Faster than a Buick 8

August 28th, 2008

Several days after I posted the article on Galobar, the first All American Futurity winner, and her trainer Newt Keck, my husband brought home Stephen King’s novel From A Buick 8, which brought to mind the following story shared by Keck, when I interviewed him in 1990.

Quips about horsepower were inevitable in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with the grand openings of Lone Star Park and Texas Motor Speedway, within two weeks of each other in 1997. Lone Star Park billboards saying “Pit Stops are for Wimps” and “REAL HORSEPOWER” greeted stockcar fans on their way to Texas Speedway and prompted Speedway owner Eddie Gossage to challenge, tongue in cheek, “If Lone Star Park wants to drag a horse over here – or we’ll drag a car over there – we’ll race them.”

Eddie didn’t know it had already been done.

To celebrate its first fifty years, Buick made a big advertising splash for its 1953 line of cars. They got a lot of mileage out of bragging about their 188-horsepower V8 engine, the Twin-turbine Dynaflow Drive for a “far swifter getaway,” and the racy styling that begged for an open stretch of highway.

Newt Keck, who trained Quarter runners for West Coast horseman Hugh Huntley, accepted the challenge when Huntley laid a $1,000 bet down on four legs against the V8. “I can outrun that damn car,” said Keck, who powered Huntley’s mare Day Light Mc bareback past the Buick on a 400-yard straightaway in Colfax, Washington.

Real horsepower won that day.

“The guy was dumb running with me on the racetrack,” Keck said, 40 years later. “We had to be sitting still. Naturally, his rear end went sideways in the dirt. I was too far in front for him to catch me by the time he got that thing rolling.”