Page 45 - NM Spring 2018
P. 45

of racing was a real turn on for     time out that summer racing my I/    course, built the “Bad News” A/FX
        me, unlike the dirt cars I grew up   Stocker at the new, state-of-the-art   I bought.
        watching that were looking nice      Wichita Drag Strip.
        before the season’s first race, but                                         Jim - Yeah, I had a great time
        pretty rough after that, not to        Steve - My first race was 1982     match racing “Bad News” at
        mention full of mud!  I’ve always    with my 1973 Dodge Charger.  I       special events 25-30 years ago!
                                             entered the trophy class and won.
        been a clean freak and loved lots    I was hooked and have been an        Incidentally, every car I’ve ever
        of chrome (laughs).  My first drag   active racer for 35 years now.  I    raced I put together myself.  In the
        race was in 1978 at my home track    still own that car today, and while   ‘60s few people had money to have
        in Union Grove, Wisconsin on         it has received many engine and      someone build them a car, that’s
                                                                                  why there was so much innovation
        Memorial Day weekend for the         chassis mods over the years so       and rapid growth at the time.
        “Olympics of Drag Racing.”  It was   that it closely emulates a Pro Stock   Fortunately, I had the privilege of
        then I knew I wanted to build my     class car from 1973, it is licensed   getting to be around and work on
        car to race.
                                             for the street but still capable of low  some of the “match bash”-type cars
          Jim - The first drag race I ever   10 second passes in the ¼-mile at    and top fuel cars from the mid-‘60s
        attended was in 1958 at the air base   128 mph.  Even at 3800 pounds it   until the early ‘70s when all that
        here in Wichita.  I remember a lot   regularly pulls the front wheels up   change was taking place.  That’s
        of new Chevy Impalas and some        a good 18 inches at the hit.         something you can’t get from any
        pretty crudely built dragsters, most   NMM - What particular              school!
        of them with roll bars at least six   fabricating or engine building skills   NMM - Well, guys, why don’t you
        inches below the driver’s helmet!    do you each have?                    tell us about these two beautiful
        However, drag racing really came                                          cars we’re featuring here?
        to me one Saturday night in the fall   Jim - As far as fabricating skills,
        of 1961 when riding with a friend in   when it comes to building these      Steve - My car is a 1964 Dodge
        his new ’62 409-horse Impala and     cars I only do them exactly like     440 Hardtop that, as I’ve said, I
        we got into an impromptu stoplight   we did it in the ‘60s, using the old   bought from Jim, who built it.  It
        drag race with a guy in his ’62      methods and tools.  That is the      has a full-on altered wheelbase
        big-engined Ford.  I came away       only way you can put a car out that   with the rear end moved forward
        thinking, Oh yeah…this is for me!       is a representation of the original   15 inches and the front suspension
                                             ones.  Almost all of the A/FX cars   moved ahead another 10.  There’s
          NMM - When did you start           out there today are so over-finished   a 4-inch drop straight axle with
        racing (of any kind) yourselves?     with show paint, bead-rolled         leaf springs and a Vega steering
                                             aluminum, incorrect suspension,      box.  The rear wheel wells were
          Jim - I started racing karts – fast
        karts, not toys – in 1959 when I was   wide tires and new-style wheels    cut and moved forward to match
        13.  By the second season I was the   that the raw charm of the old cars   and these are the original A/FX
        A-Super champ and, with my dad       is totally lost.                     fiberglass front fenders with wheel
        instructing me, was doing the work     Steve - I installed the Chassis    wells moved ahead 10 inches.  It
        on our highly-modified motors as     Engineering ladder bars and          has a gutted interior covered with
        well as helping to make our own      coil over shocks as well as          sheet aluminum; hand cut and
        motor parts with our designs.  My    the modifications for the six        affixed just as it was done in 1965.
                                                                                  No sheared and bead rolled panels
        first car I drag raced was a ‘53 Olds   cylinder torsion bars in my 1973   here.
        2-door Rocket 88 sedan I bought      Charger, “Mopar Magic.”  Gene
        in Bossier City, Louisiana for $165   Vanhandel at “County Line Sales”      I have a JW UltraBell and
        when I was sixteen.  I drove it back   in Kaukauna, Wisconsin did my      JW Ultra Case PowerGlide
        to Wichita for a summer job there    other chassis mods, 8-point roll     transmission with a JW flexplate
 Tune it way up.       
        and, after a motor rebuild and       bar and 727 transmission with a      and Neal Chance torque converter.
        some tinkering, won every single     Griner trans brake.  Jim here, of                   Continued on next page

        Spring 2018                               Nitro Madness Magazine                                          45
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