalize the weight distribution of an automobile by mounting the engine in the front and the transmission in the back.But it was his leadership that truly shined through.By 1974 he was elected the 15th president and chief operating officer of GM and held that position until his retirement in 1981."He was a brilliant automobile exec who understood the soul of the car industry," Nat Shulman, a Chevrolet dealer in Massachusetts, wrote about Estes in a story for Ward's, an industry trade paper.Estes died in 1988 after only seven years in retirement, but not before leaving an indelible stamp on an industry.
By JASON STEIN, WHEELBASE COMMUNICATIONS • Published: December 29, 2009
 
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