Viper twin turbo record 1/4 mile drag race at 7.99 seconds.
To the uninitiated a naked dragster may look like a farm gate with a big motor on it
People who love dragsters tend to be on one side of the engine or the other. Either you love front-engine diggers or you hate ’em. The desire to strap oneself tightly behind a motor which, given the forces it is subjected to, will in all probability expire with potentially catastrophic consequences seems somewhat alien to those who believe the driver should be in front of such a calamity. Racing anything that doesn’t have the engine out front where God intended it to be is almost blasphemous to the other type of disciple.
When it comes down to where the motor should be in a digger, Rodney Benjes claims he doesn’t really have a preference: “I just went with what I knew.” After learning how to mess up a perfectly good four-door LJ Torana, he progressed to an 11-second, nitrous-sucking T-bucket, and another 12-second Torana, before taking some time out to crew on Vinnie Borowictz’s Wild Bunch Holdens. “It was a great experience and learning opportunity,” Rodney says. “It was the beginning of blown doorslammer racing in NZ. After that I eventually returned to racing with a front-engined dragster (FED) I built at home in my garage.” Using a mild supercharged big block Chevy running on alcohol, Rodders and crew soon had the rail running in the low eights at over 160mph. They were having a ton of fun, but, “the addiction, the need for speed, kept pushing my goals up and eventually we decided that for where we wanted to go, we needed a new car. My homebuilt masterpiece had reached its maximum for its design. Although my passion is the pure performance of drag racing rather than the nostalgia aspect, I enjoyed racing my FED and chose to stick with that style of car.”
To the uninitiated, a naked dragster may look like a farm gate with a big motor on it, but there’s a lot more chassis science involved than that. Graeme Berry was commissioned early in 2000 to build the new chassis, and lightweight chromoly was the material of choice. The wheelbase is 198 inches but looks longer. Both the front end and the diff are solidly mounted to the chassis; the flex of the long frame and the big Goodyears provide the only form of suspension. Traditionally, a FED uses a bell crank arrangement for steering, but Rod opted for a slightly slower-reacting rack and pinion unit, like a rear-engined car would use.
Rod’s legs straddle a nine-inch diff housing, equipped with an aftermarket nodular iron head, Romac floating hubs, 35-spline axles and spool. Wheel choice was Weld Racing offerings all round.
Roll cage design is pretty much mandated by the rulebook to give 360-degree protection. ¨Originally the car was constructed in the traditional style, with the seat at roughly the same level as the bottom of the diff. Once the car was together, Rod found his forward vision was obscured. “I couldn’t see anything but the back of the blower, it made for some¦ interesting rides in my first season. People think these cars are easy to drive, but the car would start drifting left or right and I wouldn’t realise until it was too late, and by then it’d be all over. Worst one was at Masterton, when I took out the finish line cones, buckling a wing and a front wheel. We took the car back to Kiwi Race Cars, raised the seat and roll cage 150mm ” that made a huge difference .”
It’s a ¨Windsuckin’ Chevy
Rod is quite proud of the fact that the motivation of his rail is all basic Chevrolet. No aftermarket block or heads are used here, although that’s more down to finances than ideology. “Sure, the block is grout-filled and has Milodon steel caps on it, and the heads have been ported, but this stuff was designed and built by Chevrolet for passenger cars some 30-odd years ago, and we are pulling about 1800hp out of it! I’m not trying to prove a point with this stuff; it’s just what I have. It won’t last forever and I don’t want to push it, so will be moving to an aftermarket block when the budget allows,” he says, with a grin.
The team has had some crank and bearing issues, but at present the reciprocating assembly consists of a four-inch stroke Eagle crank, and Venolia rods and pistons with a relatively low eight-to-one compression ratio. The big port Chevy heads have stainless valves, triple springs and roller rockers, while a custom ground Crow roller cam gives the valve train its orders via Crower lifters and beefy 7/16-inch push rods.
This motor is almost street car material, but the parts that ensure the Chevy engine makes big power reside up top. “While looking around at all the things I couldn’t afford, I came across a full billet 14:71 hi-helix retro blower built by SCS. It was fresh and the price was good, so I had to have it. I built an adaptor plate to cater for the additional set-back in the retro style, and made a few mods to the fuel system based on advice from [fellow dragster racers] Bert and CJ.”
There’s a bird catcher hat with a 110 pump, it has been plumbed up, but the high speed lean-out has never been used. The ignition system is all MSD gear, and once it’s done its job, all the burnt stuff is exhausted from a set of zoomies. Well of course there are zoomies. Would a blown FED look right with anything else? A Crowerglide centrifugal unit is used to launch the digger. Similar to what you might find on a motor scooter, the Crower unit is a highly refined and infinitely adjustable piece of equipment that is strongly favoured in nitro-burning applications. Behind it is an ever reliable air-shifted three-speed Lenco transmission. All this gear is required to get the car off the line quickly and cleanly, but when looking at a blown FED, none of that stuff matters; what hits you right between the eyes is the engine.
With all the new components in place for the ’07/’08 season, the team started pushing the combination. As Rod tells it: “With some tuning changes in place at the November Central Nationals, we went out and clocked a PB of 7.3 at mid-190mph; previous was 7.7 at 182mph. We were still killing rear bearings though, so had to change them between rounds. The second pass was rather tragic, pulling a wheel stand and coming down really hard, slamming into the ground, buckling both front wheels and bending the forward section of the chassis. The car hit so hard it jarred my body, pushing my foot back on the go pedal and pulling the wheels up a second time! The saddest part of the story, though, is I had the wheelie bars sitting in the trailer. I hadn’t needed them on the car for years and didn’t realise what an impact the new blower would have. Lesson learned.
“With the NZ Nats coming up in February for the first time ever at my home track, I was determined to get the car fixed. I owe a great deal of thanks to Colin Welch at Kiwi Race Cars, who worked through the Christmas break to cut out and replace about six feet [1.8 metres] of the chassis, inserting new top and bottom rails to get it straight again, as well as straightening the front wheels. While all that was happening, we found that the rear journal of the crank was cracked, and likely the cause of the destroyed bearings.”
“With a new crank and support from Collier Motor Engineers we got it all machined and balanced quickly,” Rod says. “At the same time, Independent Liquor came on board to support us, an excellent opportunity for a new paint job. With a lot of hard work and late nights, we were able to get it all back together with a day to spare. With the new look Woodstock paint job and crew, wheelie bars on, off the trailer we clocked a surprising 7.06 at 195mph, a personal best. We checked the filter and all looked good, but to be safe we dropped the sump and checked the bearings ” perfect. Finally this problem was sorted. It dawned on me that maybe we were able to run a six with this combo -very cool. I didn’t even consider a 200mph pass at that stage.
