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    Machinists Union

    OK,

    So this is a question I've had for a long time.

    In the 70's and primarily 80's there was a lot of entries titled "Machinists Union", particularly at Indianapolis. Nowhere do I ever see mentioned any other team name.

    Who was this team and who ran it? Was it actually owned by some machinists union or were they just a sponsor? Were the team mechanics card-carrying union members? If it was owned by the union, who ran the team and made the decisions? The team actually had some success, in that they at least usually made the race.

    The team appears to have gone away some time around 1989, were they priced out or did something else happen?

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    Registered User SZautke's Avatar
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    The team was run by Andy Kenopsky. Sponsored by the Machinist Union, not sure if the crew were, but hey, why not?
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    I'm not sure the origins of the sponsorship either. I am sure there is a board that decides how to market the Union and racing made good sense. Not the Machinists, but I think the Local Electrical Workers still sponsor the Andretti cars for Indy and have a tent at IMS for the 500. The name may not be on the car, but on local radio, Marco/Michael voice the radio spots, etc.

    But back to Machinists, I always wondered more details about it as well. I found it intriguing that Schaefer Beer was on both Joe Ruttman's NASCAR Pontiac and Kevin Cogan's IndyCar in 1989. Joe obviously has a connection to Indy with his brother Troy winning Indy - I wonder if the sponsorship was sold as a joint effort or what?



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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by drdisque View Post
    OK,

    So this is a question I've had for a long time.

    In the 70's and primarily 80's there was a lot of entries titled "Machinists Union", particularly at Indianapolis. Nowhere do I ever see mentioned any other team name.

    Who was this team and who ran it? Was it actually owned by some machinists union or were they just a sponsor? Were the team mechanics card-carrying union members? If it was owned by the union, who ran the team and made the decisions? The team actually had some success, in that they at least usually made the race.

    The team appears to have gone away some time around 1989, were they priced out or did something else happen?
    The Machinists Union Racing Team was the brainchild of the flamboyant William Winpisinger, president of the International Association of Machinists. It was part of a marketing strategy designed to raise awareness of the union and of its members.

    Winpisinger initially considered producing television commercials similar to what other unions were airing. He found the idea to be too costly. An Indycar team looked to be far more cost effective.

    The team was run by Andy Kenopensky, IAM's national automotive coordinator. It was composed of union members. One crewman's name that should be familiar is John Barnes'.

    Kenopensky was a leader of the revolt which cost CART Chairman John Frasco his job. Kenopensky drafted a letter sent to CART membership stating that rich teams got richer and the rest got crumbs under Frasco's watch. He had been a critic of CART's management throughout most of the 1980s.

    Cost was one of the reasons IAM got out of racing. Another was the union's philosophical shift following the swearing in of George Kourpias as Winpisinger's replacement in 1989.
    Last edited by editor; 08-12-2013 at 02:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by editor View Post
    The Machinists Union Racing Team was the brainchild of the flamboyant William Winpisinger, president of the International Association of Machinists. It was part of a marketing strategy designed to raise awareness of the union and of its members.

    Winpisinger initially considered producing television commercials similar to what other unions were airing. He found the idea to be too costly. An Indycar team looked to be far more cost effective.

    The team was run by Andy Kenopensky, IAM's national automotive coordinator. It was composed of union members. One crewman's name that should be familiar is John Barnes'.

    Kenopensky was a leader of the revolt which cost CART Chairman John Frasco his job. Kenopensky drafted a letter sent to CART membership stating that rich teams got richer and the rest got crumbs under Frasco's watch. He had been a critic of CART's management throughout most of the 1980s.

    Cost was one of the reasons IAM got out of racing. Another was the union's philosophical shift following the swearing in of George Kourpias as Winpisinger's replacement in 1989.

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    Interesting.

    What was Kenopensky's background?

    I found an article that mentions him briefly as the "late" Andy Kenopensky that appears to be written around 1999 or 2000. When did he die?

    I find it interesting that a lot of historians seem to now attribute the beginning of the split to Kenopensky's owner revolt in 1989, saying it led to Tony George's demand for a seat on the CART board in 1991, which ultimately led to the creation of the IRL. It seems likely that if Kenopensky were alive at the time he would have been involved in the IRL. So he must have died or at least been in poor health by 1996, right?

    Very interesting article from 1990 by Shav Glick about the 1990 CART winter meeting and the management "disarray" the series found itself in, despite a resoundingly successful 1989 season: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-01-...winter-meeting

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    Quote Originally Posted by 11rowsof3 View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by drdisque View Post
    Interesting.

