Imagine a competition where you not only have to turn in the best average speed over three runs down the dragstrip, but also travel 15 miles to the track through Memphis and run on fuel you purchased at the local gas station. If you were to create such a competition, what would you call it? How about the Pump Gas Drags?
The recent Comp Cams and Rocket Brand Fuel-sponsored Pump Gas Drags at Memphis Motor Speedway brought out some of the wildest-looking and hottest-performing cars in the country. Everything from a '34 Ford coupe to a Datsun 240, an '86 Chevy S-10, and a fun-to-watch Viper versus Vette shootout was staged on Friday night. The result was a high-speed competition that intensified as the evening progressed. Competitors from as far away as New York, California, Texas, and Calgary and Ontario, Canada made the haul to Memphis for this inaugural event.
The premise of the competition was to bring street-legal cars together to compete for top honors as Pump Gas Drag Champion. The event began with a safety and tech inspection at Comp Cams headquarters. Cars were inspected, and all fuel was drained from the systems and replaced by 15 gallons of Rocket Brand 93-octane fuel. Then the cars were quarantined for the competition slated for Saturday. Unfortunately, a rainstorm expected on Saturday pushed up the program to Friday night.
Broken into two groups, the cars set off on a 32.5-mile trek to Motorsports Park, a journey that found three cars overheating in Friday evening Memphis traffic, one tossing a blower belt, and another dropping an ignition box.
All of the cars, except the one with the blower-belt failure and those no longer qualified for the competition, made their way to the track and took their turns running against the clock.
Of that group of disqualified cars was Steve Hoch's magnificent '68 big-block Corvette. His car turned out to be one of the hottest-performing cars in the competition and turned in what would have been an event-winning performance. His ultra-consistent 9.17, 9.17, and 9.18 second quarter-mile times were the most amazing of the event and must have scared the other competitors.
The overall winner was Robert Schmitt's Chevrolet-powered machine. His cool Chevelle logged an average time of 9.44 seconds, making it the winner of the day. Congratulations, Robert.
Top Finishers And Times:1. Robert SchmittOceanside, NY'67 Chevy Chevelle9.34 @ 147.219.42 @ 140.819.46 @ 138.67Average: 9.44 @ 141 mph
2. Kenneth CloseMunhall, PA'34 Ford Three-Window Coupe9.29 @ 149.259.21 @ 150.789.84 @ 136.06Average: 9.44 @ 145.36
3. John CunninghamCary, IL'68 Chevy Nova9.08 @ 151.549.22 @ 150.7010.12 @ 149.10Average: 9.47 @ 150.44
4. Raymond DoughtyPleasant Valley, NY'70 Chevy Nova SS9.12 @ 148.799.09 @ 146.4310.54 @ 118.26Average: 9.58 @ 137.82
5. Mike ThompsonRoscoe, IL'86 Chevy S1010.22 @ 136.449.43 @ 141.809.46 @ 141.46Average: 9.70 @ 139.90
26. Tommy MichalkowskiBrick, NJ'97 Corvette11.04 @ 125.7511.14 @ 124.2911.29 @ 123.56Average: 11.15 @ 124.53
Did-not-qualify Corvettes:Larry RobbEagle, ID'66 Corvette12.61 @ 99.4217.12 @ 53.82
Steve Hoch'68 Corvette9.17 @ 148.809.17 @ 148.859.18 @ 148.90Average: 9.17 @ 148.85Note: Car broke down on cruise.
On The BlockThis month, our coverage of Corvettes sold at auction took us down a well-known story line: "There's an old car in that old barn."
Many of you have probably heard about someone finding a special vintage automobile tucked away for years under a blanket in a barn on a farm somewhere out in the country. Over the years, I've found a number of these vehicles; and, yes, they're still out there today in barns, outbuildings, and garages scattered around the nation.
I was pleased recently to be notified of an estate auction to be held in Greensboro, North Carolina. Included in the auction were seven Corvettes and hundreds of parts, many classified as N.O.S.
The Corvettes and parts were stored in a series of outbuildings. At the auction preview, we talked with a police officer who lived in the area. For a year, he had driven by the property daily and had no idea the Corvettes or parts were stored there. And local Corvette enthusiasts didn't know about them or the owner (now deceased) who collected and stored them.
We were at the auction to record the action and had a bidder's card in the event one of the seven Corvettes could be had at a below-market price. However, I never needed to use my card.
The seven Corvettes included coupes and roadsters, new and old, some in excellent condition and some needing total restoration. It was a beautiful day and the crowd took advantage of the weather to look at and talk about America's No. 1 sports car.
The first Corvette auctioned was a '62 roadster in street-driven condition with a non-original 327 motor. It also had a four-speed manual transmission and a removable hardtop. It sold for $29,000. This Corvette sold new for $4,038, but today's market prices bring $40,000 for one in good condition with the correct motor. A '65 Corvette roadster with a 350 motor, a big-block hood, non-original wheels, no front bumpers, and in average street-driven condition sold for $22,000.
A '66 Corvette coupe with an original, numbers-matching 427-425 motor, knock-off wheels, and telescopic steering column drew active bidding even though it needed total restoration. This high-performance Corvette found a new home at $41,000.
Two '67 Corvettes were offered. A numbers-matching 327-350 roadster in primer paint was in need of complete assembly including the interior. It had all of the parts and interior to complete the restoration, a four-speed manual transmission, factory air-conditioning, and a black vinyl removable hardtop. It sold for $40,000.
The highlight of the auction was the other '67 Corvette, a black coupe in show condition. It had the correct numbers-matching 327-300 motor, four-speed manual transmission, factory air conditioning, optional bolt-on wheels, factory side exhaust, power steering, power brakes, power windows, telescopic steering column, and a black leather interior with headrest seats. This beauty found a new home at $52,000. The only downside of this Corvette was that the paint code showed it was Goodwood Green when it came off the assembly line in 1967.
A '69 Corvette, a Monza Red T-top in good condition, also drew a considerable amount of attention. It had the original 350-350 motor, four-speed manual transmission, factory air-conditioning, power steering, power brakes, speed alert, late-model factory aluminum wheels, and side exhaust. It sold for $22,500.
Rounding out the collection was a '98 Sebring Silver coupe with a six-speed manual transmission. It had two removable roof panels and only 14,546 original miles. The original window sticker showed a price of $42,454; the new owner's final sale bid was $24,000.
The bottom line: You never know what you'll find in that old barn by the side of the road.
Z06 Rumor MillWhile the official word about the standard '05 Corvette is out, the rumor mill concerning the new Z06 version is still churning. From some "reliable sources," we've heard this:The new Z06 engine option will fall slightly short of the 500hp final figure, but just barely. While that may hearten the spirits of those Viper fans who gloat over their 500-plus-horsepower machines, Corvette fans should not be despondent. The rumor is, the new Z06 will be 150 pounds lighter than the standard '05 Corvette, courtesy of features such as a magnesium front crossmember, a carbon-fiber hood, and lightened shock components. Remember, the '05 Corvette in standard form is lighter than the current '04 C5 Corvette.