Turning his attention indoors, Gary opted for safety and durability over weight savings by constructing the car's floorboards from 0.060-inch steel, rather than aluminum. The driver-side floorpan was extended into the engine compartment, adding legroom and comfort for long hours of cruising. Driver and passenger accommodations consist of vinyl-clad fabricated aluminum race seats with five-point harnesses. Gary keeps tabs on the revs and velocity with a 5-inch tach and speedo combination that he views through a classic Corvette-style three-spoke steering wheel. The fiberglass dash contains a quartet of Auto Meter Phantom gauges, stacked Grand Sport-style in place of the superfluous factory radio. In order to give the remainder of the interior a finished appearance, Gary constructed lightweight kick plates and rear-compartment panels and upholstered them in GM-issue black carpet.
From the very beginning, the plan was to have more than a race car with a token license plate, so Gary built this car to be driven, and driven often. "I built the car to maintain a stock appearance with tons of drag strip potential." Yeah, we know, calling this car "stock appearing" is akin to calling Michael Jackson original and unmodified. Nevertheless, Gary is proud of the efforts made to maintain stock features such as turn signals, horn, and even a high-beam indicator. In fact, the conservative gearset and tall tires allow the car to lope down the highway at 70 mph and only about 3,000 rpm. Gary tells us he manages to knock down a respectable (for 1,000-plus horsepower) 12 miles to the gallon.
OK, so it goes down the road just fine, but what's it like at the track? In a word, it's a handful. "The first time out at the dragstrip, the car went an unbelievable 8.40 and scared the pants off me. You have to understand that I had previously made passes in the upper 6s in my long-wheelbase dragster, but shooting down the quarter-mile in a 98-inch-wheelbase door-slammer is a harrowing experience. It's like driving a Chevette or a Vega in the eights. You really have to 'drive' the car, and it's still a handful to this day."
The list of accolades bestowed on the '65-both on and off the track-is long and distinguished. Gary nailed down the win at the '01 Ohio Fastest Street Car Shootout with an 8.07 at 171 mph. "After the run, the car was inspected by an Ohio State Trooper to [verify it was] street legal, and we had to participate in a half-hour cruise. Since I do this all the time anyway, and because I have a 16-gallon fuel tank, it was no problem at all." The car has also been awarded Judge's Choice at the Mid America Motorworks Funfest, Best Engineered Car, Outstanding Pro-Street, and Best Pro-Street at ISCA's Cleveland Autorama.
Gary tells us his son Cory has now taken up musclecar artistry, just like the old man did at his age. "He's grown up at the track and in the garage with a wrench in his hand, and he loves this car just as much as I do." Careful, Gary, you may just have another monster on your hands.