You really can race an AMC Rambler

Posted Online: Sept. 03, 2014, 8:38 pm
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Roger Ruthhart,
Back when I was in high school in the 1960s, my first car was a 6 cylinder Rambler with a push-button gear shift on the dash. It was considered a "sensible car" at the time but I always thought it was my parents' cruel joke since it had no real guts to it for racing.

While that may have been their plan, I soon found that the short wheelbase was pretty well suited to racing laps around the farm field with my friend. Many an afternoon was spent spewing dirt in every direction and somehow the transmission – and the push buttons – held up.

Later, the family graduated to another Rambler that at least had a V-8, so if you pulled up to the stoplight against a grandma with a V-6 at least you had a chance to beat her off the line. Another feature of the car that proved popular with teens was that the front seats would recline all the way – perfect for packing a lot of people in or for stretching out to watch a movie at the drive-in.

I went through life feeling I could never be considered a legit racer with my AMC Rambler. I lived those years vicariously through a friend who raced motorcycles and a Shelby Mustang.

But apparently, at least among fellow AMC owners, it IS possible to be taken seriously. The proof is this weekend's 36th AMC Nationals at Cordova Dragway Park. The event, sponsored by the National American Motors Drivers & Racers Assn., is open to all AMC and AMC/Jeep enthusiasts, owners, AMC clubs and the public. It includes several racing classes, a car show, swap meet and car corral.

Cars competing for the title of AMC Eliminator must be AMC powered. The car show will feature 35 classes and special awards for Best of Show, Participants Choice, Best Wagon, Best Convertible, etc.

The swap meet is open to all vendors and the car corral is for AMCs and AMC/Jeeps for sale.

Friday's activities include the Swap Meet and picnic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and AMC Gamblers race beginning at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, gates open at 8 a.m. for the AMC Nationals AMC Drags, Car Show, Swap Meet and Car Corral. Car Show judging is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and AMC Time trials from 9 a.m. to noon. The AMC and AMC/Jeep Nationals eliminations begin at 12:30 p.m.

Gates open for bracket racing for all makes at 2:30 p.m. with time trials 3-6 p.m. and bracket eliminations beginning at 7 p.m. Admission for the general public is $8 (Friday) and $12 (Saturday) for adults, $3 children 6-12, and five and under free.

Quad City Speedway champs: You know the racing season is winding down when the season championships are run. Quad City Speedway had its last points race on August 24.

Several close points battles were decided by the final race of the season, including Brandon Dahl's one-point win over brother Zach Dahl in the Riverbend Pizza Place 4 Cylinder class with Steve Spiker finishing third.

One point separated first and second in the Weber Auto Group Street Stocks with Rob Nylin edging Steve Jackson 533-532. Jarett Franzen was third in points.

Mike Murphy Jr. won the Eriksen Chevrolet Late Model title from Todd Malmstrom with Leroy Brenner third. Ron Cox Jr. won the Toppert Services IMCA Modified championship over Doug Crompton as Brandon Durbin finished third.

Another close battle loomed in the U-Pull-A-Part/CIMCO IMRA Midget Lites class with Mitchell Davis edging Aaron Shuck 353-350. Shane Morgan was third. The McDonalds' Mod Lites title went to Jason Massengarb with 439, followed by Daniel Guss 406 and Bryan Brinker 400. Congratulations to all of the champions.
This column appears each Thursday in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. Please send items of interest to . Racing results should be sent to .


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2014. There are 71 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The weather is discouraging for our great Democratic rally tomorrow, but never mind that. Let our Rock Island people show they can make a big procession themselves, rain or shine.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Apparatus arrived for drilling an artesian well on the premises of George Warner's Atlantic Brewery.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German army continued its attacks on the allies line near the Belgian coast.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Zachert northwest of Buffalo Prairie, burned to the ground.
1964 -- 50 years ago: WVIK-FM, noncommercial educational radio station at Augustana College, will return to the air tomorrow. The station operates at a power of 10 watts at 90.9 megacycles on the frequency modulation band. The station is operated with a staff of 92 students.
1989 -- 25 years ago: An avenue of lights, 13 Christmas trees strung with more than 44,000 sparkling lights, will expand the Festival of Trees beyond the walls of RiverCenter in downtown Davenport in mid-November.

(More History)