Collinsville, Illinois, September 1-2, 2006. If Shelby enthusiast's have the Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) to call their very own, then what do Chevrolet Corvair, Nova, Chevelle and Camaro enthusiasts have? How about the Yenko Sportscar Club or the SYC?
Confused? When international sports car driving champion and Chevrolet dealer-turned-musclecar builder Don Yenko formed the original club, he decided to transpose the initials to SYC, with the Capitol Y obviously standing for "Yenko." In fact, it became his trademark. But no matter how you arrange the letters, the result(s) have always been the same. Namely, Yenko Chevrolet-inspired fun!
These guys like to race their cars and the Yenko Sportscar Club has its own national convention which they call the Super Car Reunion, held Labor Day Weekend just a stones throw away from St. Louis, MO, at Gateway International Raceway and nearby Gateway Center, located in rural Collinsville, Illinois.
"Although our club primarily concentrates on the cars Don Yenko built, the COPOs, the Fred Gibb-Dick Harrell Chevrolet specialty cars, the DANA and Nickey Chevrolet specialty cars, and Berger and Baldwin-Motion Performance Chevrolet specialty cars are all welcome," said Tom Clary, the SYC president.
Furthermore the Yenko Sportscar Club wholeheartedly welcomes "non-GM" entries to their conventions. This year's count included at least a half dozen Mopars, Pontiacs and even one lone Buick Gran Sport. Cool eh?
The two-day Musclecar Reunion IX event schedule went something like this. Friday, September 1, everybody congregated at Gateway International Raceway bright and early for a full day's worth of unlimited drag racing. No classes. No trophies. Just for the fun of it!
Once underway, the drag racing segment of this year's Musclecar Reunion IX featured seventy (70) high performance GM musclecars from all across the United States and Canada. Quick time of the event went to Pete Gerling's Fathom Green 1969 Yenko 427 Camaro SC which clocked a best of 10.70-124.00 on slicks over arch rival Drew Driesner and his Hugger Orange 1969 Yenko 427 Camaro SC who seemed somewhat off the pace this year running in the 10.90's.
The incredible Dover White 1969 COPO 427 Camaro belonging to Glencoe, Ontario Canada's Pete Simpson was definitely on top of its game. The Pure Stock Drag Racing Association (PSRDA,) standout ran 11.90's at 115+ MPH with ease, and that was on Goodyear F70 bias ply Polyglas tires!
Elgin, Illinois COPO Camaro owner Ken Barnhart is usually the fastest and quickest Chevrolet at the Supercar Reunion with his original owner 1969 SS/B COPO 427 Camaro. After a close call with the Gateway International Raceway guard rail last year (due to a broken traction bar,) Barnhart spent the entire winter back halving his COPO, and spent most of Supercar Reunion IX getting used to his new chassis combination.
At Friday evening's banquet, Pontiac Historical Services representative Jim Mattison spoke about his glory days with Chevrolet Division and the COPO vehicle build programs in particular and how they directly benefited sixties supercar builders like Don Yenko, etc.
A special surprise guest appearance came in the form of none other than Lyn Yenko Zoiopoulis, now a doctor of cardiology at Northwestern PC. In a post banquet interview with this writer, Lynn recalled her Yenko Chevrolet dealership days, working in the front office, and striping Yenko Corvairs, Nova's, Chevelles and Camaros as if it were only yesterday.
Also in attendance was Helen Gibb, widow of the late Fred Gibb (Fred Gibb Chevrolet) and her daughter Nancy. Much to everyone's delight, Helen brought her fully restored, Fathom Blue, 375 HP, L78 option 1968 Fred Gibb Nova SS 396 to the event.
Bright and early, Saturday, September 2, sixty four (64) GM musclecars filed into the air conditioned Gateway Center arena for the display only car show, while an additional eighty (80) musclecars, restorations and street machines rolled up for the Gateway Camaro Club-hosted outdoor Muscle Car show being held in the adjacent Gateway Center parking lot, vying for trophies in five (5) categories.
If you missed this year's event, the good news is that Supercar Reunion #10 is already in the planning stages, and event organizer Tom Clary has some big surprises in store for the 10th anniversary celebration. For further information contact Tom Clary at: http:/www.yenko.net, or call, (417) 331-4205.
After a near miss with the GIR guardrail last year (broken traction bar), Elgin, Illinois COPO owner Ken Barnhart went home, and back halved his '69 big-block Camaro just in time to have it ready for this year's event. Usually one of the fastest and quickest cars at the Musclecar reunion, Ken spent most of his day getting used to his new chassis combination.
Collectibles are a big part of the GM musclecar movement...
...and it doesn't matter whether they be Yenko, Fred Gibb-Dick Harrell, Nickey, DANA, or Baldwin-Motion, the stuff is worth a king's ransom.
This display belongs to SYC member and "toastmaster" Brandon Barr.
Instead of a spare tire, 1970-1/2 Camaro Z-28 owner Phil Borris carried a spare car!
This beautiful Marina Blue 1970-1/2 Camaro belongs to SYC member Darin Costello.
Gateway Camaro Club president Mike Stietz poses alongside his '74. Mike and the entire Club really worked their tails off to produce another great Musclecar Show.
Event organizer Tom Clary and Dr, Lynn Yenko Zoiopoulos stand alongside the last racecar Don Yenko drove prior to his untimely passing. Zoiopoulos and her sox Alex drove down Friday evening from Chicago, and appeared to really enjoy Saturday's activities.
This Brickyard 400 Pace Car is just one of a number of pace cars on the Gateway Camaro Club roster.
Former Camaro Performers feature subject, Washington, Missouri's JoAnn Peters is in the process of raffling off her Pro Touring 1969 Camaro to benefit the "Kids In Cars" program, the S.T.A.R. Peds Pediatric Therapy Program, and the Crosspoint Christian School. Tickets were $10.00 a throw. Sorry Camaro Performers readers, by the time this gets printed, a winner will have already been selected.
On Friday, September 1, Pete Gerling was the first car to roll up into the GIR burnout box with his Fathom Green, 1969 Yenko 427 Camaro SC. Gerling's first run was a sign of things to come as the Camaro driver was the quickest car at the meet running as low as 10.70-seconds.
This is Tony Allison's API Hot Rods-prepared 1969 Yenko 427 Camaro SC, complete with seldom-seen RS front grillwork.
Drew Driesner and Pete Gerling make like Super Stock cars and light 'em up with their '69 vintage Yenko 427 SCs. For the last couple of years, these two guys have had a friendly rivalry going. In the process, speeds and elapsed times have plunged from the low 11's to high 10's. On the final, Gerling's SC laid down a 10.70-124.00 to set Low ET of the Meet, while Driesner recorded a best of 10.90.
Joe Platania's Dover White with black vinyl top 1969 Yenko 427 Camaro SC lights the tires in the GIR bleach box. Joe has been a regular at the SYC Supercar reunion for many years.
And we had mentioned Motion 427 Camaros. Here's a real nice one!