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One for the Books

2003 Super Chevy Finally Dried Out

Tony Kelly Jun 8, 2004

Farmers may hate droughts but the racing and show car world might have welcomed a short one during the 2003 season. All over the country, Super Chevy, NHRA, IHRA, NASCAR, and every other sanctioning body fought the rain, sometimes for weeks on end. Were it not for the faithful Super Chevy fans who stuck with us through thick and thin, wet and dry, we would have had not fun at all. As it was, there were show cars, fast cars, and great fans all year long at every event who made Super Chevy what is: fun for everyone.

2003 began in Memphis, which was a change from our usual "start-up" event in Pomona. It worked out for the best giving us a bit more time to finish up Project X, our road tour machine for 2003. Memphis is a great place for Super Chevy and the show ranks in the top five as far as attendance and participants. It's worth it just for the swap meet and car corral, which extend down the far side of the track (the full quarter mile and shut down area) in at least three solid rows of cars and booths. Add to this the fact that many of our manufacturer's and sponsors (such as Autozone and Comp Cams) are based in Memphis, the food and music are the best, and the "Big Muddy" flows through town, we probably should go there more than once.

After a typical warm and dry Phoenix show, we were chomping at the bit to roll Project X out of D&P Chevy and start our inaugural Super Chevy Road Tour at Pomona. Wrong! Monsoon season hit on Saturday and there was no reason to even pretend; that day's show was over. Little did we know that we would have the clouds follow us around the country all year, even forcing us to re-schedule the Epping, New Hampshire, show from May to August. That was a better time for us to be there because we say a moose in a field about a mile from the track. We don't see moose (or meese or mooses) in May.

The biggest cloud of all rolled over Denver when we lost Nitro Coupe Driver and Team Owner John Reynolds in a fatal crash at the top end of the drag strip. One of the truly good guys in racing, and a friend to many Super Chevy Show folks, he is sorely missed.

Ironically the Martin, Michigan, event went off on schedule. That show had been cancelled each of the last 2 years because of weather-related problems; go figure. When we got into the meat of the summer we sailed into Indy and on to Maple Grove. Indy got pretty wet but nothing can stop the "Big One" and we only had soggy ground to deal with one day and the sun was out on Saturday and Sunday. You just can't mess with Indy. By this time the Project X Road Tour was in full swing and we drove the "World's Most Famous '57 Chevy" on the Hot Rod Power Tour before we took it to Indy, Maple Grove, Norwalk, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, Houston, Montgomery, Alabama, and finally back to the West Coast.

Project X made starring appearances at the SEMA show, the Tucson, Arizona, Super Chevy Show and the season wrap up in Las Vegas leading the final LA to Vegas Cruise. For those of you who haven't compared the 2003 and 2004 show schedules, we won't be at Phoenix, Tucson, or Las Vegas but we will be in Toronto, Canada, along with two stops in Florida; Bradenton to start the season and Gainesville to end it. All of our West Coast fans will have to catch up with us at Pomona or Denver. Looking forward to seeing all of you in 2004.


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Dan Nickelson debuted his beautiful C5 Corvette at Memphis. Early runs were fine but the car needed more than sorting out; it wound up with extensive chassis redesign later in the season. Nickelson's team went back to the Beretta and the rest is history.

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Bright Camaros and the bluest sky we saw all year waited for us in Phoenix.

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The blue sky didn't stay with us but the bright Chevys did. Project X came back to Pomona on Sunday and made its debut.

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Queen of Diamonds Jessica Willard learned fast in her first year driving a jet. Here at Dallas she warms us up on her way to nearly 300 mph.

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The smell of nitro and burning rubber in front of a packed grandstand--that's Super Chevy Nitro Coupe racing. John Reynolds, still running strong and having won his first Nitro Final in Memphis, lights 'em up for the crowd in Atlanta.

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Two of the strongest competitors in Nitro Coupe, Dan Nickelson (left) and Gary Irving blast away from the green light in Bristol.

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If you wonder why it's called Thunder Valley, you only have to be here between these hills when Nitro cars run.

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Part picnic, part day in the park, all fun the Super Chevy Show in Maple Grove, PA, keeps us coming back for more every year. We love the place!

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A couple of examples of slightly different Camaros at Norwalk, OH. Tommy Howes' Nitro Coupe got better and more competitive every meet. We look for big things from this team in 2004.

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The biggest grin at the show was on the face of young Michael Kosmo from Loraine, OH, in his modified '69 Camaro.

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We got a couple of rain breaks at Epping, NH, during which we hurried the Nitro Coupes out for time trials. Unfortunately, the Sunday runs were washed out before the finals could be run.

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When we go to Chicago what do we want to see? The Chicago Outlaws, of course, the wildest, fastest, most radical street machines in the country. Cranking off speeds in the 180-mph range in the low-8-second bracket, these guys never fail to thrill.

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Heading west, we stop at the Rockies. Bandimere Speedway in Denver is in the foothills and brings out tons of Super Chevy fans.

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If Chris Pilos can drive his Gold Class '57 Chevy in the rain, we can certainly take a photo of it. Columbus, OH, weather got us all the way through the awards ceremony but then washed us down.

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Now that's a wheelstand! Dale Poole from Pascagoula, MS, launched his '70 Corvette like a Titan rocket at Montgomery, AL. He earned an Editor's Choice Top Ten Drag Car award but the car landed a bit hard so Poole spent the weekend watching other racers (photo by Showcase Photo).

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Custom Chevys were everywhere. In Richmond, VA, we caught sight of James Elam's slant back '51 from Ocean City, MD. Great flames and paint!

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Getting out to Gainesville ranks high on our list of great Super Chevy Shows. Among the great cars we saw was Gerald Copeland's '62 Corvette from Tifton, GA.

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Jessica Willard was still cranking off 300-mph runs late in the season. We waited for her at the top end in Tucson, AZ, for this "chute shot." It's a whole different experience at the "big end."

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This much sheetmetal calls for some serious flamework. By the time we got to Las Vegas (late November) the weather and wind blew us around enough that we wished these flames gave off real heat.

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Where have these cars been? Jerry Yoder of Sumner, WA, rolled out this '57 Nomad for the Vegas show. It would be easy to walk by and think it was just another nicely done wagon resto except it has a dual-quad solid-lifter engine (270 hp), with a three-speed stick transmission. It's probably impossible to know how many Nomads came equipped like this one, but we guess most buyers opted for more comfortable and low-level engine-trans combos. It's our kind of car, though.


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