The Manx Dominates the Slalom !
by Don Wilcox
Don Wilcox describes the Manx slalom campaign !
Ted Trevor and the Myers Manx Crown Mfg. Super Buggies, Etc.
I first met Ted at an autocross or slalom type event a couple of
months after I totaled the yellow Devin in San Diego. I had been
running the championship events in a series of borrowed cars that
friends had been willing to loan me, primarily because I was leading
the SCCSCC Championship points race at the time of my wreck. I ran one
of the Championship events in Jim Dunn's TR-4 and managed to win the
class, so I got the maximum 100 points out of that one, and ran another
in Roy Ferguson's Lotus Super 7, and won that class in it for another
100. So when I met Ted, I was still in the Championship points race
lead, and looking for a ride that could replace the Devin.
The event was in Pamona somewhere, and was not a Championship event,
but a smaller and less formal one that allowed "fun runs" after the
timed event was over. I was there to watch, and keep an eye out for a
potential ride I could borrow, when Ted drove in in the strangest
vehicle I had seen in a long time. It was a bright purple metal-flake
Myers Manx dune buggy with huge sand type tires on it, and a Corvair
All the sports car purist types laughed at it, and had a lot of fun
with jokes about such a car daring to show its face at a "real" sports
car event. I felt a little differently about it, because when I looked
the car over carefully, several things began to add up in my head.
First the workmanship in the car was all of superb quality. The car
was beautifully built, and was full of special parts that had obviously
been handmade. Second, it had several factors in its basic design that
had real potential for a slalom/autocross car - short wheelbase, high
power to weight ratio, quick steering, light weight, etc. The more I
thought about it, the more it looked to me like a potential winner.
I talked to Ted for a long time, asked a lot of questions about the
car, and we "hit it off" right from the very beginning. He was the
owner of Crown Mfg in Costa Mesa, and was in the business of special
machine parts, among which was the hardware to drop a Corvair engine
into a VW! The buggy was his pet, and "demo" car for his line of such
equipment, and he was quick to see a potential market if the car could
be competitive in this type of event.
I encouraged him to enter the event (he said he had never seen one
before!) and he agreed to do so, if I would also enter the car and
drive it to give him an idea of what the car could do with a more
experienced driver. The results were pretty funny.
The car had huge tires on it, because it was set up for off-road work
in sand and desert. The suspension was jacked up as high as it would
go, and the car was set up for the opposite of what we were asking it
to do. Ted immediately spun it out and off the course several times,
and everyone had a real big laugh about the funny looking car. When I
drove it, I managed to keep it on the course, but the car showed only
its potential - we did not win that event.
After the runs and after all the laughter had died down, Ted and I
talked for about an hour about combining forces: installing my hot,
Bill Thomas built Corvair engine (now "surplus" after totaling the
Devin) into his buggy, and then the process of Ted setting the buggy up
specifically for Slalom/autocross type events. The plan was for me to
bring the engine down to his shop in Costa Mesa on the coming Thursday
evening and proceed from there. I did not know Ted yet, and had no
idea of how quickly he operated, or that he had almost total recall
about anything mechanical.
When I got to his business Thursday evening, I nearly went into shock.
The car looked like it had exploded! It was literally scattered all
over the shop. It had been completely dis-assembled and parts of it
were everywhere. I had mentioned several things that I thought we
needed to be competitive: wider wheels, fat, sticky, low profile
tires, good shocks, quicker steering, lower center of gravity,
All of this was in the process of happening. Ted had made a set of
wheels for the car: 13 inchers (7 inches wide) to drop the front end,
and a set of mind blowing 15 inch rear wheels that were 10 inches wide.
(This was in the days when normal race tires were on 4 to 5 inch wide
wheels, and the tire revolution had not yet started!) He had come up
with a set of Koni shocks (Porsche racing version) and had dropped the
suspension so that the ride height was about 6 inches lower in front
and 8 lower in the back. A set of super sticky racing recap tires was
enroute from San Franscisco where a company that did sticky tires for
drag cars had agreed to do a set on road racing carcasses, and include
a bit of a tread pattern for legal reasons only. Every thing on the
car that could be removed to lighten it a bit was gone, and although it
looked like the car would never run again, it was really in the process
of starting to go back together again. I asumed that it would be a
month or so until we could hope to try it out, but Ted said to come
down on Saturday, and we would try it a bit in a huge nearby parking
When I got there Saturday morning, the car was so transformed that
other than the bright Southern California purple metalflake color, it
would not have been recognizable. Instead of being a "high rider" with
a foot of ground clearance, it was lowered to the max, and the top of
the dash board was now less than waist high. It sat on the widest set
of tires I had ever seen, and the hot engine was in and ready to go.
