STOCK CAR RACING IN THE 1960s AND 1970s
Text by Sue George as told by Curt Lawson; Photos by Curt Lawson
Introductory note: Here is an interesting look back at what it was like to race stock cars in the Midwest in the 1960s. Curt began his racing career in the back alleys of Minnesota. He raced peach crates that he put on lawnmower wheels and used a broom stick and car steering wheel for the steering. He then graduated to motorized go carts, and then to mini-bikes and finally to racing cars.
John Tiller was genuinely a very nice guy once you got to know him, but he portrayed the classic "bad guy" image in school. He drank and smoked and was well known for his daredevil driving and speeding. In the conservative 1960s, he may not have been the kind of guy you wanted to take home to your mother.
Curt knew John from school and from when Curt and some friends rented an old barn, and John would stop by once in a while. He raced at the local tracks and did very well, and always talked about wanting to go IMCA racing. John and his brothers were given, by their parents, city lots in Fridley, Minnesota. One brother built a nice house on his property, and John built a 30' by 40' cinder block building, with plans of building racecars in it.
Curt and his wife (to be) Janet's cousin, Paul, and Curt's best friend from high school, Sam, all helped John finish his building. One piece of equipment they were proud to own was an air-over-hydraulic floor hoist. This is the type of hoist that was used during the 1960s in service stations, and it required a round hole to be dug in the dirt floor to accommodate the hoist's piston. Being the smallest guy of the group, Curt was delegated the nasty job of digging the round hole in the ground, which had to be about eight feet deep and two feet in diameter. He dug this hole with a coffee can!
When the guys were ready to finish the flat roof, they put tar paper down and then purchased big rolls of solid tar. They had a big boiler on the roof and melted the tar down in it, spread it around and then put the rocks on it. One day, they left the tar cooking in the boiler while they went to lunch at McDonalds. When they came back to work, the tar was so hot it was actually on fire on the roof!
When winter came, they heard loud cracking noises, and noticed huge cracks appearing in their new tar roof. The guys talked to some professional roofing installers and found out they were supposed to have layered the tar, then the paper, then more tar. They had only put a really thick layer of tar over the tar paper!
When the building was completely finished, everything was suspended off the floor. Nothing, including the compressor and the furnace, was sitting on the floor, so they could just hose the floor off when needed without moving anything. The photo below is John's building, which became Tiller Racing Stables.
They had installed a service station door; the kind that had all the glass panels. Even with a hanging gas furnace in the building, Curt reports that it was extremely cold in the building during the winter, so they built a barrel stove. They had discovered the gas was too costly to fuel the gas furnace.
About five miles from the building was a pole yard, where telephone poles are shaped. The process resulted in truckloads of cedar pole tops and bottoms that were not useable for the telephone poles. Curt and John would drive to the pole yard and load up the pieces and take them back to the building and burn them in their barrel stove for heat in the winter.
The guys spent the winter pooling their money and compiling parts, building a racecar and buying equipment for the shop so they could go racing. Curt explains that back then a floor jack cost a couple hundred dollars and it was one of the biggest expenses. It was also a mammoth compared with today's floor jacks and took two guys just to pick it up!
Wally Christensen, an acquaintance of John's who also knew how to build good racecars, had a Ford racecar he claimed he wanted to sell. Knowing that it would have been built right, John wanted to buy this old car to go racing with, even though there was much resistance from Curt, as Mopar blood in his veins knew this was not a good choice. But every time they tried to actually buy Wally's old Ford, he'd jack the price up. After trying many times to buy Wally's Ford, the guys gave up and ended up buying a wrecked 1966 Plymouth.
The Plymouth was only a year old when it had gone on its side down the road and ended up with its windshield pillar wrapped around a telephone pole. A friend helped the guys straighten the roof. They rented a tubing bender and made a roll cage for it. Sam was a good welder so he did the welding. One day, Sam was working in the rear of the car and had a wool shirt on. Curt and John came into the building to see Sam's shirt on fire, and he was tangled up in the roll cage and couldn't put it out! Below: these three pictures show the 1966 Plymouth with the very bent up A pillar and roof. John Tiller poses with his soon-to-be racecar.
Below: This is the 413 race engine the guys installed in the '66 Plymouth
The guys took a Lynn Franklin quick-change rear end and used an old Ford axle housing from a 3/4 ton truck that used Ford banjo-bolt pattern wheels. They would reinforce the wheels by welding thick discs on the rims and they used Buick brakes with finned drums. International truck torsion bars were used, after taking them to Franklin to have them machined down to fit into the lower control arms. John wanted to be able to change the front end weight (wedge) during a race, so they incorporated an adjusting screw into the roll cage and the car's floor to be able to use a wrench to make the adjustments.
