THE BADGE Circa 1957 front 2nd The Way it WasTHE BADGE THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEIN








Corvette Stories Published in various car magazines 2009-2012

The 1960 Corvette noted in the following true stories has been certified and accepted and made part of The Registry of Corvette Race Cars.
From March 1960 through mid 1962, I raced this Vette at the Beechmont Drag Strip, Flynners dirt track in Hamilton, OH and in many street/road races including Cincinnati to Boulder Colorado, 1100 miles in under 19 hours – all before Interstate highways.  


 © 2009, 2012 Chuck Klein


Circa 1957 front 2ndAt 50 +/- MPH, it had to appear that we were hurtling straight for the telephone pole...then at what must have seemed like the absolute last possible moment - as the tires chirped on the hard dirt in a full panic stop - she was thrown forward, her knuckles white against the black "chicken bar." Suddenly realizing we weren't going to hit the pole, the pony-tailed blond surely believed we were going to roll. Now, she was slammed against the passenger door as the open roadster made a very hard left while the rear end swung out and the engine roared. Surviving all that, as we headed down the straight-a-way, she was now pinned to the seatback - a prisoner of acceleration

Author flagging-off two '59 Corvettes. The near Vette is driven by Jimmy Cohen - same character in Circa 1957

The author flagging-off two 1959 Corvettes. The near Vette is driven by Jimmy Cohen - a character from the book by Chuck Klein, Circa 1957

After three times around, I pulled into the infield and grinned at my passenger, a 16 year old honey. She was wide-eyed and as white as my Ermine White Vette. "I, I, I...was never so scared. I thought we were going to hit that pole...and roll over...lets do it again," she stammered. Stop watches in hand, my buddy and the 5/8 mile dirt track owner were striding over excitedly proclaiming that I had broken the track record.

This was spring, 1960, and I was just getting the feel of my combination 18th birthday gift and high school graduation present, a new 230 HP, 3-speed (close-ratio) Corvette (with options of AM Push-Button radio, White-wall tires and heater, the cost was $3433.01). The track, laid out in some farmer's field, was near Middletown, about an hour north of Cincinnati. It was the only place around that allowed anyone with a driver's license to race. Passengers were also allowed - this, in the days long before the proliferation of lawyers got into everything. I loved road racing, but being only 18, SCCA was out of the question for three more years.

Post graduation, and against my parent's wishes, I took a job instead of going to college. I needed money to build my Vette - I mean what's more important, playing Joe College with a stocker or having a fast machine?

During the rest of the summer, as funds permitted, I added: Marchal headlamps, quick steering adapter, HD shocks, metallic brake linings, 4-speed transmission, HD clutch, three two-barrel carburetors on an Offenhauser manifold, Duntov 097 cam with solid lifters, dual points and a Mallory 50K volt coil. The last item was one of the most significant improvements - in relation to other hi-performance 283 Chevys. When I first installed the coil, the engine developed a miss. I figured the coil was bad, but before taking it back, for some reason, I thought to turn the lights out in the garage and watch the engine run with the hood up. There were sparks all over the place.

Though I had replaced the factory graphite spark plug wires with stranded type wires, voltage was leaking everywhere. I took some neoprene fuel, slit pieces to match each plug wire and then sealed the wires in the neoprene with electrician's tape. Now, there was no leakage and performance was significantly enhanced.

Sure, this stuff was expensive and it took every dime I earned, but I was living at home and had a pal whose father owned a garage. He had given me the garage's vender's number thus allowing me to purchase all Chevrolet parts at a 40% discount. By late summer, I discovered three problems: hot days and/or racing produced vapor lock, hard cornering sometimes caused loss of power due to the carburetor float remaining closed because gas was jamming it in the up position and progressive linkage was not conducive to racing.

The Way it WasThe solution to the last problem was easy, I rigged straight linkage, but idled on the center carb only. The fix for the other problems came to me in an inspiration. I bought an extra fuel pump (electric) and fuel block. Then I drilled and tapped a hole into the base of each float bowl where I threaded in a ball-check valve inline with a flow valve. I ran a fuel line back to the fuel tank from the new pump. Now, I had one pump pumping gas into the carbs in the normal fashion, while another pump sucked gas out of the carbs - though restricted by the flow-valve. It took some experimenting with float levels and flow-valve settings, but after I got it worked out I never had vapor lock or "ran out of gas" in a corner again.

On return trips to the Middletown dirt track, sporting all these goodies, I was not able to equal, much less, exceed my previous and still unbroken track record. The cause, I figured, was due to gear ratios. First gear in the 3-speed was a perfect for that track inasmuch as I never had to shift into 2nd. With the 4-speed, 1st gear had a lower ratio and thus I had to either back off or shift (time wasting) into 2nd (and back into 1st again, later).

The 3-speed transmission, like most cars back then, didn't have synchronizers in 1st gear. Of course, having learned to drive on a Crosley that had no synchronizers in any gear (called a "crash-box"), I knew how to double-clutch. Before replacing the 3-speed with the fully synchronized 4-speed, I made a few bucks off other kids by betting I could shift the Vette into 1st at 50 MPH and without using a clutch. It was easy: I knew 50 MPH equalled 5000 RPM in 1st. Therefore, at 50 MPH, all I had to do was pull the shift lever into neutral, rev the engine to 5000 and the shift lever would slide into first like a thrust bearing onto a greased shaft.


