Over the last several weeks, I have covered Highland racing champion Jerry Tillman.
Each story that he has shared is filled with treasured memories that many drivers in the area have experienced.
Next week, will be the final installment for Tillman, as I write about his friendship with a fellow racer that has competed with the likes of A. J. Foyt and others, Swede Savage.
This week, Tillman talked about one of the cars he raced in the early to mid-80s.
He called it a Mavtang.
“The Mavtang had a Mustang front end and a body of a Maverick,” said Tillman. “I bought the fiberglass front end. It was custom-made.”
Tillman explained why he came up with the moniker for his car.
“I did it for show purposes,” said Tillman. “The fans like it when the drivers have nicknames for their cars.
“Some of the drivers did other things cool with their cars, like paint them with neat colors.”
The Mavtang had a short block bored out 302-engine, according to Tillman.
“It was bored out 30,000ths over the 302 engine,” said Tillman. “The other guys were running Chevy’s with 350 cubic-inch engines.
“I built the car, from scratch, in the west end of Highland.”
Tillman raced the Mavtang for about four or five years.
“I raced it a lot at the Orange Show,” said Tillman.
Even though he knew that the competition was fierce, Tillman’s car showed its muscle on the track.
“It made the trophy dash a few times,” said Tillman.
The trophy dash was a competition between the top six racers.
“Sometimes I’d be in the middle of the pack,” said Tillman. “Other times, I’d spin out.”
Tillman had to retire from racing, altogether.
“It just never panned out,” said Tillman. “Back then, you could get your parts at a junk yard. Nowadays, everything is fabricated or custom-made. That takes a lot of money, sometimes.
“It was usually the engine parts that were costly. You had to buy the best camshafts or the best pistons.”
Even the body has changed.
“Now, they race with flexi-flyer,” said Tillman. “It’s rubberized. You bounce back from impacts. With fiberglass, you didn’t have that.
“If it busted, you had to repair it.”
Look forward to learning about the East Highland racing legend, Swede Savage.
Do you have any fascinating stories to share with our readers about loved ones or the history of Highland?
I would like to hear from you.
You can reach me at (909) 816-0318.