What a difference a day makes. With sun and heat on Saturday, the opening day for the Super Chevy Show at U.S. 131 Dragway, thousands of enthusiasts flocked to the venerable racetrack in Martin, Michigan. There was heads-up action on the quarter-mile and plenty of perfect Bow-Ties on the car show field to examine.
But by Sunday morning, the sunglasses and sunscreen that were so necessary just 12 hours before were replaced by umbrellas and soggy car covers. The rain came and toyed with participants and the racetrack crew. Downpours would subside long enough for officials to attempt track-drying and car show participants to wipe down their rain-drenched Chevys; then repeat the futile process as Mother Nature cracked open a few more clouds. Racing was finally called off, but car show participants stuck it out, and judging and awards were completed between the showers.
"Well, the law of averages is bound to catch up with you," said Roger Gustin, father of the Super Chevy Show. "This was our 18th year at Martin. I can't remember the last time we had rain."
Eighteen years is a long time for any event, and it speaks to the dedication of area enthusiasts. In this rural part of western Michigan, Chicago is closer than Detroit and the Super Chevy Show attracts as many Windy City participants as those from the Motor City. Indiana isn't too far away, either, and the show field and pits are filled with Hoosiers, as well.
One of the Indiana faithful at Martin was Mike Roy. We were standing near the gate when he drove his '71 Monte Carlo onto the grounds. With its flat hood, we assumed the whine from underneath it was a gear drive. We were wrong. It was the whine of an ATI Procharger centrifugal supercharger.
Roy drove the Monte Carlo to the event from his Indiana home, but didn't park it in the show field. He drove straight to the pits, made a few adjustments and headed for the staging lanes. The heavy Chevy then proceeded to rip off mid-10-second quarter-miles all day.
"We can't stick around for Sunday," Roy told us. "We'll drive it back home tonight." The car's seemingly easy roles as both street car and 10-second stormer impressed us, so we gave it one of our Editor's Choice drag car awards.
But Roy's Monte wasn't the only big Chevy putting up big numbers on the boards. Phil Silardi's Detroit-based '71 Impala looked like a whale among dolphins in the staging lanes. But its 477-cube big-block helped propel the silver land yacht past many of the slimmer Chevys to 9.50 e.t.'s.
"All motor," Silardi says. "I've got a nitrous system, but haven't squeezed it yet."
The quick antics of these fullsize Bow-Ties were crowd pleasers, but nothing packs the stands like the announcement of Nitro Coupes. Veteran racers like Bill Kuhlman wowed the fans with mid-six-second runs, despite the funky air at U.S. 131 Dragway. Unfortunately, the great Nitro Coupe competition that was promised by Saturday's qualifying was killed off by Sunday's rain. Bummer.
With all this talk of racing, you'd think nothing was going on in the show field. You'd be wrong. Despite the inclement weather, some fine Chevys were on hand and shining...Well, at least they were shining on Saturday.
And rain or shine, the car owners were the bright spots in our weekend. We've gotten to know many of them over the years at Martin, and we enjoy the familiar faces every June.