“On day two I came up against Mark Vincent for the semifinal. We had made some more tuning changes, focused on getting all the cylinders running evenly, so all I wanted to do was get down the track with a full hard pass. I did just that, watching Mark fly by me at 3/4 track, it felt like a good run. Coming back into the pits, Rhys Harrison stopped us and handed me a beer, congratulating me on a 200mph pass! It didn’t really sink in at that stage. As we approached the pits, a crowd of racers and supporters gathered round, and I still had no idea what I had done, but I knew it must have been good. Then my crew told me: I had just run a 6.87 at 202.88mph. My first six and 200mph all in one. The best race I ever lost! I was buzzing for weeks.
“From there, with more track time and opportunity for tuning, it just kept getting better. At the Nostalgia drags in April we clocked a 6.74 at 200mph, followed by a 6.67 at 200mph; PB after PB. We’re still tuning the car, so we hope to find a little more without breaking it. We’ll make a few other changes to let me cautiously step up the boot to see how much further we can take it.”
Rod is cautious for a reason. Through the years the car has had its fair share of trauma. The list of casualties includes buckled front wheels (twice), a destroyed front wing, bent rear wing, buckled rear wheel, four cracked crankshafts, a popped blower manifold (twice), blown burst panels, a cracked intake manifold, a broken blower belt, a disintegrated clutch, a destroyed bell housing, twisted blower rotors three times, four boost and two oil pressure gauges killed, a broken ignition box, and a bent chassis.
And on top of all that you can bet there’s a bit of blood, lots of sweat and a few pairs of undies.
Rod Benjes Owner Profile
Occupation: Manager of IT Services, BNZ
Previously owned cars: 1973 four-door LJ Torana, 350 Chev T-bucket, LH Torana, 1965 Chevrolet Caprice
Dream car: This is it
Length of ownership: Seven years
Rod thanks: “Firstly my wife Lisa, whose support has been invaluable. Current crew: Darren Curtis, John Dillion, Lawrence Pritchard and Stephen Philpott, without whom race day just wouldn’t happen. Two other crew members in the early days that really helped get things going were Zain Hardcastle and Alan ‘Water Boy’ McCarthy. Vickie ” Independent Liquor, Alan ” AMC Electrical, Bert ” Powder Surfaces, Colin ” Kiwi Race Cars, Stephen and Vicky ” Fusion Art, Denny ” Colours on Glass”
2001 FED (Front Engine Dragster) Specifications
Engine: Supercharged 468ci (7669cc) Chev, 454 cast iron Chevy four-bolt block with Milodon steel caps, Eagle crank, RCD crank support, Venolia aluminium rods and pistons (60 thou over), approx 8:1 compression, Melling high-performance oil pump and custom sump carrying 10 litres of Redline oil, rectangular port cast Chevy cylinder heads, stainless steel valves, triple valve springs, titanium retainers, Harland Sharp roller rockers, Crane stud girdle, Crow cam, Crower roller lifters, 7/16 pushrods, 14:71 SCS high-helix retro supercharger over-driven 22 per cent, 32psi boost at 8400rpm, Enderle Birdcatcher, 110 pump, 10 hat and eight port injectors, MSD crank trigger, MSD AL7-2 electronic ignition box, low profile billet distributor, 8mm leads and NGK plugs, zoomies, DL10 data logger
Driveline: Air-shifted three-speed Lenco transmission, directly coupled to the rear end, two-disc Crowerglide centrifugal clutch, Ford nine-inch housing, nodular diff head, Mark Williams pinion support and Romac spool, full floating hubs, and 35-spline axles, 4.30:1 diff ratio
Brakes: Primary braking via twin 250mph Deist chutes. Rear brakes only — Wilwood four-pot callipers over drilled steel rotors. Brake is controlled by hand lever
Wheels/ tyres: 17×2.5-inch spindle mount and 15×15-inch Weld Alumastar wheels, Goodyear front runners, Goodyear 33.5x14x15 slicks
Exterior: Alloy panel body with front and rear (canard) wings
Interior: Custom alloy seat with five-point Simpson harness, butterfly steering wheel, air shift buttons; rpm, oil and boost gauges, shift light, oil warning light
Performance:¨Approx 1800hp (1342kW), best ET — 6.67, best speed 202.88mph (326.5kph), best 60ft 1.1 seconds. Currently quickest and fastest blown alky FED running in New Zealand
Words: Trevor Tynan Photos: Adam Croy
After much debate over the NZDRA Nationals being held at Masterton Motorplex, the lower-North Island venue held a fantastic event
Masterton Motorplex wanted to celebrate its 10th year of being the lower-North Island’s drag racing venue in style, and that it did, by hosting the 40th annual NZDRA Drag Racing Nationals over the weekend of February 2 to 3, 2008.
The main sponsor for this well-run and successful event was Trust House, and as such the event was named the Trust house NZDRA 40th Nationals.
Many racers turned up on Friday afternoon to set up camp for the weekend, and a few beers were had in the stinking hot afternoon sun on Friday, what with temperatures in the high 30s.
Saturday dawned cooler and slightly overcast with the threat of light rain at some time during the day. Luckily, the rain never really amounted to much, unlike some of the performances of the 164 entrants.
The only thing the event actually lacked was a strong Auckland racer contingent, but about 27 hardy racers from north of the Bombays made a showing. The traction was good even on a cool track, and in practice and qualifying on Saturday the fun started with Paul Sattler in his blown FED pulling a huge wheelstand.
The higher-powered cars later in the day had some issues with traction, and Chris Tynan in his Chev Doorslammer had a Fred Flintstone moment and had to really pedal the car to keep it on the straight and narrow. Dean Blackburn, running in Supercharged Outlaw, had a narrow escape in his blown SBC Altered when he came to within centimetres of the wall.
Continuing that theme of trying as hard as they could, Murry Smith ” driving Craig Brown’s Chev ’slammer ” got very sideways in the burnout and had a close look at the wall. Then in his qualifier against Wayne Hussey’s nitrous-snorting Nova, it was Hussey’s turn to pedal. He got very sideways at part track and there was more fishtailing than at a Talley’s factory.
The knife edge of getting the best performance while remaining in control continued with the blown alcohol cars, and Chris Tynan had another crack at walking the fine line. He carried the left front for ages in what looked to be a solid start, then the car got out of shape and it hazed the tyres to eventually spear off the track and take the scenic grass route out in the paddock.
