When I started out in this gig I spoke about my philosophy regarding cars and how they should be used. My theory is that—aside from show cars and rare pieces of history that can't be replaced—our cars need to be driven to be fully enjoyed. I even had the chance to use my favorite quote, "A ship in port in safe, but that's not what ships were made for." The same is true of our cars. Leaving it in your garage is the safest bet, but where is the joy in that? But, enjoying your car on the road or the track does up the risk factor. Drive it hard and that risk ratchets up, but for many so does the joy that their Chevy brings them.
The feature on Dave Wallace's badass 1969 Camaro is in this issue. The car is stunning, and it was built to go really fast, safely. Well, Dave's ship hit a pretty big storm at a high-speed, standing mile event. As you can see by these pics, his Camaro was more than a bit roughed up. As Dave told us, "I was competing in a standing mile shootout when this happened. The previous run was a test/shakedown run used to get the feel of the highway, and the wind blowing. I ran 196 mph and the car was stable and felt good. I'm pretty positive it would have gone in the 210/220-mph range. The next run something happened right after the 2-3 shift. The car took a hard right at about 140 mph and down into a ditch. It caught some air, I was told 15 feet of it, and then proceeded to roll eight times. With a well-built 'cage and safety gear I was able get out under my own power and walk away with very minor injuries."
As a testament to the quality of his safety gear, the 'cage suffered no visible damage and the Fuel Safe cell kept the gasoline in contained. All of the safety gear, from his helmet to his harness system, let Dave walk away from what was a very serious crash. So, like I've said before, buy your safety gear like your life depends on it, because it does.
So, what's Dave's plan now? "We're going to rebuild the car better than before. While [the car is] down, we also plan on doing some safety videos and gather data to help people build safer cars!" When you dare big you sometimes get slapped down. It's just the potential cost of admission. Big Red has been nearly destroyed several times, but it always come back better than before and ready to tackle the next patch of rough water. Dave's Camaro will be back as well and the joy it brings him when he's running it hard will be worth every bit of the risk.
Photos by Allison Schneider of A&P Productions