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Posted: 08/20/14

Above, Bruce Lindstrom restored the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda to its former glory in 15 years, including a 273 Commando V-8 engine. At right, every detail was taken into account in restoring the vehicle, including old decals that were ripped or lost.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Restored race car brings history to Dream Cruise

Observer Staff Writer
      When Bruce Lindstrom of Kearney, Nebraska went fishing for a chassis for his supercharged big block engine, he landed a goldfish.
       Now, 15 years later, one Washington Township resident is glad to see a piece of racing history rumbling down the street in all of its former glory.
       Troy Simonsen of Washington Township and Lindstrom presented the record-breaking "Goldfish" drag race car during this year's Woodward Dream Cruise, sharing with all a part of racing history thought to be lost.
       The Goldfish belonged to the Golden Commandos, a group of Plymouth drag racers that formed in 1962. The group consisted of various automotive workers such as engineers, technicians, lawyers and truck drivers.
       Among them was Simonsen, who specialized in engines. He built the original engine for the Goldfish.
       "It's the sweetest engine I've ever built," he said. "It wasn't the biggest, it wasn't the most powerful, but it was the best for what it was."
       The Goldfish is a 1965 Barracuda with a 273 Commando V-8 engine. The Golden Commandos stripped the assembly-line car of 150 pounds of weight, including dipping the doors, hood and fenders in acid, and replacing the weight so it was on the drive wheels.
       "They wanted to run a car that was the people's car," Simonsen said. "This is not the great big, full-blown race car people were intimidated by."
       Simonsen said he was behind the wheel when the car broke the American Hot Rod Association's F Stock record the first time it ran.
       The car went on to win the National Hot Rod Association's U.S. Nationals F Stock class in 1965, setting the class record with a 13.47 time on the quarter-mile track at 103.68 MPH.
       The car was sold at the end of the year and disappeared. It wasn't until 15 years ago that Lindstrom happened to come across the Goldfish while looking for a chassis to built a street racer.
       "All I wanted to do was built a hot, fast car," he said.
       Lindstrom said the car was in the middle of a pasture, missing its wheels, engine and transmission, but was otherwise in good condition with only 352 miles on it. Lindstrom's friend gave the car to him, and he noticed the word "Goldfish" under the paint.
       After researching the vehicle, he was able to have the vehicle verified as the infamous Goldfish by Ray Kobe, president, founder and historian of the Golden Commandos. With such a unique car in his possession, Lindstrom traded away his project to begin restoring the Goldfish.
       "I had to do it," Lindstrom said.
       Lindstrom spent the next 15 years restoring the Goldfish to its original glory, thanks to assistance from the Seward County Community College Area Technical School. An engine just like the original roars under the hood, the custom paint-job shines with gold, white and red, and even decals on the windows match the original.
       "The details that have been restored are incredible," Simonsen said. "It's beautiful."
       The car continued its winning streak even without racing down the drag strip. Lindstrom has claimed a number of awards for the Goldfish, including a Best in Show at the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame in Henderson, North Carolina and at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals.
       "I've won an award at every show I've been to," Lindstrom said. "It's very pleasing -- I never expected this."
       Lindstrom was inducted into the Mopar Hall of Fame in 2013 along with the Golden Commandos and was made a member of the team. He said as fun as restoring and driving the car has been, the best part was unveiling it to the Golden Commandos during the induction.
       "It was seeing the looks on their faces," he said. "That was what did it for me."
       As for Simonsen, he couldn't be happier seeing the one that got away thundering down the road once again.
       "It's really a special car," he said. "It's awesome to me, because I built the original engine and put my heart and soul into it."

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