It's always difficult to follow one big hit with another. VH1's One Hit Wonders is proof of that. Given the hoopla surrounding last year's GTOAA International Meet, with the 25th anniversary of the club coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the GTO, we'd have to say the deck was pretty heavily stacked in the Woodward GTO Tiger's favor for producing a great event. And they did.
In 2005, it was the 26th year of the GTOAA and the 41st year of the GTO--there are no celebrations for those anniversaries. So how was the Gateway GTO Association ever going to follow the '04 act? If you're the Gateway chapter, you put on a great event anyway. Co-chairs Tom Oxler and Steve Hedrick, along with John Johnson and a dedicated Gateway chapter, with aid from the parent GTOAA, hosted an action-packed meet for 2005 from June 28 through July 3 at the Westport Holiday Inn in St. Louis to follow up the '04 Detroit extravaganza.
This year's event drew 315 registrants and 201 GTOs from all over the country. It was a Goat-spotter's paradise of the rare and the wild. Even Steve Ames told HPP he saw things at this event that he never saw before.
On the show field, it turned out to be the year of the '69 GTO with many standout examples in attendance, from six-figure restos to over-the-top modifieds. Milt Robson's '69 Ram Air IV triple-black convertible GTO represents the rarest of the rare. Fresh out of restoration, it was an amazing sight, and it took home Concours Gold. Dave Foglton's painstakingly restored Ram Air IV '69 GTO earned Concours Gold and Best Restored. Edward Ball's '69 Goat garnered the big prize, Best of Show, and earned Concours Gold. Kyle Krause's '69 Judge was preserved well enough to take Best Original and Concours Bronze honors. See what we mean about the '69s? But there's more. There were no less than 13 Carousel Red '69 Judges on the show field.
Representing '69s on the mod side was Greg Teeters' Gold GTO decked out with a Royal Bobcat paint scheme and a Ram Air V-headed 421 with dual quads under the hood. And there was Steven Brazile's '69 Judge stuffed with a big engine, a six-speed trans, and enough suspension and rolling stock upgrades to make a Porsche whimper.
But Woodstock-era A-bodies weren't the only GTOs drawing a crowd. Colin Comer brought a pair of '65 GTOs that are each one-of-a-kind--the Riverside 500 pace car that Hurst built and gave away and the Tiger Gold Hurst hardtop giveaway car.
On the late-model front, Pontiac arrived with its tractor-trailer full of goodies, including the '05 GTO and the V-8 Grand Prix GXP as well as the '64 GTO from the historical collection. There was also a strong showing of '04 and '05 GTOs at the event--some even sported Monaro parts.
If you just couldn't stand the pain of not having your GTO there to drive, Classic Car Rental had the cure. The company would rent you a yellow '69 GTO so you could get in on the action. These were just the happenings on the show field; we haven't event discussed the racing yet.
The Jim Wangers' All Pontiac Drag Race and Autocross Extravaganza at Gateway International Raceway provided almost as many activities as the show itself. You could drag race in one of five bracket classes, toast the tires in a burnout contest, or even punt some cones on an autocross course. If you wanted to, you could do all three!
Steve Lucas smoked out everybody...
Steve Lucas smoked out everybody to win the burnout contest.
This documented Tri-Power...
This documented Tri-Power four-speed '65 GTO was purchased by Motor Trend magazine (Petersen Publishing) and George Hurst. It was the first GTO fitted with Hurst wheels and was used for early press events to introduce those wheels. Another was built just like it and both were given away at the Motor Trend Riverside 500. One went to the winner, Dan Gurney, and the other to a ticket-holding fan. While Gurney's car is rumored to have been crushed, this one has survived, is not restored, and currently has just 20,000 miles on it.
The Hurst GeeTo Tiger was...
The Hurst GeeTo Tiger was another contest car that was conceived by Jim Wangers, George Hurst, and Peterson Publishing to cross-promote the GTO, Hurst products, and various Tiger-based marketing programs at Pontiac. The GeeTo Tiger featured "Hurst" gold paint, gold-plated Hurst wheels, and a Hurst shifter, not to mention the Bobcat package and a bevy of factory performance and luxury options. To win, you had to correctly count how many times the word "Tiger" was mentioned in the "GeeTo Tiger" song. Then you had to explain in 25 words or less why you wanted to win it. Alex Lampone was the winner. While the car has gone through various owners since and got a repaint and engine build, it is otherwise original.
Milt Robson's incredibly rare,...
Milt Robson's incredibly rare, fresh-out-of-restoration, triple-black '69 Ram Air IV Judge convertible was the talk of the event.
Photo by John Epperson
If you think new GTOs bug...
If you think new GTOs bug the purists, wait 'til they see new GTOs with Monaro parts on them.
It's not often you see a set...
It's not often you see a set of Ram Air V heads on a running engine.
We know drag racing is a mainstay of the event and the hobby, and there's always tire-torturing action on the 1,320, but the autocross was a change of pace and lot of fun to watch. Why? It could be argued that any Pontiac is certainly in its element on a dragstrip. They are expected to go fast and they usually do, even by today's standards of performance.
This is not the case with the handling prowess of the A-bodies. While they were in the hunt with their contemporaries when new, unless they are at least moderately modified, pushing a vintage GTO to its limits on a road course with stock suspension results in plenty of understeer, body roll, and sidewall rollover. But it's fun to do and to watch. The late-model GTOs made a great showing with the advantage of decades of technology over their vintage namesakes and low-profile tires. Hopefully, future host chapters will take notice and keep an autocross program as part of the track festivities. Best All Around GTO honors for his performance on the dragstrip and the Autocross went to Rich Kruger and his silver '04 GTO. He posted a 34.194 lap time and a 14.443 e.t.
But what if you broke something on the Autocross or dragstrip? Back at the Westport Holiday Inn, the modestly sized but densely populated swap meet area housed 22 vendors offering various Pontiac products and services to meet the needs of the restorer and racer alike.
As you can see, there was plenty to do at the event this year. But you haven't heard it all yet. There were seminars stacked on top of seminars. Scheduled on the tech side, was Paul Delfeld of RARE speaking on exhaust, and Jon Hardgrove did a seminar each on the Tri-Power and four-barrel carburetors. Pete Serio handled Hurst shifters, Keith Prociuc from HP Tuners helped out the late-model guys, and Jim Butler took care of pure Pontiac engine tech.