WINGED WARRIORS/NATIONAL B-BODY OWNERS ASSOCIATION
2004 FALL MEET AT THE MONSTER MOPAR WEEKEND
TEXT BY SUE GEORGE; PHOTOS BY SUE GEORGE, JANET AND CURT LAWSON
Winged Warriors/NBOA members had a special invitation on Friday (a day prior to the opening of the Monster Mopar Weekend) to Rich and Judy Bolzenius's home in Union, Missouri for a reunion of retired workers from the St Louis Assembly plant. The special guests at this gathering were Cotton and Dot Owens, and their friend Dean Yeargin, who drove them out from Spartanburg, SC to spend the weekend with us. Cotton had been busy during the previous couple months building a replica of his 1964 Dodge racecar that David Pearson drove. Dean helped with the restoration and their hard work culminated in them hauling the car (finished except for firing up the engine) to the event. The Dodge was pushed out of the trailer and spent the day on display inside of Rich's shop, where we congregated to talk, take pictures and eat a wonderful feast of fresh grilled brats, burgers and fixin's. (You can read a transcript of the speech that Cotton gave to our group elsewhere on this website).
During the day's comings and goings, a local newspaper reporter showed up to do a short interview with Cotton. It was humorous to note that she asked questions such as: "A Hemi was a kind of Dodge, right?" and "What exactly is a Mopar?"
Mike Eberhardt arrived early in the day with the Chrysler Turbine car from the St Louis Museum of Transportation. We are lucky to have Mike bring the Turbine car out each year and answer questions about it. It is always a big hit with the members, as it's still a very futurist car and never fails to please the crowd, especially when you hear it start up. As an additional treat, later that morning, Rich's neighbor showed up with a turbine-powered pull tractor on a trailer! After much begging, the owner finally started it up for us to hear. He did warn us, though, that he would only let it run at an idle because it was capable of launching off the trailer, breaking large chains and all, and taking off through the woods!
Member Gene Lewis arrived with his very unique car hauler--a restored 1960 Dodge C-500 truck. Gene tells us the "C" means Low Cab Forward, ie: quasi-subnose design and the "500" refers to the truck being a 2-ton. It has its original Polysphere 318 (aka the wideblock 318) that has been bored out to 410 cid with the usual engine modifications and a dual 4 barrel intake manifold set-up from a '59 Sport Fury! Gene swapped the original 4-speed tranny for a similar-vintage 5-speed transmission but it still has its original 2-speed rear axle.
On the bed of this beauty sat an unrestored red Daytona that he dragged out of a barn in Iowa a couple years ago. The old truck actually got as much attention as the Daytona did! Gene is planning a complete restoration on the Daytona to bring it back to life. By mid afternoon, we had several nice musclecars, classic cars and a couple of street rods on display around Rich and Judy's yard.
In the late afternoon, we all packed up and headed to Collinsville, Illinois. By the time we arrived at our headquarters hotel Ramada Inn, the town of Collinsville was inundated with Mopars and there was a conspicuous rumbling of 440s and Hemis in the air. A group of our members gathered at one of the local restaurants to spend the evening talking and swapping photos. Later that evening, everyone wandered around the parking lots of the area hotels checking out all the Mopars. As usual, there was a burn-out contest going on at the Holiday Inn down the street.
Saturday morning, everyone headed out to Gateway International where we had to wait in a long, hot line before we were able to make our way to the special Winged Warriors/NBOA parking area reserved for the members. Some members set up their tents and chairs, anticipating the need for a shady spot later in the day, while others immediately took off for the huge all-Mopar swap meet. Still others went over to watch the drag racing action. Dot and Cotton Owens were situated under a tent with their Dodge racecar right in the middle of the Winged Warriors/NBOA members. Dot sat at a long table and sold T-shirts from "Cotton Owens Garage" and postcards, while Cotton posed for pictures and signed autographs all day. At the end of the WW/NBOA, Mike Eberhardt had the Turbine car on display, occasionally starting it up to give people rides.
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, our members lined their cars up on pit road and prepared to go out on the racetrack. The pace car took us out in groups of 20 and we did several fast laps around the circle track. Cotton road around the track with Rich Bolzenius in his Lemontwist yellow 440+6 Superbird. This is always a highlight for the members, and ONLY WW/NBOA members get to go out on the track and do the laps. After the laps, most of the members left Gateway and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up before supper--it had been a very hot and humid day at the track.
At 7 o'clock pm, we all headed over to our reserved meeting room in the Holiday Inn, where Cotton Owens spoke to our group until after 10 o'clock! Dotty sat in the audience and added comments and kept Cotton honest. Everyone was sorry to have to call it a night as we could have listened to Cotton for a lot longer. Upon venturing out for our hike back up the street to the Ramada, we had to check out the burnouts still going on behind the Holiday Inn.
Sunday morning, we all got up early, wiped the dew off our cars and headed back out to Gateway for another long day of car show and swap meet. There was a lot more shopping to be done by our members and a lot more picture taking. About noon, we once again herded all the members over to pit road to do the fast laps around the race track. The pace truck took two groups out again and we did several fast laps around the track. After the laps, most of the members headed back to the show area, parked their cars, went around and said their good-byes, packed up their cars and then hit the road for home. Several of the men helped Cotton and Dean push the Dodge racecar back into the enclosed trailer and secure it and then they were off for South Carolina.
The Winged Warriors/National B-Body Owners Association won the Monster Mopar "Club Participation" award for the third straight year. We had been warned by one of the registration guys that we'd have a good contest with the Neon Club that was supposed to be bringing 40-some cars. Turned out the Neons only numbered in the high teens and the WW/NBOA had 44 cars registered! Congratulations members--good showing!
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