AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/12/19 7:50 p.m.

Watching the movie Ford vs. Ferrari and the excellemt  documentaries on Netflix, reminded me of a time when....

Some great men from the Southern USofA built some Camaros and took them endurance racing and came really close to beating big time factory supported teams.  Billy Hagan made good money in the oil patch and wanted to go racing.  His biggest success was with Terry Labonte in Nascar.  As a gentlemen racer and sponsor he partnered with drivers Cale Yarborough, Gene Felton, and others no one would know.  One of the ones you wouldn't know is a family friend and my dad was his crew chief for many years.  The builder they worked with and still visit when they can is Tex Powell. 

I started looking for info on these efforts and was surprised how much is on the imternet.  The old Stratagraph Camaro was restored and auctioned and has been featured in R&T and Hagerty.  

R&T article

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/news/amp5999/muscle-on-mulsanne-camaro-that-shocked-le-mans/

Hagerty

https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2018/03/27/when-a-pair-of-camaros-took-on-porsche-at-the-1982-le-mans

If you search all of the articles and photos related to this car I've seen a few of my dad and his driver too.  I sent these links and those photos to them earlier this week.

Dad said it was all well done.  I know not all articles get who was driving what car when, but I've found this site quite accurate.

https://www.racingsportscars.com/results/Le_Mans-1982-06-20.html

If any wants a real racing car setup tip from Tex / my dad I will tell you how this car qualified 9th at the Daytona 24hrs ahead of quite a few GTP Lola's, Jag's and a Porsche 935s.

Dad described the car as low tech, stock car reliable, lots of tire, decent aero and lots of good ole stock car horsepower.  The achilles heels were brakes and keeping the T10 cool enough to live long enough.  Dad said he fixed the brakes, but an un-named young driver didn't listen and lost the car locking up the brakes in the race (83 Daytona).

With computers in cars, now dad calls me with all the questions.....

 

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
12/12/19 10:19 p.m.

I  was a huge Terry Labonte fan growing up, and my dad’s cousins went to school with Bobby before Terry’s career took off and they moved to N Carolina.

i remember quite a bit about this car (as much as somebody who has never been within 500 miles of this car can be).  It hit 240mph on the Mulsanne, faster than any other car there, including the Porsche 956’s.

I have a 1/32nd scale pullback toy I bought at a diecast show a number of years ago, that very closely resembles the Piedmont Airlines livery of the IMSA GTO car.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) PowerDork
12/13/19 9:31 a.m.

Very cool.  I see the 3rd gen car has a Jean Charles logo, which surprised me, as Jean Charles was the AMC distributor in Paris for many years.  Wonder how closely they were involved in the effort.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/13/19 7:25 p.m.

I was talking to dad again today, and he confirmed this car is the reason they added the chicane on the back straightaway for the Daytona 24 hours.  The car was so fast on the back straight and high banks and they couldn't have a GTO car embarrassing those expensive prototypes. 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/13/19 7:26 p.m.
racerfink said:

I  was a huge Terry Labonte fan growing up, and my dad’s cousins went to school with Bobby before Terry’s career took off and they moved to N Carolina.

i remember quite a bit about this car (as much as somebody who has never been within 500 miles of this car can be).  It hit 240mph on the Mulsanne, faster than any other car there, including the Porsche 956’s.

I have a 1/32nd scale pullback toy I bought at a diecast show a number of years ago, that very closely resembles the Piedmont Airlines livery of the IMSA GTO car.

I got to watch Terry racing on short tracks and dirt tracks in TX growing up racing against my dad's team.  I think that is honestly how my dad's driver got invited to be on the team was due his races against Labonte and recommended by him. 

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
12/13/19 8:58 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

Thanks for posting about this. I need to go and read your links as I either forgot about this or just never knew about it. Sounds like a wild car. 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/13/19 9:34 p.m.
T.J. said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

Thanks for posting about this. I need to go and read your links as I either forgot about this or just never knew about it. Sounds like a wild car. 

It was a brutally simple car.  It's 1970s Nascar technology setup to turn two directions.  Because of IMSA rules it ran without ballast, was super light and had big rubber. It ran a NASCAR built and spec Chevy smallblock detuned to last 24hrs.  

I can swear I heard about the windshield breaking at LeMans on the Mulsanne and falling in my dad's drivers lap.  I need to verify that though. 

Oh and I'm officially still unhappy dad didn't take me to Daytona or LeMans.  I wasn't in the budget.  I did go to lots of short track races in TX and many USAC stock car races at old TX World speedway.  AJ Foyt, Bobby Allison, and a Rusty Wallace won most of the oval races there.  But Saturday's I can remember dad's team doing really well on the infield / part oval road races.  That's also how they likely got invited to be on this team.  I think I remember one year they ran one Derek Bell off the track in the infield for being slower and blocking.  I'd have to check too.

