Earlier this year a very rare Chenowth 2000 5 link desert car popped up in the San Diego Craigslist which was purchased by Lynn Chenowth. The car was purchased for his Legacy Lodge Museum at Rancho Percebu just a few miles south of San Filipe. Lynn believes that only 4-6 of these cars were ever built and has decided it should race NORRA when not doing museum duty! Lynn struck a deal with my uncle, Dave Tilton to restore the car and for myself and Jake Johnson to race it in the Legend Buggy class at NORRA. Now that the car is in the shop and Dave has started the teardown, I thought it was a good time to introduce the car with a build thread.
A week ago we knew nothing about the car other than it looked like a time capsule with its dry sumped engine and Porsche 5 speed all still in the car. the only body panel on the car was the roof which had the sponsor "Trailer Train" on it. I texted a photo of the roof to Rory Ward, Mark Stahl and Martin Gill to see if they remembered it. Leave it to Martin Gill to remember everything and come up two drivers names, Bob Gookin and Bill Silverthorn. Thank you Martin!!! With that information I was able to search pictures on Trackside Photos and found that other drivers included Ivan Stewart, Doug Fortin, Jim Feuling, Ron Stacy, and Bill Thomas. Lynn was pretty excited as the history started to become known as these were all buddies of his back in the day. There were also some surprises as we learned more about the car.
The car was owned by Cliff Clark and "Jingles" Gardner (Auto shop teacher). The two of them never raced the car and their buddy Bob Gookin was the primary driver. The biggest surprise was that the car was originally a swing axle car in 1977 and updated to 5 link for the 1979 season. According to Bob Gookin and confirmed by Don Hatz, the car ran fuel injection. When it was updated in late '78 the transmission was changed to a 5 speed Porsche. We are still are trying to learn more about the race history but Trackside Photos has this car at all the major races they covered from 1977 - 1984, including the Baja 1000, Baja 500, Mint 400 and Parker. One great result we have documented is that Bob Gookin and Ivan Stewart were 2nd overall at the 1978 Parker/Mexicali race. The car beat all class 1 cars but came in second overall and 2nd in class to Bobby Ferro. Bob Gordon was 3rd overall in another 2 seat class 2 car. All three of them beat all single seat cars which hadn't happened much by early 1978.
I am working with Jim Ober to get a ton more pictures which I will start posting during the restoration.
Here is the car as found. We did find out that sometime after 1984, the car was stored in Cliff Clark's Warehouse for many years. He owned Tri-City TV and Appliance. A friend of Cliff named Kevin bought the car from Cliff about 15 years ago for a play car and never raced it. Kevin said he took the body off to probably work on it and is not sure what ever happened to the body. He thinks it was destroyed by the Cedar Fire which took his house and his friend, Mark Veeter who was the next owner, and who also used it as a play car.
Checking Track Width with our Ultra Wheels and Yokohama Tires before teardown
Tear down begins!