October 1998

From the Speedway to Syracuse

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Our circuitous, car-filled week started with a trip to the Autofair at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, where I was co-host of a Speedvision special, "Muscle Car Mania," to be broadcast Thanksgiving weekend. The swap meet and car show occupied the entire infield of the Speedway, and presented over 100,000 enthusiasts with the opportunity to fill their little red wagons with vintage Edelbrock intake manifolds and reproduction Hemi-Cuda air cleaners.
Our favorite car was a 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II, one of just a handful built for super-speedway competition. Still in its original Wood Brothers red and ivory livery, it featured an elongated nose for better aerodynamics and a front bumper fabricated by slicing the rear bumper of a Fairlane into three parts and reshaping them into a single smooth piece. We still don't quite know how to respond to the Porsche 928 we came across with a Chevrolet 350 V8 installed, although it did cause us to wonder if enthusiasts in Germany would put Porsche 928 V8s into Corvettes.
As the former owners of a Plymouth Superbird (440-4bbl, V8, pistol-grip 4-speed), we enjoyed the true glory days of NASCAR, the late '60s and early '70s, when the manufacturers were cranking out limited-production special editions designed to grab a few miles per hour advantage on the banked tracks. While NASCAR today presents the most spectator-friendly, thrill-filled racing on the planet, the tube-frame silhouette cars that compete look more like mobile, 4-wheeled boxes of Tide soap or packages of Skoal tobacco than production cars. Contrast this with the grand days of winged Dodge Daytonas and slope-nosed Ford Torino Talladega Specials.