Cuda ready to rally

Dan and Aimee Horodowski are revved up for a 2,000-mile road rally in their classic 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda muscle car
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Dan and Aimee Horodowski aren’t sure where their 2,000-mile summer road trip will take them, but they know what they will be driving: Dan’s 1970 Plymouth AAR Cuda.

“The exciting part will be the middle of summer in that car, no air conditioning,” Dan said.

The two muscle car enthusiasts, who live in the Town of Port Washington, are going to drive the 51-year-old vehicle in Rally North America, a journey that will start in Eau Claire, end in Holland, Mich., and cover a vast expanse of America in between.

Dan, who restores cars for a living, acquired his enthusiasm for classic cars from his father while growing up in Mequon. But the two separated when it came to brands.

“He was a Ford guy, so that was a problem,” Dan said.

The 1970 Plymouth, which was designed as a street hot rod, is just the vehicle for the rally, according to Dan.

“We drive this car everywhere. It’s not a showpiece,” he said.

Participating in the rally didn’t take any convincing for his wife, who loves the fresh air of the back roads cruising in the decades-old machine.

“I was never into cars until I met him,” Aimee said.

“She caught the bug. I can take my wife to a junkyard and she can have fun,” Dan said.

Aimee has another reason to love this rally. Each year, Rally North America raises money for a charity, and this year it’s Race to Erase MS, which helps fund multiple sclerosis research and treatment.

As an occupational therapist for 27 years — the last six at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton — she has seen the debilitating effects of MS. One flare-up of the disease can making completing simple daily tasks difficult for weeks and can lead to hospital stays.

The rally route originally took participants into Canada, but border closings due to Covid-19 mean the Upper Peninsula is as far north as drivers will go.

Dan found his favorite car in a black and white photo in Mopar Collector’s Guide, a popular magazine among gearheads.

“That’s the one,” he said as he mimicked pointing to it in the magazine.

It was for sale or trade. Dan already had a Cuda, and he traded it for the one in the photo. That entailed a trip to Long Island to make the exchange.

Dan, then 21, borrowed a pickup truck and towed the car home.

“Tow dollying through New York City was interesting,” he said.

He now has four Cudas that have either been restored or are ready and waiting.

“It’s great that they’re worth money, but if they were a dollar I’d have a yard full of them,” he said.

“This was our era,” Aimee said of the car’s vintage..

His 1970 AAR Cuda, Dan said, was built for Trans Am racing.

The car is still in its factory green color. It has the Cuda’s standard 290-horsepower V-8 engine with three two-barrel carburetors and a four-speed manual transmission. It is rated with a top speed of 137 miles per hour.

The car will be decorated with the decals of five sponsors. Dan and Aimee have raised about $1,000 toward their $5,000 goal. All the money goes to Race to Erase MS.

The four-day scavenger hunt that is part of the rally and starts July 18 will be a venture into the unknown with no two entrants necessarily taking the same route. The itinerary isn’t handed out until the last second.

“Even waiting for the green flag you don’t know where you’re going,” Dan said.

Points are awarded for visiting various landmarks and other places chosen by the rally organizers. Earning points could entail taking a selfie with a grey squirrel or stopping at a certain restaurant, the couple said.

Participants have to reach checkpoints by a certain time but a minimum time is also set to encourage visits to different sites to earn points. Teams, Dan said, must determine how long it will take to get from one point-earning place to another and still make each checkpoint in time. Speeding tickets lead to disqualification.

“How you get from point A to point B is totally up to you,” Aimee said.

The couple is familiar with some of the cities on the route but not others, and they have no inkling as to what spots will be chosen to earn points.

They have the fourth-oldest car of the 85-team field, but they have dedicated themselves and their vehicle to finish the rally. Dan has already subscribed to roadside assistance.

Winners receive small trophies but large bragging rights.

Once they finish, the car will get a little break on the trip home. Dan and Aimee are taking the high-speed Lake Express ferry across Lake Michigan.

The couple will raise funds up to the start of the rally.

For more information, visit www.rallynorthamerica.com. The Hodorowskis’ Instagram address is @teamthree51. To donate, visit www.classy.org/fundraiser/2580536.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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