Jack Roush, NASCAR’s “Cat in the hat” is an interesting character. Physically he is kind of a little guy. Shorter than I am and without the weight. If you don’t know his name there is nothing imposing about him. He is somebody that I can honestly say that I knew of him when. That would be when he started his professional racing career. I don’t remember the year but it was in the sixties. I was a machinist at Bob Gillilan’s crankshaft emporium and race motor shop called “Moldtex Tool.
Funny cars were “A thing”. Drag racing was coming of age. The top fuel dragster guys in the sport were regularly exceeding two hundred MPH and making low seven second passes. It was getting noisy, expensive, and difficult to mix the hot dogs with everybody else.
The funny cars were heavily modified cars that were still identifiable as a brand name of car. Mostly for exhibition they did wheel stands, trailed fire, made big noise. They did not actually compete. They came as novelties. They were entertainment.
Then along came Jack Roush with a Ford Bronco that ran, four wheels on the pavement, seven second passes at one hundred eighty nine MPH. He was giving the dedicated dragsters a good run. Often winning a match when a dragster had some sort of a problem. Other Funny car guys came out to the races. Jack Roush decided he liked cars that would turn left too. That and he liked making and selling parts to racers. Then to Ford Motor Co.
Today, if you own a Ford it is at least a little bit Roush. Today Roush operates a huge supplier operation. He machines all kinds of car parts for Ford. Mostly difficult engine parts. Mostly highly profitable. And there is and his impressive NASCAR operation. Along with a passion for his two World War Two P-51 Mustangs. He flys them just for fun. All that serves to make mister Roush a busy boy.
In Livonia Michigan, just north of Plymouth road on an industrial side street sir Jack Roush maintains an almost unknown but very well presented car museum and memorabilia shop. I bought a shirt, two race used lug nuts, and a special Jack Roush Swiss Army knife style pocket tool kit.
Once in the museum the car collection is massive. Four Ford GT sport cars. A proposed Chrysler Cunningham super car that never made it to production because of the Mercedes / Chrysler debacle. Historic cars, model T’s in several incarnations. Then “A”s, late thirty Fords and a 1942 ford built for the US army. Plastic Cobras, made by Shelby. One off racers and prototypes. Ford European racers. 1920s Indy racers. A few old street able cars that J R drives himself when he wants to go somewhere. Everybody needs the ability to go to a grocery store or buy sox. The collection includes a seemingly endless supply of NASCAR winners. Oh yes; and a few stupid prototypes that blessedly never went anywhere.
Through all this I was personally escorted by a Roush family member and educated as I go. I love museums. This one may be my new favorite.
… post originally written by my father, Jim, 2016.05.16 as a letter to his friends