Those of you who could have come to this meet and chose not to really missed a wonderful time. Our national meet began on Tuesday morning June 24th in Highland, IN at Terry and Kathy Nichels automotive repair shop; the building used to belong to Terry's dad, Ray Nichels. This is the original building that housed Nichels Engineering where all of the early Pontiac race cars, and later the Plymouth and Dodge race cars, were built. The building has not changed much in appearance on the outside and holds a wealth of racing memories on the inside. Ray once told us there is an untold number of broken Hemi heads and parts buried deep underneath the concrete shop floor!
This year Terry and Kathy are celebrating their fifth anniversary in the building and invited us to join them in commemorating this special event. Ray Nichels and his long time friend and racing partner Paul Goldsmith were our special guests. These two gentlemen spent the day reminiscing, signing autographs and posing for photos with the cars. We had a good turnout of 12 cars at the Nichels' shop for the day. Inside the building, a NASCAR racing highlights video ran all day for those who wanted to sit and watch.
Bill LaDow, Terry and Ray Nichels put together some real nice packets for the members in attendance that included big color photos of Ray and Paul Goldsmith with the #99 Plymouth Belvedere, a couple of never-published-before photos of Terry with his #2 Charger and #90 Charger at the Knoxville, IA speedway, a photo of the #25 Paul Goldsmith 1964 Plymouth and #26 Bobby Isaac 1964 Dodge, both Nichels prepared race cars shown at the 1964 Darlington 500; a photo of Charlie Glotzbach with the #99 Daytona and a photo of the winged cars racing. On behalf of the members who attended, a very big Thank You to Bill, Ray and Terry for such a nice collection of keepsakes. Most of the members had their photos autographed while they were there.
At noon, Eleanor and Kathy Nichels served up a lovely lunch of BBQ beef sandwiches, dogs, vegetable tray, chips and pop. THANKS to these two ladies for their wonderful hospitality! Everyone enjoyed this very special day at the Nichels shop and we are looking forward to going back for another event there next year. Stay tuned in the coming months for information on this and plan to attend.
Mid-afternoon we left Highland and drove on to Lebanon where our hosts Ric and Vicki LaFollette were waiting for us. Wednesday morning we headed out to Crawfordsville for a fun day of tours. Our first stop was the Pace Dairy where they slice, dice, shred and package cheese. Our tour guide fell in love with the winged cars out in the parking lot and Dan Gaddis obliged her with a "speed demonstration ride" in his #71 Daytona! After a very interesting tour of the dairy, everyone was treated to a block of Colby and a package of slices.
Next on the agenda was a tour of the Old Jail Museum, which is a rotary jail built in 1882. There are only seven of these jails around the US, but the government condemned them because of poor natural light, poor ventilation and unsanitary conditions. The concept was ingenious really--and extremely creepy--where a maximum number of prisoners can be incarcerated with almost no chance of escapes or danger to the warden. The cells are pie-shaped wedges (and housed two men to a cell), and two-tiered. They are situated on a turntable inside of a steel bar cage with only one small opening. When you needed to feed a prisoner or take a prisoner in or out, the warden had a crank to turn that would rotate the cells so that a particular one would line up with the opening. The whole turntable was so perfectly balanced that our tour guide, a very small woman, easily turned the crank mechanism to demonstrate the rotary cells for us.
She told us about one prisoner, a one legged man, who frequented the jail often. He had a habit of jamming his wooden leg into the bars as the warden was rotating the cells, so after several episodes of this behavior, the sheriff made it a habit of confiscating the wooden leg before the man was booked into a cell. The sheriff's wife served as the jail "maid" and cooked all of the prisoner's meals and did the jail bookings. They lived in an area right in the jail building. This living area has been restored and holds a lot of memorabilia from that era.
After the jail tour, we were off to the LaFollette's farm for a very welcomed lunch of sandwiches, chips, salads and drinks prepared by Vicki and her mom and mother-in-law. We sat around under the tents in the shade eating and talking and when it came time to take off for our next tour, no one really wanted to leave!
The last event for this day was a tour of Donaldson's Chocolate factory which was situated right across the street from our hotel. This is a small operation, owned by George Donaldson, that ships fine chocolates all over the world. Stepping inside the door, the aroma of chocolate was heavenly. While Mr. Donaldson gave us the complete history of chocolate, we watched one employee hand dip apricot slices in rich milk chocolate on a small conveyor. Another employee gathered up the finished chocolates and boxed them.
Then we moved into the back room and Mr. Donaldson showed us how chocolates are made in molds in the form of Indy race cars and motorcycles. The highlight was when he mixed up a batch of white chocolate with crushed peppermint, cut it into squares and offered it up to the members to sample! Of course, almost everyone had to buy some chocolates before heading back to the hotel.
On Thursday morning, we headed out to Knightstown where our cars completely filled one side of the parking lot at the Paddock. Most of the members brought their credit cards and bellied up to the parts counter to pick up the restoration parts they needed. In the showroom, the Paddock had several gorgeous cars on display--a Sassy Grass 1970 Challenger, a Panther Pink 1970 RoadRunner just to mention a couple. There was also a life-sized plastic Hemi engine on display. After mulling around a bit, we were herded into the Paddock employee break room where they served us up a wonderful lunch of sub sandwiches, chips and pop. After lunch, we were taken on a tour of the Paddock warehouse facilities.