Dave Green’s Corvette had problems first out with what appeared to be magneto issues. The car was worked on Saturday night to return Sunday, only to go bang in spectacular fashion at about three-quarter track. Apparently a bunch of destroyed rods were found in the teardown.
The Top Alcohol rails were really onto their tunes on Saturday, and left in great clouds of clutch dust to ensure they didn’t overpower the track. Their drivers’ ability to tune their cars to the conditions were well rewarded when on a cold track on Saturday Mark Vincent went 6.18 at 223mph (358.8kph) with a 0.989 60-foot time. John Neilan in the Digga Dragster went 6.20 at 228mph (366.9kph) when up against Grant Johnstone in the Harcourts Hawler Dragster.
Rounding out Saturday’s action was another showing of great driver ability by Chris Tynan, when he went 6.51 at 201mph (323kph) in his qualifier against Greeny.
Bert King’s weekend was put paid to on late Saturday when he launched hard and lunched his all-the-bells-and-whistles Powerglide. Later in the pits the trans was out, and once it was in bits it was found to be beyond repair in time for Sunday. So Bert joined the great crowd on Sunday to watch.
MMP had put in grandstands on either side of the track, and on both days those grandstands were full with a good number of people, while spectators also stood a couple deep at the fence. Crowd numbers were in the region of 7000 ” some of the food vendors were so unprepared for the numbers that they were cleaned out by 1pm Sunday.
Sunday’s weather was cracker, a bright, sunny day with good crowds and no clouds. The temperature got into the 30s, and with the track hot and sticky the racing was on.
There were winners and losers, as there always are. Allan Blithe was one of the latter, going out in the semi-final of Modified by running 9.6 on a 9.8 dial-in.
One can only hope the naysayers have been silenced by the MMP team’s great work. The MMP crew really pulled off a top event with a well-prepped track that was very capable of running national records on it. Hopefully the future will see more NZDRA Nationals held at different tracks, and more support from all racers from around the country.
Words: Allan Blithe Pics: Quinn Hamill
A drag racer turned circuit king needs more than the ordinary race car
Steve Hildred’s wicked HT Monaro is a pretty special car. It has a real presence about it, yet it’s quite subtle in many ways. And that is surprising, because Steve is an ex drag racer, and drag racers are renowned for their excessive tastes. Steve has managed to achieve barnstorming speed (it’ll lap Pukekohe in 63¯seconds) while maintaining the Monaro’s classic looks. It doesn’t even have any racing stripes. Yet it’s an all-out high speed weapon.
“The car runs a Barry Grant 750 double bumper carb and dart inlet manifold, which sit on top of a bowtie block”
Steve’s Monaro has been tearing up the tarmac for a long time now. It’s become an integral part of the scenery. Probably as much so as Steve himself. The pair fought off a fearsome line-up of rapid machinery to win the 2005 GDM Group Central Muscle Cars series. An impressive feat, that’s for sure. But this success was actually just the latest in a long line of what has been a pretty successful racing career for Steve.
The countless number of circuit racing victories Steve has clocked up over the years proves he’s a pretty mean steerer. But his racing career actually began in the aim and fire world of drag racing, which is where many of you would recognise him from. And modifying cars has always been in the blood. Serious modifying.
Not one of Steve’s early rods escaped without undergoing a heart transplant.
The first car, when Steve was 19, was a 10-year-old Ford 100E Prefect, into which he squeezed a Vauxhall¯6 motor. This doubled as both his daily transport and as a racer. The first legal drag race he had in this car was at the old Bay Park race track, which has long since been bulldozed to make way for housing.
Understandably, this would have been a pretty hair-raising machine, but Steve really lusted after V8 power. So after two years the 100E was flicked off, and replaced by an unsuspecting EH¯Holden into which Steve stuffed a 327 Chevy, with four IDA Webers, a Muncie gearbox, and a Ford nine-inch diff. This car was such a weapon, Hot Rod mag did a feature on it in its August 1975 issue.
The EH made for a good drag racer and cool family hack, but Steve was getting a bit more serious about his racing, and the EH had its limitations. The problem with the EH Holden is that it’s a bit of a hefty beast. Even the earlier ‘Humpy’ FJs are lighter, so off the EH went to a new owner, who promptly wrote it off, and a Viva wagon took its place. The Viva was more of a serious drag car than a combination daily driver. This car has actually enjoyed a few moments of TV prime-time fame, being implanted into the Armco at Meremere by a more recent owner.
Steve built the car up with a 350 Chevy, and caged it out, and it served him well for five years. But when he and wife Bev needed a new house, the Viva was put on the market.
Next up was a Ford¯T-bodied B/Altered, which ran an injected 350 Chev. Steve’s best quarter mile time in this car was an 8.5, although when running nitrous it went quicker still. He built the car in 1980, and ran it pretty much right throughout the rest of the decade.
Hooked on tarmac
But then one day, he and Bev went along to watch long-time friend Frank Pierce race his Ernie Sprague circuit-racing Zephyr at a Taranaki hill climb. And Steve was hooked. After 20¯years of drag racing, he decided he now wanted to go circuit racing. And to this day, Frank still gets the blame!
The first thing to do was decide which type of car he’d go racing in. Watching Paul Tunnel scare himself silly in a wild HT¯Monaro during one of the support races for the Wellington Street race event provided the answer. Paul’s Monaro was an all-out racer. But Steve didn’t want that. He wanted something he could drive to the track with the family, then kick his passengers out and go racing. It was a nice idea, but like all well intended low-key projects, it soon steered itself way off course. Steve got hold of a suitable HT Monaro, which he sourced locally. In the early ’90s, big Aussie coupes weren’t nearly as rare or expensive as they are now. So finding a good cheap car was pretty easy. This one was parked up on someone’s back lawn.
Once Steve began stripping it back, he found rust in the floors. The car came with a set of replacement panels, which had to be welded in. Then he found he needed to source a second car, to replace parts that were missing off the first one. So he went out and tracked down another one, which had been rolled and bowled, and parked in a barn. It had some of the necessary items he needed, so he approached the owner about buying parts off it.
“Wilwood brakes bring all 1460kg to a grinding hault in a hurry, with six-pots up front and four-pots in the back”
After a few return visits to take parts off the second car, the project took a slight change in direction. At this stage, Steve wasn’t planning on fitting a big multi-point cage in the car, because it was going to be a roady. But without a cage, he also didn’t fancy racing a car which had a new floor welded in, so he went and asked the owner of the rolled Monaro, which was rust free, if he’d like to sell the whole car. The exchange was made, the sorry-looking mess was towed to his workshop, and the first car was bolted back together and sold.