© Chuck Klein 2012

It was late on a 1960 summer night when I saw my buddy Howard’s ‘57 Chevy in the lot at the local White Castle Drive-in restaurant. Rumors had spread among our crowd that he had hopped-up his engine. All that was obvious were two-four’s, anything else had to be hidden in the engine. “Anything” could include an Isky 5-cycle cam and maybe over-sized pistons, just for starters. The usual bravado about whose car is fastest led to the inevitable challenge of: “do you want to talk or race?”
My ‘60 Corvette, to which I had added three Rochester 2-barrel carburetors on straight linkage plus additional enhancements, put out about 300 raw horsepower. The only external change to the car was the addition of French Marchal head lamps to replace the outboard standard sealed beam lights. Though it wasn’t set up for drag racing, it turned a respectable 99.3 MPH in the quarter-mile.

Rules agreed to, we pulled onto Reading Road, a 4-lane residential street in the northern part of Cincinnati. Just past Elizabeth Place we leveled off at twenty-five miles per hour. I rolled my window down to hear the count, as Howard’s passenger shouted above the din, “One...two...three!”

Beechmont Drag Strip, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1961.The Author is in the Near Vette.

At the sound of the magic number, I stabbed the throttle and hit the high beam switch. The sudden acceleration slammed me to the seatback as I fixed one eye on the tach and put my full attention into hearing the engine. I got the jump on him, the three-two’s and a lower first gear ratio, having the advantage on the low end.  The recent tune-up had not been in vain. In second gear of my close-ratio 4-speed transmission (he had a 3-speed) my lead increased. Once into third and as we neared the top of the hill, just before Langdon Road, he began to close the distance - his two-four’s and whatever else he had, now had the edge.
Cresting the hill, almost side by side and, at a little over a hundred, the powerful  Marchal headlamps illuminated the reflective decals on the side of a city police car waiting for the light at Langdon Road. I could see by the condition of the walk-wait signal that the light was about to change to red for our north bound cars. It was too late now. At about seventy we went through the red light together, Howard in his 270+  Chevy and me in my hopped-up Vette. The cop didn’t waste anytime in turning on his “bubble gum machine” and pulling around the line of cars waiting with him. Howard stopped in front of the high school, but I kept right on going, while flipping the switches I had installed to turn my tail and brake lights out.

At Seymore Avenue, I turned right and got on it all the way to where it curved around and backed into Langdon Road. Approaching this intersection, and seeing  there was no other traffic, I enduced an understear forcing the Vette into a four-wheel drift. The Vette, rigged for road racing with a quick-steering adapter, heavy-duty shocks and metallic brake linings, slid around the bend in perfect control - smoke billowing from the wheel wells as I poured the coal to her. From there we wound our way through the back streets of the suburban villages of Golf Manor and Amberley. The last time I saw the cop, with his economy equipped six-banger, he was about a half-mile behind me and losing ground. I wasn’t worried about a road block because the city and the villages were on different radio frequencies.

The author after the above race at Beechmont Drag Strip. Note the trophy atop the car, which he still has.

Once at home, I put the Vette in the garage and found a key to my sister’s car, which we took back to White Castle. Howard was waiting for us, grinning from ear to ear. He explained how John-law pulled next to him, told him to wait, and took off after me. As soon as the cop was out of sight, Howard merely turned around and drove back to the drive-in. The cop, obviously a rookie, had failed to copy his license plate numbers or even get a good look at Howard.

Chuck Klein is the author of Circa 1957 and The Way It Was, Nostalgic Tales of Hot Rods and Romance. He may be contacted via his web site:



© 2012 Chuck Klein

The sun has riz,
and the sun has set,
and we ain't outta Texas yet

 The big square trademark radiator filled my outside rearview mirror. He looked like he was going to run over the top of me - and I was running 90 miles per hour! The dark blob in my mirror had been gaining on me for at least the past fifteen minutes. At first I thought it was a cop, but the rate he was closing was steady and not increasing as if it were the police. Besides, 90 was not really considered speeding west of San Antonio. Speed limit signs were seldom encountered and actual "speed limits"  in many parts of the west were whatever was "reasonable and proper."

 I had left Houston early that morning with limited funds advanced by the Show Winds Theatrical Company. It was summer, 1961, I was nineteen and had started a dream job as the front man for a live stage show company that produced one-night stands in small towns across the southwest. My first stop-over was Pecos.

 I edged closer to the berm and again checked my instruments: Tach, 4000, engine temperature 185°F, oil pressure. . . . It was a huge silver and black Rolls Royce and it was now abreast of me. The mustachioed driver, black cap atop his head, didn't even acknowledge me while the passenger, in the rear seat, couldn't be seen from behind the newspaper he was reading.