I remember the day the hood flew up smashed the windshield in practice though.  I was standing by dad when that happened and have heard the story many times.  

I also know on Gene Felton's website there is a photo of him at LeMans with dad's driver but the caption is wrong.  The driver named was in the other Hagan car and is not in the photo.  Maybe I should write Gene and ask him to edit it?  

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
12/14/19 8:14 a.m.

My dad did his SCCA driver’s school at TWS in 1969, with a C Sports Racer he made out of an NSU Sport Prinz.  I went to TWS a couple of times in the early 80’s.  Once for Texas Race of Champions in ‘85, and once for a huge Corvette gathering (in ‘83, I think).

I never ran there until a World Racing League event in 2015.  Turn 1, and turn 7, were some of the best corners of any track.  Was able to run it again in 2017 before it got bulldozed.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
12/14/19 9:11 a.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS :

So as a follow up- I started watching Daytona and LeMans in the 80s, and clearly remember the tube frame cars from Roush pretty much dominating their class, and being pretty quick.  Being that your dads car was kind of the "prototype" of that class- does it make sense that the Roush cars of the 80's were spawned by your dad's effort??  

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/14/19 9:59 a.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

So as a follow up- I started watching Daytona and LeMans in the 80s, and clearly remember the tube frame cars from Roush pretty much dominating their class, and being pretty quick.  Being that your dads car was kind of the "prototype" of that class- does it make sense that the Roush cars of the 80's were spawned by your dad's effort??  

One of the articles mentioned this effort pre-dating Roush's efforts in IMSA.  If there is a connection it would be Tex Powell and Roush, maybe.  I don't know, but I can ask.  Tex is / was a chassis builder in NC and makes lots of chassis for many different teams.  Knowing my dad, his role was to setup the cars and help make them more reliable.  My dad and his driver always got their new chassis' from Tex too.  I don't think there is a direct connection, but I'm sure Roush pays a lot of attention to what is going on and working.  He's been very successful in racing. 

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
12/14/19 4:17 p.m.

One could also say they were also spawned by the original imsa aagt monza etc cars which were tube frame aswell.

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
12/14/19 5:01 p.m.

A Sports Illustrated story from 1981 on “‘Ol Cale” at Le Mans.

https://www.si.com/vault/1981/07/13/106776376/heck-mes-amis-its-only-ol-cale

jfryjfry
jfryjfry Dork
12/14/19 5:27 p.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Great story - thanks for the link to complement the first ones. 

 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
12/14/19 9:23 p.m.
AnthonyGS said:
alfadriver said:

In reply to AnthonyGS :

So as a follow up- I started watching Daytona and LeMans in the 80s, and clearly remember the tube frame cars from Roush pretty much dominating their class, and being pretty quick.  Being that your dads car was kind of the "prototype" of that class- does it make sense that the Roush cars of the 80's were spawned by your dad's effort??  

One of the articles mentioned this effort pre-dating Roush's efforts in IMSA.  If there is a connection it would be Tex Powell and Roush, maybe.  I don't know, but I can ask.  Tex is / was a chassis builder in NC and makes lots of chassis for many different teams.  Knowing my dad, his role was to setup the cars and help make them more reliable.  My dad and his driver always got their new chassis' from Tex too.  I don't think there is a direct connection, but I'm sure Roush pays a lot of attention to what is going on and working.  He's been very successful in racing. 

Even without the direct connection, it sure seems like your dad's car really showed the way for a fast car on an very reasonable budget.  Like taking the IMSA Monzas to their natural design- which ends up being really fast.  And that basic design remains in Trans Am to this day- tube frame, live axle, big NASCAR like V8, 

Very cool car.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/14/19 11:52 p.m.

Awesome link to the Yarborough story.  I had looked for it but never found it.  He was my favorite driver when I was a kid. 

Dad talked more today.....  I never knew but guess I did know that this is the car that made him quit being in racing and a crew chief.  He made the changes that got the car to qualify 9th at Daytona and figured they could easily win their class and maybe even the entire race.  The team all agreed to his plan, but apparently instead of running 2:04-2:07 laps as agreed they all ran 2:00 to 2:02 all day long and destroyed the transmission.  Tex had made lots of changes to help the transmissions live longer.  Dad actually mapped it all out to reduce the number of shifts needed to allow the trans to live the whole race.  Dad also did the math for everyone good lap ever run at Daytona and calculated what they needed to run to win including stops, repairs, yellows, etc. Then after the transmission died, and a trans change, they weren't even leading their class. One of the drivers went out after repairs at night, and was running the fastest laps of all the cars in the race and crashed it due to a busted hub.  Dad thinks driving the car that hard sure didn't help the hub either.  He wanted the drivers to drive the pace, stick to the plan, and in the morning they would adjust to get the win. 

