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Out of Sight Camaro: West Coast Wonder

Out of Site Camaro driven by Joe Garcia.

Steve and Joe Garcia towed their Out of Site Camaro all the way from California to run a funny car show at Detroit Dragway.

The Out of Sight Camaro funny car is another example of the variety of machines which appeared at Detroit Dragway. Joe and Steve Garcia went on tour with the California Camaro in the summer of ’68, and made at least one stop at “the big track in Detroit.”

To be clear, the Camaro above was campaigned by Joe and Steve Garcia — NOT Ron O’Donnell. There is a lot of confusion about the Garcia’s west coast Camaro, which shared a similar name as O’Donnell’s Chicago based Outa’Site Camaro. Note the slight spelling difference.

I have seen numerous photos of the Out of Sight car labeled as the Ron O’Donnell Camaro. Increasing the confusion is the fact that O’Donnell toured with the Outa’Site car, including trips to the left coast. The Garcia’s also went on tour, traveling at least as far east as Detroit, as the photo above illustrates. Similar cars, similar names. It is understandable that the cars would become misidentified.

O’Donnell was a professional driver and drove a host of mid-west cars including Don Schumacher’s Stardust, Stone Woods and Cook, Chris Karamesines’ Barracuda, several Damn Yankee cars and the Fighting Irish Camaro. In addition, he campaigned his own cars, including the Big Noise from Illinois and of course the Outa’Site and the Outa’Site II.

Meanwhile, out west, the Garcia’s commissioned Noel Black to build a car they named Out Of Sight.   Black is best known for his Bonneville land speed attempts and he incorporated technology from the salt flats into the Camaro. Notice how the bug catcher barely protrudes above the hood in the photo above. Most funny cars of the era carried their engines high in the chassis, in an attempt to increase weight transfer.

I’m guessing that one of Black’s LSR techniques included placing the engine low in the chassis. The Out of Sight’s elapsed times were solid, but not record breaking. Top end speed, however were literally “out of sight.” Joe Garcia posted speeds in excess of 200mph, an impressive accomplishment  for a full-bodied car in 1968.

The car was an early wacky racer, powered by 331″ Chrysler Hemi. I assume that long front clip was fiberglass. As for the rest of the body, I’m guessing the doors and deck lid were ‘glass, while the body shell was genuine GM steel. As I said, that is only a guess, based on how similar cars were built back in the day.

By 1968, the days of the match-bash style funny cars were fading, as the flip-top fuel coupes began to dominate the funny car world. There were still a few old school machines swimming against the tide, however, of which Garcia’s Camaro was one.

Trying to document drag racing in the 1960s can be difficult. A lot of people, cars and material have been lost, and digging up the truth about a particular machine or driver can be difficult, if not almost impossible.

Unearthing the strange story of the Out of Sight Camaro is even trickier, thanks to O’Donnell and the Chapman Automotive Outa’Site.

The Garcia’s high mph car is a survivor, however. At least it was around in the last decade or so. I remember seeing shots of the Out of Sight being restored in 2004.

In 2009, Phil Burgess mentioned the Out of Sight Camaro in his Friday Fan Feedback column in National Dragster. Don Francis owned the car and was in the process of refurbishing it.

Whether the restoration was ever completed I can’t say. Hopefully, the Out of Sight will be seen cackling away at the drag strips where it once set  speed records.

Just remember, this car was driven by Steve Garcia, not Ron O’Donnell!

 

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One Comment

  1. Roger Compton
    Posted February 6, 2017 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    The article is mostly accurate as I recall. Steve has been gone for about 30 years as best I can remember. A friend, Steve Baye and I crewed for him at Bakersfield Fuel & Gas Championships in ’68 or ’69. He was based in SoCal, while Joe had a shop I believe in Sacremento. Good times.

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