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Idiotic Car Story involving a Thunderbolt

Our Idiotic Car Story Contest continues with another story from a friend that involves a Comet Thunderbolt! Send us your Idiotic Car Story for a chance to win a prize from our Online Store.

By: George Houk

In 1964-65 a good friend of mine, Dick Hoffman, a couple of other friends and I were on our way from Nashville, Tn. to Atlanta, Ga. to a Supper Stock meet.  Our tow car was a 1957 Ford Ranchero and we were towing a 1964 Comet Thunderbolt.

The Rancher would only hold three of us, so one guy had to ride in the Comet.  That lucky individual, we called him Rat, fell asleep for most of the trip. Dick was truly a Ford man and had been quite successful racing this car.  At the time, the Comet Thunderbolt was allowed to run in the Super Stock class.  Super Stock was probably one of the best classes to run and it also paid the most.

When we got to the top of Mount Eagle mountain and headed down the long and treacherous slope, the trailer and Comet started to sway. The sway got worse as we continued down the mountain.  Dick asked one of us to look out the back window and see how the Comet was doing.

To my surprise, Rat had awoken and was jumping into the drivers seat and started trying to steer the Comet.  When we finally got the rig to a stop, everyone got out of the cars to check on everything and each other.  When Rat came over to us, we all asked him just what in the hell was he trying to do.  He said something like, Hell I was trying to keep us on the road and not get killed.  Dick told him that he did a great job of keeping us from going over the side of the mountain, even though the steering was not connected to the tow car or the trailer.

Needless to say, we didn’t win the race but we did make some money and make a few friends at the race, such as Dyno Don Nickelson.

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Richard

I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at www.TalladegaSpoilerRegistry.com site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at http://www.LegendaryFarms.com.

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9 Comments

  1. I remember watching Dick Hoffman run at Union Hill Drag strip just outside of Nashville, TN. B-4 the Preston Lincoln Mercury White Lightning Comet, I believe he raced a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500XL with 427 motor. Both Dick and Bob Frensley were great local racers back in the day. Greenfield Trucking out of Clarksville, TN ran a Gold Ford Thunderbolt around the same time. Anyone know what happened to those great cars and racers? Frensley now runs a Chrysler dealer in the Rivergate area of Nashville.

  2. “The Prospector” was the name of Greenfield Truckings Gold ’64 Thunderbolt. After the S/S wars advanced, they converted it to a modified racer.

  3. I also remember seeing both Doug Greenfield’s Prospector Thunderbolt and Dick Hoffman’s Comet run in Super Stock meets many times at both Union Hill and Clarksville Drag Strips back in 1964-65. I didn’t know much about Dick Hoffman, but everyone in the Greenfield raced, Doug, his Dad and brother-in-law Maxie. Doug was really into Gassers. He had a 409 Henry J and a ’51 Ford Anglia. both were powered by 409 Chevy motors. All of their cars were gold, and they had a huge 18 wheel flat bed they used as a tow truck. I think the s/s Thunderbolt was foreign to them, because it never really ran good. I think it came from Jenkins and Whynn Ford in Clarksville. J&W also had a VW dealer in Nashville.

  4. There were 2 other Thunderbolt in the Nashville area. One owned by Percy Dowling & one by my Dad, Clyde Felts. Dad’s was white & I don’t remember what color Percy’s was. Dad sold his to Ray Hobbs then Ray sold it to someone in Memphis. My brother, Clyde II (Dooper) thinks the guy in Memphis still has it. Dad & Bob Frensley had several cars that were owned by Bob & were built & raced by dad.One 1965 Z16 Chevelle that went by the name “The Crusader, now owned by Richard Fudge.

  5. Here is other info on dad’s car. Clyde Felts.
    This thunderbolt was owned by father, vin #4f41k230588
    from Hippodrome 1212 broadway Nashville Tn Ford invoice no 887549. It would be great to see any old or new pictures of it.

  6. Lewis, I remember that too. When I was older, I had a Road Runner that Clyde would work on every now and then.
    Also, Is Mattie and Anthony (hot rod) Felts’ you’re brother & sister?

  7. Hello All,

    I had the good fortune to work with Dick Hoffman in Nashville, Tennessee. My “career” was just getting going and Dick was well-seasoned in the extreme. At the time I knew he did some racing – Dick was anything but a braggart – but I had no idea how deep he got into it or how well he did. He was a great guy…He gave me some good “common sense” car building advice and helped me fine-tune the fuel system in my daily driven 302-powered Datsun 240Z…His son Ronnie painted a Fox-body Mustang (or two) for me and did some of the best paint and body work I ever paid for…Like father, like son…I attended Dick’s memorial service…Cigarettes got him…May he rest in peace…Thanks for posting the story and pic…Take care!

    Respectfully Yours,

    Robert T. Nash

    Chattanooga, Tennessee

  8. George Houk,
    Like the story about Rat. I do know its true that, Rat tried to drive the race to safety. Dick told me the same story years later. So, Dick was driving the 57 Ranchero, bet Roddy & you was riding with him.
    Do you remember all the fun it Joel’s old shop?
    I still see Ronnie some, now and then.
    It been years, since I’ve seen you. Bet you do remember me.
    Regards
    George

  9. My good and close friend Sonny Campbell was friends with Dick he’s told me stories of him racing at Union Hill. Sonny still races time to time and still has a pretty fast nova that he runs. Love to here stories of how things where back. Mike

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