- Monday 29 July, 2013
From old school to Olds Cool!
NORWALK, Ohio – Class and sass converged when Dick Miller Racing Oldsmobile Powered Nationals showcased creativity and ingenuity July 28, 2013 at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Oldsmobile classic style lined up in show cars meticulously restored in every detail.
For sass, how does an Oldsmobile speeding down an 8.5-second quarter mile sound?
Dick Miller Racing specializes in high powered custom racing engines producing low elapsed times, as well as performance parts to round out racing components especially for Oldsmobiles.
“He's been doing this all of his life,” said Sherry Stephens, Dick Miller's fiancee. “And he's been racing all of his life. With his racing motors, he's well-known. He's built racing motors for people all over the world. They tell him horsepower and torque. It takes four months to get what they want.
“He builds them and they don't come apart,” Sherry Stephens said. “It's built by Dick Miller.”
In the week before the Oldsmobile Powered Nationals, Dick Miller Racing relocated to Science Hill, Kentucky. For information check out the Website at dickmillerracing.com.
On the dragstrip, Olds racers converged from Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Ontario, Canada, to Kentucky and Florida.
In Harland Sharp Rocker Arms Stock, three thou' decided a double breakout battle between a 1979 Calais driven by Brian Suter, Elyria, Ohio and a 1969 442 driven by John Hart, Ferndale, Michigan.
Brian Suter landed on the stripe closer to dial and caught the win light.
In Dick Miller Racing Suspension Systems Super Pro, Scott Grossenbacher, Louisville, Ohio, lined up his Mandarin copper 1971 Cutlass Supreme against Doug Dinges, Benton Harbor, Mich., in a silver 1984 Hurst Olds.
Scott Grossenbacher launched first on a 10.09 dial, with Doug Dinges following with an 8.61 dial. But at the finish line stripe, Doug Dinges broke out by 0.025 second, flashing the win light to Scott Grossenbacher.
““I've been runner-up at this event two times before, and I'm a regular at Summit Motorsports Park,” Scott Grossenbacher said, adding he races in the Mallory Super Pro class in the Mr. Gasket $53,100 Super Series.
The 1971 Cutlass Supreme shared a lot of life with Scott Grossenbacher.
“I've had it since I was 15 years old,” said Scott Grossenbacher, a steelworker. “It's my first car. I've been racing it 23 years.”
The difference that resulted in a win for Scott Grossenbacher was his family – his wife, Melissa; his son, Tyler, 21, and his daughter, McKinzie, 18, he said.
“I'd like to say thanks to Dick Miller,” Scott Grossenbacher said. “Hope the show continues.”
The final round of Mr. Gasket Pro called out a 1970 Cutlass and a 1970 Cutlass wagon.
Brian Nap, Kalamazoo, Mich., drove a performance red 1970 Cutlass wagon named, “The Radio Flyer,” for owner Jim Klimp, Portage, Michigan.
As an eight-year-old boy, Jim Klimp had a little red Radio Flyer wagon. So he honored the joy of it in the race car.
“It was different, being a Cutlass wagon. They're fairly rare. There's 1,600 produced in 1970. We stripped it down, repainted it,” Jim Klimp said. “We've been racing it for 20 years. Right now we're first place in points at our home track.”
While the original little red wagon was boy powered, the Radio Flyer Cutlass sports a 455 cu. in. big block Olds engine.
A bright metallic blue 1970 Cutlass owned by Jeff Watson, 40, Farmland, Ind., sidled up to the tree alongside Brian Nap.
The contest ended in -0.009 second when Brian Nap lit a red light.
Jeff Watson, a garage mechanic for Ball State University, bought the Cutlass in 1991 and since then enjoyed three Oldsmobile Winner's Circles at Summit Motorsports Park.
“It's always been a race car,” Jeff Watson said. “It's street legal now. I bought it right out of high school. I worked at an independent garage as a mechanic. It was sitting in a lot. On my lunch hour I drove by it every day for three months. I decided to go buy it...eleven hundred bucks.
“I took it off the frame and restored it,” Jeff Watson said. “I didn't do the paint and body work. I had that done in my shop.
“My first car was a '75 Cutlass,” Jeff Watson said. “I drag raced it, too. It had a Chevy motor in it. I'm not proud of that. I intended to put a Chevy motor in this until I drove the 455. The torque was unbelievable, so that's what switched me to Oldsmobile.
“It ran high 13s when I bought it and the engine was pretty much stock,” Jeff Watson said. “It had slicks on it when I bought it.”
Since then, Jeff Watson pared the elapsed time by more than two seconds. In the final round, he dialed the Cutlass at 11.17 seconds, and ran 11.176 at 119 mph.
Also lining up in Mr. Gasket Pro, a black 1948 Oldsmobile coupe and a 1950 Olds 88 Fastback pointed toward a story of friends, racing together for decades.
On Sunday, Bill Ehrsam, Sylvania, Ohio put the black 1948 through the rigors of racing for a best elapsed time of 14.20 seconds.
In the early days, Bill Ehrsam campaigned a 1951 Studebaker.
“I won the Nationals in 1963 and 1965 at Indy in NHRA,” Bill Ehrsam said. “I won the Winter Nationals in 1968 in California. I've been racing since 1957 with Jack Muenzer, the car behind us.”
Now the crew chief on the black 1950 Olds with orange and red flames on the front, Jack Muenzer asked for the racing order to change so his son, Chris Muenzer, Irmo, South Carolina, wouldn't have to beat his friend.
Bill Ehrsam grinned. No, the racing order wasn't changed. And no, Bill and Chris did not line up at the tree against each other. At least not this time.
Back in the Budweiser pits, Chris Muenzer systematically checked components in the 1950 Olds, which lines up under the names, Muenzer Racing and Mondello Oldsmobile Performance Products. A cartooned logo on the back says, “Turtle Club.”
