Steve Reasbeck on Drag Racing 1962 to 1965 Mopars
January - April 2011
Well, the corner has turned and we are, now, well into 2011. As I write this, the snow has pretty well gone, but it remains pretty cold. Up here in the mountains, we generally get a lot of snow, and we have had a pretty rough winter, and but you can see the season is getting close. Mason Dixon Dragway in Hagerstown, Maryland, has opened, and Pittsburgh Raceway Park, a scant thirty miles from my home, is set to open in two weeks.
So, slowly but surely, we are getting our stuff ready for the upcoming events for 2011. The Nostalgia racing scene in the mid-atlantic area, the geographical area in which we race, is absolutely amazing. The number of events available to race at just keeps growing and growing...it is astounding. There simply is more events than we can attend...we need to pick and choose. I about half thought that us geezers were what was keeping the movement alive, but I have been mistaken. Every year we lose more and more of the guys I raced with, for whatever reason, and I expected that our half century old Motor City iron would be replaced with turbo four cylinder cars with drag slicks on the wrong end of the car, driven by kids who walk around with their underwear sticking out of their pants. Man, have I been wrong. The Nostalgia heavy hitters now seem to be all fine young guys....Jay Volko who drives the 422 Motorsports Dyno Don Nicholson clone 1964 Comet wagon; Kevin Grasson in the Bounty Hunters 1964 Dodge, and of course, my oldest son, Kyle, who is looking to continue his successful 2010 driving his own wedge powered 1964 Dodge. I mean, the kids are everywhere, and all things being equal, they eat us old guys for lunch. Sad, but true.
As far as changes go, we really havent done that much. For the first winter in a long, long, time, weve kept all the cars pretty much alone. The exception being our good pal Ronnie McClelland’s Hemi 1966 Dodge. The motor turned a bearing at the end of the year. The car generally goes 9.50s, and on his last pass it slowed to a 10.20, and seemed to Ronnie that the motor was getting tight. Nothing was really hurt, and everything is up at our good pal Bob Georges shop getting straightened out.
As far as myself goes, we are starting to get around to put together a 472 inch Hemi. Ive had the pieces laying around here for a long time, and it is just a matter of putting it all together. Ive had a set of aluminum dual plug heads, a 4.15 crank, pistons, rods, another block, roller cams of different sizes....theyve all been around here for a long time. It is just a matter of getting motivated. To be frank, I am very pleased with the old, iron 426 that is in the car now...it does a good job and is fun to drive. But, everyone is nagging me to put this other motor together so I guess I will. It may or may not race with the big motor in 2011, but Ive got plenty of time.
One of the things that seem, to me at least, hurts some racers is the fact that they become fixated on going faster than they can afford. The beauty of drag racing is that it can be done, successfully, without spending a ton of money. This is especially true with a Mopar. The big Mopar engines are plentiful, reliable, and respond well to minor changes. Where young racers get themselves in trouble is where they feel they have to have the #147;trick of the week#148;...they are going to re-invent the wheel. Leave the earth shaking developments to the developers, the Bob Georges, the Ray Bartons, and the Charlie Westcotts. Even though the youngsters seem to criticize them for being #147;outdated,#148; get the Mopar Performance books and build the car by the book. Chrysler spent millions of dollars making this stuff work, why beat your head against the wall trying to prove them wrong?
Weve always run our stuff very conservative. I shift my low compression 426 Hemi at 6600 rpm, use an internal oiling system, a small roller, and old TRW pistons with ancient, heavy NASCAR rods. In a 3900 pound 1965 Dodge with SS springs it runs 11 flat - 10.80s all day long. The only maintenance is setting the valves every now and then, and changing oil. Kyles Bob George prepped 500 inch wedge has Indy heads, a small roller, an Indy cross ram with two out of the box Eddy Carbs. He shifts it a 6800, it runs 10.40s all the time in a 3700 pound 1964 Dodge, and I dont know when the last time it had the valves set. Again, oil changes are it. I will build the big motor to run the same way.
It can be done. Dont become discouraged....race within your means, learn to win, and then move on. The beauty of drag racing is that there is a place for everyone, and everything to race in. Bide your time, learn how to race what you have reliably and quickly. Learn how to use what you have to its very best before spending a bunch of money for the next trick. This way, when you do get to where you want to be, youll be ahead of the game.
Well, until next time....it will be sooner, I promise!
March 30, 2011