 This is not happening. This is Texas, USA, and I'm driving the most powerful American made car - the 1960 Corvette! I can't let this happen - this is for the honor of America. I fed a little more fuel to my three Rochester, two-barrel carburetors and matched the interlopers speed - 110. After a few minutes in his slipstream, I moved over into the east bound lanes and shoved my foot in it. The little roadster responded with push-you-back-in-the-seat acceleration while the twin straight-thru mufflers resonated off the side of the Rolls. I topped out at a little over 125 and then settled back to 120 - a nice easy two-mile-per-minute clip. I gleefully watched the Rolls growing smaller in my mirrors.

 It was hot, maybe 90 or so, and even the rush of air at such a high speed didn't help much. My cheerfulness quickly faded upon glancing at my gauges. The engine temperature was approaching 220 degrees! I had removed the thermostat prior to beginning the trip knowing the little 283 engine would need all the advantages it could get in the hot south-west summer. The engine was basically the 270 horsepower version to which I had exchanged the two-four barrel carbs for three-duces on straight linkage. The reason was for better response during high speed cornering and improved fuel economy - it got 14.5 MPG at a cruising speed of 90 per. Other attributes included metallic brake linings, quick steering, 4-speed transmission, heavy duty shocks and a 3.70 rear axle.

 I had been running all day at 90 without straining the engine, but the extra 30 MPH had been too much. I cut back down to 90. Sure enough, 15 minutes later here came the Rolls with the haughty chauffeur and oblivious passenger - 110, steady as she goes. Well, we don't have to tell anyone - obviously they won't - they didn't even know they had slighted an American icon.

 Hot, dirty, tired and coming down with a cold, I stopped at a Pecos hospital where I conned the resident into giving me a shot of penicillin. Then twelve hours in an air conditioned cabin at Jim Bob's & Mary Beth's Tourist Haven and I was ready to begin work. The agreement was, I was to deliver and post bills in common places of the city. I was also to visit any and all local radio stations and newspapers with publicity releases and offer interviews. Posting the flyers was without incident. However, the radio stations and the only local newspaper were reluctant to give me an interview or a promise to plug the upcoming show – seems they had heard my company’s song before.

 I was allowed two days to complete my work before moving on to the next municipality. At each town the Company was to have waiting for me a money order, care of general delivery. On the morning of the third day there was still no letter at the post office. I called Houston and was told some long tale that I should not worry they'll make it up to me in Farmington, New Mexico, the next scheduled stop. Boy, was I naive. They didn't send me out completely without support. They gave me $30.00 for gas money, which, at .20/gallon was good for about 800 miles.

 Around noon the next day, I rolled into Roswell just as a local parade was mustering on the main drag. I flopped the top and, hand waving to the crowds like I was one of the floats, got into line behind what turned out to be the mayor's car - a '61 Chevy Convertible. About the time the parade got to the center of town, a motorcycle cop pulled along side of me, signaling that I should follow him. Oops. At the police station, I tried to tell them I was just following traffic when I somehow got mixed up with the parade vehicles. That was almost truthful inasmuch as a cop, way back at the beginning, asked me if I was in the parade and I nodded yes. Since they couldn't get the mayor to forgo his parade and ceremonial affair to hear my case, the sergeant ordered that I be escorted out of town. Sometimes ya get lucky. Now I was on my way to Route 66 and Albuquerque for dinner and a night's sleep.

 The next day, I gassed up and inquired of the best route to Farmington. The locals at the gas station, while admiring my car and asking if I was on the Route 66 TV show, advised I should stay on 66 to Gallup and turn north there as the roads running north out of Albuquerque to the four-corners area were not all paved. I didn't tell them I was on the show, but I didn't tell them I wasn't, either. On my way out of town, I noticed I had picked up a few followers - kids from the gas station who had tried to goad me into a race. The leader of the pack, driving a maroon 1957 Chevrolet with louvers on the hood, lowering blocks and a shaved nose and deck, kept riding up on my rear bumper. Once or twice, when traffic permitted, he pulled along side, shoved it into second gear and goosed it a few times while his shotgun called for a race. After a few miles of this, the taunts and threats became abusive and it was clear I needed to do something.

 Picking a stretch of Highway 66 that looked to have a sharp curve with a clear view at the end of a short straightaway, I changed down into third and opened the throttle full. The '57, taken by surprise, lagged a hundred feet back by the time I had entered the hard right hand turn. One of the other attributes I added to my Vette was a panel that included switches for my brake lights, tail lights, left tail light, four-way-flasher (not a factory option yet) and under-hood lights. The tail light switch was in case I was being followed, at night, by someone I didn't want to catch me - such as a cop. I could turn out the tail lights making it very hard for him to see me. The left tail light switch was for the same purpose, whereas if a cop was chasing a car with two tail lights, but after a few hills and dales, the only car in front of him had one tail light, he would think the car he was chasing had turned off. It did work, but that's another story.

