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The Ones To Watch….. Bonneville Preview

photos/text: Justin, Tim, Morty

With Bonneville just around the corner we figured it’s time to give a little sneak peak as to what some of our pals have been working on. For now we’ll take a look at 3 roadsters all looking to record this year, check back in the coming weeks for more Bonneville updates.

 

Kenny Makuch

   Kenny Makuch has been building and collecting hot rods for years, to the point of filling up a 8,000 sf barn full of cars and parts, a trip to the salt as a spectator in 2007 was enough to convince him there needed to be another car added to the stable. Not one to just stand back and dream about his goals, Kenny returned to the salt in 2008 with the 313ci 8ba he had been running on the streets in his 36 coupe, installed in the old Scotty’s muffler 34 roadster the car made it up to 138mph that first year. The record was 153 so once Kenny got back home he got to work building up the already potent engine and in 2010 ran 148 on the 153 record, deciding the big 34 wasn’t the way to go Kenny began looking for a car of his own to run the engine in.
What Kenny found was a 29 roadster project on the west coast that was a stalled attempt at building a land speed car, after shipping the project back home to Massachusetts Kenny got to work. What was originally planned as a simple redo quickly turned into completely going over the chassis, lower, sleeker, and more refined. Kenny didn’t leave that old flathead alone either, new heads, a custom Stevens cam, bigger valves, light weight lifters and some port work got ol’ Henry’s finest to really wake up. Returning to the salt in 2012 with the help of his wife, Susan, and kids Matt, Danny and Tina, the car sailed through inspection and made a first test pass at a leisurely 136mph. Knowing the car
worked Kenny gave it everything she had on the next couple passes and bumped the record to 161.081 on gas, returning the next year the car smashed the fuel record and Kenny got his name in the good book once again, this time at 177.437.
There wasn’t much down time for the Makuch’s as they planned to return in 2014 with a little redo on the roadster including an aluminum nose and pan so Kenny could step up and run in the modified category, but mother nature put those plans to rest for the last two years. The current fuel modified roadster record is 173, now Kenny’s already run over that with the car in the standard roadster class, will we see a naturally aspirated flathead powered roadster hit 200 this year? If we do you can just about guarantee everyone for miles around the flats will
hear Kenny’s celebratory scream.
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Gary Odbert

Gary Odbert is no stranger to lakes racing. Actually it goes quite deep in his family tree as His father was one of the folk there at the beginning along with his group of buddies out of Sacramento. Most of those guys you had heard there names mentioned before in Hotrod and custom car lore of days gone by. We will get there in future Issues ,but for now I wanna talk about Gary and his group of friends out in Arroyo Grande , Ca.  I met up with Gary years back on the salt about the time he first brought this Cadillac Milled roadster out to the lake. I couldn’t stop drooling over the body and how he was going against the odds and winning with the archaic tank motor.  Originally used in Cadillac cars in 48 and earlier the flathead is really the step child to the more well known ford flatty. The motor had been at the lakes before back in the 50s but never really made any sort of amazing passes. 118 MPH was the max that was pulled with a cad flatty on the lakes until these boys hit the salt. First year as a gas street roadster with a model A grill shell It broke the record at a whopping 125mph. A nose was added and a little tune the same year and with that the team went 143 MPH.  Year before last the boys got down and built a full belly pan and added aero to the original roadster and blew out the back door at 170 MPH which was way past the record. Problem was and the SCTA can be sticklers I hear about this . But Gary filled out the paper work at tech wrong just a little and the time went un
recordable.
This year they will be a team to watch . they have had time to get the car super dialed in and are shooting for 200MPH in Blown gas roadster. Once that one is attained they will shed some of
the aero and go bump their old record in Blown gas street roadster at 125MPH and then go after the open record in Blown Gas roadster.
Gary told me quite a bit about the car being an original drag car from the day and how it really has been a race car all its life. Some interesting things about the motor is that the bottom end is
virtually stock. Using the same crank and rods as she came from the factory with a little tuning and balancing. Gary has worked seriously hard on improving the flow where the head meets the
block, but is still using stock heads on this beast . Last run on the dyne it made a solid 500HP at 14 lbs of boost.  Out on the salt that will be his starting point and then crank up the boost to the
numbers of 18lbs.   Hold it together boys and I’ll see you out there .  Defiantly a car to see go fast. Its a true hotrod.

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     Peckerheads / x Mark Morton Hop Up Special
    The Peckerheads have been a staple at Bonneville the last 10 or so years, always stampeding their way out to the salt in a herd of mind blowing 33-34’s. After several years of going out as spectators the bug to race really set in, and they began looking for a good starter car. This was all around the same era that Morty was getting out of the publishing and racing duties, well word spread and the boys from Reno ended up snagging the little banger powered roadster from the man responsible for the last go around of Hop Up. The peckeheads, consisting of owner/ driver Chris Boutilier, owner- Ray Forbes, driver- Rory Forbes, and crew Troy Moyle, Tom Christian and Gabe Brown  got to work giving the roadster a little refresh during the off season.
The First time to the salt since being in Hop Up’s hand the roadster was a little temperamental, blowing 3 heads gaskets over the course of a few days but not before 4 separate drivers had all made multiple passes. Soon the little banger wasn’t making any gains and the constant repairs were beginning to feel to much like work (read that as “ran out of beer”) and the boys decided to call it and head back home with plans of making some improvements and coming back the next year, well that was 5 years ago. During that time the car got some banger upgrades with help from Steve Laugtug and a little more redo for better aero, cage moved back and down, new air inlet, etc.
Ray promises us the car is ready to go and will be at Bonneville this year, we can’t wait to see it make a pass.
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  A little story from Morty on how the 1243 came to be in the first place.

Bert was building a beautiful ’29 on ’32 rails for Bonneville, blown flathead, the works.

But we had come up with the 100 MPH Club concept for four bangers so he switched gears, shelved the V8 car and picked up a complete race car already set up for a banger. After he did his FM on it, it was beautiful ;  I’d have bought it myself (we talked about it) but I had just stepped up for a Big Car and it wouldn’t have been ‘prudent’ for me to go to the well again so soon.

After the first season with the car, Bert had become the first member of the 100 MPH Club, my budget got healed and he began to think about the shelved V8 car. He reluctantly – and charitably – sold me the orange car. And got stuck with Crew Chief and head mechanic duties from then on, with assistance from Mild Mitch.

We added the scallops to compliment the reverse scheme on the new panel truck and changed the number to 1243 (firing order!). Bert Had done the banger  engine with Jay Steele so it had quality bones. We ran it for about 5 years and had as much fun as you could have, ran ‘laps’ with the uber reliable little record holder. Got Mitch and me in the Huns then, eventually, all of our interests varied a bit, Mitch toward his own racer, me toward other cars, Bert toward his V8 car. We retired it as record holder and had made more passes than seemed possible. Flat Ass Fun.

The Smiths (Hot Rod Works) asked if 1243 was for sale, and introduced me to the Peckerheads, a talented group of hard core hot rodders from the Reno area who were perfect for the car. We made a deal and a new chapter began. I think it’s going to run again this year with their further improvements and we’re all quite amped-up  to see how they do. It’s quite a car and we’re proud to be part of its’ history.

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     We’ll see y’all on the salt in a couple weeks!!!!