Story by Sean Smith
Historical photos courtesy the Eno DePasquale collection.
Eno DePasquale was a car guy from the word go. His father, a doctor, had a 1953 Jaguar XK120M that would occasionally see some late-night street racing at the hands of his son. Eno didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps; he wanted to work on cars, not people. His father would tell friends, “I think my son has gears going around in his head!”
In his high school years, with no formal training, Eno started to build cars for himself. He began by customizing a ‘36 Ford coupe, then moved on to a ‘32 three-window that he chopped, channeled, and built from the ground up. His final high school ride was a ‘40 Ford that he massaged into a custom machine.
Eno did a hitch in the Marine Corps between 1956 and 1958. During that time his old man picked up a ‘56 Corvette. Returning home, Eno felt the Corvette could do with some improvements. After driving it, his father wasn’t thrilled with the ‘improvements’. But it was perfect for the drag strip in Wallkill, NY, where Eno was competing.
Still, there had to be more than straight-line sport. Memories of going to races at Thompson with his father gave him the bug for road racing. This led young DePasquale to the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
To go to driving school in 1958, Eno picked up a 1953 Ferrari Vignale coupe for $1500.00. He drove the car on the street for a while, then decided, “This is a light car. It will go really fast with a Chevy in it!” So in went a Chevy V8, transmission and rear end. And off he went to Thompson, CT and Vineland, NJ for driving school.
At the same time, Eno was starting to build his own racer. He was working in a body and fender shop doing collision work. Eno thought the Echidna race cars that were being built out of Hibbing, Minnesota were cool, but he wanted to learn how to weld aluminum, so there would be no fiberglass Devin body for him. His inspiration came from two very different places: the front of the car was modeled after Max Balchowsky’s Junk Yard Dog, Old Yeller 1; the back end was to have the look of the elegant Tipo 61 “Birdcage” Maserati.
It was off to Fuzzy’s junk yard in Yonkers, New York, where he picked up a 55 Chevy frame, a gas tank, a steering rack from a MG and an old Corvette steering wheel. Back at his dirt floor shop, Eno set to work building his special. He had less than the bare minimum of tools. In his arsenal was a stick welder, a cutting torch, a drill, a straight edge, a hammer, and a grinder. No fancy stuff. In thanks for Eno helping him build a Devin Triumph, a buddy who taught art in Scarsdale High School formed a small clay model as a basic maquette for the future race car. From there they just winged it. Power came from a souped-up Chevy motor with 6 two-barrel carburetors on top. One thing they had to do was to add a small door on the passenger side to meet SCCA specs. A down and dirty trailer was welded up, as this was no road car, and off to the races he went. Not being able to find anyone to bend a roll bar for him, he made his own out of square tubing, but it passed tech!
The special (then lovingly known as The Bomb) did double duty for a couple of years; road racing in SCCA events at Lime Rock on Saturday, and drag racing at Dover on Sundays — winning the eliminator six weeks in a row with a top prize of 50 bucks!
In 1962 Eno bought a brand new fuel-injected Corvette with racing suspension, special brakes – the whole 9 yards. That was raced for a while, but it was time to move up in the ranks. He traded fellow racer Gary Georgi the Vette and 2 grand for a Lister Buick; he also got a ‘57 Plymouth wagon and a trailer out of the deal. Changing out the Buick for his favorite Chevy motor he raced the Lister for about three years, at one time doing battle with Roger Penske in his Cooper Monaco in a SCCA national.
Eno was spending more time behind the wheel of the Lister with The Bomb sitting at home. He didn’t need two race cars, so the home-built racer went off to a new owner in Peekskill, NY, never to be seen again. Or so he thought.
Eno kept on racing and in 1965 started running a Mk 8 Genie with a Chevy motor. In ’66, while running at Bridgehampton, a tie rod broke on the steering arm, catapulting Eno and the Genie in an end over end crash. The car was totaled. Luckily Eno wasn’t.
He was left with a pile of rubble. He started in to build another sports car, but a trip to Indy in ‘67 changed all that. Three days of wandering through the pits during the time trials gave Eno the inspiration to go open wheel racing. So, back to the shop, tore apart the sports car chassis and started building a Formula 5000. Salvaging what he could from the crashed Genie and fabricating the rest, he built a Chevy-powered F5000 car modeled after Mario Andretti’s car. Eno raced his new creation in the pro series as well as SCCA. Later, after getting a look at a Gurney Eagle, the F5000 went through another metamorphosis. In 1970, Eno brought the F5000 down to the New York auto show to display and it was immediately bought right off the stand.