At that time, fuel cell rules were very lax. So the guys used 3/16" steel and welded up a 20-gallon cell with a bolted-on top. They used angle iron to make a bracket on top of the fuel cell and then cut a big hole in the trunk floor. They dropped the fuel cell down into the hole through the trunk so that it would hang from the bracket and used an electric fuel pump.
Sam bought the original truck (shown below), a 1954 Ford 2-ton, that the guys used to haul their racecar. They built compartments under the sides to hold tools, spare race parts, etc. Their first race was an IMCA race in Owatonna, Minnesota. The guys didn't make it halfway through Minnesota before the truck overheated. While they sat on the side of the road waiting for the truck to cool down, Wally (remember Wally, the guy who had the Ford for sale but not really?) happened to drive by and saw the guys stranded. He stopped long enough to see they were overheated and said, "Too bad," and then just took off and left them there! The guys did manage to make it to the track after the time trials had ended, and they did get to race. The entry fee for this race cost them $30.
On the third trip out with the truck and racecar, the guys were headed for a small race track in Iowa when the engine blew a head gasket. John thought if they just pulled the spark plug out to deaden the cylinder where the gasket had blown, it would run better. After he pulled that plug, he told Curt to turn the engine over and hot water sprayed all over his face! Fortunately the injuries weren't severe. With the plug out, the engine ran good enough that they limped the truck to the track and back home, with many stops to beg water at farmhouses along the way.
At home, they replaced the truck engine with the engine out of an old car they had. They did not have time to check this engine as the next race was only a few days away, so they just pulled it out of the car and dropped it in the truck.
The truck was always severely over-loaded. The guys hauled two 55 gallon barrels of fuel (one full of gasoline and one full of aviation fuel for the racecar), an extra engine and transmission, extra axles, and all of their tools and equipment. They'd be driving down the highway and come upon a weigh station that was open. When entering the weigh scale, they'd just give the weight officer a sad puppy dog look, like the really poor guys they were just trying to have some innocent fun, and the weight officer would feel sorry for them, shake his head and wave them through.
During the late 1960s, Interstate 35 did not go through Albert Lea, Minnesota. Curt reports that it was always a real headache to maneuver around that area on two-lane highways. One time when the guys were just into Iowa on their way to a race track, John was driving the truck and Curt was sleeping. He woke up just in time to see that John was coasting over towards the side of the road. John simply stated, "We blowed her up." Curt, still foggy from sleep, didn't believe him, thinking that he probably just had to stop and use the restroom. When he got out and opened the hood, he could see a rod had gone through the engine block and there was oil all over the road. This was the engine out of that old car that they hadn't had time to inspect before they installed it in the truck.
John walked to a nearby farm and asked to use the phone. From there, he called Sam back in Minnesota and asked him to go rent a trailer and use his truck to come and pick them up. While they waited for Sam, Curt and John unloaded the racecar and used it to tow the truck into the farmer's yard. When Sam arrived, they loaded the car on the trailer and put the necessities in Sam's truck. Even after all of that, they did manage to make it to Lincoln, Nebraska in time for the race. Below: This photo was taken in front of Curt's parent's house in Fridley, Minnesota. He wasn't sure about the circumstances surrounding this photo and doesn't remember where the trailer came from, but said it is circa mid-1967 and Sam's pickup is hauling the Plymouth racecar to a race, probably just after the engine in the first truck blew up.
But they weren't done with bad luck yet. During the race, from the pits Curt could see the car was smoking badly. Somewhere on the track a big rock had been thrown through the racecar's radiator and the water had gushed out so fast, it didn't even have time to register on the gauge. By the time John realized something was wrong and pulled into the pit area, the engine had fried.
One of John's good friends, Roger and his dad, owned Shorty's Towing in Fridley, Minnesota. Roger came down to the farm with his hauler to tow the dead truck back home. Shorty's helped the guys by towing for them a few times. They didn't have to pay the tow bills; they only had to pay for the fuel in the truck. Roger was, at the time, also a racer. He was a good sprint car driver but never got into racing big-time. He raced at local tracks. Curt was over to his shop one day several years ago to pick up something for John. Roger had just returned from a trip to Florida with his motorhome and double-decker trailer that he used to haul classic cars across the country for hire with.