So now Steve had himself an HT which, while rust free, had a squashed roof. That meant he needed to source yet another car, from which to get a new roof. He found one in Wanganui. It was owned by the previously mentioned Paul Tunnel, who is actually a relation of Ian Williamson, whose wild Mustang we featured in NZV8 Issue¯1. Paul had a rough, cut-up HT which had the rear wheel arches chopped out, and the guttering shaved off the roof. So Steve took home Monaro number three, and set about removing the roof to attach to Monaro number two.
By this stage, the car was no longer going to be a road/race car. It would only be an all-out racer, although it did become road registered, and still is to this day. Steve did virtually all the work on the car himself, including building the roll cage out of Southward steel tubing.
At a time when many of the classic V8s competing around the country were fairly rough beasts, Steve’s Monaro was a work of art. The quality workmanship, care, and attention to detail ran right throughout the car, right down to the shiny new bolts which held the front panels on. Nothing was overlooked.
More than 10¯years later, the Monaro is just as magnificent. The paintwork, by The Paintshop in New Plymouth, is still as glossy. Outwardly, the car looks exactly as it did when Steve first built it, but beneath the skin it has constantly evolved.
Currently, the car runs a Barry Grant¯750 double pumper carb and Dart inlet manifold, which sit on top of a Bowtie block. The Pro heads and camshaft have been fettled by Steve. Valves are all Manley, titanium 2.150¯intake, and steel 1.625¯exhaust. Pistons are JE, rods are Eagle, and crank is a balanced Calais, while a big alloy Griffin radiator keeps the whole lot cool.
Steve is a bit secretive when it comes to power figures, not wanting to give too much away, but it’s over 600hp (447kW). Exactly how much over, only Steve and his dyno machine know.
Steve ran a Top Loader gearbox in the car for many years, but after this broke a couple of times he replaced it with a four-speed Nascar Jerico ’box. Down the rear, the Monaro runs a 10-bolt Chevy with floating hubs. Wilwood brakes bring all 1460kg to a grinding halt in a hurry, with six-pots up front, and four-pots in the back. The big rotors measure 13¯inches up front, and 11¯inches in the rear.
The Monaro has a nice stance to it. It sits on five-spoke, three-piece Simmons wheels, which measure 16¯by¯10¯inches at the front, and 16¯by¯12 at the rear. Steve has done a nice mini-tub job to fit those big rear feet inside the bodywork while avoiding having to flare the guards.
Adjustable Koni shocks are fitted all round, with two-inch drop spindles at the front. With the get-up-and-go this car has, you’d assume all the panels and doors had been replaced by lightweight fibreglass items, but with the exception of the bonnet, she’s all steel.
The first outing for the newly completed machine was at the Hamilton street race, which is possibly the worst place you could debut a new car. And to make matters worse, it rained.
Steve has raced the Monaro consistently and enthusiastically for the 11¯years since. He’s a regular visitor at Manfeild and Taupo, and has made the trip down to Ruapuna on a couple of occasions as well. He used to trek up to Pukekohe a fair bit to run with the Auckland Muscle Car series, but as muscle car numbers continued to grow in the central and lower North Island, Steve decided he wanted to create a series which catered to these cars. In 2003 Steve, along with fellow Taranaki racers Rhys Humphries, Tony Williams and Wayne Fabish, created the Central Muscle Cars series.
They structured the rules to allow for virtually all currently competing non space-framed muscle cars built before 1983. And right from the off, the class was a massive success.
Having GDM Group come on board as sponsor was a huge boost, and car numbers continue to grow. After two seasons, the class is still gathering momentum, and new cars are being built all the time. So it seems only appropriate that Steve won the series this year — the series he created, in the car he built.
1969 HT Monaro
Engine: Bowtie block. Calais 3.48 stroke — balanced crankshaft; Eagle six-inch steel rods; JE 12.5-1 pistons; JE chrome moly rings; camshaft: owner-designed and all top secret. Power range: 3500 to 7500rpm. Pro Heads flow 300 plus cylinder heads; 2.150¯Manley Titanium inlet valves; 1.625¯Manley stainless steel exhaust valves; TD shaft mount 1.5, 1.6 rockers; Manley 5/16-inch pushrods; Dart inlet manifold; Holley fuel pumps with surge tank; Barry Grant 750 double pumper carburettor; HEI distributor with 6¯AL¯MSD. Griffin radiator.
Driveline: Tilton 7.25-inch clutch. Jerico four-speed gearbox; 10-bolt Chevy diff with floating hubs.
Suspension: Koni adjustable shocks; two-inch drop spindles.
Brakes: Front, Wilwood six-pot, 13-inch rotors; rear, Wilwood four-pot, 11-inch rotors.
Wheels/Tyres: Front, Simmons three-piece 16×10-inch wheels, 310/650-16 slick tyres; rear, Simmons three-piece 16×12-inch wheels, 290/640-16.
Performance: Around 600hp (447kW). Pukekohe: 63¯secs, Manfeild: 1.13¯min, Taupo: 41¯secs (lap times rounded to the nearest second)
Occupation: Self employed Automotive Technician (Steve Hildred Motors)
Previously owned cars: ‘60 Ford 100E Prefect with Vauxhall 6 engine, ‘64 EH Holden with 327 Chevy, ‘70 Viva Estate with 350 Chevy, B/Altered Ford T with fuel injected 350 Chevy.
Sponsors: Ian Roebuck Crane Hire, Total Paint Supplies New Plymouth, The Paint Shop New Plymouth, Redline Oil, The Tucker Truck.
Special Thanks: Bev Hildred, Alex Ward, John Ingle, Rhys Humphries.
Clarke Fiddes is addicted to drag racing… he sold his house to buy an engine!
The reward of those in search of the fastest street car racer is a world of broken dreams, a world defined by the ever-increasing pile of demolished parts festering in a corner of the garage. Pukekohe’s Clarke Fiddes, refrigeration engineer by day, internet loiterer by night, has smashed his fair share of valves, lifters, pistons, rods and cranks. He’s worked his way through enough serious street-legal machinery to make your average rev-head drool. Beginning in the mid ’80s with a blown big-block HQ ute, he then got a little serious and did the smart thing, buying a street racer from the States. It wasn’t long before he’d bumped into the nines with a 482 (7.9-litre) in his imported Nova, then he promptly sold it to take a trip over to Aussie.