    What was Kenopensky's background?

    I found an article that mentions him briefly as the "late" Andy Kenopensky that appears to be written around 1999 or 2000. When did he die?

    I find it interesting that a lot of historians seem to now attribute the beginning of the split to Kenopensky's owner revolt in 1989, saying it led to Tony George's demand for a seat on the CART board in 1991, which ultimately led to the creation of the IRL. It seems likely that if Kenopensky were alive at the time he would have been involved in the IRL. So he must have died or at least been in poor health by 1996, right?

    Very interesting article from 1990 by Shav Glick about the 1990 CART winter meeting and the management "disarray" the series found itself in, despite a resoundingly successful 1989 season: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-01-...winter-meeting
    Andy Kenopensky succumbed to cancer on Oct. 12, 1990.

    A former organizer and a union member since 1952, Kenopensky was a sometime racer in the early 1960s. In addition to his service as the IAM's national automotive coordinator, President Ford nominated Kenopensky for a two-year term on the U.S. Metric Board. He served as a CART director for three years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drdisque View Post
    Very interesting article from 1990 by Shav Glick about the 1990 CART winter meeting and the management "disarray" the series found itself in, despite a resoundingly successful 1989 season: http://articles.latimes.com/1990-01-...winter-meeting
    I knew of some of this, but despite my studying of "history" on the 500, CART and NASCAR... I don't think I've seen that article before.

    LOL, I mean, honestly!? In January of 1990 while NASCAR is finalizing a deals with Hardee's for distribution on Days of Thunder diecast cars, getting its drivers on the red carpet and planning with consultants on direction of their sport headed into the 90's TV contracts with ESPN - you have Dick Simon (no offense, I love Simon) heading a task force on Marketing and Media Relations.... full of other old white guys? Wow.

    While NASCAR was telling RJR/Winston that they have offers for more more money, "that's okay - you've been a partner and we're committed to you no matter what".... CART did this?!? ...

    Caponigro, who had been an associate in Frasco's law firm before joining CART in 1985, became CART's first president last March and chief operating officer after Frasco's departure, but his tenure ended abruptly after a classic case of "biting the hand that feeds you."
    Caponigro allegedly told a meeting of CART team owners Oct. 30 in Chicago that he would "play hardball" with PPG Industries, the series sponsor, when time came to renegotiate sponsorship for 1991 and beyond.
    PPG, a Pittsburgh-based maker of paint, glass, fiberglass and medical products, has sponsored the series for 10 years and last year spent more than $10 million, including a record $2.6 million in prize money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by editor View Post

    Kenopensky was a leader of the revolt which cost CART Chairman John Frasco his job. Kenopensky drafted a letter sent to CART membership stating that rich teams got richer and the rest got crumbs under Frasco's watch. He had been a critic of CART's management throughout most of the 1980s.
    I remember that Kenopensky's teams in the late 80's never could get one of the "good" Chevy engines and always got stuck with the older Chevy "B" versions or the older Cosworth's. I think they also got into the Buick V6 group for Indy because of this (with Cogan the one year). And then were gone shortly thereafter.

    Josele Garza was probably the most prolific (in number of starts) MU driver though the 80's. Had a few good runs at Indy for them.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Gack View Post
    I remember that Kenopensky's teams in the late 80's never could get one of the "good" Chevy engines and always got stuck with the older Chevy "B" versions or the older Cosworth's. I think they also got into the Buick V6 group for Indy because of this (with Cogan the one year). And then were gone shortly thereafter.
    The Machinists Union team was out of the sport by the time there were different versions of the Chevy. The team's last year was '89 and they used Cosworth power. It was never a big buck team. They always had limited resources.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveL View Post
    The Machinists Union team was out of the sport by the time there were different versions of the Chevy. The team's last year was '89 and they used Cosworth power. It was never a big buck team. They always had limited resources.
    See, I remember bits and pieces of information and you pick up the scraps of what I miss and clean it all up.

    Cogan ran a Buick V6 for Granatelli one year. And he ran one when he was in the Conseco car for Menard. Did he ever run one with the Machinists team? Maybe they just stuck with the Cosworth's until the bitter end. Weren't there 2 versions of the Cosworth also and they usually had the lower horsepower version?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Gack View Post
    See, I remember bits and pieces of information and you pick up the scraps of what I miss and clean it all up.
    I mentioned just the other day in another thread in this forum that this is why I love it here. This place fills in the holes in my memory... holes I didn't even know were there before coming here.

