In the Jan. ’69 issue of Super Stock & Drag Illustrated, the wagon is shown with the a
On the next attempt, he got what he wanted and nipped the record to a 13.39 at Cecil County Dragway in Maryland in 98-degree heat. "I immediately put the car in the record-run lane to back it up (a run within one percent was required to back up a record). I didn't cool the engine because I wanted a slower run to back up the record, not to set it lower, and I got exactly what I wanted—a 13.42. I had the H/SA national record!
Earning the right to paint "NHRA National Record Holder" on the car, Lumley and Sanders had it repainted in a Jeep green and lettered at Snooks Auto Body in Elkton, Maryland. Sanders raced the Pontiac solo for the next 17 years at 19 different Northeast dragstrips, plus Indy, and reset the NHRA class record four more times, running a best time of 12.85 at 108 mph against his own record of 13.39.
The dealer-installed 368hp combination was later disallowed by the NHRA, and Sanders then built NHRA-legal engines of 230, 235, 287, 303, 318 and 348 hp with various heads and carburetion setups to keep the wagon competitive in multiple classes, including H/SA, I/SA, M/SA, N/SA, R/SA and SS/VA.
By the early '80s, Sanders was married with two kids and ready to sell the wagon. Jerry Sawyers of Good Time Motors in Lansing, Michigan, bought it and did a complete body-off restoration. Joey Reynolds added fresh white paint. Vern Linderman added a beautiful green original-style interior, and Gary Glenn's Artrageous Studios did the Pontiac Indian-head graphics and lettering, all over a three-year period, from December 1997 to November 2000.
Sanders switched brands and gears and went drag racing and road racing in a succession of Corvettes, and helped son David to several SCCA points titles and a Driver of the Year award in a C5 Z06 Corvette.
The big wagon was then bought by Kevin DeWitte of Round Lake, Illinois, in January of 2004 and raced in nostalgia events and Pontiac-only events. In June 2008, the Bonne was auctioned off by Russo & Steele in Scottsdale, Arizona, and bought by John Nieliwocki, a vintage-car dealer in New Jersey. It was sold, and then sold again online by the next owner, who was from Byron, Minnesota.
In January 2011, the car was auctioned off yet again, this time at the Taj Mahal Casino antique-car auction in Atlantic City. Tom Maddox from nearby Woodbine, New Jersey, placed the winning bid.
When Sanders finally sold this wagon after 17 years of drag racing, he never imagined he w
At Atco Raceway in 2011, Ron Sanders was reunited with his old race car. See the air under
Here’s a vintage photo from the days when the car was garage-door green, with Ron Sanders
Maddox, age 61, a car collector, junior dragster racer (with his daughter), and A/Dragster racer, was getting older and wider, and had decided to park the dragster in favor of something he could open the door on, get in, sit down, and race.
He says, "I was a Pontiac guy from the time I was a little kid. I just fell in love with this car. Initially, I didn't think I'd be racing it. I just thought it would be a cool car to have. I found out about its long racing history on the Internet, and then I found Ron Sanders."
In May 2011, Maddox called Sanders. "I've got your old race car. I'm going to have it at Atco Raceway, and I want you to drive it for me. Just bring a helmet, and the car will be gassed and waiting for you." Imagine getting a call like that after you haven't seen or driven your old race car for many years!
Sanders went to Atco, met Maddox, and proceeded to drive the wagon so hard that he got daylight under both front tires for the first time ever! Between Maddox and Sanders, they blew it up that day, putting a large crack in the block.
The big old wagon is now powered by a 0.060-over 455 engine built by D&F Performance in Berlin, New Jersey, and fettled by the Riordan brothers, Sean and Eddie. The engine packs ported and polished No. 48 heads with 2.11/1.77 valves, a single 850-cfm Holley double-pumper on an Edelbrock Performer manifold, a new Comp Cams hydraulic-roller grind with 244/254-degrees duration at .050-inch, 0.571 lift at the valve, and a 108-degrees lobe separation angle, an MSD 6AL ignition and Pro-Billet distributor, and ceramic-coated headers.
A Turbo 400 with a 3,600-rpm stall converter replaced the tired Turbo 350 automatic, and the old 4.88:1 rearend, with its axle splines twisted from too many races, was replaced with a milder 4.11:1 rear that works better.
These days, weighing over 4,600 pounds with driver, the big Bonne runs high 11s at 109 mph. How's that for a different kind of race car story?