That trip never eventuated, but Clarke went into his own business, which forced an extended competition hibernation. When he came back it was in his usual larger-than-life style, with a staunch Dart-headed 532 (8718cc) ’69 Camaro that eventually ran 9.7 at 144mph (232kph) with street tyres on Champion’s slick Friday-night street meet surface. At this stage of the drag racing game reality bites hard. The parts bill grows enormously when chasing nines and the alcohol bill is even bigger — it gets mighty thirsty wrenching away in the wee small hours, replacing all those broken bits on a street-legal car. And the helpers sure won’t work for nothing.
Clarke heard Dion Fletcher was getting out of his former 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Super Stocker, and bit the bullet. This old car has a long history, and not only in New Zealand. When imported from the States by Gary Taylor in the mid ’80s it held (and probably still does) NHRA’s Stock Class world record, using a 292 (4785cc) small block and five-speed (of course!). Not interested in the car’s pedigree, Clarke (as had all previous owners) stayed with the Camaro’s ’80s paint scheme ’cause he was going to bang a few records, not look for show points. But he hadn’t realised his Dart-head 532 wasn’t up to it in the Super Stock adrenaline stakes, and soon he was deviously making plans for yet another comeback.
The decision was made — he had to get real and do the right thing — yup, he sold his house to buy an engine! Not just any engine though, one that was virtually bullet-proof and required next to zero maintenance on race day or any other day. Let’s face it — chain blocking a heavy lump of cast iron in and out of the engine bay starts to lose its romance after a while. He didn’t muck around when it came time for the purchase. He phoned the good ol’ US of A and spoke to noted Pro Stock engine builder, Steve Schmidt.
This guy is the man when it comes to throwing power down the throat of an engine. His quality is impeccable, and accolades include Top Qualifying efforts for the best in NHRA’s business of racing. We’re not talking seven-second combos here, we’re talking 6.60¯seconds and 205mph (330kph) from naturally aspirated engines thanks to more dollars, science and sense than most people could ever imagine. After handing over a cool twenty-eight thousand greenbacks, Schmidt screwed together a 515 cubic inch (8439cc) screamin’ stump-puller for the Kiwi guy down-under.
So far Clarke’s clocked up over 40 passes in the last two seasons, and reckons he’s only set the valves once. Ask anybody with 1000 or more horse-pressure on tap and they’ll soon testify to that being close to a miracle, or maybe even closer to insanity. Adding to the valve train’s longevity are 340lb Pacalloy springs, 1.8 ratio T&D shaft rockers and a Jesel belt with front-drive crank trigger distributor from MSD. The bottom end is as close to indestructible as you’d expect for this type of investment — inside the sheet metal Schmidt sump, GRP 6.535¯rods spin on a billet Callies 3.875 crankshaft.
The best part of Clarke’s spending spree so far? He’s now watching drag racing instead of grovelling in the pits between rounds. Last season cursing from below the Camaro’s sill-line came thick and fast as he went through hell and back trying to convince himself his Jerico could handle the wally. Every meeting his manual either broke something or the clutch spat the dummy. At one stage he was even heard to utter the unspeakable words¦ Turbo 400. That forbidden phrase was never mentioned again, but he soon realised another refrigerator-full of cash would have to cross the Pacific on its way to another of America’s drag racing masters — the G-Force factory. Question him today about the demoralising first-season gearbox incidents and you’ll cop a barrage of advertisements and testimonials in defence of his G-Force advantage. At the end of it all Clarke has nothing but praise for mate Scott Campbell, who’s been invaluable when it comes to sourcing parts and providing advice and wheels-up opposition of the stick-shift kind.
What helps make this beast so unpredictable is the fact Clarke hasn’t succumbed to the soft route with an automatic (although he admits the car would run two to three-tenths quicker), so he continues to wildly bang gears with his favoured five-speed via a Long vertigate shifter. Yup, he has a love affair with that third pedal, and it’s now pushing on a Titan twin-disc clutch via a hydraulic thrust, which makes shifting feel more like a Toyota than a race car.
Ask any garage widow and she’ll tell you drag racers are married to their cars. If this is true, Fiddes should be behind bars for spousal abuse! Whenever his black ’68 is taken out she is given a severe beating, usually with front wheels flailing in mid air, occasionally on the centre line or even in the opposite lane. While his on-track antics are entertaining for the fans, Clarke’s driveline investment has made him competitive too — the all-steel Chevy (bar fibreglass hood) weighs in at over 1500kg and has a best of 8.76 at 156mph (251kph) — that’s 126 (202kph) at half track! It takes horsepower to run these kinds of numbers — at least 1100 in fact. Not quite yet on the National record (8.59/157.98mph (254kph)) the car’s destined for a diet this winter with a set of carbon-fibre doors, front end and boot-lid in an effort to bring some of the Camaro’s bulk down to Super Stock’s weight-break.
Down at Champion, after those 15×15 Welds wearing 32×14 Goodyears have laid down a smokescreen to block out the sun, Fiddes stages and revs the Camaro to 5000rpm. When he dumps the clutch, two 1050cfm BRE Dominators greedily suck a whole lotta air and large quantities of 110¯octane C12 from a BG400 pump. As the mixture pours through a Ray Franks tunnel ram into his oval port 12-degree Pro-Filer heads (titanium 2.400 intake, 1.880 exhaust ) our Mr Fiddes is seeing sky and bashing second gear at close to 8500. As the front runners bounce and head on their upwards course yet again, the roller cam inside Dart’s 4.60-bore Big M block is pushing to 0.900 lift — bigger than your average street car! By now, whichever lane he’s in is irrelevant — it’s time to shift again as his JE¯flat-tops put the squeeze through those fast burn chambers to the tune of 15.5:1 compression.
Exhaust exits through stepped headers (23/8 down to two-inch) bent up by Paul Johnston (yeah, the guy who turns driveshafts into spaghetti with his Olds-powered HQ ute). Hundreds of hours went into these pipes, due to the extended height of the heads they snake through the chassis on their way to the venturi collectors. Clarke jokes that a set of zoomies through the hood would have been a lot easier. The 3.5-inch chrome moly driveshaft spins a 5.38 pro-geared Dana¯60 with 40-spline Mark Williams axles to send the Chevy howling over Champion’s finish line at a tad under 9000 rpm. Clarke credits Tony Rattrie of Steelie Gears for helping keep the diff from grenading and Radrides’ Brendan Halpin for the coil-over rear-end, while Paul Johnston also modified the roll cage and proved his worth with general engineering.
