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The Fraternity of the V8


“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” — Hemingway

Today they run the 2010 Daytona 500. I have a mere passing interest in most sports –except for anything to do with automobiles. The Daytona 500 is my pinnacle of sports for the year.

Back in the day, I enjoyed buying older cars and fixing them up for re-sale. Both kids were around at that time and they participated in this family endeavor. The cars had two things in common. They were always American made V8 engines and they were all rear wheel drive. In 2004, I picked up a car at auction from the City of Ft. Worth that would change 3 lives.

The car was a 1996 Camaro B4C. The B4C is the Police Interceptor version of the Z28. This car came to us pretty clapped out at 132k miles. The passenger’s seat had been removed to provide room for radios and computers and it also had a roll bar installed. This car was a pure Interceptor and had seen duty on the hundreds of miles of Interstate Highway within the city limits of Ft. Worth. My daughter insisted this car was too unique to fix up and sell — and so our journey began.

We worked on the car through the winter of 2004 and into early 2005 before the purpose for building this car was revealed. It was going to be an Open Road Racing car. Open Road Racing is an extreme sport. They close a State Highway and you race a time/distance type rally race at speed for typically close to 100 miles. In Texas, the Big Daddy race is in FT Stockton and it is called the Big Bend Open Road Race.

My daughter stares down the camera from the start line of the 2005 BBORR

Looking back, it seems a little irresponsible to take  a worn out car and then put your babies in it and send them down the road at 160mph+.  Of course, they were invincible at that age and didn’t give it a second thought.    Dad had no better half to provide oversight and  inject a dose of common sense so we did it.  The next two years saw us at most every Open Road Racing event in the country.  My boy and I even made it to Northern Utah near the famed Bonneville Salt Flats to run the Bonneville 100.

So maybe you are thinking this is a post about building a car and racing it?   On the surface, it might appear that way.  Just another mid-life crisis dude out to prove something and then trumpet it to the world.  Maybe it started out as a self-centered ego trip on my part but it definitely morphed into something else entirely before we were done.  The kids participated in every

The B4C blasts West Texas at 160mph+

The B4C blasts West Texas at 160mph+

facet of this project and I was tough on them.  They bitched and complained when I cracked the whip and then they realized the rewards of the long nights and stressful times that went into the preparation of the car.  It was all about preparing them for entrance into the adult world. The end result was an impressive, well prepared and SAFE racing car that went on to finish every race we entered and garner several Top 3 finishes.

It was a short window to have both of my adult kids with me full time.  I knew they would soon be leaving and starting their own lives.  They needed to learn first hand that it was OK to be scared as long as you faced your fears and overcame them.  They needed to understand that everything worth having required an effort to attain.   They needed to learn there are boundaries but those boundaries can be pushed back if you believe they can.  They needed to learn the way to respect and accept the wisdom of a mentor.   They needed to learn how to be a good man and a good woman.

The reality really settled in when they did actually move away and I was left with me

The end of the line == Roadrunner Open Road Race

staring at a race car.   I raced exactly one more time and did well– nothing like going out at the top of your game.  It was a very hollow experience however.  I had to work hard to get the car prepped and staged by myself.  Most importantly it was very little fun. I brought the car back from West Texas and decided my racing days were over. I think the kids understood what was going on as well as I did.
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Ride along inside the B4C Camaro at 170mph….. There is no sound quite like a small block Chevy at full tilt.

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End Note: It’s Only Rock N Roll by the Rolling Stones from the album of the same name. Some things never get old.

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1 comment to The Fraternity of the V8

  • Phil Nichols

    “There is no sound quite like a small block Chevy at full tilt.”

    I used to agree whole heartedly with this comment … a full house 327 at the drag races demonstrates this in spades for a few seconds!

    HOWEVER, I no longer feel that way. I rode in a friend’s Ferrari once and a V12 at 8000 rpm from inside the car beats any V8 engine sound – except for maybe the legendary BRM twin-blown V16 from yesteryear which trumps everything.

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