Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Green and Growing

 I guess it's about time I update this blog a bit. A lot of things have changed since my last post. The first change was my new job at Greg Lair Buick GMC. I am now the Parts And Service director, I love this new position and even though it has many challenges it also gives me the opportunity to better serve our valued friends. It has taken me a while to get my arms around this new job but it's coming around. I owe a big Thank You to Greg Lair for giving me this opportunity. And another to Rex Brewer for helping me daily. I want to thank all of our crew for pulling together and putting our customer First! We have the best service department in the area and they are the reason. And lets see ---something else happened hmmm. Oh yea after 48 years I have finally taken the plunge, Judy and I are engaged! I don't know what has taken me so long but Im so happy to know that I get to spend the rest of my life with this beautiful women. We are getting married on May 26th, so we have had a lot going on with that, even though Judy thinks I haven't.We are also in the process of looking for a new house and we have twin grand babies on the way. It may seem as though things are moving a little fast in my life,but I have put all of this off for a long time so I've got ground to make up.
    But That's not all that has changed around here!!!  We have sadly retired our trustworthy Pontiac Grand Am. That was a great car and probably had us spoiled. Greg and I have drug that car up and down many,many miles of highway and made a lot of 6 second 200 plus mph runs. We have been number one qualifier many times, won the Cajun Nationals and several divisional events. Yeah, that was a great car.
  BUT NOW we have a new Jerry Haas Race Cars built 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. 

      This car is the very first General Motors and NHRA approved Pro Stock car in the world. No kidding.
     This is the car that was taken to the wind tunnel at General Motors. After receiving General Motors and NHRA approval the car was taken to Five Star industries who manufactured the body and templates were made of this car. From now forward, all NHRA Pro Stock bodies will have to fit these templates. That part is really cool. The downside of this is being the first of a brand new design and the growing pains that come with that. I will tell you a lot more about this later. This whole process has been kinda dramatic in a way. We have been ready to build a new car for about a year or so but the only bodies available for GM was the Pontiac GXP. The GXP makes a beautiful race car and it was awfully tempting, but Pontiac being discontinued would mean that NHRA would need a new GM Pro Stock car and that would make the GXP dated very quickly.
 So Greg decided to wait for the new GM body and although nobody knew for sure what body they would use, exit polls showed the best bet would be the Camaro. So we waited. And we waited. And for the longest time there was no real news about a new GM body. There were tons of rumors in the pits and on the internet.
There was talk about GM waiting until 2014 for a redesigned Camaro. I heard it was going to be the Malibu,then the Caprice,oh I even heard they were going to make a Chevelle. Then for a two months or so there was a lot of chatter about a Cadillac CTS Pro Stock car, cool thought but no new car. Then came the news that someone was building a Camaro body that was going to be approved by NHRA. But when Greg talked to Jerry Haas about it, Jerry told him to hold tight, that something was coming. This all gets kind of dramatic but interesting. Greg has had two "Haas cars" and Jerry builds a very nice car. His car work very well and the detail is amazing. So Greg is going to have "Haas" build his new car. There are several quality chassis builders
around the country, a lot of very talented fabricators and racers. But just like in anything else there are the "Big Three".  Jerry Haas Race Cars, Jerry Bickel Race Cars and Rick Jones (RJ Race Cars).
The Camaro body we were hearing about were from Jerry Bickel. And people started talking about building new Camaros. But Haas kept telling Greg just hold on but that's about all he will he would say. He was pretty secretive about it. So some time goes on and we see an ad for a Camaro body from Rick Jones made by Five Star Industries. Five Star makes a very high quality body and would be the preferred body to have. But this was a Pro Mod body not Pro Stock. Pro Mod bodies are stretched to fit a longer wheel base and most of them lose the identity of the car they represent. Some people love them but I prefer the look of a legal Pro Stock car. But still no news on another Pro Stock body other than the "Bickel Body" which really wasn't exactly what Greg was looking for. That body for lack of better words just wasn't very pretty. We were hoping that wasn't the car we were getting. But people kept ordering those cars, even our friends from Louisiana, Roy and Keith Raftery ordered a new Bickel Camaro. This is when it got interesting. Greg called Jerry Haas again to see if there was anything new. Jerry swore Greg to secrecy and finally told him that Five Star was working on a Pro Stock Camaro. But we keep hearing that the Bickel car is going to be approved.
Haas said "That car ain't gonna make it". Just be cool and it will happen. But the rumors kept flying, "the Bickel car is approved" he has the letter from NHRA and the stickers in his desk. Haas would just say "that ain't happening". He said "that car didn't do good in the wind tunnel and GM really wasn't excited about it and that the Five Star body was getting close to ready. That day finally came the body was ready and Haas would have it in a couple days. So now the build will start not knowing if this will be the "Approved" body or would it be the "Bickel Body"????  But the build"s go on. Greg's car at Haas's shop and the Raftery's at Bickels shop and all of the back and forth about which body would be the approved body.  All through this process the Five Star body was "hush hush". Finally Jerry sent Greg some pictures but swore him not to show anyone but that was then.

 Believe it or not but at one time these pictures were a HUGE secret. No joke....
 It was a fun process and it made the winter go by faster. The big day came and this car was loaded and taken to Michigan for wind tunnel testing and for GM brass to see. A day or two later Haas called Greg and told him it went very well but that's all he would say. Then he told Greg it wasn't "official" but . Then the word was "APPROVED"! It's Official Greg Lair has the very first and so far only NHRA approved Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stocker.   That's sorta cool, I think. It really was funny because of the secrecy. But Jerry did tell us he knew it was good when he saw the faces of the Chevrolet brass. He could tell they liked it. Greg asked about the wind tunnel numbers. And of course he says, I can't tell you that those are property of General Motors, let's just say they were real good.  I reckon so.

 Well anyway there has been a lot of stuff go on this winter.  A lot of new things to get used to. My new job,my new wife, new house coming,two grandkids coming and a new car to sort out . My friend Todd always says "Your either Green and Growing or ripe and rotten".

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