This 1956 Pontiac Star Chief is No Joke

1956 Pontiac Star Chief is No Joke

Greg Stelse’s racing car is called “The Joker.” Today, the two-tone green ’57 Pontiac Star Chief two-door hardtop is usually on display inside his new business, Greg’s Speed Shop LLC. But the project that involved turning the “Poncho” into a nostalgic drag racer actually got off to a dismal start, according to his wife Leah.

”Greg purchased it from a man who had it stored away in an old garage in Missouri,” Leah told RacingJunk. “It had suffered in terms of rust and deterioration from all the years it was stored. In fact, the ’57 Pontiac body was just a shell back then.”

1956 Pontiac Star Chief is No Joke

Plucked from what Leah describes as “the depths of despair” in 2014, the Star Chief fit into a vision that Greg had in his mind. “He wanted to make The Joker a worthy vehicle again,” Leah recalled. “And he wanted to be the one behind the steering wheel when it was racing down the track again.”

Greg brought the car into the shop at his GS Trucking Company in New London, Wis. That was before he opened Greg’s Speed Shop in Waupaca, Wis. He and his crew tore the car apart and put it together as a “straight axle” dragster designed to compete in nostalgia drag racing events.

1956 Pontiac Star Chief is No Joke

Since opening Greg’s Speed Shop in the spring of 2018, Stelse has been working pretty much 9 am to 5 pm seven days per week. “He’s here at the Speed Shop most of the time,” said Leah, “but three or four times a year we take the car racing. On those weekends, a lot of the guys from the Speed Shop go with us.”

The Joker project has been pretty successful. Leah reports that the car “Has participated in several races over the years and will continue to race for many more years.” The Joker will be the featured vehicle at the 15th Annual Pardeeville Community Car & Truck Show on Sept. 1, 2018 (www.PardeevilleCarShow.com.)

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About John Gunnell 109 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.
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