Big Things In Small Packages:
Camp Stanley Has Always Been A Wild And Crazy Guy
Courtesy Of Drag Racing Action.com, By Susan Wade & Brian Wood, Photos By Brian Wood and goDragRacing.
Captions By Tod Mack
Camp Stanley scurried around, gathering his ratty, old, airline-damaged suitcases that were duct-taped shut.
|Inside the pages of Drag Racing Action Magazine|
He got them checked in for his flight to New Zealand.
But it's a wonder they ever made it through the airport security process. When recipient David Green, the two-time Top Doorslammer champion, began emptying them in Wellington the next day, he looked like some vaudeville comedian, pulling performance parts from a bottomless trunk. The sizeable inventory of go-fast gadgets that might resemble questionable cargo included magnetos with wires dangling from the end, camshafts, fuel pumps, and injector hats.
And for this seven-day trip, all the clothes Stanley packed for himself could have fit into a glove compartment.
That's the beauty of Camp Stanley, of all five-foot-nothing of Arthur Camp Stanley III. The Doorslammer class pioneer and international expert regarding supercharged engine combinations can pull off the unexpected -- not just for himself but for a new generation of door-car drivers in the United States and abroad.
Always forced to make the best out of what little he had, Stanley learned to wring the maximum performance from marginal equipment.
|"I guess I was a frustrated hot-rodder back|
when I was 19 years old," Stanley, 62, says,
looking back on his U.S. Army service from
1962-65. While he was stationed in Germany
sporting what he called "top-secret
crypto-clearance," operating a control center
for Nike-Hercules missiles, priding himself
that he "didn't start World War III" he drove
a 1955 Ford "that we stuffed a 292 in and
ran with open headers on the street.
" He says, "Header is a poor choice of words.
It was basically stock-exhaust Ford, with
wide-block manifolds and downpipes
outside the car. It sounded great.
The German Polizei did not appreciate it."
Take, for example, his own bleak beginning. After a stint in the Army, during which he toyed with a '55 Ford, he acquired a '62 Chevy II that started life as a D-Modified production car in the late 1960s. "I put a small-block in and 4-speed," he said, "and went to the race track and promptly proceeded to blow that up. I put a big-block in it, and I raced that car with a 4-speed in it and an automatic. Then I went to a '69 Camaro in 1978."
That's when he decided to bracket race. His buddy, Nelson Grimes, had a cool Vega, and their pal, Tommy Howes, rolled out a big-block Camaro with a blower and two carburetors on it. "Nelson and I thought that was pretty cool," Stanley said. "I had a Camaro. And I built a 427 .030 over with a 6-71 [blower] and a Hilborn 4-port [fuel injection] on gasoline back in 1978 and decided, 'Let's go bracket racing.' I did not have the faintest idea what I was doing."
With some telephone tutoring from Don Hampton, of Hampton Blower fame, Stanley pointed his seat-of-the-pants R&D program in the right direction.
|Learning The Ropes Blown Style In IHRA Super Rod|
"He was the only guy who would talk to me to say, 'Look, you dummy, here's what you might want to think about doing.' Everybody else just blew us off," Stanley said.
"I spent the whole summer the first year, learning how to use what I had. It looked cool, made a lot of noise. But it didn't go anywhere, because it was like the blind leading the blind.
He graduated into Enderle Birdcatcher injectors and alcohol cars. He ran in IHRA's Super Rod class and in 1979, he clocked an 8.50-second elapsed time.
The self-proclaimed "dummy" soon was the darling of the Eastern seaboard.
And in 1988, he and Howes cemented their place in door-car racing lore with Howes' North American milestone: the first six-second, 200-mph combination pass in a door slammer. He did it at New Jersey's Atco Raceway in his Datsun 300ZX with Stanley's all-steel, Bac-man Rat-head motor under the hood.
"Tommy and I went to Atco with one thing in mind: to be the first door car in the 6s," Stanley said. Stanley pulled the engine from his Ford Taurus wagon that originally was in John Paris' alcohol Funny Car.
"It had Bac-man Rat Heads. They're milled in the front of the heads: 'Bac-man Rat' -- stands for Ron Backman and Fred Mandoline. I had the baddest motor and the baddest car," he said. "It weighed 3,460 pounds AND was all-steel. We decided to put my motor in Tommy's car. He would drive. I would tune. And we would go show the nitrous guys: Ha-ha -- watch these goobers! Watch these rednecks!"
