Ask Quain Stott and he won’t mince words.
As nice as driving a 250-mph doorslammer professionally can be, it doesn’t provide the same adrenaline he gets from the 120-mph car he’ll commandeer Saturday afternoon.
Stott is one of twelve drivers competing in Greer Dragway’s [South Carolina] inaugural Nostalgia Gasser event. He’s driving a period correct 1941 Willys he built.
Stott expects the car to perform impressively but, for him, winning or being the quickest is secondary to having a good time.
“I wanted to build a special one, just like it was back in the day,” Stott said. “There have been gasser series over the years where they eventually got away from the intent and basically turned into modern day race cars with old bodies on the cars. We didn’t want that. We wanted to race period correct cars with the look and feel of the old cars I watched when I was a kid.”
Stott’s infatuation with the gasser style race vehicle is one which spans nearly five decades. This outlandish style of car was responsible for steering him towards doorslammers as opposed to dragsters.
Besides, Stott, who frequently accompanied his dad Bob to gasser style races at both Greer and Spartanburg drag strips, could never relate to the slingshots. He was clearly bred from a young age in his hometown of Landrum, SC, to understand the hot rods around home had working doors and ran in a straight line.
Stott’s “Executioner” Willys is actually the third he’s built in the last year. Each one has been an improvement over the previous but not with the latest and greatest technology. The more antiquated and unsafe, he laments, the better.
“When I was a chassis builder full-time, the stuff I was cutting off of these cars is the stuff I’m hunting down now to put on,” admitted Stott. “You look at my car and it has the old Hilborn injectors and while I could find better parts, the look is most important.”
Stott, on his weekend, has become an avid supporter of local nostalgia events with his classic Willys. However, with each event his frustration level grew. The more he perused the pits, the more he realized he wasn’t alone.
Fellow racers Greg Porter and Jeremy Pearson shared the same frustration of gassers being nothing more than modern day cars selling themselves off as nostalgia.
“It was frustrating when you’d take all of this time and effort in making your car look like a gasser should be and then someone would show up with a car meant to run fast instead of looking like what they were supposed to be,” Stott lamented. “They would have a straight axle on the front, and they’d proclaim these new cars to be gassers.”
The trio had an easy sell to Greer’s promoter Mike Greer, who had longed for the kind of event they proposed.
The program they sold Greer was exactly as Stott had always envisioned the gassers to be.
“It was the ultimate doorslammer [full bodied car] of the day,” said Stott. “You look at the roots and these cars started as street cars and they had different engines in them. They had to carry tags and insurance. It evolved into modified cars and by 1965 these cars were all out race cars. This class was so popular the competition became as brutal as war. They match raced, ran at the big events and had a big following. I’d ventured to say there was a time when these cars became more popular than the slingshot dragsters.”
Stott’s vision of a gasser shows through the rules and regulations of the Greer event. Each pre-entry was required to submit a photo for appearance and period correctness. There is a no-tolerance policy on modern day appearance including the car’s graphics and tire lettering.
The wheels must be of a 1965-era type and spin a tire no wider than 11.5-inches.
When rules were broached on ride height of the cars; it became a higher the better for this show.
“It’s the way they had to be because the tracks weren’t any good and the tires weren’t any better,” Stott explained. “These racers figured if they sat the cars higher, the weight transfer would be better. We were careful to make sure this was the way these cars looked. They are going to sit high with a high center of gravity. This made the cars a handful to drive but this is just like it was back in the day.”
The promoters of the event are period correct when it comes to the participants, but the timing system will be met with a compromise. The cars will stage and leave on the tree and the winner will get a win-light, but elapsed times will remain in confidence. Track announcers are instructed to describe the action on the track but remain mum even if there’s a record run.
This bodes well for Stott and his group who believe the fan excitement will not be generated by scoreboards but the action on the track.
“These cars will be all over the track, racing wall to wall, it really won’t matter what they run anyway,” pointed out Stott.
The primary goal will be to travel back in time when corporate backing and big rigs were fantasy speak.
“We want to put on a show for the old-timers and the young people who never had a chance to watch these cars run,” said Stott. “It’s our chance to show what drag racing used to be.”
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