Blogging with Dave
Dave Campbell, and his wife Emma, were one of the original couples of the Midwest Nostalgia Super Stock Association and now Nostalgia Super Stock Inc. Dave has compiled a complete history of the Club which includes letters to members, magazine articles, Club newsletters and pictures from events. He has decided to blog about his experiences in this arena. The Club history will be on display at most races for your perusal.
In October 1957, I started working at the Chevrolet/Fisher Body Plant in Kansas City, MO. We were building the 1958 model which had the 348 power plant as an option. We built the “B” body models through 1963. The 409 was an option for 1962 and 1963 plus the rare aluminum options.
In 1964 Chevrolet/Fisher Body merged to become General Motor Assembly Division better known as G>M>A>D> Leeds plant in Kansas City, MO. That year we also started building all the “A” body models e.g. Chevelle, Tempest/GTO, Skylark, and Oldsmobile 442.
As you might imagine I witnessed a fantastic era of high performance engines 348, 409, 396 and the 427, 4 speeds, Hurst shifters, SS and GTO’s plus the infamous Z16 Chevelle. Only 200 were built and our plant built all of them. Man, what a gig.
It all started when I bought a new 1958 BelAir hard top 348 power glide then traded it for a new 1963 Impala Super Sport 409 four speed. The 63 was raced at the KCTA Drag Strip and it soon gave way to a more family friendly 1968 Impala 396 automatic with air conditioning. But the love for the 409 never went away.
Fast forward to the 1980′s. . .1982 was the first year Super Chevy events were held at selected tracks. As time went on, more and more 60′s era Chevy racers were rebuilding their original cars or duplicating same to bring back to the “good old days”. Doug Marion, feature editor for Super Chevy Magazine, had a lot to do with the revival as he loved the 60′s, especially the 409′s. By this time I had been in touch with Don Shaffer out of Lexington, MO, Phil Reed, Parkville, MO, and Russ Campbell (no relation to me) from Springfield, MO and many others, talking about building a car of my own.
Don was building a 62 bubble top 409 four speed and his good friend, Bill Burge from Marion, OH, was building a 1963 Impala 409 four speed. Don had a 62 with an aluminum hood and a right front fender, a left front fender was nowhere to be found, so he hammered one out of his own. The 62 was completed and named the “Obsolete Missile”.
At the same time, Bill’s 63 sporting an aluminum front end, was done and named, “The Living Legend”. Bill was friends with Doug Marion who by now was the event director for Super Chevy Sunday events. A match race was set up between Don and Bill at the July 1987 Super Chevy Event in Indianapolis.*
*Reference articles Super Chevy and Popular Hot Rodding February 1988, Super Chevy and Popular Hot Rodding August 1988.
By this time I had located a 63 rust free BelAir two door sedan, 6 cylinder power glide with 44,000 miles on it and had been searching for all the parts to build my own car. A co-worker, Bob Qualls, at the GM Plant built the motor, and the car was completed in May of 1988 and named “Faded Memories”.
In the last blog we just finished the car except for lettering. The name came about because we were trying to remember how to assemble everything hence “Faded Memories”.
I got the car lettered in time to attend the Super Chevy Indy Event on July 23- 24, 1988. Doug Marion (Picture at end of blog) had invited us along with Bill Burge “Living Legend” 63, John Stepanek “Barber John” 63 and Don Evans “Golden Rod” 62 for exhibition racing.*
At the time Lamar Walden, noted 409 engine builder, brought his 62 “Nalley Chev” to race against Tom Jacobson’s 62 “Heart Beat of America”.
Big Jim Goodwin “Prehistoric Rat” 62 raced Clint Murphy’s 62. These guys were the fast cars of the day.
As you might imagine this was pretty cool for the wife and I to be a part of this deal. We returned home and looked at pictures Emma had taken, and after conversations with friends who had seen the car in action, we decided to change the lettering on the car to a more legible style.
May of 1989 Russ Campbell and his brother-in-law, Leroy Fly, met Rick Johnson and me at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, MO to make some exhibition runs for promoter Len Greco.
On July 21-23, 1989 we attended the Super Chevy Event to do some bracket racing. Rick Johnson was there as a spectator. We began talking about Nostalgia Super Stock Racing and its popularity.
July 29-30, 1989 Emma and I along with several other 60’s drag racers went to Beech Bend Dragway in Bowling Green, KY to do exhibition races for the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) which was owned by Chuck Green.*
Rick Johnson and I talked quite often. In December Rick called and said he had been talking with promoter Len Greco from Fenton, MO about the possibility of some Nostalgia Super Stock Racing. Len wanted eight or ten 60’s style drag cars for an event he was promoting at Gateway International Raceway on June 5-6, 1990. Rick got ten cars for the event. Len was impressed enough with the group that he invited us to Kansas City International Raceway (KCIR) for an event he was promoting on July 28-29, 1990.