I know for sure that qualifying in the 30s and moving up to 9th in qualifying at Daytona was because of exactly how dad told them to setup the cars.  Dad has reminded me of this trick more than once.  It's a trick that will work on dang near any racecourse including your local autocross.  It goes against most everything anyone thinks or does too, but it's genius.  I actually took this same concept and used it to dominate slot car races before I could drive.  I'm tempted to use it at the challenge next year, but not sure I want to change suspension setups between the autoX and drag race. 

Dad had already done the same calculations for LeMans, but I guess he never made it to LeMans that summer.  Sad to think this car could've easily won GTO and maybe place high overall at either race with a bit more attention to detail.

And to put it all into persepctive these were all Hagan's cars.  He footed all of the bills just like the SI article alluded to.  He also drove the cars.  Cale, Gene, Terry, Tom and others were all drivers at various races and times.  Tex was the builder and crew chief.  My dad and Tom had a long and still good relationship with Tex.  Dad was crewing whichever car Tom was driving and helping Tex think of things most people don't think about. 

This photo is on Gene's website and supposed to be Gene and some guy named Brooks, but I guarantee that's Tom.  My dad appears to be in some of the photos working on things and other.  It's hard to tell due to black and white, dad having hair back then, etc.  However, growing up around a man the size and look of Tom, you couldn't forget that if you tried.  And Tom's last name ain't Brooks. 

 

 

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/15/19 12:08 a.m.

Here is pretty good coverage of the '82 LeMans from the Porsche teams point of view of the GTO class.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsKxQvvWFHg

 

GCrites80s
GCrites80s Reader
12/15/19 7:46 p.m.

At this time, how were bodies obtained for the 3rd Gen, specifically cabs? This is the first year of production and obviously the 3rd Gen is a unibody car. Was anyone making body parts yet? The transition from 2nd Gen to 3rd Gen was a long one for production-based cars as far as becoming competitive since the 2nd had much more development, was lower and could be made wider more easily. It took a long time for the 3rd Gen to catch up... it may have never caught up all the way as far as maximum potential goes in a non-full tube frame setting.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/15/19 9:30 p.m.

I will ask dad, and he can call Tex. Maybe Tex will know.  In 82 they raced a new body and old body style.  By Feb 83 they had two new bodies.  In 81 Cale was driving the old body style.  At the 82 LeMans they had one new and one old.  

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
12/16/19 8:27 a.m.

I've known about the BF Goodrich street tire class win forever, but didn't realize they only used 5 tires for the whole race until watching the video.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/16/19 8:43 a.m.
DeadSkunk (Warren) said:

I've known about the BF Goodrich street tire class win forever, but didn't realize they only used 5 tires for the whole race until watching the video.th 

I noticed that too.  I'd love to see other documentation to support it. It was heavily modified 924, but that chassis was all 924 making it more impressive.  While the 924 definitely wasn't faster, preparation and planning along with 24 hr racing experience clearly paid off with a win.

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
12/17/19 11:49 a.m.
GCrites80s said:

At this time, how were bodies obtained for the 3rd Gen, specifically cabs? This is the first year of production and obviously the 3rd Gen is a unibody car. Was anyone making body parts yet? The transition from 2nd Gen to 3rd Gen was a long one for production-based cars as far as becoming competitive since the 2nd had much more development, was lower and could be made wider more easily. It took a long time for the 3rd Gen to catch up... it may have never caught up all the way as far as maximum potential goes in a non-full tube frame setting.

These were full tube cars with stock appearing bodies just like you would see in stock car racing at the time. Would have been custom made bodies. 

MotorsportsGordon
MotorsportsGordon HalfDork
12/17/19 11:59 a.m.
AnthonyGS said:

Awesome link to the Yarborough story.  I had looked for it but never found it.  He was my favorite driver when I was a kid. 

Dad talked more today.....  I never knew but guess I did know that this is the car that made him quit being in racing and a crew chief.  He made the changes that got the car to qualify 9th at Daytona and figured they could easily win their class and maybe even the entire race.  The team all agreed to his plan, but apparently instead of running 2:04-2:07 laps as agreed they all ran 2:00 to 2:02 all day long and destroyed the transmission.  Tex had made lots of changes to help the transmissions live longer.  Dad actually mapped it all out to reduce the number of shifts needed to allow the trans to live the whole race.  Dad also did the math for everyone good lap ever run at Daytona and calculated what they needed to run to win including stops, repairs, yellows, etc. Then after the transmission died, and a trans change, they weren't even leading their class. One of the drivers went out after repairs at night, and was running the fastest laps of all the cars in the race and crashed it due to a busted hub.  Dad thinks driving the car that hard sure didn't help the hub either.  He wanted the drivers to drive the pace, stick to the plan, and in the morning they would adjust to get the win. 

