Stomp Out the Competition ! – June 2013
If you know anything about my love for cars at all, you will know I have a definite love for Mopars. From the first 1965 Plymouth Satellite which I picked up at the assembly line in Detroit, to the 1968 GTX, and down the line to the world famous 1970 Plymouth Road Runner, I have loved to go fast in each. However I must admit, there were times when those rat motors gave me all I wanted and then some. But when you can beat them, let me just say, there is not much of anything that can give more pleasure to a Mopar lover than can be derived from “stomping on a rat.”
Speaking of stomping on rats, I recently heard a story from a racer, and you know what they say about racers stories, some of it may actually be true. This story is set in the 60’s or early 70’s at best. Two racers had pooled their money to become partners in a racing venture. One was named John and the other I will just call, John’s friend. In order to earn money for their favorite hobby, John and his friend both worked in the shipyards in Portland. Because of all the grain that was shipped from these shipyards, rats were known to visit and were a constant nuisance.
The 5 o’clock bell had sounded and John and his friend were headed to the employees parking lot on their way home. John’s friend had a nice street rod which he used for his daily driver. As he approached his car, John’s friend saw a rat moving away from him. To his dismay, the rat jumped up into the engine compartment and found a safe place to hide. His friend looked for it but could not find it. What happened next seemed to be a blur.
It was not far to the nearest filling station (now that is an old saying). John’s friend drove up to the island. In those days, most gas stations provided an air hose for no charge easily accessible next to the gas pumps. John’s friend grabbed the air hose and began squirting air in and around the engine of his hot rod. In no time, that rat jumped out and started running. John’s friend chased that rat around his car and across the station entrance. The rat must have thought it was safer across the street, because that is where he headed — right to the new car dealer’s sales lot where cars were neatly parked in rows. Now John was not a tall man, but you could see his head and shoulders flying between the cars as he tried to cut down the angles from the rat which was trying to escape his wrath. John’s friend had been a high school football player and was really quite agile with a short stocky line-backer type of body. It was quite the scene, darting right and left, around the back of one car, between two others, around the front of another, back into the second row, and eventually back to the third row. I don’t know if the rat got tired, but it seemed that John’s friend was able to out-perform it, because all of a sudden, you could see his head and shoulders rise up at least two feet higher than when he was chasing that rat, and with a solid thump, John’s friend landed squarely on that sucker and it breathed no more. So that, all you Mopar and Ford fans, is the example of how you successfully can stomp on any rat that might be giving you problems.
Oh incidentally, both John and his friend can still be seen on occasion at Woodburn Dragstrip. Their sons are both still active in drag racing, one son racing in Top Dragster class and the other son racing in Dragster & Roadster class. Now if you will excuse me, I need to go install the Holley 750 on my ’65 Chrysler.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980.Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.