"Akron" Arlen Vanke Needs Our Prayers, Cards, Letters and Funnies

CtownChris

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I just got this from Shirley at MCG 15 min ago.



Hello Everyone,

My friend, and friend to many of you, "Akron" Arlen Vanke is working very hard to recover from a very serious stroke. He's in a rehabilitation facility in New Mexico and doing four hours of physical therapy / rehab a day. Arlen was
just inducted into the "Mopar Hall of Fame" but had to have a relative accept on his behalf as he was too ill to attend.



For your reference, here's some information about Arlen:
Arlen was one of the "
greatest Super Stock racers of all time, "Akron Arlen" Vanke is often overlooked. "That's why he's referred to as the Forgotten Hero," says Phill Hayenga, a lifelong fan ofVanke.
...
In fact, Chrysler hired Vanke to test their performance technology. In 1967, Arlen modified the RO23 Hemi intake manifold for racing. "NHRA rules allowed racers to modify the intake manifold, so I made the stock manifold into a plenum chamber manifold, " he said.
...
One of the cars that Vanke built to run Nostalgia Super Stocks is a1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I, built the wayArlen would have back in the '60s, and featuring his yellow and black paint scheme. Vanke talked to us this week from his home in New Mexico. He told us that he borrowed this car in 1998 from Tony Depilo of Dayton, Ohio. He made the car lighter, replacing the glass windows with lexan and getting rid of the window regulators, ("reduced the weight of the doors by 150 pounds," he told us.) He also rebuilt the Hemi engine, and went through the transmission ... reversed the valve body and changed the power pressure. For the next two years, 1998 and 1999, Vanke campaigned this Hemi Belvedere in Nostalgia drags all over the country. He said he
remembered running it at Milan, Mid-Michigan Motorplex, Quaker City, Dragway 42, Cecil County and Merton raceways. And his best run was 10.13 at 130 miles per hour at Norwalk.
Phill and Donna Hayenga of Byron, Illinois, now own the car, and have recently put it up for sale. (See the 1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I in the Mopar Muscle Car Section of the Cars On Line website.) He says he and his wife still race the car occasionally at Nostalgia Racing events. They also ownVanke's first Mopar, the 1963 Plymouth Max Wedge Savoy that Vanke named "Old Brownie.
...
After starting his career with Chevrolet and Pontiac,Vanke was intrigued with the Wedge cars that Chryslerwas putting out. His first Mopar was a 1963 Plymouth Max Wedge Savoy that he called "Old Brownie. He drove it to the NHRA Super Stock Championships in C Class in the mid-'60s at the Pomona Winternationals.
Later, it was a 1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I that Vanke piloted to set the Super Stock C class record in 1969. It happened at National Trails Raceway in Columbus, Ohio running a quarter-mile time of 10.64. Vanke said, "I set the record on the final run for the NHRA Divisional Championship. It's not often that you would set the record late in the day when there are 128 cars competing. But it was on my final run when we won SS Eliminator Class that we set the record. The best time before that had been 11.26 so Vanke set a new standard for that class. Vanke always has some good inside stories to tell about his victories.
...
Vanke always had preferred a 4-speed, but Chrysler wanted him to run against the Chevy's that had been winning in the SS/C automatic class. He won the Eliminator at the Divisional Championship again in 1970.
In 1966 Vanke won three classes at the NHRA Spring Nationals with three different cars. In the Stock Eliminator race he literally ran against himself because he owned both cars in the final.
Vanke's Hemi, along with the Sox & Martin team, gave Mopars so many victories in the late '60s that they dominated the scene in Super Stocks. In 1968 he won the Nationals in August at Indy running SS/B with his 1968 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. He reset the record again with a 10.61 at 140 miles per hour in the Cuda in SS/A at the Winternationals in Pomona, California.
In 1971, Vanke was a member of the United States Racing Team, an organization that included all the top names in Pro Stock racing. "Somebody came up with the idea to take it on the road, have our own tech inspections and run exhibitions for the fans across the country," Vanke explained. The team ran in 1971 and 1972, and along with Vanke included such names as Ronnie Sox, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Dick Landy, Don Nicholson, Dave Strickler, Don Carlton, Wally Booth and Herb McCandless.
...
Arlen told us he has run his last race. "No more racin'," he
said. "I worked long and hard at it for 50 years. I didn't hold anything back. He says he still loves to go to the Mopar car shows, though, and talk to his race fans. On the back bumper of the Hayenga's 1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I is a sticker that says, "The older I get, the faster I used to be. "I got that one from Arlen," he told us.
...
Arlen gave us a tremendous gift with his racing history and talent. He and his peers gave us the very heritage we use for our hobby and to make a living.

