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.