Readers Rides
Readers Rides
A Delray of Arizona Sun
One of the things that I love so much about grass-roots racing is the unique varieties of cars that racers build for competition, and this one of the most unique I’ve seen: the blown 1958 Chevrolet Delray 2-door wagon of Mark Ballard. Mark, from Tucson AZ, is an Aircraft Maintenance Manager for Universal Avionics and races the Delray with the American DRAGCAR Series as well in No Box, Pro and Nostalgia events in the Southwest.

When he’s not working on planes or racing at the track, one of Mark’s other passions is the restoration of interesting old vehicles; this beautiful bullet is certainly interesting and has been a work in progress for Mark and his wife. He states, “The car was originally built in the early 90s but was never finished. It had several owners along the way and was moved from shop to shop. We bought the car in 2009 as a rolling shell. It took my wife and I two years to finish it.”

This all-steel monster (still surprisingly light at 3,385 lbs.) is powered by 580 cubic inches of blown Mark Ballard-built 950 horsepower. Feeding the motor are two Holley 1050 Dominators sitting atop a BDS 8-71 blower which has been upgraded by Supercharger USA. Intake and exhaust are handled through Dart aluminum heads with 2.25” intake and 1.88” exhaust valves. Inside the motor are a Ruben Camshafts custom blower grind cam and 8.2:1 JE blower pistons on Scat rods and crank. Ignition is MSD and the headers are custom-built zoomies by Shawn Shirley at Champ Performance of Tucson.

The power goes through a 10” Continental blower converter with 3,500 stall. The trans is a Turbo 400 with transbrake, built by Robert Metz of Tucson. In the back is a Mark Williams 9-Inch fabricated housing with 3.89 gears and a Strange center section. Axles are 40-spline floating. Front and rear suspension is Mark Williams coil-overs. All of it rides on 32.5 x 16.5 Hoosier slicks on 15 x 15 Dragstars in the back and Hoosier front runners on 15 x 4 Rocket gasser spokes in the front. So far, Mark’s best pass is a 9.10 @ 149.94 MPH with a 1.25 60-foot at an elevation of 3,150 ft.

One Wild & Crazy Guy
Chuck Exton, an engine builder / machinist from Canadensis, PA submitted his 1980 Ford Mustang to Readers’ Rides, but as you can see it ain’t no ordinary Mustang. This is a real-deal nitro nostalgia funny car on an S&W / Canode chassis.

Chuck is the owner of Exton Racing Engines, so the Chevy big-block 427 4-bolt truck engine is his own handiwork. The top half includes a 6-71 Mooneyham blower that’s fed via a 20 GPM Enderle fuel system. The rotating assembly includes Venolia rods and pistons on a rebalanced stock(!) truck crank. Ignition is a 3 amp mag. Trans is a 2-speed Lenco with an East West 3-disc clutch set-up. The rear is a Ford 9” with 4.10 gears. The huge slicks are Goodyear 34 x 17.

According to Chuck,”This car for the longest time competed as a BB/FC on alcohol until the nitro bug ended up biting car owner/driver/builder. Here it comes back in great form and last year it blasted off a 6.889 at 198.99 mph on a stock 427 4-bolt main block and crank running 25% nitro.”

Chuck is truly a hardcore, grass-roots racer operating on a budget. “Due to blowing the block late last season and saving for new roll cage/ISP padding/extra safety features, it’s been a strapped year for cash, but I’m looking to upgrade further in the future after the BBC warms it up. Many will say this current setup will never work or is just waiting to be a fire in the lap. But with the correct machining and the right tune the goal of this engine is create enough power to get the car and me to the top end fast enough to gain a Nitro license.”

The Baer Necessity
Bill Baer, a retired QC Inspector from Braidwood, IL, sent in his 2001 homebuilt Baer dragster. Driven by Bill and Ben Baer, this S&W-kit dragster competes in NHRA Super Comp and IHRA Quick Rod, both 8.90 index categories. Bill competes regularly with The Midwest Super Comp Series so he’s pretty serious about heads-up index racing.

