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Author Topic: Rusty Jowett's 1967 Camaro Trans-Am Race Car  (Read 3346 times)
OCTARD
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« on: July 27, 2011, 06:27:25 PM »

Many of us are familiar with the red 1968 Camaro that Rusty Jowett raced in the Trans-Am series, but less has been seen of the green 1967 car that was run before (and totaled).

Below are some pictures that Bob White took of the car at the 1968 Watkins Glen Trans-Am event, both before and after it's big wreck.
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OCTARD
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 06:29:09 PM »

And two more photos taken after the wreck.
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OCTARD
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 06:33:53 PM »

Many thanks to Bob White for his efforts to get me these photos, and for making a point to meet up with me and the other Historic Trans-Am drivers at the 2011 Sonoma Historics.  Bob was down from Ontario, Canada, supporting his friend racing a vintage sports racer at the event.
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RUNUTZ
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 06:48:54 PM »

Wow nothing body wise left !!!
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2011, 10:55:41 PM »

Wow Chad! I have heard about that crash at Watkins Glen but never seen the "after" photos. I really appreciate your efforts to obtain these and also for posting them here so we truly understand how thoroughly the car was demolished. I think the car was green for only two races. This was an authentic '67 Z-28 that was originally Butternut yellow with black stripes. The '68 grille and tail lights were added to give the car an updated look.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2011, 12:28:41 PM »

A photo of Rusty's '67 in the yellow paint scheme can be seen here on Nick England's VIR History webpages. The photo was taken in April 1968. I know Mark Schwien was a very talented mechanic/fabricator that helped Rusty with this car. I'd love to hear from him or anybody else associated with Rusty Jowett and his Camaros.
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2011, 11:29:39 PM »

This from Pat Hogan on the above 1967 Z/28 Camaro of Rusty Jowett:

"Bill Lange was the original owner of the car but he sold it to Rusty because the Air Force had other plans for him. It was originally a light yellow color (Butternut yellow) with black stripes.  Bill, his wife Sandy and I connected at a vintage race at Watkins Glen in 2009 and he shared some of the photos and stories of this car.  We are still regularly in touch and he has given me a variety of original Jowett parts, fuel jugs, wheels, equipment boxes,etc. from that time that are stored in my garage.  Bill also helped Rusty at several 1969 races like Daytona and Bryar I believe."

And then this from Bill Lange, who sold the above '67 Z/28 Camaro to Rusty:

"The car was originally ordered/bought by a Porsche Dealer in Alexandria named Joe Heishman. I bought the car from him for about 3000 bucks, 1967 money.  I guess Joe did not like it."
 
"It was a funny power curved engine with a 4 speed close ratio, rather difficult street car off the line. That 302 would keep up with the SS396 Camaro's in the quarter if you could keep from smoking the tires too hard."
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2011, 12:54:01 AM »

Chad, that recollection by Bill Lange is very intriguing to me. My '67 Z race car was bought new through Aero Chevrolet in Alexandria, VA by Hugh Heishman, who had named his VW/Porsche dealership after his father Joe Heishman who had retired due to a health issue. Hugh had told me that he also bought a yellow '67 Z for himself as a street car but I was under the impression that he had owned it for a few years before selling it. Apparently, that is not the case. I don't know whether he knows if his yellow car went on to be Rusty's race car but I will have to give Hugh a call and see if this rings a bell with him. I really appreciate you posting this new information about Rusty's car. Thank you. The article below has a photo of Hugh Heishman and talks a little about his racing team.

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Jon Mello
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2011, 06:17:17 PM »

Hello Jon, and others,

Bill Lange provided this additional detail on his old 1967 Z/28 Camaro, which became the yellow-then-green '67 that Rusty Jowett drove in the Trans-Am:

"I grew up about 5 miles down the highway (Route 301) from the Upper Marlboro race track.  I kept close watch on all the classes, watched the 356 series Porsches, Bug-eyed Sprites and such.  I think the 911 Porsches were just being introduced, maybe it was the 911S, but for one reason or another I drove down to Heishman's Porsche to look the new cars over.  The Z/28 was on the used car lot, just sitting there.  I was out of high school, working for Mark Schweins Fuel Oil Company (truck driver), certainly I did not have "Porsche Money" but the Z/28 was within reach and I bought it.  I wish I had the records to know the serial number of my Camaro? It was a very plain Z/28.  No center console, no factory tach, no spoiler.