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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Gack View Post
    Cogan ran a Buick V6 for Granatelli one year.
    That was 1990.

    And he ran one when he was in the Conseco car for Menard.
    That was '91. He had a bad wreck with Guerrero.

    Did he ever run one with the Machinists team?
    He never ran a Buick with the Machinists team. He was with them for '88 and '89 and he ran an '88 March/Cosworth both years.

    Maybe they just stuck with the Cosworth's until the bitter end. Weren't there 2 versions of the Cosworth also and they usually had the lower horsepower version?
    There was the old style DFX and the newer DFS which had a different bore/stroke ratio and produced a little more power. I'm not sure which the team used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveL View Post
    That was 1990.



    That was '91. He had a bad wreck with Guerrero.



    He never ran a Buick with the Machinists team. He was with them for '88 and '89 and he ran an '88 March/Cosworth both years.



    There was the old style DFX and the newer DFS which had a different bore/stroke ratio and produced a little more power. I'm not sure which the team used.

    Thanks.

    I am pretty sure I remember reading in one of the Hungness yearbooks back in the late 80's about some teams (I am thinking the MU team was one of them) being 'stuck' with the older Cosworth DFX. It was more dependable, but down on power.

    The lower dollar teams could get one and enter Indy. Just like they could get a fairly cheap Buick V6 from Jim Wright or Brayton and run Indy as well. Worked out pretty well for the car counts too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Gack View Post
    See, I remember bits and pieces of information and you pick up the scraps of what I miss and clean it all up.

    Cogan ran a Buick V6 for Granatelli one year. And he ran one when he was in the Conseco car for Menard. Did he ever run one with the Machinists team? Maybe they just stuck with the Cosworth's until the bitter end. Weren't there 2 versions of the Cosworth also and they usually had the lower horsepower version?

    Cosworth came out with a updated version of the DFX with the DFS which came out in 1989. I believe the only factory Team for Cosworth was the Kraco Team that received the updated version.
    Last edited by dcpduke; 08-14-2013 at 10:40 AM. Reason: sp

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Capua View Post
    I mentioned just the other day in another thread in this forum that this is why I love it here. This place fills in the holes in my memory... holes I didn't even know were there before coming here.
    The older I get the more "holes" I am finding too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Gack View Post
    Thanks.

    I am pretty sure I remember reading in one of the Hungness yearbooks back in the late 80's about some teams (I am thinking the MU team was one of them) being 'stuck' with the older Cosworth DFX. It was more dependable, but down on power.

    The lower dollar teams could get one and enter Indy. Just like they could get a fairly cheap Buick V6 from Jim Wright or Brayton and run Indy as well. Worked out pretty well for the car counts too.
    Spot-on. And get this, we showed up at the Speedway one year and got a Brayton motor from another team, after we bombed our motor the first day, for $12,000 and a pit cart. Different times. Different times.
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    Roger Mears was their driver in '82-'83. He was in the MU car for the '82 start debacle. I don't know if it was the connection of the Mears brothers, but they were the first team to get a customer '82 Penske PC-10. They even got to use it in the '82 finale at Phoenix! Roger qualified well for the '83 500 but crashed early in the race. He was pretty distraught in the radio interview, saying it was his best car and chance ever.
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  20. #20
    I can't claim to be all that knowledgeable about Indy cars, chassis, owners, etc. But I do consider myself a student of Schaefer Racing history. Actually, the education of the racing part followed the good times by a few buds and me over several cans of Schaefer beer.

    Anyway... here are a few things I learned over the years - some even in recent months. I scanned the comments already posted, and I'll try not to be too redundant.

    Yes, the Union did own the team when it was led by Winpisinger. Kenopensky was put in charge to represent the team's ownership. I've often wondered about the pairing of the union and Schaefer also. What was the connection? So far, all I've found is the team signed Schaefer as a sponsor just like any other team looking for additional financial support.

    In 1978, the union sponsored the 150 miler at Trenton.



    Parsons raced the MU team car in 1983.

    Josele Garza raced for the team from 83 through 87 including 85-87 with Schaefer as the sponsor.



    Desiré Wilson was hired as an intended teammate to Garza in 1986 to help develop her into a larger Indy schedule. But when Garza had a bad wreck at Mid Ohio, she became the sole MU/Schaefer car on the track at Road America and Laguna Seca. The budget for the program was under duress I think. With Garza sidelined and Wilson inexperience, the team only ran her in 2 more races plus 1 more for Garza after he returned.




