Project by Two Local Men on Display at Daytona This Weekend

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Published on February 22 2014 5:03 pm
Last Updated on February 22 2014 5:03 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

(THE FINISHED PRODUCT)

The focus of the auto racing world is on Daytona, Florida, this weekend with tomorrow's running of the Daytona 500.  A labor of love by two Effingham area residents is on display at Daytona this weekend, with the blessing of The King.

The local men are Boris Bonutti and Roy Gobczynski; The King is Richard Petty, a legend in NASCAR lore.

Five years ago, Gobczynski and Bonutti found an original 1964 hemi engine in a South Georgia barn.  Through research, the pair authenticated the engine as the Number 11 engine Petty Enterprises built that year.  It was assembled for NASCAR, but never put in a car.  

Bonutti said he and Gobczynski felt the best way to preserve the unique engine was to house it in a recreation of the car Richard Petty drove to his first Daytona win in 1964.  They contacted Richard Petty and his new venture Petty Garage to build out an exact recreation of his 1964 Plymouth Belvidere.  

Bonutti said Petty at first offered to buy the engine, but when he found out what the two men had in mind, agreed to take on the project because the '64 was his favorite car and it was lost to history.

(RICHARD PETTY TAKES A LOOK AT THE ENGINE FOUND BY BORIS BONUTTI AND ROY GOBCZYNSKI EARLY IN THE PROCESS OF RECREATING PETTY'S WINNING RIDE FROM 50 YEARS AGO)

Richard Petty, his brother Maurice (the engine builder), his first cousin Dale Inman (his crew chief) all got personally involved with the planning, specifications and supervision of the project.  Using their archives, blueprints and personal recollection, they instructed their team at Petty Garage to recreate Number 43 to the exact specifications of the car they ran in the 1964 NASCAR season.  It took 2-1/2 years to source all the correct components and complete the car.

This month, 50 years since Richard Petty drove to his first Daytona 500 victory, Hot Rod Magazine ran a special edition focusing on the 50th anniversary of Chysler introducing the 426 hemi engine.  The new Number 43 was featured in an 11-page article celebrating Richard Petty's victory.  

Daytona International Speedway and NASCAR have invited Gobczynski and Bonutti to display the car to Daytona to be displayed at tomorrow's race.  They are showing it in the Sprint Funzone in the infield.