First Drive, Decades After
All three cars were driven hard, put away wet, and generally forgotten about. Although they occasionally made appearances at car shows across the country (even after Oldsmobile’s demise in 2004), the Aerotechs appeared to be forgotten -- even by Welburn.
That changed in September, however, as he was walking through the design studios. One group was working on a low-drag vehicle design, and had a number of photos posted for inspiration -- one of which was the original Aerotech.
“That made me smile,” Welburn noted, “but it also got me thinking. It’s one of those things; whenever I see the photographs, I just can’t believe I never had a chance to drive it. Foyt, endurance racers, and a handful of technicians were the only ones who ever did.”
Luckily, Welburn was able to make his dream come true just before jetting across the pond for the 2010 Paris motor show. After engineers pulled an Aurora Aerotech from the warehouse and inspected its various components for damage, the car was shipped to the company’s Milford proving grounds, where we joined Welburn to witness his milestone.
The Aerotech’s wild shape is certainly evident even in the worst press photos, but it’s incredibly low, long, and flowing when viewed in person. It’s also quite loud; despite the V-8 being close to stock, its open exhausts produce an amazingly coarse burble at idle, and an intimidating growl when its throttle is goosed. Despite being limited to a 61-mph top speed on the facility’s north-south straightway, Welburn had plenty of opportunity to do just that. We couldn’t help but grin at the noise, but our enjoyment paled in comparison to the toothy smile Welburn wore after prying himself from the miniscule cockpit after several laps.
“I can’t believe it,” he said, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s absolutely unreal to drive. It’s so fast, and just feels so good. I wish we could have gotten it up to some decent speeds – it seems so effortless to build up speed.”