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Chevy Also Funny Car Match Racer

Chevy Also Funny Car at Detroit Autorama

The Chevy Also match racer of Ron and Dan Elkins in better times. Tom Bonner photo (Instamatic 126)

This was a difficult post to write, because I didn’t want to sensationalize a tragedy, yet I wanted to recognize a neglected car and driver.

Today, sanctioning bodies and track officials are fairly transparent when a fatal accident occurs at the race track. No one likes to see a racing calamity, but the leaders of the sport realize that mishaps do happen and they are open and above-board about it.

In 1967, it was different. Racing, particularly drag racing, had the image of an outlaw activity. Because of this, serious accidents were usually swept under the rug. No one talked about a wreck that ended someone’s life. Everyone acted as if the crash never happened. Which may explain why the Chevy Also funny car has been largely forgotten.

Ron and Dan Elkins campaigned their Chevy Also A/FX match racer throughout the 1966 racing season. The brothers took turns driving and did most of the work on the car.

The Elkins brought their match-batch Chevy to Cobo Hall to appear in the booth of their sponsor, Midwest Automotive, for ’67 Autorama

A play on the Chevy II nameplate, Chevy Also was given the old skool funny car treatment, with a lengthened front-end, altered wheelbase and an injected Chevy big block in the engine compartment.

I remember thinking the car didn’t look very competitive when compared to the flip-top entries like the Hemi-Hunter Camaro and Competition + Mustang. The car looked decidedly home-built. Don’t get me wrong, I love garage and barn built race cars because they display distinctive personality, unlike racers from major shops, which often look-alike.. But the steel body of the injected Chevy Also seemed to place it out the league of the fiberglass cars, or even the blown steel cars like Dick Jesse’s Pontiac.

Apparently the Elkins brothers came to the same conclusion. A short time after Autorama, the brothers slapped a GMC 6-71 supercharger on the big-block Chevy in an attempt to remain competitive against the onslaught of flip-top fiberglass machines.

The blower allowed the brothers to run with the big dogs, at least for s short while. Reportedly, the car hit 9.57 at 150mph on nitro.

Tragically, that extra power was more than the little Chevy II could handle. In August of 1967, while racing in Ulby, Michigan, Chevy Also got seriously crossed up and spun sideways at high-speed. The car rolled several times.

According to the website Dragstrip Deaths, Danny Elkins, who was driving that day, died in the crash.

Thus ended the colorful Chevy Also funny car. In 1967, funny cars were still evolving, and full-bodied cars were entering an unexplored area of high-speed aerodynamics. The physics of keeping light-weight cars on the ground and stable at speeds over 150mph was a little understood science.

My photo of the Chevy Also isn’t very good. It is dark with banners and advertisements cluttering the car. Still, it is a reminder of a different era, when it was possible to build a competitive funny car in your backyard. I think it is time the Danny Elkins and the Chevy Also received a little recognition.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Michael L. Niemi
    Posted September 25, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    Thank You So Much. I have searched the net for a long time for news and photos of this car and driver as all mine were lost. I lived next door to Ron and Dana’s brother Warren Wayne “Butch” Elkins. I was just a kid hanging out in Butch’s garage for years when this and several other cars were built including “Super Vette” the ’62 C/MSP Corvette owned by Bob Budman. I remember the metallic Root Beer brown color, The Crower injection with the Jets halfway up the stacks. We had been at Motor City in Mt Clemens that night in August. Bonnie was sitting on the front porch crying when we got home. Dana had been in a match race up at Ubley. I remember Butch saying “We buried him at Roseland Park facing Woodward so he could watch the races”.

  2. Tom Bonner
    Posted September 25, 2011 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Michael, Thanks for your input. Comments like yours help keep memories of the old cars and drivers alive. Regards, Tom

  3. Julie Bokmiller
    Posted October 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad this article found it’s way to me. It’s wonderful after all these years to see my brothers get some recognition for all the loving work they put into Chevy Also (and all of their race cars prior to the funny car). I was such a proud kid sister when they’d start that puppy up in the yard and the neighborhood would gather to watch. That August night is seared into my memory, especially how most of the state was shrouded in fog. It was thought to have created a moist road film on the track and possibly contributed to the loss of control. We’ll never know. But Dan died doing what he loved and that was what we took solace in. I will pass this on to my brothers. Thank you so much for making me proud again!

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