Not to worry — Eno was not without a car; he had already gotten his hands on a 1969 T 163 Lola direct from Roger Penske.
His day job had progressed as well. No more collision work; he’d moved on to doing fabrication and paint on Ferrari GTOs and other exotics. At the other end of the spectrum he was building and selling FiberFab cars—Jamaicans, Valkyries, Dune Buggies – you name it. He even produced a custom build to promote NY area auto shows with NY DJ Cousin Brucie as the figure head.
By 1970 FiberFab was no more. Eno went all in on body and fabrication work on exotics and classic race cars, building and working on cars belonging to Pete Sachs, Bob Akin and Bill Gelles; many he had raced against in the past. He continued to race with Gelles, co-driving his Ferrari 512 BB/LM. One car Eno resurrected from the dead truly put his talent to the test: an ex-Tony Parravano Ferrari found hiding under a tractor-trailer in California.
In the mid ‘80s, not having a car of his own, Eno went on a racing sabbatical. Then in 1990 at a party given by Peter Livanos, a dude came up to Eno and said he knew who he was, then told him “I know where your old car is.”
“The one you used to race at Dover. It’s sitting up in Albany behind this guy’s house.”
“Not possible”, Eno thought. “The Bomb can’t still be around”. But a few pictures proved him wrong. It did still exist, but it was in sad shape. No motor or transmission; after a tough life as a dragster, it was now just sitting around doing hard yard time, sinking into the ground.
Eno rescued The Bomb and in 1991 started its resurrection.
At that point it wasn’t much more than a rolling shell. But it still had its rear end and the special Cerametallic brakes, so there was something to build on. Eno removed the heavy equipment battery in the back that had been used to counterbalance the bigger motor the 1/4 mile guys had used, and replaced it with a racing fuel cell. A properly messaged small block Chevy with one 4 barrel carburetor putting out close to 500 bhp was dropped in up front, and the fine coachwork was brought back to its former glory at the hands of now-master metal smith Eno DePasquale, but he kept it looking just as it did all those many years before.
It was déja vu, climbing behind the wheel again now with the Vintage Sports Car Club of America (VSCCA). It was the same big old bus on narrow tires, but with a few improvements. The car was lowered slightly and Eno was now able to corner balance the beast, as well as doing a front end alignment. Things were a bit better.
So—back out with the same types of cars he ran with in the old days, the home-built racer doing battle with Ferraris, Maseratis and Listers. The one limitation was sticking with the old school drum brakes. Even with all of Eno’s skill behind the wheel, he couldn’t outbrake the disc brake machines. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t fast. Taking on Mt. Equinox in 2002, 41 years after he ran his special up the hill with the SCCA, he did it again, this time with the VSCCA. Eno did a sub 5 minute run up the 41 turn 5.2 mile road. Anyone who has taken on the hill knows that is FAST!
One hiccup came in 2008 when the rear brakes locked going down the front straight at Lime Rock and The Bomb was shortened considerably. Not a problem; back to the junk yard for an-other Chevy frame, rebuild the Chevy power plant, and again smooth out the fine coach work. The two were back next season like nothing had happened.
Eno and The Bomb raced together till the end of 2012. Once again Eno sold The Bomb and hung up his helmet in 2014 at the age of 77 to spend more time with his wife, dogs and saxophone.
Luca Maciucescu, a research engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory and vintage racer, heard about the car and knew it was something special. He traveled from New Mexico in the dead of winter to see The Bomb. The car was fired up in the freezing cold and it was love at first rumble. The car moved west to join a 1957 Cooper T43, a 1952 XK120 and the 1934 Ford Granite State Special.
After some adjustments—so he would fit!—and a rebuild on the transmission and tune up, Luca has been racing The Bomb locally in New Mexico as well as Sonoma, CA and even bringing it back to its old stomping grounds of Lime Rock Park for the 2016 Historics. There the car and driver passed a Maserati 300, D Type Jag and a Ferrari 250TR. They are looking forward to Monterey and COTA this coming year.
Even with his special in someone else’s hands, Eno is not just blowing his horn or walking the dogs. He’s still hard at what he loves to do, making cars as beautiful as they once were. He does this with style and 60 plus years of stored up knowledge and experience. A true artisan.