Pieces of the Puzzle


At the estate sale where "Mr. Chevy" was sold, there were so many things that were related to the car but it is not practical to sell such stuff in one big lot with the car. There were Hilborn fuel injection pills in parts cabinets that would be used to adjust the fuel mixture of the car depending on weather conditions. Jeff Birke bought the parts cabinet and realized what they were and gave them to me to keep with the car. They are not expensive at all but they were in the range designed to work with the setup and it was so much simpler than having to order the parts. Other things like the replacement transmission case would also have been nice to get but all the smaller parts were sold before the car.

The car was generally intact, nothing was taken off the car in the 30 years it had just sat there, except for the new slicks Van had just put on the last time out. They kept loosing air so Van took them off and put some used tires that would hold air. At the sale there were dozens of tires, big tires, since Van was racing stock cars. Among the tires were the pair of slicks that were on the car. It was several months after the sale I was looking for a pair of slicks to put back on the car, I had no idea of what size tires had been on it. I started asking around who might have bought the slicks and aftter calling 6 or 8 peopled I called Darrel Mueth. After chatting with Darrel a few minutes on the phone he told me he was the one who had bought the slicks and it turned out that they wouldn't work for what he intended to use them for. He said that he would sell them to me if I needed them and he didn't hold me up on the price of them either. A deal was made and I was to go pick them up in a day or two. Van was brand loyal and since he had a Firestone decal on the car I was sure they would be Firestones. When I went to pick them up I got a surprise, yes they were Firestones, but they were BIG! They were 11.5-30.5x15's!

These were a big piece to the puzzle and the pieces were starting to fit together. I talked to Dave Roy who was with Van at the track the last day he raced "Mr. Chevy" and Dave said the tires were brand new and Van was wondering how it would launch and if he could get it shut down as he had just installed new disc brakes too, even though he also had the help of a parachute. I took the tires home and mounted them on the rims and while I was putting the tires and wheels on the back on the car I realized what had happened. While cleaning the car up there was VHT slung all over the car, on the quarters, on the deck lid and even on the roof. Van had just put these new huge tires on and coated them liberally with VHT, went to the line and revved it to 7000rpm or whatever his launch rpm was and popped the clutch. The big wheelstand that was expected didn't happen, the exploding rear universal joint that wasn't expected, did happen. The rest, as they say, is history. The driveshaft loop didn't help control any damage when the rear u-joint because the driveshaft wound up in two pieces which also cracked the transmission case.

I now have the tires that were on the car its last trip out and on close inspection the mold seam is still visible around the center of the tread. These are BRAND NEW 30 YEAR OLD TIRES!! Untitled Document