CASPER, Wyo – The weather has cooperated just long enough for car enthusiasts and budding young collectors to mingle and check specs on classic, custom and resto-mod models at the 21st Annual Weekend Car Show. Oil Capitol Auto Club Memorial Day at Bar Nunn.
“There are only three rules in a car show,” Mike Kinney told Oil City News. “No politics, no drama and no BS.”
Kinney, a Las Vegas-based NASCAR announcer and host of the YouTube show “Cars, Stars and Roll Bars,” is in Wyoming for the first time after meeting John Huff and other Auto Club members at living rooms in Vegas. Kinney said he would feature both Huff and the Club on episodes of his show.
Kinney brought his red 1970 Red Plymouth Superbird with a 426cc twin four-barrel HEMI engine. The rear wing works like an inverted airplane wing, sucking the car to the ground with 11,000 pounds of downforce when the car is revving at full throttle.
“When they started racing in NASCAR, nobody could keep up with them.” Kinney said the Superbird and Dodge Daytona were so successful in racing that they were banned by NASCAR at the end of the 1970 season.
Because the Daytona had saturated the winged car market and the Chrysler Roadrunner was cheaper, the Superbird was only produced for one year, and some are now worth between $1 and $1.5 million.
Auto shows are great for the community because they bring together passionate collectors, including younger generations, Kinney said.
“It’s one of the few things where a 17-year-old and a 70-year-old can communicate in a language they both understand and respect,” Kinney said.
Kinney himself said he was impressed with the 1957 pink Thunderbird.
“It’s been my dream car since I was four years old,” said Thunderbird owner Aubree Jones. His father was president of an automobile club at the time and attended shows with his parents. She was determined to make up her own mind about what her dream car would be, and she found it when she took a spin in a Thunderbird. Only in pink.
The show was also the occasion for the presentation ceremony of the restored 1942 Chevrolet USAAF 1.5-ton Class 500 fire truck to the Wyoming State Veterans Commission.
The truck was in service at Casper Army Air Force Base, built in 1942 on the site of the present Casper-Natrona County International Airport. After the base was decommissioned at the end of World War II, the truck was sold to the town of Kaycee for its fire department. The truck was eventually sold to a private owner and languished for decades until it was purchased in 2013 by the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum and placed in storage at the Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery.
In 2019, the nonprofit arm of the museum began working with members of the Oil Capitol Auto Club to begin restoration at an airport store.
“There are only about 40, and the website says there’s still one left in the Midwest,” said Mark Millikan, board member of the Friends of the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum. “I have a hunch this is the one they’re talking about.”
The restoration included new engine gaskets, brakes, wiring and stripping of the master cylinders, wheel cylinders and gearbox. The cab and combustion chamber were removed, sandblasted and repainted in the original army drab olive green. The running boards and rear fenders were installed last year.
The truck will appear on the auto show circuit this summer. Milliken said discussions are ongoing with the state veterans commission about possibly exposing him at Casper Airport.