 Hurtling down the highway at close to 90, and with the '57 coming on strong, things got very busy. Just before trouncing the binders, I flipped the switch cancelling the brake lights. With a quick heal-toe maneuver I jammed the shift lever into second gear red-lining the engine. The car shuttered as the speed dropped. Tires howling in protest, I induced an under-steer setting up a four wheel drift. As the right front tire, just over the edge of the pavement and on the dirt berm fought for adhesion, and just before the apex, I poured the coal to her while straightening the wheel to compensate for drift. Once clear of the corner, I stole a glance at my rear view mirror. The Chevy driver, obviously thinking that if I could take the corner without braking, he could too - learned to late something wasn't right. I couldn't see exactly what happened, but there was a lot of dust and I never saw them again.

 Farmington was void of any hotels or motels, but I did find a nice home that offered rooms to rent - $3.00 per night including breakfast and dinner. That was after I checked the post office - no mail here either. I couldn't help being an optimist; my mother was a Pollyanna. I began the next day calling on the local radio station. Here, a kindly, older DJ/station manager took pity on me and told me how, after the town had been excited about and helped promote the theatrical company's promise to come last year - never showed up. When I told him that I hadn't been paid he offered to treat me to dinner at his lodge in Durango, Colorado.

 The trip through the mountains to this old west town, nestled down into a valley amid jagged mountain peaks, was the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. The "one dog" town was right out of a Louis L'Amour dime novel as was the rustic Moose Lodge, complete with hand hewn, exposed rafters and, of course, a giant, mounted moose head over a huge stone fireplace. The western attired members, in their scuffed boots and sweat-stained hats, were authentic - not fancy fringed-shirted Hollywood cowboy wannabees.

 Arriving back in Farmington, I found a parking ticket on my windshield. It seemed that everywhere I went, cops were attracted to my Corvette. Not, I'm sure, as enthusiasts, but because they assumed sooner or later the driver was going to race, speed, spin his tires, make noise or all of he above. Their concerns were not without merit. The $3.00 ticket became $100.00 if not paid within 24 hours. Twenty-four or a thousand hours, I wasn't about to pay it. It wasn't the principle of the thing, I just didn't have three bucks to spare!

 Early the next morning, I headed for the post office. That was, of course, after I paid my room bill and had a full breakfast. The matronly, middle aged, everybody's-mom-lady-of-the-house, in her gingham dress, wished me good luck. The postmaster told me the mail truck wasn't due for about an hour. I walked to the corner drug store, ordered a coke at the soda fountain and read a three-day old copy of the local paper.

 The mail contained nothing for me. Then it was back to the drug store where I used the pay phone to place a collect call to the producer. He refused my call! Well, at least I got gas money to get me this far. California here I come.

 As I hit the town's western limit the red light on the police car that had been following me came on. I stopped, got out and walked back to the cruiser.

 "You gonna pay that ticket, boy," the rotund, red faced cop spat.

 "Not right now, sir. But I will."

 "Looks to me like you're leaving town - and that's another crime iffins you gotta outstanding ticket."

 "Uh, no sir. I was just going to run a mile or two on the highway. My plugs were beginning to foul from all that town driving I'd been doing and I thought I'd blow 'em out a little. I can't leave until I do the radio interview tonight, I lied."

 "Well, go ahead, but if you ain't back in ten minutes, I'm gonna radio to Shiprock to stop you and lock you up. Ya hear?"

 It was 25 miles to Shiprock and then another 25 to the Arizona border. Approaching the turn-off to this final town, at my normal 4000 RPM cruising speed of 90, I could see two police cars, lights flashing, on the right shoulder. A uniformed officer was standing in the middle of the road, his hand held up, palm forward. I slowed to about 35, shifted to 2nd to wait for the on-coming pickup truck to clear the road block. With the left lane now open, I moved across the yellow line as the officers began waving their hands and shouting. I had to put two wheels on the dirt shoulder to keep from hitting them as they watched, dumbfounded, America's only real sports car rocket away from the them. It was a gamble, but I figured the chances of another cop being between me and the border to be slim.

 I'd never experienced 106°F - and neither had my Vette! Arizona - hot, dusty and hotter. At those daytime temperatures, I couldn't hold much over 55 and the air blowing on my feet from the cowl vent was so hot I had to close it. Gripping the steering wheel caused my hands to sweat, but sticking them out of the window to dry them was even hotter. Back on Route 66 at my first gas stop, I learned most cross country drivers only drove at night - when the desert cooled the air. Long before Flagstaff I found a rarity, an air conditioned restaurant, and hunkered down till evening. Because everyone traveled at night, the traffic was the most I'd seen since leaving Houston.

 Somewhere in the early morning hours I started down the mountains from Barstow into the San Bernardino valley. The temperature plunged so much I had to stop to paper my radiator with a road map so the engine could generate enough heat to warm the interior of the cockpit.

Post Script: “My”1960  Corvette’s VIN: 00867S103781, anyone know its



Copyright, Chuck Klein

Seeing her at her Mother’s funeral forced memories

 forever melded to the sentimental portions of my mind.

In my 13th year, the summer of 1954, the Cooper's moved next door. I was just starting to notice girls and Suzan – Suzie - got my attention when she beat me at a game of mumbly-peg. And, even though she was a tom-boy, she was a very good looking tom-boy. Nothing was ever said, but my best friend, Carl, knew that the looks between her cyan and my hazel eyes meant a destiny that didn’t include him. Our families became close in many ways. Suzie and I were the same age, her brother and I swam on the school team together and our mothers became the very best of friends.

