This is obviously not the same Fiero "stunt car" seen in the latest installment of "Fast and Furious: F9." This one is a genuine race car built around a retired USAF T-58 turbine engine that was converted from shaft drive to thrust with an afterburner and variable exhaust nozzle. It utilizes thrust vectoring similar to a fighter jet to enhance turning. The original purpose behind the project was to make history by being the first to establish records for a land-based thrust vehicle on a closed-circuit track, namely a 1-mile oval speedway.
After learning of the engine's history, it was decided to use the opportunity and exposure to honor those who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War by placing the names of an appropriate air crew on the car. Unfortunately, some of the records are missing. The engine acceptance date is 17 APR 1967, however the engine logbooks only go back to 3 MAR 1976, after the war was over. Inquiries to the USAF museum have gone unanswered.
Of the 6,300 Huey helicopters built, only 120 were assigned to the Air Force. Unlike the Army version that was powered by the Lycoming T-53 engine, the Air Force version, UH-1F/P, used the GE T-58-3 engine. Of those 120, some were used as trainers, others in support of ICBM missile silos and 1 in support of the X-15 project. At some point, 38 of these were assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron and deployed to Vietnam. These were the aircraft used in the covert war in Laos and Cambodia. Twenty of these were converted to UH-1P gunships. An estimated 18 were lost with the balance presumably rotated back to the States.
If it can be established that this engine saw action during that war, it seems appropriate to provide the recognition and support to those who answered the call. Anyone interested with additional information and/or resources to make this project a reality are welcome to reply.