Viper Nation

Supercar Dodge Viper site with pictures, technical info, experiential stories with a few other winter action extreme stories posted.

RTTTTed On August - 4 - 2011

 

Those Damn GMs

 

Ted Hlokoff




The Camaro lifted as it took off.  My 12.5 x 26” tries started smoking and my 72 Charger drifted sideways.  I managed to keep my car driving towards the finish line even though I was 45 degrees from straight.  The Z28 had wrinkle slicks and I was already looking at his taillights!  Finally I got some traction in second gear (with a 3 speed automatic) and started to catch the Camaro.  Shifting into third gear I lost traction and went sideways again … What was going on?  I never broke the wide tires loose in third gear .  My rear end found decent pavement  and straightened out so the headlights were pointed at the finish line.  With nearly an eighth mile behind me I needed to run this Camaro down.  I was ‘pulling’ on him, but he was still 2 lengths in front of me.  I chased him down and going about 50mph faster than him, shot past a hundred feet before the finish line. 

 

 

After going back to the starting line it became obvious that the left lane had no traction.  Although it looked fine, the tires slipped and slid all over the road.  The right lane (Roots insisted that he get the right lane or he wouldn’t race) was fine.  Doug Roots argued that he’d been in front at the finish, but this was a track I’d run many times and I knew where the finish was.  Personally, I was glad that so many of these well heeled street racers went with a small block chevy.  What if some of them actually started building Big Block engines?  God forbid that I might actually lose …

 

 

Doug had started with a ‘well built’ 69 Z28.  Of course it came with a 302 and a 4 speed so it wasn’t that difficult to beat.  Even wrinkle slicked and my side of the track lubed up with Antifreeze, I still caught up and was more than a half a car length in front by the finish.  Unfortunately, for Doug, the oil plug vibrated out of his engine and drained the oil causing catastrophic engine failure after the race.  Although he’d made an appointment for me to kick his ass again, but for money, he never showed up and I had to beat all the other Chevys that were around – which was normal.  Doug spent another $5K and had a 355 ci. engine built, but I kicked ass on that one too.  His third attempt was worth a story all on its own.

 

 

A month lasterI found a 69 Buick Skylark that had taken the owner 5 years to build.  Although I’d expected an L88 or 454, this tubbed Skylark had a 455 with extensive aftermarket parts.  Sneaking out to 198th Street because Latimer Road had become a ‘heat score’ we went north to an Industrial area that had the back road (198) that didn’t get used at night.  I suspect that this was John Henry’s first race against another car side by side.  He drove and handled the car well, but he was really nervous.  Once he lined up beside me he ran his rpms up and was ready to go.  I’d finished my tire warming burnout AND pulled to the line.  The starter lifted his hands and … John left.  The starter quickly ran his arms up and dropped them so I was only 2 car lengths behind the Skylark as I smashed the throttle. 

 

As we wailed down the road I was gaining and it would be a close race at the finish.  A quarter length behind, then suddenly I was past and across the finish line first!  We turned around and went back to the start.  Parking I walked over to John Henry’s dark blue Skylark and asked him what happened.

 

“I nearly had you,” he said.

 

“Well you did leave two car lengths early,” I replied.  “Did you run out of gears?” I asked him,  because as I pulled beside him his car had stopped accelerating.

 

“557s are too short and I’ll need a set of 513s for the next race,” was his reply.

 

John did eventually change to the slightly higher gears but we didn’t race again.  I suspect that he was quite smart and liked that he’d raced me and come within a few feet of winning.  That may be why he parked his car and didn’t bring it out racing any longer.

 

I did manage another race with an ex-Camaro buddy of Root’s.  Hi father was a Minister of finance for BC and he was well heeled since his job was a Boilermaker.  His Camaro had been retired (or sold) and Chabot had replaced it with a 69 AMX body.  Fiberglass doors, hood etc. this car came with his roller cammed 454 under the hood. 

 

Cruising Langley early one Friday I saw Chabot driving around in his car carrier truck.  We stopped and he asked if I was interested in racing his AMX since it was running good.  Naturally I wanted to meet the AMX on the starting line.  I heard that his car had gone high nine seconds at Bremerton Raceway a week or two ago.  We agreed to meet on the starting line at Latimer Road in 3 hours. 

 

I was running a 68 cuda fastback with my hydraulic cammed, tunnel rammed 440 engine.  Mostly stock shortblock, I’d done hundreds of hours of work on the engine and hand ported the heads with a drill.  I’d studied the Direct Connection Racing manuals and even had a few tricks in my engine and chassis that weren’t listed.  Me and my ‘entourage’ (I usually had several friends that I hung around with) had coffee in Langley for a couple hours, then went to my house and got the ‘cuda out of the garage.  I figured that the 10 mile drive would be perfect for warming up my ‘cuda and making ready to run, so we left.