Bill’s dragster is powered by a 540” Chevrolet with 14.5:1 compression putting out a dyno’d 892 hp. The engine was machined and dyno’d by THP, while final assembly was done by Bill himself. Lots of good parts in the build, too: the rotating assembly is stout with JE Pistons, Crower rods and a Callies 4.25” crank. Up top are BMF heads with Manley 2.25” / 1.90” valves, a Cam Motion roller and Jesel pro rockers & belt drive. Induction is a Ron’s Terminator on methanol which is ignited by an MSD 7AL3 and MSD Power Grid. Other parts and pieces include stainless steel Edelbrock headers and a Moroso air pump.

Farther back is an ATI transmission with 1.80 straight-cut planetaries, 10 clutch high-gear and a Pro tree valve body. The converter is a spragless 9” by TCI. In the 3.89 ratio rear are Strange spool, axles, coupler and brakes.

Keeping it simple is a basic paint job in Chevy truck white and a powder coated chassis. All lettering and artwork is by Tom Evans. So far the best out-the-back-door pass is 7.70 @ 170 MPH. If you live in the Illinois area of the Midwest, watch for Bill and his dragster at Midwest Super Comp Series events.

One Trick Pony

Jeff Sefranek submitted the Colt of Arms Mustang to Readers' Rides. His dad Jerry Sefranek is the long time owner of this ’65 Mustang and started drag racing in the early ‘60s during his time in the Air Force while stationed in New York. Jerry continued in class and bracket racing after his Air Force days until the early ‘70s while living in Cleveland, Ohio until moving to Phoenix, Arizona. There he picked up his bracket racing right on into the mid ‘90s when he handed the Mustang over to his son Jeff, who continues to campaign the little warhorse almost in the same condition as when he first drove the car over 30 years ago.

The Sefraneks have always built there own Growler Engines and the current unit consists of a very modestly comprised 357 cubic inch combination. It utilizes a stock production 351Windsor block with a stock crank and rods pushing 40 year old TRW 302 Chevy pistons under an essentially untouched set of AFR 165 aluminum heads. The cam is a 608" lift Isky solid flat tappet grind with an @ .050" duration of 273 degrees. The intake manifold is a hand built tunnel ram with an 800 Holley mounted atop while the headers are a set of 1-5/8" Hooker Super Competition.

The transmission is a cast iron case FMX with bronze clutches, manual valve body, 5000 stall converter and a very unique shifter linkage fabricated by Sefranek himself connecting it to the B&M Quick Click shifter while the car is launched off of the footbrake.
Jerry Sefranek’s SPS Race Cars performed a number of chassis surgeries to the car which include the narrowed rear axle housing and sub-frame, 4-link, 8-point roll cage, and Dean Haven-inspired shock tower reduction, and even painted and lettered the car. The unique front bumper was also constructed by SPS Race Cars while the grille was fabricated by Jeff Sefranek.

Jeff is also the founder of American DRAGCAR and now runs his dad’s racer almost exclusively in his class formatted venue under the Experimental Production/D1 class designation at 2796 pounds which has a base index of 11.10. To date the car has posted a best performance of 10.697 at 126mph while on an altitude corrected 11.20 index at the former Phoenix area’s Speedworld Dragstrip.
This car illustrates well how a budgeted racer can compete very strongly in American DRAGCAR's class racing structure.

This Dodge Is Up For The Challenge

Mike Rezny of Denver, Colorado must have known that I'd love to feature a Dodge Challenger Drag Pak on Readers' Rides, so he was kind enough to submit his. By day Mike's a construction superintendent with Schnabel Foundation Company but at the track he's a Stock Eliminator racer competing in CC/SA.

Mike's Stocker is a 2009 Drag Pak, #41 of 100 built that year. Mike says, "This was not a turn key car. I picked it up from the factory and with the exception of the motor, trans and roll cage I built it myself. After a year of work I got it on track only to lose the motor to a spun rod bearing. I sent the motor to 4X world champion and engine builder Jeff Taylor Performance and he put together a new 6.4 HEMI for me."