When we fired it up, and I tried it out a bit, it was obvious that we
had something special on our hands. We had nothing to compare it with,
but it was QUICK! The handling was so sensitive that it was a bit of a
handful to control, but it was obviously going to be some serious fun!
The next day, we took the car to a big event, and started with a
rather embarassing debut. Ted was taking the car through tech
inspection, and for the brake test, each car had to accelerate up to
about 40 and make a hands off the wheel, brakes locked stop. Ted was
feeling a little frisky, and for the acceleration part reved the thing
way up, and dropped the clutch to pull a big wheely (which the car
would do fairly easily at that point, before we did some weight
re-distribution). The result was very impressive for about 20 yards,
then the ring and pinion gear in the transaxle let go, and our day was
over - before the event had started. Everyone laughed and had a great
time abusing us as we crippled the poor thing home.
During the next week, Ted repaired the transaxle and passed a law for
the car: NO full throttle starts in first gear! And no more wheelies!
Starting in second gear, the clutch slipped just enough to get the car
launched without the revs bogging too much, and it was so light that
there was really very little loss in performance. So second gear
starts were the rule from then on for all competition events.
In the next six months, we secured the year's overall Slalom
Championship with a perfect 1200 point score, (never done before) which
meant that we were never beaten at a Championship event during the year
- by anyone, regardless of class. We entered 20-some events, and won
every single one in our class, and all but about 4 of them over-all as
well. We were definitely off and running. The large picture in our
basement of the dune buggy with all the trophies around it is the
original purple car, and the trophies are our "take" from the first
SCCSCC Championship year that we campaigned the car together.
During the next year, we ran over 40 more events, and set the FTD or
"Fastest time of the day" at all but two or three, where we lost
usually to only one car - Chuck Green's factory Cobra. Those were
often "open"courses where we couldn't come close to the Cobra's upper
end performance. (We still usually beat the other 20 some Cobras, all
the Vettes, and the Lotus' etc. but Chuck was just too good!) I think
that during the time that we ran the buggy, it was really only beaten
by a couple of people when we got in a run that was really our best
stuff: Chuck Green and Chuck Beck who eventually built an even
smaller, and lighter, monster autocrosser. Chuck Green was as smooth
and accurate as anyone could be at that type of event and was always a
threat for FTD - and Chuck Beck was a creative designer/builder who was
braver than Dick Tracy, and if he finished without hitting any pylons,
he was FAST. I also remember several other amazingly quick guys that I
always liked to watch and learn from: like a kid named Elliot
Forbes-Robinson in about a "stage 7" Sprite! There were some seriously
quick people playing the game at that time, and that made it real fun
As we experienced so much success, we got to feeling pretty frisky,
and had a lot of fun playing mind games with people. We would wait
until as late in the day as possible before we ran the car, letting
everyone chip away at the FTD until everyone had taken their "best
shot" - then we would run the buggy and beat 'em all. Man, was that
After a while, people began to grumble that we always waited until
everyone else had run so that the course was cleaned of any tiny rocks
or that rubber had been laid down by the cars all day, making the
course "faster" when we ran. This was partly true, but in order to
play with their heads even more, we started going to the events very
early in the morning, when they were first set up, and running - then
leaving the FTD for everyone to shoot for, and we won them that way
On another occasion up in a race at Santa Barbara, I got into the last
turn too hot and spun the car 180 degrees approaching the finish line.
I just kicked in the clutch and let it roll across the line backwards,
and the time was still nearly fast enough for FTD. The announcer was
having a lot of fun with the fact that the defending Slalom Champion of
Southern California spun out, and was razzzing Ted about it. So Ted,
in his usual subtle fashion offered to bet the announcer that we could
take our next two runs, spin the car again both times, and still take
the FTD - backwards. The bet was made, and I spun the car on both
the remaining runs, and we did set the FTD - backwards.
