One is remembered by his work
By Pete Vack
We are saddened by the loss of Bowtie Ferraris author and vintage racer Randy Cook, who passed away on February 16, 2017 after a being diagnosed with cancer.
When I first met Randy, he was carrying a huge, I mean huge, three ring binder bursting with facts and photos of Chevy-engined Ferraris.
He plopped it down in front of me and said, “Well, let’s get to work.”
He had originally wanted to run a series of articles in VeloceToday, each one addressing a different Chevy-engined Ferrari. But clearly, there was a need for a book on the subject, provided he could come up with enough valid serial numbers to fill a decent sized volume. I suggested the name “Bowtie Ferrari”, and drew up a Chevy bowtie logo with “Ferrari” in the center of the bowtie. Randy loved the idea but I wondered if it would it fly in Detroit. The logo is clearly a trademark, and even the word “Bowtie” might be legally Chevrolet’s. But Randy, being Randy, said, “Just let them take us to court, I’d love to fight them.” Randy was a fighter, and a guy who would stand his ground over a Florida sinkhole if he thought he had a chance.
He was tenacious as well. He decided to go ahead and try to make a book out of Bowtie, and never faltered going forward, despite what we both imagined would be moans and groans from the traditional Ferrari community. We’d help him find a Chevy-engined Ferrari and he would go after it, getting all the facts and talking to everyone who was even still slightly vertical. He poured over copies of old R&Ts, Sports Car, SCI, and Autoweeks to find results and match them up with the serial numbers. Many times the fact that the Ferrari did have a mongrel Chevy engine installed was quietly hushed up, and not easy pickings. Did not bother Randy one bit. We got Toly Arutunoff (who better?) to write the preface, and Ferrari historian Alan Boe to fact check. Our own Hugues Vanhoolandt freely supplied many of the great full color shots in the book, and Jodi Ellis took on the task of the layout and handling printing assignments.
Randy was equally insistent upon honoring and remembering old friends, like Jerry Melton. A part time photographer and artist, Melton had painted a caricature-like picture of the Chevy-engined Testa Rossa, SN 0724 at Green Valley Texas and gave it to Randy for the book. He stood his ground when wanting the painting on the cover. It was, after all, his book.
He deserved his own chapter, too. Randy was the proud owner of one of the only Ferrari V12s (a 250GT PF coupe) left to still be powered by the Chevy V8, and drove it to shows. He sold it after the book was published, but that was not his goal. Shortly before he passed away he told me of his latest project, a Ferrari 400 that would also have a Chevy V8 installed.
Very proud of the finished book, he took it around everywhere and sold many copies out of the trunk. It sold so well he decided to write and publish another book, Blue Oval, et al, Ferraris,this time featuring the Ford-engined Ferraris, along with other oddball engines, inserted into the hallowed chassis of Maranello.
Last year’s Concorso Italiano featured Chevy-engined Ferraris, and Hugues Vanhoolandt took the below video of Randy at CI discussing the Ferrari 0126A which was given a Chevy engine in 1958. Note that it has been restored with a proper Ferrari engine.
Randy was also active in the Florida Vintage car race scene as a tech inspector, driver of old Saabs and a Ford 60-powered MG. But he devoted the last years of his life to his books, and making damn sure that everyone knew that a huge number of mega million dollar Ferraris survived over the years because a lowly Chevy or Ford engine kept them running both on and off the track.
Damn right Randy. You’ll be missed.