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Detroit street racing in the 60s

Old 04-30-2016, 03:52 PM
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wmf62
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Default Detroit street racing in the 60s

I have been fascinated by TCracingCA's and other contributors to the threads about street racing in California.

I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 60s and was always fascinated by the second hand stories of the big name street racing that supposedly went on in Detroit.

anyone have stories to tell?
Bill
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Old 04-30-2016, 03:59 PM
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It seems like JohnZ may chime in- he ran something wild back in the 60's iirc like a blown Pontiac 55 Corvette?
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Old 04-30-2016, 04:33 PM
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Bill:

The one I remember is about Royal Pontiac and their Bobcat GTOs. Apparently their mechanics and employees did some street racing nights and on the weekends. They had two almost identical cars, one a typical Bobcat Package, but the second one a real 1/4 mile car with a HO 421 engine.

They would cruise with the Bobcat and setup a race. Said they needed to go back and change the tires (slicks) for the race. Actually they went back and changed CARS. Won the race, switched back cars on the way back to collect the $$$$$.

Hope you are feeling better and getting better.

Larry

EDIT: Have a LOT more stories about street racing in SOUTH CHICAGO during this time. Some firsthand.

Last edited by Powershift; 04-30-2016 at 04:37 PM.
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Old 04-30-2016, 04:44 PM
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Default Ya I do

When I was completing my Electronics training in the Navy after Bootcamp in Great Lakes Illinios, I visited my Step relatives living in Michigan, bought me a good deal 1969 442 Oldsmobile and cruised there also! I sold the car when I was transferred to Vallejo CA and Mare Island!

I beat a few of you! My first mail order parts ever from Summit and Jegs allowed that to happen! I really don't remember where that happened, as my cousins were giving me directions to get to the action!
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Old 04-30-2016, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by TCracingCA View Post
When I was completing my Electronics training in the Navy after Bootcamp in Great Lakes Illinios, I visited my Step relatives living in Michigan, bought me a good deal 1969 442 Oldsmobile and cruised there also! I sold the car when I was transferred to Vallejo CA and Mare Island!

I beat a few of you! My first mail order parts ever from Summit and Jegs allowed that to happen! I really don't remember where that happened, as my cousins were giving me directions to get to the action!
The speed shops I remember from this period in time and location were MIDWEST AND GRATIOT. I guess Jegs and Summit were around, but I just don't remember their names coming up until a bit later.

Not a speed shop per se, but just about every racer in the country knew JC Whitney on Archer Avenue in Chicago. They sold a lot of parts for our cars....not always the best quality. But then again, we didn't have much money.

Larry
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Old 04-30-2016, 04:55 PM
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mseven and his Silver Bullit

See if he can be paged
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:18 PM
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How about a video of it from 1964. Detroit cops are even seen in it just watching the action.

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Old 04-30-2016, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by carcruse View Post
How about a video of it from 1964. Detroit cops are even seen in it just watching the action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOTlbpBoIlg
Pretty cool. It was obvious that these cars were not 12 sec racers. Don't know if the blue smoke in the pics was from the tires or the engines.

Good fun though.

I remember one race about 2 AM Sunday morning where the racers closed down Interstate 94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) south of the city for the race. The police came later and we decided not to stick around. They were not happy.

Larry

Last edited by Powershift; 04-30-2016 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Powershift View Post
Bill:

EDIT: Have a LOT more stories about street racing in SOUTH CHICAGO during this time. Some firsthand.
You ever get down to Gary at the junction of Hwys 12-20 to Sammy's drive-in?
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
You ever get down to Gary at the junction of Hwys 12-20 to Sammy's drive-in?
Mike:

We talked about this before. I really can't remember if I was there or not. Maybe one or two times.............since my older brother took me just about everywhere there was some "street action" when I was younger.

We mostly stayed in Illinois, except for going to Route 30 Drag Strip (Indiana) on the weekends.

Back in those days, my "high-performance" cars were limited. 1965 BB MOPAR was about it.....and little money to spend to make it faster. This didn't improve until February 1970 when I graduated college and got a good paying job. Then I had some $$$$ to play with. Then the engine/trans/rear/suspension parts began to change.

Larry
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Old 04-30-2016, 05:57 PM
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Default I figured the math would make sense to everyone



Cheap used 1969 442's would "not" have been a 1960's visit and purchase! My guest appearances were much later late 79/early 80 when I bought from those guys Summit and I think Jegs was open back then! But I also had to shop at Gratiots also!

I also California Plated the car while I had it in Illinois, visits to the hot cruising spots! My plan was if I ever lost a race, I would tell people it was a local car! If I won, then I lied- "California Car"!

Ps when I sold it, I lied and told the buyer it was a California car to get a few extra dollars! I feel a little bit sorry, but I was a poor military young guy back then!

