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ARMSTRONG: It was just a Chevy II I had. I put a 396 (BBC) engine in it and ran just NHRA - in the B hot rod class, down at Lyons. I worked at a Chevy dealership when the 396 motor came out but you couldn't get them, except if you bought a car. So I ordered a new Super Sport with a 396 and as soon as it came in, I drove it one weekend, took the motor out of it and put it into the Chevy II. I ran that car for about a year but then Funny Cars came along. I remember I was down iat Lions the night they had that first East vs. West cavalcade and Mr. Norm's car was there. Man, I seen that thing run 8.60 without blowing up and I thought, man, I gotta have me one of those. So I went home, I started tearing that Chevy II all apart and built a frame for it.

DRO: Is that when you cut the top off of it?

ARMSTRONG: No, I started running with the top on it. It had a Logghe type chassis - not a Logghe Chassis but it was styled just like that - tube frame, had a small block Chevy in it on 20-percent with a Torque Master in it, or a Torqueflite in it. Ray Alley used to build my transmission and uh ... I was gonna say the reason it became topless, was because one night at Lions, I went to make a run and put it in low gear. The car didn't want to move. It was just sorta locked up so I put it in second gear and it would go, so I just made a second and high gear run. After I got turned around down at the other end, I thought I wonder what is wrong with this thing, so I put it back in low and I revved it a little bit and it seemed like it was just like in two gears in once, sort of. Then I gave it more throttle and all of a sudden all hell broke loose and the transmission exploded.

Those were the days before trans blankets, and it just exploded into thousands of pieces. I mean it didn't tear the roof off, but it put such big holes in the roof that we decided just to cut the roof off and run it as a roadster after that. When you pulled the sprag over, the drum inside will actually turn four times engine speed, so when I was trying to make it go, it was just taking this drum and revving it up until finally it just exploded.

I thought I'd cut my leg off, because something hit my leg real hard and I had on one of those old silver Ansen fire suits. I lifted my leg up and it was just running red. It was just transmission fluid, but the first thought you think was Wow. I wiggled it and it still worked. When C.J. Hart came down and he saw that, he said, "Go get your trailer and get it (the Chevy ll) on the trailer and get it right out of here. Don't let any pictures be taken or nothing."

He was upset because the week before that Tweets Automobile Dodge had done exactly the same thing, but did it right on the starting line, threw pieces into the crowd and hurt some people. (Later) they came out with trans blankets.

By the way, that wasn't Ray's transmission; this was before. Ray started building my transmission after that.

DRO: What makes you laugh? You seem very focused on your job and sometimes you look glum.


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