We were invited earlier today to stop by the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, located at Daytona International Speedway, where we’re one of the electors for its inductees. The invitation was to cover a reborn piece of Daytona racing history – a perfect, and we mean perfect, re-creation of the 1963 Pontiac Tempest that inductee Ray Nichels, the Indiana race car builder, put together for fellow inductee Paul Goldsmith to run in what was then known as the Daytona Continental, the predecessor of today’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Nichels stuffed the little Tempest with a big-bore, 421-cu.in. Pontiac V-8, giving Goldsmith enough power to erase the favored Ferrari GTOs in the 1963. Goldsmith didn’t finish, but the Europeans were so awed by the Pontiac’s output that Mercedes-Benz bought, and later destroyed, the Tempest just to see how it worked.
Here’s the car being pushed into the Hall where it will be on display for the scores of visitors that come to the speedway every day. This re-creation is considered a gilt-edged piece of Pontiac history because of its accuracy, and because it’s one of the lightweight 421 Tempests, most built for drag racing, that are considered the spiritual fathers of the fabled Pontiac GTO, which was introduced the following year after General Motors up-sized the Tempest into an intermediate hardtop and squeezed a slightly smaller 389 beneath the hood.
Credit for all this goes to the guy being interviewed, Michigan collector and historian Roger Rosebush, who built the re-created Tempest, and, as luck would have it, was celebrating his birthday as the Pontiac was wheeled into the Hall. We guarantee he’ll remember this one fondly.