If you attended the annual Goodguys event in Joliet, Illinois, this past September 18-20, you would never know we were in the midst of a deep global economic recession. With its blue-collar manufacturing roots, the Chicago area has been hit especially hard, having been dealt the two-fisted combination punch of plunging real estate values and unemployment. Nevertheless, the citizens of Chicago and surrounding areas are a resilient breed, and have had their fill of gloom and doom. Maybe having your inside man in the big house has its merits. At any rate, hot rodders in the Chicago area took the opportunity to completely forget about their financial misfortune, and made their way to the world-class Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL with the intention of having one final high-octane fling for the summer.
For its part, the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association has done a great job in recent years to tailor its events for the rapidly growing muscle car segment. Unlike the lawn chair and car polish retirees of prior show-going generations, today's Goodguys attendee uses his or her ride with athletic abandon, and is conversant in the language of suspensions, brakes, tires, and of course, powertrains. Ask most Goodguys muscle car owners about things like scrub radius, bumpsteer, Ackerman, or camber gain, and you'll get a torrent of information that would make a chassis engineer from the 1960s blush with confusion. Yes, these guys know their stuff, and they are prepared to unleash their homebuilt creations on the Goodguys' Street Challenge Autocross with little regard for paint chips, cone bruises, or even body damage.
So where do all of these erstwhile Carroll Shelbys get all their training and mil-spec hardware? If you attend a Goodguys event like the 3rd Peak Chicagoland Nationals, you don't have to go far to find your answer. The manufacturers' midway is filled to the brim with experts, engineers, and their mad scientist go-fast gear. It's a total immersion experience that captivates both the looky-loo and the serious buyer. It's like Christmas, only at the tail end of summer. Vendors show their goods, explain the benefits, and if that isn't enough, they fire up their rolling laboratories and make some tire smoke on the autocross. It's warfare out there, and component manufacturers are vying for your hard-earned dollars in spectacular fashion. You can't help but be transfixed by the competition, which ironically is way more captivating than the sleep-inducing NASCAR events normally held at Chicagoland.
For a precious few days at the end of September, Midwest muscle car nuts forgot about the pecuniary blows dealt them by far-away foreign hedge funds, arrogant car manufacturers, impersonal insurance giants, and big government bailouts. It was time to fire up the muscle and burn some rubber in the name of our rich automotive heritage, and the bright future of our muscle car hobby.
Our tech stories on Project Olds lag behind our Joliet Goodguys coverage, and through the magic of the newsstand, we can show you how well Robert McGaffin's '65 Olds Cutlass F-85 handles through the autocross cones before we're done! At Joliet, we already completed the DSE front and rear suspension, Baer brakes, DSE steering, Rocket 18-inch wheels, and Nitto NT01 tires. This Olds is gorgeous in person! When McGaffin wasn't running the cones, he displayed Project Olds at DSE's booth.