He’s run the black ’68 for two seasons and he’s not bored yet, but as with all drag racers, there’s always mutterings of stepping up — so don’t be surprised if you see Clarke Fiddes in something a helluva lot faster fairly soon. Don’t worry, it will still have doors and a clutch.
The last rumblings we heard as he skulked into the darkness of his garage to check his latest bid on Trade¯Me included a whisper towards Top Doorslammer. “If they dump Super Stock then I’ll be out there with a PSI and one of those ugly carbon injectors¦ you thought this thing did big burnouts, just wait and see the next development.”
For someone who’s been bitten by the drag racing bug as hard as Fiddes, unfortunately there’s no turning back! What’s that rumbling again? Is there a Studebaker in his future?
1968 CHEVROLET CAMARO
Engine: Dart Big M block, Callies billet crank, JE forged flat-top pistons, GRP Isotropic Pro Series aluminium rods, Comp Cams 55mm billet roller cam, Ray Franks SS Profiler heads, Steve Schmidt ports, Manley valves, Pacaloy triple valve springs, titanium retainers, T&D rockers, Manton pushrods, Ray Franks tunnel ram intake manifold, Barry Grant BG400 fuel pump, BG FPR, 2x Book Racing Enterprises 1050 Dominator carbs, custom exhaust system, MSD Digital 7 ignition, MSD front-drive crank trigger 5-inch Pro-cap distributor, Griffin 2-row aluminium
Driveline: G-Force 5GSR clutched five speed gearbox, alloy flywheel, Titan 10.5-inch twin disc clutch, Dana 60 diff, 40 spline gun-drilled Mark Williams axles, Richmond 5.38 Pro gears
Suspension/Brakes: Front — Chassis Engineering adjustable shocks, Moroso springs, Rear — QA1 12-way adjustable rear coilovers, Chassis Engineering ladder bars, sprung wheelie bars, Brakes — Lamb JFZ four-spot calipers
Wheels/Tyres: Weld 15×3-inch Pro Stars, 26x5x15 M/T ET tyres Weld 15×15 Pro Stars, Goodyear 32x14x15 Eagles
Exterior: Raven Black with silver/blue stripes, Fibreglass bonnet with 8-inch Harwood cowl induction scoop, plexiglass windows with lightweight supports
Performance: 1100hp, Best ET: 8.76, Best 60-foot ET: 1.33-secs, Best 0-400m MPH: 156 (251kph)
Clarke thanks: Scott Campbell @ Fast Parts, Tony Rattrie @ Steelie Gears, Brendan Halpin @ Radrides, Paul Johnston, Steve Schmidt, and everyone else who I may have forgotten — they know who they are.
There was a crowd around the yellow Camaro. They were watching the two guys run through the valves, more out of boredom than necessity. Most of those spectators surrounding the car were Friday night regulars who were used to watching multi-valve or rotary turbocharged import machinery rip off 11, 10, sometimes even nine second passes. But this Camaro was different. It used up most of its lane; skating and wheel-spinning all the way to the finish line on every pass and still clicked off mid eights. As one awestruck bystander said “I’ve never seen a car like this before. It’s effin’ awesome”.
Bow To The King
The Camaro’s appearance at a Nightspeed Dragwars was all part of a cunning plan to whet the masses’ appetite for the coming Dragmasters import versus V8 spectacular. This was the car that would lead the V8 team to an overwhelming victory. The yellow missile’s owners, Laurie and Alicia Urlich were right behind the concept, believing that the majority of the Friday nighters have no idea about competition drag racing and what an impressive spectacle it can be. The crowd that night certainly seemed to enjoy it. The huge burnouts, the nitrous purges and wheels-up departures, followed by an every-which-way-including-loose pass — what’s not to like?
“It’s something to hang on to as the Camaro cuts another 1.2 second 60 foot time”
“I’ve always been a bit of a petrolhead,” says Laurie. “I love my toys — cars, bikes, boats — I’ve had ‘em all. I started drag racing way back when they used to use the back straight of Baypark Raceway. I had a Zephyr. Most guys had pommie cars back then”.
Bring It Home
Laurie’s re-entry into drag racing came, funnily enough, at a Nightspeed event, in his pristine early model big block Camaro. “I was racing Mark Hudson’s Capri and we were both around 11 seconds flat,” says Laurie. “I wanted to go faster, but there was no way I’d cut up my ‘69. So I started looking for race cars for sale in the southern states of the US. I found this ‘86 Camaro on RacerJunk.com, close by in Mississippi; I looked at a ‘70 Camaro as well, but decided on purchasing the 86 as a roller.”
When Laurie purchased it, the in-your-face Ferrari Yellow Camaro was a proven, straight-running performer. The addition of a few hundred more horses changed all that. Stick your head inside and you’ll see carpeting, the factory dash and door panels in place. Even the lights, horn and indicators still work. There are extra gauges for water temp, oil, fuel and nitrous pressure, plus the monster tach and shift light. A Cheetah SCS shifter sits between the two race bucket seats and there’s the window net, huge wheel tubs and the 14-point roll cage. But it still looks like you could cruise down to Burger King in it.
Underneath though, it’s all business. This is a back-halved car, which means the frame has been replaced from the firewall back. The new frame rails are considerably closer together at the rear than GM’s originals and are much beefier, having been made from 2×3 box section steel. It’s all tied together with the mild steel roll cage that snakes its way through the car. This stiffens the Camaro’s uni-body and provide protection should a whoopsie occur. Koni double adjustable coilovers and ladder bars hold the heavily-braced nine-inch diff housing in place while Strange Engineering supplied the diff head, spool and billet pinion support.
The gear ratio is a relatively tall 4.3 thanks to the nitrous use. For the same reason, the axles are fat 44 spline Moser units with decidedly chubby 5/8 studs. Wilwood discs provide the drag. Centreline Warrior wheels are surprisingly round, despite the 15 x 15 square measurement. These are surrounded by big Mickey Thompson marshmallows that Laurie likes to see smoking heavily. Mississippi-based Anthony Jones Engineering supplied the round tube K member, tubular control arms, aluminium front struts with lightweight spindles and another pair of rotors and callipers, these ones supplied by Aerospace components. It’s all kept off terra firma by a much skinnier combination of Mickey Thomsons and Centrelines.
