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|The History of American Motors Factory Super Stock Drag Racing Program.|
Hurst SS/AMX #E?
1969 VIN: A9M397X213xxx
1970 VIN: A0M397X183210 (1970 #2)
Hurst Build #:
1969 Selling Dealer: Ray-Wel Motors (Ray Chism & Welby Vitatoe)
175 East North Street
Kokomo, Ind 46901
Attn: Larry Vitatoe
1970 Selling Dealer: Ray-Wel Motors
175 East North Street
Kokomo, Ind 46901
Name: Ray-Wel Motors (1969-72)
Owner: Larry Vitatoe
Driver: Ezra and John Beachey
Best ET/MPH: 10.97/ 123.78
Sponsor: Ray-Wel Motors
Misc: Hurst Build Car # 3
NHRA Events: 1969 Spring Nationals, 1970 Indy Nationals,
Runner-up at 1969 NHRA Spring Nationals.
(Photo by Robert McCorkle, original owner of Car #17)
Here they are in the Olds racing Pete's Patriot:
"Beachy Brothers SS/AMX. They raced this car for a few years, then
swapped over to Olds. Ray-Wel Motors was owned by Larry Vitatoe's
dad. Last I heard Larry lived in Chilicohte, OH. He had a front wheel
drive Olds for a while. The AMC was damaged one time in 69 at Bunker
Hill Dragway the Detroit locker unlocked on gear change and went off
track and hit a lite pole or fence pole but was repaired."
Beachy Bros still own an engine shop specializing in superstock motors
in Kokomo, IN. at the site of the old AMC Dealership on E North St.
Ezra and John are brothers. Ezra was always the engine builder and John
was the driver. I don’t know if they ever had a Jr Stock car. In the mid to
late 60's they had a 55 Chevy wagon Modified production car called
"Plague" then a factory AMX SS/C car, in 70 they had a factory deal on a
an Olds Cutlass, I think it was run as a S/S car also. After that in about 73
or 74 they built the SS/K 66 ChevyII wagon. It was one of my favorite
cars. John Lingenfelter bought that car and shortly after was broadsided
by a train leaving Kil Kare (I think) Dragway, cutting the car and the
hauler in half. After the wagon they had a SS/I Chevy 66 Chevy II Sedan.
Beachys then built a 69 Camaro SS/D car, then a SS/GT Firebird. Ezras
son Mike won the US Nationals in that car a couple of years ago. Ezra is
in his Eightys and still running his engine shop (Beachy Machine) along
with his son Mike in Kokomo Indiana. Good People."
I just learned of Grumpy Jenkins passing in March and was wandering
down memory lane on the internet. I just happened to see your webpage
about AMX's. Thanks for your efforts to chronicle a really great time in
automotive history. One of the passages said you had found recent
information about the Beachy Bros. AMX. If possible, I would
appreciate any information you could share.
Ezra Beachy was a customer of my Dad's GMC dealership in Kokomo,
Indiana. Ez and his brother John had been successfully racing a Chevy
station wagon with a small block engine. Ezra's friend, Arlen Fadely,
from nearby Greentown Indiana was working with Hurst Performance in
Detroit along with Dave Landrith. Arlen told Ez about the upcoming
project to build Super Stock AMX's. Ezra and John contacted my Dad
about racing one of the AMX's as a dealership promotion. John and Ez
took a test drive in my Dk. Green 1968 390 fourspeed car and were
impressed enough with the performance to want to pursue the project.
We campaigned the car for several years and had some success and a lot
of fun. I learned a tremendous amount of automotive knowledge from
my association with Ez and John. I will always cherish those memories.
I still have a 1968 343 automatic car that needs restoration someday. I
also have a blueprinted 390 stock engine done by Ez several years ago.
Any info you can share about the current status of the original 69 Beachy
Bros./ Ray-Wel Motors car would sure be appreciated.
