This car was built in 2012 and was the final Hemi Under Glass built. It is also the most famous by far, due to a slight problem in 2016. In February of that year, Jay Leno invited us to bring the car to Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California to appear on his show “Jay Leno’s Garage”. I had just had knee replacement surgery the week before, so I wasn’t able to make the trip. As always, I told Bob that he could take the car.
Even though I couldn’t make the trip, my wife Becky drove from our home in Las Vegas to see the filming. She spent the entire day with Jay and Bob and had a great time. She had to leave before the actual filming to come home and take care of me, so she didn’t see the actual run. It was the next morning when I got a call from Bob and he told me “I rolled the car”. Having been with Bob on many occasions before and seeing how he handled the car, my first reaction was to not believe him. Unfortunately, he wasn’t kidding me. For only the 2nd time in 50 years running the car, Bob had an accident. The one time previously was in 1975.
The actual run was performed on the oval track at Irwindale, not the drag strip. They hadn’t rented the drag strip that day, only the oval. Bob figured that he could make a short trip with Jay in the passenger seat. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. Things were going fine until Bob brought the car back down. At that point, Bob hit a bad spot on the track and the car started to hop. Brakes don’t work well when the wheels aren’t on the ground, and as the turn in the track came up, there wasn’t room to stop the car. Bob tried to ground-loop the car, but a wheel caught an edge on the pavement and the car rolled over. Everyone was OK, but the car was really hurt bad. Check out the pictures of the video that appeared on Jay Leno’s Garage and the the results of the crash. The last picture shows how far we had to take the car apart to repair it..
As you can tell from the picture above, it was necessary to rebody the entire car. There were virtually no panels that weren’t damaged to the point of having to replace them. Fortunately, the drivetrain wasn’t damaged, so we were able to reuse that part of the car. During the reconstruction, Bob saved the panels and wheels from the right side of the car and made a display of the entire right side of the damaged car.
It took Bob a year to rebuild the car, but it was ready for unveiling at Muscle Cars at the Strip in Las Vegas 14 months after the accident. Jay Leno attended the event and autographed both the restored car and also the display of the damaged car. Jay told us that he had received more press from the crash than anything he had ever done before. He received millions of hits for the video on his website.
It was very bittersweet for me, but in July, 2018 at the Hurst Nationals in Carlisle, PA, Bob and I made our final appearance with a Hemi Under Glass car. We took the restored ’69 car to the show, and at that show, I sold my final Hemi Under Glass. I had a phenomenal time over the years with Bob and all the cars, but with Bob retired it was time for me to move on. Without Bob to pilot the car, it just wasn’t the same. I sold the car that weekend to a very good friend of mine who I know will take care of it and keep it in the public eye.