“It was proper ‘my car can kick your car’s arse’ drag racing”
Pointing duties are handled by Mr Dial-a-driver and a Grant steering wheel but there’s a Flaming River rack and pinion to perform the mechanical side of the deal. Like all good race car components, that Grant wheel performs a multitude of functions. It’s something to tap your fingers on in pre-stage. It’s something to hang on to as the Camaro cuts another 1.2 second 60 foot time. It’s something to keep the tail-happy beast in its lane. And it also holds a few buttons. One of these activates the trans brake in the almost unbreakable Chuck Mann built Turbo 400. The other buttons are for the happy gas. N20 cars always have the fuel delivery system fully finessed. Old yella has a four gallon fuel cell and a Barry Grant 400 pump, filter and four port regulator. There’s a dash-10 line to the regulator and dash-10 lines from the regulator to those massive carburettors that sit on top of a very impressive engine.
Anybody who follows streetcar racing in the USA would have heard of Pat Musi and his green on green 69 Camaro and late model Firebird. Musi used to race Pro-Stock, so he knows his way down a race track and around an engine. He is the engine builder of choice if you’re after a killer nitrous engine and tune-up. So, it’s no surprise who Laurie called on to power his Camaro. The team at Musi’s started with a Dart block with splayed billet caps. The Lunati pro series crank swings eight GRP aluminium rods and Venolia/Musi flat top pistons around. You can imagine the stresses that rotational assembly is under.
The squeeze is 15:1 without the nitrous and the engine turns over 8000rpm. Phew. Musi builds special tool steel gudgeon pins and Childs and Albert supply tool steel piston rings to handle the pressure. Trick it might be, but this 500 cubic inch foundation is as strong and dumb as an ox. The real power producers are the Dart Big Chief heads. These sexy items also get the Musi treatment and the best valves, springs and retainers in the Manley catalogue. They flow like cyclone Annie. The brains of the engine — the camshaft — is spun by a Jesel belt. The stick itself is Musi designed piece, optimized for nitrous oxide use. But don’t bother looking for specs because nobody’s talking. Isky Red Zone roller lifters transmit force to Manton pushrods, which nudge open Jesel shaft mounted rockers. They in turn open the valves.
Using top quality gear ensures reliability in the valve train and only the best was used in this engine. Case in point, the MSD Digital 7 crank trigger ignition, or the Musi fabricated sheet metal intake manifold. The Lemon slip together headers. The Moroso oil pan and billet oil pump. Every nut, bolt, washer and gasket; every single component is carefully selected to make a lot of power for a very long time, providing reliable stress-free fun. Laurie believes racing should be fun. “You shouldn’t do something you don’t enjoy,” he says. “You’ve got to want to do it. I bought this car to drive myself, but once it was here and ready I didn’t feel comfortable in it. It was too claustrophobic. I asked Chris Tynan if he’d be keen to drive. Squig has driven it as well. I love working on it, doing the maintenance, doing the crewchief thing. I love drag racing, especially heads up, that’s one the best things about Drag Masters. It was proper ‘my car can kick your car’s arse’ drag racing. Racing should be exiting and close, that Friday night Chris had it all sideways and there were sparks flying off the headers¦”
There was a smile on Laurie’s face as he relayed this story. He thinks the yellow streak would go that poofteenth faster and break into the sevens “if Chris would just wring it out a bit harder”. Then he added that the car is currently for sale. Surprised, I asked if he doesn’t want to run that seven. Laurie’s smile got a bit bigger. “I want to get a steel 32,” he grinned. “There was this 63 Corvette full chassis car for sale in the US I liked the look of, if the cards fell the right way.” I hope they do Laurie, I hope they do.
NZDRA class: CC/TS
Chassis/mods: Back half chassis
Suspension: Front Lightweight — tubing, Rear Ladder bars
Wheels: Centre Line, Front 15 X 3.5, Rear 15 X 15
Tyres: Mickey Thompson, Front 26 X 7.5 — 15, Rear 32-0-16-15
Brakes: DISC, Front Aerospace components, Rear Wilwood
Engine: Pat Musi
Heads: Big Chief
Cam: Musi special grind roller
Rods: GRP aluminium billet
Pistons: 15 : 1 flat top
Crank: Lunati Pro series
Ignition: MSD — digital — 7
Induction: Nitrous — two stage foggers 500 H/P
Exhaust: Lemon headers
Trans: Chuck Mann— Turbo – 400
Converter/clutch: Pro Torque-Custom built diff nine-inch — Ford
Gear ratio: 4.3, Open/posi/spool W/Strange centresection, Moser 44 spline axles
Interior: Auto Meter gauges, Electronics Edelbrock data logger, Full cage-100 per cent safety equipped
Driver Profile: Laurie Urlich
Occupation: Cartage contractor
Vehicles owned: 69 Camaro, 86 El Camino, T-bird, various F100s, Midget
Driver: Chris Tynan
Racing achievements: Drag Masters V8 winning team
Thanks to: Aleysha, Brett, nephew Laurie, Chris Tynan
John Force is surrounded by women. So what’s the problem? What man wouldn’t like the ratio that the National Hot Rod Association Funny Car icon has? Force is husband to Laurie Force; father to John Force Racing chief financial officer Adria Hight, as well as emerging sportsman-level drivers ley, Brittany, and Courtney Force; grandfather o one-year-old Autumn Hight; and boss to a handful of businesswomen who take care of his schedule, venirs, sponsor relationships, and fan activities. at has caused him years of trouble is his devotion to ot-tall brass-plated little man called Wally. These den “Wally” statues took over the Yorba Linda, fornia, driver’s life.
And that consumed all of his attention. It had to. It was his dream. No one but himself predicted he would emerge as drag racing’s Babe Ruth or Pele.
Force has 121 of the trophies, named for organized drag racing’s founder, Wally Parks. He has earned championships as a driver and one more as a car ner. He has qualified for nearly 400 consecutive RA tour events, dating back to the start of the 1988 son. He has appeared in almost half of all the final rounds contested in the NHRA Funny Car division since 9, and he has won at least one event for 20 straight seasons.
And that consumed all of his attention. It had to. It was his dream. No one but himself predicted he would emerge as drag racing’s Babe Ruth or Pele. But he dreamed it, back when he called himself a “dumb kid in love with the magic of Don Prudhomme, Tom ‘The Mongoose’ McEwen, Shirley Muldowney, and Big Daddy Don Garlits.” He never gave up when he said he was a “dumb ol’ truck driver” who loved Elvis Presley. Nobody knew that this kid who had overcome childhood polio and loved football but played on a team that never won a game during his high-school career would do what no golfer, jockey, skater, bowler, gymnast, or tennis player had done. John Force, who struggled to get enough money to show up to the next race, achieved something the storied New York Yankees, Montreal Canadians or UCLA basketball team couldn’t do and something no NBA, or NFL team has done: win 10 straight championships. However, his accomplishment came at a high price.
