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69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion
Trans-am Race Camaro
69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro 69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro
69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro 69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro

The Medallion certification is only bestowed by the SVRA governing body on cars which pass a rigorous documentation process proving their racing heritage. Our original Tuxedo Black 1969 Z-28 JL-8 equipped Camaro was privateer built and raced in many SCCA, IMSA and ACALAM events, mainly in South and Central Florida Regions, including events at the historic Sebring Raceway and Daytona, competing from 1969-1972 with the car’s original owner Ignacio Gonzalez. Retired until 1976, revived to race once more in a different configuration, then retired again in 1979 from regular SCCA/IMSA competition. A complete restoration in the 1990’s restored the car to its original race-ready configuration, appearing in many National SVRA and HSR historic/vintage racing events to the present day. Our sincere thanks once again to Sam White of Sam White Motorsports of Clarkesville GA, for his knowledge and invaluable assistance locating, verifying and enabling our sight unseen long distance purchase to conclude without a glitch or any nasty surprises.

69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro 69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro
Arrival by commercial carrier
69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro
69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro
We're not sure how Kelley manages to always be behind the wheel.

350 engine with approx 500 hp, Richmond/TexRacing super T-10 transmission, 7 1/4" triple disc clutch, Ford 9 inch rear with Detroit Locker. Original GM JL-8 disc brake equipment retro-fitted to the Ford rear, with GM Service Package (J-56) front discs. Accusump positive pressure oiling system, Fan forced driver air system, American Racing Torque Thrust D wheels with Goodyear BlueStreak vintage race tires.

69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro 69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro
On display in our new expanded showroom

Our friends know first and foremost we care about our customers. Secondly, we are GM Musclecar enthusiasts and we just love the Camaro. Part of our jobs then, as now, still consists of finding Camaros. Back in the day, we found parts cars. Now, we find cars for restoration and for satisfying our collecting habits! However, finding that particularly rare car is only about 25% of what makes us happy. The other 75% of our happiness is caught up in the history behind the car specifically the people and places attached to it. The #78 Glades Restaurant/Tony's Back Door Lounge SCCA/IMSA racing Camaro is no exception to this rule. Through a series of events we discovered a truly fascinating story behind the car and its racing history. Read on for this great story! In the late summer of 1969, Ignacio Gonzalez walked into Dumas-Miller Chevrolet of Miami, Florida in search of a car to race in his local SCCA and ACALAM regions. The car he was in search of was the 1969 Camaro Z/28. Dumas-Miller happened to have just what he needed in stock with a little added bonus.






The car was Tuxedo Black with white stripes, standard black interior and equipped with the extremely rare JL-8 4 wheel disc brake package. "Iggy" promptly bought the car, installed a light roll cage and began tearing up the local track at Hollywood Speedway. Iggy raced the car in club racing there from 1969 to 1972 with much success! In 1972, the car was parked where it sat waiting for its next challenge. Then, in late 1975 the racing blood in Iggy's veins began to boil once more just like any of us who have ever sat in the business seat of a race car for any extended period of time. Iggy and his close friend Eugenio Matienzo decided it was time to go for the big time. The SCCA Trans-am series and the IMSA series were both extremely popular at that point in time. The car was built as a full-bore, full cage car to compete in the SCCA "A" sedan and IMSA GT classes. The cage was built by E.J. Trivette. Iggy and Eugenio finished the rest of the car just in time for the 1976 season. Iggy kept the #78 and gave it the distinctive magenta (not pink!) and white color scheme pictured here. Notice the car has no sponsors.