I know for sure that qualifying in the 30s and moving up to 9th in qualifying at Daytona was because of exactly how dad told them to setup the cars.  Dad has reminded me of this trick more than once.  It's a trick that will work on dang near any racecourse including your local autocross.  It goes against most everything anyone thinks or does too, but it's genius.  I actually took this same concept and used it to dominate slot car races before I could drive.  I'm tempted to use it at the challenge next year, but not sure I want to change suspension setups between the autoX and drag race. 

Dad had already done the same calculations for LeMans, but I guess he never made it to LeMans that summer.  Sad to think this car could've easily won GTO and maybe place high overall at either race with a bit more attention to detail.

And to put it all into persepctive these were all Hagan's cars.  He footed all of the bills just like the SI article alluded to.  He also drove the cars.  Cale, Gene, Terry, Tom and others were all drivers at various races and times.  Tex was the builder and crew chief.  My dad and Tom had a long and still good relationship with Tex.  Dad was crewing whichever car Tom was driving and helping Tex think of things most people don't think about. 

This photo is on Gene's website and supposed to be Gene and some guy named Brooks, but I guarantee that's Tom.  My dad appears to be in some of the photos working on things and other.  It's hard to tell due to black and white, dad having hair back then, etc.  However, growing up around a man the size and look of Tom, you couldn't forget that if you tried.  And Tom's last name ain't Brooks. 

 

 

The brooks guy is dick Brooks a longtime nascar racer. Dick co drove one of the camaros at lemans in 1982 with hershel mcgriff. And he co drove it with tom  Williams at Charlotte that year aswell.  Brooks also Raced the junie donlevy nascar ford Torino at lemans in 1976.

AnthonyGS
AnthonyGS Dork
12/17/19 6:25 p.m.
MotorsportsGordon said:
AnthonyGS said:

Awesome link to the Yarborough story.  I had looked for it but never found it.  He was my favorite driver when I was a kid. 

Dad talked more today.....  I never knew but guess I did know that this is the car that made him quit being in racing and a crew chief.  He made the changes that got the car to qualify 9th at Daytona and figured they could easily win their class and maybe even the entire race.  The team all agreed to his plan, but apparently instead of running 2:04-2:07 laps as agreed they all ran 2:00 to 2:02 all day long and destroyed the transmission.  Tex had made lots of changes to help the transmissions live longer.  Dad actually mapped it all out to reduce the number of shifts needed to allow the trans to live the whole race.  Dad also did the math for everyone good lap ever run at Daytona and calculated what they needed to run to win including stops, repairs, yellows, etc. Then after the transmission died, and a trans change, they weren't even leading their class. One of the drivers went out after repairs at night, and was running the fastest laps of all the cars in the race and crashed it due to a busted hub.  Dad thinks driving the car that hard sure didn't help the hub either.  He wanted the drivers to drive the pace, stick to the plan, and in the morning they would adjust to get the win. 

I know for sure that qualifying in the 30s and moving up to 9th in qualifying at Daytona was because of exactly how dad told them to setup the cars.  Dad has reminded me of this trick more than once.  It's a trick that will work on dang near any racecourse including your local autocross.  It goes against most everything anyone thinks or does too, but it's genius.  I actually took this same concept and used it to dominate slot car races before I could drive.  I'm tempted to use it at the challenge next year, but not sure I want to change suspension setups between the autoX and drag race. 

Dad had already done the same calculations for LeMans, but I guess he never made it to LeMans that summer.  Sad to think this car could've easily won GTO and maybe place high overall at either race with a bit more attention to detail.

And to put it all into persepctive these were all Hagan's cars.  He footed all of the bills just like the SI article alluded to.  He also drove the cars.  Cale, Gene, Terry, Tom and others were all drivers at various races and times.  Tex was the builder and crew chief.  My dad and Tom had a long and still good relationship with Tex.  Dad was crewing whichever car Tom was driving and helping Tex think of things most people don't think about. 

This photo is on Gene's website and supposed to be Gene and some guy named Brooks, but I guarantee that's Tom.  My dad appears to be in some of the photos working on things and other.  It's hard to tell due to black and white, dad having hair back then, etc.  However, growing up around a man the size and look of Tom, you couldn't forget that if you tried.  And Tom's last name ain't Brooks. 

 

 

The brooks guy is dick Brooks a longtime nascar racer. Dick co drove one of the camaros at lemans in 1982 with hershel mcgriff. And he co drove it with tom  Williams at Charlotte that year aswell.  Brooks also Raced the junie donlevy nascar ford Torino at lemans in 1976.

Yes Brooks was there driving the number 80 Hagan car, but that's not him in that photo as its credited on Gene's website.  That's Gene and Tom W, who is properly credited on the racing sports website showing the LeMans results.  

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