Back in the Day

Driving a Wedge into the Competition

Roger Johnson - April 17, 2014 03:12 PM


This ride, seen at the NMCA event in Commerce. Georgia, could evoke fond memories of when these cars were nearly new and as postent as every. It's good to see them still racing.

Keith Keplinger

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      In the fall of 1965, I was a 20-year-old college student and selling cars for a local Dodge dealership. I was already a crazed car nut and street racer, driving a dual-quad, big block ’62 Dart convertible as daily transportation.  This three-speed, button-shifted Torqueflite with a non-SureGrip  3.23 rear end would screech the rear tire into second and still chirp it into third gear at about 85.
      I had friends with cars that were much faster. Dale C. owned a 1964 Dodge Max Wedge race car that he bought from another Dodge dealership. It came equipped with aluminum fenders, hood, bumpers, thin Plexiglas windows, no insulation, just two bucket seats from the Dodge van parts shelf, a manual push button Torqueflite, and enough interior exhaust gases to make a tree-hugger homicidal. Dale considered it the perfect street machine.
      So that’s where we drove it. Poor Dale had eyesight so bad his corrective lenses looked like the bottom of shot glasses. I never knew if he actually had a driver’s license, I just know he let a few of his friends drive him around in this car often. We hated it for him - but we loved it for us.
      When we took the car out at night, we’d push it out of the garage and down the driveway to the street. Dodge Dart mufflers were spliced into the exhaust system but the muffling effect barely registered. One evening, Dale picked me up at the dealership. It sounded like a motorcycle gang when it pulled up and sat idling in the parking lot.  We had a “shotgun car” riding with us to run interference with the cops.
      On another occasion, I somehow talked Dale into letting me take the Dodge for a solo flight around the neighborhood. I was only a block away before I stopped in the middle of this residential area and prepared for a burn-out.
      Dale once told me to sit up straight and close to the steering wheel before launching.I ignored his advice. I found out the positive Gs were so intense, I couldn’t reach the second gear button.  I had to back off the gas in order punch second gear.  What an idiot. What an experience.