On his way home this time, he didn't have much to haul and had stopped by a buddy's house out east who had some old sprint cars. He bought one and hauled it home. Roger was going to fix the sprint car up and play with it. When Curt asked where he was going to race it, Roger replied that he was going to build a race track in his backyard.
Roger was one of the first guys in the area to have a large tow truck and he would also haul semi trucks from the Twin Cities out to broken-down ones on the road and haul the dead trucks back--ie: over-the-road-tows. It was a great idea and ended up being a pretty good business with lots of the trucking companies in the area. Curt reports that Roger was also one of the first kids in high school to have a car, although he probably didn't even have a driver's license at that time. He ran the sprint car with the IMCA old-timers at different tracks. His son also had a sprint car and they went to Knoxville to race. Roger had already had a couple of bypass surgeries and he was still a very heavy smoker and liked his beer. But he was never worried about his health or any danger when racing. While racing at Knoxville, he ran his car up onto the tire of another car and his car flipped over and he died at the track doing what he loved. His son was on the track racing right behind him when this happened.
Curt describes Roger's lifestyle at home to be something like a Mafia guy. He was always surrounded by a bunch of guys who catered to his every whim. One time Curt was over at Roger's garage and Roger was sitting around as usual with his group of guys. Curt mentioned that he came to get a license plate off a Jeep he had bought from John. All of the guys around Roger jumped up and hopped to it like a bunch of servants! Roger was quite a businessman and very successful. He always treated his friends well and that was why his friends would do anything for him. Curt says everything that Roger did and owned was over the top.
The Tiller Racing Stables boys usually made just enough money at the track to put their racecar back together after a race and buy a new tire or two. Gas was free at the track and dealers would give the racers some of their products if they'd agree to put the product sticker on their racecar. Curt and John received free STP oil treatment products, Champion spark plugs, B Cool coolant and various Pennzoil products. Today, if you put a product sticker on your racecar, that sponsor pays you big bucks to win a race.
In 1965 Curt ordered a 1966 Dodge Coronet and that car was driven to many of the race tracks to be a donor in case they needed spare parts to finish the race. If they were lucky, they finished the race and would replace the parts on Curt's '66 Coronet so he could drive it home. He was always a little nervous when a major part from his Coronet, like the radiator, was used in a race but they always managed to get the new Coronet back home.
But it was still expensive to be competitive. They didn't have all the tools of convenience that pit crews use today. One time they were racing at the Iowa State Fair and they didn't have impact wrenches, so they had to use a 4-way lug wrench to do tire changes. Janet's cousin, Bob, who helped in the pits, received second-degree burns on his hands from the wheels when he changed the tires! John had to use the brakes so much on the Iowa track that it overheated the tires, wheels and melted the inner tubes. They used a lot of tires because of that.
On their way through Iowa in 1968, the guys stopped at a rest area to sleep for the night. They had been driving late into the night and decided they would just stop for a few hours of shut-eye and planned to get up before dawn and be on their way again. It was an extremely hot night and John stripped down to his skivvies and stretched out on a picnic table in a sleeping bag. The guys were more exhausted than they thought and no one woke up until they heard other people who had stopped for a morning break at the rest area. They woke up surprised to see daylight and people looking at them laying on the picnic tables in their sleeping bags. John had to get dressed inside his sleeping bag! Below: This 440 race engine was dropped in the Plymouth for the 1968 racing season.
Sam and Paul both had girlfriends at the time. The girlfriends put a lot of pressure on their guys to get out of the racing business as they were tired of their boyfriends working in the shop every night until midnight. Women have a way of influencing guys that way. So Sam and Paul pretty much dropped out of the group to tend to their priorities.
John and Curt would normally work on the car all week long until 3:00 or 4:00 AM. Curt would go home and sleep a few hours until 7:00 AM when he'd have to leave for his day job. John would go home and get into a hot bathtub and would wake up when the water turned cold.
In 1967, both Curt and John quit their real jobs and decided to go racing full-time. Curt had been working for Longyear Company, designing drilling rigs for soil sampling for oil, iron ore, etc. This company merged with another company in Canada. The man that took over the Engineering department seemed to always send Curt to the least desirable locations. If he needed someone in the North Country in the middle of the winter, he'd send Curt. During this time, Curt was driving his green 1966 Coronet. He would work out in the field in the dead of winter inside of a canvas shelter. The other guys were sent to the warmer locations to do their jobs.