 

Turning the corner off of 24th Ave onto Latimer Rd I pulled to the side of the road.  The small rocks that my 14 x 32W slicks were picking up could be heard bouncing off my aluminum tubs. 

 

As I got out of the car Chabot said, “If you want to race we need to go right now because I’ve been testing my car.  I’ve been making a lot of noise, but I’m ready to go.”

 

 

2 cars pulled up in front of the starting line and the drivers got out.  We walked over and asked them to move around the corner, before the starting line.  In reply our heritage was insulted.

 

Chabot said, “If you don’t move your cars RIGHT NOW, Hlokoff and I are gonna go race somewhere else and you won’t be around to see it.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize … we’ll move right away,” and the two offending drivers ran to their cars and moved back of the starting line and out of our way. 

 

Chabot and I went to our cars.  I started mine and backed up.  Chabot started his and moved forward into two puddles of water that he’d placed on the road and smoked his slicks.  As I did a dry smoky line-lock (I didn’t bring water) Chabot was out of the water and slowly moved ahead until he was in small puddles of traction compound, where he gave the tires a few spins and slowly rolled ahead waiting for the compound to soak into the rubber.  My “tire buddy” Glen had my squirt bottle with my Moroso traction compound and he squirted the pavement in front of my tires.  I guess he was a little slow moving away, because he started to lean in towards my tire again as I stood on it and I saw the expression on his face as he looked to be ‘blown away’ by the fumes, exhaust and smoke my open headers shot at him. 

 

I cracked the door and he nodded his head at me.  I slowly rolled a few feet and stopped, waiting for Glen to line us up.  Lined up, tires hot and the starter ready to flag us off, we upped our revs and waited.  Once the starter’s hands were high (yes, Pinks was copied from us), we raised the revs to stall point.  Dropping his arms Glen ran to my side of the road.  Next time he’ll need to stand farther away because he had to run past me at full speed with no time to slow before running into the ditch … to avoid getting hit.  If it would have been any closer I would have shut down, but close is how we run when there are 2 nine second cars only 3 feet apart that will be manage 130mph across the finish line.

 

 

Tires smoking, engines screaming, both cars launched hard with smoking wrinkle slicks.  We left the line perfectly, side by side.  A hundred feet out Chabot got some traction, but I kept spinning!  I pulled an inch ahead of him, then two.  I smoked my slicks for another 50 feet and was ahead by a half fender as I got traction.  Then I started to pull away, slowly at first and then quicker.  I was pounding the steering wheel and yelling, “Yah, still King.”  I was only yelling because I was alone, of course.  I was beating Chabot’s race car and he never even got an inch in front of me!  Although popular opinion was that Chebot’s AMX was the most powerful street car in Vancouver area, I kicked his butt, and his car didn’t even have taillights, insurance or plates!  To keep the stories honest and cut down on ‘bench racing’ we had a spotter in the ditch at the finish line.  The spotter said I crossed the finish line 2 car lengths ahead of Chabot!  Crossing the finish we both slowed quickly as there were houses a quarter mile farther down the road and we didn’t want to bother the owners more than necessary.  Chebot ran his car directly onto his trailer.  He’d asked a local to move his car hauler down the road past the finish line and lower his ramps for him.  This way he could get his illegal car off the road as quickly as possible.  He did walk back and congratulate me on the win – being a gentleman, which is how I perceive most car guys!

 

Again, my Dodge was the ass kicker which was normal for anywhere within 100 miles of Vancouver.  Before me the Ass Kickin’ King was called “Quicksilver”.  It was a modified 440 in a 63 Valiant with a straight axle.  He’d retired a couple years before my time.  I was merely continuing a Mopar tradition.  My Dad was great but other than doing a burnout and losing control wrecking his 55 Chevy hitting a Telephone pole, he was pretty mellow as a driver. 

 

My Uncles were a different story however.  Uncle Mickey was showing me how all his back teeth were gone.  He’d been driving a 68 Barracuda Formula ‘S’ with a 273 Commando when it flew off of a corner.  Sailing through the air and bouncing over boulders strewn throughout the field my Uncle said, “I couldn’t hang on with my hands so I bit the steering wheel as hard as I could.  Probably saved me, but I lost all my Molars then.

 

My Uncle Stuie had slowed his driving down considerably after buying a ’66 Hemi Charger.  He had no trouble sending the Chevy boys home in disgrace, but that car did cost him his Driver’s license.   My Car Craziness is an inherited skill from my Mother’s side of the family.

This is the next car I built …

 

 

Categories: Dodge stories

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