Lyndonville man will race rebuilt 1934 Chevy Coupe in Utah

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 July 2023 at 7:14 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Larry Flynn, left rear, stands with Randy Heideman next to the nearly completed car Heideman plans to race next month at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

LYNDONVILLE – Randy Heideman has had a love of racing (cars and motorcycles) all his life, and has spent his entire life in the automotive business in one form or another.

He was sales manager for Weld Wheels, owned a collision shop in Ridgeway, ran a used car lot and for 50 years raced motorcycles.

“But with age comes a roll cage, so at the age of 64 I gave up racing motorcycles,” Heideman said.

But racing is not out of his blood.

His next endeavor is to take a 1934 Chevy Coupe, which he has built almost entirely from the ground up, to the world speed races at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

He bought the car seven years ago, and started rebuilding it into a race car, with help from friends Larry Flynn, a top mechanic, and Jerry Guy, a head engineer from Fisher Price.

“I have built 95 percent of this car here in my garage,” he said.

When he got the car, its wood frame was rotted and the only piece he could salvage was a strip in the door under the passenger’s window. Every other inch of the car he has fabricated out of steel.

Bonneville Salt Flats is home to all kinds of speed-shattering records that are set in many different racing events there, including Bonneville Speed Week, which begins this year on Aug. 4. Bonneville Speed Week attracts hundreds of drivers in all racing categories, who compete to set new land speed records in all kinds of racing categories.

Heideman doesn’t think he stands a chance to break any speed records. Not knowing the rules at Bonneville, he made all kinds of modifications to the car, which require him to be in a much more difficult class, he said.

Provided photos: (Left) This is the hood of the 1934 Chevy Coupe when Randy Heideman of Lyndonville started rebuilding it seven years ago. (Right) Here is the 1934 Chevy Coupe after Randy Heideman put an industrial Hemi engine in it.

His class is C/BGCC, which stands for Class/Blown Glass Classic Coupe.

“Some people in this class may spend $1 million on an engine alone,” Heideman said. “This is not about a record. It’s just seeing how fast I can go. It’ll probably be the world’s fastest industrial Hemi, which is the engine I put in it.”

The engine is capable of 200 miles per hour. He has never driven that fast before, and will have to do a run on a test track before the actual race.

Heideman has a bucket list on which he has some pretty exciting adventures. In the 1990s, Heideman and several of his friends were the first to ride their motorcycles on the pipeline from Fairbanks to the Arctic Ocean.

Heideman, Randy Flynn, his mechanic and crew chief, along with several others will leave July 29 to drive to Bonneville in a motor home, towing the race car on a trailer. They are planning on a four-day drive to the Utah/Nevada border.

“It will be a big accomplishment if I can get this car to go as fast as it’s supposed to,” he said. “It will be hard with all the old suspension on it.”

Photos by Ginny Kropf: (Left) Randy Heideman points to the strip around the window of the car he is rebuilding, which is the only piece of the original wood frame he could salvage. (Right) The rear of Randy Heideman’s rebuilt 1934 Chevy Coupe race car shows some of the 300 louvres on the car, a race driver’s prayer and the required parachute to enter the Bonneville Salt Flats world speed races in Nevada.

The car also has 300 louvres on the hood, sides and trunk, all made by a man from Rochester in his 90s. It is also required to be equipped with a parachute.

While Heideman did the body work on the car, Flynn was the mechanic. Heideman said Guy, who helped set up a facility for Fisher Price in China, is also an avid drag racer, engine builder and hot rod/muscle car builder. Flynn is also well-versed in hot rods. Both helped him every step of the way and he couldn’t have done it without them, he said.

Mark Weld, an artist from Middleport, painted the graphics and gold leaf lettering on the car.

It’s number, 5151, has special meaning for Heideman. His number when he raced motorcycles was 51, but when he asked if that number was available for Bonneville, he was told no. Then he asked if he could have 151, but was told they don’t have any numbers of three, but the official said they could give him 5151. His wife looked up the meaning of numbers and 5151 has an angelic connection.

He is confident his guardian angel will be watching over him.

Heideman already has his next project in the works. He has purchased a 1949 Austin from England, which he is going to rebuild. It was a four door, but he has converted it into a two-door.

“You never see a four-door race car,” he said.