Friday, September 30, 2011
Fast Friday: Fast Friends
Buick's Home Town of Flint, Michigan - saw some awesome Buicks at the Sloan Museum, checked out some local cruise nights, caught breakfast with the local Buick Club of America folks, even did a driving tour past some of the old GM plants where many a classic Buick got their start. And along the way we crossed paths with some nice guys who had a lot to do with Buick Performance and lent a hand to the Reynolds Buick Racing effort way back when.
Denny Manner (Left in the pictures) was hired into Buick Engineering upon graduation from the University of Minnesota in 1959. He was a weekend racer himself, so it would only be natural that he would being his love of performance engines along. One of his early projects at Buick was developing the dual-quad arrangement that was introduced on the 1964 Wildcat and Riviera.
Later he would serve as the Project Engineer in charge of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 455 engine programs. It was in that role that he became friendly with Jim Bell, tuner of the Reynolds Buick racing cars. It seems that Denny was developing high performance parts but didn't have the budget to campaign a drag car of his own, in addition the Corporation still had an official racing ban. The solution was to ship some test parts to a couple of successful Buick racing teams, most notably our own Kenne-Bell Reynolds team. Both our '68 and '70 race programs benefitted from his support and it was a pleasure to meet him in person and discuss some of the finest hours in Buick's history. We are pleased to know him.
On the right in the pictures is Joe Guzek, retired Motor Wheel engineer and Buick racer himself from the time the cars were new. It was Joe who supplied the Motor Wheel Spyder racing wheels to Jim Bell for our 1970 GS 455 Stage 2, and Joe went on to create the chrome wheels for the 1986-87 Buick Grand National.
Joe met Denny Manner way back in 1970 when he was seeking input into a new car order that became his own 1970 GS 455 drag car- another Buick engineer referred him directly to Denny and it was the beginning of a long association. Two, actually- because Joe still has the 1970 GS 455 he ordered with Denny's input. He also knows Jim Bell personally from the racing days and is a friend to Reynolds and Buick Performance fans in general. It was great to get to know Joe and Denny in person and hope we can coerce them out to West Covina for one of our Open Houses in the near future.