The dealership was Ray-Wel Motors. It was formed as a partnership
between Ray Chism and Welby Vitatoe. The address was 175 East North
Street, Kokomo, IN. Later, Welby purchased the other half of the
dealership from Ray. In 1968, Ray-Wel Motors added the AMC franchise
to the existing GMC truck franchise. Many years later, the dealership
was sold to Robert L. Hostetler, the sales manager under Welby Vitatoe.
Eventually Bob Hostetler sold the GMC franchise to Wiese Oldsmobile
and the AMC franchise to H. E. McGonigals, the Buick and Cadillac
dealer in Kokomo. The building at 175 East North Street still belonged to
Welby Vitatoe. Welby eventually sold the building to Ezra Beachy where
the engine shop remains today.
We believed the car was the third one produced. We picked it up from Hurst performance in Detroit. While most of the early development work done by Hurst was done with Crane cam, Goodyear tires, and Jahns pistons, we chose a different route. Our car was immediately equipped with M&H tires, Iskendarian 550 Super Lagerra (sp) cam, and Venolia pistons.
While we were building the car originally designed for SS/G, I believe,
NHRA factored the horsepower from 340 to 405, placing the car in SS/D.
The record was 11.16 when we first started campaigning the car. We
were very concerned and doubted the car would ever be competitive. For
the first trial runs on the car, we went to Indianapolis Raceway Park for an
NHRA points meet. On the fourth run on the car, it went 11.14!! We
were amazed and most jubilant.
One of the neatest things to happen was our association with Borg Warner
in Muncie. Borg Warner contacted the original owner of the Muncie
Drag Strip and inquired if any of the local racers used Borg Warner
transmissions. The strip owner, Mr. Grimes, I think, served up the
Ray-Wel Motors/Beachy Bros. car as a possibility. We took our team and
car to Borg Warner and had a great discussion about four speed
transmissions and different gear ratios. At that time, the 1968 AMC four
speed had a 2.64 first gear and a 2.10 second gear. In actual use, after
launching in first gear, shifting to second was like going to 1A instead of
second. The ratios were too close. In 1969 AMC offered a 2.23 first gear
and 1.77 second gear. That was great for the road race efforts for the
Javelins in TransAm, but still not the best for drag racing. Mr.
Armantrout, the head of engineering agreed to provide three
transmissions for our use and development. First gear was 2.64:1 and
second was 1.91:1. It was a tremendous improvement and was worth
about .2 sec in the quarter mile. One transmission stayed at the plant, one
was in the car, and the third transmission was in the truck in case we had
problems. We were not to repair the transmission, just return it to the
plant if we had any issues at all. We would take out the transmission, install the spare, and go to the Borg Warner factory to exchange for the inspected and refurbished unit. The gear ratios and special HD bearings
in those transmissions were the forerunner of the Borg Warner Super T-10
We also used a Detroit Locker differential for a while before spool type
gear assemblies were available. We also experimented with General
Kinetics camshafts with great success under the guidance of Wally Booth.
We also used Engle camshafts for a time.
I'll try to find some dealership and additional car photos as soon as I can.
Thanks again for maintaining the website about AMX cars and histories.
Name: Bullish American
Owner: Larry Bender
Driver: Larry Bender
Location: Windham, Ohio
Misc: 1973 Gatornationals, 1973 Indy Nationals
Name: Jerome Pratt
Owner: Jerome Pratt
Driver: Jerome Pratt
Best ET/MPH: 10.57/126.06
Location: Columbiana, Ohio
Misc: 1975 Indy Nationals
Here is an earlier ride of the Pratts:
Best ET/MPH: 10.57 @ 126.06
Location: New Waterford, Ohio
Misc: Note name on door above is "C. Souder", current owner of the car of New Waterford, PA. Also look at the front bumper between the screw holes for the license plate.
Best ET/MPH: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hurst parts have been removed from this car and sold as it is no
longer raced in this configuration.
Changed for the 2010 racing season:
Believe it or not, this is the car getting ready for the race season a number of years ago.
The VIN is currently unknown as the dash as been removed. A check of the number behind the framerail s forthcoming and will reveal which car this is in the sequence.