Corvette Escapades Part II

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!"

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.

Source: Chuck Klein, Chuck Klein

Submitted by Phil Ellison