Category Archives: Motorsports

Anything car or motor related

The Detroit Nationals


    Looking through my old journals, I happily came across a story my father shared about a particularly fun weekend he had as a young man in 1960. I re-read the short paragraph and realized that, yes, at one time, my father was seeking his own brand of adventure. I understood now, in my middle age, that my Dad wasn’t always the “all work and no play” father figure, and he wasn’t always the disciplinarian. At one time, my Dad was even a bit of a rule breaker. In that day and age, they would have never called themselves this, but perhaps even my Dad was a bit of a Gentleman Adventurer.

The following comes in my Father’s own words, with only minor notes added for clarity.

“Friday night after work, I stopped by Charlie’s Standard on Ardmore and St. Charles Ave (Villa Park, Illinois). Tom Wolf was putting a tri-power manifold on his ’58 Pontiac convertible. Went home and came back to help. Curt Plesenger and Flip Davidson were there when I got there. This was about 6:30 p.m.

We finished up about 9:30-10:00 p.m. After adjusting the throttle linkage and timing, (it was) time for a road test! I thought we would cruise, looking for a couple street races. Plesenger remembered that the Detroit Nationals were this weekend. The next thing I knew we were on our way to Detroit. This was about 11:00 p.m. on the Indiana toll road.

As we blew by a state cop, I looked at the speedometer; it read 125mph. Whoo! I think we were going so fast that he never saw us, or he figured he could never catch us. Keep in mind we had no clothes (with us) and little money. Plesenger was driving and wasn’t sure how to get there. The three of us dozed off and the next thing I remember is being in the Windsor Tunnel (on our way to Canada). Plesenger wanted Canadian bacon and eggs for breakfast. We wound up east of Windsor and finally found a restaurant open. Curt almost got us thrown out over the Canadian bacon. They didn’t know what he was talking about.

After breakfast, back to Detroit to find the drag strip. No clue. We were on a 6-lane street in Detroit when a ’59 Plymouth pulled along side. BIG ENGINE!!! The race was on! After winning two races in downtown Detroit at 115 mph we left the area quick. Finally to the strip.

Saturday night we found a motel that would rent us a room for four. Money is short. Watched races Sunday and Monday then went home. During this time I called home just to tell Mom and Dad where I was. That didn’t go over very well as you can imagine. During numerous street races the car developed a bad rear wheel bearing. Slow down? Not Wolf. He got popped for 75 in a 55 zone. Luckily the cop let us go. We got home late Sunday (Monday?) night, broke and tired and I still had to face Mom and Dad. Keep in mind that I was 22 at the time and they still got on my case. “

           This was as much detail as I got from my Dad. The interesting thing is the last line of his letter simply said, “More details available”.  To this day I have yet to ask him for more details. Why? I don’t know.

If our adventures are to help us grow, to learn, and experience life, then this adventure has taught me to cherish what your parents can teach you. You may be 47 before you realize the benefit, but just sitting and listening to your parents can bring adventures you might never have imagined.

**The above image comes from the National Hot Road Assoc via the website: