Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Southern California
Re: Bill Thomas, legend in Chevy Hi Po history
I spent a lot of time at Bill Thomas Race Cars in the early '60's. I worked with Jimmy Caruthers, his dad, and Don Edmonds at the back of the shop working on the Caruthers Midget. The Chevy II's with the Vette engine and suspension were my favorite, as I was involved with USAC oval cars and road racers. The Chevy II fastback looked cool, and they drove one to New York to ship it to England to run against the Jaguars.
I saw the Cheetah's designed and built. I hate to say this, but even as a teenager I was not impressed with the design. They were nicely made by Don Edmonds with the basic chassis design from a Sprint Car. It just looked wrong and when you sat it one your feet were between the block and the headers and the headers also ran ablove to your knees, with very little other than sheet aluminum to protect from the heat. I was able to drive the Prototype very briefly around the block. They did run a two or three in road races, but had to run in the prototype class and were no match for a McLarens, etc. The steering broke several times, and no driver could keep it at 9/10's without breaking something or crashing. Later, someone stuffed a Hemi in one and was sucessful in drag racing.
I remember the new Stock Car "Mystery" motors stacked up aginst one wall. I could not afford one but when I asked why some were Chevy orange and a few were red, the answer was the orange were the factory race motor @ $500 each, and the red ones were the specially prepared @ $1,000.