During this era, John bought a dump truck. He contracted dirt work out, as well as starting a landscaping company. During the summer months, Janet's cousin would run the truck and the landscaping business while John and Curt went racing. Below: John's dump truck.
After a time, Curt tired of the treatment at Longyear, quit that job and went to Design Wear Industries where he designed bathroom-type fixtures such as mirror frames, toilet paper holders, etc, for public buildings as well as the little fasteners that keep the public from stealing such things. This was a small company that did all of their own anodizing on aluminum. Most of the guys that worked at Design Wear owned musclecars. Not surprisingly, their cars ended up with gold or silver anodized trim!
During the winter of 1969, Curt seriously considered moving to California. His uncle lived out there and Curt had visited him several times. The uncle told him jobs were plentiful and Curt really liked the weather up in Lancaster where the uncle lived. He even sent in several of the job applications that his uncle gave him. In December of that year, Curt's brother, Gregg, bought a snowmobile from a dealership that was having a huge closeout sale. That winter Minnesota had a lot of snow and Gregg was riding the snowmobile around their parents' home in Fridley. Gregg asked Curt if he would like to try the snowmobile. It took him about one minute to decide he had to have one too. Curt reminds us that snowmobiling was relatively new at that time. But when his racing buddy, John, tried it, he was hooked also.
As it turned out, most of the Tiller Racing Stables associates ended up running over to that snowmobile dealer (an old gas station) and bought up the rest of the closeout machines! Curt recalls that they paid $500 for them. This ultimately really contributed to the downfall of Tiller Racing stables as when the crew would show up at the shop to work on the racecar, they would end up racing snowmobiles on the large wooded area around the shop. They would race around until 1:00 in the morning. The next thing you know, it was spring time and the racecar was not done!
Curt says the one thing the snowmobile experience did was change his perspective about Minnesota winters as now there was something fun to do, so his plan to move to California was scrapped. Then Janet (Paul's cousin) came up to the shop for some work on her Firebird but as Curt later found out, it was just a plan to get the two of them together. This was meant to be as he and Janet have had a wonderful life together. Janet also loved snowmobiling and riding out on the trails. This was another nail in the coffin for Tiller Racing Stables. But back to the racing story for now....
John and Curt pooled their money and bought a new truck (new to them anyway) to use for a racecar hauler. It was a 1960s Ford that they had heard was a Warren Johnson truck. Warren Johnson was the Richard Petty of drag racing. In Pro Stock he held the most titles and the most wins and still does, even now into his 60s. His whole life was devoted to racing. The guys would drive by his house in Fridley, Minnesota during the middle-to-late 1960s and Warren would always be out in his garage working. The truck, which Curt says was a fairly nice truck, was the one Warren used during his early days of racing. The Tiller racing guys painted it red with yellow lettering and built tire racks and tool boxes on it.
The two guys finished building their racecar and went racing full-time. They raced at Owatonna, the Iowa State Fair, North and South Dakota, Nebraska State Fair, Odessa and Sedalia in Missouri, the Louisiana State Fair and Topeka, Kansas. Usually Curt, John and one friend would go to help in the pits.
Curt explains that John Tiller was an excellent, very talented driver even before he was legal to drive on the street. He had won several track championships at the local tracks.
In the past, the Minnesota State Fair was paying new car money, which meant that they would pay you $500 just to show up with a new car to race.
IMCA would normally allow you to race a car style for about five years and then you'd have to get a new car. So the guys decided to re-body the old '66 Plymouth. They found a 1968 Charger that had burnt. There was absolutely no paint on it, but it made a perfect racecar. They put that Charger body on their old Plymouth's chassis when they found out that the cowl and windshield were the same and the doors, etc, would bolt right on. Below: the 1968 Charger was a crispy critter to begin with.
The guys bolted the fenders, doors and hood on the Plymouth chassis, cut the floor boards out of the Charger and hung the Charger up with its nose in the air. They then slid the Plymouth chassis under the Charger body. Next they got the Charger race-ready. They finished it up just in time for the Minnesota State Fair only to find out that they had quit paying the new car money! The racecar was a 1968, but since the year was 1970, they had to install a 1970 grille and cut out the tail lights to look like a 1970 model. Curt liked the racecar to be red. John wanted it to stand out a little more so he decided to add the yellow stripes.