 Throughout high school, I was on the wild side - a hot rodder - and only dated "chicks." I was embarrassed to call Suzie until I'd sowed my oats. I re-noticed her when she came over to swim late in the summer of ‘61. Now, I was enrolled in  college and more mature - and she was so pretty. Somehow I talked her into a date for that Saturday night. I then spent an entire day cleaning and polishing my 1960 Corvette. The Vette was rigged for road racing with the quick-steering adapter, HD shocks, metallic brake linings and 3” x 6” galvanized pipe welded to the exhaust header pipes. The only external change to the car was the addition of Marchal head lamps to replace the outboard standard sealed beam lights.

 Temperature wise, it was a perfect Cincinnati evening and I had the top down and soft music playing on the RCA 45 record player I had installed on the “chicken bar”('cuz the radio was all static due to the solid spark plug wires). She wore something white and was so pretty – wait, I already said that. Slowly, so as to enjoy the music and not disturb her with the loud exhaust, we motored to Sorrento's restaurant, turning every head we passed. Though Corvettes weren't common and car aficionados would always look, everyone noticed a beautiful blonde.

 We spent a lot of time together that late summer – swimming, dancing, movies and other fun stuff. One warm night, while watching an Elvis Presley movie at the drive-in, The King sang "Can't Help Falling In Love. Circa 1957 front 2nd " At the line, "Take my hand, take my whole life too . . . ." we instinctively reached to hold hands. I don't remember the song being "our song," but whenever I've heard it, I've thought of Suzie. The end of September found her returning to the University of Colorado at Boulder and our courtship continued via mail.

 In mid January, exams over and during a conversation with my friend and fellow hot rod club member, Kookie, I suggested we run out to Boulder. He didn't have anything else going on and was game, especially after I promised Suzie would fix him up with a real honey.

 We picked up U.S. 36 in downtown Indianapolis, a reprieve, after following mostly state highways with their inherent undulations, stream-chasing routes and long, wild grasses growing over the edge of the pavement (expressways yet to open). West of the city the traffic thinned out and we were able to return to our cruising speed of 90 MPH. The Corvette had three Rochester 2-barrel carburetors on straight linkage and at that speed the engine was running 4000 RPM which was well into the power curve of the Duntov cam.In other words, it was a comfortable clip that produced over 14 miles per gallon.

 Somewhere around 5:00 a.m., in a dense fog, a wheel came off. Kookie was driving and did a great job of keeping the Vette on the road. There was no damage to the car, but, due to the thick fog we never found the tire and wheel. We took a lug nut from each of the other wheels and used those three nuts to hold the spare tire on. Limping into the next town we found a Chevrolet dealer and after a two hour wait for them to open, we were on our way again.

 Deep into western Kansas, running the usual 90 per, a semi-truck emerged about a half mile ahead. It appeared we would pass the truck, maintaining the present rate, in the middle of an intersection. The land was flat and the cross road was clear, so I just held her steady at 4000 RPM. Halfway around the semi and over the double yellow line, I was startled to see a state trooper on the truck's front bumper! The noise from the muffler by-pass reverberating off the truck was deafening and produced a look of surprised outrage on the trooper's face as we roared past. Not for an instant did I think I could talk my way out of speeding, excessive noise, driving left of center and passing in an intersection.

 I went to full throttle while Kookie scanned the map. One Hundred . . . a hundred and ten . . . two-miles-per-minute. We were a lightning bolt on wheels. My co-pilot leaned over and shouted that there was only one little town and then about ten miles to Colorado. We had to chance that there weren't any other cops between us and the border. Now my attention was riveted to controlling this 300 horse-powered, plastic-bodied roadster – a land-rocket that was sans power brakes, power steering or steel-belted-radial-tires. At these speeds even glancing at the gauges was forsaken. I had to rely on engine sounds, the feel of the wheel, gut instincts and luck. Billboards and highway signs such as Burma-Shave and Mail Pouch became mere peripheral splashes of color.

 Coming into the small burg, a pandemonium of smoke and danger - fire shooting from the open lake-pipes - people stopped and stared, mouths agape. I forced the Vette to just under 60 in second gear to negotiate a hard left turn then got a piece of third before having to shut down for a tight chicane in the heart of town. Once through the business district, I red-lined in third gear before leveling off again at 90. The state trooper was nowhere in sight.

 Inside Colorado, with Denver in view, we came around a bend in the road and there sat two highway patrol cars. Both pulled out after us. We got out of their sight over a small hill and slammed to a stop. Having anticipated this from previous high speed runs, Kookie and I were both wearing like-colored shirts. When the officers finally pulled up behind us, we were standing outside the car studying a road map. They couldn't give us a ticket, because they were unable to determine who was driving. However, they let us know that Kansas had called that we were coming and they were going to follow us all the way through their state if necessary. They stayed with us until we turned off at Boulder.

