I’ve been itching to take a roadtrip in my ’68 since I got the thing running a year or so ago. Unfortunately, I couldn’t just randomly throw a dart at a map and say “let’s go here” as time and money stated that I needed to make it one of those “two birds” trips. I needed to come up with a destination that would allow me to justify spending a few days on the road, out of the office. And so, when Street Rodder mentioned that they had a room available for four nights in Wendover, Nevada, during Bonneville Speed Week, of course I jumped at the chance.
It also just so happened that our pal Kev Elliott, tech editor at Rod & Custom, was steadily thrashing away trying to build a roadster pickup in time for the meet. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for a little road trip! And finally!
As the week grew nearer, Kev thrashed at an ever-increasing pace, pulling 2 and 3 a.m. nights day after day, until finally the ball dropped and it was time to hit the road! Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait around and headed out on my own to make the 12-hour, 600-plus mile drive on my own, in the dead of night in a 40-plus-year-old truck. Talk about an adventure! As is turned out, I made it there and back without a hitch, the old truck purring along at 70 mph with the A/C on the entire time! Of course I had every tool known to man, a spare tire, and a jack just in case, though the only thing I really could have used was a gas can, which I’d managed to forget at home!
Kev rolled into town about 12 hours after I’d arrived, which gave me plenty of time to stake out a spot to set up our pits, ground zero for the next three days. Once set up, it was time to start thrashing once again. Did I mention the car wasn’t finished yet? A long but seemingly manageable list was all that kept us from getting the car to the point where we could purchase an entry and wring her out for all she was worth out on the salt. As often happens at Bonneville, a number of fellow entrants had already thrown in the towel and were happy to give us a hand, preppin’ the car in the hopes to make a pass before our real jobs forced us to ourselves to throw in the towel and head home.
We managed to fire the car up on Monday and the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) tech inspectors gave it the onceover and gave Kev a few pointers on what still needed to be completed per their tech inspection. Tuesday morning came all too quickly and we headed down to the inspection tents for a rookie orientation in the likelihood that we were able to run the car. By day’s end, however, it was painfully obvious that it was time to call it quits, so close but still so far.
But not too far to at least give it a go out on the salt! The rulebook states that driving a “competition” vehicle under power anywhere on the salt but down the course is strictly prohibited. Since we hadn’t paid an entry fee, gone through tech, nor had a number emblazoned on the side of our truck, we weren’t technically competing and thus exempt from the “driving around the salt” rule, right?! After a few side glances and giddy smirks exchanged throughout the pit, we decided that it was worth a go.
Being the bright guys we are, we figured that it would be a good idea to tow the truck out of the pit area and out to the “back 40” to minimize the appearance of us running ’round in a racecar. But once that puppy was fired up and moving under its own power, it became obvious that there was no holding Kev back. Months of burning the candle at both ends was being let out in the form of a sideways launching, salt flinging, small-block singing symphony of sight and sound with a wide-eyed, ear-to-ear grinning editor at the helm.
By the time Kev was done getting his rocks off, we figured we ought to quietly load the car into the trailer before the SCTA guys came out and lynched us. Though we didn’t technically break any rules, we did get a “stern talking to” from one of the officials.
In the end, everybody made it home safe and sound with plenty of great memories to boot and Kev’s planning on running the car at El Mirage by the time this issue goes to print. Hopefully he can get the bugs worked out by next August so we can go back out and have even more fun with old trucks!