Mike's 392" HEMI is putting out 650 at the crank, and utilizes intake, heads and valves from Mopar Performance and a Comp Cams hydraulic roller cam. Pistons are 12:1 Diamond on Manley rods. Ignition is Big Stuff and headers are Mad Dog. Transferring the power rearward is a 904 Torqueflite with an ATI 8" Treemaster converter, ending up at a Moser 8 3/4" with 4.86 gears (which Mike swaps to 5.13s for the Denver altitude). Suspension is Strange, wheels and tires are a mix of Goodyear front runners on Bogart rims and 9" Hoosiers on 15x10 Weld wheels. So far Mike's best ET and MPH are 10.11 @ 133.03, at a weight of 3,445 lbs.

Two-Wheeled Witchcraft
Keith “Voodooracer” LeBlanc, a conveyer belt technician from Beech Island, SC sent in the “Cajun Chainsaw Massacre,” the Pro ET bike owned by him and his wife Andrea.

Keith is about as hardcore a racer as they come. He started racing in the late ‘70s on a ’73 Bultaco Pursang 175 at State Capitol Dragway, LA; fast forward to present-day and he’s currently racing in the CSRA Dragbike Association ET bracket series and Orangeburg Drag Strip’s track points series in Box and No Box 1/8th mile ET Brackets. In between then and now, Keith was the 1999 and 2000 Carolina Dragway Bike Class Champion, the 2000 IHRA Division 2 Team Finals Race of Champions Bike Class Winner, the 2005 and 2007 Carolina Dragway Bike Class R/U, the 2005 Dragstock II Bike Class Winner, 2005 IHRA Division 2 Team Finals Bike Class R/U, Carolina Dragway, and 2007 Carolina Dragway Bike Class Iron Man Race Winner.

Not only is Keith one bada$$ racer, this is one bada$$ bike. It started life as a 1988 Honda CR500R which he “rescued as a ‘rolling wreck’ from some ‘levee rats’ in the Atlanta area that were pounding the crap out of it and terrorizing the suburbs in early 2000s.” He then spent years constructing it only to have it get stolen in 2011. Luckily he recovered it in only three days thanks to info from his fellow Carolina Dragway racers. The Massacre‘s engine features stock porting and head, bored 1mm over, Wiseco forged piston, Boyeson reeds, stock Keihan PJ 38mm carb, K&N air filter, Boyeson Super Bowl, fed pump 93 non-ethanol and Golden Spectro semi synthetic oil at 42:1 via Pingle petcock and fuel filter equipped Jazz 1-qt. fuel tank, while 58hp worth of 2-stroke exhaust noise and gases flow unmuffled through a custom expansion chamber by JEMCO of Houston TX.

A custom +16oz. flywheel-mounted combination starter nut/trigger wheel and p/u plate machined by Keith triggers an MSD digital programmable jet-ski ignition, MSD coil and wire and NGK B8ES make the spark. A modified Summit gear reduction SB Chevy outboard starter motor and single 12V Interstate Marine deep-cycle battery fire the critter, while an onboard Ballistic 4-cell LiFe battery running total loss keep it lit. A low mounted single Cagiva 125 aluminum radiator w/custom remote electric pump, Grainger cooling fan and Ninja 500 filler neck and cap keep the heat under control, even in 100+ deg. South Carolina summers.

The Massacre’s power is transmitted through a stock Honda 5 spd. trans with stock gears and ratios, stock Honda clutch fiber plates and steels, HD Vesrah springs, modified Lock-Up brand Yamaha Banshee centrifugal assist lock-up w/custom wide clutch cover. Renthal 14T drive and SunStar 44T driven sprockets w/ D.I.D. 530 X-ring chain. It all rides on an original front end w/shortened stock fork springs and modified internally w/rebound travel limit and 20psi nitrogen. Woodcraft clip-on bars. MPS adj. switched clutch lever arm. Stock Honda throttle w/home grown WOT switch. The stock frame cradle is raked to 40 deg. and the steering angle limited to 12 deg. from center. Up front it rolls on a 1.85 x 18” aluminum rim laced w/SS spokes to stk. Honda hub with a Mickey Thompson 2.75 motorcycle frt. Slick. In the back is a 4.25 x 18” alum. rim laced w/SS spokes to stk. Honda hub with a Mickey Thompson 5.5 rear slick. Brakes are stock Honda with EBC pads
Keith’s Box set-up includes a Biondo Mega 200 factory mod’d for 1-cyl. 2-stroke w/Auto shift by time, MPS deluxe air clutch release with 250psi nitrogen charged 10 oz. bottle regulated to 130psi. For No Box, Keith relies on an MSD digital programmable shift light. So far the best 60ft./ET/MPH is 1.65/7.29/93.10.

