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ell, I did it. After being king of the freelancers since early 2002, I took over one of the half-dozen print titles out there, Mopar Enthusiast, back in July. Most readers probably know a lot more about working on their cars than the magazine business. The best way to try to explain it is say that you live in a ‘Groundhog Day’ movie on a 30-day cycle. The details may change, but you end up doing a lot of things over and over again. You write, you edit the other stuff, you read it, the staff reads it, you read it again once the pages are laid out, the magazine goes to the printer, and you read it one last time before the ink actually hits the paper. And still stupid stuff sometime manages to slip though the cracks.
So, while we were getting the final touches done for the printer in early August, I was also on my way to the Mopar Nationals for the first time since leaving Mopar Muscle almost a decade ago. Held at National Trail Raceway east of Columbus, this is still one of the premier events of the year. The event’s highlight includes the OEM Judging for the hobby’s finest restorations, hundreds of show cars, dozens of racecars, exhibition run, a big Manufacturers Midway, and a big swap meet.
My son John was going to get to miss the first two days of high school as a result of this and the following week, but we had a lot of fun hanging out with the guys from Mancini; cruising to Brice Road and Heath, Ohio; shooting features, and hearing tall tales. The event was over, but we were just getting started.
On Monday we were at the Amos Automotive offices for some meetings on MPE, and we headed over to Indianapolis that night to see Ken Lazzari and Russ Flagle at Indy Cylinder Head the next morning. Ken had pointed out some great new products at the Nats (including the fabulous RHS Indy 360 heads featured in the product section last month) and we had a chance to look at what was under development.
Despite the economic downturn, the engine hardware business is still pretty good these days. One of the coolest products was the Mod Man manifold (sorry, Jeff, I’m saving the tech on that one for the January issue of Mopar Enthusiast), but suffice to say, this recently developed part may be one of the more revolutionary products from these mad scientists. The Mod Man uses interchangeable tops on a single plane intake, making it possible to swap from a Six Pack to a big CFM carb to fuel injection by simply changing the plenum cover. The dyno numbers are impressive.
From Indy it was up to see Greg and Kathy Mosley in Moline, Illinois (whose collection was also covered in Mopar Max recently). Mosley has some very significant racecars, not the least being the Chi-town Hustler and Hawaiian fliptop funny cars, Lee Smith’s ’65 altered-wheelbase Plymouth, and a slew of street cars. That took up much of Wednesday, but by nightfall we headed for Iowa and one last overnight stop before hitting Kearney, Nebraska, for the Flatlander Fling.
Racecar locator Reed Koeppe had organized the event at what is basically the center of the country (1750 miles from each coast). Dick Towers, the proprietor of match-race-madness.com, has recently been dealing with some health issues, and in his honor, collector Mike Guffey of Indiana and Jim Kramer of Pennsylvania brought in the original 1965 Golden Commandos Plymouth and Honker Dodge, respectively, for this first-ever event. Both cars were under power for the first time in decades, and were allowed to be started and do a quick 60-foot launch early in the day. On one pass, Towers, who had owned the Commandos car for over 20 years before Guffey purchased and had it restored by Eric Lindberg, was in the passenger seat of the very valuable car. Lindberg was the pilot, and Kramer was driving the Honker in the other lane. The chance of the two vehicles being under power side-by-side on a race track ever again will likely not happen.