Travis Kvapil’s Car Found

Last night, I reported on Travis Kvapil’s car being stolen early yesterday morning.  Well, it’s been found.

The theft of the car forced Kvapil and his team to withdraw from Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The truck and trailer that were stolen, along with the car, drove out of the parking lot of the hotel about 5:30 a.m.

The car was found about 20 miles outside of Atlanta, off the road leading into a suburb. The car appears to be undamaged.  The truck and trailer are yet to be recovered.

View image on Twitter

Even though the car has been found, Kvapil still cannot race this weekend – he missed the mandatory Friday inspection, and was forced to withdrwa from the race.  Bummer.

Have You Seen Travis Kvapil’s NASCAR Stock Car Recently?

Travis Kvapil, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, was forced to withdraw from this weekend’s race after his car and hauler were stolen from his hotel near Atlanta.

A trailer with his red number 44 Chevy SS stock car was hitched to his black 2004 Ford F-350 dually.  The truck and trailer were parked outside of his hotel room in Morrow, Georgia, about 15 miles outside of Atlanta.

Surveillance camera video shows the truck and trailer being driven out of the parking lot at around 5:30 a.m, officials said.

The trailer is all white with no markings.  The thief probably didn’t realize that the racecar was inside.  They probably thought that it was lawn equipment or something else that could be easily sold.

The 2015 Chevy stock car is valued at $250,000, according to a police report.  Also inside the trailer was a spare engine valued at $100,000, as well as tools valued at about $18,000.

A spokesman for Kvapil said that the team has withdrawn from the race this weekend, due to the lack of a back up car.

If you have any information on the stolen car, please call the Morrow Police Department at (770) 961-4006.  If you see the truck and trailer on the road, both have New Jersey plates.

The F-350 is a black crew cab dually.  The trailer is a plain white bumper hitch dual-axle trailer.

View image on Twitter

Here’s a picture of Kvapil’s car:

kvapil-876.jpg

If you see the truck and trailer on the road, call 9-1-1.  They’ll tell you what to do.

If you see the stock car on the road, good luck catching up to it!  It can hit about 200 mph, and will withstand a crash far better than whatever you drive.  It’s also pretty hard to miss. Oh, and it’s really loud!  That being said, you probably won’t see it out on the road, especially back east!  Those big slicks won’t do it any favors in the snow…

Why Gearhead Shirts are Important

You can always recognize a car person by their t-shirt, sweatshirt, or polo shirt.  I won’t even go into the different kinds of car t-shirts you can find – that would be an undertaking in insanity.

Ed Iskendarian is the guy who started the whole car t-shirt craze way back in 1949.  He’s still alive today.  Almost 67 years later, the car t-shirts are a mainstay of automotive culture.  It’s automotive anthropology.  You might not realize it, but you’re an automotive anthropology student if you have a car t-shirt.

Here are the main kinds of car t-shirts you will see:

Car Show T-Shirt:  Most car t-shirts typically have two or three cars drawn on it, along with the name of the event, maybe a palm tree, diner, or gas station, and the date of the event.  The name of the event is usually in cursive on the front, with the drawing on the back.  These t-shirts tell other car people you’re a park and polish kind of person.  You’re probably not the person you’ll see ripping around an autocross – you might see them cruise the main boulevard of town once in a while on a nice day.

Retro Style T-Shirts:  This is dangerous ground.  Anything with pinstriping, vintage lettering, iron crosses, or distressed lettering could mean that you really do live the vintage lifestyle with cars – all the power to you then!  It could also mean that you just jumped onto that Von Dutch bandwagon.  Tread lightly.

Race T-Shirts:  Any race car driver worth their car will have a race shirt.  These usually aren’t t-shirts (sometimes they are), but rather bowling shirts that have the logo of the team, name of the car, and primary sponsors.  Wearing one of these means you know your stuff.  You’re either a racing insider, fanatic, or you know somebody who is.  Most big-time racers will sell t-shirts that look like their race shirts.  They will usually have other merchandise, like sweatshirts, baseball caps, beanies, etc.  Just be careful if you’re a racer wearing your own merchandise in public.  It’s like a band member wearing a band t-shirt while on stage.