Keith’s other interests are quite varied, including movies, early punk rock, art, history and science. He gives thanks to his sponsor Donald Shaw Racing of Hephzibah, GA., the staffs and crews of Carolina Dragway and Orangeburg Drag Strip for their support of drag bike racing, and the photographers who submitted the action shots shown here: Jimmy Mack of Orangeburg Drag Strip and Keith Clary of Carolina Dragway. Keith also thanks “his fellow bike racers that make me try harder, the fans that have taken the time to stop and gawk or chat with me at the track; my loving wife, Andrea, who encourages me and this foolishness, and the sport of bracket racing for all the good times and good friends I’ve made over the decades, and for providing a way to race with limited funds while embracing a wide range of diverse machinery.”

A Flying Connecticut Bowtie
Mark Waterman, of W Suffield CT owns this big yet surprisingly quick 1937 Chevy Coupe. The car is raced around New England at nostalgia events but according to Mark, "the car was a street terror in western Illinos originally."

Weighing in at 3,200 lbs. and adorned in Patriot Red Pearl paint, the Chevy is powered by a 12:1 BBC by Billy The Kid at Performance Engines Inc. It features a Dart block, Callies crank, Oliver rods, Diamond pistons, Brodix heads, an Edelbrock intake ported by Wilson, an 1150 Holley Dominator carb, Reher-Morrison proprietary grind cam by Erson, MSD ignition and custom headers by Tubular Automotive in Rockland MA.

The drivetrain is completed by a Turbo 400 by Dynamic Racing Trans of North Branford, CT, custom convertor by Ultimate Convertor Concepts in North Carolina and 9 inch rear with all Strange internals and 4.57 gear. It all rides on a chassis done by MPH Fabrication of North Haven, CT, with Bogart wheels and Phoenix tires. Despite the weight and the less-than-aerodynamic shape, the Chevy has run a best ET of 9.76 @ 139 mph.

Dodge In The Florida Heat
Leigh Zaremba of Inverness, FL submitted his flying 1970 Dart Swinger to Reader’s Rides. Leigh, the owner and operator his own auto reconditioning business (“8 years and 5,000+ bumpers sprayed.” Take that, McDonald’s!) races his Dart in ET bracket competition at Auto-Plus Raceway in Gainesville, FL and Lakeland Stingray Dragway in Lakeland, FL.

The Dart may have started its life with a six-banger, but now it’s holding 446” of big-block Chrysler power. Leigh says, “I have had it torn apart several times over the last four years maintaining it. I've put over 350 runs on it only checking bearings and they always look good. Thank you Chrysler engineers!”

Up top is a Quick Fuel 750 carb on an Edelbrock TM-7 manifold. Heads are out-of-the-box Stealth aluminums with 2.14 / 1.81 valves that ride on a Mopar Performance .557 camshaft. The motor’s got some squeeze with 12.5 JE pistons topping off stock rods and a stock crank (us Mopar racers know the stock pieces are pretty stout). An MSD distributor with 6AL box and a set of Hooker 2” fenderwell headers complete the engine compartment.

The trans is a 727 with an electronic shifter and a TCI 8” converter. Out back is a Dana 60 with 4.56 gears. Suspension includes Competition Engineering 90/10 shocks in the front and Cal-Tracs in the back, all riding on Weld wheels fore & aft with Hoosiers in the front and 11.5 x 30 Goodyears in the back. Tipping the scales at 3,050 plus driver, the best ET so far is 11:03 at 121 MPH in the Florida heat and humidity.

In addition to racing, Leigh’s other interests include building projects, gardening, football and baseball. He also helps his wife Lisa with the cats that they have from their cat sanctuary. Leigh wanted to give special thanks to his wife, saying, “She is so good to me making sure that I can get to the races as much as possible.”