Please consider sending him a "get well," "feel better," "we care about you," or any kind of kind note. It would be wonderful to let him know how many people care about him.

Address at the rehab center is:

Rehabilitation Center of Southern New Mexico
"Akron" Arlen Vanke
4441 E. Lohman Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88011
Room 418


Thank you,

Shirley
 

johnhinds

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I hope Arlen gets to feeling better real soon. my dad used to race with him behind the Barberton shopping center back in the day. dad didnt have a Hemi but he did race his 65 Belvy II 383 4-spd.he used to take us to Dragway 42 and Norwalk back in the 70's.we lost him to cancer in '07. John
 

Budnicks

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I hope he feels better soon, thanks for the background...
 

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383man

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I met Arlen at York a few years ago and what a great guy he is. I have one of his T-shirts with the 70 Pro Stock Duster on it. I really liked his 70 Pro Stock Duster as its one of my favaorite all time Pro Stock cars. Get well soon Arlen. Ron
 

Sonny Black

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Loved to watch the S/S , Pro/S & etc.
Those were the days! was so special at night.
A/V put it in high gear & get well bud.:yes:

Sonny
 

Northwest

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Recovery can be long and tedious. Well wishes for you arlen
 

YY1

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I remember!

...from long before I got married, but my wife happens to be from Akron/Barberton.
 

fugly

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Arlen's son was at Carlisle to accept an award for him.....talked to Faye (his wife) a couple days ago....he is doing well, comp,aiming about food he wants....
 

383man

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I am sure some of you know how Alen was about 6 inches away from winning the first ever NHRA Pro Stock race at Indy in 1970. He and Herb McCandless were both in 1970 Hemi Pro Stock Dusters and both cars ran 9.98 with Herb inches ahead at the stripe. Runner up at the first Indy Pro Stock race is not to bad either ! That was one heck of a great race as Herb was driving the Sox & Martin Hemi Duster and Arlen in his super cool looking Hemi Duster. Ron
 

Crizila

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Got to meet him at the 2013 MATS and got his autograph. Cool guy.
 

SUPERSTOCKRACER

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I was talking to Arlen a few years back about fuel systems in length. A very knowledgeable guy. Hope for a speedy recovery.
 

Gus chiggins

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I just got this from Shirley at MCG 15 min ago.



Hello Everyone,

My friend, and friend to many of you, "Akron" Arlen Vanke is working very hard to recover from a very serious stroke. He's in a rehabilitation facility in New Mexico and doing four hours of physical therapy / rehab a day. Arlen was
just inducted into the "Mopar Hall of Fame" but had to have a relative accept on his behalf as he was too ill to attend.



