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The 2013 Car Craft Street Machine Nationals

Back To Du Quoin!

By , Photography by ,

Cruisin’ With Cheese Whiz

It was a little more than 20 years ago when Scott Sullivan invited me to accompany him on a cross-country adventure. The plan was to prove his 1955 Chevy—to be later dubbed the Cheese Whiz car—was no fairgrounds queen. He wanted to drive his slammed Pro Streeter from Dayton to Los Angeles and then run 10s on the dragstrip. The story ran in the Dec. 1988 and Jan. 1989 issues of Hot Rod, and there were multiple roadside distractions including cracked wheels, blown tires, stuck overnight in the Utah desert, and surviving a tornado. So when Scott invited me to co-drive out to the Street Machine Nationals, I thought, what could go wrong? Thankfully, Mickey Thompson helped out with a new set of tires for the ’55 to replace a set of 10-year-old, two-ply dirt track rear tires and aging fronts. The new M/T Street Radials made a wondrous change to the 1955’s steering response and handling, while the addition of a set of single-adjustable RideTech shocks on all four corners allowed Scott to fine-tune the ride quality. After a quick test drive on Wednesday night, Scott said, "Man, I can’t believe how much better this thing rides. I should have done this a long time ago."

Scott convinced his buddy, Joe Davis, to follow us in the Scott-built red Henry J., while Elaine Erisman rode shotgun. We didn’t have any difficulties, and the drive was pleasant, while I resisted the urge to tweak the part-throttle air/fuel ratio. A lack of proper tuning equipment and carb gaskets kept me from doing my normal, "Hey Scott, you don’t mind if I tweak that carburetor for you, do you?" routine. Fuel mileage was a bit of a buzzkill, but hey, it’s a Lingenfelter 496ci Rat. We broke up the seven-hour cruise with a stop at Bret Voelkel’s RideTech shop in his hometown of Jasper, Indiana, and got a tour of his expansive new facility. We also passed Rod Saboury pulling his new Corvette to the show on the freeway, which was a pleasant surprise. After an easy day on Friday, we decided to hook up with Matt and Debbie Hay, Rick Dobbertin and wife Mary, Rod and Tina Saboury, Street Machine Nationals book author Toby Brooks, and Scott and his crew. Sitting at the table at Applebee’s, I got the feeling that this could have easily been 1986. We may all be a bit older, but the thrill is still alive.

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