Last edited by TCracingCA; 04-30-2016 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 04-30-2016, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by TCracingCA View Post


Cheap used 1969 442's would "not" have been a 1960's visit and purchase! My guest appearances were much later late 79/early 80 when I bought from those guys Summit and I think Jegs was open back then! But I also had to shop at Gratiots also!

I also California Plated the car while I had it in Illinois, visits to the hot cruising spots! My plan was if I ever lost a race, I would tell people it was a local car! If I won, then I lied- "California Car"!

Ps when I sold it, I lied and told the buyer it was a California car to get a few extra dollars! I feel a little bit sorry, but I was a poor military young guy back then!
I liked the 442.............but they were typically heavy and a bit slow unless W30 or modified by the owner. I like to race them.

When I had my 1969 390 AMX I can remember talking to B&M in California about building me a racing trans. They laughed at me and said they didn't usually build trans for "Ramblers". But if I really wanted, send them my trans and about $800, and they would build me one when they had time. I didn't think that was a good deal................so I found a wrecked 4-speed car and changed out my trans to a manual. This was 2 years before AMC finally changed over to the MOPAR Torqflight, which was a decent automatic transmission with plenty of speed parts available.

I also called up and talked to Shirley Shahan (AMX wheel standing Drag-on Lady) to get some tips about making the AMC 390 go faster. Belonged to a California Car Club called JavAmx, which allowed me discounts on California speed parts. My first purchase was a set of Doug Thorley headers. Those were the best and sweetest sounding headers ever. Thorley was a big California name and he supported AMC racing and speed equipment. I personally knew two guys that owned and raced the Hurst 390 AMX SS/C cars. There were only 52 made............if they were made by GM, Ford, or MOPAR they would be $$$$$$$$$$$cars today.

Oh well..............we all have a lot of these types of stories.

Larry
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Old 04-30-2016, 06:47 PM
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my memories were most local, we used to shut down I-94 in the middle of the night a race (actually backed up traffic...). and then there were the country roads marked off 1/4 mile.. and then my neighbor blew a clutch and embedded it in the front of someone's house... and then there was the time we called the cops on ourselves and when they showed up we were doing foot races.. they weren't impressed and gave everyone who didn't have their registration with them a ticket.

there was drivein restaurant in Ypsilanti that us wantabees would congregate at, saw real thunderbolts and other street driven hot cars. Serbay Motors in Ypsi had a hemi powered valiant station wagon and sponsored a hemi superstock. I myslelf had a factory 426 dodge....

ahhhh.... what a fine wasted youth...
Bill
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Old 04-30-2016, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Powershift View Post
Mike:

We talked about this before. I really can't remember if I was there or not.
Larry
10-4. I remember now.
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Old 04-30-2016, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Powershift View Post
Pretty cool. It was obvious that these cars were not 12 sec racers. Don't know if the blue smoke in the pics was from the tires or the engines.

Good fun though.

I remember one race about 2 AM Sunday morning where the racers closed down Interstate 94 (Dan Ryan Expressway) south of the city for the race. The police came later and we decided not to stick around. They were not happy.

Larry
What a great old video - Sure brings back memories of me taking dads car to a new unopened road just right for drags. This is so classic with one guy - arm out the window during the drag - so cool!! What a blast!!
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Old 04-30-2016, 08:16 PM
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Subscribed.
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Old 04-30-2016, 08:29 PM
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Default 442s too heavy

But I had this gold striped one with the gold wing for that 10 month period! When I sold it, is how I got the V8 powered Porsche!


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Old 04-30-2016, 08:50 PM
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Cool stories....
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Old 04-30-2016, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TCracingCA View Post
But I had this gold striped one with the gold wing for that 10 month period! When I sold it, is how I got the V8 powered Porsche!

I don't remember the wing, but a lot of cars were getting wings and spoilers back then.

I did however purchase the complete OLDS 442 cold air induction system parts (remember these) and put them on my AMX. The cold air inlets were just under the front bumper.

However, then I couldn't close the AMX hood completely, and had to shim it up about 3/16 inch. The other thing I noticed was when you came off the line at WOT, there was a 1/2 sec or so lag until the air got moving in the 4 inch air tubes. This was no good. Car liked the cold air, but the hood spacing and the off-the-line lag caused me to re-think this modification and go to something else.

Larry
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Old 04-30-2016, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by carcruse View Post
How about a video of it from 1964. Detroit cops are even seen in it just watching the action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOTlbpBoIlg
Now were talking..that's the stuff I lived for.....

It was a thrill...and the cars were slow enough you actually savored the adrenaline rush long enough for it to be addicting. (...a life long addiction for some of us..lol)

Thanks for the memories...awesome flash back.

Stan
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