Old Race Track T-Shirts:  When you wear something like an Orange County International Raceway shirt, and it’s threadbare and faded, it’s obvious you bought that shirt AT Orange County International Raceway, and would never consider buying a reproduction shirt.  Instant cred among any car nut.  It’s not nearly as much cred as the guys who got a Lions Drag Strip leather jacket when they won a race at Lions.  This also applies to old event shirts, or ancient speed parts shirts.

Wrecked:  It doesn’t matter what style of t-shirt you’re wearing (it doesn’t even need to have to be a car t-shirt), but if it’s got oil stains, holes from welding, it’s got that hands-on cred.  Wearing that shirt in public and not caring if you smell like you rubbed that shirt in coolant says you’re hard core.

What do I have?  Well, I have a couple of car show t-shirts, a race t-shirt, a lot of vintage-style t-shirts, and a couple of wrecked shirts.  I’m still looking for a race track t-shirt.  I’ll find one…eventually.

These t-shirts, or other car apparel make great gifts for other automotive enthusiasts.  Hint, hint!

What to Do When You Witness an Accident

Car accidents can be very scary.  I know – I’ve been in a nasty one myself.  My mom and sister were very nearly in one the other day, and it got me thinking about what you should do when you witness an accident.  Here’s all you need to do:

  • Pull over to a safe spot – the last thing you want to do is block traffic, unless you absolutely have to.  Pull off into a driveway, turnout, center divider, median, etc.  Put on your emergency flashers – DO NOT PUT ON YOUR BRIGHTS!!!  They will only blind other motorists, causing further crashes!
  • Take a deep breath!  Before you call 9-1-1 or do anything else, take a deep breath or two.  Having a clear head before going into anything remotely scary and stressful is a good idea.
  • Call 9-1-1.  If you’re the only person in your car, either call 9-1-1 yourself or flag down another car and have them call 9-1-1.  If you have another person with you, have them do it.  When whoever has made the call is finished, have them come back to you.  Tell them before they call, “Call 9-1-1 and report back to me!”  Be forceful, but don’t yell.  Just say it in a firm voice.
  • Set flares if you have them.  Flares are visible, and people will slow down when they see them.  Set them strategically – about 100 feet away from the accident (if there is not debris that far).  This will give people enough time to slow down and/or stop.  Setting two flares is good – unless it is at a four-way intersection.  Set one flare for each direction in that case.
  • Go to the car(s) involved.
    • If the occupants of the vehicle(s) involved are still in the car, and cannot get out, do not attempt to open the door for them.  It may be wedged shut, but more importantly, they can be seriously injured.  Look at it this way – if their door is so badly damaged that they can’t get out, don’t try to help them!  They are probably injured, and trying to help them might cause further injury and possibly death.  If they have a spinal injury, and you open the door and pull them out, they could become completely paralyzed.  If you are trained in vehicle extrication, do your thing.  If you haven’t been, try to comfort them.  Oftentimes, a window (or more) has been shattered.  Don’t put your head in – there is loose, sharp glass that is waiting to cut you.  Come into their view of sight, and tell them that help is on the way, and you will be back to check on them in a minute.  Check on them every couple of minutes.
    • If the occupants of the vehicle are out of the vehicle, try to calm them down.  They will be likely be freaked out and hysterical.  It’s scary to avoid an accident, but it is frightening to be in one.  You have to maintain your calm.  Showing signs of being upset will only make matters worse!  Tell them that emergency response is on the way, and that they need to take a deep breath.  Take charge of the situation.
      • In the case of a multiple-vehicle accident, if all of the people involved are able to get out of their cars, get them calm before anything else.  When they are calm, have them exchange insurance, take photos, etc.  Be there to help them.
  • Introduce yourself.  Don’t tell them you are a police officer, firefighter, EMT, EMR, or paramedic unless you are one!  Misrepresenting yourself is bad in any scenario, but lying through your teeth to a scared person is just dumb.  Tell them your name, and that you are here to help.  Talk to them firmly to get your point across.  Don’t be mean or scary.  Just speak to them in a tone of voice you would use when your dog isn’t listening.  Don’t yell, but make yourself heard.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, don’t be nicey-nicey either.  That won’t work.
  • If and when you have time, take some pictures.  You don’t need a lot; just enough to have for the record if it goes to court.
  • Look for anything dripping.  If there is dripping gas, get the occupants OUT OF THEIR VEHICLE!  This can cause a fire – most cars are still running.  If a fire starts, use a fire extinguisher or get people away from the area quickly!  Try to keep the fire from spreading if it starts.  It doesn’t matter if people have spinal injuries – MOVE THEM!  It’s better to be paralyzed than roasted alive.  If it is something red or green, it’s just transmission or radiator fluid.  Neither of these are good, but they won’t easily spark a fire.  Just try to keep hot things away from them.  If there is oil, not the best thing in the world.  It’s probably not going to catch fire, but it’s still a cause for worry.
  • Get somebody to direct traffic.  Flag down another motorist or have your passenger do it.  Let a few cars through at a time.  If people don’t stop, let them go.  You won’t have enough resources to stop them and yell.  Besides, it will do no good.  All it will do is get them angry and possibly start a fight.  You don’t want that.
  • In many cases, a police officer or fire truck will respond to the scene within a matter of a few minutes.  Update them on what happened, give them your name, and ask what you can do to help.  They will be pre-occupied from the moment they get the call, but they will tell you what to do.  Sometimes, you will just stick around and watch, and sometimes you might be able to direct traffic, take cervical-spine precautions on somebody, or do something else that is useful to efforts.  Don’t leave the scene unless you are told to do so.  If you have to go, tell the fire captain/police officer/EMT or paramedic that you have to go.  They will ask you for your phone number so they can ask you what happened later.
  • Above all, keep your cool!

