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A SINGLE-SEAT CLASSIC This 1977 Chenowth High-Cage Was Built To Honor Ivan “Ironman” Stewart By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo One of the most respected and recognizable names in SCORE’s racing history is Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, whose decision to drive solo and win races made him a legendary figure. One of the vehicles that Stewart drove early in his career was a Modern Motors sponsored single-seat Chenowth Model 1000 buggy which catapulted his career after winning the 1976 SCORE Baja 1000 Overall. While there are several of these Model 1000’s still around, car restorer and racer Rory Ward was looking for one to build as a personal project. “I contacted Lynn Chenowth to see if he knew anyone who may have one for sale, and he happened to have a 1977 model that he bought back as a Class 9 conversion,” said Ward. “I bought it from Lynn in December of 2018 and began looking into its history. I was able to trace this car as being manufactured by Chenowth for Indy Car racing team owner Rick Galles, who bought it in 1978. The car was taken to Indy Car racer Bill Mears, father of Rick and Roger Mears to put together and prep as a race vehicle.” According to Roger Mears, he and brother Rick drove several Chenowth race cars early in their career and recalled their dad building several of them. “This particular car that Rory had I don’t recall, but then again, we raced many Chenowth vehicles. My dad built several for Rick Galles, including a Wedge model that Bobby Unser drove,” said Mears. “Those vehicles were state-of-the-art at that time and the Chenowth chassis were a great foundation. They’re still indestructible and in fact, my son Casey drove and won a vintage race in one.” Ward’s Model 1000 was converted into a Class 9 vehicle which had an altered suspension from the vehicle’s original VW components. As Ward continued disassembling the car, he noticed the roll cage over the driver’s seat was a bit tall. “I contacted Lynn again and found out it was a rare high-cage model,” said Ward. According to Chenowth high-cage models were built as special order for taller drivers. “We built them for big guys,” said Lynn Chenowth. “By the time the Model 1000 came out, we had lowered the cage to make them look ‘swoopier’. The previous Wedge models had the cage built straight up and people began calling it a phone booth. So when we released the Model 1000 around 1974-75, we altered that part of the cage that made the car look better. In several instances, bigger drivers wanted the larger cage to fit in the car better so we did those on a custom basis. One of those guys was Ivan Stewart who was the first to win the SCORE Baja 1000 Overall in one of our cars in 1976.” After talking with Chenowth, Ward realized this particular car was unique as the two figured there were only five of them made with the high-cage option. “It wasn’t until I saw a photo of Ivan Stewart’s Modern Motors car that I thought this would be a great project to build in tribute to him,” said Ward. “I called Lynn back and told him about the idea and if he would want a replica of Ivan’s car in his museum. Lynn agreed and the project began.” Ward disassembled the vehicle and began searching for parts to replicate the original. He began with a stock-width VW beam front suspension with VW arms and Sway-A-Way torsion bars. The Chenowth uses factory VW spindles and Bilstein shocks. At the rear, the Class 9 suspension mounts were removed and replaced with the original VW IRS/Link Pin system using Sway-A-Way axles and three Bilstein shocks per side. Front and rear use VW drum brakes and a set of 15x3.5 and 15x7 rear Centerline wheels that are outfitted with vintage Western Auto Sandblaster tires, just like Ivan’s car back in the ’70s. The engine is a VW 2074cc T-1 built by Gary Haugley that includes a Scat crankshaft and H-beam connecting rods, forged Mahle pistons, and a Scat C-35 camshaft. The Sandmaster intake manifold is fed fuel via a Zenith carburetor and exhaust is expelled with an S&S Header and Stinger muffler. The engine produces 80 horsepower and uses a VW transmission and Gene Berg shifter. Ward used various photos of Ivan’s Modern Motors car and replicated the interior to match, complete with a Mastercraft safety seat with vintage seat covers and 5-point harness system. An aluminum dash has basic toggle switches used during that period and a buggy Superior three-spoke steering wheel. The Neal gas pedal was also a great find to add to the authenticity of the build, along with the KC Daylighter lights and vintage covers. Reimagining the car’s details included meticulous attention to the paint and lettering. The chassis components were powder-coated according to many color photographs so the frame and chassis were done in blue, black, and gold by Allcoat Powdercoating. SB Motorsports handled painting the aluminum panels yellow and added the red graphics. “I was able to speak to Greg Lewin, the original builder of Ivan’s car. I had asked what the correct shade of yellow the car was and was going by the old photos I had,” said Ward. “Greg kept getting back to me and saying it was a brighter yellow, even after sending him several samples. I realized that the photos I had were not true to the correct colors so I found the most yellow paint I could find and showed Greg. He finally said that was it, and we went ahead and painted the car which is much brighter than what I had thought.” The pinstriping and lettering was also an important part of this Chenowth’s recreation. Ward had Norm Francis handle the custom paint job on the body while “Doughboy” did the pin striping. Chuck Eichelberger handled the all the lettering that was painstakingly copied from old photographs, that included the painter and lettering artists named on the original car, as well as the three overall wins the car had with Ivan behind the wheel. Even the old decals were recreated to give the restoration the complete effect. “My friend Jim Richardson of Rich’s Signs, had been recreating old decals and offered to recreate some of the original ones on the car,” said Ward. Although this Chenowth Model 1000 is not Ivan Stewart’s original race car or is even an “exact” replica, it is, however, an awesome reproduction worthy of any museum. Thanks to Ward, his efforts to build this tribute car, showcases an important part of off-road motorsports history and is a vehicle that still inspires both legendary and novice racers alike.

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