The car was a fun car to drive, but after 6 months or so I got my "Greetings and Salutations" letter from the President, time to report.  Mr. Wilton Jowett and his son Rusty (lived right down the road two miles or so, even closer to Upper Marlboro) were racing Corvettes and I guess they wanted to compete in the Trans Am.  They hired Mark Schwein and bought my car.  Wilton Jowett started a company called Performance Research and they built the first car.  I am looking for pictures before it was a race car, but my filing system is poor.  I did travel to a few tracks with the Jowetts, worked on the crew.  I did St Jovite, Bridgehampton and Lime Rock. Sebring was coming up, but I missed that race.

We had more tire problems on the hauler than we did on the race car.

I did not know Heishmans had a second car as mentioned in the newspaper article (Jon's posted article above)."


Bill, thanks so much for sharing and allowing us Trans-Am enthusiasts learn a bit more about you, this car, Heishman's, Rusty Jowett and Mark Schwein.
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OCTARD
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2011, 11:42:00 PM »

And more from Bill Lange on this 1967 Z/28 pictured and discussed above... When it was still a street car.

"My wife Sandy (Rusty Jowett's cousin) just scanned these snapshots for me.  This is the Camaro I bought off the "used car lot" at Joe Heishman's Porsche Dealership in 1967.  It was winter (see snow) of 1967, but I cannot remember the exact date. I do remember being drafted in March of 1968. The Jowetts were anxious for this car, so I sold it about 6 months earlier than my report date I think, November of '67 or so. 

Mark Schwien owned an oil company in those days and I worked for him driving a truck.  Mark also owned a large EXXON station, which was a Chrysler Dealership, and worked on quarter mile racers in that shop.  Mark was Mr. Jowett's head mechanic on the Trans Am car.  (Mr. Jowett was Rusty's dad, Sandy's uncle.)"


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JoeC
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2011, 05:48:39 AM »

thanks for posting

very nice original photos
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oldtransamdriver
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2011, 11:58:22 AM »

Chad, thanks for all the Bill Lange info about Rusty and Mark (who would give us the "hot tip" sometimes to help us with race prep). 

Any chance Bill would have contact with Rusty, who seems to have quit racing after 71.

Robert Barg
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OCTARD
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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2011, 10:26:27 PM »

These two photos are from Pat Hogan's collection.  Pat owns the 1968 Rusty Jowett Camaro, not this 1967 Camaro.  However, various sources have provided these images to Pat from their association with Rusty's 1968 and 1969 Trans-Am seasons.

  • The first photo shows Rusty's 1967 Z/28 on the pre-grid of the 1968 Sebring race.
  • The second photo shows Rusty running to his 1967 Z/28 at the start of the 1968 Sebring race.


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OCTARD
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2011, 10:29:43 PM »

These two photos are also from Pat Hogan's collection.  

  • The first photo shows Rusty peeling out in his 1967 Z/28 at the start of the 1968 Sebring race.
  • The second photo shows Rusty's 1967 Z/28 on the trailer, ready to go to a race.
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OCTARD
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« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2011, 10:34:19 PM »

These last two photos are also from Pat Hogan's collection. 

  • The first photo shows Rusty's 1967 Z/28 inside the Performance Research garages/Mark Schwein's place.
  • The second photo shows Rusty's 1967 Z/28 from another perspective within the Performance Research garages/Mark Schwein's place.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2011, 10:35:52 AM »

Many, many thanks to Bill Lange and also to Pat Hogan for sharing the photos and recollections with us. The photos are particularly wonderful but it is also a great story about the origins of Rusty's first Camaro race car. I have not had the opportunity to talk with Hugh Heishman about the car yet but I will and when I do, I will post what I find out. It is possible that Hugh may still have some of the original paperwork for the car. He did for his '67 race car, which I now own. Hugh did not end up running two Camaros in '68. Aero Chevrolet was going to sponsor a second car but their lawyers talked them out of sponsoring Hugh at all for '68 due to liability concerns. The '67 Z was put back as a street car (and repainted Rally Green) after the '68 Daytona 24 hour race and the racing components from that car went on the '68 Camaro which was prepared in time for Sebring at the end of March.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2011, 10:51:19 AM »