That’s car accident witness 100.

The Most Affordable Project Cars!

If you’re a classic muscle car fan, but don’t have anywhere between $35,000 and $100,000 to spend on that perfectly restored Chevy Camaro, don’t worry!

It’s always possible to find a project car for your budget, even if it’s not a Hemi ‘Cuda, Mustang Boss 302, or a Camaro Z/28.  But, who says it has to be one of those to be the coolest person on the block?

These are my choices that have been proven to be total street/strip demons for not a lot of money (you could buy a new Camry for the price of a well-built one).

I’ve always thought that the most important part of the hot rod building process is buying. The better the car, the less work you’ll have to do.

Obviously, there are far more choices than the cars listed below, but if you’re new to hot rodding, start with one of these!  You’ll thank me later.

  • 1979-1993 Ford Mustang:  Yes, there are always a good dozen of them at the local dragstrip, autocross, or drifting event.  But, that’s why people choose them – you can build a killer “Fox” for under $10,000.  Getting a car made after 1987 is what I would go with – they have sharper styling, more powerful engines due to better airflow and more fuel flow.  They are light, dirt cheap, don’t look too terribly bad, easy to work on, and have more aftermarket support than any other car on this list.  You can buy one from $1,500 to $5,500.  If you own one and want a massive supporting community, check out foxbodyforum.com
  • 1965-1970 Chevy Impala:  Yes, a behemoth is here.  In 1965 alone, Chevy sold a whopping 1 million cars.  Only the top-of-the-line Caprice had more options than the Impala.  They look good, but they have performance to back it up:  They had the infamous 409 cubic-inch big-block V-8, as well as the 396 cubic-inch big block V-8 and thundering, coveted 427 cubic-inch L-88 big-block V-8.  In 1970, the 454 cubic-inch big block took over from the L-88.  These big bruisers also came with a host of small block V-8s.  Though they may not be a canyon carver, there is a thriving aftermarket.  Expect to pay $1,500 to $10,000 for a non-L-88 car.  A good website is impalas.net.
  • 1971-1977 Pontiac Ventura:  The less-popular version of the Chevy Nova is a good way to get into hot rodding.  That being said, get a Nova.  While it’s a badge-engineered version of the Nova, it’s less popular and harder to find parts for.  Early Camaro suspension parts are interchangeable, but other than that, not much other Chevy stuff but engines and transmissions are interchangeable.  Paying somewhere between $3,000 and $12,000 is what you should expect.  
  • 1973-1976 Chevrolet Laguna:  This land barge is one of my favorites.  There’s a guy in Sonoma County who’s trying to sell one.  It was famous way back when for it’s wins in NASCAR (it came in right when the HEMI cars went out).  You can do literally anything to a Laguna.  The big engine bay can accommodate a big block, big headers on a small block, or a stroker engine.  The stock fenders can take very wide tires, which make it a good choice for drag racing or road racing.  Expect to pay $1,500 to $6,000 for one.  A good website is g3gm.com.  
  • 1970-1974 Ford Maverick:  When the Mustang’s rampant sales numbers killed the Falcon, Ford introduced the Maverick.  It directly competed with the Chevrolet Vega, but was more fun to drive with an optional 302 cubic-inch small block V-8.  Next to the Chevy small block, the Ford 302 small block is one of the most popular engines in America, making the modifications nearly endless.  Want to make it turn?  Turn to Global West, who makes tubular control arms for the Maverick, making it handle like a true goose (sorry for the Top Gun joke – I couldn’t help it!).  Pay between $1,500 and $3,500 for one.  Go to fordmaverick.com for a community.  