 At the university, we found a motel and called Suzie. She came right over and the hug and kiss made it all worthwhile. We got a little shut-eye, Suzie came through with a co-ed for Kookie and we did the college scene. The next day, Kookie wanted to see a mountain and the girls found the way where we took pictures and enjoyed the day.

 The home-bound leg was uneventful except for the final stretch in Indiana . . . where on lazy, sunny, summer days giant deciduous trees over-hang The Way it Wasthe country roadways, their branches reaching out as if to shake hands. Uneventful: except this was night, the dead of winter and we picked up a cop. I quickly tripped the switch I had installed to cancel the left tail light. A few miles further down this highway that snaked in and out of those towering trees and the officer, who had been chasing two tail lights, now only saw a vehicle with one light and surely figured we turned at a side road – which he must have done as we never saw him again.

 The trip out took almost 24 hours due to loosing the tire. Coming back, we covered the 1190 miles in 19 hours, five minutes - a 63 MPH average - all on two lane roads with no side-lines and very narrow, if any, shoulders. I've never been sure the trip wasn't more about the opportunity to road race than it was to see my girl.

 I developed some very strong feelings for her and I know she pined for me also, but the timing wasn't right. Both of us had agendas - places to go, things to do, worlds to conquer and commitments were a long way off.

 It is said that everyone experiences three loves: the

     one they marry, the one they're glad they didn't marry

     and the one that got away

 Suzie and I kept in touch, but with careers and dating others the touch got lighter. Within a few years, Suzan accepted a job in California and . . . married. Me? As soon as I figured out that it was just as much fun to be the chaser as it was the chasee, I became a police officer.

 The Corvette? A few months after the Colorado trip, before I burned the valves experimenting with nitro-methane and sold it to an unsuspecting dealer, I made one last run. They had just opened the six-lane Interstate between Cincinnati and Dayton and nine of us, all in Corvettes - three rows of three - broke in the new road. With seven Vettes to block cops, two at a time would line up, and from a roll, run flat out. I was up against a ’59 270 with a higher rear axle ratio. I beat him from 70 to about 130, and then he came on by.

 Yeah, I know, we were crazy back then. But traffic was light, cops fewer, radar not perfected and we were very lucky. Lucky to survive and lucky to have lived during that era.

 Late in the spring of 1996, and now a widower, my second wife, Annette, and I were honored to be treated to lunch with Mrs. Cooper and my mother. Suzie, who has known Annette since grade school, was in town for a visit and also joined us. Both of my wives have known about "Suzie and me." I made certain they did - a tinge of jealousy never hurt any relationship. I always wondered if Suzan, in the same vein, kept Paul on his toes, too.

 Never being able to satiate aspirations

is better than not having

any fantasies at all.

 At some point during the luncheon, Suzie and I found ourselves alone  . . . and 42 years since our eyes locked in that game of mumbly-peg, I asked this girl next door, "Did life turn out okay? Are you happy?" She smiled, her blue eyes twinkling, “Oh yes. Surely you remember your mother always telling us, ‘the secret to life is the ability to adapt to change.’ And you?”

 I smiled out of the corner of my mouth and gave her a slow wink, “Can’t argue with my mom.”

          After the funeral Suzan introduced me to her daughters,
one of which immediately turned to her sisters and whispered,
"He's Klein. He could have been our father."

by Chuck Klein

Bob Drennan’s excellent article, Build Secrets for Successful Vintage Corvette Racing (Winter 2010), brought back some related memories of my racing days. During the early1960s, though I wasn’t old enough to race SCCA, I logged enough miles on a local farmer’s dirt track and the open road to experience fuel slosh in my 1960 Corvette.

My Vette came with the 230 HP (single 4-barrel) engine and a three-speed close-ration transmission. I had experienced, heard of, and read about, fuel building up (slosh) on one side of the float bowl during hard cornering. This, as Drennan noted and I discovered the hard way, causes fuel starvation at critical times.

Back then, the standard answer to this problem was to install fuel injection or Weber carburetors – neither of which were in my budget. I opted for three deuces on an Offenhauser manifold. It helped, but not enough to trust the set-up completely. My solution was an experiment that not only eliminated slosh, but reduced any possibility of vapor lock.

I drilled and taped holes (1/8 pipe thread) in the base of each carburetor. Into these holes I installed a globe valve in line with a ball-check valve. I then ran fuel hose from each carb to a fuel block and from the block to an electric fuel pump and from that pump to the tank. Trial and error regulation of the globe valves determined the correct fuel flow and thus I had fuel constantly running through each carb. The 3-2s were hooked-up via home-made straight linkage which was the only way to go for full control during road racing (as opposed to the then “in Vogue” progressive style). I idled on the center carburetor and got over 14 MPG running 90 MPH on high speed road trips.

Among the other speed/handling equipment I added to the Vette was a high voltage (50K volt?) Mallory coil and stranded-copper spark plug wires. On a whim, while I was playing around in the garage one night, I turned out the lights and watched the engine run in the dark. Sparks were all over the place! Voltage was leaking from plug wire to plug wire and to any metal close by. This prompted me to cover each wire with neoprene fuel line. I slit the line and slipped the wire inside and then wrapped each wire with electrician’s tape. What a huge difference in performance that little trick made. 

