Photo GDR-00085

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  John Thorne




  Factory Experimental


  Harry Wellman




  Photos by Mark Artis


  late 1964 or early 1965



David, here's a color shot of John Thorne's Jayhawker Plymouth. Shot was behind John's shop in Valdosta. This shot was how the car looked before the blown hemi was installed. Over the years, this photo has faded and the yellow-appearing lettering was actually red. The shot was taken by Mark Artis, he worked with John, building, tuning, and sometimes driving some of John's cars. The car was raced ususally as a 'run what you brung' Southern match racer. The Valdosta shot would be late '64 or early '65; it had a wedge in it then. They pulled the wedge to install a blown hemi for match racing. As you can see, the engine is out in the photo. -- Dan Bell

David, just to clear up things.... Yes, I took the picture of the Jayhawker at Jon's shop. No, I did not drive this car, but I did much of the work on it. I was involved with Jon Thorne Racing for many years, as a mechanic, occasional driver and crewman. Jon was involved in many types of Motorsports: Dragracing, NASCAR, SCCA and just about anything that had wheels, Jon would give it a of the most dangerous drivers in the world...NEVER ride with him. I got used to it...most of the time just close your eyes and hang on...but Jon could handle just about anything....even raced dirt tracks for a while with one of those strange looking flat cars with a high winding small block Chevy. He used another name for that....something about the insurance deal...haha. Everyone knew who was driving, just had fun and let it go.

We ran everything from the F/X Jayhawker to a blown Chevelle, the Joker, to many different super stockers....from one of the liteweight 63 Fastback Fords, Humpin' Clyde, to the Z-11 63 Chevy, Thunder. I had the opportunity, as a young man, to drive and maintain these cars....something that most of us can only dream about....ruined me. Oh woe is me...haha. Still doing it, and still loving it.

Heck, for lunch, just jump in what was sitting at the shop and go...from almost any hot stocker of the time to Cobras and Shelby Mustangs. Jon even had one of the Grand Sport Corvettes...ssn 002...we DID drive that one on the street....late at nite and over 200 mph on those south Georgia back roads.

Wish that I could remember would make a good bit of reading...and most is Very Illegal....anyway, just for the record. By the way, Harry 'Bones' Wellman was the designated driver on most of Jon's cars...I think that Harry is somewhere in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. -- Mark Artis


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