NSS Inc. Team Profile - Better Than Nothin
By Bob Wilkiewicz
Nostalgia Super Stock Inc. Staff
OK - that’s more than enough self-reflection for now, back to normal. And this month’s story line is outstanding. It has the paradox of being familiar and unique at the same time - it could be described as a design of devotion.
The structure’s first leg is not complicated, nor uncommon. Young man desires race car, gets race car, enjoys running the race car. For the second leg, the young man sells race car, then regrets the sale. As the years go on, the now middle-age man and his young son hope to reacquire the car.
Of course, in life and racing, getting what you want is not easy, and once it’s gone, getting it back is not guaranteed.
Father/son team of Sherm and Gene Devening
For the father/son partnership of Sherman and Gene Devening, getting that third leg built has been quite the process.
And before that construction could even start, it took the determination of a devoted woman to make it possible.
Putting aside the human drama for a little while, the ‘Better Than Nothing’’ 1962 Dodge would be a technical story in itself.
As researched by the Devenings, the car was special-ordered by Jack Maholland as one of five Max Wedge 330 sedans built in the 413 cubic inch, 420 horsepower, 13 1/2:1 compression ratio specification, out of a total series production of 214 units.
Also with a radio delete, making it a one of one, the build date of June 23, 1962 is evidence that it was likely the last 1962 Dodge Max Wedge to roll off the assembly line, with Maholland himself behind the steering wheel.
Fastest pass to date, 10:88 at 124.8 mph , Bowling Green KY 2010
“The car has never been driven on the street,” said Sherman Devening.
The original motor lasted about one month before succumbing to main bearing failure, a common malady at the time. The engineering theory is that the oiling system was just not adequate to protect the bearings from the high cylinder pressures.
A 426 cubic inch power plant was installed under warranty and Maholland raced the car the remainder of the 1962 season.
During the off-season, the car was acquired out of Jersey County Motors (Jersey County, Illinois) by Mike Ritter, who named it the ‘Jerseyville Jumper.’ He raced the car through the 1963 and 1964 seasons.
Finally in autumn 1964, Sherman Devening and Sherman Orris took ownership and renamed the car ‘Better Than Nothing.’’ Of course, by that time Chrysler had raised the ante.
“We were glad to have what we had because not everyone could afford to run the Hemi,” said Sherman Devening.
Lifting the wheels at Indy
The partners shared all the racing responsibilities, including driving. They ran at western Illinois tracks, including Alton and Nashville, an 1/8-mile strip. “I had a good win at Alton one night,” said Sherman Devening. “That was enjoyable. We were running in the 12.20’s and trying to get in the eleven’s.”
At one point, they removed the front bumper but were careful to preserve all the parts and never cut anything. Their quest continued through 1967 and then the car was parked.
Meanwhile, Orris had served a tour of military duty in Vietnam, meeting Ron Dyer, a fellow veteran from the Springfield/Rogersville, Missouri area. Sometime during 1969, Orris and Devening sold the car to Dyer, who continued racing it.
All the owners of the car shared a mutual appreciation for and devotion to the car and had stayed in friendly contact through the 1970’s. However, by about 1980, both the car and connections had began to crumble.
As 1986 rolled on, the Nostalgia Super Stock era was beginning, especially in Missouri and Gene Devening had graduated from high school. His enthusiasm for the history and Sherman Devening’s growing regret provided a spark to find the car again.
Continued on next page...
<<<PREVIOUS PAGE NEXT PAGE>>>