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55 Chevy


Well-Known Member
Some help here. A guy at work fondly recalls the dezert raced 55 chevy. We talked about it a bit and I thot I'd see if anyone knows it's whereabouts and current condition. I don't think he wants to buy it so much as he'd like (& me too) to know that such an obvious piece of desert racing history hasn't been lost, cut up, or crushed. Also, any current info on it's owner/driver, and the correct spelling of his last name would be appreciated. I used to have a Dusty Times with a pic of it either in it or on the cover, but it's long gone the way of the Dodo.


"Teach you all I know and you're still stupid"
-- Howdy Lee


Well-Known Member

The "55 you're asking about was owned and driven by Larry Schwacofer of Hemet. His longtime co-rider was a guy named Sid Spradling, also of Hemet.

As for the current owner - none other than Class 8 racer Jim Patelli. From what I understand, he has it "near"
race condition, and has threatened to bring it out to a race one day soon. (Which would be way cool!) So the car is alive and well!

For a pic, follow this link <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.go-desert.com/photos/vintage/rside1.html>http://www.go-desert.com/photos/vintage/rside1.html</A>

Link courtesy of Go-Desert.com, Photo courtesy of DougM.


Tony B.


Well-Known Member
Thank you. I hope Jim Patelli does bring it out. Seems like Off Road racing is the last racing venue to start anything vintage. I for one would like to see some vintage races or classes for vintage vehicles.


"Teach you all I know and you're still stupid"
-- Howdy Lee


- users no longer part of the rdc family -
I would like to see more of the vintage vehicles "restored" and brought out to race again. A friend of mine has the original Class 8 Ford Truck built by Vessels Racing that ran the Baja 500 with BF Goodrich Tires when the All terrain was first introduced to desert racing. The co-driver was a rep from BF Goodrich. Also has the video that was taken during that race by BF Goodrich(?), with some in cab footage. I haven't seen it but next time I talk to him I'm going to get a copy.......... Richard


Well-Known Member
richard-was that the propane powered ford that vessels raced? that was a clean truck, but most of those fords were.
for the schwachafer chevies(yes, there were 2) the original was built with i believe suburban front arms and spindles and many in the class protested it. the whiners won out so a new car was built for the next year, the original became tha 55 wagon prerunner that was for sale at a used car lot in hemet a few years ago. kermit i think they called it because of the green paint. there was also the arras ranchero with the top fuel motor, a couple of chevelles, the spy racing el camino, the saab from fallbrook, a rabbit, the rambler, the pacer, and the condor 4x4 motorhome. was a great time...

If your gonna go, go BIG


Well-Known Member
I happen to have an issue of Off Road Magazine from '75 laying here on my office floor that has an article on the Vessels Ford in it. It's a black '74 F250 longbed. In these pics it has Firestone recaps by Bandag(yuck!). Is this the same truck that debutted the BFG's later on? Stan Gilbert often ran a propane powered truck, but I don't remember this one being propane.

Also, I seem to remember Schwacofer running both a '55 Chevy and a '57 Chevy?

Todd Z.


Well-Known Member
the 55 chevy has now a 57 body on it, we put it on in the mid 80s.
I have almost totally restored it, new motor in it and same paint job as it had on the last Baja 1000 race in 1995 ( I think it was in 95, we got to 120 miles from La Paz and ran out of time, we sheared a ring gear and took us hours to change it) It is still owned by Larry, I co drove with him and Sid and built the motors and transmission for it.
The Rambler is all in pieces, last time I drove it was at the last Riverside Heavy Metal challenge, was it in 1988?,
and FINISHED 17 th over all. In class 6, the 57 chevy and the el camino were ahead of me..... i have many pictures of those days, if anyone interested, just come by and we can sort them out.
And if any one has free time... come and help
jim patelli

when everything is under control, you are going to slow!!!!!



Well-Known Member
I remember a couple of Saabs, but the one run by Arne Gunnarsson is still alive in the back of his shop from what I understand. My buddy is really into Saab 96's (I guess somebody has to!), and he gets parts from this guy and says he can see it in the back of the yard. I believe he has the class 6B champion a few times back when they split the class up by CI displacement. How about the class 6 '65 Mustang. I remember it for sale in Off Road Advertiser for a LONG time for real cheap. Did it go to a good home?


- users no longer part of the rdc family -
Martin- as far as I know it wasn't the propane powered one. This one has a 429 in it and has Vessels Farms on the valve covers. It is also a shortbed. Has a 1 ton frame under it that has been shortened. It was bought from Frank Vessels brother a number of years back. Still races, and finished #2 in Heavy Metal last season with BORE.
Jim- If I lived anywhere in the area I would love to come help but unfortunately I don't. Do get to Nevada and Cal. on business occassionally though.
Sure do miss the old days it was a great time..........