69 Z/28 SVRA Group 6 Medallion  Trans-am Race Camaro

In 1976 with Iggy, Luis Sereix and Gus Robayna at the wheel, the car had a DNF at the 24-hours of Daytona due to terminal mechanical problems. At the 12-hours of Sebring, the car finished 19th out of 78 starters. The car enjoyed much success in SCCA club racing and held the "A" sedan lap record at MOROSO Motorsports Park in the same year. At that point, no one associated with the car realized the history they were about to witness! 1977 was the year of Star Wars, that weird toy called Slime (which destroyed your mom's shag carpeting), Menachem Begin became the 7th Prime Minister of Israel and it was the 25th running of the 12-hours of Sebring. It is also the year #78 and its drivers (who doubled as mechanics) defied the odds during the 12-hours of Sebring to claim their little piece of history. Iggy and Eugenio decided to keep the car ready to go for the 1977 season. However, trying to run with the big dogs costs big bucks. Eugenio built a fresh, hot (but legal!) 350 small block to put in the car and assumed driving duties. Eugenio told us at that time he worked cheap but not for free! Gus and Luis would not be back driving for the new season. It was time to get a sponsor and at least one more driver for the race as 4 drivers were allowed per team. Iggy put out the word around the South Florida Region that he was looking for drivers. Enter Tom Nowling and Phil Francis of Clewiston, Florida. Tom was an industrial arts school teacher (seems fitting) and Phil was a city councilman. Tom and Phil usually drove H & G Production classes in Austin Healys and MG Midgets (We won't hold that against them!). As it turned out, Tom and Phil bought "a ride" for one race from Iggy. But, that still did not take care of the sponsor issue. So, Tom and Phil began to hit up local businesses in Clewiston for sponsorship opportunities. Not too many folks in Clewiston were willing to put up the necessary funds for a race team. But, Tony Toulis was a kind man whom everyone was very fond of in Clewiston. "The Greek" as they called him put up some of the necessary funds for the team to compete in the one race. Tony and his wife Sassy owned Glades Restaurant (The Glades as the locals called it) and the lounge in the back of The Glades known as Tony's Back Door.

Sassy told us recently that she had no idea that Tony had gone and sponsored something silly like a race team! Isn't that like most wives out there? We husbands are sneaky with our "mad money"! March 19, 1977 dawned clear and dry over Sebring, Florida. Perfect weather for racing! The smell of high-octane race fuel wafted through the pits at the Sebring International Raceway.

The Glades Restaurant/Tony's Back Door Lounge team was praying it would stay that way. They only had two sets of racing rims and the rain tires were not on one set! Due to a rule change in the number of drivers, Iggy would have to sit this one out. Eugenio, Tom and Phil would swap out driving duties over the next 12-hours starting from the 43rd spot on the starting grid. Eugenio and Tom both told us recently that they had paid money into the team out of their own pockets and they were not about to miss one of the crown jewels in the IMSA GT series due to a rule change! As evidenced in some of the pictures on loan to us by Tom and Eugenio, it seems that Tom and Phil were in the car for the daylight hours while Eugenio drove the night shift. If you look closely you can see Tom and Phil's gold metal flake helmets shining brightly in the sunlight!

The drivers who were not driving doubled as mechanics along with Iggy. Things went pretty good during the race except for a broken rear sway bar. Note the heavy body roll in the corner as Tom is in front of the #30 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR (The eventual winner of the race).

Then on lap 125, they got even better! The #15 Corvette driven by Jack Baldwin (Atlanta, Georgia), Javier Garcia (Miami, Florida) and George Garcia (Miramar, Florida) was pitting directly behind the #78 team. On lap 125, the Corvette crashed hard into the pit wall putting it out of the race and the crew twiddling their thumbs. The #78 team was sharing the #15 team's fuel rig from the beginning of the race. It was either that or use fuel jugs. Not a good idea for timely pit stops. The #78 was running really well and after all it is a Chevy too… The big buck #15 team decided to help out. So, Tom brought the #78 down pit road for service and fuel unbeknownst to him the #15 crew was going to help out a bit more than sharing the fuel rig. Usually, this type of service required jack stands and the driver could catch a break.

