By Geoff Stunkard
As mentioned last time, I knew I would be burning up the highway heading east to Florida with the 2015 Challenger R/T Scat Pack. The camaraderie I experienced with other Dodge owners during my westbound jaunt continued with thumbs-up approval signs instead of being able to stop and “talk shop” about the car. On my way out, I actually spent an hour or so in Arizona with fellow owner Mike Leavy, who had a new Challenger R/T in black. Mike was on his own eastbound run across Route 66, taking in the vintage sights much as I had, and we gave each other pointers on what was worth stopping for.
The car loved the 80-mph speed limits of parts of Interstate 10 in Texas, getting excellent mpg thanks to Fuel Saver Technology when the Speed Control was set. I even made it across I-10 through Texas in one day after stopping to see former Plymouth Super Stock and Pro Stock racer Arlen Vanke in Deming, New Mexico, the previous evening. Arlen is in rehab from a stroke but quite lucid and he was very happy to have a friend stop in. In some ways, that couple of hours was the real highlight of the eastbound run.
The weather changes I experienced during the previous two weeks had included snow, fog, rain, and a little hail in the deserts, mountains and bayous. Now I was rolling into the track at Gainesville, Florida, for a big drag-racing event.
The Teuton family owns a Dodge dealership in Louisiana, and had humorously agreed to my plan to bunk down for a couple of nights right in their race car transporter. This way, instead of the comforts of hotel living, I would instead be up at dawn with the race cars, watching Jeff Teuton, Joseph Teuton and Kevin Helms put their Dodge Drag Pak Challengers through the motions as they qualified and raced. Even the guys at National Dragster’s blog ran a photo of the “camp out.” The campsite was comprised of tarps and inflatable mattresses where the race cars are normally stored; I filled the Challenger’s trunk and backseat up with the equipment for this stop. Now it paid off, but the alarm each day was a 6:00 a.m. sharp cackle of some unmuffled beast firing up close by.
As it turned out, I saw some great racing action and even a harrowing moment or two when professional-class race cars got out of control, but Helms was on his game here. After having won a point race two weeks prior, he took the red HEMI® V8 Drag Pak and won the entire event in the Stock Eliminator class on Sunday. This was after the team decided to try some higher wheelstands for traction, much as Dick Landy might have done back in the day.
But I had one last stop. The reason I was in Florida was to see Dick Landy’s actual race cars thanks to collector Todd Werner. Once again, I packed the trunk and headed toward the Gulf of Mexico…