Two photos above: Left: Janet's cousin Bob Hansen, John Tiller and Marv Madson pose with the 1970 Charger racecar at the Minnesota State Fair. Curt went to school with Marv, a mechanic at the local Ford dealership and a great carburetor and tune-up guy. He helped a lot on the racecar when the guys raced at local tracks. Right: Marv Madson takes a look under the Charger's hood.
Photos below were taken at the Minnesota State Fair, circa 1970.
Curt and John had one of Janet's cousins, Bob, helping on their pit crew. On their way to a race, Bob was in the truck cab, Curt was driving, John was in the racecar sleeping as they were driving down Highway 65. It was between midnight and 2:00 AM and an oncoming car crossed the center line and clipped the front wheel of the truck which broke the steering. Curt was trying to fight the steering and the truck veered into a corn field and rolled over. The impact had damaged the brakes and steering. Roger came to the rescue and towed the wrecked rig back home. The results from this accident ended their racing career forever.
Curt and John had the kind of insurance that covers any vehicle you drive but the insurance company denied coverage. The other driver sustained a hip injury in the wreck and he sued the guys. The insurance company tried to get out of paying the other driver or defending them so the guys gave up trying to get their truck paid for. Because of the lawsuit, the guys dissolved their racing business. The lawsuit went on for many years The driver of the other vehicle turned out to be a known con-artist who had made claims like this many times before. Any time either of the guys deposited money into their bank accounts, the other driver would try to get it. The attorney for their insurance company and the other insurance company were bitter enemies, and John and Curt were caught in the middle of their battles.
The racecar was okay, but the truck was a total loss. There was a nice one-ton truck for sale where Curt worked, so they bought it. Curt designed a trailer for the truck. John wanted a diesel truck, so the guys converted it to diesel and put a sleeper on it (shown below). They planned to take the car south during the winter and race down in NASCAR country.
John was a really superb driver but the Tiller Racing Stables equipment wasn't the best and this hindered his winning. In 1968, John sat on the pole at the race in Topeka, Kansas. He had led the whole race until the last lap when Ramo Stott and Ernie Derr came around to pass him and one of them bumped him out of the way. Curt says they probably could have passed him earlier in the race, but they wanted the finish to be a little more exciting and were playing mind games with each other. John was almost always up in front of the pack racing with Ernie Derr, Ramo Stott and Dick Hutcherson.
The IMCA State Fair race in Minnesota was always the best paying race of any that the guys ran. It was an asphalt track, whereas all the others were dirt. In order to increase attendance, they started to let the guys from Elko Speedway Raceway Park (asphalt) as well as guys form some of the Wisconsin asphalt tracks come and race their cars there. The Odessa, Missouri track was a new asphalt track at that time. Ernie Derr and Ramo Stott had light-duty asphalt track cars. The local racers had even lighter cars, built mostly for racing on asphalt. When the locals would race at the fair, they couldn't make enough money to even buy tires without having an asphalt car to run. At the remainder of the races, they just made enough money to get home and go back to the race track again. In short, they just sustained a lifestyle and had fun.
After their first year of IMCA racing, John and Curt decided to race at some of the local tracks so they could make some money and not have to spend a lot. They found out they were pretty much banned from most of the local tracks because the other racers thought they were some big-time IMCA racing team. When they'd show up at the tracks, the other racers would taunt them. Any time that John bumped another car, he'd immediately be black-flagged out of the race. Other racers could spin him out though, and that was okay. At one track, another driver rear-ended John so hard that it bent the car's frame rail. There were a lot of hard feelings from the other drivers because they thought the Tiller racing team was too professional to be racing against them.
Curt remembers some horror stories from the road too. Their moms would sometimes pack lunches for the guys. One time the moms packed tuna fish sandwiches. The guys didn't eat them until the next afternoon and all ended up sick with food poisoning.
Curt and John built this last truck for over-the-road use so they could take it south. Their goal was to get to the Daytona 500 and beg for a ride. One of the Minneapolis racers attending the Louisiana State Fair had just signed another driver, but told John he would have jumped at the chance to sign him if he hadn't already taken on another driver. Minder Johnson had a first-class ride, and took Curt and John out to wine and dine them while they were down south. He was very impressed with John's driving and even bought the Tiller team a new set of tires. Ultimately, the deal never worked out.
John had heard that they boil hamburger in Louisiana, which didn't sound appetizing to him. He told everyone not to order the hamburger. When they were in Shreveport racing, they went out to eat. In the restaurant, everyone treated them like celebrities, wanting to look at the racecar and wanting to talk to them and ask questions about racing. The guys were so overwhelmed by all the attention and were also confused by all the Cajon entrees on the menu, that they ended up ordering the hamburger anyway. No one liked it. So when Minder wanted to treat them out for a nice steak dinner, it was even better and the guys jumped at the opportunity to have some good food.