This Cat Has Two Lives
Dragtime News email subscriber John Mead submitted his cool 1963 Pontiac Catalina to Reader’s Rides. John’s a lumber salesman from Charlottesville, VA, and says he has no other interests besides racing (he wrote, “what else could there possibly be!”).

As the photos illustrate, John’s Cat is truly a duel-purpose ride, going from show trim to race trim with ease. The car has a history, too. John states, “This Pontiac is from Johnson-Pontiac, Clinton IA, home of the "Passionate Ponchos” where Arnie Beswick worked for some years and campaigned a ‘62 Super Duty and a 63 "Cheese Car", both called "Passionate Ponchos." Both ordered by owner Larry Johnson, who Arnie raced with from 1960 through 1963. I have the manifest and the Pontiac Ident-O-Plate for this car, both signed by Larry himself. This was a 3-1/2 year (151 Saturdays) frame off Rotisserie restoration.”

John races the Catalina in nostalgia and vintage events, and turned a best 1/8th mile ET of 8.94 last season, “not bad for a C/S, 3,790 lb car.” John’s dual-personality Cat is powered by a 405 h.p. 421” with stock heads, forged flat-top 10.5:1 pistons, a forged crank, forged rods, and a street cam. The induction is a tri-carb setup, and the ignition is stock.

Shifting is via a Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed with nickel gears and a 2.54 1st gear. In the rear are 4.10s, and everything rides on a factory suspension with custom-made traction bars. On race day the rear street tires give way to M&H Racemasters.

An 8.90 ET is pretty impressive for an almost 2-ton car with stock iron heads, a street cam, stock ignition and pretty much stock suspension. Despite the ET, it’s the clean, uncut, factory look of the car that is its true appeal. Says John,” When I go to a nostalgia or vintage event, it’s sure not the fastest car there, but it sure will draw a big crowd.”

Never Too Olds To Race
I received some photos from a new subscriber to The Dragtime News email list named Russ Tripi from Buffalo, NY. He writes: “I just turned 65 the other day and have been racing since 1969. I race my Olds Cutlass in No Box every Friday night. It’s a 1985 Cutlass with full interior, street driven to and from the track, 454 Chevy, 4500 Coan converter, Turbo 400, 3.73 rear with spool, 26x10 Hoosier slicks. So far the best is 8.05 in the 1/8th and 12.72 in the ¼, with the air cleaner on and through the mufflers.”

It's pretty cool that he drives the car to and from the track, and look at it pulling the front wheels! His car is further proof that you don’t need a full-blown race car to have a great time bracket racing, so get your own car to your local track and do some racing yourself!

Riding High Again

Mario Minervini of West Babylon, NY sent in his 1935 Chevy Coupe to Reader’s Rides. Mario states that he used to race at nostalgia events until he lost the car in a street accident in 2002 while sitting with a flat tire waiting for help. To add insult to injury, during the time when Mario was rebuilding the car Long Island lost its last remaining dragstrip, Long Island Motorsports Park. So after getting the car back together, he had no place close to home to race. His first time out with the car was at the inaugural Holeshot Drag Racing Association event at Riverhead Raceway, where he said the spectators really appreciated his rebuilt hot rod.

Mario’s gasser is powered by a 377” small block balanced and blueprinted by SK Speed and built by him. Induction is a twin Holley 600 set-up through a Weiand tunnel ram into Edelbrock Victor Jr. heads with .208 intakes and .160 exhausts riding on a .640 solid roller cam. Compression is a very streetable 9.7:1, with JE forged pistons and Eagle H-beam rods on a 350 crank. Ignition is MSD, with an Accel distributor. Transmission is a Hughes Turbo 400, with a 3,000 stall Hughes converter. Suspension in the front is a drop axle with parallel leafs; in the rear are ladder bars. Wheels are American Racing Torque Thrust D, with Firestone cheater slicks.

The last time Mario made a ¼ mile pass was with his old 350 motor, and the car turned an 11.81 @ 117 mph. Mario’s hoping to get the 377 to the track soon to see what it’ll do. Stay tuned…


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