NOVA on SUNDAY and its history.
When we were sitting in the stands at US 30, in Aug of 1969, trying to come up with a name for the car—all sixties race cars HAD to have a name—we never dreamed that the “SUNDAY” thing would ever last this long. Well that night we went thru every thing we could think of—the usual NOVAcaine—Chevy II Much—-Bossa NOVA—etc etc—but we went with NOVA on SUNDAY and it stuck. The name actually is based on a movie that Cindy liked at the time “Never on Sunday”
Everything started 2 years earlier with our L78 67 Chevelle—named RAT POISON which we campaigned very successfully and thus were able to secure a sponsorship from Performance Auto Parts, Chicago. PAP was and still is one of the premier speed shops in the Chicago area.
Owners Jim “Mario “Urso and “Red” Sullivan sponsored several events at US 30 and became one of the backers of the Coca Cola Cavalcade of Stars funny car group touring the Country. Names like Chi-Town, Stardust, Rambunctious, and so on were tearing up tracks all over the Midwest during these races. But they needed a “sideshow” here to keep the action moving during the round teardowns.
Thus became Pro—SUPER STOCK—note not pro stock as it is known today. Urso and some other speed shops such as the King, Gage, Van Senus, White’s Pit Stop and others were approach by Al Poyer of the Gold Agency, which produced the funny car circuit, to come up with some mean stockers for the show. Urso aptly named us the “PERFORMANCE POSSE”.
The cars had to be stock appearing with no alterations and run 11:00 seconds or faster, ooohboy, at 2800 lbs minimum. I was making $65 a week and the payout to do the 10 second thing was $30 and first round loser paid another $50.00!
Jim approached Cindy and I to sell the Chevelle and build a new car. We opted for a Nova since all the other guys wanted Camaros. So Zoom-Zoom built “da Truder” the only other Nova in the Posse—remember to always bet “2dolla on da Truder”—this was the fight song among the more colorful portions of the spectators—if you get the drift and we built Nova on Sunday.
We were always favorites when it came to beaten on the Camaros—-boooooo or each other.
So one Saturday in August of 69 I went to Witte Chevrolet—which was kinda the Nickey Chevrolet of the South Side—to order a grandma Nova. I stopped in to see Bill and Artie who ran the Parts/Chevrolet Performance shop for Witte to say hello.
Artie wanted to know why I was going to order a complete car when I could order a body shell with the sound deadner and pooky deleted—-$680.00 out the door. We still have all the receipts. I went to title the car because it didn’t have a “Statement of Origin” cause it didn’t come off the assembly and had to send in all the receipts it took to build it to the Secretary of State in Illinois. We still have all the original paper work. We’ll get into that later.
I went home and told Cindy of our good luck that Witte was selling us a Nova for $680.00—right????
Sold my L-78 Chevelle to my friend Bill Regnerus, it eventually had 8 owners and is in a junkyard in Idaho—if you got 3 hours I’ll tell you the story on how we found it too.
Any way about 3 weeks later I get a call from Artie that the car was in. Cindy and I went to Witte and Artie directed me to the back of the service shop—there she was IN A CRATE! all shiny and new in bare sheetmetal. A uni-body with no doors no nothing! Ah, exit stage right as the Cindy person wanted to know what the h%$l was going on—oh well that’s now history. Ya have to remember Cindy was as much and still is into racing as I. We met at 16, street raced till we got married, and are still racing; 6:88 at 205 with a V8 Ghost Vega—big blown Fontana Chevy and that’s that.
The car took 5 months to finish, got an SOS title—Secretary of State and VIN—because we needed to finance the finish—ran outa moola—should have seen the Bank Officers face when I handed him the title with a SOS VIN number and stating “homemade”.—oh well he got over it and we got the loan.
The car was equipped with:
Performance Auto Parts 440 cu in Chevy with Crane cam and Stock HIPO Rockers but that was about it except for stock L-88 crank, rods and pistons—I still have 2 cracked pistons we now use as ash trays for the smokers. Please note we were able to find NOS Cal-Custom valve covers and NOS Offenhauser breathers for the resto.
Dana rear with 5:13 gears original one was bought from Mr Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge—one of the receipts we still have.
Muncie M-21 with every other syncro tooth machined out—and I don’t want to hear about M-22s they’re junk ya can’t power shift em at 8400 RPM! Unless you’re a Gorilla—threw the traps at 8800—yes Virginia with a big block with stock “X” type rockers.
Sun \super tach and gauges—All resto now NOS thank goodness for ebay
Ignition was Mallory Hemi Coil with single point Chevy distributor—yes Virginia single point—we put a piece of rubber tubing behind the point arm to keep it from bouncing—didn’t need to spend anymore money that we had to. All NOS in the resto even the rubber bumper.
NO FRONT BRAKES—just like a real race car—try to find those stock hubs.
Plexiglas all around
No interior—note we’ve added a dash to the resto—Cindy said if I used wood grain vinyl appliqué again she would divorce me after 38 years! But where else would she find such a cute gearhead?
Cragars up front and American Torquers with 9:50 – 15” hides on the rear originally M/H but M/T’s now.
Original paint by C Sharp was done in my dad’s garage with square pattern lacing all around—boy was that a pain and even worse today—-they don’t make it anymore and it took almost a year to find a substitute for the resto by yours truly and J&J Auto Body. Corvette white and camel effect for the gold. Lettering was originally done in silver leaf by the “DUKE”. We couldn’t find him so his friend JIVE did all the resto lettering.
Originally I went to the boat shop down the street and bought some “gold” epoxy boat paint for the firewall and underneath. Well the gold wasn’t gold—it was more yellow—when done everyone said NO! So we repainted it orange—yes Virginia hugger orange. What idiot painted the underneath of a 70 Nova puucky yellow then orange? Well if the shoe fits wear it.
To further prove, in a way, the authenticity of an orange underneath done by an “idiot greaser” grab this. Larry Luzack of WLS radio fame, Chicago—ya know the place they did the Sunday—Sunday Sunday Commercials—helped proved out that theory.
One Saturday we were getting the car ready for that night’s booking—the US 30 commercial came on during Larry’s program—“see 32 pro-super stockers battled it out! Tykies Toy, da Truder, Sharp and Urso and –what else—Nova on Sunday!!!!! Well when Mr Luzack came back on he wondered if any one knew the idiot who had the brain of a rubber tire iron naming his car NOVA ON SUNDAY. So I guess the color fits too.
Alright lets do some racin and the rest is history.
We ran for 3 years in the lanes with such funny car greats as Austin Coil—Chi Town, Don Schoemaker—Star Dust, Ed Mclonough, Don the Snake and many others—just shootin the stuff with them not knowing these guys would become legends years later.
Best ET was against the Sundance Camaro—which we beat— with a 9:95 at 157 MPH at Oswego in 1971.
Also remember these were the days before track prep and stickem—only towards the end of 1970 were we doing water in the (bleach) bottle—no Virginia we dumped the bleach out first in the washing machine—burnouts! Boy how history is sometimes perverted by unknowing perception—alright maybe some guys did but we never found it any better than water. If knew you “fat” George—way before fat albert—–he would verify it was water. After the first “bleach” burnout he had a perfect black effect on his white crew pants and shirt, head to toe, having stood right in back of the right rear slick. The burnout was done in 4th gear.
So here she sits already to go and no AHRA no US 30 to go to.
We’ve again documented the car with the State of Illinois, VIN tagging the car for good.
And Virginia don’t stand behind the car!!!!
Rich and Cindy Vitiritti