On July 28th, 1990 a meeting was held at the Campbell residence to discuss the idea of forming a group of Nostalgia Super Stock Racer’s of the 60’s to do some heads up exhibition style races.
As a result of that meeting the group was named Midwest Nostalgia Super Stock association to be renamed later as Nostalgia Super Stocks. More on the name change in a later blog.
Palatine, Ill.: Doug Marion bought this 409 engine Chevrolet from a Chicago area used car lot. He went on to win at most local strips including Tri State Dragway. The popular ‘60s racer finished his college days at Parson’s College in Fairfield, Iowa. From there Doug made several successful trips to the drag races at Kahoka.
*Reference articles Super Chevy Magazine September 1989, Fast Class NMCA Publications Sept/Oct 1989, Super Street Machine Magazine December 1989 and Muscle Car Magazine September 1990.
1991 was a very significant year. We had raced for Len Greco Promotions, Muscle From the Past, in June of 1990 and scored some pictures and captions in Muscle Cars Magazine’s September 1990 issue.*
By this time word was getting around about our group and the members were stepping up and lettering their cars. New ones coming out such as Frank Zalud’s “Branded” an all aluminum equipped Dodge, Craig Dawson’s “Maxed Out’ Plymouth, Larry Kaufman’s “War Chief” 1961 Pontiac Ventura which was raced at Indy in 1961. There were others coming out of retirement and new cars being built.
The first race was on May 4-5, 1991 for Greco Promotions at Gateway. Then our Ford friends in the Detroit area invited us to Super Ford Extravaganza that was held at Milan Dragway in Ann Arbor, MI on July 19-21, 1991. The Super Ford Extravaganza got us more exposure as Dennis Kolodziej and Robert Trevarrow who both owned original Ford Thunderbolts were great hosts and gave us a great write up in their Performance Ford Magazine.
August 9-11, 1991 we were invited to Good Guys Happening at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Good Guys events are mainly known for street rodders as there was 2500 in attendance, but they also had about 400 Nostalgia Racers and we got a lot of recognition and were the recipient of the vintage racing award (VRA) choice award for the best Nostalgia group in attendance.
The Good Guys staff liked the quality and professionalism we brought to the event as we decided early on that we needed to have good looking race cars and always be prompt and ready when called to the staging lanes. With this criterion we were a part of every Good Guys Event in Indianapolis Raceway Park from 1991 through 2010 at which time they no longer held racing events.
On September 14-15, 1991 our group along with some racers from the East and southeast region were invited to Memphis Motorsport Park to do some exhibition style racing for the National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) that was started by Chuck Green and is now owned by Russ Smiltniek. The purpose of this race was to establish a class for a Four Race Series involving Nostalgia Super Stocks to be held at Houston, TX, Milan, MI, Maple Grove, PA and Memphis, TN in 1992.*
The NMCA events were a huge success for us and we got a lot of ink in the magazines.
By this time we had met a whole lot of nice people who had furthered our case so to speak. The comradery of the group, the quality of the cars, our desire to be punctual to the staging lanes, have minimal breakage and our desire to provide a product that satisfies the spectators, track owners and promoters beyond their expectations.
*Muscle Monthly March 1992, Hot Rod December 1992, Muscle Monthly October 1992, Muscle Car Review February 1993, Muscle Cars March 1993 and Chevy High Performance August 1993.
After reading Doug’s email about cook outs at the races it brought back memories of Gateway in 1992. I don’t remember the details of Larry Kaufman’s choice of head dress so when you see him ask him what the occasion was. I think it had something to do with one of Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick’s drivers. Possibly a young lady he had driving one of his cars that weekend.
You can see even in 1992 one of the favorite things to do was eating, racing and the socializing by everyone. It is really great that the tradition continues today.
When we found out that Tom and Leslie Ponder were joining us in the Hall of Fame it brought back another memory. It was always a fun time when Tom and Les were with us. Our club was invited to attend the Street Machine Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL. Jim and Linda Richardson of “Somebody’s Nightmare” lived in Joliet and they invited all of us for a party at their house the night before the race. Their family room was downstairs equipped with a 50” TV and a fully stocked refrigerator. Everyone got their beverage of choice and we congregated upstairs to the patio. It wasn’t long before Tom, the gentleman that he is, asked Les if she was about ready for a beer. Les says yes, I am, so Tom said” get me one while you are down there”. We will never forget Tom and Les, they are such great people to be around.
I came across an article recently on the web that had a time slip from Cordova Dragway dated in April 21, 1963. The name sounded familiar to me as it was that of our own former NSS member Phil Hayenga, with his 1963 Plymouth 426 wedge, he had turned a 13.79 at 105.75 MPH.
