It’s rare for a car to survive the NASCAR circuit, so seeing this Monte Carlo survivor offered by Russo & Steele caught my attention. As any race fan will tell you (including our own occasional driver Ron Kowalke, OCW‘s auction and technical editor), first-gen Monte’s also appeared at across the country on local dirt and asphault tracks. Kowalke himself campaigned an early Monte Carlo in central Wisconsin for part of his amateur career, claiming the greater distance between the car’s nose and radiator made it a better contender than a similar Chevelle of the period.
To me, this Monte Carlo represents the era when stock cars WERE stock cars: door-slammers that could be bought off the lot and then modified for racing. Fans weren’t just seeing driver skill on the track, they were seeing Detroit’s skill at designing and building cars. If that tradition had continued, perhaps I’d be spending Sunday afternoons in front of the “boob tube” watching a race. Perhaps even more fellow Americans would be, too.
Here’s the provenance of this cool old race vet, according to Russo & Steele:
Early in 1970 an aspiring, but under-funded Grand National NASCAR owner, Harold Farr, was able to acquire a Chevrolet Monte Carlo from a dealer in Elkin, North Carolina for a price that very well may have been subsidized by Chevrolet. The very low VIN number gives some credence to the legend. It was sent directly to Mack Howard’s Garage where his small but committed team went to work converting it to race trim.
At the time Farr was also running a frequently wrecked and rather abused Chevelle with Richard Brown behind the wheel. As frequently happens owners and driver do not always agree and a journeyman oval track driver named Dub Simpson was enlisted to take the wheel for the new #93 Monte Carlo.
Simpson’s run was rather short-lived, however, as after only two races Furr’s lack of funding caught up with him. Simpson managed a respectable 24th at Talladega but according to Dub they did not have the tires to finish the race. He recalls pulling into the pits and there was no one there to fuel the car let alone replace the worn out tires. Seems Furr only had the money for a single set of Goodyear’s for the entire weekend!
The Monte Carlo was parked until early in 1972 when Furr convinced noted driver Buck Baker that his career was not over and to take the wheel. He managed to qualify sixth at Rockingham and interestingly enough he was just behind his son Buddy on the grid. They both blew their engines but it was indeed a historical event. Buck drove the #93 Monte Carlo at three more events that year culminating at Talladega where the engine decided it had had enough and car and engine went their separate ways.
Furr was out of money and out of NASCAR and as such sold the Monte Carlo to Bobby Mausgrove who ran two similar cars for the 1973 season. There were two known starts, one at Talladega and a USAC race at Dover. It was now the “00”car and it was subsequently sold to Bobby Waywak who retained the number but painted it Pearl White with strobe-like graphics. There is no record of Waywak ever racing the car.
Fast forward to 2005 when the restoration of the Buck Baker #93 Monte Carlo was completed. It was restored as originally built in Mack Howard’s Garage back in 1970. The sheet metal, roll cage and even the drum brakes are as original. The fuel container, although badly rusted, is original as is the date imprinted fuel bladder. Even the air cleaner and driver’s seat are original.
The car was invited to the Darlington Festival of Speed that was to be held in September of 2008. In anticipation, it was repainted in its original blue livery at Johnny Davis’s J. D. Motorsport’s shop in South Carolina. Dub Simpson, one of the early drivers, resides in the area and was on-hand when the Monte Carlo was presented at the Darlington Festival of Speed. It again was presented the following year and after 60 laps around the oval known as “The Lady in
Black” it is now ready to take its place as the cornerstone of a collection that will include a significant NASCAR veteran.
Russo and Steele Scottsdale Auction is January 19-23, 2010. The 11th Annual auction event will feature over 600+ European sports, American muscle, hot rods and custom automobiles. Call 602.252.2697 for more information.