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in-ge-nue 1. an innocent, inexperienced young woman. 2. in the theater (a), the role of such a character. (b) an actress playing such a role.
Street slang: Lamb
Wolf reference: "She looked eighteen to me."
Now that you know who's who and what's what, we present a true story of ingenue greatness from a land better known for its wolves than its lambs.
"I put these facts together after speaking with my friend 'Ray the Fixer', who was (Top Fuel racer) Billy Lynch's right-hand man for many years. I've also heard these accounts from Billy himself in the past, and believe them to be true. What I read on the HAMB from Jerry Lipori's son is different, and although I'd imagine he'd rely on his father for facts, he may have used other - less reliable - sources. Billy Lynch was there, running a body shop only blocks from where the original car was built. Here's what I know:
The owners of Brooklyn's Mid County Buick dealership (on Empire Blvd and Washington Ave), Steve Malise and Jerry Lipori, were the original owners of the car. Malise convinced nineteen Buick dealers to pony up a thousand bucks each to fund the car build (that's in 1967. Who can doubt the persuasive powers of a Brooklyn-based car guy?). These guys also owned Brooklyn Speed and Machine, so fabricating and modifying parts for the race car was done mostly in-house. They ran a 430" Buick engine with (reportedly) stock bore and stroke, prepared by Long Island Gasser legend Jack Merkel, and used the first known instance of an 8-71 blower on the 8.8:1 compression Enderle-injected engine. They hand-fabbed many parts that weren't available commercially, such as the blower manifold, timing chain cover, magneto drive, external oil pump drive, and main bearing girdle. The squeezed power was pushed through a Vitar TH-400, and proceeded back to a 3.90-geared Buick rearend, using a magnesium Mickey Thompson center section, and hung with ladder bars. Being the Brooklyn showmen they were at heart, the axle housing was fully chromed.
Malise reached out through the Buick dealer contacts he had, and with the help of Fiberglass Unlimited shop owner Ron Pelligrini, was able to make a positive mold of a stock Gran Sport 400 that was sitting in the lot at Palmer Buick in Chicago. They did this on a Sunday when there was no one around, sealing up all the body and glass voids so the fiberglass resin wouldn't seep into the interior of the car, which was to be picked up by a customer the next day. Talk about a piece of history - where's that car now? Probably as payment for services rendered (and hazardous duty pay), Pelligrini made a second body and campaigned it on his own, but with a more traditional Hemi used for power. The hand-laid mold weighed-in at around 600 pounds, and was up to an inch thick in places - mostly due to the gonzo style in which it was created - in a parking lot, without the aid of proper wooden bucks.
As far as Ingenue's drivers are concerned, 'Coney Island Ralph' Landolfi (of Gasser fame, and a past Motormouth Radio guest) was the first driver of the car, later turning the wheel over to Red Lang, who swapped in a AA/FD engine (possibly one of Billy Lynch's bullets), but only drove it once. Bruce Bohen from Brooklyn Speed and Machine is credited with being the third and most successful driver, turning a best of 7.79 at 191 MPH. Again, this is in the '70s, from a bunch of lowbuck hot rodders. I was told that Bohen also played a big part in the original build of the car, in his shop at Utica and Tilden Avenues, in Brooklyn.
Steve Malise sold the Ingenue (sometime in the '70s) to Nick Hardie in Holland, Michigan, where it sat dormant for many years. Jerry Lipori's son John bought it from Hardie in a semi-restored state, and has been working with original members of the crew to restore it to as-built condition.
Then there's this: While searching out original parts for the Ingenue's restoration, John Lipori learned that Billy Lynch still had the rare Buick blower manifold in his shop, just waiting to be found again. Lynch's caretaker sensibilities ensured this stuff would be well cared for, and it was. (Author note: At least Lipori's purchase is in use, unlike the den art that I currently own).
Bonus factoid: Ingenue is actually the name of one of Steve Malise's daughters, with the other girls sharing similar sounding monikers (one is Mijanou - pronounced much like the car's name). No surprise, as Steve Malise's wife Suzette was French." - Motormouth Ray
Billy Lynch (left) and Steve Malise, circa 1967.
Billy Lynch (white hat), Red Lang (blue hat), Coney Island Ralph (face obscured), Steve Malise (dark blue hat), and SGE pal Dennis Quitoni (in Taz shirt) at an East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame event in Henderson, North Carolina.
Rare shot of Ron Pellegrini's Palmer Buick-sponsored "second body" from the great Chicago mold caper.
If inspired to create your own Ingenue, it could happen, in 1/24 scale. Our pals at Speed City Resin have 'em in stock. ("Super Bird" decals also available).
Drawing a typical crowd of pit pass holders at Englishtown, New Jersey, in May of '67. For a total investment of $16,285 (and mucho itchy sweat), Malise and Lipori got 2,005 pounds of Gran Sport. That's $8.12 a pound. Not too shabby.(Photos courtesy of Motormouth Ray)
With sincere apologies to Elana Scherr's Daily Driver Diaries column in Hot Rod magazine, I posted last week regarding the blown head gasket in my Honda beater. The SGE Nation can now exhale, as I have addressed the situation, and the venerable Civic is once again providing golden retriever-style loyalty to your humble blogger.
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