I called Phil to find out more about the Plymouth. He took delivery of the car in January 1963 and of course the weather was still cold and snowy, not to mention ice, so the Plymouth sat in the garage until spring when racing began at Cordova and Byron. Phil remembers several Dodge’s coming from the Chicago area but he had the only Plymouth.
While reminiscing he talked about the racers coming in from the West Coast for the World Series at Cordova and the Super Stock Showdown at Byron. These two events preceded the NHRA Nationals at Indy on Labor Day Weekend. There were racers like Cecil Yother’s “Melrose Missle” and many others. Did I mention another familiar racer by the name of Arnie Beswick was on the same time slip as Phil.
In doing research for this column, I noticed Drag News results from an April 21, 1963 race at Cordova, Illinois. You may note a few very familiar names reported here. Folks like Arnie Beswick, your writer, Andy Perry, and Powers & Riley.
For those of you who do not know the Hayenga’s, Phil and Donna started racing with us in 1992.
During the 1993 season Russ Campbell got us a race at his home track Ozark International Raceway in Rogersville, MO. At this race Roy Clark, the renowned Country Singer/Guitar Picker, was racing with us in his 1965 Plymouth Super Stock appropriately named “Super Picker”. It was pretty cool for us to have a Star of his caliber racing a super stock car with our group. Yours truly along with other members got to race against Roy that weekend. During the winter of that year Phil and Donna purchased the “Super Picker” from Roy and raced it with us for several years eventually selling the car to a collector.
While writing about the Hayenga’s I need to mention that Donna was the driver of their car. We had other members of our group where the wife was the driver. The “Keen & Keen” 63 Max Wedge Dodge with Joe doing the wrenching and Cheryl doing the driving and the “Surprise II” 1964 Tempest driven by Marti Snyder. Steve Snyder drove their 1962 Pontiac and wrenched for both of them.
It was a pretty cool deal to have the ladies driving. The track announcers loved to play up the rivalry, which in turn brought more spectators around to check out the ladies as well as our cars.
The 2013 season is over and it appeared to be very successful with some new members participating. Some new power plants emerged. Wayne’s Komet and Ernie’s Tempest stepped up their programs and they are cookin. The race show that Doug and John put on is crazy good when they are paired.
You guys should be proud of what you have accomplished over the years. There are people out there who think our group is not legitimate. Let me tell you that I would be really surprised if you can find another group of race cars that have the quality of paint, interior and period lettering that you all provide.
I have read articles complete with pictures of other groups who bracket race and they are made up of plain Jane race cars that have no lettering or decals. Yes, some are but only a few.
I got an I pad recently so keep in mind the video’s that I took at U.S. 36 in August were my first attempt. Grandson, Aaron was home last weekend so he posted them on YouTube for me ( I wasn’t smart enough to figure out how to do it) so here is how you find them: go to Google type in US 36 Race on YouTube, scroll down you will find round 3. Rounds 1 and 2 should pop up on the right side of the page. They will also be on page 2. Enjoy.
If you did not get to see the in car video that Dan Hradisky in the Home Wrecker Chevy took recently you missed a good one. The quality was really good unlike the one Bill Burge took in 1991 in The Living Legend Chevy. He mounted a VHS recorder (like the one pictured below that we still have) on the roll bar of his car. You can imagine how hard it was to keep it from vibrating consequently the video shook so bad you could hardly see anything.
If you are interested in a part of our history, I came across some videos from Len Greco Promotions called Muscle from the Past at Gateway in 1991, where the Nostalgia Super Stocks were the invited guests. There are eight videos. Google: Greco 91 Muscle Car on YouTube. These old videos are fun to watch hope you enjoy them.
IT has been well documented that we were invited to the Super Chevy Indy Event in July of 1989 with other 409 racers doing exhibition racing heads up style. We were invited by the event director Dou Marion, who was also the Editor of Super Chevy Magazine.
The September 1989 issue of the magazine included an article of our car “Faded Memories”. Twenty four years later in the third annual collector’s edition of Super Chevy’s “Platinum” magazine released to the newsstands recently, one of the special features is 50 years of 63 Chevys, of which (you probably guessed by now) old “Faded Memories” made the magazine again and the author of the article is Doug Marion.
The article is very well written by Doug and includes not only 409 information but the famous #3 Chevy driven by Nascar’s Junior Johnson with the Mark II mystery engine and the Z11 427 cubic inch 409 driven by Dave Strickler.
Some of you may not be interested in this article but you may have friends that might be and it would be a great coffee table read.
In 1963 Emma and I were 1 of 10,586 people that bought a new 1963 Impala SS 340/409 4 speed that spent a lot of time on the drag strips around our area.