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Sprint Cars & Champ Cars The big brother(s) to the midget these open wheel beasts have a rich heritage in our auto racing memories.



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Old 05-05-2009, 03:49 PM   #1
superstroke
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Default Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

I would like to introduce you to Dick Surratt. Although Richard is his real name, he is known to others who know him, affectionately as "Mushrat". Not "Muskrat", but a combination of "Mushmouth" and "Muskrat". Should you ever meet him, this will all make sense.

Dick began his racing habit in 1955. He was a crew member for the Colorado based Kenny Lawrence Top Fuel Team. Mr. Lawrence is credited as the first Top Fueler to hit the 150 mph mark.

In 1957, Dick was drawn, like the rest of us, to the excitement of Lakeside Speedway. He began as a crew member with Dan Day and later for Dave Marcum. But like many of us, the longing to drive a modified incouraged the fabrication of his own car. This car was #73. The year was 1959. At the time of this writing, I did not yet have a photograph of this car, but Dick has promised to send me a shot. Dick soon found that driving was not his cup of tea. I believe (and correct me if I am wrong Dick) that Dave Marcum took over the driving duties.

Later in '59', Dick found himself pitting for the #28 Boots Texaco car, driven by Sam Sauer. In 60-61, CARC President Elmer Sauer talked Dick into working the "Crash Crew". Remember those cool jackets the crash crew wore??

From there, it was on to the Army, and when Dick returned, his family was waiting for him and raising the children with his wife required all of his attention.

Roll the clock forward to 1994. Dicks family had grown up, and his interests again turned to auto racing. He built several midget racers, and vintage racing became his next challenge. The vintage racers, do put the pedal to the metal, but they try to stay away from one another as much as possible, for many of these cars are irreplaceable.

In the last photograph below, Dick poses in his current midget, #16, showing the splendor of Colorados Front Range. This car is a Mel Kenyon built chassis from the 69-70 era. It was originally powered by a Chevy II, 153 hp. This was replaced by a 183 hp Chevy Marine engine. In its hayday, this car ran in the Midwest "Badger" Series. All of these cars are Dick's handy work.

Lets talk about the "Big Car". Through the years at Lakeside Speedway, Dick became good friends with Jim and Jerry Malloy. The third photo below, shows Dick shaking hands with Marv Slusser Jr. To Marvs left (our right) in the purple shirt is Marvs father, Marv Slusser Sr. This car was built by Dick to pay tribute to his longtime friend Jim Malloy. With the permission of Jim's brother Jerry, this Champ Car was fabricated by Dick from the original Nance chassis. The frame was modified and a Watson nose and grill were added. A Grant King tail was added. The rest of the car was fabricated at Dicks Lakewood shop. What a great looking car...WOW...And what a tribute to a great friend! This photo was shot at Colorado National Speedway.

In the 4th photo, Dicks midget rests on its trailer. The beautiful '31' Chevy that is towing it, is also one of Dicks toys. It is powered by a Chevrolet Corvette 350, 375 hp small block. Yea Baby!!! The color on this car is beautiful. It is a Candy Brandywine that just catches fire in the sun.

Last, but not least, in the first photo, Dicks alter ego, "Mushrat" is displayed proudly on the hood of his gorgeous #16 midget. I had to do some PhotoShop on the real picture, for there are appendages protruding from the original for which I, and the website would be, lets say, looked at a bit differently....and leave it at that. Thanks Dick, for sharing your story and pictures of your great looking and running vehicles.
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:01 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

Sorry, the story must have been too long. I will post the pictures here. By the way, the 2nd photo here is of Dick Surratt driving his midget in a KAR race in Kansas.
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:34 PM   #3
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

Neat stuff! Love those Champ cars and midgets! Is the Kenny Lawrence that you talk about the same Kenny Lawrence that used to drive the Swede Ehrlich small block Chevy dragster out of LaSalle, CO at the strips in Cheyenne and Julesburg? If so, I'm pretty sure that there are photos around of Kenny, Swede, and that SBC dragster. I remember seeing the photos on the defunct CRM before it vanished. cheyetown_oldtimer
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Old 05-05-2009, 05:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

Man... that is a NEAT looking setup! Open trailer in tow with that sweet hot rod.

Great stuff, thank you!
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:18 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

Dick had his wonderful #16 Midget out Saturday night, braving the cold to lend his car to the I-76 weekly program; Jim Doyle got behind the wheel and paced the RMMRA Midget main event! It looked great and sounded even better! Look for Dick to be taking part in CVOR vintage events this summer.
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Old 05-07-2009, 02:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

That is correct, he is the same person and it was Swede's car, Ken has a bunch of neat photos and stories, will have to work on him to get involved with this group, Great website,, My thanks to all involved
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:01 PM   #7
Richard Surratt
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

Thank you for your kind words.... Mushrat
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Old 05-07-2009, 04:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Surratt View Post
That is correct, he is the same person and it was Swede's car, Ken has a bunch of neat photos and stories, will have to work on him to get involved with this group, Great website,, My thanks to all involved
Richard, thanks for your reply and confirmation on Kenny Lawrence & Swede Ehrlich.
If my memory serves me right, Kenny was a commercial airline pilot by trade. So, he was really used to fast take offs at work & at play!
I remember seeing the Swede's SBC Dragster run a couple of times back in the late '50's at the old Cheyenne drag strip south of town. I'm not sure if Kenny drove it all the time for the Swede or not. Wasn't the Swede a car dealer in LaSalle or Greeley back then? Let's hope that Kenny will share some of his photos and stories with all of us here on the new ARM. cheyetown_oldtimer
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:17 AM   #9
Richard Surratt
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

You are partially correct, Ken was with, I believe Continental Airlines but as a instuctor rather than pilot.. I believe he was the only driver that Swede ever had. We remain freinds even today, and meet for coffee weekly. He attends some of the Vintage Midget shows i do, including our test and tune day at Big Country up in your area, we must get together one day... Mushrat
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Old 05-08-2009, 03:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Dick Surratt #16 Nance Champ Car

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Originally Posted by Richard Surratt View Post
You are partially correct, Ken was with, I believe Continental Airlines but as a instuctor rather than pilot.. I believe he was the only driver that Swede ever had. We remain freinds even today, and meet for coffee weekly. He attends some of the Vintage Midget shows i do, including our test and tune day at Big Country up in your area, we must get together one day... Mushrat
Sir Mushrat-- Thanks once again for your update. It is so cool that you & Ken still get together weekly for a cup of joe. I'll have to watch for the next Vintage Midget show, or a test & tune at BCS, and try to meet you guys in person. cheyetown_oldtimer
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