“I started racing when I was 16 in Toledo, Ohio,” said Jack Muenzer, 74, while puffing on a long cigar.,“when airports allowed you to put dragstrips at airports, back in them days. We were racing back in the days when you drove your race car to the track and you put slicks on at the track.”
For more of the Jack Muenzer story, check out his Website at muenzerracing.com.
“This is a 500 cu. in. DRCE, Drag Race Competition Engine, by General Motors. It's a Pro Stock car,” Jack Muenzer said. “It will go 8.50. It's 60-foot time is 1.22 seconds. That is flying out of the gate. It carries the tires about 13 inches up for about 10 feet and sets it down and goes like a rocket.
“I built this car in 1992,” Jack Muenzer said. “The car now belongs to my son, Chris. We had two cars we raced together. I moved to Florida. I was going to sell my car. Chris said, 'Dad, I want your car.' So I sold his car, and this was my car.”
Bill Ehrsam said a friend built the 1948 about three years ago.
“The fellow who did the car is 79 years old, and he's old school,” Bill Ehrsam said. “His name is Herb Fischer. He said, 'I got a 14 second car but an 18 second mind.' He's old school, so we put 'Olds Cool' on the car in honor of him.”
Also on the all-steel car is a photo of Herb Fischer and “Herb's Garage, Bowling Green, Ohio.”
Bill Ehrsam and Herb Fischer belong to the same car club, The Oak Park Gang, in Toledo. Most of the members push the gray beard stage.
“Kids don't do what we did,” Bill Ehrsam said. “We grew up around cars. They grew up around computers.”
Rocky Mattoni, Toledo, Ohio, eyed the 1948 with a vision for a faster elapsed time and a finessed style.
“All black interior, red wheels, louver the hood to release the heat from the engine, and change the headers to get it in the 13s,” said Rocky Mattoni, owner of Rocky's Body Shop, with a full service center in Toledo.
“We're known for our custom trick paint. We build custom rods,” Rocky Mattoni said. “I built Bob Motz's car before he got into the trucks.”
A feature car in a 2010 May and June Summit Racing Catalog showcases Rocky Mattoni's work, he said.
“I pro raced from 1961 to 1985,” Rocky Mattoni said. “A Super Stock car for Bob Ford in Michigan, a 1938 Fiat A-altered car, and a 1969 Corvette 9.90 car.”
Rocky Mattoni turned from the thrills and rigors of racing in the NHRA to build his business. “I do miss it, but I don't miss hauling around the 42-foot trailer.”
In the Dick Miller Racing Oldsmobile Car Show, Randy Jones tooled his newest garage project to it's first Oldsmobile show.
The 1935 Oldsmobile with suicide doors, custom leather interior and a rumble seat won first place in the Best Modified class.
Randy Jones, Huron, Ohio, retired in 2009 from a job as a maintenance worker and snow plow driver on the Ohio Turnpike. “Thirty years of dodging cars, I decided I better get out.”
The '35 Olds started as another family's dream project.
“I bought the car two years ago from a sugar beet farmer in Michigan,” Randy Jones said. “He and his son were going to build it. His son got ill. It was a body and frame. I just got the car done this year. It was a 1 ½ year project. It's painted “fire mist,” a 1969 Hearst Olds color.
“I did the whole car other than the interior,” Randy Jones said. “When you build a car like that, it's all tough. I label pretty much everything. The hardest part was the doors, and the body, I guess.
“I used to race back here in 1974,” Randy Jones said. “That was one of my old racing engines, a 425 Olds Toronado.”
Now gleaming like any show car engine, Randy Jones said the polished effect required, “hours of love.”
With 2,500 miles on it, the Olds sports an added feature: radio speakers that hang in an open window like the old drive-in movie theater speakers of years ago.
This is Randy Jones' second '35 Oldsmobile.
“I've got a convertible at home just like it, a red and white one,” Randy Jones said. “I love 'em.”
Randy Jones builds many cars.
“I just did a Limousine for a guy,” Randy Jones said. “A '36 Humber. It's from England. He bought it from a collector out of Kentucky. I did all the chassis, motor and the running boards for his Limo. Someone else painted it.
“It's a hobby,” Randy Jones said. “It's something I do.”
When the smokey burnouts cleared in the Dick Miller Racing Suspension Systems King of the Hill, a race for show cars, Todd Wozniak, Millbury, Ohio, stood at the top waving the winner's trophy.
“I've won King of the Hill four or five times,” said Todd Wozniak, who only races at the Oldsmobile event.
The little honey that carried him to victory, a red 1970 Cutlass Supreme with a 350 engine, is like a part of the family.
“I've had it for 17 years,” said Todd Wozniak, a school bus mechanic. “I bought it when my son was new. I'm surprised my wife let me.”
The final round of the Dick Miller Racing Suspension Systems King of the Hill turned into a battle of wrenches.
Tom Rossi, an aircraft mechanic from Canfield, Ohio, broke out by 0.261 second in his 1972 Cutlass, tossing the win light to Todd Wozniak.
So Tom Rossi won runner-up in Dick Miller Racing Suspension Systems King of the Hill, and doubled up with runner-up in a show class for 1968 to 1972 Cutlass and 442.
About two years ago, Tom Rossi acquired the pearl white 1972 Cutlass.
“It had a 350, I put a 455 engine into it,” Tom Rossi said. “That's basically the big thing I did to it.”
The Cutlass represents 14 years of Rossi family care. Tom Rossi bought the Cutlass from his dad, who owned it since 2000 as a show car. Tom Rossi's brother painted it.
“I have a 1965 Chevy II I race here,” Tom Rossi said. “We'll be back for the Ten Grand Nationals.”