Local Hero

I generally don't like car shows, most of them are populated by old men who spend all day sitting in a lawn chair next to their red 1957 Chevy,a car that only drives to and from Bob's Big Boy once a month. If they are really into it they'll have one of those creepy crying toddler dolls leaning up against the car, or a collection of themed toys (i.e. a yellow car generally is covered with Tweety Bird toys). They give their non-race car names like "Street Thunder" or "The Billy Goat" and generally have some kind of long, pedantic story about the reason they chose that name, they all start with "Well back in 1974," it will no doubt include a story about his first wife, his first car, or "the war" (you are suppose to interpret which war by guessing his age range).

These things creep me out
So when (the car show with the longest name in history) the "Lucas Oil presents the 2nd Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Machine and Muscle Car Nationals - A national celebration of horsepower and torque" car show came to town, I was reluctant to check it out, but since it was close and my dad wanted to go, I grabbed my camera and headed over.

Classic Camaro taking part in the "Cruise Route"
It was pretty much your standard classic car show, vendors with booths selling the latest in billet aluminum window switches and unlicensed tee shirts. A designated "cruising route" was set up so old guys could drive around in circles pretending to be Harrison Ford and Ron Howard. Old Rockabillies co-mingle with the modern cosplay versions of themselves who are hoping to discover some long lost secret of the pompadour; all the while Wolfman Jack broadcasts from beyond the grave. I overheard some well meaning idiot trying to impress his date with his car knowledge, (she did not look impressed) telling her all about the "1967 Split Window Corvette" that "they only built a few hundred of."

Did I forget to mention that I don't care for car shows?

The most entertaining section by far was the autocross event. Guys in their Foose style roadsters, who undoubtedly have been touting the amazing performance of their hot rods for years, quickly discovered that their 1930's crap-boxes with bondo coated frames and air-ride suspension don't like to turn, or stop, or do anything except cruise for validation in the form of gentle nods from men with mullets... as they slowly roll by. These pretty boys were turning in autocross times in the mid-high 50s and providing great entertainment as they flopped back and forth maxing out their suspension and taking out cones.

Most muscle cars and late models were in the high 40's, with a late model Corvette setting the pace at a 44.5 seconds. He might have done better if his satin jacket was not causing him to slide all over the seat and his gold chains weren't getting caught up in his chest hair. But Corvette drivers have to keep to the uniform. It seemed the pro-touring cars and former SEMA cars could not even get close to the C5's time. But then Garrett Flores, an unlikely hero, pulls up to the start gate in a bone stock 1974 Dodge Coronet four door and does a 44.8. (These are the times while we were watching, the director of course can do it in 38 seconds in his new Camaro)

The chuckles from the crowd as the tired looking full size sedan lumbered around the track faded as people start realizing just how much faster he is going than many of the "Pro-Touring" muscle cars.

I had a chance to talk to Garrett after his last round and he is a true car guy. He just loves driving and this was the car that he could afford and that was available. He loves his car and said it is 100% stock, just as he found it, with the exception of replacing the transmission and doing some maintenance. While he did not beat the C5's time, I just wonder how fast he would be with some suspension and some proper tires. Seeing him drive his car and talking to him afterwards made the entire show worth attending.

Amid all of the chrome polishers with their 800HP cars that never leave the trailer and the gassers that have never see a drag strip, Garrett is showcasing the true roots of this hobby. He has a love and passion that you can't buy at Barrett-Jackson and the hobby needs a lot more young guys (and girls) like him if we hope to keep these cars on the road.

Check out the video below of his 44.8 second runs in the Coronet and more pictures of him in action.