As funds allowed, this car was also enhanced with quick steering adapter, HD clutch, 4-speed transmission, metallic brake linings, HD shocks, dual point distributor, the Duntov 097 solid-lifter cam and 3” pipe (w/cap) welded to the header pipe. This last item, the lake pipes, only cost me one ticket! I was in route to the dirt track when I decided to “blow the carbon out.” Passing a State Highway Patrol post at full throttle and around 100 MPH got the undivided attention of the OIC who radioed ahead. At the side road leading to the track sat a marked cruiser. He liked the car and sympathized with my plight, but the Lt. at the post insisted I be cited.

The 4-speed was beneficial in many instances, though my best times on the 5/8 mile dirt track were with the 3-speed – I became very adept at rapidly double clutching back into first gear (non synchromesh). By 1962, with 60K miles on the clock, my Ermine White everyday transport/race car was worn out. The front end was loose, the clutch beginning to slip and the engine was starting to burn oil plus the valves were burned due to my not-so-successful experiments with nitro methane.

Statistics: I red-lined the solid axle sports car in top gear which, on paper, was 146.5 MPH (6.70x15 bias tires, 3.70 rear axle = 22.5 MPH/1000 RPM.) On the drag strip, I don’t recall my ET, and I never broke 100 MPH – the closest I came was 99 point something. At the 5/8 mile dirt track, outside Middletown, Ohio, I held the track record for as long as I raced there. 

   Fiction story


by Chuck Klein

As it got closer his suspicions were confirmed -- it was a vintage Corvette. Too bad he wasn't driving his old Vette. It could be a fun run over these delightfully twisty and hilly country roads in the outback of the great state of Indiana. Within minutes, on a long straight stretch, the red, with white inset, fifty-nine/sixty two-seater made its bid to pass.

The familiar rumble of the twin pipes indicated the engine was of the solid lifter variety which only made the longing, the recollections, even stronger. What surprised him was that the driver was a lady, a smart looking young lady with long, flame-red hair that trailed out over the rear deck of her open roadster.

Memories of another redhead in a Corvette, back when the Vette was new, quickened his pulse and flooded his mind. She gave a quick look and a smile at mid point, just as she smacked third gear and dumped a set of quads. And with a chirp of rubber she was gone.

 A glance at his speedometer told him that the little excitement had caused him to push his seventy-two El Camino to well above the legal limit. Ah, there was a time when he would have relished a high speed run, but at fifty-three years of age and driving a "stocker," Jack Cambry knew better.

Twenty miles on down the road he still couldn't shake the memory of Natalie. It came back in a rush overwhelming his mind -- everything from her in-bred sophistication, to the time in the back seat of her fifty-five Bel-Air; strains of "their song," the Crew Cuts, Angels in the Sky, playing softly over the radio. He hadn't thought of her in a long time and was confused as to why her familiarity -- the longing -- was so strong. Perhaps it was the guilt that ground the spider gears of his mind.

She had a long pony tail the first time they met. He had just transferred to a new school and she had come over to him during that first recess. He was lonely and scared but she flipped her pony tail and just said, "Hi, I'm Natalie and I hope you like it here," or something to that effect. Her hair was a soothing deep auburn not the fire red of a Rita Hayworth. They were standing under the pavilion watching the sixth graders in a game of kickball.

She was nice and very pretty but he never let on that he thought so...must have been afraid of getting teased or just too young or something. Funny how some recollections are crystal clear and others are hazy.

 Their first date hadn't been for four more years until they were sixteen and he had wheels. Now that he thought about it she was his first real date. Oh, he'd met girls at the Saturday matinee and even kissed a few at games of post office or spin the bottle. But Natalie was the first real date. He couldn't remember how they came to go out, maybe it was when a gang of kids were all standing around the soda fountain at Richter's Pharmacy talking about the up-coming sock hop. Yeah, that was it. She said to nobody in particular, but she was looking at him, that she wanted to go but didn't have a ride.

He laughed to himself remembering that first date. Why she ever went out with him again after he made a total fool of himself was a mystery. He had tried to ace some cat in a '52 Olds away from a light, but stalled by popping the clutch on an under revved engine. Not very cool on a first date. But the car was cool, as only a Corvette could be.

She was some dish. Not only was she tom-boyish good-looking, but she had a `55 Chev. She had removed the hood and trunk ornaments in preparation for a nose and deck job on this Power-pack stick and had installed spinner hubcaps and a chrome air cleaner herself. She knew more about cars than most guys. She was perfect. Even at sixteen and until they parted at eighteen they fit together, like a valve to a keeper or a connecting rod to a wrist pin.

They had such fun together, he, Natalie and the Vette. They almost never missed a Sunday at the drag strip. He'd be stuck in "B" Sports Car against a lot of usually faster machines and she'd run his Corvette in the Powder Puff class and pull trophy most every time.


 How'd it happen? They'd dated -- gone steady actually -- broken up, then got back together just before his car club's annual dance. Yeah, that was it, the evening of the Knights' big dance when he got pulled by Herb's '57 Fury that everyone had said was a dog. It was no stocker. To this day he was sure Herb had a Isky Five-Cycle cam and maybe more cubes than came from the factory.

