Home History 1989 | Silver State Classic Challenge II (9/18/89)

1989 | Silver State Classic Challenge II (9/18/89)

classic car racing events
Big Red Restores the Glory of the American Muscle Car!

The first one had been such a huge success: The second running of the Silver State Classic was expected to be much like the first–a group of high rollers bringing together their European exotics and assorted oddball sports cars (with a handful of Corvettes, Panteras, and other domestics thrown in) to let it all hang out on a closed section of highway in the remote desert of Ely, Nevada… The Euro supercar owners at best tolerated the Vette guys and were confident that a red Italian car would run the highest speed of the event. It would be a red car, that’s for sure, but not one of theirs. That’s when it happened. Amid the polite conversations of tire ratings and frequent V-12 tune-ups there came a rumble that seemed to generate from well below the earth’s crust. We hot rodders in attendance recognized it as the sound of a high-compression big-block Chevy firing up. The rest weren’t quite sure what was happening until R.J. Gottlieb backed Big Red out of the trailer, clunked the Jerico into first gear, and slowly idled the surging, barking, bright red ’69 Camaro between the rows of shiny new sports cars toward its space next to father Dan’s hot rodded ’86 Corvette. After R.J. backed it in and hit the switch to kill the 800-horse Rat motor, the world seemed eerily quiet. Normally, a crowd would gather around such a spectacle, but not here. Not today. The other competitors kept their distance, and all they could do was stare, mouths agape in sad realization that they would all be racing for Second Place, and even then, nobody would care. For this garish American “godawful hotrod” was sure to not only eat their lunch, but to also spit it back in their face and walk off with their trophy wife…Sure enough, with HOT ROD’s Joe Pettitt doing little more than providing right-side ballast, Big Red destroyed the 94-mile course in 27 minutes, 54 seconds, for an average speed of 197.99 mph and a radar-recorded 222-mph top-end velocity. That was in 1989, and the legend of Big Red had just begun.” ©“Hot Rod Magazine 2005 by Rob Kinnan.

It was also in this year after making headlines and having earned the respect of the automotive world, that Big Red was invited the Nissan/Calsonic 5.7 mile high bank oval test track in Casa Grande, AZ for a 24 car shootout of the worlds quickest cars put on by Road & Track Magazine.  Big Red astonished everyone in attendance posting a top speed of 203mph on her first run. Editors of the magazine were so confounded, and frankly a little embarrassed since their magazine catered to the late model and Euro crowd that they had the radar gun checked and asked Big Red to do it again.  She did, and when the magazine came out, the Camaro was conspicuously cropped out of the cover photo, but still very much included in an article that no doubt had the editors saying, “What were we thinking???”

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