The Chicago bedroom hamlet of Joliet, Illinois, is more than the location from the cult classic, "Blues Brothers," it happens to host one of the country's most state-of-the-art drag racing facilities in the form of Route 66 Raceway. Amid the cornfields and down the road apiece from the state prison made infamous by Jake and Elwood Blues, you'll find this drag racer's oasis.
Route 66 Raceway is huge. It has to be, because Chicagoans take their drag racing as serious as a full cardiac arrest. Compared to most West Coast tracks, Route 66 looks like a Wal-Mart next to a lemonade stand. Maybe that's why, in spite of triple-digit August heat, Chicago-area Chevy enthusiasts make the yearly Joliet Super Chevy Show a must-see event.
The weekend of August 12-14 produced many drag racing highlights, including jet dragsters, wheelstanders, nitro coupe Pro Mods, and a special exhibition race from the Chicago Super Stock Outlaws. The meat of the racing, however, was in the sportsman bracket classes and in the car show, where we made a special effort to aim our cameras. The manufacturer's midway at any Super Chevy Show is a great way to check out parts and talk to reps before you buy anything for your project, but Joliet's midway was especially well-staffed. We had a great time jawboning with the reps from GM Performance Parts, COMP Cams, Tremec, Rick's First Generation, Mr. Gasket, Original Parts Group, TCI and others. These guys are smart, if for no other reason than they offer the best shade on a hot August afternoon! In all seriousness, big projects can cost a lot of dough, and a lot of coin can be saved by getting the right advice firsthand from the people who make the stuff. Don't like what you see in the manufacturer's tents? You're in luck, because the Super Chevy Show swap meet area is a great alternative way to score junk on the cheap.
And then there are the trinkets and memorabilia. Imagine my happiness when I stumbled across original Chevy dealership brochures for '73, '74 and '75 Chevelles. I got the entire set. Getting PHR editorial director, David "dare-to-be-different" Freiburger, to greenlight one of these as a project car, however, will take additional convincing. (Feel free to visit his home in the middle of the night with a baseball bat. Just kidding.) You can bet I'll be staring at these brochures for a long time, trying to figure out what the coolest combos are.
One highlight we'd rather forget is when the '85 Pontiac Firebird we were shooting for a car feature launched from the starting line, then immediately stuffed itself into the wall. What to do? Go ahead and shoot the car anyway. Hey, life happens. It is the first (and probably the last) time PHR will ever do a feature on a wrecked car. Thankfully, the car is somewhat well-known (it recently appeared on the reality TV show "Pinks"), and the crew had brought the fine-looking Danielle Bowers to model with it. You can check it out elsewhere in this issue.
Taking all these pictures at the Joliet Super Chevy Show has its benefits, mainly because we get to meet people and find out what's on their minds. An hour or two on the starting line usually means spending the entire afternoon walking through the pits, tracking down all those cars and their owners. That's when the bench racing really takes off and you find out all the back stories behind the beautiful cars.
By the time you read this, the Super Chevy Show schedule will be done for 2006. If you like what you see and want to be a part of the action, we suggest you go to www.superchevyshow.com for the 2007 calendar. (PHR's Top 10 2006 Super Chevy Show Race Cars won't be announced until the SEMA show, so we'll have to update you on that in a few issues.) Whether you want to show off your car, get in a little drag racing, look around for some parts or find a new project, we can't think of a better place-unless you're into Fords.
Larry Stahnke (52) of Oak...
Larry Stahnke (52) of Oak Forest, IL, is in the home improvement business, but this weekend he was in the attitude improvement business. His Hugger Orange '69 SS Camaro runs in Mr. Gasket Bracket One, where it knocks down 9-flat ETs hard on the wheelie bars.
We found Ashley Rasmussen...
We found Ashley Rasmussen helping her dad, John Rasmussen, prepping the family '72 Monte Carlo in the car show. The father/daughter restoration started in February '05 and was completed just prior to the Joliet Super Chevy Show. The license plate reads "SYCLPOP," the malaprop Ashley used in place of "popsicle" when she was a toddler.
The door of this Camaro reads,...
The door of this Camaro reads, "In Memory Of Bob Gorka," the beloved uncle of 18-year-old driver Matt Higgins (Palos Hills, IL). The Turbo 400-equipped '67 RS/SS gets plenty of power for wheelies like this from a healthy 468 big-block running World Products Merlin II heads.
To all those guys hanging...
To all those guys hanging out on the Team Chevelle bulletin board, this one is for you. Check out Dennis Kent's '69 Chevelle SS (Algonquin, IL). Kent is a family man with three daughters (Shannon, Kori, and Leeann), so you know he's on a tight budget. Still, Kent manages 11.40s on pump gas (without juice) with a 499-inch big-block.