He was angry all evening and when they all stopped at Spooner's drive-in for an after-dance Coke he had tried to put the make on Herb's date. That was also the night Natalie had picked to tell him her Dad had been transferred out of state. He had only meant to get back at Herb for goading him into a race that was a set-up in the first place.

Though they saw each other a few more times before he left for college and she for Chicago, he never really got a chance to apologize or anything. The next year was a little hazy. He had gotten involved with some chick at OSU, rushed a fraternity and flunked out of school. Next thing he knew he was in the Navy.

Wow, the parade of memories from just seeing an old car -- an old Corvette -- driven by a red headed honey! Oh, he'd thought about her, especially when the loneliness of military life had almost consumed him and again when he committed himself to marriage.

He believed he had really been in love with Sue Ellen, but, Natalie was always somewhere deep in the reserve fuel tank of his mind. When Sue Ellen left him [maybe he never was really and completely committed to her] he had hunted for Natalie. The search only lasted until he learned she was married.


The yellow diamond shaped sign indicated a right followed by a left, both with a suggested safe speed of forty. He knew he wasn't in a Corvette and he wasn't in his twenties, but the urge was too great as he set the classic pick-up into the first bend at a little over 70. He rode it through on rails pretending it was a four wheel drift, getting hard on the gas at the apex of each turn. It felt good, speed, engine noise...memories.

Daydreaming sure does help while the miles away. Already he was over halfway from Cincinnati to Chicago. It had been such a beautiful day that he had driven the old way through the countryside of farm belt America, the route before the Interstate.

Slowing for a small burg he noticed the red and white Vette parked at the side of a Shell station. Well, he needed gas anyway, and Shell was one of the cards he carried. It sure wouldn't hurt to take a few minutes to look at the vehicle of the past hour's recollections.

A cursory exam of the sports car yielded the knowledge that it was a 1959 model and had a 6500 RPM red line on the tach which indicated it came with a factory 270 horsepower engine. Absorbed in a world of automobilia he didn't see her until she was standing right next to him. "Excuse me, sir. I'd like to get into my car."

She couldn't have been much more than twenty-five and could have passed as Natalie's twin if it were thirty plus years ago.

"I'm sorry. I was just admiring your Vette. Had it long?"

"Well, we've owned it for about five years, but it was only in the last six months that we've had the time and money to get it into running shape," she said with a smile that showed a slight over bite.

"You are a credit to Corvette owners of old by the way you handled it back there on the open road. Drove like a pro or your daddy owns the road," he joked, trying to expand the moment.

"Wrong on both counts, mister. I'm not a professional and my daddy died last year. So if you'll excuse me...."

"I'm sorry for intruding. It's just that this car stirred thoughts of another Corvette and another red head too many years ago. The car got traded and the red head...I guess she's lost forever."

She reached for the door handle, stopped, turned toward him and said, "No, I'm the one who should be sorry. I'm not in a good mood. I just broke up with my boy friend. I know you old timers get all twisted out of shape at the sight of machines like this. Uh, the car has the original two-eighty-three engine, bored sixty thousandths over, twin four barrels and an oh-two-seven, solid-lifter, Duntov cam powered through a four-speed transmission and three-seventy, Posi-traction rear axle.

"Say, you do know your stuff. Learn it from your dad? He asked, trying not to sound conciliatory.

"I learned mostly from my mom. It's her car and we made a project of rebuilding it. We had the mechanical work done at a shop in Cincinnati, that's where my mom's from. We did the interior and all the body work ourselves, except the final paint," the red haired beauty stated proudly.

At the mention of Cincinnati and a widow who knew cars, a chill with the speed of a small-block Chevy, swept over him. An intense smile exposed a face full of age lines as his clear hazel eyes studied her features -- red hair, the slightly up-turned nose, the high cheek bones and that slight overbite with very small teeth. . . .

"Why are you looking at me like that? Are you going to hit on me, pal? Come on, let me get into my car I've got places to go," she scolded, brushing past him to vault into the driver’s seat.

"I'm, I'm sorry," he stammered. "Is . . . is you mother's name, Wilson?"

"No, Her name's Minderman. Now please let me go." She twisted the key firing up all eight cylinders with the unmistakably familiar throaty roar of the short-stroke Chevy.

 With a rap of the accelerator that sent the little engine revving past three grand she lifted the "T" handle and slapped the lever into reverse. He stepped back, smarting from the false and brash accusation, still overwhelmed by the memories and similarities. He looked at his shoes waiting for her to back away.

The Vette, engine loping at seven-hundred-fifty RPM, didn't move. He snuck a glance. Maybe he was still in her way. Boy was he embarrassed. The girl with Rita Hayworth hair and the features of a teenage lost love was staring at him, mouth agape.

Barely audible, over the rumble of the two-seventy, he heard her say, "You mean my mother's maiden name? Yeah, it was Wilson. Did you know her?" She turned her head as if checking the rear view mirror then turned back again, eyes wide. "Oh wow! If your name's Jack then my mom's been looking for you."