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2020 Racing and Restoration Review
Published on: May 18, 2020
50th Anniversary

As part of its 50th Anniversary Rosebush Racing is finishing two major projects that have been underway for some time. Let’s take a look at them.

First up is the 1959 Pontiac Catalina Station Wagon that Frances Rosebush purchased brand new in 1959. In the late ‘90s Roger Rosebush heard word that his father’s ‘59 Pontiac was seen in a junkyard in Ubly, Michigan.

The wagon was instantly recognizable because the candy-striped roof from its racing days years ago. Ironically, the wrecking yard was located not too far from the famous Ubly Dragstrip where the car had competed many times during its racing career.

Since this was the first car that the Rosebush Brothers had used to go racing 50 years ago it was very desirable to reacquire it. Roger set out to see if he could purchase it.

The yard was owned by two Polish brothers who were not very interested in having customers peruse their back forty. It took three trips and plenty of authentic Polish Kielbasa to gain access.

When Roger was finally able to get in he immediately confirmed that it was indeed the Rosebush Brother’s original race car from so long ago. Next came the near-impossible task of reclaiming it from its forty-year, dirt home.

Armed with his ramp truck, some chain saws and a crew of four Roger returned to Ubly. After working all morning and into the early afternoon the decision was made to abandon the reclamation. After heading into downtown Ubly for lunch the team decided try one more time before heading home.

Trying a different tact the wagon was finally freed from its earthbound grave. Along the way home several photos were taken to document the trip including one in front of the original selling dealer.

The restoration started around the year 2000 and continued in fits and spurts during the following years as other projects got in the way. Along the way no less than NINE 1959 Pontiacs parts cars were purchased to aid in the restoration.

Finally, the decision was made to focus on finishing the wagon in time for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. As can be seen in the accompanying photographs a lot of work has been completed with the expectation of debuting the wagon at this year’s Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

That is, if there is a Pontiac Nationals in 2020. The promoters say there will be but it’s really a big unknown.

Simultaneously with this project work has been continuing on the #50 Tempest Re-Creation in North Carolina. This project began about 2014 and it too has seen an ebb and flow of progress. 

The goal is to re-create one of the most famous Pontiacs in Pontiac racing history. The original #50 Tempest Super Duty 421 competed in the 1963 American Challenge Cup 250 at Daytona.

No less than Road & Track magazine called the Tempest’s victory the Most Dominating in the History of Daytona International Speedway. The Tempest started on the pole, led nearly every lap except for pit stop exchanges and won by two laps in a one hundred lap race.

Number 50 Car at Daytona Racing

A.J. Foyt finished second in one of the two Mickey Thompson 1963 Corvettes that were powered by the new Chevrolet big block “Mystery Motor” that was making its world-debut. 

The journalists nicknamed it the Mystery Motor because they had never seen anything like it. It had a relatively square valve covers which was very different from the scalloped valve covers of the 409 CID Chevrolet big block engine that preceded it.

Besides the other big block Corvette the field included 10 Z06 Corvettes that were new for 1963, a Big-Brake 1962 Corvette, five Ferrari GTOs, three lightweight Jaguar E-types and two Shelby Cobras.

The Tempest was sold after the race and never seen again. Despite its near-mythical status no one has ever attempted to re-create it until now. Work is proceeding at a quickened pace because the hope is to debut that car at the same 2020 Pontiac Nationals. Enjoy the attached photos that document its progress.

Published by: Jim Luikens

Owner at Rise Sales A full-service Marketing and Public Relations agency that has specialized in the Automotive Performance Aftermarket since 1981.

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