Posted on April 15, 2007 at 04:49:11 PM by SuperDave
The Suspension less Car!
By Duane Depuy:
Fortunately I was in on this car from its’ inception to its demise.
Back in about 1983 and when innovation was not curtailed by rules this
car came from the collaboration of three people.
Bill Port, at that time was part owner of the Midwest Racing
Stores. He and I had been involved with each other from the early days
of drag racing starting back in 1954. Bill was always an engine man and
was the most painstaking person I have ever known when it came to
putting engines together. In fact he built the 289 Ford that was in my
rear engined car of the early sixties. Well actually he didn’t build it
expressly for me but built it for a 900-pound dragster that he had.
Unfortunately his garage burned down and the dragster was destroyed
while the engine was in his shop. So he sold it to me and he began
circle track racing.
First he bought my RE car and ran it several times with Bob
Hayduk driving. However shortly after he saw Bill Hites RE FWD car at
Heidelburg with Rat Lane driving. He began a long relationship with
Hite and Armond Holley in several RE cars. So you can see he was not
some “Johnny come lately” to the racing scene.
Well one night while just BS-ing in the shop he comes up with “If
you were going to build another super, what would it be?” Well we
kicked around the idea of a very light non-suspension RE car. It was
just BS-ing , but he got on the phone with Bill Hite. After a lot of
phone conversations Hite thought the idea had some merit and
considering the tires and wings available why not? So he drew up some
plans and submitted them to Port, who bought the project.
The car was absolutely unique. Completely rigid, the right rear
had a U joint on it so as to allow camber adjustments. Both front
spindles had camber, caster and height adjusters (for load adjustment)
and zero scrub radius built into them (most guys don’t even know what
it is)! Lightness remember no power steering. The whole project less
engine was designed and built by Hite.
Gene Lee Gibson was selected to do the driving, while Bill and I
and a couple Leahy boys (one is in the picture I think) were the pit
Trouble the first night as the Leahy’s not familiar with zero
scrub inadvertently put the wheels on backwards and the brake calipers
tore out both front tire valves.
Also later it was discovered that the rigid driveshaft was too
long and put undo pressure on the rear main and the engine burned a
There was a learning curve with the chassis as to air pressures
and wedge so these mishaps during the first couple nites track
performance was not spectacular. Bill was subjected to a lot of
ridicule at Myles Engines (they did his machine work) as “bouncy
bouncy”. However, we finally got it dialed in and Gene Lee was going
for the lead in the feature when he was forced off the number two turn
into the backstretch guard rail at Lorain County and crashed the right
front section of the frame.
All these incidents convinced Port that the car was jinxed. He
was a very superstitious person. So he abandoned the project and
stripped the car and gave me the frame. I salvaged the frame by cutting
most of the brackets and non-suspension items off and made it into a
mini outlaw racecar using a 750cc Kawasaki engine and won a
championship with it!
Those were the days when unhampered by rules guys would try all sorts of things and I think we have lost some of that.
When RE cars were outlawed, Port had Hite build him a roadster with
4 wheel independent suspension. He was disatisfied with and it turned
it over to Jerry Mong for analysis and re-work. Unfortunately it never
really worked out to Ports' satisfaction. So he sold the chassis to my
bucks down brother who tried using a turbo-charged SB with gasoline
(silly guy) and had Bob "Hunter" (Al Woods) drive it. It might have
been a success had he used alcohol as Woods really liked the car as
long as it didn't overheat! He kept it inactive for a few years and
then scrapped it to build a mini-outlaw car using a two-stroke engine.
Armond Holley Jr.
I've got a couple of notes to add on the "non suspension car".
Armond Holley was scheduled to be the original driver of this car. He
drove down to Hites shop in Alabama and towed the car back up to Port.
They tested the car for a full day at Oswego and it was quite bouncy.
Bill was very uneasy about the car, Dad said he thought we get get it
figured out, and my stepmom would rather he not drive it. Dad and Port
did a little brainstorming and decided to have Gene Lee shake it down
the first season, and if anything could be made of it, Dad would drive
it the following year. Bill called my Father and told him Gene Lee
wrecked the car pretty hard and that the car is unsafe and he was
scrapping it. Dad was pretty mad that Bill wouldnt want to fix it cause
he thought the car could be really good, but he also knew that thats
how Bill was, he valued his drivers safety above all else.