CANON CITY, Colo. (AP) — The Zerby family has had a zealous interest in race cars in one form or another for three generations.
Keven Zerby showed off his 1936 Ford Coupe on a recent Saturday during the 31st annual Streetrod, Custom and Special Interest Car Show at Centennial Park. Hosted by the Cañon Car Club, more than 100 vehicles lined up on the lawn boasting freshly polished fenders and shiny chrome.
Zerby’s car is a recreation of the racecar his father, Jim Zerby, 79, once raced at Southbend Motor Speedway in Southbend, Ind.
“I’ve been wanting to recreate this car for quite some time,” Zerby said, “but it’s hard to find a car — these cars are getting harder to find and they’re expensive to find, but I finally got a good deal here locally.”
Jim, who now lives in Pueblo West, raced “jalopy stock cars” in the early 1950s, Zerby said.
“My dad said he went to a relative’s house, bought a car, drove it home, cut the fenders off, took the glass out of it and raced it that next weekend,” he said. “That’s how they did it in those old days.”
Zerby spent about two years working on the car, copying everything from the front bumper to the engine. His dad not only helped recreate the car, he also provided some technical information on how to match the car to the original.
“It took a lot of research to find out what the actual car was like,” Zerby said.
The project was completed in January, and the shiny red Ford has been in a few car shows and even on the racetrack since. The Zerbys are members of the Colorado Vintage Oval Racers.
“We took the car to I-25 Speedway about three weeks ago, and I took the first ride to make sure it felt good and ran OK,” Zerby said. “Then, my dad took the car around the racetrack and came back grinning from ear to ear.”
Zerby’s son, Jimmy, an avid racecar driver, also has taken the car for a spin on the track. Out of the three men, Zerby prefers to be under the hood rather on the track.
“I like to build Jimmy’s racecars,” he said. “It’s my job to make them go fast, and it’s his job to drive them.”
Along with the No. 3 painted on both sides of the car, “JIM” is painted on the driver side door and his wife’s name “DEE” is painted on the passenger door, just like the original car. Jim’s racing sponsor, “Jo-Joe’s Grill” from North Liberty, Indiana, also is painted on the rear fenders.
“His sponsor would put gas in the race car and after the race they’d feed him a hamburger and a malt,” Zerby said. “That was their big sponsorship back in the day.”
Current regulations required Zerby to make some safety upgrades, such as modern seat belts, but rather than the doors being welded shut, they are secured with a belt, just like the original.
“This car has been so much fun to do,” he said. “Watching my dad’s face light up when he sees it, and his big smile — it’s so much fun to watch him react.”
A replica of his dad’s racing helmet and goggles also complement the car. Zerby is not a current member of the Cañon Car Club, but he is a founding member.
- By CARIE CANTERBURY, The Daily Record
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