Another neat period was when people began to try to outlaw the car via
various rule changes. Some were pretty funny, and one that we had a
great deal of fun with was a "safety" rule that was passed requiring
that "all engines be enclose with metal" to be cleared through tech
inspection. Of course, this also outlawed all the vettes with their
fiberglas bodies, but before it was repealed, we ran a couple of events
with an engine cover made of coat hangers and aluminum foil. The
engine was enclosed in "metal" and was legal in the strict sense. The
car usually left the "engine cover" at the starting line, or somewhere
on the course, but it still won.
The car was running in the Modified sports car class, and we made no
pretense of it being a "stock" or production car, so we really did not
care at all what class they put us in. We ran with the idea of FTD
every time we showed up. We ran with the object of beating every car
that entered, and we didn't care what it was. They eventually settled
on a Class N designation for the car, where we ran against the
unlimited class vehicles: pure race cars with big engines (over 2
liters displacement) formula cars, etc. which arrived on trailers. We
drove the buggies to the events, often with my wife riding shotgun and
our daughters Laurey and Lisa in the back with a picnic basket, ran the
events, (and won over 90% of the events we entered over a 3 year
period), then drove home.
We always both drove the car at events, and Ted always ran first, and
was a very good driver - usually finishing second in our class, and in
the top dozen or so overall. At one event, he ran particularly well
and set the FTD on his run, so I never took my runs and he got the FTD.
I could have sand bagged my runs so he could win, but we knew each
other too well for that. We ran the purple car, and later the blue
Pikes Peak car, over 100 times together, and this event (and Pikes Peak
in 1966, but that is another story) were the only two times that Ted
The spring of 1966 Ted began to talk about building a second buggy,
and making it a race car from the beginning. The catalist of the idea
was the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. One of the most famous races of its
kind, it is a full USAC Championship event, and attracted some of the
big names along with a bunch of eager amatuers. Ted decided that we
ought to take a shot at the mountain, and he wanted to drive it too, so
he built a second car that he called the Crown Meyers Manx Super Buggy.
This car was built literally in two weeks preceeding the event, and is
the blue Manx that is in our garage at the moment.
The Pikes Peak saga is a whole chapter of its own, so I will skip the
details of that event here. When we got back to Southern California we
decided to semi-retire the purple car, and start racing the blue one on
the slalom and autocross circut. The first two events were a
disapointment because the turbocharged engine in the blue buggy
sputtered and choked every time it turned hard to the right. We spent
two events before Ted found the "fix" with a vent tube inside the carb
to handle overflow fuel. After sorting that out, we went on to win
another Championship or two, and the buggy was a consistant FTD level
competitor as long as we ran it.
Our interest in the parking lot type events was sort of "dulled" by
the heady experience of Pikes Peak, and we began to look at the idea of
expanding a notch. Ted wanted to get into off road racing and try to
gain a foothold in that market segment, so the blue buggy was fitted
with all sorts of crash bars around the engine and under the car, off
road lights, and some very ugly spare tire mounts etc. I never liked
it set up that way. It was like a thorobred made to pull a plow! Ted
eventually gave up on trying to make a competitive off road car of it,
(after it finished 4th in the Mexican 1000, driven by Eric Ressler),
and bought a "Burro" a hugely ugly off road racer that was sturdier,
stronger framed, and had longer suspension travel.
But the real jump into the big time was our venture into USAC Indy car
racing! That also has its own chapter, but it started in the spring of
1967 when Ted bought a three year old Indy car that was being rebuilt
in a Costa Mesa shop after Al Unser visited a wall with it. After
running the Indy car the summer of 1967, we just never really got back
into the full swing of the slalom and autocross events that we had so
much fun with. After 200 miles an hour, and running with Andretti,
Foyt, and the Unsers - it just was never quite the same. Also, about
this time I had wound up in a good college job and was beginning the
learn to be a decent band director. When the opportunity came up to
leave the Southern California smog that was so hard on Kaye Jean and
Lee (who was about a year old at that point), we bought the blue buggy
from Ted for $1000, threw it on its towbar, and moved to Kansas.
Courtesy of Don Wilcox (email@example.com)...