One Wild Willys
The racing stars were aligned when Roger and Sue Campbell met. For as long as he can remember Roger liked to build cars that went fast and Sue well, she liked to drive cars that went fast. It was a match made in gear head heaven!
It was a display of generosity that brought the '41 Willys into the Campbell's life over 30 years ago. The car was given to Roger by a man who had purchased it in 1952 with the intention of turning it into a hot rod. Unfortunately that vision was never realized and the car was left to rust in his backyard. At the age of 72 the former owner asked Roger if he wanted the car. Always up for a challenge, Roger brought the Willys home. At first Sue thought the car was the ugliest thing she had ever seen, but all it took was a trip to a GoodGuys show and an encounter with a fully hot rodded, bright green Willys to change her mind. Realizing the possibilities they had with their rust pile, Roger and Sue began their transformation in earnest. Eight months after they started, with 8 hour "after work" days during the week and 16 hour days on the weekends the Willys was finished. Very proudly Roger and Sue were responsible for every nut and bolt on the car. She did all the bodywork; they both worked on the chassis and welding; Roger was responsible for the paint, transmission and the beast under the hood.
The finished product of all that hard work, patience and dedication became Sue's daily driver. Sue would drive the Willys to work Monday thru Friday. Friday night it would go into the garage, street tires would come off, slicks on, open exhaust uncorked and it was off to the track on Saturday. Sunday night the reverse and on Monday it was back to driving to work. As time went by though it became quite evident that, to put it mildly, Suzie had a lead foot. With the state in possession of her driver's license and having been dropped by their insurer, Roger decided it might be a good idea to get Sue and the Willys off the street and strictly on the track so he converted the Willy to a pure racer replete with a roll bar, all the requisite safety equipment and a fire breathing engine. Roger and Sue took their new beast to the track and the rest is history.
Take a look at the before and the incredible after:
Currently this wild Willys runs a blown 551 cu. in. Chevy big block alcohol motor with a 13 to 1 compression ratio; it puts out well over 1000hp through a Glide 2 speed hooked to a 9 inch Ford rear. It easily runs mid 8's at 160mph plus. Since Roger and Sue run it as a 9 second car, their biggest challenge is to slow it down!
Throughout their 12 years of serious racing, Roger and Sue have had their share of interesting encounters. At a Super Chevy show in Montgomery Alabama, Sue earned a spot in the finals of the Super Pro class. After waiting several minutes for her opponent to show Roger had a funny feeling. Turns out her good old boy opponent didn't like the idea of racing a woman in front of all of his friends, so he offered to split the first place money with Roger and Sue if they'd call it a day. Never one to back down Roger countered be betting the money for both 1st & 2nd place if this guy could beat Sue. Apparently that was enough enticement for him, so he finally agreed to race. Well Sue cleaned his clock and her opponent left mumbling about having been beaten by that little Yankee lady in the red coupe. It's this spirit of good will that keeps this couple a popular fixture on the racing circuit everywhere they go!
Now take a look at Sue and her Willys in action:
Now for the REAL fun!
This flamed red Willys is as solid as Roger and Sue. In the last 2 years Roger hasn't even had to change a spark plug. Regular maintenance is all this ride takes; Roger believes if nothing is wrong with it, leave it alone. Gone are the days of letting the race car outrun your wallet! When the day is over, having a good time is what it's all about for Roger and Sue Campbell. This "good time" attitude is clearly evident in their pit. The large group of people - The Rod Squad, a car club the Campbells belonged to in the '70's. A chance encounter on Facebook brought the club back together and when the members found out Sue was going to be racing at Beech Bend they traveled from near and far to gather and support her. Proof positive of the stellar character of Roger and Sue and the aura of fun and good will that surrounds this hot rodding duo.
Although they are "in it for the fun" this is one racing couple that's a force to be reckoned with. Sue doesn't take any prisoners and Roger makes sure she doesn't have to. Keep an eye out for them this summer; they'll be racing in the Nostalgia Pro Comp Series. Just look for the pretty and petite unassuming redhead with the flamed out fingernails and her 6'5" mustachioed crew chief! And if you would like to own a replica of this awesome ride, there are Johnny Lightening and Eagle Collectable Universal Hobby models of their Willys.