Kopec-in-Drag (drag racing, Kopec style)
Kopec Makes Drag Racing Debut
(Englishtown, New Jersey USA—3 May, 2001)
(in reverse chronological order… newest barrages at bottom)
Press Release of 3 May (2001), as issued by SAAC’s Rick Kopec (Kopec in blue text, Pardee in black):
In one of the shortest drag racing careers on record, Rick Kopec of Sharon, Connecticut appeared at Englishtown’s Raceway Park with his ’65 GT350 R-Model today, and after putting on a set of super-sticky Hoosier (daddy?) drag slicks he cranked the infamous Essex Wire GT350-R through the gears, turning a 13.3 sec. quartermile at 106 mph. On his second run, minutes later, he lowered that time to 13.1 sec @ 107.
According to 1965 Shelby Registrar Howard Pardee, who was on hand to observe the quarter mile action (and to take advantage of the free lunch afforded the participants) this is the first time a GT350 R-Model has ever been drag raced. That fact was backed up by Shelby American’s GT350 Project Engineer Chuck Cantwell , who said “We never had time to test one on the strip back when we were building them, and I don’t know anybody stupid enough to try it today.”
On his second run, Kopec experienced a slight clutch slippage and on the third run it got worse, slipping halfway down the strip, so the car was driven back to the paddock, loaded onto the trailer and taken home. The clutch disc problem was attributed to the exceptional grip of the drag slicks. A 12 second run was definitely within reach.
Kopec said that no attempt will be made to lower his record. “Drag racing is the automotive equivalent of self abuse using sand paper, battery acid and a cattle prod while sitting on a roll of razor wire. I won’t be doing that again, thank you.”
Congratulations, Rick. I think. Sigh.
You can email Rick your kudos and condolences at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Howard promptly provided us with convincing (and heart-wrenching) evidence that he paid for his lunch… a budget-variety digital image of his empty money belt.
Outgoing reply of 4 May, as issued by Kopec:
Countering an earlier Howard Pardee broadside, which included this volley: “It should be noted that since Gregson currently owns the record of having the only R-Model that is a drag race winner, Kopec might have to come out of his quickly announced retirement because he was under the false impression that he was retiring a winner.”
Regarding the above–I hereby demand that you issue an immediate correction regarding your snide comment “…he was under the false impression that he was retiring a winner.”
5R098 was the fastest R-Model at Englishtown yesterday. It obviously won the R-Model class. I find it difficult to believe that a fellow R-Model owner would purposely overlook that obvious fact in order to take a cheap shot at someone who, at least participated. Where was HIS R-Model? Tucked away safely in his garage back home.
The people in the cheap seats always boo the loudest.
Outgoing counter-counter-missive of 4 May, as hurled by Pardee:
Subject: IMMEDIATE CORRECTION
5R098 was the slowest R-Model at Englishtown yesterday. It obviously finished last in the R-Model class. 5R098 did win the participation trophy even though there were tears shed when the driver announced that the car had a slipping clutch. Ace engine builder, fellow drag race participant and clutch installation specialist Curt Vogt observed, “Kopec thought he was going to blow the doors off everyone here and when my ’68-1/2 Cobra Jet Mustang and a 427 Cobra replica blew him into the weeds, he took his ‘ball’ and went home with the lame retort that his clutch was slipping. My crack crewmembers decended on the R-Model like a plague of locusts and couldn’t find a thing wrong with the clutch. I built that clutch and will stand behind it. When he blew the Tilton clutch while road racing at Watkins Glen I wondered if he was deliberately slipping it to have an excuse for his poor driving. I think we all now know the answer.”
5R095 WAS tucked away safely in my garage. Kopec emailed me about a month ago and requested that I NOT bring my car, saying that the distance from Waterford to Englishtown is excessive and probably the weather wouldn’t be good. Dan “The Man” Reiter filled the 12-car field before I realized what Kopec was up to. I begged Dan to let me bring 095 but the field was full and he didn’t want reserves. He also told me that Kopec wouldn’t bring his car if I brought mine. Thinking that showing Kopec up would probably hurt sales of the forthcoming Lane Collectible Essex Wire R-Model, I relented to the pressure from Eric Trapp from Lane.
The people in the cheap seats probably know “The Game” better than their more well-behaved brethren in the boxes.
from: Rick Kopec, 6 May
Subject: Exhibit A: photos of the event
Here are some fully homologated photos of ‘Darwin Award’ Kopec’s 17G takeoff at Englishtown, generously submitted by Kopec himself for your scrutiny and perusal. As the deep thinkers in Sharon are inclined to proclaim, “A pitcher is worth a thousand beers.” So here’s the compelling evidence:
Um, since these are sanctioned photos, I’m pretty much convinced.
But, um, y’know, that road rubber residue sure is, shucks, shuffle my feet, mumble mumble… curious.
update from: Rick Kopec, 31 May
SPY PHOTO (see below) MADE PUBLIC
MAJOR MOTORCAR MAGAZINE CANCELS PLANS TO
SHOW WHEEL-STANDING GT350 ON COVER
(May 30, 2001) A spy photo taken surreptitiously during the Mustang Illustrated magazine’s recent “Drag Race Shootout” at Englishtown New Jersey’s Raceway Park on May 3rd was recently made public, against the wishes of the event promoter, track personnel, the magazine’s editor and the car’s owner. It shows a GT350 R-Model lifting the front wheels as it started a quarter-mile run.
During the timed runs all photographers were purposely corralled behind the starting line and positioned in such a way as to be able to photograph the cars only from the rear. Rumor has it that only one photographer was allowed ahead of the line and the purpose was to allow him to take photos of the various cars as they left the line, with the intent of capturing their various launch attitudes. These exclusive photos were to be used in a cover story in the magazine. When the R-Model lifted its front wheels it was captured on film and plans were immediately made to feature the shot on the cover. There was also talk of a full line of promotional items of the exclusive image, including a poster, t-shirt, hat, button and beach towel. Shelby, himself, was rumored to be interested in using the image on the side of his proposed fleet 44-foot tractor trailers he was planning to use to deliver Shelby Series 1 and Cobra CSX4000 models to dealers.
However, it appears there was a spy photographer hidden under the bleachers and using an extremely long telephoto lens, he managed to capture what was thought to be the exclusive photo. Once copies were circulated the wheel-stand photo was no longer exclusive and the contract for all promotional items was immediately voided, as was the cover article. Shelby’s interest likewise evaporated. Needless to say, magazine executives were outraged that security had been breached but refused to comment on the record.
They retained the services of a team of experienced private investigators who began an intensive search for the culprit. Several items found on the scene provided strong clues as to the individual’s identity. Among them were a cheap Coast Guard windbreaker, a matchbook from a sleazy strip club in New London, CT and a condom which was unused and still in its original wrapper but showed signs of having been stored in a wallet for more than 30 years.
At last report, a high six-figure bounty had been placed on the spy photographer’s head. A large mob made up of former mercenaries, rogue Mafia hitmen, CIA black bag operators, ex-Navy Seals, outlaw motorcycle gang leaders, professional wrestlers, Crips and Bloods gangbangers and swarthy middle eastern terrorists are all in the hunt. Said one of the bounty hunters, a retired British SAS (Special Air Services) commando who demanded anonymity, “This lad is toast. We’ll hunt him down and when we find him we’ll shoot him in the street like a mad dog. His life isn’t worth a flattened farthing right now.”
Stay tuned. This ain’t over just yet. Dialogue will continue here.
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