The goobers showed 'em all. In a Top Sportsman Quick-8 Saturday-night shootout "for all the marbles," as Stanley put it, Howes recorded a 6.99-second E.T. at 201 mph, beat Gordy Hmiel, and knocked off top gun Robbie Vandergriff in the final.
|John Stanley told dad Camp that he wanted to be a race-|
car driver. So they built him a '68 Camaro, then vacated
that for a Rob Emmons car with Alan Johnson power.
In his first National Street Car Association race,
at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, he earned his
license. He went on to take 2003 rookie-of-the-year
honors. The following year he was runner-up to series
champion Marc Dantoni, In his third year, 2005,
John Stanley became the champion.
"It ticked off all the nitrous guys," Stanley said with glee. "Sunday morning, when it was time for eliminations, guess what -- we weren't there." Older son Raymond was graduating from high school back in Hagerstown, Maryland, and his Baccalaureate was that Sunday. Said Stanley, 'There's no way I was going to miss my oldest son's Baccalaureate. They weren't at all happy with us. But guess what -- stuff happens."
Plenty of it happened when Camp Stanley was around, particularly with The Wild Bunch.
Tod Mack, who used to operate Maryland International Raceway, packaged Grimes, Howes, and Stanley in what turned out to be drag racing's longest-running booked-in exhibition show. "My wife Janet, my two sons, two Chow dogs in the truck, and anywhere and everywhere east of the Mississippi, we went and drag raced," he said of his 12-year experience.
"Nelson and Tommy and I had blown bracket cars," Stanley said. "We were just a booked-in show. When it went belly-up, the only two who were left were Tommy Howes and me. The last year, Tommy and I went around match-racing each other, he in a Datsun and me in the Thunderbirds that I had at the time. And then I realized I've been in the 6s -- I went 6.91 and I went 202 in 1991 -- and I said, 'OK -- what can I do after this? I can throw a whole bunch of money at this or I could pull the plug on it while I'm on top,' which is what I did. I had a job. I had a family that was growing. I needed to devote time to them."
Stanley's T-bird, the one that registered the 6.91/202, ended up in Johannesburg, South Africa. "That car hold all the records than can be held on the African continent," Stanley said.
But Camp Stanley had other continents to conquer. He and Howes invaded Australia in 1989. Stanley had the Taurus, Howes the Datsun that was the talk of the door-car culture. Two years later, they returned. Stanley had converted the trusty Taurus into a Thunderbird, and Howes had "reskinned" the Datsun as a Cavalier. "I've been going back and forth ever since," Stanley said.
He has helped David Green in New Zealand with his Top Doorslammer car. "David and I have been friends a long time," Stanley said. "As I would cycle new stuff into my car, we would recycle the older stuff out of our car into his -- which was state of the art in New Zealand." That factored into Green's two titles.
One of Stanley's buddies is Chris Tynan, CEO of the New Zealand Drag Racing Association, and through him he learned of Auckland driver Tim Watkins. Stanley facilitated a complete turnkey alcohol Funny Car deal between Watkins and Jeff Burnett of Composite Specialties in Brownsburg, Indiana. Watkins recorded New Zealand's first five-second alcohol pass March 4, with a 5.900 E.T. at 232.67 mph at Champion Dragway in Meremere, south of Auckland.
|With a crew that consists of a bunch of Klines Led by Dad Dusty, sons |
Tommy and Scott" plus Jimmy Kline, no relation-go-figure??
The Stanley and Weiss team will be a fixture at all the NSCA races, and
trying their hand in the Extreme Pro Modified class of The ADRL series
"He buried it," Stanley said. "Same thing that David and I did to the Doorslammer record -- it had stood for seven years, and we took it from a 7.20 to a 6.40." In Watkins' case, the Castrol Edge Top Alcohol class record was a 6.24, and he lowered it to a 5.860 seconds at 231.75 mph.
So who is Camp Stanley's next benefactor? Will he be Sean Mifsud of the Top Doorslammer class? He just might be, if Stanley's pattern continues. He's helping Mifsud rebel against the screw blower Hemis, hoping to make Mifsud's Willys with the Alan Johnson-designed wedge-head Roots blower the first of its kind to qualify in Australia.
Stanley gets a hero's welcome each time the public-address announcer in Sydney or Brisbane calls out his name. He carries John Force-like status there. But Stanley -- who says his age is "62 physically, 22 mentally," adding, "I refuse to ever be an old man" and has a world-renowned reputation for making supercharged Margaritas -- doesn't take all his technical expertise abroad.