    Kevin Cogan took over in 1988-1989 - After months of efforting, I was finally able to connect with Kevin about a year or so ago via his brother to get an autograph.



    Ruttman's program was intended to be a longer term program with his car based out of Franklin, TN - just south of Nashville. Earl Owens built the car for Ruttman, and it ran once - the 1989 Daytona 500. But Winpisinger retired from the union's leadership in 1989 - around the time of Ruttman's deal. From what I can gather, that was about all she wrote for the union's involvement in racing.
    (Got the 89 retirement date from Winpisinger's 1997 obituary: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/13/us...sts-chief.html).

    Ruttman's deal with MU / Schaefer was a sponsorship deal only. From what I understand, the union didn't have an ownership stake in his Pontiac like they did on the open wheel side.





    But Schaefer wasn't the only sponsor for the team. Hardee's was mentioned earlier as a partner for Days of Thunder licensing. The union also signed Hardee's to sponsor Pancho Carter in 1987 for a handful of races.



    Unfortunately for Pancho, he flipped his car during practice at the Brickyard in May 1987.



    Newsletters from the union are archived by the library of Georgia State University in Atlanta. I found a few specifically mentioning the racing teams (in the Schaefer years) and encouraging the members to support the drivers.

    April 1985: http://digitalcollections.library.gs...Wpubs/id/68946
    April 1987: http://digitalcollections.library.gs...Wpubs/id/69146
    March 1989: http://digitalcollections.library.gs...Wpubs/id/69891

    Hope this helps. I'm always interested in learning more about this team and its drivers - more from the Schaefer sponsorship side vs. the union ownership.

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    The Machinist Union started out as a sponsor in 1978. Frank Fiore purchased a McLaren and Atlanta from Bill Bidwell. Fiore was a machinist for United Airlines, a card carrying member of the Machinist Union and possibly the last hourly employee to head up an Indy Car Team. Jerry Karl qualified the McLaren for the 1978 Indy 500 and finished 14th. The Machinist Union was the sponsor on that car.

    If anyone has any contact with Frank Fiore Jr., who by the way was chief mechanic on the Karl/Fiore effort, he could probably fill in further details.

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    Here is 'Slamin' Sammy Swindell in a Pontiac powered Machinist Union March in 1987. I'm not the biggest fan of Sammy but he worked his tail off and got everything out of the car he could. The Pontiac was a few ponies short and he was bumped out of the field.


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    On a related note, what was the Pontiac V8 derived from? I know that back then Pontiac and Oldsmobile had different engines from Chevy and Buick. So was it a stock block pushrod Pontiac V8 from a Trans Am with a turbo added? In 1980 and 1981 you could get a 301 CID Pontiac V8 Turbo in a Trans Am called the Turbo Trans Am. It had a "boost gauge" in the hood cowl facing the driver with 3 lights that lit up indicating the level of boost the turbo was putting out. In reality the turbo was a really low-boost thing as the internals of the engine hadn't been reinforced hardly at all and it probably did more to improve the car's emissions than anything else. There was also a Turbo Trans Am offered in 1989 that had a Buick V6 from the Regal T-Type/Grand National.

    I don't see any Pontiac logos anywhere on the car. So unlike Buick, which was at least in the 80's somewhat factory supported, was the Pontiac not factory supported? If so why did they bother? Did they think it would be cheaper?

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by drdisque View Post
    On a related note, what was the Pontiac V8 derived from? I know that back then Pontiac and Oldsmobile had different engines from Chevy and Buick. So was it a stock block pushrod Pontiac V8 from a Trans Am with a turbo added?
    It was a normally aspirated stock block.

    I don't see any Pontiac logos anywhere on the car. So unlike Buick, which was at least in the 80's somewhat factory supported, was the Pontiac not factory supported? If so why did they bother? Did they think it would be cheaper?
    It was John Butera's baby. He did it on his own without any factory support from Pontiac.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by editor View Post
    The Machinists Union Racing Team was the brainchild of the flamboyant William Winpisinger, president of the International Association of Machinists. It was part of a marketing strategy designed to raise awareness of the union and of its members.

    Winpisinger initially considered producing television commercials similar to what other unions were airing. He found the idea to be too costly. An Indycar team looked to be far more cost effective.

    The team was run by Andy Kenopensky, IAM's national automotive coordinator. It was composed of union members. One crewman's name that should be familiar is John Barnes'.

