BY LEANN DILBECK –
Little did Jeff Montgomery know when he bought his first Corvette 44 years ago, the miles and joy that would come from the used 1963 Corvette that he originally paid $1,100 for. Not only has he traveled thousands of miles across the country with wife Penny in this street car, being photographed in all 48 states, this local legendary car has now qualified for the Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car to be held November 8-9 in Las Vegas.
The race, now in its 6th year, has also evolved into a reality TV series featured on MAVTV. Clips of Jeff and his car, when he qualified on the Gateway Motor Speedway in St. Louis, will be aired in the coming weeks. The focus of the show is not completely about the races but the car owners and their stories. Jeff said he first competed at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas and had the car “sort of ready.” He returned home to the garage and put her on a diet, spending a year reconfiguring the car before returning to the track and ultimately qualifying in St. Louis with a new LS3 500 hp engine roaring under the hood.
Jeff, who humbly calls himself ‘just a car guy,’ said that honestly what peaked his interest in the race wasn’t the possibility of winning, but rather, the opportunity of running on some of the country’s most legendary race tracks, including Daytona, Sebring and Laguna Seca.
With his and his son’s company, MontCo. Mfg., they regularly attend the annual SEMA convention in Las Vegas, the city’s largest convention held. The Optima race is held at the conclusion. Jeff said it is a huge honor just to be included with these cars and said the entire event is a huge production that he is a bit awe struck to now be a part of. He also jokes that he is the oldest guy doing it at the age of 62 and said the thrill of going around the track at a 140 mph never gets old but admits that it’s the redesigning and tweaking that he enjoys as much as the race. He’s also particularly proud to have the opportunity to promote Mena and the automotive industries that are based here.
This car that has been a conversation piece wherever the Montgomerys travel and now has yet another chapter to be added to its storybook that includes magazine covers and six Best of Shows. He said Penny is as popular as the car. Many times, people want to meet the lady who has traveled the country in a car that once didn’t even have air-conditioning. “Not every lady would encourage traveling around the country in an old car.”
Jeff said he and Penny never tire of visiting with folks as they travel the country with various car / Corvette clubs. “Everybody has a car story… even if they aren’t a car guy,” joked Jeff.