After a very enjoyable morning at the Paddock, we drove downtown to tour the Texaco Museum. This was an actual old Texaco station, with 39 cent gas prices still on the Sky Chief pumps out front! The building itself was full of old Texaco memorabilia, tools, early diagnostic machinery and even a couple of prehistoric cars! The owner, Bruce Trump, told us this station used to belong to his dad and gave us the complete history of Texaco and told us about all of the other products they made such as wax and candles.
In the evening, we held our member's meeting and raffle. A very big Thanks goes out to Stan McGuire who donated a lot of super stuff--an expensive Citizens watch, a 19" color TV, NAPA tool set, Mopar detail kits and first aid kit, Dodge pace trucks--just to mention a few; and to Betty Fleck who donated a Richard Petty Christmas ornament and a rare NASCAR Barbie; and to Harry Rupe of the UP Railroad who donated a large stash of beautiful prizes; and to Sharon Malcom who donated hats and a couple of Mopar tech books. Your contributions are very much appreciated and enjoyed by all!
Friday morning, we all drove to downtown Indy to visit the White River Gardens and Indianapolis Zoo. Our first stop, and probably the highlight of the meet for most of the members, was the live butterfly exhibit. It is housed in a glass-domed building and when you step inside it is like entering a tropical paradise. We were surrounded by exotic plants and blooming flowers and all around flying freely were thousands of butterflies, not just your generic Monarchs, or white cabbage moths. These were stunning, brightly colored purple, yellow with black stripes, black and red, some small and some huge with the most unusual markings. They were quite friendly too, often landing on the members as we walked through the exhibit. In one corner of the building was a plastic display case with a live demonstration of the different stages from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. The butterfly keepers had gathered the caterpillar pods and superglued them onto dated dowel rods inside the plastic case. We were even lucky enough to see some butterflies hatching while we were there. Leaving the butterfly exhibit, we walked into a beautiful garden area with statues, sculptures, fountains, flowers, several lily ponds and even a miniature railroad.
Next we entered the zoo, where some of us got in just in time to enjoy a half hour long dolphin show. After wandering through the zoo, we all met back at our cars at one o'clock and headed back out to the LaFollette farm for the club picnic. Mike McGuire and Wayne Perkins were there waiting for us with grilles already fired up and loaded with burgers and dogs. Once again, we enjoyed the opportunity to just kick back, relax, eat some great food and leisurely talk to each other.
That evening, we returned to the hotel to sponge off the cars, and then headed out to the local WalMart where Ric and Vicki were hosting their first open car show to benefit the Tails A Waggin' animal shelter. Ric reports they had 60 cars registered and the local Mopar guys were really pumped, finally getting to go to an open car show where Mopars outnumbered the Chevies! We counted 27 club cars at the show. The best part is they raised $550 after expenses for the animal rescue shelter and several locals also donated big bags of pet food.
At the car show, we awarded Sherri and Brent Evans of Cisne, IL with the prestigious MMA of Great Britain sterling silver tankard in honor of their beautiful 1969 Charger which, by the way, is driven to events. Sherri and Brent did all of the restoration on this Charger themselves and say it was their first learning experience in restoring a car. Sherri reports that they actually look forward to taking long trips in the Charger because it is such a joy to drive and ride in. Congratulations to Sherri and Brent!
The final count of cars for the entire meet was: nine SuperBirds including Bump and Betty Fleck's and Carol and Doug Croxford's B5 Birds, Rick Edwards' and Todd Harroun's Limelight Birds, Rich Spasovich's, Steve and Teresa Netkow's and Sue and Ed's Tor Red Birds, Mike Atkins' Vitamin C Bird and Milt and Pam Wood's silver Bird; nine Daytonas including Dave Kanofsky's red and white, Mike McGuire's orange and white, James and Cyndi Keehler's blue #88, Wayne Perkins' purple #99, Dan and Barb Gaddis' red #71, Mike and Toni Svec's pink and yellow #42, Robert Barnick's blue, Brian and Debbie Hauguel's orange and Don Kypreos and Debbie Holder's orange and white Daytona; and a nice mixture of ten beautiful cars including: Mark Fields' Limelight 1969 RoadRunner, Stuart and Michele Sutton's orange 1969 RoadRunner, Gary Svec's purple AAR Cuda, Brent and Sherri Evans' orange 1969 Charger, Darcie and Dave Jones' blue 1967 Charger, Anita LaFollette's white 1973 Charger, Jan and Curt Lawson's red 1966 Coronet, Ric and Vicki LaFollette's Limelight 1970 GTX, Steve Kisiel's orange 1971 440+6 Charger and Stan McGuire's Hemi Ram truck.
A very big THANK YOU to our hosts Ric and Vicki who offered up a very entertaining, highly organized and very enjoyable meet for us. The detailed directions to and from activities were much appreciated, the hotel and parking accommodations were wonderful, the weather couldn't have been nicer and being in the company of good Mopar friends was magnificent! We would also like to THANK the Nichels' for including us in their anniversary celebration and to the Paddock for allowing us to disrupt their morning and for serving up such a nice lunch. And last but most importantly, we would like to thank the members listed above who came to this meet and spent the week with us. The meets would not happen without those of you who make the effort to come. We really appreciate your devotion to the club and we always look forward to seeing those of you who come every year and meeting the members who are "first timers".
|Nichels Engineering building before (in the early 1960s) and now. Thanks to Bill LaDow for the early photo.|
|Nichels Shop Visit|
|At The Dairy And Then The Jail|
|Picnic and Ric & Vicki LaFollette's|
|Visiting The Paddock|
|The Texaco Museum|
|The Zoo In Indianapolis|
|At The Motel|
|MAIN PAGE||TABLE OF CONTENTS|