Sometimes he literally just walks next door with it -- to son John's garage, that is.
Younger son John announced around the start of 2003 that he wanted to race. So John Stanley and his dad built a back-halved '68 Camaro in his garage. "We started with a big-block Chevrolet with a single-4 [barrel] Dominator and went to injection. We went to injected nitrous," Dad said. "Went to Jeff Prock of Applied Technology, Inc. Got to have a Prock Rocket underneath us if we're going to have nitrous."
The Wild Bunch did to the Top Doorslammer class what the touring Funny Cars and Dragsters used to do the Aussie fuel classes. This experience created an avenue for advancement and new technology.
|Staying out of a race car is a foreign thought to Camp Stanley. He was bitten by|
the racing bug at age 19, and ever since he started racing with a '62 small-block
4-speed Chevy II in the late 1960s, he was hooked. A few years ago, he bought
a car from Rob Emmons for son John to drive. But he couldn't help himself.
He slipped behind the wheel of it three years ago at Martin, Michigan,
and had a blast. It had been 12 years since I sat behind a supercharged motor
he said. "And when it started, Heaven strike me dead, it was like it had been 12
minutes. It was like 'Yee-hah!' It was great fun."
They installed a late-model Alan Johnson 41X Olds motor in the car he had bought from Rob Emmons and went to Atlanta Dragway at Commerce, Georgia. At his first National Street Car Association race, John Stanley earned his license. His proud father said, "His shutoff pass was a 6.70 behind the supercharger and Lenco."
John Stanley was NSCA's rookie of the year that year. The following season, he finished second in points to perennial champion Marc Dantoni. His third year, 2005, yielded a championship. Last year, he came close to repeating his title. "We were second in points by a 5.1 round. We went to five races and won three of the five," Camp Stanley said.
In addition, he said, "We won the Canadian Fastest Street Car Shootout for the third year in a row. We had basically a tenth on the field."
But John Stanley has one prize in mind. "I want my championship back," he has decided, so he plans to run the six-race NSCA schedule that ends in late September.
After that, father and son intend this fall to run Dave Hance's popular "Shakedown at E-Town" outlaw doorslammer extravaganza at New Jersey's Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. If promoter Al Tucci gets all the Is dotted and Ts crossed for his Universal Street Nationals at Valdosta, Georgia, the Stanleys will be there, and they wouldn't miss Carl Weisinger's World Street National at Orlando, where John posted top speed of the meet in October 2006.
The Pro Modified regulars on the American Drag Racing League circuit had better look out, too, for Camp Stanley said, "We're going to gently dip our toes into the ADRL water this year, I think.
"My friends at Flowmaster have developed us a one-off muffler for our car that will benefit the supercharged cars. We are going to run this year a seven-inch-in, seven-inch-out exhaust system on this car, as opposed to the five-inch we've always done. The limiting factor to the mufflers of the supercharged deal is the exhaust system," he said.
With a new PSI supercharger and some tuning help from Burnett at Composite Specialties, Stanley said he thinks he might have a shot, despite a concern about finances and experience in this venue. "Can we win an ADRL race? Probably not," he said. "Can we qualify? We hope so."
Give Camp Stanley a decent-enough jalopy, and he'll use his toolbox and ingenuity to do the impossible.
Wherever they race, Camp Stanley and Co. have fun.
John Stanley inherited his height from his father. That and their mid-Atlantic upbringing are sources of self-deprecating humor they display on the car. On each front fender, above the wheel wells, the Stanleys placed a strip of tape, hand-lettered with a felt-tip pen, "Appalachia On Steroids."
|Team Stanley and Weiss In The Winners Circle|
The painter who graced the Camaro with a construction-barrel orange base-coat with purple flames also drew a line in the space just below the roof with this warning: "You must be this tall to ride this ride." They revel in being the underdogs, the "poor kids" from the wrong side of the race track. But it's a decoy. They're a tough tandem to beat. After all, Camp Stanley's motto is, "OK, boys, we're here to play."
What makes it all happen for him? "I buy and sell a fair amount of parts," he said. "It helps support the habit that sits next door in my son John's garage."
So don't wince or grumble if stuck at airline ticket counter behind a frenetic older gentleman with a stack of battered luggage taller than himself. Consider it a behind-the-scenes peek at high-stakes international trade and the delightful art of negotiation by distinguished racing diplomat Arthur Camp Stanley III.
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