    Kenopensky was a leader of the revolt which cost CART Chairman John Frasco his job. Kenopensky drafted a letter sent to CART membership stating that rich teams got richer and the rest got crumbs under Frasco's watch. He had been a critic of CART's management throughout most of the 1980s.

    Cst was one of the reasons IAM got out of racing. Another was the union's philosophical shift following the swearing in of George Kourpias as Winpisinger's replacement in 1989.

    Excellent synopsis, thank you!

    Just to amplify a few points....at the time, the IAM was seeking a way to market itself and television was extremely expensive. IP Bill "Wimpy" Winpisinger and automotive director Andy Kenopensky were both big race fans and decided an Indy car team would be more cost-effective -- the entrance cost was around $500K a year at the time (the price of a few Super Bowl ads) and between Schaefer Beer and the Garza family funding, the final cost to the union was minimal... even generated positive cash flow now and then, allegedly. Often there was also a second car with a parade of rental drivers.

    However...sounds like you are quite aware of this...the Indy Car team was always a tough sell with the rank and file. Even many race fans among the membership saw IndyCar's jet-set image as a bad fit with the principles of trade unionism, etc. Even in my own lodge (IAM locals are called lodges due to the union's heritage as a railroad fraternal organization) which was made up of automotive technical people, half the membership loved it and the other half despised it.

    I was somewhat torn myself -- I love Indy car racing but I wasn't sure a trade union should be doing it. One positive aspect was the race hospitality...tent with food and drinks where members could mingle, meet brothers and sisters from other lodges and districts, network and swap ideas, etc.

    Andy Kenopensky was an interesting guy -- a firebrand, sort of a natural dissident. He took the ideas of democracy, justice, and equity he had cultivated in the labor movement and applied them to the CART board. You can guess how that would go over with a pack of millionaires.
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    Interesting to find IAM was with Ruttman for a while. Joe was long a favorite of mine and even raced with us at the Fairgrounds in the early 2000s driving a late model out of Earl Owens' shop. Calhoun certainly knows more about this than me; I was just an official at the time.

    I believe the first involvement of the Machinists Union in IndyCar was with Frank Fiore's team in 78. They had an ex-Walther (I think) M16 and Jerry Karl driving. Frank had some health issues and somewhere along the line the cars got sold to Karl, who ran them on the USAC trail in 79, then re-did them as the McLaren-Karl which appeared the next year.

    Meanwhile, Chuck Looper, Keith Randol, and Phil Threshie were working on a new car of their own, to be sponsored by the Machinists Union and built with Union labor. The car was called the IAM-ARA and unfortunately got a late start and arrived at Indy too late in the month to be sorted. It was a gorgeous car—I've got a snap of it somewhere—and according to the Union's newsletter was supposed to have been built to be able to run with or without sidepods. Drawings of it showed an extended tail on it much like the Interscope, or perhaps more likely, the Riley of 1974. It was meant to run a stock block Chevy but was to be capable of running a Cosworth as well.

    Following the 1980 season, the Union was disenchanted with the IAM-ARA and took over the team, buying a Penske PC-7 and putting Larry Dickson behind the wheel…and the rest of the story you probably already know.
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  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Magoo View Post
    Andy Kenopensky was an interesting guy -- a firebrand, sort of a natural dissident. He took the ideas of democracy, justice, and equity he had cultivated in the labor movement and applied them to the CART board. You can guess how that would go over with a pack of millionaires.
    Most of those descriptors go hand-in-glove with his assessment of Indy car racing in the summer of 1986 included in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.

    http://articles.philly.com/1986-08-18/sports/26063958_1_cart-series-cart-board-indy-cars

  28. #28
    Indy since '66 kevin99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toomuchcountry View Post
    Most of those descriptors go hand-in-glove with his assessment of Indy car racing in the summer of 1986 included in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.

    http://articles.philly.com/1986-08-18/sports/26063958_1_cart-series-cart-board-indy-cars
    Andy was a pretty sharp guy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by toomuchcountry View Post
    Most of those descriptors go hand-in-glove with his assessment of Indy car racing in the summer of 1986 included in this Philadelphia Inquirer article.

    http://articles.philly.com/1986-08-18/sports/26063958_1_cart-series-cart-board-indy-cars
    A foreshadowing?

  30. #30

    INfo On This Machinist Car Please

    Can any one Id This Car or Have any pics of it racing or at the track

    https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/1...47937334582417

    Where would the serial #s be ?
    Thanks

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