In 1998, police, the mayor, and every peace-loving denizen of sleepy Du Quoin, Illinois, banded together with the proverbial pitchfork to drive the heathen street-machine guy out of town. Satisfied with their win, they failed to notice the deflated Pro Street heroes pushing their glory machines back into the black of the garage, unpopular, and unloved.
Years after Du Quoin’s trend-setting and influential car culture slowly evaporated into the cracked earth, someone dared to consider a resurrection of the Street Machine Nationals in 2013. The idea began on social media and grew from there. Boys who were now men uncovered their cars and grabbed their kids to show them what they loved and remembered from so long ago. The police prepared the tear gas and lined the streets like the gathering of Vader’s clone army ready to deliver the gavel, only to be greeted by grinning families packed into clean and tidy muscle cars, row upon row of them. Du Quoin was back.
Rick Cox of Lansing, Michigan, and his wife, Kelly, are also veterans of the Street Machin
This month’s Horsepower! spread featured Tony Mifflin’s Camaro. His brother, Bob, and thei
The Pro Street look dominated the show. We could probably count on one hand the number of
We were there, too, without a clue as to what to expect. Could we resurrect the past glory of this show? Could this version of the show live up to anyone’s expectations? Would people even show up?
Meet Greg Scribner. He stopped to show us his variety of Car Craft Street Machine National
Well, people did show up, and the turnout was better than we, or our corporate bean counters, had predicted. Passion ran high among the attendees, and nearly everyone we met thanked us profusely for bringing the show back to Illinois, while regaling us with tales of personal experiences from shows past. We listened with rapt attention.
To those who couldn’t make it, study these pictures. Back home in Los Angeles, words fell short of describing the weekend to friends and family. Instead, we would invariably reach for the laptop, saying, "Wait, you just have to look at these pictures." If you like what you see, plan on joining us next year. If your car isn’t ready, who cares? If it’s driveable, bring it! Take pictures of it, if it’s not; we want to see what you’re working on. Your passion is what fuels us to make this magazine and host these shows.
Editor’s Choice Awards
|Other award-winners are as follows:
||1962 Bel Air
||1969 AMC Rebel
Like any good car show, we gave awards out to our favorites. Editor Glad doled out the pla
The Pro Street and Best of Show award went to Stan Hutchinson and his awesome ’70 Chevelle
Miss Street Machine Nationals
Like we do at the Summer Nationals, the bikini contest was held on the main stage near the Chevrolet Performance display. Five ladies entered the contest, and the judges picked Miranda Smith as winner. Runners-up were Ashlyne Page and Josette St. John.
In the Company of Legends
It started with forum posts and a full-court press instigated by James Smith with a Facebook page to bring back the Street Machine Nationals. There was enough interest that many people started thinking, let’s get the band back together. Source Interlink management and Family Events decided to take a chance, and the word quickly spread that Car Craft was going back to Du Quoin. But the only way it was going to be a hit was if all our friends showed up. And they did.
Rich Gebhardt was a serious Pro Street player back in the day, and he turned his skill int
For those of us who lived those early Pro Street days, the 2013 Nationals was nothing less than 72 hours of fun that pulled old friends together. It was a great vibe to visit with Matt and Debbie Hay, drive Scott Sullivan’s 1955 Chevy again after 20-plus years, trade jokes with Rick Dobbertin and wife Mary, learn that Rich Gebhardt has built his 500th (!) chassis, listen to Billy Wooten stories, and hear some amazing tales from Rod and Tina Saboury that will soon be transcribed into a full feature story. Mark Grimes kept it alive with his ice-blue, suicide-door 1965 Chevelle, and Gary Buckles of Dayton brought his slammed, blue Camaro that still looks amazing. Seeing Bob Maynard again after all these years was also a treat. Wally Elder and Al Maynard weren’t able to make it, and you can tell them they missed a great party. Of course, we can’t forget the effort that Toby Brooks put into this, which centered around his self-published book called Sensory Overload, an incredibly well-researched work on the history of the Street Machine Nationals. Bret Voelkel brought out his Pro Street Mustang that has changed very little, and there were plenty of Troy Trepanier cars to represent his contribution to the Nationals.
