Green Mamba's in pieces, suspect's in jail

Published December 12, 2006

TAMPA - In the eyes of race car enthusiasts, Pedro Manuel Broche could very well be Public Enemy No. 1.

Broche, 36, of 3122 W Henry Ave., turned himself in at Orient Road Jail Monday on charges he stole the Green Mamba, a jet-powered dragster and a 1960s racing legend.

Doug Rose, the 69-year-old who built the legendary Green Mamba in 1968 and has been racing and showing it ever since, has two questions for Broche: "I want to know what was going through his mind when he stole it," Rose said. "And hopefully, he will tell us where all the rest of the stuff is."

And by "all the rest of the stuff" he means the many hard-to-find parts that made the Green Mamba the mean, green, up-to-305-mph racing machine it was. In its heyday, the Green Mamba entertained crowds for years and racked prizes. But on Nov. 1, the Green Mamba and other equipment were hauled away from Rose's Tampa apartment complex in the white trailer Rose had stored it in for years.

On Nov. 30, Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies recovered the car stripped and severed in three places at Manuel Auto Repair, 4805 N Coolidge Ave., which is owned by Broche, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.

Valued at $300,000 before it was stolen, the car could cost up to $100,000 to repair, Ted Kempgens, a Dade City mechanic, estimated.

The founders of the racing Web site, www.karnac.com, have erected www.savethemamba.org to collect donations to help Rose rebuild.

"It won't be the car it was," Kempgens said. "But the Mamba will live again."

Broche was being on charges of first-degree grand theft and criminal mischief late Monday.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.