Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 6, Page

Going Wild in Wendover

Words and photos by Cliff Gromer

was told this story by auto journalist Scott Stevens. It was about his trip to Wendover, UT, back in 1968. Stevens was in Wendover to cover Mickey Thompson’s speed record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and Wendover was the closest semi-civilized place to the Flats. Thompson and co-driver, Danny Ongais, were running a Boss 429 Mustang in a 10-mile circle at 185 mph. They also ran a Boss 302 ‘Stang around the same circle at slightly slower speeds. 

After eight hours of watching the Mustangs drive around in circles, Stevens began to get bored—to the point of going nuts. ‘Course, the Ford guys in the pits at the Flats seemingly couldn’t get enough of the action, and they cheered and waved every time one of the

Mustangs flashed past them. Stevens figured he’d head back to downtown Wendover and see what was happening. It didn’t take long to figure out what was happening.


A few of the other journalists covering the speed trials were standing around in front of the Best Western. They were counting the trucks that rolled down the main street. Counting trucks—there simply was nothing else to do.

All of a sudden, Stevens heard a familiar sound in the distance. The other writers heard it to, and they all strained for a glimpse. It was the sound of a Chevy small block. Winding. Low restriction exhaust, maybe open pipes. The driver was banging gears. Hey, things were looking up. Maybe there was some cruising or, better still, street racing action in Wendover, after all.

A lone ’57 Chevy 2-door sedan came into view. The rear was jacked up and it wore a set of mags on the back. It was ready for action. Except for one thing. There was no action in Wendover.

So, here was this poor guy, cruising up and down the main drag, looking for a run. He’d have just as much luck finding someone to race in the middle of the Mojave desert as he would in this town. You had to feel sorry for the guy. Like, how much fun can you have banging off shifts by yourself on the main drag of Wendover, Utah?

After about the sixth pass, Stevens decided to do something about the situation. All the writers covering the Flats story were the guests of the Ford Motor Co., and the company had made available a bunch of '68 Ford wagons for them to use as local transportation.. These weren't stripped down Ranch Wagons, either. These were max’d out Country Squires with power every­thing, even the fake wood on the sides. And, they had the 428-cube, 4-barrel engine, rated at 345 horsepower. Stevens figured one of these behemoths might actually be competitive against the guy in his '57 Chevy. Maybe he could shave a light and come off a little quicker in the 5,000-pound Ford whale. Maybe the guy had a stock 283 and just loud pipes. Hell, anything was possible on the street.

Stevens jumped into one of the wagons and pulled out onto the main drag. He caught the guy near the casino and pulled up alongside. He had a co-pilot with him. Stevens yelled out the window.

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