For your reference, here's some information about Arlen:
Arlen was one of the "
greatest Super Stock racers of all time, "Akron Arlen" Vanke is often overlooked. "That's why he's referred to as the Forgotten Hero," says Phill Hayenga, a lifelong fan ofVanke.
...
In fact, Chrysler hired Vanke to test their performance technology. In 1967, Arlen modified the RO23 Hemi intake manifold for racing. "NHRA rules allowed racers to modify the intake manifold, so I made the stock manifold into a plenum chamber manifold, " he said.
...
One of the cars that Vanke built to run Nostalgia Super Stocks is a1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I, built the wayArlen would have back in the '60s, and featuring his yellow and black paint scheme. Vanke talked to us this week from his home in New Mexico. He told us that he borrowed this car in 1998 from Tony Depilo of Dayton, Ohio. He made the car lighter, replacing the glass windows with lexan and getting rid of the window regulators, ("reduced the weight of the doors by 150 pounds," he told us.) He also rebuilt the Hemi engine, and went through the transmission ... reversed the valve body and changed the power pressure. For the next two years, 1998 and 1999, Vanke campaigned this Hemi Belvedere in Nostalgia drags all over the country. He said he
remembered running it at Milan, Mid-Michigan Motorplex, Quaker City, Dragway 42, Cecil County and Merton raceways. And his best run was 10.13 at 130 miles per hour at Norwalk.
Phill and Donna Hayenga of Byron, Illinois, now own the car, and have recently put it up for sale. (See the 1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I in the Mopar Muscle Car Section of the Cars On Line website.) He says he and his wife still race the car occasionally at Nostalgia Racing events. They also ownVanke's first Mopar, the 1963 Plymouth Max Wedge Savoy that Vanke named "Old Brownie.
...
After starting his career with Chevrolet and Pontiac,Vanke was intrigued with the Wedge cars that Chryslerwas putting out. His first Mopar was a 1963 Plymouth Max Wedge Savoy that he called "Old Brownie. He drove it to the NHRA Super Stock Championships in C Class in the mid-'60s at the Pomona Winternationals.
Later, it was a 1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I that Vanke piloted to set the Super Stock C class record in 1969. It happened at National Trails Raceway in Columbus, Ohio running a quarter-mile time of 10.64. Vanke said, "I set the record on the final run for the NHRA Divisional Championship. It's not often that you would set the record late in the day when there are 128 cars competing. But it was on my final run when we won SS Eliminator Class that we set the record. The best time before that had been 11.26 so Vanke set a new standard for that class. Vanke always has some good inside stories to tell about his victories.
...
Vanke always had preferred a 4-speed, but Chrysler wanted him to run against the Chevy's that had been winning in the SS/C automatic class. He won the Eliminator at the Divisional Championship again in 1970.
In 1966 Vanke won three classes at the NHRA Spring Nationals with three different cars. In the Stock Eliminator race he literally ran against himself because he owned both cars in the final.
Vanke's Hemi, along with the Sox & Martin team, gave Mopars so many victories in the late '60s that they dominated the scene in Super Stocks. In 1968 he won the Nationals in August at Indy running SS/B with his 1968 Plymouth Hemi Cuda. He reset the record again with a 10.61 at 140 miles per hour in the Cuda in SS/A at the Winternationals in Pomona, California.
In 1971, Vanke was a member of the United States Racing Team, an organization that included all the top names in Pro Stock racing. "Somebody came up with the idea to take it on the road, have our own tech inspections and run exhibitions for the fans across the country," Vanke explained. The team ran in 1971 and 1972, and along with Vanke included such names as Ronnie Sox, Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins, Dick Landy, Don Nicholson, Dave Strickler, Don Carlton, Wally Booth and Herb McCandless.
...
Arlen told us he has run his last race. "No more racin'," he
said. "I worked long and hard at it for 50 years. I didn't hold anything back. He says he still loves to go to the Mopar car shows, though, and talk to his race fans. On the back bumper of the Hayenga's 1965 Plymouth Hemi Belvedere I is a sticker that says, "The older I get, the faster I used to be. "I got that one from Arlen," he told us.
...
Arlen gave us a tremendous gift with his racing history and talent. He and his peers gave us the very heritage we use for our hobby and to make a living.

Please consider sending him a "get well," "feel better," "we care about you," or any kind of kind note. It would be wonderful to let him know how many people care about him.

Address at the rehab center is:

Rehabilitation Center of Southern New Mexico
"Akron" Arlen Vanke
4441 E. Lohman Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88011
Room 418


Thank you,

Shirley
I wish i could afford to buy his race car. I would put it in Don Garlits museum.
 

Budnicks

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Arlen Died; in June 15th 2017

RIP

seems like just yesterday
I saw him on Mecum selling his 68 Hemi BO29 'cuda
 

cjd1963

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Great man! Was there with him in Indy when his 68 Barracuda and Duster were auctioned off at Mecum in 2015. Proud and honored to call him my friend.

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