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.
We saw the NOS girl, and suddenly...
We saw the NOS girl, and suddenly realized we were thirsty. Very tasty, and the NOS drink wasn't bad either.
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.
This sweet '68 Camaro belongs...
This sweet '68 Camaro belongs to Matt Peterson of Steger, Illinois, and it has a transplanted Ramjet 350 with a tuned-port fuel-injection setup. He's played with it at Wisconsin's high-speed Road America circuit. This dual-purpose street car has a 4L60E automatic, 17-inch Vintage Wheel Works rollers, BFG KDWS tires, and Wilwood brakes. Believe it or not, it was once a drag car that knocked down 10.70s.
Second-gen Camaros were some of the first muscle cars to exhibit modern handling in their original incarnation, and their basic suspension geometry can be made to function quite nicely. Nevertheless, sometimes well enough just isn't enough-just ask Randy Johnson, whose blue '66 Chevelle was featured on our November 2008 cover. Randy has outdone himself with this '70 Camaro, which he succeeded in bringing into modern supercar territory. This was achieved through upgrading essentially everything under the skin-from its LQ4-based fuel-injected powerplant and six-speed Tremec, to its Heidts independent rear suspension, Wilwood binders, and QA1 coilover shocks. And this thing really sticks too, with Nitto's new NT05 street/race compound tires on Forgeline FS three-piece 18-inch wheels.
MUSCLE CAR AWARDS
Third Peak Chicagoland Nationals
Muscle Car of the Year Finalist
Ken & Pat Mosier • Danville, IN
1970 Charger R/T
Street Challenge Autocross
First Place Vendor
Ryan Matthews • Detroit Speed
Mooresville, NC • 1969 Camaro
Street Machine Winner
Randy Johnson • Kewaskum, WI
Flowmaster American Thunder Award
Bill Cole • Oswego, IL
The Goodguys Street Challenge...
The Goodguys Street Challenge Autocross is the place to put your corner-carving muscle car to the test against the clock and other cars. It's fun to watch these powerful machines slide their way around cones, and it's interesting to see how the different hardware stacks up with the other competitive products. The fans at Chicagoland Speedway were way into it!
Barry Blomquist hustles his...
Barry Blomquist hustles his award-winning '62 Corvette around the autocross, proving that the 2009 Street Machine of the Year winner is more than just a pretty face. A Roadster Shop chassis underpins the stiff little rascal.
Friday Night Drags
Greg Peterson • Blooming Prairie, MN
1967 Buick Wagon
Best Ride on BFG Tires
1970 Cutlass W31
Best Ride on Intro's
Fort Dodge, IA
1967 Impala SS
John & Peggy Sieffert
Steve & Deb Morgan
Guess we'll have to refund...
Guess we'll have to refund the Laguna haters in our audience a half cent for this, but hate away. This cool '73 Laguna was sporting a big-block and its original swivel seat option. The owner was not around, so we can't tell you anything about it.
Blooming Prairie, MN
1967 Buick Wagon
Ford in a Ford
1963 Galaxie 500 XL
1969 Ford Mustang
Kevin & Annette Marzetta
1970 Boss 302
1970 Challenger R/T
Brent Jarvis runs Performance...
Brent Jarvis runs Performance Restorations (Mundelein, Illinois) and this is his daily driver: a 720hp 565ci big-block-powered '68 Chevelle. "I drive it daily," Jarvis says, "Everywhere for everything. This is truly my car." Check out those monstrous 305/35ZR18 Toyos in the back. Look for a PHR feature on Jarvis' Chevelle soon.
Sometimes the car corral can...
Sometimes the car corral can be a good place to find a new project. This guy was trying to sell his '70 Nova SS clone at Joliet. While it didn't have the correct wheels and tires or engine dress, it was pretty sweet. We recently bought a '68 Nova for a new project series (details to come!), so we'll be diving into these affordable, lightweight muscle cars soon.
Forty-one-year-old Lisa Kornowski...
Forty-one-year-old Lisa Kornowski (DePere, Wisconsin) proves that it's a good idea to keep a handyman around the house. Her hubby, Mike, built this retina-detaching '67 Firebird for his better half, and she put it to good use on the Street Challenge Autocross. It's packing a late-model LT1 for power (hey, they did come in fourth-gen Firebirds!), a Spohn torque arm Panhard bar, 4L60E trans, four-wheel disc brakes, and 17-inch SS Camaro wheels.
Mother's Pick Award
PPG Dream Car
Cranberry Township, PA
Slick '60s Pick
Joe & Cathy Yukon
1967 Chevy II
Young Guys Pick
1972 Ford Maverick
Muscle Machine Of The Year Finalist
Imlay City, MI
1966 Chevy Chevelle
Roadster Shop Builder's Choice
Chicago Heights, IL
Muscle Machine of the Year...
Muscle Machine of the Year finalist Tony Grzelakowski parked his '66 Chevelle in the awards area after thoroughly thrashing it on the autocross circuit. Besides a healthy 575hp 427 big-block, it makes good use of a Global West suspension with QA1 coilovers, Baer Brakes, and Toyo tires on Foose wheels.
We were blown away by John...
We were blown away by John Sandberg's '70 'Cuda and its no-nonsense 16-inch wide-five wheels. Power comes from a 520hp small-block 360 running through a four-speed manual. Coilovers, 2-inch drop spindles, adjustable rollbars, three-link rear, and Wilwood discs at all four corners make it handle as if on rails.
This homebuilt '66 Pontiac...
This homebuilt '66 Pontiac Tempest has a serious, understated look that we really dig. Bill Wines of Braceville, Illinois, assembled it in his garage. Check out
the functional ram air ducting in the headlights.
The Goodguys manufacturers'...
The Goodguys manufacturers' midway is the place to research new hardware and get the inside information for your project car needs. Company reps are on hand with their product displays to answer your questions throughout the event.
Spectre Performance is a name...
Spectre Performance is a name you know well; their products can be bought at virtually any parts store in the country. What many may not know is that the Spectre staff are hard-core muscle car fans, and they practice what they preach. This Spectre company car, a '70 Mach I Mustang, made good use of the autocross with its Global West suspension, Wilwood brakes, 17-inch Toyo tires and ARE Cobra wheels. A stroked 351 Windsor feeds power to a Richmond six-speed box.