While the drama of the 54th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals was unfolding over the 2010 Labor Day Weekend in Indianapolis, a diehard group of GM muscle car owners congregated some 243 miles to the west at Madison, Illinois' Gateway International Raceway (GIR) and nearby Collinsville, Illinois' Gateway Center to attend the Yenko Sportscar Club's 13th annual Musclecar Reunion. Of course, if you've never attended one of these events, the concept of taking a quarter-millon-dollar plus Chevy muscle car and flogging the daylights out of it at the dragstrip may seem a risky proposition. But then again, that is the nature of the beast.
"Don Yenko intended for people to have fun with the cars bearing his name, and that's exactly what we're doing," says Yenko Sportscar Club Executive Director Tom Clary. "It doesn't matter whether it's a survivor car, a racecar, or a restoration, the welcome mat is always out at the Supercar Reunion."
Yenkos aside, the sYc doesn't discriminate, as all types of '60s and '70s Bow Tie muscle cars are welcome-Baldwin-Motion, Berger, COPO, Dana, and Nickey Chevrolets, along with the Brand-X-ers, including vintage Mopars, Fords, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles, Buick's and AMCs. Just as long as it's Detroit born and bred. The sYc's definition of a "mucle car" also includes contemporary machines like the 2010-and-newer Camaro and others.
Quickest time at Friday's open track session went to Ed Rambeaux, Jr. and his Nickey-sold '68 427/four-speed Camaro at 9.92/136.00. Second quickest was Jim Park's Nickey Chicago-sponsored big-block '63 Nova at 10.114/131.46. Perrenial sYc favorite Pete Gerling and his '69 Yenko Camaro were the event's third quickest at 10.714/127.13. Clary rolled up with a number of stovebolts, with one of them being an original '70 Yenko Deuce race car, which ran a 10.732 at 122.63; another was the ex-Bob Hamilton SS/DA '70 LS6 Chevelle, alias "Red Alert." It clocked a torque-twisting 10.821 at 123.09.
Running in the 11s were the likes of Kim Howie driving the ex-Fred Gibb Chevrolet/Herb Fox AHRA GT1/NHRA Pro Stock '70 Camaro at 11.381 at 118.14. Clocking an easy 11.484/98.33 was 1970 NHRA Nationals SS/C winner Ken Barnhart's '69 ZL1 Camaro, while Mark Hassett, Jr. and his '68 Baldwin-Motion L88 Camaro clocked an 11.774 at 117.46.
Event title sponsor, Nickey Chicago, rolled up with an 18-wheeler load of fifth-gen LS3 and LS7-powered '10 Camaros. However, traction with the IRS-equipped cars appeared to be problematic. In the end, Jon Clary's automatic-transmission LS7 car proved the quickest at 11.751 at 116.23 on street tires. Here's one for the books: Clary's Yenko accelerated so hard that it prompted the folks at ONSTAR to call and inquire, 'Mr. Clary, have you been involved in an accident?"
Friday's activities concluded with late afternoon show car move-in, followed by a banquet with former Fred Gibb Chevrolet Parts Manager Bob Lionburger, who was the evening's featured speaker. Saturday's activities were two-fold, with the Gateway Center's Main Hall hosting the non-judged Supercar Reunion concourse, while the Gateway Camaro Club-hosted show-'n'-shine event was held outside in the adjacent parking lot.