There were some exciting memories from Tiller Racing Stables. Just before Curt got married, he, Bob and John took a trip to Tucson, Arizona for a little rest and relaxation. They drove Curt's green '66 Coronet. One thing Curt remembers about this trip is that when John was driving on the desert highways he was usually in the triple digits on on the speedometer. If there was a car in front of them, John would just draft on them. A couple times he came upon a cooperative driver who also wanted to play and John would be going over 100 mph. Curt says at times like this, he could not see the license plate of the car in front them, which made him a little nervous. When they took a trip south-of-the-border and parked the Coronet, they were surrounded by locals who volunteered to "keep your car safe for a few dollars". John, Bob and Curt gave them some money as they didn't know what else to do. Luckily, as it turned out, the Coronet and the guy watching over it, were still there when they returned and all was well.
One night, the guys got caught in a snow storm in the Rocky mountains while coming back home from their trip. At one point, Curt was driving the Coronet and he could not see the road because it was snowing so hard. He was following a four-wheel-drive pickup and all he could do was follow the tail lights and stay in the other driver's tracks and trust that he knew where he was going. About two-thirds of the way up the mountain, the truck pulled off the main road, so the guys in the Coronet were on their own. At that point, John took one side of the seat and Bob took the other and while looking out the windows they would yell out, "Rocks!" or "Cliff!", and Curt would turn the steering wheel accordingly to miss the obstacle. It was very important to turn smoothly and not to stop as they would need momentum to continue on through the deep snow. Reaching the top was the easy part because if something happens on the way up, you just come to a stop. Going down, you have to be gentle on the brakes so you can maintain steering but at the same time keep from going too fast. When they finally got to the bottom, they stopped at the first signs of civilization, which turned out to be a truck stop. When the trio walked in, they were asked where they had travelled from. When the guys told them they'd just come through the mountains, the locals informed them the road had been closed long ago and was not passable! Curt says, "Thanks to the 383 4-speed and Sure Grip, we were able to overcome Mother Nature but that explains why we didn't see anyone else out there." The guys had a much needed meal and continued on their way.
At the Minnesota State Fair, during the years they raced, hot dogs and Cokes were ten cents each. The guys would pool their money, a whole total of two or three bucks, and send Curt with a couple of people to help him carry their order of twenty hot dogs and ten Cokes. They had to walk quite a distance under the track to get back to the pits with the food. The guys didn't eat out a lot, and when they did, it was usually at McDonalds.
Curt and John made several trips to Nichels Engineering in Griffith, Indiana to buy parts for their racecar. They thought they were pretty hot stuff getting to buy Ray's equipment. They later learned that the parts they'd been buying were actually Richard Petty's rejects! All of Ray's parts were offered to Richard first so he'd get the best stuff. Then the better race teams got to pick out their parts. By the time Tiller Racing Stables got to purchase parts, they had been very much picked over by the better racing teams and they were left with the cast-offs.
Curt explains about that time his now-wife Janet came into his life. Janet was a racing fan and wanted him to keep racing. But Curt finally decided that working in the shop half the night and then coming home to sleep for a few hours as well as maintaining a house wasn't much fun and did not leave much time for a family life. He found he could always work on cars in his own garage and make a little money instead of just losing it in a race car. He is left with fond memories of Tiller Racing Stables shop which became a hangout for a lot of friends, and where they'd hold birthday parties and other celebrations that were going on.
In 1971 Curt and John decided to put their racing inventory up for sale. They split the money and any tools that didn't sell. Curt ended up with enough money to make a down payment on a house and Janet and he got married. They never did sell the Charger racecar. John re-bodied it into a Dart and went on to win a couple of track championships with it. John continued racing at tracks around Minnesota and Wisconsin and added a living quarters onto his shop. He went to work at Consolidated Freight and eventually transferred to North Carolina. Then he met a girl from the Philippines and married her. John is now in his 60s and happily married and has four young children. After he retired, he built a nice house in the Philippines and moved there. He is having the time of his life raising his family, and his children think that the National Anthem ends with "Gentlemen, Start your engines!"
Curt and Janet live in Dayton, Minnesota now and they are still driving the old '66 Coronet. They have a daughter, Cindy, and a son, Kevin, both grown and who also believe it's "Mopar or NO car!"