What is the story of Performance Research? Were there other Principals involved besides Schwein?
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James
Collectin' Camaro's since "Only Rednecks drove them"
 
Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
https://picasaweb.google.com/112392262205377424364/1969_Z28_Restoration
Jon Mello
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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2011, 04:03:53 PM »

Here's a little bit of insight on Mark Schwein and also Wilton "Rusty" Jowett and his father Wilton Jowett, Sr.
This comes courtesy of Bill Lange, who used to work for Mark. Mark's shop was in Brandywine, MD.

"Mark and his brother owned a very large Exxon Station that in older days was
a Chrysler dealership. Very rural. They gave up the Chrysler dealership and
opened a Yamaha / BSA motorcycle dealership. Back then, motorcycles were
hot tickets and they sold them like hotcakes, all summer long. My dad
was a farmer and I was pretty comfortable driving trucks, so when they needed
motorcycles from New Jersey or New York, I would drive the truck up and
pick up a load. I also picked up trailers in Dallas and boats in Jacksonville.
Just riding around the countryside. Mark and Harvey also had a fuel oil
business and I drove the oil truck some, too. I sprayed many a German Shepard
with Number 2 heating oil.
 
Working all these odd jobs gave me the cash to buy that yellow Z-28 Camaro
in 1967. I just stumbled across that car. I went to Heishmans to gawk at the
new 911S, with two 3 barreled Weber Carbs.  The Camaro was on or near
the used car lot, I asked about it, it was for sale, I left a deposit. Bought it the
next day, cash deal.  I was driving a 1961 Corvair....automatic......oil leaker.

Anyway, Mr. Jowett and Rusty were racing Corvettes (actually what they were
doing was chasing Cobras). Mr. J had a '61 and Rusty had a '63 split-window
coupe. The '63 car had the optional 36 gallon fuel tank, was handy at Sebring.
In 1967 I think Rusty decided he wanted to go Trans Am Racing and that fall
I got my orders to report (draft notice). I sold Mr. Jowett my Z28 (instead of putting
it in a barn....not the brightest move, huh?). Mark and his brother had had a parting
of the ways, so Mr J hired Mark to be his full time Trans Am mechanic.  That pretty
well set things up. Mark had a three-car garage at his house. He hired a drag racer
named Hank Heilmier to do the grunt work. I was just hanging around, watching,
lending a hand. Thinking about the Army, I guess.

The Camaro had been undercoated with some nasty old tar-like goop. Hank and
I spent a month with a propane torch removing that stuff. Mark was going to Penske,
building engines, buying trailers and trucks, going to Upper Marlboro and watching
Donahue test cars while Hank and I scraped undercoating.  Follow me?? Roger
would rent the Marlboro track for days at a time. I was there once and they were
pushing the '67 Blue Sunoco car on the Hauler. A guy came over and explained
there were only certain places you could push on that car; it had spent a lot of time
in the acid dip I guess."
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2011, 09:02:23 PM »

There was another/also a Performance Research Engineering out of the North East in the same time period Not Related apparently... they may have been more with Drag racing as they had a major hand in the development of Bob Tasca's Thunderbolt program.  
There is nothing like hanging around as a fly on the wall listening to the war stories of the guys who did what you read about, more can be gleaned from an hour of candid discussion than can be digested from years of reading.
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James
Collectin' Camaro's since "Only Rednecks drove them"
 
Check out the Black 69 RS/Z28 45k mile Survivor and the Lemans Blue 69 Z 10D frame off...
https://picasaweb.google.com/112392262205377424364/1969_Z28_Restoration
oldtransamdriver
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« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2011, 07:45:00 PM »

Jon, what is the correct spelling of Mark's last name - Schwein or Schwien?

Robert Barg
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2011, 08:25:51 PM »

Robert, it turns out the correct spelling is Schwien. Thanks for keeping us on our toes around here.  Cheesy
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