  • 1971-1977 Chevrolet Vega:  Yeah, this was next on the list.  It only seems logical to put Chevy’s offering below the Ford (it doesn’t have a V-8 stock, so it’s below the Maverick).  It was a glimpse into the future with it’s all-aluminum, overhead-cam four cylinder engine.  It also came with an electrical fuel pump and standard front disc brakes.  The suspension, punchy engine, and light weight means that it can be quite the performer with a modern engine.  If I were you, I would get the 3.6-liter V-6 offered in many of GM’s cars today.  It’s plenty powerful, and coupled with a car that weighs 2,300 pounds, will make this car a rocket ship.  Pay between $1,500 and $6,000.  Go to vega-world.com for a community.  
  • 1965-1973 Plymouth Fury:  If you want a stock big block in the 1965-1973 Fury, get a 1970 Fury Sport GT.  It’s got a 440 cubic inch big block topped with six carburetors.  That being said, you can easily drop just about any engine made by Mopar into one of these without a lot of work.  Go to stockmopar.com for a community.  
  • 1967-1973 Mercury Cougar:  Essentially just a Mustang with better styling (in my humble opinion) and a 3-inch longer wheelbase, the Cougar is an excellent cruiser.  It fits in at just about any motorsports scene, and is a crowd favorite at shows.  Pay between $1,000 and $6,000 for one.  Visit mercurycougar.net for a good website.  
  • 1968-1970 AMC AMX:  AMC’s much less popular competitor to the Camaro and Mustang never really caught on, which is a shame.  Yes, it sat two, so it really competed with the Corvette and lighter European sports cars.  They can be somewhat hard to find, due to their low production numbers.  They are more of a collector car, as their owners take pride in them.  Pay between $3,000 and $15,000 for one.  Get a more expensive one – it will be in better condition.  Go to theamcforum.com
  • 1972-1974 Dodge Challenger:  The reason I chose the 1972-1974 version is that the 1970-1971 models are more coveted and expensive.  Swapping a modern 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 under the hood is a popular, economical choice.  If you want to go over the top, shove a Viper V-10 under the hood.  Most buyers choose to restore them rather than radically modify them, so you likely won’t need to spend a lot of money on paint, trim and interior parts.  Pay $2,000 to $15,000 for one.  A good website is cuda-challenger.com
  • 1971-1972 Dodge Demon:  This car was very nearly called the Beaver.  It came as a fastback only, so you could tell it apart from the other drab cars of the era.  While it never would beat a HEMI Charger, it could hold it’s own against a big block Camaro.  The V-8s available are popular with racers today, as they can easily rev to 8,000+ RPM with very little modifications.  They are the Mopar version of the Fox-Body Mustang on this list.  Pay between $1,500 and $5,000 for one.  A good resource is valiant.org
  • 1963-1965 Mercury Marauder:  This car is the Mercury version of the Ford Galaxie.  It’s an entry-level version of the Monterey, and it only came with V-8s – the same engines as the Galaxie.  It came with a fastback roof like the Galaxie, as it helped this big bruiser win in NASCAR.  Pay between $4,000 and $15,000 for one.  A good resource is mercurymarauder.org
  • 1960-1970 Ford Galaxie:  The first-year Galaxie had all of the bling of the 1950s.  It’s a pretty car, but in 1960, it didn’t quite cut.  So, Ford redesigned it.  Halfway through 1963, Ford decided to improve it’s aerodynamics to get the upper hand in NASCAR.  This new slope-back style was called the Sports Roof or Scatback hardtop.  Ford also introduced the mighty 427 cubic-inch V-8 that is legendary in drag racing.  In 1968, Ford replaced the 427 with the 428 Cobra Jet designed for drag racing.  It also got better styling.  In terms of suspension, there isn’t much.  However, you don’t need much to go fast – a 427 Roush crate motor, drag shocks, big drag slicks, and a 9-inch rear end are all it needs for speed.  It’s not meant to be a canyon carver.   Pay between $800 and $9,000 for one.  Go to galaxieforum.com for a community.  