Then, there was Rocky Robertson. He wasn’t going to show up. He thought he was too busy playing with boats and kicking back on the lake near his shop in Albers, Illinois, but good old peer pressure brought him around. Once he was back among his old pals, I think Rocky had the most fun of all of us. He brought his pink, injected V6 Buick right out of mothballs, and while it wasn’t ready to rumble, it wasn’t long before the talk turned to the now-familiar: "You know, it wouldn’t take much to make this run again..."
These are two of the six valvesprings that Rick Dobbertin used as his “suspension” in the
I watched Matt and Debbie a bit more closely than the rest. I wondered how they would feel, attending a show like this without a car. Matt and Debbie are without a doubt the most gracious of all our Pro Street friends, and I knew that showing up in a rental car would just not feel right. They had made a run at buying their old Thunderbird, but it hadn’t happened. At Du Quoin, Matt had on his game face throughout the weekend. Then, I received an email from him a day or so after the Nationals. He said Debbie announced, "We need a car!"
A wonderful woman, that Debbie Hay. But then, we already knew that.
Toby Brooks not only wrote a book on the show, called Sensory Overload, but he as much as
Rod and Tina Saboury showed up with their latest Corvette adventure, a 1963 split-window S
Scott Sullivan never takes much of anything (except his cars) very seriously, so this is h
Mark Grimes returned with his Chevelle, looking as good as the year he built it. His famil
That’s Rocky Robertson behind those shades. If you put Rocky and Scott Sullivan in a close
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."
If you think that Scott Sullivan works out of some professional-looking shop, think again.
Scott and the 1955 are now both a little older, but the Lingenfelter-built 496 under the t
We stopped several times for fuel, since the Scott-built custom fuel tank only holds 12 ga
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.
Midnight Drags is a heads-up, drag-racing concept we’ve been kicking around for a couple years in our staff meetings, and with the help of some sponsorship money from Gear Vendors, it finally came to fruition at I-57 Dragstrip, a cool, old eighth-mile track in nearby Benton, Illinois. Track owner Scott Bailey runs a Grudge Match format on the weekends, and we joined in on the fun, offering a $1,000 prize and a Dickies CC jacket to the top dog.
We worried the sudden downpour two hours ahead of our scheduled start time on Saturday night would wash out the event completely. Instead, it merely pushed the schedule back a couple of hours, making Midnight Drags actually start at midnight—well, 11:30, but that’s close enough. The rain did keep a few competitors away, but we were still impressed with both the turnout and the quality of the cars. The top guys were trapping faster than 130 mph in the eighth-mile. Those are low 8-second cars, my friends.
After several rounds of eliminations, Mitch Leidecker emerged victorious, driving his 1990 Mustang to the stripe just a bit quicker than first runner-up Nick Droit in his 1992 Camaro. We couldn’t have scripted it better: Mustang versus Camaro in the final round.
||2002 Corvette Z06
||1930 Model A
|Stanley Sutton, Jr.
In our efforts to promote the return of the Street Machine Nationals, one of the most common reactions from readers was that they wanted extra coverage, which is what we’ve tried to do here. But even within eight pages, there is plenty we left out, so go to CarCraft.com to see a weekend recap by our online guy, Nik Kolenich, and additional photos we didn’t have space for here.
This show would not have been possible without sponsorship from Chevrolet Performance, Gear Vendors, Painless Performance, RideTech, and Bowler Transmissions. Thank you for your support.
The track crew did an excellent job of drying the track after the storm and keeping it sti
Owner Scott Bailey’s grudge format involved pairing competitors by randomly choosing names
Bowler Performance Transmissions
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Painless Performance Products
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