Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 2, Page

Dennis Kloet’s “Z” car

Words by Dale Wilson
Photos by Dale Wilson and courtsey of Dennis Kloet

All ready to go in Z/Stock Automatic trim is Dennie Kloet’s Renault Alliance, racing in the lowest Stock class in both drag racing associations. Car is not completely lettered here.

t wasn’t his best race car ever, it wasn’t even his most fun. Instead, the diminutive Renault Alliance front-wheel driver was, in Dennis Kloet’s words, his “most unique.” Brother, that is an understatement.

With the Alliance fitting perfectly into NHRA and IHRA’s Z/Stock Automatic class, the little two-door, all painted and decaled up and sporting the colors of the Fel-Pro Gasket company, set nearly a half-dozen class records and won that many more class wins, giving Kloet, of Birmingham, Alabama, a mantle-full of “Wallys” and “Iron Men.”

Dennis Kloet won class at the NHRA U.S. Nationals several times with the Renault in the 1980s. The car was classed as an E Front/Stock Automatic here.

He and the Renault, literally the product of an alliance between Kloet’s employer, American Motors, and the French Renault car manufacturer, dominated what was then the two drag racing association’s lowest class, Z/Stock Automatic. Heck, I guess so -- most of the time it was the ONLY car in Z/Stock Automatic at national and divisional races across the country. “It was fun to drive, I guess,” Kloet, who now works as a field engineer for Suburu of America, says. “Really, it was a dog. It couldn’t even get smoke off a burnout, even though Goodyear gave us some road racing tires to race on. We didn’t even need slicks.”

Kloet is somewhat of a legend in Stock and Super Stock racing circles. Born and raised in the “Detroit” of American Motors, Kenosha, Wisconsin, it was all a young graduate from Gateway Technician Institute in Kenosha/Milwaukee, Wisconsin wanted to do -- work for AMC. “I was born and raised in Kenosha, and that’s why I ended up with AMC. I started off in an outboard marine company as a student engineer, but it was my dream to end up with AMC and work in Kenosha. It was the home of AMC, and I didn’t know anything else,” he says.

He started with the “Kelvinator Motors” company, so-named because it also made refrigerators. In 1968, Kloet was with the fuel economy engineer and performance group. Back then he and racer Wally Booth and a few others WERE AMC engineering, and they helped start the racing program. Back then, too, AMC was picking up on the Detroit muscle car trend, building powerful small-block engines and placing them in somewhat light cars, for both the street and for racing. Kloet’s first AMC drag car was a ’67 Rebel with a 343 engine racing Stock Eliminator. It was factory-backed. “I started off (with the company) in testing carburetors, and then it grew into racing. We began doing highway patrol cars first, the AMC Matador, then it grew into the racing group, and we had NASCAR racers like Roger Penske and Bobby Allison. I was the engineer behind the team, all of it,” Kloet says.

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