  • 1975-1980 Chevy Monza:  A derivative of the Vega, which was produced two years into the Monza’s production span, the Monza replaced the aging, terrible Vega.  Unlike the Vega, the Monza came with a standard V-8.  This makes it very easy to find speed parts for one.  They even have some race breeding in them, as they competed in the IMSA GT series.  You’ll also see many at the drag strip or in standing mile events, as they are fairly aerodynamic.  Pay $1,000 to $3,000 for one.  Go to v8monza.com for a community.
  • 1967-1976 Plymouth Valiant:  The first generation of the Valiant had a look right out of the 1950s.  1967 gave it a redesign that made it look relevant to the 1960s.  Finding a pre-1973 model is the best, as they don’t have the federally-mandated rubber bumpers.  Plus, they are lighter.  In 1974, it was essentially just a rebadged Dart.  This is good because there are twice the parts available.  One of the most common Valiant models you will see is the Valiant Scamp – it accounted for more than half of Plymouth’s sales that year.  Pay between $1,000 and $8,000 for one.  Again, valiant.org is a good resource.  
  • 1973-1976 Chevrolet Nova:  The Nova is a very popular choice with hot rodders because it is cheap, light, and shares parts with the first-generation Camaro.  Many Novas came with a small block Chevy V-8 stock, but they can easily accept big block Chevy V-8s.  In 1973, the government made every automaker put horrible rubber bumpers on their cars.  However, Chevy put an aluminum cover on the bumpers to minimize the horrible look of rubber.  So, the damage is relatively minimal.  The Nova is one of the most popular cars in the autocross and drag racing circuit, as they are cheap, easy to modify, and are light.  Pay $1,500 to $4,500 for one.  A good resource is chevynova.org
  • 1979-1986 Mercury Capri:  The Mercury version of the Ford Fox-Body Mustang is a love-it or hate-it affair for enthusiasts.  Mercury made multiple versions of the Capri, but they are all cheaper than the Mustang, and share the same parts.  Pay anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000 for one.  A good website is foureyepride.com
  • 1963-1969 Mercury Comet:  The first year of the Comet came with a weak 260 cubic-inch V-8.  In 1964, Mercury saw that people wanted better looks and more power.  The Comet was light, and Mercury made 50 cars that did well in the NHRA Super Stock drag racing class.  The next batch of Comets were true comets, with the powerful Ford small block and big block engines.  The sister cars to the Comet open up an aftermarket for it.  Pay $2,000 to $7,500 for one.  Go to cometcentral.com for a community.  
  • 1982-1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme:  This is the Oldsmobile version of the legendary Buick Grand National.  GM sold a lot of these cars, so finding one is easy…and affordable.  You can buy one for $500 to $3,500.  They might not be the best choices for canyon carving, but they are a cheap way into bracket class drag racing.  Go to oldsmobileforum.com for a community.  
  • 1964-1974 Plymouth Satellite:  This was the luxury mid-size Plymouth.  It was the only version of the Plymouth Belvedere to come with a V-8.  You could even get the 426 HEMI in it!  They can get pricey, but are fun cars to cruise around in.  Pay about $2,000 to $13,000 for one.  Go to bbodiesonly.com for a community.

This post took a lot of research, and I hope that you enjoy it.  Don’t take the Internet verbatim.  Even what you think is common knowledge should be double-checked.  I recommend getting books on muscle cars.  One of the best out there is the Encyclopedia of American Cars:  A comprehensive history of the automakers and the cars they built, including every major American automobile and scores of minor makes.  It’s a good read, and an even better research.  0912phr 45 O+20 Affordable Project Cars+american Cars Book