I Get A Chance At Redemption
“I fell in love with the race car and forgot about the kids. It’s hard to fix what you’ve screwed up over 25 years,” Force said, showing his trademark selfcriticism. “I’m really struggling with that. I missed a lot of things. I paid the price, but now I get a chance at redemption.”
Drag racing, the passion that came before all other passions, was what pulled him away from his family. Now, with all his daughters involved in the thrill of the quarter-mile, Force is discovering the sport is what, ironically, is pulling them together at last. Laurie Force conceded that her husband has “been away so much. And he’s not normal to begin with. When he comes home, he goofs everything up, truthfully. It’s better for him to be on the road. He’s on fire when he comes home. You can’t calm him down because he’s got to go out and do the battle again.” One aspect is different now. Said Laurie, “Now we’re in the battle with him.”
Through the years, Force had tried in his own way to make memorable moments with his daughters. They were memorable, certainly, much like a hurricane or dizzying roller-coaster ride would be. For example, when he came home from a road trip on a Sunday night and the girls, elementary-school students then, were asleep in bed, he would insist on waking them up and having a rollicking time. Brittany said she remembers more than one Monday morning, when they said they had to go to school, Force would say, “Nope! We’re going to Universal Studios! You girls are playing hooky!” She said, “We’d all go nuts!”
Courtney recalled that now and again he would watch “In her first couple of races Brittany was terrified. “I never wanted to hop in it again scary movies on TV and he would convince them it wasn’t frightening. “They were up all night long,” Laurie said. “They had nightmares for weeks.” “He made us watch the movie all the way through,” Brittany said of the plots with bad guys and creepy creatures, “and we were like ‘No, no – I don’t want to watch it. I’m too scared.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, you don’t want to go upstairs. He might be up there. That’s why Laurie said, “I would never let him be upset with the kids and decide what the punishment was going to be. He would be horrible. He once gave Ashley, the summer she was going into college, an 8:30 curfew. Or if they really were annoying him, he would pass out $100 bills so they would shut up and leave him alone. Neither one’s acceptable, in my opinion. He took everything to extremes. So I just thought he didn’t need to be handling the kids and what they were doing. He didn’t have a clue how old they were or what they were involved in, anyway, so it was better that he didn’t make those decisions.” Force himself even laughs at his unconventional and undisciplined parenting style. Saying he knows that “when I came home I drove them nuts,” he likens his family to the cartoon clan Simpsons.
There’s something about a tubbed out streetcar that screams cool. Cap-backwards kids in Civics respect it. Doddery old Grannies appreciate it. The ladies love it and — most of all — the boys want to cruise in it. We should consider ourselves lucky that with a government that finds a way to tax or ban anything remotely fun, we can still get away with driving vehicles such as Allan Norris’ 63 EH Premier. Unfortunately, few people take advantage of our relaxed rules for modifying vehicles to this extent. Whether it’s that people don’t have the cash, the inclination, or maybe they are afraid to chop up a perfectly good car, I’m unsure. Perhaps it’s the risk you run of ending up with a big mess on your hands when tubing a car that puts people off.
It has done 10,000 miles since its completion and runs 10-second quarters. What more could you ask for in a show-winning streetcar?
Sacrifice for Vision
Ten years ago Allan had a vision of making the best EH this country had ever seen. To build what would be his fifth EH, he first has to sell a rare manual mint condition 67 RS Comaro. Why he would want to do this and start working on a derelict EH shell, most people couldn’t understand. But, what they don’t realise is that the build process is half the fun. Sure, he wanted this EH to be respectable on the drag strip, but it was more about creating an all-round package than outright power.
When Allan purchased the vehicle, it was little more than a rolling shell. However, it did have the front inner guards cut out and 1.75-inch tubing welded in place.
The entire rear floor and boot had been replaced with brand new panels. The first place Allan sent the vehicle was to Terry’s Chassis Shoppe, where
the new boot floor that the previous owner had paid a fortune for was promptly chopped up. Although Allan was fairly confident that he wanted to run 12inch wide rims, Terry future-proofed the rear end by stepping the rails in enough that 15-inch wide rims could be fitted. Of course, this would require a re-jig of the custom leaf spring and Cal Trac suspension arrangement currently in place. The diff Terry fitted is a Steelie Gears shortened Ford nine-inch with Strange 31 spline axles. A 3.5:1 ratio is currently fitted to the centre, which keeps the revs down when cruising on Auckland motorways. HQ Holden rear drums now sit on each end of the axle tubes, which Allan hasn’t seen the need to upgrade yet.
However, he has had Wilwood four-pots fitted up front, rather than the HQ discs he first planned. Keeping the engine bay as free of clutter as possible
was high on the priority list, so a remote mounted brake boost now resides below the dash.
With the 15×12-inch Weld Racing Super Lite II wheels fitted with 29-inch tall Mickey Thompson Sportsman tyres on the rear, front wheel and tyre choice would either make or break the balance of the car. The proportions are spot on thanks to 4.5-inch wide Weld fronts shod in Michelin 165/60R15 rubber. The vehicle looks tough, but not over-tyred like some. Of course, this look is helped by the HR front struts wrapped in HQ lowering springs. Allowing this combination to work is a Torana rack and pinion steering assembly mated to the original EH column.
As a factory auto, the EH came equipped with a larg trans tunnel, which meant that no modifications were required to either the firewall or the tunnel.
Allan planned to flatten the wall with sheet metal, but instead chose to fill all holes and maintain the original lines.
He knew there was no point in doing the rear end if the car was only going to run 14s down the strip, so when he came across a 350ci Chev block at a swap meet, he decided to grab it. It helped that the motor was from an Altered drag car and only required a blower be refitted before it was good to go.
However, things didn’t always go as planed and a lea out meant the engine was taken to Papakura Engine Specialists for a full rebuild. 8.5:1 compression ratio pistons were fitted to steel Crower rods sourced by Segedins Dominion Road.
The crank was prepped and a 290-degree Crower cam was fitted to give a power band from 3200rpm all the way up to 7200. Thankfully, the Brodix alloy heads were unharmed, as they had earlier been given a three-angle valve grind and fitted with oversized valves and triple valve springs. (more…)