Along a twisting ribbon of asphalt, an old Dodge pickup rambles on; its 64 year old engine chugging dutifully. As mix of patina and rust, the old Dodge isn’t doddering along a dusty country road, no sir. It’s running hard and heavy against much newer iron on a full-fledged race track!
This is the Twenty Four Hours of LeMons; a race where cars of questionable reliability and near the end of perceived life expectancy are given a last chance for fame and glory. The old Dodge is here running its first race.
Four months ago, the Dodge wouldn’t have imagined it. The truck was lying derelict behind a garage in Denver. The owner bought the truck through sweat equity in December2013 and started wrenching on it in January. There he found it had been in an accident and that the springs were literally held on with bailing wire!
The owner, under the handle of wizard0ne0, tuned up the engine, replaced the radiator, replaced both front and rear axles, gutted the interior, replaced the floor pan, installed a roll cage, and put in a proper fuel cell (gas tank).
With six drivers pulling four hour stints behind the wheel, the truck that could did the impossible and became the first new to racing vehicle to not break down and complete the entire race with 149 laps. (Very slow laps.) Team Grumpy Cat racing might not have won the race with their old Dodge, but they did win the Index of Effluency award.
What amazes me about this truck wasn’t just the feat it had accomplishes, but that the exact same make and year of truck is the focal point for a man named John Jerome in his autobiographical book, “Truck”.
Through his writings, John describes in vivid detail the trials and tribulations of buying a 1950 Dodge pickup and rebuilding it from the ground up. Not restoring it, mind you, but rebuilding it in order to make it better than when it left the factory. “Supertruck” he called it. From precariously hoisting the engine on a creaking barn beam, to finding out that the wheel bolts on the right side of the truck are reverse threaded for safety, John spends a year on his project before succumbing to reality and slapping the thing back together pretty much the way it was when he bought it.
The book is hilarious and full of zen-like moments. It’s also his most popular writing.
It’s ironic that over thirty years later someone decides to take the same type of truck he had and make it work in a way he never imagined with less work and angst that he endured.
If John was alive today, I’m sure he’d bristle at this young upstart so quickly building his project and accomplishing his goals. John would then, just as quickly admire the man’s feat before heading out to the barn to admire the honest beauty of your basic truck.
If you know who wizard0ne0 of Grumpy Cat Racing is, please put his name in the responses so I can give him the credit he, his team, and all those that helped him deserve.