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Chapter Three: The Body Heads West

Photos by Craig Blanton and LeRoy Blackman

The Nitro Nova gets loaded into LeRoy Blackman's trailer for the trip out West. Photo by Craig Blanton
The Nitro Nova gets loaded into LeRoy Blackman's trailer for the trip out West. Photo by Craig Blanton

From reading this (so far) simple website, I've made friends.

If you read the original front page, you noticed that I needed to get the body and chassis to Winslow, Arizona, where they'd be married by Chris Stinson at Ron's Speed Shop.

Back to Pat Foster. He recommended my project to Chris and Chris to me. So, again, friends… Chris and I have been Email buddies for about two years, mostly on a private dragrace website called Standard 1320. PF is a member in very good standing there too. Chris basically volunteered to mount the body and tin the whole car. There'll be some dollars involved, but far less than say a Pro would pay for the job with a fully reputable shop. Chris has been learning the tin bending trade and really wants to tackle a funny car. He'll end up doing a number of other things to the chassis and body as well.
The Nitro Nova gets switched from one trailer to another. Photo by LeRoy Blackman
The Nitro Nova gets switched from one trailer to another. Photo by LeRoy Blackman

I came up with several scenarios to get the body and chassis west. Here's one: Fly to Charlotte. Rent a car. Mount a set of roof rails on it. Dismantle chassis and put main part up on the roof, the rear end in the trunk, etc. Haul ass for Missouri. Buy a used boat trailer. Bolt two sheets of plywood on that. Reassemble the chassis and lash it to the trailer, then lash the body on top of the chassis. Buy a bolt-on hitch for the rent-a-car and mount it. Hook everything up and head west to Winslow. Do everything in reverse. Fill holes in rent-a-car and cover liberally with undercoat. Return rent-a-car and hope for the best. This plan was never implemented. There were others.

While I was in Las Vegas, I received a couple notes from somebody named LeRoy. Here's the second:

"Phil,
I sent you a message a little while ago just noticed that the sites of your funny car and shop you want it dropped off at are just a little out of my way when I go to pick up my FC in Phoenix. If you're interested, maybe I can help you out by picking up your body and dropping it off in Winslow. I'm leaving Wednesday morning 4am if the Doctors give me the ok to drive Tuesday. I just had a hip replaced. I have an enclosed trailer and all. Had a deal to take a FC out to Cal. but the guy never got back to me. So we are empty. Give me a call if you're interested.
LeRoy, Blue Moon Racing"

LeRoy's Blue Moon blown altered was one of the most entertaining cars in the East. Photo thanks to LeRoy Blackman
LeRoy's Blue Moon blown altered was one of the most entertaining cars in the East. Photo thanks to LeRoy Blackman

Of course, I called. LeRoy's last name is Blackman and he lives in New Jersey. He's run several interesting cars over the years, including a couple blown Fiat altereds on the "Hot Rods from Hell" circuit. His offer was welcome. I urge any of you that are planning a "dead head" (empty) run to somewhere, at least look around to see if there is something to fill the void. Not only will you help someone out, and the agreed fee will help defray costs, but you'll prob'ly make a friend.

Over the next few days, I got about a dozen people involved. We all exchanged seemingly dozens of bits of info, including times and phone numbers, trying to keep headaches to a bare minimum. The plans and contingency plans were necessary because everyone involved work real jobs that cut into time for more important things such as accepting FC bodies/chassis. There was the main pick-up spot in Asbury, Missouri, with Carl and Craig Blanton. Then there were two potential drop-off points in Winslow, including Stinson of course, and Charles McLaws (another FC owner) at Cake Chevrolet, with several people on standby, and a contingency plan for Earl and Laurie Watt's backyard in Camp Verde two hours south should none of those pan out. Whew. The plan was thrown into motion.
The Nitro Nova made it to Arizona! Photo by LeRoy Blackman
The Nitro Nova made it to Arizona! Photo by LeRoy Blackman

Indeed, LeRoy received an OK from his doctor's (like a racer would think twice about that!) and headed west. The first thing that caused a problem was snow throughout a large portion of his drive. That caused a problem with another friend, David Terry, rendezvousing with two blocks and cranks in Indianapolis. Even considering the weather, Blackman made superb time and proceeded across the USA on I-40 which traces old Route 66 much of the way. In Missouri, he doglegged slightly south, met with Craig Blanton, the body was picked up as pre-planned and the journey moved on. In Winslow, the body was dropped right at Ron's, hands were shaken, and the task was completed. One down. By the way, I sent Blackman a few dollars for gas and his trouble. Thank-you LeRoy.

LeRoy Blackman's Monza is ready for the Funny Car Reunion! Photo by LeRoy Blackman
LeRoy Blackman's Monza is ready for the Funny Car Reunion! Photo by LeRoy Blackman

By the way, the Monza Blackman picked up in Phoenix will be at the Funny Car Reunion, July 27/28 at Englishtown. It is an ex-Kenny Bernstein/Plueger chassis (reportedly the Chelsea King Arrow) with an ex-Hawaiian body. The Omni owned by Mac Burris (he's the guy I bought my chassis from in case you forgot already) is scheduled for E-town too. I'd like to be there myself but will have to wait for the 2nd event in 2003!

 

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