Tom told us this just was not the case. He brought the #78 down pit road and then everything went crazy! He said people were running everywhere and before he knew it the car was up in the air with fresh brake pads in the calipers. The #15 team put 22 gallons of fuel in the car in a few seconds and sent #78 on its way.

The race went flawlessly from that point on. The 350 Eugenio built for the car never failed to start. Before the race Eugenio told Tom and Phil to keep the engine RPMs at 7000 and no more! Tom told us both he and Phil reset the tach when they came into the pits so Eugenio and Iggy would not know how hard they had turned the little small block. We recently told Eugenio of the tach resets and he said the next time he saw Tom and Phil he was going to do them bodily harm! The drivers have not seen each other in over 25 years. When the dust had cleared and the checkered flag dropped the unthinkable had happened. The Glades Restaurant/ Tony's Back Door Lounge team had finished 11th over all. Most racers would not be happy with 11th. However, our team was ecstatic with that finish. The only make of car which beat the #78 Camaro was a Porsche. ALL of the top 10 finishing spots were Porsches. That means out of all that big buck hardware out on the track from all over the world the lowly, 8 year-old Camaro had beaten everyone else. They had beaten the Ferraris, the Mustangs, and even a few of the mighty Porsches. In essence, they were the FIRST American-made car across the finish line out of 72 cars which started the race! That was quite the accomplishment for a team which did not have the money buy all the big buck racing goodies. After the race, the team ended up back at The Glades for a celebration. As evidenced by the picture it looks like the team really celebrated.

Iggy is the big, husky guy. Phil is in the purple shirt wearing the glasses. The little boy in the middle is Iggy’s son. Eugenio is the tall, fresh-faced “kid”. Tom is in the mustache with the long hair.

Tony "The Greek" is seen leaning against the car on the trailer in front of The Glades with his leisure suit and scarf. Good old #78 was driven in club racing through 1979 with limited success because technology was evolving and the car was 10 years old by then. Iggy retired #78 from competition for good at the end of the 1979 season. Tom and Eugienio were both sure that the car had been sold to someone in Miami and later scrapped. In early 1991, the car was acquired by Jack Bostrom of Sebring. Then, it was immediately sold to Robert McElheny of Abraham Chevrolet of Tampa, Florida.

The car was in sad shape and Robert restored the car to compete in vintage racing events. In May of 1993, the car received its Group 6 HSR medallion for historic competition certifying it was a car with exceptional racing heritage.

After a few years of hard racing, the car was brokered to Team MGD racing in Wellington, Ohio through Sam White of Sam White Motorsports in Georgia. Sam is famous for finding and restoring several original Trans-Am racecars. Incidentally, Sam's brother lives in Clewiston and both he and his brother have eaten at The Glades. Team MGD racing turned the car into the all-out, modern competition racecar now on display in our Showroom. The car was raced up until the acquisition by Rick for the Classic Headquarters Collection in June of 2004.

What is in the future for #78? In 2007, it will be 30 years since the team represented the USA at Sebring. Rick thought it would be a good idea to get all of the team members and their family members together for some fun at the 12-hours of Sebring in March of 2007. Sadly, two of the pivotal parts of the team have passed away. Tony has since passed and without his sponsorship the team would probably never been formed for 1977. Iggy has also passed and if he had never walked into that dealership #78 would have never been built. We have spoken with Tom, Eugenio and Sassy on many occasions about their experiences or just to chat about the past. We have not been able to speak with Phil Francis about his recollections. So, if anyone knows Phil…have him contact us! We would really enjoy talking to him!

Rick would like to thank the following for their contributions: Sam White for helping us find the car and making the transaction painless. Tom Nowling, Eugenio Matienzo, and Sassy Toulis and their families for lending us priceless pictures, memorabilia, driver's equipment and great stories. Don Shivers for alerting the entire town of Clewiston to the fact we had found "their" racecar.

Tom Nowling

Sebring 1996

Phil Francis